Thursday, September 13, 2012

Language Instruction

One of my personal crusades is the need for more language instruction in our schools. Languages are usually cut first, right up there with music and art, as "unnecessary." The chair of the University of Virginia governing board recently proposed to eliminate that school's highly-praised German department, because Germany is now a completely unimportant country with no international influence at all, like, oh, Greece. An evil combination of corporate Philistines, misguided school reformers, and legislative skin-flints work together to deprive as many students as possible of the chance to learn a second language. The foolishness of this idea is evident right now, with the US facing attacks by possibly-coordinated mobs on many of our embassies in western Asia and North Africa. We don't know about this because we have so very few Arabic - speakers who are not imported from that troubled area. We don't teach Arabic in our schools, so we don't have citizens who read Al Jazeera's website and comments. During the era of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," we fired Arabic speakers for being gay, like we had dozens of extras stored somewhere in the State Department supply cabinet. We don't do that any more, but we aren't doing anything to increase the supply, either. Arabic is a very hard language to learn, and the colloquial form spoken on the street isn't much like the formal version spoken by the upper classes. I understand from the two people I know who speak the language that there isn't anything like standard business English that most fluent speakers use. This is not an insurmountable problem, because there are a bunch of jihadi websites published in European languages, especially German and French. The 9/11 hijackers lived in Germany before moving over here, and presumably talked to other people while in Germany. More Americans speaking German might have made a difference there. This is very personal to me right now. I am learning both French and Spanish via Rosetta Stone, and my Spanish has gotten good enough for me to read CNN en espaƱol and Univision for news. Venezuela detained the captain of an American ship. American officials were attacked in Mexico. I learned of these two events from Spanish websites. I learned a lot about Latin American opinions of us from reading the comments. I am a better and more informed person from knowing this. How much more would we know about the real sources of the current rioting if more of us could read Arabic or Farsi or one of the European languages spoken by the leaders? I undertand that East Toenail, Idaho can't hire a full-time Arabic or German instructor. With the Internet, however, they can buy Rosetta Stone and allow their students one class period to complete the program. They can administer on-line tests for credit. So what if only six students are interested? The subscription is about a hundred dollars per year for an ordinary consumer; I'm sure the company would be willing to give a price break to school districts, especially if the state leg bought enough for all of its students. Bogota and Powderly, Texas -- the Prairiland Consolidated School District and a real place -- has a couple hundred students. Texas has almost seven million. Giving every student in the state the chance to learn any one of a dozen languages costs very little anymore, but has a tremendous benefit. We should do this, for all of us.


I found this post this morning. The writer wants adult women to express legitimate anger in a "childlike" manner. I am entirely too angry at that to respond rationally, but I did want to note how manipulative this is. The idea is to defuse unreasonable and unfair criticism by acting like a baby, which will somehow inspire Bastard Hubby to be protective. It doesn't work, it's insulting to both people, and it keeps the adult woman in a state of complete helplessness.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Libby Anne presents the best argument about what respect really means in this post. Her writing helped get the bad taste left from Tim Bayly's idiotic rant out of my system.

Tim Bayly wants women to be slaves

this post perfectly illustrates why I loathe comoplementarianism. The author states flatly that women are born to be slaves to men. Is there anything else to be said?

Saturday, June 16, 2012


I'm trying out my new iPad.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Help! That last post had four paragraph breaks that never appeared. Instead I got one huge Wall O'Text. Anyone who knows how to make paragraphs appear in Blogger please explain in comments.

Women are not cows

This post illustrates perfectly everything I loathe about "complementarian" ides. French objects to a pastors exhortation to husbands because the church has been "feminized," which he conveniently for himself never defines. Abraham Hess notes that Webster's has a definition which includes "emasculated." lists a number of definitions of "emasculate," but the first one after "geld" is "to weaken or make less effective." Thus, according to French and Abraham Hess, to make something feminine is to make it weak and ineffective. Gee, guys, thanks, love how you honor us so much. See, complementarians don't actual like women very much, even conventionally feminine ones. We're weak and ineffective and should leave everything that matters to the world to the penis-people. Lest anything think this is something reserved to Evangelical Protestants, there is this thread wherein the blogger discusses the horror of being naked around Teh Gheys, and completely misrepresents Puritanism in the process. The main thing, though, is in the discussion about why women can't be priests one person mentions that it's because women get pregnant. To these people and to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, the biological process of pregnancy and lactation is exactly the same as a position that requires years of learning and thinking and which provides a great deal of prestige and authority. Coma patients can get pregnant. The mind has exactly zero role to play in the process, which is the same basic thing for rats and cows as for humans. Actually, rats and cows have it a lot easier; they don't die in childbirth. Being a priest, however, requires years of learning and effort and has no equivalent among animals. To say that being a placental mammal is the same as being a scholar and that women should be happy with our status as placental mammals is so insulting it reduces me to spluttering, ranting rage. To the Roman Catholic hierarchy and to complementarian Protestants, women are nothing but bodies. We have no minds or wills to speak of, and they can't get their pathetic heads around why we find this insulting. French and Abraham Hess both list a buch of things they find wrong with churches, from breathy quasi-pop hymns to "thought for the day" sermons which don't discuss the Bible. All of these things are wrong. I quit attending the 9:30 service at my church because the music is all Justin-Beiber-meets-Jesus. The difference between me and those guys is that I don't immediately connect bad music to being female. There is an entire thesaurus of adjectives to describe this kind of thing without referencing gender: insipid, dull, colorless, trivial, boring, flat, saccharine (I really like that one because it combines sickly sweet with fake), childish, treacly, dim, weak, and simply wrong. Why immediately go to a word that refers to being female, unless deep down the speaker really does think that a primary characteristic of being a woman is to be weak and saccharine? There are differences between men and women, but French and the Catholic hierarchy presume that all the differences favor men. Men are active, strong, and intelligent and women are passive and weak and required constant oversight from men.

Friday, March 16, 2012

You catch more flies with honey

We have a saying in the South, "You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar." In dozens of column inches, this woman pours gallons of vinegar on the Seattle parents who sued a hospital for incorrectly reporting the results of a Down's test. In dozens of column inches, however, she never asks the essential Christian question: what can we do to help?

I have a number of friends with kids who have handicaps of some degree or another, ranging from the higher end of the autism spectrum through serious physical problems down to developmental delays so profound the child will never learn to speak or have any hope of living independently. My impression, entirely from the outside, is that all of them want reliable help. Some with medical expenses, all with someone who'll give them a day off, and a few with the expenses of institutionalization including the knowledge that their child will be safe and well-cared-for after the parents die. I wish more people acknowledged that the parents who filed this lawsuit need assistance and not scolding. Seriously, more than ninety percent of parents who learn that their much-wanted baby has Down's will terminate the pregnancy. When more than 90% of people do something, we need to find out why instead of call them ugly names or posting Love Is pictures of Down's sufferers. Provide assistance and information and persuasion. Develop cheap and effective treatments for the mental and physical problems. Make long-term care an option without financial or social penalties. All of these proposals require higher taxes and a reduction in outrage, but they are far more likely to be really successful than angry blog posts, outlawing prenatal testing, or banning abortion.