Thursday, July 28, 2016

The 'Spy-Dear' won't like this news!

Judy Abbott is about to announce some good news that dear Daddy-Long-Legs won't like to hear:
10th September

Dear Daddy,
This abbreviation of "Daddy-Long-Legs" to "Daddy" begins to sound incestuous! But only because we have some inkling of the romance ahead, given her fondness for Master Jervie (who is secretly Daddy-Long-Legs). Meanwhile, she has written some stories and shown them to Master Jervie for his opinion:
[T]he last one I did - just a little sketch laid in college - he said wasn't bad; and he had it typewritten, and I sent it to a magazine. They've had it two weeks; maybe they're thinking it over.
Thursday brings good news:
Daddy! Daddy! What do you think? The postman has just come with two letters.

1st. My story is accepted. $50. ALORS! I'm an AUTHOR.

2nd. A letter from the college secretary. I'm to have a scholarship for two years that will cover board and tuition. It was founded for 'marked proficiency in English with general excellency in other lines.' And I've won it! I applied for it before I left, but I didn't have an idea I'd get it, on account of my Freshman bad work in maths and Latin. But it seems I've made it up. I am awfully glad, Daddy, because now I won't be such a burden to you. The monthly allowance will be all I'll need, and maybe I can earn that with writing or tutoring or something . . .
This could undo the web Daddy-Long-Legs has woven to catch her in . . . yeah, I know he's not really a spider, but he is a "spy-dear," keeping an eye on his cherished little Jerusha (aka "Judy"). Anyway, we'll see his reaction soon.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

More on Outmoded Islamic Jurisprudence

More Muslims are speaking out concerning Islamic texts at the core of Islam that legitimate exactly what the Islamic State has been doing in the name of Islam.

D. Hazan draws our attention to Report No. 1261 of the Memri Inquiry and Analysis Series, which informs us that "Following [Recent] ISIS Attacks, Arab Journalists [Have] Call[ed On Muslims] To Acknowledge Existence Of Muslim Extremism . . . [And To] Reexamine Religious Texts" (July 25, 2016). Below are the general points:
The large number of terrorist attacks carried out by ISIS in Western countries over the past year . . . . has sparked a wave of harsh criticism in the Arab and Islamic world . . . . [T]here have been an increasing number of articles in the Arab media calling to acknowledge that Islam, and the obsolete interpretations of it that are still applied today, are indeed related to the wave of global terrorism. Writers called on Muslims to be honest and admit the existence of Muslim religious extremism instead of blaming others, and to uproot it . . . . [This] requires fundamental reforms in Islamic interpretations alongside reforms in cultural, governmental and education patterns in Arab countries, which, they say, cause many Muslims to harbor covert sympathy for ISIS . . . . [Therefore, many] writers argued that most of ISIS's religious practices are drawn from the most important Islamic law books, while stressing that these laws do not reflect explicit Koranic dictates, but rather the opinion of jurisprudents that lived in a certain reality that is no longer relevant today. Therefore, they explained that in order to rescue the universal values of Islam from the culture of ignorance, backwardness, and violence, the Islamic jurisprudents of today must critically and rationally review the history of Islam and its religious texts, and adapt Islamic interpretations and laws to the spirit of the times, while taking into account the current circumstances and the greater good. In their opinion, some Islamic dictates should even be cancelled altogether to conform with universal progressive values such as liberties and human rights . . . . The writers also pointed to the confusion afflicting the common Muslims today, whether due to the refusal of Islamic religious institution to accuse ISIS and its ilk of apostasy, or whether because matters that were once uncontroversial in Islam - such as offensive jihad and slavery for prisoners of war - are currently forbidden according to modern world norms . . . . [Now, the] writers stated that changing the religious discourse was a vital and urgent step, since the ongoing political and cultural situation in the Arab and Muslim world is "a wonderful recipe for extremism and backwardness," and that preserving and sanctifying ancient Islamic heritage would [give] birth [to] groups even more extreme than ISIS and lead Muslims to their doom.
Again, I say, we need more of such calls to reform! Maybe the reform of Islam is now really coming. At least Muslims themselves are beginning to admit that Islam has serious problems. But the process won't be easy. We'll see what comes of this . . .


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

O Magic Mirror on the Wall, Deliver Us from This World's Thrall

Martin Seay

I recently came across this old poem of mine from the mid-1980s and wondered if two of the main characters in Martin Seay's novel The Mirror Thief - Stanley Glass and Vettor Crivano - would suspect a secret message within:
You look upon the world with antique eyes,
through intense lens, with more than innocence,
but only in this moment circumscribed
by shelves and shelves of other people's lives.
Let's peer into this mirror, you and I,
clear through the old and darkened glass. What past
perhaps reflects obscurely back on one
behind the silver-surfaced other side,
who gazes here with solemn, antique eyes?
Maybe it holds the answer to their question, the object of their quest, the conjunction in their que. But probably none of these. The poem's only about a moment in San Francisco when a friend and I were looking through shelves of items in an antique store, and my friend tried on a pair of old glasses and gazed into a nearby antique mirror.

I stood back in appreciation and watched her looking at her antique self, and this poem came to me . . .


Monday, July 25, 2016

Sheikh Khaled Al-Mulla: "The Times of Slavery Are Over"

Sunni Iraqi Cleric Sheikh Khaled Al-Mulla
Head of the Iraqi Scholars Association

According to Memri Clip No. 5571 (July 1, 2016), a "Leading Sunni Iraqi Cleric Khaled Al-Mulla Criticizes ISIS Practices," but acknowledges the difficulties due to controversial texts that seem to allow what ISIS does:
Khaled Al-Mulla: "Why do we always blame others for our problems? One says 'America,' another says 'Iran,' yet another says 'Zionist plan,' and so on . . . We constantly hear it in the media. But who are the ones carrying out these [so-called foreign] agendas? It is unacceptable to blame others for our problems. The pawns on the ground are us. We are killing one another ourselves" . . . .

Program Host: "How do you view the taking of Yazidi women as slave girls by ISIS? Are there religious texts that permit this action? Some people who wish to aggravate the situation say that what ISIS brought with them to Mosul is the same as what the Prophet Muhammad brought with him to the places that he conquered, liberated, and declared as the Islamic state."

Khaled Al-Mulla: "This issue is one of the most complicated issues. Why is that? First of all, because not all the things that happened back then can be implemented in our days. Secondly, ISIS has 'hijacked' the controversial texts. Today, we cannot take a Yazidi woman, a Christian woman, or any other woman belonging to another religion . . . The shari'a does not allow us to capture women as [slave girls]. The times of taking captives, the times of slavery, are over."

Host: "But there are religious texts that permit all these things."

Khaled Al-Mulla: "That's correct. It exists in the texts of jurisprudence. Therefore, the biggest mistake of the religious institution is not being able to get rid of these texts. The religious institution does not have the courage to say, at the very least, that these texts are unsuitable for the world today.
At last, some Muslim experts are starting to acknowledge these problematic texts and challenge these very sources that motivate such barbaric conduct among Islamists. This, I think, is one of the ways forward.

More of this please!


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Gregory C. Eaves Reviews our Translations of Jang Jung-il and Yi Kwang-Su

Gregory C. Eaves?
Image from Google Images

Gregory C. Eaves has a new site dedicated to book reviews, and I mention this because - as you might have noted from the heading above - Mr. Eaves talks about a couple of books translated by my wife and me. Let's note the Jang Jung-il novel first. Eaves deals with the book When Adam Opens His Eyes (1990, t. 2013) by Jang Jung-il (아담이 눈뜰 때 (1990) 글 장정일), summarizing it as:
"Holden Caulfield romps around Seoul in the late 1980s."
I have to admit I would never have made a connection between Jang Jung-il's character "Adam" and J. D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield! Are they really alike? Anyway, Eaves goes on to address our translation:
When Adam Opens His Eyes was translated into English in 2013 by Hwang Sun-Ae and Horace J. Hodges. It was published in English as part of Dalkey Archive Press's Library of Korean Literature and is available at Amazon.
So much for our translation of that - neither great nor terrible, I guess - and much the same for our translation of The Soil (1932-1933), by Yi Kwang-Su (1892-1950), for we are again simply mentioned:
It was translated by the husband-wife team of Horace J. Hodges and Hwang Sun-Ae.
Should I note that I go by "Jeffery"? At any rate, the reviews are otherwise informative, so those of you with interest in Korean literature - get thee hence and read!

Just a quick click on the links: When Adam Opens His Eyes and The Soil.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Daddy-Long-Legs: Jealous Lover!

Jean Webster
All in Her Mind!
Google Images

I've noted before that the character "Daddy-Long-Legs" (aka John Smith) in the novel of the same name is a rather manipulative person. In the letters below, he is shown to be manipulating Judy (Jerusha) into staying at a place where he has access to her as "Master Jervie" without her knowing that this friend Jervie is also Daddy-Long-Legs and thus also without her knowing that jealousy is the motive behind the unreasonable demand imposed on her, as we shall see. Judy begins in a state of excitement in a letter dated June 2nd:
Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,

You will never guess the nice thing that has happened.

The McBrides have asked me to spend the summer at their camp in the Adirondacks! They belong to a sort of club on a lovely little lake in the middle of the woods. The different members have houses made of logs dotted about among the trees, and they go canoeing on the lake, and take long walks through trails to other camps, and have dances once a week in the club house - Jimmie McBride is going to have a college friend visiting him part of the summer, so you see we shall have plenty of men to dance with.

Wasn't it sweet of Mrs. McBride to ask me? It appears that she liked me when I was there for Christmas.

Please excuse this being short. It isn't a real letter; it's just to let you know that I'm disposed of for the summer.


In a VERY contented frame of mind,

But then comes a rude - truly discourteous - shock in a message that she refers to in a letter of June 5th, and she protests vociferously:
Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,

Your secretary man has just written to me saying that Mr. Smith prefers that I should not accept Mrs. McBride's invitation, but should return to Lock Willow the same as last summer.

Why, why, WHY, Daddy?

You don't understand about it. Mrs. McBride does want me, really and truly. I'm not the least bit of trouble in the house. I'm a help. They don't take up many servants, and Sallie an I can do lots of useful things. It's a fine chance for me to learn housekeeping. Every woman ought to understand it, and I only know asylum-keeping.

There aren't any girls our age at the camp, and Mrs. McBride wants me for a companion for Sallie. We are planning to do a lot of reading together. We are going to read all of the books for next year's English and sociology. The Professor said it would be a great help if we would get our reading finished in the summer; and it's so much easier to remember it if we read together and talk it over.

Just to live in the same house with Sallie's mother is an education. She's the most interesting, entertaining, companionable, charming woman in the world; she knows everything. Think how many summers I've spent with Mrs. Lippett and how I'll appreciate the contrast. You needn't be afraid that I'll be crowding them, for their house is made of rubber. When they have a lot of company, they just sprinkle tents about in the woods and turn the boys outside. It's going to be such a nice, healthy summer exercising out of doors every minute. Jimmie McBride is going to teach me how to ride horseback and paddle a canoe, and how to shoot and - oh, lots of things I ought to know. It's the kind of nice, jolly, care-free time that I've never had; and I think every girl deserves it once in her life. Of course I'll do exactly as you say, but please, PLEASE let me go, Daddy. I've never wanted anything so much.

This isn't Jerusha Abbott, the future great author, writing to you. It's just Judy - a girl.
But the protests are of no avail, as Judy's letter of June 9th shows:
Mr. John Smith,

SIR: Yours of the 7th inst. at hand. In compliance with the instructions received through your secretary, I leave on Friday next to spend the summer at Lock Willow Farm.

I hope always to remain,

(Miss) Jerusha Abbott
Judy's disappointment is palpable. From her perspective, no good reason is discernable for the command to spend the summer at Lock Willow Farm and thereby miss out on a summer of fun at a camp in the Adirondacks. Future knowledge will clarify the reason for the demand by Daddy-Long-Legs, but will she accept his jealous love?

Should she?


Friday, July 22, 2016

Melania Trump - Daughter of Barack and Michelle Obama?

Melania and Michelle
Remarkable Similarity
CNN Image on Google

As I noted yesterday, the only honest explanation - IF Melania did not plagiarize a couple of paragraphs from Michelle Obama on the moral lessons learned from her mother - is that Melania's mother is Michelle!

Of course Melania didn't plagiarize if she was just repeating what she'd learned from her mother. Naturally, their words would sound remarkably similar!

I am therefore deeply disappointed that my elegant solution to this serious problem has been picked up by neither the mainstream media nor the alternative  media! I therefore repeat my evidence and add more:
My solution explains Melania's insistence that she did not plagiarize.

My solution explains Donald Trump's obsession with Barack Obama's birth certificate.

My solution explains the name "Melania," which clearly derives from the word "melanin."
These are three powerful points in support of my position. I and others who think alike on this issue therefore demand to see Melania Trump's birth certificate!

We want the truth!

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Proof that Melania Trump Did NOT Plagiarize

Comparing Melania's Speech with Michelle's Speech

Admittedly, the synoptic presentation above makes Melania look like a plagiarist, but let us look more closely at what Melania really said. For convenience, here are Michelle's words from her speech of August 25, 2008:
And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you're going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don't know them, and even if you don't agree with them. And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and to pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children -- and all children in this nation -- to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.
Compare now Melania's actual words from her speech of July 18, 2016:
From a young age, my parents [Barack and Michelle] impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise, that you treat people with respect. They taught and showed me values and morals in their daily lives. That is a lesson that I continue to pass along to our son, and we need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.
You see? A source for the words that mirror Michelle's words so closely is provided by Melania: "my parents." Clearly, Melania means that her parents are Barack and Michelle, so I have added this clarifying point in brackets. Melania is thus NOT plagiarizing Michelle's speech! Rather, she is repeating nearly verbatim the moral lessons learned so well from her parents Barack and Michelle, and of these lessons, the principal one is honesty.

The beauty of my hypothesis is that it also explains Donald Trump's otherwise inexplicable obsession with Barack Obama's birth certificate!


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

EWIS Course Finished!

I started this EWIS course with sixteen students but lost six within a week - four of them after two days. They wanted a faster pace, apparently. After two weeks of the course, another four no longer came, though I later learned that they remained enrolled, which usually bespeakes an intention to attend.

My class attracts mostly graduate students, who often find that their graduate duties - for example, caring for white rats or doing somesuch similar labwork - dominate their time and bring them to attend only sporadically.

Anyhow, I had six who attended regularly, though two of them couldn't make our last day Tuesday, so I needed treat only four to coffee, as the photo below indicates (the hidden photographer being a Writing Clinic TA):

The four students - clockwise from upper left - are Set-Byul, Kamila, Bora, and Eun Young, and they're flashing the typical peace through victory sign so beloved here in Korea . . . though Bora appears to be enforcing the victory with pistols.

In the second picture, we are shown standing our ground, guarding the peace won through hard victory(,  which Eun Young continues to signal), and you can probably figure our identities out by now:

Same goes for the third photograph below:

Except that Eun Young no longer shows the sign so beloved by Koreans . . .

I suppose I should add a few words concerning a decision I've reached. This was the last time I'll teach EWIS. My style of teaching doesn't fit the expectations of about half of the class at the onset, so they withdraw. I've come to see that many Koreans really expect to be inundated with exercises from the first class on. They understand the "I" in EWIS - which stands for "Intensive" - to mean "Inundated," whereas I take the "I" to mean "In-depth." Mine is thus an English Writing 'In-Depth' Seminar. I might (and often do) therefore have a student write and rewrite a thesis statement several times. Or a paragraph. About half the students appreciate this approach. The work isn't fast-paced, but it's effective . . . for those who remain. Anyway, I've come to realize that I'll never retain an entire class with my 'slow-down-and-think' method, so I made the decision to stop teaching EWIS.

Farewell, EWIS, you've been a learning experience for me.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Really No Racial Bias in Police Shootings?

Roland G. Fryer Jr.

Quoctrung Bui and Amanda Cox recently reported on "Surprising New Evidence [that] Shows [No] Bias in Police . . . in Shootings" (New York Times, July 11, 2016):
[W]hen it comes to the most lethal form of force - police shootings - the study finds no racial bias[, a finding that surprises everyone] . . . . "It is the most surprising result of my career," said Roland G. Fryer Jr., the author of the study and a professor of economics at Harvard. The study examined more than 1,000 shootings in 10 major police departments . . . . The result contradicts the image of police shootings that many Americans hold . . . . The counterintuitive results provoked debate after the study was posted on Monday, mostly about the volume of police encounters and the scope of the data. Mr. Fryer emphasizes that the work is not the definitive analysis of police shootings, and that more data would be needed to understand the country as a whole . . . . Mr. Fryer . . . . decided . . . to collect a bunch of data and try to understand what really is going on . . . . He and student researchers spent about 3,000 hours assembling detailed data from police reports . . . . They examined 1,332 shootings between 2000 and 2015, coding police narratives to answer questions such as: How old was the suspect? How many police officers were at the scene? Were they mostly white? Was the officer at the scene for a robbery, violent activity, a traffic stop or something else? Was it nighttime? Did the officer shoot after being attacked or before a possible attack? One goal was to determine if police officers were quicker to fire at black suspects . . . . [I]n these 10 cities involving officers, officers were more likely to fire their weapons without having first been attacked when the suspects were white . . . . [These] results undercut the idea of racial bias in police use of lethal force.
As already noted, this study has surprised everyone - not least of all me. For more surprises, read the entire, nuanced article. But just one point before you go. Note the following statement:
[Police] officers were more likely to fire their weapons without having first been attacked when the suspects were white.
This does not mean that there is no "racial bias in police use of lethal force. Rather, it means that there is racial bias against whites.

That is the surprising thing.