Monday, January 16, 2017

Nation's Early Learning

Hi folks,

We recently decided to start going internet-public with some of our daughter Nation's "Early Learning" successes, to help start conversations with friends and family. These milestones are nothing especially surprising compared to other results on the forum,, and other EL communities, but early learning is pretty controversial these days.

Here's a video from four months ago at 13m/o!!

So the only real observable outcome of EL so far is her attention span and behavior during these reading play sessions. I think she has pretty typical word-production for her age, a dozen words or so, I guess. She's imitated other things we've said before, but those were mostly one-off events.

Current 17m/o list of words produced in speech every day or two:
Baby, Bee, Mama, Papa, Pop, Ba (Chinese for 8), Auntie, Up, Down (pronounced "bauu"), Wah!, Hua (Chinese for "flower"), Ball, Zhe-ge (Chinese for "this one", accompanied by finger-pointing), Go!, head shaking for "no", Meimei ("little sister" in Chinese - that's what her older cousin calls her), Lalala (when we're reading/singing through the "Deck the Halls" book).

We use a software called "Little Reader" by Brillkids. But while the software uses regular English and Chinese scripts for those languages, I have also been showing Nation homemade books (mostly nursery rhymes in English) written in Gregg Shorthand, as in the video. I put in a lot of effort learning the Anniversary style of Gregg myself... so high hopes that it might start paying off when we start her learning to write!

Anyways, thought I'd share. XD


PS: Here's an awesome 25min video about a toddler -thru- junior high school near Mexico City that is getting a chance to mainstream EL around Mexico.

PPS: Additional detail in my forum post here.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The He** Dance

Have you ever heard an Evangelical or Mainline Protestant sermon that talks about who gets salvation and who doesn't?

Here's an interview with Evangelical pastor Tim Keller.

These sermons typically feel like a ballroom dance. Waltz, or Tango. Definitely duple, though. Not much swing step. Step forward, step sideways, step back. Forward, back, side-to-side.

Some dances are about celebrating a wedding. Some are about cultural heritage. This is a dance... about four letters or six. Who is going to which. "H-Place" number one? Or number two.

The dance gets faster and faster like a Greek circle dance. With the hankies. Like the child's game "Hot and Cold." Cold, cold, cool, getting warmer, lukewarm, warmer, warmer, hot, scalding hot, boiling oil hot, lava pit, center of the earth, surface of the sun, Burning He**fire!
Kristof: So where does that leave people like me? Am I a Christian? A Jesus follower? A secular Christian? Can I be a Christian while doubting the Resurrection?
Keller: I wouldn’t draw any conclusion about an individual without talking to him or her at length. But, in general, if you don’t accept the Resurrection or other foundational beliefs as defined by the Apostles’ Creed, I’d say you are on the outside of the boundary.

For folks privileged enough that everyone in their family is reasonably well-nourished and well-sheltered, lives without fear of physical violence, gets six or seven hours of sleep at night, affords basic health care, and the adults work for less than half their waking hours... O, privileged folks, I am one of you.

And if you are like me too, then your thoughts about H-Places might be well-explained by cognitive dissonance theory. The abyss is just too weird and Kafkaesque. I'm a chill guy, I live a comfortable life. Aspiration for the skies and discontent with purgatories seem far more relevant to my personal experience. I don't cook with a coal oven enough to relate to hellfire and brimstone.

Why did I show up to this dance anyways?

Fortunately for my racing pulse, even sermons like Pastor Keller's don't dance in the same direction. Forward, forward, back back.
Keller: The Bible is clear about two things — that salvation must be through grace and faith in Christ, and that God is always fair and just in all his dealings. What it doesn’t directly tell us is exactly how both of those things can be true together. I don’t think it is insurmountable. Just because I can’t see a way doesn’t prove there cannot be any such way. If we have a God big enough to deserve being called God, then we have a God big enough to reconcile both justice and love.
So I read this back-stepping, and it makes me think of the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25.
of-Nazareth: The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
If bringing the Good News of the Gospel empowers the weak and encourages the abused, then it is glorious. But if it is badly wielded, to extract excessive tithes, or erase a heritage, or coercively indoctrinate faith through fear, then it becomes a Bad News Gospel.

Imagine telling a devout Hindu/Buddhist/Muslim/secular-humanist/etc. that they are da**ed for the way they worship God... and it turns out that Jesus happens to be hanging out in that person in that moment.

At least as violent as any other error mentioned in the Sheep&Goats Parable. Too weird. Makes you want to reach for your fancy smartphone to check

I think pastors like Keller realize this, so you don't hear fire and brimstone sermons much anymore in empowered communities. But the Bad News Gospel is as American as apple pie, as Euro-American as the Saturnalia Solstice evergreen wreaths.

Those last two are good things. But colonialism is so rooted in our Euro-American culture, that we might even think it was a good thing.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Basic Standing Rock Q&A

Q: "What property rights of the Standing Rock Reservation are menaced by the Dakota Access Pipeline? It doesn't go through reservation land, it follows the route of existing pipelines, and they've already gone through an extensive approval process that lasted two years.

The heart of the matter is that protesters don't like oil and don't want to build pipelines because it implicitly endorses the continued extraction and use of fossil fuels. That's a perfectly acceptable viewpoint, but don't get co-opted by false claims this is simply about the tribe's property rights."
A: Because the pipeline runs under a river that does go through their property. When the pipeline bursts, the Tribe has to drink the contaminated water.
Q: But there's already a gas pipeline that goes along the same route and there are hundreds of pipelines in the U.S. that cross waterways. The Army Corps of Engineers has already evaluated this route as the least environmentally damaging one. Pipelines on the whole are MUCH less damaging than other means of transport like trucks and trains, which will be used if there's no pipeline. What's the problem?
A: Another problem is that the pipe goes through treaty lands and historical sites that were neglected in the permitting process. Consultation and recognition of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe was particularly neglected.

On the environmental side, if the pipe went north of Bismarck, then the pipe operators would have to be more careful of spills because the ND Supreme Court is right there in Bismarck. DAPL wanted to hedge their environmental liability, so they figured better to impose on the Native pushovers who wouldn't sue them so hard if/when a spill happens.

Too bad they didn't realize that a unified front of Native people across the country, and eventually "white" allies like myself, were standing right beside them. Not so much pushovers.

Easy-Read References:

A discussion of some of DAPL's illegalities here.

A graphic display of the American Genocide aka "Manifest Destiny" here with lots of citations.

The 1980 US court case that affirmed the Lakota claim to treaty lands including DAPL's pipe route is here. Here's an excerpt:
Under the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, the United States pledged that the Great Sioux Reservation, including the Black Hills, would be "set apart for the absolute and undisturbed use and occupation" of the Sioux Nation (Sioux), and that no treaty for the cession of any part of the reservation would be valid as against the Sioux unless executed and signed by at least three-fourths of the adult male Sioux population.
Subsequently, in 1876, an "agreement" presented to the Sioux by a special Commission but signed by only 10% of the adult male Sioux population, provided that the Sioux would relinquish their rights to the Black Hills and to hunt in the unceded territories, in exchange for subsistence rations for as long as they would be needed. In 1877, Congress passed an Act (1877 Act) implementing this "agreement" and thus, in effect, abrogated the Fort Laramie Treaty. Throughout the ensuing years, the Sioux regarded the 1877 Act as a breach of that treaty, but Congress did not enact any mechanism by which they could litigate their claims against the United States until 1920, when a special jurisdictional Act was passed.