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 [ BACK]  [NEXT]                       Issue #099 - 07/05/1998


Funnies Looks At America (& America Looks Back)

Happy 4th of July, All!
     It might not mean much to those of you from other countries,
but July 4th is the American National Holiday.  It's the date of
Independence Day, our final break with England.  After that silly
movie of a couple of years back, I suppose more of our
international friends associate 'Independence Day' with alien
invaders than with America.  It doesn't usually involve any
exploding buildings or space aliens.  We celebrate the day with
fireworks, picnics and parades.
     As I'm writing this, we just got back from our local Fourth
of July parade.  It a nice local parade, where you can sit up
close and recognize many of the people marching.  Sometimes it
seems like half of the town is watching, which is about right;
the other half is marching in the parade.  Makes for a pleasant
day ending with fireworks in the evening.
     Thanks and Hello this week to our American friends (and a
few folks from other places, too) : Caterina Sukup, Timothy
McChain, Jerry Taff, Paul Roser, Nnamdi Elleh, Dick Ginkowski,
Lydia Cheong, Carol Becwar, David Cantrell, Helen Yee, Alison
Becwar, Sylvia Libin He, Kathleen Beckmann, Laura Hong Li and
Sachiko Sumida.  Hope you all had a fine weekend, wherever in the
world you happened to be.
     Have a Great Week!


     "The fellow in the office next to mine recently acquired an
office accessory (a rather large letter holder) which came in a
cardboard box on which was printed, in inch-high capital letters,
     "To underscore the point, the unmistakable silhouette of the
Statue of Liberty was printed just to the left of the slogan.
     "Do you think the folks who chose the Statue of Liberty for
this appeal to patriotism remembered where the Statue of Liberty
itself was made?"
                                 - David Beams (from the web)

          [ The Statue of Liberty was made in France]


     There is a stereotype out there that Americans are not very
good at geography.  Well, maybe more than a stereotype?


     My friend called his car insurance company to tell them to
change his address from Texas to Vermont.  The woman who took the
call asked where Vermont was. 
     As he tried to explain, she interrupted and said, "Look, I'm
not stupid or anything, but what state is it in?" 
          [ Oh yes she is... ]


     Way back in 1887, surveyors crossed the prairies to finally
mark the boundary between the U.S. and Canada.  They passed
through the countryside, mapping the line according to carefully
calculated coordinates.  There had already been some settlement
in the area by that time, so there were a few farmers who'd
believed their farms were in the U.S., but turned out to have
settled across the border in Canada.
     One old American farmer who found himself on the Canadian
side complained bitterly to the surveyors.
     "Why do you care, your still on the same ground, aren't
you?" asked the surveyor.
     The farmer complained, "Do you not know how cold those
Canadian winters can be?" 


     Planning on doing a little grilling out this summer?  It's
one of the joys of summer, but that real charcoal-grilled taste
comes at a price -- it may be as much as an hour before the
charcoal is burning evenly.  That's one reason for the popularity
of gas grills here in the U.S., given our notorious impatience. 
But it might be possible to have nearly instant charcoal
grilling, if medium-sized explosions don't bother you.  A
computer systems engineer at Purdue University in Indiana named
George Gobel has come up with a grill lighting system that has
the charcoal ready to use in as little as three seconds.
     The recipe? 60 pounds of charcoal, an ignition source and
three gallons of liquid oxygen (as used by NASA in launching
rockets).  You had better use an industrial strength grill, too. 
When Gobel and his associates tried this formula on a cheap
department store grill, they found that the grill disappeared in
the resulting 10,000 degree fireball.  All that was left of the
cheap steel grill were a few shreds of metal and a small pile of
     "Basically, the grill vaporized," said Goble. "We were
thinking of returning it to the store for a refund."
     Will anyone manage to break the three second mark?  Gobel
has lately given up his attempt to better his record, in part
because he believes that three seconds is very near the
theoretical limit for ignition.  But mostly because his local
fire department takes a dim view of unlicensed explosions.

          [ Want to see the tests?  If you have web
          access, check out:
          for photos and videos of the fireballs.  And
          kids -- don't try this at home! ]


     One of the challenges of dealing internationally is that
there are several very different groups of English speakers in
the world.  Unless you are really sensitive to accents, it can be
difficult for to tell just what country a person is from.  So
here is a short primer on how to sort us out...


  Aussies:     Dislike being mistaken for Brits when abroad.

  Canadians:   Are rather indignant about being mistaken for
               Americans when abroad.

  Americans:   Encourage being mistaken for Canadians when

  Brits:       Can't possibly be mistaken for anyone else when


  Aussies:     Believe you should look out for your mates.

  Brits:       Believe that you should look out for those people
               who belong to your club.

  Americans:   Believe that people should take care of

  Canadians:   Believe that it's the government's job.


  Aussies:     Are extremely patriotic about drinking Australian

  Americans:   Are flag-waving, anthem-singing, and obsessively
               patriotic to the point of blindness.

  Canadians:   Can't even agree on the words to their national
               anthem, when they can be bothered to sing them.

  Brits:       Do not sing at all but prefer a large brass band
               to perform the national anthem.


  Americans:   Spend much of their lives watching TV.

  Canadians:   Don't, but only because they can't get more
               American channels.

  Brits:       Pay a tax just so they can watch four crummy

  Aussies:     Export all their crappy programs, which no-one
               there watches, to Britain, where everybody loves


  Americans:   Will talk endlessly about football, baseball, and

  Brits:       Will talk endlessly about cricket, soccer, and

  Canadians:   Will talk endlessly about hockey, hockey, hockey,

  Aussies:     Will talk endlessly about how they beat the Brits
               in every sport both countries play.


  Americans:   Spell words differently, but still call it

  Brits:       Pronounce their words differently, but still call
               it "English".

  Canadians:   Spell like the Brits, pronounce like Americans.

  Aussies:     Add "G'day", "mate" and a heavy accent to
               everything they say in an attempt to get girls.


  Americans:   Drink weak, pissy-tasting beer.

  Canadians:   Drink strong, pissy-tasting beer.

  Brits:       Drink warm, beery-tasting piss.

  Aussies:     Drink anything with alchohol in it.


  Americans:   Seem to think that poverty and failure are morally

  Canadians:   Seem to believe that wealth and success are
               morally suspect.

  Brits:       Seem to believe that wealth, poverty, success and
               failure are inherited.

  Aussies:     Seem to think that none of this matters after a
               few beers.


  Americans:   Drive on the right, speed limit in miles-per-hour.

  Canadians:   Drive on the right, speed limit in kilometers-per-

  Brits:       Drive on the left, speed limit in kilometers-per-

  Aussies:     Drive down the center as fast as they can.


  Americans:   Like the movie 'Crocodile' Dundee since it shows
               an colorful Australian poking fun at Americans.

  Canadians:   Like the movie 'Crocodile' Dundee since it shows
               an colorful Australian poking fun at Americans.

  Brits:       Like the movie 'Crocodile' Dundee since it shows
               an colorful Australian poking fun at Americans.

  Aussies:     Like the movie 'Crocodile' Dundee since it has
               made it much easier to get girls in England,
               Canada and America.

© 1998 by Bill Becwar. All Rights Reserved.