Faine Opines

Southeast Asia, liberation technology, drones, and pontification

Month: May 2014 (page 1 of 2)

Irresponsible Photoshopper: Snowden Doge

I’ve considered putting “purveyor of fine obnoxious Photoshop” on my business card. I wonder how that would go over.

snowden-doge

I have long felt a profound, sympathetic connection between Doge and Snowden. I may be delusional.

 

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Hate Crimes, Misogyny, and UCSB: Some Early Thoughts

Isla Vista in happier times.

Isla Vista in happier times.

I woke up yesterday morning to the news that a privileged 22-year-old Santa Barbara kid from a movie-making family who drove a black BMW had brutally murdered seven people, and had injured seven others. The headline at that early hour made it sound like a pedestrian, by US standards, sort of mass shooting. But as I skimmed the article with mild disinterest, which quickly flipped into horror, I realized the lede had been buried. Elliot Rodger was out to kill a very specific group of people: women.

In a rambling, 150 page “manifesto,” Rodger made his intentions and his motives utterly, unambiguously clear. He was still a virgin, and it was all the fault of women who failed to recognize his “alpha” nature. “All of those beautiful girls I’ve desired so much in my life, but can never have because they despise and loathe me, I will destroy,” he typed, in his bile-ridden and profoundly adolescent prose. Tragically, he was not just some harmless basement-dweller  with woman problems. He carried out his plans, and now seven people – women and men – are dead.

Was Elliot Rodger mass-murder a hate crime? I absolutely think it is. Here’s why, off the top of my head – with more to come as I gather further information on the distinctions between hate crimes and terrorism.

Let’s look at the FBI definition of a hate crime:

A hate crime is a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. For the purposes of collecting statistics, Congress has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.”

Although you don’t see gender in this basic description from the FBI website, it’s part of (federal) hate crime law. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 broadened the definition of a hate crime to include gender, not just gender identity.

Then why do we seem so reluctant to deem the targeted killing of women a hate crime in our society? It’s not like this is an unfathomably rare occurrence, almost always when real or perceived sexual rejection comes into play. In April, a Connecticut boy stabbed a girl to death for refusing to accept his invitation to prom.

There was the 2009 Pennsylvania gym shooting, in which 3 women were shot and killed and nine wounded by a man who regularly lamented in his diary that he wasn’t getting laid. There was the 2006 Amish school shooting, in which five little girls were shot execution-style for the perceived crimes of all women by murderer Charles C. Roberts. Beyond these dramatic mass killings, there is more violence: per CDC statistics, 1095 women were killed by an intimate partner in 2010 alone, as stacked up against the deaths of 241 men in the same scenario.

Even though women are killed for being women with depressing regularity in the US, the media  and the public often seem bizarrely reluctant to call a hate crime a hate crime. In the wake of the UCSB shootings, many in the media — and on social media — are exceedingly reluctant to talk about misogyny as a cause for this violence.

A brief Google for news headlines related to the UCSB shootings calls the incident a “spree,” “slaying,” “mayhem,” “killings,” and other fairly generic adjectives for a hideous crime. I’ve yet to see a mainstream news source identify the shootings as a hate crime, although some editorial pages have come out and said it. The popular narrative may turn that way, but I’m not holding my breath. (This is a topic that would lend itself very well to a good content analysis study).

For the purposes of this quick-and-dirty blog post, I’m wondering why I feel it’s so unlikely the actions of Elliot Rodger will be interpreted through the lens of “hate crime” – although it fits the FBI definition exceptionally well, in a near textbook fashion.

The evidence seems damningly clear: Women are regularly killed for the crime of being women, both in dramatic mass-shooting events (in which they are killed at larger numbers than men), and in small-scale intimate partner killings. But why are we so reluctant to publicly condemn and label these murders as hate crimes in the US — to the extent that the FBI does not even track data onhate crimes with “gender” as the impetus?

I have a few theories. I would welcome your thoughts. (I heavily moderate my comments, so feel free to piss into the echo chamber if you’re not interested in civility).

1. Other Hate Crime Categories.

Hate crimes against women are often folded into other hate crimes when they are cataloged and reported upon. The woman who is killed or abused or raped may be gay. She may be a person of color, or she may be transgendered, or so on and forth. In the eyes of the statistics as they are currently gathered, and as they are usually reported on, her gender is not factored in. The other qualities that made her “hateable” override the fact of her gender.

This creates a rather gross situation in which case can only easily be perceived as an explicit crime against women when the victims don’t possess other hateable characteristics.

In the case of the UCSB killings, we have this demographic convenience, gross as it is: the victims were (far as we know right now) heterosexual white women and men attending a respected university. The same holds true for the victims in the 2009 and 2006 shootings, which both received at least some – if not nearly enough — attention for being killings explicitly targeted at women. In short, we appear to have serious demographic blinders when it comes to hate crimes against women: it is often hard for us to “see” them.

2. Domestic Violence.

It’s very likely that hate crimes against women are often bundled into domestic violence incidences.  It is hard to tease apart the strands of a domestic killing to identify if the murder was motivated by personal animosity, a specific loathing of women, or some combination therein. I suspect that it is foolish indeed to discount plain misogyny as one motivation behind many domestic partner killings. We may be missing many crimes with a gender-related element for this very reason.

The logic — as it so often does in these cases — comes back to base sexual entitlement on the part of some men. She angered me, and she is a woman, so I have the right to kill her. She cheated on me, and she is a woman, so I have the right to beat her. She broke up with me, and she is a woman, so I have the right to rape her. Repeat ad nauseum.

Gender, in these cases, grants extra license to treat a given individual with aggression and disrespect.

3. Proximity.

Unlike other “hate crime” categories, the vast majority of men have women in their lives, one way or another. A virulent racist or homophobe can, at least in theory, avoid all association with the group he or she loathes.

Meanwhile, most men’s lives, whether they like it or not, are intertwined with those of women from birth onwards. There is really no practical way to avoid women at all costs (besides becoming a monk, I guess) and the vast majority of heterosexual men don’t find the total avoidance of women to be a particularly appealing situation.

Although the statistics on which gender is doing the vast majority of the killing could not be more clear, perhaps we as a culture shrink from the enormity of deeming hate crimes to be both possible and disturbingly common against over 50 percent of the population, which must live and work with the other 50 percent to survive and thrive.

That is admitting to a very significant problem that places a very outsized burden on one exceedingly large demographic group — and a problem that we, as a culture, are deeply disinterested in talking about. (Is there a culture that’s interested in having mature discussions about misogyny and domestic abuse? Don’t answer that).

4. Language.

The language we use to describe hate crimes against women is different from the language we use to discuss other crimes of bias. There are certain words that are used against people of color and those of different sexual orientations that are given considerable power in hate speech and hate crime prosecutions — I don’t believe I need to list them here.

However, the words “bitch” and “cunt” and “whore” seem to be considerably more normalized in our popular language. Most of us wouldn’t really think of categorizing them as hate speech specifically against the female gender. When they’re used and deemed offensive, we think of them as slurs levied against a specific woman, but not as slurs that levied specifically against women in general.

It’s a curious omission — after all, in our genteel modern era, even scumbags usually use coded words to express racist opinions, but there isn’t even a word that’s categorically considered hateful to and deleterious to women.

5. Acceptance.

Expressing overtly misogynist opinions is still considered essentially acceptable in many parts of society, and is especially common on the Internet.

As TheCatBastetCameBack said in an excellent Gawker comment (of all things): “Racism is not less common, but people participating in the mainstream are less likely to feel socially safe – to believe correctly that they will not suffer social sanctions – about revealing racist sentiments and using racist language than they are about expressing even violently misogynistic sentiments and using overt misogynistic language. Racists have reason to code and conceal and check if the room is safe. Misogynists do not.”

I should add that my argument for tracking and prosecuting “gender” as an acceptable hate crime category cuts both ways. If men are explicitly singled out and killed for being men, then such crimes should also be prosecuted aggressively and to the full extent of the law. One could very well argue that Boko Haram’s targeted slaughter of schoolboys in Nigeria would fall under this category.

But let’s not fall into false equivalencies here, either. Such incidences of suffering violence and death for the crime of possessing certain gametes are a whole lot more likely to happen to women. .Further, I have yet to witness the rampage of murdering, lying, raping feminists that has descend onto the male population of the US, despite what some men’s rights forums noisily proclaim at every possible opportunity.

6. Rape And Murder: Crazy Beats Misogny

As anyone who’s perused criminal manifestos or confessions know, many serial rapists and killers are motivated by a hatred of women. Women are also disproportionally targeted by serial killers, as everyone who pays attention to the news has probably already guessed: they represent 70 percent of the victims,  per FBI data released in 2010.

However, these serial rapists and serial killers are often deemed simply insane, despite the fact that in many instances, they are quite frank about their motivations being driven by a hatred of and dislike of women. Are these killings treated as hate crimes? Almost never. As we’ve seen in the UCSB case, for some reason, the killing of women motivated by a hatred of women is a “mental health problem” and is not related to the hatred of a certain demographic group.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

Hell if I know, quite frankly. But let’s begin with not writing off the UCSB tragedy as the singular act of a madman acting in isolation.

“Dismissing violent misogynists as “crazy” is a neat way of saying that violent misogyny is an individual problem, not a cultural one,” wrote blogger Melissa McEwan yesterday on Twitter.

She makes an elegant point. It is high time we addressed the recent uptick in hate speech against women on the Internet, and how it continues to fester and proliferate with rather little push-back on some of the most prominent websites on the Internet — such as Reddit, where seemingly every vaguely-women-related topic on the main, incredibly popular boards attracts men who make a free-time hobby out of flamboyantly loathing women.

It is also a neat way of pretending that social issues are in no way influenced by rhetoric, offline and online communities, and organized ideology. (Which anyone who has studied genocide in detail, as I have, knows is utter and abject bullshit).

Many men’s rights types are now claiming that their particular brand of online misogyny is no more dangerous or violence-inducing than violent video games or movies. Amusingly, this is the same group that is very willing to blame the social ideology of feminism for just about all of societies woes, up to and including the UCSB shooting.

You can’t have it both ways. Either ideologies and interest groups and communities can promote certain behaviors and norms, or they can’t. As the excellent We Hunted The Mammoth blog points out in this post on the work of Lundy Bancroft, it’s pretty damned easy to see a correlation between vile behavior towards women, and the online echo chambers that merrily encourage it.

It is also foolish to claim that this woman-hating rhetoric is “just online” and therefore doesn’t count. It is 2014, and the Internet is an absolutely central fact of life around the planet. Further, it is a source of income and power that’s especially hostile to women – ever so coincidentally, at the same time as those with STEM abilities and popular web presences draw larger and larger paychecks and attract more and more respect. And as dozens of killings since the Internet age began have proved in one depressing incident after another, online rhetoric and language is translate into real-world action with disturbing regularity. There is no such thing as “just the Internet” anymore. Perhaps there never was.

Much as some may desperately wish to avoid having a national discussion about the deadly results of misogyny,  too damn bad.

The time is now, and we’ve just been confronted with an unambiguous hate crime against women, apparently bolstered by online groups devoted to manipulating and hating women. Rodger, much as we might like to pretend otherwise, did not simply develop his blackened world view in complete isolation.

Hate does not spring into violent form from a vacuum. The conversation about sexual entitlement and virulent misogyny, both online and offline, needs to begin now.

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MakerFaire Day Two: Game of Drones, Flaming Octopi

dragon and ocotopus makerfaire

Flaming dragon AND octopus. As one does.

I spent most of this day at MakerFaire hanging out at the Game of Drones encampment, but got the chance to wander around the main show area again.

I left early in the morning, arriving from my place in Palo Alto around 8:15 AM, and quickly learned one useful MakerFaire trick: the Franklin Templeton Investments outlet in San Mateo was offering free parking to attendees, only about a ten minute walk from the event grounds.

You might want to remember that tip for next year. Why Templeton did this — I can’t answer that one, although it’s certainly not often that I harbor kind thoughts about a global investment firm.

Game of Drones kicked off another long day of vicious aerial robot battles, which were eternally well-attended. I think they’re really onto something here, judging by the rapt fascination of both kids and adults who showed up to watch the action and the well-delivered calling. I could see this being a highly amusing new road-show — like Robot Wars but a lot speedier.

The Barbie Dream Drone.

The Barbie Dream Drone.

A true profusion of UAV makes and models competed in the action, but my favorite was definitely the Barbie Dream Drone, made by Edie Sellars. I think I need to make a My Little Pony themed model for next year.

reiner freeing barbie drone

The safety net proved to be the undoing of more drones today, although the pilots were getting better at avoiding it. On the plus side, the crowd goes nuts when a drone gets tangled in the netting. Also, turns out a PVC tube with a toy gripper claw operated by string works pretty well for getting the UAVs down.

game of drones victory 5

The organizers of MakerFaire seemed to agree about the event: Game of Drones scored an Editors Choice award, which was presented in a delightfully country-fair analogue little blue ribbon. I wish them all the best. And hope to get my filthy paws on one of their Sumo quad airframes soon.

bow before thy flaming octopus

Turns out El Pulpo Mecanico gives the occasional show, with bursts of superheated flame coordinated to blippy electronic music. If you can’t get to Burning Man and are in fact opposed to spending $500+ to hang out with your parents and their friends while they drop endless quantities of acid, the sculptures here at MakerFaire may represent your next best bet. The El Pulpo operators occasionally give the flames full blast without warning, scaring the hell out of the spectators milling around the area. It’s very, very fun to watch.

glassblowing makerfaire

Glassblowing, blacksmithing, jewelry and more by complements of The Crucible. I am fairly certain I’d end up covered in third degree burns if I tried to imitate my favorite Skryim character in real life, but I’m glad someone does it. They’ve got classes on offer if you want to take your faux video game skills into the real world, and make some sweet swords or something. Or spoons. You could also make spoons.

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 10.20.42 PM

I managed to resist the urge to buy everything I wanted at MakerFaire, which would have been a hilariously expensive proposition, but this bronze giant squid necklace from Dragon’s Treasure was too awesome to resist. If you’re as fond of eccentric jewelry as me, you should check out their website immediately.

I was also very impressed by the biologically-friendly creations of Bug Under Glass, including beautiful butterfly wing jewelry. And framed beetles riding tiny bicycles, which is pretty much my idea of good home decor.

Here’s some more random-access images:

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MakerFaire – Day One

makerfaire octopusToday, I went to MakerFaire for the first time. A two day event organized by Make Magazine and located at the San Mateo Event Center, MakerFaire is rather like the country fair of your technological dreams.

And far more fun than the state fair: this event features Arduino-powered robots, animatronic giant animals, flaming sculptures, and battle drones instead of butter art and depressed looking show rabbits. Burning Man devotees turn out in force for this with their work, and you’ll regularly be passed by a six year old riding a mechanical trilobite, or a bored looking teenager steering around in a felted, moveable, blue cupcake. It’s everything you ever imagined about California gloriously confirmed. Well, the good things about California.

It's armor for your cat!

It’s armor for your cat!

Steampunk cosplayers look regretful in the sun in their tight leather corsets, some guy is making the rounds with a robotic parrot obviously cannibalized from an errant Furby, and every other person seems to have engineered some strange LED arrangement with their hat.

cardboard bot

It takes a remarkably long time to see everything — my feet were aching by the end of the day, but it was worth it, as I took in robotic ship battles, the organic food and farming section, an endless array of 3D-printer startups, and an extremely alluring DIY shop where I (today) managed to talk myself out of buying anything. It’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had in a convention setting.

Further, I liked the vibe. Everyone was in a good mood, curious, and thoroughly enjoying spending a good day utterly geeking out over everything in sight. Lots of women in evidence too, both manning booths with their projects and checking out the show. If you’re looking for a geek event that does a good job of actually including everybody, this is it.

battle droneI went to MakerFaire thanks to the crew behind Game of Drones,which was able to get some friends and associates into the show for free. Game of Drones, as the title may hint, makes ruggedized UAV airframes that are suitable for unholy aerial battle.

The Game of Drones team had a big show at MakerFaire, running one-on-one battles every hour. The turn out was impressive: hundreds of people staring, transfixed, as small flying robots did their best to kill one another, or at least knock each other out of commission.

barbie dream quad

Everyone snaps their heads around when we hear the tell-tale buzzsaw noise of imminent drone death. It’s a ton of fun. I did not subject my Phantom and its camera gimbal to the tender embrace of the battlefield, but I’m hoping to get my hands on one of these ruggedized airframes in the near future.

netting-deathsThe netting around the battle arena served its purpose of protecting the many, many spectators that came to watch the action, but had the side-effect of capturing drones like so many hapless bluefin tuna. A big PVC tube with a knife stuck on the end had to be deployed. More than a few times.

Here’s a grab-bag of images from the first day of MakerFaire. Coming back tomorrow….

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the modern human condition – drawings

Does anyone else ever find themselves contemplating with equal measures awe and terror how quickly technology has advanced since 2008? In 2008, none of us had smartphones. I was able to survive with a daily trip to an Internet cafe while I lived in Bangalore. I have only gauzy recollections of how I spent my time.

Contrary to the beliefs of the militant anti-screen time wackos, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t happier. I can say this because I went without a smartphone for a good four months last year. Instead of being filled with Zen-like connection with the world, I spent a lot of my time looking lustfully at other people’s smartphones.

Anyway, here’s a drawing.

tell-the-internet

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Why You Should Pay Attention to Political Unrest in Thailand – UN Dispatch

protests thailand

 

Thailand Has Ousted Its Prime Minister – Here’s Why You Should Care 

It’s over: Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra has finally been ousted by a Thai court after a contentious and occasionally bloody political standoff that has dragged on since last summer. In office since the summer of 2011, Shinawatra rode the Thai political tiger for as long as she could — but was eventually brought down by allegations that she transferred a bureaucrat illegally for her own political ends.

Yingluck is now the latest political casualty in the ongoing battle between “red shirt” supporters of the Pheu Thai party and her exiled brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and the “yellow shirts,” who largely are composed of Bangkok residents and wealthier, urban Thais.

Already removed from power, her troubles don’t end there: she was indicted by Thailand’s anti-graft body over a rice subsidy scheme, and may be impeached by the Senate if found guilty.

Read more at UN Dispatch….

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Korean Food at Myung Dong Tofu Cabin – San Mateo, California

Myung Dong Tofu Cabin
2968 S Norfolk St, San Mateo, CA 94403
(650) 525-1484
Website

tofu cabin pork stew

Pork and kimchi stew.

I love California strip malls. Well, allow me modify that: strip malls of a particular variety and tone. The sort I’m talking about aren’t populated with dollar stores and sporting goods marts. The sort of strip mall I like functions as a small oasis of excellent Asian food, where multiple Asian restaurants cluster together, seemingly for protection — the equivalent of small natural bastions of biodiversity.

The excellent Myung Dong Tofu Cabin sits in one of these Asian food gallerias, next to a Chinese bakery and a pho shop. Owned and operated by a small crew of middle-aged women, the delightfully named Tofu Cabin specializes in Korean home-cooking, with a couple of DIY BBQ tables for those feeling fancy.

At this home-cooking — the heart and soul of Korean cuisine, if you ask me – this place absolutely excels. With lower prices by a buck or two than the other Korean restaurants I’ve found in the Peninsula, I believe I’ve found my new standby.

pork bbq myung dong

Spicy BBQ pork.

I’m usually a bit ambivalent to SoonDooBoo, perhaps because it’s often rather uninspired. The soondooboo here was a molten, flavorful, slightly creamy brew, with bits of beef. They took us seriously when we said “spicy.” My sinuses were rendered as open as the Panama Canal.  Pork BBQ was the right kind of greasy and exceedingly prolific in the full portion, with a potent dose of red pepper and sliced jalapeno. It was particularly good in a fresh lettuce wrap with some kimchi and a bit of hot sauce.

Seafood dolsot bibimbap was also excellent, served in a very large black stone cauldron, and filled with shrimp and squid. I was less impressed with the kimchi ji gae (pork and kimchi stew), which definitely featured far more kimchi than it did slices of pork belly.

banchan tofu cabin

The banchan selection is fresh, if slightly austere, and by austere I think I actually mean “healthy.” (Where’s my mayonnaise drenched noodle salad?) Sweet black beans are a rare site on these spreads in recent years. Still, where’s the tiny fish with equally tiny eyeballs? They defined my childhood. The kimchi is excellent. A Korean restaurant rises and falls upon the virtue of its kimchi.

Service is friendly and homey, and the food comes out pleasingly quickly. Free green tea and the correct kind of purple rice. I’ll be back, probably over and over and over. Korean food has a peculiar addictive quality for me, a Proustian madeline.

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Internet Hunting and Gathering – May 12

moody golden gate

I spent my weekend in San Francisco, Sacramento, and a a bit in Stockton, mostly working (with a bit of Mother’s Days festivities thrown in there for good measure). These are the times when I’m awfully grateful that I have access to a car.

The weather in the Bay Area has turned from obnoxiously chilly to sweaty and hot over the course of the last two days, a development I am utterly, completely OK with. I am a tropical creature, best suited for sweltering days and monsoon rains. Keep your grey, malignant drizzle and your buckets of snow far away from me. I’ll take the Chikungunya Fever.

I do note that the weather around here has a perverse tendency to turn really, really windy whenever I want to fly my Phantom.

As for the Internet: yes, we’re still arguing about Boko Haram and hashtags. We will probably continue to do so for a while. You may as well settle down with it. There is no escape.

Live Footage from the International Space Station – NASA

It turns out that it’s pretty soothing to watch the blue curvature of the earth while you diddle away furiously on your latest Google Doc or Spreadsheet. What’s the point of it all? Have another drink! We’re all specks, specks!

Well, that’s probably not the intended message of this lovely livestream, but it’s what I’m getting out of it.

China’s Growing Gender Gap – Guardian

Shockingly enough, sweeping economic change and growing prosperity does not trickle down equally to women. On that topic:  read Little Tenement on the Volga, you won’t regret it. It is a very detailed account of the miserable post-USSR years in Russia, and the particular impact of a collapsing economy and rampant, desperate drunkenness on women.

The Reason Every Book in Africa Has The Same Cover – Quartz

I would imagine it’s the same reason every book at Southeast Asia needs to feature an image of a inscrutable Buddha, some bamboo, and perhaps a gecko if everyone’s feeling wild and crazy.

The Mathematics of Murder: Should a Robot Sacrifice Your Life to Save Two? – Popular Science

Fascinating look at the philosophical implications of self-driving cars equipped with super human intellect. We may not be very keen on the results. (And as a Volvo driver, I find this information especially disturbing).

Creating hexaflexagons with Mexican Food – Wimp

I didn’t know what a hexaflexagon was until I watched this, but now I realized it’s simply a template for creating the God King of quesadillas.

Nationalist Monks Call NGOs ‘Traitors’ for Opposing Interfaith Marriage Bill – Irrawaddy

I’m not sure if you were aware of this, but Buddhists can be awful too — as Myanmar’s increasingly aggressive nationalists are proving.

The Lives of Social Spiders – New York Times

Spiders have distinct personalities and choose their careers accordingly. I’m adding this to my life-long PR campaign in favor of spiders. (Well, except for the one that lives in my car. Remind me to tell you about that sometime).

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Huong Lan Sandwich – San Jose, California

Huong Lan Sandwich
1655 Tully Road
San Jose, California

huong lan sandwiches

It’s hard not to love banh mi, as any Californian with sense will inform you. I tend to subsist almost exclusively on these sandwiches when actually in Vietnam, enjoying both the comically low price point and the delightfully variable flavor — every small stand manned by elderly women, turning out ever-so-slightly different variants on the theme.

BBQ pork, chicken, pate, mysterious but tasty headcheeses, served with mayonnaise and pickled vegetables and even, at times, some of that curiously unperishable Laughing Cow cheese. Chili sauce and fried shallots and jalapeno, and (if lucky), a bit of hot left-over juice from sauteed pork. I’ll eat it all. Happily.

You can get good banh mi in America, of course. Anywhere with a large Vietnamese population will inevitably have a clutch of banh mi shops, which fill the ecological niche of Subway with both style and considerable thrift.

huong lan interior

Huong Lan, in San Jose’s Little Saigon, is one of those sandwich-and-deli shops that I grew up with, and of which you know the type if you grew up in an area with a Vietnamese population. There’s a wide selection of prepared Vietnamese food, including Hue style rice cakes (banh cuon, et al), a profusion of spring roll varieties, and noodle bowls. There’s a hot fast food bar that offers rice plates on the go, with freshly fried spring rolls and catfish claypots covered with shrink wrap. There’s also a counter offering fresh BBQ meats. I was able to pick up some MSG saturated and delightfully nostalgic fried seaweed snacks, which made me happy. Curiously — I couldn’t find any fish sauce, although they did have shrimp paste.

huong lan banh mi

The sandwich was only OK, I’m a bit sad to report. It was lacking some sort of special oomph. The bread wasn’t warmed up and was not quite shatter-y enough, and that, in my mind, makes all the difference. Further, the fillings were a bit inadequate in volume. I like a good banh mi to make an intolerable mess of any surface I’m eating it over. What was there, however, was good: BBQ pork was given a garnish of peanuts and fried shallots, which added some earthy, oily crunch. For $3, I can accept an unremarkable sandwich.

huong lan meat

The real appeal at Huong Lan, then, is the counter serving up BBQ pork, duck, and chicken. Crispy slabs of pork with crackling still on. BBQ ducks, noisily chopped up on a big wooden block. I chose soy-sauce chicken, which cost me a little less than $5 for a pound, and was delightfully tender and flavorful. Why bother with those morose rotisserie chickens from Safeway? Here, they’ll even throw in the feet.

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Internet Hunting and Gathering – May 6th and 7th

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 2.30.30 AM

As my friend and I observed last week at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco, hipsters never really change. Jerome Young’s painting appears to be channeling the same sort of people who regularly show up at prog rock festivals, or at least the kind of people who attended Tulane with me and went to the same parties I did.

Anywho, as far as the Internet goes…

The Children’s Illustrated Clausewitz

This is both expressive and rather surprisingly useful. (Yes, I’ve read Clausewitz – but I didn’t know I could just do THIS…)

Long a Survivor in Syria, a Dutch Priest is Slain – New York Times

“I don’t see Muslims or Christians, I see, above all, human beings,” he said, who “hunger to lead a normal life.” As the only priest left in the Old City to help the people there with their suffering, he said, “how can I leave? This is impossible.”‘

Do You Know Why You Hate Gluten?

The consensus seems to be “I have no idea whatsoever, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.” After all, who wouldn’t like an excuse to gently terrorize an underpaid waitress at Denny’s?

Journalists Angered by Repeated Violence During Demonstration Coverage – VOA Cambodia

It’s getting more dangerous for journalists in Cambodia, as recent government responses to protests in Freedom Park have demonstrated.

Farley Mowat, Canadian Writer and Wildlife Advocate, Dies at 92 – New York Times

I loved Farley Mowat’s work in elementary and middle school. Lyrical and beautiful. RIP.

Someone Ate This

This is an entire website devoted to horrifying images of food that people 1. created, 2. consumed and 3. thought it would be a good idea to share with the entire world. The psychology on display here is deeply unsettling. Good for a laugh, do not look at before lunch.

And a rather trenchant observation on the relative priorities of Boko Haram from my friend Dan Trombly:

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