Archive for December, 2010

I recently read an article which was talking about some interesting literature-related websites. The one website that caught my eye was Save The Words. The website is about a campaign to save words that may shortly be removed from the dictionary because they are not being used any more.

The topic of this website was a little unsettling for me. I knew that words went out of fashion or were obsolete and I actually studied the change of the English language in college.  I am aware of  Middle English which Chaucer wrote in Canterbury Tales, and Early Modern English used by Shakespeare and Milton. 

Even so it is kind of sad to see a word be eliminated, or allowed to go extinct.  Extinction is pretty brutal.  It appears we don’t care if words just go away.  That behavior is not consistent with other things that are endangered and are on th path of extinction.  In the U.S. we even have a cabinet position, Department of Interior, which is responsible for the management and conservation of most federal land and natural resources.  Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the government protects endangered and threatened plants and animals (listed species) and the habitats upon which they depend.  EPA’s Endangered Species Protection Program (ESPP) helps promote the recovery of listed species.

The laws indicates that species should be saved for “aesthetic and moral justifications; the importance of wild species as providers of products and services essential to human welfare; the value of particular species as indicators of environmental health or as keystone species crucial to the functioning of ecosystems; and the scientific breakthroughs that have come from the study of wild organisms”

There are numerous conservation efforts to prevent species from going extinct.   These species go onto an endangered species list, which puts some legal protection for the species with the intention to recover the species so that they are no longer endangered. An example of this preventive work is the relocation of a species or a reduction of factors that may be causing the species to die out. 

There have been many success stories for this type of activity, including: 

  • Bald Eagle (increased from 417 to 11,040 pairs between 1963 and 2007); removed from list 2007
  • Whooping Crane (increased from 54 to 436 birds between 1967 and 2003)
  • Peregrine Falcon (increased from 324 to 1,700 pairs between 1975 and 2000); removed from list
  • Grizzly bear (increased from about 271 to over 580 bears in the Yellowstone area between 1975 and 2005); removed from list 3/22/07

Now what about the word?  Who is preventing words from going extinct?  I am pretty sure there is not a cabinet position to protect words.  Shouldn’t words be preserved due to the “aesthetic and moral justification.”  What could be more precious to us than the English language?

Here are a few words that are or have been endangered.  I picked these words for two reason:  I like the sound of them along with their meaning interesting, or I like the word because I could use it in my day-to-day work at my job.

boreism (noun); behavior of a boring person
[I didn’t know this is a word, but I have sat in many meetings with boreism managers.]

cynicocratical (adjective) pertaining to rule by cynics
[I just like the sound of this, especially when I deal with some cynical co-workers at my place of employment.]

Ecstasiate (v) to go into an ecstasy; to cause to become ecstatic
[I am pretty sure the work ecstasy is not going away.  So why wouldn’t we keep the work ecstasiate?]

foppotee (n) simpleton
[Simpleton is such a dull word, but foppotee has a nice ring to it.]

 pudify (v) to cause to be ashamed
[ I think that I could use the word pudify in a sentence and it would have real impact.  For example the next time I see a person littering and messing up the environment I could pudify him]

solennial (adj) occurring once a year; annual
[ I just think solennial is a nicer sounding word rather than annual.]

tremefy (v) to cause to tremble
The word tremefy actually sound like its definition.  The Wizard of Oz tremefied the Lion.]

uglyography (n) bad handwriting; poor spelling
[Now the word uglyography is very representative of its definiton, but it is not a very pleasant word.  I suspect this word has been replaced by a more politically correct word, dysgraphia, which has less harshness to it.]

Here are some colorful words that have not  been removed from the Oxford English Dictionary:   “Furgling”, which is the act of fumbling in your pocket for keys or loose change; “dringle”, the watermark left by a glass of liquid, and “earworm”, a catchy tune that you can’t get out of your head.  Read more about this at:  http://bit.ly/ictQ9K

As I was doing some research on this subject I ran into an article about a group who conducted a study which indicates that the evolution of the words are a representation of the culture at the time they are being use.  To describe this they call it culturomics.  They created an application with Google labs that evaluates the usage of a word’s frequency over periods of time.  Take a look at the graph that evaluates the word”terrorist.”  It is interesting that the usage of the word drastically increased in the year 2001, which is when terrorists hit the World Trade Centers.  Since that event the word has continued to be used more frequently every year.

 All of this still makes me ponder about the issue of words being removed from the English language.  For words there is no conservation department taking actions to prevent a word from going extinct. There is no law protecting the word. There is no penalty if a word goes away. There are no advertisements pleading for help to save a word.  And there is no special programs in the school systems to educate children on the protection of words.

I see I am not the only one worked up about this topic.  Check out M. Andrew Sprong’s article Should unused words be removed from new editions of English dictionaries?  I also found some groups the were trying to banish some words and phrases.  Take a look at the article  Lake Superior State University 2010 List ob Banished Words.  Some of the words/phrases they want banished include:  Tsar, Tweet, Friend (used as a verb), and In these economic times.

If you value the English word, take a look at the Save the Words website.  You can sign up to receive by email a word a day with the expectation you will use the word in conversation or in writing on that day. This is a little different from the typical word of the day applications that are used to expand your vocabulary. The nice thing about this application is you can expand your vocabulary and participate in a ’cause’ to prevents words from being eliminated from the English language.  On this site you can also adopt a word, which means you promise to use the word in conversation.

[The situation may be more serious than I thought.  All of the endangered words I listed in this blog were not recognized as words in my spell check.]

REFERENCES:

Five Literary Treats by Carolyn Kellogg; Los Angeles Times, December 24, 2010 

 We Are Words by Stephen Ornes; technology review (published by MIT); Friday, December 17, 2010

 M. Andrew Sprong’s article Should unused words be removed from new editions of English dictionaries?; Helium

 

 

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If you have been following my blog, I am telling a story about myself and my marriage to my husband, the father of  my son J.O.  If you want to start from the beginning please read my post called Another story begins . . . ,  or to learn a little bit more about my son, read:   And then it begins .

So now the work begins.  There was a lot to be done.  We needed to evaluate the processing plan and determine what changes would need to be done to the structure.  We did a walk-through of the building.  It was a huge warehouse which had been built recently and was located in the town’s new industrial park.  I took the dimensions of the building so that we could draw the changes.  It was our plan to get the processing plant open as soon as possible. To do this we planned on working as the construction work was being done.  This was tricky, but not impossible.  I determined what the set up would be in the interim and then drew a rough blueprint of the changes to the processing plant. 

Our next step was to order the equipment.  It mainly consisted of a forklift, an industrial scale and a packaging machine, which we ordered out of Texas.  I ordered the packaging materials, which consisted of plastic and metal banding. 

Our next big step was to set up the work flow for processing the raw materials.  It  was going to be very much like an assembly line type of set up.  My father came up with a brilliant design for the assembly line equipment, but instead of it being linear it was circular, which was perfect for our operations.  We really believed in using local providers when it was possible.  We took my dad’s design to a metal shop that my father had done business with in the past, and we contracted them to build this circular assembly unit.

Our next step was to buy the raw materials, which was pretty easy. In no time we had a semi-load of raw materials delivered to the processing plant.  It was a very competitive market for the raw materials and the prices fluctuated with the trends in this business.  We really had to be on our toes because there were bigger companies that were our competition.  So our bidding for raw materials had to be very frugal.  The one advantage we had is we knew the market in West Africa.  We had many connections to sell this product, and our partner resided there.

While the functional aspects were being set up, I started the interview process for hiring employees.  We decided we needed about six sorters, one person for packaging set up, and two people for operating the actual packaging equipment.  In addition we designated one of the sorters to also be the forklift operator.

There were not many requirements for the employees.   They needed the the ability to lift forty pounds,  the ability to stand on their feet for long periods of time, and hopefully just be a good worker.  We also needed someone who had fork lift experience and some employees that were used to working with equipment. 

The positions paid slightly above the minimum wage.  At first the only benefits we had were sick time and vacation time, which was awarded after they worked for us for six months.  Later we were able to offer them some medical, life and disability insurance.

Looking back on this, the saying “You get what you pay for” was exactly the situation we were in.  The type of people who applied for the job and eventually worked for us were the dredges of society.  Among our employees we had individuals involved with drugs and alcohol, victims of abuse, a girl who wanted to be a stripper, a woman who was mentally unbalanced, and basically individuals that couldn’t get a job anywhere else.  The one common characteristic each of them had was that they had been in jail at one time or another. 

Initially I had it in my head that I could work with them and make them good viable employees.  I started out with a very optimistic perspective.  I showed them by my actions that we were not a big, bad company and we cared for our employees.  Even though we were a start-up company we tried to provide the employees with full benefits including:  annual raises based on performance, vacation time, sick leave, access to medical, life and disability insurance. I served as their life coach.  It was pretty stressful.  I had been working so many years in major corporations, that I had no idea what it was like outside of that environment, and was a little bit shocked.  Practically every day one employee did not come to work.  Besides having my role as the manager of the operations, I played the role of  social worker, marriage counselor, psychologist, mother, boss, and drill sergeant.  I played this “social worker” role for about six months and then I gave up.  Their situations in life were much bigger than what I could help them with.  I also think I was more concerned about their well-being than they were.  My best employees were a retired manager of a grocery store, and a gentleman from Cuba.

 to be continued . . .

Related topics:

Change in career, another move, and starting something new . . .
Good-bye Chicago, Hello Columbus . . .
Chicago and a time of crisis . . .
A place of prosperity . . .
There are good people in the world . . .
Hard times: a need to relocate . . .
And another story begins .

 

 This blog is a continuation of the previous blog Declaration of Children’s Rights.   The purpose of this blog is to give some background in preparation for some information to be provided in a subsequent blog.

Besides the promotion of children’s rights by Janusz Korczak in the early 20th century, the first effective attempt to promote children’s rights was the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, drafted by Eglantyne Jebb in 1923 and adopted by the League of Nations in 1924. This was accepted by the United Nations on its formation and updated in 1959, and replaced with a more extensive UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.

From the formation of the United Nations in the 1940s and extending to present day, the Children’s Rights Movement has become global in focus. Children around the world have increasingly become engaged in illegal, forced child labor, genital mutilation, military service, and sex trafficking. Several international organizations have rallied to the assistance of children. They include Save the Children, Free the Children, and the Children’s Defense Fund.

The Child Rights Information Network, or CRIN, formed in 1983, is a group of 1,600 non-governmental organizations from around the world which advocate for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. These organization’s report on their countries’ progress towards implementation, as do governments that have ratified the Convention. Every five years governments are required to report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

The principles of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child are:

 Article 1 (Definition of the child): The Convention defines a ‘child’ as a person below the age of 18, unless the laws of a particular country set the legal age for adulthood younger. The Committee on the Rights of the Child, the monitoring body for the Convention, has encouraged States to review the age of majority if it is set below 18 and to increase the level of protection for all children under 18.

Article 2 (Non-discrimination):The Convention applies to all children, whatever their race, religion or abilities; whatever they think or say, whatever type of family they come from. It doesn’t matter where children live, what language they speak, what their parents do, whether they are boys or girls, what their culture is, whether they have a disability or whether they are rich or poor. No child should be treated unfairly on any basis.

Article 3 (Best interests of the child):The best interests of children must be the primary concern in making decisions that may affect them. All adults should do what is best for children. When adults make decisions, they should think about how their decisions will affect children. This particularly applies to budget, policy and law makers.

Article 4 (Protection of rights):Governments have a responsibility to take all available measures to make sure children’s rights are respected, protected and fulfilled. When countries ratify the Convention, they agree to review their laws relating to children. This involves assessing their social services, legal, health and educational systems, as well as levels of funding for these services. Governments are then obliged to take all necessary steps to ensure that the minimum standards set by the Convention in these areas are being met. They must help families protect children’s rights and create an environment where they can grow and reach their potential. In some instances, this may involve changing existing laws or creating new ones. Such legislative changes are not imposed, but come about through the same process by which any law is created or reformed within a country. Article 41 of the Convention points out the when a country already has higher legal standards than those seen in the Convention, the higher standards always prevail.

Article 5 (Parental guidance):Governments should respect the rights and responsibilities of families to direct and guide their children so that, as they grow, they learn to use their rights properly. Helping children to understand their rights does not mean pushing them to make choices with consequences that they are too young to handle. Article 5 encourages parents to deal with rights issues “in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child”. The Convention does not take responsibility for children away from their parents and give more authority to governments. It does place on governments the responsibility to protect and assist families in fulfilling their essential role as nurturers of children.

Article 6 (Survival and development): Children have the right to live. Governments should ensure that children survive and develop healthily.

Article 7 (Registration, name, nationality, care):All children have the right to a legally registered name, officially recognised by the government. Children have the right to a nationality (to belong to a country). Children also have the right to know and, as far as possible, to be cared for by their parents.

Article 8 (Preservation of identity):Children have the right to an identity – an official record of who they are. Governments should respect children’s right to a name, a nationality and family ties.

Article 9 (Separation from parents):Children have the right to live with their parent(s), unless it is bad for them. Children whose parents do not live together have the right to stay in contact with both parents, unless this might hurt the child.

Article 10 (Family reunification):Families whose members live in different countries should be allowed to move between those countries so that parents and children can stay in contact, or get back together as a family.

Article 11 (Kidnapping):Governments should take steps to stop children being taken out of their own country illegally. This article is particularly concerned with parental abductions. The Convention’s Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography has a provision that concerns abduction for financial gain.

Article 12 (Respect for the views of the child):When adults are making decisions that affect children, children have the right to say what they think should happen and have their opinions taken into account. This does not mean that children can now tell their parents what to do. This Convention encourages adults to listen to the opinions of children and involve them in decision-making — not give children authority over adults. Article 12 does not interfere with parents’ right and responsibility to express their views on matters affecting their children. Moreover, the Convention recognizes that the level of a child’s participation in decisions must be appropriate to the child’s level of maturity. Children’s ability to form and express their opinions develops with age and most adults will naturally give the views of teenagers greater weight than those of a preschooler, whether in family, legal or administrative decisions. Article 12 (Respect for the views of the child):When adults are making decisions that affect children, children have the right to say what they think should happen and have their opinions taken into account.

Article 13 (Freedom of expression):Children have the right to get and share information, as long as the information is not damaging to them or others. In exercising the right to freedom of expression, children have the responsibility to also respect the rights, freedoms and reputations of others. The freedom of expression includes the right to share information in any way they choose, including by talking, drawing or writing.

Article 14 (Freedom of thought, conscience and religion):Children have the right to think and believe what they want and to practise their religion, as long as they are not stopping other people from enjoying their rights. Parents should help guide their children in these matters. The Convention respects the rights and duties of parents in providing religious and moral guidance to their children. Religious groups around the world have expressed support for the Convention, which indicates that it in no way prevents parents from bringing their children up within a religious tradition. At the same time, the Convention recognizes that as children mature and are able to form their own views, some may question certain religious practices or cultural traditions. The Convention supports children’s right to examine their beliefs, but it also states that their right to express their beliefs implies respect for the rights and freedoms of others.

Article 15 (Freedom of association):Children have the right to meet together and to join groups and organisations, as long as it does not stop other people from enjoying their rights. In exercising their rights, children have the responsibility to respect the rights, freedoms and reputations of others.

Article 16 (Right to privacy):Children have a right to privacy. The law should protect them from attacks against their way of life, their good name, their families and their homes.

Article 17 (Access to information; mass media):Children have the right to get information that is important to their health and well-being. Governments should encourage mass media – radio, television, newspapers and Internet content sources – to provide information that children can understand and to not promote materials that could harm children. Mass media should particularly be encouraged to supply information in languages that minority and indigenous children can understand. Children should also have access to children’s books.

Article 18 (Parental responsibilities; state assistance):Both parents share responsibility for bringing up their children, and should always consider what is best for each child. Governments must respect the responsibility of parents for providing appropriate guidance to their children – the Convention does not take responsibility for children away from their parents and give more authority to governments. It places a responsibility on governments to provide support services to parents, especially if both parents work outside the home.

Article 19 (Protection from all forms of violence):Children have the right to be protected from being hurt and mistreated, physically or mentally. Governments should ensure that children are properly cared for and protect them from violence, abuse and neglect by their parents, or anyone else who looks after them. In terms of discipline, the Convention does not specify what forms of punishment parents should use. However any form of discipline involving violence is unacceptable. There are ways to discipline children that are effective in helping children learn about family and social expectations for their behaviour – ones that are non-violent, are appropriate to the child’s level of development and take the best interests of the child into consideration. In most countries, laws already define what sorts of punishments are considered excessive or abusive. It is up to each government to review these laws in light of the Convention.

Article 20 (Children deprived of family environment):Children who cannot be looked after by their own family have a right to special care and must be looked after properly, by people who respect their ethnic group, religion, culture and language.

Article 21 (Adoption):Children have the right to care and protection if they are adopted or in foster care. The first concern must be what is best for them. The same rules should apply whether they are adopted in the country where they were born, or if they are taken to live in another country.

Article 22 (Refugee children):Children have the right to special protection and help if they are refugees (if they have been forced to leave their home and live in another country), as well as all the rights in this Convention.

Article 23 (Children with disabilities):Children who have any kind of disability have the right to special care and support, as well as all the rights in the Convention, so that they can live full and independent lives.

Article 24 (Health and health services):Children have the right to good quality health care – the best health care possible – to safe drinking water, nutritious food, a clean and safe environment, and information to help them stay healthy. Rich countries should help poorer countries achieve this. Article

25 (Review of treatment in care):Children who are looked after by their local authorities, rather than their parents, have the right to have these living arrangements looked at regularly to see if they are the most appropriate. Their care and treatment should always be based on “the best interests of the child”. (see Guiding Principles, Article 3)

Article 26 (Social security):Children – either through their guardians or directly – have the right to help from the government if they are poor or in need.

Article 27 (Adequate standard of living):Children have the right to a standard of living that is good enough to meet their physical and mental needs. Governments should help families and guardians who cannot afford to provide this, particularly with regard to food, clothing and housing.

Article 28: (Right to education):All children have the right to a primary education, which should be free. Wealthy countries should help poorer countries achieve this right. Discipline in schools should respect children’s dignity. For children to benefit from education, schools must be run in an orderly way – without the use of violence. Any form of school discipline should take into account the child’s human dignity. Therefore, governments must ensure that school administrators review their discipline policies and eliminate any discipline practices involving physical or mental violence, abuse or neglect. The Convention places a high value on education. Young people should be encouraged to reach the highest level of education of which they are capable.

Article 29 (Goals of education):Children’s education should develop each child’s personality, talents and abilities to the fullest. It should encourage children to respect others, human rights and their own and other cultures. It should also help them learn to live peacefully, protect the environment and respect other people. Children have a particular responsibility to respect the rights their parents, and education should aim to develop respect for the values and culture of their parents. The Convention does not address such issues as school uniforms, dress codes, the singing of the national anthem or prayer in schools. It is up to governments and school officials in each country to determine whether, in the context of their society and existing laws, such matters infringe upon other rights protected by the Convention.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has outlined a standard premise for the children’s rights movement and has been ratified by all but two nations – the United States and Somalia. Somalia’s inability to sign the Convention is attributed to their lack of governmental structure. The US administration under Bush opposed ratifying the Convention because of “serious political and legal concerns that it conflicts with U.S. policies on the central role of parents, sovereignty, and state and local law.”  How embarrassing and shameful!

With all of this colorful rhetoric, I still wonder why there are numerous issues affecting the children of the world.

Information provided by: http://www.unicef.org/crc/files/Rights_overview.pdf

to be continued . . .

The changes in snow . . .

Posted: December 27, 2010 in Mind Flurries
Tags: , , ,

I can feel that the cold is here
I hear the wind whistling around the corner of the house
A spray of  snow particles hits against the window pane
No flakes, just powdery ice crystals
The breath of the gusting wind whips across the snow
Making the air feel crisp
At first the white is everywhere
Pristine, barren, no foot prints, no tracks
Even the mounds of snow from the previous storm
Are blanketed all in white
The swirling snow drift waves
Ripple like the sands of the desert
From this way and that way
Nothing in its way
Filling in every open gap
Later, the snow is no longer a fine powder
The surface is like rolling white caps upon the sea
Each swell of the snow drift is tipped
As if the artist used a brush
And swathed the drift with contours of light
And the shadows of the dark.
No more blowing drifts
No more gusts from the Ice Queen’s breath
Now the air is frigid
The snow is solid, holding the frozen ground with its grip
As if declaring it as its own
When the snowplow has passed
It leaves towers of frozen crags of snow
The terrain has changed
Now the roads are lined
With torn boulders of ice and snow
As if the land had been blasted
Changing the drifts
To rigid obelisks and crevices into a precipice of snow
I can feel that the cold is truly here.

Santa Humor . . .

Posted: December 24, 2010 in General Blogging

Why does Santa always go down the chimney?  Because it “soots” him!

Why was Santa’s little helper depressed?  Because he had low elf esteem!

Why does Santa have 3 gardens?  So he can ho-ho-ho!

How do sheep in Mexico say Merry Christmas?  Fleece Navidad!

Why did Santa spell Christmas N-O-E?  Because the angel said, “No L!”

What do you call people who are afraid of Santa Claus?  Claustrophobic.

Why does Scrooge love Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?   Because every buck is dear to him.

Why is Christmas just like a day at the office?  You do all the work and the fat guy with the suit gets all the credit.

Whats a good holiday tip?  Never catch snowflakes with your tongue until all the birds have gone south for the winter. 

 What does Mrs. Claus sing Santa on his birthday? “Freeze a jolly good fellow!”

 What do you call someone who doesn’t believe in Father Christmas?   A rebel without a Claus! 

What does Santa like to have for breakfast?  Mistle-“toast”!

 Why does Santa take presents to children around the world?   Because the gifts won’t take themselves!

 What did Santa say to Mrs. Claus when he looked out the window?  Looks like “rain”,”Dear”!

 What goes oh, oh, oh?  Santa Claus walking backwards!

Why won’t Santa eat Twinkies? He would rather eat Ho-Hos