War Games

Posted: August 18, 2015 in Lucas Nguyen, Short Fiction

“Your grandparents were so lucky,” the bigger boy said to me at play time.  “They didn’t have to live through the Depression like mine did.”  He fiddled with the toy train.

I thought of my grandparents’ stories of civil war, of street vendoring for pennies a day.  But my foreign-born shame followed my family’s bloodline to this nation, where I was born, so I kept quiet.

“I mean, I guess you Vietmanese had a war, too, but it wasn’t like the World War II.”  I thought about the absurdity of boasting “My War Can Beat Up Your War.”  I mentally counted another American who couldn’t pronounce Vietnamese.

“It was a pretty bad war,” I said.

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Prima Facie

Posted: August 18, 2015 in Lucas Nguyen
Tags: ,

Yo, I was at a party and like this woman came up and said ‘now don’t be offended’, and I guess that should’ve been as loud a herald as those trumpeters announcing guests, except her herald was announcing, TOOT TOOT Something Offensive This Way Comes (But Don’t Complain About It When It Does), and then she said something to me in Korean.

I responded, “I don’t understand.”

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for-colored-girls-coverIt is 1999, and Debra Ann Byrd wants to talk to me. We’re on a break from rehearsal of Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf, which I am directing. We go into an empty classroom and sit down in two ancient institutional metal desk-chairs. She looks at me with compassion and trepidation and says “the thing you’ve got to understand about this shit is: it happens.”

I nod attentively, blinking. I am twenty years old and I have no idea what she means. She’s talking about the words she’ll speak in rehearsal today:

        we cd even have em over for dinner/
        & get raped in our own houses/
        by invitation/
        a friend

Debra Ann tries again. “You’d be sitting there, enjoying the evening with your friend and…” here, a silence as she tries to launch a word that can get from her heart to mine. Instead, she sighs.

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blm _ sandersProtest is a movement, and it has to be judged as a movement. Like it or not, perfectly executed or not, the Black Lives Matter protesters have directly influenced a shift in platform and in personnel within the campaigns of both Seantor Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders.

Yes, protesters who may or may not have been part of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) campaign stormed Sanders’ stage in Seattle on August 1st. This was less well-received than a similar incident where BLM protesters occupied a Netroots Nation conference in front of Sanders and Gov. Martin O’Malley.

The protesters in Seattle were more confrontational with the crowd, and seemed to have a less specific message to get out. To criticize that is to assume their purpose was to deliver a message. It ignores the context of protest and replaces the protesters’ goals with our own. What are our own goals? To be pleased with their message without having our day disrupted. That makes us a bit of an ass.

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david brooks
(I guess I am going to keep doing these.)

Friends, this week’s David Brooks column is…a little bizarre.  I don’t completely know what to make of it.  It’s definitely about Christian homophobes, and how they need to conduct themselves in the new, slightly-less-homophobic America that the Supreme Court has gay-married us all into, and I can’t tell if it’s this clever mixture of diplomacy and stinging criticism, or if it’s just astonishingly dopey.  Experience leads me to believe option two, but…man.

Just, look at this, check this out.

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Polls and the Polling Pollsters Who Poll Them

One of many victories for the pollsters

One of many victories for the pollsters

Hey, you! Stop believing polls. Stop it! Stop using them to argue for your candidate or against another. Stop using them to create underdog narratives about a candidate getting 20% of the vote, or stories about an insurmountable lead by a candidate getting 20% of the vote.

Why harp on creating narratives from polls when you could be talking about the issues your candidate supports instead?

Why should you ignore the polls? Because until it starts to matter, and actual voting is around the corner, polls don’t gauge any true reflection of reality. If they did, we’d be talking about the successor to President Herman Cain right now.

Increasingly, pollsters have created a cottage industry of building narratives for the publications and news networks to which they’re attached. Those publications and news networks ignore what’s statistically significant or contextually important in order to build the best narrative they can tell, regardless of accuracy. It would seem like information is just that, and a statistic is a statistic, but when that information is cherry-picked and couched within a story written to appeal to you, is it still unbiased information?

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White guy, what has happened to common courtesy? If there’s one thing Americans have always respected, it’s authority. But suddenly, it’s OK to mouth off to the cops? And I seem to remember a time when you could engage in an honest debate in this country without the thought police banging down your door and clamoring that you “hurt their feelings” or “triggered” them or “choked them to death on video.” That was a time when ALL lives mattered, not just those that are taken with impunity by the people sworn to protect us. Where are the days when a man was considered innocent until the 35 women who accused him of legitimate rape were halfheartedly discredited?

I wish I could offer you solace in this moment, my little saltine. But I can’t. As a white woman, long the maker of your sandwiches, I have also walked among the harbingers of the world to come. I’ve been to some meetings. They don’t want me to tell you, but I think you deserve to know.

It’s over.

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