Battery Yates

Battery Yates
Battery Yates, Sausalito, CA

Sunday, November 13, 2016


I am wounded deeply and yet I stand,
Aside the sea, facing waves that crash, winds
That lash with hate and fear and ignorance.
Despite the pain my thoughts instead close in
On truths, once self-evident, now mere goals
That to meet we many must strive as one.
As I heal I know a scar will remain,
My robes stained with the blood of those who yearned
To think speak join grieve love serve move breathe free.
And still I rise, to let my torch shine bright,
To illuminate that scar, to drive out
The darkness we commit against others.
My soul to thrive must act, as liberty
And equality die from apathy.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Evil of American Fascism

America has normalized, accepted, and embraced fascism at the highest levels of our national government. It is our moral obligation, no matter who we are, to oppose such evil.

"Fascism" and "evil" are strong words. They are not to be thrown around lightly. Since the rise of Donald Trump as the Republican nominee in 2015, our media and civil society have chattered, far too quietly, whether our now President-elect qualifies as a "fascist." A historian of fascism, Robert Paxton, claimed in a Slate interview that it's "enormously tempting" to use the term to criticize one's opponents. Doing so without historical awareness and sophistication risks diminishing the evil that Italian fascism, German Nazism, Japanese militarism, and other regimes committed against their peoples. In this reluctance, Paxton is wise. Fascism is more complicated than simple right-wing authoritarianism. And using the term in a debate tends to end conversation rather than promote it.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

On Dread

It's been almost two days since the Presidential Election of 2016 and I still feel a bit numb.

The word that stuck in my mind today was "dread." I honestly don't remember when I felt anything as serious as "dread" before. I've endured a lot of moments of pain in my adult life: when I learned in March that my liver was ailing on account of my allergy medication; when my father collapsed last fall from a weakened heart; when I sat motionless before my parents and came out as bisexual a couple months after Obama's election; when I feared whether I would pass my general exams in grad school earlier that year; when George W. Bush won reelection in 2004; when two planes crashed into the World Trade Center on live CNN.

But in retrospect none of these moments carried with them anything close to "dread." Some even seem silly as I write them out. After all, a lot of folks suffer great fear way more than I ever have, for reasons that no one can explain.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Global Journal 1: Global Citizenship as Process

Among other things, I teach a class at Kansas State University called "Global Citizenship." It's a year-long program for first-year students in which we critically discuss our own identity formation and how, with greater self-awareness, we can act more ethically and autonomously. My co-leaders (Leigh and Kayla) and I will then take students abroad over Spring Break to a location that varies year by year: Hong Kong last year, Paris this one, and probably Tokyo in 2018. After the study tour we reflect openly on our experiences and how to put them in service for, by, and with others.

It's pretty cool, I have to say. I'm lucky to have the support network at Kansas State to allow me such a passion project and students earnest and intelligent enough to contest themselves so powerfully.

Serialized essays comprise my course's primary assignments. I call these "Global Journal Entries," a means to encourage students to reflect, with my comments as a prodding nudge, on their self-development at such a key juncture in their lives. Last year I failed to keep up with my hand-written journal. (I even found one at a bookstore chain branded with the Tolkien-inspired name for our program: "Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost.") My learning assistant this year, Kayla, inspired me with her own journaling to try to follow through this year.

So begins the first of my Global Journal Entries here on this blog. I'm really looking forward to rereading these over time, so here's hoping I keep up.

Global Journal Entry 1 from LEAD 195: Global Citizenship I

What does it mean to be a global citizen? Are you a global citizen now? Why or why not?

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Gimme Shelter

A Review of Ludovico Einaudi's work, exemplified by In a Time Lapse and In a Time Lapse (The Remixes) (2013)

I recently described the past week to a friend as like a hurricane. It swept in quickly but not without some advance warning; was devastating in its toll on my mental and spiritual energy; and had moments of calm amid its thrashing waves.

Part of the reason I felt this first week of the fall term so intensely, I think, is that I've become more introverted over the past few months. I feel more disconnected from students than is usual at the start of a semester--perhaps the result of my evolving administrative responsibilities in the Study Abroad Office. (I did feel relief from this scary isolation, though, when I advised a group of thoughtful and energized first-years on Friday.)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Disappointing v Uninteresting v Meh

A Review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

"Nobody cares about Clark Kent taking on the Batman." - Perry White

I first started writing a different post in an effort to decide whether "Uninteresting" captured my reaction to this film. It tested a lingering weakness in the ten-point scale that I developed over two years ago: whether an "uninteresting" cultural text merits a rating at all (putting it in a rather damning undefined space) or if it sits uncomfortably between "OK" (Rank 5) or "Bad" (Rank 3). After all, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice did prompt a response from me. It kept my interest, in fact, for the full, overlong two-and-a-half hours. In some ways, "disappointing" would be a better description, but that implies more that I had higher hopes for the film in the first place.

Now I just feel disappointed that I had such hopes.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Return of the Retry

I last posted to this blog on October 6, 2014. It's now over a year and a half later, and I'm left wondering where the time went.

I recently experienced several big, amazing life changes: a job offer that led to a promotion; a health scare that shed thirty pounds; and two adventures abroad with students that renewed my commitment to my life's work. All of this change has encouraged me to make a decision on--well, more like decided for me--a central and puzzling issue that I've mulled over for several months now: whether to retreat from the world, into what Isaiah Berlin once called the "inner citadel"; or to embrace that world openly and authentically. This internal debate gnawed at me for quite some time, for reasons that I can't quite articulate well right now. I hope one day to write about this issue more. But that debate recently ended as mysteriously as it arose.

I'm now reconnecting with old friends and family on social networks: Facebook, Instagram, the whole lot. I'm suddenly committed to helping construct the world about me instead of fearing, as I had when I righteously left most of these corporate organizations (save for Twitter, which has long been my solitary foothold in the digital world), that they would determine and control me.

I also feel that I can't stay silent in this world of tumult and change. It's an election year. A biggie, I've heard tell. Our politics, our national passions, and even our climate are aflame. A lot is at stake. I want to be part of it. I need to. And so I return.