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Towleroad Guide to the Tube #463

IRAQ: NYC demonstration held to protest executions of gays in Iraq inspires threats of arrest from NYPD. Additional photos here.

OUCH: San Francisco Giants reliever Joe Martinez gets nailed by Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Mike Cameron's line drive in SF last night.

ASIAN NAMES: Texas Republican Rep. Betty Brown suggests that Asians might want to change their names so they're easier for Americans to pronounce.

DEBBIE PHELPS: Michael Phelps' mom defends her son against his recent "scandals". Good for mom.

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  1. Why yes, Gov. Brown, from now on you shall be called Gov. SHIT! Oh, and btw, should we use our porn or our drag names?

    Posted by: bading | Apr 10, 2009 5:21:55 PM

  2. Dear Gov. Betty Brown,

    I completely understand your position. Why do all these Asians have these stupid names anyway? Couldn't they just have regular AMERICAN names like Biff of Muffy?

    Your devoted constituent,

    Fuk Yew Tu

    Posted by: fuk yew tu | Apr 10, 2009 5:28:56 PM

  3. Folks, she's a representative, not a Governor.

    Posted by: Mike | Apr 10, 2009 5:39:43 PM

  4. Rep. not Gov., that explains it all.

    Posted by: fuk yew tu | Apr 10, 2009 5:54:00 PM

  5. leave it to a repug to suggest that people change their names so stupid Caucasians can more easily apprehend. perish the thought that THEY may have to change or accommodate, never mind that they have imposed and intruded into other peoples' lives.

    yes, rep. betty brown, fuk yoo tu, from juan mejicano. i can beat you down in your own language, but you can't bother to understand mine. this young man is trying to kill you with kindness, but you just don't get it.

    Debbie Phelps,

    good on you for defending your son. if i or my son had won umpteen gold medals in any arena, i would not be bothered by an old shadow of a man like Larry King.

    Posted by: nic | Apr 10, 2009 6:13:46 PM

  6. Man, what a measley turnout for the Iraq protest. (And where was Larry Kramer?)

    Posted by: ItFigures | Apr 10, 2009 6:18:54 PM

  7. Betty Brown doesn't appear to be able to understand plain English. That might be the first problem to address. She didn't have a clue what the young man was saying. The issue is that folks are already doing what she thinks they should do and that results in them having identifying documentation that doesn't match.

    Posted by: Boxerdad | Apr 10, 2009 6:27:45 PM

  8. rep brown

    Hell, why don't we all just get rid of names all together and just asign everybody a numeric number.

    I claim 001. Life would also be easier if we all sliced our faces off and wore instead mass produced identical ceramic masks. no differences = easy and efficient

    we should get rid of all current languages and just speak in binary code

    All of us transformed into homonigized robots would make life easier though boring for everyone.



    yepp, the kid won freaking 8 gold medals. scandals? I would say his "scandal" was either completely harmless or maybe a performance enhancer.

    Posted by: jimmyboyo | Apr 10, 2009 6:42:38 PM

  9. I was offended by Brown until I actually saw her speak here.

    There is an issue. If people are being denied votes because their names are missing hyphens, are misspelled, or having a very slight variation, that is not right.

    And names from languages that don't use the Roman alphabet often suffer from problems in transliteration. The problem is accentuated when Chinese names, for instance, have various "official" ways of being transliterated, as pointed out in the video.

    For instance, the capital of China has often been transliterated at Beijing, Peking, Peping, etc. The revolutionary leader of China has been referred to as Mao Tse-Tung, Mao Zedong, and I'm sure others.

    If Rep. Brown is suggesting they all take on a name of "Bob" or "Mary," (even though I find many Chinese-Americans adopt "American" names), then that'd be an issue to pick with her (and she states she's not asking anyone to change their names). If she's suggesting some way to have a uniform name or spelling thereof for official government or administrative use, or some way to take into account the difficulties of writing Chinese names in English so that people aren't denied a vote, then that should be at least be discussed with members of the community (precisely what appears to be happening), instead of villainizing her.

    Posted by: Brad | Apr 10, 2009 6:43:10 PM

  10. Brad, did you even listen to the clip? Please re-read the above posting from Boxerdad. He nails it. She's an ignorant fuck unwilling to learn names of her constituents. Is it challenging, yes, but not impossible. My name is Erik and can't tell you the problems I've had because of idiots spelling my name with a c after reading it. It's more to do with people just not paying attention.

    Posted by: Mr. E | Apr 10, 2009 7:12:13 PM

  11. I'm Asian and I don't think she was offensive or trying to be offensive at all. She was exploring options with him, not insisting that people give up their original names to adopt new ones.

    Frankly, I would recommend Asians (or fellow Chinese anyway) to adopt some sort of Anglo-saxon first name when they live in a Western country. My name in Chinese has meaning. But the English transliteration is just sounds with no meaning... and often the sounds don't even come close to the way the name is supposed to sound. Why hold on to such a system?

    Posted by: Charles | Apr 10, 2009 7:43:59 PM

  12. charles

    Binary code! 010001000010101111

    Its the way to go


    Posted by: jimmyboyo | Apr 10, 2009 7:50:50 PM

  13. I second Charles' comment (and I have a Chinese name for when I go to China and talk with locals there).

    Mr. E, I *did* listen to the clip. It's not an issue about "learning people's names," but rather (as it seemed clear) Asian-Americans having their rights denied because of small errors in their names which are transliterated poorly.

    Posted by: Brad | Apr 10, 2009 7:57:39 PM

  14. The name change thing isn't new, and it isn't exclusive to Asian names. It's been a fairly common practice since before the country was a country and continuing up to today.

    My own family's name was changed when they came here in the 1740's from its actual German version to one that sounded and was spelled in a more English style.

    I had Greek friends as a kid whose grandparents had changed their surname to an easier one when they came to the US in the 1950's.

    If people would learn history that extended beyond Madonna's "looks" over the years, they would suffer a lot less panty bunching.

    When the governemnt begins to mandate name changes, then we'll have a problem.

    Posted by: paul c | Apr 10, 2009 8:10:11 PM

  15. Freakonomics has a whole chapter on social advantages of names. It's worth reading.

    Posted by: Charles | Apr 10, 2009 8:24:49 PM


    thanx. we have suffered under the tyranny of idiocy for far too long. it is the dullards and the sluggards who keep slowing us down.

    charles, tell me your chineses name, help me pronounce it, and i will remember how to say it. this will make us both feel better about ourselves. the fact that any american would be robbed of his or her rights simply because of a spelling error or because the listener is too stupid, does not make this nonsense ok. if you want to know how to say garcia, gonsalez, yanez, ibanez, zuniga. then take my hand. and you can tell me how to say your family name and your friend's family name, and your friend's friend's family name. my brain can hold it. if i could learn to pronounce all the anglo-saxon names and all the jewish names, what makes you think that you deserve less? if, indeed people of any stripe are being robbed, the victim is not to blame.

    Posted by: nic | Apr 10, 2009 8:24:54 PM

  17. p.s.,

    my family has been in the americas since the 1500s, and i'll be damned if i alter my name for anyone. you learn to recognize and pronounce my name, or fuck you. the color of the american landscape is changing, and it is because of the blacks, browns, yellows, reds, and clear-thinking whites. and, aren't we all the better for it?

    Posted by: nic | Apr 10, 2009 8:42:11 PM

  18. The asian I.Q. is too high for them to waste time making a big deal about this. That's why they're busy winning spelling bees and becoming doctors. (Only super-p.c. white people get all in an uproar).

    Posted by: JT | Apr 10, 2009 8:58:07 PM

  19. JT,

    how dumb is that? and, i am not white.

    Posted by: nic | Apr 10, 2009 9:29:17 PM

  20. NIC,

    Pronouncing the name isn't at issue in the clip. It's the various spellings that cause problems when some people can't be identified.

    If someone from China comes here, the pinyin of his name might be spelled Xiaoping, he might also spell it as Hsiao-P'ing (per Wade-Giles), or he might try to approximate it to English as much as possible as "Shau Ping" or "Hesiao Ping." To make people's lives easier, he might just say, "Hi, I'm Bob." In that case, he might have a nightmare on his hands in terms of official documentation.

    My full name is very tough for people to pronounce in many foreign countries, and instead of forcing them to twist their tongues around double consonants they don't have or half syllables, I often just give them a name they can say easily without having to repeat my name 15 times (it's happened). I've also had paperwork from other countries messed up because my names were so unfamiliar to them that they spelled them incorrectly. If a mistake could be made in a country that uses the Roman alphabet, then it is even more likely to occur when various transliterations are running around.

    You might be able to say Charles' Chinese name correctly, and that's great, but I'm sure the overwhelming majority of Americans might find the tonal changes and non-English sounds found in Chinese too much.

    But that's not the issue here. Rep. Brown wasn't asking anyone to change his or her name, nor is she apparently concerned about how it's pronounced, but rather she was exploring possible ways to standardize spellings (she keeps asking about transliteration, apparently unaware that Far Eastern languages, as the man pointed out, have various "official" transliterations) so that Asian-Americans aren't denied their vote.

    From this clip, I got no indication that she disliked East Asian names but is rather working to insure that those who have them aren't disenfranchised because of multiple spellings whether that means settling on an official spelling or allowing minor discrepancies such as the appearance or disappearance of a hyphen.

    Posted by: Brad | Apr 10, 2009 9:30:09 PM

  21. JT

    that is a very narrow and inacurate view of asians

    the majority of asian kids in fact are not scoring high on IQ tests, not taking adavnce ed classes, not winning spelling bees, not becoming doctors, etc

    How waspy kkk of you to assume such.

    There are stoner asians, punk asians, magna comic nerd asians, goth asians, southern hick asians (LOL yes, on a trip to georgia once I met an asian with the most southern hillbilly drawl who drove a truck and farmed), etc

    Anyway; this would all be simpler if we just asigned numerals to each child at birth with no names, taught binary code as the only language, chopped off babies legs and replaced them with mechanical wheels (very efficient as compared to legs), replaced all babies whether white, asian, latino, black, whatever with robotic pincers, stripped all faces with acid and bonded uniform mass produced ceramic masks to skulls

    Efficient is not always best and is boring as hell. In other words we can either be humans with all of differences or we could be efficient borg

    Posted by: jimmyboy | Apr 10, 2009 9:40:40 PM

  22. Look up the statistics, Jimmyboy. What makes you think stoner, goth, punk, etc. Asians don't have high I.Q.s? Look up the statistics on all the related subjects...who are becoming the new MDs, education, etc. Unless...don't tell me I'm not allowed to remark on those Asian accomplishments because......we're all supposed to be exactly the same?! (Get those binary codes ready).

    Posted by: JT | Apr 10, 2009 10:00:45 PM

  23. still, BRAD, i call myself "NIC", short for nicolas. no harm, no foul. it is spanish and well within the roman alphabet. but doesn't 'brad' ring hollow in your own ears?
    i would much prefer to whisper your chinese name in your ear if we were ever to make love. "brad" is a name reserved for blond adonis's on the west coast.

    Posted by: nic | Apr 10, 2009 10:06:05 PM

  24. The issue here really lies in her comment that transliteration "would be easier for Americans to deal with." Granted, she might have marginally made a point about the difficulties with voter registration lists but she is offensive in her ignorant implication that Asians are not Americans. Besides, when it comes to the spelling and pronunciation of names, Polish is harder. Try Zbigniew Brzezenkski or Jacek Wojciechowicz

    The Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo does it best by having their prima ballerinas assume transliterated names, to wit:

    Olga Supphozova
    Yakatarina Verbosovich
    Nadia Doumeifayva
    Ida Nevasayneva

    My Trock name would then be Svetlana Eeneemeeneemeinemova!

    Posted by: fuk yew tu | Apr 10, 2009 10:07:47 PM

  25. lol @ fuk yew tu's comment.

    Posted by: nic | Apr 10, 2009 10:16:35 PM

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