No Pokémon review this week, have some democracy and pie instead

I’ve been a little bit swamped lately with teaching; my students have just handed in their first big assignment and taken their first test of the semester (don’t worry; only a few of them will be executed).  I haven’t finished writing my next Pokémon review, Komala, so instead you’re getting a spiel about some of what I’ve been teaching recently, as well as some pictures of my first attempt at something resembling an English-style pork pie. Continue reading “No Pokémon review this week, have some democracy and pie instead”

Sandro asks:

Hello. I am working on a story right now and I need to study a historical background for it. Could you recommend me good books (in English, preferably, and yes, I am willing to actually buy them, and yes, I am willing to spend a lot of my free time studying this.) about Rome and the life of common citizen of the city of Rome? The time frame is around the year AD 20. I need information about culture and customs. What were the ways common families worshipped gods? What were the naming conventions? How strict were Romans in following traditions? Was it common for “middle class” Roman family to have a slave? There is a lot I need to know before I can write my story. I obviously started with reading Wikipedia, but while I consider that useful, I still do think that I should get a more detailed and more trustworthy source of information. Thanks for help.

Let me see… for a basic introduction you could do worse than The Romans: An Introduction by Antony Kamm and Abigail Graham, which is the textbook we use for our introductory Roman Civilisation class in my department. Everyday Life in Ancient Rome by Lionel Casson is a similar level; I haven’t read it myself, but it’s quite well thought of, and possibly better tailored to your particular needs. Themes in Roman Society and Culture by Matt Gibbs, Milorad Nikolic and Pauline Ripat is a bit pricey but covers similar sorts of things in more detail. Continue reading “Sandro asks:”

[I’m American but because of my accent and the way I look, people think I’m Australian. I’m honored.] asks:

A year from now, I think you should make a list of your top five favorite names that sends you questions and your least 5 fav! They are entertaining!!!

That’s neat; I’m a New Zealander but because of my accent people think I’m English – even in New Zealand, and sometimes even in England. And, uh… I’m terrified this will encourage people to ludicrous extremes, but sure! I’ll, um… think about it.

Random Access asks:

Have you been watching teamfourstar’s Final Fantasy VII: Machinabriged?

I have, but to be honest I’m not terribly enthused by it.  I think the somewhat more freeform nature of the story after the characters leave Midgar City, with less interaction between the members of Cloud’s party, makes it difficult to abridge, because it’s very much a plot-driven story with a couple of nice character moments, not a character-driven story that also has a decent plot.  It’s an RPG; it’s intentionally designed to give you space to interpret the characters yourself, which is great in its way, but doesn’t give you that much material for parody in the way that Team Four Star’s flagship abridgement, Dragonball Z, does.

Anonymous asks:

Do you know why “wh” is pronounced like “f” in Maori? Is it an evolution in the language that happened since it was first transcribed with the Latin alphabet? Did linguists think they were hearing something else?

You know, I’ve wondered that myself, but I actually have no idea.  As I understand it, the sound was originally supposed to be a bilabial and not a labiodental like an English f, but when that sound turns up in other languages it normally gets transcribed as f or ph, so I’m not sure what made the Pakeha linguists decide to write it as wh.  I gather the pronunciation varies a lot between dialects, and probably sounds quite different in modern Maori than it did in the early 19th century.