Stocking Stuffer

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Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…

With the Federal Reserve cutting bank lending rates to near zero, and “safe” T-bills yielding near zero returns for consumers, let me be the first to welcome you to the new Zero World. It even comes with its own salutation of the season: Happy Zero Christmas!

It’s not exactly zero. The malls are still packed with people who are buying all those great inexpensive goods made in China! There’s even a semblance of Christmas at the Guillermo household. Under the tree, there are still more presents than IOUs. But we are getting by on less. And the kids get it. At the Christmas tree lot, my 12-year-old daughter suggested gleefully, “How about a Charlie Brown tree?”

My white in-laws are taller than our tree.

If you’ve been capitalistic, materialistic, perhaps even Madoffistic all these years, it’s time to go back to the roots for a sense of your ethnic stability. Remember that we are or have come from a resilient immigrant stock to an America that we now find somewhat heavily discounted. From the very first to arrive to the more recent refugees and others who have endured the government’s paperwork and bureaucracy, APAs all have stories of having survived or come from much worse.

My late father came here from the Philippines in the ’20s, lived through the height of the Depression and bunked with up to eight men in a room in the Tenderloin. (That sounds kinkier today than it was back then.) It was what they were forced to endure to find their fortune in this new land. We know how to make do with less; it’s in our blood. But we’ve been caught up with a lot of what makes America both good and bad, modern and in debt.

A friend told the story of the young APA couple who bought a house for $700,000 on one of those funny loans that only pays interest and never pays off the loan. That way, when the value of the house goes up, they can flip the house and…

Isn’t that the fable of the last five years?

The real problem with a near- zero fed rate is that borrower’s rates still remain high. If banks are getting near zero and your home loans and credit card debt are at anywhere from six to 20 percent, someone is getting rich. And it’s definitely not consumers.

Then there are stories like those of a person I’ll call Zeny. She came to America six years ago from the Philippines when she met a nice Caucasian gent vacationing in the beaches of Cebu. He was 20 years her senior. When he died this year, he left her with a house nearly paid for, but little else.

“I need a job for Christmas,” she told me.

She wasn’t homeless, or destitute. You won’t see her on the news. But she’s one of us out there in our community hidden away far from the headlines. It may help put in perspective your own pain. You are not alone on this not quite Zero Christmas.

Erect Mice
Dr. David Gozal has a new job as the chairman of pediatrics at the University of Chicago Medical Center. He’s typical of those who find research dollars from the government and ride the gravy train to glory. He’s not Asian American, but his path to success may be the envy of the legions of APA careerists in science and medicine.

My only issue with Gozal is this: Does he have to torture animals?

In the June 2008 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Gozal co-wrote a study in which he actually pumped up mice with the drug Cialis, the Viagra alternative that young guys use with Red Bull to show off to their girlfriends.

Gozal put 60 mice in a chamber and measured the number and duration of their erections and ejaculations. No mention of X-rated Minnie Mouse movies being shown to the mice.

It gets worse. Gozal allowed some of the oxygen to be sucked out of the chamber to see what deprivation of oxygen does to a living thing.

Hmm. You mean they don’t feel like having sex?

Then he adds a real sadistic touch. The mice are killed with a needle to the heart and their penises are cut off for closer examination.

What does a dead mouse’s penis show? Whatever it was, it appears to have aided Dr. Gozal in securing a nice job as the head of pediatrics at the University of Chicago. Considering what he does to small animals, is this the kind of doctor you’d want administering to your child?

Gozal’s experiment is just one of the numerous useless projects out there — much of it funded by your tax dollars. If Washington is looking to cut back on anything, it can start with studies on mice penises. A lot of research being done isn’t totally useless. But it doesn’t have to include torture.

Asian American scientists and researchers should be aware of alternatives. When you read your children The Night Before Christmas, don’t forget the mice, who in the name of science, are no longer stirring.

Hmong virgins

If you’ve lost you’re taste for Burger King, it may be because of those “Whopper virgin” ads are running now featuring a Hmong woman in native dress who says she prefers the Whopper.

You mean she’d gladly trade her Asian diet for what I call the “American heart disease diet”? The ads are a cheap shot on our Hmong brothers and sisters, all in the name of selling more burgers. It’s a new low in fast food imperialism.

For more on the Hmong ad, Obama’s choice, Bush’s boot and your amok Christmas treat, go to

About the Author

For almost 15 years, Emil Guillermo wrote his "Amok" column for AsianWeek, which was the largest English language Asian American newsweekly in the nation. "Amok" was considered the most widely-read column on Asian American issues in the U.S. His thoughtful and provocative social commentaries have appeared in print in the San Francisco Chronicle,, San Francisco Examiner, USA Today, Honolulu Star Bulletin, Honolulu Advertiser, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and in syndication throughout the country. His early columns are compiled in a book "Amok: Essays from an Asian American Perspective," which won an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation in 2000. Guillermo's journalistic career began in television and radio broadcasting. At National Public Radio, he was the first Asian American male to anchor a regularly scheduled national news broadcast when he hosted "All Things Considered" from 1989-1991. During his watch, major news broke, including the violence in Tiananmen Square, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the end of dictatorships in Romania and Panama. From Washington, Guillermo hosted the shows that broke the news. As a television journalist, his award-winning reports and commentaries have appeared on NBC, CNN, and PBS. He was a reporter in San Francisco, Dallas, and Washington, D.C. After NPR, Guillermo became a press secretary and speechwriter for then Congressman Norman Mineta, the former cabinet member in the Bush and Clinton Administrations. After his Hill experience, Guillermo returned to the media, hosting his own talk show in Washington, D.C. on WRC Radio. He returned to California where he hosted talk shows in San Francisco at KSFO/KGO, and in Sacramento at KSTE/KFBK. Guillermo's columns in the ethnic press inspired a roundtable discussion program that he created, hosted, executive produced, resulting in more than 100 original half-hour programs. "NCM-TV: New California Media" was seen on PBS stations in San Francisco, Sacramento and Los Angeles, and throughout the state on cable. Guillermo also spent time as a newspaper reporter covering the poor and the minority communities of California's Central Valley. His writing and reporting on California's sterilization program on the poor and minorities won him statewide and national journalism awards. Guillermo, a native San Franciscan, went to Lowell High School, and graduated from Harvard College, where he was an Ivy Orator and class humorist, a distinction shared by fellow Lampoon members like James Downey (Saturday Night Live) and Conan O'Brien. Find out what he's up to at