15 April 2007


A little while ago TWM referenced (and a long while ago responded to) a short meme asking what he didn't like that most people did. I thought it an interesting topic of conversation and brought it up at work, where it has now become a common non-sequiter to mention an example as it pops into our heads. Here, for prosperity's sake, are a few of my own.

1. Cheese - I can't stand it. To the point where it makes me physically ill. It could be an allergy or it could just be years of loathing that have conditioned a physical response.
2. Shrek - yeah, it just wasn't that great. For me. I didn't laugh, I didn't cry... I just yawned a bit.
3. Bob Marley - his music simply irritates me. It drains my patience.
4. Doughnuts - it's something about the texture.
5. Lying on the beach - it's boring and I always always always end up sunburned.

And to add a category: things I love that other people don't seem to:

1. Neck ties - I think they look distinguished and polished. If girls didn't looks like want-to-be punk rockers in them, I would wear one with my suit.
2. Oxfords - Men have an abundance of choices for this shoe, but what happened to the women's oxford?
3. English food - scones, custard, treacle tart, bangers and mash, fish and chips, cottage pie... what's not to love?

Oh, and pet peeves is a good one too (now I'm just getting carried away):

1. Using the "is" with a plural noun (even if you pronounce it as a contraction, "there's", it's still wrong).
2. Riding the elevator down one floor (um, stairs?).
3. Answering your cell phone in the middle of a conversation with someone who is physically sitting with you.

14 April 2007

On becoming a American Democrat

Despite being a citizen from birth, it took me a long time to become an American. I was born abroad, lived my elementary years and happiest teenage years in the United Kingdom and have travelled extensively throughout my life. As a result, I was able to see America through the eyes of the rest of world: as a materialistic, selfish, ignorant and greedy brute. For years I held tightly to my European identity, steadfastly refusing to be lumped in with the rest of the American herd.

Of all the things that could make me look past the surface of what it means to be an American, it was a popular tv show that changed my mind. The West Wing, and not my AP US History class, showed me the power of what is written in the US constitution. For all the idiotic ways it's thrown about (freedom fries anyone?) freedom really is a powerful concept. Similarly, the separation and balance of powers. If you don't get a sense of awe when you think about our constitution, I suggest you take a course on world politics or rent a few seasons of West Wing.

I will admit that my father is a republican and I inherited my first political ideals from him. But even as I began to formulate my own, there was a lot to love about the republican party. I'm not talking about Bush Jr. and what you read in the NYT each morning, I'm talking about what the republican party originally stood for: individual liberty. To be a republican was to believe that people behave best when they are allowed to choose for themselves. That government should not legislate a moral agenda and that the constitution must be held sacred.

Unfortunately, the current version of the republican party more closely resembles the Catholic church in the middle ages than the founding ideals of the republicans. Apparently we are no longer capable of teaching our children morals, so we should put the 10 commandments in schools (violating the separation of church and state in that sacred constitution). Apparently the freedom of choice does not include those who disagree with what you would do with that freedom; if you are going to have gay sex or abort your pregnancy, you should no longer have the right to make your own choices. Apparently people cannot even be trusted with information, because if teenagers were taught to use a condom, they would all be having porn-style sex daily.

Let's not forget that one of the tenants of Christianity is to convert the non-believers. Our foray into Iraq is the ultimate mission - restyle the country in our own image. Bush's use of the word crusade may have been more appropriate than we are comfortable with.

His administration at home is run like the old church too - sealed executive orders, favours to friends, corruption, scandal, and a host of falsely accused victims (the attorney generals who where fired for... anybody?). His appointees appear to be chosen on the basis of their religion and not their resumes (Paul Krugman wrote an great editorial on this in the NYT).

And so I cannot, in good conscience, support the republican party. If I must institutionalise something, I would rather codify deed than thought. I would rather legislate welfare than religion and I would rather sacrifice free markets than free choice.

West Wing made me an American and evangelicals made me a Democrat.