Author Archives: Steve

Only American Spoken Here, Please

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Katty Kay, a British journalist, was on Morning Joe this morning. This is an American show, yet she was not speaking American. She was speaking British. I object to that.

The lead actors on House, Homeland, Hawaii 5-0, and Walking Dead are all British, but on TV they speak American. On “The Americans,” Matthew Rhys, a Brit, plays a Russian who speaks American with neither a British nor Russian accent. Daniel Day Lewis spoke American in the Lincoln and Mohicans movies. The new Spiderman guy is a Brit, but you know he speaks American, as Christian Bale did as Batman. I’m glad to see that Jon Stewart got rid of John Oliver on “The Daily Show” because he refused to learn American.

Why shouldn’t Katty Kay be required to learn American if she’s going to be on American TV talking to Americans? After all, they wouldn’t have someone on Morning Joe speaking Chinese or Spanish or Swahili, because Americans don’t speak those languages. If you’re going to work in America, you need to learn American.

I’m going to write my Congressperson.

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Ten Days and the End of Western Civilization

When I was a kid, we always had a full three months of summer vacation. But today’s school begins in August and extends into June. Now, thanks to this horrendous weather, kids face attending school deep into the summer, to make up for cancellations.

Would it be so bad to say, “Let’s just write off those days. No need to make them up. It was an act of God. Let kids enjoy the summer.”

Would missing 10 days of school cause this entire generation of children to fall so far behind the Chinese that America’s preeminent status would crumble, and communism would conquer the world? I’m just wondering about the apocalyptic consequences of cutting this particular school year short.

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The Pursuit of Knowledge

From the It Could Happen to You, But Probably Not File.

In a camp north of Baghdad, a group of anti-government Sunnis were attending a training class on how to become suicide bombers. The teacher conducted a demonstration, and something went amiss. The explosion killed 22 class members and wounded 15. Suggestion for suicide-bomber wannabes: take the course online.

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Dan Coats, Please Release Me

dancoatsA while back I signed up for the e-letter from Sen. Dan Coats, whom I’ve voted for every time he has run for office. But he has turned out to be the same type of do-nothing, oppose-everything Republican Senator as everyone else. He hits all the predictable Republican talking points. A big disappointment to me.

Many times, I have used the “unsubscribe” link to get removed from the e-letter list, but I keep getting it. The latest edition just arrived. There is a “Contact Me” link, but it goes to a dead page. Congressional competence in action.

How much effort should I put into getting my name off his list? Not much. I’ll just keep hitting the DELETE button when the unwanted e-letter shows up. He won’t, after all, be in office forever.

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When Disney Characters Break for Lunch

In the Disneyland cafeteria, in 1961.

In the Disneyland cafeteria, in 1961.

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Sochi

It’s really hysterical reading about how unprepared Sochi is for the Olympics. It sounds like quite a mess.

Here’s something from the New York Times: “To appreciate the hotels in this area, it is probably a good idea to think of them not as hotels but rather as a rare opportunity to experience life in a centrally planned, Soviet-style dystopia.”

 

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Book: “Duty,” by Bob Gates

dutyI just finished a remarkable book: “Duty,” by Bob Gates, the Secretary of Defense 2006-2011. I recommend it highly. It’s the best book I’ve read this year (okay, it’s only the 5th book, but still).

I mostly avoid political memoirs. They tend to be more about burnishing legacies than about history. I’ve never read a presidential memoir, for instance. But I’ve always considered Gates to be a man of integrity, above politics—as he showed in working for every president from Nixon on, with the exception of Clinton.

I felt Gates would tell it straight…and I wasn’t disappointed. He writes very frankly about what he experienced and observed, and frequently criticizes his own actions and decisions. This is not a political book in any way.

For books like this, publishers release excerpts that they feel will do the most to get people talking. That was done with reckless abandon for “Duty.” In particular, they released statements Gates made criticizing President Obama and Joe Biden. But those don’t do the book justice.

Gates makes very clear that he greatly admired both Presidents Bush and Obama. He cites instances where both men ignored the cries of their political advisors and base constituencies, and made the right decisions. He reserved his most critical comments for Congress, for the Pentagon bureaucracy, and for the pols within each administration.

Gates offers wonderfully honest assessments of all the major players he worked with. He had superb relationships with both secretaries of state, Condi Rice and Hillary Clinton, and usually found himself on the same page as them. He personally liked both vice presidents, but disagreed with them a lot (especially Biden). He detested being grilled by grandstanding Congresspersons in public hearings.

But his greatest respect goes to the American troops. I got choked up several times as he wrote about his experiences among the troops. And his words in the final chapter about war—and America’s growing tendency to use military force as a first resort—should be heeded by everybody.

 

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America is Beautiful in Any Language

After seeing the Coke “America the Beautiful” commercial, I commented that some people would be upset by it. Got that one right. All across the internet are people saying things like:

  • Nice to see that coke likes to sing an AMERICAN song in the terrorist’s language. Way to go coke.
  • DO NOT sing my Country’s song of Freedom in a different language.
  • Dear Coke, Your commercial is a slap to the faces of my Italian and Finnish ancestors who came here & learned English.
  • Safe to say I’m never drinking coke again after they sing an american song in another language, buncha pricks.
  • You can’t sing an American song in another language!
  • America the Beautiful was meant to be sung in our accepted language. Drink Pepsi.
  • Our forefathers are rolling over in their graves. America the Beautiful is sung in English.
  • This is the most un-American commercial I have ever seen.
  • Because of this I will never drink Coca Cola again.
  • Terrible ad, Coke. Just terrible. Offensive isn’t a strong enough word.

On the other hand, many people (like me) did like the commercial. Including:

  • The best part of this super bowl is Coke losing a million racist customers.
  • So you think people who don’t speak English aren’t allowed to love America?

I have friends who are immigrants from China and Latin America. Although they know English, it is not their “heart” language and never will be. Their heart language is Chinese or Spanish. Should we native English speakers be offended if they, and other immigrants, sing “America the Beautiful” in their heart language?

Is the Pledge of Allegiance invalid if spoken in Spanish?

Is that Coke commercial really so terrible?

Have Americans become a bunch of weenies, getting offended over just about anything?

Coke apparently anticipated that some people would be upset. They created a number of YouTube videos focusing on a single language, kind of a “making of” the Super Bowl ad, it seems.

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Chinese New Year

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Today begins the Chinese New Year. We are now entering the Year of the Horse. Football fans: draw your own portentous conclusions. But know that there is no Year of the Bird (unless you count the rooster, which is the closest you’ll come to a seahawk).

In recognition of the Chinese New Year, the seven of us in the office today ordered Chinese food. One of my coworkers, Frank, who was born in China, prayed for our meal in Chinese. That was pretty cool.

Frank had taken a gift to the Chinese workers at the restaurant. They gave him a dessert they had made just for themselves (not to put out on the buffet). It was very sticky, with nuts in it. I had several pieces. It was unlike anything I’ve had before, and quite good.

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Gross!

In Singapore, you can order mashed potatoes from a vending machine. Put in your money, hit some numbers, and hot water pours into some instant mashed potatoes. This goes on my short list of disgusting food items.

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