Friday, September 30, 2005

tap dancing

Ever since I was a kid I've always had the idea that being able to tap dance would be really cool. I don't know if it's the rhythm thing or what. I've had little desire to learn to do any other form of dance and I have no actual natural talent at dancing. I took a movement class as part of a theater camp at the U of Texas, when I was a junior in high school so... 1989, and in our little recital they put me in the far back corner. In college I studies Tai Chi from my Chinese prof and thought I was doing OK, so when I was in China I showed my friends the first few motions I had learned and they burst out into laughter. Similar results when I was learning to do some Japanese Noh-style movements once in an audition - I was asked to be the stage manager. I have no accelerated ability to dance. But regardless one day, maybe when I'm 40 and have tenure and a bit of free time, I'm going to take a class, strap on my shoes, let all the 21 year old jazz dancers giggle at me, and do my best Fred Astaire. So there.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Turns out I am evil

Well, as some of you may recall, my department is playing a little Murder game where some vicious thug knocks off co-workers until they are nabbed by the forces of Righteousness; i.e. a co-worker guesses it's them. Turns out I am the vicious thug who has been murdering my friends. Here is the accusation, the confession, followed by the explanation of the SuperFriend who figured it out:


I, "Hot Mama", do accuse HUNTER as the murderer!!  With a name
like Hunter, he must be the killer!  You are going down, Moose(breath)

Me?!  Little old me?! A vicious serial killer?

Impossilble!  Ludicrous!  Fantabulosous!

Was I in the hall by the mail room when Mie died?
Was I in the Conference Room when Elena collapsed?
Was I on the stairway when Gabe suddenly slipped and catapulted down the abyss?
Was I by the doorway when Laura fell through the glass?
Was I in Kamil's office when he defenestrated and flew magically into Manoa Stream?
Was I in Ben's office when his Mac sent a bolt of electricity through his body?
Was I on the lanai when Zoe choked upon the Paradise Palm's Chow Mein?
Was I responsible for the mangled body of Sara, the mutilation of Brent, or the decapitation of Julia?

Was I?

Well, no. It was Mother.  She did it. I tried to stop her. But I can't. I can't!!

Something- something happens when she sees another bit of prey. A juicy morsel to devour into her worm-ridden womb.  It's not my fault!  It's Mother! Mother!!!!!

And she would have gotten all of you, if it wasn't for that horrible, evil "hot mamma".  A plague upon her house. I hates her.  $21.  She sends me to the Big House for a measly 21 bucks.   I may be gone, but all of you are still doomed!!  You can't stop the little men with their evil stares and their greasy hands.  They are among you, but you don't see them. But when you are asleep, they will eat your brain. Your brains, I tell you. It happened to me. It will happen to all of our cursed species. 
Death! Death everywhere! Blood rains from the sky upon all of your heads!  You all deserve death!

No, death is too good for you!  Something worse.  Eternal torture. I should have pulled off each of your fingernails and mailed them to you. Each day a fingernail of one of my victims appears in your mailbox. Yes, that's it. Fingernails. I love fingernails. They are so small and transluscent.  I mean, you can kind of see through them and kind of can't. How cute.  Fingernails are my friends.  Sigh.... Ah my little, pretty fingernails.  Not like those dirty toenails!  Yuck! Blaaachh! Blaachh! Gollum! Gollum!

But, I see Clarice has come to take me away.  Hello, Clarice. What's that?! Who are those men in the white coats? No, I won't go! I won't!  You promised me. I was a good boy. I have always been good.  You must believe me.  Aaaaahhhhhhh!!!

(Sound of trumpets... white clouds roll in... a bright light shining
in the distance slowly nears...)

Yes!  I knew it was you, Hunter.  You evil-doer you.  There's no
running away from Good.  And that is what I, Hot Mamma, have been
placed on this planet to do!  Find and defeat evil scum like you
Gollum, I mean Moosebreath!  My job has been done here.  And I didn't
even need to whip out my Wonder Woman super-dooper bullet-reflecting
bracelets (which I polished last night).  I had my suspisions as I saw
you eye the whole room of Ling 621.  (At least a few of us have
survived to take the midterm on Friday.)  I had my gut instincts.  I
saw how you seemed to be looking around all the time.  And did you see
me eluding your evil eye stare several times, including yesterday
afternoon?  Evil cannot hide from me!  (And, I have to admit.  I saw
you kill Julia on Monday.) 

Rest safe, my fellow linguists.  You can now return to your midterms,
papers, and comps.  But, never forget those who went before us.  Their
sacrifice does not go unnoticed.  I just needed time to detect the
true evil-doer.  RIP.

Hot Mamma

(Trumpet sounds as the fog rolls away and the lights dim...)

Friday, September 23, 2005

A little Christian charity

The title is not intended to be a slam on Christianity. It's intended to be a slam on the people who run this "Christian" school who think it is entirely appropriate to kick a 14 year old girl out of their school because they don't like who her mom is in love with. Even if you buy the whole "homosexuality is immoral" thing, which you shouldn't, this does nothing to help the girl out. She has no control over who her mom likes. If you are a good Christian and you think that one of your girls has a messed up family, what do you do? Offer her continuing support in a loving atmosphere? Be there for her to make sure she grows up healthy and educated? No! You boot her from the school. I love this concept of "infinite grace." I hope these people get made fun of nationally for several weeks. Here's the article from AP gathered from Yahoo news.

I should add that of course the school has the legal right to do this. They boot children out of schools who don't follow the dress code. Nazis have the legal right to rally at the City Courthouse each Saturday. I am saying that it is morally wrong to do so.

ONTARIO, Calif. - A 14-year-old student was expelled from a Christian school because her parents are lesbians, the school's superintendent said in a letter.

Shay Clark was expelled from Ontario Christian School on Thursday.

"Your family does not meet the policies of admission," Superintendent Leonard Stob wrote to Tina Clark, the girl's biological mother.

Stob wrote that school policy requires that at least one parent may not engage in practices "immoral or inconsistent with a positive Christian life style, such as cohabitating without marriage or in a homosexual relationship," The Los Angeles Times reported in Friday's edition.

Stob could not be reached for comment by the newspaper. Shay and her parents said they won't fight the ruling.

School administrators learned of the parents' relationship this week after Shay was reprimanded for talking to the crowd during a football game, Tina Clark said.

Clark and her partner have been together 22 years and have two other daughters, ages 9 and 19.

I love listservs

My journal is a member of several language teaching listservs, which means I am a member since I'm the only one who gets these emails. Anyway, here is an amusing exchange from this morning with all the names changed:

Email 1:

Hi Bob

Hope things are fine with you,....after the rest this past year I am sure you've started your classes with new force.

Just writing to you to know when the YYYY Conference will take place, and where, have been unable to find it in the YYYY page and Frank cannot remember.


Email 2:

Darling, are you sure that this message was for me?
Somehow, I prefer to be Annie instead of Bob. It's a
little bit late to change my sex and personality.
By the way, it's cold here now - about 10-12 degrees,
so be prepared. There is hope that it will get better,
but I cannot control it, so cannot guarantee.

Email 3:

Dear YYYY list members,
Please, escuse me for my previous message to the whole
list - it was personal, and I was absent-minded.
Best wishes,

Of course, the email exchange could have been a lot more personal than this, but it's always amusing to call several hundred professors around the world "darling". It's that pesky reply button. Gets us all in trouble.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Language Reconstruction

One of the classes this semester is Historical Linguistics. It looks at several topics including figuring out what languages are related, meaning they came from the same original language (think French from Latin), and how to reconstruct the original language. It's kind of fun, like little puzzles to solve. It hasn't convinced me to switch my area of focus, but it's certainly a rather fun topic.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Yeah we all knew this

You are a

Social Liberal
(73% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(30% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

Hurricane Crazy

Here is the good news. The hurricane near Hawaii is staying a good ways to our east and moving north. It is Category 3, but is moving away as predicted. Also the other two hurricanes are further away and weakening. Yippee.

On the bad side of things, Rita is Category 5 and headed for Texas. I just heard my brother and nephew are headed up from Houston to the sis' place in Dallas, or Richardson I think it is, properly speaking. Apparently, my sister-in-law is in China for a couple weeks. I mean, I know they wanted people to evacuate Houston, but China seems a little much. :)

This reminds me of my 4 hurricane year when I was 12. First one came through Louisiana. Good news is we lived about 200 miles north of the shore, so that it was just a big rainstorm for us. Then we visited grandparents in Houston and one came through there. Next I went to the Boy Scout Jamboree in Virginia and guess what? We spent a night sleeping in trailers for that one. Then finally I started school in New Jersey and voila! Hurricane number 4 comes through. This is all 1985.


Murder Game

So the old department has a Murder Game going which started yesterday. There is one murderer and a whole crew of victims. Poor Mie was knocked off yesterday apparently before she ever opened her envelope to find out if she was the murderess or not. Gotta suck. You can check out the progress of the game here. There is a totally beautiful picture of me aka "Moose". By the way, if you have any hints on who it is, tell me, I will need all the help I can get. My plan is to hide out in my office so that no one can find me. If only I could skip class too.... Oh no, class is in 40 minutes. Will I make it past 41?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Getting spooked

After Katrina, we are beginning to get a little spooked around here about hurricanes. It didn't help that the headline on yesterday's paper was how Waikiki, McCully, and Moilili would be covered in 7 feet of water in a powerful hurricane. On the good side of things, Hurrican Jova which is 750 miles to our east is still expected to miss the islands according to the national hurricane center, though we could get a lot of rain from it. It's supposed to go north instead of west towards us. However, just to keep us on our toes the article that mentioned Jova missing us ended with "Forecasters are also watching hurricanes Kenneth and Max beyond Hurricane Jova." Grrr.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Poncho Sanchez

I went to see a concert last night - Poncho Sanchez. He's a Latin Jazz artist, most known for working in the boogaloo style. Boogaloo is a hybrid of class 60s and 70s soul with Latin jazz. It's a style I like. I used to be a member on Naspter, and the main thing I listened to was Pucho and His Latin Soul Brothers. For Poncho, think of combining Tito Puente and Ray Charles. Pucho, when he was best, was more like combining James Brown or War with Tito. Anyway, it was a great concert.

Poncho is the conga player and band leader. Since I studied conga for about half a year, I could appreciate how good he is. I mean his slaps are crisp and clear, his opens ring out across the ampitheater, his muffs are muffed. Each sound is distinct and he can fly at the same time. The rest of his band was as good or better. The trombone player appears to be the main arranger at this point, and he showed his arranging chops as well. There were points where the sax and trombone played simultaneously and yet never stepped on one another. Or when the trombone and sax would play a single melody up and down the scale, with each taking their own appropriate range. I also got reminded just how limited rock percussion can be. There were large segments where just the percussion section (congas, timbales, bongos, clave) would go, and you missed nothing.

I'd recommend gettng an album. In fact, I have a gift certificate from Borders for my birthday, which I have not spent yet, so maybe that's what I will do. Poncho is a Latin grammy winner, so the albums shouldn't be hard to find.

7 things

I stole this one from Evil Gay Lawyer Hey, it's his name, not mine. I mean not my name for him. Someone could be calling me that, but it would be odd since I'm not gay or a lawyer. It is distinctly possible that I'm evil. I modified it a bit, including removing "7 things that attract me to the same sex" and "7 celebrity crushes". Sure I could have switched them to the opposite sex, but I think it would just be asking for trouble to list anything on those topics. But if you want to see thin muscular guys with their shirts off, go to his blog.

7 things I plan to do before I die:
1) Travel to Tahiti
2) Perform for some time in a local quality band, making decent original music.
3) Play the solo guitar arrangement of Asturias by Ibeniz
4) Publish a monograph that makes serious contributions to the understanding of our world.
5) For some reason, I have always wanted to adopt.
6) Find the laidback easy-going Paca again
7) Write a book that is really fun to read and is worth reading again.

Hm, Why do I think that list is really lame?

7 things I can do:

1) I can make B and N laugh.
2) I can make connections between things that others miss.
3) I can see other people's point of view.
4) I can bike up all those hills to the Kahala Mall with B and my backpack strapped in. Not easy, but I can do it.
5) I can periodically find a nice turn of phrase in writing.
6) I can drink 3 cokes and go to bed.
7) I can play the riff to ZZTop's Just Got Paid.

7 things I cannot do:

1) I cannot intentionally mean harm to others. When it happens, it's accidental.
2) I cannot remember most things visual. N told me one day what color our house was.
3) I cannot do 10 pull-ups. I cannot do 2.
4) I cannot build a simulation of tonal perception, but I hope to.
5) I cannot do small talk at a bar. I am clueless about what to say.
6) I cannot wiggle my ears.
7) I cannot stick to any one thing for too long.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

My Life So Far

I decided it would be amusing to write up my autobiography real quick. I don't know why. Maybe it's just because if I am not doing this, then I have to be writing a review of the phonology of Manam, an Oceanic language.

I was born in a small town of 5000 people in Northeast Louisiana. At the time, it was a farming community of mostly cotton and soybeans along with the commercial trappings that 5000 people require. My family was always middle class. My father's family ran the hardware and building materials store, and my mom was a librarian. However, the farming community was close enough that there was literally a soybean field across the street where I would fly my kite and most of the farm kids in school would take a couple weeks off during time to pick the cotton. These were 2nd and 3rd graders staying home to help the family with harvesting.

It was made clear to me from the get-go that school was the most important thing for me. I was enrolled in various sports - little league and tennis - and encouraged there. My older brother was a little league all-star pitcher and we spent many an August afternoon taking him from game to game. But that was always optional. If I was good at sports, that was great, but the really important thing was that I was good at school. The good news for me was that I agreed with them. I remember not getting homework done because I got caught up reading some science section in the text book and not getting around to that actual day's homework. I still do that now. I will literally walk up and down the library stacks pulling books that look interesting off the shelf, putting off the next day's homework as long as I can.

I started first grade early, skipping kindergarten, so that I was 4 for a few weeks when I started. This never really had significant academic consquences in my life, but it didn't help with athletics or dating, especially for someone like me who just isn't very competitive.

My two best friends were David and the killer llama, who is listed as a link on the right there. I spent tons of time over on David's farm from grades 1 - 4. I remember his older brothers' comics and making sasafrass tea from some roots we dug up on his property. I haven't spoken to him since I changed to a different school in 5th grade. I kept hanging out with the llama.

Probably the biggest change in my growing-up life came when I was 12 and I went off to boarding school - The Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville, NJ, just down the road from Princeton. My parents wanted me to go to get a good education. They were right. By 9th grade at L'ville, I had exhausted the highest math that my local high school offered. I wanted to go myself because my older brother went to a boarding school, which meant it had to be cool. I think I had the happiest time at boarding school, compared to my brother and sister, but that might be more a personality thing than a school thing. I'm just pretty laid-back, or I was at the time, and after about a week, I was off and running.

It was at L'ville that I lost my southern accent. I remember the llama's parents teasing me one day because I said the word "tie" in the standard American accent with the whole diphthong - taaeeee - instead of the proper southern way - tiiii. (Wow, it's hard to explain that without the phonetic alphabet.) I also became a crazy liberal there. In 8th and 9th grade we had peer groups, which were discussions once a week lead by trained seniors. We had one where we discussed whether or not condoms should be available in the school infirmary. Everyone thought yes, except for the one southerner - me - who thought it would be like saying it's OK to have sex. It was 1985, and this was a new thing then, remember. I was 12 and had literally never kissed a girl in my life. What did I know.

L'ville was all boys for my first two years. They went coed, after 177 years, when I was in 10th grade. My friends were Jesse, Steve, Chris, George, and Welly, but especially Jesse, Chris, and Steve, because we ended up running the school theater. After 9th grade, my life was doing school and going to the A.P. Kirby Arts Center, where Jesse, Chris, and I were the school theater techies. Steve was, and still is, the actor. I appeared on stage twice, I think, but otherwise we built sets. Chris ended up as President of the Periwig Club and I as Vice-President of the Periwig Club. I was nominated for President as well, but I declined the nomination after we decided we didn't want to split the vote.

At L'ville, I studied Latin for 4 years and Chinese for 1. I remember my AP European history, a religion class, an English class "women writing about women".

Things didn't go well romantically. The first two years L'ville was coed, so they would bus us to dances at other schools on the weekends if we wished. I was fascinated by girls, but scared to death of them. I would always sign up for the dance with the fewest people on the list, so that the percentages would be in my favor. Most of the time, that meant the bus wouldn't go because there wouldn't be enough people. I made it to a few dances in the end, but I never actually danced with anyone. Finally, at some school, a girl came up to me and asked me if I wanted to dance. My time had come. I immediately declined and ran away as fast as I could.

I was 12.

Other failed attempts at dating followed through-out the high school years. I liked one girl and wrote poetry about her, which I shared with Welly (friend, see above), but that was all. In 11th grade, I asked Shana out and she declined. In 12th grade, I heard that one of my female friends, Regina, liked me. I liked her. After weeks and weeks went by, I finally called her some weekend and asked her to do something. She declined. Apparently, that sort of interest had waned, though we stayed friends. In fact, I had so many female friends by the end of my senior year that my family still talks about my harem (Susan, Phia, Tory, Janet, Regina, Morgan, Thea, Karen, Liz, Melissa - almost all theatre friends) when they were there for graduation.

Things did pick up a little bit in that last year. I was 16 at the time. First, there was Amanda. She was 14, I was 16. We ran into each other trick or treating and spent the entire evening together. We would meet periodically afterwards. We got pizza together once and she gave me a scarf for my head (a 'bee' helmet) that she had spent hours coloring. I remember running around one day where she was supposed to be a dryad. I finally asked her out on a no-holds-barred-real-date. In fact, it was the Prom. Senior Prom. Alas, she declined. We were all going to go to Jesse's apartment in NYC after the prom. She was 14, and she told me this just scared her. I understood and moved on, disappointed. I next asked out Susan who had been a theatre friend for years. She actually said 'yes'. Her dad did give me a lecture about treating her well, which everyone laughed about, because they knew me. This was the senior Prom, and I still had never kissed a girl on the cheek. (No, wait, that's not true! I kissed Anne-Marie in my role in Shakespeare's Henry IV during 11th grade. It was so hard for me and took me so long to do it that she later asked Jesse if I was gay.) Anyway, the prom went well. She slept in my arms in the limo on the way to Jesse's place. Chris and I actually stayed on campus for a couple months, working for the New Jersey June Opera Festival, and Susan and I were friends who played at being boyfriend/girlfriend during that time. We went out - usually with Chris and Phia - but sometimes alone. I finally kissed her on the lips. Two quick pecks. Then the job ended, and so did Susan and I.

Next step was Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. Naturally, this is where my academic interests flourished. I took Chinese there for 3 years, read all sorts of Buddhism and Western philosophy stuff, and became an Asian Studies major. Most that I consciously remember from schooling was from Carleton or later. Also, living on the same floor as me was a woman named N. Some of you may have heard of her. Even during orientation, we ended up going to a the Jesse James Day fair together - with a couple others. We did calculus homework together. In September, friends set us up to go to a dance. I actually danced this time. We kissed that night. I won't go through all the details of our relationship here. The short version is that she's my wife. We dated for 8 years, and have been married now for 7. In just a couple years I will reach the point where I spent 17 years of my life not knowing her and 17 with her.

After college, I had no idea what to do with myself. I spent the summer with my mom who was a Professor of Finance now at Ole Miss in Oxford, MS. I ended up enrolling in the philosophy master's program at Ole Miss as well. N came to live with me and two years went by. And now came some turning points in my life. I got accepted to two things after finishing the M.A. I was accepted to teach English in Japan and to work doing software customer support in Nashville, TN. I thought it was time for me to get out of academic life. I did that well, I knew, but I needed to do something else finally, so I moved to Nashville.

Not everyone knows this, but N and I sort of broke up at this time. I find it hard to believe now. She moved to pursue a Masters in Library Science at the U of Washington. I went to Nashville, where I ended up rooming with - of all people - the llama. (See the link over there on the right again to find out who he is.) We lasted as roommates for two years I think. You see, after about 1 year, I was flying up to Seattle every chance I got to visit a certain someone. A few months later I bought the ring. N and I were married right after she finished her Masters. We honeymooned in British Columbia and then in the Ryder truck, driving from the Canadian border back to Nashville.

I stayed with my company in Nashville for 8 full years, but I mentally checked out after about 5, when I finally realized the company had no career path I was interested in or suited for. In 2002, I started applying to grad schools in linguistics, cognitive science, and philosophy. (This is more consistent than it sounds; ask if you wanna know.) In January of 2003, B was born. Yippee! On the down side, I didn't get in to any programs. So I applied again in 2003, modifying the school list somewhat. Finally, in Fall 2004, I started the program here at the U of H. And there you go.

And this took a lot longer than I intended. I soooo need to be working now.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Koala Brothers and Moral Philosophy

So B's latest video that he must watch every single day is The Adventures of the Koala Brothers, where an intrepid duo of koalas, Frank and Buster, fly around the Australian Outback in their plane each day looking for someone to help. Each episode they help out one of their Outback neighbors, helping Archie the Crocodile fix up his house or Ned the Wombat become a desert sea captain. Then after 2 episodes go by, all the characters gather to sing "The Helping Song". It's a fine video, all about helping, and I have a fun time trying to imitate the Australian accents. But there is one line in "The Helping Song" with which I disagree if taken out of context. The line is, "If you help others, they'll help you!"

Now, I don't disagree because I'm an old cynic who doesn't think others will reciprocate. It's just that I believe that getting future material rewards is not the reason to help others. And here we get to the moral philosophy.

When we claim that people should be honest, good, helpful, etc., we are not saying they should be honest and good because it will get them other stuff that they want. You are not supposed to be honest in business dealings due to practical business concerns (if people can't trust you, they won't work with you). You are supposed to be honest, we are utimately claiming, because it is a positive human virtue to be honest. What does this mean? It's similar to saying someone should be strong or fast or smart. They shouldn't be smart because that way they can think of ways to get stuff. The claim is that the most fulfilled individuals are smart, strong, brave, or caring. These virtues are good in and of themselves, not because of the possible evolutionary benefits - procuring resources, attracting a mate, etc.

This is a very strong claim actually. If being brave is a virtue in and of itself, then the opposite is likely true: being a coward is in and of itself a flaw in a person. So when you deceive someone, run away in cowardice, treat someone cruelly, you are in fact punishing yourself, even if you "get away with it" all the way until you die. If you engage in the worst moral crimes possible, murder, rape, torture, etc., your true punishment is that given the choice to be a worthy human, you chose to be a person who rapes and murders. This is the ultimate punishment for that person and nothing else follows it. You don't have to go to hell after death to be punished for your crimes, because committing those crimes was already it's own punishment. So heaven and hell are not the next stage of our lives. They are our current lives as we are living them. If our purpose in life is to be as good as we can be, then each step we take away from it - whether or not we ourselves even recognize it - is a step into hell.

Blogger in the scheme of things

Lest anyone think blogs are super important, here are my typical stat counts.

Monday - Friday, average number of visitors: 11.
Saturday and Sunday, average number of visitors: 1

Let's us all know that blogs are nice and all as a way to take a break from work. But when people could be doing almost anything else - like watching Red Dawn on ActionSundayCinema - blogs go largely ignored.

I would blame this on my lack of posting for almost a week, but truth is it's been this way for months, even when I posted a lot.

me and the Sisa kids

This is me with my summer kids at school. From left to right: Brian, Seung-Jae, Sara, Kelvin, David, Thecla, me, Agatha, Tammy, Sally, Jade, and Michel. Thanks to teacher Sara for the pic.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Baton Rouge Moves Ahead

From talking to my friends and family in the Baton Rouge area, I am happy to report that all seem to be fine, and are coping with the shortages and traffic well. I have heard that Baton Rouge is expected to grow from half a million to a million people due to the N.O. influx. My guess is that this is too large. Some will move back to N.O. in a couple years. A greater number will move on to larger cities in the search for jobs. Baton Rouge simply doesn't have enough to go around. But it could still grow to 7 or 8 hundred thousand - a 50% growth in a year. The question now is: how will they grow?

My understanding is that Baton Rouge - like almost all of Louisiana, including my home town - was on the path of default segregation with white flight to private schools, etc. But it was not yet to the extent of New Orleans with its size and long history. So now that Baton Rouge has to grow to handle tens of thousands of people, how will they grow? Will the poor black New Orleans citizens end up in almost exclusively black neighborhoods with poor schools and no jobs in the immediate vicinity, or will there be one Baton Rouge all struggling together?

Imagine how much better things would have been if New Orleans had not been the separated city of haves and have-nots that it was. Let's say you are packing your things up to evacuate in the Cherokee, and you realize the elderly woman down the street that you wave to on her porch doesn't drive. A large number of people would have made a spot for her in their car. But in a city of haves and have-nots, the people with the Cherokee are not anywhere near that woman. It doesn't occur to anyone to take her anywhere, and what happened to New Orleans is the result.

My point is simply this. Certainly, everyone is ultimately responsible for themselves. They must make their own life. But we don't have to make the job for them almost impossibly hard by by isolating them from everyone else. People are prone to make enough mistakes in the best of circumstances. We don't need to place even more obstacles in the way of some.

So what will Baton Rouge do? Will they build neighborhoods where it is extremely difficult to improve yourself, or will they integrate? I am pessimistic, but Louisiana may surprise me. I hope they do.

Professional web site up

OK. "Professional" is a stretch. I just put up my student web site that has things like my resume and such on it. I used it as an experiment to learn some of the Adobe tools that are part of my new job. I didn't do anything fancy yet. Just a table and links, but you have to start somewhere. It's at this web site.

Monday, September 05, 2005

New Orleans music

WWOZ is a public radio station out of New Orleans that supports all things N.O. and N.O. music. They are off the air, not having a station anymore, and their staff is distributed to 8 different states. If you want to help them get back on the air, follow this link: It's worth it. And to get in the spirit, they have managed to get some old broadcasts playing over the web for now.

Friday, September 02, 2005

outta here

Ok. 2:52AM. Phonology homework done. I'm outta here. Be back at 8:00 though. Yuck.

Journal ready to publish

OK, it's 2:00 AM and the journal is ready to publish. Now all that is left is the Phonology homework. OK, well I won't have read anything for the 3 classes tomorrow, but at least, when I get that homework done, I will have completed everything I actually hand in. Might have to fake the rest.

Chickasaw Intonation down

Alright. It's 1:00 AM, and I have finished the notes for my presentation tomorrow on Chickasaw Intonation. Next up I get to make a few quick edits to the journal which publishes tomorrow - well, today, I guess it is.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Ever wonder about Chickasaw

This week is insanely busy with the job transfer, a presentation, a paper, and regular homework. I just finished the little paper which is about the classification of Chickasaw (an Amerindian language) and Numfor (a Papuan language), so I pasted it below.

Genetic Classification of Chickasaw and Numfor
            Chickasaw is a language of America spoken by approximately 1,000 speakers in south-central Oklahoma per the 1999 census of the Chickasaw Nation. There are 35,000 – 37,000 people of Chickasaw ethnicity; so roughly 3% of ethnic Chickasaw use the Chickasaw language as their native language. (Gordon, 2005.) The original Chickasaw homeland was east of the Mississippi River.  In the early 19th century, the Chickasaw claimed land from what is now Tupelo in northeastern Mississippi, west to the Mississippi River, and where the Ohio, Tennessee, and Mississippi rivers converge.  The Chickasaw were relocated by the United States government in the 1830s, where they were originally settled on the western land of the Choctaw Nation (also a people moved from the American South-East). This land was later split off to make the Chickasaw Nation. (Crawford, 1975)
            Chickasaw has been identified as belonging to a Muskogean language family since at least Powell (1880).  The core of this language family has also remained intact for a long time including at least Chickasaw, Choctaw, Alabama, and Creek.  There have been no suggestions to change this core group in the intervening years. However, there have been many debates concerning 1) how the Muskogean language family fits with a possible Amerind super family; 2) how it connects to possible isolate languages such as Natchez, Tunica, and Yuki; and 3) whether or not Chickasaw is a dialect of Choctaw or a distinct language.  Greenberg (1987) fits Muskogean within a Penutian branch of the Amerind family.  Greenberg (1987: 379-86) provides the tree in Figure 1 [only relevant portions of the classification are presented here]:

Figure 1. Classification of Chickasaw
1. Amerind
a. Northern Amerind

                                                     i.     Almosan-Keresiouan
                                                      ii.     Penutian
1.     Yuki-Gulf
a.     Muskogean
                                                                                                           i.     Chickasaw, Choctaw, Alabama, Creek, Hitchiti, Koasati, Muscogee
b.     Atakapa
c.     Chitimach
d.     Natchez
e.     Tunica
f.      Yukian
2.     Californian
3.     Chinook
4.     Mexican
5.     Oregon
6.     Plateau
7.     Tsimshian
8.     Zuni
                                                        iii.     Hokan
b. Central Amerind, Chibchan-Paezan, Andean, Equatorial-Tucanoan, Ge-Pano-Carib

This grouping, however, is far from agreed upon.  Ruhlen (1987) follows Greenberg's basic shape, however, Lyovin (1997) keeps Muskogean as a separate language family.  Greenberg's use of a Gulf family is largely based on Haas (1951) who attempted to establish this grouping of Muskogean with Natchez, Chitimach, Atakapa, and Tunica.  However, Haas (1979) largely repudiates this Gulf grouping and renders Muskogean as an independent family again with the others as isolates.  Greenberg and Ruhlen are also at odds with Sapir (1929) who puts the Muskogean family in an Eastern Group of Hokan-Siouan.
            The other issue of debate is whether or not Chickasaw is a dialect of Choctaw.  As far back as Gatschet (1884), Chickasaw was listed as one dialect among many of Choctaw.  Pulte (1975) argues for a single Chickasaw-Choctaw language making up the Western Muskogean family.  (All other Muskogean languages are placed in an Eastern Muskogean grouping.) There is no doubt that Choctaw and Chickasaw are closely related genetically, as well as sources of borrowing from one another to the present day.  Munro and Willmond (1994)'s Chickasaw Analytic Dictionary discusses words which sound "properly" like Choctaw words to a Chickasaw speaker, and thus not considered true Chickasaw.  Gordon (2005) mentions that some Choctaw speakers report Chickasaw to be unintelligible. Whether or not Chickasaw and Choctaw are dialects or separate languages, they are considered separate languages to native speakers due to centuries old cultural and political divisions (Pulte 1975).
            Numfor is a language of Bird's Head and the islands of Cenderawasih Bay in Irian Jaya, Indonesia, also known as West Papua.  Gordon (2005) identifies Numfor with the language of Biak, though he mentions that some consider Numfor a separate language from Biak.  All data located about Numfor, however, always treat Numfor and Biak simultaneously.  This brief description follows that pattern, and Biak will sometimes be used as a name for Numfor here.
            Biak-Numfor is spoken primarily in the Biak-Numfor Regency, a political entity within Irian Jaya, Indonesia. It is composed of several islands, including Biak, Numfor and Yapen, with Biak both the largest and most populous. Gordon (2005) identifies approximately 30,000 speakers of Biak.  (Berry and Berry 1987) also identify approximately 1000 Biak speakers in the West Bird's Head villages of Sausapar and Werur Kecil with Biak speakers making up about 50% of Sausapar and the entire village of Werur Kecil.  They report that the Biak speakers are relatively fluent in Indonesian compared to the Abun speakers with whom they live.
Biak is the native language of this well-defined community of speakers.  I was not able to determine whether Biak was an official language of the Biak-Numfor Regency or not, though it is not a national language of Indonesia.  There have been demonstrations for West Papuan independence with sometimes violent confrontations with Indonesian military forces. (Human Rights Watch, 1998)
            Cappel (1969) identifies Biak as an Austronesian language of West Papua but goes no further in its classification.  Gordon (2005) creates the classification in Figure 2 [only relevant portions of the classification are presented here]:
Figure 2. Classification of Biak-Numfor
1. Austronesian
a. Malayo-Polynesian

                                                     i.     Central-Eastern
1.     Eastern Malayo-Polynesian
a.     South Halmahera – West New Guinea
                                                                                                           i.     West New Guinea
1.     Cenderawasih Bay
a.     Biakic
                                                                                                                                                                 i.     Biak-Numfor
                                                                                                                                                                  ii.     Dusnor
                                                                                                                                                                    iii.     Meoswar
b.     Iresim
c.     Mor
d.     Raja Ampat
e.     Tandia
f.      Waropen
g.     Yapen
h.     Yaur
i.      Yeretuar
                                                                                                            ii.     South Halmahera
b.     Oceanic

Berry, K. and C. Berry. 1987. "A survey of some West Papuan phylum languages." Workpapers in Indonesian Languages and Cultures 4; 25-80.
Capell, A. 1969. A Survey of New Guinea Languages. Sydney: Sydney University Press.
Crawford, J. 1975.  "Southeastern Indian Languages," in Studies in Southeastern Indian Languages, ed. by Crawford, J.  Athens: The University of Georgia Press.
Foley, W. 1986. The Papuan Languages of New Guinea. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gatschet, A. 1884. "A migration legend of the Creek Indians," vol.1 Brinton's Library of Aboriginal American Literature, Number 4. Philadephia.
Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.),  2005.  Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition.  Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. Online version: .
Greenberg, J.H. 1987.  Language in the Americas. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Haas, M. 1941. "The classification of the Muskogean Languages" in Language, Culture, and Personality, Essays in Honor of Edward Sapir, ed. by Spier, L., A. Hallowell, and S. Newman, pp. 41-56. Menasha, Wisconsin.
Haas, M. 1958.  "A new linguistic relationship in North America: Algonkian and the Gulf languages," in SJA, 14: 231-64.
Haas, M. 1979. " Southeastern Languages" in The Languages of North America: Historical and Comparative Assessment, ed. by Cambell, L and M. Mithun.  Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press.
Human Rights Watch. 1998. "Indonesia: Human rights and pro-independence actions in Irian Jaya."
Lyovin, A. 1997. An Introduction to the Languages of the World. New York: Oxford University Press.
Munro, P. and C. Willmond. 1994. Chickasaw: An Analytic Dictionary.  Norman and London: University of Oklahoma Press.
Powell, J. 1880.  Introduction to the Study of Indian Languages, with Words, Phrases, and Sentences to be Collected, 2nd Edition.  Washington: Bureau of Ethnology.
Pulte, W. 1975. "The position of Chickasaw in Western Muskogean," in Studies in Southeastern Indian Languages, ed. by Crawford, J.  Athens: The University of Georgia Press.
Ruhlen, M. 1987. A Guide to the World's Languages, Vol. 1: Classification. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Sapir, E. 1929. "Central and North American languages." Encyclopedia Britannica 14th Edition, 5: 138-141.

Responsibility for Katrina Disaster

I have come across more and more posts lately talking about the various failures of various agencies in handling the Katrina disaster. I understand many of the points against various political entities who messed up. However, I have a hard time having great anger at the moment towards them. I'm not all that interested in Bush or Appropriations Committees, etc. I am from Louisiana (it's home; im in Hawaii now) and I don't want them spending a single second of their day worrying about political damage control, talking points, defending previous actions, etc. I want every ounce of attention focused on getting food, water, and shelter to the thousands homeless and then rebuilding the places that are gone. Once all the people are safe and once the big plans are in action, then let heads roll for letting it happen, but don't make them waste time now, worrying about the mistakes they already made, when there are people still sitting on their rooftops.