CIVIL RESISTANCE


CIVIC EDUCATION   . . .

Where I go for AGGREGATED news on Cambodia, plus...   . . .           On Dec 26-29, 1979 [by now, Cambodia under one full year of Vietnamese occupation], the musician Paul McCartney and Kurt Waldheim, the Secre [ ... ]


CIVIC EDUCATION


Has Science Discovered God?     Click to watch this FASCINATING, MIND-BLOGGING video with breathtaking images and you learn science in the process!   Read transcript             God in the Cosmos
Veritas Forum at Yale University  [ ... ]



 

 

PUNCTUATION IS THE KEY TO DEVELOPMENT (sufficient use of punctuation, e.g. comma, automatically allows for liberal word spacing -- the principles at work are the same as those in more advanced languages, e.g. English, French)


In this article, the first paragraph has 2 sentences. Each sentence has ZERO punctuation (save Khmer full stop at end) and ZERO word spacing. The first sentence has 37 words.


The 2nd paragraph, almost as long as the first paragraph, is one long sentence of 3 lines, also with ZERO punctuation (save the Khmer full stop at end) and ZERO word spacing.


VOD, a well-respected local Cambodian media outlet, is not unlike other well-respected Cambodian media outlets, e.g. VOA, RFA. But a bit more notorious in its ABSOLUTE lack of use of word spacing and punctuation, save the full stop at the end of the sentence.


I've been punctuating a lot of Khmer writing -- 59 books and countless other shorter pieces -- over the years to allow me to have a sense of how it can be done.


We can start simply at first:


(1) USE COMMAS -- for those who know French or English, the principle is basically the same;


(2) use word spacing between SUBJECT phrase [space] VERB phrase [space] OBJECT phrase and in other cases, again, the principles used in English and French often work here as well.


Another example from Voice of America

 

 

 

 

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A study of 1,200 wealthy people found they all have one – free – pastime in common

 


 

The Guardian | 5 January 2016

[excerpts]


In his research, he noticed a pastime the rich have in common: They self-educate by reading.


"Walk into a wealthy person's home and one of the first things you'll see is an extensive library of books they've used to educate themselves...


Rich people would rather be educated than entertained.


Take Warren Buffett, for example, who estimates that 80% of his working day is dedicated to reading.


...they appreciate the power of learning long after college is over...


Read full article...

 

 

 

 

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All Stories Are the Same


From Avatar to The Wizard of Oz, Aristotle to Shakespeare, there’s one clear form that dramatic storytelling has followed since its inception.


The Atlantic | 1 January 2016

[excerpts]


But there are rules. As the creator of The West Wing and The Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin, puts it: “The real rules are the rules of drama, the rules that Aristotle talks about. The fake TV rules are the rules that dumb TV execs will tell you; ‘You can’t do this, you’ve got to do—you need three of these and five of those.’ Those things are silly.” Sorkin expresses what all great artists know—that they need to have an understanding of craft. Every form of artistic composition, like any language, has a grammar, and that grammar, that structure, is not just a construct—it’s the most beautiful and intricate expression of the workings of the human mind. ...


There’s no doubt that for many those rules help. Friedrich Engels put it pithily: “Freedom is the recognition of necessity.” A piano played without knowledge of time and key soon becomes wearisome to listen to; following the conventions of form didn’t inhibit Beethoven, Mozart, and Shostakovich. Even if you’re going to break rules (and why shouldn’t you?) you have to have a solid grounding in them first. The modernist pioneers—Abstract Impressionists, Cubists, Surrealists, and Futurists—all were masters of figurative painting before they shattered the form. They had to know their restrictions before they could transcend them. ...


Storytelling is an indispensable human preoccupation, as important to us all—almost—as breathing. From the mythical campfire tale to its explosion in the post-television age, it dominates our lives. It behooves us then to try and understand it. Delacroix countered the fear of knowledge succinctly: “First learn to be a craftsman; it won’t keep you from being a genius.” In stories throughout the ages there is one motif that continually recurs—the journey into the woods to find the dark but life-giving secret within.


 

 

 

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The Christmas Revolution

 

International New York Times | 25 December 2015


BECAUSE the Christmas story has been told so often for so long, it’s easy even for Christians to forget how revolutionary Jesus’ birth was. The idea that God would become human and dwell among us, in circumstances both humble and humiliating, shattered previous assumptions. It was through this story of divine enfleshment that much of our humanistic tradition was born.


For most Christians, the incarnation — the belief that God, in the person of Jesus, walked in our midst — is history’s hinge point. The incarnation’s most common theological take-away relates to the doctrine of redemption: the belief that salvation is made possible by the sinless life and atoning death of Jesus. But there are other, less familiar aspects of Jesus’ earthly pilgrimage that are profoundly important.


One of them was rejecting the Platonic belief that the material world was evil. In Plato’s dualism, there was a dramatic disjuncture between ideal forms and actual bodies, between the physical and the spiritual worlds. According to Plato, what we perceive with our senses is illusory, a distorted shadow of reality. Hence philosophy’s most famous imagery — Plato’s shadow on the cave — where those in the cave mistook the shadows for real people and named them.


This Platonic view had considerable influence in the early church, but that influence faded because it was in tension with Christianity’s deepest teachings. In the Hebrew Bible, for example, God declares creation to be good — and Jesus, having entered the world, ratified that judgment. The incarnation attests to the existence of the physical, material world. Our life experiences are real, not shadows. The incarnation affirms the delight we take in earthly beauty and our obligation to care for God’s creation. This was a dramatic overturning of ancient thought.


The incarnation also reveals that the divine principle governing the universe is a radical commitment to the dignity and worth of every person, since we are created in the divine image.


But just as basic is the notion that we have value because God values us. Steve Hayner, a theologian who died earlier this year, illustrated this point to me when he observed that gold is valuable not because there is something about gold that is intrinsically of great worth but because someone values it. Similarly, human beings have worth because we are valued by God, who took on flesh, entered our world, and shared our experiences — love, joy, compassion and intimate friendships; anger, sorrow, suffering and tears. For Christians, God is not distant or detached; he is a God of wounds. All of this elevated the human experience and laid the groundwork for the ideas of individual dignity and inalienable rights.


In his book “A Brief History of Thought,” the secular humanist and French philosopher Luc Ferry writes that in contrast with the Greek understanding of humanity, Christianity was to introduce the notion that humanity was fundamentally identical, that men were equal in dignity — an unprecedented idea at the time, and one to which our world owes its entire democratic inheritance.”


Indeed, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (blessed are the poor in spirit and the pure in heart, the meek and the merciful), his touching of lepers, and his association with outcasts and sinners were fundamentally at odds with the way the Greek and Roman worlds viewed life, where social status was everything.


"Christianity placed charity at the center of its spiritual life as no pagan cult ever had,” according to the theologian David Bentley Hart, “and raised the care of widows, orphans, the sick, the imprisoned, and the poor to the level of the highest of religious obligations.” Christianity played a key role in ending slavery and segregation. Today Christians are taking the lead against human trafficking and on behalf of unborn life. They maintain countless hospitals, hospices and orphanages around the world.


We moderns assume that compassion for the poor and marginalized is natural and universal. But actually we think in this humanistic manner in large measure because of Christianity. What Christianity did, my friend the Rev. Karel Coppock once told me, is to transform our way of thinking about the poor and sick and create an entirely different cultural given.”


One other effect of the incarnation: It helps those of us of the Christian faith to avoid turning God into an abstract set of principles. Accounts of how Jesus interacted in this messy, complicated, broken world, through actions that stunned the people of his time, allow us to learn compassion in ways that being handed a moral rule book never could.


For one thing, rule books can’t shed tears or express love; human beings do. Seeing how Jesus dealt with the religious authorities of his day (often harshly) and the sinners and outcasts of his day (often tenderly and respectfully) adds texture and subtlety to human relationships that we could never gain otherwise.


Christians have often fallen short of what followers of Jesus are called to be. We have seen this in the Crusades, religious wars and bigotry; in opposition to science, in the way critical thought is discouraged and in harsh judgmentalism. To this day, many professing Christians embody the antithesis of grace.


We Christians would do well to remind ourselves of the true meaning of the incarnation. We are part of a great drama that God has chosen to be a participant in, not in the role of a conquering king but as a suffering servant, not with the intention to condemn the world but to redeem it. He saw the inestimable worth of human life, regardless of social status, wealth and worldly achievements, intelligence or national origin. So should we.


Peter Wehner, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, served in the last three Republican administrations and is a contributing opinion writer.

 



 

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Reading together


Plato's The Republic

 

 

 

 

 

 


Socrates: The tale is that he who has tasted the entrails of a single human victim minced up with the entrails of other victims is destined to become a wolf. Did you never hear it?


Oh, yes.


Socrates: And the protector of the people is like him; having a mob entirely at his disposal, he is not restrained from shedding the blood of kinsmen; by the favourite method of false accusation he brings them into court and murders them, making the life of man to disappear, and with unholy tongue and lips tasting the blood of his fellow citizens; some he kills and others he banishes, at the same time hinting at the abolition of debts and partition of lands: and after this, what will be his destiny? Must he not either perish at the hands of his enemies, or from being a man become a wolf–that is, a tyrant?

 

 

 

 

 

Reading together


Plato's REPUBLIC

 

 

Plato's most famous work and one of the most important books ever written on the subject of philosophy and political theory, "The Republic" is a fictional dialogue between Socrates and other various Athenians and foreigners which examines the meaning of justice.


Written in approximately 380 BC [+ 2015 = 2,395 years ago!], "The Republic" also discusses Plato's "Theory of Forms", the nature of the philosopher, the conflict between philosophy and poetry, and the immortality of the soul.


An essential read for any student of philosophy or political science, "The Republic" is a monumental work of antiquity, which forms the foundation for much of our modern policy.

 

- Amazon

 

 

Several reasons lead me now to share my thoughts on and recommendation for this classic The Republic by Plato.

 

First, at a recent regional conference, I met a very amiable high-ranking official who with contained enthusiasm showed me the stack of political science books in the English language he had purchased en route at the airport bookstore. "I always make a point of purchasing books related to politics whenever I travel." In his post, he travels often. [Read more...]

 

 

Another version


 

 

 

Book I

 

 

In The Republic, Plato, speaking through his teacher Socrates, sets out to answer two questions. What is justice? Why should we be just? Book I sets up these challenges. The interlocutors engage in a Socratic dialogue* similar to that found in Plato’s earlier works. While among a group of both friends and enemies, Socrates poses the question, “What is justice?” He proceeds to refute every suggestion offered, showing how each harbors hidden contradictions. Yet he offers no definition of his own, and the discussion ends in aporia—a deadlock, where no further progress is possible and the interlocutors feel less sure of their beliefs than they had at the start of the conversation. In Plato’s early dialogues, aporia usually spells the end. The Republic moves beyond this deadlock. Nine more books follow, and Socrates develops a rich and complex theory of justice.


- Sparknotes

 



 

The Socratic Method

 

 

 

 


If you could imagine any one obtaining this power of becoming invisible, and never doing any wrong or touching what was another’s, he would be thought by the lookers-on to be a most wretched idiot, although they would praise him to one another’s faces, and keep up appearances with one another from a fear that they too might suffer injustice. Enough of this.


Now, if we are to form a real judgment of the life of the just and unjust, we must isolate them; there is no other way; and how is the isolation to be effected? I answer: Let the unjust man be entirely unjust, and the just man entirely just...


They will tell you that the just man who is thought unjust will be scourged, racked, bound–will have his eyes burnt out; and, at last, after suffering every kind of evil, he will be impaled.

 

[See C.S. Lewis's Second Meaning regarding this particular last paragraph in his Reflections on the Psalms.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Cambodian Language in Crisis

 

 

This particular few paragraphs from The Atlantic article "The Decay of Twitter" resonated with me in light of my growing concern for the Khmer language. I find the distinctions between oral and literate societies helpful.

 

Cambodia continues to be largely a society of orality. How do we as a society transition from orality to literacy?

 

I believe passionately that the answer fundamentally, first and foremost, lies in punctuation and word spacing.

 

- Theary, 1 Dec. 2015

 

Discussions of Walter Ong always lead off with a litany of job titles. Ong was an English professor and a historian of religion at Saint Louis University. He served as president of the Modern Language Association for a year. He was Marshall McLuhan’s student. And from age 23 to his death in 2003 at 91, he was or was training to be a Jesuit priest.


Ong’s great scholarly focus was the transition of human society from orality to literacy: from sharing stories and ideas through spoken language alone, to sharing them through writing, text, and printed media. His work catalogued the many differences between these two cultures: that orality treats words as sound and action, only; that it emphasizes memory and redundancy; that it stays close to the “human lifeworld.” In literate cultures, on the other hand, words are something you look up; language can stray more abstractly from objects; and speech, freed from memorable epithets like “the wine-dark sea,” can become more analytic. (Am I painfully simplifying a great scholar’s work here? Of course.)


Ong advanced this analysis for modern times, as well. To describe oral communication that was filtered through high technologies like radio and TV—technologies that could not exist without literacy—he coined the term secondary orality. To Ong, secondary orality was one of the great media phenomena of the 20th century.


As the Internet took hold, secondary orality started to sound pretty inadequate. We don’t aurally orate to each other online, after all—we chat, we type, we text. One of the key attributes of orality is its instantaneousness: There’s no delay between utterances, as there would be in a conversation among letter writers or columnizing pundits. Yet online writing often assumes the same instantaneousness. As Ong put it in an interview late in life: Online, “textualized verbal exchange registers psychologically as having the temporal immediacy of oral exchange.” In other words, we process chatty words online (whether on Twitter or Slack or gchat) like we process someone saying them to us in front of us.


How do you describe this odd mix of registers: literate culture that has all the ephemerality of oral culture? During his life, Ong suggested a new term, secondary literacy. I’ve also seen it referred to as a hybrid literacy. Twitter is a archetypal example of this type. Though “conceived as a simulation of face-to-face communication,” writes one scholar, Twitter lets users read the same words at different times, which is a key aspect of literacy. Tweets are chatty, fusing word and action like orality; and also declarative, severable, preservable, and analyzable like literacy.





Punctuation is the KEY to development

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marks of Distinction

 

Wall Street Journal | 15 October 2015

 

Picture the scene: An Anglo-Saxon monk is hunched over his desk, copying a manuscript character by painstaking character. It’s a tedious, unrelenting task to decipher the unspaced, uncapitalized, underpunctuated text, made worse by the fact that the Latin before him is little better than an archaic, half-remembered second language. He mumbles aloud to extract the syllables and words, as readers have done for the past thousand years...


This is where the first section of “Making a Point,” David Crystal’s engaging history of punctuation, picks up, sprinting from eighth-century Britain to the modern world in less than 100 pages. There is more to the birth of punctuation, certainly, than monks and manuscripts—the Greeks had first marked pauses with tiny, inky dots more than a thousand years earlier—but Mr. Crystal treats his chosen period with enthusiasm and insight.


Read full review

 

 

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Making a Point:

The Pernickety Story

of English Punctuation review

– hissy fits about apostrophes

 

The Guardian | 17 September 2015

 

Making a Point is this prolific popular linguist’s entry into the same, or a similar, market. Truss’s book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves, was energised by her furious certainties about the incorrect use of all these little marks. Crystal’s is a soberer and, actually, more useful affair: he puts Truss’s apostrophe-rage in its sociolinguistic context, considers the evolution of modern usages, and gently encourages the reader to think in a nuanced way about how marks work rather than imagining that some Platonic style guide, if only it could be accessed, would sort all punctuation decisions into boxes marked “literate” and “illiterate”. (Or literate and illiterate, if you prefer.)


As Crystal writes, scribes started to punctuate in order to make manuscripts easier to read aloud: they were signalling pauses and intonational effects. Grammarians and, later, printers adopted the marks, and tried to systematise them, as aids to semantic understanding on the page. The marks continue to serve both purposes.

 

Read full review

 

 

 

 

 

Punctuation is the Key to Development

 

 

 

 

Commentary by Ms. Theary C. Seng, The Phnom Penh Post, 16 Aug. 2011

 

 

 

 

Commentary by Ms. Theary C. Seng, The Phnom Penh Post, 17 Aug. 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Theary's BLOG

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Now available online: The ASEAN Way: Part 1 The ASEAN Way: Part 4
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Pinyin; The New Yorker Comma Queen Series; You're already appropriating punctuation marks; now use them properly

Johnson: The story of pinyin   One country, two systems
The coexistence of pinyin and Chinese characters highlights the role of emotion in language decisions   The Economist | January 2017 [excerpts]   Pinyin has not, of course, replaced the  [ ... ]


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