Monday, September 10, 2007

Good Articles From LA Times

I heart Los Angeles Times. Below are a few articles I find interesting over the past few days.

There was a time when we lauded our humble heritage, when we loved log cabin stories and guys from Hope. But in an era in which the wife of an ex-president is the leading candidate to succeed the son of an ex-president in the White House, we're looking more like a nation of oligarchs than "the homeless, tempest tost," a place where prestige and wealth are handed down rather than earned.

- A sanitized betrayal of America's history by Gregory Rodriguez

In the end, the example of Rome suggests that the most effective long-term stance toward the outside lies less in building walls than in strengthening the foundation of our own society — bolstering not just such tangible structures as education and healthcare and a government free of corruption but also intangible values such as equality, the entrepreneurial spirit and the principles of access and opportunity. If we take care of this, much else will take care of itself.

In the shadow of Hadrian's Wall, archeologists have pulled bits of Roman-era writing from the muck. Many of these scribblings were produced by soldiers who by birth were not Romans and preferred some German tongue. The Latin they wrote is clumsy. But it is Latin, real Latin.

Reading those fragments, I'm reminded of the cards passed out at a demonstration in Washington last year, when thousands of prospective immigrants united to say certain words, which were printed out phonetically. The cards read: "Ai pledch aliyens to di fleg / Of di Yunaited Esteits of America." It was a very American moment — and a very Roman one too.

- Roman Empire: gold standard of immigration, By Cullen Murphy

We are Americans, and so until recently, we knew that we were the best. Because so many people wanted to be us, we could act as we pleased — and we did, because we were the Great Exception; we were America the Blessed. Hence our complacent belief, so long borne out by the facts, that American movies and American brands would always sell. Hence also our comforting faith that the Kyoto Protocol did not apply to us, so that we could spew out all the greenhouse gases we liked, and use a pig's share of the world's resources. (Just this week, I learned of the U.S.' new plan for energy independence: coal plants, subsidized for the next 25 years.)

- The Great Exception, By William T. Vollmann

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