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Title: Blog by Novelist William S. Frankl, MD

The Conquest of Britain and the English Language

September 29th, 2017

Once more, my friend Dan Garshman, tells me that on September 23 in 1066 A.D., William the Conqueror of Normandy arrived on British soil . He defeated the British in the Battle of Hastings, and on Christmas Day he was crowned King of England in Westminster Abby. What nobody knew at the time was how much this would affect the English language. The British back then were speaking a combination of Saxon and Old Norse. The Normans spoke French. Over time, the languages blended, and as a result English became a language incredibly rich in synonyms. Because the French speakers were aristocrats, the French words often became the fancy words for things. The Normans gave us “mansion”; the Saxons gave us “house.” The Normans gave us “beef”; the Saxons gave us, “cow.”

The English language has gone on accepting additions to its vocabulary ever since, and it now contains more than a million words, making it one of the most diverse languages on Earth. Writers have been arguing for hundreds of years about whether this is a good thing.

The critic Cyril Connolly wrote, “The English language is like a broad river … being polluted by a string of refuse-barges tipping out their muck.” But Walt Whitman said, “The English language is the accretion and growth of every dialect, race, and range of time, and is both the free and compacted composition of all.” And the poet Derek Walcott said, “The English language is nobody’s special property. It is the property of the imagination: it is the property of the language itself.”

Confucius

September 28th, 2017

Confucius

And finally, today, September 28, is the birthday of the teacher, philosopher, and political theorist popularly known as Confucius, born near what is now Qufu, in Shandong Province, China, in 551 BCE.

Not a lot is known about Confucius’s childhood. He was probably a member of an aristocratic family that had lost its wealth, because he was born in poverty. His father died when Confucius was three years old, and his mother took charge of his education. The boy had a real thirst for knowledge, and asked many questions wherever he went. He took some minor government jobs when he was a teenager, but also made an effort to seek out knowledgeable masters to instruct him in the six arts: ritual, music, archery, chariot driving, calligraphy, and arithmetic. He began to turn his thoughts to practical questions of morality and ethics.

As a young man, he traveled widely throughout China, meeting with leaders of the various provinces and trying to impress upon them the importance of self-discipline and virtue. He didn’t approve of what he saw as the moral decline of China after years of political unrest. He also believed that there was a connection between the personal and the universal, and that poor political decisions could lead to natural disasters like floods. At one point in his travels, he was imprisoned for five days due to a case of mistaken identity. He didn’t let it ruffle his feathers, though, and reportedly sat calmly playing his lute while the muddle was sorted out.

In his 30s, he returned home and started a school that was open to rich and poor alike. Teaching was a way of life to him, not just a career. His teaching philosophy was revolutionary: rather than simply training apprentices in particular skills, education could and should be used for the welfare and improvement of society. He felt obligated to bring back an emphasis on humility, compassion, and tradition, to encourage people to exercise self-discipline, and to always act on the principle of “ren,” or “loving others.” “What you do not wish for yourself,” he wrote, “do not do to others.” He hoped that his students would carry these principles with them into positions with the government, and thereby form a generation of leaders who would set a virtuous example for the people of China. He also began to write, including two books of poetry — the Book of Odes and the Book of Documents. None of his books contained his philosophy, however; what we know about Confucianism today is what was passed down to his many students.

Confucius died in 479 BCE, but his stature continued to grow after his death. By the second century BCE, Confucianism formed the basis for China’s state ideology, and he is considered one of the most influential minds in Chinese history. His birthday is an official holiday in Taiwan, where it is celebrated as Teachers’ Day. His writings were first translated into English by James Legge in 1867, and a more readable translation was published by Oxford University in 1907.

Confucius wrote: “There are three things which the wise man holds in reverence: the Will of Heaven, those in authority, and the words of the sages. The fool knows not the Will of Heaven and holds it not in reverence: he is disrespectful to those in authority; he ridicules the words of the sages.”

And: “He who does not understand the Will of God can never be a man of the higher type. He who does not understand the inner law of self-control can never stand firm. He who does not understand the force of words can never know his fellow-men.”

“When two people
understand each other
in their innermost hearts
their words are sweet,
like the fragrance
of orchids”
––– Confucius

Euripides

September 28th, 2017

And now from ridiculous to sublime –––– acknowlegment of the birthday of a most important literary master.

Euripides

September 23 is the day Greece celebrates the birthday of the Athenian tragic poet, Euripides  (480 BC), best known for his plays Medea, The Bacchae, and Iphigenia at Aulis .

The story goes that he was born on the same day as the battle of Salamis in 480 BC, but this detail was probably invented after his death to align him with the Athenian identity. Along with Aeschylus and Sophocles, Euripides is one of the few Greek playwrights who had a lot of his work survive through the ages.
He paid special attention to the downtrodden in society, particularly women and slaves, at a time when other playwrights focused on more powerful, triumphant characters.

Euripides was one of the first writers to portray mythical heroes like regular people; even when they were arguing with gods, their struggles were human struggles and they had the same emotional conflicts as everyone else. His dialogue was less structured and closer to regular speech. This decision to make dialogue less like poetry was the first in a long line of innovations that made theater more realistic.

His work can be hard to pin down, and critics make a lot of contradicting claims about him. The literary critic Bernard Knox wrote: “He has been described as ‘the poet of the Greek enlightenment’ and also as ‘Euripides the irrationalist.’ He has been seen as a profound explorer of human psychology and also a rhetorical poet who subordinated consistency of character to verbal effect; as a misogynist and a feminist; as a realist who brought tragic action down to the level of everyday life, and as a romantic poet who chose unusual myths and exotic settings. He has been recognized as the precursor of New Comedy and also what Aristotle called him: ‘the most tragic of poets.’ […] And not one of these descriptions is entirely false.”

Euripides was exiled from Greece toward the end of his life because of his association with Socrates, who was executed for refusing to recognize the Greek gods. He defined his art form this way: “Tragedy isn’t getting something or failing to get it, it’s losing something you already have.”

The “NFL Follies.”

September 28th, 2017

Now we can turn from the “Congressional Follies” to the “NFL Follies.”

“Roger Goodell Ignoring League’s Rules in Letting Players Protest Anthem.”
Grabien News
September 23,2017

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is such a stickler for adhering to the intricacies of the NFL’s league rule book that he infamously waged a years-long, multi million-dollar battle with the New England Patriots trying to prove that balls used in the 2014 AFC championship between the Pats and the Indianapolis Colts were under-inflated.

After a federal vacated Goodell’s four-game suspension of Tom Brady, Goodell appealed to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; by 2016, the Pats appeared to lose their will to keep fighting the case and eventually accepted the penalty (Brady’s four game suspension, $1 million fine, and the loss of two draft picks).

Yet the NFL commissioner, notorious for his unusually massive compensation package — rumored to be north of $40 million/year, making his total compensation of $156 million higher than Tom Brady’s — is taking a decidedly less fastidious approach to the rules governing the national anthem at NFL games.

The NFL rule book specifically requires both teams appear on the field for the playing of the anthem, standing, remaining quiet, and holding their helmets in their left hands. Failure to do so can result in fines, suspensions, and the loss of draft picks.

The rules are found on pages A62-63 of the league’s game operations manual:

The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem.

During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.

On Sunday, almost a hundred players took a knee during the national anthem. The Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Beats, Seattle Seahawks, and Tennessee Titans all opted against even coming out on the field for the anthem.

But rather than warn these players and team they’re violating league rules, Goodell is focusing his anger at President Trump, who said in a speech Friday that the NFL team owners should require their players to stand during the anthem.

“The way we reacted today, and this weekend, made me proud,” Goodell said. “I’m proud of our league.”

On Saturday, Goodell responded directly to Trump, accusing the president of disrespecting the league, which asipires to “create a sense of unity in our country and our culture”:

The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month. Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.

We’ve reached out to the NFL, asking if any of the players or teams that skipped the national anthem will face discipline; we’ll update this report with their comments.

Goodell hasn’t always been so supportive of his players engaging in free speech on the field.

Last year the NFL barred the Dallas Cowboys from wearing a decal on their helmet honoring the five police officers killed in a domestic terror attack.

The NFL also banned the Tennessee Titan’s linebacker, Avery Williamson, from honoring 9/11 victims by wearing cleats that read “9-11/01″ and “Never Forget” on the 15th anniversary of the terror attack.

The NFL fined Robert Griffin III $10,000 for wearing a t-shirt during a press conference that said “Operation Patience.” (The shirt was created by Reebok and players are required to only wear clothing sold by Nike.)

RGIII also ran into trouble with the league for wearing a shirt that said “Know Jesus, Know Peace.”

The NFL has banned players from wearing Beats headphones on the field (doing so violated the league’s deal with Bose).

The Steelers’ William Gay was fined for wearing purple cleats, which he did to raise awareness for domestic violence (an issue Goodell claims the league takes seriously).

Goodell’s opposition to speech he dislikes is so determined that he even has a Patriots fan who flipped him off fired from his job.

Snopes.com claims that this rule does not, in fact, exist. The article cites the rule quoted above and reports “No such wording appears in the 2017 version of the Official Playing Rules of the National Football League.”

Yet the NFL’s Game Operations Manual — the 200-plus book the league refers to as its “bible” — is different than its rulebook. It is not available to the public. The rule cited above comes from the league itself, via the Washington Post.

The Post reported Sunday that the NFL confirmed the rule’s existence but emphasized their ability to enforce it selectively:

Under the league rule, the failure to be on the field for the anthem may result in discipline such as a fine, suspension or loss of a draft pick. But a league official said the key phrase is “may” result, adding he won’t speculate on whether the Steelers would be disciplined.

The specific rule pertaining to the national anthem is found on pages A62-63 of the league’s game operations manual, according to a league source.

After Grabien contacted Snopes.com, bringing the above facts to their attention, the author amended his article, confirming the existence of the above-state rule, and changed their description of this story from “false” to “mixture.”

The DACA Conundrum

September 28th, 2017
  • Well, here we go again. Another fight between conservatives and liberals, another impossible mess that Obama left for Trump and Reublicans( confused , disorganized and splintered as usual). So, the “Congressional Follies” will proceed as promised. A quite complete overview of the mayhem to come was provided by The Washington Examiner in its OP ED section on September 22, 2017:

Build a Wall Around DACA
Washington Examiner
September 22, 2017
President Trump will soon learn what it means to cut a deal with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Democrats will not be satisfied with amnesty for the 800,000 immigrants who entered illegally as children. They will push to expand amnesty, bit by bit, to cover nearly all 11 million illegal immigrants in America. Trump will find that his deal to codify DACA won’t earn him lasting love from Democrats and immigration activists, but merely spur demands that he go further, and stoke outraged attacks if he doesn’t.

DACA carries the seeds of its own expansion.

To prevent this, Trump and congressional Republicans should hold fast and make sure the bill is coupled not only with tougher immigration enforcement but also with root and branch reform of policies on green cards and visas.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., has co-sponsored the RAISE Act with Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue. Cotton and Perdue are right that the current green-card policy must go, especially after DACA. This is because siblings and parents of residents and citizens are allowed to immigrate and gain permanent residence in America. This “chain migration” means that those siblings can then bring in their children and children’s wives, who can bring in more siblings, and so on and on.

By legalizing nearly a million new permanent residents, DACA could set off a massive chain reaction.

“If we don’t change underlying laws about chain migration, which account for almost two-thirds of all green cards this country gives out every year,” Cotton warned in a recent interview with the Washington Examiner, that DACA “could be the largest amnesty in the history of the United States.”

“In fact,” Cotton added, “the very first people that would be eligible are the parents of the DACA recipients, which is to say the very people who broke the law by bringing their kids here.”

Cotton’s bill would severely limit family reunification green cards, so adults don’t bring in their siblings, and adults are not automatically allowed to bring in parents. This would limit the ripple effect of DACA.

The RAISE Act, by moving toward a skills-based immigration system, would address the legal issue. Then, there’s the moral hazard issue, which is that codifying DACA would induce many Central and South American parents to send or bring their parents illegally into the U.S. in the hope of a later round of amnesty.

This isn’t imaginary. “There’s a reason why we had a surge of kids at the border two years after President Obama created the DACA program and after the first round of renewal,” Cotton aptly pointed out.

“If you’ve got kids, put yourself in the position of a mom or dad in El Salvador, the most dangerous place in the world, the home of MS-13,” Cotton said. “If the U.S. gives legal status to 20- and 30-somethings who came here as children, what price would you pay to get your child here now?”

If DACA doesn’t come with real border enforcement, this humanitarian crisis is nearly guaranteed.

Finally, there’s the political reason DACA would expand. Who actually believes Democrats want to stop at legalizing and naturalizing the 800,000 who entered as children. That’s merely Step One.

Immigration activists admitted as much in a demonstration this week where they chanted at Nancy Pelosi “All of us or none of us!” demanding amnesty for all illegal immigrants. It would fit the pattern if Democrats one at a time added new classes to amnesty. Seniors first, then people who have been here more than 20 years next, then pregnant women, and those who entered when younger than 25 years old, and so on.

We have little objection to DACA itself, but a country in which every illegal entrant is declared a legal entrant is one that has given up its sovereignty. Or, as Trump put it during the election, a country that has no border ceases to be a country. DACA threatens to spread. Congress, as part of any deal with Schumer and Pelosi, needs to build a wall around it.


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