The Great Language Barrier

The Great Language Barrier

Never forget to stay curious.
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Earlier this week, a friend of mine, Maria, raised her hand in class during our theater class. She often asks questions, being a very curious person, so I didn't think anything of it. Then she asked a question that has had me thinking for days:

What does "stamina" mean?

Maria's second language is English, so it totally makes sense how this is a weird concept to her. Someone else in class raised their hand in response, "think of it like a health bar in a video game; it is how much you have left to get what you want", Jake said. She said she understood and we moved on. Supposedly, according to her, there isn't really an equivalent in Spanish. That obviously means that there are words in Spanish that don't have an American translation.

For instance, "sobremesa" is the time after a meal has been finished, but everyone remains at the table to talk, or "Estrenar", when you wear something for the first time. Words that we don't think need to be words, but make perfect sense. So later, I told Maria that her question was endlessly fascinating to me, and I thought a lot about how differently we were raised and our cultures. Maria went on about "stamina".

She said that she thought that her stamina was love. It had never been used in that context before. That made absolutely no sense to me. I nodded my head, slightly confused. But why was she wrong? She wasn't. The amount of love she has for something determines how hard she will fight to get it.

As unintentionally poetic as she was, Maria got me thinking about what my stamina is. That's my biggest problem, I think. I don't really know what my stamina is. I know what I want to do, and I know that it makes me happy, so I do it. That's it. I have no idea why it makes me happy. Maybe there is some word in some other language that describes it, but all I know is the feeling. The English language lacks too much for me to adequately describe why I do what I do.

If I were to describe myself with the most precise words, I'd be a Luftmensch (Yiddish for "social misfit") with a bit of a Backpfeifengesicht (German for "punchable face"). But outside of the obvious, think about how many words are needed in the English language. The Inuit have a word, one of my favorite, that describes the moment when two people want something, but are both too afraid to go after it: Iktsuarpok.

A big problem of mine is that even though I don't know, I have become uncurious. Lots of people have, though. I spent a large portion of my life struggling with religion and purpose: "why do I do it?", "what is the purpose of life?", and much more existential mumbo-jumbo. But, for some reason, I stopped. I found out what made me happy, and I focused on it so much that I forgot to question these realities. Is it stupid to dwell on a question that cannot be answered? Sure. But that doesn't mean I should stop being curious.

I am very thankful for Maria not being from here, because it reminded me to stay curious. We should all stay curious. You can be too young to teach, but you can never be too old to learn.

Cover Image Credit: http://www.d.umn.edu/~jfitzake/Lectures/DMED/SpeechLanguage/Index.html

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I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.

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Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

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My AP Environmental Science Class' Cookie Mining Experiment Shows Why Capitalism Is Destroying The Planet

Who cares about the environment with profits this high?

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With the AP exams in May approaching quickly, my AP Environmental Science class has wasted no time in jumping right into labs. To demonstrate the damage to the environment done by strip mining, we were instructed to remove the chocolate chips from cookies.

The experiment in itself was rather simple. We profited from fully or partially extracted chips ($8 for a full piece and $4 for a partial) and lost from buying tools, using time and area and incurring fines.

This might seem simplistic, but it showcased the nature of disastrous fossil fuel companies.

We were fined a $1 per minute we spent mining. It cost $4 per tool we bought (either tweezers or paper clips) and 50 cents for every square centimeter of cookie we mined.

Despite the seemingly overbearing charges compared to the sole way to profit, it was actually really easy to profit.

If we found even a partial chocolate chip per minute, that's $3 profit or utilization elsewhere. Tools were an investment that could be made up each with a partial chip, and clearly we were able to find much, much more than just one partial chip per tool.

Perhaps the most disproportionally easiest thing to get around were the fines. We were liable to be fined for habitat destruction, dangerous mining conditions with faulty tools, clutter, mess and noise level. No one in the class got fined for noise level nor faulty tools, but we got hit with habitat destruction and clutter, both of which added up to a mere $6.

We managed to avoid higher fines by deceiving our teacher by pushing together the broken cookie landscapes and swiping away the majority of our mess before being examined for fining purposes. This was amidst all of our cookies being broken into at least three portions.

After finding many, many chips, despite the costs of mining, we profited over $100. We earned a Franklin for destroying our sugary environment.

We weren't even the worst group.

It was kind of funny the situations other groups simulated to their cookies. We were meant to represent strip mining, but one group decided to represent mountaintop removal. Mountaintop removal is where companies go to extract resources from the tops of mountains via explosions to literally blow the tops off. This group did this by literally pulverizing their cookies to bits and pieces with their fists.

They incurred the maximum fine of $45. They didn't profit $100, however.

They profited over $500 dollars.

In the context of our environmental science class, these situations were anywhere from funny to satisfying. In the context of the real world, however, the consequences are devastating our environment.

Without even mentioning the current trajectory we're on approaching a near irreversible global temperature increase even if we took drastic measures this moment, mining and fracking is literally destroying ecosystems.



We think of earthquakes as creating mass amounts of sudden movement and unholy deep trenches as they fracture our crust. With dangerous mining habits, we do this ourselves.

Bigger companies not even related to mining end up destroying the planet and even hundreds of thousands of lives. ExxonMobil, BP? Still thriving in business after serial oil spills over the course of their operation. Purdue Pharma, the company who has misled the medical community for decades about the effects of OxyContin and its potential for abuse, is still running and ruining multitudes more lives every single day.

Did these companies receive fines? Yes.

But their business model is too profitable to make the fines have just about any effect upon their operation.

In our cookie mining simulation, we found that completely obliterating the landscape was much more profitable than being careful and walking on eggshells around the laws. Large, too-big-to-fail companies have held the future of our planet in their greedy paws and have likewise pulverized our environment, soon enough to be unable to return from.

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