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A Thanks to EuroTribbers

by gradinski chai Tue May 30th, 2006 at 04:34:27 AM EST

As some of you know, we had a group of students become part of the Eurotrib community over the past four months. Classmembers posted comments and diaries as part of a course entitled, "Politics and the Fifth Estate." Well, the class has finished, and I just wanted to thank the ET community members for making the students feel welcome and making the overall experience a success.


I would like to thank the site gnomes and Jerome for supporting our idea. I would particularly like to thank Agnes a Paris for an early diary on the Bulgarian banking system. Her attention to the issue really demonstrated to the class that EuroTrib was a live place where people shared information and ideas. It helped to show us all what a community does. Kudos to DoDo, Migeru, Izzy, Alex in Toulouse, the stormy present, kcurie, PeWi, dvx, Drew J Jones and everyone else who for their many comments and conversations.  

As I expected, you in the ET community were great. All of the responses were educational. Nearly all of the responses to the diaries and other posts were positive. All in all, I believe that the classmembers came away with a respect for this community and an appreciation of how average citizens can participate in political discussion.

I hope also that the students' dairies brought some news and views from some places in the seldom heard southeast corner of the continent...and one or two places from further away.

Several of the classmembers are now regular commentators and/or readers. A few others will return once their summer jobs (mostly in the US) finish. As for me, I'll work on the course over the next year and offer it again after a few alterations.

Once again...thanks.

Display:
I am happy to hear that this class project worked out well. I can only add, thank you for initiating it. To me your students were an enrichment of this site, I learned a lot from reading their diaries and comments. And I am looking forward to a repeat, if that is possible.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 04:55:15 AM EST
Yes, I agree with Fran! Thanks so much...to you and your students!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 05:13:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  • I hope the group sticks around and will see their participation to the site as something to do anyway, and not just a school assignment!

  • we need to find a way for you to keep on participating while your students are around! You haven't been around much in the past months and that was a pity!

  • it was a welcome diversification of point of views and topics, and I can only encourage more of the same.


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 05:02:18 AM EST
So thanks to you for starting this, and the vote of confidence in ET!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 05:02:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I hope there will be one or more post mortem diary(ies)about the lessons learnt from that experiment - by individual students, by the class - and by their professor!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 05:56:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I made a conscious decision not to post much during the semester.

As an educator, I think that one has to be seen by one's students as true to one's convictions and to be seen as involved in the world. Seeing that real people can be meaningfully involved in political discussions helps students better understand politics....politics is real people discussing real problems from really different perspectives. Politics is not just something for a few people called politicians to worry about. That's what was so great about this exercise, you all were teaching through your concern and comments.

However, it's not the educator's role to push a particular philosophical or political viewpoint on his/her students. My concern was that if I commented frequently on ET that some might feel under pressure to adopt positions that they, themselves, did not hold.

So now that things are over for the semester, I'll be around more frequently.

by gradinski chai on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 05:48:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I know, and I don't see a way around this particular problem, unless you start using another screen name.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 05:55:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can only say I wish professors teaching in other countries did the same. It lowered the average age of the regular users, and raised the representation of Bulgaria. We now know much more about BG than we do about Romania, for instance.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 05:07:46 AM EST
Unfortunately, there were no Romanians in the class this semester. We did get some diaries about Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Kazhakstan. This semester was a little experimental so a number of students didn't want to try it. I think that next time will be different.
by gradinski chai on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 05:52:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Did everyone at least lurk?

It would be interesting to know what proportion of the students progressed from lurking to commenting to writing diaries.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 07:43:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Everyone was required to post two diaries over the course of the semester...either on ET or on another political blog of their choice. I think that all but two of the 40 diaries were posted on ET.
by gradinski chai on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 11:17:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I, and I believe I am speaking on behalf of the whole class who took part in the experiment, would like to say a big THANK YOU, too.

First of all, thanks, gradinski chai, first for your brilliant screen name :-), then for organizing the course, and third, and most important thing, for linking us to ET. Of course we were all extremely curious to read your comments, but I understand your choice to abstain from active participation.

Secondly, I would like to say how grateful I am for all the support we got from the members of this community, and I will not mention names, because I am afraid I might miss somebody. Your feedback is always an asset. I feel so respected by everybody here.

Third, thanks also to my classmates, for they all added a lot of spice with their diaries and comments.

Always a a pleasure to be on the ET!

I can resist anything but temptation.- Oscar Wilde

by Little L (ljolito (at) gmail (dot) com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 06:56:28 AM EST
Please share that brilliance with us ;-9

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 12:11:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Chai is tea if I'm not mistaken, grad is fortress - so maybe a sort of tea sort or a herb cooked like tea named for, let's guess, courtyard?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 12:27:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bravo...very good DoDo.

"Gradinski chai" is the Bulgarian name for salvia (translates as "garden tea"). I grow it on my balcony (it's blooming right now with really lovely purplish blue flowers) and love to make tea out of it with lemon and honey. When I was choosing my moniker, I wanted a Bulgarian word that was fairly easy to pronounce in English...the idea just came.

by gradinski chai on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 12:43:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It has sort of a funky grannyish, rural, old-fashioned sound to it. It's a little funny in Bulgarian. Many people in the cities would say "salvia"...at least that's my take on it.
by gradinski chai on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 12:46:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
salvia

Had to look up that English (and Latin) word... funnily enough, the Hungarian word it consists of nothing but problematic vocals/letters for English-speakers:

zsálya

Two double letters, the first only pronounceable for French-speakers, the first vowel (written just as a) common in most Indo-European languages but lost from dominant dialects of English, the last a killer to all Indo-Europeans...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 01:13:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't salvia "sage" in English? As in parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 01:14:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is it?

I first looked up "salvia" in an English-Hungarian dictionary, with no hits. Then I tried an English dictionary, but that one didn't give synonyms (so I googled).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 01:19:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
D'oh.

Should have looked up yourdictionary.com.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 01:20:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you recommend a good online Hungarian-English dictionary?  Or do you think yourdictionary.com is as good as it gets?

Also, ok this is never going to get a response here, but just in case, I desperately need a good on-line Czech-English dictionary.  Anyone???
Barbara?


Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 02:10:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
slovnik.cz

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 02:11:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
oy...  Thanks, but I was trying to find a way around using that site, which doesn't recognize half of the words I plug into it.  Declension issues, probably....  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 02:23:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's what Barbara uses most of the time... I have no experience of it.

Do you type in all the diacritics?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 02:26:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, (I only know enough Czech to know that diacritics can = whole different letters of the alphabet.)  It may also be the specialized lingo in the books I come across...

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 02:34:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If slovnik cannot do cases it is pretty crappy for an online dictionary... unless it is geared to czech speakers who are assumed to know how to turn any word into nominative. But IMHO that qualifies it as crappy. It's like that once I was buying a pocket Spanish-Danish dictionary and I complained to the shopkeeper that none of the options had phonetic pronunciation keys for the words, and she looked at me as if I was from Mars. She must have though Danish pronunciation/spelling was obvious, when it's as bad as English or French.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 02:38:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank God Bulgarian has no diacritics. OK, I think it has one, but that hardly counts.

Thank God even more that Bulgarian has no declensions...a frickin' masa (table) is always a frickin' masa...and no frickin' declensions to worry about.

by gradinski chai on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 02:37:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A slavic language without declensions? You're kidding me! I must learn Bulgarian: the Royal Road into Slavistic ;-)

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 02:39:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As I understand, it's the only one without declensions. Otherwise, I could never have begun to try to learn it. There are declensions in pronouns (as in English) but that's it. I barely survived a year of Latin due to declensions....well...not only...the verbs were fricked up also. :)
by gradinski chai on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 02:44:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok, do verbs have aspect, and is aspect generally expressed by an affix (prefix/infix/suffix) or by a completely different stem word? Do verb conjugations have grammatical gender?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 02:53:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ooohhh...now we're really testing my grammatical knowledge. Yes, verbs do have aspect (for the English speakers who might be reading this aspect is almost impossible to understand...I think of it as the difference between a simple and progressive tense...i.e. speak vs. speaking...it's really more complicated than that, but it works out well enough.) Bulgarian uses a change in the word form for some verb forms (kazvam = saying; kazha = say (meaning one time)). But there are also prefixes that can completely change the meaning of verbs. I have not mastered them. I just talk and pronounce like a child and many people find it cute.
by gradinski chai on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 03:01:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
for the English speakers who might be reading this aspect is almost impossible to understand

All my Russian teachers said that unlike case declensions, aspect just doesn't compute for those who didn't grow up with it.  On the other hand if you did, it seems automatic - I'd been speaking Polish my entire life and only realized that aspect existed when I started learning Russian, and my only problem then was when the same damn form was perfect in Polish and imperfect in Russian, and with the subtle differences in how they are used, particularly with motion verbs - never got that straight in Russian.  Case does make sense and is just a question of memorization of the forms and which prefix takes what.

German is interesting since it doesn't have aspect but the prefix thing works similarly. To make life more fun subordinate clauses split the prefix from the verb and place it at the end of the sentence. When I was learning German there was a joke with the verb 'bringen' (to bring) and 'umbringen' (to kill) with a long drawn out sentence about a guy bringing or killing someone and you don't know which until you hit the end of the sentence and the 'um' is either there or it isn't.

by MarekNYC on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 03:17:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
btw, articles (the, a) are to Slavs, what aspect is to non-slavs. I know plenty of people who have been living in an English or French speaking country for most of their lives, speak fluent English or French, and still can't get them straight.
by MarekNYC on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 03:44:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think that aspect is so hard a concept, the problem is that the teaching of grammar leaves a lot to be desired.

Aspect simply encapsulates the notion of whether the action expressed by the verb is about to start, starting, in progress, about to end, ending, or ended. All languages have set ways to modify verbs in these ways. It's just that some languages do this within the verb system (morphologically) and others do this with sentence construction (syntactically) or by the use of adverbs.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 31st, 2006 at 07:34:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's cheating!  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 02:52:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Euclid said there is no royal road to Geometry, but Slavic languages seem to be easier than math ;-)

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 02:54:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Easier?  I think they both require an insane amount of mental contortionism and a clear penchant for masochism.  Hmm...  given the disproportionate number of Russian mathematicians, I'm wondering if there is not a connection...

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 03:04:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One diacritic, no declensions (really?!). It's the renegade slavic language!  Daring to be pracical!  (Now, you just have to replace that impractical "ъ" with an "y", or just drop it alotgether, and you'll really have something to brag about.)  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 02:51:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's hardly ever used.

:)

by gradinski chai on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 03:11:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Plus, if you were to change it to "blgarski" you could get some heat for having too many awkward consonants in a row, another bad slavic habit... ;)

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 03:26:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you recommend a good online Hungarian-English dictionary?  Or do you think yourdictionary.com is as good as it gets?

I haven't even discovered that yourdictionary now can do Hungarian! I use the dictionary at SZTAKI (beware: sometimes bandwidth is low when you try to access Hungarian sites from across the pond). From a short look, it seems SZTAKI is superior by allowing partial matches.

But even that dictionary doesn't do inflections - Migeru claims that should be basic for a good dictionary, but there are a lot in this language...

...now I am leaving to watch the England-Hungary football friendly (on the 50th anniversary of a legendary 6:3 defeat of England in the Wembley) - I hear the organisers brought a singer for the national anthems, and he sings the Hungarian one in broken Hungarian!

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 03:12:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I haven't even discovered that yourdictionary now can do Hungarian!

Seems to be a brand-spanking new feature.  And Czech too!  Thanks for the link, though.  I will have to give it a test drive...

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 03:22:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On my one and only visit to Bulgaria, many years ago, I met an extremely charismatic Bulgarian man, with the looks and demeanour of the actor Ben Kingsley, who insisted over several hours that the herb sage was the answer to all mankind's problems.

He was planning a Sage Festival. I sampled some sage tea with him at a cafe (or tea house). Later that night I had an extremely virile experience with my girlfriend at the Havana Hotel where she was a Finnish tour guide. It could have been the sage tea, or then again not. Who knows.

For the Brits it means sage and onion stuffing. Perhaps that had something to do with it ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 03:32:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Looks like Sven's been posessed by the soul of Alex in Toulouse...

Fortunately, sage is also known for its ability to drive out evil spirits. :)
 

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 03:40:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
where is that boy anyway?

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 05:15:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From what I manage to decipher from his posts, Alex went for broke and decided to test all bars in Paris, ran out of bars before his money did, and then swooshed to England for a country with a greater pub density to make up for the time loss in travelling. He managed to get back to Toulouse, so he's saying, but I wouldn't be surprised if he wasn't sober enough yet and was just typing from a hostel in the jungles of Brasil run by a one-legged Buddhist monk with an appetite for chiwawas.
by Nomad on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 06:28:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No no, that was in bad taste....

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 06:51:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds like he's driving IN the evil spirits...

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 06:53:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How in god's name did I manage to let this comment get past me (only just noticed it)?? Then again our internet connection here in Antarctica is not very reliable.
by Alex in Toulouse on Mon Jun 5th, 2006 at 10:23:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I second Jérôme in the hope that we'll see other "lessons learned" diaries, and everyone else that this was a great idea to be repeated.

One small suggestion for next semester: when students are given the task to write their first (or  second or third) diary, the deadline should be varied among the students - when all diaries appear on the same afternoon, they eclipse each other not due to quality but readers' time constraints and chance.

Oh, and maybe this years' students' diaries shall be collected into a wiki page, and next year's students should browse through them (both to learn by peers' example and be aware of previous discussion on themes they may write about).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 07:39:07 AM EST
Yes, please stagger the diary deadlines.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 07:44:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I learned that lesson after the first diary deadline. Almost everyone (except for Little L) posted on the same day. For the second diary posting I did stagger the deadlines through the second half of the semester. It worked much better that way since their diaries were not competing with each other so much.
by gradinski chai on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 11:12:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...We probably learnt more with them that the things they ever learnt about us (well at least from me)...like teaching...

It is even hard to receive a thank you for that...

Just to say that I loved it.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 08:52:01 AM EST
What exactly do I say about teachers?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 08:56:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
um... yer sig, mig!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 12:37:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Doesn't seem to me as positive a message as kcurie makes it sound...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 12:38:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that's because you haven't remythologised your narrative...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 12:48:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
er...
yer
sig,
mig!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 12:45:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They say the best way to learn about something is to teach it. No allowance is made for the damage done to students.

Well actually it is not you.. I should say.. your caption....:)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 02:19:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I'm quoting myself...

Hopefully you're not saying that Gradinski Chai is damaging his students?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 02:20:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No.. we are the ones maybe harming the students :)...that was my snark humility point.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 03:50:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]

 Hey!  I dint harm no stoonts!

 Now, excuse me.  It's time again to go outside.

  ;^)

"In such an environment it is not surprising that the ills of technology should seem curable only through the application of more technology..." John W Aldridge

by proximity1 on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 03:58:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No students were harmed.

They were merely given the opportunity to interface with a dynamic, philosophically diverse, mathematically aware, Class IV Fitness Landscape giving a high valuation to free exchange of ideas within self-referential agental schemata inter ----

STOP HIM!!!     HE'S GOING CRITICAL....

(too late)


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 07:18:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow.  I didn't even realize this was going on, but thank you for the kudos, gradinski chai.  I'm glad everything worked out well.  Hopefully, as ET's relatively liberal (in the European sense) resident, I didn't leave any students suffering from high blood pressure.  ("If so, talk to your doctor about Plavix....")  Blogging continues to be a vehicle for great things.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 11:09:16 AM EST


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