Archive for the ‘Voices’ Category

Never Forget

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

Half-mast flag and burning Trade Center

I was at work when the news came about the WTC being hit by an airplane. When it became obvious that it was a major story, I went home and brought back a small TV, which we watched most of the day. I still remember the images I saw – smoke, flames, people jumping to their deaths, the towers coming down, dust-covered people running and walking away from the scene. I also remember Muslims dancing in the street in celebration. It took me four days to verify that my father had not been in the Pentagon when it was hit, and I thought of those celebrations a lot.

Now we have imam Rauf threatening violence if his victory mosque isn’t built at his proposed site. A few things have become obvious in the last nine years:

There are no moderate Muslims, in the respect that there is no effective Islamic voice opposing the radicals and terrorists. There are a few individuals here and there who denounce the violence, most of whom are under threat of death because of it, but the “Muslim street” acquiesces to or celebrates the vicious acts.

Islam is not a religion of peace. It is a religion of conflict and oppression. How many acts of terrorist and sectarian violence and armed conflicts in the world do not involve Muslims, and how often are they not the aggressors?

Islam demands supremacy over other religions. The very word “Islam” means “submission.” It demands respect it does not give to others, and the political left is cooperating with it. There is currently a flap over a threat to burn some Korans. Consider that Bibles are not allowed into Saudi Arabia, even for personal use, and the US military has burned Bibles that were sent to US troops in Afghanistan. Compare that with “Piss Christ” and “elephant dung Mary” and the left’s reaction to Christian complaints of disrespect.

Sharia courts have been implemented in Europe and Canada, and Muslims are trying to get them here. In Milwaukee, Muslim taxi drivers refused to carry people with dogs or alcohol, until they were told they’d lose their licenses. They do what they want, and don’t back down unless forced.

Islam is more-or-less a totalitarian political ideology masquerading as a religion. It divides the world into Dar Al’ Islam (the House of Islam) and Dar Al’ Harb (the House of War). As such, Islam itself is largely incompatible with Western Civilization. People keep saying that we’re not at war with Islam, but they won’t admit that Islam is at war with us.

If we don’t start to protect our civilization and our society, it could get very bad.

Never forget what happened. Never forget who did it. Never forget that it wasn’t their first attempt. Never believe that it won’t be their last.

Miscellany 9

Monday, July 12th, 2010

It’s been a few weeks since my last update. I’ve been busy, but not really that busy. I went to a wedding in Missoula with my daughter, celebrated the birthdays of a couple friends, got some stuff done at work, gave my daughter one of my ukuleles which she got autographed at the Jake Shimabukuro concert, and so on. The concert was very good (which I’d expected), and Jake finished with a performance of Bohemian Rhapsody (which I hadn’t). It’s going to be on his next CD. I picked up his DVD, Play Loud Ukulele, while I was in Hawaii … I’m enjoying that, too.

In any case, I’ve been saving this link. It’s to part one of a three-part article on trying to locate the diner portrayed in an iconic painting. The painting always reminds me of the Tom Waits song (and album), Nighthawks at the Diner, although the lyrics seem to refer to a diner in San Francisco, rather than Greenwich Village. It’s a good article, and the website as a whole is worth a look. I’ve long been interested in “hidden history” and the like.

Burt Prelutsky’s essay here resonates powerfully with me.

I have an Android phone and love it, so this looks pretty interesting to me. Via Make.

It’s the Tom Swift Centennial. I started reading Tom Swift books one Christmas when my brother and I each received a Tom Swift book and a Hardy Boys book. Now it’s my other brother who collects them. In honor of the centennial, I think that some Tom Swifties are in order. If you don’t like those, you can look here for others.

And, speaking of bad writing, the results of the annual Bulwer-Lytton competition were released during my hiatus. Personally, I’m rather taken with the runner-up in the Detective Fiction category.

It’s Anzac Day

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

And I’m just going to point to my previous post on the subject.

Burial at sea

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

A veteran is someone who, at one point, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America ‘ for an amount of ‘up to and including their life.’

Read it.

One of those timeless messages

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Message to Garcia

A Message to Garcia is a standard topic in leadership courses, at least in the ones I attended back in the 1970s. Lt. Rowan is held up as someone to emulate, although the assistance he received sometimes left him with so little control over his situation that he was concerned about where he was being taken.

I’d never read Rowan’s description of his trip, so that was interesting, and re-reading Hubbard’s essay was also interesting – I picked up on his examples about grammar and punctuation this time, partly because I had just read an essay on that topic, and partly because I’ve written about that particular topic myself.

Looking at language(s)

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

After writing the update to one of yesterday’s posts, I ran across several more language-related items, so I decided to wrap them all together. This post is slightly video-heavy, rather than just linking to the sites where I found the videos.

First, from Barking Up The Wrong Tree (via Dyspepsia Generation), we have what English sounds like to foreigners (Italians, in this case).

It actually sounds pretty good to me. Not understandable, of course, but there are many songs in actual English whose lyrics I can’t make out, either.

That led to this video, at Bitter Laughter, with an English-language speaker demonstrating gibberish in several foreign languages.

He’s pretty good, but it seems obvious that he’s reading at least some of it. That got me thinking about the master of pseudo-foreign-language gibberish, Sid Caesar. He was able to do it ad-lib. I’ve seen television performances in which he’s done it several times. The best one I could find wasn’t one of his older performances, though, it was from Whose Line Is It, Anyway.

Also from Dyspepsia Generation, we have a site for learning foreign languages through the use of games. I’m going to have to give this one a try.

Another article gives a lead, but unfortunately, not a link, to a NY Times article on the degeneration of Japanese due to technology (blogs, cellphones, and the like). As you can see, the article wasn’t hard to track down. It’s interesting.

I’ve long been despairing over the state of English proficiency here in the US, and that’s without getting into Ebonics or slang. Too many people don’t understand punctuation, particularly apostrophes, or which spelling to use to get the correct homophone. Grammar falls by the wayside. Some of the problems with English are inherent in the language, but others are due to simple ignorance or laziness on the part of the people using the language.

I’ll admit to reading on my cellphone, an activity that will likely increase if I move to an Android phone. I seldom send text messages, though, which may be one reason my language skills are deteriorating more slowly than the language skills of heavier texters. I don’t have the vocabulary I used to, though, and the change in my reading habits may be partially responsible.

As far as Japanese deteriorating, they currently have four alphabets in common use. The kanji alphabet went through a major revision/simplification after World War II; I believe it has an official effective data of 1963, but I’m not certain. As a result, that alphabet was reduced to about 2000 “everyday” characters, with each character having from 1 to 26 individual strokes of the pen (with a defined sequence and direction for each stroke), as well as a hundred or so characters that are only used in proper names. It takes the Japanese through high school to learn them all. They also use two phonetic alphabets with about four dozen character each, as well as “Romaji” (the Roman alphabet that we use). I understand how technology can interfere with being able to write the kanji characters – I’ve used Japanese word processors, and what you do is type the phonetic representation of a word, then select the kanji you want from a list. Very convenient, but you don’t get practice drawing the characters.

Will technology cause Japanese to become a “local” language, as some of the people mentioned in the NYT article claim? Possibly, but not in the near term. It will make things more difficult, though. Japanese has a number of homophones (which makes puns popular in Japan). For example, the word spelled “kami” in the Roman alphabet could refer to the Japanese words for hair, paper, or gods/spirits. Business cards are very important in Japan because knowing how to pronounce someone’s name does not mean that you can spell it. Unfortunately, knowing how to spell it doesn’t always tell you how to pronounce it, either.

For example, my favorite simple kanji character (δΈ‹) has several different pronounciations (ka, ge, shita, shimo, moto, sa, o, kuda) and a number of meanings. For the most part, they’re things like below, lower, beneath, and such, but when used in the combination pronounced “kudasai,” it’s normally translated as “please” (the polite request, not the verb form of “pleasure”). You can understand why technology is exerting forces on Japanese that aren’t being exerted on English.

Written Japanese is quite difficult, but the spoken language is grammatically fairly straightforward; the difficulty comes in the cultural nuances. The linked book, at one point, provides twenty-four translations of a single sentence, giving you everything from “Get the hell offa my lawn!” level to a form that would normally be used only when speaking with the Emperor. The cultural nuances cause problems for the Japanese themselves, as well. I remember reading an article years ago about the problems newspeople have performing “man-in-the-street” interviews, because Japanese does not have a polite form of the word for “you,” so the only polite way to refer to someone else is by name. The only word they have is “anata,” which is used as a term of endearment in couples (often shorted to “anta” in that case), but is otherwise impolite.

As I’ve said before, I like language and languages. There is just so much about them that I find fascinating.

It will make us all into nannies

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Why America Hates Universal Health Care: The Real Reason

I loves me some good snark

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

And I found some in a comment on this post at Villainous Company:

Thank God we have a man who is as qualified and deserving to be President as he is, say, to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Only the ephemeral is of lasting value

Monday, July 27th, 2009

I ran across that as a quote some years ago, and it stuck with me because of the antinomy. It also came to mind when I read this article.

Keeping abreast of the issues

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Denver isn’t on the list yet, but this is a protest I believe I’d like to see happen here.