Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Friday, January 25, 2019

"Comprehensible Input" in Language Learning

An interview with Steven Krashen, about the importance of comprehensible input in language acquisition:

I'm learning Spanish, and I've gotten beyond the beginner's phase, and am in the intermediate level, which can be very hard. I'm finding the concept of working with "comprehensible input" to improve my language learning to be very helpful. It's backed by a lot of sound research, which continues to demonstrate it's effectiveness.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Who was Joachim Gottschalk?

He was a famous German actor in Nazi Germany, who died along with his family, when he refused to be separated from his Jewish wife and their son. Seventy seven years ago today. From Wikipedia:

Joachim Gottschalk
Joachim Gottschalk (10 April 1904 – 6 November 1941) was a German stage and film actor during the late 1930s, a romantic lead in the style of Leslie Howard.


Gottschalk, the son of a physician, was born in the small town of Calau, in the Prussian province of Brandenburg. He attended the Gymnasium high school in Cottbus and from 1924 worked for four years on seagoing vessels. He later began an theatrical education in Cottbus and Berlin. During an engagement in Stuttgart, he met with his later wife, the Jewish actress Meta Wolff (1902–1941). Both married on 3 May 1930 in Halberstadt, shortly before Hitler came to power. They had a son, Michael, who was born in February 1933.

After the Nazi Machtergreifung in 1933, Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels promoted the establishment of the Reichskulturkammer institution. Actors were required to apply for membership in the Theaterkammer on presentation of an "Aryan certificate" which meant a prohibition (Berufsverbot) to Gottschalk's wife. The couple managed to avoid the anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws and rising tide of anti-semitic violence in Nazi Germany. From 1934 Gottschalk performed at the Schauspielhaus Frankfurt and in 1938 joined the Volksbühne ensemble in Berlin. In the same year he began his film career starring in the romance You and I directed by Wolfgang Liebeneiner, side by side with the popular German actress Brigitte Horney.

While World War II began with the German Invasion of Poland in 1939, Gottschalk and Horney appeared as a "dream couple" in a string of successful movies. Gottschalk took his Jewish wife to a social function and introduced her to some of the prominent Nazis who were present. Although the Nazis were charmed, Goebbels (a virulent anti-Semite) learned about this incident, and decreed that Gottschalk would be required to separate from his Jewish wife. When Gottschalk refused, Goebbels ordered Gottschalk's wife and child transported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp[citation needed]. The minister's Special Representative Hans Hinkel insisted on the divorce and Gottschalk was threatened to play no further roles[citation needed]. Gottschalk insisted on accompanying Meta and Michael to Theresienstadt, but Goebbels ordered Gottschalk inducted into the German Army, the Wehrmacht[citation needed].


On 6 November 1941, minutes before the expected arrival of the Gestapo at their house in Berlin-Grunewald, Gottschalk and his wife committed suicide by gas poisoning after sedating their son, who died with them. They are buried at the Stahnsdorf South-Western Cemetery. Though warned by Minister Goebbels, Brigitte Horney and Wolfgang Liebeneiner, as well as other artists like Gustav Knuth, Hans Brausewetter, Werner Hinz, and Ruth Hellberg attended the funeral.

Goebbels ordered no further mentions of Gottschalk in the German newspapers, but word got out anyway and millions of German women mourned his death. Because of Nazi censorship, most of his devoted fans did not learn the awful circumstances of his death until after the war. In 1947 Kurt Maetzig directed the DEFA melodram Marriage in the Shadows after a novella by Hans Schweikart evoking the couple's fate. The 2002 drama Times Like These written by John O'Keefe is based on their individual tragedy. [...]

When I was in college, I did a term paper on the subject of Nazi Cinema. It dealt with the fate of people in the German film industry who refused to cooperate with the Nazis, and didn't leave Germany. Joachin's story was just one of many.


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Monday, December 18, 2017

Have you experianced the "Helper High"?

Apparently, we are hard-wired to experience it:

How to Be Happy Every Day: It Will Change the World | Jacqueline Way | TEDxStanleyPark
The World Happiness Report states “Over 1 billion adults suffer from anxiety and depression.” How do we get to happy? Jacqueline Way, Founder of shares a secret to happiness so simple a 3 – year old can do it. Jacqueline is a mother of three boys and social good activist dedicated to changing the world 1 give, 1 day at a time. You will learn through her powerful story how your body is hard-wired for giving. Researchers from all over the world have been studying the science and physiological of giving for decades. They’ve discovered giving makes you happy, makes you high, is our bodies natural “Fountain of Youth” and reduces stress. Her inspirational journey with her son and thousands of children will inspire you start a daily giving habit that will make you happy and change the world.

Jacqueline Way is the founder of a charitable organization dedicated to educating, empowering, and inspiring children to change the world "one give, one day at a time." You can reach Jacqueline at [...]

Around Christmas time, there is an emphasis on giving. But what if giving were to become an ingrained habit, a habit you practice 365 days a year? And what if doing so benefited you, made you feel better, physically, mentally and emotionally? That is what is interesting about her Ted Talk. Giving doesn't have to always be a major sacrifice either. You can give in small ways, every day. And if it becomes a habit, you reap multiple benefits. A Win/Win for everyone.

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

When death affirms life

We saw this movie recently:

The Fault in Our Stars
Two teenage cancer patients begin a life-affirming journey to visit a reclusive author in Amsterdam. [...]

You might think it sounds depressing. In some ways it is. But it also manages to be uplifting. People being forced to deal with reality the way it is, not the way they want it to be. And the Gems you can find hidden in that. And, how much the dying have to teach us how to live.

Wikipedia: The Fault in Our Stars (film)

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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Russia's Satan II Missile

This was just a blip in the news. Should we be paying more attention? I think so:

Russia unveils 'Satan 2' missile, could wipe out France or Texas, report says
[...] The missile will have a range exceeding 11,000 kilometers (6,835 miles), TASS said. The warhead will weigh 100 tons and is designed as a successor to the R-36M Voyevoda.

According to a statement posted on the maker's website, "the Sarmat is designed to provide strategic Russian forces with a guaranteed and effective fulfillment of nuclear deterrence tasks" and is being co-developed with the Russian military.

The Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau's website describes it as "one of largest research and design centers in Russia for the development of rocket and space technology."

NATO has been bolstering its defenses in countries along the Russian border amid growing concerns about Moscow's military direction. NATO defense ministers are currently meeting in Brussels to discuss the situation, as well as the fight against ISIS.

Earlier this month, Moscow announced that it was suspending an arms reduction agreement with the US in which both countries agreed to dispose of 34 tons of plutonium, enough for thousands of nuclear bombs, over what it called Washington's "unfriendly actions" toward Russia, TASS reported.

I had posted previously about why sanctions against Russia would be likely to fail. While we've been downsizing and underfunding our military, China and Russia have been spending billions expanding and updating theirs.

While the Democrats flog hysteria about Russia, in an attempt to smear and discredit Donald Trump and the Republican party, they seem oblivious to the real danger they are encouraging and facilitating.

Closing the two Russian compounds on American soil was an appropriate response to any meddling the Russians may have attempted. It was enough. But everything else goes too far, and isn't serving our national interest. It's serving Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, who can't face up to the fact that she was a poor candidate, who lost once to Barack Obama, which proved she could be beaten, and who couldn't even beat Donald Trump, with all his flaws.

As usual, she takes no responsibility and blames anyone and everyone else, when her will is thwarted. Hillary's sour grapes are NOT something worth escalating conflicts with Russia for.

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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Do you have "Real ID" for when you might actually need it?

When I got my new passport in 2016, I got a passport card too for an extra $30. It didn't seem necessary, but after reading this, I'm now glad I did:

Why You Want a Passport Card
Why You Want a Passport Card
My wife and I recently renewed our passports and we opted to get passport cards while we were at it. The Passport Card was originally intended as a convenient form of your passport to use when crossing land borders and ports-of-entry. But we don’t do that much. As in, pretty much never.

So why would we get a passport cards?

As identification for local flights
While a passport card can’t be used as identification for international flights, it can be used for local flights instead of your driver’s license. So why use the passport card instead of your drivers license?

First off, some state licenses are not Real ID compliant, but a passport card is. At some point the TSA will require Real ID compliant IDs. While most states will eventually comply, having a passport card removes any question concerning having a valid ID.

Secondly, when checking in at the airport you usually need to show an ID twice: first at the counter when you check your bags, then at security. That means two times digging into your wallet to get out your driver’s license. That means two opportunities to loose your license and two times you have to remember to put it back in your wallet. With a passport card you can leave it easily accessible in your carry-on (like you do with passports) and it can stay with your travel papers instead of your wallet.

Also, if you loose your license and want to rent a car — you’re pretty screwed. If you loose your passport card you’re just out $30. You still have your license for identification and driving.

To use for employment verification
A passport card is considered a “List A” document for I-9 employment verification just like a passport is. So you can leave your passport safe at home when doing employment verification.

To use as an international ID {...]

Read the whole thing, for embedded links, and several other useful purposes the Real ID compliant card can be useful for.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2017

"It’s always dangerous to poke an angry bear", or Why Russia Sanctions are not likely to work

This article doesn't have a date on it, I think it may have been written before the current sanctions by Congress, but the reasoning seems just a valid now:

Why Sanctions Against Russia Might Backfire
[...] Is the hope that his friends will threaten to boot him out of office if he doesn’t shape up? One analyst recently claimed that Putin could be ousted easily, arguing that his replacement might be someone like Kudrin. But this neglects an important element of what holds Putin’s networks together: the pact of KGB loyalty. Many of the targeted individuals have past employment in, or suspected connections with, the KGB or its follow-on organization, the FSB (Federal Security Service). Putin, a career KGB officer and former head of the FSB, has repeatedly shown he can use FSB methods and tradecraft to harass his opponents, for example by releasing compromising materials (kompromat) that lead to their prosecution and imprisonment. He would certainly use those skills and connections to punish anyone who defects from his own team. Since many of his associates are reputed billionaires, they can afford to lose quite a bit of money before taking the enormous personal risk of betraying Putin and his KGB friends.

And the sanctions seem almost designed to enrage Putin personally, since they hit his personal networks so closely. The hope can’t have been that this would put him in a compromising mood. Is it instead that they will provoke him toward more aggression, leading him to miscalculate and increase his ultimate losses? Russia has already backed off some of its Western food-import counter-sanctions, because Putin’s original policy underestimated Russian dependence on specialty items like lactose-free milk, seed stock and salmon produced in Europe.

But it’s always dangerous to poke an angry bear. In recent months Putin has begun to encourage a conspiracy-mongering form of anti-Western nationalism. It’s impossible to know whether he and his cronies actually believe this neo-Eurasianist ideology. But neo-Eurasian arguments fill state-sponsored Russian media, and variations of it are seeping into the writings of even mainstream diplomatic analysts in Moscow. The West is blamed for denigrating Russia throughout history as backwards and wrong-headed, denying Russia its rightful place simply because its culture is different from Europe’s. In the 1990s, the story goes, the West tried to transform Russia in its own image, denying Russia’s separate identity and stealing its resources. Neo-Eurasianism rejects Western values of democracy, liberal tolerance, and individual rights. It argues instead for the superiority of a uniquely Russian communal and statist culture.

Ukraine matters, from this point of view, because Kiev was the medieval birthplace of Russia’s unique civilization, and now Ukraine’s eastern regions form a cultural buffer against the encroaching and degenerate West. Of course the West wants to stop Putin—his actions are rolling back Western influence. The sanctions bolster Eurasianist claims that the West has always persecuted Russia. They can be portrayed as another feeble attempt to demonstrate Western superiority.

Rather than pushing Putin toward accommodation, his cronies might push him toward nationalist extremism, to ensure their own continuing relevance in this new environment that Putin himself unleashed. The tilt toward extremism is already underway. [...]
Read the whole thing, for links and more. Also, there is the energy angle:

How U.S. Sanctions Against Russia Could Backfire
[...] France and Germany—the de facto, if often irreconcilable, leaders of the European Union—illustrate how Russian energy can shape foreign policy. France may rely heavily on foreign energy, but most of its oil and natural gas comes from Algeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Libya—not Russia. France can therefore afford to be more aggressive and supportive of sanctions against Russia.

Not so with Germany, which receives 57 percent of its natural gas and 35 percent of its crude oil from Russia. Berlin must therefore tread lightly between its primary security benefactor, the U.S., and its primary source of energy, Russia.

This is one reason Germany has been such an outspoken critic of the recent U.S. sanctions, which penalize businesses in any country that collaborate or participate in joint ventures with Russian energy firms. Germany supports the construction of Nord Stream 2, a pipeline that would run through the Baltic Sea, circumventing Ukraine—the transit state through which Germany currently receives much of its energy imports. The pipeline would help to safeguard German energy procurement, since it would allow Russia to punish Ukraine by withholding shipments of natural gas without punishing countries such as Germany further downstream. [...]
The Russia hysteria has to stop. Time for the Dems to face facts about losing the election; they ran a weak candidate. It was hers to lose, and she lost it. Deal with it.

These new sanctions are being seen as the U.S. using the Russia excuse to snatch market share in European Oil and Gas markets. It's going too far, we should back off.


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