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i have been teaching a course in English Literature. i decided to use Fielding’s Modern Glossary as a representative work of satire from that period. i’ve included the entire glossary below with a few notes.

Fielding: A Modern Glossary (1752)

ANGEL. The name of a woman, commonly of a very bad one.

AUTHOR. A laughing-stock. It means likewise a poor fellow, and in general an object of contempt.

BEAR. A country gentleman; or, indeed, any animal upon two legs that doth not make a handsome bow.

BEAUTY. The qualification with which women generally go into keeping.

BEAU. With the article A before it, means a great favourite of all women.

BRUTE. A word implying plain-dealing and sincerity, but more especially applied to a philosopher.

CAPTAIN/ COLONEL { Any stick of wood with a head to it, and a piece of black ribband upon that head.

CREATURE. A quality expression of low contempt, properly confined only to the mouths of ladies who are Right honourable.

CRITIC. Like Homo, a name common to all human race.

COXCOMB1. A word or reproach, and yet, at the same time, signifying all that is most commendable.

DAMNATION. A term appropriated to the theatre; though sometimes more largely applied to all works of invention.

DEATH. The final end of man; as well of the thinking part of the body, as of all the other parts.

DRESS. The principal accomplishment of men and women.

DULLNESS. A word applied by all writers to the wit and humour of others.

EATING. A science.

FINE. An adjective of a very peculiar kind, destroying, or, at least, lessening the force of the substantive to which it is joined: as fine gentlemen, fine lady, fine house, fine clothes, fine taste;–in all which Fine is to be understood in a sense somewhat synonymous with Useless.

FOOL. A complex idea, compounded of poverty, honesty, piety, and simplicity.

GALLANTRY. Fornication and adultery.

GREAT. Applied to a thing, signifies bigness; when to a man, often littleness, or meanness.

GOOD. A word of as many different senses as the Greed word EXw, or as the Latin Ago: for which reason it is but little used by the polite.

HAPPINESS. Grandeur.

HONOUR. Dueling.

HUMOUR. Scandalous lines, tumbling and dancing on the rope.

JUDGE/JUSTICE. } An old woman.

KNAVE2. The name of four cards in every pack.

KNOWLEDGE. In general, means knowledge of the town; as this is, indeed, the only kind of knowledge ever spoken of in the polite world.

LEARNING. Pedantry3.

LOVE. A word properly applied to our delight in particular kinds of food; sometimes metaphorically spoken of the favourite objects of all our appetites.

MARRIAGE. A kind of traffic carried on between the two sexes, in which both are constantly endeavouring to cheat each other, and both are commonly losers in the end.

MISCHIEF. Fun, sport, or pastime.

MODESTY. Awkwardness, rusticity.

NOBODY. All the people in Great Britian, except about 1200.

NONSENSE. Philosophy, especially the philosophical writings of the ancients, and more especially of Aristotle.

OPPORTUNITY. The season of cuckoldom4.

PATRIOT. A candidate for a place at court.

POLITICS. The art of getting such a place.

PROMISE. Nothing.

RELIGION. A word of no meaning; but which serves as a bugbear to frighten children with.

RICHES. The only thing upon earth that is really valuable, or desirable.

ROGUE/RASCAL. } A man of a different party from yourself.

SERMON. A sleeping dose.

SUNDAY. The best time for playing at cards.

SHOCKING. An epithet5 which fine ladies apply to almost everything. It is, indeed, an interjection (if I may so call it) of delicacy.

TEMPERANCE. Want of spirit.

TASTE. The present whim of the town, whatever it be.

TEASING. Advice; chiefly that of a husband.

VIRTUE/VICE } Subjects of discourse.

WIT. Prophaneness, indecency, immorality, scurrility, mimickry, buffoonery6. Abuse of all good men, and especially of the clergy.

WORTH. Power. Rank. Wealth.

WISDOM. The art of acquiring all three.

WORLD. Your own acquaintance.


        1coxcomb: a conceited, foolish dandy; pretentious fop.

        2Knave: an unprincipled, untrustworthy, or dishonest person.

        3 Pedantry: excessive concern with minor details and rules.

       4Cuckoldom: the state or quality of being a cuckold. (Cuckold: the husband of an adulteress.)

       5Epithet: a word, phrase, or expression used invectively as a term of abuse or contempt, to express hostility, etc.

       6Buffoonery: acting in a course, rough, or undignified joking manner.


A lot happened in 2011. People around the world were affected to a greater or lesser degree by what occurred. i was struck by an, at times, overwhelming sense that i could not do anything to affect change or to help those working for change either here in Sohar, Oman or in the streets of the cities and towns around the world where people are trying to make a difference. In the end, i decided i could, in my small way, bear witness to what was happening and work towards small positive changes that i think i can impact. i would ask that you consider joining me in my New Year’s resolution.

Every year, Jamie Mackinnon, a friend from my Cuso Nigeria days sends out a “Noel News” missive. This year he opined,

“Historical analysis seems to show that, over the millennia (beginning with the rise of the state) and more so in recent decades, violence has been declining globally, and the dignity of the human individual (as seen through the prism of human rights) has been increasing.”

As i read that i reflected on 2011 and what i had witnessed either in real life or through the words and pictures of friends, acquaintances and colleagues. i decided i had to beg to differ with Jamie. i feel that violence is increasing, partly because, at 7 billion and counting, there are more of us human beings around and partly because we are becoming inured to violence, both casual and causal. Violent action and rhetoric are, it seems to me, constantly being ratcheted up in attempts to hold off change and secure the status quo.

Here in Sohar we experienced the worst aspects of the Arab Spring when a citizen was shot and killed as he photographed the nascent movement for change. my workplace was closed for a week while our students demonstrated for change. 

In Cairo twitter friend Mona Eltahawy had her left arm and right hand broken by military security forces while they sexually assaulted her. Mona writes of her experience in detail here.

Also from Cairo came this graphic image of a woman being singled out for gross abuse by the military. She was in the streets demonstrating for an end to rule by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. If ever a picture told a thousand words this was that occasion. The full story behind the picture can be read here. What is not told is the story of the Coptic Christian who attempted to save this Muslim demonstrator from the beating she was getting. He ended up being shot in the knee for his efforts.

In North America the quotidian use of violence against peaceful, non-violent demonstrators is best summed up by this now infamous picture of one sworn to protect and serve disabusing all and sundry of his role in life. Violence has become banal and utilized indiscriminately by authorities around the world to either maintain their power or the status quo. TIME magazine’s Person Of The Year issue featured The Protester; very fitting but the cover story missed several important protest actions in the MENA region and elsewhere.

If one thing has become crystal clear it’s that money talks. The upcoming election in the USA is up for grabs to the highest bidder. Occupiers are slowly changing the focus away from the 1% who control the pocketbooks to the 99% who should be controlling the streets.

At this time and place in my life i’ve decided that i can best effect change by watching how i spend my money. Going out on the streets while i have four kids in school isn’t a good idea. i won’t be able to help them if i’m occupying the inside of a jail cell.

As my New Year’s resolution i’m revisiting and renewing several of my long-standing consumer boycotts:

Nestlé because they are still illegally promoting their infant formulas as better than mother’s milk. i’ve been boycotting Nestlé ever since i was working in Nigeria in the late ’70s and i heard of their deadly practice which actually leads to mothers in developing countries inadvertently killing their infants. Maggi is also a Nestlé subsidiary and should be avoided like the plague.

Union Carbide since 1985 because they still haven’t paid full reparations for the Bhopal disaster.

Shell Oil since 1988 when i first started buy petrol/gasoline for their ongoing lousy environmental record in the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria.

i’ve been boycotting Kraft the longest, since 1973, when i attended a Perth County Conspiracy concert. Band members railed against this food processing behemoth which consistently twists the arms of its supplier farmers in its pursuit of profit. There are better quality foods from a host of other more socially responsibly producers.

McDonalds ever since i worked there in 1974. They serve a product; they do not serve food. Nutritional value? Forget it.  Working there, behind the grill, was eye-opening and disgusting.

Just two days ago i decided to add Chik-fil-A when i discovered that they are promoting homophobia. Not that there is any chance of my ever darkening their doors as my wife Kim and i decided to become vegetarians over a year and a half ago. It was, plainly put, the right thing to do, for ourselves and the environment. Meat production utilizes far too much resources.

So while you may feel there is nothing you can do there is. Occupy your wallet, spend your money where it won’t hurt others. Support a political party or politician whose views you agree with. Late last year i finally became a registered member of a Canadian political party despite never being either able or allowed to engage in the Federal political process through the ballot box in my home and native land. i’m now a proud member of the Green Party of Canada and will do what i can, from a distance, to see that we gain more seats in Parliament.

Stephen Harpy, his policies and his politics are the greatest threat to the Canada that i knew and loved growing up in the ’50s and ’60s. So i’ll rage against him and his, in this blog, on twitter and on a ballot if i’m ever allowed to vote as a non-resident Canadian citizen.

No i’ve not changed my stance on controlled substances nor did i find myself afoul of the law here in Oman. i had a 2.3 cm long vesical calculus (stone) lodged in my bladder caused apparently by a slightly enlarged prostate. The stone was causing discomfort and haematuria (blood in urine).

So i spent five days in Sohar General Hospital recently. It was an adventure i would sooner have avoided but, apa boleh buat? (What to do?). Went in last Friday evening for pre-op observation and to ensure that i did not eat or drink anything in the half a day before the procedure.

Dr Joseph, a urologist, told me he would remove the stone and possibly remove my prostrate if need be, the decision for the latter would be taken “on the table”. Saturday morning i woke up to find breakfast waiting for me (the catering staff hadn’t been told i shouldn’t eat). i was a good lad and avoided eating.

i was wheeled into the OR at 11:25 and a spinal was administered. i noted three young trainee doctors there to observe the procedure, i figured why not? i train teachers so why not let student doctors observe me being worked on?

crushed bits of my bladder stone after removal

A green curtain was put up and Dr Joseph entered quietly and immediately got to work. He told me later that the stone was difficult to remove as it was large and the center was very hard.

While he was in there he decided to do an endoscopic resection of my prostate because he felt it was what had caused the stone in the first place. So i’ve kept most of my prostate which is good.

While resectioning my prostate the good Dr found many small stones which he also removed (the smaller bits in the above photo). Then came the insertion of the catheter. This was painless as i was still under the spinal despite already being able to move my feet at this point. The anesthesiologist had done a wonderful job of estimating how much to give me so i would feel what was going on.

After a very short while in the recovery room i was wheeled back to the male surgical ward where i spent the next few days hooked up to a drip into my bladder to help wash the wound. The removal of the catheter was a totally new experience that doesn’t bear repeating. i was rather amazed at how long it was… 30 cm of the 40.5 cm length had been inserted up my yazoo. When the nurse took it out he told me to take a deep breath, i ended up having to take two deep breaths. The coins are the same size as a quarter dollar.

So now i’m supposed to take it easy for the next several weeks, no straining, lifting or bonking allowed… apa boleh buat?

What did i learn? Well Pete Townsend’s “hope I die before I get old” dictum wears thin after fifty. i’m thinking i’m definitely no longer “young” so i guess i must be getting old or at least older. i’ve also learned that good medical care is priceless. The surgeries cost about OR630 (you do the exchange). Gary, my American colleague said it was a fraction of what it would cost back in the States. my employer provided healthcare should cover most or all of it. Alhumduillah!

i’ve also learned that there are stark differences between Omani culture and ours. Kim’s students couldn’t understand why she wasn’t at the hospital all the time this week; she told them she had to work. Omani families in their hordes descend upon the hospital when one of their members is ill, some even staying over night. Kim came once a day while i was recovering, during the posted visiting hours. It was more than enough.

When i was 13 (in 1968) i clearly recall a friend’s father getting angry at his son when the lad switched the needle on their portable, battery powered, record player from mono to stereo when he put a 45 rpm single on the platter. Dad knew that singles were only issued in mono and that to use the diamond stereo needle which was only for LPs (long play records) on a mono recording would needlessly wear out the more expensive stylus. my friend’s Dad blew his cool but then had to quickly climb down off his high horse when his son showed him that the recently released Beatles single had been released in stereo. (The picture shows the setting for an LP, flip the lever 180 degrees and you get the mono needle.)

i learned a lesson that day: never argue about technological change, especially with a teenager. Change happens so fast that it seems the older generation just can’t keep up.

Recently we moved house and attempted to connect our wireless base station to our iMac desktop and our two Macbook Pro laptops. Last year when i lived in Sohar alone, i connected my Macbook Pro directly to the Nawras modem connected to the microwave roof-mounted receiver. Two weeks ago when i was unpacking our iMac i tried to connect it directly to the internet in the same fashion, i was unable to. i then tried to connect the modem to our wireless base station. i found that my MacBook Pro could connect but that the iMac could not, would not and didn’t care. (it connected to the base station but couldn’t connect to the internet).

At this point i spent quality time on the phone with Nawras technicians at their call center located in either Muscat or New Delhi (you guess). These qualified personel were flummoxed by the Apple OS, they took notes and said they’d be back in touch. True to their word they did get back in touch with someone who supposedly could rectify the problem. He didn’t.

Yesterday afternoon my 14 year old son Rining was able to solve the problem. He managed to trouble-shoot something or other and within minutes of our coming home had us all on the internet via the base station. i bow to his fearless ability to solve a technical problem which had confounded paid professionals!

Luddites, you have nothing to fear with technological change. You only need worry about your inability to keep pace with it.

yesterday morning i started unpacking following my summer holiday in Canada and Malaysia. Kim got me a pair of Crocs which i had packed in a plastic bag. i took the bag out of the suitcase and put it on the floor.

This morning i took the pair of Crocs out of the bag and proceeded to put them on. First right then left, hey what’s that? There was something, felt like a bunched up plastic bag in the shoe. After two attempts i took off the Croc and shook out a still very much alive scorpion!

It’s life ended soon after that (i’m not a Buddhist).

the importance of orientation

i hadn’t seen a live scorpion since we’d lived in Temburong, Brunei 15 years ago and found them crawling about our house fairly frequently. i was reminded of my first CUSO orientation back in January 1979 when we were told it was a good idea to shake out shoes before putting them on as a regular practice. i also recalled when one of my teacher trainee students in Nigeria was stung by a scorpion while i was on duty; i had to take him to the hospital and he never stopped moaning and gnashing his teeth in utter pain and misery.

the importance of remembering what you learn at orientation

i knew that i was supposed to shake out my shoes but i didn’t, i was lucky this time. Next time? i’ll just have to remember to shake out my shoes.

Now i’m wondering if this scorpion came with me from Malaysia or if it was an Omani scorpion.  He didn’t have any travel documents so i guess i’ll never know.

Queen Elizabeth II rocks! On Thursday July 14, 2011 she met The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, during an audience at Buckingham Palace, London. She made her position on the current Malaysian political scene very plain, for all to see, by wearing bright yellow clothing during her audience with the Prime Minister.

Yellow is the colour of choice adopted by the popular anti-corruption Bersih (clean) campaign in Malaysia which last weekend attempted to hold a rally sanctioned by the Malaysian Agong (King). Queen Elizabeth is the head of The Commonwealth, of which Malaysia is a member. No doubt Najib will see the Queen’s sartorial shade selection as a slight and will seek to withdraw Malaysia from this august group of countries which help each other in times of need.

It is obvious that good Queen Bess is supporting her fellow royal the Malaysian King in his support of Bersih. After all royal families are becoming an endangered species.  It is also patently clear she is 100% behind the people of Malaysia and wanted to get into the P.M.’s face.

She made her point and made it loud and clear in canary yellow! As a citizen of another Commonwealth country i feel moved by QEII’s bold statement and will make sure i wear yellow when i visit my Malaysian family this summer. God save the Queen!

The new Make It Stop (September’s Children) video by Rise Against is a visual, visceral very vocal attack on bullying and homophobia. They may be from the Windy City but they sure aren’t blowhards. The lads have something to say and they say it poignantly and powerfully.

Excellent material that could easily be exploited by teachers concerned with bullying. The three sub-stories which make up the narrative of the video can easily be utilized as writing stimuli. This is perhaps the hardest hitting and socially/politically strong video since Linkin Park’s What I’ve Done was released in 2007. (btw if anyone is interested i’ve done an analysis of this video, edit by edit).

Stylistically the song continues a theme of asking rhetorical questions that has long stood the test of time (remember Black Eyed Peas Where Is The Love). This could be another avenue to look at when discussing the lyrics.

A while ago i posted a comment on the internet about Mark Boal’s recent Rolling Stone Kill Team article about a group of US troops in Afganistan who had started killing unarmed civilians for fun. i was appropriately appalled and expressed indignation in sufficient amounts to convey how i did not condone that type of killing.

However i really didn’t get it; i didn’t understand what made them do what they did. Recently i watch In the Valley of Elah. i was disturbed by the film and actually watched it twice over two days just to make sure i understood everything and the motivation of the soldier who killed his comrade in arms. Watching the movie and reflecting on it i was able to draw a link between the inhuman actions it portrayed and those discussed in the Rolling Stone article.  i was able to figure out how adults can be transformed into inhumane killing creatures. Their training has changed a lot over the years as Gwynne Dyer mentions in a recent comment piece in the Winnipeg Free Press. Soldiers are not trained to think, they are trained to kill, and to follow orders; without question.

The recent execution of Osama bin Laden is a case in point. we now know he was unarmed, that he apparently did not surrender but made a threatening gesture: perhaps a raised middle finger… What ever it was the Navy Seal with his finger on the trigger perceived it as a threat and waxed Osama. End of story. The training took over.

Somewhere along the line we have managed to forget “Thou shalt not kill”.

The one thing i am glad about is that i’ve managed to convince my oldest son that he has other career options aside from joining the Canadian Armed Forces. The last thing i want happening is he becoming another statistic in Afganistan.

From May 16th to 20th several thousand people in Australia will be trying to see if they can get by on $2 a day. For students it shouldn’t be too difficult as we are often on the financial fringes of society.

Sign up with Live Below The Line! i’ll be signing up and following from a distance as a distance ed student. This should be interesting. You’ll have to forgo those ridiculously expensive cups of joe at “Fivebucks”.  Have fun.

Born This Way


This is the manifesto of Mother Monster:

On GOAT, a government owned territory in space, a birth of magnificent and magical proportions took place. But the birth was not finite, it was infinite. As the wombs numbered and the mitosis of the future began it was perceived that this infamous moment in life is not temporal, it is eternal. And thus began the beginning of the new race; a race within the race of humanity; a race which bears no prejudice, no judgment but boundless freedom. But on that same day as the eternal Mother hovered in the multiverse another, more terrifying, birth took place: the birth of evil.

And as she, herself, split into two, rotating in agony between two ultimate forces, the pendulum of choice began its dance. It seems easy, you imagine, to gravitate, instantly and unwaveringly, towards good but she wondered, “How can I protect something so perfect without evil?”

It doesn’t matter if you love him,
Or capital H-I-M (M, M, M, M)
Just put your paws up
’cause you were born this way, baby

[Verse 1]
My mama told me when I was young
We are all born superstars
She rolled my hair and put my lipstick on
In the glass of her boudoir
“there’s nothin wrong with lovin who you are”
She said, “’cause He made you perfect, babe”
“so hold your head up girl and you’ll go far,
Listen to me when I say”

I’m beautiful in my way
’cause god makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track baby
I was born this way

Don’t hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you’re set
I’m on the right track baby
I was born this way (born this way)

Ooo there ain’t no other way
Baby I was born this way
Baby I was born this way (born this way)
Ooo there ain’t no other way
Baby I was born-
I’m on the right track baby
I was born this way

Don’t be a drag – just be a queen
Don’t be a drag – just be a queen
Don’t be a drag – just be a queen
Don’t be! (Don’t be! Don’t be!)

[Verse 2]
Give yourself prudence
And love your friends
Subway kid, rejoice your truth
In the religion of the insecure
I must be myself, respect my youth

A different lover is not a sin
Believe capital h-i-m (hey, hey, hey)
I love my life I love this record and
Mi amore vole fe yah (my love wants faith)

[Repeat Chorus & Post Chorus]

Don’t be a drag, just be a queen
Whether you’re broke or evergreen
You’re black, white, beige, chola descent
You’re lebanese, you’re orient
Whether life’s disabilities
Left you outcast, bullied, or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
’cause baby you were born this way

No matter gay, straight, or bi,
Lesbian, transgendered life
I’m on the right track baby
I was born to survive
No matter black, white or beige
Chola or orient made
I’m on the right track baby
I was born to be brave

[Repeat Chorus]

I was born this way hey!
I was born this way hey!
I’m on the right track baby
I was born this way hey!

I was born this way hey!
I was born this way hey!
I’m on the right track baby
I was born this way hey!

Same DNA, I’m born this way. Same DNA, I’m born this way.

2011 Lady Gaga; Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta