Thanks to everyone who continues to check in here from time to time. I’ve been slow with updates. It’s not going to get better in the near future, though I hope it will get better in the not-too-distant future. I wanted to update y’all on personal news, as well as share some closing thoughts for the year.
I’ve been personally busier than ever before. My kids are getting older. As kids move up to the higher grades, schoolwork becomes more and more important. Both of my kids have new responsibilities that they need to learn to manage. My older one especially–he’s now going to a larger, more diverse school. Class sizes are much bigger, and often teachers just don’t care. My kids have added a few extracurriculars as well.
Kazuo Ishiguro, Photo credit: Andrew Testa for the NY Times
Kazuo Ishiguro has finally won. He’s been deserving this prize for a long time. The Remains of the Day is one of the greatest English novels ever written. Never Let Me Go was amazing. A Pale View of Hills was good too. I’m going to check out some of his other books.
If you want to read something interesting about Ishiguro, check out how he wrote The Remains of the Day in four weeks. I’m really happy he decided to have the butler open up at the end.
How timely. I’ve had this idea for this particular short post in my head all summer, and today David Brooks published this: In Praise of Equipoise. Now I don’t know about leadership or crossing over to do the kind of outreach that Brooks is describing, but I do know that identity politics is killing this country. Both the Alt-Right and Black Lives Matter are filled with narcissistic blowhards who talk too much, and both are responsible for fomenting hatred. Asian American activism has been ruined, especially by the so-called Asian American feminists. We (the commenters on this site and I) have spent the last few years railing against the sickening disease of victimization that has plagued both the Black community and the Asian American leftist community, but we’ve done so mostly within the framework of being in those communities. It’s time for us and identity politics to declare an amicable split. So I’m done.
Aight, I went on a camping trip before the Charlottesville protests, and I came back to find that someone died at the protests and the world is even angrier at Trump for doing nothing for two days. Four business executives, including Under Armour, Intel, and Merck, quit Trump’s manufacturing council. David Duke tweeted to Trump, “I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists,” which is completely false–it was actually the radical leftists, not the White Supremacists, who put Trump in office. It seems like everyone’s got it backwards.
This is one of the more interesting articles that I’ve recently seen. The author argues that homeownership has been one of the biggest drivers of inequality. Americans have most of their net worth in homes, and government incentives, such as housing loans and the mortgage interest deduction (MID), help people buy homes and artificially prop up housing prices.
I appreciated the history, but I’m not sure how much I agree with the opinions raised in this article. There are lots of benefits to owning a home. You can’t be evicted, a landlord can’t raise your rent, and you have a place for your family to live. Owning a home allows you to begin building a stable life for your family. You are guaranteed access to the schools in your neighborhood, and if you live in a neighborhood with good neighbors, you benefit from the social aspects. Homeownership also improves neighborhoods themselves. When people have an investment in a location, they tend to take better care of it.
Trilingual by Six is a cool little self-published book that I found at the library. Using the data that kids learn languages better and more easily than adults, Dippel writes about his quest as a monolingual older father to get his children fluent in at least three languages by age six. The book is part memoir, part advice on how to do it. Dippel is married to a native Spanish speaker, and he writes that his two children can speak Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and English.
If you’ve got a boy who is approaching teen years, I highly recommend Michael Gurian’s A Fine Young Man. I’ve read and recommended his groundbreaking book The Wonder of Boys before. Gurian’s oeuvre on raising boys is the best I’ve read. He has a philosophy and method to teach boys how to become good men, a method which is grounded in tradition yet answers to and acknowledges the advantages of our changing culture. With A Fine Young Man, Gurian takes it further by focusing specifically on the adolescent years, breaking it down into three stages: Stage 1, the Age of Transformation (9-13); Stage 2, the Age of Determination (14-17); and Stage 3, the Age of Consolidation (18-21). Gurian explains that a boy’s body begins to develop before his mind, and that boys are dealing with chemical changes throughout their entire adolescence, changes that adults sometimes fail to understand.
Readers who like historical fiction might enjoy Lynne Kutsukake’s The Translation of Love. It’s a historical novel about life in post-war Japan following WWII. The novel focuses on a twelve-year old girl named Fumi who is trying to find her sister Sumiko, who has left home to become a hostess for American GI’s. Along with her friend Aya, a repatriated Japanese girl from the U.S., she writes a letter to General MacArthur in hopes that he will help her. Along the way, we meet several other interesting characters: Kondo, the girls’ homeroom teacher who moonlights as a translator; Matt and Nancy, two military translators who are Americans of Japanese descent; and Sumiko, the missing sister who is trying to make a living and support her family as best she can.