Revised lines

May 18, 2009 at 5:39 am 37 comments

Ever sing a song for years only to find out you never really knew the lyrics? We did: me and my younger bro, back when we stood together against the world at school grounds & before he started kicking my leg with the front of his “Qoda chama” for a greeting.

Cleaning “the house” was our duty, you see. We were expected to carry the furniture out. Beat the “awara” off the “sofa” (the same “sofa” we weren’t allowed to neither sit on nor lay our sleeping head against the first few weeks it was brought. Like all the colorful plates my mother got from her “Arab” friends as a present, like wives and kids: it was there to be “seen”). We were then expected to broom, mop and wax the floor.

Neither carrying the furniture out, nor beating the dust off the sofa were “happy endeavors”. Still, we gave them the best we got. Our mother, whose “Gosh yene lijoch” we secretly craved for, was the typical Ethiopian mother who wasn’t satisfied a job is well done until she saw blood.

The “cleaning and waxing” part, on the other hand, we out did ourselves in. Not just because an “alenga” hangeth on the wall, signaling what would become of us if our dad failed to see himself on the shiny surface of the wooden floor. But because we loved gliding on the [s’um] waxed floor on the wings of a “bernos”. We loved the sensation tripping and falling gave us. Like “wuha”, like death, it took us down with a giggle.

Giggling and falling. Falling and Tripping. Tripping, giggling and falling. For once, we were allowed to be kids.

Still, there was fatigue involved. And one of those songs that helped ease this fatigue mw and my brother sung whole-heartedly was Billy Ocean’s “When the going gets tough”. I thought it was “among the gangisters”. My brother agreed. We had a special place for it, too, as it featured part of an action-movie we didn’t get to watch back then. So when my dad isn’t there, and we climbed the fence of our communal “gibi” and tried to out-scream the kids in the next “gibi” also hanging from their communal fence, we sung: “Among the gangsters”. I was 23 years old when somebody stopped my carefree singing to ask “what is that you said?”.

They teased me about it for months.

The other was a line from Dereje Kebede’s “YeniGatu Kokeb Aberra”. “Maan Yagidew, maan yitaGeLew” the song went. I heard “Maan yaGidew, maan yitaGeDew”. My luckless brother followed suit. So we shamlessly sung “Maan yaGdew, maan yitaGedew” at the top of our voice. The neighoburing kids fall silent, humbled by the sudden revelation of our godliness — no doubt.

My third, and substitute lyric, for Bizunesh Bekele’s “yeNuro fichie sawq” I’ve mentioned on the post Daddy’s too big a shoe already.

So when i came across a “Song Sung Wrong, Everybody Knows One” section on Reader’s Digest’s May 2009 issue, it was with more than a little mirth i remembered the revised lines mentioned above. The lyrics mentioned by Digest, we probably don’t know. But the following Movie Misquotes from Yahoo! Movies are quite international. See which had you fooled:

Top Ten Lasting Movie (Mis)Quotes
By Access Hollywood
LOS ANGELES, Calif. ….. May 13, 2009

Some of the most quintessential frequently recited movie lines of all time were never even said. Here are ten of the most misquoted movie lines of all time (as compiled by

10. “Mrs. Robinson, are you trying to seduce me?”
The Graduate (1967) – The quote in the actual movie was not a question at all. Instead, Benjamin simply stated, “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me.”

9. “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto”
The Wizard of Oz (1939) – The real movie line is slightly different, and less certain. When Dorothy arrived in Oz she said, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more.”

8. “If you build it, they will come”
Field of Dreams (1989) – There’s a slight variance from the popular line that is constantly quoted. Instead, the real quote is, “If you build it, he will come.”

7. “Frankly, Scarlett, I don’t give a damn”
Gone With the Wind (1939) – Rhett Butler is often misquoted in one of the most popular movie lines of all time. He never says “Scarlett” in the famous line and instead stated, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

6. “Beam me up, Scotty”
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) – The most well known “Star Trek” line, “Beam me up, Scotty” was never actually said in any of the Star Trek films. Instead Kirk said, “Scotty, beam us up.”

5. “Hello, Clarice”
The Silence of the Lambs (1991) – The creepy line uttered by Dr. Hannibal Lecter was quite different than it is remembered. He, in fact, said, “Good evening, Clarice.”

4. “Play it again, Sam.”
Casablanca (1942) – Turns out that Humphrey Bogart never said these famous four words. Instead, the closest he came was, “You played it for her, you can play it for me. If she can stand it, I can. Play it!”

3. “Do you feel lucky, punk?”
Dirty Harry (1971) – The actual line in this movie is far less catchy: “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya punk?”

2. “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?”
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937) – Every day the queen consulted her mirror on the wall, however, instead of the famous quote we remember, she called, “Magic Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?”

1. “Luke, I am your father”
The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – This commonly quoted line, which Darth Vader was known to utter to young Luke Skywalker, was never said at all. The real movie line was “No, I am your father.”


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Guess who’s tweeting now I, the hypocrite

37 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mazzi  |  May 19, 2009 at 5:05 am

    Nice post Abesheet.

    Ah you brought back a lot of memories about those household chores the children of the house were supposed to do. Even in our house, it was the kids’ duty to clean the Salon Bett, and wax the wooden floor. Except in our case, the living room’s hand woven rug with a giant Ethiopian cross in the middle (you know the kind!) that covered most of the wooden floor weighed heavier than the sofa and chairs combined!! Rolling and dragging that damn thing with my brothers out to the grass and beating the shit out of it to get rid of ‘abwara’ sure was one of my LEAST favorite childhood memories. Oh how I hated that rug!

    Our immediate neighbors had the same heavy rug in their living room except a different color. So imagine my surprise when I visited the same family here in the US (they also settled somewhere in the Midwest) years and years later and saw the SAME damn rug from their old living room in Addis in their US home living room!!! I was flabbergasted. I asked how on earth they got it all the way to the US, and they said they paid good money for it to be shipped to them here. Sheesh!! Talk about weird attachment to things. I guess now thanks to vacuum cleaners their kids don’t have to drag that damn thing outside to rid it of accumulated dust.

    After checking out the provided ‘top ten lasting movie (mis)quotes’, I was pretty happy that I had watched all the movies listed and definitely familiar with the (mis)quotes myself. “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto” and “If you build it, they will come” happen to be my two most favorites. And being a fan of science fiction (was a big fan of Star Wars and Star Trek movies back in the days) I am sure I have (mis)used the quotes “Beam me up, Scotty” and “Luke, I am your father” while joking with fellow sci-fi fans.

    Not knowing the proper lyrics for songs reminds me of the movie “The Sound of Music.” When my brothers and I were very young, way before we had any working knowledge of the English language, we had a bootlegged copy of the movie that we watched again and again. We could pretty much follow the story line easily since we could understand some basic rudimentary English even if we did not speak it at all, and we simply loved all the songs. I memorized most of the songs the way I heard them. And I probably sang them all wrong all the time anyways, until I got much older and started to understand better English only to realize I had been so off when it comes to knowing the actual lyrics! But who cares right? I am grateful for all the movies I watched back then because I learned my spoken English from them, and definitely “The Sound of Music” was one such movie.

    I still love that movie and all the songs by the way :-).

  • 2. abesheet  |  May 19, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    The stinking Lalibella “siGaja mintaff” that seems to accumulate all the “awara” in the world. Oh but I’m a fellow victim of that too 🙂 . We used to beat it and beat it. We beat it one more time, the weight of the awara seems the same. So my mother gets a bunch of “d’d mascha duryes” to take it down to Qebena and wash it. What a relief it was to see it’s smiling face. We don’t have to take it out for another month.

    By the way, Mazziye, I’ve been wanting to ask your opinion of the “Live Feed” thing I installed the other day. Do you think it would discourage people from visiting, and visiting often, seeing them listed time and again?! If so, I’d take it off, inspite of the awesome feeling it gives one, seeing people from the weirdest places in the world arriving. I was like “So Mazzi was right. I have readers! They just aren’t crazy about commenting”.

  • 3. dinku  |  May 19, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    Hi Abesheet,

    I plead guilty to being one of your readers that “aint crazy about commenting” 🙂 I have been following your blog for a while and I do really enjoy it. Most of your writings remind me of my carefree childhood days in Addis ,alibet so manny years ago.

    Keep up the good work and welcome to the good old US of A.

  • 4. abesheet  |  May 19, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    Thank you for you kind words, Dinku. And for taking the courage to comment. There is a first time for everything. Glad this morning was yours.

    Ye’Ewnet Wedaj:
    I think the forumlas in your comment made Akismet think your post maybe a Spam. The second message was automatically held. Still, I never clean the Spam box without checking who is keeping it clean and who is being bad. So feel free to express yourself any way you see fit.

    Nice to have you both.

  • 5. sistu  |  May 20, 2009 at 4:55 am

    abesheet, i’m just so fascinated by the feed. its like some alemin inkagnat thing, zeb mekom amaregn saying inquan dena metachu to every arrival and asking ‘how is life there’ minamin about all the origins. im sure there is some song begging to be dedicated for the whole thing. atlantam yalachu iski iniyachu etc. i even saw montana, my dream state from america. So, Montanan, if you are out there, feel free to invite me for a visit.

    so now, are my eyes getting old or did i read something about you staying away from commenting often? Abesheet, balebet comment kalaregsh, how can us shy mi’menan have the courage to do so? and more, much more, importantly, enen man yawaragn? you know i like to talk and it seems like Ye’ewunet Wodaj Mazzin kemagn.

    “frankly Scarlett, i don’t give a damn” tewitolishal? I thought what made it special was the my dear part, didn’t think there was any misquoting of that. btw, i was just checking the book and somewhat disheartened to find it as “He drew a short breath and said lightly but softly:”My dear, I don’t give a damn.”‘
    no ‘frankly’? funny how an american book can’t be read in america but can in australia. i will have to catch up on the whole star trek thing. i have no clue what the whole thing is about and it seems to be universally known. now, what was the ‘peewetana’ in ‘amina, peewetana, yesew shiro kima kima’? but i don’t know if childhood rhymes qualify for this discussion because it would be like opening a can of worms?

    thanks for letting me see a previously undiscovered very bright
    light in my childhood: no sigaja mintaff in the house. I never imagined owning one would be anything but a source of pride and prejudice but happy to discover it had its negatives. we had gushema, which didn’t need taking out. praise be to it.

  • 6. Mazzi  |  May 21, 2009 at 7:09 am


    It was indeed that damn stinking Lalibella “siGaja mintaff” that I was talking about, and how amusing that you and your siblings were fellow victims of it too! (Sistu, count your childhood blessings that you were spared from the curse of cleaning and maintaining a siGaja mintaff without the help of a vacuum cleaner :-)). Ah, how I would have given my left kidney for the privilege of using a vacuum cleaner daily to clean that damn thing so we can be spared from moving it out and cleaning it every couple of weeks. Did I mention I had dust mites induced allergy not to mention Asthma?

    That mintaff was woven so thick and heavy, and it became even heavier and heavier in time with accumulated dust that was hard to get rid of. At least in your house your Mom paid some “d’d mascha duryes” (the phrase ‘d’d mascha’ never fails to crack me up! :-)) to wash it if it came to that. In our house, my brothers and I had the honors of washing and scrubbing that damn thing out on the grass when beating it alone didn’t do the trick to rid it of abwara.

    I have to admit the washing part, and getting soaked in soapy water in the process was fun. But ‘masT’ating’ in the sun that heavy AND wet mintaff on a sturdy cloth line was not. And that thing took forever and a day to dry! Can you imagine if it rained before it dried?! Sometimes in fear of anticipated rain, we were ordered to return the ‘almost’ completely dry mintaff back to the salon bett, and lord forbids if was not thoroughly dry. For days, the salon bett would smell like wet dog till it dried completely. Ah, good memories!

    Sorry Abesheet for not getting back to you earlier about the “Live Feed” thing. I understand your concern how it might actually discourage people from dropping by and visiting often if they don’t want to see ‘themselves’ in the list. Since you used to wonder where your many readers could be from, I am actually excited for you that you get an idea of the many places from which people check out your blog! As Sistu said, it does feel like some ‘alemin inkagnat’ thing, making you wonder about the places listed. (Sistu by the way, why is Montana your dream state? Are you into ranching and all that comes with it? Just curious! Never been there, and only know about it from what I read. I bet it has beautiful mountain ranges.)

    For now, I say keep the “Live Feed” till at least the thrill of reading it lasts. After a while, maybe you would not even care anymore ;-). One day soon, you might find yourself saying… “Islamabad, Pakistan? Been there! Mumbai, India? Done that! C’Mon Timbuktu!!!!!!” Trust your instinct, and observe if you notice any difference because of the “Live Feed.” If you sense anything that is not beneficial to your blog, then you can retire it for a while at least and just trust and know people do check out your blog even if they don’t comment at all. Sometimes I feel bad I comment a lot, and wonder if that actually discourages others! I really hope not!!

    Thanks again for sharing your blog, and as Sistu said anchi comment kaladeregish man liyawaran new? Philosophical religious discussions can only last so long you know ;-).


  • 7. sistu  |  May 21, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Mazzi, Montana because I suspect that’s where the stereotyped yewah ferenjis are hiding. I know they sure don’t live where I live. Kejemerku ayker, north carolina is a close favorite too (not just because i see it on the list too..:))
    I think its better for me not to get started about the depression associated with bringing yaldereke libs indoors overnight indeederk. just the thought makes me shiver bebird. Its amazing how we can take so much stuff for granted once we leave the country, washers AND dryers being on top of that list. books are a very close second for me. feel bad about commenting, Mazzi? that’s crazy talk, Hank (jailhouse rock. i wonder if its a misquote). but wouldn’t it be kinda cool if people didn’t watch others so much before deciding what to do, if that makes a tiny bit of sense… As long as you can spare the time and have something to say, I really don’t think there is anything wrong with sharing it and people can decide what to do with it… isn’t that what makes the internet the greatest thing ever.. that people are open, free, willing etc to share anything? biye desecorku malet new.

    but, but… google says the greatest thing about the internet is… “humans, of course”. oh well, mesasat bene altejemerem

  • 8. Ye'ewunet Wodaj  |  May 21, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Hi Sistu and Mazzi:

    Sistu, you said, “..more, much more, importantly, enen man yawaragn? you know i like to talk and it seems like Ye’ewunet Wodaj Mazzin kemagn.” When I read that Sistu anjeten belesh. It’s true that my conversation with Mazzi took away some of her time that she could otherwise have used to talk with you and Abesheet etc. I apologize for stealing Mazzi for some time. But then do not forget that Mazzi is so sweet to talk to and hang out at Abesheet’s Tej Bet as I’ve come to learn my place now and who doesn’t want to steal Mazzi?

    Mazzi: one thing you said above did not seem right to me. You said: “Philosophical religious discussions can only last so long you know.” To this I answer: Nothing has more staying power than philosophy and philosophical discussions of religious issues. You can easily find supporting, even plenty of empirical , reasons for my claim by just looking at human history, be it Western or Eastern. One thing could be right if you added this: philosophical discussions can only last so long IF the conversation partners in these discussions are not all and only those who devote their lives for such discussions such as professional philosophers. Isn’t this true?

    On another yet related note, Sistu, I’ll be gone in a few weeks’ time to a place where I cannot have the leisure of having an access to the internet and then Mazzi will be yours for more than couple of months. I’ll be spending most of the summer back in Ethiopia. Just until then bear with our Mazzi and yours truly.



  • 9. Ye'ewunet Wodaj  |  May 21, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Hi Abesheet:

    Something goes wrong, at times, when I meant to post comments. I could not do that since last night.

    Is there a way to correct this problem since it does not seem that my comments are any longer awaiting the moderator’s approval.



  • 10. abesheet  |  May 21, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Good question, Ye’Ewnet, because I was asking it myself when i found three of your comments in my spam box. Most of the time, when you’ve made more than two posts (or putting more than 3 links a time) your comment is automatically held for moderation. When it comes to your comments, however, it doesn’t even seem willing to follow regulations :). In comes Ye’Ewnet Wodaj, and and Akismet can’t wait to go for it. I’d write to one of the Moderaters to interfear. In the ferenji form of “Annd belulign yihin system”. If not, and as a last resort, we’ll call Arefe and ask him to “Tse’bel merchet” it.

    Sistu & Mazzi:
    A delight to see you two talking, as always.

    The traumatic experience of cleaning YeSiGaja Mintaff is, indeed, traumatic Mazzi. Looking back at it now, I’m starting to wonder if there isn’t some sort of a conspiracy theory behind it. A vengful act by the disabled on the able world. If you’ve noticed, most of these works of Art “akal gudategnoch” make are beautiful, and different. But they also have a personality of their own that immediately sets them apart from all other works of art out there. That “banana li’t” card for example. It would weigh on you the same way a “sigaja mintaff” would, were you an unfortunate “posta” carrying it across the nations. There was that “te’t sharp” a colleague of mine bought me from Salem when i was about to split. Had to leave the damn thing at home because it was heavier than the biggest “gabbi” you can imagine. All made by “akal gudategnoch”. All unique. And laboring under a broodiness that makes you wonder if that isn’t what their lives are like.

    Just a thought.

    The first few days i came to america, it’s the fact that there is something for everything that used to “MasDeneQ” me. From the cheese grater, to the oil meter thingy whose measurement you read on brownie “duQet” cartoons that made no sense while in Addis, I kept shaking the head and sucking the teeth on how the civilized world seems interested in easing your “shekim”, instead of “meGonGon” it the way it’s done back home. The saddest part is, most of the “gunGona” is done by the females themselves. From the spice preparation, to the actual night of a holiday eve; everything has to be done as if we are told to “eat, drink, for tomorrow you will die”. Infact, the easier it is to prepare, the more suspicious my mother finds it. No wonder i found “yetegeza enjera” so deplorable when i lived alone. If ever we have to, it was covered and hidden in such an intricate way that “ene negn yale mermari” won’t have sniffed it out. And when it came, it came through the back door. As someone you are embarassed to show the world would.

    Regarding the washer drier thing, i don’t think anybody has suffered from “yeTsehai etot” the way i have. I lived in a condiminum for more than 3 years before i came, if you remember. And what is it condominiums don’t have that makes them totally inhabitable by the elderly (next to the social life)?. Libs Matebia and Mascha (There is a communal “mascha” hanging over by the outside door, which you’d have to “zeb meQom” next to lest somebody walks out with your clothes). So, and especially in the rainy season, being met with the stinking smell of “yaldereQe” libs when you walked into your “tezegto yewale” room (opening the windows to air it would let the mice in) is something of a routine. But nothing is worse than somebody on your block forgetting he’s turned the water on “wuha sitefa”. Unless you send the mintaff to the cleaners, and pay heavy for the mistake of others, the stench of the wet “mintaf” lurks around for 3 weeks or more; making you put off going home for as long as you can. That’s why the first time Chris told me I could wash/dry the rug I spilled coffee on, I had this most-ecstatic revelation as to why some people see america as the promise land. Too bad you gotta get used to it 🙂 .

  • 11. Mazzi  |  May 21, 2009 at 11:02 pm


    I so don’t take for granted anything the Western world provides that is designed/built/constructed to ease yesira shekim as you said, and various cool kitchen appliances are few of my favorites. I so agree with you how at home the women themselves belong to the school of thought that insists lifatina dikmet yelelebet neger can not be taken as yebalemoya sirra … especially when it comes to kitchen and house chores. They grew up in that frame of mind so probably don’t know any better.

    Once when I was a kid my parents were throwing the “Serg Mels” of the century at our house, and were expecting large number of guests (to be accommodated in a large dinKwan in our gibi) that would fill large wedding halls for few weddings by this countries standard. So it fell on my Mom to prepare the digis/feast of the century that would feed all these guests! Imagine how many joniyas of shinkurt she and her cooking crew had to chop for all the wot that needed to be prepared.

    There was a ‘never been used’ large electric food processor somebody had given my Mom as a gift sometime back, and I was more than happy to point it out to her how now would be a great time to put that thing to use and finely chop all those onions using the appliance. She looked at me with eyes that seem to say “which planet are you from?!” and calmly announced how no self respecting western kitchen appliance would ‘evenly’ mince onions the way she and other experienced Abesha setoch could! So instead of using the appliance, she hired a small army of women to just chop all those onions, and it took them all day to finish!

    By the way Abesheet, I am always intrigued by your descriptions of how life used to be while you lived in a condominium setting back and Addis. Though apartment homes in buildings with multiple stories along busy urban streets have always been part of Addis life for those ‘unlucky’ enough not to own or rent homes on ground floors with gibis, it looks as though with all the construction back home, condominium apartment living seems to be more and more common now a days. That is bound to introduce a different way of living for Ethiopians (both single and those with families) who are attached to the actual land they live on.

    If ever the spirit moves Abesheet, do share with us how you think this growing phenomenon has changed domestic life as we know it. I sure would be one to listen! No more beGinna Fiyel mared at apartment homes come Fasikana Genna huh…?

    I laughed out loud when I read “A vengeful act by the disabled on the able world” when it comes to that dreaded YeSiGaja Mintaff and other crafty works that you found hard to deal with. I almost wrote earlier how I felt guilty about hating the SiGaja Mintaff in our house coz someone told me those rugs were woven by blind crafts men/women! But you, you were brave to even admit that there may be a conspiracy behind such art works to inconvenience the able bodied for taking our state for granted. Good for you for speaking your mind, and sometimes for speaking our minds! :-).


    For some strange reason, I too have an unexplainable affinity to the state of North Carolina as an ideal place to live. It is not quite North, it is definitely not quite South, it is within few hours of drive or flight to major East Coast cities, and I am sure the state having extensive ocean shores does not hurt! I so want to live in a city by the Ocean. Gin the gods are not granting my wishes in finding viable reasons for me to move there :-(. All I can say for now as you said in one of your earlier comments is … “North Carolina yalachihu, Esti enismachehu!”

    And for you, may one stereotypical fine ‘yiha ferenji’ invite you for a visit to his lavish and extensive ranch in Montana ;-).

    @Ye’ewunet Wodaj:

    You so misunderstood my “Philosophical religious discussions can only last so long you know” comment earlier! You missed my implied humor in what I said above (News flash!!! Maybe I am not funny! Hehe… there is a distinct possibility of that, so that is not wasted on me :-)).

    My comment actually had nothing to do with the nature, endurance, or staying powers of philosophical religious discussions. In fact, as long as at least two human beings remain on this planet as we know it, there shall ever be such philosophical religious discussions! That I do not doubt at all. That is not what I was implying, and sorry if you took it that way.

    From your earliest comments, my first impression of you as a new potential denbegNa of Abesheet’s Tej Bett was of a that of a VERY SERIOUS abesha guy with no time for any sense of humor who even threatened to never become a repeat denbegNa to Abesheet’s joint if we, the usual awdeldayoch, did not discuss topics that were near and dear to your passion (religious philosophical discussions) in ‘serious, careful, and intelligent’ manner!

    My implied joke in my comment above (that obviously failed!) was to imply how Abesheet might not count on you becoming a repeat denbegNa since maybe none of us (at least myself) plan on being ‘serious, careful, and intelligent’ at all times while meQebaT’ering about yebaT yeQoT’un at Abesheet’s Tej Bett. Don’t forget ‘Tej’ is involved at this cyber joint, and it is hard to be too serious while under the influence ;-).

    P.S. TOTALLY jealous of your upcoming trip to Ethiopia…..

  • 12. abesheet  |  May 22, 2009 at 12:33 am

    If ever the spirit moves Abesheet, do share with us how you think this growing phenomenon has changed domestic life as we know it. I sure would be one to listen! No more beGinna Fiyel mared at apartment homes come Fasikana Genna huh…?

    Sorry to disappoint you, Mazziye. The condominium I was living in was your typical “yeabesha mender”. Maybe because the residents came from the same “sefer” (Dembel Hintsa yeneberebet akababi) and could afford not to rent out their house to pay the bill (which is like, believe it or not, 139 birr a month). They had a “meredaja mahber”. An “idir”. A “tabot mewcha, megbia qen”, a “tsidat Qen”, and a committee full of hard-lines that saw to the rules being followed or you fined.

    People weren’t allowed to “bunna mewQet” on the stairs, ofcourse, but there was plenty of space underneath. The “Qircha mekefafel”/”beg mared” took place there or in one of the “kushinas” infront of the blocks that isn’t being used as an office. These “kushinas” usually “awara metetat” from the cars that park infront of the block or the kids that play football after class. “Wuha sitefa”, however, they are filled with frantic activity from both cloth-washers and “Qomches” sent to fetch the blessed liquid from the “Bono” nearby. [You can’t ask even a “Qomche” to carry a bucket of water to the fourth floor. And “Qomches” would carry just about anything if paid.] So.. no.. if anything would stop “beG/fiyyel mareDing” it’s the inflation, not “yeBota tiBet or Etot”.

    I, ofcourse, kept to myself. Used the supermarket door on the floor for exit/entry point if i saw a “dinkuwan” infront of my building. And prefered to pay the 10 birr “Qitat” for the “Tsidat Qen” after I got all sorts of blisters when venturing out the fist month “yeferenj misst negn bila newu yilugnal biye” 🙂 . Ofcourse, I had a couple of people i talked to. Qelemewa, my favorite shop-owner of all times; the woman from the committee who was on my calling list every time my room got flooded from either my next door neighbour’s forgetfullness; or the leakage from above. And.. the little ones. I was neither rude to those neighbours with friendly smiles who sometimes managed to summon the courage to stop me and ask after “ya balebetish dehna newu?”. Apparently, inspite of his shyness and inability to mouth one amharic word correctly (he thought “Egziabher yimesgen” meant “hi back to you”) Chris made more friends than me.

    This doesn’t mean I do not regret not having a more social life. On the millennium, for example, Addis Amet 2000 E.C., a year that comes only every thousand years, they had a “tiliq digis” in the gibi. The rooms were lighted from green/yellow/red “ampols” on the berenda, and there was a holiday “shir gUD” around. I ofcourse neither heard of the “mewaacho”, nor saw the request for the “ampol color qiyera”. I spent the day at my mom’s and came home after hours to make sure nobody uses the holiday absence to steal my laptop. When i saw how beautiful the gibi looks, how everybody seems to be inlove with everybody else and how it was only my house that wore darkness, i regreted it. Very much so! Not for long, though. Was too fatigued from Taxi tiBeQa that i turned the tv on and went to sleep immediately. And, ofcourse, missed the “richit” Sheik Ali Amoudi beDegnetachew.. beLibachew Qininet.. had planned for us. Some exhibition, i was told later. And that, Mazziye, is how I slept through New Year 2000 E.C. (Anybody read the book, “The Man Who Slept through the End of the World” by Moyshe Nadir?! That’s me! Oh yes, he’s a Jew 🙂 ).

    Bo Bice…
    Bo Bice was my one, all time, American Idol favorite. Who could forget his “zergada” Qumet, ha’ar messai tsegur and beautiful melk when he sang “Sweet Home Alabama” (i love that song just because of him). When he lost to that woman with eyes and a smile so lifeless, i gave up. Come to think of it, that’s the last time I watched Idol “negere biye”.

    OJ Simpson and Dick Cheney: The story of America’s life!

  • 13. Ye'ewunet Wodaj  |  May 22, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Hi Mazzi:

    I think you’re right about my misunderstanding you above about your comment on philosophical and religious discussions or philosophical-religious or religious-philosophical discussions. I’d rather think that the fault be on my side than your lacking a sense of humor, which is evident that you have.

    You’re also right in thinking (implied or straightforward) that my interest and passion is largely in things intellectual, mainly philosophical. This following is a weird view to hear for many, example, that I don’t watch movies or even read fictions. The reason? Philosophical which has been with me, ever refined, since I was 15 or 16. I’m not going to discuss that reason here though. I shared it just to show you that discussions about such issues are not for me. I challenged my close friends on many occasions to create a desire (interest) in me for such things and unfortunately none has succeeded doing so in the last many years. I’m not a fan of any sports whatsoever. That means my contribution in terms of comments in this blog is so limited. But then I try to read some posts and comments to learn how to think and see the value in what others say and think about issues that are not primarily of philosophical interest. If there are posts worth commenting, from a philosopher’s point of view, then I’ll try to comment or I’ll remain some kind of denbegan at Abesheet’s Tej Bet in ways that I can. Hope such customers are welcome too.



  • 14. abesheet  |  May 22, 2009 at 3:55 pm


    Incase you haven't gotten my e-mails of yesterday, herebelow is the message I got from the Akismet guys.

    — On Thu, 5/21/09, Alex Shiels

    From: Alex Shiels
    Subject: Re: [akismet-support] Contact form
    Date: Thursday, May 21, 2009, 4:51 PM

    you wrote:
    > A reader of mine keeps being held every time he left a message. He never
    > spams, and doesn’t even add links. Can you take him off the list for me?

    Hi abesheet,

    Akismet isn’t the reason his comments are caught as spam (Akismet isn’t a blacklist by the way).

    WordPress has a built-in comment spam detection feature that looks for oddly encoded characters. That feature is flagging those comments as spam because of the way the apostrophe is encoded (as a decimal numeric html entity, if that means anything to you). Normal web browsers don’t do that. It looks like your reader is either using a buggy program for writing his comments (perhaps a browser autofill add-on or similar); or he’s typing his name in and manually encoding the apostrophe in an unusual way (which seems unlikely but we’ve seen stranger things happen).

    If he’s using a form autofill add-on or special program for writing comments, can you please tell us what it is?

    If not, he should simply re-type his name in the comment form with a regular apostrophe.

    Kind regards,

    So if you can write your nick name without an apostrophe, you’d have no problem leaving your comments after the first one (because now you are like a new commentor for the system; after I approved your “first” comment it would add your nick name to the “safe”/”trustworthy”/”already approved” list).

    Give it a try!

  • 15. YeEwunet Wodaj  |  May 22, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Hi Abesheet:

    You’re most helpful! Yes, I removed the apostrophe catastrophe and am trying to navigate and stay here safe.

    Your cyberhome is most welcoming too. That is cool.



  • 16. Mazzi  |  May 22, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Thank you so much Abesheet for taking me up on the offer and sharing some of your experiences of living in a condominium apartments setting back in Addis. You painted such a vivid picture (as usual) and you pretty much confirmed what I suspected all along. You may take the abesha out of his/her sefer and gibi, but you can never take the sefer/gibi nurro out of the abesha even when you put him/her on the fourth floor of a condominium apartment building :-).

    I even forgot little rituals like bunna mewQet that can actually be structurally destructive if done repeatedly on poorly constructed stairs and floors! But I can’t imagine how you guys coped with frequent wuha meTfat and flooding from careless neighbors who forget to shut off their bwambwas. But we better get used to living in building settings as Addis housing development can only grow upwards now in lieu of land in the city becoming in short supply not to mention damn expensive!

    Have a great day.

    P.S. Isn’t George Carlin Hilarious?! Glad you liked his comedy routines I linked in my other comment.

  • 17. sistu  |  May 22, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    YeEwunet Wodaj,
    (condolences abt your apostrophe, may it RIP),
    Myself was just kidding! pls talk to Mazzi for as long as you want, nothing i like more than reading others discoursing. (there ingideeh, Mazzi, asalife seticheshalehu)… did not mean to complain about it.. i’m kinda never to be taken seriously, feet meesetegne aynet mech hogne?..although mightily glad anjetihin meblate as a result. Tried to think if there is some song that goes “anjeten belashiw wey belahiw..” but could only come up with “liben sitarochiw, sitarochiw”… Not close enough. Hope you like music, btw. and btw, when you go to ethiopia, if you find our friend Inem, can you ask him “when are u returning, sew yasibal atilim wey?” Pls ask the same question if you happen to run into another guy ‘sira salata’ who also disappeared

    Mazzi, mech beyewah ferenj invite medereg amrogn bilesh, sis? i’m merely interested in investigating the existence of one, which I am highly doubting. So better if i got my invitation (which i’m still waiting for!) from abesheet’s reader, right? Its so cool that you like NC. I went there once and really liked the people. so friendly and extremely hospitable. Have met a couple of people from there after that, they all seem that way.

    Oh abesheet! O Jerusalem! I could have written the exact same thing about Bo Bice. know exactly what you mean about his sweet home alabama, he may have led me to believe alabama was my sweet home too (G. Forbid, tho). The day he lost, endet endet endaregegn, i may have screamed, i won’t lie. Same here, that was the last time i watched american idol on TV.

  • 18. Mazzi  |  May 23, 2009 at 5:49 am

    Selam Sistu:

    Anjetun lebelashiw sew asalifesh seyeTeshign le-giziyawi wussot bicha endehone ‘me, myself, and moi’ tesfa enadergalen. Aleziya likefan new :-).

    And the song you might have been thinking about (anjet mebelatin betemelekete….) I think is….

    “Belashiw (belahew), anjeten belashiw (belahew),
    Belashiw (belahew), anjeten belashiw (belahew),
    Megala Kezira Dirre Lay Yaleshiew (Yalehew)…..”

    (Zemmana engurgurowin engidih anchiw CHemiribet :-)) and I liked your “liben sitarochiw” version though…

    Our friend Inem Ethiopia tesmamtot endeQoye aniT’eraT’erim. Enatu (zemedochu) bamarew quTir lessu silu bicha yemiseruletin TafaCH miTin shiro be-Teff injera iyebela ke-bahir maddo yalew ye-Abesheet Tej Bett meche tiz yibelew? Ayiferedibetim! Anchi shiro bayamrishim, le-Enena Abesheet shiro duQet yizzo kemeTa yiQir enelawalen. Abesheet shiro kalnafeQat, weyim yeraswa yameTachiew kalaleQebat, fantawan wedenE melak tichilalech :-). (Secretly hoping Inem is reading this from home so he can pack extra shiro duQet in his luggage goodies from home ;-)).

    As for your Montana connection I was hoping you’d establish, ‘Yewah ferenj’ billo negger yale aymeslegnim! An oxymoron if I ever heard one. So you might be right in setting your eyes towards possible invitations coming from NC.

    I am happy to hear you have a good impression of NC and its people because I have only been there once for a very short while and did not get to see any place at all. But I hear good things about it from my friends who live there, and can’t wait to visit extensively looking around for that illusive fantasy private Ocean Front Beach Side Mansion I dream of having someday when pigs fly! Who knows they just might one day!

    Just so you and Abesheet get the whole notion of Alabama from your minds … side effects of that song ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ sung by Bo Bice (that place is NOTHING to write home about! Been there, and have zero plans of visiting again), I am dedicating the following song to both of you.

    It is one of my most favorite James Taylor’s old songs titled “Carolina In My Mind.” Besides hoping to someday live in NC, every time I hear this song, it makes me miss so many places I have been in (Harrar comes to mind) and even places I have yet to visit. Talk about real or imagined nostalgia!


  • 19. Mazzi  |  May 23, 2009 at 5:53 am

    Attempting to send the link for the above song again… for some reason, did not work the first time but I hope it works this time.

    “Caroline In My Mind” by James Taylor

  • 20. abesheet  |  May 23, 2009 at 6:05 am

    Looks fine to me, Mazzi. But I’m gonne leave the second link as it is for it may come in handy for people from Addis. I remember how next to impossible it used to be to watch a youtube video uploaded on wordpress. That’s why you see most of my earlier videos along with the youtube link.

    Melkam Mishit & an even better weekend y’all.

  • 21. sistu  |  May 23, 2009 at 6:45 am

    Mazzi, that’s a great song that I had forgotten (angeten…) Please pass my Thanks to your nice memory! And the Carolina song was also nice. Usually I don’t think about places I have been to because i would feel too nostalgic about them, way more than i should. But I just can’t get over NC, I am always considering moving there. I was there for a very short time too, actually got stranded there and they downright took care of me, so kinda left an impression. and you are so going to have an ocean side home one day. like totally! no but really… i hope you do. (bet you can see me asking to be invited when you do)..

    btw, i was reading your discussions on the jewish palestine thing and i think you like documentaries, Mazzi, so i recommend ‘to die in jerusalem’. kinda interesting. i think its on youtube too.

  • 22. YeEwunet Wodaj  |  May 23, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Hi Sistu:

    Thanks for your note. Thanks also for allowing Mazzi to continue to discourse with me (and whoever is interested) for as long as I want her. I think I want her for a long time but then it’s up to her to accept that. She is so congenial and fair-minded, a reasonable woman to talk to. I wish she were my neighnor anywhere so that we can talk philosophy over buna or shay or tej!!!

    It’s fun to read your and Mazzi ‘schoice of a song to capture ye’anjet meblat guday. By the way, I like music and as it so happens that I love the Dixie Chicks (!) and it’s quite a surprise to see the above video clip. I wish Mazzi had that video clip for me! I’m a huge country music fan and do love also Bluegrass music. That is about my relationship to music.

    About your friends back home, yes, if I run into them I’ll do what you asked me to do, ask them your questions. I’ll be carrying your questions wherever I go. Hope they’ll return here before I return there, then I’ll carry nothing.

    It’s interesting to hear that you enjoy reading other people’s discourse/discussion. It’d be cool to hear what you think about Mazzi’s and my discussion over there in this blog. Just curious.



  • 23. Inem  |  May 23, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    Abesheet, Sistu and Mazzi,
    Ye nafqotachihu geletsa anjetn belaw. Selam negn atasibu. extra bags of shiro is coming ur way. In Addis, I had to replace Abesheet tej bet by yigebawal as a result nebrer yalut Tatoche could not type legible comments, besides beqenu abuara and bemataw tej yedebezezut aynoche and angole could not be trusted to comprehend your musings and philosophical discourses. I never had continuous online time to read and comment. I still have a week here. Selam senbituliN.

  • 24. Mazzi  |  May 24, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Selam Inem:

    Your ears must have been itching ezih Abesheet Tej Bett simihin sinanesasaw! Abesheet negerun CHerisawalech when she said you had some uncanny ability to BiQ malet siTeruh, and it turns out even from all the way back home :-). Very impressive.

    Even with the daily abwara (not to mention night time Tejj) that might be giving you red-shot eyes, and preventing you from reading ye-Abesheet’s Tej Bett discussions on this side, I am still envious that you are living it up at home. Make sure you bring enough ye-ager bett worre T’al T’al yemitaregachew inbetween drinking Abesheet’s Tejj upon your return. Eskezaw, enjoy the rest of your stay, and relish your time with family and friends.

    @Sistu: Thanks for recommending the documentary above on the Jewish/Palestine issue. I might check it out when I get a chance to see what they have to say. It is hard to watch such documentaries on sensitive issues without feeling so hurt and angry about the madness we witness.

    Sigh! 😦

  • 25. abesheet  |  May 24, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Yeap, that’s Inem for you. You call, he comes. The one thing our friend shares with an attentive Gentleman’s Gentleman and Cheru Medhanialem.

    So Inem wodaje:
    Endet aleh? Mechem, I won’t ask you how you found Addis. Whether you’ve been there a year ago, or 10 years, it’s bound to change dramatically. All i wanna know is how you found Addis Neger. Wonderful, innit?

    Also, did you manage to read “WT” on the plane? If so, what did you think of it? Feel free to answer that when you come back home, I know how next to impossible the internet connection there can be. Especially with the current “yeMebrat meMtat/meTifat chigir”. But please give the presidential veto so Mazzi can finally summon the courage to walk up to her local Barnes & Noble bookstore assistant and ask “where do I find Zadie Smith’s White Teeth?”. It’s bound to create some confusion.

    Melkam samint, bro.

  • 26. sistu  |  May 24, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    Mazzi, no probs. hope you find it of interest in some way. If that one ends up interesting you, there is another one i would recommend called “To see If i’m smiling”… wanna start taking bets on what the third title to recommend will be? “To ____”

    Inem, waaatttt up? nice to see you in the heezy, man. (Obama abelashen eko) Hope all is well on the eastern front. meches shiro amtalign biye alaschegirihim, but please intin mamtat indatresa adera.

    YeEwunet Wodaj, hmmm… well, half of my thoughts about your discussion mistir nachew. the other half.. maybe a question: is the discussion [based] on philosophy or divinity or theology or all or none? maybe you can enlighten me about these terms from your perspective as they always confuse me..

  • 27. YeEwunet Wodaj  |  May 25, 2009 at 5:19 am

    Hi Sistu:

    Thanks for your question. I’m not sure if I’ve something helpful to say in response to your question. What I can briefly and maybe in unhelpful way say is this: My discussion with Mazzi is MOSTLY based on important issues that philosophers take to be of interest; that way, we’re trying to engage each other on philosophical issues. However, the contents of what we’ve been trying to address are what many would take to be religious issues such as God and God’s relation to human beings or vice versa, if God exists. They do intersect with theological issues since theology simply understood is the study of God. But divinity can also be a systematic study of a divine being, e.g., God, or a property or attribute of being divine.

    Yes, these issues are related. And also, there is no one subject matter that philosophy studies and God is one of the issues philosophy is about. Philosophy is also interested in issues theologians are interested in. Philosophy is interested in human beings’ relations (thoughts, beliefs, etc) about God. In these ways, what Mazzi and I are discussing are about these issues broadly speaking. But we’re trying look at these issues from our respective backgrounds, and beyond when possible.

    I hope that there is something helpful in what I’ve shared. It’d be great if you could add what you think about the issues.



  • 28. abesheet  |  May 25, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    You are welcome, YeEwnet. I just wish there were more people to get involved in the discussion.

  • 29. sistu  |  May 26, 2009 at 9:33 am

    YeEwunet Wodaj,
    actually, your answer was as helpful as i was looking for. i once took a religious studies course that had a philosophy title, was taught by someone who studied theology at a school of divinity and i wasn’t exactly sure what each one of those things meant.
    about what one can contribute to the discussion, i thought long and hard to come up with something deep, insightful, intelligent to say and, as i hope you don’t suspect, i couldn’t come up with anything that i was convinced was worth a weight.
    I guess the assumption is that one is entitled to philosophical thought by virtue of owning a brain and it can get quite intimidating to discover that the thought in your head is not the main ingredient needed for a philosophical discussion. and that you have to at least know a bit more about the subject before speaking about it or risk being the fool (something that i, as a human, don’t enjoy being), or be reduced to using blanket phrases and thoughts coined by others to express your own state of thought/reality, which is something else i don’t enjoy in myself or others.
    i know this might be considered a misplaced focus in the context of your discussion but the terms alone can get quite interesting to someone like me who doesn’t have an affiliation with them. For e.g. I was visiting Alex Pruss’ page like you recommended (more out of pure kinat at his 2 PhDs by age 28 than anything else) and came across “Applied Ethics”. Without intentionally meaning to make light of it, my first thought was “what then is theoretical ethics? as in what good is the inapplicable type of ethics and how and why does it even exist?” etc… but then i read a bit more and found it is actually something very reasonable (obviously!), which is not something I would have thought initially. So you see, ignorance can be quite sad, especially when nobody can/should tell you your ignorance is really ignorance. I am entitled to my opinion, of course, and it sounds so reasonable to me but then who should tell me that my opinion is actually crap (even when I deserve to be told that)? Surely the rocket scientist shouldn’t be saying something is not exactly rocket science without sounding arrogant, and if s/he can’t say that, who can? So i guess what i am saying is that its hard to tell when one’s opinions do and don’t stack up to the standards of a legitimate discussion on the subject. and that there once must have lived one arrogant rocket scientist. Having said that, I honestly sympathize with you on a number of points that shall remain unwritten, at least for today.

    btw, “I try my best to make sure that my students do philosophy for the love of it and not primarily for grade or for any extrinsic reason.” If I may, spoken like a true teacher. Its like teachers forget the very intrinsic joy that grades bring.

  • 30. YeEwunet Wodaj  |  May 26, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    Hey Sistu:

    Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts and they are really interesting! Glad to hear that you’ve found something helpful from what I shared without being confident about how helpful it could be since it’s so brief.

    It’s also good to hear that you’re reading our discussion and will probably share something about it from the as yet “unwritten” mental notes by way of building on the written one you’ve shared with us. Cool to hear that you got a chance to visit Alex’s website. Your question about ‘applied’ vs. ‘theoretical’ ethics was interesting. Alex writes on several areas of philosophy and what he writes at times is very technical but then there are some that are fairly accessible to intelligent people without much background in academic philosophy like you. There are countless interesting things that philosophers discuss and I encourage you to keep reading as much as you can.

    The way you ended your note was very interesting. You said, “Its like teachers forget the very intrinsic joy that grades bring.” True. For many from the perspective of students’ what you said could largely be true. But unfortunately or fortunately, I’m not sure, I’m like color blind people about color in that I’ve been grade-blind even as a student for a long time. I’ve been a student for a long time and will always be a student too but also I’ve also been a teacher not for that long but in and thru all these experiences I could hardly fathom the truth of what you said. It’s interesting to hear that grades bring “intrinsic joy’–I’d never think that way. About the possibility that grades can bring extrinsic joy I can easily see that. But I don’t get what you said the way you meant to commnincate it. That might make me a useless philosopher, too idealistic, and romantic and out of touch with what miracle grades could do besides bringing “intrinsic joy” as you pointed out. This is not the subject matter about which we’re discussing at the moment but then who says that we should not talk about things other than what Mazzi and I have been trying to talk about as long as there are some out there who have something to say and share with each other?

    Look forward to hearing more from you.



  • 31. sistu  |  May 27, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Hey YeEwunet Wodaj,

    thanks for encouraging me to keep on reading. I kinda take that to heart and will be reading on. hope i learn some important things some day

    about that grade thing, i guess I was just looking for the opposite of ‘extrinsic’ to express [what is not necessarily] my view on the subject. But then min arigeh indehone enenja, your answer made me want to think about it a little more. So I was trying to read up a little on any hidden meanings to ‘intrinsic joy’ which led to the topic of what the basis for an intrinsic property of something is and then i stopped after stumbling on ch 10 of lewisian themes (online) and injuring my head slightly; i hope that happens to everybody out there. i suspect i could indeed attach the something-i-don’t-know-what kinda joy to the experience of a good grade. incidentally, most of the non-philosophical material i saw with that idea involved teachers… basically them writing to the tune of grades and their extrinsic benefits versus learning and its intrinsic joy. like you said, there seems to be no such thing as grades and their intrinsic joy, and learning and its extrinsic benefits. True, one may have gone through life without ever discovering any form of intrinsic joy in one’s grades but i doubt if not personally experiencing it is justification for why one can not fathom the truth in it. Plus, I wonder, but don’t know, if it can be considered hypocrisy to pursue something to sadistic heights and then claim to derive no joy from it despite all the validation, pride, sense of superiority etc that it brings about. Probably more so in the context of our culture. Regarding what you said about this possibly making you a useless philosopher, i highly doubt that but i wouldn’t take my word for it if i were you.

    Mazzi, anchim tederebsh?…:)ing, of course

  • 32. YeEwunet Wodaj  |  May 27, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Hi Sistu:

    It’s so cool hear that you’re reading more stuff from philosophy and even stumbled on Lewisian themes. You’re right in saying that one could sustain some ‘head injury” from attempting to read and figure out stuff from Lewisian themes without any prior knowledge about the subject matter. I’ve scars to prove how many “head injuries” I’ve sustained from such experiences! Glad though that we now share one more thing in common; scars from mutual experiences and hopefully more to come.

    It’s interesting to read what you said, among others: “True, one may have gone through life without ever discovering any form of intrinsic joy in one’s grades but i doubt if not personally experiencing it is justification for why one can not fathom the truth in it.” Btw, have you read my other post with a few more reflections on grade-related things in my response to Mazziye? I might have said something that could address what it means for me to fail to fathom what kind of intrinsic joy grades could bring, if they could do such a thing at all.

    One can put my lack of grasp like for the issue of intrinsic joy in grades in another way as follows with some additional concepts: grades have instrumental value as opposed to intrinsic value. They can serve us as means to get something else without having, in-themselves (this is to capture the meaning of intrinsic in our discussion) any value at all. Another example, money, as I take it, does not have an intrinsic value in and of itself. But it’s, for some, immeasurable, instrumental value. You get less and less in this world without depending on money but all the way as money being used as means to getting something else. For example, if someone holding a $100 dollar bill in his hands thinks that there is any intrinsic value in that dollar bill (even if it gets multiplied zillions of times), i.e., value in and of itself in that dollar bill , does not seem to have a clear idea what money is for. I’d say the same for grades. Yes, they can be, like hard-earned money, results of one’s working hard to earn them.

    The fact that both money and grades can be results of working hard and virtues such as diligence, perseverance, etc, does not entail that they acquire intrinsic value that leads to intrinsic joy in virtue of them. The person who has made fortunes, be it in terms of money or grades, as it were, could experience joy and fulfillment but this sense of joy and fulfilment seems to be about the fact that a person has worked so hard etc to be able to achieve what he wanted to achieve. That is perfectly understandable and justifiable as some sense of joy. But it’d be weird to conflate the reason for this joy with the intrinsic value and hence joy that money and grades bring to our lives. They do bring so much good, but all the way that is an instrumental good. There does not seem to be any intrinsic good or value in them at at the end of the day.

    Hope these additional thoughts would be of some value–instrumental or intrinsic I leave that to you, Sisitu.



  • 33. sistu  |  May 27, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    Hi YeEwunet Wodaj,

    about lewisian, don’t worry, aylemedegnim. i like my head nice and shallow so i might stick to the soft stuff from now on. btw, if you hadn’t convinced me that things don’t get to be put in the intrinsic value category indee bekelalu, i would have hesitated big time before i bekibir-manor your thoughts in the ‘instrumental value’ side of town (where, i’m sure, they will cause a revolution)

    If I may…
    may i [very respectfully] go after your IJ? so why is learning [expected to be] a source of intrinsic joy? Surely, at the end of the day the experience of learning can be be attributed to some instrumental value that we hope to attain at the end of the tunnel. while we probably don’t know the nature of newton’s joy when he “discovered” gravity, he was probably more excited that he could now see why the stupid apple was falling manim saynekaw. I don’t know if gravity or its discovery in and of itself would have been capable of bringing him any joy in the absence of the apple. So it seems like the intrinsic nature is somewhat decided by the degree to which we are allowed/inclined to relate the thing to something else. Depending on how far we can reach in associating it to something else, can we not reduce any/everything to the cheap and disgraceful level of extrinsic-ness? with grades would they be seen any differently if we were talking about the symbolic thing they represent and not merely the letter or number they are presented as? would that thing ‘in and of itself’ qualify as a source of IJ? or, is there anything that could exist in and of itself and avoid having any form of instrumental value?

    But, cool, i get what you are saying. i was just carrying on for the sake of it. i’m not a big fan of grades either, especially when they are mine… though there are some beruku madenkachew grades out there.
    beBirre gin batmetabign…

  • 34. Mazzi  |  May 29, 2009 at 1:10 am


    LOL about your incurred slight head injury on account of you trying to decipher lewisian theme (whatever those might be!) :-).

    As for ‘mederebigN’ with YeEwunet’s argument on the discussion of whether one can derive ‘intrinsic joy’ or not from grades … besimme grade betimihirt alem wisT sint yegebahubetin siqay betawqi atferjibigNim :-). And not even because I was incapable of earning good grades (though I have had my share of grades not worth reporting) but because I had to maintain ‘good grades’ at all times at all levels when I so did not believe in them in the first place! Never had! This little attitude of mine has also affected my little teaching experience when it comes to grading students.

    Also, just like many Abesha households at home, one of the few times when kids received positive or negative attention from otherwise gidd-yelesh parents was when grades were due, and my family was no different. ‘Unacceptable grades’ (not failing grades mind you but ranking anything below andegNa, huletegna, or sostegNa from the class) were justifiable reasons to kill kids in my household throughout school. What pressure that was! So if there was any ‘intrinsic joy’ to be derived from ‘good grades’ in my household, it was that my siblings and I were spared for another day and lived to tell the tale. Ah Abesha parents … what would we have done without them? 😉

    I agree with you how even the intrinsic joy we are supposed to derive from learning in the end can be attributed to some instrumental value we derive from what we have learned. Like “… if you don’t want your chinqilat to be hit by a falling apple [instrumental value] due to gravity [what we have learned], then don’t make it a habit to sit under apple trees!” Maybe no joy derived in the knowledge alone that apples do fall from the tree due to gravity. I am just speculating here.


    The analogy you used (money and what it represents) to explain what grades are in and of them themselves as opposed to what they represent was a good one.

    I agree when you said: “The fact that both money and grades can be results of working hard and virtues such as diligence, perseverance, etc, does not entail that they acquire intrinsic value that leads to intrinsic joy in virtue of them. The person who has made fortunes, be it in terms of money or grades, as it were, could experience joy and fulfillment but this sense of joy and fulfilment seems to be about the fact that a person has worked so hard etc to be able to achieve what he wanted to achieve.”

    I will probably respond to your grade related discussions in the other post…..


  • 35. YeEwunet Wodaj  |  May 29, 2009 at 1:27 am

    Hi Sistu:

    Thanks for your ever more interesting questions. Note this please: I want to say thank you for your being a respectful friend but then I wanted to make sure that you know that we’re buddies in conversation and you don’t need to feel any pressure to address me, your buddy, in the way you did in your last post. I’m alluding to your “.. [very respectfully] …” I can tell how friendly and also respectful you are and am trying to make sure that we both feel this friendship as a friendship between equals. Eshi?

    Having said that I just wanted to add a thought or two: You ask, “so why is learning [expected to be] a source of intrinsic joy?” and then you went on to add more thoughts as you pursued possible ways of thinking about your question. It’s important to note that learning does not have to be seen ONLY in terms of its intrinsic value or joy that it can bring to someone who learns things by discovering truths about them, etc.

    I take it that learning is a broad term that can include learning something for a purely theoretical purpose, for purely theoretical knowledge as an end for learning something or for practical purposes. It depends on what the subject matter we have in mind when we talk about learning. For example, someone, take a philosopher, whose desire is to seek and find an intellectually satisfying explanation why the universe exists can take it that a theoretical answer that satisfies his intellectual curiosity could be an end in itself. If such a person comes to know the truth that he is seeking and if there does not seem to by any instrumental value for such knowledge, then we’re talking about knowledge of why the universe exists as an end, period. Or, if you take a mathematician who seeks to find a solution to a certain theoretical mathematical problem and succeeds in finding a solution should not seek any extrinsic or instrumental thing about that answer in addition to what he’s already found.

    On the other hand, a lot of things we learn in this world have instrumental value such as our learning how to use a computer to do what we’re doing, driving a car, engaging in physical exercise. The value of such knowledge or skill is practical or better instrumental. Imagine someone engaging in strenous physical exercise and when asked why he’s doing what answering this question by saying I’m engaged in physical exercise purely for the sake of physical exercise– implying that there is nothing that the physical exercise is meant to bring about.

    Maybe you’ll answer some of your questions by thinking them along the above additional ways of thinking about these issues I’ve just suggested (which I’m not claiming would be new to you). One more point: think about truth for a moment and why many people seek truths about various things. Knowing truth is a valuable thing or it’s a good thing. As some philosophers would say truth is a value or it’s good. One of the crucial points worth noting about truth is this: typically knowledge of truth is knowing truth as an end in itself, or put differently some knowledge is an end in itself. But this does not conflict with a view that also takes truth having an instrumental value. Knowing some truths about our medical condition can help us get some medical help hence truth serving us instrumentally. But truth or knowledge of truth about purely intellectual subject matters does not have to be conflated with instrumental understanding of knowing such truths.

    The way you ended your post was rather hilarious: beBirre gin batmetabign…I decided to stop here before I say something about yebirr neger.



  • 36. YeEwunet Wodaj  |  May 29, 2009 at 1:37 am

    Sistu & Mazzi:

    It so happened that both Mazzi and I were probably typing at the same time. I posted my thoughts without realizing that her post was about the same subject matter. Cool to know.



  • 37. C  |  February 20, 2011 at 1:58 am

    Love, love, love this piece. Good job blogHer. Keep it up!

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