minute thoughts 4.12.17
Thoughts while writing a petition to the City of San Diego for a Gong Cha
1. PSA: It's the 150th anniversary of Canada's national parks program, so a Discovery Pass is free for all of 2017! Anyone wanna plan a trip to Canada with me? ^_^
2. Carmel Valley is notoriously ridiculous, and my friend and I were just recently marveling at how we managed to grow up relatively normally, when we were surrounded by really extravagantly wealthy and entitled people since we are neither extravagantly wealthy nor entitled. My classic Carmel Valley story is from my junior year of high school, when this sophomore kid was complaining to me that his parents had bought him a brand-new Jetta for his birthday (he didn't even have his license yet) because it was, and I quote, a "girl car." Inspired by this tweet from my friend Michelle, if Carmel Valley had a bingo card, it would look something like this:
[✓] Mom in Lululemons carrying a small dog around in a purse
[✓] 10-year-old girl walking into Starbucks telling her friend to order whatever because her mom refills her card "whenever [she] wants"
[✓] Restaurant called "Flower Child" that serves things like quinoa, tofu, and kale bowls and has centerpieces made of mason jars with flowers in them
[✓] People casually doing yoga on the beach on their lunch break
[✓] Super-hip raw vegan juice bar called Nékter
[✓] High school parking lot filled with Mercedes(es?) and BMWs
[✓] Puppy boutique
3. I think this is really cool. Engagement rings are nice, but the controversy surrounding the diamond industry (including but not limited to slave labor, blood diamonds, questionable rarity, and the fact that the demand for diamonds was created by De Beers as a marketing ploy when they controlled 90% of the African diamond trade) is a good enough reason to not buy diamonds. Not to mention that lab-grown diamonds are genetically identical to real diamonds (literally the only one that would know it was synthetic would be the person that bought it). And the millions of dollars in wedding markups, which includes engagement rings. I bring this up because I think it's really important to be conscious consumers. We vote with our dollars.
4. DIN TAI FUNG AND SHAKE SHACK ARE COMING TO SAN DIEGO I'M SO EXCITED. I am a big fan of both, so this is a very compelling reason to stay in San Diego. Now all we need is a good boba place.
5. If you read my Cambodia travel blog, you're aware of the deeply tragic Cambodian Genocide and the difficulty of prosecuting those responsible for it, even decades later, due to a tricky battle for jurisdiction between the United Nations and the Cambodian government. Now, three men are being convicted for crimes against humanity under the Khmer Rouge regime, and there is a moral question of whether or not this very long, expensive process was worth it.
I think there's always a question of whether or not there can ever really be justice for the victims of such an awful crime. But this is not solely about justice. Those millions of people are gone, mercilessly tortured and slaughtered for no good reason. There will never be anything fair about that, no matter what happens to the perpetrators. And a lot of people have argued that this time and money would be better spent helping rebuild Cambodia. But one quote by a law professor at University College London resonated with me: “I don’t think it’s a fair sign of success or failure just to look at dollar signs and convictions. The bigger question is, To what extent has this tribunal contributed to beginning the process of embedding the idea of justice, the absence of impunity, into public consciousness, to help Cambodia transition to a better place?”
I mentioned in my post that I was astounded at the humane treatment of the Khmer Rouge officials, of the people that had absolutely disregarded human dignity and killed millions of people without so much as a second thought. And I think that it's moments like these are moments in which we really decide what kind of people and what kind of a society we want to be. Maybe there isn't a right answer. And I'm sure if the money and time had in fact been spent on social projects, people would have protested as well. But I do think that this was a step forward. If it helps bring some of the families peace, to see a tiny bit of justice served in honor of their loved ones, then it was a success.
7. The New York Times' "The Interpreter" column is an excellently-written weekly take on current events; it really does a great job of breaking down a singular issue and discussing it in a sociopolitical context in a quick, five-minute format. Last month there was an interesting one on "fill-in-the-blank ethnic politics," and the dangers of subtle ethnic stereotypes. I think the most common contemporary application of this is in "microaggressions," which play to our subconscious biases, like complaining about drug problems in "urban" areas, or our president's not-a-Muslim-ban. And as much as we'd like to pretend these are "just words," these things matter, because on a global scale, they are deep-rooted racism and xenophobia masquerading as nationalism.
8. Just wanted to take a minute to say how immensely impressed I am with both of my children! Franklin recently began working as an operations analyst for the LA Times, a very difficult and highly technical job, and Michael is working on some radar defense engineering project for the government this summer. I am a very proud mother :') my kids are so smart.
9. I was rewatching Nikita and marveling at how easy the news media is manipulated, from the perspective of a black-budget government agency that does covert assassinations. But it's also applicable in real life, as demonstrated by this John Oliver segment on scientific studies. It's easy to report catchy, one-line summaries of scientific studies, but they're comprehensive and complex for a reason and you can't necessarily do justice to the facts by twisting the story to make it sexy enough to be on TV. One of the things that drives me nuts is when people don't fact-check. I had a political argument with someone, and in the discussion of "alternative facts," he pointed to this article. Okay. There are several problems with this, starting with the fact that "most educated" is difficult to quantify (they do it by number of degrees currently in progress, rather than education level), but the most glaring is how poorly the data is misconstrued. If you read the original Census Bureau data, it says that black women are the most educated group (achieved the most degrees) out of all black Americans. Exactly how do you get "most educated group in America" from that?! It just shows that people take headlines/sound bites as fact and use them to support their nonsensical arguments, without bothering to do their research (or use common sense, for that matter).
10. I went to the doctor recently and while all of my vitals were "great," apparently I avoid the sun so much that I actually have a vitamin D deficiency. My roommate Bex used to jokingly ask me if I was a vampire because I would sleep at really strange hours and spent a lot of time in the dark. Now it looks like she wasn't far off.
Edit: Regarding the importance of justice for the victims of the Khmer Rouge, Gwendolyn mentioned that when she visited, locals stressed the importance of demonstrating justice. The natural inclination in Cambodia is not to speak about it out of shame, and to believe that justice will come to the perpetrators in the afterlife (thus rendering the pursuit of justice unnecessary in this lifetime), but this is exactly why it should be talked about and why we should seek justice.