Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Donald Trump's Terrible, No-Good Day/Week/Month etc.

The Entrumpening continues, as does the Great Declueing of the chattering class.

Monday morning, I heard on the radio that Donald Trump committed an "unforced error". This was pretty mild, compared to the terms I've been reading in the last week: chaotic, stumbling, floundering, collapsing, and let your imagination run wild, because if it was bad, I'm sure it's been applied to his campaign by now.

The latest outrage concerned a lawsuit Trump has launched against a couple of restauranteurs.
Trump sued [famed chef Geoffrey] Zakarian after the chef terminated plans to open a restaurant in Trump's new Washington hotel, a $200 million makeover of the Old Post Office Pavilion on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, after Trump launched his campaign by denouncing Mexican immigrants as drug dealers and rapists.

Trump's lawsuit was filed in D.C. Superior Court.

Separately, Trump also filed a lawsuit against renowned chef José Andrés, who also terminated his restaurant plans following Trump's statements.
So these two fellows signed a contract with Trump, and then welshed. And Trump sued them! The reporter was aghast that Trump had "suspended his campaign" for ONE DAY to go to Washington to make a deposition for the lawsuit.

It doesn't occur to any of these brainiacs that maybe people like Trump BECAUSE he acts like this. Because he doesn't just smile weakly when he's wronged, he hits back with all he's got. How long has it been since any "conservative" politician has done that? All we know is Romney looking green as Candy Crowley stole his lunch money while Obama smirked during their second debate. Or George W. Bush, aka Gentle George, Meek and Mild, who was so captivated with his messianic burden to bring Holy Democracy to the Mohammedans that it required him to give his back to the smiters of the media and his cheeks to those that plucked off the hair. The other Bush just let the liars run wild with their barcode story and thought that punishing them was too far beneath the dignity of a president. Maybe Reagan did something, but by now it's hard to even remember actual incidents from Reagan's presidency, except for firing the air traffic controllers. That was a long time ago now.

In Trump's case, those guys signed a contract, they made a deal, and now they're welshing. And it's for the sake of PC virtue-signalling, to make it even worse. And Trump should just let them get away with it? No way! What his supporters see is someone who fights back when wronged, so MAYBE he might fight back when THEY'RE the ones getting shafted, as they have so many times in the last decades.

And taking one day off to attend to this, when Hillary's been out of commission for half the month of August? The contrast is just ludicrous, but the media never seem able to connect the dots, no matter how big and obvious they are.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Venus Project - Part 3

The faceplate. On every sewing machine, this is removable, but though I hunted everywhere, I could not find a screw holding it on. There was a tiny metal bump in the middle, but it wasn't a screw. I finally took a leap into the unknown, and guessed that perhaps it just snapped on. The dirt and rust on the surface and edges was so baked on, I had to take a boxcutter and cut through it, but I finally managed to slip the blade between two metal surfaces and they separated. The other corners did the same, and we had success - the front DID just clip into place. The tiny bump secured a flexible metal tongue that seems to rest against the needle bar. No idea what that does, I'll have to wait until I put it back together again to find out.

Underneath - ugh! Extremely dirty! And I'd already removed the bug nest that had been lodged in there. I've cleaned it up a bit, but still have a lot to do.

Meanwhile, the face plate is clean of rust, but just dull grey now. I wonder if there's some way of polishing this?

Also, I managed to get the balance wheel off. I tried to remove the big bolt that held it on, but couldn't quite figure out how. The head is round, so a wrench can't easily grip it. I sprayed in PB Blaster, but was having no luck, so as the wheel could turn but do nothing else, I thought I'd see how free I could get its motion. I squirted lots of oil on it and was enjoying myself getting to actually *spin* a bit, when to my delight, the big gear wheel behind it began to turn too! Then I realized that where the bolt ran through the wheels I could see shiny steel! A few more turns, and the whole thing detached: bolt, balance wheel and gear wheel! I'm not sure just how it happened, but it seems to have unscrewed simply by spinning the wheel backwards. The bolt is still attached to the balance wheel, but I'll see if I can remove it later. If I can't, this still seems to work.

The gear wheel cleaned up nicely in EvapoRust. I noticed something interesting - the lip of the wheel is ground down or chipped off. It still seems usable, but maybe this resulted in the gears not meshing and was why the machine was abandoned.

I've done a first cleaning of the balance wheel. I'll work on it some more, but I have doubts that any of the gold filigree decoration is left.

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Monday, July 18, 2016

The Venus Project - Part 2

As Google had failed me, I turned to the collected wisdom of The Quilting Board forum, for help in identifying this mystery machine. My first idea, that it was a Jones Serpentine, was shot down. But one poster said that he guessed that it was a Canadian machine, and that would make perfect sense, considering where I'd found it.

Try as I might, I could not budge the one screw that held on the throat plate, so I started trying to remove some of the rust from the surface, in the hope that perhaps I could at least pry open the bottom half of the plate. I knew steel wool wouldn't hurt stainless steel, and anyway, so I gently rubbed it down with oil. I was pleased when an engraved number was uncovered: 418. Maybe a part number? And above it, very very faint, I thought I could see lightly engraved lettering! With my magnifying light I thought I could make out the name 'PERTH'.

Now that was interesting, because Perth is a town about 50 miles from Ottawa, but it's only 5 miles from where I found the machine! It had been a railway hub back in the late 1800s, so I went online to see if I could find some reference to a sewing machine factory there.

Unbelievably, I found what I was looking for in a scholarly essay from 1980. The Perth Sewing Machine Company, formerly known as J.M. Miller & Co., operated between 1872 and 1875. They produced one machine, the Venus.

And there was the picture of my machine as it had once looked. I couldn't believe my luck! It looks like my machine had been bought locally and never moved away from the area in which it had been built. Considering the short time the factory had been in existence, I believe that the number 418 on the throat plate was not a part number, but a serial number.

Well, this reinforced my determination to somehow rescue this sad, neglected machine.

Unable to make any more progress on the throat plate, I decided to turn my attention to the underside. To my surprise, I found that the screws down there were actually capable of being turned, despite their rusty appearance. The PB Blaster is an excellent product for loosening rusty screws and gears. I was hoping that if I could remove some of the works from the underside of the machine, maybe I could get access to the throat plate from behind, and have more success getting it off.

You can see how much rust there is. I managed to detach a small metal piece, but couldn't extract it because of the other gears. Removing two screws from the top of the bed enabled me to move the entire machinery on the underside, but it's still held on by some hidden screw at the far end where the balance wheel is. I'll find it some day. However, it moved enough that the rusty metal piece that had been rattling around loose fell out. And I could now see a second, smaller piece that had also been part of it, and I fished it out. Imagine my surprise when I saw that what I was holding was the original shuttle, with the tiny bobbin still inside!


This shows the result of an overnight soak in EvapoRust. It definitely removes the rust, but the steel has lost its shine. I've read that rusting brings the iron in the metal to the surface, so even when the rust is removed, this blackness is left behind. Still, a great improvement over its former condition!

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Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Venus Project - Part 1

My sewing machine obsession has struck again! But this time, I'm in deep. I'm going to try to rescue a truly antique machine; her name is Venus.

I first spotted her online, in an ad on www.theauctionfever.com for an auction scheduled in Balderson, ON for the Victoria Day weekend in May. The picture caught my eye because of its rather gothic Victorian ornamentation. Look at the detail on the big wheel, and the pointy doodads around the base.

I looked at it for a long time, then suddenly realized that the thing at the front was a presser foot - it was a sewing machine! This picture was taken from the back, which led me to believe that the auctioneer didn't recognize what it was any more than I initially had. I searched online for a picture of a similar one but could find nothing. Out of curiosity, I went to the auction, on a VERY hot day, and sat through hours of sales of Amish-style furniture until this item came up. I couldn't find it at first, but finally located it, tossed in a box among some rusty old axe heads! I carefully pointed out the box to one of the auctioneer's workmen, to be absolutely sure it wouldn't be overlooked and dismissed as a pile of metal junk.

Long story short, I got the box! (And I was right, they *didn't* know it was a sewing machine! They only mentioned the axes.) I brought it home in triumph, and then started taking a close look at the machine.

Frankly, it was a mess. I'd never seen something so dirty and rusty. There was an ancient spider nest in the head of the machine, and bits of dead insects falling out of the innards. The balance wheel at the end could turn, but it moved nothing - the cog wheels weren't engaged, and anyway, they were all rusted and immobile. A few flecks of gold paint could still be seen on the serpentine arm at the top, but scarcely anything else. I'd cleaned up the old Singer, but this was a different order of decrepitude. Not hoping for much, I poured some sewing machine oil on the base and gently wiped away the dirt.

To my delight, a gold floral decal emerged, practically intact!

The black japanning was dull and chipped around the throat plate, but this actually looked pretty! I decided to take a chance and try to revive the machine. The decoration might be beyond saving where the rust was heaviest, but maybe... just maybe... I could get this machine to actually move again!

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Brexit, a Fraxit, A green and yellow baxit!


That's my lyrical contribution to the lunacy that's overtaken the world since Friday morning. It's not as original as the first 9/11 limerick, which I had the honour to compose, but I still think it's worth preserving.

For all the spin about the "very narrow" margin of victory, 52% to 48% is a decent win. Narrow would be .01% either way, a matter of a few thousand votes. This was over a million, and can't be hand-waved away.

Today the stock market is going up, so it looks like the financial temper tantrum is over the worst. But the political temper tantrum is just getting started, with open discussions on how to cancel the results of this referendum.

This is the sort of reckless lawlessness that leads to domestic terrorism and revolution. Mark Steyn has written many times about how essential it is to have freedom of speech, if for no other reason that to allow people to safely vent frustrations:
Nick Lowles defined the ‘No Platform’ philosophy as ‘the position where we refuse to allow fascists an opportunity to act like normal political parties’. But free speech is essential to a free society because, when you deny people ‘an opportunity to act like normal political parties’, there’s nothing left for them to do but punch your lights out. Free speech, wrote the Washington Post’s Robert Samuelson last week, ‘buttresses the political system’s legitimacy. It helps losers, in the struggle for public opinion and electoral success, to accept their fates. It helps keep them loyal to the system, even though it has disappointed them. They will accept the outcomes, because they believe they’ve had a fair opportunity to express and advance their views. There’s always the next election. Free speech underpins our larger concept of freedom.’

Just so. A fortnight ago I was in Quebec for a provincial election in which the ruling separatist party went down to its worst defeat in almost half a century. This was a democratic contest fought between parties that don’t even agree on what country they’re in. In Ottawa for most of the 1990s the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition was a chap who barely acknowledged either the head of state or the state she’s head of. Which is as it should be. Because, if a Quebec separatist or an Australian republican can’t challenge the constitutional order through public advocacy, the only alternative is to put on a black ski-mask and skulk around after dark blowing stuff up.
"Cancelling" the results of this referendum tells people the truth: that all the talk about Holy Democracy is a lie. That their doom is to lose forever and watch their enemies smirking in triumph. And you're telling it, not to a fringe group of basement-dwelling misfits, but to 52% of the population, and that percentage the mature, invested segment that a society depends upon to keep things going. If you want to guarantee civil unrest, that's about the best way of doing it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Wretchard has his usual brilliant post up at the Belmont Club, on the Orlando massacre.
If the Second Amendment didn't exist, it might have to be invented to meet the current situation.

The more incompetent the Obama administration becomes, the less convincing its demand for public disarmament will be. Conversely, the more competence the administration demonstrates, the more likely the public is to entrust its safety to it.

Historically, state failure drives civilian armament, not the other way around. Perhaps the clearest example of this trend is Lebanon, where the inability of the central government to protect the sectarian communities has led each to protect itself. While America is not Lebanon, the same principles hold true: competence inspires confidence, and there is precious little competence in the administration.
How many times has this happened now? Over and over, no sooner do we learn the name of the terrorist killer than we hear that authorities were "monitoring" him. Monitored him right up to the door of the abbatoir, it seems.

I don't know, maybe they think this is reassuring in some way. As if we feel better knowing that Watchful Government was hovering nearby, holding the hands of the maimed and dying in their last agony. I agree with Wretchard, that people will increasingly write off the police and rely on their own efforts to protect themselves. And eventually they'll get extremely angry when they find that the government is only efficient and effective when it's pushing THEM around, while terrorists inexplicably manage to do what they want without interference.

"Jump, I'll catch you" is credible only when the fireman's net is not surrounded by mashed bodies.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Gardening starting again

May has finally turned beautifully warm, and I've been outside most days trying to get the garden planted. It's mostly done, but now we're waiting for stuff to start coming up.

I planted about 125 potatoes this year. Not as much as in some years, but one variety I got - Sangre - turned out to have very few eyes per potato. So I only planted one row of that one. I planted 2 rows each of Chaleur, All Red, German Butterball and Warba. Lee Valley tools no longer sells that biodegradable black plastic mulch, so I've had to order a big roll of it from a Quebec agriculture supply dealer. I can't do without that stuff; it heats the soil as well as keeping down weeds.

I tested my garden soil for the first time in many years, and was surprised to find that it had grown rather alkaline! I was sure for years that the soil naturally tended toward the acid, but I think that years of cultivation and adding compost has altered it a bit. Now I think that's why the raspberries haven't done well for several seasons. In alkaline soil, they have trouble extracting nutrients, so even though I'd sprinkle fertilizer on them, they couldn't absorb it. I'm going to overhaul the entire row of raspberries, digging down and working in peat moss as well as composted manure.

I discovered a garden place outside Smith's Falls called Gemells, and they sell bags of acid-enhanced garden soil. I'm going to buy a few bags of that to help out, too.

In addition to the potatoes, I've planted Swiss Chard, turnips, carrots, garlic, shallots, 8 tomatoes, 2 cucumbers and 2 butternut squash. We've never had much luck with the carrots, as tree roots keep invading the soil and making it hard for them to grow. Also, rabbits do get in and now that we've got a chainlink fence I've given up entirely any hope of keeping them out. But this is a red variety, so I thought I'd give it a whirl.

There's not much to photograph yet, but Dean picked some Lily of the Valley by the river today, and I got a shot of the lilac in bloom. Today I'm going to make a rhubarb pie.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

The Trumpening, followed by The Sulkening

So Donald Trump is going to be the Republican Party nominee, if there are no dirty tricks with the rules at the convention in June (and I'll believe that once I see it).

Trump's triumph in Indiana on Tuesday has been followed by a tidal wave of bitter reproaches from #neverTrump fanatics.  Now, it's only been 2 days, so I wouldn't write them all off just yet.  I've been through bitter spells in politics where I've vowed never to vote again, and it usually tapers off with time.  Many people who now declare that they'd rather vote Hillary than Trump may find themselves changing once their traditional enemies, the Democrats, start getting sustained applause from the media for their anti-Republican attacks.  It's one thing to want to see an enemy punished, but it's not so satisfying if it comes at the expense of victory for *another* enemy, and that the one you've spent a lifetime wanting to defeat.  And then there were the comments, both there and a PJMedia:

But so far, the tone has been one of sulky pettishness.  Ace had it on full display on Tuesday night, from his opening post: To his comments in the thread

Well, a lot of the party has chosen a go it alone, we don't need you anyway strategy.
Good luck!

To his comments in the thread, and into the next day:

this could be sour grapes, and maybe I'll change my mind, but right now:  Those of you who swear you can win the election without people like me -- are invited to do so.  I'm done, I'm out.  Go with God and good luck. 

We told you he was unnacceptable -- stupid, paranoid, crazy, and narcisstic in the extreme. He's scary.  You think he's just jake. Fine. But he's YOUR BOY. This shit no longer has anything to do with the rest of us. 
i can't surrender as I'm a non-combatant in this war.  this is YOUR BOY. You help your boy cross that finish line, Son! 

And then there were the comments, both there and at PJMedia:

"I hope you keep telling yourself that. It will make it even funnier watching your meltdown in November after your orange messiah gets crushed in a 40-state landslide."
"The Trumpkins can reap what they sowed. "
"Trump groupies: yay our guy won and now everyone is going to rally behind him and his authoritarian greatness. Otherwise you are electing Hillary and ruining the Supreme Court........ Eff you all and enjoy your humiliation."

"Trumpsters, keep pushing our buttons, keep laughing and you'll soon see that many Republicans and conservatives will NOT vote for Dear Leader. November is coming and you are the only fools to blame for the impending defeat."
"Let's talk in october, when Mr. Cheetoface is down 35 points and you beg conservatives like us to support Trump. Let's see your reaction then. BTW, I'm not stabbing  your candidate in the back, I'm stabbing him in the face. You own him, you live with him."

"Oh my God, he's... he's... *down 35 points!*"
"Tell us, Ralphie, was it something WE did?"
"It was... TRUMP POISONING!"
"Ohhhhhhhhhh!!!!" (Wails of sorrow and regret) "How could we do it? I'll never forgive myself!"
"Well, I'll manage to get along... somehow."

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

A cartoonist with a good ear


Monday, April 25, 2016

SCTV and Shakespeare

In honour of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death:

Friday, April 22, 2016

Another waif adopted

Well, it happened again. Another hapless sewing machine managed to wangle its way into the house. I didn't mean this to happen, really, but it did.


I went to an auction near Carleton Place on Wednesday, because I saw by the pictures that there were 2 old treadle machines there. I mentioned in my post about the parlour cabinet that it was missing the spring to work the lift mechanism. I've been checking eBay, but the shipping cost of getting that part would almost amount to what I paid for the whole machine, cabinet and all! So my idea has been to keep my eyes open for a broken down old cabinet with a working spring, buy it for a song and then take the part I need and discard the rest. I figured I could get one of these machines, and that would do the trick.

One machine was very old, but with the traditional oak desk with elaborate open-work iron treadles. Those are often converted into tables, so I figured it would be the popular one. The other one was obviously newer: the treadle was also out in the open, but the iron legs were quite plain and straight, not very pretty at all. The machine was in better condition, but with very modest decals. I thought I'd probably end up having to settle for that one. It didn't bother me so much, because I wasn't intending to keep the machine (another model 15) anyway.

Well, to my surprise, the older machine came up first, and only one lady bid against me, and I ended up getting it! The price was $32.50 Cdn, just over $25 US. The other one got more interest, and went for $50 Cdn! (It was the same lady who got it.)

I talked to her afterwards: she has 8 sewing machines, including 3 treadles! I showed her how to unscrew the tabs that hold the machine in the case, and carry it off on its own. It's better, if you're moving machines, to take them out of the cabinet, because they're not properly supported when you lay the case down, and they can end up flopping around and getting damaged. I noticed her machine was much lighter than mine; must be constructed of aluminum, while mine is steel. It also had a sort of rough texture, rather than the usual smooth black surface; later I discovered that this is called the "Godzilla" finish. The serial number began with "JA", which meant it was built in St. John's, Nfld. I was guessing it might have been built during or just after the war, because of its odd finish. I was surprised that such a newer machine would get more interest, but it was in good condition and probably wouldn't need any work beyond fixing up the wooden cabinet. (It also had a box of attachments with it, but I already have those.)

Mine, on the other hand, was made in 1904. Don't be fooled by the first picture; I rubbed a little sewing machine oil on it along the top of one side to see if the decals would clean up, so it looks a little shiny. THIS is what the rest of it looks like:

Yes, it is rusty. But it still moves. The balance wheel, despite its appearance, turns well. There is some stiffness up around the needle bar, or it might be down in the shuttle area. I can't get the back shuttle plate off, so the problem might be there. I'm going to try to clean it up and see if I can get it looking nice again. There are many tutorials on YouTube, but I found a very useful guide at The Quilting Board, a forum for quilters and sewing machine enthusiasts. I've bought some PB Blaster, which I found at Canadian Tire, and now I've got to get some Evapo-Rust, which they carry at Lee Valley Tools.


The cabinet also needs to be refinished, and I'll use rust converter on the treadle stand once I've cleaned off all the loose grime and rust. This YouTube video gives a good tutorial on how to do it.

So now you see the problem. I can't just take the spring out of this cabinet, because now I want to keep this sewing machine too, and IT will also need the lift mechanism in its cabinet. I guess I'll have to keep searching. But I really must stop buying machines, unless I want to start reselling them.

UPDATE: Well, I did a little searching, and it looks like the Godzilla or "crinkle" finish the other machine had made it rather rare! The spindly decals were typical of that style. Perhaps that's why more people were bidding on it, though I don't think the lady who bought it knew that. The JA serial number dates it from 1924-1936, a bit older than I thought. Just as well it went to someone else, because I didn't care for it, rare or not, and only would have wanted the cabinet part.

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

"Doesn't rise to the lev... zzzzzzz"

From Navy Times:
Russian pilots rattled nerves aboard the destroyer Donald Cook, buzzing within yards of the ship in the Baltic Sea. Provocative, sure. But they weren't a credible threat.

So concludes a retired Navy commanding officer, who reviewed photos and videos from the run-ins on Monday and Tuesday, when unarmed Sukhoi Su-24 fighters flew within 1,000 feet of the ship — once coming as close as 30 feet in what U.S. officials called "simulated attacks." On Monday, a low-flying Russian Ka-27 Helix helicopter also appeared to take photos of the ship.

This was definitely provocative, but it doesn't amount to a threat, said the retired frigate and cruiser CO.

"Well, we’re not at war with Russia," Capt. Rick Hoffman said. "It would be one thing to be operating and have a threatening attack profile from someone who might not recognize me — that’s not the case here."




(Hat tip: Belmont Club)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

I've been linked!

To the wonderful new blog, Hot Gas, which is also now on my blogroll. If you go there and check, you'll see I'm on *their* blogroll, right near the top! So now I have to pick up the pace of blogging, so as not to waste my new high-profile status.

Hot Gas started when Hot Air instituted wide-sweeping changes, which result in a mass exodus of a large percentage of their most fervent posters. Constantine (love the name, and I hope he starts posting about Byzantine history, because that will be the way to get Dean interested) started up Hot Gas as a place for the orphaned posters to reform.

I never went to Hot Air in the past; the first I heard of this new site was when subotaibahadur of Belmont Club posted there, and his posting showed up on my Disqus feed. I figured if it was good enough for him, it was good enough for me, so I went over there and have been there ever since. This coincided with Ace of Spades turning ferociously anti-Trump, so the removal of his bookmark from this little page coincided with the arrival of the other.

HG is very pro-Trump. Although I'm Canadian, and have no vote to bestow, I find myself most at home among the Trump supporters, and found the relentless mocking and denigration of them elsewhere to be very off-putting. I don't post that much myself regarding Trump, because I'll always be an outsider when it comes to American politics. But the trends in the U.S. are appearing everywhere, and the bigger issue, of who is to rule and what does it mean to be a citizen, are of interest to everyone, even us up here in the Great White North.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Adventures in translation

I've started translating and making English subtitles for a new project: the 1973 French TV adaptation of Flaubert's "Education Sentimentale".

This is the only clip of it I've found so far on YouTube. I was interested in it because it has a Georges Delerue score. I actually like this novel better than "Madame Bovary". I like the contrast between the inadequate characters and the historical backdrop against which they're ineffectually moving. This period of French and European history, the revolution(s) of 1848, is not one that I know much about. We always suppose that in a revolution, EVERYONE is fully involved with the great issues, but in this novel the main characters sort of get momentarily involved, then just drift off to some personal matter, only to brush up against the big historical events a little later. It's almost funny the way their rather shallow lives can go on uninterrupted in large part.

I expect Flaubert must have known from personal experience how big events can sort of jog along with commonplace things like eating, buying clothes, going to the theater, etc. I read an English translation of the novel before starting the subtitles. I have to say, the TV series actually brings out the humor in the novel quite well. There's a part in Frederick's short, dumb political career where he goes to address one of the radical clubs in Paris. The whole scene dissolves into a ludicrous parade of nuts yelling about religion, Marxism, art, money and finishing up with a long address in Portuguese that nobody can understand.

Anyway, just by chance Dean drew my attention to a particularly bad example of Google translate.

Justin Trudeau made his grand entrance on the international stage last week when he visited the White House. As usual, he had to give part of his address in French. For some reason, ABC News wasn't prepared for this, and they resorted to some awful robo-translator to subtitle his speech.

Buzzfeed dissected the speech, and the translation, in hilarious detail:



"President Obama I’d love the log trucks”

Please give them to him, Obama.


I'm not surprised Obama's turning grey in this picture.

Big national broadcaster like ABC: hire a translator. He won't cost much, and he'll do a professional job.