The Ugly American
Frankly my dear, I don't give a...
I really appreciate all the responses we received on the last newsletter, A Cultural Petri Dish. You are more than welcome to email me, but I want everyone to know we have now turned on the comments section. If you’re reading it from an email, you’ll have to click on it to go to the same article on the website, but then you’ll be able to participate in the comments below. I enjoy interacting with you, and I hope you will like, comment, and share this newsletter until your fingers get tired (or, once or twice, at least) …
I was in a conversation with a close friend the other day reflecting on the good and not-so-good things we had done throughout our lives. There is zero chance that I will share with you here some of the not-so-good, so let me mention something I will never regret… starting at a relatively young age, I’ve made a point to travel the world. There is just something inside me that wants to see and experience things for myself. Upon reflection, it must be a deep-seated desire because I enrolled in Spanish classes as an eighth-grader – even though I didn’t know a single person who spoke Spanish and had no idea how I’d ever use it. Again, upon reflection, that might be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life, considering the fact that when I first met the wonderful woman who was to become my wife, she didn’t speak a lick of English. I firmly believe traveling the world has given me riches and insights… and a better education than any college classroom ever could.
As communications and travel become better and easier, the world is homogenizing. All in all, this is probably a good thing and we call it globalization (this should never be confused with Globalism, which is a totalitarian ideology). When it’s easier to speak to each other it’s easier to make friends, and that can’t be bad – it certainly brings the concept of world peace a little closer. Still, I kind of regret some of the national stereotypes that are slipping away. The Swiss were always known as being a stern and formal people and, sure enough, on a train out of Geneva a Conductor brushed my feet off of the opposing seat I had propped them up on and told me in stilted English, “This is not America. Here, we do not do such things!”
Not so long ago, a family member was in an auto accident. I won’t embarrass my niece whom I absolutely adore by mentioning which family member, but her white SUV had to be towed away. No one was hurt, so it inspired a ton of conversation amongst the family – everything from concern to good-natured ribbing. I couldn’t help but wonder what some of those conversations would be like in the different cultures I’d encountered? The English are known for understatement; “A bit of a dust-up, I see.” The Japanese would be ever so polite; “How unfortunate to find yourself in a space the universe has destined two vehicles to occupy.” The Chinese have always been inscrutable, “She who eats watermelon seeds will settle like a falling leaf…” (or, something like that). In South America, there would be eight loud rapid-fire conversations going on simultaneously (even though there were only five people in the room). Americans have always had the reputation of being brash; “Girl, you need to pay more attention to what you’re doing or you’re going to get yourself killed.”
As world cultures become more homogenous these stereotypes become less true, and I kind of hate to see that. Here in the United States, we have become less brash. Less direct. That straightforward acceptance of the unvarnished truth (and the willingness to be accountable to it) seems to be slipping away. We have become more concerned with how others will feel about what we say rather than the ‘rightness’ of what we say. Moral imperatives feel somehow less certain. Getting along to go along has become more important than making even a small stand for what we know is right. We have become evermore Politically Correct in our speech and actions. I have to ask myself, as a culture, are we just falling into bad habits, or are we looking for excuses to cover our ever-growing moral cowardness?
There are many who would read these words and scoff at the idea there is any redeeming value in being less ‘polite.’ But those just might be the same people who find this newsletter offensive because of cultural appropriation (or, some such stupidity). I’m not going to claim I have the perfect answer for this, and maybe they’re right. Maybe my standing up and boldly saying, “Our elections were stolen” is in bad form… Maybe it is insensitive of me to point out that people have been lied to, duped, and manipulated. Perhaps it makes me uncouth to proclaim our nation is under attack and we are in a fight for our very existence. It could be that friends, family, and history remember me as an ‘Ugly American’ but, by God, they will remember me as an American.
STUPID JOKE of the WEEK
Q: What’s the difference between a golfer and a skydiver?
A: A golfer goes *whack* “damn” and a skydiver goes “damn” *whack*
I’ve never been able to make a good Shepherd’s Pie, and that’s frustrating… because it’s really a very simple dish. I now realize it’s because I’ve been using cheap ingredients and/or skimped on the seasonings. Try this recipe and I think you’ll be amazed…
RECIPE: SHEPHERD'S PIE
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Made with a layer of ground beef, peas, and carrots and then topped with a crust of mashed potatoes, this traditional Shepherd's Pie is a comfort food classic worthy of a pot of gold.
Ground Beef Prime Rib
QTY 2 lbs.
QTY 1 tbsp
Diced Onion, chopped
QTY ¼ cup
Garlic Cloves, minced
Coarse Sea Salt
QTY 1 tsp.
QTY ½ tsp.
QTY 1 tbsp
Canned Crushed Tomatoes
QTY ½ cup
QTY ½ tsp
Diced Carrots, cooked
QTY ½ cup
QTY ½ cup
Mashed Red Skin Potatoes
1.5 lbs. frozen package or from scratch (season to taste)
Grated Irish Cheddar Cheese (Dubliner)
QTY ½ cup
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the butter. Sauté the onion and garlic until wilted.
Add ground beef, thyme, bay leaf and sauté for 10 minutes. Stir often, breaking lumps in the ground beef. Add diced carrots and peas. Season with salt and pepper and stir.
Sprinkle cooked beef with flour, add crushed tomatoes and parsley and simmer ground beef for 10 minutes. Add parsley.
Heat the mashed potatoes according to package.
Butter a casserole or baking dish. Spoon cooked beef into the bottom half of the dish. Top with mashed potatoes and smoothen the surface. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp. of cheese on top and bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool 15 minutes before serving.
Remember, next Tuesday's newsletter will carry a section identifying and describing one of the elite Ruling Class factions who believe themselves in charge of our country and planet. These wild, fun bunch of elitists do the craziest things and it’s probably a good idea (for self-preservation and the like) to get a clear handle on who they are. This Tuesday we’ll focus on the Ruling Class Intelligentsia!
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