Up with the dawn patrol today to watch US vs Slovenia in World Cup Group play. If not a must-win, this was at least a must-not-lose game for the US. Slovenia, it appears, has quite a good side, with impressive ball-handling skills. A win would have let them advance to the round of 16, and they went up 2-0 early. The US side, which has a tendency to play with a certain lack of energy in first halves, came awake in the second half and tied the game. The apparent winning US goal was negated by the “Phantom Foul” where the referee called a US penalty that mysteriously failed to appear in replay after replay. Maybe we should have tried “The Hand of God” play.
I’m sure that I’m not the only person who thinks that the US jerseys are, shall we say, less than impressive. When I first saw them I was reminded of an ambassadorial sash; not exactly the image one would like to project in the rough-and-tumble world of World Cup soccer. I suggest that in future the designers look to Oakland.
From the Archives
Some years ago the ever-creative minds over at The Onion published the following story. If you’d like to see more of their work, there’s a link on the page to the right.
Vowels to Bosnia
ask and you shall receive…
Cities of Sjlbvdnzv, Grzny to Be First Recipients
Before an emergency joint session of Congress yesterday, President Clinton announced US plans to deploy over 75,000 vowels to the war-torn region of Bosnia. The deployment, the largest of its kind in American history, will provide the region with the critically needed letters A,E,I,O,U, and Y, and is hoped to render countless Bosnian words more pronounceable.
“For six years, we have stood by while names like Ygrjvslhv and Tzlynhr and Glrm have been horribly butchered by millions around the world,” Clinton said. “Today, the United States must finally stand up and say ‘Enough.’ It is time the people of Bosnia finally had some vowels in their incomprehensible words. The US is proud to lead the crusade in this noble endeavor.”
The deployment, dubbed Operation Vowel Storm by the State Department, is set for early next week, with the Adriatic port cities of Sjlbvdnzv and Grzny slated to be the first recipients. Two C-130 transport planes, each carrying more than 500 24-count boxes of “E’s,” will fly from Andrews Air Force Base across the Atlantic and airdrop the letters over the cities.
Citizens of Grzny and Sjlbvdnzv eagerly await the arrival of the vowels. “My God, I do not think we can last another day,” Trszg Grzdnjkln, 44, said. “I have six children and none of them has a name that is understandable to me or to anyone else. Mr. Clinton, please send my poor, wretched family just one ‘E.’ Please.”
Said Sjlbvdnzv resident Grg Hmphrs, 67: “With just a few key letters, I could be George Humphries. This is my dream.”
If the initial airlift is successful, Clinton said the United States will go ahead with full-scale vowel deployment, with C-130’s airdropping thousands more letters over every area of Bosnia. Other nations are expected to pitch in as well, including 10,000 British “A’s” and 6,500 Canadian “U’s.” Japan, rich in A’s and O’s, was asked to participate, but declined.
“With these valuable letters, the people of war-ravaged Bosnia will be able to make some terrific new words,” Clinton said. “It should be very exciting for them, and much easier for us to read their maps.”
Linguists praise the US’s decision to send the vowels. For decades they have struggled with the hard consonants and difficult pronunciation of most Slavic words. “Vowels are crucial to construction of all language,” Baylor University linguist Noam Frankel said. “Without them, it would be difficult to utter a single word, much less organize a coherent sentence. Please, just don’t get me started on the moon-man languages they use in those Eastern European countries.”
According to Frankel, once the Bosnians have vowels, they will be able to construct such valuable sentences as: “The potatoes are ready”; “I believe it will rain”; and “All my children are dead from the war” [And “Oh my God, there’s an axe in my head.” ?]
The airdrop represents the largest deployment of any letter to a foreign country since 1984. During the summer of that year, the US shipped 92,000 consonants to Ethiopia, providing cities like Ouaouoaua, Eaoiiuae, and Aao with vital, lifegiving supplies of L’s, S’s and T’s. The consonant-relief effort failed, however, when vast quantities of the letters were intercepted and hoarded by violent, gun-toting warlords.