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kottke.org posts about Jay Caspian Kang

The Discomfort of Self-Immolation

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 29, 2022

In the wake of climate activist Wynn Bruce setting himself on fire in front of the Supreme Court on Earth Day to protest political inaction on climate change, Jay Caspian Kang writes about the difficulty of figuring out how to think about self-immolation.

Self-immolation forces the witnesses, whether in person or through the news, to confront an intensity of conviction that goes well beyond what they may think is possible. In this way, self-immolators like Thich Quang Durc become almost inhuman, even holy. At the same time, the act establishes an entirely personal connection because the real question at hand isn’t really, “Why did he do that?” Rather, the self-immolator is asking you — with all the intimidation and self-righteousness a person can muster — “Why don’t you care even half as much as I do?”

Remembering Tony Gwynn

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 17, 2014

Former MLB player Tony Gwynn passed away the other day. Cancer. He was only 54. Gwynn was one of my favorite players as a kid…I’ve always liked the players who hit for average and rarely struck out. Rarely got to see him play because I lived in American League country, so I knew him mainly through his statistics and baseball cards. These pieces by Jay Caspian Kang, Buster Olney, and Bob Nightengale are all worth reading to hear about Gwynn’s humanity and cerebral approach to the game, but Keith Olbermann’s heartfelt eulogy was my favorite piece in the wake of Gwynn’s death.

The pain of poker

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 20, 2010

Jay Caspian Kang has a gambling problem.

Twelve thousand dollars lay wadded up in the glove compartment. I was trying to decide if I had what it took to drive home. To help delay a decision, I remember turning the radio to a Dodgers game. I don’t know how long I sat there listening to Vin Scully sing his nasally song of balls and strikes, which, even in the age of digital radio, still sounds as if it is being transmitted through a tin of victory cabbage. I remember thinking some nostalgic, self-pitying thoughts about my younger days. I forced myself to say out loud, “You are a degenerate gambler,” but doing so only made me giggle. I opened the glove box, pocketed the cash, and walked back through the sliding doors of the Commerce Casino, back to my table in the Crazy Asian 400 No-Limit Game and to the eight friends at my table who had kindly managed to save my seat.

Some time later, I drove home. All the money, of course, was gone. As I drove home through the network of highways that tie up a concrete bow just east of downtown Los Angeles, I felt no compulsion to slam the Outback into a guardrail. In fact, losing almost all the money I had in the world in six hours stirred up only a cold, scraped-out feeling of knowing-the calm that freezes out your brain when you watch someone younger make the same mistakes you made at their age. Staring out at the empty skyscrapers, I tried to figure out what might be the right reaction to losing $12,000. At the 7-Eleven on Venice and Sepulveda, I bought a bottle of Nyquil, drank half of it in the parking lot and drove the rest of the way home in a warm, creeping fog.