capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Thank you for your patience. It's taking longer to write each of these posts than I anticipated.

And this post is turning out to be longer than I expected, so I've decided to split it in two ...

[Boilerplate Intro]

This truly is my favorite Shakespeare play -- or, at least, it's tied for "favorite" with King Lear. I'd argue it is also the most underrated play in the Shakespeare Canon, going by the imbalance between the play's native merit and its fame (or lack thereof).

Therefore, consider this fair warning: I am going to be spamming you all with this topic. In order to restore the balance, I'm making several shorter posts instead of one massive one, with at least the following posts -- and possibly more, as the mood strikes:

Part One: Synopsis ("Once upon a time...").

[Note: I've corrected a detail of the plot since I first posted this, and I've also added a footnote with Shakespeare's character and place names]

Part Two: Major Themes and Context, with quotes (Conflict between personal conscience and the law, women as the keepers of moral authority, and questioning the limits of an hereditary, theocratic, monarchy).

Part Three: Secondary Themes (The relationship between parents and children, the passage of time, and watching children grow up).

Part Four: Plot and Character Crafting

Part Five: Links to other people's interpretations

Shakespeare is taught in school in the first place because he's held up as an example of High Culture[tm]. He got that reputation during the Restoration (before that, he was popular culture). And this play was, according to Wikipedia, ignored back then. So it's (largely) ignored today. Also, according to literary and pedagogical tradition, Shakespeare's final play was The Tempest, and this was 'only' his second-to-last.

So The Winter's Tale ends up being one of the siblings at a crowded table that can't get a word in edgewise. So this post is me, saying: "C'mon, Guys! You need to listen to this!"

[Note: I didn't realize until after I started this that all of the key scenes I'm talking about take place in the court of the City King (Leontes), in Sicilia. While the next post -- the secondary themes -- will more likely be split evenly between the two kingdoms (The other being Bohemia). But there you go...]

Thoughts (from an enthusiast, but not expert) )
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Last year, RH completed their Master's degree in Information Studies, with a focus on human-centric design, identity, and privacy (And thus, I think it might be of special interest to [personal profile] dialecticdreamer). This last week, they adapted it to the style of their on their online comic, broken down into five "chapters."

I was applauding inside, by the end, which was posted yesterday.

Robot Hugs is genderqueer, and so that's the primary lens through which they view the phenomenon of "Otherness." But what they say also applies to all marginalized people, probably.

Anyway, links:

Other -- One: Surveillance
Other -- Two: Categorizing
Other -- Three: Uses of "Other"
Other -- Four: Consequences of Self-Identifying
Other -- Five: Methods of Resistance

capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
... And has been stuck in my head, ever since. Clearly, the reasonable response to this is to infect my readers with the same.

I believe the proper term for this is "gallows humor" (a song from the period of American Prohibition):

lyrics )
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
I meant to signal boost this. I failed. The Calender caught up with me. I intended to write something. I may, still. But at the moment, I am feeling speechless.

So I urge you to read this blog post from Dave Hingsburger instead:

A quote:

In a graveyard, not far from where I type, 2011 people were laid to rest. Only 571 have names. A full one thousand four hundred and forty lay nameless and forgotten. Even if you knew them once, you'd never find them now.

How could this be?

The is a graveyard that lay on the lee side of institutional walls. That institution is now closed. No footsteps echo down the long corridors, the smells of human captivity are slowly fading, the tools of segregation are growing rusty in the dark corners of back wards. Many people who lived there are now free. Many are now finding their way as full citizens, part of the community that once rejected them. Many will never know a moments surety that citizenship is an irrevocable thing.

Murderers serve less time than people who committed the crime of difference.
(end quote)
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Okay, so I've been posting a bunch under my "Signed Languages" filter, which most of you are not on, because it's a small subset of my circles... but twice, recently, under that filter, I claimed to have learned ASL from Dr. Larry Flesicher (who died in 2009). And then, today, I decided to Google the "ASL, S.U.N.Y. Stony Brook, 1991" to see what I could find about him.

...And it turns out, I learned ASL from Dr. Larry Forestal, who is still very much alive and kicking... Ooops? Um, in my defense, this was twenty years ago? and I don't think we called him by his last name anyway (since we were first year foreign language students, and clueless as all get out)? And I may have been reading the news of Dr. Flesicher's death online, without my glasses?

Anyway, Look what I found! ... I made it into The New York Times! (not by name... But I was one of the "more than 30 students [who] held a protest earlier [that] month," mentioned in the article). The full article is behind the cut. I'm posting this out-of-filter, because there are several teachers, former teachers, and soon-to-be-teachers in my circles, so the subject might appeal on those grounds.

Campus Life: SUNY, Stony Brook; Sign Language: Foreign Or Merely an Easy A? (New York Times, May 26, 1991) )

I knew the anti-ASL argument was bogus at the time... I don't know how many students actually did get A's. But we were given work in that class... And no, we didn't "speak," but we were required to sign in class.

But now that I've followed along with people working as college and university instructors, I really know their argument was bogus:

"Too many students get A's!"

(actually, you counted wrong)

"Well, it's American Language... That's not foreign!"

(But Navajo is?)

"Well, it's only taught by Adjunct Professors! Everyone knows they're not real scholars."
That last one is the kicker, ain't it? Especially since, I bet, every one of the tenured professors making that argument back then were Adjunct Professors, once upon a time...
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Such a variety of things I meant to post today. But this is what my mind kept returning to.

Still reading... still seeing links between Monster Theory and Disability ... Something.

Today's half-paragraph:


Similarly, Cohen has argued that the monster refuses “to participate in the classificatory “order of things”” and provides a significant challenge to binary systems of hierarchy, creating a need to re-evaluate concepts of order. He states that “the monster’s destructiveness is really a deconstructiveness: it threatens to reveal that difference originates in process, rather than in fact (and that “fact” is subject to constant reconstruction and change)” A keyword in this quotation, however, is ‘threatens’, since a monster such as the medieval dragon maiden may point towards artificial boundaries and ideas of order but she is never allowed to break them down. This limitation on her monstrous character is brought on by the context in which she features, as some medieval thinkers may have doubted the waythe world was ordered but they did not doubt that there was an order to the world. The truth was, as it were, out there and it was up to the human to try and understand it.


{Meanwhile: the Chorus in my Head makes the following comment}

Of course the Human is the only one allowed to decide what Right and Proper Order is: It's whichever Order that puts that Human on Top.

(In the meantime, I'll be in the back, rooting for the monster. One of these days, she's bound to break through!
capriuni: half furry, half sea monster in wheelchair caption: Monster on Wheels (Monster)
It's been in the back of my head to signal boost and promote this idea for the last couple of weeks, but, well... I kept putting it off, in part because I wasn't sure what I wanted to say about it, if anything. And now the date is tomorrow, and there's no more room for putting it off.

Dave Hingsburger (and many of his blog readers, Yours Truly included) want to have an "International Day of Mourning and Memory" for those people who have been sent away to live Institutional Lives because their minds and/or their bodies are different. And when they die in these places, they have no family to mourn or remember them* ...

Dave Hingsburger explains his reason for the date in this post: and his reasoning is pretty compelling, imnsho.

He has also posted links to a video & song that tells the true story of one such person who was sent away to live in one of the more "progressive" institutions, back in the 1930s. Here: She Never Knew (She Never Knew) [trigger warning for hate speech graffiti]. This song was running through my head yesterday, as I was writing up my post on "The Steadfast Tin Soldier", and I have THOUGHTS about it. But I think there are enough of those to make their own post. So maybe I'll post about it on Tuesday (Tomorrow, I'll post about remembering those who've been locked away, as my means of observing the day).

*In doing Google searchers for images for my Monsters In Town! song, I learned that institutional "homes" in Minnesota wouldn't even put family names on the grave markers on their grounds, because being connected by name to someone so defective would be too shameful for the survivors... So the grave markers would only have the patient's case file number.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
I'm trying to find photos (and pre-photographic art) to illustrate This 'Disability Rights Protest Song' video I'm working on... trying to find pictures of the disabled [both physically and cognitively] in settings where they've been shut away from society.

Putting keywords like: "Nineteenth Century Almshouse Disabled History" in Google's image search has pulled up nothing but images of the outsides of buildings, looking all romantic and pretty, with emphasis on the gardens that were around them (and quite a few advertisements for "historic" almshouses that have been converted into luxury apartments for wealthy people... [Sad facepalm]).

Putting keywords like "Nursing Home Disabled residents" and "Residential School Disabled" into the search pulls up images posted by the nursing homes themselves -- online versions of glossy brochures, touting what wonderful, happy, places they are.

Then, there are sites like this: Disability History Panels that make all sorts of "shocking" claims about how horrible people were to the disabled in the past... And while I have no doubt as to the truth of the claims, I can't find a single citation for where these facts come from... so that those people who do doubt the truth would find it easy to dismiss the history as 'hype'.

Meanwhile, that particular site, though posted in connection with Alaska's Health and Social Services website, was plagiarized, word-for-word and image-for-image from an online interactive Flash-based history project done by the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities.... And the Minnesota site doesn't give any sources, either ... And their eleven-question "Quiz Show" on history of disability is more editorial than fact (asking whether calling someone an "idiot" is acceptable, or not, and claiming for a fact that it is not -- period. While I may agree with the opinion -- that is still an opinion. And "educating" in this manner only plays into the arguments of those who say "Disability Rights" is nothing but "Political Correctness.").

Our elected officials. Are they all fourteen-year-olds?
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
I'm collecting images from history of physically and mentally disabled, and their struggles against "The Normals" for a project I'm working on. And in my insomnia-driven quest Last Night/This Morning, I came across the following tidbit (from this website: The Sheredes Project: Spitalbrook Hospital):

The Living Dead

In the Middle Ages, if a person developed leprosy, they would be declared legally dead and lose all their possessions. They would have to leave their family, and go to live with other lepers in a place like the hospital at Spitalbrook. In Medieval times, this would have been outside the village of Hoddesdon.

Lepers were given special clothes, a begging bowl, and a bell or wooden clapper, so they could be clearly seen and to warn other people to keep their distance. They were given these in a ceremony that was modelled on the service for the burial of the dead and, in many places, the leper was actually required to stand in an open grave while the ritual, that marked them as outcasts from society, was performed above their head.

Now, for the record: No, I don't believe the early makers of Grade B Zombie movies realized they were making entertainment based on historical instances of actual human rights violations. They probably thought the idea of "Living Dead" just sounded cool, and let their imaginations run wild.

But, you know. It's something for you to think about, when you're deciding what sort of entertainment to hoot, screech and laugh over, next week.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (question)
When I was a Teen, and in my early 20s (~1980s), and Mother and I would attend politically / protest-oriented events, a common phrase we'd see printed on tee-shirts was "Shameless Agitator."

And I got to wondering: is there a specific historical context for this phrase? Was it a common epithet thrown around in newspapers to refer to Suffragettes, for example? Or labor leaders? Can it be traced back to a particular quote?

Bit of random, personal trivia: Once, one of us (either it was I, or my mother, who then shared with me), misread one of those shirts as "Shameless Alligator," which then became a running joke between us until the end of her life. That memory recently came back to me, and that's what's gotten me curious about this...
capriuni: "Why can't I be King? stenciled on a red brick wall (King)
So. I'm writing a post, right now, for Plato's Nightmare / Aesop's Dream, and I want to make the point that the reason why so many depictions of the Lame, Maimed, Blind and Dumb[*] are written from the P.O.V. of able-bodied privilege is that, often, even in societies that strived for "universal education," the laws only specified that "every able-bodied child be taught... no one seemed to care whether disabled kids could read (much less write), or not.

I know that the United States Congress didn't even address the legal requirement to teach handicapped kids until 1975. I also know that I was "mainstreamed" in my various public school districts as early as 1969. And that I know that (until I got to college campuses starting in 1983) I was always the only disabled kid in any of my classes.

What I don't know, and what I really, really, really (not enough caps lock or underlining or bolding in the world could emphesize that enough) want to know is: What my mother went through to ensure I got all the education I was capable of living up to.

I was 5 when I entered school, I was probably 4, or younger, when she started pushing. I was too young to notice what she was doing. And my dad, well... his heart was in the right place, but he was a man of his time, and probably thought of education and all that as a "woman's purview" (Don't worry, he grew out of it, eventually). Besides, he was an airline pilot, and was gone on trips three or four days out of every week. So really, my mother is probably the only one who could really tell me what the local school district required or expected for me and kids like me (my teachers were also great -- mostly -- it's the higher-up beaurocrats in Administration I wonder about).

But my mom died 20 years ago, this coming October.

capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
"And do you know what? I think I've thought a thought!"

(Thank you, Sesame Street of the 70s!)

The thought I've been thinking about lately is the fictional trope of "The secret lives of our toys," mostly from children's stories.

The oldest "modern story" I can think of is The Brave Tin Soldier (1838):

THERE were once five-and-twenty tin soldiers, who were all brothers, for they had been made out of the same old tin spoon. They shouldered arms and looked straight before them, and wore a splendid uniform, red and blue. The first thing in the world they ever heard were the words, “Tin soldiers!” uttered by a little boy, who clapped his hands with delight when the lid of the box, in which they lay, was taken off. They were given him for a birthday present, and he stood at the table to set them up. The soldiers were all exactly alike, excepting one, who had only one leg; he had been left to the last, and then there was not enough of the melted tin to finish him, so they made him to stand firmly on one leg, and this caused him to be very remarkable*


Here are others I can think of, off the top of my head:

Cut for TL;DR -- where my thinky-thinky thoughts go really rambly down the wendy-winding road )

It's thundering, here, and raining pretty hard, and if moisture gets into the outlet where my Internet is plugged in, I'll lose my connection. So I'd better post this now.

What other examples of this trope can you think of? Do you include "Android revolts" in sci-fi, as part of this trope?

*Bonus Inspiring Cripple trope, which I had forgotten!
capriuni: Self portrait, multicolored (Colors of me)
Two reasons for the chest-clearing:

  1. It's an excuse to use my long-lost default journal icon
  2. Midnight is the start of (inter)-National Art-Making Month, and I want to clear as much space as possible for 31 days of mad creativity.

So here goes:

There was a Pete Seeger Album that was regularly played, in my house, during my childhood and youth, called Dangerous Songs. One of my favorite songs on the album was an English Version of an old German Folksong, and the words went thusly:

Die Gedanken sind Frei, my thoughts freely flower
De Gedanken Sind Frei, my thoughts give me power.
No scholar can map them no hunter can trap them.

No man can deny: Die Gedanken Sind Frei
No man can deny: Die Gedanken Sind Frei

it continues, behind this cut )

I'd always trusted that it was a straightforward translation, as translations go (with allowances made for scansion and rhyme, and that sort of thing). But a few months ago, thanks to YouTube, I've found multiple versions of the song in the original language, translated by various people who are native German users.

And their translations, all remarkably consistant, except for a few variations of personal word choice and idiom, go thusly:

Thoughts are free, who can guess them?
They flee by like nocturnal shadows.
No man can know them, no hunter can shoot them,
with powder and lead: Thoughts are free!

the rest of the song is behind this cut )

Not a single "flower;" no mention of personal "power" or "conscience" or the toppling of dictators.

And I must say: I'm disappointed.

But not in the original, 18th-19th century folk, who claimed this song as their own. No. I'm Disappointed in Arthur Kevess, who came up with the English version in 1950. He kept the melody and the refrain, and a few of the words, but he changed the Meaning of the original in order to fit his own personal philosophy. In fact, he changed the meaning to the opposite of the original, in spirit.

In the original:

Thoughts are free because they are private and secret and intangible as ghosts. And: "Doesn't matter what hardships you inflict on me on the outside, because there is no way you can take away the Happy Place inside my head! So, I choose to be Happy!"

In the Arthur Kevess version:

Thoughts are free because they are powerful weapons against any and all dictatorships, and nothing can stand in their way. And: "I will use my freedom of thought as a Crusader to free all of Mankind the world over!"

Now, it is true that a small band of philosophy students, calling themselves die Weiße Rose (The White Rose), used the Die Gedanken Sind Frei as a rallying song in their protests of Adolf Hitler and Nazism (and were executed for their trouble), and the English version of the song by Kevess is a powerful and fitting tribute to their courage (And I thoroughly understand why he was moved to use "flower" as a recurring image).

But --

It is not really a "translation" of a "traditional folk song."

And now that I know the differences, the fact that so many anglophone folk singers believe that it is a "translation" kind of makes my brain itch.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (access)
Today* is the Twentieth Anniversary of The Americans with Disabilities Act being signed into law (Next year, when it's 21, we'll take it to a bar and get drunk, right?)!

And my local Center for Independent Living, held a celebration, promising music, videos, speakers, food, and More!

"Music" turned out to be recorded "Top 40," as far as I could tell, played over loudspeakers at a volume that prevented conversation (I was hoping for live performers, singing songs that were sung at political rallies to get the ADA passed, or something).

"Videos" turned out to be a powerpoint slide show of fact tidbits about how famous people "overcame the prejudice people had toward their disabilities" (I was hoping for slide shows of local history -- the faces and stories behind the fight for access and inclusion here, in Hampton Roads, VA, that this CIL services)

And then, there was a promised speech, live from the White House, at 5:30, from President Obama. That was a live feed over the Internet, and it was projected up onto a wall, big, so that all those gathered could see it. But the Center's Internet Connection wasn't strong enough, and the video kept freezing up (or maybe it was glitchy at the White House end, I don't know).

And of course, President Obama was not the first to speak -- there was a woman, who spoke first, remembering the individuals who fought for the passage of the ADA, starting in 1989, and thanking the Senators and Congressmen who co-sponsered the bill.

I grinned SO HARD when Congressman Fish's name was read, that my cheeks hurt. Hamilton Fish was our Congressmen in Putnam County NY. And I have no doubt that he signed onto that bill, at least in part, because of my mother. She would show up at every town meeting where he spoke, and would take me along to most of those, if they didn't interfere with school, or were past my bedtime, and she would needle him on causes she thought were important -- the Environment, and full access for the Disabled.

Then, after that woman finished, Marlee Matlin got up, and read out a portion of Helen Keller's autobiography (I was hoping for Marlee Matlin to tell her own story -- I really don't know why she didn't).

Then, a blind fiddler (I think he was blind, I didn't catch his name), came up and spent about twenty minutes trying to get his instrument in tune... To be fair, it's nearly impossible to keep stringed instruments in tune on hot, humid, July days. But when finally he started to play, it was the most dolorous and slow and mournful tune I'd heard in ages. (WTF?!!)

Then, Patti LeBelle was introduced. Yay? She sang "I got a new Attitude." Then she rambled on about Bo, the Obamas' pet dog, and told the story of how her own little dog fell in the pool and almost drowned (WTF?!?! #2 -- did she think she was speaking in honor of the SPCA? She really sounded drunk, or drugged). When she started in on "You are the Wind Beneath my Wings" -- Audrey was ready to go. So I never did hear the President speak.

Mostly, though, I'm just a bit saddened that the whole "celebration" was held in the confines of "The Center" -- That 'special place, where they help those people' -- instead of out in a public park, somewhere, or even a public library conference room (Though if it were the latter, we wouldn't have been able to have food, which was quite good -- if you were a carnivore).

I mean, isn't that what the ADA is all about? being Loud and Proud in Public, and mingling with the "regular" general, Public??

I can't help but wonder if that's why it seems that we've made so little progress, in terms of real change and societal attitudes -- because we're so good at self-segregating. You know?

Still, I'm glad I made the effort to get fully dressed, and go out, and do this in three dee space, instead of staying home and "Celebrating" in private.

*July 26th -- it still is, in my time zone, anyway.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Democratic Ass)
(Actually, I was thinking these thoughts concurrently, but couldn't muster the energy to post them at the time)

Last night, I overheard the fireworks display put on by my city, and watched "A Capital Fourth" (PBS) and "The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular" (CBS) on TV. The former were loud, and the latter were pretty. And while I'm proud of my country's good points, I'm also embarrassed by our greed and arrogance.

And while I was watching my TV, with frequent shots of soldiers-in-uniform sitting in the front rows of the audience, in places of honor, as MCs and musical stars heaped praise and thanks upon them.

Yes. Not to take anything away from that... but I couldn't help but think:

When I graduated from high school in 1983, my class invited our history teacher to give the faculty address.

I don't remember his exact words, but I remember his main point.

He said that America was exceptional, not because of its inherent greatness and superiority over other nations, but because it was the first in history where people got together and deliberate invented a new form of government. And he urged us, as new graduates, to go forth and continue that tradition, and invent the future for ourselves and our compatriots.

You know -- it would be nice if we could give equal public thanks to our teachers, and philosophers, too. Every nation, even the most brutal dictatorships (especially the dictatorships) can define their national greatness by the strength and bravery of its soldiers.

But in a democracy like ours, they're not the only ones "defending our freedoms."
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Short biography of Margarete Steiff

The facts of her life are fascinating, and make me want to add her to the guest list of my fantasy Space/Time dinner party. This narrative of her life is problematic.

(Quote) Margarete was a very lively, well-built child and led a carefree life until she became ill with polio at the early age of 1½. She was destined never to walk and to be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. (unquote)

::Facepalm:: Here we go with the "innocent victim" Disability-Narrative (sigh). And I trust I don't have to explain to my regular readers why "confined to a wheelchair" is full of fail -- right?

(and "well-built"? Really? oy.)

Shall we continue?

(quote) Her mother, above all, found this very difficult to bear. She would have to care for her daughter for as long as she lived. Her daughter would never be able to take on the role of housewife and mother and, at the time, it seemed as though she had absolutely no prospects for the future (Unquote)

Okay, now we're into the Disabled-as-unfair-burden-on-the-Able-bodied Narrative. (Sigh)

But it doesn't end there (snipping a bit):

(Quote) She spent her free time playing with the other children whenever possible. Margarete was a creative inventor of new games. She was always having new ideas and organized the games in such a way that she could take part.

In doing this, one of her natural gifts became evident, one that was to help her a great deal in the years to come: Margarete had a way of telling people what had to be done in a manner that made them want to do what she said. (unquote)

Now, we've got the Disabled-as-emotional-manipulator narrative.

It's that last one that I'd particularly like to translate. How about this, instead?

"Margarete Steiff was a creative and intelligent woman who learned, early in life, to be an effective self-advocate for her own independence."

There. That's better.

Still, since this is a dedicated "Teddy Bear" site, I suppose they'd be tempted to play up the childish aspects (Victim, spunky, inspirational, manipulative) of her personality even if she hadn't had a disability.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
I didn't know that The New York Times had done a report on our protests, though.

Campus Life: SUNY Stony Brook; Sign Language: Foreign or Merely an Easy A?

(quote) In response to the memo, more than 30 students held a protest earlier this month in front of the administration building and gathered more than 1,000 student signatures urging the university to continue accepting American Sign Language for the foreign language requirement. (unquote)

I remember those protests. We tried to show up at the place where the board meeting was being held, so we could present the petition, only to find out that they had moved the location at the last minute. I remember Dane Spiro (mentioned in the article) leading us on a stealth mission through the library, to try and find which meeting room where they were holed up. That image of him signing "QUIET!" is my mnemonic for that sign.

(quote) Lawrence Forestal, a sign language instructor [he was my teacher! :D], said Mr. Kerth's information on the number of students who received A's was "exaggerated."

Mr. Forestal, who is [D]eaf, urged the the University Senate's Curriculum Committee, which determines student requirements, to allow sign language students and deaf people to address the committee before a decision was made. "How can the committee set such policies without real knowledge of sign language?" he asked. (unquote)

Anyway, I found this article kinda-sorta by accident, in the wee hours, this morning. I'd tried to do a Google search, a couple of weeks ago, to see if I could get a clue to remember my Sign teacher's last name (I only remembered the name sign he used for "Larry" in class), and failed to find a mention of him, then.

What I did find was a long and interesting article on the ways in which Signed Languages do, in fact, meet all the standards for being complete languages in their own right (and in that article, it mentioned how SUNY Stony Brook was one of the first universities to offer ASL as a foreign language). And when I went Googling in the wee hours, this morning, it was for that article I wanted to go back and reread, this time.

I have Google-fu. It just seems to be turned inside-out. :-/

[Edited to add:
I don't know how many As were actually awarded -- I never polled my fellow students. But I worked hard for my A, and I had a leg up on everyone else, because I'd already had some familiarity with the language.

I think it is true, though, that many of the kids in ASL 101 had signed up expecting it to be an easy A... There were many expressions of surprise throughout that course.]
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Eloise)
And, since I'm an American by birth and habit, I suppose I should say something on the matter.

So here are the official lyrics to the chorus of "Stars and Stripes Forever," by John Phillip Sousa (1888):

CHORUS: Hurrah for the flag of the free,
May it wave as our standard forever,
The gem of the land and the sea,
The Banner of the Right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with mighty endeavor,
Proclaim'd as they march'd to the fray,
That by their might, And by their right,
It waves forever!

But all that war and Might-Makes-Right nonsense isn't very pro-fun at all, so I hereby use this excuse to post the alternative lyrics to the same melody, which I've seen credited to Fred Allen (but also others) (1927 [?]):

Be kind to your web-footed friends,
For the duck may be somebody's mother:
Be kind to the denizens of the swamp.
Where the weather is cool and damp

Be kind to your old umbrella,
For some day it may be under the weather,
Be kind to your old pair of shoes.

Be kind to your fur-bearing friends,
For a skunk may be somebody's brother-;
Be kind to your friends with the stripe.

Yes, I noticed that the second and third verses seem to be missing a final line, too. I just posted, asking about that at the Mudcat forum.

*Even though, technically, we didn't actually sign the peace treaty establishing our internationally recognized sovreignty until September 3, 1783 -- and the treaty wasn't actually ratified by our Congress until January 14, 1784. So July 4th isn't so much as the anniversary of our nation's birth as it is its conception. ...But we're too puritanical a society to speak about that out loud.
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It's not something I have any direct experience with, so I won't say much except to pass on some information.

These are snippets of information from ME/Chronic Fatique Syndrome Basics:

ME/CFS is the acronym for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or Myalgic Encephalopathy / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a condition that has never been properly named.

[. . .]

While all diagnosed ME/CFS patients are “functionally impaired by definition,” according to the Centers for Disease Control, the CDC studies indicate the illness can be as disabling as multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or end-stage (terminal) renal failure.

[. . .]

ME/CFS is a real physiological condition that causes a substantial amount of suffering and is not a form of psychiatric illness or depression.

A bit of initial Googling also informed me that today was chosen for ME/CFS Awareness Day back in 1993, because it's Florence Nightingale's birthday, and she was stricken by a mysterious disease when she was in her thirties that left her mostly bedridden for the rest of her life.
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Back when I was a wee little child, nearly all of the federal, state, and private charity organizations which provided services to kids like me had the word "Handicapped" in their title.

And then, at some point (and I can't remember exactly when this happened -- mid-'70s or '80s, perhaps?), there was a cultural paradigm shift, and "Handicapped" became a word to avoid at all costs, because it was offensive and derogatory. The idea sprang up, and became widely accepted, that the word "handicapped" had its origins in crippled people sitting on the corner, 'cap in hand,' begging for their livelihood.

Well, around that time, there was a debate about whether The North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) should change its name to The North American Riding for the Disabled Association. If I recall correctly, it was someone on the board of the NARHA-affliated riding school I went to who remembered that I was a wordy sort of person, and that I could write, who asked me to look into it and write up an editorial-type piece for the school's therapeutic riding newsletter.

So I did. I don't remember my sources, exactly (This was before Google, or even the Internet -- OMG!!), but I what I discovered was pretty much the same information that's discussed here:

Take Our Word for It: Spotlight on "Handicapped"

Namely: that the word has nothing to do with begging; it first appeared in use around the middle of the 17th Century, as the name for a game called "Hand in the Cap." The link above gives detailed rules for the game, but it was basically a way to swap items of unequal value, with an umpire, whose job was to decide which item was worth more, and by how much. By the middle of the 18th Century, the same basic idea of the swapping game was applied to races between horses of unequal strength, with an umpire to decide which of the horses was stronger, and how much extra weight he should carry in order to even the odds for the weaker horse. It wasn't long before that same idea was brought over to golf. "Handicapped" didn't get referred to individual people until the start of the 20th century.

So, in my opinion piece, I argued that NARHA should keep its name; "handicapped" was a term to take pride in, since it implied that I was stronger than the average Joe, and that I had just as much chance to "win the race" as anyone else. Also, I said, the word had a longer history with horses than with charity. And, frankly, the acronym "NARDA" sounds bad.

Being young, full of myself, and a Word Nerd purist, I also insisted<, for a while, on continuing to use "handicapped" when everyone else was using "disabled." Or at least, I tried. I got tired of interupting conversations in order to give a mini lecture on etymology every time I saw the other person flinch (and they flinched almost every time).

My personal pride of "I know more-better than you, so there!" means diddly-squat. It doesn't matter what the real history of "handicap" is. The simple arrangement of those three syllables reminds people of beggars, and no one wants to associate themselves with that, even if it is just an inkblot for the ear. So I've decided to just use "Disabled," like everyone else. Because language should make communicating easier, not provide unnecessary blocks.

(I still think an organized day of "Hand-in-the-cap" would be a great way for charity organizations to raise money, though. If the name is too offensive, we could call it by its pre-17th Century name: "Newe Faire") ;-)


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