Saturday, July 25, 2009

In the Middle of the Mud

Lately, I've felt like I'm in the middle of the mud storm... as politicians in the United States fight back and forth about the possibility of a "government option" to somehow fix health care. The right has been continually saying that they don't want "Canadian-style" health care, and if the government interferes, it will lead to the terribly Canadian system be replicated here. They've even found a Canadian who agrees with them, and have been putting her on TV and in commercials. It seems, however, that there seem to be some inconsistencies in her story. But more concerning to me is the terribly offensive quotation I just read from Congressman Paul Broun, M.D., Republican of Georgia:

". . . and that's exactly what's going on in Canada and Great Brittan today. They don't have the appreciation of life, as we do in our society, apparently. And . . . a lot of people are gonna die this program of 'government option' is being touted as this panacea, the savior of allowing people to have quality health care at an affordable price -- is gonna kill people."

There are so many problems with this. I am not a politician or a physician, and I certainly don't have the intellectual equipment or time to refute the whole thing. However, it does merit a mention that the proposed reforms to the U.S. system bear only the most vague of resemblances to the U.K. or Canadian systems, which further, bear only the most vague of resemblances to each other.

But what really bothers me about this statement by Dr. Broun is that he seems to be seriously suggesting that Canadians and Britons do not value human life in the same way that people in the U.S. do. What does that even mean? Mothers and fathers in the U.K. love their children, children love their parents, people love their friends. Murder is punishable by life imprisonment, not rewarded. In Canada, old ladies get helped across the street, and in nearly a year here, I have yet to hear anyone shout, "hooray for no-seat-belt Friday!"

I am not, by the way, saying that the Canadian or British systems are perfect. They aren't. All three systems are imperfect and financially costly. Since the purpose of this blog isn't to beat politics into the ground, I'm not going to try to fix things, or say "yay Canadian Health care system," although I have had largely positive experiences. As a U.S. citizen in Canada, I can confidently say that neither side has a monopoly on screwing things up.

I think I will just end with a favourite hymn of mine, "This Is My Song" with words by Lloyd Stone:

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine
My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,
And sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too and clover,
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
This is my song O God of all the nations,
A song of peace for their land and for mine.
(Generally sung to the tune of Jean Sibilus's Finlandia.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Jess Runs to Canada

So I have, like my pal Sally, registered for the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon. You start in Detroit, run across the bridge and back under the Detroit river in the tunnel, then finish. (I'm glossing over the agony that is actually 13.1 miles of running. I'm doing this on purpose.)

Training officially started for me this week. There may be a charity tie-in, watch this space.

The only problem thus far is that training (and ramping up to official training) has left me eating like a Hobbit. Seriously, second breakfast has become a way of life. I'll only be mad if I wind up either gaining weight or with hairy feet.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy Patriotic Week/ Joyeux Semaine Patriotique

(Despite the bilingual nature of the title, don't for a moment expect me to actually post in French. My grasp of the French language is weak at best.)

Wednesday is Canada Day. On my recent trip to London, I happened to see to following product display in the grocery store:

All things outrageously Canadian... mostly featuring the omnipresent maple leaf.

Seriously... everything you could possibly need to throw a Canada BBQ, right there. Also some things you wouldn't think of, but holy cow, they've got them.

I mean, throw pillows. Really? Pot holders and flags and windsocks I get, but throw pillows? Really?

Also, the aprons were fantastic:
I mean the one with the maple leaf is fairly predictable, but the one on the left is fantastic. I recently read the suggestion that irony is a defining Canadian value, and there it is. Right there. I mean, if you meet a Canadian and they know you aren't Canadian, if you mention the word "eh" to them, they will carry on about how people from the States think they say it all the time, and that they really don't, that it is a sort of hick thing to say, and so on. And I'm not saying that the SuperStore isn't trying to sell to anyone who will pay for it, but come on. Celebrating your patriotism with a joke? I love these people. They love Canada, but they are also willing to laugh at themselves and the people (you know, Americans) who laugh at them. (Incidentally, they say it somewhat frequently. I actually rather appreciate it as a useful lingusitic device, however-- I know a lot of up-talkers and their use of "eh" helps me understand the difference between a declarative statement and a question. Not always, but sometimes.)

Of course, since I am spending this week in Nashville, I get the 4th of July, too. In the interests of cross-cultural fairness, I thought I would share the holiday display at a local grocery store:

And I went to a nice store, in a good part of town... and other than the red, white and blue plates and napkins, the sum total of US flag-themed merchandise was a few citronella
candles (sort of down there in the picture on the top, and the flag on the chair at the top there). The dominant feature of the display, though was the giant wall of beer. This sort of cracks me up.

One question though:

Since both are bank holidays, one in the country where I am, and one in the country where I work, should I just take two full days of doing almost nothing and blowing stuff up? If not, which should I celebrate?

I think to play it safe, I'm going to take it easy until Sunday.