Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Pretty but ... ohmygod

"The only reason some people get lost in thought is because it's unfamiliar territory." - Paul Fix

That's a good quote to start this one off with.

This video is just burning up over at I heard about this story this morning as I was getting ready for work. Honestly, I know I'm a few days behind the curve, but it's depressingly hilarious. All I have to say is thank goodness for George Hotz. We need stories like that to, at least, try to balance stories like this out.

Here is Miss South Carolina, 18 year old Lauren Upton, a contestant in this year's Miss Teen USA pageant, trying in vain to answer this: Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can't locate the US on a world map. Why do you think this is?

Before people rush on here saying that I'm calling her stupid, I'm not. I don't know the girl. Also, yes, people make mistakes and crack under pressure. However, whether it be merely nerves, bad public speaking skills or that she's a complete dimwit, she's the current poster child for the Dumb American.

I have to give a high-five to the US education system and that No Child Left Behind program for holding things down while I've been overseas.

I haven't laughed so loud in a long time. Too bad the laughter was at someone else's expense and tinged with some heartache.

Seriously, the educated elite (yes, the US has one even if it's not completely evident these days) is the exception, but most Americans really need to simply know more. I say this anecdotally. Sometimes just conversations I have with folks back home hurt because it's so painful what they don't know. The thing is I'm not talking about obscure, specialist topics and information. I'm talking about just everyday info, like the dismal state of education in the US. However, if this were actually common knowledge in the US then the system probably wouldn't be so dismal.

I'm not claiming by any stretch to be a walking encyclopedia, but I could have answered that question. In a contest that is supposed to judge not only beauty and charm but also poise, she should have been able to put together a coherent answer. In fact, this is one that really doesn't require facts. It's her opinion and she couldn't even articulate that. I know they teach this in just about all public speaking or interview classes: take a moment, collect your thoughts and THEN speak. Also, if the question isn't clear ask that it's repeated. Hint: this also buys you more time even if you did understand the question.

However, honestly, this flub will probably earn her more in endorsements than the winner. Not bad for coming in fourth place.

More links: Miss Teen S. C. makes her mark with flub
Guardian Unlimited: Now, where is America anyway?
New York Daily News: Beauty queen: 'Americans ... don't have maps' and Beauty maps out better day
National Post: Yoni Goldstein translates for Miss Teen South Carolina
Toronto Star ( Miss Teen USA hopeful a superstar after flub
and in her defense, one from home - The IslandPacket: Give her a break! A few kind words for Miss Teen South Carolina

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