Saturday, March 15, 2003

Look Out For Another Attack on the English Language

Normally I avoid blogging on general political issues which don't have much to do with the stated theme of this blog (cultural interactions throughout Asia, and immigrant integration and non-integration in the US). It's not that I'm not interested, it's just that the same things can be found elsewhere, stated far more eloquently, by people with more experience and a better perspective on the matters involved. But this is sort of on my wavelength anyway. Remember the scandal over the use of the word "niggardly" from a while back?

A CNN Capital Gang participant (I believe it was Al Hunt, but I'm not sure since I was cooking dinner and only vaguely paying attention to the TV) accused Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (D-CA) of reneging on her "term limit" promise which played a significant role in getting her elected to the House in 1998. She has announced plans to run for the Senate, saying that "six years in Washington are simply not enough.

Now the problem isn't the accusation itself so much as the word used to accuse the Congresswoman of having reneged on her promise --- "reneger," which the reporter pronounced with a short "i," rendering it close to "re-nigger." I'd imagine that quite a few people out there think that "renege" is pronounced with a final "j" sound, and so have no idea what "re-nigger" might mean, besides being a variation on a racial slur. Wonder if someone claiming emotional damages from hearing that on national TV is going to crawl his or her way out of the woodworks soon.

Enough speculation and procrastination, back to coding.

Friday, March 14, 2003

China Braindraining the First World?

Well, not exactly, but as this Asia Times article points out, many companies in Shanghai hope to hire Japanese workers who can't find jobs at home. Thanks to SWK of YellowWorld for the link:

China's most economically dynamic region, the eastern area including and around Shanghai, is planning to hire laid-off and retired skilled workers from Japan. The booming region is suffering a shortage of high-level technicians, and the large pool of unemployed engineers and technical talent in Japan, due to its sluggish economy, provides a possible solution.
A Sino-Japanese skills exchange fair is to be held in June in Osaka, Japan, aiming to import Japan's advanced technologies as well as technicians who are urgently needed at home, said Liu Weigang, an official with Shanghai's service center for small enterprises. Liu said the unemployment rate in Japan climbed to 5.4 percent last year, leaving 3.59 million people jobless. Many of these people were high-level technicians in the machinery, electrical and metal manufacturing sectors, of whom Chinese enterprises are in large demand. It is expected that 50-100 Japanese workers will be recruited this time, aged from 40-50, Liu said. Because these people are free of dependent children, they require relatively less pay.

In Japan, this just represents a new twist on the old social phenomenon of the father being assigned to a distant or overseas posting while the children remain at home. This will probably serve to increase the popularity of Chinese language study in Japan, though. And it underscores the increasingly bizarre economic relationship between China and Japan: China is both undercutting Japanese manufacturing with cheap labor, using excess capital to buy up their companies, and now, braindraining their skilled technicians, while sending them unskilled laborers in return.

Note on Asian-American Intermarriage

A brief glance at the Census Bureau's latest statistical compilation shows that as of 2000, for every Asian male married to a white female, there are about three Asian females married to white males. This indicates a widening intermarriage gap --- in 1990, the outmarriage ratio between Asian males and females was only 1 to 2.5. In light of this fact, however, it's a bit unusual that the ratio for unmarried couples living together is only 1 to 2.2 --- more balanced not only than present marriages, but the number of marriages from 10 years ago.

If the present number of unmarried couples is any indicator of future marriages, this might mean the marriage ratio will be a bit more balanced by the 2010 census. But don't count on it. The racial ratios of unmarried couples living together is probably a very poor proxy for the racial ratios of boyfriends and girlfriends in general, and racial ratios of boyfriends and girlfriends in general is probably a far better indicator of future marriages. At least looking around me, it's more common for an Asian girl with an Asian boyfriend to move in with him during college, than it is for an Asian girl to move in with her white boyfriend, because there's a lot less peer disapproval of the former situation. (Unlike in marriage, parental disapproval is not a factor here - most of them simply haven't told their parents, so the only people who know about the situation are their friends and acquaintances). So we'd expect the number of unmarried couples living together to include a disproportionate number of Asian-Asian couples.

Asian-Americans Living With Their Boyfriends/Girlfriends

The Census Bureau released their report on marriage and unmarried partners living together. (Also see data tables). I've tabulated the data for Asian-Americans in a slightly easier-to-read form. Confused? See explanation (bottom of this post). Lots of other people are also the process of analyzing all this data now; I wouldn't be surprised to see a Steve Sailer article soon.

Asian Unmarried Opposite-Sex Partners
Partner's race Asian Males Asian Females Total
Asian (H/NH) 44,68150% 44,681 50% 89,362 100.0%
62.8% 43.6% 51.5%
White (NH) 18,93032.0% 40,285 68.0% 59,215 100.0%
26.6% 39.3% 34.1%
Black (H/NH) 763 13.0% 5,084 87.0% 5,847 100.0%
1.0% 5.0% 3.4%
Amerind (H/NH) 407 43.0% 538 57.0% 945 100.0%
0.6% 0.5% 0.5%
Hispanic (W/O/M)3,910 41.3% 5,546 58.7% 9,456 100.0%
5.5% 5.4% 5.4%
Other (NH) 78 3.9% 2,561 96.1% 2,639 100.0%
0.0% 2.5% 1.5%
Mixed (NH) 2,244 37.5% 3,739 62.5% 5,983 100.0%
3.2% 3.7% 3.4%
Total Non-Asian 26,51231.5% 57,753 68.5% 84,265 100.0%
37.2% 56.4% 48.5%
Total 71,19341.0% 102,43459.0% 173,627100.0%
100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

For those of you who don't like reading tables, here's the overview: for every Asian male living with his girlfriend, there are a little bit more than 1.4 Asian females living with their boyfriends. For every Asian male living with his non-Asian girlfriend, there are nearly 2.2 Asian females living with their non-Asian boyfriends. (And obviously, for every Asian male living with his Asian girlfriend, there are also precisely 1.0 Asian females living with their Asian boyfriends).

I'm intensely curious as to how many of the "Partner of Two or More Races" were hapas; unfortunately this data is not listed. This is another reason why I wasn't as enthusiastic as many other multiracials about being able to check off two or more races on the 2000 census. Previously, I would have just checked off "Asian" and for demographic purposes been lumped in with Asians - biologically only somewhat inaccurate, and culturally pretty accurate. Now for demographic purposes I'm lumped in with "Two or more races." Both culturally and biologically that's far worse than before - if I ever need a bone-marrow transplant, it's really unlikely that it's going to come from a half-white half black person (who compose the majority of that "Two or more races" category), and furthermore, as a Chinese-speaking guy who grew up both in Malaysia and over here, I'm just not that similar even to other hapas, most of whom are English-monolinguals who grew up only over here.

I'll take a look at married couples later and their trends since the last Census later, but I still have one last midterm project to finish up.

How to read this table:
Under each heading "Asian Males" and "Asian Females" there's a raw number and two percentages. The percentage to the right refers to the percentage of all couples of the mix in the given row in which the Asian partner is of the gender in the given column --- these sum to 100% in the rightmost column. In contrast, the percentage below refers to the percentage of all Asians of the given gender, respectively, who are married to a partner of the race indicated in the given row --- these sum to 100% in the bottom row. So for example, in the row "White (H,NH)" in the "Asian Males" column, the entry is "18,294." The "32.4%" on the right indicates that of all Asian-white couples, 32.4% consist of an Asian male with a white female. The "26.6%" below indicates that of all Asian males living with an unmarried partner, 26.6% of them have a white partner.

"Total # of Asians" refers to the total number of Asians in an unmarried partner relationship with a member of the race in the given row.

An H or NH in parentheses after a racial grouping indicates Hispanic or Non-Hispanic, respectively. My category "Hispanic (W/O/M)" indicates persons who indicated themselves to be of "white," "some other race," or "two or more races" as well as of Hispanic origin. This is the best way I can think of to get a category which corresponds to what the average guy on the street is thinking of when he thinks "Hispanic." Recall that 97% of people checking "Some Other Race" on the census were Hispanics, probably most of them mestizos who felt that checking off "White" would be incorrect.

"Other (NH)" is short for "Non-Hispanic Partner of Some Other Race Alone" while "Mixed (NH)" is short for "Non-Hispanic Partner of Two or More Races."

Thursday, March 13, 2003

A Good, Short Definition of Ethnic Group

Steve Sailer, having managed to create a 5-word scalable definition of "race," now takes on "ethnic group:"

Please help me polish my definition of "ethnic group." As you may know, I've spent a lot time trying to come up with the most parsimonious definition of "racial group" possible. By now, I'm down to five words: "a partly inbred extended family." ...
I'd like to come up with a complementary definition for "ethnic group." My first crack at is: "A population sharing traits that are typically passed down through families, but don't necessarily have to be." In other words, traits like language and religion as well as genetic traits. This would seem to match the Census Bureau's usage, when they carefully explain that Hispanics are an ethnic group, but not a racial group.

My first thought was Possibly unrelated individuals united by shared customs and identity. It's only 8 words, a 53% reduction in length, but misses the key points of the limited but real process of assimilation into an ethnic group by genetically unrelated individuals (e.g. the quarter-Irish Mr. Fox can call himself Hispanic with a straight face, though Mr. Fujimori might have more trouble), and indeed the possibility of the creation of new ethnic identities where none existed before (think "Asian Pacific American" uniting Laotians, Bangladeshis, Koreans, and Chamorros) and which have the possibility to blur the racial separateness among the members of the ethnic group (Mexico's "raza cosmica").

Also there's the problem that in many people's minds, any feeling of racial unity has been supplanted by loyalty to the ethnic group, not to mention that they were never really clear on the difference between ethnicity and race in the first place. (New York Times, March 13, 2001, archived by Mr. Kenyada's Neighborhood). Though perhaps a more succinct definition of what "ethnic group" is would alleviate this problem:

At a news conference today, Census Bureau officials were pelted with questions about the value of the category "some other race." The officials acknowledged that 97% of the 15.4 million people who checked the "some other race box" were Hispanics who ignored requests by federal officials to indicate their Hispanic origin in the ethnic category, not racial category.

The key to improving and shortening the definition is to find an everyday small-scale social structure to which the ethnic group is analogous, as the family is analogous to race. The closest one I can think of now is a high school clique, whose members are united, often against other genetically similar individuals and with some genetically dissimilar individuals, by shared modes of speech, styles of dress, and social activities, and whose members often invent alleged commonalities to further distinguish themselves from other groups and bolster their sense of mutually-recognized shared identity. Unfortunately, I can't think of a shorter word for "high school clique."

Okay, time to stop procrastinating and go back to writing my ethnic studies paper. The two weeks of pain are almost over, just this paper and some networking code.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Quality of Ethnic Studies Professors

As a student paying significant tuition at a private university, I would hope that my professors have a basic grounding in the subject matter they teach. For example, I expect my History of the American Revolution professor to know who Patrick Henry is, and I do not find myself disappointed. I expect my Parallel Algorithms professor to be able to explain with reasonably fluency the parallel implementation of Sollin's algorithm for the minimum spanning tree, and again my expectations are met.

As for the department of Ethnic Studies, which purports to be the study of minorities in the US and their treatment by the white mainstream? Well, I might expect a tenured professor, in response to a question about whether anti-miscegenation statutes forbade relations between "People of Color," to mention Chinese men married to black women in the South as well as Indian men married to Mexican women in California during the early decades of the 1920s, rather than saying she's not sure. Further, I might expect this tenured professor of Ethnic Studies to have some vague inkling, for example, that language in the anti-miscegenation statutes of Nevada, South Dakota, and Wyoming forbidding intermarriage between "Malays" or "Malayans" and whites was aimed primarily at preventing Filipino men (linguistically and genetically quite related to Malays and Indonesians, hence the old racial terminology "Malayan") from marrying white women, rather than theorizing about Nevadans' worries of utterly non-existent 19th-century immigration from British Malaya to the United States, especially when in preparing us for today's discussion she handed out and directed us to read an article which directly quoted those anti-miscegenation statutes.

Unfortunately, the above expectations were today disappointed in a 15-minute period. What kind of education is it exactly that professors in this field of Ethnic Studies receive, if by the time of their tenure they have not even mastered the outline of this very basic body of material which was contained in a book earlier assigned for this course I am taking?

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Eyes on the Prize

In a time in which actual racially-motivated beatings and moral crises plague our community, it's good to see our intellectual creme de le creme going into high-protest gear over something that really matters: a lawyer who was detained for a few hours after he tried to pay for some purchases with a $100 bill which a convenience store owner believed to be fake. Because he's Asian, and he got arrested, obviously this is a case of racial profiling! He gives a personal account of the events leading up to his arrest at AsianWeek, and then follows with an emotional outburst designed to rouse our anger:

There is not a doubt in my mind that if the officers had come to Walgreens and saw that it was Supervisor Gavin Newsom with the ¡§counterfeit¡¨ bill, they would have treated him quite differently. At the most, they would have reminded him to be more careful next time about what money he uses to pay for his goods. Not in a million years would they have ever considered putting him in handcuffs.
Why was I arrested? I believe it was because I fit their subconscious racial profile of one who would likely be passing around counterfeit money. In the officer¡¦s subconsciously racist mind, Filipinos and other minorities are prone to commit these kinds of crimes, while respectable white officials would never do this.

I seem to recall a story about a boy who cried wolf --- he cried too many times, and in his hour of true distress, became lunch. But this is just an Ice People's hegemonic "morality" tales into which we proud yellow fellows shouldn't read too much, right? We must heroically smash every instance of racial prejudice, and damn those who would label us as moneygrubbing whiners for inflating a mere notaphilic misunderstanding into a full-blown civil rights lawsuit!

Midterms Week

Sorry for the "light" (read: non) posting --- I'm halfway through midterms. The worst is over, but there's still a number theory exam, a paper for chinese creative writing, some networking code, and my omnipresent graduation project, with a looming April 1st departmental deadline.

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