As a retired teacher who has fled the US and is now living in Spain, and as someone who has until now eschewed most forms of social media, I am belatedly beginning to create an online presence.
To that end, I am using this WordPress website to archive some of my miscellaneous non-academic writing. I hope that some of my friends and former colleagues may enjoy this collection, which consists mainly of political editorials, light-weight essays, and silly poems. I also post here the latest version of my US History textbook, Key Moments in American History.
Sooner or later
Behind the times
Have you ever been a Has-Been?
Passé? Past your prime?
Out of date? Démodé?
I’m a Has-Been
But I’m happy
To have been what I has been.
For obvious reasons, given the proliferation of misinformation and “alternate facts” swirling around the internet and on Fox News, I have been thinking about stupidity as of late. Here is a tongue-in-cheek essay that I felt compelled to write.
Heteronyms are words that are spelled the same but have different pronunciations and meanings, like “bow” (pronounced “BAU” and meaning to lower one’s head, or the front of a ship) and “bow” (pronounced “BOH” and meaning the weapon used to shoot arrow).
So, in this game you are given a clue for a pair of heteronyms, like “displays the gifts,” and you try to guess the heteronym answer (“presents presents”). Got it?
(As a help, I’ve put these in alphabetical order. Another hint: years ago my father noted that many English heteronyms are words formed with a Latin-based prefix, and that when used as a verb the accent is on the last syllable and when used as a noun or adjective the accent is on the penultimate or antepenultimate syllable—e.g. “presénts présents”.)
My wife put together a YouTube video (8 mins) of the trip we took last month in celebration of my 70th birthday. Highlights of what we saw include the Roman villas of La Tejada and Olmeda (3rd-4th cen. AD), the Gothic cathedral at Burgos (mostly 15th-16th cens.), a casona in Burgos where the Reyes Catolicos Isabel and Fernando received Christopher Columbus (on my birthday in 1497!), an amazing “bubble hotel” where we stayed near Tirig, the Mesolithic/Neolithic rock shelter paintings at Valltorta (ca. 10,000-8,000 BCE; the video has reconstructions of the Levantine Art paintings from the Valltora museum because the paintings in the rock shelters are quite faded and impossible to photograph), the elaborate tomb of Queen Isabel’s parents at Cartuja de Miraflores (carved by the Flemish sculptor Gil de Siloé between 1489 and 1493), the Paleolithic site of Atapuerca where remains of early hominids and Neanderthals have been found (dating from 1.3 million to 500,000 years ago; on display in Burgos’ amazing Museum of Human Evolution), and the reconstructed Iberian town at Calafell (5th-2nd cens. BCE) on the Mediterranean.
Okay, here is a little word game. I didn’t invent it; my wife saw it in a New York Times magazine when we were visiting the States last October. (They called it “Sound Check “ but I prefer my title.) The way it works is that you have to match a clue for a common multi-word or multi-syllable phrase in the left-hand column with a clue in the right-hand column to a homophone of that same phrase. For instance, you might see a clue “Equine sound” in the left-hand column and guess that it might be a clue for “Horse neigh” and then look in the right-hand column to see the clue “Harsh denial” (=“Hoarse nay”). Got it?
(Note: two homophone in each column are the same, so there are two different ways to link them up. If you get stuck, message me and I will send you the answers.