Random

I am currently without a phone and I’m super frustrated. The last episode in this stupid drama of my stupid life is that I was attempting to switch simcards from a working phone that won’t charge because of a bad charge port to a deactivated phone that was going to be activated as soon as I finished switching. The simcard was stuck. I jerked a bit too hard and it flew up into the air (out of the black plastic frame) and landed like Longfellow’s arrow, I know not where. I’m cleaning my closet out, you see. I have open bags and boxes of things that have been sorted, need to be sorted, might have been sorted but I’ve been procrastinating so long I don’t know anymore. I have gone through half of them, no sim card. I’m done. Tomorrow I may just buy a new phone and start from scratch. Suggestions on phones welcome.

Calling myself stupid—– I did this a few weeks ago when the grandkids were here. The story of why I did is long and boring and tedious as well and I shan’t bestow the tedium on you, but the funny thing was I first shocked the grands. “Grandma!!! You’re not stupid. You shouldn’t say that about yourself. Why would you say that?’ Which was all very encouraging and warm fuzzies from hair top to toes, but then when I told them what I had done they were all, “Oh. Yeah. I guess that was- ” they caught my eye and didn’t say stupid, but you know they were thinking it. Kids are adorable.

In connection with becoming a staunch fan of a couple Chinese dramas I mentioned before- Rebel Princess and Story of Minglan, I’ve been reading up on Chinese symbolism, which has some elements in common with western symbols, and some very different. Some of the interesting things:
The peach is used for a lot of things (and peach blossoms and peach wood) but most commonly longevity.
The peacock isn’t about vanity, but about dignity and beauty. The glowworm is also a symbol of beauty and steadfastness. Fish in general are symbols of prosperity, and gold fish are an ‘acceptable wedding present because phonetically the word for goldfish is similar to something like abundant prosperity. Goldfish in a picture are symbols of fertility. An owl does not symbolize wisdom, but impending disaster, and spiders are good omens- one sliding down or descending on its string is a blessing from heaven and in one area at least a spider symbolizes a son returning from far away or at least a visiting guest, and the narcissus is connected with the immortals and can symbolize a married couple. Of course, this all assumes my sources are accurate. for the above, I used a dictionary of chinese symbols, by Eberhard.

I finished Ming Lan and love it. I am still watching Rebel Princess, and it continues to be absolutely gorgeous and well done in every possible way. It’s fascinating to me that the Chinese title has nothing to do with a princess or her being a rebel- it’s called Monarch Industry, which better suits, IMO, the general theme of the series, which is that the monarchy is essentially just a business, and each powerful family is trying to make it their own personal family business. The princess is not really much of a rebel. She lives true to the values she was taught as she grew up, but what she did not know is that almost all the adults around her only gave lip service to those values, they expected her to outgrow them. I love it for many reasons, but one of them is not that huge in the whole picture, but still I adore that this princess is not a warrior princess. She doesn’t have any idea how to fight at all, not physically, and a couple times where circumstances compel her to try, she’s not very good at it, and cannot bring herself to deliver a killing blow. She leaves the fighting to her warrior husband. What she is good at is fighting through diplomacy, negotiation, reading the room, loyalty to her husband and their values, and through her commanding presence and dignity, which she never loses. Her costumes, which are so scrumptiously beautiful and stunning are every bit as much her armour and war garments as her husband’s sword and chest armour. There are two or three warrior maidens for those who like that sort of thing.

I just find it tiring and tiresome because it’s so phony and unrealistic and yet it’s in every show with any fighting, that girls can physically fight as well as men. No, they really can’t. And it’s so unrealistic that it’s like including a real werewolf as a regular character in Dragnet or an Agatha Christie series (I don’t watch language shows anymore, so I don’t know which recent ones to pick).

Another Chinese drama I enjoyed was The Longest Day in Chang’an. It’s a little bit like 24, in that the city of Chang’An is facing a terrorist attack and they have to catch the terrorists and stop them from implementing their plan by the right hour. Only it’s set in the Tang Dynasty, 618 to 907, and the lead detectives are a partnership between a Taoist priest who runs a sort of intelligence agency and is a close friend of the Crown Prince, and a death row inmate released for a day to help with the investigation. The plot is full of twists and turns and is sometimes funny, often sad, always adrenaline boosting, and the series is fascinating. SEveral of the songs for the soundtrack are poems by Li Bi, a Chinese poet who lived in the era. The set of the city streets took half a year to build. The cast read the book on which the script is based three times. I watched it because one of the side characters is the lead male from Rebel Princess, and he plays a different character here.

He’s pretty good. Really good. But he’s absolutely superb in Rebel Princess and so is his female counterpart. I can’t find the gif again, alas, but some other fan posted a picture of him staring down a character who needs to die with the line, “I am measuring you for a coffin and I want to be really precise.” His cutting glance really does seem as though it could draw blood.

I am not sure if I am reading books as much as buying them these days, but I have several going. H is for Hawk, This Sceptered Isle- Empire(I confess I love the audio more, but I kept wanting to look up quotes so I bought the book, too), a fairy tale in Spanish, which I can translate one page a day, a book about Chinese fantasy genres in Manga and movies, I finished a couple novels by Thomas Love Peacock, proto-Victorian and Victorian. I’m reading Macbeth, and slowly going through the English translation of a Chinese novel called The Red Chamber. It’s an abridgement of a five volume series the author spent something like forty years writing. Later I hope to tackle the full set.

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Acronyms are White Supremacy

Who is going to tell BIPOC community and the NAACP that their acronyms stem from white supremecy?

I know it gets old saying you can’t make this stuff up, but really, not in my wildest dreams could I ever have mocked anybody to this degree. Spot the bizarre self-own:
“Now the art department of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) is getting rid of its acronym VAPA (visual and performing arts) because, its director argues, acronyms are a “symptom of white supremacy.”

A memo from the director explained the new name will be “SFUSD Arts Department” in the effort to disassociate school monikers from racism and slavery.

“We are prioritizing antiracist arts instruction in our work,” department director Sam Bass told ABC7. “The use of so many acronyms within the educational field often tends to alienate those who may not speak English to understand the acronym.”

WHAT DO THEY THINK SFUSD IS? These people are just ridiculously silly. Note also the assumption that the only people who don’t speak English are brown people. Germans, Russians, the Swiss, the French, and on and on and on are not on the radar. Or maybe these woke folk just think only brown people are too dumb to figure out acronyms.

As usual, this is more about virtue signaling and performance theater than doing anything that actually helps minority students succeed:
“The San Francisco school board is still forcing students to work from home even as it focuses on adopting antiracist policies—despite new data showing that remote learning has disproportionately impacted minority students’ test scores, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday. The school district and teachers’ union have so far failed to reach an agreement on how to return to the classroom safely during the coronavirus pandemic.” From the Free Beacon, which notes the district renamed several schools because they were named have problematic figures, like Thomas Jefferson (I get this one), George Washington (the only one of the southern founders to free his slaves, albeit he waited until he was dead so he didn’t have to deal with his wife’s recriminations), and Abraham Lincoln. Also Diane Feinstein, which I don’t care, but it’s because she flew a confederate flag once in 1984.
The kids are not in school, but this matters.

The school district committee which chose which schools to rename based their decisions on information from Wikipedia and other internet sources which schools won’t even let their students cite as sources because they are not reliable. Here.

Snarky short read about it at the dailykos of all places.

They could have simply said we think using the VAPA acronym tends to cause confusion about who we are and what we do among non-English speaking parents, so we’re going to drop VAPA, and probably nobody would have said a thing. But no. They have to make it stupid.

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William Stanley Braithwaite, Poet, anthologist

His parents were black but lightskinned enough on both sides that some of his family had been able to pass for white (how often they did, I don’t know). On his mother’s side, one of the grandmothers had been a skave. On his father’s side they were from the West Indies, and his father studied medicine in England.

In his early life he and his siblings were home educated by their father. His father died while WSB was still young, and he was sent to a Boston public school for a time. However, times were hard for any widow, let alone the daughter of a slave, to raise a family on her own, so at 12 he quit school to help his family. He became an errand boy.
Then he apprenticed at the Ginn and Co publishing house to learn typesetting.

“the 15-year-old fell under the spell of poetry—prompted, he later recalled, by John Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn.” He began to read avidly, spending hours at the Boston Public Library, where he discovered that “the deeper I read, the more, and often discouragingly, I realized the difficulties confronting me,” the Dictionary of Literary Biography essay quoted him as writing.”

Across the centuries, an old dead white poet reached out and started an answering fire in the heart of a young, impoverished, fatherless, undereducated black teenager. Braithwaite would go on to write underwhelming poetry of his own, but more importantly, he edited poetry anthologies, published poetry journals, and kindled a revival of interest in poetry in America.

He looked for newer, unrecognized and underappreciated poets to include in his journals and anthologies. He made sure to include black voices, with neither fear nor favour, judging them on the same merits as other poets, in all things treating them as equals. So formidable and unquestioned was his authority and influence that he was called Sir Oracle and the Boston Dictator by a rival publication. His 1913 anthology was one of the first to include both black and white poets, and his acknowledgement could, and often did, launch a poet’s career.

More here:

Read more: William Stanley Braithwaite Biography – Discovered English Romantic Poetry, Edited Numerous Anthologies, Taught for a Decade, Selected writings – American, Verse, Boston, and Literary – JRank Articles https://biography.jrank.org/pages/2734/Braithwaite-William-Stanley.html#ixzz6loIPsgVK

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Black History Month

Carter G. Woodson, a brilliant black educator, historian, and author, is the founder of the idea of setting aside a period of time in February specifically for the study of black history.

He set aside Negro History Week in 1926. He chose February because February is the birth month of Abraham Lincoln and the month Frederick Douglass had chosen for his birthday (the 14th).

He developed his views on the value of teaching black children their cultural heritage when he was teaching Filipino children in the Philippines. The curriculum he was handed for those children was very Eurocentric, which is fine for European children, but kind of weird for Filipino kids in the Philippines.

The children had a reputation among the other American teachers for being stubborn, unteachable, and not generally very bright. Dr. Woodson made some changes to his materials, including Philippine history and heroes, folksongs (or, sometimes, simply changing the oak tree in a song to a mango tree), and the kids really blossomed under his tutelage.

I love that story.

He returned home and began to delve into black history, essentially establishing the discipline of black historiography. He published many books, a black history bulletin for teachers, and was well respected in the field of history. The more I read about him, the more impressed I am.

 
This is good book to begin with:


 

 

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Chinese Dramas

Here are three I recommend:

 

Go Go Squid: this is a cute funny, silly romance with lots of delightful side characters and friendships. The lead male is the owner of an e-sports  team and that’s where a lot of the drama comes from.  Not an e-sports fan or antifan, but I still enjoyed this.

The Story of Ming Lan- historical drama, romance, some comedy and some martial arts- with a lot of the drama from the scene of the inner courtyards and rivalries and warfare between wives and concubines and their kids.

 

Ming Lane is the youngest child in a family with six children, two concubines, one wife. Her mother is a concubine who dies in childbirth when Minglan is young. Circumstances are sus. Her grandmother raises her. Her legal parents (dad & the main wife) care more about appearances than about anything else, especially Ming Lane. She meets Hi TingYe, second son and heir to his father’s dukedom when they are kids and he comes to First Sister’s wedding.bhe is already known for being wild, careless, flouring convention, unfilial (a huge sin).

They meet again later when he is part of a small school she and her siblings attend along with a couple other family connections.

There is the warfare in the women’s courtyard, and also warfare in the land as there is a rebellion against the Emperor and Gu  has gone for a soldier.

This sounds more soap opera like than it is. There was some very good social commentary, explanations of how things worked, or didn’t, plenty of interesting, well written characters and good dialogue. There is also some fighting, martial arts, various discussions of poetry and literature. The main love story is fabulous. Delightful. He does step in in the nick of time just too too often and too too perfectly but I did not care. She is smart as a whip and holds her own much like a young Daniel come to judgement.

This is one of the best subtitling teams ever- you can learn a lot about Chinese history, customs, and poetry. You will have to pause to read the subtitles, though.

Really loved this.

Rebel Princess- currently airing, only a third through.  So I may hate the ending, but right now I am blown away by the lavish costumes, the gorgeous music, the incredible acting. So addictive I watched without subtitles while waiting impatiently for subtitles to come, and the acting is good that I usually could guess the gist of what they were saying.

Awu is a doted on young Princess- she is everybody’s favourite. Her uncle is the Emperor, her mother is his little sister, her dad is prime minister. She is in love with one of the princes and he lives her, but neither of them care about palace politics at all, or are even aware of them. Everything is perfect.

Except in reality, palace politics are ugly and messy and she is an unwitting pawn. Her world begins collapsing and for political reasons she must endure the disgrace of being married off to a military general who was born a commoner and made a prince so he could legally marry her.  He wants no part of it either, but cannot disobey. Everybody wants his army for their side and he just wants to protect his country’s borders and stability.

Naturally, they fall in love and foil the political schemers. So far.

The acting here is phenomenal. He rescues her repeatedly in most unlikely scenarios and I don’t care. That is a lie. I cared so much I rewatched two of those rescues half a dozen times.

But also, out of the palace, breathing fresh air and enduring some hardships, Awu stretches and grows and it turns out she is a pretty smart cookie herself, with a decent instinctive understanding of strategy and policy. She cares about common people and has a social conscience. She is also unafraid to do hard things, like have bad people beheaded or whatever.

 

I think all of these are available on YouTube, and also on Viki.

 

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