Letter 7 (page 3)

Life in America

Lan and I were inspired by a documentary we saw about Maya Lin, the architect who designed the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial in Washington D.C. She entered a national competition in which the judges did not know who the designer was until after the winner had been chosen. To everyone’s surprise, she was a 21 year-old student. There was tremendous opposition to her design from some of the veterans groups because the design was so unconventional and though they would not say it explicitly, it seemed that part of the problem was that she was a she, young and an Asian-American (her parents migrated from China in the late 1940s). The dispute even reached Ronald Reagan but Maya and the selection committee fought on and the original design was retained with only minor changes and it is now well accepted.

The election is over of course and I heard that it cost a total of $2 billion, most of which went to TV advertising. There were some funny moments including this issue’s selection of bumper stickers:

  • There were legitimate bumper stickers and posters for the Republican presidential candidate which proclaimed Bob Dole 96. However, many people saw him as too old for the job leading to the bumper sticker Bob Dole is 96. (Actually, he is 73.)
  • When you think tinned pineapple in Australia, you probably think of Golden Circle. In America, the big tinned fruit company is Dole, so instead of Dole for President, we saw a bumpers ticker that said "Dole for Pineapple".
  • Reflecting the widespread electoral fraud that used to happen there, one TV program closed the last show before the election with ".. and as they say in Chicago, 'Vote early and often'"!
  • A few days after the election Bob Dole appeared on one of the late-night talk shows and the opening question was "So what have you been doing?" (as if there was anyone in America who did not know) and Bob Dole replied with a laugh, "Apparently not enough"!
  • Also seen but having nothing to do with elections:
    I am woman. I am invincible. I am TIRED.

One minor but popular law passed just before the election forces health insurance companies to pay for mothers and babies to stay in hospital for 48 hours after birth for normal deliveries and 96 for cesareans. It seems ridiculous to most that such a law should be necessary.

Interesting statistic: just 3% those borrowing money to buy a car fail to keep up with loan payments and have the car repossessed. In contrast, 39% of divorced fathers directed to pay child support, fail to do so.

Vietnam Veterans' Memorial.
Visitors walk down into the Memorial.

And finally

I had hoped to have Lan’s biography ready by now for stocking stuffing but it occurred to me that I have not done any more work on it since I wrote last year’s Christmas letter. To make up for the delay, Lan says her piano playing will be so good next year that she plans to release a CD! It occurred to me that the album and biography would make a nice boxed set for Christmas next year.

Lan and I wont be able to see you at Christmas but we wish you a happy and peaceful holiday.

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