Friday, May 21, 2004

How a Math Nerd became a Pornstar

The things you'll find on the web! Did you know, for instance, that Asia Carrera, of adult film fame (or, depending on your value system, infamy) was a onetime USA Math Olympiad contestant? And that she played Carnegie Hall while she was still in her early teens (performing Bach's 13th Invention), and later went to Rutgers as a National Merit Scholar? At least, so it says in her website's biography section (just in case you're wondering, I did not get there while looking for pr0n - a page that links to it is number one on the actual search I did run - not that there's anything wrong with surfing for pr0n on one's own free time ...).

I know that resume inflation is par for the course on the internet, but reading Carrera's account* of how she got to where she is today, I don't see anything that sticks out as implausible. Certainly, the pushy parents she talks about were characteristic of more than one American student of Asian extraction I knew during my college days. One could say that Ms. Carrera's life just goes to show that the Asian cultural emphasis on academic success cuts both ways, as it is possible to push children too hard to study subjects for which they have no natural affinity, even if they're able to grind out good results nonetheless. That said though, on balance I still think the Asian-American attitude preferable to that of many other American subcultures, in which academic success is either seen as irrelevant, a cunning plot by TheMan™ to keep one down, or else entirely a matter of genetic luck, and nothing one has any ability to exert personal control over.

*I've got to say, though, that for someone who's supposedly so smart, the low-contrast choice of light green text on a white background isn't exactly the best demonstration of the veracity of such a claim. As it turns out, the mistake was on my part - the background is supposed to be black.