Monday, July 11, 2022

On grades in an academic-writing course in Basel

At the end of the past semester, I discussed the issue of grades with the students in my two sections of the University of Basel English Department's "Academic Writing in English II" course. As it's a pass-fail course, I wondered if they found the grades I gave their essays useful. Several of the students said that they did find them useful, but they added that they wondered if that was just because they were used to having grades. With the pass-fail course, I could stop using grades, but higher-level seminar papers in the department are still officially graded, so I'm pondering whether it's useful to continue grading in the course anyway. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 11 July 2022)

Sunday, July 10, 2022

A red card in a football match – but the team was allowed to replace the player

About twenty minutes into the friendly between FC Basel and Neuchâtel Xamax this afternoon, a Xamax player received a red card for a serious foul. After the players calmed down (and a Basel player received a yellow card, too), the referee and the head coaches had a discussion for several minutes. As everyone got ready to start play again, I noticed there were still eleven Xamax players on the field. The player who received the red card had been sent off, but Xamax had been allowed to replace him. I concluded that Basel did not want to play their friendly against a ten-man team and had thus arranged this unusual solution. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 10 July 2022)

Saturday, July 09, 2022

The poems and texts that are no longer on the Pont de l'Europe between Strasbourg and Kehl

In 1999, I translated a short poem by Durs Grünbein (whose title I can't remember and haven't found in my old files) that was part of a project honoring the 50th anniversary of the Council of Europe: forty European writers, including not only Grünbein but also Seamus Heaney and Czesław Miłosz, were asked to contribute a text for a permanent installation on the Pont de l'Europe between Strasbourg and Kehl. My translation was included in a book published to mark the occasion. Today, I went to the Pont de l'Europe to see the installation, but unfortunately, although the forty small display pillars are still there, the texts are no longer displayed. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 9 July 2022)

Friday, July 08, 2022

Grateful Dead songs from the band's and the audience's perspective: "Playing in the Band" and "The Music Never Stopped"

"Playing in the Band", a 1971 Grateful Dead song with lyrics by Robert Hunter and music by Bob Weir and Mickey Hart, describes a concert scene from the perspective of one of the musicians on stage and ends in the early morning: "Daybreak, while I'm playing in the band." In 1975, for "The Music Never Stopped" on the band's "Blues for Allah" album, John Perry Barlow wrote lyrics for Weir's music that took the audience's perspective and also ended in the early morning: "Keep on dancing through to daylight. Greet the morning air with song. No one's noticed but the band's all packed and gone. Was it ever here at all?" (Andrew Shields, #111words, 8 July 2022)

Thursday, July 07, 2022

A sluggish day after a coronavirus vaccination shot

After my booster shot of the coronavirus vaccine yesterday morning (my fourth in all), I was fine through the afternoon and evening, so I thought I might get through this one without any effects. But at night, I slept very poorly, with vivid, disjointed dreams that immediately vanished from memory whenever I woke up enough to know I was awake. The fatigue I have felt all day could be from lack of sleep or from the shot. And an experience I had forgotten from the earlier shots has come back: a stiffness in my upper arm that only becomes pain when I raise the arm above my shoulder for any reason. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 7 July 2022)

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

An outing on a beautiful morning in Basel

On this beautiful morning in Basel, I took a tram to a tram and walked to a building I've been to three times recently. The guard checked my backpack and let me in. I sat in a row of chairs and moved forward until it was my turn to show my identification. After paying, I sat in another row of chairs and moved forward until it was my turn. A young woman took me into a small room, asked me several questions, and then poked my upper arm with a needle. Then I had to wait fifteen minutes before doing the last paperwork and heading back out into the beautiful morning. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 6 July 2022)

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

A mass shooting on the Fourth of July

On Twitter, Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime died in the 2018 shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, commented on yesterday's shooting at the Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois: "On Independence Day, a uniquely American holiday, the most uniquely American thing happened today, a mass shooting." I first heard about the shooting when a friend who lives there posted about it on Facebook; his teenage daughter was texting all her friends to see if they were okay. I've seen people mark themselves safe on Facebook for fires and hurricanes before, but this was the first time I saw that because of a mass shooting. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 5 July 2022)

Monday, July 04, 2022

Frederick Douglass's "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" in 2022

Frederick Douglass's 1852 speech in Rochester, New York, which he gave on 5 July, is now usually known by a modified version of a line from it: "What to the [American] Slave is the Fourth of July?" Recent political developments in the United States, especially the revelations about the events of 6 January 2021 and the latest Supreme Court decisions, including the overturning of Roe v. Wade, made me wonder about revisions of Douglass's speech from the perspective of such groups as Black women, LBTQ+ people, or immigrants (with or without papers), and I found one variation: Melishia Brooks's 2018 essay "What to the Black Woman is the Fourth of July?" (Andrew Shields, #111words, 4 July 2022)


Sunday, July 03, 2022

Toni Morrison's "Jazz", the 1917 East St. Louis riots, and the Silent Parade in New York City

In Toni Morrison's "Jazz" (1992), Alice Manfred holds her niece Dorcas's hand and watches the march commemorating the Black victims of the riots in East St. Louis, Illinois, from 1-3 July 1917: "Alice thought the lowdown music (and in Illinois it was worse than here) had something to do with the silent Black women and men marching down Fifth Avenue to advertise their anger over two hundred dead in East St. Louis, two of whom were her sister and brother-in-iaw, killed in the riots." This Silent Parade of eight to fifteen thousand people, organized by the Harlem chapter of the NAACP, took place in New York City on 28 July 1917. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 3 July 2022)

Saturday, July 02, 2022

Philosophy in the pub

Since I caught up with The History of Philosophy without Any Gaps podcast and can only listen to one episode a week, I've started listening to another philosophy podcast, Philosophy Bites. My favorite moment so far came in a 2007 episode with Edward Craig on "What is Philosophy?" Asked whether two non-philosophers discussing philosophical issues in a pub are doing the same thing as Craig and his fellow professional philosophers, he said that they are, but then made the following comment: "Should the guy in the Dog and Duck say something that's really sharp and original, it's likely to pass in the Dog and Duck for just something else he's said." (Andrew Shields, #111words, 2 July 2022)

Friday, July 01, 2022

Casa, cosa, caso – and coso, the Spanish word for thingamajig or whatshisname

Two words I learned right when I started with Spanish were casa (house) and cosa (thing). Later, I learned caso (case or fact). Sometimes, when they come up in my vocabulary exercises, I mix them up and think cosa for caso, say. Just now, caso came up, so I ran through all three to make sure I was keeping them straight. And then I wondered whether coso is a word in Spanish, so I looked it up on – and I burst out laughing, because the first translation for coso is thingamajig, doohickey, and whatshisname (as well as arena or bullring, and main street). That's a very useful word to know! (Andrew Shields, #111words, 1 July 2022)