February 07, 2003 - 10:51 a.m.
I am thinking about applying for a job as a consumer and cultural reporter for an ad agency, but I need to be able to answer the following bonus question (part of the application):
And also consider what Michael Faraday, Cecilia Payne, Richard Branson, and the rock band Queen might all have in common. As part of your application tell us what you think might be the thread that brings such apparently disparate names together. And why that might be relevant to this job.
So far, all I can figure out is that they were all born in England. Big whoop, though. I'm not sure if I feel like expounding (bulls****ing) on how knowing where someone comes from is imperative to understanding their choices and actions.
I'm sure there's a secret tricky answer known by a clever someone out there, but not in this household. Simon thought the thread was that they all hold PhD degrees, but I checked it out and found that only Brian May from Queen has received a doctorate, and it was an honorary one at that. Branson's degree was honorary, too. So maybe holding a doctorate - honorary or otherwise - is the key here. But how the heck would that be pertinent to this job?
I'm firing off a letter to the editor of Good Weekend, the Saturday supplement to The Age. The past two issues have contained flimsy statements about Americans, and I'd like to set the record straight.
The first chided a man from Mississippi because he e-mailed the food writer to ask what type of vegetable "rocket" was and how to prepare it. The writer laughed it off as though Mississippi must be backward and isolated because the residents aren't in a love affair with his favorite veggie. "It felt a bit like getting a letter in a bottle from a Japanese soldier in the South Pacific asking if World War II had finished yet," he continued.
Well, Mr. Food Writer, you will be happy to know that your favorite green does indeed exist in a certain part of the world, only it's called something else: arugula. Can you believe it? Yes, I know we all speak English, but isn't it wonderfully exciting how many variations there are?
The other example was an attack on the so-called American definition of the word "savoury" (or savory). The writer called Americans "linguistically challenged" because they define savory to mean "pleasing or agreeable to the taste, rather than not sweet." Well, won't it please him to find out that some Americans happen to know both definitions, and if he took a look at the Macquarie Dictionary (a definitively Australian dictionary), he would find the main entry says:
The "not sweet" definition comes second.
No, I'm not attacking Australians. I'm defending anyone who gets lumped into a group - stereotyped, if you will. In the same way that it's unfair and inaccurate to say "Women do this..." or "African-Americans feel this way..." it's unfair to state how any group of people thinks or feels, much less call them "linguistically challenged."
I know these are minor things, but I find it hard to believe in world peace when people still call each other names. I cringe when I hear people use the words "gay" or "retarded" in a derogatory way. My mother-in-law says things about different racial or ethnic groups that really get under my skin. Will we ever learn?
In yesterday's Australian, a teaser at the top of the front page showed a picture of Michael Jackson with the words, "My interview with Wacko Jacko". Yeah, I know the guy's had a lot of plastic surgery and has had generated some bizarre news interest of late, but he's a human being, and who the heck knows how hard it is to live his life? If this was a tabloid article, I'd expect it, but the national newspaper? Certainly uncalled for, and most definitely inappropriate for the front page. He has a name, people, and it's not "Wacko Jacko".
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going on three months now - 31 August 2004
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