I finished Rosetta Stone Arabic. I didn’t speak Arabic when I started, and I don’t speak Arabic now.
Before you go “well, duh, no software program could –” let me interrupt you and say no, this is in fact the claim made by the company and by many, many reviewers. When you finish Rosetta Stone, you’re told, you’ll have – if not fluency – then at least two solid years of college-level foreign language learning under your belt. It’s not advertised as a _companion_ to a course or a book or an immersion language experience; it’s advertised as the new and best way to learn a foreign language, period. I didn’t go through it with that expectation, but I’m going to review it on those terms because that’s what people who pay for it think they’re getting.
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A while ago, On Point did an interview with Maya Frost, author of The New Global Student, a book advising teenagers to quit high school and go abroad, where they can pick up college credits, foreign languages, and global skills. I bought her book and had finished it by the time the program re-aired in the evening.
I followed a path similar to the one she recommends and I agree with most of what she says (although how she says it sometimes grates — more on that below). When I was fifteen I studied abroad in Germany, but not on any formal exchange program. Read on »
When I was in kindergarten, Mrs. Wilson taught us how to pass scissors.
Gripping them by the blades, rather than the handle, she passed them, safety-side-first, to her teacher’s aide, Mrs. Martin. Mrs. Martin then turned them around and passed them back. Then they showed us the “wrong” way to do it. Mrs. Wilson took them by the handle and thrust the blade at Mrs. Martin. We oohed and tsked judgmentally at this act of unprovoked aggression.
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photo courtesy of yasmine
When HijabMan posted his entry on the murder of Aasiya Hassan yesterday, “On Giving Men a Free Pass,” I was thankful. It was, I thought, another sign that the Muslim community is taking the issue of domestic violence seriously. In some cases the talk is coming from corners where the discussion is long overdue – there’s no use pretending otherwise – but if there is any small good that can come out of this woman’s brutal murder I hope that it will be in the form of more attention to violence against women, and the need for Muslim leaders, in particular, to address it.
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“Like gold or cattle, land or cloth, female virginity has long been treated as a type of property,” writes Hanne Blank, an independent historian, feminist author, and former sex educator. “But this practice, however long and well-established, is in many ways a paradox. Unlike other forms of property, virginity is essentially intangible… Using it as an object of trade seems almost like trading in wind, fog, or oceanfront properties in Luxembourg. But for thousands of years, virginity has been considered a form of real as well as symbolic property, and treated that way without a shred of irony.”
Blank’s latest book, Virgin: An Untouched History, recounts virginity’s cultural history. From the ancient Greeks to the Middle Ages, through Victorian England and Puritan America to Beverly Hills, 90210 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Blank looks at the myriad ways female virginity has been defined, policed, purchased, sold, lost, and defended.
I recently met Ms. Blank at a reading in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and last week sent her an e-mail plea to let me interview her for this blog. She wrote back the same evening and said, “Oh! I’d love to. I am an occasional reader of HijabMan myself, actually.”
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AS WE ALL KNOW, veiled women are a dowdy, dumpy bunch. They are women with no thoughts or opinions of their own, women who can’t so much as shut the bedroom window if they’re getting a draft without first consulting a man and asking his permission. Maybe, back when they were three or four years old, they dreamed of grander things from life, but now that they are adults they’ve been forced to wear the shroud, walk three feet behind their husbands, and stifle whatever hopes and feelings they used to call their own under the guise of being hapless helpmates to domineering men.
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