The best book for learning Chinese

In my humble opinion, the most helpful book I have yet run across for learning Chinese is Chinese Demystified.  One of the biggest problems with Chinese is that it has a lot of characters that change in meaning and even in pronunciation depending upon how you use them in a sentence.  Of course, you can communicate OK in Chinese without using a lot of these characters.  But, you’re always going to sound like a stupid foreigner, or a 洋鬼子 (yangguizi – foreign devil).

When I started Particularly Good Chinese, it was with the idea in mind that I’d help people really master the little particles of speech that make all the difference in Chinese (and also, to some degree, with Japanese and Korean).  Chinese Demystified, in its 21 chapters, does a pretty good job of covering these essential and tricky characters.

If there is a down side to the book, it’s that the examples are few.  Also, it’s often assumed that you know the meanings to several characters that have not been previously introduced.  The upside is that all examples are given in simplified (简体jianti) and traditional (繁体 fanti) script.  This gives you the ability to compare the two and be somewhat ready for Taiwan, if your travels happen to take you there (or, like me, you love to watch Taiwanese TV shows).  However, the writing is mostly in the Beijing style, so you will still have some work to learn Taiwanese, which uses the same characters but has slightly different idioms.

Many Chinese courses try to teach you everything orally, not paying any attention to the characters, or, at best, using pinyin for pronunciation help.  While pinyin can be very helpful, certain sounds are not quite as they appear to the Westerner, especially an American.  We have all heard Chinese people struggle with L and R, for instance.  The sound for the pinyin R is quite different from almost any R we use.  To the uninitiated ear, it sounds more like an L or J.  It takes quite a bit of practice to distinguish the Chinese L from R, and also Zh from J and Q from CH.  And then there are the NG and N finals, or endings, which are often too subtle for western ears to tell the difference.

I like to learn how to read the Chinese characters (and Japanese for the same reason) because I am able to group words with similar sounds or meanings that are based on common 部首 (bushou), the little script parts that make up larger characters.  Often, knowing the bushou can help one guess at pronunciation or meaning of new words, which helps a lot with comprehension when reading new material.  While Chinese Demystified doesn’t spend any time teaching the bushou, at least it provides the script for all sentences.  It really does help one to begin to get a feel for the characters and a deeper understanding of very strange sounding foreign language.

I plan to start making more text and audio learning tools based around Chinese Demystified.  I also plan on concentrating more lessons on nailing the bushou.

As far as learning vocabulary, look for iPod, iPad and Android apps that work with vocabulary. Flashcard apps really help. My favorite one, before my iPod was stolen was Sticky Study.  It contained all the vocabularies of the HSK (Chinese Level Tests) and was very customizable.  Also, it made sure to target the characters you needed work on until you had them nailed.  .  For dictionary apps, I like Pleco.

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Change is Gonna Do Me Good

I’m announcing my plans to completely change my blog.   I’ve decided that I need to break out each of my categories into it’s own space.  So, Right Wing Nuts and Bolts will become just a spoke on the wheel.  And instead of just being a topical article here and there and some borrowed stories on this or that current even, it is going to take on a book form, with sections and chapters.  Then, relevant articles will all be found as links to the chapters.

All the other categories are going to be laid out the same way.  And, instead of just saying a few brief things about, for instance, health, and quoting this or that person about something, I’m going to write the definitive book on the subject.  Again, sections with chapters, and lots of links.  Except that, since this book will be an e-book, it will be a constant work in progress.  As new information become available, the book can adapt to incorporate it.

The reason I’m going to this new format is two-fold.  First, there is too much information, cross information and misinformation about almost everything.  And there is usually too much concentration on little parts of a subject that don’t take into consideration the greater whole.  This causes us to become skewed and short-sighted in our assessment of things.

Secondly, I believe that I will have to start charging money for entrance to the new sites.  Of course I won’t do this right away.  I want everyone to have the same access to the information that I have.  And I want everyone to understand just how valuable that information is.  LIfe-changing is the word.  But, most people believe that everything free is cheap and worthless.  Actually, the best things in life are free, yet we like to pay people to tell us what we are too lazy to discover for ourselves.

Here’s the thing.  I already know most of what is on all those “fantastic time-sensitive opportunity” financial and medical sites that you can now join for just a fraction of the $1000 or whatever that the information is worth.  And, believe me, the info IS worth that and more.  And even though I already know most of it, I’m still tempted to subscribe just to make sure I know and I’m not missing anything.  That is the draw.  And the draw only comes with advertising.  And advertising is expensive.  And I can only afford to advertise if I get a return on my investment.

But, as I begin to put the sites together, as I start filling in the chapters and headings, as I start to collect the links and make sure all the truly valuable and relevant ones are in place. I’m going to keep on blogging for all to see.  The more support I get, the faster I will get to where I want to go.

Maybe you don’t realize it, because I haven’t spent the time posting about every little wave of current events, but I am really an expert in a lot of fields.  I’ve dedicated my life to learning.  Not only have I become broadly read on history , geography, politics, religion, language arts, music, business and finance, but I also have learned how to learn.  That, combined with my years of teaching experience, puts me in the right place for disseminating a lot of truth.  It also gives me some unique abilities to wade through a lot of horse manure that floods into our daily lives and get right to the points that matter.

Dr. Ben Carson’s new book, which I read while I had an hour to kill today, has a very good point.  He said that, even though every kind of knowledge is at our fingertips on Google and other search engines, there is no substitute for having a broad base of knowledge.   When we meet people on the street, listen to politicians in speeches, watch the evening news, or pick up a book or magazine, we are inclined, even if quite cynical, to take people at face value.   Part of being well-read, or educated, if you will, is to have crossed enough paths with truth and lies and to have confidently shaped our values and beliefs enough to recognize immediately when the horse manure is starting to get deep.  Without this knowledge, and this ability to cut through rhetoric and see the underlying truths or the lack thereof, we become reactionary.  We do stupid things because we fail to know that they are stupid.  Dr. Carson uses the example of a young man who fancied himself  person with extraordinary athletic prowess.  To prove his point, he decided to swim out to a bridge pillar and back.  Unfortunately, he was ignorant of the strong undercurrents.  This ignorance cost him his life.  He knew he was strong enough to swim there and back.  It was what he DIDN’T know that killed him.

What we don’t know is killing us economically, morally, socially and physically.  I don’t plan to write the book on every truth and lie.  No one has enough book shelves for that.  Nor do I have the time.  I want to write the books that point to the right books that point to the other books.  I want to create the center for the vast web of knowledge that’s already out there.  I’d like it to be free for whoever wants it.  If I can, I will.  If not, at least it will be priced a lot less than the worthless college degrees that almost everyone struts about with and claims to know something.  Yes, some college graduates know a lot.  The rest know how to fill out forms real good.  (Lawyers not only know that, they also know how to speak legal.  They become very important when you need them.  Maybe we’d like a country where you didn’t.  But since that is a pipe dream, here is my first piece of really good advice–get a lawyer!)  But you, Mr. and Mrs. America, should know a lot more than that.  Because, every time you turn to an expert for help or advice, the majority of what you pay them is for is to possess the information that you should already know.  Not only that, but a lot of the information you are paying for will be the wrong information.  You will not only be worse off than before, but also poorer.  (An exception is the building trades, where most of the money you pay covers government pay-offs and insurance costs.  But it’s usually still better than trying it yourself and ending up dead or with a ruined property.)

Yup, I’m poor.  But that’s because I spent all of my time and money getting educated.  Sometimes I read a book.  Sometimes I learned the the old-fashioned, hard knocks expensive way.  You should learn from me and save yourself all the expense and heartache.  I believe that’s why God put me on this green earth.  I’m going to do my best to tell you what I know.  Whether you listen or not is entirely up to you.

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The Fairytale of the Victimhood

My car recently made a very interesting trip to south side Chicago.  I was not in it, because, as a man lacking the proper skin tones, that would have been a conduct regardless of life.  The driver this day was a man darker in skin tone, a man wanting to return to the neighborhood of his poor but happy childhood.  What that man discovered, however, was that any sense of civility that may have existed in this place when he was a boy is dead and gone and replace with a attitude that has no regard for anything.  The young people walk in the streets.  And that is not to escape the violence, that is to incite it.  To drive a car is to dare them to step in front of you and to dare you to hit them.  To hit them is to incite your own death knell.  For, although each is the epitome of selfishness in his own little world where he is king, and cares nothing for the next, all of them will jump at any opportunity to be “outraged” and find justification to be violent.

The local store clerk, now 70, relates the new realities of the hood.  Ironically, he must now work full time without help, because Obamacare has made it impossible for him to afford employees.  What little opportunities the young men of this area had are even less now because of the flood of regulations that prevent new enterprise–all in the lip service of helping the common laborer.

But the point here is not to labor the idea that young black men have few opportunities.  It is not to single them out at all in that regard.  It is, rather, to point out a new reality of perception, a perception that no longer stops with the boundaries of a specific neighborhood or skin tone.  For this man so eager to return to his roots was running from the new reality that was crushing him in his new home in white, middle-class Main street USA.  And what he has discovered is that there is no escape.

Pity the poor black man.  Yes, we are good at that.  But are we realizing that the poor white man is, proportionally in the same boat?  And are we realizing that the very problem is that all of them feel they deserve our pity?   And yet, there is a difference, still, yet, but one that is quickly going to disappear.  The difference is that fact that one group sees itself as victimized, while the other, equally victimized group, thinks it is guilty of the victimization.

So it is that “white” America, through self-flagellation, has struggled to bring itself down to the same poverty as its “black” victims.  But no amount of penitence is ever going to change the predicament.  And perpetuating the lie is never going to let the truth make anyone free.  The question is not whether the rich will continue to exercise advantages over the poor.  The question is whether certain groups will ever get over the idea that they are being singled out for destruction and thus will never get a fair shake.  The question is whether we, because of these blatant misconceptions, have a duty to look the other way when such misconceptions are the justification for acts of wonton violence and anti-social behavior.  The question is whether empowering anarchist criminals will result in a more stable society.

Cancer has one plan–spread.  The “you own me” mentality of the minorities has now spread to include an entire generation.  Children of all skin tones now walk the street and demand to be pampered, kowtowed to, given privilege, treated as special.  The segregation of skin color has become the new segregation of age and class.  Actually, this is not new.  It has been raging since the 60s.  But, now that the petulant children of the 60s drive the dialogue and the education system, they have succeeded in raising this new generation of sheeple that rally to the victim’s cry.   They have succeed in teaching a mind-numbed generation that they, the rude, undisciplined, inconsiderate perpetrators of chaos are somehow the innocent victims trying to hold the high ground.  Although it is clear to any rational individual that their entire house of cards is build upon lies, damn lies and statistics, any attempt to dismantle it is met with the most pungent vitriol and hatred, even to the point of physical violence.

One talks till one is blue in the face, but it doesn’t matter.  For this is the corporate world.  And the corporate world is run on advertising.  The corporate world is also now the political world.  Our great leaders are nothing more than corporate shills who must design the new corporate perception to foist upon the hypnotized and unsuspecting public.  And that is the greatest irony of all.  The corporation understands that the best way to keep power and reap profits–to victimize the people, in other words–is to convince the people that they are being victimized.  But, it must be done in such a way that segregates the people into groups and makes each group believe that it is another group’s fault and not their own.  In this way, the victim mentality grows until everyone is sure there is nothing to be done and nobody understands who the real oppressor is.  Then it is game over.

I really only intended a small intro to the following article by Angela Graham-West of the same title.  But it is hard not to digress.  Point is that this feeling of victimhood is not limited to a skin tone.  We all feel like victims in some ways, and we are all right in some ways.  The point is to recognize the truth about how we are vicimized and what to do about it and to distinguish this from the false perceptions and the destructive actions that follow from those false perceptions.

The Fairytale of the Victimhood

I recently read an article entitled “What Black Parents Tell Their Sons About the Police” and I began to ponder the downward spiral in race relations over the past five years. According to the author Jazmine Hughes:“Such ….

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Time waits for no man.

I was ruing the decision to wear my beach shorts as I contemplated just how much energy I didn’t have left and I calculated that I had about 21 miles to go.  It had been some four plus hours ago that I had started out.  My time wasn’t great, and my mood wasn’t that great either.  It was then that he whizzed by–the muscular young man on his racing machine.  Judging from the speed at which he was disappearing into the distance, I calculated his speed at 25 miles an hour, or about double mine at the moment.  I wondered if he were also going around the lake as I was, and calculated that, if so, he had probably left two hours after I did and would probably arrive an hour before me, given that I was pretty much blown up and would soon be turning back into the wind.

30 years ago, I was that young man on the racing machine.  In April of the Spring of 1984, I made my first ever trip around Lake Winnebago, some 73 miles.  The weather had been unusually warm that year, and, in fact, I chose a Saturday with record-breaking temps in the 90s.  The four and a half hour time was not bad, considering I stopped several times for liquids, drank over a gallon, and still lost ten pounds of water weight.  By the end of the summer I would be making my own 3 hour dashes around the lake.

But that was not today.  My forty pound modified mountain bike with the 65 PSI street tires is a long way from my old 23 pound racer with the 150 PSI tubular racing tires.  Of course, I hadn’t bothered to actually check the pressure, which turned out to be more like 35 PSI.  As 65 PSI is to racing wheels, so 35 PSI is to 65 PSI.  When one gets tired, it feels sort of life riding with the brakes on.  Another thing to rue on this day.  On the bright side, I got more exercise.

Today was also, ironically, the Race Around the Lake.  Somehow I passed no one.  Must have been that they started in the morning, a time I reserve for being in church.  In my day, a Sunday morning race was unheard of.  Now, they are quite common, as no one seems to think twice about snubbing God for worshiping ones own athletic prowess.  I keep planning to enter this race every year.   But, life always seems to get in the way.  My dream racer had to give way to unexpected bills.  You can’t race on the road with a mountain bike.  Oh well.

The morning dawns fresh and dreary today.  I’ll be gone in a few minutes to start my 15 hour work day.  My job revolves around things like school opening.  Of course, everyone waits till the last minute to call.  So, it’s going to be like April 15 must be for accountants.   No time for silly things like riding my bike.  Going to have to console myself with thoughts of the ultimate dream to bike across the Himalayas when I’m 55.   That’s next summer.  Just call be Don Quixote.

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Black People — Mules, Guinea Pigs and Scapegoats

The Problem of Slavery.  The Inferiority of the Black Brain.  Eugenics.  The Projects.  Civil Rights.   Black P.  The War on Drugs.  The War on Poverty.  Demographics.  Racism.   Culture.

Since the dawn of the United States of America, we have been forced to deal with the “problem” of black people.  Black people, by and large, did not come to this country as free people.  That was outside of the thinking of the founders on the ideals of equality and inalienable rights.  However, one must keep in mind that such ideals were reserved for the landed gentry.  To have land was to have these rights.  As there was little other industry outside of agrarian pursuits, it made sense to confer these rights upon the gentry.  In the background was the question of slavery, whether by indenture or purchase, but it presented but little consideration compared to the larger picture of holding the budding state together until she could get her feet and then deal with these other issues.  So the plan was made to ignore the issue of the rights of slaves and set a date, some twenty years in the future, for dealing with the question.  Kick the can down the road.

Slavery  became more of an issue as the northern states industrialized and the huddled masses now engaged in a different kind of servitude began to outflank the landed gentry and to cry for suffrage.  Now became more acute the inequity of men as property.  Now, also became more unnecessary the very idea of men as property, when immigration brought the influx of cheap labor.  Virtual slavery carried neither the human responsibility nor the moral stigma of outright ownership.  Consequently, by the time of the Civil War, only about one third of even the landed gentry in the slave states actually owned slaves.

Of course, that didn’t and doesn’t stop the story of the Civil War from being about ending slavery.  The black man became the great scapegoat to obscure the real reason behind the war–the greed of the new slave masters, the industrial giants in the northern states whose policies threatened to squeeze the landed gentry out of existence in order to replace them as the new American aristocracy.

From Abe Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation through the Civil Rights Era and right up to today, at issue was how to corral the black population in new ways designed to enslave their minds for the purposes of their new owners.  Black people are still a commodity, just no longer registered on bills of sale.

Richard Daley had many uses for the newly arriving black communities of the Great Migration.  He found a way, the Projects, to keep them and their violence contained in one area of Chicago while simultaneously using them as mules in the lucrative drug trade that he and his cronies controlled.  The great beauty of the system is that, while everyone is getting rich from skimming the profits, they have also managed to erect a lucrative prison industry that uses the same mules as captive employees. 

Thirdly, when the Projects accomplished the goal of creating blight, the federal government could be duped into funding the destruction of the blight and the creation of the new utopian neighborhoods, complete with their prestige and even greater tax base.  The slow migration of those who once filled the projects into other slowly aging neighborhoods creates the scenario to burn Rome one area at a time and rebuild with the dimes of the American tax payers.  This ploy has been so successful that other cities are copying the Daley blueprint, even encouraging the black communities to flock to their cities in an effort to speed the blight-demolish-rebuild utopian scheme.  With that also comes the massive increase of the corrections industries and the resultant growth of jobs and revenue.

Don’t get me wrong.  We Americans love the black people.  We all have something to gain from them.  Just as long as there is a black community, we will find a use for them.  Problem is, the people in the black communities are never going to get past being used.  Unless, of course, they decide to stop letting themselves be used.  Unless, of course, they start thinking of themselves simply as Americans and not black Americans or “African Americans”.  As long as black is anything other than a skin color, the nonsense, and the slavery, isn’t going to end.

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Are there 7000 left?

Reading an interesting book at the moment –
The Making of the American Conservative Mind — National Review And Its Times.  What has struck me at the moment is the discussion of Utopian-ism versus Pragmatism.  (Why one requires a hyphen and the other doesn’t is another story.)

I was trained to be a pastor.  As such, I was schooled in the very depths of my religion, the terminus of which is Utopia.  At the same time,  I was trained to understand that, while one should not compromise one’s beliefs in the mean time, one also shouldn’t be expecting to be liked or appreciated for being uncompromising.  We spoke at length of the church militant and the church triumphant.

As I have transitioned away from the sacred arena and into the political theater, and, at the same time, had to deal with the practical matters of putting bread on the table and keeping the fire going, I have found it quite difficult to find the pragmatism that the secular world requires.  I am not Jesus, after all.  I want to feed the 5000, but I can’t multiply loaves and fish.

Perhaps there is nothing more difficult than to have proverbially been to the transfiguration mount and then to have to plummet back to the gloom and grind that is daily life.  One day, you have a captive audience to hang on your words, follow your lead, supply you with daily bread (a nice salary, or at least one to live on and enough side benefits) and a sure purpose for getting up every morning.  The next day you find yourself just one of many voices, having no more or less authority than the next, and little to say to the world, much less any value given to it that you can eat with.

That was some 26 years ago for me.  Since then I have kicked around for a new career, eventually found one, threw caution to the winds in an attempt to grab the brass ring (became materialist), and discovered too late that sure things only are sure if the timing is right and your chosen investment area doesn’t have a complete meltdown.

Some time ago, I started working with ex-cons.  I have discovered that ex-cons and ex-pastors have a lot in common.  You never get over the stigma of what you once were.  Once a criminal, always a criminal.  After all, only some people make mistakes bad enough to land them in prison, so they must be less trustworthy, more hotheaded, or something than those who didn’t land there.  In the same way, an ex-pastor has to have something wrong with him to be an ex-pastor.  After all, that’s what he trained for all those years.  If he couldn’t cut it in his field, he certainly can’t be trusted in a field for which he has no training.  Besides, he’s probably a little too honest for this sales job, or too high and mighty to be happy with this low level job, or too stupid for this technical career.

On the bright side, Jezebel has not threatened to kill me before the day is out.  My only threat is from financial swords.  I’m hemorrhaging badly.  So I find myself, on this day, wanting to run and hide, wanting to admit defeat, throw in the towel, wait for the world to finish crashing in and just get it over with already.

I feel like Elijah.  He ran far away from Jezebel and hid in a cave.  I am running and hiding in plain sight, but I am still hiding.   God gave Elijah a few days to pout and consider his terrible lot and what a failure he was.  Then he told him to prepare for his coming.  First God sent winds and earthquakes and all kinds of apocalyptic signs.  But God didn’t come in those signs.  He came in a gentle whisper.  And he told Elijah, “Get back to Israel, because there are 7000 there who still believe in me and need a leader.”

I don’t know that God will ever call me again in the way he called Elijah.  I don’t know that I will ever find myself leading a congregation, expounding the truths of God from a pulpit.  By I do know that I am called to be a priest.  I have a purpose on this planet, even on the days when I seem like a total failure and have no idea what to do next.   And so I am listening for a gentle whisper.  That gentle whisper will come to me as I dig into the fifteen centuries of his revelation of himself and his plan as recorded in the Bible.  I will not wake up tomorrow with all the answers.  But I will wake up with the answers that matter–God still loves me, he still has a plan for me.  And even if he never makes it plain to me what my purpose is, I can believe that he will accomplish it.

I am a weak human being.  Each year that passes, I am a little weaker  It takes more effort to harness my energy to accomplish something.  At the same time, each year that passes, I am a little wiser.  It takes me less time to figure out that he is the power that makes my feeble efforts accomplish something.  This little blog is evidence of that.  Maybe it will never mean much to you, but it means something to me.  You see, any preacher worth his salt always preachers to himself first.

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VIDEO New World Disorder – MH17 Social Media ‘Evidence’ – ‘Evidence’ Against Russia Debunked – Air Traffic Control Censor

rightwingnutsandbolts:

My own sources in Russia confirm that ethnic cleansing of Russians is being carried out in eastern Ukraine, and that this is why the ethnic Russians in Ukraine are fighting–to defend themselves. As this blog pointed out, a fact so quickly forgotten by most, the present Ukrainian government is not the elected government, but brought to power by a coup which was orchestrated by an alliance of Muslim rebels and America Neocons. The stated intent was to lead Ukraine to sever ties with it’s friendly Russian neighbors in exchange for closer ties with the European union. At issue, of course, is a lot of oil revenue. Oil that would have flowed from Russian will now have to be supplied by other means, which will benefit Iraq, Canada, and others players in the oil market.

Americans are quick to swallow whatever the media feeds them, especially when “bipartisan” task forces are involved. This is how we have found ourselves in one disastrous conflict after another beginning with Iraq, to the tune of at least three trillion dollars in added deficits and the resulting dollar devaluation and domestic economic depression. But someone gets rich off that money. No wonder mercenaries of both parties are so quick to jump on the anti-Russian bandwagon.

Originally posted on Reclaim Our Republic:

one-crisis
-New World Disorder: Emerging Division Between East And West Threatens To Plunge The Globe Into Chaos
-U.S. Admits Its MH17 ‘Evidence’ is Based on YouTube Clips & Social Media Posts
-Key Piece of Video “Evidence” for Russian Responsibility for Malaysian Plane Shootdown Debunked
-Kiev Censors MH17 Air Traffic Control Recordings
-Establishment media criticizes Ron Paul for failing to attack Russia

In general, over the last several decades the world has experienced an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity
New World Disorder: Emerging Division Between East And West Threatens To Plunge The Globe Into Chaos
July 22, 2014 by Michael Snyder | Economic Collapse |

In general, over the last several decades the world has experienced an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity. The opening up of relations with China and the “end of the Cold War” resulted in an extended period of cooperation between east and west that was truly…

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