Memory Fail

A long time ago, I read The Language Instinct. Inside the back page of my book are notes with page numbers. This is a practice I learned from a book by James Michener. At some point, I started sharing in conversations something I learned. Unfortunately, I had not made a note for this that I could check and the information was more complex than I remembered. Since I had shared this more than once, I thought I should really find the reference and it was not easy but I found it on page 293. The first part I had right.

In sum, acquisition of a normal language is guaranteed for children up to the age of six, is steadily compromised from then until shortly after puberty, and is rare thereafter.

Here is the part I screwed up.

We do know that the language-learning circuitry of the brain is more plastic in childhood; children learn or recover language when the left hemisphere of the brain is damaged or even surgically removed (though not quite at normal levels), but comparable damage in an adult usually leads to permanent aphasia.

While this itself is fascinating to me, I had been embellishing the story to say language is acquired in the brain’s right hemisphere in children and the left for adults. Now that I’m rereading it after so many years, it is clear that the book says this can happen but is not necessarily so.

C. Wright Mills and the Battalion

Artillery Battery A

On Monday, there were a few people in my Twitter feed sharing Texas A&M’s Battalion article about The Rudder Association. While Texas A&M has improved so much over the years, this stealthy group called the Rudder Association is now embarrassing the school. I was glad to read the article and reassured that the kids are alright. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the letters written to the Battalion in 1935 by a freshman named C. Wright Mills.

College students are supposed to become leaders of thought and action in later life. It is expected they will profit from a college education by developing an open and alert mind to be able to cope boldly with everyday problems in economics and politics. They cannot do this unless they learn to think independently for themselves and to stand fast for their convictions. Is the student at A and M encouraged to do this? Is he permitted to do it? The answer is sadly in the negative.

Little did he know that current students would be dealing with this shit 85 years later with a group of former students with nothing better to do than infiltrate student-run organizations from freshman orientation to the newspaper. But shocking no one, they were too incompetent to maintain the privacy of the school regents who met with them.

According to meeting minutes from Dec. 1, 2020, the Rudder Association secured the attendance of four members of the A&M System Board of Regents. The meeting minutes obtained by The Battalion were censored by TRA to remove the names of the regents in the meeting as well as other “highly sensitive information.”

“DO NOT USE THEIR NAMES BEYOND THE RUDDER BOARD. They do not wish to be outed,” the minutes read on the regents in attendance.

Further examination by The Battalion revealed, however, that the censored text could be copied and pasted into a text document to be viewed in its entirety due to TRA using a digital black highlighter to censor.

Well done, Battalion.

(photo is from C. Wright Mills: Letters and autobiographical writings)