The humongous mental challenges posed by the Montreal Cognitive Assessment include
drawing a clock with the hands at 11:10
identifying a picture of a lion as a “lion”
repeating the five numbers read aloud by the examiner
correctly following this instruction from the examiner: “I am going to read a sequence of letters. Every time I say the letter A, tap your hand once. If I say a different letter, do not tap your hand.”
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen had the misfortune to appear at a Senate hearing in the immediate aftermath of a furor over a reported racist remark by President Trump at a meeting she attended. Nielsen’s strategy was to deny everything. Nielsen told the senator she had no recollection one way or another as to whether Trump disparaged the population of an entire continent in shockingly gross terms.
“There was a lot of rough language by a lot of people in the room …” she testified. “What I was struck with, frankly, as I’m sure you were as well, was just the general profanity that was used in the room by almost everyone.” So basically the meeting like some saloon scene in Deadwood. There were a lot of really bad words, but it might have been Trump making generalizations about black people, might have just been Al Swearengen, nobody can say for sure.
At 11:25 AM she was asked this question and gave this answer:
SENATOR LEAHY: “Norway is a predominantly white country, isn’t it?”
My earlier post, distinguishing between shitholes and shithouses, has engendered some commentary among my old friends. One, who hails from Arkansas, bemoans the failure to mention Senator Cotton.
Another old friend allows as how Senators Perdue and Cotton might best be viewed as examples of shit hooks. “Perhaps it is a southern term,” he avers, “but it means someone who will so parse another’s words as to pervert the underlying truth. Used in a sentence: ‘Senators Perdue and Cotton are a couple of shit hooks.”
I was moved to do some research on the internet, where I learned,
On college campuses in the 1960s [“shit hook”] came to be used for clumsy person, or a an unpleasant or aggressive individual. It was used in place of the older ‘shitheel’ (1930s) meaning a despicable person, a scoundrel, blackguard, bastard as a word of scorn for people who have excrement on there shoes and followed from the earlier ‘shit-shoe’ (1903).
There is no honor among anti-immigrant advocates and liars, I suppose. After dutifully lying on behalf of the president regarding his abhorrent language (“shithole countries”), Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) were outed by the White House. The Post reports:
Three White House officials said Perdue and Cotton told the White House that they heard “shithouse” rather than “shithole,” allowing them to deny the president’s comments on television over the weekend. The two men initially said publicly that they could not recall what the president said.
This is a true story. It took place during the 2008-09 academic year. In those days, we had not yet heard of “DACA,” and we were not yet spelling “Dreamer” with a capital “D.”
My volunteer assignment at the inner city school was to work each week with Maria, a first grader. Maria was from Mexico. I don’t know what her immigration status was, but she was probably sin papeles.
Though she had no apparent knowledge of the English language—zip, nada—Maria was attending regular first grade with mostly English speakers.
Our instructions were this. At each tutoring session the teacher handed me a large pack of cards. On each card was printed a three-letter word. One consonant, one short vowel, one consonant. “Tip,” “hit,” “pat,” “sit,” and so on.
We were to say the sound of each letter, then put the sounds together to make a word. “Puh-aa-tuh, pat.” “Ss-ih-tuh, sit.” I would do it first, and Maria was to do the same thing, after me.
Maria was a patient, cheerful, and diligent child. During the fall we worked at the same task week after week. Practice generally makes perfect, and so it was in this case. Maria became proficient at sounding out three letter words. “Cuh-aa-puh, cap.” “Mm-eh-nn, men.”
Still no English conversation, though. She could say “cap,” but she didn’t know what a cap was. She could say “tip,” but she didn’t know what it meant.
My friends heard me mutter that we might as well be teaching our children to sound out words in Old Church Slavonic.
After the Christmas vacation, we resumed. In our first session of the new year, Maria began to ask, “What’s a cap?” I pointed to the baseball cap I wore. “What’s dig?” I mimed digging a hole—to much giggling by Maria, and anyone else who happened to be passing by. “What’s tin?” “It’s a kind of metal,” I said. “What’s metal?” We got up and walked around the room identifying items made of metal.
On the way out of the school, a light bulb appeared above my head. Other little girls might dream of dolls or princess dresses. Maria dreamed of having the words with which to express herself in her new environment. What this kid needed was a picture dictionary. On the way home, I stopped at Barnes & Noble and got the Dr. Seuss English-Spanish picture dictionary.
Next week, when I gave her new books to her, Maria was as flabbergasted as I have ever seen a human being. Once she had turned a few pages and saw what she had. Summoning every bit of linguistic skill she had, she said, to my great surprise, “I will learn everything in this book!”
The following week she made me understand that her whole family was learning English from the book. She also communicated that she had gotten in trouble, because she was violating her bedtime by staying up to practice the 1200 words or so in the book.
Another month passed, and Maria was carrying on a fine conversation in English.
I had to go to Washington in March. While there, I bought Maria a coloring book featuring Washington’s national monuments and other sites.
In the middle of the book, spanning both pages, was a line drawing of the White House. Maria became so excited that she could hardly contain herself. “That’s Obama’s house,” she said. “I want to go to see Obama’s house!” There ensued an extensive conversation about how far away Obama lived from our city, how best to get there—by car, bus, train, or airplane—how much each option might cost, what steps you would take, for example, to book an airline ticket and take a plane to see Obama’s house.
When she saw the rather crude line drawing of the Lincoln Memorial, Maria exclaimed, “That’s the man on the penny!” Clearly, a perceptive child.
On the last tutoring day of the year, I said goodbye but Maria said she wanted to show me something before I left. She took my hand and led me back to her first grade class, where her teacher had pinned, on the wall outside the classroom door, a poster of Martin Luther King and President Obama, something like the image depicted above.
Maria kept holding my hand, but used her other arm to point to the picture. “That’s Martin Luther King,” she said. “He had a dream.”
Continuing to point, she went on, “That’s Obama. He had a dream, too.”
I have to say, I just about lost it.
“Yes,” I said to myself, “and I believe I know a little girl who’s got a dream, too.”
Maria would be about 15 now. I wonder where she is. I wonder whether she still has a dream.