Racial injustice

2012/12/10 at 10:27

This story reminds me of an experience that I had many years ago that made a deep impression on me. In 1989, I think it was, while I was in grad school, I taught German at Southwestern University for a semester while the German professor there was on sabbatical. On my first drive through Georgetown, I got a speeding ticket in a school zone. For the record, I had slowed for the school zone but sped back up when I thought I was through it. I wasn’t paying close enough attention–I was still in the school zone.

Being an idealistic young man, I decided to appear in court to plead that it was my first drive through town, etc. So, I showed up to my court date, wearing a shirt and tie, or course. When I got there, the court room was packed with probably over a hundred people. Like the Episcopal priest who recounted the story I linked to above, I was surprised at the racial diversity in the room.

The judge went down hist list of accused, reading the charge and asking the person whether they would plead guilty, innocent or no contest. As he read one Hispanic man’s name, a woman stood, explained that the man doesn’t speak English and that she was his sister. The judge asked her if she could translate for him. She agreed.

The judge read the charge (public intoxication, if I recall correctly). When the judge asked how the man would plead, my Spanish was good enough to understand that the sister only translated guilty or not guilty but not no contest. Either the sister didn’t understand what it meant or how to translate it, or both. The man pleaded guilty.

It struck me that the court receptionist was bilingual but nobody in the court itself was. Justice was not served that day due to a language barrier and the court’s lack of preparedness for it.

The love of a dog

2012/12/04 at 09:49

Profound thoughts:

It was my birthday yesterday, and I had to lay down Mister President, my dog of ten years, to rest forever.

. . .

Mister President came to me at the height of my selfishness, during a time of my life when, fundamentally, I was interested only in myself, despite all the relationships I’d had up until that point. And when he came to me, he taught me how to care for someone else, to devote myself to someone else, to really love someone else — unreservedly and unconditionally .

. . .

In this way, he saved me. Without him, I don’t know if I would have been ready to fall in love with Laura when I met her, and more importantly, I don’t know if I would have known how to sustain that love. And without Mister President, I don’t know if I would have been equipped to care for and truly love our wonderful daughter.

In and of themselves, those are two enormous gifts that he gave me. This is what dogs do, I guess. You think you’re doing all the giving. But they give you more than you know in return.

‘Welcome to Our Frigging Home’ Cross Stitch Design

2012/12/04 at 08:33

I just completed this for some friends who are about to move into a new house:

'Welcome to our frigging home' cross stitch

On Death

2012/12/04 at 08:31

We have dealt with the deaths of several people close to us in the last few years. This comment on MetaFilter really speaks to me:

 This is what helplessness feels like. Nobody is good at watching someone they love pass away. In the face of fear and sadness and anger and denial, when your brain is spending most of its processing power yelling and then crying and then yelling again “No! Noooooo! No!” for days or weeks on end, you don’t always do the best things. You don’t do the things you’d imagined you would do. You don’t do the things you will wish you had done, when you spend the ensuing years reliving those final hours with your mom or your dad or your spouse. You feel like a drowning person, flailing about for something to hold onto, but there’s nothing to hold. You try all the coping methods that have worked in the past: tell a funny joke, give them something to be proud of, distract yourself, even lie and say it’s all going to be ok, but it all seems crass, and none of it stops the dying.

But that’s ok. It’s horrible and terrifying and you do everything wrong, and still somehow there is beauty in your very failure. You are being forced to face up to something huge, and your inability to handle it is part of what makes you human, part of the price you pay for loving deeply. There is a profound honesty in this fumbling, an admission that the loss of this person is leaving you directionless.

A visit to Pfluger Park

2012/11/26 at 09:17

Last Friday, we took Katie’s niece and her family to Pfluger Park where her boys played in the creek and on the playground. Here’s my favorite photo (which I took while he was swinging!)

Scotty on the swings

Office Sweet Office

2012/11/12 at 15:33

I finished this cross stitch piece a couple of days ago. I stitched it on vinyl canvas and just mounted it to a piece of adhesive cardboard.

Office Sweet Office Cross Stitch Project

Some of my cross stitch designs

2012/11/08 at 12:54

In addition to needlepoint and bargello, I also do cross stitch–though, my cross stitch projects tend to be much less ambitious than my needlework designs.

Here are a few of the cross stitch projects that I’ve done over the years:

The dogs in this design come from Mary Norden’s Ethnic Needlepoint book:

Cross stitch

These elephants come from the same book:

Elephant cross stitch pattern

I did this for an online gift exchange:

Another cross-stitch project completed

Original needpoint designs

2012/11/05 at 08:39

In this post, I noted that most of my needlepoint and cross stitch designs are original. Here are some of my designs

Kilim-inspired pillow

You can download the pattern here.

Kilim pillow

Crosses design

Crosses pillow

Diamonds design

Every design that I’d done recently before this was all done on 45 and 90 degree angles, so I decided to try something different.

Diamonds pillow

Racism and the Obama presidency

2012/11/04 at 15:34

Ever since Barack Obama became president, I’ve pondered the role of racism in regard to his presidency. Now that we are in the final days before the 2012 election, I have finally come to a conclusion about the issue. Racism is alive and well in the US, but you cannot chalk up  the large number of people who hate Mr. Obama simply to racism. Instead, I have concluded that base-level racism just puts people at a different starting place. I look at it this way: a lot of people really hated Bill Clinton when he was president, but at the heart of the matter, he more or less was a good ol’ boy Southern white guy. Racism gives the same people a different starting place with regard to Obama. The hatred for Obama is fundamentally probably no worse than it was for Clinton, but the race issue puts these same people at a higher starting point, therefore the overall level of hatred is higher.

My dissertation

2012/11/02 at 14:43

In 1997, I completed my Ph.D. in German literature/cultural studies/translation studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Here are the abstract and table of contents of my dissertation:


The three dramas of nineteenth-century German playwright Georg Büchner represent an interesting case study of how literary reputations are made and how the value of literary texts is determined. This dissertation undertakes a detailed examination of the reception of Büchner’s dramas in Anglo-American culture from 1919, the year the first English-language translation of one of Büchner’s plays was published, through the 1960s, when Büchner had become an established part of the canon of world drama.

Employing a methodology based on the work of Hans Robert Jauß and Michel Foucault as well as several contemporary translation theorists, the goal of this dissertation is to investigate some of the factors that influenced the building of Büchner’s literary reputation in the United States and England. Based on the findings of this case study, it is also the goal of this dissertation to make a contribution to the on-going development of a non-normative, reception-oriented approach to translation studies.

The research of this dissertation is based primarily on the published English-language translations of the plays of Georg Büchner, the texts that were published with the translations, and the published reviews of the translations and performances of Büchner’s plays in the United States and England from the beginnings of the reception of Büchner’s works in England and the United States in the early twentieth century to the 1960s, when Büchner’s reputation had been well established in English-language culture.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Theoretical Groundwork

  • Translation Study as a Linguistic Study
  • Translation of “Sacred” or Canonical Texts
  • Translation as a Process
  • Translation as Rewriting
  • The Power of Reception: The Cultural Turn in Translation Theory
  • Translation and Horizons of Expectation: Histories of Reception
  • Translations as Cultural Manipulation: Rewritings as Regimes of Truth
  • From Theory to Practice: An Interim Conclusion

Chapter 2: German-language Büchners

  • Büchner’s Life
  • Early Failed Image: Büchner as Young German
  • The Socialists’ Büchner
  • Büchner for Social Democrats and Naturalists
  • Büchner’s Reception in Germany: The Twentieth Century
  • Conclusion

Chapter 3: Anglophone Büchners

  • Büchner in America: The Socialists
  • Büchner in the Early Twentieth-Century: The Great European
  • Büchner in America: The German-English Version
  • The Other English Büchner: Büchner after World War II
  • Büchner and the Canon of World Theater
  • Büchner and the 1960s
  • Büchner as an English Classic: Conclusion

Chapter 4: Büchner as Reception Case Study

Appendix A: English-language Translations of Georg Büchner’s Works through 1980

Appendix B: Performances of Büchner’s Works in Britain and the United States through 1980

Works Cited