Friday, April 21, 2017

Should restaurants have to provide free access to restrooms for the public?

A politician in Chicago wants to create a law which will force restaurants to provide free access to anyone who needs a bathroom if the situation is an 'emergency'. 




Here is the article about this situation:

http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/gotta-go-proposal-guarantees-public-toilet-access-in-emergency/

Vocabulary from the article:

restroom, bathroom, washroom - these terms are used interchangeably for the place where a toilet is located. 

gotta go? - Do you have to go?

an ordinance - a law

when nature calls - another way of saying: when a person has to go to the bathroom

rookie - someone new is often called a rookie. If it is your first year as a nurse, you are a rookie nurse. Teacher: rookie teacher. a rookie Ald. means rookie Alderman. An Alderman in Chicago represents his neighborhood in the city government and helps make laws for the city.

to be humiliated - to be deeply embarrassed, to do something that others might laugh at or look down on someone for

who had just had an accident - this means that she either peed or pooped in her pants. If you are a parent and your very young child pees or poops in his/her pants, you might say, "Oops my child just had an accident. We need to change his/her pants."

to be inhumane - to be lacking in real human values or morality, not to act like a kind and caring human being

Moore's ordinances goes further - it should be 'ordinance'

general counsel - general adviser/lawyer

well-intentioned - the person who created the ordinance wants to do something good, but....

Wrigley Field - the place where the Chicago Cubs play baseball. It is an area with lots of restaurants.

St. Patty's Day - St. Patrick's Day, a day celebrating the accomplishments of St. Patrick, who brought civilization to Ireland. Lots of people drink on this day and there are parades in many American cities.

massive amounts - huge, large amounts

too much of a burden - too difficult to deal with; a burden is something heavy you have to carry

the mandate - the law

burdensome - difficult

to be equipped - to have the capacity or facilities necessary to do something

substantial - big enough to matter

a genuine emergency - a real emergency

hit the head without having to walk too far - to hit the head means to go to the bathroom

edict - law

imposed on - forced on

death by a thousand cuts - business owners are saying that the government of Chicago is killing business slowly by doing one little thing after another that hurts business, like the form of execution (public killing) called 'death by a thousand cuts' where the person dies slowly after being cut by a knife several times. Chicago has some of the highest taxes in the country because it did not transition well after all of its factories moved to other cities in other countries. So the government keeps trying to get as much money as it can from its businesses (thus causing more and more businesses to leave the city). Chicago, as well as its businesses, is dying a slow death. 

a higher minimum wage - the minimum wage in Chicago is now $11/hr. Businesses would prefer that wages be established by the market and by supply and demand. Many business owners feel that a higher minimum wage hurts their businesses. Proponents (supporters) of a higher minimum wage feel this helps people overcome poverty and that it puts more money into the economy.

paid disproportionately - there are many people in labor unions in Chicago. A labor union is an organization that is supposed to protect workers in a particular industry. The biggest unions in Chicago are of government workers: the police, firemen and teachers. There are many of these people and so politicians have given them good salaries and large pensions after their retirement. Politicians have done this to get the votes of these union workers. In order to pay for the huge pensions (money paid to a person after he/she retires) the city is taxing businesses well above and beyond what citizens are being taxed (businesses are being taxed disproportionately - not in the right proportion). Yes, Chicago is PIGS: Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain.

to be nickeled and dimed - to have someone stealing small amounts of money from you repeatedly

piling on - when one burden is added to another, then another burden is added then another etc.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The guy who was dragged off an airplane in Chicago...





United Airlines had a full airplane ready to go on a flight from Chicago to Louisville. They then realized that they needed to put 4 United employees on that last flight of the day to Louisville so they could begin work in Louisville the next morning. This meant removing 4 paid customers who were already seated.

Usually an airline will offer money to people who might be willing to give up their seats in a situation like this. In this case, nobody wanted to accept the money and leave and people were chosen randomly to be forced off the flight.

One man refused to move. When the police arrived, they violently removed him.

This is just another example of how people simply do not seem to have basic problem solving skills and will resort to violence and force instead of fully using their intelligence to defuse and resolve a problem.

The Economist offers some solutions to this situation in this brief article:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2017/04/when-ticket-not-enough

Vocabulary from the article:

to compensate - in this case, to provide money for a service or action

a bumped passenger - someone who has to leave the plane because it was overbooked

habitually - a habit is something you tend to do over and over again, for instance smoking is a habit, and drinking sugary soft drinks is a habit

the assumption - the belief

to misfire - in this case: to be wrong, to miscalculate, to develop in a way you did not want it to

plumped for - chose (this is an obscure word choice, don't bother memorizing it)

would strike someone as wrong - someone would realize it to be wrong

they upped the ante - a poker term meaning it raised the amount of money at stake or available

to tempt them to leave - if you tempt someone to do something you try to get them to do something by offering something pleasurable. 

randomly selected two people - they did not deliberately choose two people, they allowed a computer to choose two people by chance or without making a conscious choice

to disembark - to leave

distress - emotional pain

unrepentant - not sorry

mealy-mouthed - if someone says something in a mealy-mouthed way, he is lying because he is afraid to say what really happened

stinginess - cheapness

publicity - news


Questions to consider:

Why do airlines sometimes overbook flights?

Have you ever been in a situation where a flight was overbooked? What happened? 

If an airline overbooks a flight and nobody wants to leave, what should the airline do?

If the police come to a passenger who refuses to leave, what should they do?

If you had been that passenger, what would you have done?

Who was right and who was wrong in this situation?

Do you feel differently about United Airlines because of this video?

Some people want to boycott United now, how do you feel about this?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Were chemical weapons used by Assad's army in the Syrian Civil War?

{{{Photo from NY Daily News}}}

The Syrian Civil War began in 2011 when a series of protests around the country led to the formation of rebel armies meant to overthrow the dictator of Syria, Bashar al Assad. Anywhere from 250,000 to 400,000 people have died in the fighting. Millions of refugees have been forced to leave the country.

Initially the United States, under Barack Obama, tried to avoid involvement in this conflict. Later, the Obama administration began to support various rebel armies in their attempt to overthrow Assad. It is hard to understand what Trump's policy might now be - he seemed willing to support a Russian plan to keep Assad in power while eliminating ISIS and negotiating with other rebel groups to stop fighting.

The latest development concerns allegations that Assad's government attacked a city controlled by rebels with chemical weapons. Russia and Assad deny this. Hopefully this latest act of horror will not cause this war to escalate.

Below is an article from the BBC about this latest situation. 

Vocabulary from the above passage:

a protest - when groups of people gather publicly to express disapproval of some government policy or action.

a rebel group/army - a group or army opposed to the established government.

a dictator - one person who controls or dominates the government.

refugees - people forced to leave their own country due to war or some other horrible situation.

allegations - claims that something wrong has occurred.

to escalate - to get worse.

The article:
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-39500319

Vocabulary from the article:

fury (uncountable) - extreme anger

UN Security Council - an organization at the United Nations which is supposed to help ensure peace in the world.

an ally - a friend

pledged - promised

a monitoring group - a group that is supposed to watch what happens

choking - not being able to breathe

foaming at the mouth - lots of small bubbles due to the reaction between poisonous air and internal bodily fluids

to feel dizzy - not to feel stable, to feel as if you are going to fall down

symptoms - evidence of some type of disease or physical problem

neurotoxic - harmful to brain cells

to launch an attack - to make an attack or begin an attack

a depot - an area where things are stored

militants - fighters, soldiers

aviation - air planes

made a strike on - dropped bombs on or shot missiles at

munitions - stuff to be shot out of guns or dropped from planes, ammunition

making a mockery of the peace process - making a joke out of the peace process, not taking the peace process seriously, showing contempt for the peace process

brokered - negotiated

senseless - if something is senseless there is no reason for it

to impose sanctions on - if a country has sanctions imposed on it, other countries might not trade with that country or be allowed to interact with it

obsessed with - completely and totally focused on

a UN Security Council resolution - an order to do something issued by the Security Council

to be staged - if something did not really happen, but people made it look as if it happened, it has been staged

a false narrative - a false story

to deflect attention from - to deflect something means to push it to the side

hinting - not saying something directly but implying something, suggesting something

unilateral action - action by the USA alone

to be compelled to do something - to feel forced to do something

an array - a grouping

broadly aligned groups - groups agreeing with each other in general terms

fanciful - like a fantasy, not real

unsustainable - in this case, not provable

an affront - an insult

subsequently - afterwards

internally displaced - no longer living in their own homes

Friday, March 24, 2017

China beats South Korea in a 'politically' significant soccer match


For better or worse, a sporting event may have political or social significance above and beyond the game. For instance, when the Japanese women's soccer team beat the American women's team in the women's World Cup of 2011, that victory uplifted the spirits of the Japanese people after they had experienced an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. 

In 1980 when the US hockey team of amateur college players beat the experienced professional team from Communist Russia, Americans felt immense pride in their country after several years of depressing news. In 1982, Poland eliminated Russia from the World Cup and this also boosted the spirits of the entire nation of Poland, which was still under Russian control at that point. In 1956, when West Germany won the Soccer World Cup, the German people felt proud again after the disaster of the war. There are countless examples of this kind of situation.

Well, we have another example - China had never beaten the South Korean soccer team but were able to win 1 - 0 yesterday. I have heard that many people in China cried because of this. It was not just a matter of Chinese pride in finally defeating an opponent they had not been able to beat before. The Chinese government has been making a big deal out of a missile defense system that South Korea feels it has to set up because of the threat of missiles from North Korea. Because of this hot issue, the game had extra meaning for Chinese fans.

Here is an interesting article about the game.

https://www.ft.com/content/4599177e-0fe3-11e7-b030-768954394623

Vocabulary from the article:

a grudge match - this is a type of competition in which one side wants to get revenge or feels it has to win as a matter of pride and dignity.

clash fueled by tension - a clash is when two opposing people or teams meet each other aggressively and fight or compete. This clash was fueled (caused and made worse) by tension (fear, anxiety) between China and Korea.

to be deployed - to be put on duty.

tension - fear, anxiety, a feeling of emotional discomfort

a rollout - when something is no longer in the planning stage but has been rolled out or is now working

notoriously - famous for a bad reason (basically the writer is saying China is a military super power but has a bad soccer team - their team, basically, sucks)

nationalist clashes were avoided - Chinese people and Korean people did not fight because few Koreans traveled to watch the game.

derby - competition

economic sanctions - punishments meant to hurt South Korea's economy.

banning - prohibiting, stopping, preventing

a conglomerate - a very large business/company

impromptu - sudden, quickly planned

protests - when a group of people complain publicly

banner-waving - flag waving

vandalism - breaking windows, destroying property

the honor of - a sense of honor is the positive way a person feels; if a person feels a sense of honor due to his/her country, that person is proud of his/her country and feels good because of that pride

rational - in this case rational is the opposite of emotional, if you are rational you think and plan and do not act without thinking

shields and batons - a shield would protect a police officer from being hit with something and a baton is a thick stick the police officer can use to hit someone

to boo - to make loud noise meant to be interpreted in a negative manner. If you don't like a player you won't cheer, in fact you might boo.

designated for them - set aside for them

a lackluster performance - a boring, uninspired, not excellent (mediocre) performance

a slur - an insulting or offensive term for someone because of his ethnicity or national heritage

entrepreneurs - business people

unprecedented amounts - amounts so big they had never been spent before

boosting - improving

a remote prospect - it is not likely they will do it, remote - far away, prospect - a goal or chance or hope

a mogul - a wealthy person

fostering - developing

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Poverty went through the roof during the Obama administration (i.e. Baltimore)

Here is an amazing and depressing video from the BBC.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39122283

25% of the people of Baltimore are living in poverty and there is more violence there than in Chicago (a city known for gun violence).

For 8 years President Obama was highly respected by the newspapers and TV networks in the USA. He was considered a saint in Hollywood. Over his 8 years, however, the situation for poor and black folks became worse and worse. These were the folks who voted for Obama, and these were the folks who suffered the most under him.


Here is another incredible video about poverty in Baltimore:


Monday, January 30, 2017

Text of Trump's Inauguration Speech

(photo from aljazeera.com)

On the day that a president begins a four-year term, he delivers an 'inauguration' speech. Inauguration basically means introduction.

A couple of weeks ago Trump gave his inauguration speech as a type of introduction as to what he intends to do for the new four years.

On the following link you can read his entire speech and I have the most interesting vocabulary words listed and defined under the link.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/20/politics/trump-inaugural-address/

Vocabulary to help you understand the text in the link:

an address - to address someone is to speak to him/her, so an address is, basically, a speech.

Chief Justice Roberts - he is the head or leader of the US Supreme Court. He reads the oath of office to the person who will become president and that person repeats the oath in order to officially begin as president. The oath of office is the promise made by the person who will become president that he will protect the Constitution and attempt to serve the American people well.

to restore its promise - basically Trump is saying that recent American leaders have been going in the wrong direction and he is going to 'restore' or bring America back onto the right path. America's promise means America's potential. Previous leaders have lost America's potential and he will get it back.

the course of America - the path, the direction in which America will go.

to confront hardships - to face or deal with difficult times.

the transfer of power - when one president takes over for another.

gracious - very kind and polite and supportive.

transferring power - Trump claims that his election was special because he will help bring power back to the people and take power away from the professional politicians in Washington D.C.

reaped the rewards - they have benefited from being in government.

borne the costs - the people have been paying for dishonest (corrupt) politicians to become wealthy. bear, bore, borne  (to bear is to carry or to endure)

Washington flourished - politicians in Washington did very well and made lots of money.

politicians prospered - politicians became rich but people lost their jobs.

the establishment - politicians who have been around for a long time, people who have been doing the same thing for many years.

a crucial conviction - an essential belief; crucial - essential, a conviction - a belief

a nation exists - Trumps states that the US government should be doing a better job of serving its citizens.

a righteous public - a public that believes in doing the right thing or moral things; if you are righteous you are a good person.

trapped in poverty in our inner cities - 'inner city' is a term used for the very poorest and often most dangerous part or parts of a city. If a person is trapped in poverty, that person cannot escape or overcome poverty.

rusted out factories - factories that have not been used and which are rusting (when metal starts to become covered with reddish dust)....like tombstones - tombstones are placed on the graves of dead people in cemeteries

flush with cash...deprived of knowledge - our education system has lots of money but children are not learning as much as they ought to. to be deprived of knowledge means not receiving knowledge.

carnage - destruction, horror.

allegiance - loyalty.

at the expense of American industry - Trump states that we have helped other countries develop their economies while hurting our own.

subsidized armies - he states that we pay lots of money to help other countries to protect themselves and that the US gets nothing in return.

depletion of our military - Trump believes our military has become weaker or depleted (it has lost strength).

infrastructure - bridges, roads, tunnels etc.

factories shuttered - factories closed down (to shutter something is to close it down).

redistributed - sent out to.

a new decree - a new order, a new set of rules.

ravages - destruction...Trump is stating here that in the process of other countries making goods which we buy we are becoming weaker.

welfare - when the government gives away free money, free housing, free food etc. to the poor.

to impose our way of life on others - to force others to live as we do.

eradicate - eliminate.

the bedrock - the foundation.

patriotism - a love for one's country.

law enforcement - the police.

to harness the energies etc. - to utilize or use the energies etc.

sprawl - something spread out very widely.

plains - flat land 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Evil Bastards on U.S. Money

The United States is going to start changing its money because so many evil bastards are on so much of the money that people use (and people have finally learned what evil bastards they were). Let’s see who some of these evil bastards are.

This is a revised chapter for my book New York City Sucks, but You'll Still Wanna Come Herehttps://www.amazon.com/York-Sucks-Youll-Wanna-Anyway-ebook/dp/B004TSPAQS

The text of this chapter is written in the 'voice' of the hero of the book 'New York City Sucks, but You'll Still Wanna Come Here'. The hero is Suzy, an immigrant from South America who has become somewhat disappointed and disgruntled with New York City and the USA. Suzy:
Image result for one dollar bill image
Let’s start with the $1 bill.  This one is easy: George Washington.  First president.  No-brainer.  If you are first at anything they make a big deal about you. Here’s some gossip about George.  He basically sucked as a general (military leader) but because he won one big battle he kept his job through the Revolutionary War (he was really good at networking and had lots of important connections, too). What was his big victory that allowed him to keep getting a paycheck?
Well, during the Revolutionary War the English military had occupied the city of Boston.  This was terrible for the Americans because Boston was the home of most of the trouble-makers of the Revolution and it was a rich city.  Washington had to find a way to get the English out. As luck would have it, another American general had captured 300 English canons earlier in the war and had them transported to Washington outside of Boston.  During the night Washington had these 300 canons positioned on Dorchester Heights, a large hill that overlooked and partly encircled the entire English fleet in Boston harbor.  When the sun rose the English saw all those canons pointing at all their ships and they freaked out
It appeared as if Washington could destroy a huge part of the English fleet and really harm the English military.  So the English General immediately sent a note to Washington: “If you destroy my fleet, I will burn down the entire city of Boston. If you refrain from destroying my fleet I will take all of my soldiers immediately out of Boston.”  So now, put yourself in Washington’s place.  What would you do?  Would you really hurt the English by destroying a big part of the English navy but then lose the city of Boston or would you let ships go that could destroy American ships later and transport more English soldiers, but by doing so save Boston?  Washington let them go.
So why would I call this a big victory/win?  Because although Washington had 300 canons, he had no canon balls.  That’s right, he had nothing to shoot from those canons.  The canons were harmless.  He totally bluffed the English into leaving Boston.  He forced the English out of Boston without firing a shot and without killing a person.  The English left and never came back to Boston because they were afraid of the canons on Dorchester Heights.  Ha ha ha.  Ha ha ha ha ha! Unfortunately, he lost lots of other battles, winning only little ones after that. But the American Revolution was weird/strange. As long as Washington’s army survived the Revolution survived. Washington’s army was the Revolution.
You had a wealthy group of white men from all 13 colonies who formed a “Congress” and who were good at fund-raising (raising money). They kept paying Washington, he kept executing (killing) guys who tried to leave his army, and the Revolution continued until 1781 when a stupid English general took the entire English army into an area where it could be trapped/captured. At this point the French army (with Washington’s guys tagging behind) captured the English with the help of the Spanish and Dutch navies. France, Holland and Spain hated England and were essential in winning the Revolution – they all helped the wealthy white guys who funded the Revolution and the poor farmers who fought in it. It would not have been won without them and the stupidity of an English general.

Image result for five dollar bill image
The $5 bill, again a no-brainer: Abraham Lincoln. He was the president during the Civil War – the war in which the most American soldiers died (600,000) so you get famous in America for a deed (action) like that. There’s a lot of revisionist history that says that Lincoln was a racist (he thought black people were inferior to white people) and that he didn’t really care about the black people who were slaves.  Well, that’s true. To say the war was fought to free slaves is bullshit. After the war was over, the slaves received very few benefits. They went from being slaves on large farms (plantations) to working for very little money whatsoever on the same farms. The freed slaves had no formal education, no money, no skills and no power. They were still helpless after the war, so obviously the war was fought for other reasons. 
The real reason for the Civil War was that wealthy guys in the North realized they could make a zillion dollars if they conquered (beat) the South in a war and changed the Southern economy into an industrialized Northern economy. And this happened. After the Civil War, Wall Street bankers and industrialists made ZILLIONS of dollars.  Of all the US Presidents, Lincoln is portrayed (shown) as being  the best human being who was moral to a fault.  Historians act as if he wrestled with all of his decisions and seemed to always try to do the right thing. No. Many historians now feel that the Civil War could have been avoided and that slavery could have been ended through peaceful measures and not a war that killed 600,000 guys. If Lincoln had been a real genius and had really cared about black people, there would have been no bloody Civil War and black and white people would be on equal terms right now. America’s racial problems stem from (come from) Lincoln’s poor decisions. The war was fought to force the South to develop its economy, not to free the slaves.
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The $10 bill:  That handsome son-of-a-bitch Alexander Hamilton. He was the only “founding father” of the USA who was born poor and he could see that one day the USA would be a world powerhouse.  His vision and hard work helped make the USA a violent, bloody, oppressive powerhouse that could drop atom bombs on innocent Japanese women and children and napalm on Vietnamese kids. Fuck this bastard!  He sucks.

Image result for image 20 dollar bill
The $20 bill: a real, total bastard.  An unbelievable bastard. Andrew Jackson. This guy Jackson hated Native Americans.  He was violent and kind of ignorant.  He is lionized for one reason:  Before he became president you could only vote in America if you were a white male, over 21, who owned land.  After he became president you could vote if you were a white male who was over 21.  So he is considered a pioneer of democracy.  His worst crime against humanity is called “The Trail of Tears” by Native Americans.
Basically, he wanted to chase all the Native Americans out of Florida and allow white farmers to move into that land.  So he ordered the American military to go into Florida and chase the Indians out.  Some Americans thought this was wrong and they filed legal papers with the Supreme Court to stop him from doing this.  And, believe it or not, the Supreme Court ordered President Jackson NOT to send the army into Florida.  The Supreme Court stated that the Indians had the right to live there.
Wanna know what Jackson said?  He said, to paraphrase, “I am the president and I have an army.  When the Supreme Court gets an army they can tell me what the fuck to do.”  So the president just plain ignored the Supreme Court decision and sent the army into Florida to chase the 5 tribes down there out of Florida.  The Indians were forced to walk to Oklahoma (in the middle of the country), and forced to live in an area that did not have any good farmland and which did not have any animals to hunt.  The Indians were forced to become totally dependent on the US government for their survival (they needed the government to survive) and had to accept free food and supplies, including a lot of liquor (alcoholic beverages).  The Indians were forced to live on a ‘reservation’ – this became the term for the areas of land the government would force various Indian tribes to live on. 
Reservations still exist. The Navajo reservation, out west, is one of the poorest areas in the world.  Interestingly, many Indian reservations are making money these days by opening gambling casinos.  The Navajos felt that was beneath their dignity and they refused to do that. Gambling is illegal in most US states, but US law does not apply to Indian reservations, so many non-Indian people go to these Indian reservations to gamble.  Some tribes are now making lots of money.  The Navajos, however, choose to suffer than to take dirty money. The Navajos need some love and luck. Seriously, please pray for the Navajos.

Image result for fifty dollar bill image
The $50 bill.  U.S. Grant.  Amazingly competent General whose battle plans often lead to the slaughter of lots and lots of guys who thought they were fighting to free the slaves (and not to create a new economic system in the South). 23,000 guys died during the two day Battle of Shiloh that he participated in. This is serious carnage, baby. You get on the $50 bill for this kind of slaughter. So he helped the North beat the South in the Civil War but became a president who really sucked.  He became president shortly after Lincoln was killed (assassinated). 
Grant studied at West Point Military Academy.  This is the college where people go to become officers in the US Army.  When Grant studied there he was the worst student in his class.  The best student was a guy from Virginia named Robert E. Lee.  When the Civil War started Lincoln contacted Lee and told him that even though he, Lee, was from the South, he should fight for the United States and that Lincoln would make him the top northern general.  Lee, however, chose to fight for the Southern states against the United States.  And he was good.  Too damn good.  Initially, no Northern general could beat him.  Things looked bad for the North and its plans to industrialize the South and make zillions of dollars.
Before the Civil War Grant had kind of fucked up his life.  Although he had graduated from West Point, he became an alcoholic and was thrown out of the army.  When the war started, he was working for his father at a store in Illinois.  But the United States of America was so desperate for soldiers when the war started that they accepted Grant again and he proved himself to be a great soldier.  Soon he was a general and he was winning all of his battles.  So finally Abraham Lincoln appointed Grant to be the head of the United States Army. 
In America people often don’t care whether you fucked up in the past.  They like it when you say, “OK, I fucked up. Who cares?  That’s the past.  You wanna live in the past? Fuck you!  Let’s move forward!” That’s the American spirit. Maybe that’s because everyone in America kind of fucks up sooner or later. It’s a risky country!  You take risks, you fuck up!  It’s simple. That’s why Americans can be so forgiving, and so successful.  When the Chinese learn how to fuck up as much as Americans can fuck up, then the world should be worried about the Chinese becoming the number 1 economy and super-power.  But right now the Chinese are too worried about NOT fucking up, which means they are REALLY going to fuck up, so let’s not worry about them. 
Hello?!  The whole freaking world wants to come to New York City not Shanghai.  
Many people were shocked when Grant, an alcoholic, was appointed General.  Some people went to Lincoln and said, “Mr. President! How can you appoint an alcoholic to be the leader of your army?”  Lincoln, who had a sense of humor, said, “I know he’s an alcoholic.  In fact, I want to find out what he drinks and give it to all my generals!”  That was a joke.  A joke is a statement that makes you laugh. Ha ha. Even I laughed at that one. Such a shame the bastard killed 600,000 guys, because he could be damn funny when he wanted to. Maybe Al Capone was funny as well, who knows.
So you had one of the best students from West Point ever – Lee – fighting probably one of the the worst students in West Point’s history – Grant.  And Grant kicked Lee’s ass, which shows how valuable a West Point education was back then, I guess.  Grant was the only guy who could beat Lee.
A good piece of gossip about Grant involves when Lee had to surrender to him.  When Grant had finally beaten Lee and Lee had to give up (formally stop fighting), a formal surrender ceremony was required.  Grant, however, had experienced a lot of hardship and failure and could sympathize with Lee.  He did not want Lee to feel humiliated, since Lee had been a great student and a great general.  So for the ceremony Lee dressed up in his finest uniform but Grant just dressed up in a common soldier’s uniform and he treated Lee with the utmost respect.  For the rest of his life Lee never forgot this act of kindness and if a Southerner spoke badly of Grant, Lee immediately spoke up for him. But, that’s where the good news ends.  Grant was such a lousy president that the United States will probably never experience so much governmental corruption again. 
Image result for hundred dollar bill image
The 100 dollar bill has Benjamin Franklin on it.  Franklin was a great scientist and inventor.  He’s the guy who discovered that lightning is, in fact, electricity.  He is also considered the embodiment of early American capitalism.  He started from scratch and worked his way to prominence.  He’s on the hundred dollar bill, however, because of his diplomatic service during the Revolutionary War.  Basically, there was no way that an American army could have defeated the English without European help.  England had the best fucking army in the world and the Americans only had hard-working and brave farmers. 
Franklin was able to convince the Spanish, the French and the Dutch (people from Holland are called Dutch) that they could weaken the English by assisting the Americans in the Revolution.  In the final battle of the war the American army, under Washington, and the Dutch, French and Spanish navies, surrounded the English army and forced them to surrender.  That was in 1781. After two years of arguing the war was officially over.  The Revolution was a long war which started in 1775.  That was a fucking long war.  What the hell was wrong with the fucking British?!  That war was too fucking long. Jesus Christ!  Now I’m kind of glad the American farmers won.
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Now for the coins:  the penny (1 cent = $0.01) has Lincoln.  We already covered Lincoln.  The nickel (5 cents = $0.05) has Jefferson.  I hate him too.  Ok, he wrote “All men are created equal…” but I think he stole that line from the English philosopher John Locke.  And Jefferson owned slaves.  And please don’t tell me that it was common for people at the time to own slaves, because Hamilton didn’t own slaves.  Jefferson owned slaves and had a child with one of his slaves, which means, folks, that he raped her since a slave has no rights and can’t say ‘no.’  Rape is a crime in which a man sexually forces himself on a woman.  Now I’m angry.  Every time anyone ever mentions Jefferson I get pissed off.  I won’t even use nickels. Fuck nickels. Please take this bastard off of nickels so I can use them again.
The dime (10 cents): Franklin Roosevelt.  He was elected president 4 times and helped the people of the United States survive the Great Depression. It looks as if he wanted the US to become involved in World War II and may have done things to try to provoke the war. He wanted to help England and he knew the war would be great for the US economy; and it was. That’s what ended the Great Depression.
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There is also a 50 cent piece that has John Kennedy on it, but absolutely nobody uses this coin for some reason.  Little kids collect this coin.  Kennedy – a controversial figure.  It is alleged that his father acquired the Kennedy wealth through illegal means.  In fact, it looks as if it has been proved that Joe Kennedy (the dad) made a lot of money by illegally importing and selling alcoholic beverages during a time when such drinks were illegal in America.  Some Americans seem to love Kennedy.  If you meet one, ask him or her why.  I read that Kennedy started the Vietnam War.  The previous president, Eisenhower, refused to commit troops to that conflict.  Eisenhower was an objective military man and he knew that the French had been beaten by the Vietnamese and that even a powerful western country could not win that type of war. 
He also realized that a war against Vietnam would harm the American economy. He also realized that if Vietnam did become a communist country, it would not really matter much to American interests. Kennedy was a young playboy compared to Eisenhower and made the stupid mistake of getting the US involved in a war that led to the deaths of 50,000 American soldiers and the deaths of over 2,000,000 Vietnamese.  The Vietnamese people still suffer from chemicals used by the US military in that war, even though the war ended in 1975.  Basically Kennedy started the war and then one of America’s shadiest (most dishonest) presidents – Lyndon Johnson – really messed the war up.


Oh, back to the playboy.  I also read that Kennedy was no friend to the Civil Rights movement and wasn’t that concerned about poor people in America.  I also read that he had the president of South Vietnam assassinated (murdered) and tried several times to assassinate Castro, the leader of Cuba.  The Cold War also got worse with Kennedy as president.  In fact, he supported a crazy attempt by some crazy Cuban guys to try to invade Cuba (the Bay of Pigs Invasion) and this invasion totally failed.  But he is liked because he was young and handsome?  He was handsome?  OK, I guess as a foreign chick I can’t recognize when some American Caucasians are handsome.  In any case, they threw him on the 50 cent coin that little kids collect.
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Finally they have these crazy dollar coins that nobody uses.  On one they have Susan B. Anthony.  She worked hard to help women get the right (the legal ability) to vote (in 1920).  
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And on another dollar coin they have a Native American (Indian) lady named Sakajawea.  This is weird.  Why do they have Sakajawea on a dollar coin?  Well, basically, France used to “own” the big middle part of what is now the United States.  I put quotation marks around “own” to indicate that, of course, Native Americans had been living in that region for thousands of years.  Basically France “owned” it because they had soldiers and military bases (forts) throughout that part of North America.  In the early 1800s, France offered to sell this region to the US government because France desperately needed money for a war they were fighting against England.  So Jefferson paid the French and took “ownership” of the land they had previously controlled.
No American really knew what was west of the Allegheny Mountains (a mountain range not far from the east coast that stretches from the very north to the very south), however, so Jefferson asked two Army officers to lead an expedition (an exploratory group) into this new territory to see what was there and to draw maps. So they took a bunch of Army guys out West to see what Jefferson had bought.  While they were looking around, they met a Native American lady named Sakajawea and she and one of the Army guys fell in love.  So, basically, Sakajawea gave the Army guys a tour of the land that Jefferson had ‘bought’. She knew about large chunks of the region. This was, however, a huge mistake, because once the US Government had maps of all the land the French used to have, they sent soldiers and settlers (people who wanted to live on that land) out West and killed the Native Americans there and stole their land.  So the US Government is still so grateful to Sakajawea that they put her image on a dollar coin that nobody uses.  

Definitions of terms
a no-brainer – this refers to a super-easy decision, a decision that is so easy to make that it requires virtually no thought.
gossip – little stories – sometimes true and sometimes false - secretly exchanged behind the backs of people.
as luck would have it – luckily, fortunately.
a canon – this is a type of old fashioned weapon.  It was a giant gun, usually with two wheels next to it, from which large balls used to be shot.
to encircle – to form a circle around.
a fleet – a large gathering or collection of ships.
to be freaked out – to be shocked and to panic.
to refrain from doing something – to hold oneself back from doing something, to stop oneself from doing something.
a canon ball – the type of ammunition that was shot from a canon.
to bluff – to make a person think you are going to do something so that he has to take some type of action, even though you can't or don't want to do what you say you are going to do.
to tag behind – to weakly follow
a revisionist – this is a type of historian who claims that what most people believe is actually false and that there is a more accurate history.  Some revisionists are accurate and some are not.
bullshit – a dirty way to say: nonsense.
to be moral to a fault – to be so moral that it hurts you, or to be almost too moral.
to wrestle with an issue – to struggle with what the right answer or response to an issue might be.
a handsome son-of-a-bitch – sometimes calling a person a son-of-a-bitch can be a compliment.  It all depends on how you say it.  Don’t try to do this unless you are really really confident with your English.
a bastard – an insulting term directed against a guy (male). Bitch would be the term directed against a woman.  Literally, a bastard is a child who comes from a single mother. A bitch is a female dog.
Native Americans – the first folks to live in North America, before the arrival of Europeans.  They are also sometimes called Indians.
to lionize someone – to praise someone a lot. To glorify someone.
a pioneer – an innovator, someone who goes somewhere or does something before anyone else.
to file legal papers – to formally introduce a case in a courtroom. To do the paperwork necessary for a court case to occur.
to paraphrase – not to quote a person directly but to give someone the general idea of what another person said.
a tribe – a pre-industrial group of people within a certain geographic area sharing a certain language and culture.  Indians (Native Americans) lived in tribes.  Some still live in tribes on reservations.
to be beneath someone’s dignity – your sense of dignity is the way you feel about yourself. If you have a sense of dignity you think you are a pretty good person who deserves to be treated with respect. So if something is beneath your dignity, you feel you are too good for this or that only a lower-class person would do something like this.
competent – I am being sarcastic here. I am saying Grant was really good at getting guys killed to win battles. If you are competent at something, you are good at it.
slaughter – to slaughter is to kill something in a bloody way. A butcher slaughters animals so that people can eat this as food. A general can cause his troops to be slaughtered in battle.
an officer – in the military you have common soldiers and officers.  An officer usually receives a specialized military education and has leadership qualities that enable him/her to command or lead others.
He fucked up his life – he ruined or messed up his life.
Al Capone – a famous and violent criminal from the 1930s who basically controlled the City of Chicago.
to kick a person’s ass – figuratively this means to defeat a person in a sports competition or battle etc.  It’s a dirty expression.
to surrender – to give up, to stop fighting and agree to the terms of the army that has won the battle.
hardship – difficult times. Adversity is the higher level word.
utmost – very most, the highest.
corruption – a lack of honesty, a situation in which things are not being run or operated with integrity or diligence or honesty.
embodiment – if someone is the embodiment of something it is as if he carries that thing in his very body or he is the best example of something.
from scratch – from the beginning.
prominence – to be prominent is to be in a high position or a position where many will see and admire you.
controversial – a controversial issue or person is someone/thing about which people cannot agree and which can lead to a heated debate or argument.
to allege – to assert, to claim, to argue.
a conflict – a type of struggle, a fight.
a playboy - a guy who primarily focuses on drinking and sex.  A book published about Kennedy stated that he had a different woman virtually every night of the week.  It is a historical fact that he once even had a sexual affair with a woman who was an East German spy.  The FBI had to say, "Mr. President, we can't stop you from having random sex, but please don't have random sex with enemy spies."
The Civil Rights Movement – this was a social movement in America in which African Americans struggled to gain the rights and freedoms that were guaranteed to them in the United States Constitution after the Civil War.
to backfire – to expect something to happen as a result of your action but to see the exact opposite thing happen.  In the old days if you tried to fire a gun and it exploded in your face, this was an example of a backfire.  If your plan backfires, you probably wanted to hurt someone but you wound up hurting yourself instead.
The Cold War – this was not a real war but a situation of military and political tension in the world that lasted from 1945 to 1989 as a result of ideological differences between the United States of America and The Soviet Union (Russia).  It ended when the Soviet style of socialism fell or collapsed.
a Caucasian – a white person.  At some point some scientist or anthropologist decided that white people came from an area near the Caucasus Mountains – who knows where white people came from. 

18 Vocabulary Words.  Fill-in-the-blanks
gossip, a fleet, to freak out, to refrain from, to bluff, to wrestle with, to lionize s/o, to paraphrase, to surrender, hardship, utmost, embodiment, to start from scratch, prominence, controversial, to allege, a conflict, to backfire
In 1664 an English __________ with many ships arrived at New Amsterdam harbor in an attempt to take over the small trading town.  The people of that town were so unhappy with their governor that they refused to fight for him (Peter Stuyvesant) and they allowed to English to take over and rename the town New York.
Governor Dewitt Clinton was the ____________ of a great leader.  He had vision, the capacity to turn the vision into reality and the charisma and competence to get elected.  His vision allowed for the building of the Eerie Canal, which connected New York commercially to the Midwest.
In the workplace, ___________ can be quite dangerous and harmful, since negative stories about co-workers usually get back to the co-workers themselves.
Public servants in America usually have to take an oath in which they pledge that they will do their ____________ to protect the Constitution and serve the people.
The attempt to secure a third political term almost ____________ for Michael Bloomberg.  Although he spent $100 million on his campaign and his opponent only spent $6 million, he almost lost.
At a recent gallery opening I met a gallery owner who was also, obviously, a transsexual – I did not _____________, however, because I know now that there are all kinds of people in New York City and I like that!
Few people seem to know that there is some type of ___________ between New York City police officers and New York City firemen.  On 9/11 it seems that the police did not communicate effectively with the firemen (whose radios - or walky talkies – were not working) and therefore over 300 firemen did not know they should have evacuated the burning and crumbling buildings.  Approximately 20 police officers died.
Although it was ____________ by some of the newspapers that Governor Patterson illegally obtained tickets to a Yankee’s World Series game, he denied the allegation.
Jina ____________ when she saw her first cockroach crawling across her kitchen sink.  She learned, however, that boric acid quickly eliminates all such little insect creatures.
Issues that seem ________________ in some American cities do not seem to bother people in New York City.  Neither gay marriage nor abortion is thought to be a problem here.  New Yorkers seem to think: “Live and let live!”
Although I found the tourist’s attitude and comments to be offensive, I ________________ from returning harsh language for harsh language.
Barack Obama seemed to gain _______________________ in the Democratic Party fairly quickly and easily.  Within two years of being elected a Senator he was elected to be president.
Living in New York City is not easy.  Many people feel that the ___________ involved in living here are, however, worth it because there is so much to do and so many interesting people to meet.
After the two World Trade Center buildings were destroyed, it was decided not to rebuild them but to start from ______________  with a new design.
The people of the city of New York were forced to ___________ to the English and New York City remained occupied by English soldiers until the Revolutionary War ended.
There is a good way to determine whether a person is going to kill himself or whether he is ____________.  If the person tells you specifically how he is going to commit suicide, he probably intends to do it.
Many people around the world felt that President Barak Obama was _____________ a bit too much when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for having, really, done nothing.
To ________________ what Lincoln said, a nation which is divided on essential political and economic issues cannot function properly.
It seems that politicians in a democracy do not want to ___________ with the big issues; they want to do what the voters want them to do so that they can be re-elected.
Answers: fleet, embodiment, gossip, utmost, backfired, freak out, conflict, alleged, freaked out, controversial, refrained, prominence, hardships, scratch, surrender, bluffing, lionized, paraphrase, wrestle