Cast of Characters:

Enkidu (AKA Slim)
Beowolf (AKA Wolfie)
Blaze (AKA Blaze)

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Demonizing the other

It never ceases to amaze me how people from opposite political ideologies can take the same argument and use it against each other. I posted on Martin Niemöller's poem of injustice on the part of the Nazis and the enlightened self-interest involved in speaking out against injustice. In the comments section, someone just posted this:

That poem is one of the most heart-wrenching writings in the Western world. It makes an irrefutable point about moral clarity.

I just wrote to a woman, an enthusiastic supporter of the current american president, and mentioned this poem. She said, "I don't study war history."

I was stunned! These are the people who put a non-citizen in our White House.

My response:
Actually, Obama is a citizen.

I think that we all need to speak up, though, when we see injustices taking place, regardless of political orientation.

Talk about being stunned! Usually, I wouldn't consider someone this xenophobic to (need to) take the part of Niemöller against a more liberal individual. I would also hope that the more liberal individual wouldn't disagree with the sentiments expressed in the poem; of course, taken out of context, it's impossible to know with what exactly the woman alluded to was taking issue. As far as not studying history, I suspect that there are many of all ideologies guilty of this.

It's the normal thing, at least in the United States, to accuse the other side of ignorance or malice. I suspect that we probably all have more in common than we are led to believe by those seeking power through the spread of fear.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

One of my favorite facebook quotes from a colleague

C... will be on the 13th floor of [Our favorite campus building]. All day. There are unanswered questions about Ezekiel's use of Egypt. I'm going to invent them and answer them. That's what a scholar does.

It's funny, because it's true!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

5 children a day accused of being witches in Nigeria - EVERY DAY!

Photo: ©Robin Hammond

And being accused of being a witch means a horrible life, or often death for the poor child.

If the parents aren't willing or able to pay a preacher to chase out the devil, then the child is abandoned, or mutilated, or killed, or a combination of that.

"The deeply held belief by the people of Akwa Ibom State and the Efik speaking communities in Cross River State cuts across all tiers of society. Widely read and travelled academics and local villagers fear such children. This fear stems from the belief that a spiritual spell can be given to a person through food and drink. The soul of the person who eats this spell will then leave the body to be initiated in a gathering of witches and wizards. The initiated person will then have the power to wreak havoc, such as causing diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria, hepatitis, typhoid, cancer. All accidents, drunkenness mental health problems, smoking of marijuana, divorce, infertility, and misfortunes are seen to be the handiwork of witches and wizards. In recent times it is believed that children have become the target for initiation by the elderly witches as they are more susceptible to their spells and are quicker in action."
Children are chopped with machetes, burned with acid and buried alive. All this is done in the name of Christianity! If you are a Christian, please demand that your church take a stand against such practices by other so-called Christians!

Below are links to a documentary on this atrocity "Dispatches: Saving Africa's Witch Children"..
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6

To donate funds to care for these abandoned and traumatized children, go here:

Monday, April 13, 2009

10 things that my addiction to the Twilight series of books has brought to my attention (Now with all new bonus reflections!)

1) Wow…look, that’s that plot curve thing that they talked about in high school…is the really long flat part an extended exposition or really slowly rising action?
2) The opportunity to live vicariously through the romantic lives of imaginary people while my own life is limited to surviving grad school.
3) The realization that my disagreements with the casting in the film adaptation are evidence of everyone reading a different story, even though they’re reading the same book. I greatly suspect that I’m not reading the story that the author wrote, but I really like my version of it!
4) Relatively cheap thrills. I’ve been reading and rereading the same books for the last few months.
5) Improved Spanish skills through my reading of the series in Spanish.
6) Basic literature courses might be more effective at encouraging reflection on literature if they start with pop literature that people would actually enjoy reading multiple times. How much do you really see of a book the first time through, particularly if you don’t care to read it?
7) A reaffirmation of the effectiveness of formula fiction and the tastes of the masses. The first time I realized that everyone might like something because it was actually gratifying was when I read Anne Rice. Before that, I’d been rather elitist, assuming that if the masses loved it, I shouldn’t bother.
8) I really am annoyed by inconsistency in imaginary worlds. It’s OK if pigs fly, but they had better always be able to fly or have a good reason for not being able to do so!
9) Not all translators are created equal. It’s possible to be a professional translator without mastery of the source language.
10) German books are more expensive than English or Spanish books.

And a bonus reflection: Reading the stories in languages other than my own (which is the original) has caused me to read more slowly. I find myself stopping to consider what a foreign word might have been in the original English. Reading it in other languages creates the necessary distance to contemplate more than just the plot, but rather the phrasing as well. Also, I've noticed more foreshadowing (though this might just be an artifact of having read the same story multiple times.) It will be interesting to see if my experience reading it in English feels different after having read it in Spanish and German.

And another: I've had many discussions with colleagues about the dangers and merits of using American media translated into German for the purpose of teaching German. Arguments against such a thing are that translations do not use the same sorts of phrasing and structure as German works and they do not have the same cultural relevance. My thought is that, at least at the lower levels of language learning, that it doesn't really help to read only stuff originally in German with the ideal of developing native-like sensibilities and phrasing. Frankly, if you continue with the language, then you will have plenty of opportunity to work on that. However, for introductory study, I think that it makes a lot of sense to read things written by people from the learner's culture because such works are likely to express things that the learner would like to be able to express. Maybe a native German would never think to say X, Y or Z, but I would, and it would be nice to know how to make myself understood. This isn't to say that you shouldn't read German works by German authors when learning German. Of course it is important to have authentic materials to learn cultural understanding. On the other hand, if you are reading a best-seller in translation, I think that the argument could be made that it has become part of the German culture as well, or at least part of a subculture. I mean, to take an example from music, I think that the Beatles are as much a part of German culture as they are of American, though the exact place that they have varies by such things as whether the person understands English or just hears the music and probably also the age of the listener.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

my new T-shirt

Front text:
Language is a tool!

Back text:
"No form of language is
cognitively or linguistically
superior to any other in any
absolute sense outside of
particular contexts"
(J. Cummins, 2000; p. 77).



Saturday, February 28, 2009

recipe for yummy

Well, I'm currently enjoying something that I threw together last night:

  • 1lb ground turkey,
  • a robust dash of Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning,
  • 1 package southwestern veggie blend (corn, black beans, chopped peppers),
  • a bit of V8 juice,
  • 1 cup whole grain noodles (uncooked),
  • a bit of cheese crumbled, cut, or otherwise made small (1/2 cup?),
  • a can of pineapple,
  • salt and pepper to taste.
  • (water or milk to keep everything moist as needed)

  1. Brown the ground turkey with the creole seasoning and maybe some salt and pepper (do not drain)
  2. Add water, juice from pineapple, and a splash of V8
  3. Add noodles and cook until noodles are about half-way done
  4. Add veggie blend and pineapple
  5. Add cheese and mix in until melted into sauce
  6. Cook until noodles are done and the sauce ceases to be soup.
  7. Enjoy.

The cheese and the tomato aren't identifiable as such in the finished product, but they definitely add to the flavor.

Very tasty. Probably could feed about 4-6.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Wolfie takes an interest in SLA

Here's Wolfie perusing my Second Language Acquisition shelf.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Note on the distinction between living and dead languages

If you aren't able to watch a mainstream movie in the language that you are studying, then the language you are learning is not a living language.

(unless, of course, it is a language that simply isn't spoken by enough people with enough money for them to have made movies in that language.)

Let's take some examples:
  • Italian: yep, you can watch movies in Italian
  • Latin: mainstream movies in Latin
  • Modern American English: yep, you can watch movies in English
  • Old English: nope, not a living language (Think the original Beowulf.)
  • Egyptian Arabic: yep, you can watch movies in Egyptian Arabic
  • Classical Arabic: nope, not a living language - try watching a movie after you've figured out how to read the Qur''ll be sadly disappointed.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Independence in America becomes isolation and loneliness

I've been saying this for years. Now I'm hearing a program on the radio about a book that says the same thing:

The Lonely American by Jacqueline Olds and Richard S. Schwartz.

Basically, we spend so much time being being independent that we forget to have connections to people. Then we wonder why we get depressed.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

More fun than a...

...ferret in a box lid!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fuzzy Ferret Frenzy!

Here are Wolfie and Enkidu going at it again! It's so nice to have happy ferrets in the house!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Happy, Playing Ferrets!

Here's a short clip of Wolfie and Enkidu wrestling.

And another.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Meet Beowolf

Here is my newest fuzzy. His name is Beowolf. He is probably older than a year, but probably not older than 2 years.

Since Enkidu is finally comfortable enough here to want to play, I really had to get him a buddy. I've seen Enkidu trying to get Chaos to play, but Chaos is just too old/sick to be interested.

Loki is still a butt. I introduced Beowolf and Loki, and Loki attacked, so I separated them again.

Enkidu and Beowolf hit it off at the humane society, so I'm happy.

Beowolf seems kinda afraid of Chaos, but I think that might have more to do with Loki's previous attack than Chaos.


I took Loki to the vet this morning. He hasn't been very active lately, he had a sore on his belly at the base of where they cut him open for the surgery and his poo has been neither plentiful nor solid. The vet found that his blood sugar is low and that he is down from 3.25lbs to 2.9lbs. Now Loki will be on prednisolone and metronidazole just like Chaos.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

This thing in Gaza has to stop!

Yes, it is really bad that Hamas is attacking Israel. However, Israel's response has been way disproportionate. Hundreds of non-combatants, including children have died.

I came across this blog post from a young Palestinian woman by way of the public radio show Here on Earth.


I've had a lot of time to contemplate, the last few days, and looking at my siblings, I wonder how the rest of the world envisions the people who occupy the most despondent and unruly military zones in the world.

My younger brothers spend their free time out with their friends, or playing basketball and soccer at youth clubs. They are passionate about sports, play station, and music. They play the guitar and are exceptional students. My brother who's in collage is obsessed with computers and gadgets, he's an engineering student who comes up with the most ingenious projects for his classes. He listens to music and plays the guitar and prays regularly. He's an honor student who has big goals and big dreams.

So please understand why I am infuriated when I see how we are portrayed on television. Hordes of bearded, teeth-gnashing, stone throwing blood thirsty savages in rags and tatters. And please don't blame me for feeling utter rage against the state of Israel, that has been intentionally targeting the unwary, guiltless, promising children and youth of the Gaza Strip in its vicious attacks over the past 5 days. Already, between 40 and 50 children are dead while hundreds lie in the hospitals, seriously injured or disabled for life.


Today the temporary halt of rocket fire coincided with the restoration of power to our home, at least for a few hours, at about 5pm. My brothers went to their rooms and played their videogames, I sat on the couch and read, and my sister went to take a nap. We tried to busy ourselves with regular daily activities in a situation that is anything but commonplace.

I think that this post highlights the necessity of knowing people as individuals and not just as statistics or as "them". If we saw "the enemy" as our own brothers and sisters, it would not be possible to look away as they are murdered.

I have never been in favor of Hamas. I am also not in favor of the Israeli treatment of non-Jews. The oppressed has become the oppressor. I suspect that if Israel would provide equal rights and privileges to everyone within its borders, regardless of religion or ethnicity, then the violence would stop. The Palestinians don't want war. As individuals, they lie on a sprectrum of disapproval to tolerance to support of Hamas only because their current situation is untenable. Treat the Palestinians as human beings and they will stop Hamas for their own self-interest. Until then, to whom can the Palestinians turn for help?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


I'm hooked. I read the first 150 pages or so the other night and then finished up Twilight by Stephenie Meyer last night.

It's a masochistic endeavor, to read this book as a single woman. It's so enthralling! It's about an awkward girl who enters into a relationship with a guy who is beautiful, smart, funny - and oh, he might accidentally kill her by drinking her blood. The sexual tension is amazing!

The first few chapters were kinda slow, but after that I found it to be quite the page turner.

I'm definitely going to get the next book ... maybe the next couple of books ... in the series. I don't know if the bookstore in my hometown will have them or not, so I'll have to stop in another city on the way there to pick them up. And the store doesn't open until 9am! That means that there's no sense in me leaving until 8am, but I'm kinda awake at my friend's house now. Oh well.

I read the teaser for the next book and wanna know what happens next!

Silly me :)

I've heard the movie is a disappointment, so I'll have to think about whether I want to see it or not.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Cows for Widows

I recently heard about this US Marine program in Iraq from a show on Public Radio.

Basically, the Marines bought 50 cows for 50 Iraqi widows in Anbar Province to help empower the women and keep them from becoming desperate enough to become suicide bombers. The idea actually came from local Iraqi women, which meant that it was an Iraqi initiative, facilitated by the US Marines. Another interesting quirk about it is, that it's mostly female Marines involved.

I really like the idea, which reminds me of Heifer International.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Happy, Sleepy Loki

I took the other ferrets out of the cage and put Loki into it. I also gave him his lover for company. He appears very happy to snuggle up with it in the hammock!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Loki's Den

Since Loki Butt is such a butt and can't be trusted alone with Chaos, it occurred to me that I could just wall off the front hall for him to sleep in at night. That way, he's in a safe place, where he can't get into anything that could damage himself or anyone else. Since he's perfectly litter box trained, I don't have to worry about messes, which is more than I can say for the other two ferrets. I've been keeping him there overnight and when I exercise for the last few days.

Yesterday, I found him in the cage during play time. He was snuggled up with his lover. Oops! I'd forgotten to put his favorite toy in his den! Now he has it and most likely all is well.

set and sprung!

So, I was driving down University, which has three driving lanes, a bike lane, and a bus lane, which are one way, traveling west posted at 25mph. I was coming up behind a police car (depicted here in white) and slowed down like everyone else. (That red blob over there should indicate me - though there should be lots of other cars behind me and in the other lanes as well.) Anyway, the police car was in the left lane and signaling a left turn. He slowed down and looked like he was going to make that turn. Instead, he waited for the guy ahead (shown here as the yellow blob) to speed up to what couldn't have been more than 35 mph. The officer turned on his flashers and swept across all three lanes of traffic to pull the guy over in the right lane.

Fortunately for me, though I was planning to speed up, I had decided to wait until AFTER the officer made his turn.

Anyway, I couldn't help but feel a little sorry for the guy who miscalculated.

Friday, January 02, 2009


Chaos seems to be still interested in exploring the various bags and stuff in the living room, but seems to not be incredibly hungry. Hopefully, he's just too excited to eat and will eat after he has played a bit.