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January 19th, 2019

This is the first long weekend of a new year; Monday is Martin Luther King Day.  Therefore, I will continue to focus on the slavery history of the United States in Jill Lepore's book.I have written--many times--even in this blog, that I have no idea how African-Americans live without always b

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January 18th, 2019

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued his famous presidential proclamation, freeing slaves.  He was the 16th President.  Why didn't any of the previous fifteen issue such a proclamation?  For that matter, why didn't the first president, Washington, issue one?Jill Lepore writes:What wou

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January 17th, 2019

Of course we have differences of opinions on various aspects of the human condition, within our countries and across the world.  I might disagree with you, dear reader, but I will not lose respect for you simply because we disagree.However, there are issues where there is simply no fuzziness

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January 16th, 2019

Even as I continue to read Jill Lepore's sweeping, single-volume, history of the United States, it is difficult to shut myself off from the shit that pours out of trump's mouth and tweets.  It is his mouth that is really a shithole!The horrible human being in the Oval Office evoked the Wounded Knee mas

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January 15th, 2019

Barely into a tenth of the book, one truth emerges--the hypocritical and contradictory beliefs of the Europeans who settled in the new world.  On the one hand, they claim to be fleeing persecution, and are in search of freedom.  On the other hand, they annihilate Native Americans and bring in humans from Africa as

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January 14th, 2019

One of the factoids that I share with students is how India and China were the richest countries on the planet for the longest time.  Not only rich, but advanced in scientific and literary fields also.  Math, astronomy, metallurgy, whatever it was, well, they had it all.Yet, they didn't seem to have ha

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January 13th, 2019

When we were kids, the world was explained to us in simple terms. And we believed in those explanations.As we get older, even by middle school, we begin to ask questions that require a bit more detail.  The more we learn, it turns out that often we end up knowing less.Way back in school, I forge

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January 11th, 2019

After the series of posts related to David Shulman's Tamil: A Biography (click here for the posts) I need a break.When I return, I will launch into learning about the adopted country.  The text--if it interests you

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... to the Tamil of today

The only problem that I have with David Shulman's biography of Tamil is that for a book authored by a person of his caliber, and for a book published by Harvard University Press, there are quite a few inconsistent spellings throughout.  Even Tenkasi is spelled as Tenkaci in one context.  In the opening pages, the

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January 10th, 2019

Even in the title, David Shulman makes clear that he is writing a biography of Tamil, and not a history.Old languages like Tamil, given to intense reflection of many centuries, write their own autobiographies, in many media, though we may not know hot to read them.  Sometimes they ask the assistance o

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January 9th, 2019

Tirunelveli with its own dialect is where my people are from.  Well, one branch is from close to Tirunelveli, and the other is at Sengottai, which is at the foothills of the Western Ghats.  Sengottai used to be a part

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January 8th, 2019

Consider the following sentence:Tradition means living while adhering to usage as befits the refined culture of particular people in a particular time and place.What an awesome definition of tradition, right?But, there is way more to that sentence.What happens to the gl

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January 7th, 2019

Back during the Neyveli years, we went to the local sabha to watch live musical performances and theatre.  I simply assumed then that most of India was into the highbrow cultural life.  And have been disappointed to find out ever since that most of India does not care a shit about the intellectual and

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January 6th, 2019

Dandin, the bestselling Pallava author

I had always wondered about the Sanskrit in the names of the big time Tamil kings of the past.  Like Mahendravarman and Narasmimha among the Pallavas, and Raja Raja and Rajendra Cholans.  I mean, these figures loom large among the Tamil imagination and yet they have Sanskrit names?  In comparison, the great T

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I have blogged, talked, and written about how the formal education system from elementary school onward is rarely about understanding the big picture.  Instead, it is mostly about monetizing what one can do.  Learning languages and history, reading and appreciating poetry, are some of the prominent losers among ma

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January 5th, 2019

Those cunning linguists!

In my early years of teaching, which was back in California, it did not take me much time to understand that students in my classes needed to learn how to write at the college level.  But, I could not spend all my class time teaching them about writing, nor did I have the ability to explain to the class how to write we

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