Brain Cloud, Tuesday, 24 April: Economist, “Vacancy”, House Resolution 121

News last night incredible. In one day alone, the following happened :

    David Halberstam died, in a car crash in Menlo Park, not five miles from our house. In fact, right in front of Sun Microsystems, on a route hubby has taken hundreds of times on his way to work.
    Boris Yeltsin, who self forgot about for a decade, died. Watching evening news, suddenly remembered: Gorbachev, the Wall, the late 80s and early 90s. A memory from that era: Standing for hours on Palm Drive, waiting for motorcade bringing Gorby, hero of glasnost, to Stanford campus. Waving, seeing him lean out of car window, self could have touched his fingers.

On a lighter note:

    Sheriff and “Under-sheriff” of Redwood City were arrested in a sting operation conducted on a Las Vegas massage parlor (!!@@).
    Sheryl Crow urges all to combat global warming by using less toilet paper.

This morning, still feeling pretty sick, decide self would like to remain all day (if possible) ensconced on living room couch, watching TV. On Good Morning America appears Floyd Landis, the picture of wounded innocence, vowing to clear his name of dark cloud of suspicion that he used steroids to win last year’s Tour de France. Latest issue of Economist on self’s lap, read that reviewer thinks movie Vacancy is “stylish”, “flawless”, reminiscent of the work of “a young Roman Polanski.” Director Nimrod Antal (kudos for having such a stylish name, perfect for feature in Vanity Fair or People) “trained at the Hungarian Academy of Drama and Film”, has “learned the lessons of east European cinematic realism.” Suddenly recall that John Cougar Mellencamp, guest reviewer on Ebert & Roeper last Sunday, expressed liking for said film, which response met with exceeding scorn by Roeper. But perhaps John was right after all, and Roeper is a limp rag.

Open e-mail and find latest missive from Evelina Galang, who has, in the last few weeks/months been waging an utterly selfless, draining campaign on behalf of comfort women. Filled with admiration, as self cannot summon even the energy to grade papers. Evelina’s plea, which self is happy to repeat, over and over and as many times as need be :

To date, House Res. 121 has 80 co-sponsors in Congress. We need at least 100 to get House Res 121 to pass.

We need to let Congressman Tom Lantos, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi know that the Filipino American community of Northern California, their constituents, believe in House Resolution 121. Please write them. Determine who is your representative and then cut and paste the email message below, sign it and send it to them.

If you live in the following zip code areas — 94002, 94005, 94010, 94011, 94013, 94014, 94015, 94016, 94017, 94019, 94030, 94037, 94038, 94044, 94061, 94062, 94063, 94065, 94066, 94070, 94080, 94083, 94114, 94116, 94117, 94122, 94125, 94127, 94128, 94131, 94132, 94134, 94143, 94401, 94402, 94403, 94404, 94497 — your congressman is Lantos. Please follow the link and cut and paste the message below.


Dear Representative Lantos,

I am a Filipino American citizen who lives in your district. It is time for the Japanese government to take responsibility for the systematic rape and enslavement of 200,000 women during WWII. Historians believe that 1000 of those women were Filipina and of that number 173 women have come forward. These women are old and dying and waiting for their formal apology. Please give them peace. Please support House Resolution 121. Be a co-sponsor and make your constituents of District 12 proud.


(your name here)

All others in the Bay Area can email Nancy Pelosi directly:

Happy Monday

Cough marginally better, but had to teach over six hours today: two-and-a-half hours at xxxx community college, plus an extra hour and a half meeting with students after class; then further two-and-a-half hours at self’s other college in Belmont. Self almost lost it in morning class: that is, self felt imminent eruption of uncontrollable coughing fit, dropped to her knees and pawed around in purse for lozenges while students stared open-mouthed. Sorry, sorry, self muttered, and popped in cherry-flavored lozenge just before cough managed to escape . . .

Scare seemed to have galvanized self, because self then delivered absolutely incandescent lecture on Richard Rodriguez and the “outsider politics” he seems to espouse, and everyone was sitting up STRAIGHT (no mean feat at 8:30 in the morning) and staring at self bug-eyed (Was it because of self’s verbal verve, or merely the sight of teacher’s cheeks bulging out like a chipmunk’s?).

Then, collapsed at home for a few hours. Coughed up a storm in front of Bella and Gracie (beagles, for those of you new to this blog), who snoozed uninterrupted at self’s feet. Dragged self off to teach Women’s Lit class. Oh, hurray, student has decided to bring in tape of musical of “The Color Purple”, and for 15 minutes we listen to a deep-voiced woman singing how “Hell, no, she won’t go”, not for a husband “who rides her rough” and other such choice sentiments, at which point self stands up and says, “Thank you, that was excellent! Just excellent! Now on to the topic at hand . . . ” And everyone hems and haws and looks uncomfortable and self has no idea why, when we are discussing one of self’s absolutely fave stories, Bharati Mukherjee’s Management of Grief and, well, what can I say, it was a pretty lame class, and self stumbled out of there at 8 PM, lamely suggesting students bring snacks next week, in response to which everyone smiled wanly but kept their peace.

OK, self is home. Have decided to skip last three stories in O. Henry collection, Xu Xi’s “Famine” quite enough to last me a while, it was so fascinatingly perverse, and self discovers she lives in Hong Kong but is more like a citizen of the world, which self aspires to be someday (hopefully before self is 50).

Am now beginning non-fiction book about 18th century England, a place that feels familiar since self so loves writers of that place and era. This one’s called The Lunar Men: Five Friends Whose Curiosity Changed the World, and is by Jenny Uglow. Following is a quote, then self will be off to bed, dear reader:

This was the age of great scientific expeditions. When the naturalists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander travelled with Captain Cook on his voyage to the South Seas from 1768 to 1771, they brought back 1,000 new species of plants, 500 fish, 500 bird skins, numberless insects and hundreds of drawings. It was against this background that Erasmus Darwin translated Linnaeus, wrote his epic poem The Botanic Garden and developed his own controversial theories of evolution.

In exploring such matters Darwin and his friends were part of the great spread of interest in science that extended from the King and the Royal to country clergymen and cotton-spinners. When people talk of eighteenth-century culture this is the swathe that is often missed out: the smart crowds thronging to electrical demonstrations; the squires fussing over rainfall gauges; the duchesses collecting shells and the boys making fire-balloons; the mothers teaching their children from the new encyclopaedias with their marvellous engraved plates of strange animals and birds and plants.

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