Monday, October 31, 2011

Define “huge”

The National Law Journal has a great headline: Hips will be huge next year.

Of course, it isn’t really about pant-size, but it’s a hoot anyway!

Bravo, head writer!

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011


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“Tolstoy wrote…” is an opening phrase you might hear a few times in your life. As soon as you do, Dear Gentle Reader, you might pause in your listening to think, “Really?  Are you certain.”

Here are a couple of quotes from a French workbook:

“Elle a pris une decision.” (Sorry, you’ll have to imagine the accent over the e in decision.) The workbook then translates that sentence into 1) She made a decision; 2) She has made a decision; and 3) She did make a decision.

“Elle faisait..” can mean “She was doing…”, “She used to do…”, or “She did…”

Context matters; and context is a word which encompasses quite a lot, including, but not limited to the mores of the times—both of the time of the original writing and the time of the translation.

Much thought and subjective decision-making go into translations. So much so that we should be careful about placing too much confidence in what a translator finally presents.

And the more important the translated material might be to our individual and collective lives, the more cautious we should be.

For instance, religious writings should be treated with much caution. (Surely you saw that coming.)

Trust, but verify; or, in this case, read it in the original before you accept it totally.

Good luck with that.

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Another war lost

The Los Angeles Times has an interesting lead story today, with a fascinating headline: “Jail bars are no barrier to drug traffic” (print edition). It’s a fascinating read which brings up many questions. For instance, how is it that a guard whose divorces eat up “70%” of his salary stays on the job? (A recent attempt by LAPD to monitor certain officers’ bank accounts met with howls of protest.) Or, how is it that a 19-year-old was assigned to guard hardened drug criminals? (He’s served a 180 day sentence for providing drugs to an inmate.)

Fans of crime stories, though, should not be surprised that guards provide drugs to prisoners. Without that device of corrupt prison workers, writers would be stuck.

For now, it is obvious to everyone but those making a profit off of it (including, but not limited to, DEA bureaucrats and drug cartels) that we’ve lost the war on drugs. Really! We have.  If law enforcement is part of the problem, what chance to we have?  So it’s time to declare victory and turn the fight over to the United Corporations of America, you know, the folks who really run the country. It won’t take them long to get things right.

If we legalize the drug industry, we will obtain some worthwhile benefits.  We will save money wasted on armaments; we will gain some needed tax revenue through the controlled sale of drugs; we will be able to regulate the drug industry; we will cut down on deaths caused by impure street drugs; and we will have a boatload of money to double down on anti-drug education.

Once Wall Street gets its hands on the business, everyone, especially those people in Central and South America whose lives are in jeopardy every day this senseless War on Drugs lasts.

It is more intelligent than what we’re doing now.

And Juan can get back to growing coffee beans.

Trust, but verify.

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