April 27, 2003

"Malcolm's World"

I have not given up blogging, but time and tide and my lawn, seem to drain the time I have to continue this most enjoyable of practices.

So what is new in "Malcolm's World"? This past week marks my 3 month anniversary working for the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA). By far and away this is one of the best challenges I have EVER had and truly "each day offers new and exciting challenges". As I find when opening my inbox of my email each day.

Volunteers are the an invaluable asset to any non-profit group, and I am pleased to say that working with Volunteer Match, I am developing an army of great people to help me with my Sweeten the Season fundraising campaign and the recently launched, volunteer driven Recyclye Used Cell Phone Drives across the country. MSAA receive a donation for each cell phone donated, regardless of age or condition they are refurbished and used by other groups who need cell phones in America, for instance 911 safety for women. This keeps the used phones out of landfills and prevents a growning problem of the toxins from the phones and batteries leaking into the ground. A 3 way win-win-win you could say.

If you want to donate a cell phone to this program, please send to me at

Multiple Sclerosis Association of America
National Headquarters
706 Haddonfield Road
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002


If you want further details on how to volunteer please email me at mfriend@msaa.com or check out the Volunteer Match web site.

The responsibilities of my job are so far reaching that for the first time all of my family continually bring me ideas that only further help the cause of the MSAA, to provide help to those challenged with multiple sclerosis, their families and care partners.

In the US, May is National MS Awareness Month, this ties in very nicely with the next 7 days being National Volunteer Week. I am privilaged to be a part of something so very special and worthwhile and have the responsibility to develop the fund raising programs through special events in the broadest definatioon of the term.

My weekends too are as challenging! Many weeks ago (pre the liberation of Iraq), I mentioned that my challenge for the summer would be to aim for a perfect lawn on my property. With the ground ivy slowly being fought back, the new lawn is emerging from the shadow of winter. Winter in April? Yes we had a little snow at the start of the month, as winter decided to take one last bite before making way for Spring. The total cumulative snowfall on our drive this winter has been 52 inches. Typically I had put the snow shovel away the weekend before the last 2 inches fell. Threatening my daffodils and tulips that were but young green sprouts not more than 2 inches above the ground. Disaster from the snow was thankfully prevented.

Since moving to the US and into my home, my personal time has been at a premium so my wife & I employed a grass cutting service to keep the lawn (and weeds) at a tidy length. - Much haas changed since last year, including a little more time, so last weekend, with thanks to my Gran (bless her), we have invested in my first lawn mower of the electric variety. Laast weekend for the first time ever I cut my own lawn. It was a rite of passage of sorts. - I complained bitterly on driving home on Friday to discover the rain falling so no cut Friday, had to wait will today to pull my nice new Black & Decker out the barn to be complimented by the first fertiliser feed to hopefully give the lawn body and strength this summer.

I have other subject matter to cover in the next posting or two:
Coodies or is it Cooties - the difference between Brits and Americans.
Highway driving in the US.

Until then, be safe.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

April 23, 2003

A poem:

Time moves on and the sentiment behind this has diluted but a little, yet for your enjoyment, here is a poem forwarded by my wife this week on the subject of the French.

Subject: French Poem
Who Stands Alone
Eleven thousand soldiers lay beneath the dirt and stone, all buried on a
distant land so far away from home. For just a strip of dismal beach
they paid a hero's price, to save a foreign nation they all made the
And now the shores of Normandy are lined with blocks of white, Americans
who didn't turn from someone else's plight. Eleven thousand reasons for
the French to take our side, but in the moment of our need, they chose
to run and hide.
Chirac said every war means loss, perhaps for France that's true, for
they've lost every battle since the days of Waterloo. Without a soldier
worth a damn to be found in the region, the French became the only land
to need a Foreign Legion.
You French all say we're arrogant. Well hell, we've earned the right--
We saved your sorry nation when you lacked the guts to fight. But now
you've made a big mistake, and one that you'll regret; you took sides
with our enemies, and that we won't forget.
It wasn't just our citizens you spit on when you turned, but every one
of ours who fell the day the towers burned. You spit upon our soldiers,
on our pilots and Marines, and now you'll get a little sense of just
what payback means.
So keep your Paris fashions and your wine and your champagne, and find
some other market that will buy your aeroplanes. And try to find
somebody else to wear your French cologne, for you're about to find out
what it means to stand alone.
You see, you need us far more than we ever needed you. America has
better friends who know how to be true. I'd rather stand with warriors
who have the will and might, than huddle in the dark with those whose
only flag is white.
I'll take the Brits, the Aussies, the Israelis and the rest, for when it
comes to valor we have seen that they're the best. We'll count on one
another as we face a moment dire, while you sit on the sideline with a
sign "friendship for hire."
We'll win this war without you and we'll total up the cost, and take it
from your foreign aid, and then you'll feel the loss. And when your
nation starts to fall, well Frenchie, you can spare us, just call the
Germans for a hand, they know the way to Paris
Feedback always invited, please email me.

April 11, 2003

Weekend Posting:

Due to publishing problems earlier this week, I want to direct your attention to the BBC Baghdad Broadcasting Company post below this posting dated April 8.

I have limited my news intake to no more than an hour per day for the last couple of weeks. Although by chance I happened to watch the live coverage of the now famous toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussain in central Baghdad.

The look of jubiliation on the faces of the citizens of the city spelled, liberation. The throwing of shoes upon the statue of an authority figure of many years was a gesture of utmost disgust. We have watched an oppressed country boil over with enthusiasum that has led to acts of theft and damage to public and personal property. How should we react to this "lawlessness"? For the moment, let the people taste and enjoy their liberation. We can only imagine the pressure and daily threats to living under the previous regime. Yet like shaking a can of soda, once opened the contents explode in all directions until the fizz naturally comes under its own control. What we have seen in the last few days has not been acts of theft and such, but a release of the pressure cooker.

We should applaude the allied forces, not just the Americans and Brits but all the other countries that played a part, no matter how small in effecting an advance to a liberation that took a long time to come, but a little time to achieve, with thankfully little loss of life, from those who protect that which the Union Jack and Stars and Stripes defines. Personal freedom, rights, and democracy.

I have read today that some of the British planes and military forces are on their way home. Job well done, objective achieved.

I also heard today that Russia, France and Germany met to agree that the UN should play a part in the democratic rebuilding of Iraq. With diplomatic nerves stretched with two of these three countries, and this action brough about by the lack of teeth of the United Nations, only time will help mend diplomatic fences and define the future of the United Nations.

For sure the UN will continue to exist. There is little point in breaking up the UN only to reform a similar group with a redefined mission. Rather, let the backroom boys and professional diplomats repair the broken pathways of national alliances. It will take time, especially with France, but diplomats rarely move at any great speed or conviction. This is one of the reasons why this action proved inevitable in the first place.

To PM Blair and Pres GW Bush, together with their cabinet minsters and the Vice President and Sec's of respected Departments, I thank them for taking the road less travelled, taking the risk, taking the hard decisions.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

April 08, 2003

BBC – Baghdad Broadcasting Company

With some embarrassment and more than a pinch of shame, I watched a TV report in the US last night that reported how other countries were reporting the liberation of the people of Iraq.

The report concluded with the US allies, the British. Specifically the reporting of the military action by the BBC, calling the broadcasting bias by the Baghdad Broadcasting Company. – Ouch! But in my opinion a true and accurate statement given the overall tone on the BBC America news and the “spin” applied to the BBC News web pages. I mentioned this weeks ago that I was not at all happy with the BBC reporting and it seems not only have they not changed their approach, but are being tagged with this label by their strongest ally.

I make it very clear that I have been watching Fox News, a sister company of the British Sky news. The quality of the reporting has been simply “outstanding” as the two networks have combined the resources of their embedded journalists and news crews who have without question been very much in the thick of it all.

It came as some relief to see the troops in the palaces last night, in such a short time from the initial insertion into Iraq. Note not an invasion.

I am now very concerned with the second-guessing of who will govern Iraq once the fighting is over. The answer is simple. The people of Iraq through a democratic right to vote will govern the future of Iraq. America and Britain have opened the door to the future, neither will remain indefinitely as neither are conquers of this land but liberators.

There my rant is over.

Annoyed at the BBC.


Feedback always invited, please email me.

April 06, 2003

Sunday Posting: Why do the French call the British 'the roast beefs'?

My wife Taney will testify to my anger this week over the desecration of the allied war dead in France this week.

Although personally I have never been to Normandy and walked through the resting places of the allied heroes who liberated France in World War 2, I have walked in silence and awe through the cemeteries in northern France and visited Ypres in Belgium.

A good number of years ago I was traveling around France for 2 weeks with my good friend Nick Grout. We traveled from Calais to Monte Carlo and back again, making a point to stop at and pay our respects to those who paid the ultimate price for freedom and liberty in France in WW1. For those who have never seen the war graves before, and especially those who have never been to the arch in Ypres, just across the border in Belgium, it is unquestionably a humbling experience. The experience and emotion of my brief visits the cemeteries as part of a fun vacation in France, continues with me, and those emotions were more than stirred this week by seeing the photographs and reading the reports.

Although today the Brits and French may not see eye to eye on the subject of Iraq, they remain a close ally politically and through their ports and the channel tunnel provide a physical entry for those who travel by boat or by rail to mainland Europe. Historically, the Brits and French have battled each other and this is assumed by many to not have been forgotten, by one side at least.

A BBC report posted this weekend rose the question why to the French call the Brits “les rosbifs”? Typically the Brits knowing (or caring less to know) our closest countries language, the depth of the insult is realized.

Calling someone a "roast beef" is a strange insult, although in its way not much stranger than calling someone a "frog". But why should they have used the word "rosbeefs"? (The usual spelling for this particular French nickname for the English is "rosbif" - the graffiti spelling is presumably an attempted translation.)

Rosbif has two distinct meanings, and only one of them is usually intended as an insult. Linguistics expert Professor Richard Coates of Sussex University says the phrase was originally used as a gastronomic term, referring to the English style of cooking beef. "Rosbifs became a mark of the Englishman as far as the French were concerned in the 18th Century, simply because it was a very popular way of cooking," he says. "That style began to apply to other meats cooked in the same way, so you would also have 'rosbif de mouton' and that sort of thing." Thus an English term becomes part of the French vocabulary, like "le weekend", part of a spread of the English language that infuriates many French. Rosbif as a name for roast beef, however, carried on spreading and is now also used in Spain and Italy.

By 1850, the phrase had been extended to mean Englishmen themselves. William Makepeace Thackeray wrote in The Virginians: "Only my white cockade and coat had saved me from the fate which the other canaille [rabble] of Rosbifs had deservedly met with." In any case it is, despite the offensiveness of the war graves graffiti, generally a "pretty inoffensive insult", says Mr. Coates.

The focus of the insult probably has far more to do with contemporary history, as recent as the last few years, than the over one hundred and fifty years ago. Given that the heated argument between the French and the Brits over the Beef Wars, still rumble on despite the French very recently importing British Beef, through leverage and huge fines imposed by the EU, has probably breathed a new life into this insult. To recall the EU lifted the ban on importing British beef three years earlier, the French illegally maintained a ban on the imports much the anger of the EU and Department of Trade.

To put history into perspective to use the offensive term “frog” to the French is no better than the French calling the Brits “les rosbifs”. Yet before insults are traded at all, one should understand the history of the insult, as it originally applied to the Jesuits and the Dutch in the 1300’s long, long before it referred to the French. I have some wonderful Dutch friends and would hate them to believe that this insult was indirectly aimed at them.

"It only changed to the French when they became the national enemy of the English," says Jonathon Green, author of the Cassell Dictionary of Slang. "It originally applied to the Dutch because they were seen as inhabiting marshland, but there are citations from 1805 onwards in which it applies to the French." This would probably have had less to do with living in marshland than with eating frogs. He adds that in some low-lying parts of Lincolnshire, particularly the part known as Holland, people sometimes refer to themselves as "yellow bellies" - an echo of the Dutch being called "frogs". But the world is full of national and racial insults based on what people eat. Green dubs it "gastro-nationalism", and says it has "the benefit of several antagonistic worlds: not simply racial difference, but those ever-absorbing bones of contention, manners and taste".

It is sad that in times of conflict when a just cause is merged with patriotism that deep rooted insulting terms are raised to the surface that nationally insult a nation when, it is not the people of the nation but their leaders, the regime like Saddam Hussain are the true target.

I was surprised that there is a Racial Slur database which lists hundreds of such terms, including "locust eaters" for Afghans, "salmon crunchers" for Alaskans, and "goulash-heads" for Hungarians.
American use of the word "limey" as shorthand for British is another example, referring to the eating of limes by British sailors who were anxious to avoid scurvy.

Yet in my almost three years here in America, where racial tolerance is far higher than portrayed on film and television exists, I cannot recall anyone referring to me in such a term as an insult. Besides, I long since stopped studying history and until today would not have recognized the term “limey” as mildly insulting.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

April 02, 2003

More to this story than is being widely reported.

Glenn Beck a noted national talk radio host in the US brought to my attention the fully story behind this item found on the BBC news web page.

A US Army servicewoman - missing for a week in Iraq and presumed dead - has been rescued alive but badly injured. Private Jessica Lynch, 19, was freed from the Saddam Hospital in the southern town of Nasiriya. US marines say they launched a diversionary attack on a nearby Baath Party building, while American special forces entered the hospital. The Pentagon said Private Lynch, a supply clerk, was captured on 23 March when her convoy was ambushed in Nasiriya. She has two broken legs, a broken arm and multiple gunshot wounds, but is said to be in a stable condition. Her family described their joy to reporters on Wednesday. "The relief... it came up from the bottom of my legs," said her brother, Gregory.
He said he felt "overwhelming gratitude" for her rescuers. Her parents said the news was "wonderful".
"At first I thought it might be an April fool's joke," said her father Greg. "I asked them to say the name several times." The operation to rescue her began at nightfall on Tuesday, the BBC's Adam Mynott says.
On entering the hospital, special forces were reportedly taken to Private Lynch's location by medical staff.
US marine commanders say the remains of 11 bodies were also taken away during the operation but they are refusing to comment on their identities. They were not killed in the mission to rescue Private Lynch, said US Captain Frank Thorpe. Officers say the special forces team was in and out of the hospital inside 20 minutes. Private Lynch is a member of the 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company, a unit that was ambushed when it took a wrong turn in Nasiriya in the early days of the fighting. Five of its soldiers were captured and later forced to answer questions on Iraqi television - drawing harsh condemnation from Washington. Private Lynch was not among that group. Her hometown of Palestine, West Virginia, celebrated her rescue with fireworks, sirens and horns. "You would not believe the joys, cries, bawling, hugging, screaming, carrying on," her cousin Pam Nicolais told the Associated Press news agency. President George W Bush reportedly replied "That's good!" when Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told him of the news. "The President is tremendously proud of the rescue team for bringing out one of our own," a White House spokesperson said. "He is full of joy for Jessica and her family... but mindful others are missing in action."

What the BBC fail to report is how this information was received. An Iraq citizen passed a note to a marine with the inscription POW the room number of the hospital and the hospital name. Given that allied forces have found themselves confronting an enemy using terrorist tactics, they were not certain of the truth of the note, yet had to find out more.

As plans were set to recover the POW, Private Jessica Lynch, if she truly was in that hospital room, a complex strategy was set in place to mask the real objective of the mission at the hospital.

With the cooperation of an Iraqi citizen who wanted to do the right thing, Private Jessica Lynch was rescued with 2 broken legs, a broken arm and a gunshot wound, but is reported tonight as being in good spirits.

This complete story offers a ray of hope to the people of the world united in the quest to offer the people of Iraq a better safer more democratic future. Their are decent people in Iraq, there are also desperate people, people who have been terrorised to fight, have watch their 12 year old children killed because they would not join the cause to defend Saddam Hussain, (if indeed he is still alive which I suspect he may not be).

I am disgusted by damage sustained in the American and British cemetries in France reported today. (Link here if you have not seen the pictures).

Slogans reading "Death to Yankees" and "Rosbeefs (Brits) go home" were painted on the central memorial in Etaples, near the Channel port of Boulogne in northern France. The slogans also called for UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George W Bush to be sent to the international criminal court in The Hague. "Saddam Hussein will win and spill your blood", one slogan read. Another claimed the graves were "contaminating" French soil. The defaced Etaples cemetery is one of the biggest in northern France. Around 11,000 fallen British soldiers are buried there. It lies near the site of several wartime hospitals. "We are pretty hacked off and I am pleased to say the French authorities are too," said Tim Reeves, of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC).

These places are almost sacred spots. When the allied forces liberated France in WW2 they only asked for land to bury their countrymen as they could not take them home. The French agreed.

Now 60 odd years on, the acts of a mindless minority have stirred the relationships between France and Britain and France and America to a boiling point. This is without question an unspeakable act and I for one hope that the perpertrators are not only found but made a national example of.

Yet with 33% of the French population wanting Saddam Hussian to beat Britain and American forces, it would seem that diplomacy has a great deal of work to start to calm troubled waters.

There have been stories of TV journalists from the US being asked to leave Iraq and in one instance extending a professional courtesy appearing on state-run Iraq TV and telling what a bad job the Americans were making of the war.

From the BBC - In the US, the Pulitzer-winning journalist Peter Arnett was sacked after he told Iraqi TV the coalition's initial war plan had failed. His remarks were deemed "Kafkaesque" by one US congresswoman.

Peter Arnett, has been not only given his marching orders by the allied forces but also by his employer only to take up a new job with the London based Daily Mirror. - Seen in the US to be very anti-war.

The Sun, bless them, are considered to be the other side of the coin, very supportive of the troops. My father sent me an email with a neat little game you may wish to play on your PC, check out this site and tell your friends.

I only recently discovered that Sky news in the UK and Fox News in the US were sister organisations. Interesting to note that more Americans are turning off CNN and switching to Fox for their cable and satellite news service. Of the network news services Tom Brokaw is the top TV newscaster, who leads a sorry field of limp, weak and wishy washy runners-up who I personally have little time for in peace time.

Yesterday was April 1, April Fools Day. Given the war is it too early to enduldge in practical jokes. - I must answer yes. It is all to easy to be swept up in the horror and misery of war. For that is after all what it is. However we must not loose sight that we have a need to express other emotions, humor being but one, the ability to laugh. I listened to a April fool wind up on the radio yesterday afternoon, it was clever, a little obvious and I found myself in a fit of laughter for most of my journey home.

Yes I did feel much better for the experience.

Daily Mirror - The Sun. - How they are portrayed in the USA today.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?