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The greatest country in the world

“It’s not the greatest country in the world, professor, that’s my answer.”
“You’re saying—”
“Yes!”
“Let’s talk about—”
“Fine. Sharon, the NEA is a loser. Yeah, it accounts for a penny out of our paychecks, but he [gesturing to the conservative panelist] gets to hit you with it anytime he wants. It doesn’t cost money, it costs votes. It costs airtime and column inches. You know why people don’t like liberals? Because they lose. If liberals are so fuckin’ smart, how come they lose so GODDAM ALWAYS! And with a straight face, you’re going to tell students that America’s so starspangled awesome that we’re the only ones in the world who have freedom? Canada has freedom, Japan has freedom, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, Belgium has freedom. Two hundred seven sovereign states in the world, like 180 of them have freedom. And you—sorority girl—yeah—just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there are some things you should know, and one of them is that there is absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we’re the greatest country in the world. We’re seventh in literacy, twenty-seventh in math, twenty-second in science, forty-ninth in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force, and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies. None of this is the fault of a 20-year-old college student, but you, nonetheless, are without a doubt, a member of the WORST-period-GENERATION-period-EVER-period, so when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about?! Yosemite?!!!”

We sure used to be. We stood up for what was right! We fought for moral reasons, we passed and struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat our chest. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars, and we acted like men. We aspired to intelligence; we didn’t belittle it; it didn’t make us feel inferior. We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn’t scare so easy. And we were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men, men who were revered. The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one—America is not the greatest country in the world anymore… Enough?”
Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) in The Newsroom

Voilà!

That’s what makes Paris, Paree

(photos in the gallery)

2

G’day, mate!

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(images of Sydney in photo gallery)

Everything must go!

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North of My Will

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congrats mike

The Shock and the Culture

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Laissez-faire

Very pretentious, Bouchon-esc restaurant. And very French. The maitre d’ fakes a heavy accent:
“Bonjour! How can I help you?”
“We would like to make a reservation for two at nine.”
“Bien sur! What’s your last name, s’il vous plait?”
“Francois.”
“How do you spell that?”

California Dreaming

I brought my parents here to visit with us and see the unseen realms of this country. They have enjoyed everything so far and appreciated things and places as being wonderful and great, but back home is still better. Why is that, Mom? Dad, quickly assimilated and started to even break out in English while Mom got to talking to the neighbor’s maid, and even if neither one could really understand the other, they made small talk in front of the house. By the time I managed to get out from under the lethargy that took over my mind and body lately, my mother triumphantly came inside the house and informed me that the lady who vacuums our neighbors’ house is from San Salvador and she’s got this boyfriend in Constanta, where she would eventually like to move. Ok, Mom! You went out to shake the rug and came back with friends from Central America. I’ve been living here for three years and have no idea who the neighbor is.

As I said, I’ve been suffering from an embarrassing laziness these days, since my Mom took all the initiatives of cleaning, refreshing, dusting and redecorating the house while my father found Bebeloi’s tools and gave them new meaning. The cat and I have retired in this pleasant abstinence to a corner of the house where we spin thoughts and smell the pleasant scents that have taken over our living space.

Mom does not understand why the lady-neighbor to the right never says “Hello!” as she appears to be an educated, young woman, but is filled with contentment when the husband-neighbor greets her with a big smile on his face. And the wonders never cease.

It’s hard to explain why there is not a small kiosk near our house where we could buy bread,  eggs, or a roll of toilet paper if needed. I try to convince Mom that although the cashier lady at the store widely smiled at her and wished her the best, she does not necessarily need the recipe for her turnip soup. Then we chat about the dogs pushed in pet strollers, the young ladies wearing training suits at the Mall, the empty sidewalks, and why I do not have some sort of designated closet to store some onions and potatoes.

California, another type of Romania?!?

Yesterday, a guy gave me the finger. Yeah, the middle one, the one that gets erected in situations of maximum coarseness. I was peacefully driving my car in front of a store when this guy cut me off. Just like that! I honked at him because I didn’t know what else to do and he took a thick finger out of the window and showed it to me in a gesture that betrayed a lot of experience.

I have no idea why the responsible nerve with my sensitivity is still bothered by such gestures after having had the experience of the Romanian roads, but it is. Honestly? I was upset for the whole day!