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.

For recent Guides to the Tube, click HERE.


  1. fuk yew tu says

    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

  2. nic says

    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.

  3. Boxerdad says

    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.

  4. jimmyboyo says

    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.

  5. Brad says

    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.

  6. Mr. E says

    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.

  7. Charles says

    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?

  8. Brad says

    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.

  9. paul c says

    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.

  10. nic says


    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.

  11. nic says


    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?

  12. JT says

    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).

  13. Brad says


    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.

  14. jimmyboy says


    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

  15. JT says

    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).

  16. nic says

    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.

  17. fuk yew tu says

    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!

  18. nic says


    blond is what a man may be, blonde is what a woman may be. but, are you trying to argue the point that brad or bradley is not an unusual name for a person of color?

  19. nic says

    look, all i’m saying is that while our names do not define us, they are part and parcel of our identities. i would no more offend my dad or my mom by besmirching who they are if i changed my name to fit a square peg into a square hole. i could never do that to them, that makes no sense.

  20. Brad says

    @ NIC,

    I’m confused as to what you’re getting at. I’m not a person of color. I’m basing my own experience on the difficulties I’ve had with my *full* name while abroad. I’ve lived in a bunch of foreign countries and have traveled a lot and people have struggled with my name, some places more than others. I’m in China with some frequency and rather than have the locals spend an hour trying to get my whole name right (the English “r” doesn’t exist in Mandarin and usually comes out as an “l” so I’d be rendered “Blad”), I usually just give them my Chinese name.

    I think we’re discussing two different things here. I have never changed my name; when I use a different name abroad, it’s just to help me and help them. Again, you keep bringing up the “changing names” thing, but I don’t see Rep. Brown advocating that. It seems that she’s exploring the possibility of finding a standardized transliteration, adopting a Western name for official purposes (something the speaker mentions happens a lot in the Asian community) or whatever else. She doesn’t appear to be talking about forcing name changes on anyone… only having a certain single name or spelling thereof just so that someone doesn’t get denied his or her vote when they present their ID that has a hyphen missing. That to me not only seems reasonable, but necessary.

    @ FYT,

    I don’t see her implying that Asians are not Americans. Where does she do that? And regarding the Polish names, people still mangle Zbigniew Brzezinski (I just had to look it up to get it right). If he were to prevent an ID that had one letter off (and that might not be a far stretch were he not famous), he’d be knocked off a voter roll. But he has one thing in favor that (most) Asians do not: his name is originally in the Roman script. So as much as people might mangle it, there *IS* a correct spelling. For someone from China coming here, there is *NO* official transliteration (rather many, and sometimes all of them leave something to be desired).

  21. nic says


    if you are not a person of color, then you can’t comment on this topic. you are banned. heehee.

    ok let’s agree on terms. the texas gal said “transliteration” to the asian guy in a futile attempt to sound smart. the asian man entertained the thought, but went with it. i think that what they meant to say was “transcription”. she may have had no ill will, and may have had the best intentions, but you know what they say about the road to hell….

    if, indeed, you have lived in bunches of foreign countries and changed your name bunches of times (i have no way to disprove it, so i’ll take you at your word), then let’s move on. it is the height of presumptuousness for a public official to suggest that other citizens get their language ducks in a row.

    furthermore, fuck you 2nd class citizen. i speak spanish, i speak spanglish, i speak mexican, i speak chileno, i speak argentino, i speak quatemalteco.

    therein lies the woman’s problem, or. better, my problem with her. her fuzzy head can’t accept more than one language at a time. once upon a time, in a linguistics class taught by a young chinese woman, in fact, i came to learn about the synaptic connections one develops as a child if he speaks more than one language, or if she learns a language and how to play the piano or violin or accordion. that is what impacts I.Q., the dumbing down of another persons ethnicity is counterproductive.

  22. Bobby says

    God forbid we broaden our horizons and try to pronounce something other than hot dogs and mama an’em.

    Fuck that bitch.

    I take the time with all my foreign and immigrated and immigrating friends to learn their names and try to pronounce them correctly.

    We had a Cuban/American friend when we lived in Florida and he was so used to using the “Americanized” version of his name, he would introduce himself as “Richard”. His name was Ricardo, and he told me he didn’t like the way some people pronouced Ricardo, because they didn’t roll the R. I pronounced it just as he wished. He was the SWEETEST man in the world.

    It just takes time to learn something different.

    Some people are crazy and selfish I guess they just can’t be bothered.

  23. fuk yew tu says

    @ Brad, the ‘well-travelled’ sophisticate:

    She says at exactly 2:39

    “…If there were some means by which you can adopt a name just for identification purposes that was easier for Americans to deal with”

  24. Brad says

    @ NIC,

    You or I have no evidence that the Texas Rep. said “transliteration” in order to sound smart, but rather meant “transcription.” I think that’s putting thoughts and words in her mouth when they are not just there. I think that’s a big assumption to make. Just because she’s a Republican from Texas (whom I will admit probably shares little in common politically or ideologically from me, or you), doesn’t mean we can assume (at the very least from this clip) that she is against Asian names.

    @ NIC and Bobby,

    I don’t really blame her for not being able to get several languages in her “fuzzy head.” I love languages, I speak several fluently, can get around in a few others, and am learning a few more. They are my crossword puzzles. I also enjoy learning to mimic local accents so that I *can* trill my “R” in Spanish, or call a Spaniard by his name with a “th” sound or an Argentine with a “zh” sound. But that’s me. Not everyone can do that (and I can’t do it perfectly, though enough to the degree that others are at least happy that I expended the effort to approximate their name), just as I can’t “get” classical music or say sports, whereas others have an ear or eye for those. I have met many non-native Spanish speakers who just can’t trill their Rs after years of practice. and Chinese or Vietnamese can be very, very difficult with their tonal changes. Some people just can’t say foreign names well without butchering them. That’s not just an American phenomenon, but rather a global one.

    Again, though, correctly pronouncing someone’s name doesn’t seem to be the issue here. It’s the spelling of one’s name that Rep. Brown is discussing. So even if no one north of the Rio Grande can trill a Spanish “R” correctly, that doesn’t matter. If Anglo-Americans are pronouncing Ricardo as “Rukahrdoh” instead of “Rrrrreecardo” that is immaterial for the discussion at hand, since either way, his voter ID or driver’s license or passport will say “Ricardo.”

    Someone named 李 (not sure if this character will appear here) from China might have big issues moving here. If he comes from the Mainland, he follows pinyin so he’s “Li” but if he’s from Taiwan he follows Wade-Giles, so he’s “Lee.” If his given name is 載之, he could follow the “official” pinyin transliteration of his name which would be “Zaizhi” (and forget the tones in that name that even the best intentioned Westerner might struggle with) but Americans looking at that would understandably say “Zay-zhee” when it should really be pronounced “Dsai – juh.” So does what does he do if he follows the official Mainland transliteration even though that doesn’t accurately convey the pronunciation of his name? What if, when registering here in the US to vote, a Taiwanese-American sees his name in Chinese characters and uses the Taiwanese system to transliterate writing “Tsai-Chih”? If he’s from Macau, he likely transliterates a third different way.

    According to many states, Mr. 李載之 will not vote unless the English rendering of that name is standardized. I think that’s the issue Rep. Brown is getting at.

  25. Brad says

    @ FYT,

    @ Brad, the ‘well-travelled’ sophisticate:

    She says at exactly 2:39

    “…If there were some means by which you can adopt a name just for identification purposes that was easier for Americans to deal with”

    First off…be nice. I haven’t taken a swipe at you.

    Second of all, in that quote, JUST FOR IDENTIFICATION PURPOSES. No one is talking about forcing name changes within families, friends, or colleagues. See my post above.

  26. fuk yew tu says

    @ Brad,

    That was a gentle nudge, not a swipe :)

    I am Asian and what offends me is not the “for identification purposes” bit but the “easier for Americans to deal with” crap. It’s like having identified me as gay, someone asks if I can help them with their wardrobe or their hair or their makeup. There is underlying bigotry in both.

  27. nic says

    you are sounding desperate now. if you are supporting the “for identification purposes”, train of thought … wtf? don’t we use our SSNs and our driver’s licenses to legitamize ourselves when we live in a country that should not demand that of us? what happenned to the promise of open arms to the huddled masses and to those yearning to breathe free? i still hope to live in a country where that may happen. but what the fuck do i know, i am a mejicano-americano. that makes me by degrees dumb, all i want to do is take see-ess-tass and drink teh-keel-us, and cuz all asians are smart, all africans are criminals, all jews are greedy, and all caucasians are racist. it doesn’t matter, i suppose, that i can tell you about shakespeare and milton or cervantes or garcia de lorca or isabel allende, or hemingway, or tennessee williams or the defiant dyke, willa cather, or the sublime feminist, kate chopin. i can talk to you about greek mythology, i can talk to you about euripedes and sophocles. i can talk to you about neo-classism, i can talk to you about the rennaisance and its impact on western culture. all i ask is that you speak my name and spell it right. that is not hard to do.

  28. Brad says

    @ FYT,

    If you look at your quote by itself, “easier for Americans to deal with,” it looks nasty. However, putting it into the context of the clip, she is clearly talking about voting issues. Perhaps she should have said, “so that government bureaucrats can correctly identify Asian-Americans who might have multiple spellings of their names,” but given that she is speaking live, without notes, without a teleprompter, I’d be willing to assume that she might have used “deal with” and “Americans” poorly, but I don’t think it was ill-intentioned. Is this woman a racist? She may very well be. But we certainly can’t judge that from this clip.

    I understand that there’s a stereotype of Asians with unpronounceable names (just as there is, as you point out, with gays and hair and wardrobes), but the “deal with” I think she’s referring to is not a “I-can’t-understand-the-Chinese-lady’s-name-on-the-telephone” situation, but rather what to do when state law says names must be uniform yet a Chinese-American has a hyphen on his driver’s license and not on his passport?

    @ NIC,

    Desperate? Geez…I’m having an online blog conversation. Why can’t we have a normal debate without desperation? I don’t have my claws out, I’m not foaming over the computer, nor am I even trying to “win you over” to my side. I’m having what I find to be a rather interesting conversation and I would hope you find my points at the very least thought provoking, not “desperate” as I certainly don’t find your opinions to be desperate or “wrong” per se, even though we don’t agree.

    Maybe we should use our SSNs in conjunction with our driver’s license. Maybe Rep. Brown even discussed that after the clip went out. It would certainly be unorthodox as we generally use our names for everything (opening up credit cards, filling out job forms, presenting plane tickets and passport at the airport), but if that is an idea floated around to solve this issue of disenfranchisement of Asian-Americans due to discrepancies in the spelling of their names on official documentation, so let it be discussed by the political powers and citizen groups.

    I don’t see what huddled masses and yearning free have to do with having names spelled correctly. You said you want people to speak your name and to spell it correctly. It sounds, then, like you and Rep. Brown are asking for the same thing. She just wants Mr. Zaizhi Li to have his name spelled correctly when transliterated so that the utility company, credit card company, passport agency, and DMV don’t all think he’s 4 different people and so that he isn’t denied his vote when the voter rolls spelled his name wrong when his ID says something else.

  29. paul c says

    @Brad – you are trying to reason with unreasonable people. They see everything in terms of race and religion and gender and find the need to divide everyone into groups.

    They are also constantly looking for something to be outraged about, whether there is truly an issue or not (as in this case).

    You are correct and they are wrong, but unable to admit or comprehend that fact.

  30. Give me a break! says

    Yes, good for Phelps’ mom for defending him but her level of denial and acknowledgment about her sons behavior makes me embarrassed for her. I would have much more respect for her if she would just say he’s a young adult in his early 20’s and we all did crazy things at that age, some of which we later regretted.

  31. nic says


    no, neiether she nor i am on the same chapter, forget about whether we are asking for the same thing. you are on the losing side of a tug-o-war that has to end, eventually…. better darwin than disreali. i don’t want to be on the side of the angels on this argument. if you want to fight me on an equal playing field, bring it, beatch. just, don’t bring paul c along for the ride; he’s dead weight. heehee. can i bring FYT? he’s fun.

  32. Brad says


    What’s an equal playing field? I’ve lived in Mexico (have you? Am I therefore more “mexicano” than you? You spelled it with a “j” which makes me think you have little contact with your homeland since no self-respecting Mexican spells “Mejico” with a “j”…they do that in Spain. I’ve seen real Mexicans (real as in those actually from Mexico) get mad at Spaniards for writing “mejicano” which you did above).

    When I applied for my residency in Mexico City, I had my name butchered by the Mexicans. When they saw my passport, they mistakenly thought my middle name was my first (father’s) surname and my real surname was my second (mother’s) surname. and they spelled my first name wrong.

    Did I fly into a rage? Did I accuse them of being anti-gringo racists (even though the term “gringo” is racist)? No. It wasn’t a big deal to my emotional well-being. The biggest deal was the bureaucratic mess I needed to sort out since they got my name wrong, which is what Rep. Brown was talking about. And my name was transcribed and spelled incorrectly by Mexicans who use the same alphabet as we do. Imagine what it’s like for an Asian whose names don’t use the Roman alphabet.

  33. Brad says


    She’s been mobbed since her remark. Apologizing made sense for her.

    As I have been the “victim” of locals in foreign countries butchering my name, I have not been offended nor would have considered an apologize to be a “first step” as noted in that link.

    People need to get thicker skins. There are real things out there to get offended about.

  34. CJ says

    Why, why, WHY are there an increasing number of the LGBT living in Texas? That state has done nothing (aside from Ann Richards) but deliver the world spawns of Satan. Seriously, Texas is beyond a backwards state.

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