Saturday, August 30, 2008

School Begins Dramatically in Germany

Well, our niece Lea has her first school day today. Don't be surprised that first-graders start on a Saturday in Germany, because this first day of school isn't like anything Americans could dream of. It's a party. The kids go to the school with their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles, aunts, dogs, cats, everybody in the entire family, dressed up to beat every band known to mankind and carry what look like dunce-caps but held the other way round and filled up with goodies (to bribe them, I suppose) and get to watch a performance about "our school" by older kids there.
It's a song-and-dance show.
Afterwards, everyone goes to the home of their individual school-starter for a big party with the family, including all those (like us) who didn't go along to the school. Then the kid gets presents from everyone and there's cake and ice cream, and in Lea's case a grill party afterwards for supper! And the Berlin mom is concerned that Lea can cope and her little brother deal with daycare alone as of Monday!
Not like the way the Countess (whose birthday is today; she would have become 82) just dropped me off at Fannie Gorham Elementary School for Miss Lewis, the teacher, to take charge of for the school day.
Speaking of which, ladies and such, now that McCanny has decide to opt for the inexperienced Alaskan multimother and most unknown vice presidential pick in modern political history to lose the election with, to the great disappointment of cunninglylingual rice banging on the floor of the playpen, he seems to be following the merkel-angie German path: She appointed the "fabulous" Ursula von der Leyne (note the noblility in those prepositions, as from a "fable") as Minister of Family Affairs, who for the beginning of the German school year came out with the fabulous quote that children need a Leitplanke, which translates as a guardrail, and is indeed what is alongside highways to keep the cars from crashing off into the trees. The two women share a silver spoon and a disregard for the plight of those worse off, even if Urusla finally modernized her original Heidi-style braided hair-do. To summarize her "guardrail" notion , she seems to think the kids are like cars, I suppose the teachers are the drivers, but where the steering wheel is may be something we find out today at Lea's festival.



Finally today, to make sure it remains as accessible to all as possible, Obama's acceptance speech, first some excerpts from that speech that I find particularly important, and then, the video of that speech in its entirety and a link to the full transcript:

"We are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this. [...]
Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but, really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than 90 percent of the time? [...]
You know, Michelle and I are only here tonight because we were given a chance at an education. And I will not settle for an America where some kids don't have that chance. [...]
And -- and as someone who watched my mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer, I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most. [...]
And now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day's work, because I want my daughters to have the exact same opportunities as your sons. [...]
If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament and judgment to serve as the next commander-in-chief, that's a debate I'm ready to have.
For -- for while -- while Senator McCain was turning his sights to Iraq just days after 9/11, I stood up and opposed this war, knowing that it would distract us from the real threats that we face.
When John McCain said we could just muddle through in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights.
You know, John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the gates of Hell, but he won't even follow him to the cave where he lives. [...]
You don't defeat -- you don't defeat a terrorist network that operates in 80 countries by occupying Iraq. You don't protect Israel and deter Iran just by talking tough in Washington. You can't truly stand up for Georgia when you've strained our oldest alliances. [...]
The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans, Democrats and Republicans, have built, and we are here to restore that legacy.
As commander-in-chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm's way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.
I will end this war in Iraq responsibly and finish the fight against Al Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts, but I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression.
I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation, poverty and genocide, climate change and disease.
And I will restore our moral standing so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future. [...]
I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in a hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. [...]
America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone.
At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise, that American promise, and in the words of scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess

Here, a link to the transcript of his speech as published in The New York Times.


  1. Countess would have been 82! (Although I'm sure she would have appreciated the extra decade!)

  2. Thanks, Lady-In-Waiting. I have now re-edited the post to give the correct age. (Or maybe I was just making US a decade younger?)