Wednesday, November 23, 2016

My Thanksgiving tradition

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in America.

As stated many times previously, it's my favorite holiday:
More-or-less secular.
Lots of good food.
Time for family and friends.

... and, yes: It is good to give thanks!
I continue to be thankful for my undeserved good fortune in life,
for my wonderful wife, Melissa,
for my now-very-large extended family - including both Sype and Axelrod branches!
for my friends, new and old.
Just last night I had a long telephone conversation with former colleague - 'tis fun to catch up.

So, YES: Let us give thanks tomorrow for blessings, great and small!

Melissa gets an award! Way cool!!!

Kenneth L. Hale Award: Melissa Axelrod (University of New Mexico)
The Linguistic Society of America is pleased to present the Kenneth L. Hale Award for 2017 to Professor and Regents' Lecturer Melissa Axelrod of the University of New Mexico in recognition of her contributions to both the field of linguistics and to the speakers of Koyukon, Dene, Tanoan, and Ixil. Her career is an example of how, with deep dedication, abundant goodwill, and keen insight, it is possible to succeed on both sides of the putative divide between academia and community. Working with elders and preschoolers, teachers and farmers, political leaders and genocide survivors, she has engaged in projects that are both practical and innovative - from authoring dictionaries, grammatical descriptions, and research articles, to training several generations of linguists to follow her example in the very best traditions of fieldwork (including several PhD students who are themselves members of Native American communities). In short, Professor Melissa Axelrod embodies the very spirit of the Kenneth L. Hale Award. She is an inspiration to students, colleagues, and collaborators alike.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Trump's wall

Donald Trump, Phoenix, AZ, 30 August 2016:
We will build a great wall along the southern border... On day one, we will begin working on intangible, physical, tall, power, beautiful southern border wall...
Let's take a look at some other walls designed to keep folks out.
Hadrian's Wall was a defensive fortification in the Roman province of Britannia, begun in 122 AD in the reign of the emperor Hadrian. It ran from the banks of the River Tyne near the North Sea to the Solway Firth on the Irish Sea, and was the northern limit of the Roman Empire. ...

The limites of Rome were never expected to stop tribes from migrating or armies from invading, and while a frontier protected by a palisade or stone wall would help curb cattle-raiders and the incursions of other small groups, the economic viability of constructing and keeping guarded a wall 72 miles (116 km) long along a sparsely populated border to stop small-scale raiding is dubious.
Didn't work all that well.
But wait!
Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications made of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials, generally built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China to protect the Chinese states and empires against the raids and invasions of the various nomadic groups of the Eurasian Steppe.
Just a reminder: When Marco Polo visited China, the guy in charge was Kublai Khan - a Mongol... one of the folks the Great Wall was designed to keep out.

... and here's my favorite:
The Maginot Line was a line of concrete fortifications, obstacles and weapon installations that France constructed on the French side of its borders with Switzerland, Germany and Luxembourg during the 1930s.
For what it's worth: the Maginot Line worked like a charm - no one ever got through it... The Wehrmacht just went around!

There is no such thing as an impenetrable border... but it costs a LOT of $$$ to try to build one.
... And what's the point?