Saturday, November 21, 2009

No truth to rumors of break in the Lindsey Baum case

There are two updates that I suppose are worth making about the missing child case that I am following -- that of 11 year old Lindsey Baum, who disappeared during a short walk home on 26 June, 2009, in McCleary, Washington.

Neither are earthshattering: one is disappointing, but not unexpected; the other is promising, but late on scene.

Reporter Steven Friederich of The Daily World, which serves the Grays Harbor and Pacific counties area of Washington state, writes today that:

The Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office says rumors of a break in the Lindsey Baum case, involving a missing McCleary girl, are false...

Undersheriff Rick Scott said Friday that he had fielded media calls all day asking him about alleged warrants and arrests.

Scott said someone was contacting media outlets anonymously with bogus tips. Reporters and community members called the Sheriff’s Office all day to ask about the rumors.

“About the only thing true is that I’m burning up the minutes on my cell phone,” Scott said.

Scott said no one has filed any police reports and there is nothing legally the Sheriff’s Office can do about the false reports.

The brown-haired 4-foot-9 girl was wearing a light blue hooded shirt and blue jeans when she went missing. Authorities believe she is the victim of an abduction.

Anyone with any credible information about the whereabouts of Lindsey Baum is encouraged to come forward. Tips can be made by phone at 1-866-915-8299 or e-mail at They may also be mailed to PO Box 305 McCleary, 98557.

The ChildSeek Network has also put up a Web site about Baum at:

On the up side of the search for Lindsey? She is one of six missing children featured on the cover of People magazine.

The national attention is a ray of hope for Lindsey Baum's mother, Melissa Baum.

The grief-stricken mother is surrounded by pictures of her daughter, posters of well wishes, business cards and fliers.She's hoping for even the smallest of clues that will lead her to her daughter.

"I just want to bring her home," she said. "I want people to see her and look for her."

Everyone in the tiny town of McCleary knows of Melissa Baum's grief. Many of them have helped searchers comb the area for signs of the missing girl.

But when People magazine hits newsstands on Friday, people in every state will know Lindsey Baum's story. Her mother hopes the magazine will help bring new evidence to light.

"I didn't know she was going to be on the cover, so I'm really happy about that," she said. "Somebody out there knows something."

Melissa Baum said her maternal instinct tells her her daughter is somewhere nearby.

On a June night long before the sunset, Lindsey Baum left a friend's house and started a seven-block walk home. Since then, thousands of tips have been called in, but not one solid lead has surfaced.

Months have passed without any news from the missing girl, but her mother has faithfully organized search parties every weekend since.

But interest is dwindling. Last weekend, only a few volunteers joined the desperate mother.

Melissa Baum doesn't believe the $10,000 reward being offered in the case is sufficient to motivate a solid tip.

Donations for the reward fund are being collected at all branches of Sterling Saving Bank.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Helen: Thanksgiving Letter to the Family 2009

Helen Philpot, of Margaret and Helen fame, has posted one of her holiday epistles:

Dear Family,

This year I am thankful to have you as my family rather than a normal American family. I say that because Sarah Palin is fond of talking about her family being a normal American family.

Last time I checked everyone in my family knows where Africa is on a globe. Everyone goes to college after high school. We’ve had no teen pregnancies as of yet and no one has appeared in Playgirl. If the Palins are a normal American family, I guess my bunch of anti-American socialists are fine by me.

But we have our own issues. For instance, some of us are Aggies and others are Longhorns. Which makes for interesting choices for some of you. If a football game is more important than Thanksgiving, then consider this my last will and testament: When I die, it’s all going to charity... [continues

Re-Post: In Loving Memory of Gérard Jian - Substitute Teaching

O, quelle tristesse!

It feels like a sucker punch, a physical blow. Just one minute ago, I cried out loud, I called out, I said, "No!" I had no such reaction to other much more personal losses -- a lovely great aunt, doting grandparents, incredibly kind stepfathers, a few dear friends and lovers, other former profs (dead far too young, and close, whereas this little man was over eighty years, and distant).

In addition to being strangely affective, this death is haunting, as I have dreamt and thought about Gérard Jian several times in the past few weeks, the result, I thought, of trying to remember some of life's finer moments -- which I had allowed to fuzz-up a bit.

[Please keep your finer moments unfuzzed-up. Sometimes, when you've nowhere else to go, taking out the pensieve can be life-affirming.]

I doubt he remembered me after I left Berkeley. He made his contribution to the requisite file of Letters of Reference, and had nice things to say. I sometimes wondered if he remembered me when I was standing right in front of him, until some smart-ass crack -- always in the target language! -- made it clear that yes, he knew who the hell I was, and I had better straighten up and fly right. Weird that he used odd, uptight Air Force expressions, this blustery little Frenchman, charged with the task of turning out profs who might not bring shame down upon the reputation of the various Universities of California. It would seem more likely that he was quoting Nat King Cole's original song, except that I knew his entire "méthode d'enseignement" was based on a French curriculum he'd developed for tiny military brats -- in kindergarten. This was a fact we tried to keep hidden from the intelligent, extraordinary, and oh-so-mature undergraduates.

Way back in 1972, he garnered the University's Distinguished Teacher Award -- no easy feat. That year the honorees also included Paul Alpers, required reading in order to fathom the Faerie Queene, and Howard A. Bern, de rigueur for a decent understanding of comparative endocrinology. My personal favorite is Gardner D. Stout, Jr. -- his mother, the privileged Clare Kellogg; his father, "president of the Board of Trustees of the American Museum of Natural History in New York from 1968 to 1974. Before that, he had been executive committee chairman of the Audubon Society," and is the exalted editor of the authoritative Shorebirds of North America. His son, the award-winner, went on to speak, hilariously, of Sterne, Swift, and Rabelais.

And then there was Gérard Jian.

His textbook, Découverte et Création, co-authored by Ralph Hester of Stanford, was our Bible. As mentioned, the incredibly effective method Jian developed was based upon theories of childhood learning and language acquisition. The mostly 18 to 24 year olds who peopled his Master Classes never seemed to "get" that he slaved to make the challenging task before them child's play. He forced them out of their comfort zone without discomfiting them -- by being hilarious, by tucking his meticulous pedagogy inside rapid fire give-and-take, by somehow being as disinhibiting a force as a shot of tequila. (What? You expected merlot? A COTE DE BROUILLY beaujolais?) His students, and subsequently my own, were not "allowed" to speak anything other than French. Or, at least, anything other than their bravest efforts at speaking French! I was no Jian; I came to allow, after the onset of burnout, brief conversations in English, so long as it was outside the classroom door. You'd be amazed at how quickly students relinquish their need for English when provided with a wealth of cognates, and a receptive, laughing prof well versed in the methodology of inductive presentations.

And all that wine.

I taught summer school one year -- the level of the course evades me, all I recall is that it was intensive, and that I had an unbelievably diverse class in terms of ages and backgrounds. It was the first, and last, time I ever "partied" with my students. Talk about something getting out of hand... And I did not even consider the ramifications of having a 14-year-old Genius Wild Child of a Faculty Member leading the way into an afternoon of inebriation under the beautiful California sky -- one of *those* days off the bay, blue, blue, and windy. Afterward, I worried myself silly and everytime I ran into Jian (was it happening more frequently? was he giving me dirty looks? did he know?) my tongue tied itself in knots. No one turned me in -- indeed, my cool factor attained new heights. Whew.

[Of course, Jian knew I had... predilections. After my very first semester, I left the International House, a wonderful place I had fought to get in, and moved in with one of my students. You may remember him -- the Great American Writer? No? I thought not. After wowing me, it turned out he was nothing but a handsome derivation.]

Like a thread running through that long, strange trip out west, Découverte et Création was always there. Eventually, whether I was in tiptop form, hungover, pregnant, tired, happy, stressed, what have you -- I could teach from that text without missing a beat. As far as textbooks go, it is quite good, though I am probably greatly influenced by having had the author as my own preceptor.

I just checked out and enjoyed another belly laugh -- this is the evaluation/rating given by one Cathy Sahu, back in April 2000 [Bless her bones! I confess, I almost did that "ROFLMAO" thing.]:

First of all, let me make clear that I'm writing about the "cinquieme" (5th) edition of this textbook. The earlier editions aren't, I think, too bad.
This is a shockingly miserable textbook. I've been jotting down its faults as they crop up while I study 1st semester French. Here are some of them, though definitely not all (and no, this isn't sour grapes -- I'm getting an "A"):

Firstly, all the grammatical explanations are in French, and thus, very difficult to understand for someone learning beginning French. I realize the theory of language immersion is currently in vogue, but this is a ridiculous application. Students of French need to learn common vocabulary, not words like "preposition" and "pronoun." Even if they are cognates, it's still hard to understand and a source of extreme frustration, even for me, though I've taken French before. Also, while the student is stumbling through these explanations, he's probably also mispronouncing them, and memorizing his own mispronunciations. Then, to avoid English, the editors resort to all sorts of extremes, like the silly picture on p. 119. And, at the end of it all, they still end up having to use English footnotes, anyway (p. 114, etc.)

Another problem is the choice of vocabulary. They use irregular words (like "oeil" and its plural, "yeux," introduced too early on p. 20) in examples of grammatical rules, making for more confusion than if they'd used simpler, more regular words. (Vocabulary words, in fact, are thrown in almost without context: there are some 100 vocab words listed at the end of each chapter, many of which have only been used once in the chapter, and not at all in any exercise. These lists have no accompanying English translations, so you have to flip, flip, flip to the back of the book, a big waste of time.)

The dictionary is not good. There is no English-to-French section, and in the French-to-English, some words are missing ("demon," for instance, used in an illustration on p. 49 but not in dictionary, and "choque" is not defined - does it mean shocked, or shocking?). And of course there's no pronunciation key, a problem common to many language texts nowadays but still bad news for the student of a language that has many irregular pronunciations. Also, there are problems like the fact that ce/cet/cette/ces are all listed together in the dictionary, so if you look up "ces" and don't remember it's the plural of "ce," you won't be able to find it.

Oh, my God, I cannot stop laughing. This has touched that special spot in my hard heart reserved solely for French students.

What is more amazing is that one of the people leaving a rating turns out to be a long lost friend. In the post-Great-American-Writer period, she actually set me up with a UC-B alum who had done graduate work in physics, and went on to a rewarding career as a... banker. He was so sweet to me, and very patient. Even did the dangerous things: the long rides up the coast, attending weddings, dinner with the 'rents. All during the time I was writing my thesis and preparing for exams, living up on Kentucky Avenue, lost in the Berkeley Hills.

I could see five counties from my window.
I spent a lot of time, rocking and rocking, in front of that window.

Anyway, I am very sure that Ms. Sahu was, as alleged, a stellar student and hope she came to, at least, tolerate that sorry text...

Jian gave me, of course, the most memorable advice about teaching -- but I cannot quite figure how to tell that story. It could be summed up as "there are no bad students, only bad teachers," but that would be to do violence to what he really meant. Forgive me, I am tired and wound up -- yes, I am playing my Sad Sack Tune of Excuses again. I need to get back in bed for a rest.

Hmm. This just popped into my head. Those of us monitoring his Master Classes all sat in the back of the room, obviously. Although we weren't supposed to, it was inevitable that we developed relationships with Jian's students who sat around us. One guy was simply an awful foreign language student (That's right. I don't believe "there are no bad students," nor do I think there are no stupid questions.). For some reason, and there MUST have been a reason, three or four of us degenerates in the back decided to help him through a test. There was much coughing into fists and notes flying back and forth, as well as an unprofessional spate of giggling.

And Jian didn't kill us on the spot. Good man.

I will always remember him gazing fondly out the window of the first floor Dwinelle Hall classroom, confusing his entire class with a soliloquy on the Tour de Coïtus, or asking the beautiful blond coed if she was sure that "il t'a baisé... pas seulement une fois, mais deux, et devant ton père, même!"

I repost this very small essay on teaching in loving memory of Gérard Jian, who taught me to teach, and to let most transgressions go. I wonder how he would manage in a class full of angry, depressed kids, to whom French is rightfully without importance, and who use textbooks as a weapon?


After teaching at the college level for 17 years, there came a period of time where I was unable to work. It took a few years to get myself back into circulation. Still not able to handle a full time teaching post, and having moved a state away from my university home, I discovered the wacky world of public school substitute teaching. I took whatever job was available, and so taught a host of different subjects at a host of different schools.

Substitute teaching paid roughly $100/day. I didn't have a teaching certificate or any official training except for a few methodology courses back in the early 80s, which largely consisted of sitting in as an observor in Gérard Jian's Master Classes, sucking down lattes. Needless worry, as it turns out, since the minimal credential is a high school diploma or GED -- so long as I was working as a day-to-day sub. For extended jobs, usually to fill in for someone on maternity leave or in the event of serious illness, certification was preferred. They ended up giving me provisional certification.

My 17 years experience of teaching 18 to 22 year olds, all of whom chose to take my class, did little beyond give me a phenomenal preparation in my subject matter -- behavior issues? I didn't even know what "Classroom Management" was!

No problems for me -- I would just dazzle the kids with my target language only style and the many fun and painless activities in my arsenal. (Are you snickering yet?)

I was just beginning to have problems with my mobility, but was still able to hoof it, and so I could rely on public transportation. When the automated call came the night before, I would bury my nose in the various bus and metro maps to figure the most expeditious routes so as to be at the school in time to have at least a few minutes to orient myself to the who-what-and-where of a new environment. (You know, like where was detention held, which Assistant Principal had my back, where were all the Diet Cokes, and the location of the nearest School Resource Officer, avec Taser.)

I usually had to leave the house at about 5:30 am in hopes of arriving at school around 8.

Kids love to play tricks on subs, I knew that from my own experience as a student -- but I was ill-prepared for the level of sophistication that has been achieved since my matriculation. For instance, in my day, *not* being in the classroom was sort of the goal -- meaning that I would skip out, and usually go to the park across the street from my high school, where I would play tennis all day. It was like hiding in plain sight. I would cut school, pick up a few sets, and hang out until it was time for tennis team practice after school. These days, though, instead of having few students in the sub's room, there were often more bodies present than names to match them to! Apparently, students float from one room with a sub to another, and so escape the attentions of whatever administrator is trying to catch their sorry asses. I remember once taking roll, and recording perfect attendance for my class of, say, 29 students. A short while later, I would look up to find insufficient seating, and a class of 35! The theory is the same as in my time -- hiding right under the nose of authority -- but the technique? Much more refined.

There were three experiences that profoundly impacted me during that time.

The first was a simple reality check. I was offered a week's job at the roughest high school in the system. Let's call this school Frontier High. The teacher left *no* instructions and no *work* of any kind for her classes. I believe it was a history class -- I remember scrounging around, trying to duplicate enough resources to make a reasonable go of it. The school itself was situated on a huge treeless campus, that was beautifully landscaped -- except for the missing tree thing. The interior also had that "new" look, minimalist concrete that was painted institution grey on the bottom section of wall, divided by a slash of yellow at waist height, topped by streaky sections of off-white. It took a few minutes to figure out what was so unnerving in the environment: There were no doors, except for the entrances to the Office, the Media Center, and the Gymnasium. Yes, even the bathrooms were robbed of their civilizing thresholds. Apparently, bad stuff was going on behind closed doors at this "urban" school, so in an effort to address the rotten behavior, they took down every door they could. As you may have guessed, *that* was really effective! *Snark*

The bell schedule is a little different from one school to another. The first day at Frontier High, I spent a good amount of time trying to understand the considerable ebb and flow that a certain short bell cycle seemed to cause. It was easy to see that the kids weren't pulling a fast one on me -- their coming and going was unselfconscious and orderly. I was, in fact, greatly impressed by the... placidity? Yes, the placidity of the student body. It was as if everyone were floating and not grounded midst all of that concrete.

Then I saw the cooing little aliens. Turns out that Frontier High was experimenting with more than stripping away doors -- the students there were all parents, and a huge section of the school had been dedicated as a nursery and child care facility. Three times a day, the student parent went to interact with their progeny, volunteer time to the nursery/day care, or take a parenting class.

It was weird. I think I would have been excited, enthralled, perhaps, *if* the academic part of the experiment were even being half-heartedly pursued. As it was, there were no academics going on. Classes were an opportunity to kibitz and to rest, because most of these young Ozzie and Harriets worked after school, and given the realities of their lives, were severely sleep-deprived.

I made an attempt during that week to actually "do" a chapter from their history text, and it was successful to the extent that they jumped through the hoops of worksheets and group presentations. They seemed to enjoy applying their minds to something outside of the grim set of circumstances they were in.

It was about a month later that I received a phone call about another substitute job that was available at Frontier High -- yet, it was not the usual automated call. The opening was on the same campus but was considered separate from the main school -- a place called "The Academy."

These were students who had been suspended so many times at their home schools that there was nothing left in the discipline arsenal except expulsion. The Academy was trying to be a new resource, a better answer. The building that housed these kids was made of cinder block, had *plenty* of doors -- but no windows. No windows anywhere.

The gift of hindsight tells me that the most needed windows were those that typically are placed in classroom doors!

I was given Social Studies classes. Because The Academy followed a block schedule, I only had two classes that first day -- two l-o-n-g classes. The first went off without too many difficulties. They were exceptionally sullen and I did my best to liven things up. We were covering a chapter on "ancient civilisations," certainly something that they found useful at that point in their oh-so-sucky teenage lives.

Students there were not allowed to have any textbooks for take-home use -- because enrollment fluctuated from day-to-day, as some managed to place successfully back into their home school, as others managed to place themselves into less optimal situations -- jail or permanent expulsion. So I passed out and then collected the massive book being used there for social studies. It was an occasion for eager students to help out, to stand out -- there were some very nice kids caught up in this terrible situation and I made sure to note names, so that brownie points might be awarded when their teacher returned.

The second class of the day came after lunch -- which was a *silent* lunch, as no talking was allowed. There was no going outside and the whole affair was done in about 10 minutes. It was eerie.

Cinder block holds heat really well. Any breeze that might have mitigated that was impossible to harness given that we had no windows!

It was hot. Very hot.

Several girls helped me distribute the textbooks again. I made the reading and work assignments, and did what all lazy subs do -- plopped myself in a chair and sat, with great aplomb...

I really spaced out. Suddenly I was aware of a rising murmur and saw that several of the larger boys were having a verbal go at one another.

Did I mention that each classroom door was shut, and locked with a bolt?

Before I could think to get to the door, unlock it, and call for help, my students went ballistic. Someone else, it turned out, decided that near the door was the right place to be, because the next thing that happened was darkness. Complete and utter darkness. I tried to feel my way to the door, and kept one hand on the blackboard as a guide. Using my best voice, I was demanding order and calm -- thereby telegraphing through the gloom exactly where I was.

That was when the textbooks went airborne.

The corners? They really hurt, especially when they land point forward.

I am not sure how many books hit me. I made it to the door and found the light switch. Fiat Lux.
My fingers managed to throw the bolt and jerk the door open.

Somehow it seemed impossible that the world just outside that room should know nothing of what had just happened. The first person to walk by me -- I stood there, mute, with who knows what sort of look on my face -- almost did not stop. I remember seeing a polite smile start to form on his face, then crumble, as he took in my abrasions and budding bruises. At that point, I think, he pulled out his walkie-talkie and issued a call for reinforcements. All hell was breaking loose behind me -- and all bets were off for the kids who were itching to fight, because now the weight of authority was bearing down, and they knew they were in serious trouble.

I turned and went back in, trying to become what I was supposed to be.

Four large men, administrators all, demanded, and received, order. They lined the class up, and everyone fairly goosestepped out of the classroom and into what can only be described as a pit area -- a kind of carpeted theatre in the round. I went back to sitting (it had worked so well for me before!).

When my knees stopped knocking, I began trying to clean up the enormous mess of books and shredded paper -- the bulletin board had been pretty well disassembled. I lost track of time.

My darling Fred had decided to surprise me by picking me up. He was parked outside at the curb, where I guess he figured I couldn't miss seeing him. He told me later that he was astounded to see an official police paddy wagon pull up in front of him. A uniformed officer came and asked him to please find a parking spot. When he saw students being lined up -- he figured that he *really* wanted to come find me!

I knew that I did NOT want to tell Fred, or anyone, really, what had happened in that classroom, and was considering what lie to tell when I managed to get home -- and oh, was I dreading the two and a half hours that was going to take. So it was quite the shock to suddenly hear Fred's voice in the hall -- one of the V-Ps was telling him how embarrassed and upset they were that I had had a rough time. Etcetera. I turned toward the bookcases in the back of the room, still panicking (over how my face looked, primarily).

He proved to be very calm, although I know *that* calm -- and it isn't really calm! It is *controlled*. We stood together in the back of the classroom, he hugged me, and then we went to work getting the place picked up, the desks back in rows.
A student came shyly in. To be honest, I did not even remember her as being part of that second class, but she was. She offered to help us clean and straighten, and then did just that. At some point in those next few minutes, my adrenaline deserted me, and I began to cry. I didn't want to be seen and so stood, once again, facing the bookshelves, with my back to the room.

Fred took my elbow and said, "Future Retired Educator? I think she has something she wants to say to you -- why don't you turn around?" Yes, I was beginning to wish that The Fredster had stayed home!

Bless her heart. She apologized on behalf of everyone in the whole wide world. She did not want me to think badly of them, of her. I wasn't able to respond but I hope she saw how much her efforts were appreciated.

This substitute assignment was a two-day affair. As we were leaving, the principal told me that I should take the next day off, and launched into yet another apology. It was going to be necessary for me to make statements to the police and to the appropriate administrators. I was too pooped to talk or do any reportage at that precise moment and was grateful to him.

And so he was very surprised when he saw me the next morning, something of a stiff-walking swollen purple eggplant -- but ready to teach. (Cue moving music)

A year or so later, I decided to go back to full time teaching. I was hired to work at a high school that had magnet programs in International Studies and Theater -- as well as offering the International Baccalaureate. It was the perfect match for someone like me.

As it happened, the last time I worked as a substitute, it was in the same school that ended up hiring me. You, Reader, are probably nodding, glad that I managed to finally find a school that was not only normal, but slightly exceptional, as well!


That would be the day when a male student pinned a (profoundly deaf) female student against the wall, lifting her in the air by her throat. That would also be the day when Future Retired Educator paused not at all, but fairly leapt upon the guy's back, visions of homicide dancing in her head. To her credit, the girl was doing a great job of kicking him in the balls. Between the two of us, he didn't have a chance. He ended up taking off, with administrators in hot pursuit.

Was it something about *me*? I was beginning to be a fixture down at Juvenile Court. The kicker about that incident was that the girl dropped the charges at the last minute, and the school decided not to pursue it, as well. And when I ended up with several French Two classes that Fall, who should be in one of them but both combatants. Best buds.

And if you are wondering what a profoundly deaf student was doing in a French class, you are not alone. I failed her three semesters in a row before someone finally pulled her out of foreign languages.

[originally posted 7/2009]


je chuchote... veux pas que l'Ancienne Prof Ancienne m'entende! j'en ai par dessus la tête -- de tout ce bavardage de berkeleyberkeleythebiggamethebiggame -- comme on dit en france: bleck!

moi? i prefer the cats, the cats that sit as do the human man in the barking-lounger!

ay! elle vient! alors, soyez sages, mes chers! -- La Castafiore

Re-post in honor of tomorrow's Big Game: The Berkeley Campanile

I've been gazing at this lovely photo for a good quarter-hour. From the right window of the International House, where I lived for a year before shacking up with The Great American Writer, this was the view. Well, okay, sure, you might have to wait for the perfect silver-wash effect and the absence of fog.

And you'd either want to be alone at your window, or -- perhaps -- at most -- you'd want the person you loved most in the world at your side.

Three years later, I'd left The Great American Writer and moved into a room, yes, a room of my own, up on Kentucky Avenue, in the Berkeley Hills. If you shift the point-of-view in this photo -- over to the right, on the other side of the pier -- then you, too, could curl up in your rocking chair and gaze at five counties, letting the Cantilène de sainte Eulalie fall to the old linoleum floor.

1. Buona pulcelle fut Eulalia ;
2. Bel avret corps, bellezour anima.
3. Voldrent la veintre li Deo inimi ;
4. Voldrent la faire diavle servir.
5. Elle non eskoltet les mals conselliers,
6. qu'elle Deo raniet chi maent sus en ciel.
7. Ne por or ned argent ne paramenz,
8. Por manatce, regiel, ne preiement,
9. Neule cose non la povret omque pleier
10. La polle sempre non amast lo Deo menestier ;
11. Et por o fut presentede Maximiien,
12. Chi rex eret a cels dis sovre pagiens .
13. El li enortet, dont lei nonq chielt,
14. Qued elle fuiet lo nom chritiien.
15.Ell' ent adunet lo suon element.
16. Melz sostiendreiet les empedemetz
17. Qu'elle perdese sa virginitet.
18. Por o s'furet morte a grand honestet.
19. Enz en l'fou la getterent, com arde tost.
20. Elle colpes non avret, por o no s'coist.
21. Aczo no s'voldret condreidre li rex pagiens ;
22. Ad une spede li roveret tolir lo chief.
23. La domnizelle celle kose non contredist,
24. Volt lo seule lazsier, si ruovet Krist.
25. In figure de colomb volat a ciel.
26. Tuit oram que por nos degnet preier,
27. Qued avuiset de nos Christus mercit
28. Post la mort, et a lui nos laist venir
29. Par souue clementia.

TRADUCTION (d'après L. Petit de Julleville)
1. Eulalie était une bonne jeune fille ;
2. Son corps était beau, son âme plus belle encore.
3. Les ennemis de Dieu voulurent la vaincre,
4. Et lui faire servir le Diable.
5. [Mais] elle n'écoutait pas les mauvais conseillers
6. [Qui voulaient] qu'elle renie Dieu qui demeure au ciel.
7. Ni pour de l'or, ni pour de l'argent ou des parures,
8. Ni pour des menaces, des caresses ou des prières,
9. Nulle chose ne pouvait forcer (plier)
10. La fille à toujours n'aimer le service de Dieu.
11. Et pour cela, elle fut présentée à Maximien,
12. Qui était en ces jours-là le roi des païens,
13. Il l'exhorte, sans qu'elle y prête attention
14. [à ce] Qu'elle fuie le nom chrétien.
15. Elle en rassemble ses forces.
16. Mieux [valût ?] qu'elle soutînt les tortures,
17. Qu'elle ne perdît sa virginité.
18. Pour cela elle mourrait en grand honneur.
19. Ils la jetèrent dans le feu pour qu'elle y brûle.
20. Elle était sans pêché et pour cela ne brûla pas.
21. À cela, le roi païen ne voulut croire,
22. Avec une épée, il ordonna de lui trancher la tête.
23. La demoiselle ne contredit pas cela,
24. Et accepta de quitter ce monde, si le Christ l'ordonnait.
25. Sous la forme d'une colombe, elle monta au ciel.
26. Tous prions que pour nous [elle ?] daigne prier,
27. Que le Christ nous ait en sa pitié,
28. Après la mort, et qu'à lui il nous laisse venir
29. Par sa clémence.

My office was next to the library, next to the campanile. Good weather and good times dictated that I not be there too often, or for too long. I'd duck in, though, when I wanted to be alone to prepare for one of my own seminars -- and because I thought of Ste Eulalie, I thought of Suzanne Fleischman. (Sometimes, truth be told, I held pre-class vigil at the Bear's Lair, with a beer. They keep 40 beers on tap...)

Suzanne died of leukemia in 2000.

She liked me exactly to the extent that I liked the work she assigned. More precisely, to the extent that I completed the work assigned. It's a weird and not-good feeling to be the only person in a class who has come prepared. It happened in her class out in Berkeley and it happened in Tetel's class, and Thomas' as well, at The Gothic Wonderland -- each an advanced seminar full of post-graduates. You'd think such folk would understand the value of hard work but you'd be wrong. Also wrong? My sweeping generalisation! Still, having seen it up close and personal, and in three different instances? I'm inclined to be suspicious.

Suzanne was a linguist, a philologist. A person who grew excited over the French suffix -age! Really, though, she could bring what most would consider Total Dullsville alive. She was able to tease out cultural and political influences behind the most benign of topics. And she was an absolute stickler when it came to (annotated) translation.

I am weird. I love patterns, I love knowing why patterns break. I love the overarching rules that shrink our human whims down to size. Grammaticalization.

I wonder sometimes if I ought not be considered autistic. I'd have been happy to spend eternity with lots of clean notebook paper, sharp pencils, and an algebra book.

She was pretty. She liked bright colors. And hats. She was precise in her erudition. One of her last works? “I am…, I have…, I suffer from…: A Linguist Reflects on the Language of Illness and Disease,” in the Journal of Medical Humanities and Cultural Studies. She was quite the smartass!

What else rises at the sight of the clock tower? It was my most basic point of orientation, no matter where (or how) I was. The day I sat in the rain outside the library, at the base of the campanile -- having just discovered how cutthroat academics could be. Readings that had been put on reserve had been cut from their bindings. A librarian showed me how to search for items that were intentionally misplaced by frisking the top shelves, by checking the carts. You'd need to take sabbatical and get a degree in forensic science just to avail yourself of the reserve readings on hold for the French Department.

It was where I sometimes met up with The Great American Writer, who would go on to break my heart.

Just kidding!

In the area between the campanile and the direct trek to the International House, in that walk, one meets many visual artists. I don't know why. Maybe studio space? Yes. I think so. Studios nearby. Stones with moss.

I once had a long conversation with a woman who also lived at the I-House, was also in the French Dept., who was leaving the university to study wicca. She wanted me "to explain" it to the others. I remember staring at mossy rocks while she poured out her heart. I remember glancing up, the clock tower a reassurance. I remember wishing she would just shut up.

She had wild, curly, red hair, and offered to channel spirits, to read my aura.

All around the shade and mossy rocks, the air was cool and quenched my thirst.

I remember the day of one of NASA's worst disasters. Looking at that morning's blue, blue sky as if it might reveal its reasons.

From my rented room up on Kentucky Avenue, where I could rock 'n read in front of 5 luminous counties, I walked the winding road down to campus, down to its' theolological side, down Holy Hill, a wonderful way to pray. There I wasted a coffee in a very quiet café, and followed an imaginary piece of string across campus to the campanile, walked down beside the library, hung a left, then a right into Dwinelle, left, left, and began to teach.

RE-POST in honor of THE BIG GAME 2009: in more better real time!

{originally posted during WIMBLEDON, 2009}

10:36-ish am. Federer comes from behind to take the second set -- winning 6 straight points. Roddick clearly choked and gifted him with at least 3 of those points. Grrr. Still, Andy is playing some of the best tennis of his life.

If Federer is true to form, he will now raise the level of play to a height unavailable to the rest of us mortals.

Or not.

Have I ever explained the Brother-Unit Grader Boob's theory that I am one of those mythical creatures now known as a jinx, and therefore should not be allowed physical occupancy in the room where the match/game in question is being televised? The theory involves Malted Milk Balls, the Duke Blue Devils, the Davidson Wildcats, even the Stanford marching band...

The Play refers to a last-second kickoff return during a college football game between the University of California Golden Bears and the Stanford University Cardinal on November 20, 1982. Given the circumstances and rivalry, the wild game that preceded it, the very unusual way in which The Play unfolded, and its lingering aftermath on players and fans, it is recognized as a highly memorable play in college football history and among the most memorable in American sports.

After Stanford had taken a 20-19 lead on a field goal with four seconds left in the game, the Golden Bears used five lateral passes on the ensuing kickoff return to score the winning touchdown and earn a 25-20 victory. Members of the Stanford Band had come onto the field midway through the return, believing that the game was over, which added to the ensuing confusion and folklore. There remains disagreement over the legality of two of the laterals, adding to the passion surrounding the traditional rivalry of the annual "Big Game."

If you've never seen it, you really should. It was hilarious.

Etymology of jinx:
[Q] From Mark Raymond in Australia: What are the origins of the word jinx? It seems such a strange word.

[A] It does look odd, and its origin is in dispute. Explaining why is going to need a moment, since along the way we must take in the Ancient Greeks, the study of birds, witchcraft, nineteenth century vaudeville and the history of baseball.

First, the firm facts. The word jinx, in the sense of a thing or person that brings bad luck, is first recorded as sports slang from the US in the early years of the twentieth century. Most of the early American citations relate to baseball — for example, The Jinx: Stories of the Diamond by Allen Sangree of 1910 and Christy Mathewson’s Pitching at a Pinch of 1912, in which he says: “A jinx is something which brings bad luck to a ball player”. From there it spread out into standard American English and later to other varieties of the language.

Most dictionaries say with varying degrees of conviction that the word derives from the classical Greek word iunx for the bird that we in Britain call the wryneck. It’s a member of the woodpecker family, a species that breeds across Europe and Asia. It has a strange habit of twisting its neck right round when it’s alarmed or when it’s watchfully at rest, hence its English name; it has an odd courtship ritual, in which the male and female perch opposite one another, shaking their heads about, and gaping their mouths to show the pink inside. Such curious behaviour made people think the wryneck was uncanny, and from the time of the Greeks there were superstitions attached to it, with links to witchcraft, divination and magic. Its Greek name passed into Latin and then into English, either as yunx or jynx. So it’s not surprising that dictionary writers often suggest that jinx comes from this bird of superstition.

But there are two big holes in this theory: the wryneck is not a North American bird and the word jynx for it was always a scholarly and uncommon one even in British English. Appropriate though it was, it would be surprising to learn that American sportsmen seized upon it.

Another theory has been put forward by Barry Popik of the American Dialect Society, an indefatigable researcher into the history of the American language, especially of sporting vocabulary. He suggested that it comes instead from a song, Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines. Following his tip, I delved into its history.

It was a famous vaudeville song, written and sung by William Lingard and first published in 1868. Captain Jinks was an unsuccessful soldier, who was eventually drummed out of the Army. The key verse is this:

The first day I went out to drill
The bugle sound made me quite ill,
At the Balance step my hat it fell,
And that wouldn't do for the Army.
The officers they all did shout,
They all cried out, they all did shout,
The officers they all did shout,
“Oh, that's the curse of the Army”.

This became all the rage, almost immediately spawning another song by Will Hays about the captain’s supposed wife: Mistress Jinks of Madison Square. It grew to be a well-liked square dance tune, and a popular song of soldiers in the American Army in the decades after 1870. In 1901, the young Ethel Barrymore starred at the Garrick Theatre in New York in Clyde Fitch’s melodrama of the 1870s which he called Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines; in 1902 Ernest Crosby, a friend of Mark Twain, wrote a satirical anti-imperialist novel about the Spanish-American War with the title Captain Jinks, Hero.

So, even thirty years after the song originally appeared, it was still sufficiently well known that a playwright and author of the early 1900s could separately refer to it in titles in the expectation that their audiences would understand them. And these works appeared only three or four years before the first recorded use of the word in its sense of curse. To support his theory, Barry Popik has found that many of the early sporting references spell the word jinks.

Despite the authority of the ranks of dictionaries glowering at me from my shelves, I must say Mr Popik’s theory is persuasive. What’s missing, of course, is direct evidence that Captain Jinks, that curse of the army, was the inspiration for the term, or how it came to appear first in sports slang. That we may never discover.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Top 100 quotes from "The Wire"

Posted by hh1edits on YT:

"A selection of the top 100 quotes from The Wire, the greatest TV show ever made. First featured on Contains spoilers from all 5 seasons!

Featuring Omar, Bubbles, Bunk, McNulty, Rawls, Stringer, Avon, Snoop, Marlo, Cheese, Prop Joe, Clay Davis and many many more!

I don't own any of the footage presented here, this video was made merely to pay homage to the Wire and David Simon and not for any profit or commercial reasons."

Monday, November 16, 2009

La faim ne justifie pas les moyens

Le « directoire du monde » avait la tête ailleurs. Lors de l’ouverture, hier à Rome, du sommet mondial sur la sécurité alimentaire organisé par la FAO*, il n’y avait aucun chef d’État et de gouvernement du G8, à une exception près : Silvio Berlusconi, premier ministre du pays abritant le siège de l’Organisation des Nations unies pour l’alimentation et l’agriculture. Hélas, Barack Obama, Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy n’étaient pas là. Cette absence pourrait se comprendre, à la rigueur, si la situation s’améliorait sur le front de la sécurité alimentaire. Or, depuis deux ans, le nombre de personnes souffrant de la faim est passé de 850 millions à plus d’un milliard. La Croix

*FAO = Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

merci à Jean-François Mabuse, tiré de son blog Tes reins et terroirs