not your granny’s Columbus Day…

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/columbus_day

This article is excellent on the subject of Christopher Columbus and the “discovery of America.” It is well worth the read, and deserves an A+ for research and attribution, factual information based partially on bona fide original sources including Columbus’s own writing.

Bartolomé de Las Casas,  Dominican Friar and later Bishop, is the author of The Destruction of the Indies, which details the systematic horror brought to the Americas by Christopher Columbus.      De Las Casas is known as the Protector of the Indians, and was the Bishop of Chiapas, Mexico in the early sixteenth century.

My interest in this topic is the subject of the unpublished doctoral dissertation, which I spent ten years writing.   Unfortunately I did not complete the final draft, so it was never published.   However, before I die I hope to publish at least some of my work on my blog, at least.

Caribbean geography lesson…

Every now and then I like to get out a map and reassure myself that when not knowing the location of Yemen, or Utah, or Antiqua (for example) all I have to do is look it up on a map. A paper map, preferably, but sometimes even an online map will do.

So I wanted to see if Puerto Rico was really far out in the middle of the ocean someplace, or, as I suspected…in the Caribbean. So I did a search “Puerto Rico” and Bing zeroed in on a nice map of the island, in great detail of cities and even roads and topographical details like mountains. Zooming out to get the big picture…including the Pacific Ocean and all of Russia…the exact location of Puerto Rico became instantly remembered.

Looking Southward, from Florida, the island is sort of beyond Cuba, north of Venezuela, and in a line with other islands and chains of islands in the Caribbean, forming a line of defense reinforced by territories possessed by friendly allies: the French, Dutch, and British. This was perfect—especially back in the days of the conquest by Spain of the New World.

Actually the United States was interested in keeping the Spanish at bay as much as possible, while maintaining a strategic position of buffering between the British (our best friends forever) and “other” European or South American nations from getting any ideas. Or Japan…or anyone else.

The last good-size war the U.S. had with Spain was the Spanish-American War, which effectively booted the Spanish out of the area and declared US hegemony in the close-in islands, including Puerto Rico. It is true that the U.S. had a good line of defense in the Caribbean, and although U.S.-Cuban relations suffered during the Cold War…to the point where until the Cubans would acquiesce in being beaten by the U.S. Embargo, which effectively put Cuba and the Castro Dictatorship in its place as an oppressed and bullied island which “refused to straighten out” and endured sixty years or so of hardship and political hassles because of it.

At the end of the Spanish-American War in 1899, part of the spoils agreed on by the two nations was the prize of Puerto Rico…ceded to the U.S. by Spain. One of the results was that the Spanish-speaking citizens were required to speak and use English-only.

Puerto Rico is a U.S. Territory, and thus Puerto Rican citizens are citizens of the United States, and are entitled to vote in U.S. elections…except for the office of President. They elect representatives to the U.S. Congress, who are on the same basis as reps and Senators from the 50 other states.

One difficult hang-over from the early 20th Century is THE JONES LAW, which forbids Puerto Rico to receive shipments of any materials or products from any sources except on officially sanctioned United States registered Ships. The result of this is that now that Hurricane Maria has devastated the Puerto Rican island, the Jones Law limits what foreign aid they can receive. The U.S. Congress has the power to rescind or modify the law…but has so far declined. It may be nteresting to note that the Jones Law has been suspended in other U.S. ports under emergencies created by Hurricanes that hit Texas and Florida, as well as other U.S. controlled islands in the Caribbean.

The U.S. Navy Hospital Ship Comfort has, as of this Wednesday morning, been sent to Puerto Rico. The reasons for the delay apparently have been worked out, especially the excuse of the ship being “too big to park in the harbor…” and the hospital ship will anchor off-shore and apparently transfer patients from the mainland of the island by helicopter.

https://www.bing.com/maps?&ty=18&q=Puerto%20Rico&vdpid=202&mb=19.029888040912922~-69.22080993652341~17.464867724672842~-64.03526306152341&ppois=18.2491397857666_-66.6280364990234_Puerto%20Rico_~&cp=18.2491397857666~-66.6280364990234&v=2&sV=1&style=r&trfc=&lvl=7

Sticks and Stones and “Dotards”

Re the sticks-and-stones contest, following the old adage that “sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”      Remember when some kid would spew off a string of bad words and mean but innocuous insults, and Mom or Grandma would sooth hurt feelings with the little rhyme…which in effect meant “if some kid hits you let me know, but if he calls you a bad name just laugh it off.”   Now like as not she might look around for someone to sue.

The North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il  has resurrected a good old  English word to toss at Donald Trump in insult: “dotard,” an Old-English word from the 14th Century. This cool new word, according to the excited media,  spurred linguists and English teachers all over the world to research the word—dotard.

Not that the word “dotard” is especially archaic, not to disappoint media writers that want to insinuate that Kim Jong-Il may be more knowledgeable than Donald Trump.  Within arms reach I find a variety of dictionaries, including a nifty little volume called New Oxford Spelling Dictionary:  The Writers’ and Editors’ Guide to Spelling and Word Division.  Edited by Maurice Waite, published by Oxford University Press, 2014.*

There, right in alphabetical order between the words “dotage” and “dot-com” is— “dotard,”   pronounced to rhyme with soldered, watered.    The etymology is from the same as:  doting,  one-who-dotes…as in a doting-grandfather.

It was a fun image to imagine the North Korean leader poring over his archaic English dictionaries searching for insults.

  • The most recent Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2004) also features the word “dotard” right in proper order.

 

 

The Hundredth Monkey (Re-blogged from Ellie’s Blog)

This blog just came to my attention this morning, and its my favorite blog today. Thanks SO much for the re-blog Ellie Haretuko…and for following my blog.

Ellie's Blog

I recently read a study conducted in 1952. Reliability and the actual occurrence of the study even taking place was called into question, that it may just be a myth. Regardless the study enthralled me and mythical or not I enjoyed it. Here’s the gist of it.

Scientists were providing monkeys with sweet potatoes dropping them in the sand for the monkeys to collect. The monkeys loved the potatoes but hated the sand. One of the monkeys realised that she could rectify the problem by washing the sand off in the nearby stream, she taught the other monkeys. Through imitation they were able to learn. Now this in itself isn’t an anomaly, these creatures are intelligent and able to learn. What was surprising was that colonies of monkeys on other islands began doing the exact same thing without any ability to imitate through observation, as they were on neighbouring islands…

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Historiography at work

Historiography is the study of History.    It was one of my favorite mandatory seminars as a grad student at the University of Akron.

One of my friends and cohorts here in Blog Land, raised a very interesting point in  a comment on how the Historians of 100 years from now would treat the scenario in rage now of the Great Republican Plan to Obliterate the Obama Presidency.    Obviously all of us reading this will have no interaction whatsoever in the future century.   Who knows how the History of our age will be preserved, or how it will be reported to future generations.    The History of the Present hasn’t happened yet.

The Trump-Obama factionalism is too multi-faceted to tackle here.   However, the question is a good one, and leads me to ponder the basic differences between Now and Then…meaning past and future coverage of historical events.     There can be two designations here: Paper and Digital.

The most glaring difference is that what was written, published, in real books is that they were permanent.   Not necessarily the absolute authoritative sources on a given subject, but through a sort of consensus of opinions and research, and yes credentials.   In order to reach a thesis statement for a given publication, the writer presented his or her own ideas….something new, an alternate position.   There are always at least two sides to any proposition.

Here is a proposal that when it comes to Digital History, that which is presented over the internet by countless diverse sources, the information comes across only as permanent as the print-out a student or proponent, or indeed, opposition commentator, understands—or prefers to present as Truth or Falsehood—to their respective readership at any given time.

Digital History is much easier to alter, re-write, or inadvertently  distort  because of its fluidity…never permanent, always subject to a myriad of changes.    We see reports on the internet news channels… a statement made by an anchor person on CNN or Fox, MSNBC, BBC…at a given hour—that never airs again.

No one in their right mind for long will be able to watch Cable News constantly to keep up absolutely on the stream of information.    Remember when the internet was actually referred to as the Information Highway?   That was back in the 1980s, when major newspapers made the change from individual typewriters to the chaotic stream of News-all-the-Time.   Up-to-date means “constantly changing,” which isn’t necessarily a good thing.

 

Math is a human language (re-blogged from Simona Prilogan)

Math Time! I love math problems, but rarely solve them. The short video is interesting, think you will like it. 🙂   Sometimes the answer is right on the edge of my brain, although haven’t mastered the technique of really “getting it.”

 

While there is life, there is hope!

1407998735 Source photo: Google Images 

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a primer of selective History

Please open your books to page twenty-four
the teacher instructed, one morning …
look at the  ladies’ dressed in their finery,
feel free to smile at feathers and bustles,
and laugh out loud at the shoes!

Now let’s skip ahead to Chapter Seven,
where more ladies are seen at their work,
the clothing they wear is of buckskin,
embellished with feathers and beads (and pride,)
their raven hair in long silken braids.

Now the section titled “The Roaring Twenties.”
Days and years of lovely short-skirted ladies,
with bobbed hair and feathered  hats, called cloches.
They dance the Charleston, ducking the hit-men
who are ducking the likes of Elliot Ness.

The 1930s, when poverty reigned,
until saved by the richness and horrors of War.
The rich and beautiful, such as they were,
held on to their baubles and feathered their nests
as well as they could under the circumstances.

So now, we turn to the aftermath of The War
to the fiction-like era called The Cold War,
when living in spy novels was the norm…
and the games and palace intrigue surpassed
even the earlier times of the Kings…and Queens.

Now that we have closed the book of History
…a somewhat truncated collection of tales
that range from maybe to crazy-but-true…
we start or a new era which marvels
Alice’s Wonderland in scope and Fantasy.

In today’s time of making history…
a knowledge of the past is imperative.
If something of importance happens today,
it does not happen in a vacuum  at all
but is based on centuries of History!

So I leave you, boys and girls, with a note-worthy
suggestion….nay, a proclamation…
study your History from classical sources—
don’t depend on Twitter-twatter from pundits
who think History started last month.

© Sometimes, 2017
.

 

Deliyah…4-year-old reader of 1,000 books

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/01/12/meet-daliyah-the-4-year-old-girl-who-has-read-more-than-1000-books/?utm_term=.6403ea387b35&wpisrc=nl_mix&wpmm=1#comments

Now here is an inspiring story out of the Washington Post this morning, a four-year-old who has apparently read one thousand (1,000) books so far. She hangs out at the Library of Congress.

Yes…I hear you in the back there mumbling about the veracity of this story…and I’ll bet you either 1) don’t personally know any of Deliyah’s peers, other pre-schoolers, that is… or 2)are not paying attention. This child is indeed remarkable and a great role-model for other children—and she is not unique. (Meaning one-of-a-kind, not as in the modern fancy of “unique” as a mere synonym for unusual, or great.)

Today’s children all over the world are smarter and more aware than at any time in history.    Peer into the bright, shining eyes of a child…in person or in photographs…to see the intelligence shining through.

They “know” things, information gleaned from television shows, or books, chatting with other children…and, of course, school.   Pre-school kids commonly know the alphabet and basic number figures, understand the details about the hippopotamus, orangatangs, and mocking birds.   They often even know how to spell those words.

 

Rules For Commenters…or Think First!

There should be a rule
on commenting protocol
requiring at least
(if not a working knowledge)
mini-common sense.

Every school age child
with a mite’s  intelligence
should have learned restraint
in matters of opinion…
at least a few facts.

No one should ever
consider as an expert
smart snappy comments…
an internet free-for-all
sans supervision.

Our Rule Number One:
Start out with a set of clues,
a few question marks,
a reasonably open-mind
and process of thought.

For Rule Number Two,
should be needless to expound,
an unspoken rule–
have proof, or at least
citations of information.

Who, what, when, where, why
How the commenter knows,
…at least Who Said So?
citation of source
and last—Who Cares?

© Sometimes, 2016

 

Re-discovering Classics of Literature

My reference to the Sword of Damocles, in a poem I posted a few days ago, has served to jog my poor over-loaded brain.   I always think of the human brain as a vast library-like cavern, perhaps not unlike the wondrous university libraries, such as those at Oberlin College, and the Bierce Library at the University of Akron, which are two of the libraries where I did research as a doctoral student twenty years ago.        Especially etched into my brain cells were the upper floor reaches of the great libraries which during the summer months when they were not as crowded, and one could spend hours without encountering any other scholars.    There is my idea of Heaven…being alone in the stacks at a borrowed carrel, surrounded by rows and rows of shelves, laden with books.

Above and beyond the inherent treasure of information and knowledge of the ages is the simple fact of being one with the company of books…manuscripts, journals, atlases, writings in multiple languages.     The hallowed halls of musty, dusty volumes are in themselves of unestimable value in the rivers and mountains and mines of the books that are the records of the human ages and dreams of the future.

OK, I admit it…there are easier ways to tap into the motherlodes of learning—namely: computers.   Yeah, been there, done that too!   I love computers.    I adore the ease of research in a vast machine.    Before I bought my first computer,  I studied the computer magazines, and bothered people that I knew who were already “computer-literate.”   There were not many.   Even the major newspaper that I worked for back then, in the mid-1980s, had not yet made the transition to computerization.      More than one Radio Shack salesperson thought I was strange…my criteria for actually buying a computer was that it have the capability of holding “every book and media from the New York Public Library” available for users.   I had no idea that would really be possible within a very few years.  It was called the “Information Highway” before it was known as “The Internet.”

Any way, as I was saying about the Sword of Damacles…when the allusion popped into my head as I toyed with writing a poem, after a several-week slump during which I was sure I would never write poetry again.     Sure, I can always write miscellaneous posts about topics as varied as politics and attempts at humor.

Thinking about the Classics always appeals to nooks and crannies of my brain, in which are tucked away and filed in huge vessels of information, where all of the myriads of things that have been encountered and put away for “another day” when I had more time.    Thus was my complicated thought-train set into locomotion, chugging off into a darkened passage where I keep forgotten and fascinating scraps under a make-believe heading — FOR SOME DAY.

So ah-ha!   with my theoretical ticket to side-tracks of  possible literary points of interest peaked at the prompt phrase: “Sword of Damocles…” which found its way into an impromptu poem unstopping the clogged…or cluttered scraps of esoteric longing to venture into the Classical collections of ancient tomes and leather-bound texts which may or may not have been…shall I say hidden?   delayed?   saved as best for last?… a related reference to another masterpiece springing forth from my foggy brain.

Yes—after a bit of ponderance it came to me: The Pit and the Pendulum.    I vaguely recall the circumstances of Edgar Allen Poe’s grim and gruesome tale of madness and despair, of a poor prisoner sentenced to deal with the very pits of Hell.        The images and illusions that came to mind are rather allegories, or tales of tales which I have read over my lifetime (since I learned to read) and have become part of my personal library of versions of famous literature.

Poe’s style had long fascinated, especially in the days of my somewhat dreamy-eyed and faux-sophisticated youth.      The Raven, maybe Edgar Allen Poe’s best known work…at least among students such as my younger self…had captured my imagination.    I so enjoyed the poem that I undertook the copying—in flowing cursive handwriting, accomplished with a fountain pen, with real ink—into one of the plain and homely brown notebooks that I so enjoyed.   I have it to this day.

Had I actually read The Pit and the Pendulum, in it’s entirety, with due consideration and concentration…tripping and gnashing over Poe’s lightly punctuated and technically worded nineteenth century prose…I dare say I would not have really understood it.     For one thing, although Poe states in his introduction to The Pit…that his torturers are members of the Spanish Inquisition….the not-so-Holy-Inquisition.

That dreaded institution was of course studied, or at least alluded to in high school History classes, but I…for whatever reason…did not really make an impression on me one way or another.    I didn’t care—and did not GET IT then.      I admit that at age nineteen I was much more of a romantic than a scholar.      So several decades later  I finally got around to my higher education, and in that capacity become intrigued with the discovery, development, destruction, and History of Latin America—which had a LOT to do with Spain, and Mexico, and the Holy Inquisition.  In the New World the Inquisition methods were somewhat limited, compared with back in Spain and environs…much of the efforts of the institution were directed toward members of the clegy, for various crimes including heresy and seduction in the confessional.