Banished Adverbs

Burbles

I book floor sunburst ant across keyboard Pleistocene basement pomegranate son Louis noose. feelings place door cave rat magazine. Smiles hair toothboat wind. Drama detergent.

 

(The above composition was written in response to a WordPress writing challenge (Writing 101) asking for a story with no adverbs.)

Today’s Featured Spam #4: Toenail for the Brain

Submitted on 2013/07/17 at 3:35 am
Random Bird Sculpture

I’m pleased, I ought to say.

Actually seldom will

i i must let you know,

and expertise an online site

that’s equally elizabeth…

ducative as well as entertaining,

you have struck the actual toe nail for the brain.

The method is excellent

the issue is something that

not enough everyone is talking

prudently concerning.

I am pleased that we identified

this specific

in my look for

some thing in regards

to this.

Today’s Featured Spam (#2): Sweet as a Rose

Today’s Featured Spam #2:

Excellent items from you, man. I have consider your stuff prior to and you are just extremely fantastic. I really like what you’ve got right here, certainly like what you’re stating and the way by which you assert it. You’re making it enjoyable and you continue to care for to keep it smart. I can’t wait to learn much more from you. That is really a great web site.

(Submitted on 2013/06/27 at 2:54 pm)

Yellow Rose

Now tell me, who could resist such accolades? I know that I am “just extremely fantastic,” but it’s really nice to hear it from someone else from time to time.

This spammer also “like[s] what [I]’ve got right here.” This phrasing is almost Zen in the way it brings one to consider the here and now–makes one live in the present.

I also, ostensibly, am “making it enjoyable and continu[ing] to care for (sic) to keep it smart.” I have been courted by less habile speakers, and with some success, I might add…

And finally, being a teacher, I feel my life’s direction validated by the line, “I can’t wait to learn much more from you.” Wow.

The whole thing just makes me feel loved. This spammer should start a dating service, where he (or she) coaches suitors on what to tell their dates. Or work in the diplomatic corps. Such talent should not be wasted on spam messages.

And just so you know, there is great sincerity in my apparent sarcasm.

Honoring Spammers: Today’s Featured Spam

Today’s Featured Spam

I truly wanted to develop a small message so as to appreciate you for some of the fabulous facts you are writing at this site. My long internet search has now been recognized with extremely good tips to share with my great friends. I would point out that most of us readers actually are extremely blessed to live in a notable site with so many outstanding people with great things. I feel really happy to have encountered your entire web site and look forward to tons of more excellent moments reading here. Thanks once again for a lot of things.

Red bush

I am a ruthless protector of my privacy and right to not be solicited. I am on the “Do Not Call” registry, and if a representative of some organization or company has the temerity to call me anyway, I think nothing of hanging up immediately upon discovering the nature of his or her call. As rudely as possible.

I find it somewhat paradoxical, therefore, that my feelings about spam on my blogs is less cut and dried. Perhaps this has something to do with my profession.

I, as all of we bloggers [yes, the subject pronoun “we” is appropriate here], get a lot of spam comments on my blog. But hitting the “Delete Permanently” button seems so final and so uncaring. It negates the existence, and the full verbal and emotional expression of its originator. Let me explain.

As an English teacher, I feel it is important to appreciate writing regardless of the form or language level at which it appears: to recognize the abilities, and more importantly the intentions, of the author, instead of just red-lining through all of the mistakes. Writing is, after all, a very personalized form of expression. When reading, I look for the kernel of truth, colored by the personality of the author. I seek to know the writer through everything that makes him or her distinct. To miss the message due to the imperfect form of its delivery, would be unfortunate.

Now to the point of why I actually like the content of spam messages:

Continue reading “Honoring Spammers: Today’s Featured Spam”

Surveillance in the Emerald City

from Mtro-Goldwyn-Mayer, "The Wizard of Oz"
from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, “The Wizard of Oz”

A recent news report from Reuters (click to read entire article), found on Yahoo News, mentions that:

“The Guardian reported last week that the super-secret National Security Agency has been mining phone records from millions of American customers of a subsidiary of Verizon Communications.

“The Washington Post revealed a separate program, code-named Prism, that gives federal authorities access to data from companies including Google Inc., Apple Inc and Facebook Inc on emails, photos and other files.”

Should this news give cause for, if not alarm, at least some genuine reflection on the state of the state? Many of the former hippie generation, the baby boomers, and even the generations immediately preceeding and following, remember how carefully we guarded our right to privacy and freedom of expression; how we protested and fought for these things. We explored the theoretical social order that would follow the disappearance of these personal freedoms in dystopic literature such as George Orwell’s 1984, Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451, and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Books would become illegal (and would be burned), and those who kept them would be publicly humiliated and jailed. Huge wall-sized, two-way TV monitors would feed people the latest “news,” while “Big Brother” would observe them in their homes to determine whether they were behaving “appropriately.” The news was manufactured and updated (changed) daily, depending on which nations we were currently allied with, and which we were currently at war with. There was no room for dissent. Interpersonal contact and relationships would be stringently monitored, and unapproved interpersonal contact was punishable by imprisonment or, ultimately, death. Surveillance cameras were present everywhere, so there was no place to hide. While the stories in these novels were futuristic, and fell more into the genre of science fiction than non-fiction, their underlying themes grew out of  real trends and international events within recent memory of the authors. The technology for video surveillance, wireless communication devices, large-screen video monitors and two-way surveillance systems was still a few steps into the future. But not any more. The implications of these futuristic technologies for the privacy of the individual were chilling.

Jump to 2013. The current generation, enamored of the convenience of instant communication media such as cell phones and Facebook, seem to have little or no regard for personal privacy; they have grown up in a world where that concept is not even discussed; where sharing every intimate detail about yourself is seen as a good thing, to the extent that they feel compelled to update their “status” every few hours, to post and identify pictures of their friends and acquaintances (actions made readily accessible through macros pioneered on Facebook and now insideous even to iPhoto and other photography storage and manipulation software). In fact, we have witnessed an apparent total reversal of the parental (or grand-parental) understanding that “a man’s home is his castle” (a place where a family can expect to be left alone to think, act, and behave as they see fit without fear of intrusion or surveillance). Those who have lived through violent regime changes all over the world have learned the hard way that it is best to keep your thoughts to yourself, lest you stand out to be identified as “the enemy,” or as an example of how not to think or behave.

Continue reading “Surveillance in the Emerald City”

Terrorism Defined

IMG_1781

Terror is a funny thing. Some people would say that terror is not funny at all, and that it’s—well, terrifying. And they would be right. But hear me out. I believe that if we examine the term closely, we have a greater chance of seeing it for what it is, and not letting it… terrify us.

If you look closely at the word ‘terror’, you will see that, by definition, it is fear: a heightened and intense fear.

According to my 1971 Oxford English Dictionary (the old-fashioned, paper edition),

Terror is:

“1. The state of being terrified, or greatly frightened; intense fear, fright, or dread.”…

2. The action or quality of causing dread; terrific quality, terribleness; also, concr. a thing or person that excites terror; something terrifying.

3. King of terrors, Death personified [biblical references]. …

4. Reign of terror, a state of things in which the general community live in dread of death or outrage; esp. in French Hist. the period of the First Revolution from about March 1793 to July 1794, also called the Terror, the Red Terror, when the ruling faction remorselessly shed the blood of persons of both sexes and of all ages and conditions whom they regarded as obnoxious.

Hence also White Terror, applied to the counter-revolution that followed the Red Terror, and to other periods of remorseless repression in other countries. …”

Terror, then, is a heightened, distilled fear that makes people go crazy and do crazy things. The Red Terror in France spawned the retaliatory White Terror, both of which caused people to live in fear and dread, and to commit acts of violencehate crimes—upon one another.

Terror is a great motivator; it is very compelling. A state of heightened emotion, it incites the same emotion in others, either to rally with the terrorists or against them, but in equal measure of passion, not of reason. No one is thinking calmly or rationally; adrenaline and the worst of our primal instincts take over.

I don’t think it can be argued that the ends, or acts, committed while in this heightened emotional state, this state of terror, can be viewed as reasonable or justified, or grounded in any kind of rational or humanitarian thought (for you have to understand that the perpetrators of violent, terrible acts are as terrified as are their victims).

“Terrorism” is defined in the same dictionary as:

“1. Government by intimidation as directed and carried out by the party in France during the Revolution of 1789-94; the system of the ‘Terror’ (1793-4) …

2. gen. A policy intended to strike with terror those against whom it is adopted; the employment of methods of intimidation; the fact of terrorizing or condition of being terrorized. …”

“Terrorist” is defined as follows:

“1. As a political term: a. applied to the Jacobins and their agents and partisans in the French Revolution, esp. to those connected with the Revolutionary tribunals during the ‘Reign of Terror’.

b. Any one who attempts to further his views by a system of coercive intimidation; spec. applied to one of the extreme revolutionary societies in Russia.

2. Dyslogistically: One who entertains, professes, or tries to awaken or spread a feeling of terror or alarm; an alarmist, a scaremonger.

…”

Terror is a dangerous thing. Once you get caught up in it, it is hard to pull away. Like jealousy, hate, and lust, it is a strong emotion with a great capacity to absorb and entangle people. The best thing you can do is to maintain a calm, balanced, and rational outlook, and not to get caught up in the heat of the moment.

It is always a good idea to look calmly at the emotions, from within or without, that occupy our attention and vie for control over our lives.

It is also a good idea to go back to the source of terms we use every day, and re-examine their roots, their meanings and their connotations, in full.

How do you define “terrorism”? Has the definition changed over the years?

Source Cited:
The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. Vol. 1. Oxford UP, 1971. Print. 2 vols.

French Invades New York

As a language teacher, I know that speaking two or more languages is a blessing. The more avenues we have to reach out to one another, the better off we are. Being bilingual or multilingual increases both cognitive ability and our ability to stay abreast of news and trends across the globe. Being able to enjoy music, films, and other cultural works in another language adds interest to our lives. Lately, I have been following a discussion on LinkedIn’s Alliance Francaise group called “Lament: The move of American Schools to Discontinue the Teaching of French.” (See WriteWireless post “When the World Spoke French”). Several dozen members have shared their dissatisfaction, concern, and opinions as to why the study of French (and other world languages) is declining in our public schools.

In New York City, quite the opposite seems to be happening. There is a growing number of options for children to learn French starting in the preschool years and continuing through high school. Some schools are private, but a growing number of public schools are now promoting French language in a big way. For just over two years, the French government has been instituting a French language education program in public elementary schools that is taking the city by storm. Spearheaded by the French Embassy’s Educational Attaché Fabrice Jaumont and enthusiastically supported by local parents, the program is instituting French bilingual and French immersion programs in neighborhood schools. To date, 32 new French-English programs have opened their doors to public school children in seven NYC public schools. The model has spread to two more programs in New Haven, Connecticut, with a total of almost 1,000 students in grades K-8 benefitting from French language as a foundation of their schooling. Parents have been very enthusiastic about the prospect of giving their children the gift of another language, and with it, a broader world view and increased opportunities to be players in our global community.

As any language educator can tell you, in order to become fluent, the earlier a language is acquired, the greater the the degree of fluency one can attain. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (or ACTFL, the national body that advises the U.S. Department of Education) states in its position statement that:

Learning languages should be a central part of the curriculum at all levels of instruction, from young learners through graduate school and adults (Pre-K through 20).

ACTFL further states that

Research corroborates additional benefits [of early language learning experience] including strengthening of literacy in students’ first language, raising standardized test scores in other subject areas, and developing comfort with cultural differences.  (From ACTFL Position Statements, Updated 2011)

During this era of global economic upheaval, when the jobless and worried find their universe closing in on them, it is refreshing and encouraging to find members of the world community who are taking the long view, working to strengthen ties of language, culture, and common understanding that will endure when the current crisis has passed.

To read more about New York’s French schools, click on the “Schools” tab in New York in French (a French cultural website linked to the French Embassy), or read Monica Burton’s article in NYU’s Shoe Leather Magazine: A Language en Vogue: As French loses its place in U.S. public schools, in New York City it thrives.