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Ben Franklin's bifocals Friday, May 22, 2009

golden anchor National Maritime Day ship's wheel

Richard Wagner Giant of Opera
[1813 - Wilhelm Richard Wagner, composer,
born in Leipzig, Germany]

SS Savannah under sail and steam - first US steamship to cross the Atlantic
[1819 - SS Savannah sets sail from Savannah, Georgia to Liverpool, England]

Oregon pioneers by their wagon
[1843 - First wagon train departs Independence, Missouri, bound for Oregon]

Mary Cassatt (Self Portrait)   Mary Cassatt - Daughter of Alexander Cassatt
[1844 - Mary Cassatt, artist, born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania]

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes
[1859 - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, physician, writer, born in Edinburgh, Scotland]

Actor Laurence Olivier    Actor Laurence Olivier
[1907 - Sir Laurence (Kerr) Olivier, Academy Award-winning actor, born in Dorking, Surrey, England]

Writer Vance Packard   Vsnce Packard's The Hidden Persuaders
[1914 - Vance Packard, writer, born in Granville Summit, Pennsylvania]

Actress Susan Strasberg
[1938 - Susan Strasberg, actress, born in New York City]

Actor Paul Winfield
[1939 - Paul Winfield, actor, born in Los Angeles]

USS Scorpion (SSN-589)on surface
[1968 - USS Scorpion (SSN-589) is lost at sea with all hands]

Officious Language

Congress periodically trots out timeworn legislation designed to make English the official language of the USA. If the worthies camped on Capitol Hill had taken notice, they would know that for some time now English has been the universally accepted language of commerce and diplomacy. This occurred not because of any act of Congress, but rather because our great nation came to dominate the global economy and emerged victorious from the Cold War.

It is ironic that the same political leaders who seek to mandate the official language for the United States of America profess a belief in the free-market economy, and say they stand for individual choice and liberty. If they really believed in these concepts, they would trust English to prevail in the free marketplace of ideas. Yet another act of US xenophobia and thinly disguised racism, steeped in the post-9-11 hysteria, may only persuade the rest of the world that perhaps they should be studying Chinese instead of English.

William's Whimsical Words:

William's paternal grandmother, who spoke broken English until the day of her death, helped raise three grandsons. Among them are four undergraduate degrees, a master's degree, a law degree, and a Ph.D. All of her grandsons have thus demonstrated some facility with the English Language in spite of the fact that she never did.

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