General Ignorance

Taken from The Book of General Ignorance by John Lloyd & John Mitchinson

Q: What is the tallest mountain in the world?

A: Mauna Kea, the highest point on the island of Hawaii. This mountain 13,799 feet above sea level but when measured from the seabed to its summit, it is 33,465 feet high, about three quarters of a mile taller than Mount Everest. Mt Everest is at 29,029 feet is the highest mountain, not the tallest.ii

Q: Where is the driest place on earth?

A: Antarctica. Parts of the continent have seen no rain for two million years.

Q: What is the largest living thing?

A: It’s a mushroom ( Armillaria ostoyae). In Malheur National forest in Oregon it covers 2,200 acres (80,9031km^2)

Q:How long can a chicken live without its head?

A: About two years

Q: Who invented the telephone?

A: Antonio Meucci

Q: How many senses does a human being have?

A: At least nine; sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch, thermoception (sense of heat), equilibrioception (sense of balance), nociception (perception of pain from the skin), proprioception (body awareness).

Q:How do the Cherokee pronounce “Cherokee?”

A: They don’t. The correct spelling (and pronunciation) is Tsalagi. Cherokee is a Creek Indian word meaning ‘people with another language.” The preferred Cherokee word for themselves is Aniyounwiya, which means “the principal people.”

Q: Was Jesus born in a stable?

A: No. Not according to the New Testament. The idea that Jesus was born in a stable is an assumption made only because Saint Luke’s Gospel says he was “laid in a manger.”

Q: What is the most likely survivor of a nuclear war?

A: Cockroaches is the wrong answer. The king of radiation resistance is the bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans.

Mandatory Volunteering

by nide zimemo stannard

The volunteering system at my son’s school is mandatory. His class is a combination of  two grades. There are twelve students in the third grade, which my son is in, and exactly twelve students in the second grade and these two grades share one classroom. This Combined Grades strategy works because in the classroom there is always a teacher, a teacher’s aide and a parent, sometimes two parents, at all times. The stipulation is that we volunteer a minimum of forty hours throughout the school year. This is where my mandatory volunteering begins to be mandatory, or is it volunteering mandatory?

I am in the classroom, it’s 8:15 am, I lean slightly by a bookshelf at the very back of the classroom with the teacher’s aide as we chit-chat softly.  The teacher quizzes the kids with math questions timed at 3 minutes for second graders while the third graders get 2 minutes. As the kids bend over and start calculating their math questions there is a wonderful silence yet buzzing sound in the classroom. The teacher comes and joins us by the bookshelf. She starts sharing details about how her teenage daughter is now doing driving lessons and how her daughter is afraid of driving out of the mountain roads and getting on the freeway. This happens in the very same sequence every single Monday I am there. The teacher will then forget the timing watch until it starts beeping. This is the signal that the kids are done, pencils on the desk.

After a few minutes of kids shuffling around, they go to their respective group tables. The second graders are my favorite group (they come in a group of six). I start handing them their tablets to log in at their online math program called Aleks, this is where my mandatory helping comes in. I help them log in with their passwords, assist in navigating the program and help  solve their math questions. Some of these questions are not math related at times: “Mrs Stannard, which one of my five fingers am I not suppose to put up when the other four are bent down?” As stumped as I was by this second grader ‘s question, another one calmly responds “It’s the middle finger, the middle finger is a bad word” continues the other second grader who seems to be very knowledgeable of finger communication. These second graders are so soft spoken, calm and mostly polite. When I am done with the two groups of second graders I always feel like I have really made a difference in a child’s life and that is a good feeling. Enter third graders.

My heart starts pumping faster and beats a tad louder. My armpits start to sweat up a little bit. I’m not scared of them, I’m scared that my sudden tourettes syndrome may over come me and I might end up popping one of them in the mouth, then I imagine police will be summoned,then they will have to book me and give me a charge, I’ll claim 51/50, and probably won’t be released the same day  and I would hate to  miss my Modern Family episode tonight–whoosah!–

The first half of third graders is the one with my son in it. They are pretty independent in this group and know what they are doing. The problem with my son’s group is that they talk too much. They don’t know how to just sit for fifteen minutes and focus. The second graders have them beat on this is one. These third graders have identified their rights. You cannot deny them a bathroom break.  They incorporate every video game sound of shooting every time they tap their little fingers on a tablet screen. You tell them to stop humming and they continue with a new different sound. A few of the girls are  mini teacher-volunteer-wannabe’s  when another kid has their hand, sit down Reese Witherspoon, this is why I am here, I got this!. I offer them scrap paper to help them solve ‘extensive’ math questions, “No thanks, I can do it in my head” says one kid, “How about you take the scrap paper just in case you need it”, “No thank-you!” Saved by my son who has raised his hand up because I don’t understand how this student plans to solve long math equations without chicken scratches. Reese Witherspoon gets up from her chair to go help my son. “Please get back to your own seat and do your own work on your own tablet”, I say calmly and softly, she boldly responds,  “My teacher says…” “Sit down Reese, I’m the volunteer here to help answer question you are the student.” I go over to help my son out as I do with all the kids…who know how to put their hands up and wait for me as I finish up with another kid.

At the end of the last half of third graders I will normally ask my son, sometimes other kids, to help me place the tablets back on the teacher’s table. This time, one kid was having a hard time logging off. This is also time for recess so the rest of the other kids in the classroom are already running around the class and grabbing their snacks, the boys shooting imaginary guns at each other and the girls talking about Frozen. Still, throughout this commotion, this one kid was just not logging off from the tablet. He said he was having a hard time shutting it down. My son is forced to wait on this kid to log off before he can leave for recess. My son says: “You know, you don’t have to shut it down…” He hadn’t even finished his sentence when a group of third grader boys,in unison, screamed “YOU HAVE TO, IT HAS TO CHARGE!!!” I immediately felt like my son and I were under attack and i had to react quick. I flip my super hero mom cape. I have to defend my kid from these monster third graders. Now don’t get me wrong, these kids are one hundred percent correct about shutting down the computers at the end of the lesson so that they can be charged. “Hey! listen! there is a difference between logging of and shutting down. Log off, yes, big difference!!” Shit, I didn’t know what the hell I was saying but I had to say something to these ballsy kids, they can’t punk my son in front of me. They didn’t know what to say to me after that, they just dispersed, all the while glancing back at me.

Oh Nide you are too Americanized!

by Nide Z. Stannard

 Americanized definition:

In countries outside of the United States, americanization or americanisation is the influence the United States has on the culture of other countries, such as their popular culture, cuisine, technology, business practices, or political techniques. The term has been used since at least 1907. Within the United States, the term Americanization refers to the process of acculturation by immigrants or annexed populations to American customs and values.

Americanization has become more prevalent since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s and especially since the advent of widespread high speed Internet use starting in the mid-2000s.

There is a constant loyalty that is expected from me. Since the dawn of Facebook it has been amusing for me to see how appalled my South African black friends can be offended by my humanistic and secular point of views. Because I am a black woman, I am supposed to be pro EVERYTHING black South African. I have been labeled a ‘proud lesbian’ during a debate  where sexual orientation is not even the point at hand, as if I cannot make an educated opinion simply because of my preference of pussy over dick.  Oh the tragedy when I denounce religious dogma!

“…emotions can either enhance or hinder your ability to learn.” – Marc Brackett

To an extent and twisted way of thinking, I make an effort to put myself in others shoes. That has been a tiring practice, especially when cognitive dissonance plays a significant role  on the counterpart. Using ad homonyms is a staple nowadays to redirect crucial points. I am also guilty on that at times but I am definitely aware of it when I do it,  so I do try to curb it.

Being an ex pat in my experience is a persistent pull of being expected to please my South African friends by making agreeable comments, regardless if it’s an opinion that goes against my humanistic ways. Most of my fellow expatriates share similar sentiments. Once you emigrate from South Africa there is an immediate judgement that you are now ‘lessor’ of a South African. As laughable as that is, it is real.

What I find incredibly interesting is that the very same complaint by black South African ‘friends’ towards me [my Americanized self], is that they feel that South African Indians, Chinese South Africans, even Coloreds etc. are not doing enough to acculturate in South Africa or to be more specific, acculturate in ‘black South African’ culture. The way I see it, black South Africans expect other cultures to accommodate them, while they refuse to accommodate anything else that is not black South African culture. This twisted way of thinking is extremely asinine for the progression in South Africa, the so-called ‘Rainbow Nation’. There is nothing wrong in opening yourself up to experiencing different cultures, it is called ‘growth’.  When even the smallest attempt is made to learn and try to understand other cultures, it’s an actual win in  personal development, you get to look at the world through someones else eyes. Try it some time, it is very refreshing. Being able to be honest and see dangerous faults in your very own culture is pivotal to transforming your preconceived notions of others.

My loyalties in my lifetime do not only lie with South Africa, America, black women, lesbian women, or religious dogma. My loyalties are embedded in the love I have for human beings as a whole and how I can add a positive impact to change dangerous ways of thinking in order to make this planet less filled with idiots, so that my son does not suffer the same struggles of ignorance plagued by the previous and my current generation. I’m sorry you think I am Americanized, I’d rather be that than have a tribalistic mind in a progressive technological Age.

Save a life, know your racial slurs.

by Nide Zimemo Stannard

I hope that people will finally come to realize that there is only one ‘race’ – the human race – and that we are all members of it. – Margaret Atwood

Racial slurs are a  derogatory or disrespectful nickname for a racial group  used without restraint.

Why have I not done a Google search on racial slurs before? By a simple search and click here on the internet I came across an incredible list of racial slurs from around the world. A few hours later, my mouth still wide open, I was thoroughly informed on the history and the origination of racial slurs from different cultures globally. I learned about the atrocities and inhumane injustices endured by Aboriginal Australians, Pacific Islanders and other different cultures. If we were all proficient in our racial slurs, we would be less sensitive and hurt when someone hollers them at us. This post is by no means to encourage you to go around calling people by racial slurs, instead, it is to inspire you to learn the history of other cultures and the diverse ethnicities so that when someone thinks they can spoil your day by calling you a racial slur, you can instantly empower yourself by reaching down to your left back pocket and pulling out a magnificent racial slur rebuttal ‘OR’ use that opportune moment to educate that fool! At least you have a choice. Example:

In the early 2000’s I lived in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts USA. I worked at a near-by hospital that was perfectly positioned to face the water front. The distance from where I lived and where I worked was a half-mile walk and the route was breathtakingly picturesque. When I was not riding my bike to work, I would walk it. I loved inhaling the ocean air and sucking in the scenery with boats and yarts docked, lovers strolling hand-in-hand, and the clear summer skies. One afternoon, a car packed with a bunch of teenage white boys approached me as I was walking to work.The passenger riding shotgun unexpectedly stuck his head out the window of the moving vehicle and screamed loud at me “N I G G E R!” Of course this took me by surprise and I immediately got angry so I yelled right back “It’s K A F F I R!” Do you realize the frustration of a misplaced racial slur? I find it infuriating because 1) I am African, I am labeled and called a bunch of racial slurs in Africa already  and 2) This little fucker did not stick around to hear my impressive vocabulary on racial slurs. What that white boy screamed at me did not crush my sense at all, instead I wished I could find him and educate him on his obviously unaware pertinent racial history he too has inherited from another group,yes white-on-white hate exists too. We all have a history; Italians, Asians, Africans, Scottish, the whole lot of us.

Once you read about your own racial heritage, turn the page over and learn about another culture and what they have historically endured as a people. This will give you a clear perspective on how fucked each and every ‘race’ has been historically and how some still currently endure racial hate, racial unfairness and racial injustices. YOUR ‘racial’ injustices do not trump those of other races. Without comparing the crimes imposed on each culture, it is fair to say that YOU are not the only one that can go around calling people godawful names…so can I you asshole. Let’s stop being easily offended by racial slurs.If someone slaps you with a racial slur, punch them right back with a racial slur that pertains and is specific to them and then walk away, like a BOSS. See, no violence needed. Know your history and your view of people and their cultural struggles will change the way you see them…maybe, one thing for certain, learn all the racial slurs you can and pull them out to that idiot who tries to show off in public at your expense.

Here is a list of some racial slurs that I found on the internet and some from friends of mine who shared racial slurs that they had heard of. As I read the list, it is easily noticeable that racial slurs are  name calling. Some are a little silly and some are incredibly hateful:

niggers,boots,coons-BLACKS; beaner,wetbacks-MEXICANS; Wops-ITALIANS; cracker,honky-WHITES; spicks-PUERTO RICANS; kites-JEWS; kaffir-SOUTH AFRICAN BLACK; kreuts-GERMANS; red skins-AMERICAN INDIAN; chinks,chinaman-CHINESE; curry muncher-INDIANS from INDIA; kwere-kwere-NON-SOUTH AFRICAN AFRICAN; christ killer-JEWS; cholo/chola-MEXICANS; oreo cookie,darkie,tar baby, belly warmer-BLACKS; ching chong-CHINESE; hairyback-AFRIKANER; half breed-INDIAN mixed with WHITE; hillbilly-WHITES; jigaboo, jungle bunny-BLACKS; kimchi-KOREANS; klansman-WHITES; nigglet-BLACKS; miser-JEWS; ooga-booga-Aboriganese; paddy-IRISH; guinne-ITALIAN; mick-IRISH; hebre-JEWS; pickaninny-BLACKS; rednecks-WHITES; howlie-WHITES; chinky-eyed-CHINESE; yellow-ASIANS; zipperhead,charlie-VIETNAMESE; haji, sand nigger-ARABS; skinny-SOMALIANS(militia fighters); sooty, uncle tom-BLACKS; wigger,whitey-WHITES; Yid-WHITE JEWS

For an extended list, click on these: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ethnic_slurs_by_ethnicity AND http://www.rsdb.org/

You’re welcome.