H.L.Mencken on crooked banks

mencken“When five sound banks,” said the Hon. Mr. Landon, “must pay the loss of one rotten one, the drain on the five necessarily impairs their strength. One of them breaks under the strain and the remaining four are weakened by the added strain, and so on.” … The federal insurance scheme has worked up to now simply and solely because there have been very few bank failures. The next time we have a pestilence of them it will come to grief quickly enough, and if the good banks escape ruin along with the bad ones it will be only because the taxpayer foots the bill. …

What is to be done about crooked banks, nitwit banks, bad banks in general? The problem seems to be beyond the capacities of American legislators, for every solution they have arrived at in the past has turned out, in the light of experience to be no solution at all.”

H.L.Mencken, The Baltimore Evening Sun, June 22, 1936

Things we say wrong

Can you pronounce these words and spell them from memory: either, protein, caffein … height … neighbor, weight, freight … foreign … human being? English is hard for native speakers, too. Many Americans, including Bush and Palin, say “nucular” instead of “nuclear”. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. “What you ought to know dot com” (224 shows so far) presents words that we have a hard time with.

Language focus: mistakes native speakers make

The truth

wallace-mccainSunday was election day here in Bavaria. There are a lot of people who think that this state doesn‘t have a democracy, since it‘s been ruled by the same party for so long that public servants are not seen to be serving anyone but themselves. …
I’ve been thinking about what makes democracy tick as I read a book by David Foster Wallace, the most brilliant writer of my generation in many ways, who killed himself on September 12th, losing his 20-year fight against depression. This book is called „McCain’s Promise“, and it’s about what makes people care enough to get involved in politics. According to Wallace, it comes down to straight talk. Continue reading The truth

Grammarians R Pissed

English teachers and writers, this one is for you:

From 3:40: “You know, it’s not even a matter of semantics. Using simplistic, good versus evil rhetoric to obfuscate (verdunkeln) really complex situations… I mean, he talks at us like we’re kindergartners. It’s no wonder people misunderestimate (!) him.”

Language focus: good language

Just show up

“The golden rule of language learning: Absolutely any method of language learning, as long as it includes regular exposure to the target language, will eventually yield fluency if followed faithfully enough. … Some methods of language learning may be better or worse than others, but there is no “wrong” method. … It’s like the saying goes, “most of success is just showing up“.Glowing Face Man (blogging about language, communication, and self-improvement)

I’m not sure about that. I really like Glowing Face Man’s optimism, but I know that using the method that is wrong for you is counterproductive – precisely because it makes you not want to show up anymore. That unfortunately is what happened to me in math and physics (so interesting and yet so hard for me). So I really want to help learners find the best approach for them.