Sunday, April 28, 2013

Vonage Phone Service and My Dad

Vonage is a phone service that goes via the Internet and thus keeps costs low. They also offer the additional service of transcribing or translating voice messages into emails. At most times, they do a fine job but somehow get terribly confused where other languages especially Hindi or Urdu are concerned. Added to this is also the hard time they have in understanding my Dad’s messages. My father leaves these long winding messages, which even I can’t understand; he mumbles and fumbles, forgets half way what he’s been saying and leaves sentences hanging half way somewhere. Vonage is incapable of picking up dropped stuff.

Meanwhile, my Mum is on the other extreme end of the spectrum; she refuses to leave any messages but insists on calling every two seconds! I know my Mum called because I see red lights blinking furiously on my answering machine, however when I replay, there are yawning silences interspersed with sighing, bits of coughing and some oofs and ooffo and chhh sounds (all very familiar Indian sounds of displeasure). Vonage cannot translate these silences, nobody can. 

Vonage Phone Service struggles with trying to decipher what my father says. I don’t blame them; my mother, my husband, my children, my sister and just about everyone I know have a similar refrain of complaint, ‘What is he saying?’ So, yesterday, my birthday came around, my parents forgot (for which they will pay dearly with some extra cash) and my Dad tried to make up by leaving oodles of blessings and loads of good wishes. In the process, he left total mayhem in the phone service and its struggle to translate his speech. Below is what Vonage thought my Dad said. From what I gathered and heard, this is not what my Dad said.

"Father Dan there-dad-vodka-and-orange (?) just wanted to see you. Hey happy birthday. May God bless you. When you go down and then lot of prosperity. Right you-go (?) up it's like a little about that (?) I'll be done (?) I'm calling you at home. I love you, may not be able to get you in your ticket as it is. God bless you again-once (?) bye bye."     (Brought to you by Vonage)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Domestic Terrorism in America

If something is your home, it is your duty to defend it from dangerous elements. That being said, America has not been responsible with its immigration policies. A little worse than this is that it has not emphasized assimilation of immigrants into its land. But the worst is that it has abandoned the 'glue' that keeps people together. By harping on diversity, America has become a land of different groups of people insistent on their own language, culture and ways. Its citizenship pledge clearly exacts a promise from its to-be-citizens to give up all support and allegiance to foreign governments and people inimical to America.

Mark Stein explained it very aptly by saying that some first generation Americans have grown up without a sense of connectedness and allegiance to the land they live in. As a result, they tend to find their identity in something more solid and defining however evil that might be. Unfortunately, most youth in America unlike some unfortunate youth around the world, don't have much to worry about. Ease of life has tended to veer them toward something more exacting, more exciting, more lethal like Islamic Jihadism. This has been evident in the Boston Terrorism, Fort Hood Terrorism, and the most recent arrest of a young American headed off to Turkey with Al-Qaeda links, with the intent of committing violence in the name of Islam.

These homegrown terrorists seem well adjusted but also harbor malicious feelings toward a land and its people. They and their families had no compunctions in receiving various benefits and opportunities in this land but when it came to defending its values and freedoms and what America stood for, they found themselves pledging their allegiance to people and causes completely inimical to America!

Homegrown terrorists are now intent on destroying themselves and other innocent men, women and children for some strange ideology. They are willing to destroy something they never built nor created. Images of people dying or being killed in distant lands of their fathers and forefathers have become their rallying cry for destruction of America! A religion they never grew up with but became fascinated with its twisted ideology has come to dominate their life. Did these people consider leaving America and living in the distant lands they were willing to kill innocents for?

How much blame can be placed on the current American education system in schools and colleges - a lot because most schools and colleges are rife with anti-American, hate America, America the villain, blame America - kinds of teachings. A majority of the teaching staff weighs heavily in favor of socialist ideas and makes no bones about declaring them to the students. Coloring their teaching with political leanings of any kind, is not the job of teachers and professors. At most, they can give their students both sides of a problem or situation and insist the students decipher it themselves.

Incidentally socialism and communism have wrecked havoc wherever they have been! Schools and colleges here are not about teaching pride in your nation and helping students understand why America does what is does but more about condemning America. It is not uncommon to hear that America is the worst place to live in. Meanwhile millions of immigrants continue to stream into America which remains top destination for all immigrants.

It is disconcerting to think of all immigrants who made America their home when they saw a country with new opportunities and a good life. The stifling governments systems they left behind are unfortunately being glorified in the American schools and colleges their children attend. The current tilt of American education indeed makes a mockery of America's way of life and what it stands for.