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Monday, January 23, 2017

Leave it!!!

The ancient Greeks used a phrase, "This one having said, he said," is a literal translation of the Greek words.  In English, of course, such a word-for-word translation would be ludicrous to make.  English speakers don't speak this way.  If someone said something once, then says the same thing again, a translator surely would render the words said again, repeated, or reiterated.  He reiterated would be a sound translation of the Greek phrase because that is something English speakers would actually say or write.

How education is accomplished in this country troubles me a lot.  It seems to me that education of this country's children is a little like translating a Greek phrase word for word instead of trying to render a Greek phrase into a usable equivalent in English.  Yes, education has been around for a really, really long time in the world.  But, Plato and Edward DeVere/Shakespeare received really different types of education.  That's because they were educated about 2000 years apart.  One would hope the two were educated differently since they lived in vastly different time periods.

If I think back to the times of education around 1950-1975, I think of an education without computers, without cell phones, without Skype, without internet in a car that students drove to school.  I think of a time when students were expected to get jobs after school or do homework until supper time or later.  I think of a time when music came from AM radio and juke boxes.  In order to communicate to an outside source from one's own car, a person had to have a CB radio.  That's right.  The world was vastly different.

And yet, the schools today still educate as if they were in the same world.  When was the last time you saw a student using Skype to speak with someone else in another city or country for an assignment - right, you haven't.  When was the last time you saw a student use graphic information when telling a teacher how to solve a math problem - right, you haven't.  When was the last time a student was able to use a 3D printer to copy something for a project to work on - right, you haven't.  When was the last time you saw someone using his or her cell phone to make a YouTube presentation for the homework assigned - right, you haven't.  When was the last time you saw a classroom in which students used software from which to learn or compute from - right, you haven't.  When was the last time you saw video blog responses as a means of learning from others - right you haven't.  And when was the last time you saw someone experimenting with the next form of learning in today's classroom, the holographic platform - right, you haven't.

Plato is dead; DeVere is dead.  They left their marks to be sure, but the world has traveled 500 more times around the sun since DeVere.  And, it has traveled 50 more times around since last century's heydays of education.  Education today should not be just a little different.  It should be a quantum leap different from anything from the last half of the 1900s.  Methods should be a far cry different for sure!  Reporting and measuring those methods should reflect the complete difference from anything the late 1900s used as well.  Anything less than a complete departure from days gone by frauds students and families and keeps them from living a fruitful, qualitative life.

Let's leave the word-for-word translation business of education from the last century.  Let's translate education into the usable world of the present, something a quantum leap different from what has been!!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Having an understanding

When people pronounce words, they are pretty unaware of the sounds they are producing.  I walked into a class not long ago where the students had just learned the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).  In the IPA, each sound has a separate symbol, so it is much easier to isolate sounds than using the English alphabet which duplicates sounds for letters.  They were practicing words like pen and pin, then and than, where the spelling is different, having fun discovering how they really pronounced the words.  People think they are pronouncing the words differently when in reality, their dialects produce them in exactly the same way, sounding the same.  In speech usage, context determines which word is meant, not pronunciation, since they are pronounced the same.  Din and den is another pair among the many that could be cited here.

It's not true just in English either.  I have heard many a Spanish speaking person say Spanish pronunciation is easier than English pronunciation because each vowel only has one sound.  Of course, that is not true, just a perception or a learned precept.  Para, for example, has only one sound in some dialects, but has two in much of the regional Spanish in Texas.  The second a has a schwa sound rather than the mid-vowel pronunciation of the first vowel.  The word jabon, too, contains a dialect variant for the first sound of the word.  Some speakers pronounce it like an h in English while others pronounce like the Greek letter chi, the overly aspirated, non-plosive guttural consonant akin to k in English.

As it pertains to values and notions, I find that many people are unaware of their world view in comparison to those around them.  Perception and masks (like regional dialects) exist in various areas of life, affecting our world views, and people are blind to them.  One of the real trademarks of an education is being able to see something through more than one filter or mask.  That helps in establishing views and values that allow for more than one perception.  It prevents being notional about matters.  It allows for tolerance among friends and acquaintances.  It also helps us to choose sounder ideas about our own views from the different views that exist.  Understanding is a good medicine for many situations.  Awareness of why differences exist is the interim step to having an understanding.

Monday, January 09, 2017

At the end of twists and turns

Some people have made comments about the recent show Arrival.  In particular, I remember the comments they made about the language aspect portrayed in the movie.  The movie was very short on particulars, but it must have been enough to gain the respect of the public.

As I look at the first contact idea of sharing a language with another human species, I don't really have a cohesive theory about it.  However, I have given some thought about it since I heard a documentary about a man who claims to have heard an alien language and duplicated it for the television show.  It was a series of clicks, spaced like Morse Code dots and dashes.

In Arrival the language was communicated in written form, circles to be exact.  The circles have flame-like portions placed in different positions around the circle, and the flame-like designations seemed to be logographic or hieroglyphic in nature.  Of course, it was an invented language, but a cleverly conceived one.  The linguist in the movie, played by Amy Adams, was able to retrieve whole ideas from her "translations" of a number of different occurrences of the circles.

I am really thinking that any first contact we might have will exhibit the advancement of communication since an intelligence that could find us on Earth could dispense with something primitive like writing.  Even in our own culture, writing is taking a greatly diminished role from what it has been in the past.  So telepathy will probably occur because telepathy deals with thought patterns, and an advanced intelligence could communicate with the same thought patterns, especially if their culture had gone through similar phases of communication like Earth humans have passed through.

It's an intriguing study.  I would love to be on the communication team that has first contact with another intelligent species.  It would be challenging in many ways and pioneering to say the least, not knowing what to expect next.  At the moment I am pleased to just figure out how life is going to treat me next.  It is so filled with twists, turns and curves of all kinds that it poses challenges enough for me to figure out.  If trying to figure out the various relationships that occur is anything like figuring out another species' way of communicating, then I will happen on its many facets and be dismayed, fascinated, and elated, all in turn.

That's why it is called a journey.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Arrival as predicted... It's 2017

This is the year - 2017!  The end of the 10-year war for dominance of technology.

In the year 2000, a colleague of mine and I began planning a book to write on the loss of reading and writing over the first quarter century of the second millennium.  As we progressed, we realized that it could even happen before 2025.  Unfortunately, my colleague moved away and we abandoned our project.  However, I decided to continue in one form or another working on the idea.

At first, I outlined chapters for a book.  I found I didn't really have time for such a venture, so I put it aside for a while.  Also, life took some sharp turns in my life as well which included the death of my son after a prolonged bout with cancer.  Other almost equally severe events happened, but in the year 2007, I was able to focus again on the issue of reading and writing disappearing.  After spending time in a more than a few conversations, it became apparent that two camps existed, those who believed as I did, and those who believed I was a lunatic for even thinking that writing or reading was on its way out.  Even most of those who agreed that it would disappear thought I was a bit too quick on the draw with my date of 2025.

Out of these conversations, I wanted to chart, and thereby "prove," unscientifically, that the end was imminent and would arrive quicker than people thought.  I decided to take to the blog as my format for charting this evolution.

I want to refer to my first blog on the subject dated 2/10/08 and entitled Year 2 - and you probably missed year 1.  The blog sets out the thesis and says that a 10-year war from 2007-2017 has started for the dominance of how everything will be communicated after that point.  

For a second look at that blog, click on the year 2008 on the right margin opposite this blog and scroll to the blog for February 10th. (Entries are in reverse chronological order).

Holographic design and transmission was predicted as the catalyst and replacement for reading and writing.  In the year 2017, that prediction is fully on target and will prove to be the leading discovery to wean society from its dependence on the written word.  

Pure Genius is merely the beginning of all that will become available by the year 2025.  This year the first blog of each month, the charting will begin for the demise of the written word and the leap into the next phase of communication and the different areas that will be affected most by this evolution.

To continue the dinosaur analogy that I have followed all through the years with this blog, the asteroid has hit the Earth.  The dinosaurs closest to the blast have already died.  Shockwaves and subsequent incendiary flying debris are about to take the second round of victims.  It's time to get on board with the quantum leap that will begin in earnest by 2025.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The speck in your own eye

I see a certain arrogance from time to time from people who consider themselves better than most in the use of grammar, spelling, and punctuation.  These people usually memorize rules governing the three areas and then expect all people everywhere to do the same.  At least one website is dedicated to these rules so people can memorize them.  And, those who memorize the rules condescend or browbeat others who choose not to.  It's and its are the two spellings that I encounter the most as being misspelled, but according to a list put out by, the words your and you're are misspelled more often.  Ever feel judged for using it's in place of its or your in place of you're?

When I was twenty-something, I played this arrogance game with language rules when it came to holding others to the notion of standard English, but then I found that people could challenge my own notions of language that I had no answer to.  So, I quit playing language games with others.  Making people feel inferior is far from the acceptance I desire to have for others.  Far beyond the games people play with spelling and punctuation, some syntactic constructions defy memorization and require a deeper knowledge of when something appears in language, and I was unprepared for that requirement.  Who was I to hold someone accountable when I couldn't do the same in the same language game just a different area?

Why would someone say, for instance, We were given tickets for the concert, rather than (Name of party) gave me the tickets for the concert?  I didn't know at that time.  Or, why would someone who had influence on teachers of English in schools want to perpetuate the idea that action verbs, such as A key lay on the table, make a "stronger" sentence construction than a verb form of BE with a "dummy" subject, like There was a key on the table?  I didn't know at the time how to discount this self glorified "writing guru's" arrogance.  Is there a definition for "strength" in sentence construction?  Does a graduated continuum exist for a "weak to strong" verb or sentence construction?  I understand "style" and "sentence variation," but "strength?" Never. Strength is a nebulous, immeasurable term in syntax.

Then there's my favorite, the "phrasal verb."  Coined by Quaker religious essayist Logan Smith in 1925, the term didn't catch on with linguists after Chomsky in the 1950s.  Grammarians who taught ESL used a variation of the phrase beginning in the 1960s, but the base term fell into disfavor because of its ambiguity.  However, some teachers of foreign languages still like to use this old term in verb phrases such as If you will put out the money for the venture, I will run the operation.  Not many people feel the need to analyze the phrase put out because of its complexity.  They just use it, as did I when I was twenty-something and arrogant.

Working with ideas in syntax and semantics, discourse and conversation analysis, and phonology have changed every smidgen of arrogance away from memorizing a few rules.  Memorizing rules is really, really easy comparatively.  Imposing a few rules on others who can outstrip my knowledge in many other areas of life, like writing software programs, negotiating business deals, and making money in the stock market seems ludicrous.  What is the real point to an education?  To make it work for you in your endeavors in life, or show how you memorized something important to yourself and not to most other people?

English grammarians need to get over feeling smug and superior for learning well one tiny speck of knowledge in the much more encompassing field of language use.  Someone might ask them to explain the literary term synecdoche or the phonological principle of obligatory countour principle someday and their arrogance will disappear with the embarrassment they should feel for only knowing one small corner of rules in a very broad, well established academic domain.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Caught in the middle

Last Friday I lived in a time warp.  I was alive, of course, in the present.  But, I went in the early afternoon to the show "Passengers."  It was a well done, well written movie, redeeming hope in people.  The whole movie was set in the future and both settings and characters' actions were appropriate for future happenings.  For 2 hours I soaked in the time many years beyond my present.

In the early evening, I sat down to watch another movie on television from 19 years ago, "Seven Years in Tibet."  It was set in the three-year period 1947-1950.  All the action and other props corresponded to that time period.  People wrote in longhand, for instance, in leather-bound journals.  Clothes were not made from lighter fabrics, but coarser, heavier ones.  Although motorized vehicles were present in the world, the setting of Tibet showed a world of walking everywhere across harsh terrain, giving a sense of 100 years earlier in time.

The day marked, I think, the microcosm of the brain.  We have hopes and dreams, so some of our actions are ones that are carried out in hopes of future outcomes and what they will yield for us.  We also realize we are trapped in the present moment.  We get to the future by steps, but the future is really just imagination and desire.  And then there's the memory track we reflect on from time to time.  It helps us see retroactively with 20/20 vision, or at least vision with more perspicuity.

Closing out the year, I hope for a clear and plausible glimpse of the future with the right steps in line to achieve it, satisfying moments of the present, and a lucid interpretation of past events with full enjoyment of the sacred moments that flash across our minds from time to time.

Friday, December 23, 2016


On June 29, 2007, the world was transformed.  Onto a stage in California Steve Jobs walked out to introduce the world to a way to communicate not only with people, telephone-style, but with websites all over the planet.  Also a person could choose from an array of games to play.  A person would no longer have to use separate devices to talk, listen to music, or surf the net.

On July 15th, 2008, the iphone was discontinued.  But, the iphone had not failed.  The second edition of the phone was put out.  Thus, was born a transformative way of talking, using the web, playing games, taking pictures, listening to songs, and much, much more.  Apps began with about 25,000 to use, but soon proliferated.  At present, who could really live a quality life without a "smart" phone as they are now called.

It's time again.  It won't be Steve Jobs walking out on a stage, but someone with just as much drive and vision.  It won't be a development of a device to integrate tools, but something much more powerful and forward thinking.  The world of the hololens was introduced in March of 2015.  Its applications are only now being explored.  The one above is for education.  NASA already uses it in exploring and understanding Mars virtually.  Applications exist for taking virtual, holographic expeditions in Macchu Picchu, and the Roman Colliseum.  Archaeology and history have truly come alive, not in name only.  These applications will proliferate until babies born in this year will grow up knowing two worlds - virtual and real.  They will be seamless.  One will travel between the two without thinking twice about it.  They will enter one, leaving the other, as easily as a person taps on an app today to leave the real world for a moment with a screen.

I hope to live to see it.  It will be so exciting!  I am ready to be transformed.