Sunday newspaper reading

I think I’m caught up on four days’ worth of NY Times and other reading. Maybe! Lots of interesting stuff…

According to the latest ABA e-Journal, Philadelphia Howard Bashman’s blog “How Appealling” has been the recent target of parodies. What really impresses me about the article is that his blogging on appellate cases has now helped him be seen as an expert on appellate law and got him a gig on Legal Affairs magazine. Cool – he got a networking opportunity out of this.

Back when I was a senior in high school, my economics class did a case study (so to speak) of Walmart – how it undermined the mom-and-pop stores and transformed the American economy. NY Times has an article on scholars studying the Walmart effect. I didn’t realize this and find it unsurprising of the Walmart-ness – despite being such a big corporate power, it has allegedly undermined American labor. Walmart declined to participate in the symposia, saying that it was biased against it. Well, I’d have to say that when one become rich and powerful, one must expect the criticism that comes with it, so either respond or adapt to the criticism. Then again, I heard Walmart did reform its anti-discrimination policy to include banning harassment based on sexual orientation, which is sure to make the industry consider what it too does. So, I would think that no one’s saying that Walmart is 100% evil; it just needs to be a little more considerate.

Speaking of corporate power, The Power of Mickey Mouse may be on decline, because we (my generation certainly) don’t know who Mickey is anymore. Interesting article in the NY Times. I’ll note a passage that writer Jesse Green wrote, with my witty thoughts in brackets:

“But that richly drawn, disreputable character, born of desperation and betrayal, got watered down almost from the moment he was introduced…. And although Mickey for a while remained a playful, conniving underdog, like Huck Finn or Charlie Chaplin’s Tramp, he gradually got less mischievous. ‘He couldn’t have any of the naughty qualities he had in his earlier cartoons,’ said Mr. Smith, of the Disney archives, ‘because so many people looked up to him. The studio would get complaints in the mail.’ [I’d say that, ergo, no more mad and feisty Mickey, a la the Simpsons’ Itchy and Scratchy variety – as the article pointed out that 1928 Mickey was borderline sadistic…]

“So, sometime in the mid- to late 1930’s, Mickey settled down. Barnyard cohorts [like Horace the Horse and Clarabelle the Cow] and rail-riding adventures gave way to suburban domesticity with his non-wife Minnie (‘They just lived together as friends,’ said Mr. Smith. ‘For a very long time’) and their unexplained nephews [my response was “You mean, like Barbie and Ken? And, good point on the nephews – no one ever did figure out if they were Minnie’s or Mickey’s and everyone was very clear about Donald’s nephews on the other hand; I almost thought that Green would write “the alleged nephews” – could Morty and Ferdie be – gasp – the illegitimate sons…? LOL]. At the same time, Mickey’s perverse qualities were grafted onto his new supporting cast — Donald Duck and Goofy, especially — who by the 1940’s, according to Mr. Smith, eclipsed the mouse in popularity. ”

Probably explains why I was a Bugs Bunny person than a Mickey one.

Consider this humorist’s take on the whole newsstory on CIA Director George Tenet’s metaphorical hair-on-fire. Very funny. Of course, I tend to get nervous when the NY Times’ op-ed includes some weird humor like this – like, who’s running their newsroom to come up with this stuff?

Yesterday, I attended a symposium on Asian-American/Asian trends at my undergraduate alma mater, set up by the Asian/Asian-American alumni group; interesting event, part of the university’s 250 anniversary and Asian-Pacific-American month. Got to hear the latest on ethnic studies developments; econ/political trends on Asia (which I’m not into usually, but these two young professors certainly pointed out the global scope of developments – not to mention the pop culture trends making things impossible to ignore, so someone ought to get a paper on that – that idea made me laugh); and I thought the panel discussion on Asian-Americans in broadcast media was really interesting (a point of discussion: has American Idol’s William Hung hurt or helped things for Asian-Americans? Scary thing was that everyone in the room knew who he was without much explanation; pro: he’s a plucky guy, which undermines the stereotype of passive Asian; con: he doesn’t sing well, and are people laughing at him rather than with him and confusing the individual image of him as symbolic of Asians as a group? Hmm). The symposium made me feel real good about being Asian American, but also knowing that we have a long way to go before we can get mainstream America to stop perceiving us as mere “Asian” or, worse, alien.

So, in honor of all that Asian good stuff, I will put a plug for this fascinating article on Bollywood from the NY Times. I complain enough about the state of American films, so maybe I ought to watch foreign films for their variety.

Enjoy the nice weather in NYC – the weather is so nice… spring is indeed here. Well, hopefully the temperatures won’t jump into summer though. Insane…

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