January 24, 2008 Header
ArtLung, blog of Joe Crawford [January 2008]

Race & Cesar Chavez Day

Did you know that today is Cesar Chavez day? It is. I don’t reference my heritage as a person of Mexican descent very often, if at all. My mother’s side of the family practiced assimilation. The kids were discouraged from learning Spanish. The story I was told was that my maternal grandparents (now both deceased) did not pass along Spanish to their kids. They used Spanish when they wanted to clandestinely talk about things such as Christmas gifts. Few of my aunts speak Spanish as a result.

As for my own identity, I am not sure what to make of my own “race.” I’m not typically interested in anyone else’s race, though I’m fascinated by others’ conceptions about race. I am fond of the notion that race is a human invention. As such, it’s in my interest to be aware of how people self-identify and what that means to them. I have thought a great deal, and been confronted several times with how people look at me.

I recall, at age 21, taking care of a patient at the University of Virginia Medical Center — I was giving a breathing treatment to a patient — after the treatment I was taking his pulse and we got to chatting a bit. I revealed I was originally from California, and he asked me if I was Mexican. I said, my family hails from Mexico partly. This prompted him to say to me “you’re a beaner then!”

I had no idea how to respond to that. I still don’t. It stunned me, I remember that. The man’s affect was pleasant, but that term was in my mind deeply racist. I had no idea how to react to it. It’s one of my memories that I think of sometimes, despite myself.

When I’m confronted with choosing a “race” on demographic surveys I typically decline to state. I used to check two boxes, one for white, one for hispanic or latino. I had a boss once who was very excited that I was partly hispanic because it was good for the diversity numbers. I cringed at that and asked this person not to use me for that since I did not grow up disadvantaged. I still don’t know if my status was used in that way.

Much earlier in my life, when we lived in the Philippines I was one of maybe a dozen “white” kids in a school that encompassed thousands of kids, La Salle Green Hills. We were the oddball kids, very exotic, and most of us ignorant of Tagalog and Filipino culture. I didn’t exactly feel picked on, but at ages 7 to 9 I felt how different I was. Out on the street it was even stranger. That country was deathly poor. These were the years of the reign of Ferdinand Marcos and martial law. When we were on the street beggars, including kids would come up to us in a steady stream which was strange and dismaying. It didn’t help that the standard name to call an American, since the time of the Second World War was “Joe” — as in “G.I. Joe” — so whenever the poor would beg from us they were saying “Joe, Joe, Joe.” Being an expatriate kid opened my eyes to so much, ir probably warrants a post of its own. Perhaps someday.

I don’t think I’ve written about any of these things in the past. I have a tendency to push back against any kind of racist terminology or thinking. Most recently, I pushed back (read: overreacted) on my kids in this 2006 post: “The Extra Bone Bet.”

I’m not sure what else to say about race.

Cesar Chavez Day of Service and Learning




Quote of the Day

“It’s on Like Donkey Kong”

– Jessica Kinni, from the appalling and enjoyable Rock of Love II

UPDATE: Please note, she did not originate this phrase. Thanks Jukebox!

New Ronny Vardy Etsy Store

Hey Cool! There’s a new Ronny Vardy Etsy Store and I made a note of it. I’ve been a fan of her work since 2001 or so. Since then, I did this strange thing many years ago and started a Ronny Vardy Fan Site. I can only update sporadically, but I enjoy when I can.

Ronny Vardy Etsy Store

Cat and Girl Donation Derby!

Several months ago I donated money to Dorothy, the super-duper-awesome cartoonist of Cat and Girl — she has this thing called “Donation Derby”:

Support my lavish lifestyle! Donate $5 or more and I’ll draw you a picture of how I spend it. Include your address and I’ll mail it to you.

The other day, my donation turned into a comic, and I got a copy in the US mail too! Yay!

Cat and Girl Donation Derby

Yes, I have mentioned Cat and Girl before, twice I think.

If you want a collection of Donation Derby comics, you can buy $8228.40 and a Metrocard.


I quite like this approach to bring attention to conferences with poor gender diversity, by Dori Smith of Backup Brain:

Given that I’ve been ranting about this issue for several years now (boy, time flies when you’re having fun, don’t it?) and nothing has changed, I figured I’d try something new this time: creating a group on Upcoming.org called Needs Women Speakers. Feel free to join, and once you’ve joined, you can add “Needs Women Speakers” as a tag to any conference you see where you think it’s applicable.

Upgraded to WordPress 2.5

This morning I upgraded this blog to WordPress 2.5.

For the time being I’m going to keep a generic theme while I learn some stuff about the new version.

via Zeldman.

The Thing with the Video Card

Author’s note, I started drafting this several months back and never finished it. I share it now because what the heck else will I do with it? It’s like a story with no end. A burrito with no tortilla. A car with no gas. Enjoy.

So the other night I could scarcely sleep, and what I did instead is install a new video card in my own main home Windows machine. That machine runs Windows Server 2003 for reasons that continue to mystify me. Really I intend to convert to Ubuntu on this box, but that transition feels like it will be difficult and I don’t need that noise, jack.

I was prompted to install hardware because several months ago we ditched the last of our CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors and went flatscreen. This is better for the environment energy-consumption-wise and saves physical space. I in particular got a cheapo-widescreen Optiquest monitor ($200! less with a rebate!) — the model is Q20wb, an Optiquest.

I had used it on my aging Mac G4 computer and it looked great, but a few weeks ago I decided to switch the widescreen to the Windows box since, as the G4 ages, it gets more cumbersome to get real work done. The problem was I could not, with the video card and drivers I had set up in Windows, drive the widescreen. Instead it could do some random resolution, so that the screen, instead of looking nice at 1680 x 1050 pixels, was at something like 1280 x 1024. On a widescreen monitor, this meant that everything was scrunched vertically. This could not stand! So I switched back for a while and bided my time.

I asked my stepson Devon if he had any stray video cards, hoping I could buy one of his castoffs for $10 bucks. The young man always seems to have stray hardware from building game PCs. Sadly, no dice. However, he did provide me with this link on NewEgg to HIS Radeon 7000 64MB PCI Video Card. I hemmed and hawed for a few weeks, tried many different drivers, and never got a satisfactory result. Well, I splurged last week and bought it, and it arrived this week.

But when I installed it, I would boot and the screen was simply blank. No nothing. No dice. I could hear it booting.

I messed around with the net and eventually found this answer.

Of course, there are no permanent links on the ABSOLUTELY STUPID ATI SUPPORT SITE so whatever that link was is now lost to history.

I got it working but I was up all night and had to do some counterintuitive crap — I think I had to use Safe Mode then do some silliness. It was a big dumb nightmare and clearly I had the urge to write about it but perhaps it was too painful to revisit the steps I took. Thats’ my throry.

The lesson of this post, incomplete as it is, is this: HARDWARE SUCKS. HARDWARE SUPPORT WEBSITES SUCK. WINDOWS SUCKS.

I’m glad I could be of service.

JavaScript Geekery: John Resig

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I’ll mention it now, I have done some with with jQuery. It’s impressive stuff. I quite enjoyed watching this talk by jQuery creator John Resig: JavaScript Talk at Northeastern. Perhaps you will too.

Update 2023. There’s no replacement video for this. The original link was http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docId=-7485992465859932389.

Google Video went away, alas.

And Then…

So we got a phone call yesterday that we got the house where we’re going to live next. Having this settled (even in the absence of paperwork, which we’ll do today) is a great load off our minds. Once again the wisdom of simply driving around where you want to live and looking for signs kicks the ass of fancy internet web searches. I wish it were not so, but it is so.

What else, went swimming yesterday again (YAY!) and I’m again sore this morning. So what’ll I do? Well, probably go again today. And be more sore tomorrow? It’s probably a good sign that I’m sore after swimming. I know I’m using muscles I’ve been out of the habit of using. I think that must be an objective good for my health. I think.

It’s pretty great to get back in the water. Though really it’s a second-class version of going in the ocean, and I check http://watchthewater.org/ daily for water temperatures.

A few complaints about that site: it’s overdesigned and too heavy in adornment, it’s not simple to navigate, it does not include the water temperatures of Ventura County beaches.

And some praise for that site: it’s got data! hooray for water temperature data, I like that it has some maps, I like that it’s got some webcams of some of the beaches.

When I think about my complaints about watchthewater.org I think about creating a custom stylesheet or a Greasemonkey script that improves it.

Hurm. Is that it for the morning? I suppose that’s it for now. I think I’ve blogged every day this week. A trend? A blip? An outlier? Who can say?

Indeed, who can say. And moreover…


Hah! Kicking it old school.

People are listening to speeches… by Obama

Maybe it really is a YouTube generation. These are some impressive numbers for the viewings of the speeches for the Obama Campaign:

Here’s the source: Welcome to the age of the sound blast by Micah L. Sifry and Andrew Rasiej on Politico.com. via Craig Newmark for Huffington Post in turn via NewsGang twitter feed.

So far, Obama’s videos have been viewed more than 33 million times on YouTube.com — and that’s not counting partial views, since YouTube only reports a full viewing as a “view.” His campaign has uploaded more than 800 video clips, and adds several more a day.

If you just look at his ten most viewed videos, here are some astonishing facts:

  • The average number of views for these top ten is currently more than 1.1 million (nearly double the average from a month ago!)
  • The average length of these ten videos is 13.3 minutes.
  • There have been nearly 3.9 million views of the longest of Obama’s most popular videos, his “A More Perfect Union” speech on race in America.

By contrast, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s YouTube numbers are nowhere as impressive as Obama’s — a sign of her failure to understand and embrace the new medium than anything else. She’s garnered about 10.5 million views, but the average length of her top ten most viewed clips is only two minutes. Several of her top ten videos are actually 30-second TV ads, in fact.

I watched the speech on race, and subscribed to the Barack Obama videos feed at http://www.youtube.com/user/BarackObamadotcom.

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