Listen to your Mother

Best advice she ever gave me. Thanks mom :)

Five tips for a woman....

1. It is important that a man helps you around the house and has a job.

2. It is important that a man makes you laugh.

3. It is important to find a man you can count on and doesn't lie to you.

4. It is important that a man loves you and spoils you.

5. It is important that these four men don't know each other.


In Memory

Sometimes tragedies go beyond being tragic, beyond grief and sadness, far past irony, and settle down in a place in your heart. May Professor Liviu Librescu rest in peace.


National Rifle Association

What is wrong with this country?


Weather Rant

Don't think that since I've been posting all these warm fuzzies about snow I have been happy about the weather around here. Even though I have discovered my relatively high tolerance for cold/snow, I have discovered an element that I truly despise: wind.
Wind is El Diablo himself. The wind-chill factor makes everything feel colder. Wind at night causes a commotion loud enough to keep me awake long into the night. Wind makes walking around in the rain with an umbrella nearly impossible. Wind severely dries my eyes out. Wind f**ing sucks.
DC (I propose we call it "little Chicago" or perhaps, "the OTHER windy city") has plenty of wind, especially this week. Today wind speeds may reach as high as 60 miles per hour!! That's a slow car on a freeway! At the risk of sounding a little dramatic, I could get knocked down in this crazy wind and die of a concussion. And I can kiss the cherry blossoms goodbye- there is no way they are going to survive this crap-ass weather.
I have decided that while I may tolerate snow, I could never live somewhere with wind (nor fog, after waking up to dew on my head-turned-afro every July morning in SF) again.



Chaverah is unique. Her day-to-day musings are so deep, powerful and loaded. She questions all positions and beliefs: hers, yours, theirs. The Quintessential Devil's Advocate. She has a talent for taking a common human experience, dissecting it in her mind, then transforming it into extemporaneous poetry on her tongue. Chaverah has new and recurring existential crisis every day. Forget Socrates, forget Nietzsche. If there is ever a philosopher who will discover the meaning of life, it will be Chaverah.

You would think that having such a complex mind would make her pretentious and removed. Not so. Chaverah is quite personable. If she shares her thoughts, you will not only understand what she is saying, you will relate. Almost everyone relates somehow, because she is caught between so many worlds and has learned to be a social chameleon. First, Chaverah observes as an outsider, then she conjures strategies to assimilate. Despite this, she never fully fits in: somehow her distinctiveness is always exposed. Others are captivated by her. I can tell by the way they look at her and the kinds of questions they ask. Chaverah doesn't see herself this way. When it comes to self-reflection, she is obliviously conscious.

People are so amazingly complex. Connections between two people are doubly complex. Chaverah and I connect, share, argue like sisters. Chaverah and I are so different; in our intellect, our spirituality, our art, our life paths, our families, our culture, our preferences. We learn to acknowledge, then respect, then accommodate each other's differences. I have never received a bad gift from Chaverah. I have never felt judged by Chaverah. I can always tell Chaverah when she doesn't understand me. There is no guarantee that she won't argue about it, but I know she is listening to my grievance. Chaverah inspired me many times, some of which I have yet to realize.

Here's to you my friend. Don't ever change!


The Immigration Debate: What are the Facts?

If you know me well, you know I'm a big immigration policy buff. Part of the reason it fascinates me (aside from my own family/identity ties to it) is that it is such a complex and contentious issue. I am also amazed at the extent to which public opinion on immigration shapes the positions of our congressional leaders. This is true for many policies, but I think immigration is unique because the facts are so muddled that even policy makers don't know what their positions are. And yet the public feels very strongly about their positions. To shape their policy stances, I think that our elected officials often rely their constituency's impulsive and erratic immigration stances. Their voters may or may have the best ideas, but at least this way they can stay in office!

Because of this, it is extremely important that the facts on immigration are well-disseminated to the voting public. There are varied positions on immigration, particularly illegal immigration, and I think that regardless of where you lie on the spectrum-from a MEChA member to a Minuteman- you have both valid and invalid points in your favor.

Compared to most policy issues, it is harder to extract pure clean facts on immigration. So I very much appreciate this recent opinion piece by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), who I personally trust for objective, fact-based research on California policy issues.

The piece is titled "Even in the Immigration Debate, Facts are Facts." It puts an end to the argument that immigration results in lower wages for CA citizens or that they are depriving citizens of jobs. Hans Johnson, author of the op-ed, backs up his argument with two main points:

First, from 1960 to 2004, the data shows no link between the large number of immigrants moving into California and U.S.-born workers either moving out of the state or dropping out of the work force. In other words, on average, U.S.-born workers were not displaced because of immigrants moving into the state.
Second, between 1990 and 2004, the real wages of U.S.-born workers received a positive boost – an estimated 3 to 5 percent – from the presence of immigrants in the work force. The amount that wages increased varied, depending on age and education, but almost without exception, the results were positive for U.S.-born workers.

Johnson further says that not only are immigrants not depriving Californians of jobs or fair wages, but they are raising the quality of our workforce as a whole and allowing Californians to "upgrade" their work skills.
The study reveals that immigrants do not compete directly with the majority of U.S.-born workers for the same jobs. Rather, they complement U.S. workers in terms of skills, education and occupations.
For example, in the agricultural field, most immigrants have taken jobs as agricultural laborers, while most U.S. workers have filled jobs such as farm supervisors. As the ranks of one type of worker increase, so does the demand for this other, complementary type.
Note that the author does not distinguish between legal and illegal immigration. That kind of analysis is difficult, as the US Census Bureau doesn't collect data on the undocumented. So bear in mind that this is big-picture analysis: examining immigration as a whole.

So back to the issue of public opinion. Since the public plays such an important role in determining the direction of immigration policy, I can't emphasize enough how important it is to keep the straight facts in mind when formulating your opinion on immigration. I am not telling you what to think. In fact, my position on it may surprise you: I think there are undoubtedly legitimate arguments (and very productive debates to be made) for limiting immigration (for example, overpopulation in CA, a strain on social services, homeland security concerns, and of course legality issues with the undocumented) but the worker/wage arguments are probably the most overused, and, in my opinion, most inaccurate.

For more information, you can also watch this interesting video on immigration and CA jobs and wages. I have plenty of other interesting information in this issue. If you are intersted, just ask!