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Post Brazil/Hungary/US: Thoughts on Citizenship (Istvan Simon, US)
Created by John Eipper on 04/27/09 5:14 AM - brazilhungaryus-thoughts-on-citizenship-istvan-simon-us

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Brazil/Hungary/US: Thoughts on Citizenship (Istvan Simon, US) (John Eipper, USA, 04/27/09 5:14 am)

Istvan Simon responds to Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich's post of 25 April: I thank Soraya for her more thorough answer to Joe Listo's question, which I asked for, and which I thought was a step in the right direction. I would like to expand on this theme though a little further.   10 years ago I had the opportunity to visit Costa Rica. I was there for a week or so. I was accompanying my girlfriend at the time, who underwent plastic surgery, which was of excellent quality and cost less than 1/3 the price of comparable procedures in the United States. After her surgery she was taken care of in a wonderful facility on the outskirts of San Jose run by an American woman and her staff. She in turn invited the local ex-patriate community to get to know us. I met a dozen English-speaking ex-patriates, some from England, some from the United States, some from South Africa this way, all quite wealthy, all living in Costa Rica. They exchanged stories about local politics and customs to which I listened carefully. I have no doubt that all of their stories were true, and all had basis in some fact. Yet, though I did not say anything to them,   I found their comments quite distasteful. That is because here they were, all these rich ex-patriates living in Costa Rica, and yet having not one positive word to say about the country they were living in. They complained of the corruption of the local politicians, the laziness of the Costa Ricans, and other endless stories of derision.   (Indeed, almost all work in Costa Rica seemed to have been done by Nicaraguan immigrants, from what I could observe.)   There is a moral in this story somewhere. Like Soraya, I was not born in the United States. And like Soraya, I am a dual citizen, a citizen of Brazil and a citizen of the United States.   I do not have much criticism of the United States. I have stated here numerous times that I am proud to be an American Citizen, and that I consider this to be the best country in the world. This is not to say that everything that we do or that our government does is right or correct, but simply that overall, this is an extraordinary country of great integrity and compassion, of great generosity and great decency. Without a shadow of a doubt I would say that it is more generous than my other country of citizenship, Brazil. Or my country of birth, Hungary.     I love all three countries with which I am associated with: Hungary, Brazil, and the United States.   I do not follow closely what happens in Hungary, except through Steve Torok's comments on WAIS. Yet I feel pride in the accomplishments of Hungarians in every field of activity. In mathematics in particular, where they often distinguish themselves to an extraordinary degree. In poetry, as George Krajcsik reminded us recently. For a tiny country, Hungary's   accomplishments are truly extraordinary. I deplore the government that Brazil currently has and I wish it had a better government, because I love Brazil and I think Brazil deserves better than Luis Inacio da Silva, a leftist and corrupt politician that came from humble origins, and whom unfortunately the illiterate poor in Brazil have re-elected, in spite of massive corruption in his regime. Indeed, there were two elections in Brazil: In the more prosperous and educated South of the country, where Lula lost, and the poor less educated North and North-East, where he won with a sufficiently large margin to be re-elected.   Lula may be bad (he is in my opinion), but he is infinitely better than that other anti-American clown of Latin-America, the grotesquely ludicrous caudillo of Venezuela, the admirer of Fidel Castro, that aging and decrepit little   murderer sitting in Havana.   As many WAISers know I am involved with Solar Energy and one of my motivations in getting into this field, is to teach a lesson to this imbecile in Venezuela, as well as to the terrorists of the world. I want to take their money away.   That is my contribution to peace. Returning to Brazil. I have much to criticize about Brazil's government, current and past, and even about Brazil's society. But I have never criticized Brazil in the harsh tones that Soraya has employed numerous times in WAIS against the United States. That is because I would find it distasteful to criticize in such tones the country that has   given me refuge and received my family so generously. I owe much to Brazil. I would never criticize it harshly--never have,   and never will.   This is what I meant, when I talked previously about a minimum level of loyalty to a country that has treated Soraya with generosity, and in my case,   mutatis mutandis, treated me and my family generously. JE comments:   Speaking of Hungarian mathematicians, I had the good fortune in 1983 to take an Intro to Computer Science course with Hungarian-born John Kemeny at Dartmouth College.   Kemeny was one of the pioneers of personal computing, had worked on the Manhattan Project and once served as Einstein's assistant.   He was also Dartmouth's president for a number of years.   In Kemeny's class I was struck by his humor and down-to-earth humility.   To have such an intellectual heavyweight teach a baby   class was definitely overkill, but Kemeny saw it as an honor.   This all leads me to ask:   why are Hungarians so good at math?   Might it have something to do with the impossibility (for foreigners) of their native tongue?   Hungarians also excel in music (Bartok, Simon, et al.) which like math, is a universal language. Prof. Kemeny died in 1992--too bad I can't contact him to help me untangle my present computer woes! -- For information about the World Association of International Studies (WAIS), and its online publication, the World Affairs Report, read its homepage by simply double-clicking on: http://wais.stanford.edu/ John Eipper, Editor-in-Chief, Adrian College, MI 49221 USA

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