Friday, July 13, 2007

blatant discrimination at Hogwarts

Dear Daily Prophet,

This fall I applied to Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, Harvard, and Hogwarts, and was accepted into all but Hogwarts, who put me on their waiting list! I find this extremely unfair. I was perfectly qualified as a candidate, with superior scores on all standardized examinations and a 4.5 GPA. I have already taken either Advanced Placement or college-level courses in Charms, Summoning, Polyjuice Potions, the Wronski Feint, and even Imperious Curse Evasion (taken at a local wizarding community college), and I am fluent in English, Parseltongue, Troll, and Spanish. In addition to all this, I participated in extensive community service at the Hogwarts Infirmary under the supervision of Madam Pomfrey, RN/MBA, and used my language skills to open a free after-school program for young witches and wizards in under-served Latino and Troll communities in Little Surrey, UK.

I was really hoping to pursue a degree in herbology at Hogwarts, become school prefect, perhaps win a Quidditch tournament or two, and parlay that into a unique medical school application. I believe your readers should be informed of the blatant discrimination occurring at this nation's preeminent school for witches and wizards.

Sincerely yours,
Cornelius Kwok

Friday, February 2, 2007

Door creaks loudly open

BioGuy2008: Whats up
twerkface: i dunno
BioGuy2008: Hows it going?
twerkface: just walked on the moon. you?
BioGuy2008: Cool
BioGuy2008: Working on apps ... booo
BioGuy2008: I'd much rather be playing tennis with Felix or taking bad pictures with my completely gratuitous digital camera, you know? I miss having a life ;)
BioGuy2008: Felix is so lucky he's just doing consulting

[four minutes pass]

: Man
BioGuy2008: these apps are rough!!!
twerkface: er, what apps
BioGuy2008: You know, for research
twerkface: ...
BioGuy2008: You did them too right? When you were in my poor little premed shoes? Haha
twerkface: um .. i don't think so
BioGuy2008: huh? How did you send out ur research proposals?
twerkface: what research proposals
BioGuy2008: For working in lab over the summer, getting ready for med school apps
BioGuy2008: You're in med school, you know the drill :)
twerkface: i didn't work in any labs. i just worked at a magazine that summer
BioGuy2008: Hahahah you didnt do any benchwork?? Then what did you do?
BioGuy2008: No offense, but how did you get into med school?
twerkface: i guess i just slipped by
BioGuy2008: Strange

[eight minutes pass]

BioGuy2008: hey............
twerkface: ?
BioGuy2008: How is med school going?
twerkface: shrug. it's school. i'm tired of it
BioGuy2008: Arent you on rotations this year? must be busy?
BioGuy2008: i've read some horror stories on the premed forums
BioGuy2008: Melvin Chuang said it was like God was frowning at him every day, even though he was technically helping people the whole time
twerkface: no, i'm actually taking the year off
BioGuy2008: ahhhhh
BioGuy2008: Making up for the benchwork?
twerkface: no, i'm doing humanities research and taking art classes
BioGuy2008: Woah ..... what does that mean? Are you going to connect it to your medical career?
twerkface: no, i just like it
BioGuy2008: Cool
BioGuy2008: i bet residencies love well rounded people. You are really smart dude :)

[three-and-a-half minutes pass]

BioGuy2008: Hey, So I'm actually driving up there with my mom next week to check out the campus.
BioGuy2008: Who on the committee do you think I should definitely try to talk to?
BioGuy2008: Also, can you recommend any good books on current medical issues for me to peruse? Like, to get to know the field a little better? Not just the basic science side since i just ordered my subscriptions for JAMA and NEMJ, but also how scientific breakthroughs are applied in life, and raise really interesting issues
BioGuy2008: I figured it'd be good to have some working knowledge about that in my pocket..
BioGuy2008: What was your experience like when you interviewed there? I'm not there yet obviously, but this should be a good practice run
BioGuy2008: Did you have a key phrase or sentences that you used to sum up your personal interests, or did you just guide them through your resume?
BioGuy2008: For me, i was thinking about bringing up the benchwork, but since the lab I'm working in right now is ultra hardcore, I thought I'd maybe bring that out a little later in the conversation. Hit em hard
BioGuy2008: Maybe the volunteer work would be a good starter. What sort of volunteer work did you do? And how many hours?
BioGuy2008: And when you told them about your interests, how did you make them want to accept you? Seems like you have to have a really interesting combination of things or a good personal story
BioGuy2008: Like, maybe a SLIGHTLY less than perfect physics score, but then explaining that it's b/c you actually spent too much time learning about quantum dynamics and string theory. You know, all that stuff about turning each negative into a positive
BioGuy2008: Actually, it's pretty interesting that the lab I work in is located in a pretty slummy area of town, with a lot of minorities who can't seem to get to a good place in society..... It's so sad. I could probably talk about that!
BioGuy2008: Did you relate an interesting anecdote about you and a medical experience, or did you focus more on where you were at that point with medicine?
BioGuy2008: Yeah, so I'd really appreciate any insights you might have on how to broaden my perspective on medicine, offer a solid background while maintaining an interesting profile, and maybe even make super early contact with the head of admissions ;)
BioGuy2008: If you could send me an e-mail with your enumerated thoughts, that'd be great. Would you mind also attaching a copy of your med school essay? Thanks so much, I could really use your advice
twerkface: I am away from my computer.
BioGuy2008: I'm starting to think about rec letters too

Animals That Live in the Mirror

One night, however, the people of the mirror invaded this world. Their strength was great, but after many bloody battles, the magic of the Yellow Emperor prevailed. The Emperor pushed back the invaders, imprisoned them within the mirrors, and punished them by making them repeat, as though in a kind of dream, all the actions of their human victors. He stripped them of their strength and their own shape and reduced them to mere servile reflections. One day, however, they will throw off that magical lethargy.

--Jorge Luis Borges, The Book of Imaginary Beings

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

"From Beyond The Lotus Pavilion" and other crappy memoirs of a generic Asian American female writer

By Maybelline Chang

The Chinese have a popular saying: "jiao yian xian you." Sometimes this is translated as "salt and pepper calamari," but I prefer the more provincial rendering: "every peony is blessed with ten thousand secret fragrances." After Chiang-Kai Shek's disgraced Nationalist army fled the mainland and established martial law in Taiwan, this phrase took on special meaning among those families, including my own, that were forced to suffer under the Kuomintang's iron fist. Even now, writing these words here in the safety of my American apartment, I feel the force of that ancient Chinese idiom echoing through our empty house on Xiamen Street, and a shiver runs down my spine, a shiver that is caused by the ghosts of my ancestors, and also by my rheumatoid arthritis. "Maybelline-ah," my mother used to admonish, brushing her beautiful ebony hair with a red velvet-backed brush. "Jiao yian xian you." Do not forget the ten thousand secret fragrances that reside within you.


Fleeing the horrors of war, my family decided to board an unwieldy freighter under cover of night and embark for kam san -- "Gold Mountain" -- the fabled city of San Francisco where the streets were rumored to be paved with gold. However, in their haste to depart undetected, they were forced to leave behind some of their most treasured possessions, including: jade bracelets, gold ingots, expensive ivory hair ornaments, priceless family heirlooms, grandfather's beloved transistor radio, adorable bedroom furniture sets, several valuable babies, and a grand piano.

My mother is now very different from the beautiful young woman in the old black and white photos on our mantel. "Maybelline-ah," she sighs from her favorite rocking chair. "Why you no decide to marry a Chinese man? Why you marry this black hei gui tou and have these salt and pepper children?"

Darnell tries to be supportive. Last summer we took a trip to Taiwan, where my relatives gossiped about him in disapproving Chinese and he bore it all with the gentle patience of a saint. Together we wandered the streets of Dongxia beilu, exclaiming over the savory crullers, oyster pancakes, and other exotic foods being hawked on every street corner. It was at times like these that I would pause to reflect on the ironies and idiosyncrasies of fate, destiny, chance, and fortune. This was also a good time to wonder about issues of identity -- for although I look Chinese, I did not feel connected to the people of strange land. This is such a profound point that I cannot help but think about it some more.


Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Stakes Are High

As the days go on, you feel your filial duties gripping you in the gut (pulling out your bowels would begin to rival your parents' fiscal, if not emotional, sacrifice for your well-being), groin (the urge to fornicate only reminds you of the filial duties you could be performing in the meantime), and head (from which tears are wrung as you contemplate your manifold betrayals, small and large).

Don't feel like performing your filial duties anymore? Here are ten viable alternatives:
  1. Your choice of either tortured self-loathing or somber, existential grief (but regrettably not both) to accompany you into vigilant Death's open arms;
  2. Spooning out your eyeballs with a spork;
  3. Simply diving head-on into the life of hedonism, drugs, and crime that befits your charred, withered soul;
  4. Checking yourself into a mountaintop monastery to seek atonement--under the guise of pursuing divine contemplation of a meaningful existence which will, nonetheless, forever elude you;
  5. Requesting asylum at an insane asylum, using your insanity as leverage;
  6. Purposefully losing yourself in the woods in the hope that you will be saved and nurtured by a beneficent family of wolves, which will grant you a second shot at life as a furless wolf-child;
  7. Becoming an artist;
  8. Sealing an arcane blood pact with the Devil;
  9. Directing your remaining, if feeble, energies towards performing cold-blooded acts of Terror upon innocent, filially-responsible citizens;
  10. Saving the Earth from a cataclysmic catastrophe involving: alien invasion, meteors, plague, nuclear fallout, melting polar icecaps, giant robots, zombies, herd animals gone mad, biochemical warfare, misbehaving artificial intelligences, postmodernism, corporate-enforced subjugation, rampant ennui, the Four Horsemen (or equivalent apocalypse-bringers), or any combination thereof, thus redeeming yourself as a valid human being.

Saturday, December 9, 2006


"But there is no escape from here," I say. "You looked over the map, didn't you? There is no exit. This is the End of the World."

"It may be the End of the World, but it has to have a way out. I know that for certain. Look at the sky. Where do those birds go when they fly over the Wall? To another world. If there was nothing out there, why surround the place with a Wall? It has to let out somewhere."

"Or maybe--"

"Leave it to me, I'll find it," he cuts me short. "We'll get out of here. I don't want to die in this miserable hole."

He digs his heel into the ground again. "I repeat what I said at the very beginning: this place is wrong. I know it. More than ever. The problem is, the Town is perfectly wrong. Every last thing is skewed, so that the total distortion is seamless. It's a whole. Like this--"

My shadow draws a circle on the ground with his boot.

"The Town is sealed," he states, "like this. That's why the longer you stay in here, the more you get to thinking that things are normal. You begin to doubt your judgment. You get what I'm saying?"

"Yes, I've felt that myself. I get so confused. Sometimes it seems I'm the cause of a lot of trouble."

"It's not that way at all," says my shadow, scratching a meandering pattern next to the circle. "We're the ones who are right. They're the ones who are wrong, absolutely. You have to believe that, while you still have the strength to believe. Or else the Town will swallow you, mind and all."

--Haruki Murakami, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Here is my patented AZN Word Transmogrifier, designed to transform everyday speech into useful AZN script. Let's try it out:

Hello there. How are you today?

~yO sUm oNe goTz 2 sEe dis nIggA rIdiN hIgH 4 dA reAALz~**