Let’s Abolish High School


This is the title of the article published by Robert Epstein in Education Week datelined April 4, 2007 to which a student Robert Zahari says, “Epstein for some reason seems to be nostalgic for the “good old days” of child labor when children worked 12-hour days under exploitative and dangerous conditions in impersonal factories, and seems to think that the protections we have now are unnecessary and counterproductive”. In my opinion Robert Zahari does not make a fair criticism of Epstein’s article. There may be merits and demerits in Epstein’s article that should have been evaluated and analyzed, but Zahari passes a hasty opinion on the article. On the contrary a fair reading of Epstein’s article shows that the author has no where favored child labor of the kind Zahari points out. On the contrary the overall thesis of Epstein’s article seems to be that age is no barrier to intellectual and emotional achievement. In other words, an adolescent of 15 could be as or more emotionally and intellectually advanced than an adult of 25 or 35 or more.

I agree with Epstein (2007) that age is an artificial barrier to making decisions like voting, or even doing works that adults do. He further argues, “After all, past puberty, technically speaking we’re not really children anymore, and presumably through most of human history we bore our young when we were quite young ourselves. It occurred to me that young people must be capable of functioning as competent adults, or the human race quite probably would not exist” (Epstein 2007). I agree that human beings are well developed past puberty at least physically. Also, there are prodigies that may have attained greater intellectual, emotional, and spiritual heights at quite a young age. However, those are the exceptions. The fact is that we continue to grow mentally all our life. Therefore, child-adolescent-adult is a continuum rather than well defined stages and hence age is an artificial barrier distinguishing childhood from adulthood. Consequently, for a large majority of mankind there are things a 25 year old can learn but not an adolescent of 15 because exceptionally brilliant children are exceptional. We must also admit that “we bore our young when we were quite young ourselves” is/was true in an age when science and environmental factors did not enrich human lives. The average longevity used to be 25 to 30 years. Today the average life span in the developed world is close to or past 80. Further, society and life style are evolutionary in nature. Hundred or more years down the line, it wouldn’t be surprising that a child would not attain the age of majority till 35 pr 40 with 150 or 200 years of average life span.

Epstein favors abolition of High Schools because they were designed or created under conditions like industrial revolution, great depression, or for reasons like safeguarding the limited number of jobs for those that needed the most. I cannot agree more with the author. However, Epstein (2007) merely states the obvious. While agreeing that the school system today are superfluous, I still hold that every age since time immemorial had some formal arrangement for education. Even today we are experimenting with home schooling, distance learning, online learning and several other forms of education. If Epstein is arguing, which he does not of course, for abolition of education altogether, I cannot see any more ridiculous idea because every age has unique repertoire of literary, social, and scientific know how and skills that must be passed down from generation to generation for growth unless we wish to descend to the dark ages of savagery.

The focus of Epstein’s essay is that adolescents are as capable or more capable than adults in several respects: “The research I conducted with my colleague Diane Dumas suggests that teenagers are as competent as adults across a wide range of adult abilities, and other research has long shown that they are actually superior to adults on tests of memory, intelligence, and perception” (Epstein 2007). Therefore, they should be given freedom to learn, to earn, and to do anything creative and worthwhile they need to do rather than chaining them down under hundreds of restrictions including compulsory education. I completely agree with the author here. However, Epstein does not provide us a concrete scheme of arrangement so that the young people can express themselves to the best of their talents. What would they do once they drop out of high schools? Should they be allowed to experiment with drugs, alcohol, and sex? Should they be allowed to remain delinquents or languish in institutions?

None the less, author identifies teenage turmoil in western culture and society. Therefore, the obvious solution that we have is to change the culture because there are hundreds of societies documented anthropologically that are free from teenage turmoil. I do not see merit in the logic because culture is a unilinear and irreversible growth not determined by an individual or even masses. Cultural growth is an outcome of several factors – known and unknown – that cannot be controlled. Several social scientists have evidenced that culture of a society progresses through stages from pre to post industrial stages.

I agree with the author that “Teenagers are inherently highly capable young adults; to undo the damage we have done; we need to establish competency-based systems that give these young people opportunities and incentives to join the adult world as rapidly as possible”. I agree that teenagers are highly competent. I also agree that we must have competency based systems. However, I can see that already taking place. Competent and meritorious students or teenagers are filtered quite early in life to take up sports or modeling, or television, or anything they excel at. However, a large majority still need technical or managerial or administrative or scientific and research skills that come with years of training.


Source by Ajit Kumar Jha

Bard to the Bone – Shakespeare’s Best Villains


William Shakespeare only wrote 37 plays, many of them comedies and histories. When I set out to compile a list of his greatest villains, I thought that I would probably be struggling to make a Top 10, how wrong can you be? I soon found it impossible to limit the list to 10 and even with a Top 20 there are other characters who seem equally deserving who just didn’t make it.

What constitutes a villain? — You could probably write a whole thesis on that one. I’m going to adopt a rather loose working definition – villains are people who do bad stuff. Certainly some people will be surprised and affronted to find Hamlet and Caliban on the list. I make no apologies, they do bad stuff – they’re in.

Villainy is represented here in many guises from the immature callousness of Richard II to the calculated machinations of Iago and Edmund. There are would-be seducers intent on assailing virtuous young maidens, tyrannical monarchs and more than one evil queen. Families seem to bring out the worst in people and there are malevolent sisters, brothers, stepbrothers, stepfathers and stepmothers all vying for position on this Shakespearean “most wanted” list.

So here, and in order of increasing nastiness, are Shakespeare’s bad boys (and girls)…

20. Don John (Much Ado About Nothing) — The “Bastard Prince”, brother to Don Pedro. Don John is one of the few examples of a real villain in Shakespeare’s comedies. A sour man, he tries to thwart the wedding of Hero and Claudio out of a spirit of sheer perversity. Villainous quote: “I cannot be said to be a flattering honest man, it must not be denied but I am a plain-dealing villain.”

19. Richard II (Richard II) – King of England from 1377 to 1399. Shakespeare paints a picture of an impetuous young man, self-centred and self opinionated. He orders executions, banishes those who disagree with him and imposes unfair fines and taxes. Richard’s bad behaviour is the result of too much power being in the hands of an immature child rather than being the result of malevolent calculation. Villainous quote: (Richard on his god-given right to rule) “Not all the water in the rough rude sea can wash the balm off from an anointed king.”

18. Angelo (Measure for Measure) — left in charge of Vienna, Angelo enforces archaic laws including one demanding the death penalty for getting a woman pregnant outside of marriage. He appears pious and self-righteous but soon shows himself to be a total hypocrite when he tries to bribe a young novice, Isabella, to sleep with him in return for her brother’s life. Villainous quote: (Isabella, on Angelo’s abuse of his new-found power) “O! it is excellent to have a giant’s strength; but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant.”

17. Caliban (The Tempest) — Son of the witch Sycorax, a half-human monster and slave to Prospero. Another one that will probably get some people’s hackles up, Caliban is more often portrayed as a victim than a villain. However, don’t forget that he attempted to rape Miranda and willingly plots Prospero’s death with Stefano and Trinculo (who should probably also be on the hit list if space permitted). Villainous quote: (cursing Miranda and Prospero) “As wicked dew as e’er my mother brush’d with raven’s feather from unwholesome fen, drop on you both! a south-west blow on ye, and blister you all o’er!”

16. Hamlet (Hamlet) – Prince of Denmark. Although Hamlet is ostensibly the tragic hero of the play, let’s not forget that he does some pretty dastardly things which qualify him for inclusion on this list: he sends his friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, off to almost certain death, kills Polonius and spends much of the play plotting to kill Claudius. Villainous quote: (on stabbing Polonius) “How now! A rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead!”

15. Iachimo (Cymbeline) — a dishonest and lecherous sleaze. Iachimo enters into a pact to prove that Imogen can be seduced. When he fails in his seduction attempt, he resorts to theft and trickery to dishonour the lady. Along with Angelo, one of Shakespeare’s great lounge lizard would-be seducers. Interestingly, at the end of the play Iachimo remains unpunished. Villainous quote: “If you buy ladies’ flesh at a million a dram, you cannot preserve it from tainting.”

14. Claudius (Hamlet) – Hamlet’s stepfather, responsible for killing Hamlet’s father. He tries to send Hamlet off to almost certain death, when that fails he conspires with Laertes to poison hamlet with a poisoned sword. Villainous quote: “What if this cursed hand were thicker than itself with brother’s blood – Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens to wash it white as snow?”

13. Cassius (Julius Caesar) — leader of the conspirators against Julius Caesar who persuades Brutus to join the plot. Cassius seems to be motivated by a combination of ambition and political ideology. He eventually meets his end on the battlefield committing suicide after witnessing the death of his best friend Titinius. Villainous quote: (Julius Caesar describing Cassius) “Yon Cassius hath a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous.”

12. Shylock (The Merchant of Venice) — a Jewish moneylender in Venice. Opinion is divided as to what extent Shylock is a villain or a victim. He certainly get some pretty shabby treatment at the hands of the Christians but his insistence on wanting a pound of Antonio’s flesh makes it hard to see him in a totally sympathetic light. Though Shylock seems to dominate this play, he only appears in four scenes. Villainous quote: “The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.”

11. Lady Macbeth (Macbeth) – Macbeths wife. Lady M’s ambitions for her husband result in her persuading him to stab not only Duncan but also his pages. Haunted by the murders, she eventually kills herself (offstage). Villainous quote: “Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it.”

10. Macbeth (Macbeth) — begins the play as Thane of Glamis, but quickly murders his way to the top and becomes King of Scotland. However, his reign is short lived and he is soon beheaded in battle by Macduff. Critics argue over who is most villainous, Macbeth who commits the bloody acts, or his wife who goads himon. Villainous quote: “Stars, hide your fires! Let not light see my black and deep desires.”

9. Cornwall (King Lear) — husband of Regan and a thoroughly nasty piece of work. Cornwall is a small role and is often overshadowed by some of the showier villains in the play. But don’t overlook him, he’s a ruthless torturer and deserves his place on the list. He eventually dies from a wound inflicted by one of his own servants during his torturing of Gloucester. Villainous quote: (on gouging out Gloucester’s eyes) ”Out, vile jelly! Where is thy lustre now?”

8. Richard III (Richard III ) — King of England for two years from 1483 to his death at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. Shakespeare’s prototypical villain who begins to play with a long monologue explaining his villainous motivations to the audience. Richard will stop at nothing on his quest for the throne and relishes the chaos and carnage that he causes along the way. Richard III is the second longest play in the whole of the Shakespeare canon, only Hamlet is longer. Villainous quote: (on courting Lady Anne) “Was ever woman in this humour woo’d? Was ever woman in this humour won? I’ll have her; – but I will not keep her long.”

7. Tamora (Titus Andronicus) — Queen of the Goths, brought to Rome as a captive by Titus. Though in some ways it is tempting to see Tamora as the archetypal wicked Queen, you have to remember that she has had some pretty rough treatment at the hands of the Romans. In one of the most bizarre scenes in Shakespeare, she eats her own two sons baked in a pie by Titus before he subsequently stabs her. Villainous quote: “I’ll find a day to massacre them all, and raze their faction and their family.”

6. Regan (King Lear) – Lear’s middle daughter and definitely suffering from middle child syndrome. Regan is the more openly sadistic of the two sisters, positively relishing her husband’s blinding of Gloucester. Widowed after her husband Cornwall dies from a wound inflicted by a servant, she pursues the affections of her sister’s lover, Edmund. She is eventually poisoned by her sister. eventually dies from poison administered by her sister. Villainous quote: (after helping to blind the Duke of Gloucester) “Go, thrust him out at gates, and let him smell his way to Dover.”

5. Goneril (King Lear) — Lear’s eldest daughter, she receives a third of his kingdom but can’t cope with her father and his rowdy entourage. Married to a weak husband, she publicly flaunts her affair with Edmund. She eventually stabs herself (offstage) after confessing to poisoning her sister. Villainous quote: (Albany, speaking of his wife) “O Goneril! You are not worth the dust which the rude wind blows in your face. I fear your disposition: That nature, which contemns its origin, cannot be border’d certain in itself.”

4. The Queen (Cymbeline) — Cymbeline’s wife and Imogen’s stepmother. Here’s a good prototype for an evil stepmother, she tries unsuccessfully to poison both Imogen and Cymbeline. Even though she is never given a name, the Queen is a substantial villainous role. Villainous quote: (Dr Cornelius, who has been asked to prepare deadly poisons by the queen who says she only wants to poison animals to see what happens!) “I do not like her. She doth think she has strange ling’ring poisons. I do know her spirit, and will not trust one of her malice with a drug of such damn’d nature.”

3. Edmund (King Lear) — Gloucester’s illegitimate son. He concocts a plot to have his half brother banished and has affairs with two of Lear’s daughters playing them off against each other for his own ends. Edmund is not without his redeeming qualities and at the end of the play, after he has been mortally wounded, he repents his evil deeds — however, it is all to no avail, no one’s life is saved by revelations and many directors nowadays cut his repentance speech completely. Villainous quote: “Now, gods, stand up for bastards!”

2. Aaron (Titus Andronicus) — Tamora’s Moorish lover brought by Titus as a captive to Rome. One of Shakespeare’s darkest villains who is responsible for many of the atrocities and murders in this very bloody play. When he is finally captured he gloats over his villainous deeds. Shakespeare only gives Aaron one redeeming quality, his devotion to his baby son. Villainous quote: “I have done a thousand dreadful things as willingly as one would kill a fly; And nothing grieves me heartily indeed, but that I cannot do ten thousand more.”

1. Iago (Othello) – Othello’s lieutenant and the man who engineers his downfall by persuading Othello that his wife is having an affair. Iago is an arch manipulator who is responsible directly or indirectly for all the deaths in the play. Interestingly, Iago is one of the few major villains who does not die at the end of the play. Villainous quote: “But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve for daws to peck at. I am not what I am.”


Source by Gary Dooley

How to Bag Babes


What does it mean? For guys who do not have a clue. In decent English, it means pursuing girls. In our colloquial, we call it “bagging babes”. For people in Kolkata… it is maarkri baaji!

Would keep the intro short and simple for now. Just to start with, if any of you guys doubt my potential ,please ask me questions. I would not be blowing my own trumpet here. But having said that I would be more than ready to answer all your queries as far as I can as far as Maakribaaji is concerned. My only two requests would be..1) no abusive language and 2) its about maakri baaji.. donot confuse it with love.

There’s a well known saying which states “Jaisi Urmila Waisa Formula!” Trust me guys there couldn’t have been a better phrase to bag the bombs. And this surely doesn’t end here. It has an amazingly in depth meaning to it and I can actually write a thesis on the same. Incredible? Believe me.

A beautiful girl, a studious girl, a simple girl, a hep girl, a pious girl or any other genre u might not have even come across with. Like there is no problem without a solution, there is indeed a crack for every single type of girl that exists. The key is ” give her what she wants”. And 99% of times guys. Its not money.. Serious!!

Babes basically want excitement. Solution = Be unpredictable. Donot do anything that she might have guessed in the remotest possibility. Normally what we do is, we do our research about our target and then we show off that we listen to listen to the same kind of music, we share the same kind of hobbies and that we are something very close to what she is. That’s where we do a blunder. Do it my way.

Do the research and then be the opposite. If she is religious, you are atheist. If she is studious, don’t says ure a failure but just pretend you haven’t got a clue how you scored the nineties in your boards (girls hate losers in any shape or form). If she does not like the differences no problem.. but your target is to get her thinking ” these sort of people also exist?” Job’s half done! Kono kotha hobe na!

The first formula that comes to my mind when I talk about MB is the ‘I’ formula. The subject is as vast as it is comprehensive, but I’ll try and keep it as simple as possible for you guys. We start with the ‘I’ formula.

‘I’ stands for Indifference. The ancient philosophy guides us romeos to treat your target with as much love and importance as possible. But those were ancient times guys and whether the world has changed a lot or not, the fairer sex definitely has. Now I have for you an incredible way through.

The key is indifference. However, it should never be confused with ignorance. Cause when you ignore someone, you are actually giving that person more importance. There’s just a thin line between. Let me explain by way of a short example.

Suraj enters the scene and encounters Vishal and Priya sitting together. He says a “hi guys” in general and individually asks them “how you doin?”

Here, Suraj has not been rude to any of them. He has wished them both and most importantly, equally. The way he treats guys, he treats Priya. Girls normally expect more importance than their male counterparts. If they get it, they happily assume the inclusion of one more aashique to have fallen for them. The problem starts when they don’t get what they so easily expected. They do not have any reason to hate you as you didn’t disrespect them. But on the other hand you keep them thinking “what’s wrong? Am I just any other being for this guy?” You automatically become a little different than the rest without anyone even noticing. Learning to play a guitar to impress seems a little tedious now, doesn’t it?

Once again guys, as is said earlier Jaisi urmila waisa formula… so don’t suddenly start this tactics with someone you have always been giving more importance to. You might end making a big chuu of yourself. And remember train bus and busts… they keep coming guys… sooner or later you would end up with two in your claws.

These are some things that the fairer sex does not appreciate about us. Why we do it, is one question and why we shouldn’t do it is what I have an answer for. Because the babes don’t like it. And the list starts with…

1) Self-centered dodos. I play the guitar, I stood first, I am the best, I’ve seen a lot in life, I’m a BIG BIG CHOOO!.. Please! No chick wants to hear from your own mouth, what a horse you are. Yes, if you can manage ways to let her know what a hero you are without telling it yourself, it can do magic. But self-praise, strict no no! Every talent you have should come as a surprise for your target. In return the target shall come to you as a surprise. Sooner or later!

2) If you’re witty, it can take you a long way. However if you utilize even the minutest particle of that trait in putting Her down, you will surely have the last laugh cause it would really be the last time that you would laugh for a long time. The moral of the story is to use your traits to your advantage, not disadvantage.

3) Never make fun of the short, the dark, the ugly, the poor or the disabled. Babes, even if they don’t value emotions, they would consider it ungentlemanly which I’m sure you won’t like.

4) DO NOT talk more than what is immensely necessary about your other friends who are GIRLS. DO? NOT!

5) If your father has married twice or your brother got convicted for murder or some fraud he played at his workplace, please keep it to your self. In other words, SHUT YOUR GOB!

These are some things we can avoid doing to stand a better chance of bagging our targeted babe. The good news is my next post is going to be on “What Women Want” and to add to that, it is not going to be my own opinion. Yes, we will get to hear it from Women itself. You got that right! Some of my female friends have agreed to share their idea of “What Women Want” on my next post as guests. Though I haven’t got the notes yet but to tell you the truth… I’m excited like hell!

I’ll take a leave for now but remember guys “Hit Hai to Bajega aur Ladka hai to Pyar Karega!”


Source by Md Nazim Khan

Ludmilla Tueting: ‘My Heart Is Nepali’


Ludmilla Tüting is a robust, well-read, emancipated, bespectacled Teutonic woman who makes no secret of the fact that she lives in a Berlin Hinterhof (backyard) in Kreuzberg (West Berlin) and yearns to see a horizon, especially with pagoda-silhouettes in the distance. It almost sounds as though Berlin is a city with the lost horizon.

She oscillates between Kathmandu and Berlin, and is very much active in the field of ‘sanfte’ (soft)-tourism, which means tourism with insight. She spent her 50th Birthday on 27th of May 1996 with her Nepalese friends in the monastery of Thangpoche. She is concerned about the negative aspects of tourism and write the information-service ‘Tourism Watch’. To potential tourists in the German-speaking world, she’s a Nepal-specialist, who cares about Nepal’s cultural and natural heritage, as is evident through her travel books.

I met her at the Volkerkunde Museum in Freiburg, the metropolis of the south-west Black Forest, and the occasion was one of a series of talks held under the aegis of ‘Contemporary Painting from Nepal’ to promote cultural and religious development in Nepal.

Ludmilla Tüting talked about ‘Fascinating Nepal, the Sunny and Shady Sides’ and belted out slides and information and described Nepal as a wonderful country.

And the other theme was: ‘Tourism with Insight isn’t in Demand: the Ecological Damage through Tourism in Nepal’ which was more or less what the interested Nepal-fan will find in ‘Bikas-Binas’, a thought-provoking book on Nepal’s ecological aspects, especially environmental pollution in the Himalayas, published by Ms.Tüting and my college-friend Kunda Dixit, a reputed Nepali journalist, who is the executive director of International Press Service since decades and also the chief editor and publisher of The Nepali Times.

Ms. Tüting’s talk, delivered with what the Germans are wont to call the Berlin-lip (Berlinerschnauze) has a pedagogic and practical value, and she tried not only to show what a tourist from abroad does wrong in Nepal, but also suggested how a tourist should behave and dress in Nepal. All in all, it sounded like the German book of etiquette called ‘Knigge’ for potential travellers to Nepal.

In the past there have been a good many transparency slide-shows and talks under the aegis of the Badische Zeitung, the Freiburger University and the Volkshochschule with jet-set gurus, rimpoches, meditations, experts on ‘boksas and boksis’, shamanism, Tibetan lamaism, tai-chi, taoism, yen-oriented-zen and what-have-yous. It is a fact that every Hans-Rudi-and-Fritz who’s been to Nepal or the Himalayas struts around as an expert on matters pertaining to the Home of the Snows.

Some bother to do a bit of background research and some don’t, and the result is a series of howlers. Like the bloke who’d written a thesis on traditions in Nepal and held a slide-show at the University’s eye-clinic auditorium maximum. The pictures of the Nepalese countryside were, as usual, breathtaking. Pokhara, Kathmandu, Jomsom, the Khumbu area and then a slide of Bhimsen’s pillar was shown and our expert quipped, ‘that’s the only mosque in Nepal.’

Or the time a Swabian expedition physician from Stuttgart held a vortrag (talk) at the university’s audi-max (auditorium maximum). A colour-slide of a big group of Nepalese porters flashed across the screen. The porters were shown watching the alpine expedition members eating their sumptuous supper, with every imaginable European dish and the comment was: ‘The Nepalese are used to eating once a day, so they just looked at us while we ate’ (sic). A decent German sitting near me named Dr. Petersen, who was a professor of microbiology, remarked, “Solche Geschmacklosigkeit!” (lack of taste or finesse), but it didn’t seem to disturb our Swabian Himalayan hero. Most Nepalese eat two big meals: at lunch and dinnertime, with quite a few snacks thrown in-between. And when you visit a Nepalese household you’re offered hot tea and snacks too, depending upon the wealth and status of the family.

Every time I heard such unkind, thoughtless remarks I’d groan and my blood pressure would shoot up and my ECG registered tachycardie and I’d probably developed ulcers. Oh, my mucosa. The remedy would be to avoid such stressors in the form of slide-shows, but I couldn’t. I had to tell myself: simmer down, old boy, the scenery is beautiful. And it is. If it weren’t for the ravishing beauty of rural Nepal and Kathmandu Valley’s artistic and cultural treasures… You just had to use ear-plugs (Oxopax) and relish the vistas of Nepal’s splendour: its uniqueness, its smiling people always with what the British call, a stiff upper lip, and what the Germans call ‘sich nie runter kriegen lassen,’ despite the decade old war between the government troops and the Maoists in the past.

Another time a European couple came to my apartment with a thick album full of photo¬graphs of images of Gods and Goddesses and the ‘experts’ wanted me to identify what, and where, they’d photographed in Nepal, for it was to be published as a pictorial book on the temples of Nepal. Some experts, I thought. The pair looked like the junkies in the Freak Street in the early seventies. Like the legendary Nepalese, one helped where one could, though I had to shake my head after they left.

Ludmilla has been going to Nepal since 1974. However, when you remind her of her ‘globe-trotter’ image in those days, she likes to forget it all, because she’d apparently made some mistakes and has learned from the mistakes of the past. And now ecology seems to be her passion. She wishes to ‘sensitise’ the potential tourists through her slide-shows, TV appearances and bring attention to the Nepalese rules of etiquette so as to feel at home in Nepal, despite the cultural shock and change.

‘Tourists are terrorists’ flashes across the screen, and Ludmilla explains that she’d photo¬graphed a graffiti on the Berlin Wall in Kreuzberg. Every time a tourist visits another country, they get a culture shock: the language barrier, the question of mentality, alien customs, and as a result they return to their countries loaded with a lot of prejudices. Then she shows a bus-load of tourists pottering about the Hanuman Dhoka Palace. She says that some of the tourists were angry at her when she photographed them. The tourists seem to reserve the right to photograph every country and its people as something normal, without bothering to ask them for permission. “Wir haben schon bezahlt!” is their line of argument. Doesn’t it smell of cultural imperialism, after the motto: I’ve paid in dollars, marks, francs and yen for the trip, so you natives have to oblige and pose for me. The point is the tourists have paid their travel agencies back in Frankfurt, Munich, Stuttgart or Kathmandu, and not the persons and objects they’re photographing. The payment allows one to land in a country, but how one behaves in a foreign country is another matter.

‘Today it’s possible to go around the world in 18 days’ she says, ‘and everywhere you have people perpetually in a big hurry. She talks about globe-trotters who travel around the on their own, and write books with secret insider tips on how to get the maximum out of a land with the minimum of your money. A poor porter with a mountain of load comprising cooking-utensils appears and that brings Ludmilla to talk about a certain expedition leader’s successful climb to the summit of a Himalayan peak, ‘we’d didn’t have any losses. Only a porter died’. Then she reminds the listeners that the porters don’t have any health-insurance or accident-insurance or pension in the German sense.

‘Funeral-pyres at Pashupatinath are an eternal theme for tourists’, says Ludmilla with a groan, and she describes tourists with camcorders at the ghats. ‘You wouldn’t want a foreign visitor to take the burial ceremony of your near and dear ones, would you?’ asks Ludmilla.

It was interesting to know that there’s a makeshift video-hut at Tatopani along the Jomsom trail for the benefit of the local Nepalese, the trekking-tourists and their porters. ‘I saw ‘Gandhi’ on this trek’ she said, thereby meaning Sir Attenborough’s film. You might even get to see the newest Hollywood and Bollywood films up there. Pico Iyer’s ‘Video Night in Kathmandu’ might still be interesting-reading for the Nepalophile, for he has ‘the knack of recording every shimmy’. A poster advertising ‘Thrilling Animal Sacrifices at Dakshinkali’ apparently from ‘Bikas-Binas’ (development-destruction) made one wonder about the so-called ‘sizzling, romantic, thrilling, action-packed’ box-office cocktails produced in Bollywood’s celluloid, DVD factories.

‘If you want to meet people and get to know them, you have to travel slowly’ says Ludmilla Tüting. Then she talks about the wonders of the polaroid camera at the Nepalese customs office. Men are ruled by toys. She says, ‘If you take a snapshot of a customs officer and hand him the photograph, you’ll pass the barrier with no difficulty.’

Does tourism mean foreign exchange for Nepal? Apparently not, according to her, with imported food from Australia, lighting from Holland, whisky from Scotland, air-conditio¬ning from Canada. She shows Pokhara in 1974. Corrugated iron-sheets are being transported on the backs of porters along the Jomsom trail for the construction of small mountain restaurants.

A Gurung woman in her traditional dress, frying tasty circular sel-rotis in her tea-shop in the open-air, appears and good old Ludmilla advises the audience about the advantages of acquiring immunity or fortifying it through gamma-globulin and the advantages of tetanus-shots prior to a trip to the Himalayas.

After the show I went with Ludmilla to a Freiburger tavern named Zum Störchen for a drink and a chat. Toni Hagen, a geologist-turned development-worker from Lenzerheide, who held a double Ph.D. and was billed to talk about the development of Nepal from 1950 to 1987 and the role of developmental-cooperation, also accompanied us. Toni Hagen was a celebrity in Nepal due to his geological pioneer work and publication. Alas, Hagen passed away sometime back after starring in an autobiographical film. Ingrid Kreide, who was in a hurry to return to Cologne, held a lecture on the history of Thanka-painters and the freedom of art in the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal, and expressed her deep concern regarding the theft of Nepalese temple and ritual objects.

Ludmilla is a name to be reckoned with as a globetrotter, journalist, Nepal-expert in the German speaking world, and she criticises the alternative travel-scene. And she still fights for the rights of the underdogs in South Asia. She was for the Chipko-movement in India and decried the deforestation, ecological damage, fought for human rights of the Tibetans and Nepalese alike, wrote about development and destruction of so-called Third World countries. She once told Edith Kresta, the travel editor of the Tageszeitung (TAZ, Berlin): “My heart is Nepali, the rest is German.” Her base-camp in Catmandu is hotel Vajra run by Sabine Lehmann, a hotel with a theatre flair, and she’s working on a novel on climbing this time. She wants to emulate the characters of James Hilton’s novel The Lost Horizon, wherein people get very old and are not bothered with gerontological problems. She wants to live at least 108 years in this planet. One can only admire and wish her well in her endeavours and pedagogical critique.


Source by Satis Shroff

The Disputed Authorship of Ephesians



The authenticity of Ephesians as a genuinely Pauline epistle has been doubted especially since the time of the Dutch Humanist Erasmus in the sixteenth century. Several schools of thoughts exist today in connection with the authorship in Ephesians. Barth (1974) identifies four such options. Some scholars accept Paul as the author. Others see him as responsible for an original manuscript that has been augmented by an editor. A third set – Moffatt, Goodspeed, Dibelius etc. – rejects Pauline authorship and the fourth thinks there is not enough evidence to decide. Gabel, Wheeler and York observe in their discussion on the canon of letters that Ephesians is categorized as a disputed letter that is “almost certainly not by Paul” (1996, 237). Scholars “have tried to explain this letter as the writing of a student and admirer of Paul’s, bringing the apostle’s gospel to his own later generation” (Turner 1984, 1222). Some conclude that it is most reasonable to consider it as deuteron-Pauline, that is, in the tradition of Paul but not written by him. While I recognize the strength of the other views, I accept (with supportive evidence) the traditional view that classifies Ephesians as an authentic Pauline letter.


Rhein (1974) asserts that “Ephesians is thought to be spurious by many” (264). His argument is that the purpose and impersonal tone are difficult to explain if it is attributed to Paul.


Some see the Ephesians as an early Catholic writing and that there is an un-Pauline interest in various orders of ministry. Rhein (1974) also rejects Paul’s authorship on the basis of dating. He observes that “the subject matter indicates a later date than its companions. Christ is no longer the lone foundation of the Church” (268). He asserts that the apostles have taken his place (2:20-22), heretical sects have had time to make their appearance (4:14), and the church itself is now regarded as a means of revelation.


Some doubt Pauline authorship since a number of words in Ephesians cannot be found in other Pauline writings (Drane 1986). Examples include aswtia (wantonness) and politeia (citizenship/commonwealth). Others include some prominent features such as the references to ‘the heavenly world’ (Eph. 1:3; 1:20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12). Guthrie (1965) admits that “the style (in Ephesians) is certainly different from the other nine undisputed Pauline epistles and this has seemed to some to weigh against Pauline authorship” (483).


Drane (1986) observes that “the way Ephesians is put together is also distinctive. Instead of the unplanned – and largely unrestrained- language of the other letters, Ephesians moves from one theme to another in more sedate fashion” (346).

Relationship with Colossians

Drane (1986) observes that some scholars view Colossians as the original letter which was subsequently copied and adapted by the later author of Ephesians who cannot be Paul. Colossians is usually considered to be a genuine Pauline letter, and Ephesians is thought to be the work of an imitator who used Colossians for some of his ideas.

Doctrine and theology

Drane (1986) also comments on the fact the Ephesians seems to reflect concerns that were especially typical of church life later than the time of Paul. Examples cited include the use of the term ‘church’, apparent absence of any reference to the parousia of Jesus, and to the theme ‘justification of faith’. Furthermore, it is observed that believers are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (2:20), whereas Paul sees Christ as the one foundation (I Cor. 3:11). Some believe that these are really in contradiction, for “in 2:20, Christ is ‘the chief cornerstone’, which surely accords with the passage in I Corinthians. Others note that in Ephesians ekklhsia always refers to the universal church, while Paul normally uses the word for the local congregation” (Carson, Moo and Morris 1992, 307). It is noted that “further differences are claimed to appear in Paul’s Christology in this Epistle” (Guthrie 1965, 489). Acts attributed to God in the other epistles are attributed to Christ in Ephesians. Ephesians 2:16 (where reconciliation is described as the work of Christ) is compared with Colossians 1:20 and 2:13-14. Another example is Ephesians 4:11, where Christ is paid to appoint officials in the Church as compared with I Corinthians 7:28.

Possible authors

Barnett (1946) proposed that Onesimus prospered so well in Christian service that he later became Bishop of Ephesus and believed that he wrote Ephesians. Miller and Miller (1973) comments on Goodspeed and Mitten’s submission that the likely authors are Onesimus (Col. 4:9) and Tychicus (Col. 4:7); Eph. 6:21) respectively. If Paul was in prison, Holding (2003) argued, then he was probably in no condition or had no ability to do significant cross-checking, and would give his scribe considerable latitude in composition, indicating only major points to be developed – if indeed it was someone he trusted. On this account, he further argues, and given other factors, Timothy is a likely candidate. The issue is that “there has been a question whether Paul himself wrote it or one of his disciples after his death” (Chamberlin and Feldman 1950, 1111).


My conviction of Pauline authorship is in consonance with the following supportive evidence.

Doctrine and theology

Drane (1986) observes that “whatever we conclude about the person who actually wrote the words down, we should certainly not miss the weakness of the other arguments put forward against Paul’s authorship” (346). He dismisses the close relationship as proving nothing since a modern author writing about theology will quite base on book on something that has been written – and Paul had certainly done this before. Furthermore, nothing in Ephesians actually contradicts previous statements by Paul, and much is a logical development of things he had said elsewhere. The parousia is not mentioned in Ephesians, but it is not mentioned in Romans either. According to Wallace (2003), “the case is quite similar to the relation of Galatians to Romans: the first, an occasional letter, is less developed theologically; the second, a more reflective letter, is more developed” (3). Both the time when written and the reason for writing shape Paul’s style and theological statements.


Gundry (1981) firmly believes that Paul must have written Ephesians and Colossians at approximately the same time because the subject matter in the two epistles is quite similar. He asserts that “Tychirus must therefore have carried both letters at once. (Colossae was about one hundred miles east of Ephesus)” (294). Commenting on the view that the reference to “the holy apostles and prophets” (Eph. 3:5; cf. 2:20; 4:11) indicates that the writer belonged to the second generation, Thiessen (1955) argues that “this cannot be, for the writer includes himself among the ‘holy ones (saints) (3:8)'” (241).


Commenting on the argument that synonyms are used instead of Paul’s usual words and that more words are used in a new sense, Thiessen (1955) argues that the criticism is strange and doubtful. He continues, “besides, is a man always obliged to use a word in the same sense unless he does not care about losing his identity?” (241). He attributes the absence of personal greetings in the last chapter due to the encyclical character of the epistle and observes that the reference to the Church, rather than to some local church or churches, is likewise in harmony with the destination of the letter. Responding to the objection that there are forty-two words in Ephesians not found in other Pauline writings, McCain (1996) observes that “this is about the same percentage of unique words found in other Pauline writings” (249). Carson, Moo and Moris (1992) quote Cadbury’s forceful and convincing argument: “which is more likely – that an imitator of Paul in the first century composed a writing ninety or ninety-five percent in accordance with Paul’s style or that Paul himself wrote a letter diverging five or ten per cent from his usual style?” (306). Even if the style may be different from Paul’s usual manner of writing, Guthrie (1965) argues that “it may, in fact, be regarded as evidence of Paul’s versatility” (493).

Relationship with Colossians

Scholars have argued that the same writer could not have produced Colossians and Ephesians and that the latter is the work of an imitator. Carson, Moo and Morris (1992) dismiss this argument as unconvincing for they seem to support the view that “the same man wrote Colossians and Ephesians a little later, with many of the same thoughts running through his head and with a more general application of the ideas he had so recently expressed” (308).

Relationship with I Peter

Thiessen (1955) argues that the similarities in the Epistle to the Ephesians and in I Peter do not disprove the Pauline authorship of Ephesians. He notes that “if there is any dependence between the two writers, it is more likely that Peter borrowed from Paul than that Paul borrowed from Peter” (241).

Internal evidence

Among other things, “the writer twice calls himself Paul” (Eph. 1:1; 3:1). The epistle is written after the Pauline pattern, beginning with greetings and thanksgiving, leading on to a doctrinal discussion, and concluding with practical exhortations and personal matters” (Theissen 1955, 240).

External evidence

Ephesians had been in wide circulation from the early days and its authenticity does not seem to be questioned. From all indications “it was accepted by Marcion (as the letter to the Laodiceans); it is the Marcion (as the letter to the Laodiceans); it is in the Muratorian Canon and was used by heretics as well as the orthodox. No one seems to have queried Pauline authorship” (Carson, Moo and Morris 1992, 306).


To echo my thesis statement in the introduction, I endorse the argument that “from all this, we conclude that there are no insurmountable obstacles to the traditional view of the Pauline authorship of this Epistle” (Theissen 1955, 241). In other words, “when all the objections are carefully considered it will be seen that the weight of evidence is inadequate to overthrow the overwhelming attestation to Pauline authorship, and the Epistle’s own claims” (Guthrie 1965, 507). Bruce (1961) logically defends Pauline authorship in an indirect but forceful argument:

If Epistle of the Ephesians was not written directly by Paul, but by one of his disciples in the Apostle’s name, then its author was the greatest Paulinist of all time – a disciple who assimilated

his master’s thought more thoroughly than anyone else ever did. The man who could write

Ephesians must have been the Apostle’s equal, if not his superior, in mental stature and spiritual insight (11).

In spite of the fact that pseudonymity is regarded in modern scholarship to have been an established practice among the early Christians, the advocates of the traditional view (the researcher included) are entitled to emphasize the self-testimony of the Epistle as supportive evidence for their position “until some satisfactory explanation is found which accounts for the universal acceptance of the Epistle at its face value” (Guthrie 1965, 507).


Barnett, A.E. 1946. The New Testament: Its Making and Meaning.

New York: Abington-Cokesbury Press.

Barth, M. 1974. Ephesians.

New York: Doubleday.

Carson, D.A., Douglas J. Moo and Leon Morris. 1992. An Introduction to the New Testament.

Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Chamberlain, R.B. and H. Feldman. 1950. The Dartmouth Bible.

Boston: Hougton Mifflin Co.

Gabel, J.B., C.B. Wheeler and A.D. York. 1996. The Bible as Literature: An Introduction. 3rd ed.

New York: Oxford University Press.

Gundry, R.H. 1981. A Survey of the New Testament.

Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Guthrie, Donald. 1965. New Testament Introduction.

Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press.

Holding, J.P. 2003. Wrote Wrote Ephesians?” Available [Online]:

[http://www.tektonics.org/ephauth.html]. 20th August 2003.

McCain, D. 1996. Notes on New Testament Introduction.

Jos: African Textbooks.

Miller, M.S. and J.L. Miller. 1973. Harper’s Bible Dictionary.

New York: Harper and Row Publishers.

Rhein, F.B. 1974. Understanding to the New Testament.

Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing House.

Turner, M. 1984. Ephesians. In New Bible Commentary. 21st century ed., 1222-12244.

Leicester: Inter Varsity Press.

Wallace, D.B. 2003. Ephesians:Introduction, Argument and Outline.

Available [Online]: http://www.bible.org/docs/soapbox/ephotl.htm. 19th August 2003.


Source by Oliver Harding

Advance Directive Warning


Approx. 1:30 Saturday morning, Dec. 18, 2010

“I think I need help!”

Mom is standing outside my bedroom door, gasping for breath and writhing in pain. She says she waited an hour before waking me up.

(Backstory: When I arrived last night, Mom told me that she sometimes feels “uncomfortable” at night. Knowing that she’d suffered a major heart attack some months ago, I prayed that I’d be there if it happened again.)

We call 911 and I give them the information. They tell me to make sure that pets are secured and the door is open. I say, “I cannot leave my mother’s side.”

After what seems like 10 minutes, I call 911 again. “They’re at the door,” the dispatcher says.

There are two paramedics and four firefighters, including the captain of the Fire Department. Some give first aid, others ask about Mom’s Advance Directive. I find it and point out that it doesn’t say not to treat her.

We arrive at the hospital, a renowned treatment, research and teaching facility. Dr. C. (a cardiologist) and Dr. N., as well as numerous other staff, attend to Mom.

They are very concerned about her Advance Directive. Again, I point out that it doesn’t say not to treat her unless she’s in a coma, and she isn’t.

“She’s very, very ill,” they say. “What would she want?”

In tears, I tell them, “I know what she wants. She’s a very happy person. She loves life. She’s going to my brother’s for Christmas. Her great-grandkids are coming to visit next month. She doesn’t want to go anywhere.”

I show one of the doctors the part of her Advance Directive that says she doesn’t want to be maintained if in a coma or vegetative state with no hope of recovery. “She’s not in a coma,” I say. He glances meaningfully at her motionless form, hooked up to machines.

If I had my wits about me, perhaps I could say something like, “If they brought in a 20-year-old football player who’d just had a major heart attack and you administered morphine, how sentient do you think he’d be? And would you be so quick to write him off?” But I can’t form these thoughts, let alone express them. I just have a feeling that there’s something wrong with the doctor’s reasoning.

They talk about the possibility of surgery to save her life.

I call my brother, Jamie, and his wife, Shelly (a geriatric nurse). Shelly thinks Mom will die without the surgery. So do the doctors. Jamie and I give permission.

Jamie and Shelly arrive at the hospital.

The doctors decide against surgery. Too risky. We agree.

Dr. N. wants to discuss the options right there, in front of Mom. But I’ve read that comatose–or seemingly comatose–patients sometimes give up and die when they hear a negative prognosis.

I say “Not in front of her,” and we go to the Quiet Room. Dr. C. explains again that surgery is not an option. We agree.

Dr. N. wants to terminate medical treatment (IV medications). He tells us about an experience in medical school when the professor made it hard for the students to breathe, and recounts his terror. He believes she’s suffering and sure that she “will never regain cognitive function.”

I want her to see her grandkids and great-grandkids, some on their way and others here in town. “She won’t know them,” says Dr. N.

“Are you sure?”

He’s sure.

He talks more about how she’s suffering. I don’t remember the wording, but I believe there was some indication that she was already in a vegetative state.

Jamie and I give permission to terminate medical treatment on the grounds that Mom is probably suffering intensely and will never regain cognitive function. Just before giving final permission, I look to Heaven for wisdom and believe that the answer I hear is yes.

They maintain the same dosage of blood thinner but lower the dosage of medication that’s keeping Mom’s blood pressure up.

[I’m calling what happened next a miracle, but may never know, at least not in this life, how it happened. Perhaps Dr. C. didn’t want to disagree with Dr. N. in front of us, but quietly went ahead and did what he knew was right. Or perhaps–and this may be more likely–they maintained the one medication and only lowered the other one in order to give Mom a quiet passing, without another cardiac event that would clearly upset the family. However it happened, I believe that I heard “yes” not because it was the way to go regarding treatment, but because the answer satisfied Dr. N. and made way for what followed.]

Mom’s blood pressure drops. We gather around to sing and pray. Through her mask, Mom says, “I have so much to be thankful for.”

“Thank you for being here with me,” she says to each of us–Jamie, Shelly and me.

“I love you, Mom” I say.

“I love you too,” she answers.

We recite the 23rd Psalm. When we get to “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,” Mom joins in. (She remembers this later.)

The chaplain sings “Be Thou My Vision,” Mom’s favorite hymn.

We sing “Amazing Grace” and “Jesus Loves Me.”

I recite John 3:16 (“For God so loved the world… “) and John 1:12 (“As many as received Him… “)

“I can’t speak very clearly,” Mom apologizes through the mask.

“Yes, you can,” I counter. “You just said, ‘I can’t speak very clearly.’ ” She laughs. (Mom remembers this later.)

We watch as Mom’s blood pressure stabilizes, then starts to rise. My nephew comes. Mom thanks him for coming. Her sister comes. She and Mom chat briefly.

Jamie and Shelly’s friend comes. They joke about the last time he came to see her in the hospital, and got her a bed by the window.

The mask is uncomfortable and no adjusting can make it right. Staff replace the mask with prongs.

Mom sits up and chats freely. I crack a joke. She laughs, and the monitor shows deepening respirations.

She wonders why everyone looks so sad (she remembers this later), and… could she have some breakfast?

After tea with toast and jam, Mom is moved upstairs to a cardiac unit. My husband, our daughter and our son arrive. Mom is delighted to see them, but sorry that she worried them. Another of our girls phones and she and Mom have a nice chat. Mom’s happy, but just a little disappointed that my brother can’t get the Nicaraguan connection of the family on Skype.

She will never regain cognitive function… she won’t know them.

Later in the afternoon, she’s moved to another ward. When we leave for the night, Mom says, “I’ve had a wonderful time.”

On Sunday Mom enjoys more visitors and a newspaper crossword puzzle.

On Monday Dr. A, another cardiologist, is making his rounds. I ask him, “If a 90-year-old person had as severe a heart attack as Mom did, would you say she would never regain cognitive function, based solely on her age and the severity of the attack?”

He seems surprised at the question. “A total loss of cognitive function? Did someone tell you that?”

Yes, I answer without elaborating.

No, he answers, he wouldn’t predict that. In fact, Mom could well be home for Christmas, and should be able to continue living in the same situation.

She and I enjoy a Christmas carol concert at the hospital in the afternoon.

That evening, she finishes proofreading her grandson’s introduction to his Honors thesis. She’s found a few minor errors and is looking forward to reading the paper when it’s finished. Mom wonders if a picture of the man my nephew is writing about might be useful. She found one on the Internet last year, but can’t remember the website. I note the suggestion on my nephew’s paper.

Mom writes Christmas checks for the grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and asks Jamie to bring the solution to the crossword puzzle tomorrow.

she won’t know them

On Tuesday a medical student informs us that there was no significant new damage to the heart from this, Mom’s second, heart attack.

Mom is discharged Wednesday afternoon. She delivers thank you cards to the cardiac ward and the Emergency Department.

Pity the poor clerk on Emergency. Even though Mom hands her the card in what is obviously a greeting card envelope, the woman thinks it’s her Health Care card. (Do you think maybe they don’t get many thank you cards on Emergency?)

My concerns with the Advance Directive, at least as we had it written, are as follows:

1. A doctor who favors premature termination of the elderly (my term) may interpret terms such as “in a coma”, “in a vegetative state,” and “no heroic measures” in a way that neither we nor or our loved ones would want.

2. In a somewhat different case, I have a friend who watched helplessly as her father gasped for breath. Apparently staff had interpreted an earlier oral instruction not to use a feeding tube to mean “no intervention”; thus they ignored my friend’s pleadings to give him oxygen. She finally called 911 and paramedics administered oxygen to her father in the hospital. He passed away a week or so later, apparently in relative comfort.

We will never know whether this man was allowed to suffer as he apparently did (there’s no proof, obviously) because staff truly believed no feeding tube also meant no oxygen, or whether they simply felt that he was an old man with advanced Alzheimer’s whose time had come.

My own father passed away at the same palliative care facility. He had specified “no heroic measures” and was given both a feeding tube and oxygen as well as painkillers. I believe he passed away in relative physical comfort. Maybe it depends who’s working that night, or whether the patient has Alzheimer’s, or who’s with them at the time. Dad’s mind remained clear and he was able to communicate orally and in writing until he slipped into the final coma. In addition, his highly vigilant geriatric nurse daughter-in-law was at his side, along with the rest of us.

I once spoke to a nurse who said that she refused oxygen to patients who pointed at the mask, clearly asking for it, because of prior instructions. She said she just held these people and tried to comfort them as they died.

It appears that even a carefully written Advance Directive may result in needless suffering and premature death.

The solution my brother and I are considering is simply a list of agents with full contact information so decisions can be made at the time.

In any case, we need to be very, very vigilant when our loved ones cannot speak for themselves.


Source by Elizabeth W.

How to Pronounce ‘e’ in French


As any student of French is all too aware, knowing what sound is represented by a given letter in a particular word or context is not always a straightforward matter. In this article, we focus on one specific and deceptively tricky area of difficulty: deciding which sound to pronounce for the letter ‘e’ in French.

The (relatively) easy case: ‘e’ with a written accent

French has two ‘e’ sounds that are often distinguished with a written accent. In these cases, the task of deciding how to pronounce ‘e’ is usually easier. When written with a so-called grave accent (è), the letter represents an “open” ‘e’ sound. That is, an ‘e’ sound pronounced with the mouth relatively wide open and the tongue relatively low in the mouth, similar to the ‘e’ sound of the English word “set”. This same open ‘e’ sound also tends to be the one used when the ‘e’ is written with a circumflex (as in fête).

When written with a so-called “acute” accent (é), this usually indicates a “close” e: that is an ‘e’ sound pronounced with the mouth less open and the tongue relatively high in the mouth. It is similar to the English “ay” vowel (as in “say”, “pay”) as pronounced in Northern English accents. (Unlike the “ay” vowel of many other English accents, however, it is not a diphthong.)

More difficult cases: ‘e’ without a written accent

The more difficult cases occur when ‘e’ appears without a written accent. Depending on the context, the letter ‘e’ may then represent either the open or close ‘e’, a different vowel entirely, or no vowel at all.

Cases where the vowel is usually the “close” e vowel, as though written é, include the word endings -ez and -er (where the ‘r’ is not pronounced, such as dernier or the infinitives of -er verbs) or before -ss- or -sc- (as in dessin, descendre). In “functional” words: et plus plural articles (les, des, mes, etc.), the ‘e’ vowel is almost always pronounced é.

Cases where the vowel is usually the “open” e vowel (as though written è) are typically before a double consonant other than “ss” (jette, appelle) or two consonants (e.g. festival). When an unaccented ‘e’ is the first letter of a word (as in examen), it is also generally pronounced è.

Then, there are cases, typically on the end of a word, where the choice of vowel is not actually fixed. One of the two pronunciations (é or è) is used, but either can be chosen. A common case is the -et ending of effet or livret. A more conservative pronunciation has the open è vowel. However, many speakers would use the close é vowel nowadays. (This actually extends to other cases where an ‘e’ vowel occurs in pronunciation, but in the spelling another combination of letters is used, e.g. the -ais of anglais, or the -aie of craie.)

The case of the schwa or “neutral” vowel

Arguably the most complex case is that of the so-called schwa. This is a type of ‘e’ vowel that is typically pronounced with the tongue in a central or “neutral” position, similar to the English word “the”. It is generally unstressed and you find it in the French word le among other cases.

(As well as when to pronounce it, the actual pronunciation of this vowel is also a complex issue. In reality, many speakers nowadays pronounce this vowel as a French ‘eu’ vowel (either rounded or unrounded), or pronounce it differently under different circumstances. For the purposes of this article, we gloss over these details and assume that it is a central vowel similar to the vowel of the English word “the”.)

This “neutral” vowel is generally pronounced for a letter ‘e’ in cases not mentioned above. So where:

  • the ‘e’ has no written accent;
  • it does not occur before a double consonant or multiple consonants;
  • it is not part of one of the other letter combinations (e.g. -ez, -et) that mean it is pronounced as either é or è.

Examples of an ‘e’ representing a schwa are the ‘e’ vowels of semaine, demain, (il) mange, (nous) venons, presque and indeed the ‘e’ vowels of le and je.

What is particularly complex about the schwa vowel is that it is not always pronounced (or, put another way, that it is sometimes “deleted”). It is beyond the scope of this article- and indeed, would be beyond the scope of a PhD thesis on the subject- to go into all of the details. But here are some rules of thumb:

  • the schwa is always deleted after another vowel (so in the words vie, crient or allée, there is no possibility of pronouncing the ‘e’);
  • it is generally deleted before another vowel too, which is in part why you say l’homme instead of *le homme, but also means that presque un an is pronounced “presqu’ un an”, or that comme un frère is pronounced “comm’ un frère”;
  • otherwise on the end of a word or phrase (il donne, le ministre), a final -e is practically always deleted, but may be kept or “partially” pronounced for emphasis.
  • in the very first syllable of a sentence or phrase, a schwa is often deleted in ordinary speech, even if that creates some “unusual” sound combinations: so e.g. je t’aime is usually pronounced “j’t’aime” or “ch’t’aime”;
  • in many other cases in the middle of a word, sentence or phrase, speakers keep or delete the schwa in order to avoid “akward combinations of sounds” or make things “easier to pronounce”. So, for example, they would tend to delete the schwa in la semaine (they perceive the phrase as “flowing” a bit better that way) but keep it in neuf semaines (they perceive it as “awkward” to have two consonants ‘f’ and ‘s’ together without then having a schwa before the next consonant).

We are obviously glossing over various details here: e.g. about what makes an “akward” combination of sounds in French (or more formally, what linguists refer to as the phonotactics of the language). Part of becoming fluent in French means getting used to these various complex patterns. But the above rules of thumb are nonetheless a starting point.


Source by Neil Coffey

The Diversity Elephant


They say honesty is the best policy, so here I am sharing the reality of what people are thinking when they hear the words Diversity & Inclusion. They might not say it to your face, but believe me they are thinking it.

“We don’t really care about Diversity and Inclusion strategies, it’s just seems like a social propaganda to help people who aren’t working as hard as others and providing them an easy path to success. We have all the equal laws and HR policies in place these days to ensure everyone gets a fair chance. So, stop this fluffy talk and let’s get onto some real work.”

Those sentiments are out there in more people than you can imagine. Not because these people are all racists or are even against the principles of inclusion, its mainly due to them not connecting the dots on how it impacts them or the society at large. The truth is that all this talk about diversity and inclusiveness isn’t exciting like quantum physics, or critical like medicine, or technical like engineering or essential like math or even cooking. But it impacts every single one of those areas, and countless others, because all these fields have one thing in common, they all need people. People are the ones who are innovative, technical, creative and make the world the best it can be. And when people cannot do those jobs, we collectively as a society suffer.

If Einstein was born a woman, the truth is we wouldn’t have heard of him. Because in the early 1900s women were not given any opportunity to be part of the scientific world along with countless other areas, as the men had decided it was beyond them. He would have been lost to the world of physics and we would have been lesser, all because of his gender and the lack of inclusion in those times. That’s a fact and that’s where I start my truth about diversity and inclusion.

The Truth out there

So, for those of you who think everything is fine now and equality has been reached. Sorry to burst your bubble, but we are not even close. I could write a thesis on the inequity & inequality that exists in all the various aspects of society, but I shall just share a few to get the ball rolling.

“Women make up 51% of New Zealand’s population, yet make up only 2% of the Chief executives in the NZ top 50 companies.”

“Maoris make up 15% of New Zealand’s population, however they make up 50% of the prison population.”

“In UK, A study showed that if you are name was Adam instead of Mohammed, you were 3 times more likely to have your application accepted”.

The first thought some of you will get is, ‘well maybe these groups have themselves to blame for their situations. Maybe men just are better at being Chief Executives, or women should just work harder. Maybe Maoris should stop committing crimes, then they won’t be in prison. As for these ethnic people, they should just change their names with ‘normal’ sounding names, and then they will get the jobs.

Simple right? Well unfortunately it’s not.

The reason why such inequalities still exist is because although implementing laws around equality and fairness are an essential step, it’s just the first one. The reason women are not able to break the glass ceiling, ethnic people cannot get interviews, and the justice system seems to target specific population groups is because of the prevalence of unconscious bias.

What’s is Unconscious Bias?

Unconscious bias unlike conscious bias is when you are making decisions favouring specific people or ideas without you even realising it. This mode of operating exists in everyone and we use it all the time to get about our day to day lives. We as humans like to order our world in a way so that we can make quick decisions, and letting our unconscious mind make those decisions saves us from complex thought.

Unfortunately, our unconscious mind is just a product of the environment we grew up in, it incorporates our beliefs, stereotypes, our prejudices and even our biological preferences. Hence, as soon as our unconscious mind comes into play, whether we intend to or not, bias is bound to happen.

This is the reason why even after years of awareness building, equal laws, and countless training’s, people are still making decisions negatively impacting specific groups. Here is an example of unconscious bias at play

When you look at the dress shown in the link below. What color do you see?


Depending on how you are biologically wired to see this you will see either the colours Gold and White, or you might see Blue and Black, and some Blue and Brown. Interesting isn’t it.? There is no right colour, it’s all just our personal preferences.

That was an example of unconscious bias that’s biologically ingrained within us.

Another example of unconscious bias at play was visible in the top US orchestras till the late 1970’s. The orchestras had only 5% of its artists who were women and even though the selection panel were trying to be fair and selecting by merit, women simply weren’t being selected. So they decided to do something novel, by holding blind auditions where the interview panel couldn’t see the musician, as they were separated by a curtain. What do you think happened?

That one change, increased the chance of women being selected by 50%. All because even though the panel members were apparently not biased against females, they had subconsciously been preferring male artists. Now women they make up close to 30% of orchestras in US.

‘You cannot stop unconscious bias, but you can take action to mitigate it from impacting your decisions.’

So where to next?

My first request would be for you to accept the fact that you are susceptible to bias, just like everyone else. Self-awareness leads to personal accountability and then you can work with your organisation to ensure that you have the right strategies in place to stop unconscious bias impacting your decision making.

Just remind yourself that you don’t want to be the person or organisation who declined to interview the next Einstein because his name was Mustafa or didn’t promote the next Steve Jobs because her name was Helena.


Source by Anukool Sathu

We Climbed The Everest Of Our Village


I was waiting for my bus. As the destination is written in Malayalam, I was unable to read it.

Could you kindly tell me which bus goes to Kavalapara? I asked a young lady who looked educated from her dress and demeanour.

Oh! Most gladly; in fact, I am going to that place.

I feel much relieved. I am going there to study old records written in Palm leaves. I work for Allahabad University.

During our journey, she told me all about herself, as to a bosom friend. She is working in a bank and is going home to see her aged parents who have to manage themselves. Of course there is a maid to help them. She asked me: why don’t you stay with me? My house is near Kavalapara. It is a far flung village without any lodging available. Otherwise you may put up at Ottapalam.

So I accepted her offer.

We had to walk along narrow path until it opened into a panorama of green scenery, with rice fields and a river running across the fields. We walked along narrow embankments, made to prevent water from flowing away into the river. I had to be careful.

We entered a plot with plenty of coconut trees, areca nut trees, and, all sorts of trees which I had never seen before. It was a treat to the eyes!

She ushered me to her room. She said she would sleep with her parents.

I kept my small bag on the stool by the bed and relaxed. Presently she brought hot tea and biscuits. She said: you can take bath in the pond. I will tell others not to come near the pond. You can be quite comfortable. I have a friend belonging to Kavalapara family. We will meet her. She can locate the old palm leaves books.

Before the British rule, Kavalapara was something like a “principality”. The Nair had the power to sentence to death; a beam supported on two pillars can still be seen, from which the hangman’s noose is pitiably hanging, in the spacious ground of the old “palace”, remnants of which instill a sense of melancholy on the beholder. All members of the family are now scattered. Only Sushma, her friend is staying there now. All this was told me by my friend and hostess, Kumari, on our way to the Kavalapara palace.

Sushma is a very young girl, somewhat dark complexioned, with bright, truculent eyes. She promptly took us to the attic.

There were all sorts of documents, in Malayalam, English and of course, palm leaf granths in Samskrutham. The girls dusted them all and brought them downstairs.

I asked Kumari: may I take them all to Sushma’s room where I am staying?

By all means, she shouted. She knew English well and was very helpful in tabulating the documents. I liked her. I said jokingly: If I were young, I could have married you.

She shouted: I am ready to marry you now.

How old are you?


Are you not married?


I have never seen the North. Will you take me there?

Oh! Sure.

Next week, Sushma came. I told her that I have sent a report to the University about the treasure I got at Kavalapara and asked for assistance by way of grant for my research. I proposed that I shall appoint Kumari as my assistant, hearing which she jumped with joy.

One Sunday we all went to see around. After some half an hour walking, we came near to a hill.

Shall we climb it? I asked.

Sushma was wary. Kumari started walking towards it. Let us see; if not feasible, we will abandon the idea, I told Sushma.

The top of the hill was covered with thorny shrubs. We went round and some opening came to light. But it was a huge rock, like the back of an elephant. The girls managed to climb it and began describing the surrounding country side. I desperately tried, without success.

Then they gave me their dupattas. With one end in my hands, and the other ends with them, they pulled hard and I too came on top.

Wah! This is our EVEREST! We all shouted.

We had a jolly time and my thesis was ready. One copy I forwarded to Calicut University. I was given special post in the university, for studying documents obtained from Samoothiri’s palace.

One day Kumari said: Sushma has a love affair. Because of caste difference, her parents are against it. After you came to stay with her, her man quarreled with her. He even doubts her chastity.

I felt very sorry about it. And guilty too. She used to tell me everything. Why did she conceal this?

I accepted my assignment in Calicut University and shifted to Kozhikode. Kumari came with me as my assistant.

Afterwards we heard the sad news of her death in mysterious circumstances.


Source by Kk Subramanian

5 Ways to Detect a Phony Ph.D.


I was sharing the regional Toastmaster’s International podium with a fine, enthusiastic speaker.

He was fun, his stories were crisp, and the audience loved him.

So, when one of my clients asked if I knew a speaker they could hire for an annual sales meeting in Palm Springs, I mentioned this guy. But as I did, I felt just a little uneasy about recommending him, so I decided to perform a little due diligence by researching his credentials.

What really stood out for me was the fact that he called himself “Doctor.” In itself, this is no big deal, as my trade name is Dr. Gary S. Goodman, so who am I to take issue with this?

If you have a Ph.D. or an M.D. or other “doctoral” credentials, you’ve earned the right to use them, especially in professional settings. Dr. Robert Schuller, for example, earned his degree in ministerial studies, so he is entitled to use it, and of course, he does.

But I felt the speaker I was recommending wasn’t the real deal. So, I called him and asked where, when and in what subject area he earned his doctorate, and he mentioned a place I had never heard of before.

I contacted the research librarian at USC, where I earned my Ph.D. from the Annenberg School for Communication, and I asked him to look into this obscure school. After a few hours, he phoned back and said, flatly: “It’s a degree mill!”

In effect, you buy your degree for so many thousands of dollars, possibly attend a class for a few days here and there, and then write a thesis or dissertation that is rubber stamped and filed away, or conveniently misfiled, as the case may be.

So, this speaker was a phony, at least from an educational vantage point. But what were the clues that made me suspect this? There were at least five:

(1) He seldom quoted respected authorities in his “field.” If you have studied in a rigorous academic program, you are steeped in a tradition and you “stand on the shoulders” of others who came before you. I refer, for example, to Peter F. Drucker on many occasions in speeches and in print because I studied directly with the management guru for two and a half years, emerging with an MBA for my efforts. Moreover, I was his informal chauffeur on Saturdays when I used to shuttle him from class back to his house, about a mile from the Claremont University campus, which named their Management school in his honor.

(2) When he mentioned research, he was sloppy and over-generalized the scope of its findings. Give a hammer to a phony Ph.D. and he’ll treat everything he sees as if it is a nail. Trained minds don’t do this.

(3) His grammar and syntax were far from flawless. Clear expression is one of the marks of a scholar, and someone who makes obvious grammatical errors, that the trained academic ear will detect, will either be corrected or never reach doctoral status.

(4) His biography should have shown about three years invested in a Ph.D. program, but his was silent with regard to where and how long he studied. Most doctors are proud of the institutions that spawned them. Remember, I had to ask him where he went.

(5) If someone’s ideas seem totally unoriginal, reflecting mere borrowings from others, this person has probably never been required to think deeply for himself and to create new insights and techniques. The mark of a true Ph.D. is originality in thinking. It is someone who was compelled under intense academic scrutiny to come up with something new, fresh, and significant, and then to defend the significance of that contribution.

So, what did I do?

I contacted my client, who had reviewed the speaker’s demonstration audio, and wanted to hire him. I said, “This guy is a good presenter, but he isn’t what most people would consider a genuine Ph.D.–Does this bother you?”

“No, I’m okay with it,” the sales manager replied.

The meeting came off without a hitch, the speaker was a hit, and everybody was happy.

I suggested to this guy that he eliminate his doctoral references, that some day they would probably embarrass him, and that his career didn’t require them.

Soon after that, he stopped using “Doctor.”

And then he went on to become a best-selling author and a celebrity, demonstrating that he really didn’t need this extra credential.


Source by Dr. Gary S. Goodman