Saturday, 17 February 2018

My Chinese handwriting (on the meaning of "pirate")

Obviously, very rapid, very sloppy writing (on a chalkboard) —and yet legible enough for the students.  This was in 德宏, of course.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

First Nations Languages (A Very Strange Job Application)

To the teachers and directors of _________________,

Many years ago I decided to devote the rest of my life to First Nations languages: specifically, I wanted to work in indigenous education (and in the political processes related to avoiding the extinction of indigenous languages in Canada).

I went to First Nations University of Canada and I enrolled in Algonquian languages (studying Cree and Ojibwe and taking related courses). I do, indeed, have the transcript to prove this.

Years later, I tried to study west-coast languages at the University of Victoria, also: despite the vague statements about the university being committed to preserving indigenous languages, I found that it was impossible (genuinely impossible) to study any indigenous language at UVic at all (and yes, I spoke with professors, face-to-face).

So, at this time, most of my accomplishments (listed in my C.V.) are related to Asian languages (Chinese, Japanese, Cambodian, Laotian, Pali, etc.) —and, within the education sector, I've had work experience teaching English (E.S.L.) in Asia. However, the truth is that all of these things have been a result of the impossibility of continuing to work on First Nations Languages (and First Nations Language education) in Canadian universities.

I did, also, achieve some level of expertise in Asian languages: I delivered a lecture at Oxford University, England, at the invitation of senior professors, and the audience was almost entirely comprised of senior professors. Although the topic of the lecture was Asian, I can genuinely say that the audience was shocked when I presented them with a "parallelism" from the history of the British Empire in Canada (i.e., the genocide of the indigenous peoples). The lecture is listed in my C.V., and the transcript of that lecture is still available on an Oxford University website (to prove the truth of the anecdote, and show exactly what I said about First Nations languages, at that time, in that forum).

This is all I can say for myself in terms of my "qualifications and experience" in relation to First Nations and indigenous language education: I can prove that this is a topic that I have been passionate about (and that I tried to pursue, as my career, via First Nations University) but it has been impossible for me (thus far) to make further progress in the field, because of the extremely poor situation within Canadian Universities for my generation.

As for the job's other qualifications: yes, I have experience teaching English as a Second Language in Asia. I have just completed a full year of teaching university-age students with all of the responsibilities of a university professor (from writing lectures and grading exams to one-on-one work: memorably, I had separate meetings with one girl who had a severe hearing-disability (she was deaf in childhood, apparently), to help her with her elocution). Yes, I am "sensitive" to the issues that separate E.S.D. from E.S.L. in the Canadian political context: in many ways, my dream was to work on Canadian Aboriginal Languages, and a job of this kind would let me recapture some small part of that dream.

Eisel Mazard

Friday, 12 January 2018

My work on Buddhism: how is it perceived by (non-scholarly) white Buddhists?

This is a link from 2016 I stumbled upon (when googling my own name to find the link to an article that I know I uploaded somewhere).

You see the religious mentality at work here: one contributor to this website is saying that my articles (and videos) about Buddhism are "honest scholarship" and raise important questions for Buddhists to consider.  And the other members of the forum reach for whatever excuse they can find to dismiss the articles without reading them (one explicitly says that he made his decision on the basis of the titles of the articles being too cynical).  ;-)

Thursday, 11 January 2018

I finally discarded the jacket I got married in.

A certain black jacket that you may have seen in my photos and videos many times has finally been put into a garbage bag.

This was, in fact, a Canadian military jacket (sometimes recognized as such by veterans and government officials, in various places around the world) that I had a tailor modify in Vientiane (to make it slimmer).  The original cut of the cloth was very bulky, to be worn over a harness or other (military) equipment.  The material was ("bullet-proof") aramid (Nomex 3 aramid fiber, as I recall).

I was wearing this jacket on the day of my legal marriage (shown in the pictures above) and on the day when my wife and I were separated (legally, we still aren't divorced!).

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

My former Cree Teacher Advocates for Cree Street-Signs.

Solomon Ratt was one of my professors at FNU, and I talked about this issue with him (street-signs, no-smoking-signs, etc.) ALL THE TIME.  Part of my argument was to point out that the Canadian government had signage in Chinese for Chinese neighborhoods ("Chinatown" streets)… but why didn't we ever see Cree/Ojibwe on street signs?  I have no idea if my kvetching about this (years ago) at FNU was part of the impetus toward his formally lobbying on the issue, but I would note: he'd been there (as a professor of Cree) for many, many years… and he didn't take this on earlier.

Yes, Aristotle really meant "Election By Lottery".

My recent video titled, "Aristotle's philosophy (in/and my life)" resulted in a few gasps of amazement amongst my Patreon supporters.  Can it be that "election by lot" really means a sort of lottery?  Could it be that I'm misreading something somewhere along the line?

Note the text quoted in the image above, but, also, to quote the lowly Wikipedia: "The Athenians believed sortition to be democratic but not elections and used complex procedures with purpose-built allotment machines (kleroteria) to avoid the corrupt practices used by oligarchs to buy their way into office."  And yes, indeed, you will find, "sortition" is another word for election at random —by lot or lottery.

Both Aristotle and Herodotus (one of the earliest writers on democracy) emphasize selection by lot as a test of democracy, "The rule of the people has the fairest name of all, equality (isonomia), and does none of the things that a monarch does. The lot determines offices, power is held accountable, and deliberation is conducted in public." (Quoting Herodotus)

Thursday, 2 November 2017

A Letter to My Next Lawyer (& A Current Summary of My Divorce Case)

Hello, I am in the middle of a divorce (in Nice / Côte d'Azur) and I'm seeking a new lawyer.

1. The current situation of my divorce is really very simple (although the prior history may be complex).  I do not believe there are any special challenges for a law firm (more details below).

The purpose of this message is to communicate a few simple/reassuring things (so that you can decide if you would like to become my lawyer or not).

2. I do not have any unreasonable expectations from my lawyer / law firm (I think that every lawyer is probably concerned about having a fussy / implacable client).  I do not have any unreasonable expectations about the legal process, generally (although I need guidance on some strategic decisions in future, from my lawyers).

Friday, 20 October 2017

My Laotian Handwriting (having "forgotten" the language for 11 years)

Working on Laotian again after a "pause" of 11 years: I had exemplary Lao handwriting in 2006… but I haven't seen, read, written or practiced the language in any way since then.  I don't think I'm naturally talented in languages, TBH: I just do the work others don't do.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

There are many ways to tell the truth, but only one way to lie.

I made that up in a memorable situation at City Hall.  Toronto City Hall.  There are many ways to tell the truth, but only one way to lie.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Letter to my Cree Language instructors (from years past)

Hi Bill (this is Bill Cook's email, I presume?),
Hi to Solomon, too,

You guys haven't heard from me in more than a year.  Many strange changes in my life since I was a full-time student of Cree (as a language) at F.N.U.  I actually tried to study First Nations languages at UVic: they had one professor specialized in Cree, but they* refused to let it happen. They also had a circle of students studying Ojibwe independently on campus.  The whole department was hollow: nobody at UVic is learning/teaching any First Nations language (neither west-coast nor otherwise).  They just do linguistic methods.  Depressing as hell.

* [They = the department.]

I spent 7+ months in a language-school in China, 1-on-1 with the teacher, 4 hours per day, 5 days per week in the classroom.  This is exponentially more effective way to learn a language than university classroom methods (1 hour, twice a week, with 40 students in one room, etc.) --but expensive, of course.