The National Anthem

  1. Who’s on First? Last week it was fractions, and I spent some time trying to explain how “equivalent” differs in meaning from “equal.” We used currencies and first names as examples. Then we got into national anthems. I’ll spare you the transcript, but there were several iterations of: Mr. Sipe: Yes, but what’s […]

Oh Quelle Sensation

  One of the problems with my French is that I cannot for the life of me keep straight plafond and plancher. Since one means floor and the other ceiling, this can introduce startled disbelief to otherwise mundane exchanges. Le Lionel Richie de la conversation, c’est moi! Speaking of which – and no disrespect to […]

Time Crunch

  The madly complicated modern world was something I took little interest in. – Bob Dylan, Chronicles   Believe me, Bob, when my check for SEK 8,000,000 arrives, I’m out of here too. Now then. For me, the defining problem of the modern world – apart from Doom – is this: you sit down to […]

The Unforgettable Fire

  Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.   The above quote is probably a metaphor or something, which should have occurred to me before I started lighting matches in the classroom. I had, you see, intended to vividly demonstrate that “igneous” is related to the word “ignite.” […]

Real Estate

  Johnny Marr’s displeasure with a certain philosophical declaration* got me thinking about another one you hear a lot these days: “The reality is…” This makes me either want to ask which simulacrum of life I’ve hitherto inhabited, or gratefully embrace its utterer for having dispensed the red pill. Mostly, alas, I find it creeping […]

Macabre Revisited

A colleague whom I like and otherwise respect recently told me she’d attended a concert by [surpassingly detestable band*]. I declared this band “macabre.” Puzzled, she asked if I meant “maudlin.” Nope. I meant “macabre” as said by Anthony Blanche. That’s the epithet he uses to damn, and it indisputably deserves broader currency. If you don’t know who […]