Monster of the 21st Century

I haven’t written anything about the war in the Middle East, principally because other blogs, like bookwormroom, for example, are handling the issues so well. But I would like to share a Letter to the Editor I read in Saturday’s Orange County Register. It was written by Kevin Diamant, of Irvine, CA.

I am sick of all the ignorant letter-writers who blame Israel for the violence in the Middle East. Israel was created as a Jewish homeland after World War II so that the Jews would never again be without someone to fight for them. The Jews took a worthless strip of desert and made it bloom and introduced democracy to the region.

In her first 25 years Israel was attacked three times by the enemies that surround her and forced to fight for her life. When they found that they could not defeat her in a conventional war, her enemies turned to terrorism and began deliberately targeting unarmed, unsuspecting civilians. This tactic is a direct challenge to civilized society and cannot be supported by sane reasoning. What sort of world would we have if anyone with a grievance strapped on a bomb and headed for the nearest public gathering place? Yes, civilians die when Israel defends herself, but, unlike the terrorists, civilian death is not what Israel seeks.

Israel frequently eschews bombs and missiles and puts her soldiers at great risk in close-quarters fighting so that civilian lives may be spared. When civilians are killed, it is often because the terrorists hide among them. Those who see Israel’s actions as morally equivalent to the terrorists’ actions put us all on a slippery slope toward a world in which no one will be safe.

I fear for a world in which so many people cannot tell the difference between good and evil, or who lack the courage to name evil for what it is. Right now Israel is standing toe to toe with the monster of the 21st century, and she deserves our unflagging support.

I especially like the last paragraph, in which Mr. Diamant calls terrorists the “monster of the 21st century.” He got it right. To me, a monster is something that can’t be reasoned with, so must be killed. Despite the cease fire and international monitoring that may eventually come out of the diplomatic efforts underway, I cannot see how there will ever be a meeting of the minds without a complete turnabout in the thinking of Israel’s (and our) enemies. I am very pessimistic about that happening. Personally, I’d rather just see Israel finish the job.

Published in: on July 31, 2006 at 6:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

Alzheimer’s Delay Device

I discovered this game on the computer called Super Bounce Out. You are presented with a screen filled with all different colored balls. You line them up into rows of at least three of the same color by clicking on two balls, which exchange places. When you’ve formed a line of three, those three will bounce out of the screen and send the neighboring balls ricocheting against each other to form new patterns. There’s a time limit, and if you don’t clear enough balls during the limit for that level, the whole screen explodes and gives you this little “nyah nyah” sound, just to make sure you know you stink at this game. (Michael thinks the sound is more “beep boop” but whatever it is, it still means you stink.) If you clear the required number of balls, then you advance to succeeding levels, where rows of three (or four or five, if you’re good enough to make them) are worth more points. Of course, higher levels require you to clear more balls, so the excitement builds. Got it? Oh, and there’s this guy saying “boing, boing, boing” while all the balls are bouncing around.

You may think this is a colossal waste of time, but I can think of three good things about it:

1) I enjoy it, and the better I play, the more I enjoy it.

2) Playing seems to release a part of my brain that does its best work when I’m not watching. So I come up with good ideas while I’m playing.

3) The other part of my brain (the part that’s playing the game) has to be alert, and has to look for patterns, and anticipate patterns that will form as balls bounce out of the screen. There’s also hand-eye coordination from using the mouse. This is good exercise, i.e., an Alzheimer’s Delay Device.

If all that sounds like too much justification, then stop after No. 1.

When I first started playing Super Bounce Out, I couldn’t find the patterns fast enough. I got “nyah nyah-ed” very quickly. I was lucky to score 3,000 points (baby stuff). Naturally, the more I played, the better I got. I learned to recognize set-ups for aligning four or five balls and my scores started to reflect it. On the day I first reached 100,000 points, I felt like a teenager. Now, 100,000 points is routine. I am writing this post to announce to the world that I have scored 369,938!

But I have no objective idea whether that’s fantastic, really good, average, or still baby stuff (compared to an actual teenager). So you people out there who play Super Bounce Out, please tell me how I’m doing? I really need to know.

Published in: on July 17, 2006 at 9:27 pm  Comments (1)  

No Need to Learn English

Yet another reason why immigrants needn’t bother to learn English…

Today’s Orange County Register tells of a Spanish Language school where Korean business owners are learning Spanish (click here for complete article).

…mostly middle-age Korean students…are taking language lessons at the Martin Spanish College. Many are small-business owners who do not speak English.

How can you fault them for choosing to put their effort into learning Spanish instead of English? It’s a very practical decision for them, and just another sad indicator of where we’re headed.

The school’s founder, Martin Paik, taught Spanish to Koreans in Buenos Aires, Asuncion, Paraguay and Los Angeles. In 1997, he established a language school in Southern California and now teaches 120 students in Los Angeles and Orange County.

“It’s imperative to know Spanish nowadays,” Paik said in Korean. “Here in California, lots of Koreans work with Hispanic customers and employees. If you can’t speak Spanish, you can’t do business well.”

Paik never learned English. He said he’s been too busy teaching Spanish.

Posted by judyrose July 11, 2006

Published in: on July 12, 2006 at 2:50 am  Comments (5)  

Phonetic Spelling Plan: Education for Idiots, by Idiots!

According to Associated Press writer Darlene Superville, the American Literacy Council wants to change English so that all words are spelled phonetically (click here for complete article).

Notwithstanding the errors of fact by ALC spokesman Alan Mole, who argues in favor of phonetic spelling (did you know German is a phonetically spelled language? Try Kreuz or Sie), if this is the best answer the education elite can come up with to improve our kids’ reading and writing skills, we’re in a heap o’ trouble.

Generation after generation, the native-born and the immigrant – when sufficiently motivated – have managed to master basic English. What we really need is a reaffirmation of high standards and personal discipline, maintained by parents and teachers who value real achievement over unearned “self-esteem.”

This is no small thing the Council is talking about. Words get much of their meaning from their prefixes, suffixes, and roots. Superville quotes Professor Donald Bear, director of the E.L. Cord Foundation Center for Learning and Literacy at the University of Nevada, Reno, who objects to the plan. He says:

Students come to understand how meaning is preserved in the way words are spelled.

Simply put, the entire purpose of language is the communication of meaning. The ALC plan obliterates key components of the way meaning is communicated.

Education by idiots, and for idiots, will create legions of idiots. People can learn how to spell and read our common language – if they can be protected from crackpot theorists like the American Literacy Council.

Published in: on July 6, 2006 at 11:02 pm  Comments (2)  

Writing Errors Do Damage

I saw two things in the Business section of today’s Orange County Register that lifted my spirits. Both support points I try to make in my business as a provider of writing assistance services. In his column (click here), Stephen Wilbers talks about the impact of writing errors. He says:

Big errors are damaging. Small errors are distracting. Big errors undermine your credibility. They’re the kind that nearly every reader notices and some readers never forget. If you make a big error when writing to certain readers, they will put you in a box, tape it shut and place it on a shelf labeled, “Never to be paid attention to again.” Believe me, it’s not a comfortable place to be.

I always tell clients that even small mistakes draw the reader’s attention away from the subject matter and focus it on the errors themselves. Even if they are not severe enough to cause a misunderstanding about what is being said (and all too often, they are), errors still obscure the message and detract from the company’s image. This is especially unfortunate when a company is promoting the superior quality of its products and/or services. The incongruity is obvious.

The second item appears in the “Five Tips” column. Today’s tips on e-mail come from Anthony Sanchez of Waterford Technologies in Irvine, CA. He makes the points that e-mails are valuable business communications, and sometimes, the only record of an approval or an agreement.

I have always maintained that in business, it is just as important to write carefully in e-mails as it is in more formal correspondence. Yet e-mails are often written in informal shorthand and are rarely edited before they go out. When employees have substandard writing skills to begin with, and believe that mistakes don’t count in e-mails, these communications pose a risk to the company if they are not checked first.

Good writing can prevent misunderstandings and inspire customer confidence. It is too important an issue to neglect. Especially here in Southern California, the workforce contains large numbers of people educated in other countries who use English as a second language. Even when they speak and read quite well, writing can still pose a challenge for them. In U.S. education, the basics aren’t stressed as much as they once were, and good writing skills can no longer be taken for granted, even among college graduates. This is the need I try to address in my business, although, sad to say, many executives do not believe that good writing is an ideal worth spending money on. I even had one potential client send me the following:

WE HAVE NO NECCESITY AT THIS MONMENT,PLEASE CONTACT OTHERS.

So I felt good coming across these two items in the paper today. It’s always nice to get validation, even when you already know you’re right.

Published in: on July 3, 2006 at 9:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Illegal Immigration: Answer to the Social Security Crisis?

Can someone in Washington be thinking that allowing illegal immigrants to participate in the Social Security system will shore up the worker-to-retiree ratio and save the system? I’m just waiting for some politician to tell us that this is one of the great benefits of granting amnesty to illegals.

If I remember correctly from my days as a Social Security employee back in the 1970s, for people who work in the lowest paying jobs, the ratio between what they pay into the system vs. what they will be entitled to receive makes them a net drain on the fund.

Published in: on July 1, 2006 at 6:08 am  Leave a Comment