Monthly Archives: November 2006

Carter’s Last Point on The News Hour

To continue from the previous post — Carter points out that Hamas has not, since they were elected, been responsible for a single Israeli death.  After pointing out that the PLO is the only Palestinian organization the the U.S. acknowledges and that the PLO and Hamas are completely different, he relates conversations that he has had with two members of Hamas.  The first, a doctor, duly elected, is now in prison.  His response to the rhetorical question of how Israel could possibly negotiate with a government that won’t recognize its right to exist is to point out that in fact, the Israeli government, by its deeds, doesn’t recognize the Palestinians’ rights to their own land, nor their right to free access to that land.  The second, Palestinian Prime Minister Haniya, indicated that they strongly support talks between Israel and Palestine through Abbas, and that Hamas would join in any agreement made, as long as that agreement was acceptable.

Carter returns to the point that it is a small vocal minority in Israel that is responsible for the Israeli government’s failure to fulfill what it agreed to both at Camp David and Oslo.  (A majority of Israelis favor exchanging land for peace.)  He also feels that a third party is necessary to the peace process.

Finally, Woodruff asks about Iraq.  Carter rightly points out that there is no way that Bush can hope for support from moderate Arabs wrt Iraq if his administration doesn’t address the problems in Palestine.

 Now, I’ll go listen to the Gallagher show again — I taped it this morning — and write a post about that interview.


Jimmy Carter’s New Book

No, I haven’t read it yet.  I usually wait until the library gets a copy, though I do have a little change left on a gift card, so I may get it this weekend.  President Carter was on The News Hour Tuesday night and briefly on Mike Gallagher’s radio show this morning.

On The News Hour, President Carter was patient but firm with Judy Woodruff, the interviewer.  This came right at the beginning when Woodruff asked him about the title: Palestine Peace not  Apartheid.  She described his using the word apartheid as provocative, and when he clearly stated that he doesn’t consider the word provocative to be negative, she misunderstood, thinking he meant apartheid.  Carter moved on to his point instead of wasting time setting her straight.  His point is to provoke debate on this topic here in the U.S.

President Carter rightly points out that virtually nothing has been done to advance the peace process in Palestine.  Woodruff counters that SoS Rice is going to meet with Abbas later this week.  Carter agreed that that is very nice, but there have been no negotiations facilitated or led by the U.S. in six years.

Then President Carter defines what he means by apartheid.  It is the pursuit, by a minority of Israelis to settle on and colonize Palestinian territory, and then separate themselves completely from the Palestinians — while living on their land.  (I’ve met and taught many Palestinians in my time as an ESL teacher.  The narratives they tell or write about in class reflect this situation.  The simplest things are made unbearable due to Israeli settlements.) 

Woodruff then points out that Israeli Prime Minister Olmert has announced he is putting a proposal on the table to give back most of the West Bank and release prisoners, if there is a good faith effort on the part of the Palestinians. Carter rightly points out that the demand is that Israel give back all of the land, citing the UN resolutions as well as the agreements made at Camp David and at Oslo.  He adds that Israelis received Nobel Peace Prizes for making these agreements, and yet they have yet to abide by them.  Further, the Palestinians have adopted the Roadmap, while the Israelis have officially rejected the terms of the Roadmap.

Carter emphasises the walls around the West Bank and Gaza.  (An interesting asside — one of my students is writing a research paper on barriers around the world, focusing on barriers constructed to keep people out of certain territories or countries and evaluations of their effectiveness.  I’ve read part of her first draft and it is incredibly interesting.  I hope to post it on our school’s blog when she is finished.)  Israel has not agreed to give back all of the land and insists on keeping the walls.

Next Woodruff makes the argument that I hear so often — about everything the Palestinians do — rockets, bombs, kidnapping soldiers, and generally condoning terrorism.   Carter responds with a comparison based on the kidnapping of one soldier.  “At that time, Israel was holding 9200 Palestinians prisoner, including 300 children, almost 300, 293 children,  some of them 12 years old and holding almost a hundred women prisoner.”  The Palestinians — specifically the ones who kidnapped the soldier — wanted to exchange him for some of the women and children prisoners.  The Israelis said no. 

Woodruff comes at it from the angle of selling Carter’s idea to the Israelis.   Carter points to the elections in Palestine.  It was fair and free and recognized as such.  Of course then the U.S. among others didn’t like the democratic results and cut off funding to ALL Palestinians.  (So this is how it went.  The Palestinians participated in an election.  The U.S. disagreed with the choices of 42% of the people who voted, and so they punish 100% of the Palestinians.  Now that’s how you win hearts and minds I tell you what.)

The rest is in the next post.

Because English is So EASY to Learn

Let’s have a lesson.  This is for the native English speakers.

I’ll start off with something easy. 

How do you, as a native speaker, know how to pronounce washed, played and started?  Think about it.  How do you know the right way to say watched, changed, loved, ripped, or rubbed?  You don’t remember this, but when you were a child you said things like “goed” and “doed”.  You don’t remember because you were a child.  If you have a child — do you listen to them?  Do they get the idea of irregular past tense right away?

What if you “baby” talk to them for too long.  You know what you are saying is wrong — but do you stop or think it’s cute?

The Key:  the pronunciation of /ed/  depends on the last sound of the root verb.  Anyone care to explain the examples or the rule?  You internalized it as a child (hopefully).  Could you explain it to a Spanish speaker?

Chris Peden*

Somehow I missed this chron article.  Chris Peden admits that Friendswood doesn’t have a problem with language or illegals, but he’s worried nonetheless.  He wants the good people of Friendswood to make English their official language in a pre-emptive (!) move against the potential that the city is over-run by Spanish speakers.

There is no indication whether Chris Peden suffers from monolinguism or not, but his fear is a clear indication that it is so.  Anyone interested in helping Chris Peden learn another language can make a donation to my “Teach Chris Peden Esperanto” fund — as soon as I set it up.  In the meantime, teach your neighbor a couple of words in Latvian.  You never know when it could come in handy.

 Lesson One:

Hi!  = Sveiki!

Bye = Uz redzesanos (ok that’s really difficult — you can get by saying ciao.)

Thank you  = paldias

You’re welcome = ludzu

Even without the pronunciation indicators, you can probably get it right.  Try it tomorrow!  Soon you will stop bathing and wear the same clothes three days in a row, but hell, at least you will be disease-free!

*He’s not the only one.


Thanksgiving weekend was great and all, but its end signaled the big crunch of the last week of classes and finals.  Add to that the fact that one teacher was out today (read I had to sub for him) and another will be out tomorrow (I have to cover three of his four classes in addition to taking care of my own — but I’m prepared).  I did manage to get the schedule together for finals.  We have more students now than we have had in a while, so it is more of a challenge.

My friend in Riga, Latvia wrote to tell me that the only news she has of the NATO summit is that the school was closed.  They’ll go back to classes tomorrow and make up a day on Saturday.  I plan to look at the updates to the Riga Summit site this weekend (or sooner, if I can). 

 Today I’ve heard and read a number of reactions to the confirmed exchange between Bush and Webb which took place at a reception shortly after the election.  (For those of you who haven’t, it went something like this:  Bush asked Webb about his son, Webb said he wanted him home, Bush said that wasn’t what he had asked, and Webb said it was between him and his son.  Webb also, in some reports, resisted the urge to punch Bush.)  Bill Bennett quipped that Webb wanted to be a “tough guy.”  Ann Althouse (law professor and blogger) specualted the Webb is “mental.”  Hannity was indignant at Webb’s clear inability to respond to Bush’s cordial query.  Not so long ago, I thought about how I would respond were I ever given the opportunity to have an exchange with Bush.  I think I would simply extend the offer that I have made to him in writing many times over the years.  I will finance his move from Texas and do my best to persuade him to have his parents go live with him out of state.  Not to go all “poor me” on anybody, but we’ve lived with his and his family’s nonsense longer than anyone.

The meeting — now termed “social” by the Whitehouse — in Jordan didn’t happen today.  It adds to my feeling that nothing will change wrt Iraq before the end of the year.  Just like the administration did nothing in the weeks leading up to the election — nothing has really been done since.  It’s not so different from the do-nothing 109th Congress, which has decided that it just can’t find the time to deal with the remaining budget bills.

My Radio Addiction

More than one person has commented lately about my radio listening habits — saying “how do you listen to that!?!?!” or something similar.  Actually, it’s more than a habit — it’s an addiction.  What I listen to has changed over time.  For the last year or so I have mostly listened to right-wing radio.  Some nights I go to sleep listening to Mike Gallagher or O’Reilly — on Sunday nights, it’s Drudge.  I wake up to Bill Bennett — which is still weird no matter how often I listen.  The man does a perfect imitation of Eeyore, even when he’s trying to be upbeat.  I find that the definition of Eeyore from the Tao of Pooh is apt, ” Eeyore’s is Knowledge for the sake of Complaining About Something.  As anyone who doesn’t have it can see, the Eeyore Attitude gets in the way of things like wisdom and happiness, and pretty much prevents any sort of real Accomplishment in life.”  The accuracy of this is clear upon regular listening to Bennett.  Every morning, at some point, he reaches back to touch the time he was the Drug Czar.  It’s sad, pitable almost.

Sometimes during the day I listen to Rush or Hannity over the internet.  I tuned into a rerun of Rush on Thanksgiving day to find him blathering on about bestiality, used condoms and girls gone wild.  File that one under “what were they thinking” I guess.  Listening to Hannity before, during and after the election has been fun — or funny?  He reveals his insecurities through the way he handles callers and the people he interviews.  The rerun of his on Thanksgiving was his interview with Lieberman.  It sounded more saccharine the second time I heard it than the first.

Probably the most inexplicable person I listen to is Michael Savage.  As you may or may not know, Savage coined almost all of our political vocabulary in this country.  He’s also a regular Renaissance man — or self purported jack-of-all-trades. 

One thing I find somewhat disturbing is that recently most of these guys have had callers on their programs who were in tears — terrified — completely histerical — all as a result of the fear each of them pounded away at before the election.

Over the weekend, KPRC changed their lineup.  Now Councilman Michael Berry is on from early thirty to 9 — taking the place of the wildly over-the-top and emotional Pat Gray.  I’m about ready for Berry to go into radio full time and get off city council.  He’s extremely disingenuous and quite full of himself — and so much better suited to being a local RushBot, not a politician.

Lastly, probably the most worthless personality on local radio is Chris Baker.  He’s supposedly witty — he was once a stand-up comic — but mostly he’s snide and slithers through any argument.  Earlier this year he got upset, threw a tantrum and stormed off a tv set while “debating” another radio personality.  Like all of the others — when out of their element, they can’t cope.

I’ve been thinking that I should take a break from this type of programming.  I found a cool web-based music radio station recently and sports talk will soon get back to baseball (the Astros signed Woody YAY!).  I just wish there was a real news station in Houston again.  Perhaps I should go back to classical music — or figure out how to tune into the two KUHF (NPR) stations now available.

Pets Part Three — The Outside Kittens

Summer before last, a kitten showed up.  I fed her and slowly gained her confidence.  Not too long after that, another little kitten came around, and then another and another and another.  They weren’t all here at the same time, but by the end of the summer, the group had stablized to three.  Those three have lived around and under the house for over a year.  As of last week, they have their own house in the driveway.  (I built it for Tammy, but now she sleeps in the house .)

Braveheart is the smallest, but as his name proclaims, he was the first to wait at the door and sing for his breakfast (which is quite fearless for a feral kitten).  He is also a mighty hunter of bugs and sometimes lizards.


Oliver came along with Braveheart.  (I think they are brothers.)  He’s very wary of bipeds, but he’s a great snuggle-bunny to his brother and sister.  (He’s posing next to the *new* kitty house.)


Last, but not least, is Junebug.  I started out calling her Big Girl, but after a short while, it became apparent that she had a better name.  She was terribly timid at first, but now she lets me hold her (unlike those silly boy kitties). 


Pets Part Two — The Inside Kittens

Stumpy is the oldest.  While he spent his first year here in the cabinet drawer in the bathroom, he has since made the entire place his own.  Now that the weather is mild, he really enjoys sitting in the open window.  (In the next pic, Stumpy’s pretty eyes aren’t reflecting — I’ll get a better one up of him ASAP 🙂


Cisco and his sister Caroline (next pic) were small enough to hold both in one hand when I adopted them from the county shelter.  Now, he is long, lanky, and at times very demanding.

Cisco with his bud

Caroline is beautiful, even when she is sleeping. I’ll get a better pic up of her soon, too.  She’s very spoiled — and I wouldn’t have her any other way.


Next:  The Outside Kittens

Pets Part One — The Pups

At long last pictures!


This is my sweet Dora.  Briefly, Dora was a shelter pup.  When I adopted her, she had a *poor little leg* (still does – it’s her back right leg) and heartworms and weighed only 32 lbs.  Now she’s fat and happy, though slightly crazy.


This is Tammy.  She was under the house one morning.  She finally came out, looking healthy and I told her to go home.  Perhaps she tried, but about a month later she showed up in the front yard looking pretty bedraggled.  She’s lived with us ever since.  She’s fat and happy, too, though extremely shy.

Next up — The Inside Kittens.

Clues to Help in Inferring John Little’s Point

On Wednesday, I wrote a post about a Chronicle reader blogger, John Little.  His Chronicle blog is called “Chronicles of War” and his personal blog is called “Blogs of War.”  John titled a post on his Chronicle blog:  Sheila Jackson Lee Addresses CAIR.  (Jackson-Lee’s video address is here.)  CAIR is the Council on American-Islamic Relations.  It is also a favored “whipping-boy” of wingnuts, both in the blogosphere and talk radio.

 I decided to take a look into the Way Back Machine to see if I could find some clues to help me nail down John’s point.  It didn’t take very long.  The very first page of his blog — from 2004, mind you — has images of Muslims (be afraid!) and Communists (be very afraid!) with language associating both with Democrats.  Perhaps John was simply attempting humor.  Perhaps he actually thinks that Democrats are commies (or commie sympathizers).  Perhaps he thinks, in an us vs. them mentality, that because he disagrees with Democrats that those same Democrats must be allied with Muslims.  This last point also assumes that Muslims are synonymous with terrorists, of course.

John is in “good” company.  Greenwald has a new post up at Unclaimed Territory with multiple links to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and various bloggers/pundits making the very same point that John seems to be a little too timid to make.  As I wrote before, I left a comment at John’s blog asking him to clarify his intention in his post about Jackson-Lee, but he hasn’t/won’t respond.  I think it is more attributable to inattention than inability (or cowardice), but I’ll keep commenting on his blog in the hopes of getting a response.