Thursday, June 2, 2016

Pride

We are proud to be a
community!
Pride, Celebrating Diversity and Community, by Robin Stevenson (Orca Books) is geared to middle readers (8-12). I would suppose it would be perfect for a teen who is becoming aware of LGBT relatives or even teens who becoming aware that they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. I would be remiss in my review if I didn’t note that I, who was seven when the Stonewall Riots happened, actually learned something from this book.

No fooling. It wasn’t something that happened in the last year or two that had slipped my attention, but the origins of gay-straight alliances, which Stevenson notes started at George Washington High School in New York City in 1972. She further cites a 1976 pamphlet from the Youth Liberation Front (her research and scope is impeccable) which exhorted gay teens to come out, a message that still needs to be heard today by people who have left their high school days behind.



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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

An American Anthem…In Esperanto

Dr.James McFatrich
Sought to select anthem
Probably not the Esperanto one
The status of the “Star Spangled Banner” as the national anthem, has apparently been of discussion ever since it was chosen (and clearly a bit before that). While it’s been the United States national anthem for forever, it only become so in 1931,[1] despite that the lyrics, “Defense of Fort M’Henry” were written in 1814.[2] People have complained that the song is difficult to sing, and that the music comes from a drinking song (which must have been damn difficult to sing drunk), “To Anacreon in Heaven,”[3] so maybe not the best tune for a sober nation.

There were various attempts to find a national anthem, because all the cool nations had one. England had “God Save the King,”[4] France had “La Marseillaise” and even the Esperanto movement had “La Espero” as anthems before 1911.[5] Unofficially, the United States was using “My Country, ’tis of Thee,” which has the problem of using the tune of “God Save the King.”


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Monday, May 2, 2016

I Stalk Dead People

Someone got buried in 1881, but probably not someone
named Mary Anne Maddicks
This blog is two years old, and this is the first time I’ve really covered genealogy. Oops. It’s odd that it hasn’t come up since not only have I used genealogical research over and over on this blog, but I’ve been researching my own genealogy for about the last sixteen years.

In the blog, I’ve used genealogical research to find out more details about the people I’ve written about as part of the general background material of the blog post. “Hey, this person seemed so active in the Esperanto movement. What happened? Oh, they suddenly died.”[1] The same techniques that go into finding out where great-great-grandpa lived.[2]



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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Second Blogaversary

Two years!
It’s been two years. On May 1, 2014, I wrote my first post on this blog and on May 1, 2015 wrote a followup. If the first year of the blog was filled with great hopes, the second year, reality set in. In the first year of the blog, I turned out 528 posts (more than one a day), but in the second year, I turned to other things, and only wrote a further 103 posts (call it one every three and a half days). Ouch. What happened?

Mostly I was busy. I started the blog with a few things in mind, although there was the hope that somehow the blog would bring me an ever-increasing readership. This is not the case. If you’re reading this post, you’re one of the few. Be proud of it. After a few months, in anticipation of the coming readership, I started serving ads on the page, but at my current readership, that should pay off sometime in 2034 (and then again in 2054).

One of my goals was to recapture my own voice, to make this blog sound like me. In my prior life, I did a lot of corporate writing, and I found that when I got home I would be writing in that same corporate speak. Who wants to read that? Not even the recipients of those corporate screeds really wanted to be reading it, but that’s what I had to write. I am happy to say, in that respect, the blog has done its job and I am writing something that is my own voice, for better or worse.



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Friday, April 22, 2016

No Exodus, And Maybe Moses

Mummy!
Passover starts today. According to the Torah[1] the holiday is the annual commemoration of the escape of the Hebrews from Egypt. It’s a great story, but the problem is that it’s almost certainly a story. It doesn’t hold together, and that’s even without getting into the magical elements, but the whole thing is more mythic account than clear reporting. It’s a story.

The first little hint is that we now know that the Egyptians used contract labor to build their pyramids.[2] No slaves. The phrase “for we were contract laborers in Egypt” just lacks something. There’s no indication that the contract laborers were some sort of foreign presence either. But someone could argue that the records of all this were lost.[3] Not gonna wash.

The bigger problem comes at the other end, where all the archeological evidence of Bronze-Age Israel indicates a standard slow rise of populations (with the occasional falls due to the usual, followed by slow rise). No big jumps in population because a major group suddenly came in, or city suddenly being established that didn’t start out as much smaller communities.[4] As you add up the evidence, it seems clear that there was no Exodus.



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Thursday, March 3, 2016

When Charities Become Telemarketers

The ones in the middle
are phone spam too.
I know that fundraising is hard. I understand that charities need money with which to pursue their missions. I would ask them not to follow the example of spam and scam telemarketers. But they do.

Looking over my phone records since the beginning of the year, I find that there are two phone numbers, both of which exceeded the number of calls that I received in the same time period on our home phone from my own husband. I actually like talking to him. When he calls me, it’s usually for a reason that I’m interested in. And he almost never calls and hangs up if I don’t answer (sometimes he calls my cell phone, because unlike telemarketers and fundraisers, he knows my cell phone number).

Although I tend to ignore phone numbers with weird names, call enough, even if you don’t leave messages and my curiosity and ire might actually get the better of me, as I entertain the fantasy that the person who keeps calling me every freaking day and doesn’t leave a message on the answering machine might actually listen if I tell them that in my opinion that their calls have crossed the line into misuse of the telephone.



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Friday, February 26, 2016

Mr. Privat Goes to Washington

Li iris al Vaŝingtono
One of the early great celebrities of the Esperanto movement was a young man from Switzerland. You cannot fault Edmond Privat for a lack of fervor: he walked to the first Esperanto Congress, from Geneva to Boulogne-sur-Mer.[1] at the age of fifteen (the conference ended shortly before his sixteenth birthday). By 1907, he was actively promoting the Esperanto movement and had become a prominent Esperantist, and had been sent to the United States to promote the language. In late 1907 (check the link), the New York Sun dubbed Mr. Privat “the principal commercial traveller for the original manufacturer of Esperanto.”

Privat began his visit to the United States in New York, but in February 1908, he came to Washington, D.C. At the time that he was there, the national organization was the American Esperanto Association, headquartered in Boston. It was later that year that they would be supplanted by the Esperanto Association of North America.[2] In February 1908, D.C. wasn’t the center of the Esperanto movement in the United States,[3] but it had been national capital for a good long time. And who knew? Maybe Mr. Privat could get President Roosevelt interested in Esperanto.



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