Yes, the LA Media Did/Has Ignored the Beirut Bombings

At least the media, I listened to and watched.

The media which I actually generally like and trust.

There's an article written on Vox, "Did the media ignore the Beirut bombings?  Or did the media?"

The author says that "the media has covered [the Beirut bombings] extensively."

That only true if you have access to the internet AND know/knew where to look.  The majority of what he cites are online publications, with the exception of CNN, which I don't have.

I wouldn't have had access to that knowledge if all I had was local FM radio and TV.

There are days when I'm on the internet all day, and get news really quickly thanks to Twitter, but that's not often.

On November 12 and November 13th, a Thursday and a Friday, I wasn't on the internet all day, so I was mostly getting news from radio and TV.

I was in the car listening to 89.3 KPCC around 1 PM, November 13th. 

The BBC Newshour just began reporting about the attacks on Paris.

The severity and importance of the attacks didn't hit me until the coverage of the attacks bled over onto the next news hour during The World, and then onto All Things Considered.  It was only after that continuous coverage that I got the idea, "oh shit, it's their 9/11."

Once I got home at around 6 PM, my wife was watching the KNBC News, incidentally KPCC's media partner. 

My wife, also a KPCC listener, asked me, "did something happen in France?"

I said something to the effect of :yes, a few shootings."  We watched NBC for more details.  It was all jarring.

Leading up to this day, on Thursday, also in the car, all I could recall on KPCC was talk about the protests happening on campuses and the Officer Involved shootings in LA County, both important issues here. 

But there was no continuous updating by the BBC nor The World nor All Things Considered.  It was just a normal day, KPCC bringing up very interesting issues, but no alarm bells ringing.

I didn't have awareness of the Beirut bombings that had actually preceded the Paris bombings until Sunday morning while browsing Twitter and being curious about what Muslims had to say about the Paris bombings.  I ended up re-tweeting what they said.

One of the Muslim Tweeters posted a link to the New York Times' story about the bombings in Beirut.

This past Monday, November 16th, I watched a little more of my local news on NBC.  They made mention about progress on the investigations of the bombers in Paris.  I go to the Today Show news website.  Still no mention of Beirut.  I go to the NBC News website, the World Section.  Plenty of articles pertaining to the Paris Terror Attacks.  Not one of Beirut.

How Is Bike Commuting Unreliable and Inconvenient in LA?

At any opportunity I get, I will usually bike.

But that has not been a lot lately.

My job has me traveling all over LA County and LA-OC Metropolitan area every single day.  Lancaster, Ojai, Tehachapi, the Third Street Promenade, Broadway in Downtown LA, Downtown Long Beach, Artesia.  I probably take the car 99.9% of the time nowadays now that I'm focused on singular projects in Orange County cities, compared to about 70-80% in previous years with lots of projects within a train/bike ride away.

I like biking, but in the very few times I have a close job, I often have to get up really early even if the job is relatively close (think Compton to Downtown LA).  Uncomfortably early.  Like drag myself up a 4:30 AM early, which sounds awesome at 10 PM at night and when I'm wide awake.  But after having woken up twice between 12 AM and 4 AM to help feed the baby, and still seeing the wife struggle, fuck that noise.  Gotta help wifey out, gotta thesis to write, gotta sleep, so my logic goes... 

My jobs generally last all day, or at least I have to be at a place late, in the darkness.  Do I really want to do this?

Having this kind of schedule combined with the wildly varied distances, and having mixed up my social circles so wildly in five years,  has allowed me to see how unreliable and inconvenient bike commuting in LA can be.

How can biking be unreliable and inconvenient?
  1. Even as a Angeleno who has lived here almost my entire life and travels quite a bit, I don't know the nuances of bike routes/infrastructure in every neighborhood.  On streets I don't know about, I've been stuck on some very bike unfriendly streets.  COUGH Sepulveda en route to and from LAX COUGH.    
  2. To be safe in neighborhoods I don't know, I usually just end up on the big avenues.  But half the time that means battling for lane space/hoping I don't get hit either on the street or biking really slow on sidewalks.  
  3. Map apps on the phones give you some really complicated directions.  I do map out where I have to go, and now the phone can tell me, but I have to listen really hard to her voice. Even for a 13-mile trip from the casa to LAX by bike is complicated.  I know that I can take a street like Compton Blvd/Redondo Beach Blvd or Rosecrans till I hit Sepulveda, but frankly I'm pretty scared of riding Sepulveda at the LAX area because of the density of traffic.
  4. Numerous mechanical problems with the bike.  I've had numerous mechanical problems from a flat tire, to the chain falling off, when I needed to be on time for a job.  It's a stark comparison to the car which :knock on wood: needs scheduled maintenance.  A few solutions for this:  that little piece of bike infrastructure that I blogged about, and/or Taxi Service for biking (ala UberPedal) to bail your freeloading biker ass out of there.
  5. For those who need to haul lots of cargo around.  I used to know a guy who biked with lots and lots of trailers.  He made biking with cargo work in his own way;  he was very motivated to show the world all the things he could do without a car and biking.  These days I'm around a lot of blue-collar-ish people with either families and/or work tools.  They make good use of either mini-vans or pick-up trucks.  Suggesting a bike would not make sense for them and their schedules taking them various places either. 
  6. Too Far of a Commute.  This is probably the main thing.  People just come from all over based on housing that they can afford.  A lot of people who come from my background are not going to want to live in Compton, but would rather tough out a commute from one of the Valleys.

Acknowledging the Unacknowledged on Veteran's Day in LA

Just as every year on TV, they appear to focus on white American Veteran stories (props to Google for their multi-colored Vet Day logo), my focus is on unacknowledged soldiers.

On this day every year, I remember Filipino American Veterans from World War II.  I have been for just about 10 or 11 years now.

'Unacknowledged', 'unrecognized,' are the operative adjectives.  Unacknowledged by major media outlets (and by proxy the American public), unrecognized by US government agency, until relatively recently.  

Basically, when we were at war with Japan, Roosevelt offered soldiers in the Phillippines the same rights and benefits conferred to American soldiers so that they could help in the US effort.  Then, as soon as we won the war, Harry Truman, signed the Rescission act of 1946.  The Rescission Act stripped them of any benefits that they were due to receive.

Just as Veterans from World War II die every year, Filipino veterans from that era die increasingly every year.  

They have been fighting for their rights since the 1960s, and have only won what little recognition and rights in piecemeal fashion.  

For the Fil-Am veterans living here in Los Angeles, a few in Historic Filipinotown, they've scored a few minor victories along the way, such as a little statue at Lake St. Park, installed in 2006.
Their largest, and most recent victory nationally was a one-time lump sum payment in 2009, which needed to be bundled under Obama's Stimulus Act from his first term.  But obviously that one-time lump sum payment was a compromise meant to address part of the injustice, and not the full extent of the injustice.

I just wonder what "could have been" if these Filipinos were able to build their lives here, with the benefits of home ownership, the GI Bill, etc.  

I mean, I'm here, I'm sort of successful, but maybe more capital could've been sent to the Philippines, and they'd be more well-off.  Its all been lost time now, but I don't think addressing the injustice is over.  

The group that I usually hang around with, Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV) held a march today in Hollywood, and for more than 15 years have been focusing on getting WWII Veterans full recognition.  I didn't attend and I guess I should have, but the logistics of making it all happen today with all the responsibilities, and the fact that my main computer went down made that a non-reality.

Happy Veteran's Day, and till justice is served....

Election Results from that November 3 Election

About a week ago, I participated in my first Compton election.  A very small one, with only 2 things to vote on.

I know that Measure A passed.  That means my family and I are going to pay an extra $100 in property taxes in addition to the $3,300 we owe.  Woo.  I'm not sure what I'd want Compton High to look like after all that tax money, but I don't really have high expectations.  Shooting from the hip, I think there is an "infrastructure of corruption";  in about 5-10 years we'll find out that the money was misappropriated.  Sadly, I expect it, especially in our town with plenty of social capital but very little economic capital. 

Normally I'd a voted money for schools, but I guess I'm just sour about our property tax bill and adding yet another expense to our fragile economic situation.  But in reality, I guess $100 a year won't kill us either, I hope.

If I had not been looking past the LA Vote page, I didn't really understand who'd actually been elected to school board, except that incumbent Micah Ali was definitely in, as the leading vote-getter in the race.  He was specifically named by the woman who approached me last week on my way to the polls as the guy NOT to vote. 

It appears that a some people really did not like him.  It appears one of the searing issues was of teacher layoffs. Unheralded in any news coverage that I regularly watch (KPCC, NBC4, CBS [the morning show bleeds over because of Colbert]), apparently teachers called a "sick-out" the day after the election.

Besides Micah Ali, we were allowed to choose two others, so Charles Davis and Sandra Moss are also in.  Neither of these people I know about, thought I've learned through her Facebook campaign page, that Sandra Moss is one of the people who voted No on Measure A.  Woot.

I guess now that I know a few names, I'm going to start actually following these people.

Complaining: A Poor Verb to Describe Student Reporting of Racist Incidents Such as #ConcernedStudent1950 in Missouri

I've always been interested in language thanks to George Lakoff's Metaphors We Live By.  One of Lakoff's interests is and has been "framing," or basically how something, be it a news item, a candidate, is presented.

One ESPN article covering the firing of a University President over racial tension at his university seemed to be emblematic of poorly built framing that bothers me a lot. 

The "framing" essentially presents the students in "complain" mode. 

"Complain" especially in the American context always carries with it a negative connotation.  The common belief, built up by an endless array of narratives from media, school, places of business, work is that you're not supposed to do it, much if at all.  The American narrative is supposed to be about working, working, working, no complaining.  Or if you want to complain move to a different country.

In the article editor/writer uses the word "complaint" in a headline link. 

S/he uses variations of the word (i.e. complaints, complained) three more times in the article all to describe actions that students and students alone took or have taken.  We read all about students and the flurry of activity that they have taken, couched on variants of the word "complain."

The student groups are complaining about "racial slurs" and "slights," terms which make it seem like students are simply getting mad over comments made to them.  Lots of commenters say some variation of "they've got some soft skin."

We don't get much sense of why the students are taking such action.  The depth of the reasons for doing so are buried at the bottom of the article,  in terse sentences. 

The article makes almost casual mention of four separate occurrences that have sparked these protests, each of which have only one sentence describing them.  Two of the occurrences are even peppered with a sprinkle of doubt with an "apparently drunken white student" and "two trucks flying Confederate flags, a move many saw as an 'attempt' at intimidation."

One of the occurrences includes feces being smeared in the form of a Swastika in a dorm bathroom.  Typical good ole boy college humor right?

We don't really read much about the President and his inactivity, except his credentials, and the one time where he does not choose to speak to students.  His refusal seems casual. At best he's painted as a typical busy, dismissive university administrator riding a limo who was the unlucky one to lose his job, which leads to comments such as "Another case of inmates running the asylum." 

If ESPN really want to ramp up the hits, their headline should've just read, "Unlucky white guy loses job to complaining blackies."

How Would They Describe Student Actions Then If They Are Not "Complaining" or Filing "Complaints"?

The article is anything but netural.  I probably wouldn't write like whoever did this.

I'm not saying that they shouldn't ever use the word "complain", but in this article and context, it's flagrant. 

With overuse of the word "complain" combined with a dismissal of the occurrences as "slurs" and "slights, they've painted the students as overly-sensitive if not overly emotional.  It's hard to see the students as anything but overly-sensitive and overly emotional, unless you are black.

I mean, ESPN could have painted the student groups as somewhat "reasonable" side by using the word "cite" as in "black student groups have cited incidents etc. etc.", but it doesn't seem like that was ever in this writer/editor's MO.  

Microaggressive Racism/Classism on the Wesside?

About a month ago, KPCC, hosted a talk at UC-Irvine about microaggressions, which is surprising, because it's an academic topic which has now become a largely misunderstood public topic. 

When I attended the talk, I thought the examples given of microaggression at work were kind of weak because they lacked any context.  One example that I thought was weak and hurt public understanding of microaggressions, "people asking an individual "where are you from?" 

Today, I think I have better examples.

Today, I went to buy the kid a very expensive 1st Birthday cake. 

For that we had to trek all the way up to the Little Ethiopia in West LA, which is actually very close to the office where my sister and I work. 

On the way there, we had to find parking in the neighborhood on Whitworth Street.

I know this neighborhood sort of well;  the kind that does not want outsiders to infiltrate their parking spaces.  They have three different types of parking signs per post --- one telling you that you cannot park there from 6PM to 8AM, one telling you that anytime after 8AM or before 6PM is only for 2 hours, and that if you have a district sticker, these signs don't apply to you.

Now, I like to think of myself as an Anthropologist who notices racism when it happens, but I guess I miss a lot of subtle cues, according to my wife.

My wife is from Wilmington, CA and grew up in and around Mexicans and blacks.  She tells me that going to get her MA at Loyola Marymount with white kids was kind of a culture shock for her. 

I've grown up in and around public spaces with white people.  It was kind of a status thing within the Filipino kids and parents to say that I was going to private school with the white kids, the Loyola that is an all-boys high school. 

I think my wife picks up some cues that are not there sometimes, but then other times she's dead on about what she notices.

She's told me about child-adult-hoods of being followed while at stores, or people acting suspiciously around her. 

She's not even necessarily into race and ethnicity scholarship like I am, but she has a keen awareness of her settings and the social perceptions that surround her.

Today, she noticed two things that I completely missed.

1)  As we got out of our car after changing our son's diaper, we headed north towards a sidewalk across from us to go left. 

Another couple, taller, whiter (probably judged to be better looking by industry standards) with a younger baby in a stroller, heading south on the sidewalk was headed our same direction.  I was carrying our baby over my shoulder.

According to my wife, they walked, and were initially ahead of us, but they let us pass.

I did not think anything of it.  I just thought they let us get ahead.

She thought they might have thought we were suspicious and let us go ahead.

2)  On our way back from the cake shop, we walked back to our car. 

On the phone, I heard some guy talking loud.  It's like he was almost yelling at the phone.

I had some inkling of a feeling that we were being watched, but I couldn't pinpoint exactly where. 

My wife brought it up later, and it's funny, that was kind of suspicious too.

We don't know the intent of any of these individuals, but if my wife perceives a slight, then I generally trust her judgment mostly because she tends not to complain about strangers she does not know.

This doesn't really take away anything from us, but it does make us reflect on "our place" in society.  As both educated professionals (or sort of professionals in my case), both of us know we belong and can hang, but it's this type of thing that subtly communicated to us in our younger years that we could not and did not quite belong with rich white people.

Working with a Baby Boom Generation Speed Demon Somewhat Talented, Donald Trump-Voting Co-Worker Who Kinda Promotes Racism: A Case Study Reflection

I Stayed Silent.

If there's one thing I learned in working with someone who casually promotes racism, it's a lot easier to shout some anonymous person online down.  It's easier to draw lines, pick sides, call names.

It is much harder to confront someone you know and developed some kind of rapport with.

I worked closely with a white American dude old enough to be my father.  He said lots of racist stuff.  I survived.  But I always knew I wasn't going to melt down or mentally crumble the way a racist person might think.

Having progressive beliefs and friends around me, the expectation I had of myself, and progressive friends might have of me is that I'd probably confront him about his racist speech.

But I don't like confrontation, I'd rather do everything to avoid it.   I also had a curiosity to know how our relationship would keep evolving without using that racism to shut down any contact and thus, never be able to get to know him and write what I'm currently writing.

So I just kept plugging away at our job.  I'm just here to get my money and get out, I thought.

I stayed dead silent and chose to avoid commenting when he would say "Asians this...", "Mexicans that...", "Muslims that..."

To be clear, I'm not calling my co-worker a "racist", as if being a racist was a separate species of human.  I'm telling you that he does what he does;  he kinda promotes attitudes of racism.  By "racism", I don't mean the separationist, KKK-rally attending view of a "racist", but rather a more "casual" racist. 

It's not like he consciously avoided people of color or anything associated with them --- he was born in Japan, he drove a Nissan, he ate burritos with me.  He talked about his sexcapades in foreign lands.

It was more like when someone from another race did something that got in his way, he would insult them based on whatever was a trait that stood out. 

Being in Southern California, people of different races is the norm, and so if he saw any hint of brown at a person who just happened to get in his way he would say, "Muslims that, Mexicans that, Indian chick, terrorism...etc." 

The First Time

I remember one particular moment when a elderly Japanese man was driving a truck, and making a right turn.  He did it slowly.  But we were trying to make a left into the same street before traffic came.  He exclaimed, "Come on you fucking Jap, hurry up.  That's why these people shouldn't drive."

I was floored the first time he made a comment like this because well I guess I'm just not used to it;  and it's something I would not want to get used to.  I was kind of paralyzed in action, but I realized the old engineer's principle, "if you don't know what to do, don't do anything."

A lot of his rage was channeled on these within-the-moment occurrences, but he moved on kind of quickly afterwards, with the exception of an extended conversation monologue about how Donald Trump was "the guy to get shit done." 
He didn't dwell on and on about other races and ethnicities;  but perhaps it's because I did not join in any of his tantrums and I made the conscious effort to stay silent during them. 

I wonder if his many many white working buddies from yore would probably go on and on about different races and ethnicities. 

I myself am not actually white.  I guess I can look somewhat culturally ambiguous, though the guesses usually only range from Asian to Hispanic.  I don't know if he ever figured out that I am actually Asian or specifically of immigrant parents from the Philippines.  It seems like he thought I was Mexican, but when he saw a Mexican guy in a civic was speeding on a residential street it never stopped him from talking about "its always these fucking Mexican kids speeding."
Donald Trump:  A Gateway to Openly Expressing Racism 

The first time I recall him making any kind of incendiary commentary, it was related to Obama.

I did vote for Obama, and I think he's doing great, but I don't necessarily support/condone everything he does.

When in conversation about Obama, I know that the best thing is usually to remain silent.  I've seen enough online commentary to know that minds are made up about him, way before any conversation takes place.  Trying to change anyone's mind about Obama is like trying to change someone's religion.

When my co-worker made his comment, I was making comments about the dangers of the particular job we were doing without the benefit of construction zone cones or a full work crew.  Our job on that particular day included standing in the middle of the street, sometimes getting caught up morning rush hour traffic on 50 MPH speed limit streets. 

"Sometimes, maybe this job isn't worth it," I said. 

He said, "I'm only risking my life if I'm taking out Obama."

It was mostly a political statement, but a bit unsettling to invoke a fantasy of presidential assassination while in the middle of a job.  It made me wonder if he would have said the same thing about George W. or even Bill Clinton.

In our first few months working together, he was one to make a lot of political commentary.  He told me that Fox News was the only news channel worth listening to.  He was also trying to talk about how Donald Trump was going to change this country.

Along with his political commentary, in part, poetically mirroring the seemingly unfiltered Trump, he began to openly channel some pent-up anger against some of these groups.

I think it took a kind of comfort level with me for him to begin even making these type of statements.  Again, I dislike confrontation, but I guess that dislike makes me a natural for Anthropology where the main task is to listen.  I'm always curious to know what people are like in their "natural" state.  That is, I like to see how people are when they're not always confronted or being asked to change.

A Quick Humanizing Biography According to My Point of View

Aside from the racism, there was a lot I learned from him and actually admire about him. 

I think everyone is bound to have redeeming qualities.

He's not the worst person in the world, but you wouldn't easily warm up to him.

We worked early, and he was just about on time every time. 

He listens to the soul, jazz station 94.7, the Wave and alternates with 95.5 KLOS, classic rock.  It seems like he would put it on 94.7 whenever I was in the car.  I was actually kind of shocked that he listened to the Wave, and with great enthusiasm.  One of my co-workers suspected that he had been in an interracial marriage because of that, incidentally.

He calls and prides himself as a "speed demon;"  he is reliably, almost unfailingly so and efficient at the job he is called to do.  He gets things done and does a great job of planning ahead, but you will be working fast.

Anything involving work productivity, I believe he has great knowledge and can get done.  Build a house, fix a car,  cook, garden.

Though once you walk him into the realm of dealing with computers, all you see is another bumbling old guy who says he gets it, but does not actually. 

So while we were getting our work done, he often left any computer work related to uploading or downloading to me or another co-worker.

Being of the late Baby Boom Generation, he was one to reminisce on his days as a young iron worker.  He needed to be quick and tough.  He prided himself on landing a position in management fairly quickly.

He follows sports, but only to bet and win money on golfers and baseball teams he bets on.  He actually got me into golf, which incidentally got me watching/following Filipino-Aussie Jason Day.

In the short time that he was with our company, he's quickly developed a reputation for being fast and efficient, but being difficult to work with.  Being difficult to work with didn't necessarily mean that it was because he was being outwardly prejudiced or anything, it was because his working style is fairly rigid and inflexible. 

At the beginning of the project, when there were multiple people, we tentatively agreed to meet at 6AM.  For these projects, the norm had been to meet at 6AM for the first few weeks, but then adapt the schedule as necessary.  He's the only one who'd adhere to starting right at 6AM every day. 

The fact that he worked on that schedule, also while noting when co-workers were not available or missed something while on assignment rubbed more than one of my co-workers the wrong way. 

I could see why the co-workers disliked this;  he was making himself look good, while kinda making the others look bad.

When I See Him Again

He may read this some day, and so I've written this piece with that in mind. 

There were times where we felt really good about finishing things.  Like the time, we finished surveying street lines.  While in a strip mall, he turned up the volume on 94.7 and rocked the block.

When we were focused on the job and finishing things, all was good.

But every now and then, he would say something that would remind me why I couldn't quite feel really comfortable around him.

He would continue to make his comments about Asian drivers, Mexicans, etc.

A lot of his politically-tinged commentaries also centered around "bringing the America he knew back."  When we saw a rocket ship in a local playground, what they call "Cold War Playground Equipment", he lamented the fact that America was becoming too politically correct.

That kinda statement seems to reflect his internal "need" to continually make offensive comments about other races and ethnicities.

But he took me aback when we were talking about his favored physiques for women.  Somehow we got to talking about Serena Williams.  He thought the typical bro thing, "she looks like a man." 

Arguing over personal tastes, I've figured, is usually a lot less tense than arguing politics of right and wrong, but it is still a way of communicating politics, and, so I bit.

"I kinda like the Serena Williams body type."  Which, incidentally, I actually do.

He more or less accepted it, essentially saying to each his own, which in his case tends to be the classic petite women, and encompasses a lot of Asian women.

A few days later while on the street a carrier truck apparently being driven by a black woman was speeding through the fast lane on a 4-lane street.  My co-worker wasn't in too much danger, but it kind of shook him up a bit.

I remarked that it was "Serena Williams trying to get some revenge," to which he said, "probably one of those Fergusons."

"Fergusons?", I knew exactly what he might be aiming for when he said that, but wanted to hear him explain it all himself.

"Think about what happened!", he implored me to think. 

I already knew.

He said, "it's my new way of saying nigger.  You can't say that anymore.  I told the black guys at the golf club and they laughed."