Tag Archives: Ukraine


Wonderful World of Languages

Languages are fascinating. At least, I’ve always thought so. I also want the ability to communicate with everyone, human or animal, to be my superpower. It was therefore frustrating for me to find myself stumped by Cyrillic when I find Russian to be a beautiful sounding language–I have an online friend in the Ukraine with an unbelievable capacity for languages. I can understand her English (and she had to get used to our alphabet), and now she’s learning Italian. And she has a three year-old. And is building a house with her husband. Talking with her has been fascinating, because one of the most wonderful things about learning a language is the ability to learn more about a different culture, other perspectives, another country. The Ukraine doesn’t look all that different from where I live, really. She sends me pictures and we have chats on WhatsApp. All because I bought a headband from her on Etsy, I made a new friend.

People in the United States seem, some of them, determined not to learn other languages for various reasons. The one that annoys me the most is the one that if someone comes here, they should speak English, d***it! Then they make fun of people of other nationalities and their broken English. I just think, man, they speak English a lot better than I speak _insert language of choice._  If I even speak any of the language they speak at all. I speak a few things enough to be partially understood, but nothing fluently anymore. You don’t use it, you really do lose it. My best friend, a German native, speaks English better than I do–he even knows all the grammar rules, which I’m pathetic with. I speak by ear; he had to learn and memorize all the rules when he moved to an English speaking country.

I think that’s what so many people don’t appreciate. English is a hard language to learn. Every time you turn around, there’s an exception to the rule, and pronunciation–phhtt, forget it. Other languages have rules about pronunciation and stick with them. English is all over the map with how things sound (and many things have been written phonetically to show this). It’s no wonder English confuses people. Yet it’s one of the most learned languages in other countries.

We are a little (ah-hem) ethnocentric in the US. I found an absolutely beautiful language map a while ago, drawn by Minna Sundberg, that is a work of art. In fact, you can purchase framable copies of it here: http://www.hivemill.com, under Stand Still Stay Silent, the webcomic she writes. There are other cool things she has done there as well.

I just found another language map that presents languages in a less beautiful form, but an interesting one nonetheless. I found it on http://www.themindunleashed.org, and the creator of the graphic is Alberto Lucas López.

I think it’s worth taking a good look at them and then thinking about English as a language, and just how many other languages–and cultures–there are out there. And then thinking about how many different perspectives there are on things. Supposedly this country was founded on the freedom to express those different perspectives–we were called the melting pot. But we’re not. We’ve become a bunch of globs that won’t cohere because of coatings we’ve put around ourselves that blind us to what other perspectives have to offer. The beauty that is the sound of Russian. The interesting things there are to learn about the Ukraine. The fierce unwillingness to unloose ourselves from our globs and reach out because it’s easier to stay in a lump.

Isn’t it worth a try, though?

Old World Family Languages Minna Sundberg

Old World Language Families
Minna Sundberg

SCMP Graphic: Alberto Lucas López

SCMP Graphic: Alberto Lucas López



Sloth Bears Now Extinct in Bangladesh

Asia Sloth Bear Photograph by Zigmund Leszczynski Animals Animals-Earth Scenes

Asia Sloth Bear
Photograph by Zigmund Leszczynski
Animals Animals-Earth Scenes

Sloth Bears Confirmed Extinct in Bangladesh
By John R. Platt | October 4, 2014 |


John R. Platt has written an excellent blog on this, found at the above link.

I suppose some, if not many, people are wondering why I even posted about this with everything else going on in the world. Because it matters. These things matter. Humans are so intent on destroying each other they sometimes forget there is a whole other world out there that we are also killing off, whether it be through poaching, deforestation, poisoning of habitat, over-hunting, sport-killing, the list goes on. It’s not a happy subject. But neither is the world without Sloth Bears, or the thousands upon thousands of species we’ve already eliminated.

What are we fighting for if we’re killing all the things that make the world a wondrous place to be, and blasting the rest of it to pieces? Is this our legacy for our children? Gods know I’m no military strategist, but what would have happened if the US and others involved now had intervened in Syria when it was a humanitarian crisis instead of waiting until it became a terrorist military action? In the meantime, it makes a nice distraction from the Ukraine and Russia, where yes, things are still happening. People are still being killed there as well. Ukrainians, by the not-pro-Russian (supported) rebels. And bears enter into it again.

So yes, it matters. It all matters. With every person who dies, a little bit of culture dies. Something maybe only that person knew and hadn’t told anyone else yet. I’ll do it tomorrow. Because there should have been a tomorrow.

Celebrities of the frame of mind it is safe to keep bare pictures of themselves on the internet, anywhere, and think they are safe, don’t matter. Does reaching celebrity status give them special internet privileges? Safeties and guarantees? Did they not take Computers 101? Nothing you put on the internet is safe, ever. When in doubt, don’t. It doesn’t matter if it’s your “own, private account.” I’m sure that’s what JP Morgan thought about the 76 million records that were compromised as well. As well as all the other major corporations that have been hacked. Nothing is unhackable. I couldn’t hack my way out of a paper bag, except possibly with a pair of scissors, but there are some wicked smart computer people out there, some of them probably still in grade school. Is there something about becoming suddenly famous that makes one want to strip and snap away? If so, I know with absolute certainty that I am absolutely nowhere near famous, because I’ve never had the urge.

People, keep your nude photos of Asian Sloth Bears on a flash drive, or something. Although I’ve put one in my post. I don’t think he’s ashamed. And someday, the cats are going to get us back.

And selfies. What exactly do they represent? The apex of narcissism? Slices into daily life? The equivalent of an “I just went to the gym!” post on Facebook? I’m here, wish you were too, or, on the other hand, I’m here, you’re not, ha ha ha. Obviously I’m a very socially awkward person. It makes one wonder what animals think we’re doing. A friend was at the zoo and they reached the Red Pandas. He knows I adore Red Pandas and took a picture of one, which I love.

"Oh, please drop the camera, please please please please......"

“Oh, please drop the camera, please please please please……”

I can see this little guy, camera strap around his neck, completely anthropomorphized by me and walking around on his or her hind legs making a photo documentary for an undercover animal photojournalism magazine, recording into a small voice activated recorder stashed from another unfortunate visitor’s loss.

One of the most tragic aspects of extinction and endangerment, and all the other levels of how at-risk an animal is, to me, the fact that many of them closest to leaving the wild for good have only one real predator: man. Also man’s own biggest predator.

But I’d just like to mention that the first victim of Ebola in the United States died today. Thomas Eric Duncan.

Ebola is stronger than any army, stronger than ISIS, than Israel, than Palestine, the Ukraine, than Russia. Look at epidemiologists’ reports, their forecasts. Ebola is the leveler, it doesn’t care about your race, your income, your religion. This is what governments need to be paying attention to, spending their money on. Containing and treating this epidemic before it becomes a global one. Remember that, Congress, when you think back on how you slashed aid in half to assist with ebola.

And no, I don’t think ebola has anything to do with “God being angry.” It sounds ridiculous to say, but I think these things just happen when all of the circumstances line up correctly–whether it be hygiene, a mixture of microbes heating to a certain temperature in just the right environment, whatever the case may be, and it became ebola, “living” somewhere fruit foxes could come into contact with it.

What is my point with all of this? Governments pick and choose their battles, and it’s easy to see which ones they picked and which ones they didn’t. For the US, screening for Ebola at 5 airports. Of how many? In Spain, killing the dog of the woman infected with Ebola there. Why not keep it in quarantine and see if it became ill? The US is perfectly prepared for the threat of Ebola, as a hospital in Dallas sends the man home infected with it, who returns in two days. Oh, yes, we’re truly and honestly prepared. But all those airstrikes will really make a difference. The mind boggles sometimes. One thing where man is, essentially, prey, and it’s being relegated to second string; it’s hard to juggle priorities when you can’t juggle.

I just hope the animals whose populations we’ve decimated can’t contract it. That would be justice.





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