Friday, December 20, 2019

So, you've probably already seen this already.  It's all over Twitter and Facebook:
Christianity Today, an influential evangelical magazine, says Trump ‘should be removed from office’
...and you might be thinking to yourself, "But why is this such a big deal? What even is Christianity Today and what are its biases and what is its history?"
Well, I've got you covered.  See HERE or HERE.

As for the text of the actual Christianity Today editorial:
I'm reluctant to give Christianity Today too much credit for saying the obvious at such a late date.  But this is the world we live in now. In a world where absolutely none of the Republicans voted to impeach Trump, and in a world where 99% of white evangelicals still support Trump, it is important that the most influential conservative evangelical Christian magazine has come out against Trump.  Maybe this will convince people who otherwise wouldn't have been convinced by the mainstream news?
At any rate, it's worth reading, and worth sharing with any white evangelicals in your circle:
The full article here:
Trump Should Be Removed from Office

And a quote to give you the flavor below:
But the facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.
The reason many are not shocked about this is that this president has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration. He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals. He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone—with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders—is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.
Rosa by Jonathan Rabb: Book Review (Scripted)

Video version of an old post (as I explained about HERE)
For the original post, see:

Thursday, December 19, 2019

I've been on twitter recently, and I've been noticing that some people are getting a little bit too jubilant about this impeachment. 
So let's keep this in perspective.
Whatever happens, Trump has won.  You can mock him for being only the 3rd President to ever get impeached if you want, but he is still a U.S. President.
It's like if the Hamburglar got impeached.  Sure, you can be happy about the fact that the Hamburglar's getting impeached, but Geez Louise how did we ever get to a point where the Hamburglar is President?
Now, don't get me wrong, as I've said before, impeachment needed to be done.  Even if it is doomed to fail in the Senate, it needed to be done.  Some sort of message needed to be sent that this kind of behavior is unacceptable.
But, if it fails in the Senate (and all indications are that it will) then this will not materially affect Trump in any way. 
Also, the fact that not one Republican supported impeachment is a real worrying sign of just how bad things have gotten.
So what is everyone so happy about?  If this is treated as just some sort of symbolic victory to gloat about to the Republicans, then it will just get them madder and increase polarization in this country, and will likely increase Trump supporter's turnout in 2020. 
To re-iterate: I'm not saying (like some strategists have) that impeachment shouldn't have been done because it will increase Trump's 2020 chance.  Impeachment needed to be done.  But it should be treated as a solemn affair, not as an opportunity to dunk on Republicans or gloat about the misfortunes of our political rivals.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

A friend posted this on Facebook today.
From the Atlantic:
The Doves Were Right. I Was Wrong.
Americans like me ignored—or scorned—protesters who warned of an endless quagmire in Afghanistan. Next time, we should listen to the critics.

First thought: "Finally, a prominent supporter of the war is admitting his mistake."
But actually, a close reading of the article reveals the author was just 21 years old at the beginning of the Afghanistan war.  Two years younger than myself.  Now he's a middle-aged columnist.

But then, that's how it goes.  The Afghanistan War is America's longest war ever.  We've all become old men while the Afghanistan War has been going on.  There are people who will be voting in the next election who weren't even born yet when the Afghanistan War started.

The Atlantic article, and The Washington Post article it references, are both must reads for finding out just how much this war has cost America, and what a complete disaster it has been from the beginning to now.

The obvious comparison is, of course, the Vietnam War.
People often say America lost the Vietnam War, but America never really lost.  We were the most powerful military in the world. There's no way we could ever have been defeated by a third-world nation of rice farmers.

But, we could never have won either.  There was no way we could invade a country we didn't understand, re-structure it so that it was just the way we liked it, and then leave and expect everything to stay like we had left it.  The moment we left Vietnam, the Vietnamese would just go back to structuring their society like they wanted.
We never really "lost" the war.  We could have stayed in Vietnam forever if we had wanted to.  But the one thing we couldn't do is leave and expect things to stay the way we had left them.

In the same way, we can stay in Afghanistan forever if we want to.  But there's no way we can ever win this war.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

I'm going to repeat myself slightly from an older post, but bear with me.

In 1995, Charles Murray was speaking at Calvin College.  One of our teachers offered us extra credit if we would go.  There was a lot of bad things in the news about Charles Murray at the time, but he completely charmed the audience (me included).  Everything he said in the speech seemed so reasonable and moderate, it was hard to imagine why so many people were upset with him.

In 2017, Charles Murray somehow got himself back into the spotlight.  If my memory of the chronology is correct, some students protested one of his speeches, and then Murray become one of the cause celebres for the anti-cancel culture movement.  Sam Harris had Charles Murray on his podcast.
I listened to that podcast episode in full, and commented on it in this post here.  I gave Murray a somewhat cautious, but largely favorable write-up in that post.  Murray came across as so reasonable and moderate, it was difficult to see why so many people were upset with him.

Enter Youtuber Shaun, who thoroughly takes apart Murray's book The Bell Curve and demonstrates why it is such bad science, and why Murray and his collaborator were deliberately skewing the data to fit their thesis.  And suddenly, it becomes clear why so many people have been upset with Murray.

I suspect the reason Charles Murray has been able to stay relevant for as long as he has is because he is so charming in person.  But perhaps appearing so moderate and reasonable in speeches and interviews is all  part of Murray's grift.  It allows him to mask the insidious arguments of "The Bell Curve" behind a facade of reasonableness and moderation.

At any rate, Shaun's video is definitely worth watching, for a thorough critique of all the problems with The Bell Curve.

The Bell Curve

From the Guardian:
Pensacola shooting: Saudi student kills three at Florida naval air station, says official

See, in relation, this post I wrote from 2017, in which I argued that Trump's Muslim ban didn't make any sense, because (I argued) Iranians, who haven't committed any acts of terrorism against US citizens, were included in the ban, but Saudi Arabian citizens, who have committed acts of terrorism, were not.included.

I bring this up, because I suspect somebody somewhere is going to argue that this incident is more evidence that the Muslim ban is necessary.  But actually it's evidence that Trump's Muslim ban is not working.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Regular Past Tense Pronunciation Lesson

(TESOL Worksheets--Past SimplePronunciationCELTA Style Lesson Plans)

Google Drive Folder HERE
Lesson Plan: drive, docs, pub
Slideshow: slides, pub
Model Text: drive, docs, pub
Picture cards: drive, docs, pub
Card Game--Adapted from by Mike Asbury: drive, slides, pub
Update: Online version: slides, pub

Senator Bobby - Wild Thing - 45rpm Novelty! 1967

My 10th grade history teacher played this for us in class one day.  He was trying to make the point that nowadays the Kennedys are heavily mythologized, but back in their day, comedians used to get a lot of mileage out of mocking their idiosyncratic speech patterns.  After their assassinations, this kind of humor quickly went out of style, and they became  martyrs.

I was thinking about this today (for whatever reason it randomly popped into my head), and I thought, "Hmm.  I wonder if that old record my history teacher played for us is on Youtube."  Turns out, it is.

...It would have been back in 1993 and 1994 that I was taking 10th grade American history.  Strange to think that about the same distance of time now separates 2019 from 1994 as 1994 was separated from 1967.  I wonder if there are 10th grade high school history teachers now who are teaching their students about 1994.
Rabbit, Run by John Updike: Book Review (Scripted)

Video version of an old post (as I explained about HERE)
For the original post, see:

Monday, December 02, 2019

Jokes Using Comparative and Superlative Adjectives (and adverbs)

(TESOL Worksheets--Comparative Adjectives, Adverbs)
[I designed this originally to be used in a lesson with comparative and superlative adjectives, but upon closer inspection a number of these are actually adverbs.  Oh well.  I think it is still legitimate as a way to practice the comparative and superlative forms, even if the adjective/adverb distinction gets a bit muddled  All of the jokes are taken from my previous lessons on jokes--here, here and here.]

Google Drive Folder HERE
Slideshow: slides, pub
handout: docs, pub
Crossword Puzzle: drive
Crossword puzzle answers: drive

Jokes Using Comparative and Superlative Adjectives and Adverbs

What kind of dog keeps the best time?

What gets bigger and bigger as you take more away from it?

What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple?

What animal is best at hitting a ball?

 What is the world's tallest building?

What is the fastest country in the world?

English is the most spoken language in the world.  But what is the least spoken language in the world?

What is the biggest kind of ant?

Two men were walking through the woods when they saw a bear.  The men ran.  The bear started chasing them.  "It's no use," said one man.  "We can't run faster than the bear."
"I don't have to run faster than the bear," said the second man.   "_________________________."

What kind of dog can jump higher than a building?

What’s the unluckiest kind of cat to have?

What is the longest word in the English language?

What gets wetter as it dries?