Category: Writing

English-based Creoles, Esperanto, and the Quest for the “Perfect” Bridge Language

Meet Mom and Dad

See the man at the bottom with the jet-black hair? The lady in the chair to his right? The bundle of joy in her arm? Those are respectively my father, my mother, and myself. Both my parents sadly passed, but their story is remarkable. He was Italian, she was German. The official story is that they met on the freeway, passing each other repeatedly over hundred miles. It was, by all accounts, love at first sight.

Mom spoke German, dad, Italian, not exactly the most compatible of languages. When the two of them were together, they used the one language they both spoke, for very different reasons. Mom had grown up during World War II and her house had been confiscated by G.I.s, with whom she had to communicate. Dad was an (Italian) Air Force officer and English is the mandatory language of flight and of NATO, both.

Eventually, they learned each other’s language and stopped speaking English. That was a blessing to both, since they never had gotten used to their accents and communication was a bit of an issue. I was born at about their second anniversary and they were still speaking English, but I never even recall them using the language.

English, to them, was what they call a bridge language. Useful, even necessary, for a period, then discarded as it was not required any longer. It wasn’t just that it wasn’t required, though: they seemed not to like using it to talk with each other. Was English maybe not a good bridge language?

Lingua Franca

The need for a bridge language is very common and has been common for a very long time. Traders, in particular, frequently get in touch with people whose language they don’t speak and who don’t speak their language, but they need to talk to trade. What did they do? It turns out they would often invent a language that had some words of one, some words of the other, and a grammar that suited everybody. An example of this is so famous, it serves as a generic name for bridge languages to this day, lingua franca.

Lingua Franca (proper name) was the language used in the Mediterranean basin in the Middle Ages and early Modern Age, mostly by traders. While the name makes it sound like a derivation from French, at the time all Westerners were called “franks.” That included Italians, who were the most successful traders and whose language became the foundation of the Lingua Franca. (more…)

FAQ: Did Jesus Really Save a Gay Couple?

Note: This is an FAQ to the article written here.

What is this claim about Jesus saving a gay couple?

In the Gospels, a story is found of Jesus being approached by a centurion. The centurion is trying to get Jesus to heal his servant, who is back home dying. Jesus rushes to help, but the centurion says that he (Jesus) doesn’t have to go all the way; if he just says the word, the servant will be healed. Jesus marvels at the centurion’s faith and says the servant is healed. And so he was.

Verses, please!

Matthew 8:5-13, Luke 7:1-10, John 4:46-54

How do the versions of the story differ?

The shortest version of the story is found in Matthew and is basically reported in shorthand above. It ends with an anti-Semitic rant about the grim future of the land of Israel that is missing in the other two versions and is characteristic of Matthew.

The story in Luke is very similar to that in Matthew, except it introduces elders who plead with Jesus on the centurion’s behalf and vouch for him, as he has been generous to the (Jewish) community. Also, while in Matthew Jesus and the centurion talk directly and freely, in Luke the centurion sends friends to talk with Jesus, who though say exactly what the centurion said in Matthew.

In John, the story is modified, to the point that most commentators deny it’s the same miracle. In it, the centurion becomes a royal official, while the servant, the official’s son. Also, the comment on the centurion’s faith turns into a simple statement about the whole household converting. (more…)

Rocky Mountain National Park / First Open Week!

2017 06 04 145200 neversummer 20170623 1216406316Colorado is justly famous for its mountains. The Rockies rise up in the middle of the continent like a wall meant to stop colonization and make the place rugged, remote, and scenic.

Alas, humanity is really good at beating down nature, and the Rockies were no match for our relentless pursuit of wealth and suburbs. By now, there are homes everywhere in the state, except where Federal land ownership prevents construction. But the mountains are still there, marvelous in their beauty and isolation.

Colorado is also famous for a few other things. People think it cold (which it really isn’t, thanks to abundant sunshine and thin air) and they are reminded by the name of the state of the river, the mighty Colorado that scoured the Grand Canyon in the almost infinitely long time it has been flowing.

Take these three things: the mountains, the snow, and the Colorado River, and put them all in one place. That’s bound to be the most Coloradan place in the state, right? And that’s what is Rocky Mountains National Park. Home to both the headwaters of the Colorado river and Longs Peak, one of the most prominent Fourteeners in the United States. Land of hikers and backpackers and hordes of tourists. 

2017 06 04 141421 20170623 1063009743There is only one road that cuts through the park, the aptly named Trail Ridge Road. Most people drive it East to West, starting in the very picturesque town of Estes Park, climbing up to the Alpine zone, and then descending into the Colorado River Valley. Every year, the road is closed when the snow storms make passage impossible. Every year, Coloradans wait for the weekend when the snow is cleared and we can all drive to the most beautiful landscape to stand in an endless line of cars.

Getting into Estes Park is easy. You follow one of the three highways, US 36, US 34, or CO 96, that converge onto the town. You also can’t miss Estes Park: once you enter the valley, you’ll see a beautiful town surrounded by high mountains in a green valley, just behind a reservoir. It’s a spectacular setting, as evidenced by the number of real estate companies that set up shop in town.


Hiking Green Mountain

Green Mountain trailI bought my house in Lakewood in great location. To my West, the mountains in a series of ascending peaks, including the giant tower of Creation Rock in Red Rocks Park. To my South, the beautiful Bear Creek Lake Park (also: a handful to say) with the public beach and water skis on Soda Lake. To my North, of course, the big hulking mesa known as Green Mountain.

It’s been a while I’ve lived here, but I never hiked up Green Mountain. Much of it was simply because it was too cold or snowy, but finally it’s warmed up and it was time to try hit the summit. I packed a protein bar and carried a giant jug of water (you’ll need both) and set out to conquer my first Colorado mountain (that didn’t have a ski lift).

The first pleasant surprise is the trail system. Trails cross the mountain everywhere, they are superbly maintained, and the place is teeming with hikers, bikers, and occasionally horse riders. Google Maps, which I used for orienting, only has a small subset of the trails available, so make sure you get a better map from the City of Lakewood site or at the parking lot.

I am lucky and don’t have to drive at all. I just walk from my front door and I am on the trails nine minutes later. If you have to park, though, there are several pretty spacious lots, that though fill up relatively quickly on a warm weekend. The main entrance is on W Alameda Parkway on the East side, while the quickest way to the top is on the West side, across the mountain from CO 470 (Rooney Road Trailhead). 


Skribi Esperanton Askie (Sen Ĉapelitaj Literoj)

Jen ofta problemo: vi volas skribi ion en Esperanto komputile, sed vi ne havas Esperantan klavaron. Vi nur havas vian nacian klavaron, oer kiu vi scipovas tajpi viajn naciajn literojn kaj la aldonajn anglajn. Kion fari?

Ĉar mi ja estas komputilisto, mi emis konsideri la teorian aspekton de ĉi tiu demando. Unue, konsideru ke ĉiuj modernaj komputiloj minimume komprenas la Unikodan literaron. Ĉar tiu inkluzivas la Esperantajn (ĉapelitajn) literojn, se vi scipovas kiel enmeti ilin, la komputilo aŭ retejo probable konservos ilin.

La problemo plej ofte estas via klavaro, kiu ne enhavas  capelitajn literojn aŭ manieron aldoni ilin (aŭ ian ajn Unikodaĵon). Kion fari?

La unuaj 127 koderoj de Unikodo estas specialaj. Ili estas nomataj Askiaj literoj, devene de Usona mallongigo ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange – Usona Norma Kodo por Informada Interŝanĝo). Krom kelkaj apartaj simboloj kiel la punkto, komo, ‘@’ kotopo. tiu kodo enhavas la anglan Latinan alfabeton majuskle kaj minuskle. Tio estas dufoje 27 literojn.

El 27 literojn, Esperanto uzas 23 – ni ne uzas Q, W, X, Y. Aldone, Esperanto havas ses ĉapelitajn literojn, Ĉ, Ĝ, Ĥ, Ĵ, Ŝ, Ŭ. Do. Esperanto bezonas 29 literojn sume, tio estas du pli ol la angla Latina alfabeto provizoras.

Kiam modemulo volas enŝovi pli grandan piedon en malpli grandan ŝuon, li aŭ ŝi scias, ke kaj la ŝuo disfalos frue kaj la piedo doloros ege. Kiam komputilisto volas enŝovi pli grandan literprovizon en malpli grandan kodon, oni devas elpensi manieron kiu malpleje dolorigas kaj pleje facilas.

Estas kelkaj facilaj elektoj. Ekzemple, utilas ke la kvin vokaloj restu senŝanĝaj. Kiel eble plej multaj konsonantoj ne ŝanĝu – sed io ajn ja devas ŝanĝi.

Jen la strategioj, kiujn ni povas uzi kaj la resultaj kodigoj.

1. Simpligu La Esperantan Alfabeton

Multaj homoj ne ŝatas uzi la literon Ĥo, kiu estas la plej malofte uzata en la Esperanta alfabeto. Fakte, en plimulto da okazoj, oni havas apartan version de vorto, kiu ne enhavas tiun literon. Ekz. konsideru ĥoro, ankaŭ skribite koruso.

Oni diras ke “multaj” ne scipovas prononci la literon, do ĝi malestigu. Ĉu tio veras aŭ ne ne gravas, ĉar ni simple volas malestigi kiom eble plej multaj literoj por faciligi rekodigon.

Alia litero kies utileco estas dubinda estas Ŭo. Ĝi estas duonvokalo kaj ege pli ofteca en la Esperanta ol Ĥo. Tamen, ĝin oni prononcas kiel Uo, kaj la nura diferenco inter vorto kun Uo kaj Ŭo estas, kiam tiuj literoj estas en la antaŭlasta silabo, kie la akcento ŝanĝiĝas. Laŭro ne prononciĝas same ol lauro.

2. Elektu Memoreblan Kodigon

Se vi volas esti komprenata, endas ke vi ne ŝanĝu la alfabeton multe. Kie vi devas ŝanĝi ĝin, uzu facile memoreblan anstataŭigon. Ekzemple, se vi volus anstataŭigi la literon Lo, vi povus uzi la ciferon 1. Eĉ ekzistas alfabeta anstataŭigo. kiu uzas renversitajn ciferojn por kelkaj literoj – 7 estas Lo, 4 estas A, 3 estas E, kotopo.

Kaze de la ĉapelitaj literoj, oni konsideru la aliajn latinigojn de lingvoj. La ĉina, ekzemple, uzas la literon Qo por la sono de la Esperanta Ĉo. kaj la Xo por la Esperanta Ĵo. 

3. Uzu Simbolojn Anstataŭ Literojn

Ĉar ni havas 26 literojn sed bezonas 28, se ni forigas Ĥon, ni nur bezonas unu aldonan literon. Ni povas selekti du simbolojn (majuskla kaj minuskla) por la lasta litero.

Logike, oni uzus la latinan Wo por Esperanta Ŭo, kaj latinan Yo por Esperanta Jo. Tiel, ni povas uzi Jo por alia litero, ekzemple Ĝo (kies prononco oni skribas Jo en kelkaj lingvoj, kiel la angla kaj la ĉina rekodigo.). Fakte, se ni aldonas la rekodigojn el numero 2, ni havas ĉiujn literojn krom Ŝo. Ŝon oni skribas “sh” en la angla kaj ĉina rekodigo, do oni ne trovas unuliteran rekodigon.

Feliĉe, ekzistas simbolo, kiu memorigas la literon Ŝo, t.e. $, la dolaro. Oni povas elekti alian simbolon (ekz. ‘/’, sed ja ne gravas kiun) kaj ni finos la novan alfabeton:

Simbolema Rekodigo

 A   $,/ 

La avantaĝo de ĉi tiu rekodigo estas ke, krom por Ĥo, oni facile povas aŭtomate re-rekodigi ĝin al Esperanto. La malavantaĝo estas, ke estas iom malfacile legi vorton, kiu entenas simbolojn.

3. Malestigu Aldonan Literon

Se oni malestigas la plej facile malestigeblan literon (krom Ĥo), t.e. Ŭon, oni gajnas aldonan literon. Ĉi-kaze, rekodigo devus uzi la nove akiritan literon por alia sono. Ĉar la nova litero estas Wo, oni dovas trovi malnovan literon, kies sono povus skribiĝi W. La litero, kies sonon ni devas reprezenti, estas Ŝo. Ni simple povus diri, ke W estas la nova skribmaniero de Ŝo:

Woŝa Rekodigo


La avantaĝo de ĉi tiu rekodigo estas, ke vortoj ĉiam aspektas kiel vortoj. La malavantaĝo, ke estas iom ĝene legi Won kiel Ŝon. Tamen, ĉar Wo ne estas litero en la Esperanta alfabeto, oni alkutimiĝas pli rapide ol penseble.

Aldona samtipa rekodigo okazas, kiam oni uzas la sonojn de la Germana alfabeto. En la Germana, la litero Wo prononciĝas Vo, kaj Vo ofte prononciĝas Fo. So oni uzas tiujn valorojn kaj aldone rekodigas Ŝon al Fo (ĉar en la malnovgermana alfabeto, So skribiĝis simile al minuskla Fo), oni havas novan rekodigon.

Germanema Rekodigo


La avantaĝo estas por Germanoj, kiuj facile legas tiun rekodigon.

4. Akceptu Minimuman Nombron Da Duliteraj Simboloj

Se vi konsideras la antaŭon,  ni vere nur bezonas aldonan simbolon por Ŝo. Oni povus simple decidi, ke oni uzu diliteran simbolon por tiu escepto. La nura problemo estas, ke ne ĉiam eblas scii, ĉu la literoj So kaj Ho unu apud la alia estas la litero Ŝo en la rekodigo, aŭ simple kunmetaĵo. Ĉu “pasharo” estas haro kiu pasas, aŭ aro da paŝoj?

Oni povas uzi malpli oftan duliterumadon, kiel ekzemple la poleca “sz”. Ĉar estas ege malmultaj radikoj, kiuj komenciĝas je Zo, la literparo sz estus tre malofte aparta kaj plej ofte rekodigo de Ŝo.

Duliterema Rekodigo

 A   SH/SZ 

5. Resonigu Esperantajn Literojn

Amiko demandis, kial ajn la esperanta havas literon Ĉo, kiam ĝia sono simple estas To kaj Ŝo. Nu, mi diris, en la Esperanta ekzistas garantio ke ĉiu skribaĵo havas nur unu prononcaĵon, sed ne male. Tamen, kiam oni devas ŝpari, oni povus malestigi tiujn literojn, kiuj povas skribiĝi per aliaj. Estas tri el ili (aldone Ŭo): Co, kiu estas To + So, Ĉo, kiu estas To + Ŝo, kaj fine Ĝo, kiu estas Do + Ĵo.

Ĉar ni ne plu bezonas Ĝon, ni povas uzi Jon por Ĵo. La litero Ĝo, do, skribiĝas nove “DJ”.

Unusona Rekodigo

 A TS  TX  DJ   

Rimarku, ke ĉi-kaze mi uzis Xon por Ŝo kaj decidis tute ne uzi Qon. 

6. Prifajfu Simplecon Kaj Uzu la Ho-, Xo, Aŭ Apostrof-Sistemon

Evidente, ekde kiam Esperanto unue estiĝis, oni devis konsideri la maleblecon uzi ĉapelitajn literojn. Zamenhof sugestis la Ho-sistemon, kie oni uzas la literon Ho post ĉiu senĉapela litero por indiki ĉapelitan. Ĉar tio kreas multajn konfliktojn (konsideru la kazon de pasharo supre), oni sugesti uzi Xon aŭ apostrofon anstataŭe. Multaj laŭregulemaj Esperantistoj insistas, ke nur la Ho sistemo estas Fundamenta kaj do ĝi estas la sola, kiu uzeblas.

Malfeliĉe, la Ho, Xo, kaj Apostrof-sistemoj ne facile legeblas, ĉar en ili la longeco de vortoj tute ŝanĝíĝas. Konsideru ĉi tiun lastan vorton, “ŝanĝiĝas.” En la Ho sistemo, ĝi estas “shanghighas.” Mi konsideras tion malfacile legeblan.

7. Ekzemploj

Ekzistas fama pangramo en la Esperanta: “Laŭ Ludoviko Zamenhof bongustas freŝa ĉeĥa manĝaĵo kun spicoj.” Ĝi entenas ĉiujn literojn de la Esperanta alfabeto (plurajn plurfoje, kelkajn nur unufoje). Se oni rekodigas tion uzante la metofojn spurajn, oni havas:

Originale: Laŭ Ludoviko Zamenhof bongustas freŝa ĉeĥa manĝaĵo kun spicoj.

Xo-sistemo: Laux Ludoviko Zamenhof bongustas fresxa cxehxa mangxajxo kun spicoj.

Ho-sistemo: Lauh Ludoviko Zamenhof bongustas fresha chehha manghajho kun spicoj.

Apo-sistemo: Lau’ Ludoviko Zamenhof bongustas fres’a c’eh’a mang’aj’o kun spicoj.

Simbola Rekodigo: Law Ludoviko Zamenhof bongustas fre/a qeha manjaxo kun spicoy.

Woŝa Rekodigo: Lau Ludoviko Zamenhof bongustas frewa qeha manjaxo kun spicoy.

Germanema Rekodigo: Lau Ludowiko Zamenhov bongustas vrefa qeha manjaxo kun spicoy.

Duliterema Rekodigo (sh): Lau Ludoviko Zamenhof bongustas fresha qeha manjaxo kun spicoy.

Duliterema Rekodigo (sz): Lau Ludoviko Zamenhof bongustas fresza qeha manjaxo kun spicoy.

Unusona Rekodigo: Lau Ludoviko Zamenhof bongustas frexa txeha mandjajo kun spitsoy.

Kiun vi preferas? Mi konfesas, ke el tiuj, la Sz rekodigo ŝajnas plej legebla al mi. Sed mi volus scii, kion vi opinias!

L’America: How Could Trump Be Elected?

I know, I know… I’ve heard this from all my friends and readers: How is it possible that Donald Trump would get elected President of the Greatest Nation in the World? (OK, the part about the Greatest Nation in the World is my addition.)

There is a technical reason: despite getting more than two million votes more than Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton didn’t have her votes distributed in a geographically diverse enough way. America is a federation, and as such the constituent states have a say in government. In theory, the winner of the presidential election would need a majority of both states and people, but that could easily lead to a situation where (like in this year’s case) the majority of the states doesn’t want the same as the majority of the people.

To make elections easier and faster, the Constitution settled on a numerical formula that is a brilliant compromise: each state gets as many votes in the election of the president as it has Senators and Members of the House. The Senate is composed of two Senators per state (so that part translates to one vote per state), while each state has a number of Members of the House proportional to its population (so theoretically, that should translate to a majority of the people).

The Constitution settled on another odd compromise: each state would send voters (called electors) to Washington, and these electors decide who’s going to be president and who vice-president. Over time, the electors were specifically selected for allegiance to one particular candidate, and some states even punish those electors that don’t vote for the presidential candidate for whom they were sent.

So, it could happen that a narrow win in three states sent Donald Trump into the White House, while he didn’t have a majority of the vote. The formula chosen favors Republicans in general, because central states were drawn to be of manageable size, and so a lot of the rural states in the middle of the country have small to tiny populations. Wyoming, for instance (a gorgeous place!) has only 1.5% of the population of the most populous state, California. In fact, the USA has 31 cities that have more inhabitants than all of Wyoming, but have none of the electors (3) that Wyoming has.

After this civics lesson, the political angle. Hillary Clinton was reviled. Part of it was that the media wanted to make the contest more interesting by tearing down the front runner. Part of it was blatant misogyny. Part of it seems to have been manipulation by foreign powers, especially Russia, which seems to have fed information to WikiLeaks. it didn’t help that the founder of WikiLeaks had an ax to grind with Ms Clinton – maybe a remnant of the days he had to hide in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.


What’s Wrong With Elections These Days?

Elections are a simple affair. You go into a booth with a ballot, whether paper or virtual, you punch a series of fields, and you walk out. At the end of the period, the votes are tallied and then – surprise!

In fact, surprise has been the element of the past many elections. Upsets are common, and catastrophic changes more frequent than you would expect. It seems that the new age of polling and constant feedback has made elections less predictable, not more.

Two particularly surprising elections in 2016 were the Brexit vote in Great Britain and the American Presidential election. In both cases, polling had indicated a likely victory of the eventual loser: I was with the most pessimistic of number crunchers, Nate Silver, and saw Hillary Clinton’s probability of winning go from the initial 75% to 0% over the course of hours.

Also in both cases, the victory was won by lopsided participation rates. In both cases, older people got their way because younger people didn’t vote. Older people were turned on by a celebration of nostalgia, of the good old days that Brexit and Donald Trump would bring back. Younger people, of course, didn’t know what the old folk were talking about, having learned how awful those days were in school.

Everything has been discussed, the results dissected, the consequences of non-voting deplored. It seems, though, that the two pillars of the voting process that have stood since antiquity have not been thoroughly questioned. Which is a real problem, because those two pillars are precisely what makes young people consistently not show up.


L’America: This Presidential Election, Though…

I’ve been making you wait forever, and yet I’ve been fielding questions and listening to comments for an entire year. Now, two weeks or so before the election, it’s time to weigh in.

What’s the deal with the Presidential election? From an alien’s perspective, it’s a really odd deal: on one side, there is a mix of Berlusconi, Netanyahu, and Putin; on the other, a combination of Merkel, Thatcher, and Nicola Sturgeon. How could Americans possibly have a hard time choosing?

Well, first of all, you smug aliens, Berlusconi, Netanyahu, and Putin ran their countries for longer than you’d like to admit. Also, while Hillary Clinton is sort of a blend of the three women rulers above, she has some of the good and some of the bad qualities of each. For instance, she is not inspiring as The Iron Lady and isn’t as fresh-faced as Sturgeon.

Regardless, America seems to have come to its senses again and Hillary Clinton is on its way to becoming the next President of the United States. I congratulate her in advance and believe she is the right choice. Most of my friends and readers think so, too. So, why was the contest so tight for such a long time?

America, you need to know, is a very odd place in this respect. The media are not held accountable for the things they say in the name of freedom of speech. That same freedom of speech applies in other countries, too, but in America, it is used by media corporations to mean they can “spin” anything the way that is most convenient to them.

“Hillary Clinton has no real competition, because the Obama years were largely successful economically and scandal-free. She is a continuation of those years, so she should be sailing to an easy victory” is absolutely not what glues viewers to TV screens and doesn’t lure advertisers. So news media corporations need a story that makes it more suspenseful, like when you watch a TV show and it all builds up to a great reveal – right after the commercials.


Esperanto Klavaro por ChromeOS/Chromebook

Mi ŝategas mian Krombukon. Estas eta komputilo kiu ne uzas plenan operaciumon, sed la originale nurtelefonan Android-on. Temas pri la modelo fare de la firmao ASUS, nome de Chromebook Flip. Ĝi estas tre kapabla en Interretaj aferoj, kaj por tiuj aferoj, por kiuj mi bezonas plenan operaciumon, mi instalis Linukson. Bonege!

Estas malgranda problemo: ĝi ne havas denaskan eblecon, tajpi esperantajn literojn. Oni povas uzi internacian klavaron, sed tio signifas, ke esperantaj literoj estas maloportunaj. La litero ŭ, ekzemple, estas kombinaĵo de dekstra Alt, Shift, kaj 9.

ChromeOS, la operaciumo derivita de Android kiu fakte regas la komputilon, enhavas esperanton kiel denaska lingvo. Domaĝe, ĝi ne havas esperantan klavaron kiun vi povus uzi. Do mi serĉis en la retejaroj, ĉu ekzistas pli facila maniero, tajpi sur ĝi. Kaj mi trovis facilegan!

Unue, ChromeOS fakte jam entenas esperantan klavaron. Ĝi simple ne surfaciĝas, senkiale. Sed la gugla projekto en GitHub havas funkciigilon tute simpla. Post instalado, vi povus ektajpi esperante sen ajna problemo.

Jen la paŝoj. Rimarku, ke ili funkciis por mi en ASUSa Chromebook Flip en Usona versio. Mi ne scias kio okazus je alia Chromebook-o, lingva versio, aŭ komputila versio – eltroviĝo estas tute je via risko!


L’America: What Really Happened to Theresa Halbach?

Netflix is trying something new. This time, a documentary spanning ten hour-long episodes about a murder case. Seems like an incredibly long time for a single case, considering that other shows present the “same” content in a few minutes and then move on to the next. I thought for sure it would end up being boring. Instead, I found it gripping, a true blueprint for a new brand of show, not unlike when Truman Capote jump-started the true crime fiction genre with his In Cold Blood.

Before you read on, you must watch the documentary. This is not a review, this is not a presentation of facts, this is simply a reflection on the show. If you haven’t watched, you will not be able to follow. Also, spoilers abound. Finally, once I realized search engines presented the content here to a wider audience than my usual, I tried to clean up the text and will continue to do so.

First, on the issue of murder. Watching the show I had a very strong instant reaction that no one seemed to follow, namely that Theresa Halbach may have committed suicide. If any of the actors in the unfolding drama had found the body and decided to dispose of it as it was disposed of, this would make a whole lot more sense than either the prosecution’s or the defense’s theories.

My reaction was prompted by three independent facts. First, Theresa Halbach is introduced with a video in which she tells us that, no matter what happened to her, she wanted everyone to know she had been happy. I know this type of video too well. In Catholicism, suicide is considered a mortal sin, a variant of murder. The consequence of suicide is the same as that of murder: the victim (in Catholic thinking, the perpetrator) cannot be buried in consacrated soil, forcing the family to bury their loved one outside the cemetery. To avoid that, a person would leave evidence behind that indicates suicide was not an option. Catholics sometimes do that without thinking about suicide, but many suicidal Catholics with strong family ties are very keen on evidencing their happiness and lack of suicidal thought.

The second item that is reported but unexplained is that voicemail messages had been deleted from her phone answering system after she disappeared. Nobody admitted to doing it, but friends reported that logging onto her voicemail was easy for anyone that knew her well enough, since she used her birthday as password. This would allow anyone from the family to delete any voicemail messages that would indicate she was suicidal, or that provided content that would upset her enough to send her over the edge.

Third, and most surprising to me, was her brother’s first reaction on TV. Before anyone knew what happened to her he said something to the effect that the family just wanted to find her effects so they could start to move on. In other words, his first reaction was that she was dead (since all there was to find were her effects) and that it didn’t really matter who had done it (since all there was to do was move on). At that point, for all he knew, she might have decided to drive off to California to become a beach bum. Even if he suspected that nothing like that was in character, he still might have expressed the desire to find out what happened.