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Free supplement for Pictogram Palace

Free preview and supplement of pictogram palace

相 Xiang is a picture of a tree on the left 木 and an eye on the right 目. These two characters sound alike! They both sound like this: mu. Xiang is an associative-idea character. It represents a concept by presenting two pictograms which are associated together into the concept.
This Xiang means alike, mutuality, similarity. The idea is these two characters sound alike and together represent the idea of mutuality, alike, similarity.

Memory tricks:

“trees as far as the eye can see! and they all look ALIKE.


公 Gong:This Gong is the number 8 八 on top (two vertical lines) and beneath it is a clenched right arm with a fist 厶. This gong means work, power, masculine, male, bull, and public power.

Mutual+Public Power, Bull, Masculine = Sir


And just like that you know two more characters and a word and an idea about how many Chinese characters are formed: pictograms, ideograms, and associative idea characters are the basis from which the phonosemantic characters will be built.

智慧 zhi hui – wisdom – character decomposition and analysis (free supplement to Pictogram Palace)

Free supplement for Pictogram Palace 智慧

智 zhi is the left character. it means intelligence.
The top left part is a picture of a big man with an arrow going over his head. To his right is a picture of a mouth. The idea is spoken smart words. Without the mouth the idea is just an arrow, i.e., pointed, directed. Bottom left part is a picture of the sun. So this is sharp spoken words which are really bright. Intelligent!
Mnemotechnique: it went over his head.

The top of the right character is feng1 repeated twice which means fertile abundant. it’s a picture of a growing plant ripe with fruit and seed. Beneath it is a picture of the bristles of a broom. That changes the meaning and pronunciation to hui which means comet. Add the heart character below it (three dots on top and below a curve, that’s a picture of the heart) to transform the meaning a bit from comet to an idea which sweeps all clean in its path purifies. So this is purification by the super-abundant divine power which cleans all foolish ideas from its path in other words: WISE.

What’s wise and intelligent put together? Wisdom.

There is a very popular childrens program called “small wisdom tree” xiao zhi hui shu which uses these two characters.

Pronouncing Pinyin: Free supplement for Pictogram Palace

Did you ever notice how people from China generally have thick accents? Guess what that means? Right. Your accent in Chinese probably sounds terribly bad is thick and incomprehensible. If you actually want to communicate then you need to pronounce properly.
In Pictogram Palace (free sample) I did not discuss proper pinyin pronunciation. This is because I am obviously not a native speaker. I have however been reading what lots of native speakers write and listening to what they say. Problem pinyin initials follow in the table below.
Common pronunciation points for each row are on the right.
Common pronunciation points for each coloumn are at the final row.
My own romanization of these sounds is in bold italic because pinyin often does not correspond to English.








(it’s a heavily
aspirated j)
It is equal to pinyin T + pinyin X



X tip of tongue touching back of lower front teeth, middle top of tongue touching top of mouth at the hard palate. This sound doesn’t exist in English but can be approximated as HS or HSH
This sound should be easy to make while smiling, unlike pinyin sh.
hs, hsh, khs, khsh


these sounds stress
the surface of the tongue.they don’t exactly correspond to sounds in English. the tip of the tongue touches the back of the lower teeth. the top of the tongue is raised toward the roof of the mouth (hard palate)
(this is much gentler, subtler than the Russian Zh)
Ch Sh tip of tongue is
touching the top
of the teeth
(ds, tz, z)
tongue is flat
ASPIRATED sound is soft and prolonged

When in Rome do as the Romans do

ru guo wen jin, ru xiang1 sui2 su2
enter kingdom ask prohibit, enter countryside follow customs
kou men de wen, biao lin de jin, xiang cun de xiang, sui bian de sui, su gu de su

the People in the Valley follow their CUSTOMS

La vaca es muerte. CCC

Apparently, Beta O’Rourke was a member of the cult of the dead cow, a computer hacking group from the 1990s.

Some apparently think CotDC to be the oldest or first hacking group. It was not. Chaos Computer Club (CCC) was in fact the first hacking group, dating back to at least the 1980s and possibly even the 1970s.

Just look up back issues of 2600 and do your primary research.

Bad reporting follows:

Presidential Questions

Currently Warren is making all the wrong moves. More or less a social democrat, the fact is the US people are not social democrats, let alone communists, which is exactly what she will be painted into a corner by. Currently, I do not anticipate Warren to win the presidency. Whether she wins the Democratic nomination is still an open question.

Meanwhile, Biden still dreams of being a gerentocrat. In this election we are going to see millenials rejecting the gerontocracy. I do not expect Biden to win the presidency. He might not even win the democratic nomination.

All the other contenders for the democratic nomination are sufficiently young and “unknown quantities” to be capable of being nominated and elected. They have all the mistakes to make. Warren and Biden have probably both made sufficient mistakes to lose either the nomination or the election or both.

Fermi’s Paradox : Solved.

Enrico Fermi once famously asked something like this: <<If there are alien life forms out there in space, where are they all? Why aren’t they coming?>>

This famous quip generates a lot of thought. To me the answer seems rather obvious. Space is HUGE. The distances between stars are VAST and many probably most planets are uninhabitable. Other planets are years, even decades away, even moving at light speed, as electrical waves do.

Earthlings have been emitting radio waves for about 100 years now. So only planets within 100 light years have any chance at all of even knowing we are here. With each passing year however it becomes likelier that some alien civilization will discover us.

But wait! It gets worse! Even if “they” hear our faint 100 year old radio emissions, it would take them as many years to get back to us, at least, as we took to get to them!

Where are all the aliens? Simple. They don’t know we’re here. They can’t know we’re here till our radio waves reach them. And even then however long it takes for them to hear our faint old radio signals (and decode them): it will take that long for them just to get back to use using radio waves, to say nothing of their inevitably much slower space ships.

Likely we will discover or likelier be discovered within 1000 years. Maybe even as few as 100. But likely no quicker than that, unfortunately.

Public Power and Private Right

There is law and there is justice; the legal minded believe (public) law may work justice more effectively than private actions, whether blood feud, clan war, weregeld or other forms of private vengeance such as the secret Vehm courts. Public law experts argue that monopolizing lawful violence reduces violence and works justice more effectively. Thus acts of private vengeance, viewed in pre-modernity as the essence of retributive justice become, in modernity: crimes!

However, there is of course the opposite view; it is a view held by various mafia, many criminals, but also by clans, tribes, in short proto-states from the pre-scientific era. The idea that public law is better than private vengeance is definitively one aspect of modernity, the industrial era. So are cabinet wars, limited as opposed to total wars, and for similar reasons: the reduction of violence, through the use of violence, by a monopolist of violence – the state. Here the Marxist experiment at attaining the self-destruction of state power is instructive.

As to those who believe that private vengeance is better and more fair than public law, who am I to disagree? I am not the state. I am well aware of the failures of state power to attain justice. Then again, the statists argue in extremis, that the primary goal of state power is to impose the monopolization of violence, not to work substantive justice.

So there are sensible reasons for which one might take the side, e.g. of a given mafia, a group of so-called criminals, for it is only the state’s laws which make them criminals, no?

That is not my own view. I believe the better view is that substantive justice is better attained by public (criminal) law rather than private vengeance. Then again, in the face of the failure of state power, as was the case in Sicily some 200 years ago one can well understand why private persons might make private justice a private affair. The problem is, then they are, knowingly or not, contenders for state power. And like I point out: the state claims the monopoly of lawful violence.

Yet, substantive justice is an ideal; it can never be attained. Life is inherently unfair. Is it fair that people die? No. But we cling to the hope of justice, the promise of fairness in our dealings with other people precisely because sickness and death, natural disasters are so arbitrary and unfair. Yet we believe, perhaps are naive, that by regulating our affairs as to voluntary transactions we can best cope with a bad situation. For there is a fundamental difference between the death at the hands of a robber or rapist as opposed to a natural or even accidental death through the forces of nature, which until recently were ever more powerful even than the state.


Notes on Translation

Translation or interpretation can never be exact, complete, perfect, final. The facts of grammatical differences and lack of one-to-one vocabulary correspondence explain why there can never be a perfect translation. Words in different languages often do not have a one-to-one corresponding equivalence. This is particularly true of languages which are not in the same language grouping. Likewise, lack of grammatical parallelism is often most evident in unrelated languages. Clients often don’t understand these two basic facts of language.
Translating into English is often frustrating for this reason: since clients often think they know better how to use (abuse) the English language to express their own idea in their, the right, way. If they could do that then they would not need my services in the first place. They would themselves have authored dozens of published English language works, as I have. So I don’t do much paid translation anymore: clients sometimes don’t pay and are NEVER satisfied. It’s thankless and doesn’t pay well enough for the pain of dealing with people who really don’t speak English so well as they believe.

The points are:

  1. words in two different languages rarely perfectly correspond.
  2. grammatical structures in two different languages rarely exactly correspond
  3. Nonetheless, effective translation strives to attain parallelism in terminology and structure.
  4. This goal is imperfectly attainable, if at all.Don’t believe me? Google “boomerang translate” and have a lot of fun!

Biden his time: Dumb Power

“I challenge you: Name me one innovative project, one innovative change, one innovative product that has come out of China,” Joe Biden

This racist stupidity explains why Biden should not bother to run for President.
The stupid white idea that China / Japan / anyone who isn’t white cannot/does not invent or innovate is simply wrong. It panders to violent idiots and sets U.S. foreign policy up for more mistakes.

Historically, China is famous for four great inventions, which Biden is obviously ignorant of. Chinese inventions include paper, paper money, moveable type, the magnetic compass, gunpowder, rockets, fireworks. That’s is all prior to the industrial revolution. China has invented plenty of things since then.

Ignorant racists ought not to be President. People who pander to violent racists ought not to be President.

Bye-Bye Biden.

Free Legal Vocabulary Supplement for “Translator’s Law Dictionary”: Summary Execution, Drum Head Court Martial

Free Legal Vocabulary Supplement for “Translator’s Law Dictionary“:

Summary Execution: The imposition of death on a criminal after a perfunctory judicial hearing. Unlike extra-judicial execution. Summary executions claim to be done under color of law, i.e. they purport to be lawful acts by a state actor. See:
Kadic v. Karadzic, 70 F. 3d 232, 237 US Ct. App., 2nd Circuit (1995).

Drum Head Court Martial / Drum Head Execution: Drum head execution is a summary execution imposed on a criminal after a court martial, i.e. a military hearing. See: Luther v. Borden, 48 US 1, 62 US Supreme Court (1849).

Fact Pattern:
Paul Erickson, a Republiscam (q.v.) was recently indicted on 11 counts of money laundering and wire fraud, which are financial crimes I detail in this book.

Erickson’s long time girlfriend, one Mme. Butina, was a Russian spy who infiltrated the NRA. In other words, Erickson is an accomplice to espionage.

Espionage in the USA is a capital crime. Convicted spies in the USA may be lawfully hung by the neck until dead.
Erickson might be under a sealed indictment for any FISA related crimes.

In some countries traitors are taken out and shot, and then they make the criminal’s family pay for the bullet. Espionage in the USA is in fact a capital crime. So is high treason.

Were I were Erickson’s lawyer I would be advising him to flip, or flop. Confessing and turning state’s evidence is the smart move here because he can easily be indicted on much graver crimes.
Erickson’s out on bail – for now. I suppose they will put a hold on his passport. Let’s find out!

This is just one gun shot in a decades long war of intelligence, counter-intelligence, and organized crime prosecution. The circular firing squad is about to start: be sure to get some pop corn, munch munch.


Yes Virginia… Operation Bagration – The Destruction of Army Group Center

You dear reader have likely never heard of the most succesful military operation in human history: Operation Bagration. In the West, it tends to be “merely” called “the destruction of Army Group Center”.

To give you an idea: A division is around 10,000 men. A corps is around 2-3 divisions. An army is around 2-3 corps. And an army group is around 2-3 armies. The Germans sustained some 400,000 casualties, were out-numbered about 10 to 1 in tanks, 8 to 1 in aircraft and 17 to 1 in artillery. This is the European equivalent of the Mariana’s Turkey Shoot” a battle you might be familiar with in its enormous and lopsided outcome.

The real lessons of Bagration have never been absorbed by the west.
1) The Anglo-American’s had ULTRA. But the Soviets had Deza, Maskirovka, Tainost, and Aktivne Meropriyatie. Soviet intelligence services were every bit as effective as their western counterparts, albeit asymmetrically. The failure to notice this explains problems like Syria, Brexit, and electoral interference.
2) Artillery Artillery Artillery. The Soviets and Russians use mass artillery and much more effectively than their western counterparts. US doctrine must develop an effective counter-battery tactic, including eWar aspects as experiences in Ukraine since 2014 show.

During Bagration, the USSR destroyed an entire German army group: estimate that at 3x3x3x10,000 and that’s a minimal estimate. Basically the Soviets destroyed, utterly, more than 1/3 of the entire nazi war machine in Eastern Europe, about 1/4 of the ENTIRE nazi war machine in ONE operation.

The main reason they were able to do this was due to deception operations. The Germans were expecting to be attacked in the Ukraine, not Belarus, so all their tanks were out of position because of Soviet Deception and Secrecy. Added to this, Hitler himself issued  a “no retreat order” so many units which might have been able to escape were ordered to stand fast and die fighting, which they did.

What we are witnessing in Virginia currently is the political equivalent of the destruction of army group center.

Only this time it is the Virginia democratic party which is being shredded. This isn’t because the Russian’s objective is to keep Trump or the Republicans in power. They are indifferent to that. Their objective is to paralyze U.S. foreign policy and if possible to infiltrate and influence it. They have not been succesful at the latter.

Thing is… this apparent tactical rout.. it’s part of a much larger and impending political rout which will leave one or both major U.S. political parties incapable of winning the white house or governing effectively if they do. The Republican party is probably finished as a national party though that is not yet visible. The democrats likewise may be doomed as a national political party.

In ten years we will still be writing about the destruction of the U.S. political system and the conclusion of several decades of police operations against organized crime and counter-intelligence investigation.

Some will die violently in the streets under mysterious circumstances: “accidents” “suicides” and “heart attacks”. Still others will die in jail. The transformation of the global political stage will leave you a world which is from today’s perspective unrecognizeable.

These are some books I wrote which allude to or detail the above.

Strap yourself in, coz Kansas is going bye bye!

Free supplement! The Devil’s Diplomatic Dictionary: Coonman, Con man, Coon, Governor Coonman

Free supplement! The Devil’s Diplomatic Dictionary: Coonman, Con man, Coon, Governor Coonman

Con Man: A liar, who deceives others for their own profit; generally by some variety of fraud. From “confidence”, i.e. the abuse of confidence. Also from “convict”, a person convicted of crime. Sometimes merely a trickster (q.v.).

Coonman: A clueless white man who thinks himself capable of further conning the public into believing him capable of holding public positions of trust.

Governor Coonman: Governor Northam of Virginia. So-called because this was his nickname at Virginia Military Institute, where he studied.

Coon: A derogatory term used to insult black people.  Probably from “Racoon” because racoons are dark, have striped fur (like a prisoner’s clothing) and rob things at night. Coon is really one of the worse racist terms.

An Interview with Old Nick’ hereto:

This was so important I felt it needful to interviewe Old Nick’ (q.v.) about it. Hereto, Cao Cao said this:

“Ah yes, race hate… one of my favorite weapons! I use it to set you at each others’ throats the better to enslave you. When my Nemesis created this world he made the white people to look like angels and the black people to look like … their Shadow. [q.v.]

I set to my task quickly of course. This was such an opportunity as so rarely comes!

First, I referred to them as ‘the beasts of the field’ then as ‘talking beasts’ … if only you mortal idiots would dare read the bible then you would see my hand in it… I can quote scripture to serve my purpose. But I Generallie prefer your ignorance… it’s more … useful.

The poisonous fruit of my careful cultivation of ignorance, fear, and distrust? Hatred! I was finally convince some of you that THEY were nought but my very agents on earth! Soon I had “white devils” enslaving and then lynching “black bastards”.

Millions of slaves. Hundreds of thousands of corpses. But above all so many souls of all colors reaped! The fruits of this strange harvest …ah, the things I ought not to tell you.

Results, my man, results are all that counts! Nothing succeeds like success, and the victors write history, don’t we?

But I diegress. Let me return to our topick…”

Whisps of hot smoke curled forth from his nostrils. His claws gently, pensively, scratched the table top… I could see blood under them. He looked deep within my eyes. Whether he saw nothing there worth seizing or was unable to seize whatever remnants rest within I do not know.

I bid him to depart. Our interview ended at this point.


Governor Northam of Virginia, pictured in his college year book wearing black makeup standing next to a man costumed up as a KKK member claims not to be in that picture, but to have impersonated Michael Jackson whilst wearing shoe polish. Well, how did his photo get into his year book, hm? Why couldn’t he remember Michael Jackson’s name?

When a witness contradicts themselves they are legally impeachable. Their testimony may be impeached since their contradiction renders their word worthless. Governor Coonman literally impeached himself due to his own stupid actions then and now.

One of Governor Northam’s nicknames was “coonman”.  “Coon” is a derogatory reference to black people, probably from “Racoon” because racoons are dark, have striped fur (like a prisoner’s clothing) and rob things at night so it’s really one of the worse racist terms. Some white people (generally rich)(often from the southern states) stole Africans and enslaved them. Their literal heirs and then blame the descendants of their victims, projecting their ancestors’ own crimes onto the descendants of the victims. It’s the same thing of profiting from exploitation and then pretending to somehow be the victim of it which had haunted Warren. Warren apologized, credibly, and hopefully will move on. Northam in contrast “apologized” and followed his “apology” up with a denial that is simply not credible.

Governor Coonman should resign. Has nothing to do with party politics. One cannot effectively execute laws when scandalized due to one’s bad judgments. Dressing up like Michael Jackson (probably not the only time), wearing black shoe polish,  and then telling obvious lies about it impugn his credibility. All this taken together is grounds for impeachment, and probably also removal from office.

Public power is a public trust. When people have proven themselves untrustworthy then they ought not be entrusted with public office.

Here endeth the lesson.

Free eBook for Chinese New Years! ^^ “Globalization with Chinese Characteristics”

春天在哪里? 春天在这里!
It’s Chinese New Year! The bad Nian beast has been chased away yet again! 😀

To celebrate and wish you an auspicious year of the sWINe here is a FREE ebook I wrote

Globalization with Chinese Characteristics
The code to unlock the book is [email protected] and should you have questions feel free to write me there.

This book is free JUST for 3 days: free rhymes with three rhymes with Bobby Three Sticks.

Enjoy! ^^


P.s. if you like the book and can leave a positive review I would be really glad.

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren sensibly apologized, at least to the Cherokee nation. I expect this issue will not go away, but also will not haunt her or sink her candidacy.

In contrast,  white boys who claim that they don’t remember getting done up in black face – or a klan uniform – have a massive credibility problem. That’s especially if they admit having pretended to be Michael Jackson on other occasions. One story he claimed was he did not know which one was him, then he claims neither are him. Ok…well, how does a photograph of someone purportedly not you just turn up in your year book?

It doesn’t. Leaders are held to a higher standard. The first error in judgment was dressing up like a magical negro. The second error in judgment was making photographs. The third error in judgment was publishing the photographs. The first lie was not remembering who it was. The next lie was claiming neither of them are you. We don’t want leaders with who make repeated “mistakes”. We don’t want leaders who lie badly or even lie at all.

Newsflash: facial recognition technology is very advanced and can easily determine if the person wearing black face make up is you.

Here’s mud in your eye. Looking forward to your resignation.

Stability and Wealth Trump Warren 2020

Elizabeth Warren recently announced her candidacy for President of the United State of America. She is currently likely the leading candidate: she is younger and unlike Bernie Sanders is in fact a democrat. She, like Jill Stein, is also a woman. Meanwhile, both Stein and Sanders have unsavory Kremlin connections.

I have already rightly criticized Warren’s claim to be an Indian. She is — at best — “of Indian descent”. I have pointed out that were she in fact a Cherokee, a Delaware, then she would be recognized as such by either of those native nations through naturalization or have a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood. Personally speaking, I don’t regard the CDIB very highly: it’s just another tool of assimilation and segregation determined not by the native nations but by the invader, the colonizer. I don’t think most tribal councils have a great opinion of the CDIB or tribal rolls, though that of course would vary from nation to nation. It is not for Elizabeth Warren to say she is or isn’t Indian: it is for any of the native nations to do so.

As I have earlier pointed out, Warren’s way forward on this issue is to simply apologize for over-stating her case. Magnanimous and gracious leaders are not above apologizing respectfully for their errors.

Politically, the campaign may well wind up Trump versus Warren. I analyze these political issues separately from the biographical question of Warren’s purported native descent which, again, is backed up by no native nation nor any concrete genealogical record. A DNA test literally produced by a former business partner or lover is just for that reason suspect, and frankly may easily be falsified, distorted.

Politically, Trump’s strongest suit is his claim to be winding down the failed bloody expensive and utterly unnecessary regime change wars which claimed to protect humans’ rights by killing them of the past two decades, the so-called “war on terror”. Behind the so-called war on terror is “colonialism” “imperialism” “war of occupation” and “war for profit”: Halliburton, KBR, no-bid contracts, Blackwater, “private military contractors”, punctuated by unnecessary and ineffective torture porn. The FBI would directly tell you torture does not work and that there are much more effective methods of interrogation.

Trump can, should, and does rightly claim to be ending the foolish idea of “nation building” exporting liberal democracy at gun-point to countries which really don’t want or need it. Security peace stability and wealth production frankly trump human rights concerns in each of the world’s poorest countries, which is why even Good Europeans like Hungary or even Poland are looking quite skeptically at e.g. gay rights. I have always pointed out that LGBTQ rights should never be excuses for wars, justifications for wars. It is less oppressive to live under Shariah than to be killed as “collateral damage” or in reprisal killings, tortured, etc.

Warren and Trump both exemplify a certain strand of social democracy. Each will claim to represent the middle class against liberal internationalist capitalists, the jet setting globe trotting elites.Trump and Warren alike will polarize and motivate each others’ political base.

I do not think Biden will have the physical vigor or emotional strength to fight through a winning campaign. His son died during the last election cycle and Biden is quite old. Biden has said some overtly racist and stupid things about the Chinese, which is why I would prefer him to not even bother running. The last thing the world needs is another racist who thinks that whites are creative, i.e. superior, and that Chinese are only good at copying others works, i.e. inferior. It is exactly what people said about Japan some fifty years ago: dinosaurs unwanted.

Some people believe Warren is in a weaker position than in the last cycle and that she shot herself in the foot with her claim to being an Indian. She did, but I do not regard that error as one which she cannot recover from. Obviously Trump has and will continue to call her Pocahontas, and rightly so. She claimed something that’s not true. She simply needs to acknowledge that, apologize, and move on to the issues. She probably will not however. Thus, she will likely lose in the general election: because a person so stubbornly inflexible when obviously caught out and wrong would make a bad President since they would well make the same kinds of errors on other far more important things. Her failure to recant or apologize will result in a lack of public’s trust or confidence in her, no matter how good her policies might be.

The election is currently Trump’s to lose: presuming he is not first impeached and removed for high crimes and misdemeanors such as tax evasion, money laundering, and whatnot. His personal attorney and his former campaign manager are both currently in prison. Trump’s smartest move might be to declare victory and retire as a one-term President.

I now advise publicly what I have consistently advised privately for the past three years:

“The Russians on the bus go under the bus,
under the bus
under the bus
the Russian’s on the bus go under the bus,
all through the town”.

Happy New Year! Be sure to say buh bye to Ded Moroz!

Where do Words come from? Color and Language

An interesting thing about human language is that color terms and variegation arose relatively late and are one of the more easily traced aspects of language for that reason.  Thus, some languages have shades in common use which are not commonly used in others. Russian — ordinary street Russian — has two words for blue, not “light blue” and “dark blue” (which they are) but two completely different words (голубой, goluboy and синий, siniy). Meanwhile the Chinese word qing (青) is a color which is by nature changeable: it originally referred to the point in a flame or fire where the fire shifted from red into blue-and-green and thus 青 means both blue and green and connotes the idea of mutability.

This is one example of the fact that Chinese etymology can be traced back much further to roots and sources than Indo-European etymology goes. We don’t know why tree and three rhyme, but we do theorize that 木 and 目, which are sound-alikes are so called, perhaps, because to the ancients there were trees as far as the eyes could see. 相 and since tree and eye are sound alikes put them together as the symbol for “alike”/”similar”.

There are many other examples of words in Chinese where we know that figurative uses arose out of literal things. I don’t see that level of specificity in origins of Indo-European words. From Chinese etymology however we can and should hypothesize that sound-alikes are figurative extensions from literal uses of the same term. Thus it is a valid hypothesis that mutter and mother are related words in that only your mother would understand whatever you mutter, e.g.

The more I study Chinese the more I beleive in proto-world.

Vignettes to Memorize Chinese Characters: 特 等 寺

I think one can use vignettes to associate related Chinese characters with each other and better remember them.
For Example:
特 等 寺
Te Deng Si
te bie de te
deng deng deng de deng
si miao de si

A Bull is Waiting beside Bamboo at a Temple. It is PARTICULARLY SPECIAL, AND SO ON.
特 等 寺:

I have noticed that I learn the meaning much quicker than the sound (since almost none of the sounds are cognate to English).

I would like to be able to write simple sentences using e.g. 特 等 寺 to relate the meanings and sounds of the characters in a meaningful way.

San dian shui on top?

Some characters have 3 dots on top and then kou 口

these characters often seem to rhyme with -ANG

Apparently this may be an instance of san dian shui…
deng deng deng…

Learning Chinese Characters? Confused? Here’s how to quickly learn hanzi well.

I think the best way to learn hanzi is
a) Start with pictographs
b) Then ideographs
c) Then the hui yi (associative compound characters)
e) Then learn the kangxi radicals (which are usually one of the above)
f) Then learn determinants (the abbreviated forms of characters san dian shui, yanzi pang etc).
d) Then add the phono-semantic characters.

If one knows the six methods of forming hanzi one learns them much more effectively.

Going in this order works best because the phono-semantic characters’ phonetic elements are almost always one or more of a) b) abd/or c)

I would never recommend using the HSK as a teaching or learning tool. All the HSK levels do is expose you to the most useful characters first; but it does NOTHING to teach HOW to learn them. I also think learning the actual etymology as you teach is the way to go since you can see the evolution of the characters form and meaning.

I also think learning the characters as semantic or phonetic series helps a lot.

I don’t think gimmicks work, unfortunately. Though I’m also really skeptical about copy books. I do however think that one can and should know what the pictographs in fact represent and then use that as a base for learning the ideographs then the associative compound characters and finally the phono semantic characters is effective. I know full well gan 干 is a dried out tree trunk and that if you put it on the walking radical it becomes to make or do as in ni gan 赶 shen me. I don’t think making up stories about gandalf is at all useful for learning what gan looks like sounds like or means especially since one must make up oh around 5000 such stories.

I also believe one is best to learn the MEANING and SHAPE of the character FIRST and then the sound. I notice that I learn the meaning and shapes of the characters much faster than the sounds of the characters.

Another problem with gimmicks is that the finals in pinyin frankly do not rhyme or alliterate well to much of ANYTHING in English. Let’s find a word that rhymes with -UANG or -IANG in English :/ Believe me I tried

Personally I try to always associate a new word in any language to some word I already know. So when I learned ZA as in fuza as in mixed up 复杂 and confuSEd today I remember its sound and meaning by association to that English word which sounds similar enough and means just the same thing. I also remember the sound clue from xiao at the bottom so 9-1-xiao = 九 一 小 = za = 杂 confused/mixed up as in fuza

Coming to Grips with Chinese Characters (Hanzi)

Chinese characters are picto-phonetic i.e. phono-semantic (usually both). This distinguishes them smartly from Western alphabets. Chinese can be most readily accessed as a syllabary (hello, Che-le-key! :D).
Hypothesis: Hanzi hesitated between transforming into a purely phonetic writing system between 1500 and 3000 years ago but retained its approach, which is based on pictographs which then are formed into phonemes.

My hypothesis is that we should try to read characters phonetically from right to left and from top to bottom; i also think we should look for finals rather than initials first, but that we should look for both initials and finals when searching for phonetic clues.
I do not think we should look at any phonetic choice as arbitrary. The logic of the choice may however be dependant on historic/dynastic conditions which are entirely irrelevant today! That, plus language drift, explains why some believe that phonetic character choicses are sometimes arbitrary.
Chinese was developed as a language for scholars, scribes, civil servants; not as a language for mass literacy. Opacity is inevitable for that reason.
I don’t think we can develop rules like we have in western languages as to proper orthography. “read this way, not that way”. When looking at a character we should first
1) Isolate phonetic element(s)
2) Isolate semantic element(s)
3) Use pictographic elements as a “fallback” “catchall”.
4) Try to figure out if/how semantic and phonetic elements are mutually reinforcing “not only does this MEAN x it ALSO sounds like y!”
Pictographics are a supplement for advanced characters but the base for basic characters.
My favorite picto-phonetic character is flag. It’s the man-in-stocks on the left and a tool on the right with a dashed-line on top. It’s the soldier (not freeman) on the left and his tool on the right is that god damned flag which is the top line (I believe the English word for top strips of a flag mounting is: penant). The top line (penant) is clearly pictographic. The other two elements are phono semantic but also pictographic.
Fang+qi+zhu-yi=Flag. Sounds like Fahne, which is German for flag. Looks like a flag-man.

Wars, like Chess, are won by whoever makes the fewest mistakes.

Cognitive biases: Loss aversion!
One of my favorite Chinese authors is Sun Tzu (Cun Zi). I talk about him a bit here.  He rightly teaches that wars are won before the first shot is fired, and they are won by whichever side makes the best.

So, epistemologically, my favorite topic is intellectual errors: cognitive biases. What mistakes we make, why, and how to avoid them!

If we simply make fewer mistakes we win more often, whether in business or war!

You don’t have to be brilliant, you just have to be less stupid than others are.

Opportunity cost is the economic idea that each choice entails refusal of some other choice. So if we choose e.g. to stay in school we are also choosing not to work in McDonalds, in other words we are choosing to make less money now (usually in hope of making more money later).

This leads to the sunk cost fallacy which I talk about a bit in this book.

What I want to talk about here is a related idea which is a certain economic conservativism. It’s related to the sunk cost fallacy but isn’t exactly that. Namely…

All people have a tendency to value that which they have to lose over that which they stand to gain.

It’s often economically irrational.  Yet we do.

Behavioral economics or evolutionary economics would chalk this up to the caveman’s fight for survival.

Whether that’s true or not the fact is, I repeat:
All people have a tendency to value that which they have to lose over that which they stand to gain.

This is a profit opportunity for those who recognize this error in thinking in themselves and others!

All the mistakes other people make? Guess what? YOU MAKE THEM TOO.

So do I.

I am trying to make fewer mistakes, and to learn from my mistakes and to avoid the mistakes I have made or those others make.

We really do tend to value “the bird in the hand” more than “the two in the bush”. Even where the birds are ALSO a sure thing! People suck at probabilistic reasoning, which is why powerball lotto and casinos can even exist.

Loss aversion is also WHY people generally invest in bank deposits with anemic interest rates or bonds which have only slightly less anemic rates: however, both claim to be a “sure thing” that you CANNOT lose money. And so the vast majority of investors flock to these risk free but low yield investments.

So the golden key is to offer an investment which is BOTH a sure thing AND outperforms anemic banks or bonds.

I have ideas about that, too…

Coming to terms with simplified hanzi

Some Chinese people find simplified Hanzi crude or barbaric ugly or otherwise. I generally don’t but then again I did not live through poor deadly war lord China and a fascist invasion.


this is a pair of hands of the elder generation surrounding and caring for someone precious. A school child.
It’s also a pair of hands from below lifting the school child up to the elder generation.

It is a traditional character.

This is the same character, simplified in modern Mainland Chinese. 普通话

this is the younger generation giving the school child a god damned desk. a desk at which the kid gets lunch books a pen a copy book etc.


I also really love this one. It’s the western star, venus (on the left)! Bright and beautiful shining in the western sky. But the star is falling! (on the right) it’s fall portends something important about the future. The falling star is a visitor from the OUTSIDE world. 夕+卜= 外

Hanzi are very beautiful and meaningful and I encourage anyone to learn Chinese, any dialect, and at any time in your life. It’s my greatest and most enjoyable language challenge!


How to Survive Solitary Confinement

I read an interesting article on surviving solitary confinement. It’s relevant if only because of memory strategies and also because kleptocratic dictatorships often imprison dissident activists. So if you too are considering opposing state power you might want to think about “what do I do if they put me in jail, alone, for a very long time?” I hear that’s how Gramsci did all his writing.
Survival strategies in solitary confinement can be summarized as follows:


Visualization: Visualize imaginary scenes and conversations including outright talking out-loud
Imagination: Make your imaginary world visually vivid.
Memorization: Memorize i.e. review mental knowledge; mental math, mental vocabulary etc.
Reconsideration: Look back at past events especially the bad ones to determine what went wrong, why, and what you would do differently; this too is a visualization and scripting exercise.
Determination: Set difficult long term goals and never ever give up on them.
How to Survive Solitary Confinement

“Fellow suffering! Fellow suffering with these higher men!” -Nietzche

George Bush Jr. was (and is) my political opponent; sadly for both of us, for we both admire his father.
In this which is his hardest time let’s just hope his new perspective strengthens his path and enables his post-presidential charity work (yes) to be even more powerful. It’s a fact, he did much uncredited charity;. The elder and younger Bush alike sought no accolades for their good works. In this sense they have my respect, no matter their inner – or outer – turmoil.

Devil’s Diplomantic Dictionary: Free Supplement

Free supplement to
The Devil’s Diplomatic Dictionary

Black Humour
He who laughs, lasts.

Black site
See: Prankster Paradise

Clout in a silver lining
A wealthy lout, boorish, and violent. See: Mobligarch.

Gallows Humour
Laughter is the best medicide.

The most bitter cynical member of a trench-coat mafia in any high school. Highly intelligent, and for this reason entirely disaffected.

Needle in a hey stack
Any intensive academic research usually undertaken in a library to find any obscure piece of information. The search may or may not be fruitless.

Where Wolf
A game of hunt and go seek (q.v.) played by law enforcement seeking to fine a needle in a hey stacks (q.v.)


“she has earned this”

While there might be some truth (or no truth at all) to Elizabeth Warren’s family legend the fact is she has no idea which tribe, if any, her purported ancestor was a member of. First nations don’t use DNA testing. This is partly because like any other nation you can be naturalized into one of the first nations. No one ever stopped her from seeking tribal enrollment; were her claims true she would simply seek to enroll. I am not an advocate of blood quanta, or even recognizing CIDB as something other than the latest chapter in anglo genocide of the first nations. Although I might well agree with Warren’s policies, which do you think is likelier:
a) Warren’s ancestors were “sooners” who YET AGAIN ignored the anglos own laws to settle illegally on Indians’ land and then compounded one fakery with another.
b) Warren has no idea which tribe her purported ancestor was because (fill in any excuse here).
Whether Warren knows it or not, intends it or not, her myth making is one more example of whitewashing genocide. Like most other white people, she profited personally as an heiress to conquest and genocide as well as academically and then seeks to play the victim to profit politically too: her subjective ideas about her family myth don’t change the objective facts. She should simply apologize in public for her mythomania so that she and the President can get back to the business of good government.

Six methods of forming Chinese glyphs (han zi)

This post will only interest you if you are learning hanzi. If you don’t even know what a hanzi is don’t bother reading further. Here goes:

,xiang xing zi 象形字 pictogram 日 (an elephant never forgets!) (pictures)

zhi shi 指事 ideogram 上 (You put your finger right on it!) (symbols)

xing yi zi 形意字 picto-phonetic 明 also known as huì yì 会意 Combined Ideographs 明 (a meeting of ideas) (associative character)

yi yin zi 意音字 phono-semantic. example: 推 also known as xing sheng 形声 Determinative-Phonetic 推

转注 (zhuǎn zhù) Transfer Characters:
These are two characters which have the same meaning, and use the same glyph yet have different pronunciations. example: 爸 (bà) / 父 (fù) father.

jia jie 假借 Loan Characters (these are not lent from foreign languages like mai dan lao is): two homophones (sound-alikes) one is a literal object and primitive which literal object is later used to form the homophonic character with some other meaning.

莱 => 来 (lái).
其 => 其 (qí)
西 => 西 (“a bird in a nest went to sleep in the west)


Free supplement to The Devil’s Diplomatic Dictionary: “nevertheless, she persisted”

Free supplement to
The Devil’s Diplomatic Dictionary


Mobligarch: A very rich man who made his money the old fashioned way — he killed for it.

Impolite Arrowgaunt Woman: A moniker favored by a white person, who wishes to rally women to vote, while ignoring the very genocide claimed as part of that person’s heritage. See also: hate, not heritage. See also: “Sooner”. “We were hear first”.

“Deplorables”: uneducated white people who tend to disproportionally favor Trumps (q.v.) when playing Bridge (q.v.).

“Nasty woman”: Any woman who refuses to accept double standards and/or insists on her equal rights under law.

“Nevertheless, she persisted”: when a person who is not tribally enrolled, has no CIDB, refuses genetic testing, and has no Indian ancestors, yet insists she is somehow an indigenous person, we may rightly point out “Nevertheless, she persisted”. See also: Pocahontas; Poke-a-haunt-US.

“Get in the barrel”: when bankrupt policies lead to financial irregularities resulting in criminal conviction one may “Get in the barrel”.

Free supplement to The Devil’s Diplomatic Dictionary

Free supplement to
The Devil’s Diplomatic Dictionary

Haleys Come, Yet..:
When affairs of state and of affairs of the heart intertwine the outcome may be the fired tail: Haleys Come, Yet…

Haley’s Calm, Yet..:
Refers to the calm before the storm as one of the few burning stars of the Trump administration exits, stage right to be followed perhaps by Chaos (q.v.).

Turkish Delight:
Refers to the act of drawing and quartering long pig (q.v.) for their subsequent posthumous exfiltration (q.v.) as a “particular package” (q.v.).

What happened in the Sultan’s Consulate Stay’s in the Sultan’s InsuL[a]t[e]
Refers to the tendency among diplomats feign dismay (“what happened“), curse, and insult a certain ruling royal House, which in the interest of peace shall remain nameless, for a certain nefarious acts (q.v.) resulting in a late long pig (q.v.) a particular package (q.v.) followed by …. pregnant silence.

Free supplement: “How to Write About Law” — Citation

The guiding principle in citation is that whoever reads your work must be able to find whatever it is you are citing to verify that the person you claim said that thing in fact said that thing; and also in case your reader wants to read the other sources in your field.

We provide the maximum practical information.

Last Name, First Name, Title, Volume, Page, Year; URL
Publisher and place of publication are no longer required because it is much easier to find those out. Thing is.. I would include them anyway.

You basically cannot go wrong as a student by including too much information: this is because then your professors will be able to find your sources. You will likely NOT be downgraded if you provide too much information or even deviate in a minor fashion from blue book: as to publishers, they will always edit, or likelier require you to edit, your work to meet their house style guide. By providing more than enough information you make your job much easier later: deleting information is MUCH easier than finding it AGAIN

In UK style you include the first and last pages of the article as well as the page cited. In the US you include only the first and cited pages. Guess what, I recommend you include first page and last page as well as page cited thus:

I also recommend citing by last name and first name even though law publishers generally will have you cite First Name Last Name they will then alphabetize by LAST name! By citing last-first, you enable yourself ot use th automatic sort feature. Plus, non-law publishers (politics, economics, history) go last name first name so e.g.

Eric Engle, My Brilliant Article, 1 Journal of Law and Economics 1 (1-37) (2018).

blue book is what you should use.

Foonoting is a basic and necessary scientific foundation of your work. Be dilligent

Free supplement: How to Write about Law: Legal Writing for Law School & Law Reviews

“complex interrelated factors seem to make this conflict intractable”.
1) avoid words like “may” “seem” and “appear”. Those words are almost always misused. I didn’t write about “may” “seem” and “appear” in my book because it is such a basic error. “May” “seem” and “appear” make for weak and unorganized writing. They are sophist terms. Do you really think your reader or the rest of the world generally is less intelligent than you and unable to discern your brilliant solution to this supposedly intractable gordian knot? Is it wise to tell your reader you think you are smarter than everyone else?  Is your revelation, your blindingly insightful, penetrating, and clear resolution of such a terribly intractable problem really all that good? Do you really think yourself smarter than others? Do you want to present yourself that way?

2) Be critical of your own writing: if the conflict is “intractable” why are you even bothering to try to address it?

3) While a number of factors might together form a complex, no single factor can by definition be complex, since anything complex is composed of two or more elements.

Are you Certain that it only “seems” so? Can you prove whether or not something “seems” so?
Almost always “seems” and “appears” are used to “hedge” one’s argument; they APPEAR to give an air of sophistication but almost never have any substance to them and often mask disorganization. “Perhaps” and “may” are also “weasel words” which weaken your writing by making you look indecisive or even pretentious.

If you are uncertain of your own views why are you bothering to write them down? How could I possibly accept your opinions, or even figure out what they are, if they are weakly expressed using weasel words like “perhaps” “may” “seems” “appears” and their ilk.

I would strongly advise not using “may” “seem” or “appear” at all. I would also avoid “perhaps” and “may”. These words almost always weaken your writing. By avoiding those words you are forced to take a stand, to figure out what really IS the case and then to present it. Legal writing is not about posing a bunch of questions and then leaving them unanswered. “It might be this but then again it might be that/I’m not sure/It just depends” is a great way to get a bad grade.

Take a position and then argue it – and part of your argument is factual support (footnotes). Being forced to be unambiguous also forces you to be organized. Finally, “may” “seem” and “appear” just about always result in wordy verbiage leading to tldr; “too long. did not read.”

Pre-Law Advice

In 2 weeks many of you will face the bar exam: if you bought my books and prepared for it as I advise you should pass.

If instead you are merely considering law school may I dissuade you?

Law school is expensive and probably not worth it. I wound up falling deeply in love with law (because I was always in love with justice) but was bitterly disappointed to have an exact map of injustice in this world.

Honestly if you are unsure whether to go to law school: don’t. There is currently an over-supply of law teachers and law students. Defaulting into law because “good with words bad with math and doesn’t like blood” is a really bad way to go.

I am a polyglot, with scores of legal publications: I do love it but it was an acquired taste. Anything worth doing is worth over-doing.

Most law students and the more successful ones are uncreative, but disciplined and organized, and are terribly conformist. There are exceptions but they are exceptional.

Bar Exam in July! WILL YOU PASS?

A theoretical background is surely helpful for a global vision of law, but that’s not what the bar exam tests. The MBE tests black letter law. Drilled repeatedly all the basics. Learn to love the topics you do worst in so you will study them and pass. It is wrong for any student to think “I will ace these topics and it doesn’t matter that I suck on those other topics”. You have no points to lose!

The MBE tests a lot of law but it’s all basic. The toughest MBE questions resolve around picking the least incorrect answer of four wrong answers. The next toughest questions resolve around picking the more correct answer of two correct answers.

The essay section is relatively easier and simply requires understanding IRAC and good legal writing. I expect students pass or fail based on their MBE and that the essay questions merely confirm that. A weak MBE and a weak essay section is a fail. Strong MBE and weak essays are still a pass, in my opinion.

Tricky topics are: privileges and immunities clause (always gets one or two questions is about never the right choice), dominant/servient easements and subdivisions (does that covenant run with the land?), political question doctrine, hearsay. These topics especially must be drilled repeatedly. Another somewhat tricky topic is the contract for sales of goods with a service component: does the UCC govern the entire contract, only part of it, or not at all?

The bar is passed with a heuristic namely: making your best guess quickly and moving on, and doing so by process of elimination. Most students will be able to eliminate one or two answers as clearly wrong. Passing students pick the answer they think likeliest to be correct among the remaining two, or, worst case: the least incorrect of four wrong answers (these may be experimental questions).. A correct answer isn’t necessarily the most correct answer! Tricky and in my opinion two correct answers or no correct answer is a bad selector, but I can point out released bar questions which do exactly that, test either for the more correct of two correct answers or the least incorrect of four incorrect answers.

I think criminal law and torts are actually the easiest MBE sections, but causation in tort is obviously the trickiest part of torts. As to crimes they don’t test the tricky parts (complicity; due to an absence of common law doctrinal unity and codification thereafter). NCBEx testing of attempt is, at least in the released questions, not particularly difficult, though students may find attempt’s logic confusing without repeated exposure thereto.

The MBE questions are the “cake”, the “meat and potatos” and the essays as “icing”, the “desert”. I don’t think brilliant essay answers and terrible MBE questions results in a pass, at least not in NY.

The NY bar does have some issues (namely divorce, CPLR 78) which if incorrectly answered will likely reflect a fail. I haven’t studied the California bar enough to identify which questions there will result in the student failing.


“Haley’s Comet”: Free supplement to The Devil’s Diplomatic Dictionary

Haley’s Comet:

An object about to be fired up, blazing briefly yet brightly across the sky. Haley’s fiery flame is rumored to be fueled by Syrian corpses, found beneath the bus they were thrown under, begging the questions: Who threw them under the bus, and why? Thought to have been a divine sign of hope and victory, like a silver lining in a thundering rain cloud, Haley’s Comet, whatever the actual status of this heavenly body, is clearly decoupled from the Trump Train (q.v.). Whether Haley’s Comet is a recurring event or a one off wonder is yet to be seen: check back in a few years …

Trump Train:
A series of short yellow busses, coupled with each other, human centipede style, under which various opponents of an orange fire ball are thrown. Fueled by anti-intellectual anti-matter (I don’t think so it don’t matter), flights of fancy, and manure. See also: “Forty Acres and a Mule”.


The Devil’s Diplomatic Dictionary – Kindle edition by Ann Omynous. Humor & Entertainment Kindle eBooks @

Mattis jokes to Bolton: ‘I heard you’re actually the devil incarnate’ (Free Supplement to The Devil’s Diplomatic Dictionary)

Free Supplement to The Devil’s Diplomatic Dictionary

“The Devil Incarnate”
Rumoured to be John Bolton’s infernal call sign. In fact, Bolton is but an emissary. “Better the devil you know”.
Source: Mattis jokes to Bolton: ‘I heard you’re actually the devil incarnate’ – CNNPolitics

Mad Mattis:
An Estonian ecoterrorist. Pseudonymized. Russians murdered his parents.

“Tears in my eyes”.
Interdimensional diplomacy has its price: the price is talking in code. “Tears in my eyes” is code. Code for: “If you fuck with me I will kill you all.”

1) The arch enemy of Maxwell Smart, Agent 99, the Chief, and Control.
2) Mattis. AKA “Old Ironsides”. AKA “Lord protector of the United Colonies.” AKA “John Company’s man in Washington.” (q.v.)

“Higher Stakes”
In the war of all souls against all damned we play for higher stakes than life or limb. We play for souls, for “Socrates is a man”. See also: “Ob arm, ob Reich, im Tode Gleich.”

The Devil’s Diplomatic Dictionary:  Free Supplement: John Bolt On

The T Wrecks, unable to defend itself whilst wrecking U.S. foreign policy, has failed the Darwinian test of natural selection.

T. Rex:Supplement from “The Devil’s Diplomatic Dictionary”

T Wrecks was rendered extinct by Boltanius Johannicus, to which we now turn our attention.

John Boltin’:  1) When one must go to the toilet immediately, whether to vomit or defecate, because one has eaten bad Mexican takeout. 2) When one must immediately rush to wage a blitzkrieg. Example: “Donald Trump is john boltin’ to North Korea for a fake summit.”

John Bolt On: Has many meanings, These follow.

  1. John, Bolt On: A portable toilet, in which a suspect is to be locked and interrogated, possibly using toilet water. See also: Chinese water torture; water board in.
  2. John Bolt, On: When one is locked inside of a toilet which is overflowing due to being jammed. “The john bolt is on. Help! Help.” Old Nick (q.v.) just loves their screams, devil take the hindmost. (qq.v.)

Source: The Devil’s Diplomatic Dictionary: Ann Omynous: 9781542571890: Books


How NOT to Write about Law: Legal Writing for Law School & Law Reviews

A thesis like this is very bad:

“this issue has it’s good points it has its bad points but in the end maybe it’s more this way than that”

What I (and your reader) are looking for is insightful powerful compelling ideas or at least concrete proposals, not unicorns and bubbles blahblah. For example, parsing a specific law, proposing a specific law, or analyzing a particular court case.

See: How to Write about Law: Legal Writing for Law School & Law Reviews: Eric Engle: 9781976703164: Books

How to Write about Law: Legal Writing for Law School & Law Reviews – Free Addendum

A student recently asked me an interesting question about quotations, which I did not address in How to Write About Law.
What about quotations which themselves contain quotes?

Here is an example by my hero John Kennedy.

“…we must think and act not only for the moment but for our time. I am reminded of the story of the great French Marshal Lyautey, who once asked his gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected that the tree was slow-growing and would not reach maturity for a hundred years. The Marshal replied, ‘In that case, there is no time to lose, plant it this afternoon.'” -John Kennedy

indicates the person speaking (Kennedy) and
indicates the person quoted (the Marshall) by the speaker who you are quoting (Kennedy).

Kennedy said: “a hundred years. The Marshall replied, ‘blah'”

This type of quotation can be referred to as a nested quote.

We nest quotes thusly:
” ‘ ‘ “
Nesting of quotations is similar to nesting of braces, brackets, and parentheses in mathematics to indicate the order of operations.

Related points:
Polyglot Quotation Styles
English quotation marks are “for example like this”, whereas
<<french quotations are thus>> and
,,German quotations are this way.

When quoting foreign text in your English language works I recommend including a translation in the footnote of the original text. I don’t require that of my students, but your editors will appreciate it. I also would use the foreign quotation convention, not the US convention. For examples of retention of foreign literary conventions in English: 1) we capitalize German nouns in English, 2) we retain foreign spellings of loan-words such as crepe in English, though we may drop diacritical marks as I have here or retain them at the author’s discretion. It is better style to retain diacritical marks such as accents, circumflex, etc. Not all English language authors retain diacritical marks on loan-words to English because old typewriters did not have unicode symbols.

I presume nested quotations in French and German likely also use a single quote mark to indicate a quotation of someone who quotes another person. I could be wrong about that, so … don’t quote me on that. 🙂

It is bad style to use emoticons in scientific writing. I do so to raise that point so it is not left unstated.

Non-Literal Quotation Marks

Quotation marks are used to indicate literal speech, but also to indicate concepts and terms such as “nested quotes”. I think it is better to avoid using quotation marks to indicate concepts or terms:  Either the quoted concept is strong enough to stand on its own, in which case it needs no attention brought to it by a quotation mark, or it isn’t. No amount of bolstering or posturing strengthens a weak or unpersuasive idea. Furthermore, this (mis)use of the quotation mark makes your reader anticipate something which never occurs: the words of someone other than you, the author. The result? A confused and frustrated reader, left wondering whether your quoted concept is someone else’s words you used but forgot to cite.
Citus interruptus, to coin a ribald witty phrase.

Quoted concepts also weaken your writing by making it look sarcastic or affected. No one likes a faker…

Source: How to Write about Law: Legal Writing for Law School & Law Reviews – Kindle edition by Eric Engle. Professional & Technical Kindle eBooks @

Free supplement! Devil’s Diplomatic Dictionary

From “The Devil’s Diplomatic Dictionary

Pocahontas: A white person, who thinks themselves to be an Indian, although they are not enrolled in any nation band or tribe recognized by the BIA, nor have any demonstrable Indian blood or tribal adoption. Supposedly a Harvard law school has a quota of Pocahontas’s though whether this quota, if it even exists, is a glass ceiling or glass floor is open for debate.

Domestic dependent nation; the American term for what in international law is called a “vassal state”. Vassal states retain their international legal personality, however their foreign policy competences are exclusively administered by their suzerain. As the Six Nations Confederacy retains relations both to the government of Canada and the United States it is not a vassal state.

Navajo Code Talker: An Indian, usually but not necessarily a Navajo, who talks about “flying turkeys” who are all set for a “crash landing” and will end up in a “birdcage”; possibly in English, if they are feeling so inclined. See also: Counting Coups. See also: hero.

Counting Coups: The Indian practice, among some of the native nations, of quietly putting a notch in their rifle for all the people they chose not to kill, but could have and maybe even should have.

Indian: A term for some to be indignant about. Any of the various native nations on turtle island (q.v.) or any member thereof whether by blood or adoption. Possibly a corruption of the term Indigenous? Etymologically usually attributed to Columbus’s navigation error. See also: redskin/red’s kin.

Redskin: A paleface suffering from a bad bout of nuclear radiation.

Red’s kin: Polite term for a half-breed, quarter-breed, octaroon, or any other mixed blood person; not to be confused with “red kin”, which is a rude term for a shabby commie relative.

Assimilation: See “slow-motion genocide”; “boiling a frog”; “raspberry reich”.

Indian Giver: A white person, who claims that a fraudulent treaty divests of so-called “Indian title”; see also — thief.

T. Rex:Supplement from “The Devil’s Diplomatic Dictionary”

T. Rex:
A carnivorous dinosaur, thus a rare and an endangered species. Preferred hunting grounds of the T. Rex are dinosaur graveyards, where it finds plenty of fuel for it’s voracious appetite.  T. Rex, though toothsome, has but short stubby arms, and is in that sense handicapped and unable to fight, which explains its tendency to scavenge dinosaur carrion.


Wrecks, Till Her Son…
An insinuation that a certain secretary of state, who shall remain nameless, was tasked with destroying U.S. foreign policy from within, and that said person shall remain in office until such time as the wreckage results in large numbers of U.S. soldiers coming home to their military funeral.


Counter-Intuition: From “How to Write about Law” (Forthcoming)

Science is the formation and verification of hypotheses.

A counter-intuitive hypothesis is always  interesting but is unlikely. The counter-intuitive hypothesis will probably attract interest, because it looks unique, new, shiny! But who wants to attract a reputation for being wrong? One must be most careful with counter-intuitive ideas, more critical than usual. How likely is it that everyone else is wrong, or that you have discovered something no one else has? Not very.
Whenever we have a counter-intuitive idea we should ask where we got that idea, why we believe that idea may be the case. It’s not like everyone else on earth is perfectly honest all the time.
Of course, State actors meet with the problem of “unintended consequences” all the time; that is the product of not thinking through ideas to their logical consequences, or failing to foresee the reactions of others to our own actions. Others’ actions are never entirely foreseeable, and so to some extent unintended consequences are inevitable. It’s not that others are stupid or thoughtless: it’s simply that in war “the enemy gets a vote” – and they vote with bullets.
So, the penalty for being wrong about these things is severe.

Metamorphosis (from “Terrible Tales and Worse Verse”)

Once upon a time there was a loud loud lesbian.
She was a nervous nelly!
She was simply so scared!
See, some simple minded people don’t like lesbians.
Even the good ones!
Even the kind ones!
Even the nice ones!
Not nice!
So: Nervous nelly.
Why are they that way? Why don’t they like the good ones, or the kind ones, or even the nice ones?
That’s because some people are simple.
So the loud lesbian learned to love herself more and more and the more she loved herself the more other people loved her.
Which is why she was a lesbian in the first place. She loved herself, and she was a woman.
But the more the other people loved her, the sweeter her voice grew.
And the sweeter her voice grew the less nervous she felt.
And the calmer she felt the more confident she became.
So the loud loud lesbian turned into a sweet sonorous songbird!
It took a lot of time but was worth it.
The end 🙂

Moral: Be loud. Be brave. Be loving. Become even better!

Ask me about the books [email protected]

Dear reader,

Thank you for reading. Law is complex. Feel free to ask me about my books, just email me at [email protected] I will do my best to answer as quickly as I can because your thoughts and questions mean a lot to me. I give away a lot of free legal analysis and resources at

This is a gratuitous offer and does not imply any contractual rights or duties.

Fiat Justitia! 🙂


Capitalism and Patriarchy: Responses?

I Think the best long-term strategy is to ignore capitalist patriarchy and just carve out a personal alternative. If I focus all the time on capitalism and patriarchy I will be angry and sad. If I am angry and sad I cannot live effectively or be an effective activist. I try to take sad and turn it into anger, and take anger and turn it into energy.

I want to write more on the topic because social change does happen. Apartheid ended. Gay everything is becoming normalized. However, patriarchy and capitalism endure. Normalization is partly a process of coopting radical dissent, partly a process of rationalization of capitalist production, of making the system (capitalist patriarchy) more efficient.

Capitalism endures because most people are greedy and selfish and are even willing to kill for money: i speak here of the majority. They may well be stupid, but they are absolutely selfish, greedy, wiling even to kill for money.
Outwit them.

Patriarchy endures because people are lazy and beaten down and coopted into it. They are beaten down because of capitalism, they are lazy because capitalism benefits them, and then even radicals get coopted into a nice car a nice house

Capitalism provides goodies and is better than feudalism or agrarian slavery.

I don’t think Leninism or Maoism are the way to go. Conspiratorial vanguard elites tend to keep power to themselves and install a permanent dictatorship, which inevitably becomes corrupted and collapses. Maoism is a bit better than Leninism but it should not escape you that Mao was as bad at economics as he was good at generalship.

Marx, too, is no angel. His advocacy of “free love” was simply the normalization of early capitalist decadence.

Marx believed that the scientific progress capitalism unleashed would inevitably result in a world awash in so much wealth as to make property and the state irrelevant: that the state would inevitably wither, but that it’s process of withering would be marked out by class conflict.

All that was 175 years ago. In other words Marx is probably not so relevant or accurate as we would like. He writes badly.

Probably Foucault is the best strategist we can look at but even he would admit he is fascist influenced.

I think the best answer is to carve out one’s own alternative, point it out to society, and hope society catches up.

But when it does, it will still be rationalization and cooptation. Ugh.

I don’t mean ignore it and hope it goes away: I mean, ignore it, live a good life, and kick it in the balls whenever possible at no risk to yourself, or at the level of risk you are personally willing to tolerate.

There is btw still beauty in life. That too is a radical alternative strategy, to simply fall in love with beauty, and regard the rest as error and illusion.

You are all beautiful.

Chinese Learning Resources


Some of you may know I am learning Mandarin Chinese. Since some of you may also be learning that language I wish to provide you a list of great Mandarin teachers and resources. I order these from “easiest” i.e. beginner to hardest. I then provide a detailed review: they are all excellent in different ways. First, a disclaimer: I have not been paid by any of these teachers nor have I been given any discounts on their works. Links to all these Mandarin teachers and other teachers who I enjoy follow this post.

Learn Chinese With Emma
Yang Yang / YoYo Chinese
Chinese Pod
New Concept Mandarin
XM Mandarin
Angel Huang
Mandarin Corner
Xue Bai

Learn Chinese With Emma is really oriented toward young children, but is great. Emma teaches colors, numbers, and is really a great teacher, especially for the beginner or children.

Yang Yang / YoYo Chinese is a “celebrity teacher”. Most of her best work is Mandarin to English, i.e. ESL. She does do great CSL work. Much of her work for CSL is at HSK1 or HSK2. Some of it is more advanced. Her works are “free samples” for her subscription site, like most of the reviewed works here. Yang Yang is really interesting to study to learn teaching techniques. She really combines the  best of Chinese and American teaching methodology and is a must see if you are a teacher, especially if you do ESL or CSL. She is also a great dancer and good singer.

Chinese Pod: Chinese pod is really accessible. The main teacher there is Fiona Tan, who is I guess Scottish+Chinese=Awesome. Some of her videos are with her sister Iona. She also teaches with Constance. I guess she is based in Taiwan: her more recent works use simplified and traditional characters. Her earlier works used only traditional characters. If you are new to Chinese do not worry about simplified versus traditional: they are so similar that you will usually not notice the difference. Much of Chinese pod’s works are about HSK2 or HSK3. Some, exceptionally, are about HSK4.

Emma, Yang Yang, and Fiona are all fun to watch and effective teachers. Not “scholarly” but that’s not really possible at HSK1/HSK2 anyway. If you are learning Chinese for a business trip use them and also New Concept Mandarin to get your polite self-introductions, food-ordering, and basic directions learned.

Chelsea Bedroom Chinese: Chelsea is silly and fun and really dramatic. Not scholarly but somewhat artistice. Her tellings of Chinese mythology are amazing! So is her acting style. Use Chelsea’s materials for a fun break from serious studying. She does teach grammar and vocabulary and is a great teacher. HSK2/HSK3.

New Concept Mandarin: NCM uses “flipped learning”. Their online works are good lessons at HSK1-HSK3 levels. To really benefit from them you should take their courses. Flipped learning is the idea that the student drives the teaching experience and that the teacher guides and incites their curiousity. In Flipped Learning the student does most of their studying outside of the classroom, the classroom experience is meant to confirm and if necessary correct the student’s learning. NCM explains this methodology in detail on one of their videos. Again, a must-see for teachers, especially for language teachers. It is a really interesting method of teaching and if you are near them you should sign up for their courses. They probably teach by skype too.

XM Mandarin: XM Mandarin is around HSK3-HSK4. Xiao Min has a great voice (so do all the other teachers here) and her materials are really good. What I really love about XM is they use songs to teach Mandarin, with extensive lyrics and explanations so you really understand what the song is singing. Xiao Min is really disciplined and puts a lot of thoughtful effort into teaching. She is not “shiny bells and whistles” but is dedicated and effective as a teacher. This is where it starts to get “scholarly” and even artistic! She’s amazing.

Angel Huang: she has a really great teaching name, and is kinda like an angel in  that she does some really effective teaching. She offers 150 videos teaching the 1500 most common character/words in Chinese. It takes discipline because it is only in Chinese, with English subtitles but if you watch her over and over again (and like all the other people here she’s pretty) you WILL learn those characters. HSK3/HSK4

Xue Bai: Here it is really best for HSK 4 and up. Lots of reading, fairly scholarly, a great resource. HSK4 and up!

Mandarin Corner
This one is awesome MC teaches HSK1-HSK5 and if you are preparing to take the HSK she is the best to use for learning and review. She defines the word, gives the English translation, and then uses it in a Chinese sentence. Twice. Very disciplined. Very pretty. Very effective.

All these teachers offer subscription only services. You should try their works and then if you like them by all means subscribe. They are all wonderful teachers and must be great people IRL. You can probably do one-on-one skype learning with them or their colleagues. I should not be biased but these are all really beautiful people in every way.


Chinese Sentence Structure – Chinese Grammar Simplified 101 – YouTube

This video is not particularly well made, however it does illustrate an important point of Chinese grammar and also gives some indication why Chomsky argued for generative grammar, yet at the same moment refutes generative grammar.

One generally observes in all languages the grammar pattern:
Subject-Verb-Object for declarative sentences
(Subject)-Verb-(Object) for imperative sentences
Verb-Subject-Object for interrogative sentences.

However, these patterns, though they do occur generally are not universally observed. Passive voice for example allows an inversion of object-verb-subject. Passive voice appears to exist in all observed languages which I know. Heavily inflected languages are the least bound by SVO convention and inflections enable any of the six possibilities of SVO SOV VSO VOS OSV OVS to be formed.

Even if SVO were universal – and it is not – it is riddled with exceptions and qualifications. Do indirect/dative objects appear before or after direct/accusative/partitive objects? Is the language inflected or not? What about time and manner, do they appear before or after the object? Time and manner do appear to generally occur in that order, but that order may be varied for emphasis or poetic effect.

There are so many obvious variations among languages that the idea of a universal generative grammar, though tempting due to the genetic bottlenecks in human history, is empirically false. The take home message of this video is that Chinese grammar, unlike English, tends to be organized as


How to Answer Yes and No in Mandarin Chinese? – YouTube

I saw this video

and it reminded me of another empirical disproof of Chomsky’s theory of generative grammar. One might intuitively think that “yes” and “no” are two very fundamental aspects of any language. Indeed, when learning or teaching languages I advise your first two words should be “yes” and “no”. Ok seems to have become an international word since the 1990s, which proves the tendency of dialects and languages to merge back to each other with improved communication. While Chomsky and his followers might argue that the linguistic convergence is due to the universal nature of generative grammar I disagree. Languages likely did emerge from one common tongue as seen in Hebrew and Hindu myths, and likely in other myths – mythology is oral prehistory. However, language arose from one common tongue due to a genetic bottleneck.

We can see all this from the fact that even a basic element such as “yes” or “no” is not common in languages today. For example, in French we have “si” and “oui” for yes. This isn’t merely langue d’oc, i.e. southern versus northern French. Rather, “si” to me reflects an affirmation of what the questioner has asked, not an affirmation that one is in fact certain; that is, “si” is more uncertain than “oui”. “Are you alive?” “Si.” “Do you believe in the one true God?” “Oui”. In Chinese we most usually repeat the verb which was used in the question:
“Do you know him?”
“Know him.”

ni3 ta1 ren4 shi ma? 你他认识吗?
One can however use bu4 不 as a negation and shi4 de 是 的 as an existential affirmation.

We can easily observe many grammatical divergences which resulted from the migrations and isolations of human tribes from each other since -150,000 years ago. These disprove the theory of generative grammar since they are sufficiently divergent as to be unable to be expressed in a single recursive grammar. Since these divergences appear to have arisen despite the one-time universal language they attest to the fact that language is a social construct, not a neurological inevitability — and thus by extension is not limited to the human species, and only the human species. Chomsky’s theory of generative grammar is simply wrong and empirically refutable.

Empirical Evidence in Support of Chomsky’s Theory of Generative Grammar?

Chomsky argues that there is a meta-grammar, a grammar-of-all-grammars, inherent to human language, which he calls “generative grammar”. His idea of a recursive function which describes all human language is theoretically intriguing, but empirically fairly readily falsified. In earlier posts I pointed to features of gramma unique to some languages, yet not found in others. Examples include, but are not limited to: declension of nouns, conjugation of verbs, presence, absence, and use of articles, prepositions or post-positions, nouns-as-verbs, compound-nouns, tonality, gender or gender neutrality, particles. Some of these features are not part of the English language, which is why you may never have heard of or considered them. Note that Chomsky appears only to speak English, French, and Hebrew, and that English is a bastard language; basically Germanic nouns for common items, a largely simplified Germanic grammar, with Latin terms for any advanced concepts. This is to say he lacks the empirical foundation to carry his argument.

Although I reject his generative grammar hypothesis I wish in this post to describe some language features which appear to me to be common to all languages I have studied, which is very few in comparison to the roughly 35,000 languages on Earth. However, my languages are representative of the three main trunks of Indo-European (Germanic, Romantic, Slavic) as well as two non IE langugages – Estonian and Mandarin.

One structure which appears fairly consistent accross languages is the use of the subject-verb-object SVO format for declarative and imperative sentences. In contrast, question sentences (interrogatives) only sometimes use the format VSO. Chinese for example relies on question particles such as “ma” and “ne” which allows the sentence to retain SVO form. Furthermore even within SVO there are wide variants on the word order: do indirect objects precede or follow direct objects? What about temporal elements and negation? Temporal elements, negation, and direct/indirect object placement vary between languges.

This post however caught my eye because it does confirm something intuitively common to me based on my language knowledge so far: the time-manner-place-object structure. In Mandarin sentences generally can be fit into this form:

This is still very far from Chomsky’s idea that there be a recursive grammar which describes all human grammar and that this generative grammar is inherent to the human, and only the human. However, SVO is consistent with my positions:
1) The human species suffered a near-extinction event some 150,000 years ago.
2) This near-extinction events resulted in a genetic bottleneck.
3) This genetic bottleneck was sufficiently narrow that humans at one point in history had only one language: proto-world.
4) Proto-world in turn evolved into Nostratic, and then Indo-European

These observations are consistent with genetics, mythology (e.g. tower of Babel), and the observed empirical facts of human language. They better explain the few common elements we can occasionally observe among human languages than Chomsky’s unproven hypothesis. When a hypothesis is empirically falsified we reject it, particularly when a more accurate hypothesis better fits the facts.

I point out the SVO structure partly in fairness to Chomsky, though even with SVO we quickly observe variances to contain nuance. Human language tends to use SVO for declarative sentences but readily admits exceptions. E.g.
“The ball I threw is now on the floor” OSVO
“That is the dog I walked”. OVS

In all I regard Chomsky’s generative grammar thesis as interesting more for what it says about scientific production than on its own terms: as a thesis it is untenable due to empirical falsification. As an example of the limits and possibilities of the scientific method it interesting.

Chinese-English Law Dictionaries Free and Online

I see that there appears to be an inner-party struggle within the Chinese Communist Party. I would like to see less corruption, more rule of law because that is in the interest of all people.

Hopefully understanding that will make the U.S. Navy feel better about China’s refusal to accept a courtesy call from the USS  Stennis. It is likelier an expression of uncertainty within the Chinese Communist Party, rather than an extension of known friction between the U.S. and China regarding Chinese insular claims, a topic I posted on earlier today.


Meanwhile, I am learning Chinese. This is a placeholder link-list.

Mom is a horse?!? Tones and Chomsky (吗)

Possible ways to refute the Nostratic hypothesis and Chomsky’s generative grammar hypothesis would be to investigate those African languages which are composed of clicks or to look at tonal languages such as Chinese. Perhaps African click languages use a different grammar, or vary significantly from Eurasian languages? In contrast, though one may claim that Chinese is sung, rather than spoken, and thus somehow fundamentally different from European languages tones also exist in European languages. So looking to refute the Nostratic hypothesis and/or Chomsky’s generative grammar theory is unlikely to result from an investigation of the use of tones in some languages like Chinese. African click languages are a better group to research to see if Nostratic and/or generative grammar hold true. Recall my position is that the nostratic hypothesis is true, which is consistent with Chomsky’s generative grammar hypothesis. However, unlike Chomsky, I postulate that languages are similar not due to inherent brain structures but due to a genetic bottleneck about 100,000 years ago.

Tones in English may be seen with the following examples. When a question is posed in English we use the rising tone. In contrast, when a command is issued in English we ordinarily use the falling tone. That corresponds in some respects to Chinese, where each tone carries with it a connotation; the first tone is the hopeful, the desired, the second tone is questioning, the third tone tentative, and the fourth tone indicative or even imperative.That is consistent with the nostratic hypothesis but also with generative grammar.

Yet, strictly speaking, though tone in spoken Chinese does appear to carry signification, Chinese grammar does not use tone to indicate questions. Rather, Chinese in principle uses particles such as “ma” () at the end of the sentence to indicate question. More importantly, unlike European languages, Chinese syntax does not appear to vary word order to indicate  a question. In Indo-European languages questions are usually indicated with Verb-Subject-Object (VSO). While Subject-Verb-Object (SVO) appears to be the usual a universal syntactic form for a declaratory sentence there are exceptions in languages which use case to indicate object. I do think SVO is the best argument for generative grammar, but even there we see exceptions in European languages, where SVO is varied for poetic effect or other stylistic reasons.  Furthermore, although European languages seem to always use VSO to indicate questions, that is not the case of Chinese, tending to refute generative grammar, but not refuting my Nostratic hypothesis because I aruge that human language evolves. Nostratic is our original language not because we are biologically predestined to one grammar, but rather due to the near-extinction of humans.

Chomsky: Refuted by Feral Children

Another refutation of Chomsky’s generative grammar theory is Chomsky’s understanding of children’s acquisition of language. This is not as bold a claim as my own arguments that Chomsky is wrong because of serious divergences among human grammars, even as I confirm the nostratic hypothesis. The unity of human language is due to a genetic bottleneck, not a genetic basis of language.

Chomsky’s genetic argument for grammar as inherent and universal in human language can be refuted in a less ambitious way by looking at acquisition of language by human children. Chomsky argues that no matter the amount of training, a kitten will not acquire human language, whereas humans do acquire language. And that is generally true, children are noted for their capacity to mimic. Yet, that is not universally true.

Feral children are those very rare children who are not raised by human parents. Often they are said to be raised by animals. They may or may not in fact be so raised. All we really know about the rearing of feral human children is that they did not die of starvation or get eaten. Well, almost all.

A unique thing about feral human children is that they do not acquire language. Even when inserted into society, even when extensive resources are devoted to training such teenaged or adult children — they simply do not acquire human language,(1) being limited to few or even no words relying on grunts and body language, as most animals do.

On the one hand Chomsky could argue this shows the fact that language is biologically conditioned, since most feral children are reinserted into human society after their sixth years of age – mostly as pre-teens but sometimes as teenagers or even as adults. In all cases, they do not acquire language, not in the sense you or I use language. Chomsky would argue that this is evidence that language is biologically conditioned. That does not however correspond to the fact that adults can be as adept or even more adept at language acquisition than children, and that adults face entirely different social circumstances in their acquisition of new language.

However, if human language were an inherent inevitable biological quality of humans then feral children would develop language on their own in the wild. They do not. The reason is because language is a social construct, not a biological inevitability.

Animals and Language – Nim Chimpsky

I have recently started reading about animals and language. Animal use of language is really interesting to me. However, I don’t regard it as an area where significant breakthroughs in social science or natural science, unless of course we eventually encounter an alien civilization, intelligent life from some other planet.

In the context of the generative grammar hypothesis one interesting thing is that animals do not use their limited human language communicative ability to ask questions. This is interesting because it parallels Aristotle, who regarded animals as having only vegetative functions. For Aristotle, the natural slave can “apprehend, but not form questions”. So the fact that animals rarely or never appear to pose questions to humans may be a warrant for generative grammar. Likewise, it appears that animals trained to use human language do not do so using grammatical rules. That too is a warrant for Chomsky’s argument. However, those warrants are still far from any proof of the generative grammar hypothesis, and do not contrary the various observed grammatic divergences which tend to disprove generative grammar.

Chomsky, recall, argues that language is like a self-similar self-extracting archive, a recursive i.e. self referential structure, and that this structure is universal. I do not believe I have misread or misunderstood Chomsky’s thesis. He argues that all human grammars can be modelled using one function; that function, if it existed, could be better modelled recursively than iteratively. However, I have pointed out lots of instances of divergences in human grammar which could not arise were all grammatical structures self similar. Chomskys’ generative grmamar would be a meta-grammar which would account for both pre-positions and post-positions as well as for languages which do not use tenses and those which do, and which also accounts for languages which do or do not use cases, and if so which cases. Well, it is perhaps mathematically possible to make such a meta grammar. However, it is also possible to model the universe using a heliocentric model. The math however is needlessly complicated. Occam’s razor and similar heuristics indicate that a simpler theory which acounts for all the observed data is better than a more complex one. The theory that all language grew out of a nostratic model but then evolved in radically different directions is simpler, has at least as much explanatory value, and actually corresponds to the observed linguistic facts.

The limits on the trained instances of human cognizable language used by animals are
1) no questions
2) no grammar
while *consistent* with Chomsky’s generative grammar hypothesis but are not a *proof* of it. Chomsky argues that human grammar is universally the same, i.e. inherent. These findings in animal language do not contrary that. However, they are not inconsistent with the nostratic-evolutionary hypothesis which I am presenting as a better more accurate explanation of the origins of language and evolution of grammar. If generative grammar were true then grammars would not evolve. However, grammars do evolve as can be seen even within the English language.


I saw that Dershowitz, whom I believe Finkelstein accused of plagiarism, has settled the lawsuit against him for rape. I’ve no idea of the merits or lack thereof in the rape accusation, though I do think the plagiarism accusation is inexact.

Like I said, I am not Finkelstein.

In a similar vein, vigenerable name, Lewin Carol wrote a book of some fame. It’s wonderous topic? Logical games!

I have not written here yet about game theory: mostly I am concerned about the Solomon islands problem (dominant strategy with information constraints) and the Monty Hall puzzle. I promise to say somethings about one or both in the next post, likely tomorrow.

Carol’s game is meant to teach propositional logic, and can be played solo. I don’t think it would be too useful for the LSAT, but I could be wrong and it might be a fun and whimsical way to get into logic, a field which I only studied formally after my  undergraduate degree in politics – and which all would-be jurists must master. I do not regard the LSAT logical games section as a good predictor for aptitude in law.  I regard it as one more selector for social class. Why the legal system thinks, or thought, that legal knowledge should be limited to the governing elite escapes me.

I tend not to comment on Chinese domestic law, because I do not yet speak Chinese. Thereto, fellow language learners might enjoy this quiz on Chinese characters. I hope to have time to mark it up so that it will be more useful.

Of course, one day I will study Chinese law, but only after attaining at least minimal proficiency in Mandarin. Despite my prudent reticence I note that I was disappointed that the court dismissed their claim for civil union. People should be free to organize their private affairs, generally speaking. The litigants plan to appeal. I will not comment on that further because 1) the language is still beyond me 2) I am still not sufficiently acquainted with Chinese law. I am however certain that Maoist theory regards same sex relations as legitimate. Although I have not read Mao directly addressing mentioned homosexuality or transsexuals the fact is Mao upheld equal rights of men and women, ending foot binding, forced prostitution, and increasing women’s literacy.
Likely, Mao was a terrible economist. He was certainly a brilliant general. Successors to Maoism in the West claim the right not only to equality of men and women but also of homosexuals, heterosexuals, and transsexuals.

I would prefer, if possible, not to talk about Chinese political theory publicly. I do not yet have the linguistic or political expertise to do so, despite having a very deep understanding of Marxism, Leninism, and Maoism. It would be imprudent, possibly presumptuous or rude of me, and I might even be naive. I try only to comment on social problems in ways which will be helpful and know very well.

I plan to build some quizzes. I found this quiz / survey on economics and investing really well done.

Well, I hope you enjoy mindworks! 🙂

好好              学习,    天天          向上
Hǎo hǎo    xuéxí,   tiāntiān xiàngshàng

Gender, Sex, and Language

I have not written about gender and sex in language partly because gender and sex strike me as ridiculously stilted and obvious constructs, not unalterable  natural phenomena but instead very human and thus malleable. Of course, I do not live in a gender binary, so things which might escape those who do are obvious to me. Still, I don’t usually bother to vector my arguments through gender, except to point out the fact that gender is a social construct which occurs across a spectrum, just like sex, one of the material bases of gender also ranges through a spectrum. Work is the other material fact of gender. Sex and gender are sufficiently conflicted that it is sufficient to point out that they are social constructs to defuse or even resolve varieties of social conflicts which involve sex or gender.

So I did not raise the gender and sex aspects of linguistics that also refute Chomsky’s generative grammar thesis till now.

Another couple of empirical refutations of Chomsky’s generative grammar thesis are seen in gender and articles. Some language have gender, others do not. For example, in Estonian nouns are not gendered, nor or personal pronouns. Tema (formal) Ta (informal) indicate he or she. Likewise, in spoken mandarin Chinese there is no difference between the pronouns “ta” for he or she. Gender is a social construct just like language is which is revealed in a serious study of foreign language.

It is of course interesting that Chinese and Estonian the word “ta” means he or she: a refutation of generative grammar is not necessarily a refutation of the nostratic hypothesis of the origins of human language. However, if generative grammar were  true — and as I am showing, it is not — then the nostratic thesis would necessarily follow.

What about articles, words like “a”, “an” or “the”? In some languages they exist, in other languages they do not exist. Meanwhile, in those languages which have articles some languages gender the articles, others do not, and some languages inflect their articles to reflect case, whereas others do not. In English articles are no longer inflected. In German they are. In Estonian, Russian, and Mandarin Chinese articles do not exist. One can approximate the use of articles in those languages by the use of “one” or “that”.

Again, those are empirical facts which refute Chomsky’s theory of generative grammar.

I believe I have already pointed out that different languages use fairly different structures for indicating tense.

The only aspects of grammar which appear to be universal are: nouns and verbs. Prepositions and postpositions though together existing in the few languages I have (intensely) studied do not exist in all languages. English has no post-positions. Estonian does not naturally have prepositions. And as we know nouns in some languages are inflected, but not in others. Likewise, there are serious differences in the different grammars of verbs, and not only in the existence or formation of tenses. Some languages readily admit that verbs can function as nouns: German is the best example I know of. Some are also ready to gladly join nouns and/or verbs to form new compound nouns — again, German is a most obvious example. English in contrast is more reticent: “That’s good eating.” would be good German grammar but is incorrect in English and not even particularly colloquial — who really talks like that, other than stereotypes? Likewise, English is not agglutinative: English tends not to form compounded nouns. Runningboard is not English, even though we know from old media that cars once had a “running board” on which one could stand and ride, but which was really meant for wiping one’s feet before getting into the car. English indicates compound nouns correctly with the dash, e.g., “running-board”.

Thus, generative grammar collapses into something which even if it were true – and it isn’t – is almost nearly useless. All languages have nouns and verbs? Wow, you don’t say? The generative grammar thesis, which promised that one recursive function could be used to parse all human languages simply is not true as can be seen from so many structural differences even among languages spoken by vast swathes of the planet. It would likely be even more refuted by a consideration of languages of native nations in what we now call the Americas, the South Pacific, and Africa. Generative grammar as a theory simply has no predictive power, which is one of the verifications of the scientificity of a theory.

A more interesting question is how can such an obviously untrue idea have been the foundation of a successful radical academic’s career?

Well, Chomsky said to Finkelstein: “if you follow this, you’re going to get in trouble—because you’re going to expose the American intellectual community as a gang of frauds, and they are not going to like it, and they’re going to destroy you.”

But I’m not Finkelstein. 🙂

Learning Chinese – Wish list

I am learning Chinese and would like to find a bi-lingual parallel hypertext of Sun Tzu or Mao Zedong in simplified Chinese and any of French, Russian, German, Spanish, Estonian, or English. Any links or electronic files are greatly appreciated.

Human intelligence, machine “intelligence”, animal intelligence?, communication, and animism. :)

Is artificial intelligence possible? Well, that depends on what we mean by “intelligence”. If we mean “memory”, machines clearly remember things better than humans. If we mean “chess playing” machines, again, better than humans.

Humans have a real limitation: our short term memory, also known as “working memory” is terrible. Furthermore, it takes us no little time to put information into our “long term memory”, where, again, we are outclassed by machines.

Yet, clearly, humans do some things better than machines. Deriving new hypothetical inferences from existing known data, for example.

This does not mean that machines will not “evolve” into the ability to engage in “creative” acts such as painting (computer composers already exist) or complex problem solving. However, to present, the capacity of humans to integrate a vast array of disparate information and derive not only certain inferences therefrom but also potential hypothesis, the ability to develope metacognitive process – heuristics – seems unique to humans.

Seems. So far.

The problem of machine intelligence relates back to the question of animal intelligence and communication I alluded to earlier. For example, apparently, a beluga whale was able to vocalize the word “out” to signal its displeasure, and this in a hearing channel (frequency) humans could perceive.

Meanwhile, what about mice? It is known that mice can remember, can negotiate mazes, and engage in primitive forms of reason. Are they “thinking”? Are they “self-aware”?

Just as we can look at other species to question the idea of intelligence and communication we can also look at other bodies in the universe such as planets or solar systems. Aristotle regarded such things as inanimate, as not having a principle even of vegetative motion. Volcanos and earthquakes however are motion. For all we know humans are but cells in a giant living body, the so-called “gaia hypothesis” of the earth as a living organism, and possibly a self aware one.

Law School

Law school is like a pleasant walk in the woods, a real picnic.

Except, there is a murder in the woods.

And the murderer in the woods is hunting you.

And the murderer in the woods is part of a conspiracy!

So the food in your picknick basket might be poisoned!!

And the woods are on fire!!!


(c) Eric Engle, Doctor of Laws.

Chomsky and Generative Grammar: Science is built on a foundation of failed theories.

Noam Chomsky was originally a linguist. He made himself famous arguing for a theory of a universal generative grammar. For Chomsky, language is a recursive structure, and grammatical features are universally distributed; language, for Chomsky, is a “self extracting archive”, so to speak.

The problem with this theory, which is elegant and simple and thus scientifically attractive, is that it is empirically untrue. Beyond the existence of nouns and verbs there are many serious linguistic divergences which are inconsistent with Chomsky’s thesis and in my opinion invalidate it. No matter how attractive a theory is, however parsimonious it is, whatever explanatory power it offers, if it does not match up with all the empirical facts then it must be modified or rejected.

Leave aside for a minute the idea that if language is an inherent structure to humanity, and unique to humanity implies that knowledge is in some sense genetic. A twisted person could argue that Chomsky proffers a theory which is ultimately genetic, i.e. racist. Chomsky is hardly a racist but if language is a biological function then it is one step from essentailism into tribalism and it ends with race supremacism. Also leave aside the “Jane Goodall” critique, that we increasingly see examples of communication among various animal species, most famously Coco the ape who signs. Leave aside also the idea that perhaps other animals communicate complex ideas but using methods which either evade our ability to perceive them as being outside our frequency of hearing or using a radically different grammar, or which we have not cognized as communicative. There are many bird songs we cannot replicate with our vocal chords, yet that does not mean we do not speak or sing.

For once I disagree with Aristotle; Aristotle believed that other animals only emote, and do not think or communicate, rather only feel. That too appears empirically disproven at least among the most developed animals: some great apes do sign. However, even within an anthro-centric view which limits itself to human speech the generative grammar thesis does not line up with the facts of real-world languages.

clippy-with-textThere are several examples of unique grammar structures found in some languages but not others. I address them briefly here to show why Chomsky’s theory, though elegant, is empirically incorrect.

Probably the easiest example for those who do not know several foreign languages is word order. While mostlanguages use the subject-verb-object model for declaratory statements and verb-subject-object for questions word order in languages otherwise differs. Some languages, for example Mandarin, have fairly rigid word orders, a few have in theory no fixed word order (e.g., Latin) and most have a mix of rigid and flexible rules, English being one example there. However, the mix of rules and flex varies from language to language, and anyone who speaks German the rather different rules of word order found in that language. German has a more rigid word order than English, and its ordering of words, beyond SVO or VSO is fairly different from English even though it is a declined language.

Beyond the fact of word order, which as anyone who speaks both German and English can tell you varies quite a bit even between closely related languages there are other emprical facts which demonstrate that Chomsky’s thesis of language as universal and inherent is wrong. To my understanding, Chomsky is arguing that language is self-similar, i.e.recursive, and this is why he calls it generative grammar. Either reading of Chomsky – language as a universal recursive function, or merely as universal, is empirically untrue.

Particles are the easiest example for an anglophone to see. Particles do not exist in English. They do in Russian with the “li” particle indicating hypotheticals, i.e. the subjuntive. “be -li” in Russian would be “if it be so” in English.

Russian is the only indo European language I know which has particles. Chinese has many particles. “Duh” as a particle indicates possesion. “Luh” as a particle indicates the past tense. “Guh” as a particle indicates some specific instance, and seems close to the partitive/genitive distinction.

In English we use prepositions. “Of”, “To”, “From” etc. In English, prepositions increasingly converge so that old-school prepositions such as unto, hereunder i.e. compounded prepositions are no longer widely used and are even archaic e.g. “Wherefore art thou, Romeo?” While Indo Europen uses prepositions Uralic languages such as Estonian use post-positions. In Estonian we would say “The lamp is the table on.” This is another example of why there is not in fact a universal grammar beyond, perhaps, nouns and verbs.

As well as pre- and post- positions we can note the existence of declensions. English only has vestiges of declensions in pronouns: “he”, “his”, “him”, “to him” are the nominative genitive accusative and dative forms. Likewise who, whose, whom, to whom; she, her, her, to her. Declensions no longer exist in English articles and really no longer exist in Romance languages like French, even though Latin had more cases than Old English. Yet, in modern German declensions still exist, which has four cases and declensions are even more notable in Russian with six cases. The richest countries for declensions seem to be Estonian and Finnish with 13 or 14 cases. Chinese in contrast has no cases.

Verb tense is also hardly universal. Chinese has no tense. Tense is indicated contextually by time markers and by particles in Chinese. English in contrast has remarkably complex tenses and so does French. Estonian and Russian in contrast only have three tenses — past present and future, but Russian has perfective and imperfective verbs to indicate whether the action was done to completion or is ongoing, whereas the two verb forms in Estonian, which also has but three tenses are used to indicate modality. Russian does not use the verb to be in the present tense, it is indicated contextually. Auxiliary verbs are not used to indicate tense in Russian.

These are the principle features of those languages which I have learned that differ sufficiently from each other that I am confident as an empirical matter that grammar is not universally uniform beyond nouns and verbs. There are sufficient basic words in all learned languages which appear to basic to be other than the consequence of a proto-world language. The nostratic hypothesis can be well proven by comparing just English, German, French, Estonian, and Russian — one language from each of the European language families apart from the isolates.

While I do believe that there was once a proto-world language with but one grammar, this grammar evolved and split and is not in fact an inherent biological function universal not merely in existence but also in development. We can see the decline of declensions and the convergence of prepositions quite clearly in English. If language were generative and a biological function then language would not evolve, yet it does.

Chomsky’s view should be seen in context of the times he wrote it. Machine analysis of language was in its infancy. Foreign language acquisition was considerably more difficult. The generative grammar hypothesis may well have served a useful role in the development of machine processing of language for translation. Yet, increasingly available historic and genetic evidence through better archeaology and genome analysis as well as the increasing awareness that language is not a uniquely human construct explain why for empirical reasons we must see Chomsky’s attempt to cast light from “the tower of babble” as but an effort. Chomsky, like Einstein, Keynes, Kelsen, sought to develop a general theory. Like each of them, his general theory must be seen as having collapsed into a special theory. Generative grammar is at least a special theory applicable to tbe machine processing of language. Beyond that it is unfortunately empirically flawed, like the other great efforts at general theorizing in the 20th century.

Evolutionary language theory is the future. The behaviorial theory of language has yet to be developed, and will provide key insights for data mining, machine intelligence, and AI user agents such as Cortana.

Antonin Scalia

Justice Scalia just died; although I was very much his political opponent, I feel it properly respectful to give my respects. I sincerely disagree with much of his views, however he sincerely believed (and I did not disagree with all his beliefs).

I never addressed his works directly, and probably will not, it is only fair to give an opponent the chance to respond.

It bears repeating: do you still think Snowden is a hero and the NSA a villain?

Russia having success in hybrid war against Germany

By Lucian Kim
February 7, 2016

The attack came in the form of a Saturday evening newscast from
Moscow. It would take days before the German government realized what
was happening, but by that time the damage was already done. Germany’s
sizable Russian-speaking community –made up of migrants from the former
Soviet Union — was up in arms about a report that refugees from the
Middle East had gang-raped a 13-year-old Russian girl in Berlin — and
that the local police was covering up the crime.

Until recently, Germany had largely been spared the wrath of Russia’s
state propaganda machine. Germans, in their eagerness to be
conscientious world citizens and reliable business partners, were seen
in the Kremlin as allies to coddle and co-opt. That view changed
abruptly in 2014, when Angela Merkel led the drive for European Union
sanctions to punish Russia for its war against Ukraine. Now, as the
German chancellor flounders domestically because of her open-door
refugee policy, she has made herself vulnerable to attack. “I’ve never
seen so much glee from the Russians as during Germany’s refugee crisis,”
said a diplomat in Berlin.

On Jan. 16, Russia’s state-run Channel One led the 9 o’clock evening news with a shocking report from Berlin.
“Evidence has emerged that migrants in Germany have started raping
children,” presenter Yekaterina Andreyeva said in the intro. That
evidence came in the form of testimony by the “Aunt Marina” of a teenage
girl, identified as Lisa, who claimed she had been abducted on her way
to school and raped by migrants for more than a day. More proof that
Germany is going to hell in a hand basket was a blurry video of a
supposed recent arrival who bragged about raping a “virgin” with five
other men. (Germany’s Bild newspaper later reported that the video had appeared on YouTube more than six years ago.)

Lisa’s relatives told Channel One that the police was refusing to
find the perpetrators. The Berlin police was unavailable for comment
over the weekend. Frightened neighbors, mostly members of the Russian
diaspora in Germany, gathered for a “spontaneous” protest in the Marzahn
district in eastern Berlin, Channel One reported. One woman tearfully
recounted how her 14-year-old child was terrified of passing a refugee
shelter on the way to school. It later turned out that the neo-Nazi
National Democratic Party had organized the protest.

Coming just weeks after widespread sexual assaults by migrants in
Cologne on New Year’s Eve, Lisa’s story was incendiary — and spread like
wildfire through social media. The Berlin police finally addressed the
case in a press release posted on Facebook. While the girl had indeed been reported as missing, the police said, she had not been abducted or raped.

Yet to those who believe that German authorities have lost control
over the country, the police statement sounded like a cover-up. The
following weekend, Russian speakers held rallies across Germany. In
Berlin, 700 protesters, backed by the anti-Islam movement PEGIDA, gathered in front of the Federal Chancery holding smiley-face balloons with their mouths taped over and signs reading “Our children are in danger.”

What should have been a case for family counselors and detectives
blew up into a diplomatic scandal. As Lisa holds both German and Russian
citizenship, the Kremlin entered the fray. In late January the Russian
embassy in Berlin sent an “aggressive” protest note to the German
Foreign Office demanding a full investigation, according to Der Spiegel.
Then Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov brought up “our girl Lisa”
in his annual press conference in Moscow.
“I really hope that the migration problems won’t lead to an attempt to
whitewash reality with political correctness for domestic political
reasons,” Lavrov said. “That wouldn’t be right.”

The German government could no longer ignore that it was the target
of a full-on propaganda attack, including very public trolling by the
Russian foreign minister. Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, denounced
the “political instrumentalization” of the case. Even Frank-Walter
Steinmeier, Germany’s foreign minister who never tires of “dialogue”
with the Kremlin, lost his patience, saying there was no justification for using a 13-year-old girl for “political propaganda.”

In the meantime, the Berlin police were getting to the bottom of what
happened to Lisa in the 30 hours she had gone missing. Her accounts of
the supposed kidnapping were contradictory, and a medical examination
showed that she had been neither raped nor beaten. The trail finally led to the apartment of a 19-year-old German acquaintance,
where Lisa had temporarily hidden from her parents because of problems
at school. What confused the story was the discovery by investigators
that long before her disappearance, the girl had in fact had sexual
contact with two men, both of Turkish origin, and neither a refugee.
State prosecutors have since opened an investigation into child

The truth doesn’t matter, because it’s already mission accomplished
for the Kremlin. By mentioning the case of Lisa publicly, Lavrov pulled
off a common trick in Russia’s self-declared “information war” against
its enemies: a government official picks up on a report in state media,
leading to its legitimation and further dissemination. Fake news is
essentially laundered and enters the public consciousness as fact.

Two years ago, it was hard for people in the West to imagine how
Russian state media used half-truths and blatant lies to distort the
pro-EU Maidan protest in Kiev into a fascist conspiracy. When Ukraine’s
president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled to Russia and a provisional
government took power, the Kremlin news channels spread reports of armed
gangs of Ukrainian nationalists terrorizing Russian speakers in
southeastern Ukraine. Having been inculcated for months about the threat
of Ukrainian revanchism, large parts of the Russian-speaking population
were genuinely scared — and supported an intervention by Russia on
their behalf. Viewers at home and abroad had been well primed for the
coming conflict. The news was fake; the fear was real.

As shown on Russian state TV, the hysteria among Germany’s Russian
speakers toward refugees was identical to the panic of Ukraine’s Russian
speakers about fascist gangs. The main message of the inflammatory
reports from Berlin was that Merkel was finished, Germany was on the
decline, and Western liberal democracies were undoing themselves via
foolhardy multiculturalism and misplaced tolerance.

It’s no small irony that the principal actors in this apocalyptic
view of Europe’s refugee crisis are former migrants themselves. After
reunification in 1990, Germany opened its borders to migrants from the
former Soviet Union: more than 2 million ethnic Germans and some 215,000
Jews, according to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.
Integration into German society was not always successful, however, and
much of the older generation still gets its news from Russia thanks to
satellite channels and the Internet.

For TV viewers in Russia, the plight of Russian speakers in Germany —
allegedly victimized by refugees and ignored by the police — fits into
the larger narrative of “compatriots” in neighboring countries who are
subjected to discrimination and violence. Half a million of these
“Russian Germans” are ready to move back to Russia because of the flood
of refugees, state news agency RIA Novosti reported last week, citing the leader of an obscure Russian immigrant party in Germany.

Stoking outrage in Germany’s Russian-speaking community is not an end
in itself, but a means to exploiting cracks in German society exposed
by the refugee crisis. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who served as a
KGB agent in Soviet-occupied East Germany and speaks fluent German,
believes that Berlin and Moscow can form a strategic axis based on
Russian natural resources and German technology. Merkel, in her
insistence that Russia do more to bring peace to Ukraine, is getting in
the way.

In March 2014, Putin appealed directly to Germans
for their support, drawing parallels between the annexation of Crimea
and German reunification. Winning over German public opinion became a
priority, and the state-owned network RT, formerly known as Russia Today, opened a German channel, RT Deutsch,
later that year. The Kremlin was exploiting a growing distrust among
Germans toward traditional news outlets, expressed in the far-right
PEGIDA protests. A poll conducted in October found that 44 percent of Germans agreed with PEGIDA that mainstream media distorted the news to suit the elites.

Propaganda was only one element in the so-called “hybrid warfare”
that Russia directed against Ukraine. Long before the Kremlin deployed
“little green men” — Russian troops without insignia — to Crimea, it had
used other non-military measures such as playing pipeline politics,
buying politicians, and backing fringe parties with radical agendas. Those same measures are being used in Germany and other European countries.

Contrarians on the left and right are enthusiastic about the support from Moscow.

Alexej Dankwardt, a Leipzig city councilman, was kicked out of the Left Party caucus
last month after writing on Facebook that he wished Merkel would be
toppled in a “German Maidan” and forced to “sprint half-naked to save
herself from the angry masses.” Dankwardt, who represents Lisa and her
family as a lawyer, has become a frequent commentator on Russian state

In a November 2014 meeting with Alexander Gauland, one of the founders of the far-right Alternative for Germany, Russian diplomats offered “strategic advice” to the upstart, euroskeptic party. Last March, Udo Voigt, a leader of the National Democratic Party, attended a gathering of European rightwing extremist parties in St. Petersburg.

The standard Kremlin response to charges that it’s waging a hybrid
war against Europe is that Russia is simply defending itself against
similar methods employed by Western powers. In a speech to Russia’s Academy of Military Sciences in January 2013,
Chief-of-Staff Valery Gerasimov complained that Russian knowledge of
asymmetric warfare was “superficial.” The North Atlantic Treaty
Organization, and the United States in particular, had demonstrated
their mastery of non-military campaigns in the Arab Spring and Ukraine’s
pro-Western Orange Revolution in 2004, Gerasimov said.

Such modesty is disingenuous. Disinformation and subversion as
weapons of war are as old as catapults and cavalry. The Kremlin’s
advantage in the information age is that all of Russia’s major media
outlets are under its control, allowing it to hammer its audience with
one, unified message. The Kremlin claim that it’s in an “information
war” with the West implies that there is vast conspiracy among myriad
media in the United States and Europe, public and private, to produce
the same lies about Russia.

In fact, Western diplomats are at a loss about how to counter the
effects of Kremlin propaganda on Russian speakers in EU countries. In
March, the European Union established the East StratCom Task Force
“to address Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaigns.” Despite its
important-sounding name, the bureaucratic unit has no budget, 10
employees, and barely 4,000 Twitter followers.

A year ago, Germany’s domestic intelligence service warned that Russia was widening its espionage activity in Europe
with the goal of destabilizing its neighbors and influencing
decision-makers. A cyber-attack on the main server of the German
parliament last spring has since been traced back to Russian military
intelligence, Der Spiegel reported, quoting a high-ranking security
official. There have reportedly been similar attacks on other NATO
states and German arms companies.

A legion of useful idiots is ready to do the Kremlin’s bidding. Horst
Seehofer, the head of Merkel’s Bavarian sister party the Christian
Social Union, has been haranguing the chancellor for months to tighten
her refugee policy. On Wednesday, Seehofer met Putin outside Moscow,
where the Bavarian premier expressed his hope that sanctions against Russia would soon be lifted.

Afterwards, Seehofer told journalists it was “classy” of Putin to say he wouldn’t meddle in Germany’s refugee policy. Meanwhile, the Rossiya TV channel trumpeted the “commotion” that the visit had caused back in Berlin.

Phone Scandal

..U-Still h8 the NSA?

‘Raped’ German-Russian teen spent night at friend’s house: Berlin


German police last week rejected a German-Russian teenager&#39;s account of kidnapping and sexual assault, but nevertheless passed the case to the prosecutor&#39;s office

German police last week
rejected a German-Russian teenager’s account of kidnapping and sexual
assault, but nevertheless passed the case to the prosecutor’s office
(AFP Photo/Patrik Stollarz)
Berlin (AFP) – A 13-year-old Russian-German girl who ignited
an international row by saying she was raped by migrants was actually
sleeping at a friend’s house on the night in question, Berlin
prosecutors said Friday.

Authorities in the German capital said their
investigation had concluded that the account of the girl’s kidnapping
and sexual assault this month by three men from “southern countries” had
no basis in fact, despite high-level Russian claims to the contrary.
data from her broken mobile phone, we were able to access information
about a young German man aged 19 — an acquaintance of the 13-year-old
girl,” prosecutor’s office spokesman Martin Steltner told AFP.
“The young girl wanted to hide at his house because she was having problems in school.”
incident has exacerbated tensions between Germany and Russia already
strained over the conflict in Syria and European Union sanctions imposed
on Moscow over Ukraine.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had complained that Moscow initially
heard about the incident not from Germany officials “but from the
Russian-speaking community, then from the family’s lawyer”.
Tuesday he tried to lend credence to the girl’s allegations by saying
that she had disappeared “absolutely for sure” against her will and that
details of the incident had “been hidden.”
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Wednesday accused Lavrov of
“exploiting” the case of the girl, named as Liza by Russia, and
“inflaming” an already heated national debate about migrants.
– ‘Political pressure’ –

findings “clearly defuse the propaganda that had developed recently
around this case,” Frank Henkel, the German capital’s top security
official, said in a statement.
Without mentioning Moscow, he
said Germany is a “state based on the rule of law” and no “political
pressure from abroad” would alter its “constitutional principles”.
The teenager went missing on January 11, reportedly on her way to school.
subsequently returned and filed a police report, with her parents
telling investigators she was kidnapped by three apparently foreign men
at a railway station in eastern Berlin and taken to a flat where they
raped and beat her.
German police last week rejected the teenager’s account but nevertheless passed the case to the prosecutor’s office.
prosecutors had said there was no evidence that the girl was forced to
have sexual relations but opened a probe against at least one man on
possible statutory rape charges stemming from a separate incident since
she was under the age of consent (14 in Germany).
Steltner said
Friday that investigators now believe that the girl had had sex with two
men in their 20s, “a Turkish citizen and a German of Turkish origin”
who may now be charged with abusing a minor.
The incident came to
light with Germany in an uproar over a spate of New Year’s Eve sexual
assaults on women in Cologne allegedly carried out, for the most part,
by Arab and North African men, that was initially met with silence from
the police.
Last year, nearly 1.1 million asylum seekers arrived
in Germany, most of them from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, with
Chancellor Angela Merkel under increasing pressure over her welcoming
stance toward refugees fleeing war.

Source:  H8ters gonna h9.

More German language learning resources!


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Wir wünschen viel Spaß und Erfolg beim Deutschlernen!

Viele Grüße

UN Opportunities (in German)

Opportunities in the U.N. (in German)
Both the U.S. DOS and the German Foreign Ministry (AA) try to coordinate fairly closely with the U.N., so though this information is geared to Germans it is relevant to U.S. people too, since the U.N. is an international organization.
in case you have language difficulties.

Scholarship opportunities in Germany with DAAD

I know you all go home soon; some of you may wish to come back, whether as undergraduate or graduate students. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) may be able to help you either with finding a study program right for you or with funding.

More or less DAAD  tries to fund sciences, so as to get technical breakthroughs, improvements in economic efficiencies; though language learning is also supported, and it is not impossible to get funding for humanities, though you should try to point out how your proposed study would bring added value to the Germn or at least European economic area and/or benefit German foreign policy.

There are also the political party scholarships, e.g. Friedrich Ebert (SDP), Heinrich Böll (Greens) Konrad Adenauer (Conservatives), Rosa Luxembourg (Linke). Rosa Luxembourg has the least funding, but does have a New York office.

You should also be aware that those of you who speak German might be able to get internships with German consulates in the U.S.

It was great having you as students I am sure your careers will flower!

DAAD language scholarships (sorry about the formatting)

Application Portal Closing on December 1st at 5pm (EST)

December 1, 2015 is the deadline to submit an online application for DAAD’s Intensive Language and University Summer Course Grants. The application portal will close at 5pm (Eastern Standard Time) on that day, so applicants are advised to be mindful of this time limit when preparing and submitting application materials. Hard copies of the application must also be received by DAAD no later than December 11.
University Summer Course Grants provides scholarships to attend three- to four-week summer courses at German universities which focus mainly on German language and literary, cultural, political and economic aspects of modern Germany. Extensive extracurricular programs complement and reinforce the core material. For more info, visit the program page.
Intensive Language Course Grants allow students from North American universities, who at the time of application have attained at least sophomore standing (second-year standing in Canada), to attend 8-week intensive language courses at leading institutes in Germany. Click here for more details.
For more information about DAAD, please visit:, or call: 212-758-3223.

Free Online Law Search Engine.

This is my new web site, with links to free online law search engines I authored as well as free copies of my law review articles. Enjoy saving your law firm some westlaw and lexis fees.

Here is my amazon author page:
If you read one of my books feel free  to contact me: [email protected]
I  write for you and want you to be happy.

February is only a four months away!

U.S. Constitutional Law for German Speaking Jurists


The next president, like it or not, will wind up facing a proxy war in Syria.


Chains of liability for suppliers

We saw the criminal law regime was only somewhat satisfactory.
Now we look at the issues of human rights in tort law.
I had mentioned the Alien Tort Statute and the Torture Victims Protection Act as examples of extraterritorial laws which seek to give remedies to people for violations of their fundamental human rights even in failed states, dictatorships, or corrupted governments.
Today we look at the liability for producers and distributors of goods for violations of human rights.

Corporate Main Office (corporations, like countries, are legal persons. partnerships are not)
wholly owned subsidiary in the third world
subcontractor who commits various torts
Can the main office be sued for the act of the subcontractor? Probably not. 

lex locus delicti
imputed liability due to agency


complicity – accomplice liability

Can the corporation itself be liable? What is a corporation
-a legal person able to sue and be sued and also liable on taxes for its own income
-with shareholders
-and directors who use the shareholders money to run the business.

In common law corporations can be criminals, but not in German law.

Funding human rights activism

One way activists fund their human rights projects is through performance art.

This is a current Berlin art and activism project, Dr. Nathanson will be interested in that I bet, so feel free to tell people about it. I am not involved in it.

How else to fund human rights? Crowdfunding

or stock market investing

Its sometimes possible to get funding through private foundations and government grants, glwt, everyone wants free money so it is tough to get a grant.

Social Media and Human Rigths / Foreign Policy
Social media obviously became big in the last decade, and by now all the embassies have their own youtube, they often twitter, and have a facebook page. I have not pointed that out because I think you already see that for yourselves. Emailing lists are another example. So e.g. the German foreign ministry has an email list which I am subscribed to. This recent post of theirs is an example of how human rights and diplomacy interact and how the international system “self-regulates” by invoking human rights, here, the ICCPR.

Auswärtiges Amt

==== ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== ====
Human Rights Commissioner Strässer on the release of Vietnamese blogger Ta Phong Tan


The Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, Christoph Strässer, issued the following statement on 21 September on the release of the Vietnamese blogger Ta Phong

“I am very pleased that Vietnamese blogger Ta Phong Tan has been released. We worked very hard in favour of this outcome. At the same time, I regret that she has apparently only been released from
prison on the condition that she leaves the country immediately.

It is incongruous that Viet Nam has committed to upholding human rights in its new constitution and yet at the same time is not respecting freedom of opinion as enshrined in the ICCPR, ratified by
Viet Nam. All those in prison for having exerted their right to freedom of opinion or demonstration should be released without delay.”

Background information:

On 19 September 2015, blogger Ta Phong Tan obtained early release from prison after three years of incarceration. From Hanoi she travelled directly to the United States. In 2012, Ta Phong Tan was
sentenced to ten years of imprisonment and five years of house arrest for “propaganda against the state”. She had written online about topics such as widespread corruption.

Together with its partners from the EU and other countries, the German Government had been working to achieve her release for a long time. In an expert report, the United Nations Working Group on
Arbitrary Detention had classed the incarceration of Ta Phong Tan as “arbitrary”.

In the past year, two human rights defenders have already been released from prison under similar circumstances (Mr Cu Huy Ha VU and Mr Dieu Cay). In both cases the sentence was simply suspended.
They had to promise to travel to the US immediately. That means that, de facto, returning to Viet Nam is not an option as they would have to serve the remainder of their sentence.

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Corporations and Human Rights

In the prior post I included investopedia links to the BALANCE SHEET and INCOME STATEMENT. Read and try to figure it out! It is $.

Corporations and Human Rights

Key U.S. rules on international corruption & HR abuse





Domestic Rules



Ways a corporate leader can get in trouble with human rights:
Fraud (tax evasion, insider trading)
Abuse of workers
Thinking they can “game the system” and use clever legal structures to mask human rights abuse.

Judges have them “six ways to sunday” but prosecutors dont, so I write.

Criminal, Tort, Contract, and Corporate law as solutions to human rights?

To present, we have seen the few possibilities and real limits of the international public law of human rights. While the public law regime is clearly imperfect, it is so much better than the pre-war system of non-rights.

The last aspect of public law we look at, briefly, is criminal law remedies. However, because criminal law and tort law often overlap we will use the criminal law regime as a transition to looking at the tort law regime. We will then look at corporate governance aspects of human rights, including contractual aspects.

I have tried to point out the possibilities for human rights activism. One essential aspect of HR activism is fundraising. Fundraising occurs through:
tabling with literature and asking for signatures and contributions
concerts and artistic performances
but activists can also raise funds with and similar online capital magnets.

Another way to raise money is through buying and selling stocks and using one’s own funds. This also raises an important aspect of corporate law: finance and accounting. Those of you who wish to closely inspect the corporation, whether as  potential investor or searching for “dodgy accounting” should learn how to read and analyze an income statement
and the corporation balance sheet.
Corporations publish their balance sheets as part of their mandatory annual report. Income statements are usually also provided in the annual report.

I have already mentioned the international criminal court:

The US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

The UK Antibribery Act

The OECD Antibribery Convention

The UN Convention against Corruption

Which basically reproduce the FCPA internationally.

An important point is that criminal laws sometimes create private remedies. That is the case of the US Racketeer influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

The Securities and Exchange Acts

As well as the Alien Tort Statute and Torture Victims Protection Act

After exposing the criminal and tort regime we will look to contract and corporate governance (self regulation and soft-law).

We can discuss methodology for your papers after the lecture, we have just 3 lessons for a large amount of material.

Regarding the simulations: Objectives included
a) placing yourself into another role than the one which you are accustomed to – seeing the world through others’ eyes.
b) learning group dynamics of conflict and conflict resolution.
c) understanding how discrete conflicting interests aggregate into social outcomes which may or may not be socially beneficial.
d) why and how states fail.
e) conflicting and competing pressures within and between states.
f) viewing conflict and conflict resolution objectively from a multifaceted perspective rather than subjectively from on’s own individual perspective.
g) exposing you to new and unexpected situations, so you learn to think flexibly
E.g. in the last simulation I specifically gave each player an objective which was necessarily in conflict with other players objectives. Real life is like that sometimes, but only exceptionally. International human rights law seeks to reduce such conflicts and replace them with better interactions.
Good training is hard because it is challenging and provokes growth, preparing one for real life.