Additional Resources on Japanese-American Internment Camps During World War II

I began this series of posts talking about how little I knew about the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, even when I was an upper-division college student at UC-Berkeley. At the same time I “discovered” the internment, I also discovered resistance within the internment camps.

Almost 30 years later, now, and much more has been done to publicize both the internment and the resistance. In addition to the digital copies of the Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Records that I explored in hard copy at UC-Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, there is Densho, a grassroots organization dedicated to preserving, educating, and sharing the story of World War II-era incarceration of Japanese Americans, with its rich and growing online encyclopedia. The Smithsonian National Museum of American History has exhibits online, as does the National Archives. The National Park Service is doing a great job at Manzanar, as I wrote about already. They also published a free on-line book, Confinement and Ethnicity: An Overview of World War II Japanese American Relocation Sites, which I consult often.

In addition, John Okada’s 1956 novel, No-No Boy, is back in print. The first Japanese-American novel, it is a fictional telling of the story of the resistance to the loyalty questions.

I was interested to learn just recently that a documentary called “Resistance at Tule Lake” is just being finished and screened. The trailer is available on YouTube:

The aforementioned Densho site also has made available a number of interviews with individuals who resisted their unjust internment by answering “No-No” on the loyalty questionnaire or otherwise resisting the draft. Here a a few:

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This is obviously just a start. If you know of other resources beyond these, please mention and link to them in the comments.

Trying to Put My Writing on a Diet

Like many academics, I write alot. Books, book chapters, articles, book reviews, lectures and lesson plans, manuscript reviews, letters of recommendation, my blogs (this one less than my Gun Culture 2.0 blog), emails, and more.

Like some academics, I enjoy writing. Although I enjoy writing, it is hard. Or perhaps, I enjoy writing because it is hard. The most rewarding things in life aren’t easy.

As legendary writing teacher William Zinsser puts it, “A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time. Remember this in moments of despair. If you find that writing is hard, it’s because it is hard.”

Unlike most academics, I sometimes actually think of myself as a writer. That is, I try to think of myself not as someone who is just reporting research findings, but someone who is trying to present ideas in an clear, interesting, and compelling way.

To that end, I try to read and think about not just the substance of what I am saying but the writing itself. Zinsser’s On Writing Well  is a book I return to often.

Among his advice is to write what you think you want to say, then cut it in half (or something like that). There are so many wasted words in writing, some due to poor mechanics, some due to poor thinking.

Here’s an example I came across recently in my work on concealed carry laws:

BEFORE: What permits are called can sometimes be meaningful.

AFTER: Permit names are sometimes meaningful.

In this case, I am clear about what I want to say but I just say it poorly. Poor mechanics. My work is replete with such problems.

My writing accountability partner recently recommended Helen Sword’s Stylish Academic Writing  to me.

In the “Things to Try” section of her chapter on “Smart Sentencing,” Sword recommends a free diagnostic tool available on a web site she has created called The Writer’s Diet. You cut and paste a section of your writing into the tool and it tells you how “flabby or fit” your writing is.

I put some of the sections of the introduction to my book on Gun Culture 2.0 through the test and here is what I found.

The catchy story that begins the chapter: FIT AND TRIM!!!!

 

The analytical framework, mid-section of the chapter: NEEDS TONING!

 

The descriptive final section of the chapter: FIT AND TRIM!!!!! But needs some work with the prepositions.

This is not to say that I am a good writer, but it is a reflection of the fact that I take writing seriously and try to put in the work to make my writing better. It is an ongoing process.

My Love of Whisk(e)y and the Alcohol Epidemic in the United States

I love whisk(e)y. My love knows almost no boundaries. American, Canadian, Indian, Irish, Japanese, Scotch, Texas. Barley, corn, rye, wheat. Neat, rocks, mixed.

To fuel my love I have been reading Reid Mitenbuler’s recent book, Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America’s Whiskey.

cover-image-bourbon-empireEarly on, Mitenbuler introduces the first alcohol distiller among the British colonists, George Thorpe. Around 1620, Thorpe first distilled alcohol from Indian corn mash in the Berkeley settlement near Jamestown, Virginia. (See another account of this here.)

This wasn’t because without the distilled spirit the colonists would be tee-totalers. Nay. Mitenbuler makes clear that the colonists loaded their ships with beer for their trips across the Atlantic and to sustain them in the colonies.

Alcohol, then as now, was part and parcel of the everyday lives of people living on this continent.

Although I am still in the revolutionary era in the book, I expect that Mitenbuler will discuss the many personal and social ills associated with alcohol use. These, of course, led up to the historic and failed experiment with banning alcohol from 1920 (with the ratification of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution) to 1933 (with the ratification of the 21st Amendment).

Since the repeal of prohibition, public health scholars continue to document the toll that alcohol takes on individual lives and our society as a whole. According to the Centers for Disease Control, among the short-term health risks of inappropriate alcohol use are:

  • Injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings, and burns.
  • Violence, including homicide, suicide, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence.
  • Alcohol poisoning, a medical emergency that results from high blood alcohol levels.
  • Risky sexual behaviors, including unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners. These behaviors can result in unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
  • Miscarriage and stillbirth or fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) among pregnant women.

Long-term health risks include:

  • High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems.
  • Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon.
  • Learning and memory problems, including dementia and poor school performance.
  • Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.
  • Social problems, including lost productivity, family problems, and unemployment.
  • Alcohol dependence, or alcoholism.

Despite this epidemic of alcohol-related problems in America, any person over 21 years of age can walk into most supermarkets, liquor stores, wine stores, beer stores, bars, or restaurants and buy alcohol. No “prohibited persons,” no permit required, no criminal background check, no mental health assessment, no registration, no additional fee beyond the cost of the product.

To see how easy it is to find alcohol in my quasi-homeland, I asked Google how many liquor stores there are in San Francisco.* Google returned the following map:

liquor stores in san franciscoIt is surprising that given the daily toll taken on individuals and our society as a whole that more people are not up in arms about this alcohol epidemic.

Of course, what could the people possibly do to resist the virtual ownership of the federal government by the alcohol lobby, which according to the Center for Responsive Politics’ opensecrets.org website had 292 lobbyists, $18.9 million in expenditures, and 31 clients in 2015.**

Thankfully, no one holds me — a responsible alcohol user — accountable for the mis-use of alcohol by (many, many thousands of) others. No one looks to me to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. No one requires me to have a 0.00 blood alcohol content before driving because so many others drink and drive irresponsibly. No one asks me how many more people have to die before I, for the good of my fellow citizens, give up alcohol. (Because if we could prevent even one more death by instituting common sense alcohol laws…)

The problems associated with alcohol in this country also do not prevent me, thanks be to God, from being able to purchase and consume the product.

20151209_215426.jpgI am also extremely fortunate to have very generous friends who share my love of whisk(e)y with me. To wit: Last night my friend offered a bourbon and rye tasting competition between Tennessee-based Prichard’s Distillery and the Buffalo Trace-owned Colonel E.H. Taylor brand.

The clear winner was Prichard’s Double Barreled bourbon, so named because the spirit is aged once at 120 proof in new charred oak barrels (as is required by law to be called a bourbon), then cut to 95 proof and re-aged in new charred oak barrels. The double barreled aging and the relatively moderate alcohol content (in comparison to many craft bourbons today), 90 proof in the bottle, made this an easy-drinking bourbon. And somehow, despite being aged twice in new charred barrels, it was not overly sweet.

The name and label art was also a big winner, in my opinion at least, because I also love a double barreled shotgun.

20151209_215435.jpg*San Francisco, the land of unicorns and rainbows, where the last gun store, High Bridge Arms, was just forced out of business.

**Compared to 55 lobbyists, $8.4M, and 8 clients for the gun rights lobby in 2015.

Concealed Carry Fun with Google Ngram

My writing accountability partner recently turned me on to Google Ngram. The search engine lets you you electronically comb through millions of books in Google’s database for certain words or phrases. (You can read about the technical details on Google or Wikipedia.)

I searched for the phrase “concealed carry” as a case-insensitive phrase and the engine returned the following chart.

Google NGram Concealed Carry

 

Because the phrase has to appear in 40 or more books per year to register on the chart, the fact that it shows up in 0% of the books before 1980 doesn’t mean the phrase never occurs. But it doesn’t commonly occur through the 1980s, and then starts picking up in the 1990s — surely a lagged effect of Florida passing its concealed carry law in 1997 given the time it takes most people to publish books. The term steadily rises through the 2000s (the Google database ends in 2008). I don’t put much stake in the decline from 2006 to 2008, since we don’t see a big downward trend in either of the other spellings during that time. Without seeing the period from 2008 forward it is hard to know if it is just a blip or if it marks a trend.

It is interesting to note that by 1994 the term “Concealed Carry” — CAPITALIZED to signify it as an entity — begins to appear and remains relatively stead through 2008.

No major insight here. Just some fun with Google Ngram that further documents the rise of concealed carry in American since 1987.

Read Julie Schumacher’s Dear Committee Members: A Novel

Whether you write letters of recommendation or not – but especially if you write letters of recommendation – read Julie Schumacher’s Dear Committee Members. It is a novel written in the form of letters of recommendation by Jason T. Fitger, Professor of Creative Writing and English at Payne University.

Although not a typical narrative, the novel nonetheless tells a funny and at times poignant story of an older professor dealing with changes in himself and in the university, through his many digressions in the letters of recommendation he writes.

I don’t want to give away too much, but some memorable passages from a couple of the letters include:

  • “This letter recommends Melanie deRueda for admission to the law school on the well-heeled side of this campus. I’ve known Ms. deRueda for eleven minutes, ten of which were spent in a fruitless attempt to explain to her that I write letters of recommendation only for students who have signed up for and completed one of my classes.”
  • “Only by rewarding West [a junior colleague up for an award] and others of his happy ilk, and perhaps by killing off senior faculty, myself included, will it be possible for that elusive and almost mythical beast – collegiality – to prevail.”
  • “I have decided to accept a desperate departmental nomination for chair. Janet [his ex-wife who works on campus] will tell you that, throughout this institution, I am widely disliked. (I’m sure you’re shocked at the news.) She has attempted to bolster me, however, by claiming that, though understandably reviled, I am not universally distrusted, and on that basis I should serve out a three-year term.”

It’s a fast read at 180 small pages. I was sorry when it ended.

Official Catholic View of Use of Lethal Force in Self-Defense

Miguel at the Gun Free Zone blog posted recently about a new book by a Texas police officer called Jesus Christ on Killing.

jesus-christ-on-killing-coverI expect to see evangelical Christians taking this position, but Miguel brings to light some interesting passages from the Catechism of the Catholic Church that I had not previously read:

The seldom discussed subject of the legitimate killing of a human being and how does that mixes with Judeo/Christian values.  As a Catholic (although in a long hiatus) I refer to the Catechism regarding the Fifth Commandment

2263 The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. “The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggressor. . . . The one is intended, the other is not.”

2264 Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:

 If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.

2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.

A burden we do not seek but we know we might face.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

 

Enter to Win a Free Copy of My Book “Becoming Catholic” from Goodreads

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Goodreads Book Giveaway

Becoming Catholic by David Yamane

Becoming Catholic

by David Yamane

Giveaway ends April 30, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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Q&A With My Friend Black Hawk Hancock on His New Theory Book

My friend and I did an on-line Q&A about his new theory text, Social Theory: Continuity and Confrontation.

The University of Toronto Press put it on their blog last week. Check it out HERE.

I’m looking forward to using the text next spring in my theory classes.

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Reflections on Walter Benjamin’s “Unpacking My Library” on the Occasion of Unpacking My Library

I spent my winter break this year packing up my office and moving to a new building. The biggest part of moving offices for me is always packing and unpacking my hundreds of books acquired over the past 25 or so years.

232 Carswell Hall

16 boxes of books in 232 Carswell Hall

Each time I move offices, I read Walter Benjamin’s essay “Unpacking My Library: A Talk about Book Collecting.” The essay was first published in 1931 in Literarische Welt. I read it in a collection of Benjamin’s essays and reflections called Illuminations that I purchased primarily to read his more famous essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.”

As the subtitle suggests, the essay is not really about his library per se, but about book collecting and, in essence, about a people’s relationships to their books. He insists that it is a “relationship to objects which does not emphasize their functional, utilitarian value—that is, their usefulness.” Instead, he uses words like “love” and “enchantment” to describe the relationship. When unpacking his library, Benjamin says he is filled with images and memories he associates with the books. Cities he visited, rooms he occupied. In this way, to paraphrase Benjamin, our books do not live in us; we live in our books.

Unpacked library in Kirby Hall

Unpacked library in Kirby Hall

Every book I have, I have for a reason. They embody the places I have been, people I have known, classes I have taken, research projects I have undertaken (or have wanted to undertake or may yet undertake). So unpacking my library allows me – indeed, forces me – to re-live my past, evaluate my present, and consider my future.

Perhaps because I have parted with those books that have negative associations for me – e.g., those on Catholic higher education – I have overwhelmingly positive feelings while unpacking my library. I have a shelf reserved for my teachers over the years: Bellah, Blauner, Bonnell, Burawoy, Camic, Epstein, Gorski, Joas, Kornhauser, Lembo, Lichterman, Voss, and others. I have a shelf reserved for friends and colleagues: Baggett, Bartkowski, Byrne, Flake, Hancock, Marti, Wood, and others. And interspersed throughout the rest of the shelves are the books, too many to name, that made me and sustained me as a scholar. Every book on every shelf is there for a reason.

That said, for the first time ever, packing and unpacking my library has been a bittersweet experience. Each of my previous 4 major moves involved getting a bigger office and more space for my books. So I accumulated and accumulated, easily owning over 3,000 books at one point. In my new office, I was only given 3 bookshelves and so I have had to pare back to just 1,000ish books between work and home.

Donating box after box of books was like tearing out and throwing away pages from a photo album or diary. I only hope that someone will see in these orphaned books what I saw in them when I had world enough and time to collect without limit.

What I’m Reading: Gabrielle Hamilton’s “Blood, Bones, and Butter”

I decided to “read” (i.e., listen to) Gabrielle Hamilton’s Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef solely based on the blurb written by Anthony Bourdain: “Magnificent. Simply the best memoir by a chef ever. Ever.” As the author of what many consider the best memoir ever — Kitchen Confidential — I took Bourdain’s endorsement seriously. Having now listened to the book, I have to disagree with his overall assessment — even if it was an enjoyable read.

Like many people who work in the food service industry — in my experience, at least — Hamilton came from a damaged background after her parent’s break-up. Who moves to Hell’s Kitchen at age 16 and waits tables? Much of her story is trying to come to terms with who she is and where she came from — though food.

It’s mostly a compelling and interesting story, especially the intricate details of getting her now famous restaurant Prune up and running. I was really rooting for her through this part. But there is also a couple of places where she is notably not forthcoming and here I begin to question her credibility as a memoirist. She was estranged from her mother, and we don’t really find out why. She had a relationship with a woman while doing a creative writing program in Michigan, then has two sons with a man seemingly out of convenience. Much of these stories are elided.

I’m not saying she needs to take us into her bedroom to be honest in her memoir, but she tells parts of these stories when it is convenient to her and so not having the whole story is frustrating.

Overall, a fun and interesting read, the frustration notwithstanding.