Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Interactive Animation Project

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Midterm is later this week. You've heard the expression about teaching an old dog new tricks. Well, it's not as easy as it looks.

When I went to college (the last time), I was trained in the "International Style" or "Swiss School" of graphic design methodology, which had its origins in the work of Swiss designers like Armin Hoffman and American designers like Paul Rand. Some of that has fallen by the wayside in favor of a more American influence, which relies to some degree on more decorative elements, or various period or "retro" devices, ostensibly to give the design a more fresh appearance, but which often ends up looking... well, decorative, and easily outdated.

The overall piece must avail itself of the background of the web browser page outside the animated frame, which is a bit of a challenge for me. After weeks of being inundated with the work of other students, I wasn't sure if I could do a piece that did what I wanted it to do, yet still be "outside the box," as it were. That has been the big challenge for me. Indeed, it has plagued me especially in the past year, as I try to produce work that is "fresh," while at the same time availing myself of nearly thirty years of experience, which is a bit hard to avoid. How do you separate bad habits from a lifetime of otherwise good judgment? I don't think there are easy answers here, and as one in an environment that is clearly not designed for the "non-traditional student," I must press on.

Having said that, some of the student work in my class appears to use a fresher approach than mine, and I'm breaking out of my shell in minor increments. It isn't fast enough for my professor, though, and we've had some fine old battles in the lab during critique, much to the delight of my fellow-students. The thing is, some of their work is brilliant, but some of it is, in my opinion, a bit amateurish and immature. It is here that I'm not sure my professor is fast enough. I have a lot of respect for her, though, and I'm still in the race.

The main project for this term is to be taken from a person or event of history. I chose "The Folklife of Appalachia." An embedded example of the piece does not do justice to it. A screen shot below gives an idea of how it looks in context. This is how it looks for the midterm review, with the static interface (the "front page," as it were) completed. Progress can be followed for the next five weeks by clicking on the following URL:

Monday, October 29, 2007

Skanks Revisited: Film at Eleven

As a follow-up to last week's piece, this little gem from ABC News via LiveLeak was found at Hot Air.

Ad Random

I haven't been posting much for awhile...

School has been very busy. I'm coming to grips with the reality that the program for which I signed up is not geared to the needs of the non-traditional college student, let alone one who is part-time. As a result, and combined with new developments in web design and interactive media in the three years I've been there, some of what I learned the first year has changed enough, that I may end up spending one or two more academic quarters just getting caught up. With any luck, the folks in charge will eventually allow me to graduate. At least that was our understanding. Until then, I must occasionally remind some high-handed official that, in fact, I am NOT just some punk-ass kid fresh out of high school, that I already HAVE a bachelor's degree in a related field, in this case from a REAL university, and that -- in response to veiled threats of not earning the lofty associates degree, whoop-de-dooo -- with a decent portfolio and a line on my resume that says, "Postgraduate study, web design and interactive media, Art Institute of Washington, 2004-09," I could still get either a promotion, or into a master's program. (Oh, and did I mention I've been an honor student the entire time?) So things are a bit up in the air right now, at least for me.

My scouting work as an assistant district commissioner has stepped up a bit. We're looking at the prospect of salvaging one or two units that have lost membership in recent years. Boys are often attracted to the "megatroops" with up to one hundred members, and program expectations to match. Parents are attracted too, because it allows them to drop the boys off and go their merry way, knowing enough of the other adults will be there to keep a program viable. The problem with this mentality is in the long run. Not only are some boys denied adequate opportunity for leadership, but the scale of such an enterprise makes the very idea of a "boy-run" troop less likely. Even barring that problem, the concept of a familiar neighborhood troop of twenty-five to fifty boys falls by the wayside, and certain parts of town are virtually unserved by the Scouting program. It has taken about a year to convince the local Powers That Be, that the "alpha male" approach to unit development is not only a bad long-term policy, but it makes the commissioner's role a pointless one.

Sal and I went to The Surf Club in Hyattsville last Friday night, for what was supposed to be the last night of zydeco before the place is finally sold by the Hall family, after over fifty years of business, to some joker who wants to turn a perfectly good roadhouse into a Latin night club. Like we don't have enough of those in town already. Leroy Thomas and the Zydeco Roadrunners kept the party going till midnight. We spent nearly an hour trying to get out of the parking lot because someone parked their car right behind ours, and left the motor running and the doors locked. Turns out it belonged to some 89-year-old guy who was a friend of the owners, who finally woke up from his chair long enough to realize his license plates were being announced. Fortunately, he had an extra key, and drove away before the cops could show up. So I called the dispatch and cancelled the report. Considering this was Prince Georges County, I could have been there till morning to file a report. Besides, neither Sal nor I could bear to file a complaint against some old man who was obviously embarrassed (not to mention who shouldn't even be driving).

And speaking of Latin, Father McAfee was mentioned in The Washington Times yesterday, in a story on the growing popularity of the Traditional Latin Mass, especially among the young. Yesterday was also the Feast of Christ the King in the old calendar (being the last Sunday in October). We had a slightly different group of young men serving that day, and there was the necessary adjustments, combined with a bit of coaching now and then. Plus, when the first master of ceremonies (that would be yours truly) is on the altar with the priest during the Canon of the Mass (highlighted by the Consecration), one of his tasks is to turn the pages of the Missal. The book is entirely in Latin, including the instructions in red, or "rubrics." Fortunately, I know just enough Latin to know what to look for in the priest's actions, and to be able to negotiate when to turn the pages. It also helps to be alert, not only for what the priest is doing, but the others serving at the altar as well. When someone forgets to ring the bell, I'm the guy Father looks at momentarily, muttering "bells." That's when you learn to (alliteration alert) send signals subtly. The choir and organist had strings and tympanum, and a magnificent setting for the Mass -- by Mozart, I believe. It was magnificent, but when we got to the end of the Canon, I thought the choir's singing of the "Benedictus" would never end.

The change of seasons for a homeowner always means a change of scenery. Summer clothing is packed away, winter clothing brought out of mothballs, including coats and scarves. It won't be long before I have to think about "the holidays," and what's in store for all that. Thankfully, Sal and I have a similar attitude. It's all about being thankful for what you have, giving what you can to others, and keeping your expectations realistic. For Sal, it also means pulling out the stops and sending home two or three balikbayan boxes to the Philippines, full of stuff they couldn't live without back home. Guess who gets to help pack. I can't wait.

Now for a real story. For all those idiots who persist in keeping Gore/Lieberman stickers on their cars, and insisting that George Bush didn't really win the election because he didn't get the popular vote, Kevin Gutzman over at has an excellent piece on why the American President is chosen by an electoral college. You know a country is in trouble when even some candidates for the Presidency need a damn civics lesson.

Well, that's all the news that fits.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Have you ever had to contend with debates like this one? I know I have...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Revenge of the Skanks

You're not going to believe this one. The Wall Street Journal reports that girls in middle school are becoming not only increasingly fashion-conscious (which we could have guessed by now), but also increasingly critical of classmates who don't measure up.

"Aryana McPike, a sixth-grader from Springfield, Ill., has a closet full of designer clothes from Dolce & Gabbana, Juicy Couture, True Religion and Seven For All Mankind. But... [k]ids in her class recently instructed her that she was wearing the wrong brands. She should wear Apple Bottoms jeans by the rapper Nelly, they told her, and designer sneakers, such as Air Force 1 by Nike. She came home complaining to her mother that "all the girls want to know if I will ever come to school without being so dressed up."


Apparently behavior specialists are becoming alarmed. Girls teasing one another. Calling each other names. Ruining their self-esteem. Something has to be done. Really, you've GOT to read this article. Thank God I only had a son. Guys in middle school would attack him in the locker room, and he'd settle it the old-fashioned way, by cleaning their clocks. Then I'd get a call from school saying he was suspended for three days. I'd go ballistic: "What? You mean Paul's gotta sit there and let some kid beat the crap out of him before one of you bozos show up? IS THAT WHAT YOU'RE TRYING TO TELL ME???"

Rather than take the expected slope into a life of crime, Paul is now an honor student at the Art Institute.

I'm SOOO glad I didn't have a daughter. Can you imagine me on the phone? "You mean I have to max out my credit cards buying only original European designs from Neiman-Marcus and NOT from Target so my little Paula doesn't get her eyes scratched out in the lunch room? IS THAT WHAT YOU'RE TRYING TO TELL ME???"

You get the idea.

(Photo from online edition of WSJ article. Used without permission or shame.)


[The following is yet another occurrence of ecclesiastical minutiae, intended for a select audience. Reading may cause glazing-over of the eyes for some viewers who are content to lead ordinary, balanced lives, free of such preoccupations. They are advised to wait for the next exciting installment of the author's progress in ActionScript animation class. -- DLA]

They say a man is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.

The subject of this author's previous post did get a reaction across the Catholic blogosphere, but I cannot vouch for its merit, as there is none:

Besides the obvious which cannot be easily corrected (hideous round church), the Mass itself is dangerously close to a 1960s hybrid Mass... The congregation pretty much said every single altar boy response but, worse, they sang the entire Pater Noster at the request of the pastor.

The most radical part of the Mass, however, was something I've never heard of -- a "presentation of the gifts" by members of the congregation. The cruets were brought down the aisle, in total novus ordo style. The pastor claims Pius XII promoted this...

This is the second parish in the Dicocese of Arlington to implement a traditional Mass with un-traditional elements...

Clearly, two priests... are working hard to merge the novus ordo and the traditional Mass. So, just be aware...

Indeed, let us ALL be aware. A presence no less than that of the Evil One is in our midst. He is working through one of the self-righteous, spreading confusion and discontent for no good reason. This misguided soul is wrong. He is very, VERY wrong. He has spread his errors publicly, and he needs to be called on it -- publicly.

The weblog responsible for this drivel -- much of it misinformation, some of it downright lying -- is known as Traditional Latin Mass Arlington. Its author is identified only as "Ken." It should be said here that the assertions of "Ken" have not only been anticipated months in advance, but have already been easily refuted, both by yours truly, and by Father McAfee. Our responses can be found here and here. "Ken" has opinions and self-admitted biases. Father and I have facts. YOU do the math, people!

But I don't know if it will be enough. There is an insidious element within the movement that has worked to restore tradition in Catholic worship. It is composed of people with just enough knowledge to mislead themselves, and just enough time on their hands to mislead others. Many of them are young, too young to even remember what the Mass used to be like. They occasionally attempt to chastise those of us who do, which is a strange sort of reality game that suggests a deeper set of problems. It is such people who discouraged my own love of the Traditional Mass for a number of years, and I fear they might succeed in continuing to misinform other Catholics in northern Virginia and beyond.

Whoever this "Ken" is -- and I have an idea but cannot prove it -- he should be more than a little ashamed of himself, and I here and now call upon him to recant his filth and clean up his act, before I find out who he is and make an example of him. Father McAfee is an outstanding priest, who loves the Traditional Mass and who loves his Mother the Church. He has been very good to me over the years, not to mention so many others. "Ken" just got on "the fightin' side" of a man who is prepared to watch the good Father's back. "In hoc signo vinces..."

And so, "Ken" has earned this week's Whack Across the Back of the Head with the Black Hat. I considered bestowing a more special award, but I'd have to waste a perfectly good boot.

I'm still thinking about it.

Monday, October 22, 2007

It’s not on YouTube yet, but...

...yesterday at noon, at the Parish of Saint John the Beloved in McLean, Virginia, the regular celebration of the Sung Mass according to the classical Roman liturgy (1962 Missale Romanum) was inaugurated. The Rev Franklyn Martin McAfee, DD, was the celebrant. I had the unique privilege of serving as First Master of Ceremonies to the good Father. I was ably assisted by Mr Carl Selzer as Second Master of Ceremonies, with the further assistance of the young Knights of the Altar who have already pledged their service to this fine parish. Last but not least, the parish Sacristan, Mrs Ann Thunder, left no detail untended.

The musical setting was the Missa Te Deum Laudamus by Guy Ropartz, under the direction of Mr David Lang. The assembly at Holy Mass sang Credo III with suitable vigor. As permitted by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, the faithful also joined the priest in the singing of the Pater Noster.

It is truly humbling to stand within proximity of the man, who himself must stand "in persona Christi" to offer the Great Sacrifice. I had never experienced anything like that before. The weeks of preparation, of reading, research, and meetings that left no stone unturned, all came down to the climactic moment, one where St Augustine once said that a priest momentarily stopped aging. To be a Catholic is to consider such possibilities, and to believe with "the eyes of Faith" in the magnitude of the action being witnessed -- beyond the present moment, as the singular event in all human history is "channeled" through a mere mortal.

Under the circumstances, I was too preoccupied to take photographs. But I managed to discover the one featured here at The Hermeneutic of Continuity. That which is featured above, is how I imagined the Mass would have appeared to those present.

I might be embellishing things just a bit.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Joey Bishop died Wednesday night at his home in Newport Beach. He was 89. Bishop was the last surviving member of "The Rat Pack," a group of entertainers which in its early 1960s heyday included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, and (for reasons beyond me) Peter Lawford. The only Rat Pack clips I could find showed them in Nehru jackets, which look retarded. Probably why Sinatra had the good sense not to show up that night. So, for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy, here's a clip from a Hai Karate commercial in the mid-1960s, showing a much younger Joey Bishop with a much younger Regis Philbin.

Yeah, I know. Best I could do on short notice.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dynamic Text with ActionScript

We've all seen little boxes on websites containing text that scrolls up and down. This is known as "dynamic text," and it is a very useful feature in Flash-based interactive media.

This assignment required the student to come up with text that was in the public domain. I chose the Roman Canon of the Mass, in Latin, since I was able to verify its being roughly fifteen hundred years old, it would be safe to consider it in the public domain. As this is posted, the design is set, using a frontispice from the Gelasian Sacramentary for a background, and an image of Pope St Gregory the Great, the sixth century pontiff who is credited with editing and codifying the Roman Canon as we generally know it today. The result resembles one of the ancient books -- sort of.

All I need now is to finish the script, and I've got two or three different sources telling me as many ways how to do it. (Grrr...) Stay tuned.

[UPDATE: The project will continue being developed into the weekend, but if scrolling text does not appear to function in this embed, in which case, click here.]

Friday, October 12, 2007

From the mouth of Denis Leary:

And what about these rock bands that don't want to just be bands anymore? It's not enough to have a pop song that becomes a hit, or a dance number that people like to dance to. They want to be more than that. They want to tell us how to vote and how to feel about the environment. You know what I'm talking about? Like R.E.M. (Singing) "Shiny happy people..." "Hey, pull that bus over to the side of the Pretentiousness Turnpike, all right? I want everybody off the bus. I want the shiny people over here and the happy people over here. I represent angry-gun-toting-meat-eating people, okay? So sit down and shut up!"

Thursday, October 11, 2007

“Lock and Load” with ActionScript

The latest project for class involves the activation of movie clips within a movie clip, as a means of further enhancing the interactive experience. This required more complex code than in the previous assignment. My inspiration for subject matter came early last evening. By midnight, the first menu button, to load the first movie clip, was working.

The means of loading subsequent clips within the same location -- that, to quote The Bard, "is the rub."

[THIS JUST IN: It's going on ten o'clock tonight, and the script was fixed in class. If the school's server ever comes out of hibernation, you should see it from here. If not, you may click here.]

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

If Heather has two mommies...

...and each of them has two brothers, and one of those brothers has another man for a "roommate," how many uncles does Heather have?

(A caption for a cartoon in The New Yorker. Date unknown. Used without permission or shame.)

Monday, October 08, 2007

Target Movie Clip

When most of us hear the term "movie clip," we think in terms of motion pictures or an animated cartoon. In applications like Flash, however, it can refer to any movement of an object from one location to the next. The following was due online tonight, although I had it done near midnight the evening before.

Well, sort of. There are still a few quirks, probably in the script itself. If you type on the menu items in top-to-bottom order, then "home" again, you'll miss them. If you don't...

In any type of code work on a web page or in related applications, a line of code can be very unforgiving when a single character is either missing or misplaced. Hopefully I can get the bugs out and move on. I'm hoping to revise it later this week anyway. Like make the images blow up to the edges of the screen. That would have more impact. To say nothing of increasing the file size. Oy vey...

Sunday, October 07, 2007

What Someone Ought to See and Hear

I was at the parish church of Saint John the Beloved in McLean, Virginia yesterday afternoon. The pastor and I supervised a run-through for our first High Mass according to the classical Roman Rite, to be celebrated just two weeks from today. There were nearly thirty gentlemen with us to serve at the altar. They took time out from a perfectly lovely day, to learn the choreography of the Mass. As first master of ceremonies, I have a critical role in assisting the priest, and in directing movements within the sanctuary. Before the day arrives, I will meet with my second emcee (who basically oversees the others as I am assisting the priest), the sacristan, and the good Father, to go over a few details.

One of the rewards of this apostolate, is the opportunity to work with this great bunch of guys. They are much like boys their own age anywhere else. They like sports, video games -- you know, the usual hot-doggin' around. But they know the time for every purpose under heaven, and they appreciate the respect given to their intelligence when they aspire to an interest in the sacred. Such was the message to the editor of The Georgia Bulletin, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. The letter was published on the 20th of September, and has been making its rounds in the Catholic blogosphere. In case you missed it, here it is:

I am 16 years old, and for the past 11 months I have attended the traditional Latin Mass weekly, while still attending the Novus Ordo Mass during the week. Because of this, I decided to address certain points made by Carroll Sterne in the Sept 6 edition of The Georgia Bulletin. Mr Sterne speaks about the type of Mass that someone of a younger generation is drawn to, and I thought that a teenager’s point of view might be helpful.

Mr Sterne in his letter gives voice to the opinion of many of today’s liturgists when he says that no one from a younger generation would be drawn to the Latin Mass (many take this even further and assume that we would not like a reverent Novus Ordo Mass either). This opinion causes many of those who plan modern liturgies to do veritable back flips in an attempt to draw teenagers and young adults in. Sometimes this works, but it has a side effect: by doing these things, liturgists show that they have absolutely no faith in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to change the lives of those in my generation. My generation knows about this lack of faith, we are able to see it every time we go to a “teen Mass” and experience priests ad-libbing prayers in an attempt to make them more relevant to us.

This lack of faith backfires; it sends us the message that we also should distrust the power of the liturgy, and it also can turn the Mass into something of a joke.

After experiencing this for months, I attended a Traditional Latin Mass and experienced something that I’d never seen before: Here was a priest who expected my life to be changed without adding anything to the Mass in an attempt to bring this change about. This priest had perfect faith in the power of the liturgy, and it showed. It was beautiful. The traditional Mass did more to change my life then any “relevant” teen Mass ever did.

Ethan Milukas, Peachtree City

Most parish “teen Masses” I’d had to endure are predominated, not by the young people themselves, but by their parents. The elders jump around with guitars and tambourines in front of an indifferent assembly which includes their own children. This fashion-ridden approach may work with some kids for awhile, in no small part through the services of the temporarily-hip "youth minister" on staff. But kids don’t like being patronized by adults, and they eventually tire of it, as they do any other fad.

My son was raised in the Byzantine Rite of his mother. We knew that the iconoclasm pervading the East a millennium ago had yet to run its course in the West, thus we were determined to spare him that fate. Even as his parents began to live separately, his formation in the Eastern Rite continued. Sometimes when Paul and I were on the road, we had occasion to attend a Roman Mass in a contemporary setting. We would see or hear something completely absurd, and give each other that look and roll our eyes simultaneously, as if conversing through a secret language of our own. And even though as a young adult he has taken on a path of his own (and I'm still convinced it's just a phase), one look at this MySpace page will show, that among his favorite books are the Summa Theologica.

It may call to mind a quotation attributed to the baseball legend Babe Ruth, as excerpted in a 1996 Dispatches article written by Michelle Malkin:

"I strayed from the church, but don't think I forgot my religious training. I just overlooked it. I prayed often and hard, but, like many irrepressible young fellows, the swift tempo of my living shoved religion in the background... [but] once religion sinks in, it stays there -- deep down. The lads who get religious training, get it where it counts -- in the roots. They may fail, but it never fails them. When the score is against them, or they get a bum pitch, that unfailing Something inside will be there to draw on... The more I think of it, the more important I feel it is to give kids 'the works' as far is religion is concerned. They'll never want to be holy -- they'll act like tough monkeys in contrast, but somewhere inside will be a solid little chapel. It may get dusty from neglect, but the time will come when the door will be opened with much relief. But the kids can't take, if we don't give it to them." (As referenced in The Washington Times, 06.13.96)

In the meantime, the Archbishop of Atlanta is the Most Reverend Wilton D Gregory, who authors a regular column in the Bulletin entitled "What I Have Seen And Heard."

One can only hope.

Friday, October 05, 2007

My proposal for the major animation project is due next Wednesday. On the short list of subject matter prohibited are “comics, graffiti, automobiles motorbikes or subjects relating to automobiles and motorbikes, contemporary singers and music, movies, anything relating to movies or arms and ammunition of any kind or sports.” In other words, subjects which students usually pick, that portfolio review panels (and by extension, prospective employers) get tired of seeing in student work.

Oh, and they also prohibited anything on criminals. As part of our Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy, we can safely assume that decision was reached after a student did a stunning presentation on this guy, don’t you think?

Or don’t you?

Thursday, October 04, 2007


The day before yesterday, I started fall quarter at the Art Institute. Our schedules being what they are, I never thought I'd run into Paul there, but he was leaving as I was arriving. He got a 3.7 last quarter. That should send a message to the Dean who told him after a couple of weeks that Paul couldn't cut it because he had to work this around a job. You go, boy!

Meanwhile, I've got what's called Introduction to Motion Scripting (Authoring). Most of you see animated interactive pages on the web. They are usually created with Flash: "This course examines scripting language for the development of interactive time based media projects. Students learn to apply scripting skills to create interactive experiences using motion media."

They wasted no time requiring an assignment turned in. It required a very simple animation sequence with a minimum of three button-activated frames. I gave it four, since there are four seasons, and I really didn't have a choice...

Now, if someone can tell me how to keep the appropriate button highlighted while its corresponding page is showing, that would be a welcome addition.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Summer of Love: And In The End

...the love you take is equal to the love you make.

I wanted my last episode in this series to be about The Beatles. But let's be honest, hasn't it gone on long enough? Besides, I couldn't begin to do justice to those guys. I'm just glad that three of them were able to get together for the closest thing to a Beatles reunion when they did that documentary back in 1994 (broadcast the following year), without Yoko Ono showing up to ruin everything -- again.

For me, it was never about getting stoned or changing the world. After all, how can you do both at the same time? Didn't work out too well, did it? No, for yours truly, it was always about the music. So we'll end with the trailer for the upcoming movie Across the Universe, as a new generation puts it's own spin on the last one.

Maybe they'll do a better job. We can only hope.

Monday, October 01, 2007

My “Dear Veronica” Letter

Last Friday, for our weekly Moment of Whimsy, mwbh showed a video clip of a white guy attempting in vain to serenade a young Latina with a very poor command of Spanish. In response to a commenter who would teach her children Latin before she did Spanish, a woman named "Veronica" wrote:

"For the life of me, I can't see what is so wrong about Spanish, especially considering that is my native tongue, and quite a beautiful one at that."

Well, kids, here at man with black hat, we like to show that we care. So here we go...

No, Veronica, there is nothing wrong with Spanish. Yes, it is known far and wide as "the loving tongue." That was not the point.

You do not have a Blogger profile, let alone any indication of where you currently reside. Let's suppose it would be in the United States of America. Now, historically, the USA has no "official" language, but most people who are here for any length of time (and I'm betting you're no exception) begin to notice that English is the predominant language here. While this may not be the case in certain urban and/or rural pockets of the Southwest, this does not change the overall place of English in American life.

There are distinct advantages to everybody in a particular country speaking the same language. For one thing, everybody understands one another. This means that it is less likely that they would MIS-understand each other.

Okay, let's review. Understanding, good. Misunderstanding, bad.

Everybody got that? (Whew!) Good, let's move on.

Last Friday, we mentioned an article about research conducted by Robert Putnam, the author of Bowling Alone. According to a report on his findings in TCS Daily, "...a variety of research from the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe shows that ethnic diversity is associated with lower social trust, lower 'investment in public goods,' less reciprocity, and less willingness to contribute to the community. In workplace situations diversity is associated with 'lower group cohesion, lower satisfaction and higher turnover.'"

Veronica, I ask that you click on the quotation just mentioned, and read the article.

When my paternal ancestors came here from France more than a century ago, they knew they would have to learn English if they were going to succeed. My great-great-grandparents didn't quite get the hang of it, but my great-grandparents did. They changed their name from "Alexandre" to "Alexander." My father's middle name was "Andrew," not "Andre." And while my older relatives had a distinctly guttural accent common to the Rhineland region, they spoke perfect English, which is more than I could say for their French.

In much of the USA, a percentage of the Latino population can get by for years and never have to learn a word of English. They can walk into the local pharmacy, and the signs overhead and the product labels are in two languages. (When I go down the street to CVS, I have to walk around to the other side of the aisle to read the overhead signs in English. Why should I have to do that for the predominant language in this country?) There are grocery stores, variety stores, clothing stores, all of which cater exclusively to the Latino market. They can go to a Spanish-language Mass on Sunday. They can go to a job where everybody else speaks Spanish. True, their upward mobility might be limited, but that is the price they pay for not learning English. If they're content with that, fine.

But there is a price, Veronica, not the least of which is to be misunderstood.

I live in the southern part of Arlington, Virginia, along the Columbia Pike corridor, which is heavily populated by Spanish-speaking people. I can honestly say that I have never met a Latino who wasn't a good neighbor. I go to Latin nightclubs, and I get treated just fine, even though I'm one of the few "Anglos" in attendance. So this isn't some personal gripe on my part. Nor is it a desire to see people give up their heritage. But others had to face the choice of how to retain that heritage, while becoming part of the American landscape, and prospering as a result. Nothing more is being asked of those who have come in recent years from south of our borders. Yes, the entire Anglo population could be expected to learn Spanish, so that those who are currently a minority can have an easier time of it. But in light of the problems that would present, as highlighted in the study mentioned above, why should we do for them what we've never done to accommodate any earlier wave of immigration?

Because, sooner or later, we have to get along. And getting along involves being understood. And being understood... well, you know.