It’s been some time since I’ve been able to make a post. This is mostly due to two things:
- My father has had some health issues lately, and I’ve spent some time out of state helping to take care of him.
- Additionally, I’ve been interviewing for a job in Japan with the JET Program.
My father is doing well now. It was good spending time with my parents as well. So I’m happy with how things have progressed there.
As for JET, I received word this week that I got the job. While I’m very excited, I won’t be popping the champagne until I have my placement notification.
If things work out as planned, I’ll be leaving mid-Summer and may stay as long as five years. I’m incredibly excited about this and look forward finally fulfilling a goal I’ve had since Jr. High.
More updates to come as things start falling into place.
I recently got my three-year cancer free results.
This year was extra scary as there were strong signs my cancer had returned and spread. So strong that when I brought up my symptoms with my doctor, two hours later he had me at a MRI facility where I went through three hours of testing. Thankfully everything came back negative and this five year countdown now only has two years left. But, due to these perceived complications, instead of getting my results in July like I normally do, I had to wait until October.
Randall Munroe, who writes XKCD, celebrated his wife’s two year biopsy-versary with a very well done comic. Yes, it’s a big two / three years.
John Scalzi shares his gift giving guide for the holidays… it more or less mirrors my perspective:
All I Want for Christmas: Not a Damn Thing
A heads up to all you Goth Steampunk fanatics out there, I’ll be at the PEERS Le Bal des Vampires on Saturday, November 3rd. I hope to see you there!
It appears we’ll be having a heavenly visitor late next year.
On Saturday, Oct. 2oth, I’ll be hosting a fundraiser for The American Cancer Society. I’m calling it The Time Traveler’s Tea Party.
You can find out all about it and purchase tickets here.
In the July / August issue of State Magazine, John M. Robinson, Office of Civil Rights and Chief Diversity Officer, wrote a coloumn entitled Wait, What Did You Just Say? In his coloumn, Mr. Robinson encourages employees to be careful about what they say as some often used terms can have racist or sexist implications, citing four examples. However, before listing his examples, he gives the following disclaimer:
Much has been written about whether the etymologies below are true or merely folklore, but this isn’t about their historical validity; instead, it is an opportunity to remember that our choice of wording affects our professional environment.
The truth is, the origin of the phrases he listed are not in doubt. Some people may maintain that these terms have the origins he suggests, but with less than fifteen minutes of research on Google, I was able to determine that all four of the phrases discussed are, in fact, neither racist nor sexist… nor offensive in any way possible.
I’ll address them one by one:
- Hold Down the Fort: He claims that it “originally meant to watch and protect against the vicious Native American intruders. In the territories of the West, Army soldiers or settlers saw the ‘fort’ as their refuge from their perceived ‘enemy,’ the stereotypical ‘savage’ Native American tribes.” The term is actually “Hold the fort.” and it is militaristic in origin. However, it far predates the colonization era of the U.S. – I’ve found no definitive first use or origin of the phrase, but see references that (a) it was previously “hold the castle” (and there’s no castles of note in the Americas during the colonial period) and (b) it clearly predates colonial times and may go as far back as the time of Roman rule.
- Going Dutch: Mr. Robinson says, “Likely you or your colleague meant that each person pays for his or her own meal. The historical meaning: a negative stereotype portraying the Dutch as cheap because they will invite you to a meal but then not pay for it.” This is incorrect. There are phrases that use “Dutch” as an insult, but this is not one of them. According to Wikipedia (more on my use of Wikipedia later), it is a reference to a Dutch Door, which is split into a top half and bottom half.
- Rule of Thumb: The article states that the origin of this phrase is from “an antiquated law, whereby the width of a husband’s thumb was the legal size of a switch or rod allowed to beat his wife. If her bruises were not larger than the width of his thumb, the husband could not be brought to court to answer for his behavior because he had not violated the ‘rule of thumb.’” I have heard this false origin many of times. However, the phrase can be found across many languages and cultures, meaning that the phrase is likely not of English origin and predates the British law often given for its origin.
- Handicap: Mr. Robinson’s inclusion of this term really confused me. He says, “There is no absolute verification as to the historical roots of the word ‘handicap.’ However, many disability advocates believe this term is rooted in a correlation between a disabled individual and a beggar, who had to beg with a cap in his or her hand because of the inability to maintain employment.” It’s origins do indeed come from ‘cap in hand’ or, more accurately, ‘hand in cap’. Its origins are based in racing / betting and have to do with a drawing held before a horse race.
I have no problems with so called ‘PC Speech’ when it encourages the use of uplifting terms or discourages the use of pejoratives. However, classifying words and phrases as impolite, rude, offensive, etc. requires that we know the true origin of the term. To do otherwise puts us in a position where words with benign meaning are demonized because they sound bad.
Language changes, meanings of words change. But one thing that doesn’t change is the *origin* of a word or phrase. We can’t let false histories and lack of knowledge determine what is and isn’t appropriate.