Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Living My Life by Emma Goldman (Emma Goldman autobiography): Book Review (Scripted)



Video version of an old post (as I explained about HERE)

I ended up rambling for 30 minutes until the camera cut me off.  But this video is loosely based on 3 blog posts.

http://joelswagman.blogspot.com/2005/06/thoughts-on-emma-goldman.html

http://joelswagman.blogspot.com/2005/07/emma-goldman-visits-grand-rapidsand.html

http://joelswagman.blogspot.com/2006/03/thoughts-on-non-violence.html

The Camera I'm Using has a 30 minute time limit, so it automatically shut down after 30 minutes.  So this ends abruptly in the middle.  I decided that it was just as well, since 30 minutes was long enough for me to ramble about this book.
Started: Teaching Young Language Learners by Annamaria Pinter

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The King of the Golden Mountain: The Grimm Brothers' Fairy Tales Story Time ESL Listening

(TESOL Worksheets--The Brothers Grimm Fairy TalesStory Time ESL Listening)
Worksheet: drivedocspub
Video 1: HERE, Video 2: HERE, Story-Listening: HERE, Quizlet: HERE










The King of the Golden Mountain: Grimm Brothers Fairy Tale #92
Video slow speed: https://youtu.be/4-YJmH0MT2w
Video normal speed: https://youtu.be/QS5WtVNql0c
Video Story-Listening Version: https://youtu.be/GYxIol75-WY
Quizlet: https://quizlet.com/_5ugghs

Suggested Use:
Step 1: Look at the vocabulary. Check any words that you don’t know in your dictionary.
Step 2: Listen to the video. (Listen only.  Don’t look at the reading yet).
Step  3: Practice the vocabulary on Quizlet
Step 4: Watch the video again.  This time look at the reading. Read and listen at the same time.
Step 5: Practice the vocabulary on Quizlet again
Step 6: Listen one last time.  The last time, don’t look at the reading.

Vocabulary
able, afraid, alive, alone, argue, beat, believe, boat, boot, bottom, box, business, castle, cat, celebrate, check, chest, circle, cloak, clothes, coat, creature, decide, draw, drink, drown, dwarf, empty, enemy, enter, fairy, fall, fall in love, faraway, farmer, feel, fight, finally, follow, full, get married, giant, go into, go into business, golden, goods, grab, ground, grow, grow up, guard, heal, hit, husband, inheritance, invisible, invisibility, kick, king, land, lay, lay down, leg, lose, magic, magical, married, marry, merchant, middle, once, once upon a time, outside, palace, place, plan, poor, princess, promise, push, queen, rest, revenge, ring, sad, sea, shore, should, sink, snake, son, still, strange, surface, sword, tired, tonight, tree, type, unknown, upon, upstairs, wake up, wave, wedding, wherever, wine, worry, worth

The King of the Golden Mountain: Grimm Brothers Fairy Tale #92
Once upon a time, there was a merchant.  (A “merchant” is someone who buys and sells things.)  He was very rich.  One day, he put all his goods onto a boat.  (“Goods” are things that people buy and sell) , because he wanted to take them to a faraway land to sell them and make a lot of money.
But, the boat sank in the water. (“Sink” means to go down under the water).  And the merchant lost everything.  He went from being very rich, to being very poor. 
One day, as the poor man was walking outside, he met a dwarf. (A “dwarf” is like a small man.  Dwarves are magical.)  The dwarf asked him why he was sad.  The merchant told the dwarf that he had lost all of his money.
“I will give you lots of gold,” said the dwarf.  (“Gold” is something that is worth a lot of money).  “But, in 12 years time, you must bring me the first thing that touches your leg when you go home tonight.”
The merchant thought that the first thing that would touch his leg would be his cat or his dog.  So he said yes.  But, when he came home, his little son grabbed him by the leg.  Then, the merchant was very sad.
But, when the merchant went upstairs to check his chest, the chest was still empty.  (A “chest” is a big box where you keep things).   So the merchant thought that maybe it had all been a dream.
But, one month later, when the merchant was looking for something upstairs, he saw the chest again, and this time the chest was full of money.  The merchant was very happy, and he forgot all about his promise to the dwarf, and he used the money to go back into business.
In 12 years, the merchant’s son grew up.  And one day, the merchant remembered the promise he had made to the dwarf.  And he felt very sad.  The boy asked his father why he was so sad.  And the father told him about his promise, and said that he must give the boy to the dwarf.
But, the boy told his father not to worry.  The boy had a friend who was a fairy.  (A “fairy” is a small magical creature.)  At night, the fairy came to talk to the boy, and told him everything he should do.  The fairy told the boy to draw a circle on the ground, and the fairy said that the dwarf will not be able to come into the circle.
So, the next day, the boy and his father went to meet the dwarf.  And the son drew a circle, and he and his father sat in the middle of it.  The dwarf came, but the dwarf could not enter the circle.
The dwarf was very angry.  “A promise is a promise,” said the dwarf.  “You must give the boy to me.”
“I will not come out,” said the boy.
They talked and talked for a long time, and at last, they decided.  The father would not give his son to the dwarf, but the father would have to put his son into a boat, and push the boat out onto the sea.
So, the son got into the boat, and his father pushed him out onto the sea.  But, before the boy got far, a wave turned the boat over.  The father and the dwarf were watching from the shore. The father thought his son had drowned. (“Drowned” means to die in the water.)  The dwarf thought he had gotten his revenge.  Both the dwarf and the father went away.
But, the boy had not drowned.  The good fairy had been watching the boy, and the fairy rescued the boy from the bottom of the sea and brought him up to the surface again.  The boy held onto the boat, and was safe.  He travelled in the sea for a long time, until at last he came to land in an unknown place.
In this place, there was a mountain made of gold.  And on the golden mountain, there was a palace.  (A “palace” is a big castle where the king lives.)  The boy went into the palace, but it was empty.  There was no one there.
At last, in one of the rooms, the boy found a white snake.  The white snake said to him, “I am really a princess.  I was changed into a snake by magic.  You can help me.  Tonight, 12 men will come here.  They will beat you.”  (“Beat” means to hit and kick someone).  “You must not say anything or try to fight them.  Let them beat you.  If you do this for 3 nights, then I will turn back into a princess.”
That night, 12 men came, and they beat the boy.  But he didn’t fight them, and he didn’t say anything.
After 3 nights, the white snake changed back into a princess.  The boy was almost dead by this time, but the princess used her powers to heal him.  And then the boy and the princess fell in love, and got married.  And the boy became the king of the mountain, and the princess became the queen.  And they had a son.
8 years later, the king of the golden mountain wanted to see his father again.  He told the queen about his plan to visit his father.  But the queen said, “Don’t go.  If you go, bad things will happen to us.”  But the king really wanted to see his father.  So at last, the queen said, “Okay, you can go.  Take this ring.  It’s a magic wishing ring.  Wherever you wish to go, the ring will bring you.  But, you must promise never to use the ring to bring me to your father’s house.”
“I promise,” said the king.
The king took the ring, and wished himself to the town where his father lived.  And the ring brought him there.  But, when the king tried to go into the town, the guards would not let him in because his clothes were so strange.  So the king had to change clothes with a farmer, and then the guards let him into the town.
The king went to his father’s house, and he said, “Father, I am your son.”
But his father said, “You are not my son.  My son died eight years ago.” 
“No, it is me,” said the son.  “I am still alive.”  But his father would not believe him.  Finally, the king showed his father his arm.  As a boy, he had always had a red mark on his arm.  When the father saw the red mark, he knew it was his son.
Next, the king told him that he had married a princess, and had had a son, and was king of a golden mountain.  “This cannot be true,” said his father.  “Look at your clothes.  They are not king’s clothes, but farmer’s clothes.”
At this, the king became angry, and he forgot his promise to his wife.  And he wished for his wife and son to be brought to his father’s house.  And his wife and son appeared.  But his wife, the queen, was very angry, because he had broken his promise.
Later that day, while they were walking, the king felt very tired.  He and the queen and his son laid down under a tree to rest.  But while he was sleeping, the queen took his ring off of his finger.  And then the queen wished herself and her son back to the palace, leaving the king all alone.
The king woke up, and realized he was all alone.  He didn’t know what to do, but he decided to start walking until he got back to the golden mountain.
While he was walking, the king came across 3 giants. (A “giant” is someone who is very big.)  The 3 giants were arguing about their inheritance.  (An “inheritance” is something you get when your father dies.) 
There were 3 things: magic boots that could take you wherever you wanted, a magic cloak that could make you invisible, and a magic sword.  If you say “heads off”, this sword could cut off the heads of your enemies.  (A “cloak” is a type of coat.  “Invisible” means that no one can see you.)
The giants couldn’t decide who should get which things.  They were arguing and arguing.  So, the giants asked the king to help them decide.  “I will help you,” said the king, “but first I need to hold the things, so that I can better decide who should get them.”  So, the giants gave him the magic boots, and the magic cloak, and the magic sword. 
The king put on the cloak, and the boots, and held the sword, and as soon as he had all three, he used the magic boots to wish himself back to his palace.
When the king got back to his palace, he saw that there were many people there, and there was a big party.  He asked what was happening, and the people there told him that the queen was going to marry another husband.
The king put on the invisibility cloak, so that no one could see him.  And he went into the palace.
In the palace, everyone was eating and drinking to celebrate the wedding.  But the king stood next to the queen.  Whenever the queen tried to eat something, he would move the food away.  And whenever the queen tried to drink something, he would move the wine away.  So the queen couldn’t eat or drink anything. 
The queen became afraid, and she stood up, and left the table, and went back into her room to cry.  “What is happening to me?” she asked.
The king followed her to her room, and took off his invisibility cloak.  “I am your true husband,” he said, “and I have come back.”
Then, the king went back out to the party.  “Everyone get out,” he said.  “This party is over.”  But the people would not leave.  And they tried to fight the king.  So the king took out his magic sword.  “Heads Off” the king said, and the sword cut everyone’s heads off.
And so the king was king of the golden mountain once more.

Godzilla Final Wars: Movie Review (Scripted)



Video version of an old post (as I explained about HERE)
For the original post, see:
http://joelswagman.blogspot.com/2004/12/more-odds-and-ends.html

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Take Back the Right by Philip Gold: Book Review (Scripted)



...Sorry this ends so abruptly I had some problems filming this.  There was only one sentence left, so I decided not to re-film.
The one sentence left was "And yet there’s probably some truth to the statement. Unfortunately not all good intentions lead to good results, and there is a danger protesting, if overly confrontational, can hurt its own cause."

Video version of an old post (as I explained about HERE)
For the original post, see:
http://joelswagman.blogspot.com/2004/10/my-weekend-in-oita-when-i-left-oita-at.html

http://joelswagman.blogspot.com/2004/11/making-sense-of-election-im-not-going.html

http://joelswagman.blogspot.com/2006/05/anti-war-protest.html

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley: Book Review (Scripted)



Video version of an old post (as I explained about HERE)
For the original post, see:
http://joelswagman.blogspot.com/2004/10/so-i-find-myself-back-in-internet-cafe.html



The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

(Book Review)

Started: December 25, 2018
Finished: December 31, 2018

Why I Read This Book
So, this is another one of those books that has been on my reading list for forever.
It was first recommended to me back in my college days.  (Strange to reflect that this book was only published in 1986.  It was already regarded as a classic in the mid-90s.)  I hung out with a political crowd back in those days, and this was a favorite book among the feminists I knew.

I put this book off for years, in part because I got the impression from my friends that this book was more preachy than fun.  But then a few things brought it back to my interest.
I read an excerpt from another Margaret Atwood book--The Blind Assassin --and was impressed by the writing style.
I've never seen any episodes of the Hulu TV show.  But I was nevertheless intrigued that the book had apparently had enough plot and world building in it to justify multiple seasons of a TV show.  (It's been renewed for a 3rd season now (W)).
For the past couple years, I'd been hoping to do this as a book club book.  I kept suggesting it.  (It was in my list of suggestions HERE).  But no one else bit.  In large part, because everyone else in the bookclub had already read this book ages ago.
When my parents were in Saigon last year, my mom gave me her copy.  And I finally got around to reading it last month.

The Review
Given that this book is a feminist classic, I'm probably going to get a lot of people mad at me.  But I didn't understand what it was critiquing.

I don't know.  Maybe I'm missing the point.  (I'm probably missing the point.  What are the odds that everyone else is wrong about this book?)

As I read the book, I kept wondering to myself what the point of this book was, and what the point of a dystopian genre is in general.
This book is partly inspired by Orwell's 1984.  (Atwood started writing it in the year 1984).  Orwell wrote 1984 as a warning against a possible future.  But The Handmaid's Tale seems so far-fetched that it can't be taken seriously as a warning against a possible future.

...or at least that's my opinion.  Lots of other people think differently, apparently.  After finishing this book, I looked up several reviews of it to try to make sense of what the point of it was.  Many reviewers said something along the lines of "It's frightening how close this is to becoming a reality."

So, I guess I have to argue my case then.  Here are the reasons why I think this book is nowhere close to a realistic portrayal of a possible reality.
First, let me grant that there are elements in this book that are rooted in realistic concerns.  The most obvious one is the concern is that women are going to lose control of their sexuality.  The ability of women to have sex on their own terms for their own pleasure has always been precarious.  For much of world history, women had no control.  In the modern West, women have established some control over their sexuality, but it's only after years of struggle. And there are elements in society who want to take this control away from women.  In many other areas of the world, women even today have no control.
In fact, the idea of women losing control of their sexuality is so well established in history that this part of the novel wouldn't even need to be a dystopian future. It could just as easily be set 200 years in the past.  Or it could be set in modern day in the some parts of the world.

It's everything else about this world which confused me.  The whole system of handmaids, who were given out as baby-making slaves to infertile couples, seemed completely out of nowhere.
The inspiration does come directly from the Bible (the story of how Leah and Rachel used their handmaid's to get more children). But this can probably be classified as one of those crazy Old Testament stories that no one reads anymore.  To imagine any modern government in America, even a Christian one, using this as inspiration is stretching things quite a bit.
Secondly, even within the book, the justification for this new system is based on an infertility crisis.  So even by the book's logic, you couldn't argue that our current political climate is leading towards this system, unless there was also some mysterious infertility crisis that also occurred.
(And there's also a toxic environmental crisis going on somewhere in the book as well, which is used as another motivation. People do not to want to get banished to the colonies, and this also helps create a climate of dystopian control.  But arguably the environmental crisis is a minor plot point in the book?)
It also confused me how the repression of women's sexuality would lead to a 1984 style totalitarian government in which (among other things) women were hanged reading.  We've had plenty of patriarchal governments before in world history, and none of them were this extreme.  1776 America was a patriarchy.  Classical Athens was a patriarchy.  Women didn't have rights in these societies, but nor were they rounded up and put in re-education camps, or hanged because they were caught reading.

Within the novel, it seems clear that the religious right is target of the critique.  There are references to the abortion debate and pornography debate, both of which were big issues of the religious right during the 1980s, when this book was written, and continue to be issues today.  There are multiple references to Christianity as an ideological justification for keeping woman in submission, including the infamous passage in 1 Timothy chapter 2:11-15:
11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
A version of this passage is quoted in full by one of the characters on page 221.
I grew up in a religious community in which I knew a lot of people who took this passage seriously.  And if women are nervous about these kind of groups gaining power, then fair enough.
(Although I still think the idea of women being hanged for reading, or being enslaved as handmaids, is pushing things too far.  Not even the religious right would do that.)

...except, that in the 2017 introduction to the book, Margaret Atwood claims the book is not a critique of religion.  The regime is simply using Biblical ideology as a front:
The regime uses biblical symbols, as any authoritarian regime taking over America doubtless would; they wouldn't be Communists or Muslims. (Introduction, p. xvii)
and
So the book is not "anti-religion." It is against the use of religion as a front for tyranny; which is a different thing altogether. (Introduction p. xviii)

(Searching on the Internet, I've found Margaret Atwood has repeated this in other interviews.  She doesn't view the book as a critique of religion.)
But then, if the novel is not a critique of religion, what is it a critique of?  What other sectors in society does Margaret Atwood think wants to control women's sexuality?

The timing also seemed completely unrealistic to me as well.  (Although maybe arguing about the timing is a nitpick?)  The timeline wasn't 100% clear to me, but the main character is in her early 30s in the novel's present day, and she was in her 20s when the changes began to happen.  So presumably the world completely changed in about 5 years.
I'll grant that 5 years is enough time for one society to crumble.  But I don't think it's enough time for a new one to be established in its place.  And certainly not enough time for traditions and institutions to become normalized--as they are portrayed in this novel.  (I had the same criticisms of It Can't Happen Here and Anno Dracula).

In short, I thought the whole vision of the future presented in this novel was completely unrealistic, and I didn't buy into it for a minute.
...which wouldn't necessarily have been a deal breaker if the novel had been more exciting or more fast paced or less depressing.  But the novel was just so slow moving, and every passage was bent on making you feel the full depression of this world, and how dehumanizing it was to its characters.  But as I was reading it, I kept thinking to myself, "Why am I wasting my time with this?  What lesson am I supposed to be learning here?'

I don't know.  If someone can explain this book to me, I'm open to being talked into a more positive opinion.  But I just didn't get it.  And the book was too slow moving, and too depressing for anyone to want to read unless you thought it was critiquing something worthwhile.

Video Review
Video Review HERE and embedded below.  I talked for 30 minutes before the camera automatically turned off.  But I decided that I said most of what I wanted to say, so I left it as it was.



Link of the Day
about Education-Noam Chomsky
Old Man Trump by Woody Guthrie--Interesting Random Facts
At one point, Woody Guthrie lived in housing owned by Fred Trump--Donald Trump's father.  Woody Guthrie wrote a song called Old Man Trump about Fred Trump's racist housing policies.  He never recorded or published it.  The first verse reads:

I suppose
Old Man Trump knows
Just how much
Racial Hate
He stirred up
In the bloodpot of human hearts
When he drawed
That color line

(I was reading "Bound for Glory" in a coffee shop--courtesy of Whisky Prajer--and the guy in the seat next to me struck up a conversation with me in which he told me all about Woody Guthrie's connection to Fred Trump.  I googled it, and found this New Yorker article here.)

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Expressions and Topics for Agreeing and Disagreeing

(TESOL Worksheets--Speaking)

Google: drive, docs, pub
[Found this in my archives the other day.  It's from 3 years ago.  I don't remember why I never posted it at the time.  It looks like this was modified from a worksheet a colleague had made, and I probably didn't view it as my own original work, so I never posted it at the time.  But looking at it now, I'm fairly sure that I put a lot of work into modifying this and adding to this.  So I'm going to claim it as one of my own.]



Expressions for Agreeing and Disagreeing
Stating an opinion
  • In my opinion...
  • The way I see it...
  • If you want my honest opinion....
  • According to Lisa...
  • As far as I'm concerned...
  • If you ask me...
Asking for an opinon
  • What's your idea?
  • What are your thoughts on all of this?
  • How do you feel about that?
  • Do you have anything to say about this?
  • What do you think?
  • Do you agree?
  • Wouldn't you say?
Expressing agreement
  • I agree with you 100 percent.
  • I couldn't agree with you more.
  • That's so true.
  • That's for sure.
  • (slang) Tell me about it!
  • You're absolutely right.
  • Absolutely.
  • That's exactly how I feel.
  • Exactly.
  • I'm afraid I agree with James.
  • I have to side with Dad on this one.
  • No doubt about it.
  • (agree with negative statement) Me neither.
  • (weak) I suppose so./I guess so.
  • You have a point there.
  • I was just going to say that.
Expressing disagreement
  • I don't think so.
  • (strong) No way.
  • I'm afraid I disagree.
  • (strong) I totally disagree.
  • I beg to differ.
  • (strong) I'd say the exact opposite.
  • Not necessarily.
  • That's not always true.
  • That's not always the case.
  • No, I'm not so sure about that.
Interruptions
  • Can I add something here?
  • Is it okay if I jump in for a second?
  • If I might add something...
  • Can I throw my two cents in?
  • Sorry to interrupt, but...
  • (after accidentally interrupting someone) Sorry, go ahead. OR Sorry, you were saying...
  • (after being interrupted) You didn't let me finish.
Settling an argument
  • Let's just move on, shall we?
  • Let's drop it.
  • I think we're going to have to agree to disagree.
  • (sarcastic) Whatever you say./If you say so.

Topics for Debate
Here are 20 topics to discuss with a friend or group. Practise agreeing and disagreeing even if you have to argue against something you actually believe in. One way to have fun with this is to make up a bunch of cards that say agree or disagree. Each person has to pick up a card and then the topic is read out. It is more fun to have a debate this way because you don't have to play your true self. Try to continue each discussion for at least five minutes. Use the expressions that you learned, including agreeing, disagreeing, asking for opinions, interrupting, etc.
  • Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
  • Swimming in the ocean is better than swimming in a public pool.
  • Alcohol should be illegal.
  • Children should provide room and board for their ageing parents.
  • Studying grammar is more important than practising conversation skills.
  • Television is the leading cause of violence in today's society.
  • Dogs make better companions than cats.
  • Smoking should be permitted in public places.
  • Females are better students than males.
  • A parent shouldn't pierce a baby's ears.
  • Lawyers should make a higher salary than nurses.
  • Reading English is more difficult than listening to English.
  • Summer is the best season of the year.
  • Children under 13 should not be allowed to babysit.
  • High school students should wear uniforms.
  • 21 should be the legal driving age around the world.
  • Classical music is the best kind of music.
  • The government should pay for post secondary education (i.e. university education).
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Swimming in the ocean is better than swimming in a public pool.
Alcohol should be illegal.
Children should provide room and board for their ageing parents.
Children should provide room and board for their ageing parents.
Studying grammar is more important than practising conversation skills.
Television is the leading cause of violence in today's society.
Dogs make better companions than cats.
Smoking should be permitted in public places.
Females are better students than males.
A parent shouldn't pierce a baby's ears.
Lawyers should make a higher salary than nurses.
Reading English is more difficult than listening to English.
Summer is the best season of the year.
Children under 13 should not be allowed to babysit.
High school students should wear uniforms.
21 should be the legal driving age around the world.
Classical music is the best kind of music.
The government should pay for post secondary education (i.e. university education).



agree

disagree

agree

disagree

agree

disagree

agree

disagree

agree

disagree

agree

disagree

agree

disagree

agree

disagree

agree

disagree

agree

disagree

agree

disagree

agree

disagree

agree

disagree

agree

disagree

agree

disagree

agree

disagree

agree

disagree

agree

disagree

agree

disagree

agree

disagree

Blank cards for student’s own topics