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June 15, 2012


I was an exchange student in Germany. There was a ramp-up, I think similar to what you describe, where "oh, just say it in English" was the norm. Once I got my feet, at maybe month seven, the headaches hit. I'd have to rest sometimes. I was "thinking" in German when I left (still not sure what that means). Apparently my accent was at that point an odd mix of my host mother's (Austrian) and Ami, but people tended to think I was Dutch at that point.

The most embarrassing part is the inevitable "how you say ..." in the middle of a sentence. But that's when you know you're getting there. That's when structure is overtaking vocabulary, and you can actually talk.

I never coould converse in Spanish, but at one time I could read andn write fairly well. That was when I lived in New Mexico and Spanish was all around me. Decades later I started writing letters to Lori Berenson who was in prison in Peru. To my dismay even my written Spanish had evaporated. After an Hola, a como estas and a few stilted sentences I had nothing to say. She, on the other hand, wrote back in beatiful fluent coloquial Spanish which I had to take to the Spanish teacher for translation. Mostly I sent her pictures of the sorts of things she could not see in prison --flowers, animals, scenery, etc--and art supplies. We exchanged letters for about five years. I'm surprised I never got on a domestic terrorist list but that was back before the hysteria set in, I suppose.

I did notice when taking French in high school, that in order to really learn a word, I had to mean it when I said it, instead of just reciting the sound. If you get the distinction... Maybe that's part of the effect.

Anyway, anyone want to talk about our Dictator in Chief signing the Dream act into law without the formality of Congress actually passing it?

I am currently learning Icelandic and I begin really to understand why people (esp. native speakers of English) have so much trouble learning German. Latin (I had that 9 years in school) was not for talking but dissecting. While the grammar of the Scandinavian languages is quite close to German, so not much to learn there, the morphology of Icelandic words is at least as complicated as Latin, e.g. there are about seventy groups of nouns with at least partially different endings for the 4 cases and almost a hundred groups of verbs (my flexion tables even have 157) and in many cases one has simply to learn it for each word because the stem does not tell you at once. Ablaut and umlaut are even more common than in German which makes it often difficult even to identify an unknown word so one can look it up (add scarcity of large enough dictionaries to list of problems).
I know why I abstained from even trying to learn Japanese, which I briefly considered.
Oh, and Icelandic is spelled like a thousand years ago but the pronounciation has radically shifted.
I think the real breaktrough comes when one is able to put a structure on spoken language one hears, to put letters to the sounds. In the beginning even very simple phrases can sound like gibberish even after hearing them repeatedly.

What Congress?

The one that represents this filth and only him, instead of me, or anyone else not incorporated?:


This Congress, which, if it was December 8, 1941 and Obama was President, would filibuster a Declaration of War and permit the Japanese to invade all the way to the Mississippi River to make things as bad (heightening the contradictions) as possible in order to defeat their real enemy, the President?

Mr. Obama, for all his faults and political calculation, is trying to govern, something foreign to the current bug infestation.

Frankly, I wish Obama had severe anger management issues and would go all-Hulk on Republican Loki:


That he's a gentleman is to his detriment.

Or, if you prefer, Liberty Valence can throw Obama's steak on the floor, but at some point, someone is going to make the former pick up the mess:


A little highlight to that scene is the tip of the boot applied so precisely to cackling, prairie punk scum Strother Martin's chin.

Strother's character, handmaidenly incidental to Liberty's malignancy, reminds me of the Redrum video a while ago (which I can't locate now) in which Moe Lane goes full-drip smarm leading with HIS chin regarding Obama and sneers "No, you can't."


If it makes you feel any better, I question Obama's re-election chances, but that's just another reason why I'm glad the NRA has overlooked the fact that I can purchase weapons and ammo, too.


Does anyone notice that the Capcha nonsense words are now becoming commentary on one's comments?

The two Capchas I encountered before posting the above comment were "sin deLeeting" and "crickets" and another word I can't remember now.

That's O.K.. I still have a sense of humor.


So, count-me-in, you're cool with a dictator, so long as you like his dictates. Seems to be a trend in liberals I can actually get to comment on the subject...

There is a general trend in humans to be OK with dictators(hips) as long as they expect to profit from them. But to claim that liberals love dictators more than conservatives is preposterous. I'd rather say liberals involuntarily end up with dictators occasionally while conservatives* tend to vote them in directly knowing what they are rooting for.

*not necessarily RW, entrenched leftist systems can be extremly conservative too. (conservative = pro status quo).

Well, Brett, I wouldn't take anything I say as the establishment of a trend, either among liberals in general or the good liberal and good refugee conservative folk at OBWI.

Besides, my comments become roiling little potboilers unto themselves in which I become the awful liberal gargoyle of fevered right-wing stereotype.

If they see Hitler or Stalin, then by God I'll give them the best Hitler or Stalin that can be mustered, or is it that the trains merely running on time really is what pisses them off?

Plus, it's a slow Saturday and Phil and hairshirthedonist don't seem available for comment. ;)

I have other fish to fry from a different colored kettle.

My contention is that the United States is well into political "blood feud" territory, with one side not quite believing it and the other side rapidly becoming a political malignancy not often encountered in civilized polities, not unlike in the years leading up to the American Civil War or more often encountered among less stable democracies.

I'm sure you realize which "side" is which in my universe.

I don't want to slight the Constitutional niceties, but hand me that carbine Pompey, to extend the image, because first we make out little town safe for those niceties.

"ommoade tbe" was the Capcha Latin for "who goes there?" that last time.

It appears to me that there's an effort to make the capcha more "wordlike" to make it easier for humans, thus resulting in it sometimes appearing to be random words in different languages. Then they tack on a number obscured in a different way to restore the difficulty.

I don't think it's going to work, this is an arms race between computer and human OCR, and the humans aren't getting any better at it. Eventually the computers will be better than humans at solving any possible Capcha. Probably only take a few more years.

Seems to be a trend in liberals I can actually get to comment on the subject...

Maybe the problem is trying to get folks to say what you think they are going to say. I've found that conversations like that don't work very well.

As for the recaptcha system, the audio part recently was cracked, (see here and here) though google made some changes, but I don't know how long that is going to last.

In the comments of the second article, there was this, but I can't vouch for it

A hint: You only have to fill out one word, as long as you surround it with spaces. They use one word that comes from a scanned book that their algorithms can't read, and another word that's generated by their servers. These appear in a random order, but the one that contains punctuation is always the scanned word, and can just be replaced with a space.

No, the problem appears to be that liberals don't want to talk about it at all. I suspect that if the Dream act had actually been enacted and signed, you couldn't shut them up about it. But as it was just an unconstitutional dictatorial act, but one they like, they're avoiding the subject.

Again, getting people to talk about what you want them to talk about is an art, and you might wish to reconsider your approach. Your suspicions tell us a lot more about you than they do about any 'liberals' (which seems to have a definition that is something like 'anyone who disagrees with what I think is correct') I can't speak for others, but I'm not avoiding the subject, I'm just certain that if I do the work of trying to figure out what you are on about, I will end up pointing you to a snopes page. Again.

I tend to view conversational gambits that generalize liberals or conservatives as being some way or another that tends to reinforce the innate superiority of the speaker's position with a great deal of skepticism.

Maybe that makes me a centrist. Probably not, though.

lj, why don't you want to discuss why Obama is worse than Hitler? What are you afraid of?

Plus, it's a slow Saturday and Phil and hairshirthedonist don't seem available for comment. ;)

I do love me some Brett Bellmore!

I see certain advantages in dictatorships in the short term. The problem I see is how to get reliably rid of them once it has served its purpose. And of course that many will not think about that aspect when the call for the 'strong' man to solve the problems.
I see the GOP of a few years ago calling for a duce, now they just want a doge (with just enough fingers to hold the signing pen). Once they get a more 'reliable' candidate it will be back to the former.

But, if we want to talk about Obama's recent executive order on immigration policy, I suppose we could start with someone demonstrating how the president was not within his discretion under existing law to issue the order. We might also note that the executive order can be reversed by another president without congressional action, meaning that it is not the same as passing a law. We might also note that there is no path to citizenship established by the order, which means it isn't the DREAM Act.

What HSH said... Calling order this issuing laws ex loco Congress is willful misinterpretation.

Brett, the same day as Obama announced this decision, Romney etch-a-sketched from advocating self deportation to blaming Obama for the process he used but not the effect of this policy. Which Romney do you prefer?

(Obama also has zig-zagged on immigration.)

11:31lj, why don't you want to discuss why Obama is worse than Hitler? What are you afraid of?

Encouraging the lurkers?

Well, Obama did smoke (and may still do occasionally out of sight of his family), Hitler did not. And Hitler's cocaine issue was the result of an incompetent doctor's actions, unlike Obama's pot habits in his youth. I'd also bet that Obama would lose in a one-on-one contest on the topic of classical music (the one area where the otherwise little educated Austrian was a true nerd). ;-)

I do love me some Brett Bellmore!

That makes one of us.


dr ngo: That makes one of us.

As my daughter would say, "oh, snap!"

Thanks, ral. I don't know how old your daughter is, but I guess that's the age group I was targeting with my repartee.


I'd also bet that Obama would lose in a one-on-one contest on the topic of classical music (the one area where the otherwise little educated Austrian was a true nerd).

There's a site where you can play chess with an emulator build to play like Duchamp (who turned to chess late in life and made it a serious pursuit).*

I'd figuratively pay good money to argue about classical music with a similarly designed e-product as outlined above.

*I think I played it twice and got my ash [ObWi sic] handed to me quickly by Mr. Mutt. Can probably dig up a link if anyone cares, but really it was just an anecdote.

I have never successfully learned any language beyond English, but I definitely did notice a dramatic change in my mental furniture (possibly architecture) while I was in therapy.

Not only did it alter my perceptions of people and events (past and present), it also did things like improve my awareness of distance and position, allow me access to my sense of smell, &c. The ground beneath my feet literally felt more solid.

Oh, and getting back to language: my fiction writing improved dramatically in both quality and productivity, to the extent that I now have a realistic prospect of making a living that way.

Oh, and about executive orders and dictatorship:

1) Yes, I am sure that we would be more excited if Congress had passed the DREAM Act than in the current situation, where we have no DREAM Act.

2) If Repubs now consider executive orders to be the equivalent of dictatorship, we will be sure to remind you of that, if the former party of Lincoln ever elects another President (which God forbid).

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