Houston Translator Association Irregularities

The Houston Translators and Interpreters Association has in recent years been a model of competence in the industry. Yet the current bylaws amendment ballot looks more like a model of practices to avoid. The online bylaws dated April 14, 2010, define members as follows:

Article III – Membership…

Section B – Classes and Qualifications

The Association has three (3) membership classes: individual, corporate and institutional.

  • Individual: An individual who is engaged in translating, interpreting or related work (and may include students)

  • Corporate: A business with an interest in translation or interpretation

  • Institutional: An institution with an interest in translation or interpretation.

Directors elected in single-candidate elections now propose to change those member classes by creating a special class of students who at this time would not be allowed to vote to elect their teacher nor be listed in the online members directory (where the public expects to find professional linguists). To propose the change, voters were told that “new text is indicated by underlining, deleted text by strikeout.” But for the ballot proposal sent to members to change the bylaws, the board of directors approved the following:

Section B – Classes and Qualifications

The Association has four (4) membership classes: individual, corporate, institutional and student.

The above introductory sentence (followed by four, not three bullet items) appeared with no underlining for the new text nor strikeouts for deleted language. It gives the incorrect impression–instructions elsewhere to the contrary notwithstanding–that the student category already exists whether one likes it or not, and that there is mere quibbling to be decided on some trifling point of verbiage in the last of four preexisting bullet points.

In an association of quilt-makers, brewers, basket-weavers or kickboxers, the omission might be brushed aside as simple incompetence, the result voided and new ballots produced. Indeed, one such error in ballot translation into Spanish for the Texas State government had precisely that outcome and cost taxpayers about $100,000 to reprint.

The bad ballot language at issue, however, is presented as approved by the very people immigrants depend on for legal defense of their individual rights in courts that order execution by letal injection. Credible fear reviews can shield dissenters or whistleblowers from extrajudicial execution or torture by junta-style dictatorships, and HITA hosted a presentation on those. Professionals educated abroad want their syllabi competently translated with all legalities accurate so they may exercise a profession despite entrenched lobbyists erecting barriers to entry.  Our newsletter and web tips just now alerted linguists of at least a dozen different fraudulent scams. But more perfidious scams are perpetrated from within the profession. Must we circulate ballots that are an indictment of the board’s competence to frame and edit a simple bylaws amendment proposal?

For over a decade beginners were advised by prominent HITA and AATIA members not to bother to apply for municipal and county court interpreting in Texas. From a position of public trust they emphatically proclaimed that a license was required as a prerequisite. Nevermind that this was a law urged by three individuals claiming to represent the profession without their lobby efforts appearing in our trade publications. The persistent lie was finally exposed at a regulatory meeting at which a government regulatory attorney explained on the public record that the law meant nothing of the sort.

The old law merely formalized a procedure for showing an incompetent interpreter the door and ordering up a substitute, typically someone grandfathered in irrespective of real credentials or ability.  The dissembling was a sales platform for quickie diploma mill courses pushing test answers, podiums for grandfathered insiders to talk down to aspirants, and a loophole enabling agencies possessed of counsel to quietly and without fanfare exploit inexperienced youngsters at pauper rates. The law was only repealed after a libertarian interpreter put up a website playing a recording of the regulatory lawyer’s explanation in language too clear and simple to falsify.

If sidetracking students from earning a degree liable to make them employable is deemed a good idea, it ought to be passed by honest vote of fully-informed members using a ballot prepared in conformity with its own instructions and specifications.  Leaving out the underscores and strikethroughs is a demonstration of lack of competence or subterfuge that can only lead to the outcome being challenged. That is not the sort of attention the board needs to be focussing on the Houston Interpreters and Translators Association.

Any association of actual linguists can raise revenue and provide a public service by hosting interpreting contests. Winners selected by the attendees could thereby earn credible credentials by live testing. A similar competitive approach is used to select and rank athletes, speakers, dancers, writers–even tire-changers or jugglers performing at association events. An interpreting contest need be no more complicated than a live debate or a spelling bee, and its results would carry weight with the membership, judges, attorneys, doctors and honest regulators interested in an objective assessment of competence in performance.

If you are an interpreter or translator interested in the honest defense of individual rights, by all means do get in touch.

 

Libertarian spoiler votes repeal bad laws. GOP hurting from unpopular win. LP covers gap in 11 states aggregating 124 electoral votes

The following post Illegal Voting Didn’t Cost Trump The Popular Vote, Gary Johnson Did appeared first on A Libertarian Future at A Libertarian Future – Spreading a Libertarian message across the internet.. It’s been months since the final state finished its recount and finalized its vote totals. The Electoral College voted for Donald Trump and he…

via Illegal Voting Didn’t Cost Trump The Popular Vote, Gary Johnson Did — A Libertarian Future

Two Can Play… econazis demanded initiation of force, right?

No elected representative has done more to speed climate research up: Donald Trump to sack climate change scientists Myron Ebell, who led Mr Trump’s transition team at the agency, said that he expects the new President to sack at least half of the staff there. He also hopes that the organisation will have its budget…

via Trump to sack climate change scientists and slash EPA: Unskeptical scientists are terrified — JoNova

What is Winning?

GOPNSDAPThe key to political campaigns is in the definition of winning. Suppose someone wanted his son shot and jailed, home confiscated, unemployment up, and all markets crashed, you’d suggest he vote Republican. Same solution if they were to want a daughter to bleed to death because of medieval approaches to accidental pregnancy. To Republican, Christian National Socialist and Islamic State legislators that’s winning–provided their candidate also gets the government job. Communists and lay socialists on the other hand prefer to forego the government job but force the kleptocracy to change the laws in response to the pressure of their spoiler votes. It’s kind of like a “sacrifice” move in a chess game, in exchange for gaining tactical or positional compensation farther along. So if their platform planks seem “extreme” (meaning consistent with their ideology), that’s not a problem. Spoiler votes will gradually make those positions seem wearily centrist. That’s the strategy that enacted the 16th and 18th Amendments.

demcommieWhen socialist parties lose, it’s because (their cheerleaders feel) that particular unverifiable secret ballot election was rigged. Deep down you know this is true–or at least unfalsifiable–so the tendency is to feel a twinge of sympathy for the raw deal they got. But it’s not just ordinary socialists. Christian National Socialists, Islamic Mohammedans and devout altruistic Communists all want essentially the same thing: decisions imposed at gunpoint by the better people who know what’s good for the riff-raff. Of course they have surrogates. National Socialists of Third Reich Christian persuasions have since 1932 been the hand inside the Republican party sockpuppet. International Socialists of the East German Communist variety have lately pulled the strings that move the arms and mouths of Democratic Party spokesmen. One can’t think independently and still have faith in altruism.

But suppose a voter wants freedom? That is, not the initiation of force, but rather, voluntary cooperation? Suppose you want the Marxist personal income tax abolished, its collectors disarmed and returned to the productive labor market? What about those who want to eat, drink and smoke what they prefer–people to whom winning means becoming the masters of their own financial decisions?

LPeagleIn that case, the recommendation can only be to vote for the LP platform Gary Johnson is standing on. It is easy to verify that, as in 1892 or 1908, each third-party spoiler vote has way more law changing power than a vote wasted on shape-shifting actors fronting for soft machines. Dry Christian Progressives backing small parties in the 1890s paved the way for Prohibition making light beer a felony. Likewise, dry Christian Socialists paved the way for Soviet Communism in Russia, National Socialism in Germany, and transfer payments to non-producers elsewhere. Yet all their parties–Greenback, Farmer-labor, Anti-monopoly, Socialist, Socialist labor, Prohibition, LOST by their candidates getting less than half the electoral vote. However, they eventually won what they wanted by changing the laws, whether through enactment, court decisions, or repeal.

I’d wager that even if Gary Johnson were to receive 60% of the votes, a way would be found to defraud the election. But the fright would nevertheless cause the looters to abolish a mess of bad laws–which is what I really want. THAT’s winning. Consider making a Paypal donation at LP.org I absolutely guarantee your donation will change 600% to 3600% as many words in laws as it would if wasted on either of the Kleptocracy soft machines.

Third party votes change laws

 

LPeagle

 

Every election year Republican Svengalis come hunting Libertarian Trilbys to convert to the Immutable Platform cast in stone  by God’s Own Prohibitionists. This is  what happened in 1887. The episode is reported in the words of John Sherman, Congressman, Senator, Secretary of both State and Treasury and brother to Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman. Eventually, it is the Major Party platform that changes because integrity wins out over equivocation.  People willing to kill you to take your money are also willing to lie–the easier to to rob you with, my voter!

transitional“The only danger he (Governor Foraker) encountered was in the active movement of the Prohibition party. This party ran a separate ticket, the votes of which, it was feared, would mainly come from the Republican party. In a speech I made at Oberlin, on the 4th of November, I made an appeal to our Prohibition friends to support the Republican ticket. I said: “There are but two great parties in this country, one or the other of which is to be put in power. You have a perfect right to vote for the smaller Prohibition party, and thus throw away your vote, but you know very well that either a Republican or a Democratic legislature will be elected, and that there will not be a single Prohibition candidate elected. Will it not be better to choose between these two parties and give your assistance to the one that has done the most for the success of your principles?”

Observe that the prohibitionists wanted the laws to change. They did not care a whit about which politician is grinning from the podium. Yet Sherman immediately offered them a false choice between a grinning Republican and a supposedly wasted vote. Sherman then dangled the real bait. 

“We think the Republican party is still entitled, as in the past, to your hearty support. Among other of its enactments there is the ‘Dow law,’ looked upon you with suspicion, yet it has done more for temperance than your ‘prohibition laws’ at present could have done. That law enables you to exclude the sale of liquor in more than 400 Ohio towns. It was passed by a Republican legislature. By it more than 3,000 saloons have been driven out of existence. “Then you have the repeated declaration of the Republican party, a party that never deceived the people with false promises, that they will do anything else that is necessary, or all that is possible by law, to check the evils that flow from intoxicating drinks.” (It took the GOP another thirty years to completely wreck the economy through prohibition enforcement in 1930. That drove plenty of people out of business, and did it again in 2007.)

“Is there not a choice between that party and the Democratic party, which has always been the slave of the liquor party, and whose opposition to the enforcement of the Dow law cost the state $2,000,000? The Democratic party, if put in power, will repeal that law and will do nothing for prohibition that you will accept.” (To frighten fanatics, threaten them with the horrors of freedom!)

“They say they want license, but they know it can never be brought about without a change in the constitution. They want the liquor traffic to go unrestrained. It does seem to me that with all the intelligence of this community it is the duty of all its candid men, who are watching the tendencies of these two parties in this country, not to throw their votes away.” (Again, the Republican platform contained what the prohibition voters did not want, yet proffer it as a future possiblity, and point to the Hobgoblin as the only alternative to surrendering their integrity.)

“It is much better to do our work by degrees, working slowly in the right direction, than to attempt to do it prematurely by wholesale, and fail. More men have been broken up by attempting too much than by ‘going slow.'” (Softlee, softlee, catchee monkey–old Chinese proverb)

“Your powerful moral influence, if kept within the Republican party, will do more good, a thousandfold, than you can do losing your vote by casting it for a ticket that cannot be elected. Next year will present one of the most interesting spectacles in our history. The Republican party will gather its hosts of progressive and patriotic citizens into one grand party at its national convention, and I trust that when that good time comes our Prohibition friends and neighbors who stand aloof from us will come back and join the old fold and rally around the old flag of our country, the stars and stripes, and help us to march on to a grand and glorious victory.”
(Sherman 1895 p. 770–of the single-volume edition) 

The prohibitionists of course did not fall for it, but other voters reelected the candidate–who was defeated the subsequent year. Prohibitionists cast their votes for what they really wanted–a change in the laws. To the Republican, his ticket meant his party’s hand in the till. The Prohibition Party did not want a hand in the till. They wanted men with guns to take to the streets and arrest people for beer and liquor. The Major Party seduction relies on the fallacy of equivocation to trick the voters into betraying their own values and sacrificing them instead to what the Major Party wants. By preferring their own misguided lust for the power to coerce others, the prohibitionists injected next to the Bill of Rights an amendment transforming the Constitution into a religious fetish for the initiation of deadly force against peaceful individuals.

 

Certified Portuguese Translators

A statistical breakdown of ATA-certified Portuguese translators. These are translators who have passed a relatively simple test by translating some 700 to 800 words in three passages selected out of a total of five. Three major errors or 20 minor errors suffice to fail a passage, and one has to pass two to pass the test. From 1981 until 2004, passing at least one of these tests was a requirement for voting in the association. People who have passed the tests are usually listed on the ATA website and hence are verifiable.

More and more entities are exercising responsible stewardship by checking translator qualifications. So, what is an ATA-certified Portuguese translator? Of the 987 persons claiming the ability to translate to or from Portuguese with professional competence, only about 16% have passed either of the two separate and distinct tests. Four out of five alleged Portuguese into English translators have never passed that specific test and only 14% of those claiming the ability to translate from English into Portuguese have demonstrated that ability by passing the other specific test. Most of the people who pass either test are native speakers of the target language, meaning that is their dominant language.

If someone says “I am an ATA-certified Portuguese translator,” that doesn’t tell you very much unless they mean they have passed the tests in both directions. Only one percent of all of ATA members claiming some competence as Portuguese translators have passed the certification tests in both directions. That works out to exactly 12 listed translators at the time of writing (2 more are unlisted). Although certification in one direction is better than no certification at all, only one in about 18 certified translators can reliably work in both directions for Portuguese. Here is a breakdown of the numbers:

ATA members who Claim E-P Claim P-E Claim Bidirectional
Claim direction ability 441 546 643 (estimated)
Certified f/direction(s) 86 75 12 (or 14)
Unverified 355 471 359
% unverified 80 86 36
% Certified 20 14 1

Most certified translators only assert that they are certified in one particular direction. The ATA, for reasons of internal politics, goes to great lengths to suggest that certification tests have nothing to do with interpreting ability. I have observed many interpreters, and every one of the certified translators who has passed the test in both directions has turned out to be capable of interpreting with professional competence in both directions (without necessarily liking the work). Somewhere in between 284 and 643 of these interpreters claim competence in both directions. The data tell us nothing about overlap, but the ratios of certified to uncertified (as translators) appear to be in the same ballpark for interpreters as for translators. As you might expect, most (but by no means all) of the better bidirectional interpreters in the ATA have passed at least one of the tests as near as I can ascertain.

Looking at the ATA as a whole, one is struck by the tiny number of people are certified into three different languages. When total membership stood at 8000, there were three such members. It is probably a safe bet that there are approximately half a dozen translators certified into three target languages today.