13 things about my Lolo, Col. Maximiano Saqui Janairo, for Veterans Day

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This is my Lolo, Maximiano Saqui Janairo, in a studio photo taken in Manila around 1930, when he was about 24 or 25 years old. On his lapel, you can see the castle emblem of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Note the shoulder patch — the gold carabao on a red field — the symbol of the Philippine Scouts.

Here’s a photo of my Lolo, Maximiano Saqui Janairo.

  • 1930 graduate of U.S. Military Academy at West Point
  • Commission in the Philippine Scouts
  • Chief engineer with the Philippine Army in 1941
  • Captured by the Japanese in April 1942
  • Survived the Bataan Death March
  • Prisoner of War in Camp O’Donnell
  • Escaped while being transferred to a hospital for malaria and dysentery
  • Joined the guerrilla units fighting the Japanese occupation
  • Served in Korea during the Korean War
  • Served with NATO in Paris
  • Retired as a colonel, stationed at the engineer school at Fort Belvoir
  • Awarded Legion of Merit “for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States from 8 December 1941 to 9 April 1942”
  • Buried at Arlington National Cemetery

 

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Best ‘I Voted’ sticker of 2017

Would you vote for either of these guys?

In the newspaper business, we avoided using people’s names in a humorous way. But with these names popping up for local elections, I can’t help but wonder if these names are truth in advertisements. 

A modest proposal for a future word that means ‘self-driving vehicle’

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A horseless carriage (1901 Kidder Steam Wagon by the Kidder Motor Vehicle Co. in New Haven, Conn.) from the New England Historical Society.

 

One thing I often say to visitors to the contemporary museum where I work is that when they look at something they don’t quite understand their brains will try to make meaning out of the new or strange thing by equating it to things they already know. That is, the experience of something new is filtered by the past: we are always moving forward with our eyes on history.

I recently heard or read something (maybe it was a podcast?) that said language works in a similar way: a new thing is named by its relationship to the past. Thus, we didn’t have “cars” at first, we had “horseless carriages.”

The podcasters were bringing this up in relationship to the clumsy name we now have for the latest vehicular technology: the self-driving vehicle. I have a name for it: automobile, which is a combination of the Greek for “self,” and the Latin for “movable.”

Yes, of course, I know people call their Priuses (Priuii?) and SUVs and Beamers “automobiles,” but I’d argue that the term has been wrong all long. None of those vehicles drove themselves. They all required an operator, or a driver, which is also an interesting word. And the act of driving, of course, is what makes a term “self-driving” necessary, because we understand “automobile” to mean a vehicle that is driven (though that isn’t literally what it means).

This kind of word repurposing is nothing new. The word “car” itself is quite old, from the fourteenth century, referring to vehicles with wheels in Latin (carrus), and also thought to be related to a similar word “carriage,” which just means to carry and is said to be from the twelfth century.

Anyway, this is just to say that it doesn’t seem unlikely that soon-ishly (maybe in twenty years) English speakers will finally be using the “automobile” correctly, in reference to self-driving vehicles.

The portable video game truck

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We heard the screams from down the block during our evening walk. They could’ve been coming out of any of the homes in the neighborhood, sounds muffled with windows and doors closed up from the heat.

Then we turned a corner and saw this truck.

Maybe it was a birthday party inside. Kids were screaming. Now and then, a loud thump echoed out: feet stamping the floor? fits hitting the wall?

Imagine: being a kid and getting to walk across your lawn and being sealed up in a truck and getting to play video games with your friends, shielded away from your parents eyes?

Imagine: having a birthday party for a kid, and never having to have the cake and ice cream sticky finger video game playing kids in the house?

So is this the future?