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Gender: Do not display
Current location: Virginia
Member since: Wed Jun 1, 2011, 07:34 PM
Number of posts: 6,489

About Me

Navy brat-->University fac brat. All over-->Wisconsin-->TN-->VA. RN (ret), married, grandmother of 11. Progressive since birth. My mouth may be foul but my heart is wide open.

Journal Archives

5 dead, including suspect, after shooting spree in Denver area

Authorities say a suspect shot and killed four people and injured three, including a police officer, in a shooting spree Monday night that began in Denver and ended in a nearby suburb after a gunfight with police in which the suspect was killed.

The "very violent series of events" across multiple locations began in Denver and ended in nearby Lakewood, said Paul Pazen, Denver police chief, at a press conference late Monday.

John Romero, spokesman for Lakewood Police, described the scene as "still very fresh" with "a lot of moving parts."

"We still have a lot of details that we’re sorting out at this point," Romero said late Monday.


The 'micro-assault' of mispronunciation

Canadian radio host Nana aba Duncan decided a decade ago she no longer wanted to go by nicknames and instead reclaim her full Ghanaian name, pronounced Nuh-NAA-buh. She put a name pronouncer in her email signature, and patiently corrected people when they didn’t get it quite right. She got a lot of support – but she also still faces struggles.

A woman at a party insisted she could never pronounce Duncan’s full first name, laughing instead at how different it was and asking where she was from. “She really, really acted like I had just come from another country… I really felt like I was so foreign to her,” says Duncan, who has lived in Toronto for more than 40 years. At another get-together, a guest explained that her name was hard to pronounce and unilaterally reverted to ‘Nana’ instead. Then there was the co-worker who sang Duncan’s name to the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony: “Na-Na-Na-BAAAAAA.” No one else’s name became a musical spectacle, just hers.

“I feel like I'm a spoil sport if I say, ‘actually, I don't think that's funny’,” says Duncan, 43. “I hate that I don't put myself first in those moments, but sometimes I think we do this to keep the peace because there are so many other things that we have to deal with and we just let those things go.”

Xian Zhao, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto whose research focuses on ethnic name pronunciation, says that although many people don’t realise it, habitually pronouncing an unfamiliar name incorrectly is a form of implicit discrimination. It sends a message that “you are minimal”, says Zhao. “You are not important in this environment, so why should I take time and my effort to learn it?”


The African nation aiming to be a hydrogen superpower

"So now finally, we're on the map," says Philip Balhoa about Lüderitz, a town in southern Namibia, where harsh desert meets pale ocean.

The port town has previously benefited from diamonds and fishing booms, but now struggles with high rates of unemployment and aging infrastructure.

A proposed green hydrogen project is set to be "the third revolution of Lüderitz," says Mr Balhoa, a member of the town council.

He hopes that the project will train and employ local people, or "Buchters" as they affectionately call themselves - bringing down the town's 55% unemployment rate.

"For a town that's really been struggling economically over the past 10 or 15, maybe longer, years, this is something that people are really very excited about," he says.

The project will be based near the town in the Tsau //Khaeb National Park, and ultimately produce around 300,000 tonnes of green hydrogen per year.


Pakistan's beloved 'poor man's burger'

Every morning before sunrise in Karachi, Pakistan, while the city is largely asleep, Abdul Ameen ducks through a tunnel and crosses dilapidated railway tracks to the more affluent side of town. Here, parked strategically between a mosque and a marketplace, his pushcart awaits him.

An incandescent bulb illuminates him as he stacks shami kebab (ground beef-and-lentil patties) brought from home in columns behind glass panes. Next, he forms cascading towers of onion rings, lettuce and thickly sliced tomatoes. Working with almost flamboyant grace, it’s evident his routine has been perfected over the past 30 years.

By the time the first call to prayer, Fajr, is made (traditionally, when there’s enough daylight to distinguish between white and black thread), he’s already dipping into his 16kg canola oil dabba (a rectangular tin bucket) and warming up his giant cast-iron griddle. Over the next few hours, a donkey cart owner, sleepy office workers, domestic helpers and an armed entourage of personal guards all stop by Ameen Burgers to purchase their greasy bounty wrapped in brown paper.

But despite the name of his stall, Ameen is not selling burgers.


From respair to cacklefart - the joy of reclaiming long-lost positive words

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them”: words of positivity from the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. But how many of us really dwell on the upside of life, as opposed to its mad, bad, seamy side? It’s unsurprising that we have lost some of our joie de vivre in the past few years – finding sparkle amid the grey has become distinctly difficult. But a riffle through a historical dictionary suggests that it’s always been this way, and at heart we’ve long been a pessimistic lot. Linguistically, as in life, our glass is usually half-empty.

Usually – but not always. In recent times I’ve made it a mission to highlight a category of English that linguists fondly call “orphaned negatives”. These are the words that inexplicably lost their mojo at some point in the past, becoming a sorry crew of adjectives that includes unkempt, unruly, disgruntled, unwieldy and inept. Yet previous generations had the potential to be kempt, ruly, wieldy, ept and – most recently thanks to PG Wodehouse – gruntled. Some were even full of ruth (compassion), feck (initiative) and gorm (due care and attention). Now is surely the time to reunite these long-lost couples. It may not work for everything – there is no entry (yet) for “shevelled” or “combobulated”, but Mitchell airport in Milwaukee has gloriously provided its passengers with a “recombobulation area” in which to release some of the tension of air travel.

It’s not just these negatives that have been lost. The German schadenfreude – pleasure in the misfortunes of others – is now all too familiar. But how many of us know its near opposite in English, “confelicity”, which is joy in another person’s happiness? As we exchange hatred on our screens, how about sharing some “fellowfeeling”, 16th-century speak for kindness and compassion?

As always, the dictionary tells its own story. It offers hundreds of words for melancholy, from the “black dog” and “blue devils” to the cuddlier but equally dispiriting “mubble-fubbles”. Much the same goes for irritability – we can be curmudgeonly, mumpish, crumpsy, nettlish, porcupinal and spleenical as well as just plain narky or tetchy. And insults abound – anyone looking to criticise covertly may well enjoy “ultracrepidarian” or “cacafuego” (one who loves to pass comment on subjects they know nothing about and a blustering braggart – literally a “fire-shitter” – respectively). Distinctly lacking are synonyms for love, happiness and kindness.


Large Roman fort built by Caligula discovered near Amsterdam

A large Roman fort believed to have played a key role in the successful invasion of Britain in AD43 has been discovered on the Dutch coast.

A Roman legion of “several thousand” battle-ready soldiers was stationed in Velsen, 20 miles from Amsterdam, on the banks of the Oer-IJ, a tributary of the Rhine, research suggests.

Dr Arjen Bosman, the archaeologist behind the findings, said the evidence pointed to Velsen, or Flevum in Latin, having been the empire’s most northernly castra (fortress) built to keep a Germanic tribe, known as the Chauci, at bay as the invading Roman forces prepared to cross from Boulogne in France to England’s southern beaches.

The fortified camp appears to have been established by Emperor Caligula (AD12 to AD41) in preparation for his failed attempt to take Britannia in about AD40, but was then successfully developed and exploited by his successor, Claudius, for his own invasion in AD43.

Bosman said: “We know for sure Caligula was in the Netherlands as there are markings on wooden wine barrels with the initials of the emperor burnt in, suggesting that these came from the imperial court.


The Secret Life of a Music Teacher Who Stormed the Capitol

Myrna Sislen, the owner of the popular Middle C music store in Washington, D.C.’s Tenleytown, learned that one of her teachers, a talented musician named Stephen Baker, was part of the riot at the Capitol when a sales associate alerted her to watch his livestream, under the name Stephen Ignoramus, from inside the Rotunda. She watched for two hours as he said again and again how much fun he was having as he recorded the mayhem around him.

The next day Sislen confronted Baker, telling him that he had put her in a terrible position, reflecting badly on her business. “You broke into the Capitol,” she says she told him.

“I didn’t break into anything. I walked in,” she says he replied.

Baker, who didn’t respond to emailed questions for this story, was not apologetic or remorseful, Sislen says. Her staff demanded she fire him—or they would walk and accuse her of harboring a person who it turns out had been posting homophobic rants and racist and anti-Semitic “jokes” for a year under his Stephen Ignoramus persona, which Sislen was not aware of until Jan. 6.

"Even if you were a Martian coming down you can see that there is anti-white, anti-Christian, anti-straight shit going on, regardless of who you are,” Ignoramus said in a YouTube post well before the riot. “I just happen to be a straight white Christian male. Straight, white, Christian American male. Nationalist. All of those things are under attack. [Facebook] is allowing those attacks to happen.”

A sales associate at Middle C, Dave Nuttycombe, saw those comments at the time because he’d been monitoring Ignoramus’ podcasts and videos, but Sislen says he didn’t bring them to her attention until after the riot because the teacher had so few followers, under a hundred.


Shirley Temple Survived Being the Biggest Child Star of All Time With Wit and Grace

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be child stars. Not, that is, unless you wish for them an adult life—presuming they live so long—stamped by professional failure, revolving door rehab, and psychiatric counseling with no expiration date.

There are few exceptions to the downward spiraling after the age of 12, but the biggest would have to be Shirley Temple Black, who died Monday at the age of 85. (If, like me, you did a double take when you saw her age—only 85?—it took a moment of mental math to figure out that her movie career began when she was barely able to walk and ended, more or less, before she started high school.)

Shirley Temple was the supreme child star. From 1935 to 1939, she was not just the most popular child star in Hollywood but the most popular star in Hollywood, period. Trainloads of ink have been spilled explaining that phenomenon, but the most frequent answer is probably the one she liked to go with: she made people in the Depression forget their troubles. “People in the Depression wanted something to cheer them up, and they fell in love with a dog, Rin Tin Tin, and a little girl,” she said.

How she did this is a more interesting question. She was adorable, of course, and she could tap dance. But unlike, say, Judy Garland, she wasn’t a great singer, and she wasn’t an especially great actress, at least not if realism is the yardstick—if you want to see kids being kids in the movies, go watch The Little Rascals. Have you ever in your life met a child as cheerful, spookily intelligent, unselfish, or indomitable as little Shirley? But that was her character, and she played it perfectly. To ask for realism in the bargain would be like asking Superman to leap tall buildings in a single bound and obey the laws of physics at the same time.


How a French Atheist and an American Abolitionist Ended Up Creating a Christmas Classic

Origin stories were kind of a thing this year. So was the anti-origin story movement, or rather, the conservative campaign to cancel any lessons about history dealing with slavery or decentering whiteness. Between the two, it seems like a perfect moment to examine the origins of one of the Christmas songs that becomes ubiquitous at this time of year, the soundtrack to a million Omicron superspreader shopping expeditions.

For example, did you know the guy who wrote 1857’s “Jingle Bells,” James Pierpont, despite being from a well-known family of Boston-based Unitarian abolitionists, grew up to become an ardent secessionist and Confederate soldier—and that the first live performance of “Jingle Bells” may have been by a white performer in blackface? (Also, Pierpont’s nephew was J.P. Morgan, so he’s also kinda-sorta to blame for your checking late fees.) Contrast that guy with Ohio’s Benjamin Hanby, also the offspring of abolitionists, who was active alongside his family in the Underground Railroad, and who penned “Up on the Housetop” in 1864.

And then there’s “O Holy Night.” What is now regarded as a Christmas standard features lyrics originally penned by an atheist French winemaker, music composed by a Jewish Frenchman, and words translated into English by an American abolitionist. It was banned for a period in France before becoming an anti-slavery anthem in the U.S. during the 1850s.

Things start in 1843 or 1847—there’s some discrepancy about the year—in Roquemaure, a small town in the Rhône valley region. Placide Cappeau, who had followed his father into the wine business, was also known for the poetry he composed. Though a critic of the Catholic church, Cappeau was asked by the local priest to write a few stanzas in celebration of the town cathedral’s newly refurbished organ. He is said to have written the song’s words while in transit to Paris on business, with the biblical Gospel of Luke as inspiration. On the advice of the same clergyman who had commissioned him, Cappeau took his completed work—then titled “Minuit, Chrétiens,” or “Midnight, Christians”—to Adolphe Adams, a composer of some renown. Adams, who was of French-Jewish descent, arranged the music, and the song was newly christened as "Cantique de Noel.” The carol would make its world debut, with opera singer Emily Laurey belting lyrics, during Christmas eve midnight mass at the Roquemaure church.


The missing continent it took 375 years to find

It was 1642 and Abel Tasman was on a mission. The experienced Dutch sailor, who sported a flamboyant moustache, bushy goatee and penchant for rough justice – he later tried to hang some of his crew on a drunken whim – was confident of the existence of a vast continent in the southern hemisphere, and determined to find it.

At the time, this portion of the globe was still largely mysterious to Europeans, but they had an unshakeable belief that there must be a large land mass there – pre-emptively named Terra Australis – to balance out their own continent in the North. The fixation dated back to Ancient Roman times, but only now was it going to be tested.

And so, on 14 August, Tasman set sail from his company's base in Jakarta, Indonesia, with two small ships and headed west, then south, then east, eventually ending up at the South Island of New Zealand. His first encounter with the local Māori people (who are thought to have settled there several centuries earlier) did not go well: on day two, several paddled out on a canoe, and rammed a small boat that was passing messages between the Dutch ships. Four Europeans died. Later, the Europeans fired a cannon at 11 more canoes – it’s not known what happened to their targets.

And that was the end of his mission – Tasman named the fateful location Moordenaers (Murderers) Bay, with little sense of irony, and sailed home several weeks later without even having set foot on this new land. While he believed that he had indeed discovered the great southern continent, evidently, it was hardly the commercial utopia he had envisaged. He did not return.

(By this time, Australia was already known about, but the Europeans thought it was not the legendary continent they were looking for. Later, it was named after Terra Australis when they changed their minds).

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