Sunday, March 29, 2015

The future of English in America?

I have thought long and hard over the years about what I believe will be the national American language by 2050. If I'm deeply cynical, I'd say Spanish.
But, if I want to be level-headed, it'll be a form of English that will have changed deeply from what we currently know, with a lot more Spanish influence. What happened to English when the Normans mass emigrated to England, settled and became the ruling class will happen to American English, only with Spanish tweaking the tongue instead of French. This might actually cause the much-predicted rift between American English and British or Commonwealth English spoken by the rest of the world.
The most popular language, in a time when Hispanic family names like Gomez, Gonzalez or Hernandez will have completely overtaken Anglo, Irish, Italian or other surnames in phonebooks everywhere, will be the interaction between Spanish and English known as Spanglish. That will be a major, unavoidable dialect that will form the basis of much talk—and slang—among the majority of under 50s in the United States thirty-five years from now (if not sooner).
I believe most first-generation Latinos, even the offspring of illegal aliens, will learn English. But the case in which most offspring of Spanish-speaking migrants once were encouraged to learn and accept English only, the current—and certainly future—generations will have fluency in Spanish in their lexical arsenals as well.
Spanish-language media, such as Univision and Telemundo, aren't going anywhere and the market for Spanish-language news and entertainment grows stronger every year.
Now, don't misunderstand me: I don't appreciate this shift in culture and if I had my way, English would be forced upon Hispanics, the same way past immigrants had to be immersed in English and learn the language because there was no other option open to them.  And I also don't wish any American citizen to be told that they must learn Spanish as a foreign language.  I don't want the response to any American student who would like to study French, German, Russian or Chinese be: "No, that's stupid. Spanish is the language you should be learning."
However, to be practical, no other immigrant group in American history was poised to completely overrun the country the way that Mexican, Central American, South American and Caribbean speakers of Spanish are.
There will always be an incentive to learn English in America. At least that's what I want to believe. There will even be a sizeable portion of the Hispanic community that will defend English, just as there is today. But, to acknowledge reality, I think time will eventually come when the issue will be forced on us to go bilingual. Certainly the job market may dictate that.
Here's how I suggest we settle this matter once and for all:
The United States should establish Spanish as an auxiliary language. By doing that, we will not be declaring it equal to English. Español (or castiliano, if you will) will not be set up to be the majority or native tongue of Americans. It will simply exist as a recognized language of a particular community that speaks it, as it is in The Philippines. In order to bestow auxiliary status on Spanish, though, the country at some point soon will have to give English official status; English needs to be formally established as the primary language of the American nation.
This is an issue that has been forced on us by the sheer ineptitude of past administrations to admit to a burgeoning immigration and culture problem and effectively deal with it. There is no turning back, I fear. Let's just give Spanish its due with the auxiliary status fig-leaf and thusly prevent Canadian- or Belgian-style bilingualism that will polarize the country.
I assure you, the Nightdragon will continue to write in English, no matter what.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Time to scrap the Air Passenger Duty

A bit of advice before we begin: If you've never had a wisdom tooth out, ladies and gents, let me warn you. It hurts. This is a pain that will be with you for over a week. After the first few days, when you stop spitting blood, it will be just a dull ache that aspirin or acetaminophen can take care of, but it will still be difficult to eat solid food. Or any food, for that matter.
OK? On with the show:
Here in the U.K., and in England especially, an excise tax called the Air Passenger Duty (APD) is charged to travelers flying out of a U.K. airport. It was arranged in bands labelled A, B, C and D. As of next month, travelers to the U.S. or Caribbean will be paying an extra £142 ($212), in band B, for the privilege. Do you understand now why I haven't been home for over three years?
The Government instituted the APD in 2007, citing the environmental impact of the airline industry, but the APD does not take into account the efficiency of a plane. Assuming I was to fly to Boston on an old 747-200 or a DC-10, the duty I would pay would be the same as if I was flying on a new plane using up-to-date, carbon-cutting technology like the 747-8, the 787 or the A350.
Besides which, George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, has admitted, in a letter to the Airport Council International that was leaked to The Daily Mail in 2011, that the bogus duty is there just to finance the Treasury, meaning that any environmental concerns expressed to justify it are complete hokum.
So the Government admits that APD raises revenue, but expects us to believe that this is not simply a cash cow, and that money raised for them is good for us.  When was the last time you trusted any Government tax to be fair and just and to have a reason for existing? 
PricewaterhouseCoopers, inasmuch as they may have encouraged corporate tax cheats, helping to set up tax shelters in Luxembourg for them, and may have been exposed as the largest donor to "Red" Ed Miliband and his Labour campaign, have some credibility for number-crunching.  Their 2013 study of the APD determined that tourism revenue would go up with the abolishment of the APD, sparking a rise in economic output, investment and exports.
The Treasury would get more in its coffers by abolishing the APD.   So why is the Chancellor clinging to it like Aesop's dog with the bone? Why is David Cameron letting him continue with this tax which is setting the U.K. apart from the rest of Europe?
In fact, in 2011, Continental Airlines threatened to cease its Belfast to Newark flight if Northern Ireland did not scrap its APD—which, golly gee, it soon did.
Why should a North American come to London? Far better to fly to Paris, base yourself there, and take the Eurostar to London for a day or two. You might still pay the equivalent of the APD or more in train and hotel costs, but at least you'll get more bang for your bucks. The French won't slap you with a three-figure duty just for flying out of their country.
Last year, Osborne announced the removal of bands C and D from the APD, effective next month, so that the highest charge now will be the £142 of band B. That is not enough. It is still an unfair charge at a time when flying is expensive enough. Why, suddenly, are people being punished for flying up to 4,000 miles but not beyond that?  I cannot imagine on what grounds anyone can defend this cynical ruse. (Bonus points if you can do it with a straight face.)
Please sign this petition (just click on the purple words "this petition") and be counted, dear reader, as one who is fed up with punitive, nonsensical government taxes.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

I should have known better ...

I think there could be nothing more indicative of rip-off Britain, and which serves perfectly as the embodiment of the disappointment with which so many people live on this murky island, than the recent solar eclipse.
We'd heard about it for weeks. Solar eclipse on March 20.  Then, solar eclipse this Friday. Don't miss it, folks. It'll be decades till you may or may not see another one. Be there or be square.  The solar eclipse is coming. Solar eclipse! SOLAR ECLIPSE! Holy squishy squirrel shit, SOLAR ECLIPSE EVERYONE!
There's me thinking, when this week began, that since I usually stay up Friday mornings after work to get a little pre-weekend housecleaning done, then I can step outdoors at 9:36 a.m. to view the 85 percent eclipse and observe how dark it would get. Even though there have been other solar eclipses that occurred during the course my current 45-year lifespan, I had no chance to see them. This one I would not, could not, miss.
Ah, but yes. Leave it to nature.
I left work Friday morning at 6:35 a.m. Looked at the sheet of impenetrable steel-grey mylar covering the entire sky and thought, "This is not good." Fast forward three hours. It got a bit darker. But it was not possible to tell if that was due to the eclipse taking place behind the cloud cover or if it was darker storm clouds arriving. It looked like it does during the tense minute just before a thunderstorm.
Then I went to bed. Boo-yah!
At least I wasn't alone in my frustration and seething resentment of nimbostratus. Forty million others across the country could not see it either. As The Daily Telegraph's Sarah Knapton writes, "It was a very British eclipse". And how!
The real kick in the ass? It had been sunny for mornings on end. It has been the sunniest British winter since Methuselah was a young boy performing cartwheels in the desert sand. The morning when we really needed the sky to be clear? That would be a no-go, ladies and gentlemen.
Just goes to show, as every resident of this land knows, the necessity in taking any news that could indicate genuine excitement with a liberal dose of salt. That way,  at least the bitter taste in your mouth that you will be left with will not come as a surprise.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Please, no more hand-wringing over so-called humanitarians

On February 10, U.S. authorities confirmed that Kayla Mueller, a 26-year-old American aid worker who was serving with Doctors Without Borders in Aleppo, Syria, had been killed by ISIS, who had captured her in August 2013. It is not known how Mueller died, just that her death has been confirmed.
Accounts paint Mueller as a humanitarian with strong Christian beliefs. She had a boyfriend in Syria, who was released by ISIS but attempted to rescue her. Mueller wrote in a letter to her family dated November 2, 2014 that she had faith in God to put things right, admitted that she caused her family suffering by having gone to a war zone, that she didn't seek forgiveness from them and that she absolutely did not want to burden her family with the negotations for her release as it was not their duty.
The Muellers, Carl and Marsha, have criticized President Obama for waiting too long and preventing them from doing more to save her. Special forces had informed Obama of a window that had opened in the spring of 2014 in which to get her back, but the President waited too long and didn't give the rescue order until July, by which time, the militants—with Kayla in tow—had disappeared. Carl Mueller also said that the administration's policy of swapping prisoners for captured Americans, as it did with the deserter, traitor, Muslim convert and best buddy with the Taliban, Bowe Bergdahl, allowed ISIS to up the ante. They were not allowed to pay ransom, even if they could have gotten the $6.2 million that ISIS demanded for her release.
What you probably have not been told, at least not by the so-called mainstream media, is that Kayla Mueller was quite the anti-Semite. Just like Rachel Corrie before her, Mueller was not just pro-Muslim, but stood avidly against the Israeli state and people.
You remember Rachel Corrie, right? She was an American protestor, active with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a group founded by Palestinian activist Ghassan Andoni. In 2003, she was attempting to stop a bulldozer from destroying a Palestinian neighborhood in the Gaza town of Rafah and was run over by said bulldozer. (Cue comic laugh track.)
The driver of the bulldozer, an Israeli of Russian extraction, said that it is difficult to see or hear very well when operating those vehicles and that all he saw was some earth being scooped up. He claimed to have no idea that Corrie was on the pile of rubble that the bulldozer was heading toward. Even the Left-wing Mother Jones opined that the driver's account of not being able to see Corrie was credible. Two weeks ago, Israel rejected an appeal of their 2012 ruling that upheld the findings of the 2003 investigation.
Back to Mueller. She too was a supporter of ISM. She wrote in one of her letters that she did not hate her captors. Was she being a good Christian by claiming that, or was it because she sympathized with them? It is known that she spent time in Palestine itself and was vocal in her support for Hamas. She was involved in protests concerning the Israeli West Bank barrier, a high-tech electronic border fence that has kept almost to zero the number of Palestinian suicide bombers that have gotten into the country since its construction. A charity that has been set up in the wake of Mueller's death, Kayla's Hands, includes a link to a page that describes her work for ISM and the radical Palestinian campaign.
So, dear reader, wish the Mueller family well in getting over their grief, but do not mourn the loss of Kayla. Who knows how she acquired her anti-Semitic convictions, but she could have been exposed to anti-Israeli, anti-Jewish sentiment in college, which would not be surprising. All I can do is mirror blogger Debbie Schlussel: "Buh-bye, Kayla. Have fun with your 72 Yasser Arafats."
The lesson here, dear reader, is this: Do not trust any MSF or other assorted "aid workers" who are in Palestine or Syria or Iraq. They are almost always exposed as pawns in ISM's terror-abetting game. I don't want to hear any more about any Americans captured by ISIS or al-Qaeda. I'm done with that. They are on their own and if they get captured, so be it.
Kayla Mueller wrote that even in the darkest places, God's light shines through. So let these "humanitarians" be satisfied with that when they're being led around on a leash by Islamic militants.