free speech and America-centrism

Chris Bertram over at has a post on speech regulation with which I’m not sure I agree, but I do wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment:

The Americans have a long tradition of trying to discuss these things using the language of an 18th-century document. Given the difficulties of shoehorning a lot of real-world problems into that frame, that gives them a long history of acrobatic hermeneutics somewhere in the vague area of free speech. Some of it is even relevant. The trouble is that many Americans (at least the ones who comment on blogs!) can’t tell the difference between discussing the free speech and discussing the application of their constitution.

Not only true on blogs, but in person as well.

writing in the language of the dominant

I went to the keynote for the Global Conversations conference, sponsored by the UC Irvine International Center for Writing and Translation, this morning. It was given by Ngugi wa Thiong’o, whose books I have always meant to read but never have. The theme of the conference is how to address marginalized languages, and his keynote made a number of points that I thought were interesting.

Firstly, he had to address the issue of the rich body of literature, especially postcolonial literature, that is written in the langugage of the colonizers. It’s not just a colonial issue, so the appropriate binary here is dominant/marginalized. The overarching point was that writing in the language of the dominant impoverishes the local — it enables the access to the world stage but disables the home culture by taking away new cultural products. “Visibility in the dominant becomes invisibility in the marginalized,” he said. What then, is the place of conversation between different marginalized communities? While not outright calling for an activism or solidarity movement, he posed a goal of the conference as to kickstart the interactions that might initiate.

A second smaller point had to do with paralleling the language of technology transfer from industrialized to developing nations to more general knowledge and cultural production. While it’s true that strategies for preservation and revitalization can be transferred, the “working together” is what’s really interesting. Can different marginalized linguistic communities work together without losing something?

Digs Bistro

(Dwight and Sacramento). As I got off the bus the other day, I noticed that a new place, Digs Bistro, had moved into the location that Olivia used to occupy. I had never made it to Olivia, so I figured I’d eat locally and check out Digs. The dinner I had was delicious. Apparently it used to be an underground thing but they’ve gone legit. The atmosphere reminded me of this little place I went to this summer called Chez Grisette near Monmartre in Paris.

I had the oxtail raviolo with chanterelles, tomatoes, and braised greens (Kale? something bitter-ish). I thought the meat overwhelmed the mushrooms, which made me feel like the luxury of fancy mushrooms was unwarranted. But the pairing of the slightly bitter greens with the sweeter tomatoes and meat was spot-on. I also splurged and had the chocolate budino, a flourless cake that is setting my cholesterol-reduction plan back a week. Or two.

All in all, it was worth it, and I think this place may be my little “treat myself to something nice for finishing a chapter” in the upcoming Thesis Weeks. If you don’t want to spring for Chez Panisse but want a great California/French fusion meal in an intimate and cozy setting, then this is your place.


I’m contemplating moving this blog over to for hosting, since they have nice features such as built-in LaTeX. I’d probably pay for the domain redirect (you have to pay for that???). I realized that I’m not using the extra flexibility of an external host, so it seems silly to pay for that. Does anyone else have any opinions or comments on feasibility/ease/worth of migrating?