Archive for May, 2009

Pashto Position

May 17th, 2009 Comments off

Dear President Obama,

I guess you must have missed my blog about the war in Afghanistan: how when you sent 17,000 new troops, you should have 5,000 of them skilled in speaking the Pashto language. How much more warmly they would be welcomed! What a message that would have sent to the entire Islamic community!

But I guess you missed that blog; or maybe it was because my server crashed, and that blog went off line for a while.

At any rate, let me offer the suggestion again: Send Pashto-speaking soldiers to Afghanistan– and to Pakistan, too, in those Pashtun areas.

But from where, you may ask, will come all these Pashto speaking volunteers?

Sir, President Obama — may I call you Barak? No? Okay — Mr. President, here’s the thing: make Pashto-learning software freely available over the Internet. Sure, there are already some programs available; I say, make them ubiquitous. If the programs aren’t up to snuff, get your intelligence guys busy creating really easy to use programs — I believe the term in “user-friendly” — that will be fun to use — like a video game!

Sir, there are millions of young people out there eager to join the world community, looking for a way to contribute. Just think of a mass of young people able to speak the language of the country you want to turn into a model of democracy (is that it?) who are now, because of a down-turned economy, available for the nation-building effort.

Mr. President, please don’t take this suggestion lightly. We need speakers of foreign languages: not French and German and Italian, which are old school (although these are valuable still), but Pashto, Arabic, Hindi and Mandarin, and we need to encourage young people, in fact all people, open their minds to the new ways of thinking that new languages open up.

Your emphasis, Mr. President, on education, can have such a significance, if anyone can get involved, even if they’re not enrolled in a traditional school, college, or university. Through the Internet, everyone can be a student. It needs some work in the server end, some interactivity. But surely the US Government can commit a few resources to making language-learning software fun, enticing, and available.

So that’s my suggestion, Mr. President. What do you think?

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100 Days of ‘Fair and Balanced’

May 12th, 2009 Comments off

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