Why the British Tell Better Children’s Stories by Colleen Gillard [The Atlantic] Their history informs fantastical myths and legends, while American tales tend to focus on moral realism.
If Harry Potter and Huckleberry Finn were each to represent British versus American children’s literature, a curious dynamic would emerge: In a literary duel for the hearts and minds of children, one is a wizard-in-training at a boarding school in the Scottish Highlands, while the other is a barefoot boy drifting down the Mississippi, beset by con artists, slave hunters, and thieves. One defeats evil with a wand, the other takes to a raft to right a social wrong. Both orphans took over the world of English-language children’s literature, but their stories unfold in noticeably different ways.
Americans ruin their jokes with two simple letters. Miserable twits. I can’t abide “just kidding.” It’s an exculpatory waiver, a spoiler alert, which bludgeons spontaneity. It regulates humour, robbing us of the joy of discovering it ourselves. Surely we can discern shades of seriousness, unaided.
Robert F. Gallagher served in the United States Army's 815th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion (Third Army) in the European Theater during WWII. He has posted his memoir online: "Scratch One Messerschmitt," told from numerous photos he took during the war and the detailed notes he made shortly afterwards. [more inside]
It is the central, most eyecatching feature of the modern Oval Office. But for over a year, abandoned by a captain said to be harsh and venereal, it drifted slowly, its huge frame creaking, locked in ice, in the land of endless night. [more inside]
10 Worst Americans? Hot on the heels of BBC's list of the 10 worst Britons of the past 1000 years, people are calling for nominations for the 10 worst Americans. (a nice? change from all the "best" lists floating around the end of each year)
Thanksgiving sucks. The English went on setting fire to wigwams of the village. They burned village after village to the ground. As one of the leading theologians of his day, Dr. Cotton Mather put it: "It was supposed that no less than 600 Pequot souls were brought down to hell that day." And Cotton Mather, clutching his bible, spurred the English to slaughter more Indians in the name of Christianity.
"At this moment, I am proud to be a citizen of a country that has done more than most to help the US get rid of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. And I think that it would do other Europeans some good to think again about what their countries have achieved, if anything, to try to stem the tide of dictatorships and terrorism around the world. They should wonder whether they are really asking themselves the hard questions. Or whether they are shrugging their shoulders and blaming America because that is what they have been brought up to do." A thoughtful & conflicted post from the anti-war Englishman in New York reflecting on the London bombings.
Borat strikes again. Sacha Baron Cohen, star of HBO's Ali G Show, hits another unsuspecting American audience, this time as Borat Sagdiyev, Kazakhstan's sixth most famous man. "And may George W. Bush drink the blood of every man, woman and child in Iraq." Kazahkstanians say the darndest things!
America and England: Separated By Humor? "This laughter gulf between two otherwise co-dependent cultures should not be thought surprising. The two most fundamental aspects of comedy are observation and speech rhythms and these are necessarily subject to local variation. The point has often been made that British jokes derive most often from class and puns, while US humour is rooted in gags." While talk show host Ruby Wax claims "If your language consists of little more than guttural grunts and cherry pie, you can't be blamed for not getting it." Is it any wonder her little show tanked so fast?
UK more crime-ridden than US? CBS News has come up with a report describing the UK as a "battleground" for crime, replete with pictures of downtown Friday night battles after the pubs close. You're more likely to be robbed, assaulted, or have your car stolen in Britain than the US, according to recent figures. Then again, according to the DOJ, you're less likely to be raped, murdered or shot. Comparing apples and oranges?