Tuesday, July 25, 2006 · posted at 12:21 PM
Crimes and Misdemeanors
We're all faced throughout our lives with agonizing decisions, moral choices. Some are on a grand scale, most of these choices are on lesser points. But we define ourselves by the choices we have made. We are, in fact, the sum total of our choices. Events unfold so unpredictably, so unfairly, Human happiness does not seem to be included in the design of creation. it is only we, with our capacity to love that give meaning to the indifferent universe. And yet, most human beings seem to have the ability to keep trying and even try to find joy from simple things, like their family, their work, and from the hope that future generations might understand more.

         - Prof. Levy, Crimes and Misdemeanors

In this Woody Allen movie, an adulterer kills his mistress and gets away scot-free.
Plus Jonathan Rhys-Meyers stars. Oh wait that's the other Woody Allen movie...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 · posted at 12:43 PM
Girls For Breakfast.
Eighty percent of the reason I was considered the type of student who would take honors classes was because I was Korean, and Asian Americans have a reputation for being brainiacs…My parents assumed I’d been hit by an intelligence ray as well, but evenutally I proved them all wrong. At first this was a source of pride for me – I was almost defiant about how stupid (and therefore not nerdy or typically Asian( ?U was, but a month into freshman year U realized that U was on track to receive two c’s and one E. When my parents saw my frist few quix scores they were upset but assumed I simply hadn’t studied enough. Their faulty analysis proved to be a worthy alibi. There was a distinct possibility I was a genius; I just didn’t apply myself. Then again, maybe I really was a moron.

This is why I started cheating incessantly.

             - David Yoo, Girls For Breakfast
Girls for Breakfast chronicles the foibles of Nick Park as he navigates the world of girls, school, friends and family as the only Korean American growing up in Connecticut suburbia. The anti-thesis of the oft stereotyped model minoirty, Nick lies, smokes, and lusts after girls all the while struggling with the fact that he looks different from everyone he wants to be like.

It's difficult not to sympathize with Nick, because as egregious as his behaviors may seem, he always pays for them, whether its getting his ass kicked after lying about being a martial arts master or the self-loathing that succeeds well, basically, every other action. But more than just a book on cultural identity, the laugh out loud scenarios (e.g. doing push-ups and being mistaken for humping the ground) resonate with anyone who has ever felt awkward or insecure as a teenager.

Author David Yoo said he knew he had picked the wrong title for the book when he found it in the Lesbian/Women's Study section of The Strand Bookstore.

Monday, July 10, 2006 · posted at 10:26 PM
What Jim had, above all, was enthusiasm, He'd weigh facts against possibilities as if the two were equivalent. A lot of students had joined PIH for a decade by now, and done a lot of its most menial chores along the way. What Jim had, above all, was enthusiasm. He'd weigh possibilities as if the two were equivalent. A lot of students had joined PIH after hearing him talk. Change the world? Of course they could. He really believed this, and he really believed that "a small group of committed individuals" could do it. He liked to say of PIH, "People think we're unrealistic. They don't know we're crazy."


How does one person with great talents come to exert a force on the world? I think in Farmer's case the answer lies somewhere in the apparent craziness, the sheer impracticality, of half of everything he does, including the hike to Casse.

Tracy Kidder, Mountains Beyond Mountains

Thursday, July 06, 2006 · posted at 10:10 PM
To Jim, attempts at imitation would put the emphasis where it didn't belong. The goal was to improve the lives of others, not oneself. "It's not about the quest for personal efficacy," as Paul himself liked to say… "Paul is a model of what should be done. He's not the model for how it should be done."… "Because if the poor have to wait for a lot of people like Paul to come along before they get good health care, they are totally fucked."

Farmer didn't disagree. I was with him one time when he was stewing over an e-mail from a student who had written that he believed in Paul's cause but didn't think he could do what Paul did. Farmer said aloud to his computer screen, "I didn't say you should do what I do. I just said these things should be done!" Then he framed a mild reply.


One time when they were together in Boston, White said, "You know, Paul, sometimes I'd like to chuck it all and work as a missionary with you in Haiti."

Farmer thought for a while, then said, "In your particular case, that would be a sin."

Tracy Kidder, Mountains Beyond Mountains

Tuesday, July 04, 2006 · posted at 12:21 PM
Little sleep, no investment portfolio, no family around, no hot water. On an evening a few days after arriving in Cange, I wondered aloud what compensation [Dr. Paul Farmer] got for these various hardships. He told me, "If you're making sacrifices, unless you're automatically following some rule, it stands to reason that you're trying to lessen some psychic discomfort. So, for example, if I took steps to be a doctor for those who don't have medical care, it could be regarded as a sacrifice, but it could also be regarded as a way to deal with ambivalence." He went on, and his voice changed a little. He didn't bristle, but his tone had an edge: "I feel ambivalent about selling my services in a world where some can't buy them. You can feel ambivalent about this because you should feel ambivalent. Comma."

This was for me one of the first of many encounters with Farmer's use of the word comma, placed at the end of a sentence. It stood for the word that would follow the comma, which was asshole. I understood he wasn't calling me one – he would never do that; he was almost invariably courteous. Comma was always directed at third parties, at those who felt comfortable with the current distribution of money and medicine in the world. And the implication, of course, was that you weren't one of those. Were you?

            - Tracy Kidder, Mountains Beyond Mountains

Beyond mountains there are mountains... are you willing to climb them?

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