Pink triagnle

Civics exam!

 Hypothetical: You are running for United States Senate in West Virginia. Your country has over 100,000 servicemembers stationed overseas and is weathering the worst recession in 70 years. How do you complete the following sentence from your stump speech?

“We need                   and we need [it/them] right now.”

a.) “jobs”

b.) “massive overhauls of our crumbling infrastructure”

c.) “a reevaluation of our inhumane and breathtakingly expensive drug enforcement policies and incarceration system”

d.) “1,000 laser systems put in the sky”

If you answered A-C, congratulations, you are a rational, compassionate, sane human being! If you answered D, congratulations, you are the frontrunner in West Virginia’s Senate race!

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Arguments for the First Amendment

Here’s an interesting article for you all via Vice.

Here’s the basic gist:

My aim was to create garments that the majority of the US citizenry would find offensive and, more specifically, submit designs so despicable that most custom-tee printers would refuse to print them. Still, my ultimate goal was to find a willing printer and get the shirts made no matter what. Mark Twain, perhaps the quintessential American author, once wrote: “Nature knows no indecencies; man invents them.” Each entrepreneur who refused my business would define yet another instance of American indecency and chip away at the bedrock of liberty as we know it.

I began by setting some guidelines: The topics of racism, sexism, and politics were deemed too easy for this exercise, primarily because online retailers already provide a bountiful selection of knee-jerk schlock marketed to college students and bigots. I also afforded myself the luxury of ratcheting up the viciousness of the shirt designs if the printer proved too eager to accept the initial unseemly idea.

Much like going up on your roof, because you are not boring at all, it only gets better from here.

You have the day off today because a slave-driver thought the Bahamas was India

Enjoy your ill-gotten holiday.

Monday Morning Surrealism

Thesis: Hegel.

Antithesis: Cholera.

Synthesis: Progress!

MS judge jails lawyer for not reciting Pledge of Allegience

Via NMissCommentor:

Danny Lampley (who clerked for me in law school), was jailed by Chancery Court Judge Littlejohn in Tupelo for failing to recite the pledge of allegiance in open court today.  Danny was one of the local lawyers who represented the plaintiff in the Pontotoc school prayer case years ago, working with the ACLU and People for the American Way.

I’m informed that Danny rose and was respectful, but did not recite the pledge.

Media is reporting that Danny has since been released after having been in jail from about 9:30 to about 2:30.

The order incarcerating him provides:

BE IT REMEMBERED, this date, the Court having ordered all present in the courtroom to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegience, and having found that Danny Lampley, Attorney at Law, failed and refused to do so, finds said Danny Lampley to be in criminal contempt of court.

The order states that for this, Danny Lampley “is hereby ordered to be incaraerated in that Lee County jail.” The order continues:

IT IS FURTHER ORDED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED, that Danny Lampley shall purge himself of said criminal contempt by complying with the order of this Court by standing and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in open court.

Criminal justice watchdog Radley Balko calls for Littlejohn to resign:

I’d say it’s time Judge Littlejohn turned in his robe. This is just astonishingly ignorant, arrogant, and thuggish. Oh, and illegal. It’s also way illegal. Like, not even close.

New language discovered in India

Via CNN:

Linguists announced Monday they have identified an endangered language known as Koro that is spoken by about 800 people in northeast India.  The language was unknown to science and recently came to light during an expedition by linguists traveling in India on fellowships for National Geographic, the linguists said in telephone interviews.Koro belongs to the Tibeto-Burman language family, which is composed of a group of about 400 languages spoken primarily in east, central, south and southeast Asia and includes Tibetan and Burmese, according to linguist K. David Harrison.

Some 150 Tibeto-Burman languages are spoken in India alone, but no other language has been identified as closely related, said Harrison, an associate professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.

Like most languages, Koro is unwritten and transmitted orally. It is neither a dialect nor a sister language close to Hruso-Aka, despite being considered such by both Hruso and Koro people. Koro shares some vocabulary with other languages spoken in the region but shares more features with languages spoken farther east, such as Milang and Tani, the linguists said in a news release issued by National Geographic. Harrison and another National Geographic Fellow, Greg Anderson, led the expedition, called Enduring Voices, which brought Koro to light. Enduring Voices documents vanishing languages and cultures and assists with language revitalization.

Harrison and Anderson, director of the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, in Salem, Oregon, focused on Arunachal Pradesh, a remote area of northeast India that is considered the black hole of the linguistic world. It is a language hotspot where there is room to study rich, diverse languages, many unwritten or documented. A permit is required to visit, few linguists have worked there and a reliable list of languages has never been drawn up.

“On a scientist’s tally sheet, Koro adds just one entry to the list of 6,909 languages worldwide. But Koro’s contribution is much greater than that tiny fraction would suggest,” Harrison writes in his book, “The Last Speakers.”

“Koro brings an entirely different perspective, history, mythology, technology and grammar to what was known before.”

In the news release, the linguists described their discovery as bittersweet: Of the approximately 800 people who speak Koro, few are under the age of 20, meaning the language is endangered.

“We were finding something that was making its exit, was on its way out,” Anderson said. “And if we had waited 10 years to make the trip, we might not have come across close to the number of speakers we found.”

The team set out in 2008 in Arunachal Pradesh to document Aka and Miji, languages spoken in a small district there. The expedition went door to door among homes propped up on stilts to reach potential speakers of those little-known languages. While recording the vocabularies, they detected a third language — Koro. It was not listed in Indian language surveys, Indian censuses or standard international registries.

“We didn’t have to get far on our word list to realize it was extremely different in every possible way,” Harrison said.

The inventory of sounds and the way these sounds were combined to form words were distinct from other languages spoken in the region. An Aka speaker would call a pig “vo” and a Koro speaker would call a pig “lele.”

“Koro could hardly sound more different from Aka,” Harrison writes. “They sound as different as, say, English and Japanese.”

Anderson and Harrison said Aka is the traditional language of the region’s historic slave traders, and they hypothesized that Koro may have sprung from the slaves; though they said more study is needed to determine the origin.

The project reports that a language becomes extinct every two weeks. By 2100, it is estimated that more than half of the 6,910 languages spoken on earth will vanish. The team will return to India to continue studying Koro in November.