Racists Are The Undead: Live

My formative years molded me into a leftward-leaning spirit — I studied German and geography in West Germany in the days of Willy Brandt, cast a vote in 1972 for George McGovern at the American Embassy in Frankfurt, watched the tragically pivotal Summer Olympics in Munich.

The unemployment rate in West Germany was 0.8% at that time. Gastarbeiter (guest workers) were invited as guests. Willkommen Gäste!gastarbeiter

Returning to privileged shores in 1973 brought cultural shock in the form of enormous automobiles, gigantic shopping carts, conspicuous consumption to match conspicuous war — all the trappings of glitz and phony patriotism. Homesickness set in, not for the country of my birth but for my newly forged affinity to nascent European sensibilities, a widening disdain for all things Nixon in the final three years before a well deserved defeat in Southeast Asia.

Your country needed your bleeding heart for fodder, but you didn’t enlist. You’re as yellow as a Chinaman, Bill.  

Lottery luck: 255 of 366.

The Monroe Doctrine is a thin veneer for brutally enforcing manifest destiny upon innocents — another word for sanctioned rape of Latin America. Has the United States ever interfered in the free elections of another country?

Might always makes right. The meek are weak. 

Do your part by looking the other way, pledging allegiance to a cotton flag and never sitting during the national anthem.

You can get down on your knee in a prison cell, rabble-rouser. 

The Gerrymander assures white privilege, something that Clarence and Neil agree upon. Six Supreme Court justices are of the Catholic faith, three are of the Judaic faith. No Atheists, no Protestants, no Muslims. What’s up with that?

gerrymander0675

Mitch (the unditched) changed the rules to seat a freaking originalist, Neil Gorsuch. Sing along with Mitch.

Clarence Thomas : Thurgood Marshall as Neil Gorsuch : Merrick Garland.

It’s what the founding fathers intended, my friend. It’s manifest. It’s destiny.

The constitution is a living document that matures slowly and deliberately. Society is kinetic. Amendments to the original document are a sign of vitality. Originalism molds its arguments from an intensely small set of volumes written in the 18th Century. Through the 18th Century human slavery was thought the most natural of laws, a societal bulwark. I’ve read that man was created in God’s image. Real men are white aren’t they? Why does Western Civilization color semitic speakers in shades and features comforting to western sensibilities?

originalism

Powerful white men were slaveholders. It’s a great way to keep the costs of production down. Down, down, down. Bail another crop of cotton, please. What did the white man do to the red-man? What would the white man do to those human resources obtained from Africa, the ones who arrived in cruise ships?

breeding.american.slaves

Do slaveholders have vested interests? Do slaughterhouse proprietors pay slave wages to undocumented workers? Why don’t American birth-certificate holders get in line for jobs at the slaughterhouses?

Don’t judge the evils of an earlier era from the perspective of later generations. We all benefit by looking the other way, Bill. Please look that way too. You fit the bill, Bill. Respect yourself.

Columbus Day is still on the calendar. Andrew Jackson is still on the twenty-dollar bill. Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Arab Americans? Still the wrong color.

I’ve heard the following platitude: There is only one race,  — the human race.

Unfortunately, that platitude whitewashes centuries of evidence to the contrary. Forgive and forget? Convenient.

The human race consumes 70 billion fellow sentient beings per annum. Those fellow sentients possess inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — unless homo sapiens cast a veto vote.

animals.killed.yearly

Did heroin present threats to polite society before it struck nice white folk? Is that fact relevant in a deeply racist society? But if you do not call yourself a racist does that earn you a wild card?

White flight in one generation becomes white gentrification in a succeeding generation. But the gentrifiers are making poor neighborhoods safe aren’t they? Don’t they create jobs and contribute to a well wealth-managed economy?

Nothing succeeds like success, Bill.

Racism is alive and deadly well in the country of my birth. Is that a success story?

Thanks for reading.

 

Those Effing German Endings

Useful foreign-language texts are good to find — I recommend library discard sales, where you can find great stuff for 50 cents or less. You can buy 300 of these for the price of a required text that you’re still paying for decades later. Actually, I spied a personal favorite: The World’s Writing Systems this way (see photograph below)

the-worlds-writing-systems
A 50-cent purchase

I lived an iconoclast’s dream for 20 years: a Saturday German class (10 to 12:30) to design a better way to learn German at the TriState German-American School: TSGAS. Our principal was happy if the students were happy. I have saved many lesson plans over the years — some of it archived from a Commodore 64. All four cases and all four genders — German handles plurals the same way as its three genders, it’s basically a fourth gender. And all by Thanksgiving holiday.

Had you elected the three-year sequence and its college textbook you wouldn’t learn about Genitive case until the third year. I don’t think you should wait that long. There are many misbegotten German textbooks out there: I found one that didn’t cover the second-person familiar until the second half of the book. How are you supposed to patch that in?

Paradigms are only useful if they are intuitive, and part of a wider heuristic. I am placing a link to an image of a very bad set of paradigms IMO rather than the actual image here because WordPress randomly selects images to accompany posts.

Learning German the same way that Germans learn English doesn’t work in the long run.  Actually it doesn’t work in the short run either, as I’ve learned from personal experience. Sometimes you just have to blast away the fossilized crud that accreted in your brain. Out damned crud!

Inflection is a big deal in highly inflected languages. Ignoring that big deal does not make the inflections go away. The problem only becomes larger if you do not tackle it.

inneren.schweine.hund

Translation: “Overcome the lazy dog inside you. What I learned from a marathon runner.”

The Saxons who invaded Britain brought all those inflections with them, but then the Vikings showed up and made short work of it. ’twas the birth of “The” and the need to use word order to indicate the function of each noun.

One of the first native German speakers my ears encountered in a Frankfurt of 1971 came from a five-year-old child. This Kindergärtners command of complex inflection was free and accurate. Was it some kind of trick? Were there paradigms on the refrigerator, or hanging from a mobile above his crib in 1968? The words flowed as intuitively much as that cat in the late Jack Ziegler (no relation) cartoon:

 

jack.ziegler.cat

German Gender

Gender is not extraneous.

Most aids for learning gender suggest patterns for masculine nouns first. Don’t do that, feminine nouns are easier to learn than masculine nouns. Here is your handout:

Screenshot 2017-04-04 20.55.54

IMO it is better than the suggestions you’ll find in standard German textbooks, i.e. masculine first. So I say turn it upside down:

  1. Is it a feminine noun?
  2. No, then is it a neuter noun?
  3. In all probability it’s a masculine noun.

Am I the only German teacher who has noticed this cart in front of that horse?

Here is an exercise for practicing effing German endings at the dinner table. Unroll die Serviette and discover that spoon, fork and knife are, respectively masculine, feminine and neuter nouns — right there on the table. I’ll leave the plural forms for die Hausaufgabe (homework).

Screenshot 2017-04-04 19.14.55

By this point I have probably lost all but two of my readers. Thanks, you two — I am grateful 🙂

Now comes case in a nutshell:

  • Nominative signals subject, the gender you’ve just learned how to learn. Think four genders. You are 25% of the way there.
  • Accusative case differs from nominative only with single masculine nouns — the letter ‘n’ is a single vertical line away from ‘r’. All the others are the same as the nominative: die, das, die. You are halfway there.
  • Dative case — you are halfway to dative by realizing that the letter ‘m’ appears only with dative case nouns (masculine and neuter). You are three-quarters to the finish line.
  • Genitive case — masculine and neuter again: the ‘s’ you already know from English.

So you are left with the odd stragglers that now stand out in that 16 cell paradigm — the ‘der’ and the ‘den’.

Screenshot 2017-04-04 19.18.28

A takeaway: heuristics are fun, paradigms need context and a deliberate design. Here are some reasons:

heuristic

More to follow if you two readers are interested 🙂

Older posts on German language

Thanks for reading.