Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Somebody else on English:

This is a funny forward of unknown origin:

FW: Euro-English News Flash

The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility.

As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5- year phase-in plan that would become known as "Euro-English".

In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy.

The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of "k". This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f". This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.

Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.

Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.

By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v".

During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensibl riten styl.

Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.

Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas.

If zis mad you smil, pleas pas on to oza pepl.

Friday, March 19, 2010

On one deficient vegetable:

I heard a conversation on Talk of the Nation on NPR the other day (March 12, 2010) about whether or not genetically modified crops are living up to their billing as a solution for starvation in impoverished countries. The upshot was that mostly they aren’t, but apparently one of the “successful” GMOs is the high-vitamin cassava or yucca. The expert guest had the temerity to say that cassava, in its natural state, is “deficient.” I ask you, how can a vegetable be deficient? The very definition of a healthy diet is a varied one. We get a full complement of nutrients from eating a delicious plate that appeals to the eye and palate with lots of different colors and flavors. Who would want to eat yucca exclusively anyway? Don’t get me wrong, I love yucca, but just yucca?

What? You say some people in this world are so poor, yucca is all they can eat? I say what’s deficient is an economic system that doesn’t allow all people to afford to eat the variety of foods human bodies want and need.

Maybe that economic system is what we should be re-engineering.

Link to the show:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

On the green revolution:

It snowed 3 feet in Washington D.C. a few weeks ago and for some Americans that’s an excuse to give up on the hard work it will take to make our society sustainable. (Never mind that climate scientists have long predicted that more powerful storms would be one more symptom of what’s ailing planet Earth.)

Is it me, or is this easy-way-out attitude completely un-American? Did our forbears found a great nation on greed, gluttony, denial? Manifest destiny at any cost? Well ok, maybe they did, but they also worked hard and never gave up. They invested in the long term as they built the infrastructure of their communities. They adapted to harsh conditions, endured and overcame hardship again and again. If we humans manage not to kill ourselves off, what do we Americans want our legacy to be? Do we want to be remembered as the indulgent fools who took advantage until there was no advantage left to take, or as the scrappy revolutionaries who survived because they reinvented themselves to meet their new reality?

Whether or not you believe climate change is being caused by humans, sustainability is good. There’s no controversy about reliance on foreign oil. There’s no ambiguity in mountaintop removal. There’s no up-side to an oil slick.

While we continue to do nothing, the problem we face gets harder to solve. While we make our excuses and our political calculations we get closer to the day when our fate is sealed. My understanding is that we won’t know that day has come and gone until it’s too late.

We can all buck up and begin the hard work of changing ourselves and our way of life TODAY, or we can keep hiding our heads in the snow…or the flood waters or whatever’s in store for us next as climate change advances inexorably.