From the Times on the Debasement of Language

Here is a piece from the New York Times on the way our current politics is undermining the language as a way of representing truth. Way to go, Cougars. (And I don’t mean University of Houston.)

No university should allow itself to become associated with this trend. Lying is not a protected form of speech.

Walls Never Work

Duolingo provides free online language courses. I don’t know the people behind Duolingo but they seeme to be moved by a passion that really doesn’t include becoming digital billionaires even though they are in the process of developing one of the most effective and liberating products I have encountered during my years as an internet citizen.

Now they have produced a thirty minute video that places the need for language education in a very human context in our troubled world.

Watch this video, Texans, and you may be moved to take a language course. If you are a native English speaker, I would suggest Spanish. Give it twenty minutes a day without fail. That minimal investment of time will not allow you to become proficient, particularly if you don’t have a person to speak with periodically. But stay after it anyhow. When you do have a chance to use your new language, you will have a real head start.

The people in this video have moved away from wars in their native countries: from Syria to Iraq; from Iraq to Turkey; and Turkey is not the most secure and friendly place these days. They could be moving again. Would you blame anyone for looking toward America as a land of freedom and opportunity? And wouldn’t they be great Americans?

The ability to study new languages has been a key to their survival. Take a look.

 

Morning Paper, June 20, 2018

Back when FaceBook was a viable medium for honest people, I was the administrator for a group I called Morning Paper. The idea was simply to give people a place to share links to news stories they found interesting and have a chance to discuss them with their friends. I set it up as a “secret group” — that is the FB term for a group that a person enters by invitation. Only members can see the posts and comments. I tended to think of it as private rather than secret, a subtle but meaningful distinction.

Yes, it was an echo chamber to a certain degree but there were occasional disagreements and they were always discussed in a very civil and helpful way. It’s the thing I miss next-to-most about FB, just after the photos of my grandkids.

Today, LJ Citizen will begin posting links (and a few comments maybe) on the things I read in the morning papers. As a rule, I will not show the article but simply direct you to it should you decide to read it. So, let’s get started with the news of the day. I should mention that I subscribe to several publications that may limit your ability to open the stories if you are not a subscriber.

First from the New York Times, usually my first stop in the morning:

Probably the biggest story of the day, Continue reading “Morning Paper, June 20, 2018”

Global Threats of Climate Change: Nepalese Context

Flat landers on the Texas Gulf Coast tend to think of the dangers of climate change only in terms of tropical storms, rising tides, and high electric bills. They fantasize about moving to the mountains to escape it all. Not so fast, cowboy. This article reveals Nepal as high on the list of nations at highest risk of climate change calamity. We really do share a single planet.

Sustainable Safety Solutions, NEPAL

climate change(Photo Source: Google)

Verisk Maplecroft, a global risks analytics and research organization, published a Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI) in 2010, ranking Nepal as the fourth most vulnerable country to the impacts of climate change. Recent estimates show that Nepal, in the past few years, has already been facing an annual economic loss of 1.5 to 2% of GDP due to climate change events. One may argue climate change to be a natural phenomenon but environmental and climate researchers think otherwise.

Air, water and soil are being polluted left and right. Many developed and industrialized nations are heavily emitting greenhouse gases day and night. Businesses are not performing enough for environmental good and rather seem busy lobbying against it. Very little is being done to manage ever growing garbage, pollution and toxic wastes. This in turn is causing environmental degradation, global warming, climate change and chronic health hazards around the…

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Properties at Risk: LJ Alert

The Guardian published an article this morning giving fairly specific location information regarding forecasts of U.S. properties at risk of flooding from rising sea levels within the next thirty years. The maps were prepared by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a group not known as a fake news source unless you read more fake news than real. You can access their maps by clicking on site below:

https://ucsusa.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=cf07ebe0a4c9439ab2e7e346656cb239

There are a couple of maps in particular that should interest Lake Jackson residents. One map shows the Lake Jackson area within the zone predicted for significant property losses within the period of a typical thirty-year home loan suggesting a loss of property values right away. Another map shows the areas that could be affected positively if action is taken by nations having advanced developed economies.

They make it easy to express your concerns to the folks in power. It can’t do any harm.

Liberty Muses about Her Job

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From the Flickr collection of Yiannis Theologos Michellis offered as public doman. https://www.flickr.com/photos/zoonyzoozoodazoo/

 

They knew from the very first
this would be a job
only a woman would do.
Standing through the seasons
in this harbor over a hundred years
offering what we French call hospitalité.
This wasn’t for haute cuisine and wine.

I was put here, an immigrant myself,
to welcome refugees
from famine and oppression,
asking only that they do their part
to protect the ideals and way of life
that moved always
in the direction of freedom.

Sometimes my presence
served to remind this
congregation of immigrants
that only a few can call
this their native land – and they never
owned the land so much as respected it
and kept it friendly to all creatures.

History knit us together in community
when natives and newcomers rose up,
fought together and died to remove
dictators from power –
declared enemies of liberty.

I don’t know if I can bear
this flame much longer.
He makes his home here now,
and would build a wall,
cage the children who would
give us the next generation of freedom.

For all I have seen from here,
watching the towers in flames,
seeing the bodies falling –
none of it drove me to fits of crying.
But lately, seeing the dream of democracy
reduced to a cruel
farce staged by and for one vain man –
I am so alone out here.

And I weep for you.

Wokeness? What’s That?

David Brooks taught me a new word, or at least a new usage, yesterday: woke.

I do a terrible job keeping up with popular culture and modern usages that spring from it. I have seen the word “woke” popping up a lot lately but haven’t paid it much attention. I get along fine without comprehending most popular culture. It doesn’t bother me that I have seen none of the “best of” television series or movies. I take in a good one now and then but generally assume the worst about them and don’t tune in. Is that a form of wokeness?

Maybe it is; maybe it isn’t. But I know with certainty that I am woke to Donald Trump. I don’t try to understand or tolerate him. It should be clear to any observer that everything he does is in his own and not the nation’s interest. Plus, he is rude, given to alternate realities, tasteless, not very smart, lies a lot and is far too materialistic for my value system. I could go on.

Brooks says there is a problem with my attitude and I yield to his wisdom. Brooks sums up the problem with wokeness in this way:

The greatest danger of extreme wokeness is that it makes it harder to practice the necessary skill of public life, the ability to see two contradictory truths at the same time.

And I don’t think he means alternative facts in the way DJT’s minions have attempted to cloak his lies. He gives the example of racism. Our dominant society was built on it and continues to be deep into it. At the same time, we have made some progress in learning to make a racist culture a little kinder to everyone since the days of legal slavery, total denial of citizen rights, and the open veneration of seditious defenders of – I yield to the cause as they prefer to describe it – states’ rights. We have done it by making some uncomfortable compromises along the way.

So what are we to do about this woke old southern white man who is a member of the very demographic that is credited with putting Trump in office? How should I deal with my wokeness problem?

Continue reading “Wokeness? What’s That?”