Thursday, March 12, 2009


In today’s Christian Science Monitor: “Reports of America's decline are greatly exaggerated.” Excerpts:

Norfolk, Va. - Is America really in serious decline?

Hardly a day goes by that I don't hear someone say so. Even President Obama captured this anxiety in his inaugural speech, pointing to a "nagging fear" that America's "decline is inevitable."

Of course, America's problems – from banking and debt crises to foreign security threats – are very serious. But, as bad as things are, here are six reasons why America's starring role on the world stage isn't over.

1.The United States still has the most competitive economy in the world. Despite the recession, the US still has the greatest potential for cutting-edge economic growth. It ranks atop the World Economic Forum's latest global competitiveness study. And its companies remain the best.

According to the most recent Fortune Global 500 report, the US hosts more of the world's major companies (153, to be exact) than any other country. Even Japan lags way behind with just 64, while China is home to a meager 29.

The percentage of US companies in the Global 500 has averaged about 30 percent for most of the years from 1992 to 2008. That doesn’t suggest decline. [Editor's note: The original version included an inaccurate percentage of US companies that make up the 2008 Fortune Global 500 report. Accidentally, the author's revision was not implemented.]


3. The US military is without parallel. To be sure, it has been stretched thin by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But it remains the strongest fighting force in the world.

As just one indicator of its high-tech advantage, it has mastered stealth flight, while the Russians and Chinese are still in the theoretical planning stages for such technology – far behind America.

4. America's competitors lack good allies. Russia and China are suspicious of each other. Iran is at odds with key Arab countries. North Korea is a pariah. Libya is still in political rehab. Syria is trying to find itself in a globalized world. Meanwhile, the US has cautious but real allies in NATO, the European Union, the G-7 industrialized countries, and elsewhere that help it meet its national and international goals.

Three more reasons at the link, of course, and the article ends with the de rigeur reference to Mark Twain’s famous quote: “reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” The brief article cites six reasons to believe in America, and I most certainly do… in spite of my trepidation concerning Our President’s wrong-headed policies.

In the same vein… I note with considerable pleasure that the Dow Industrials are up over 100 points as we go to press. This is the third consecutive day of gains on Wall Street (as I cross my fingers and touch wood); Good News, indeed.


I joined the Facebook group “I judge you when you use poor grammar” last evening at the invitation/recommendation of Blog-Bud Barry. For stuff like this:


"Hey, maybe later you can change my spellings and put this in you hate mail or something. Your pretentious group is pretty silly. There are much bigger issues at stake, and if you love America you should examine your motives for making this group and maybe try to do something about its problems that in a less one demensional manner." -- Jordan Blakey

"ur group is so gay and i dont see why is it ur prob that other ppl make mistakes in their shit...btw some of the stuff in the pics wasnt even wrong dumbass...hope this letter bugs the shit out of you...i was trying to misspell half the shit alrigh
get a life and quit making fun of ppl who cant spell cause sum ppl jus cant" -- Courtesy of Roman Rogers, Rabun County Mid / High School '08

"hye abooout yor group aboooutt u judjin poepl woh cnt spel, fcuk u! im vrey dislxeic" -- Garrett Lindenmann

"dear superior supervisor of "I judge you when you use poor grammar", it's "BAD" grammar, not "poor" grammar. just so you know, judgey." -- Emma Morris


"I'm pretty sure you're some kind of deity or something." -- Fabian Bonfy

"Yes, yes. You are my idol because of your group. You can have, like, your own 'Sharonettes.'" -- Evyn Rossi Sparkk

"Would you like to have my babies?" -- Ishan Ramdewar

"I would love to talk dirty to you in bed... with perfect grammar, of course." -- Alan Borowsky

"'I judge you when you use poor grammar' is my mecca. I come at about 5 o'clock every day and pray in whichever direction the nearest computer is in." -- Remer Rietkerk

While I don’t necessarily judge folks who make grammatical errors (in the most literal sense of the word), misuse of the Mother Tongue has always been a hot button of mine. I’m a pedant… pure and simple… minus the condescension. I’m also of the opinion that it really doesn’t take a whole helluva lot of effort or formal education to become proficient in the language; it’s simply a matter of paying attention and caring.


A correction: Last week I mentioned SN2 is on his way to his new assignment as the commanding officer of Naval Recruiting District Pittsburgh. While that is technically true, the reality is Sam will not assume command until the Fall of 2010; he will be NRD Pittsburgh’s Executive Officer (XO) in the interim. That’s the way the Navy does things, and I stand corrected. Please accept my apologies, Gentle Reader.


  1. Not a Facebooker, but I sure could get behind something like that.*

    *Funny how much effort I just put into making sure I wrote that comment correctly.

  2. The few times we disagree, I am so much more patient toward your point of view, than I would be if you used poor grammar. You offer solid evidence that, if your conclusion is different from mine, isn't for lack of some good quality thought going into it.

    Perhaps this has to do with why, when people use poor grammar, I find they are generally unaccustomed to the process of honestly engaging another mindset that doesn't already agree with theirs on everything.

    Somewhere I had defined "protocol" (sorry, too lazy to dig around for it now) in a way that works both for formal social events, as well as computer science: Agreeing on some things, so it's possible to communicate about other things not-yet-agreeable...or something like that. It's an agebra-like concept, consumed with separating the knowns from the unknowns.

    If life's just a pastiche of video games, sex orgies, and an occasional snack out of the pickled-pigs-feet jar, and there's no need to exchange ideas...well then, a lot of things don't matter. One can vote Obama to one's heart's content, pretend to care about war & peace as a way of meeting girls, and, of course, freely interchange "your" and "you're." The purpose of life is to have fun, right? Ah, but this ends up being a contradiction...because when people like you come along and start up, or join, facebook pages about judging people for their bad grammar, the necessity arises to SOUND OFF. And good! (Adjective/Adverb misplacement error deliberately done, there.) So these people live life like the pendulum on a clock: Half the time, details matter, half the time, they don't.

    And, living life for the purpose of being happy, they end up not. Kinda sad in a way. But if they were dissatisfied, they'd have changed awhile ago.

  3. I'm in the same "pedant" club with you, Buck. Poor spelling is also a huge pet peeve of mine - especially in this day of spell-check.

  4. In re stock market performance vs how the economy is doing - don't confuse the two. :-) The Dow has always been a fairly poor proxy for actual economic performance, but it's worse than usual these days.

  5. Oh, and thanks very much for joining the Grammar Cops! :-)

  6. Andy sez: *Funny how much effort I just put into making sure I wrote that comment correctly.

    I thought long and hard about posting this, for EXACTLY the reason you cite. I don't want anyone to think I'm being hyper-critical, but it is what it is, ya know. ;-)

    Morgan sez: The few times we disagree, I am so much more patient toward your point of view, than I would be if you used poor grammar.

    You've hit on a good point, Morgan. I, too, think precision in language is indicative of one's ability to think. As is organization, grammar, and so on and so forth. Many's the time I've read the first few sentences of something, anything, and dismissed the author's opinion because of an inability to express herself in an articulate manner. Why should I even BEGIN to believe you if you can't take the trouble to spell correctly?

    That said... I DO make allowances for typos. ;-)

    Kris: Agreed... completely! And MOST especially if one uses Firefox, which flags misspellings for you... right on screen!

    Barry: I'm not confusing the Dow with the economy... I'm just using it as a guide/indicator for how I'm progressing in recouping my losses. I'm not naive enough to believe I'll ever get it ALL back, but SOME would be nice... coz I'll need a new car, eventually. ;-)

    And thank YOU for the tip on the Grammar-Group!

  7. Regarding: “Reports of America's decline are greatly exaggerated.” I think the World will not like hearing this nor a lot of the political hacks in power here today. The ones I am talking about are the ones that want us (and in that I mean the U.S.A.) to be subservient to the UN and the World en total. What I used to call the "Hate America First" crowd also known as the "Blame America First" crowd. People who hate the notion of what America used to stand for and now work to marginalize that notion, thus making the U.S. (that would be us) more European.

    The "notion" I speak of is all the salient items carried in our Fore-bearers that tamed the wild Continent. With their bare hands none the less and nary a helping hand from the Government. We can't say that anymore, there are simply too many folks expecting some form of government help. They expect this knowing full well that it means pilfering the hard work and toil of the few people actually working out there. Suffice to say those same for-bearers would not recognize the America before them today.

    Ah well, we will recover but we will not be the same America we once were. Too bad, we had a good thing going here too!!

    BT: Jimmy T sends.

  8. What Andy said and that is all I'm going to say :) !

    ...a reader of my blog, former English teacher, regularly sends me grammar fixes.

  9. I’m pretty forgiving when it comes to misspelled words and bad grammar, because I am not a great speller. Sometimes no matter how many times you read over something, you will miss mistakes. The mind often reads what it knows you meant to say and not what you actually wrote. It is the same with painting. Sometimes after looking and working on a piece of art for a while, your mind no longer sees the mistakes. But put your work away for a few days and then look it over and you will find more errors or ways to improve the piece.

  10. Geez, Buck, now I'm afraid to comment or even write in my own blog for fear of grammar errors!

    Seriously, poor grammar is a pet peeve of mine. I had a co-worker who couldn't put two words together correctly. I constantly had to edit his e-mails for him to keep him out of trouble. I finally got so fed up with him that I just let him bury himself.

    Along the same vein, it aggravates me when people do not make the effort to ensure that they are spelling or pronouncing a person's last name correctly.

  11. I would be a much happier man if only I could get some people to understand that "loose" is not what you say when you've lost something.

  12. Jimmy T sez: Ah well, we will recover but we will not be the same America we once were. Too bad, we had a good thing going here too!!

    I can't help but agree with most of what you say, Jimmy. But, at the same time, I don't think things are quite as bleak as you make them seem. OTOH, I've always been optimistic, aka "semi-naive." ;-)

    Ann sez: ...a reader of my blog, former English teacher, regularly sends me grammar fixes.

    One of my occasional readers is a current English teacher, but she never sends me fixes... basically because I'm better at the language than she is, LOL! (Said for effect, ya know.)

    On that same subject... I HAVE been corrected at times, and I really appreciate that. We... all of us... screw up from time to time.

    Buckskins sez: Along the same vein, it aggravates me when people do not make the effort to ensure that they are spelling or pronouncing a person's last name correctly.

    Hear, hear! That one peeves me, as well.

    Jim: I'm SO with you on the loosers, LOL!

  13. Lou: You're right, ya know. I let important stuff sit for a day or so, if it's not time-sensitive. Not only for grammar and such, but for content, as well. I've had sensitive body parts caught in the wringer more than once because I fired off an e-mail from the hip. Lived to regret it, too.

  14. I'm a grammar/spelling nazi on my blog. I agree with Morgan's take, I am much more likely to respect differing points of view when they're well written. I'm also sloppy when writing privately to friends.

    I know a blogger who's a great guy, but he thrashes the written word like a red headed stepchild. I wince when I read him and cringe over the (well deserved) ridicule heaped on his head in the threads. He makes the conservative point of view we both share look stupid.

    Looks like you found a nice group of folks, Buck.

  15. I'm also sloppy when writing privately to friends.

    But OH so entertaining, Your Majesty. ;-)

  16. "I am become . . . the destroyer of words." ;-)


Just be polite... that's all I ask.