Next MLA

Great news! I will be speaking at the next MLA. About Basque literature.

It’s in Chicago, so this time it won’t take me a lifetime to get there even if there’s another snowstorm. I’m open to hanging out.

Basque Progress

I’m not working on my Basque as much as I’d like but here’s what I can do so far:

– introduce myself and have a basic “how are you? I’m American. I’m not a student. Those children are students” conversation.

– count to twelve. Which, if you look it up, is quite a feat.

– ask what the time is and answer if asked.

– make a fairly complex order of alcoholic beverages at a bar (which is quite useless because I no longer drink. But hey, that’s what the textbook considers crucial.)

– point to objects and name them or ask their names. Especially things like sea, mountains, forests, farms, etc.

– recite every ETA slogan that ever existed. Which, I’m hoping, will be as useless as ordering wine at a bar.

– explain where different neighborhoods of Donostia (San Sebasti├ín) are.

– say that something is old / pretty / pleasant. But not new / ugly / or unpleasant.

– say “you are the boss” and “long live the Basque Country.”

I also watched the movie Spanish Affair (this is the English translation) that is a very funny comedy about Basque stereotypes. It’s available on Netflix, and I highly recommend.

I passed the first test with 92% (I grade myself.) The only mistake I made was the word order, so it’s not that bad.

Forbes on Immigrants

I’m not sure I understand the tenor of this piece. If the conclusion were “let’s invest into our high schools to make sure that all kids learn about science” or “let’s make sure everybody has access to an afterschool science program,” it would make more sense. But the way it is, it sounds more like “the kids we have right now are defective; let’s bring in a better model that conveniently fits an easy stereotype.”

I’m giving a lecture on Tuesday on how the plan, hatched in the XIXth-century Argentina, to displace the local population and bring in “better”, more hard-working, neater and more civilized folks from elsewhere worked out. Short answer: not that hot.

Also: it’s not a big favor to immigrants either to write this kind of article. It’s so boring to be seen as any kind of a walking stereotype, even a good one. Do you know how many times I heard, “Ukrainian?? You must be so good at chess!” I don’t play fucking chess! I’m hopeless! And I’m sure not every Indian immigrant kid is good at science.

I know, I know, what can anybody expect from such a source? But you don’t think I read Forbes, do you? I only read it because two well-meaning folks forwarded it to me / tagged me with it.