warriorsavant: (Dr. Injecto)
Saw a patient recently who has rosacea, a common, an annoying, but not life-threatening, condition. I have him on Noritate (brand name for flagyl 1% cream) with good results. Price 35-45$CAN here. He ran out of it while he was vacationing in Florida. He checked US prices on line: around US$2000 for a single tube!
warriorsavant: (Infantry haircut)
Not reading as much as I used to, so doubly appreciative when I find interesting ones that effect me. Trying to write my feelings about these books, I realize I'm not expressing them well, but not sure will be able to refine it any better.

GI Jews by Deborah Dash Moore. (WWC) gave it to me. Relates the stories of Jewish GI's in WWII, mostly through oral histories with a dozen or so from different areas. Prior to WWII, the concept of ecumenicalism barely existed in the US, and even the concept of the US having a "Judeo-Christian" basis didn't exist. The US was viewed as Protestant, even if those other "weird" people (Catholics and Jews) were around. The military deliberately set out to create a sense of "we're all in this together," "we're a Judeo-Christian nation." That didn't sit well with everyone, but too bad, we had a war to fight. (Side note, compare current concerns with Moslems in the US military.) Jews served in numbers proportional to their representation in the US population. The general view of Jewish men was that they would not be good Soldiers/fighters: cerebral instead of physical, scrawny, unaggressive, not manly in the cliched, robust American sense. Much to the surprise of the military and themselves, they proved to be neither more nor less good Soldiers than anyone else. By so serving, they forged a new identity for themselves as "Americans and also Jews" (as opposed to Jews who happened to live in America), and helped forge concept of the US as "Judeo-Christian" and what today we'd call "multi-cultural." (Sorry for all the quote marks, rather needed.) They still faced prejudice, sometimes enormous amounts of it. Sometimes they overcame it, sometimes they didn't. By the time I got to the military, most of this was already established, but could still feel echoes of it: the "am I (are Jews) manly" in that sense?; are we really all one big family?; of negative reactions to me, how much was anti-Semitism? I'm proud of where the Army is in modern life. When I Commanded a NYC-based unit, I could say we were one of the most multi-cultural units in the Army… possibly in all of history. On the other hand, we were all one culture: we were all US Soldiers. "We all wear green, we all bleed red."

Combat Doctor by Marc Dauphin. He was an ER doctor and Canadian Army Reservist who mobilized to the NATO Role 3 Hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan (then under Canadian Command, but multi-national staffing). He was appointed as Officer Commanding (As opposed to the Commanding Officer, which meant that he was in charge of day-to-day operations, not… oh heck, too confusing to explain, he was in charge of lots of stuff as well as actually treating patients himself.) This one evoked a lot of feelings. Some thinking about my time deployed, bringing back memories of what I'd seen. Some of that is a sense of pride in my service and an abstract camaraderie with others who've served. Some a longing to go back (have zero thoughts of actually doing so and leaving my family!). Some giving me feelings of inadequacy, in that the Role 3 was a major trauma center (possibly the busiest and most successful in the world at the time), and what I did and saw was small potatoes in comparison.
warriorsavant: (Renovations)
Am now sufficiently calmed down to write this.

I am, to put it mildly, appalled that the US just elected someone who is as impetuous, thin-skinned, superficial, and emotionally immature as my toddler. (Without having the saving graces of being really cute, and oh yeah, will grow up some day.) I watched with horrified fascination as his tally mounted. The only hope is that he'll be restrained by a system that was deliberately designed to limit the power of elected officials, and has also become so massive and sclerotic that even less gets done, plus he actually has no clue how different government is from business.

I find him to be a disgusting human being, but also have to ask myself how this happened. Yes, there were elements of racism (but Obama managed to get elected) and misogyny in his support, but that is too facile and not the whole story. Clinton, the Democratic Party, and the "political elites" (CDE for short) share much of the blame. I posted some months back about how globalization had failed probably 40% of the population, and the elites were not even pretending to address this problem and the people so effected. That is what led to Brexit happening, and now Trump's being elected. There was great anger, and justifiable anger, in much of the populace, that he tapped into. That he also likely won't do anything for these people is neither here nor there. CDE didn't even pretend to address them, didn't even realize they needed to be addressed. They blithely assumed moral superiority and ignored them.

There's been much complaining about how the Republican party has been patiently working for years to set up their dominance: academics, media, gaining control of state legislatures and governorships, organizing their supporters. (Yes, they used this power to gerrymander political districts, but you can't gerrymander governorships or senate seats, they come with the state boundaries, and the Republicans have the majority of those also.) Why the complaining? This is what political parties are supposed to do. They are supposed to organize and create structure and get out the vote. If you don't like what that party stands for, not their problem. The Democrats have enough people and enough money, but apparently not enough organization or discipline or political sense. They carried a few places this past presidential election: the closed liberal elite bastions of NY and California mostly, places that don't realize they aren't most of the country, and if they do so realize, are contemptuous of the "great unwashed" that live "out there." Well the great unwashed just got their revenge.

I think I really started to see the Democrat's hide-bound stupidity after the 2010 midterm elections. Obama had swept in in 2008 and carried control of the Congress with him. The House Democrats chose an icon of close-minded liberal elitism, Nancy Pelosi, as Speaker. In the 2010 midterm elections, the Dems lost control of the House, which is to say, Pelosi led them down into defeat. And they promptly chose her to continue to be their leader! Can you say "lemmings" boys and girls? If you recall, Margaret Thatcher stepped down as Prime Minister of the UK not because she lost an election, not even because she lost her party's leadership vote, but because her winning that leadership vote was by such a small margin, she accepted that she no longer had the moral right to claim leadership, that she was out of touch with what a large swatch of the electorate wanted. Pelosi led the Democrats to flat out defeat, and they re-appointed her as leader because she somehow stood for what they were. Which is to say, she stood for being out of touch with the people. She, and they, also dealt with the Tea Party movement by pushing it into the arms of the Republicans. In the beginning, the Tea Party was not an arch-conservative movement, it was a ground-swell of varied discontent. Instead of doing what political leaders should do, both morally and tactically, which is to say address the legitimate complaints (and thereby coopt large numbers of the people), they just made fun of them and lost millions of potential supporters. I see them doing the same thing again with the "Alt Right." What do these people stand for? I have no idea, because they seem to have as many viewpoints as there are people. Some are hideous neo-Nazis. But some are average, disaffected citizens. Clinton and CDE made fun of them, and pushed them into Trump's arms, and helped him get elected.

Okay, sober, rational people, wise up. Especially those of you on the left who claim to be "for the people." Pay attention to the people. Understand their needs and issues. Address them. And actually get organize to let them know you're listening, turn them into supporters, and then turn out your vote.
warriorsavant: (Renovations)
Following my post about what a disaster this presidential election is going to be whatever the outcome, http://warriorsavant.livejournal.com/591659.html
had the following email exchange with an Army buddy, one who has a great knowledge of history as well (posted with his permission).


  HIM:
There's no doubt that both parties have forgotten who they are working for; my disenchantment (perhaps better to say the opening of my eyes to our political reality) came with Bush 41. He was running against Dukakis and I would have probably voted for Bush except that he had a fund-raiser in NYC - I forget how many $$$ per plate. A reporter asked a spokesman what that money got you - he answered that you got access to GHWB. The follow-up question was "how do people get access if they can't afford $$$ a plate? The answer - practically sniffed in disdain - was "they can seek access other ways". Right there I knew I no longer mattered. My  vote was window dressing on an elaborate charade; no-one in either party really gave two shits about me. So I voted for Perot. I was still registered Republican; voted for Perot again when GHWB ran against Clinton. Then Newt Gingrich became speaker of the house, and, nauseated by his smarminess and hypocrisy, I switched affiliation to Independent. After the 2000 hanging chad debacle I switched to Democrat. Upon return from Iraq I promised myself I'd never vote for any Republican for anything ever - and except for our last mayoral race in NYC, the Republicans have made it easy to keep that promise. Even there, I was voting against DeBlasio, not for whoever the Republican candidate was.

So, I understand anger - also alienation, and the sense of betrayal - you play by the rules your whole life and get royally screwed for it. But anger is a state of mind, not a plan. The Tea Party movement initially had promise - if it had become a "throw the bastards out" 3rd party instead of being co-opted by the far-right wing of the Republican party something may have actually changed. They ended up electing and re-electing the same lying frauds who were busily destroying the American middle class.

But anger doesn't get you anywhere. Embracing a candidate like Trump requires that you either embrace his message - which at its heart is vile (Obama is a Kenyan-born Moslem, hordes of Mexican rapists swarming across the Rio Grande, etc) and akin to that of the other demagogues who made the 20th century so "interesting" - or, you are willfully blind to his lying, fraudulence, hypocrisy and cowardice. You could say much the same about Hillary - I never voted for her husband - but at least she is experienced in government, competent, and sane. At best, Trump is a cranky, sleep-deprived old man - the embarrassing uncle who rants about "them" throughout Thanksgiving dinner. At worst he's an utter cynic who believes in nothing other than self-promotion, says whatever he thinks will please a crowd, and gives no thought to the consequences of his words. I'm not sure if it's Hezbollah or Hamas who has seized on his claim that Obama founded Isis to push their claim that it was all a CIA/Mossad plot just like 9/11. And the people they are talking to are the same ones who believe that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are true. Words can get people killed.

I'm not sure where we go after this election. With such a large portion of the populace so utterly disenchanted I seriously fear for the future. I think it will take something catastrophic to change the system, and some people may welcome that - but they don't know how bad things can get. I've been to Iraq, you've been to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Haiti - so we've both seen failed states, and Syria is a good example of what a civil war fought with modern weapons looks like. I don't want to see that here, but with one candidate claiming that he can only lose if the system is rigged and the election stolen, there is a potential for violence. It's sad that perhaps the best we can hope for is to slip back into apathy if the economy is stable - bread and circuses for the masses.

I agree with your final thoughts regarding our political "elites". The Romans had some good thoughts that apply here, see Cicero- "Politicians are not born; they are excreted". But I forget who it was that lamented a people who preferred the safety of an easy slavery to the rigors of freedom.


  ME:
Thank you. Good points. I will note, however, that it is equally the fault of the Democratic leadership that the Tea Party movement became co-opted by the far right Republicans (and thereby giving them power). The Tea Party was initially a vague anti-establishment ground swelling. There were many things they wanted/stood for, some of which the Democratic establishment could have agreed with. (Again note that they were not a unified force, so different ppl wanted different things.) Instead of doing the moral and tactically correct approach of identifying the points of agreement, supporting those points, and thereby getting the support of a broad swatch of disaffected voters, they just made fun of the whole movement (again, I’m especially thinking of that idiot Pelosi) and drove them into the arms of the far right.

Didn’t know you were a life-long Republican at one point, not that it matters now. GHWB might have been part of the disconnected elite, but he at least was competent as President, unlike his son, who was the worst - literally the worst - president at least in my lifetime.

Not sure who originated that second quote that you finish with. Loki in the Thor movie?

Oh, final note about His Whininess. He is as amazing as his supporters claim... he’s actually going to drive me to vote for Hilary Clinton.


  HIM:
Agree on the failures of the Democratic leadership. In the past they had  a talent for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by nominating the most un-electable person they could find. They also seem stuck in their own echo chamber, preaching only to the choir. Also agree on Bush 41. He was an intelligent man with experience in the world who did put his life on the line for his country. I don't know what the attrition rate was for naval aviators in the Pacific, but I'm pretty sure it was high (especially in large, slow aircraft like the TBF Avenger). Agree also on Bush 43 - I was astonished when he got a second term - his reward for blundering into an unnecessary war and doing his best to lose it. That alone soured me on having much sympathy for the Republican base. It's one thing to buy into the wedge issues the Republicans put up but to re-elect an incompetent who is getting thousands of Americans and Iraqis killed or maimed for nothing is a bit much. I actually knew someone at the XXth - now a retired full Colonel - who was certain Saddam was behind 9/11. Talk about drinking the cool-aid. Never mind Hillary's e-mails - I want to see what Cheney, Rumsfeld Rice & Dubya actually believed, vs what they told Congress and the American people.

In retrospect I think what drove me from the Republican party was not so much the perception of their catering to an elite but the utter hypocrisy of many of them - Gingrich being a prime example - a draft-dodging serial adulterer who presumes to lecture the nation on patriotism and family values? Puh-leeze! If I had a message for the GOP it would be "don't piss on me and tell me it's raining".
warriorsavant: (Time)
Trump winning the presidency would be a disaster, but his losing would not be good either.
His supporters are mostly the same people who oppose globalization and were pro-Brexit. The issues aren't 100% aligned, but close enough that we can discuss pro- and anti-globalization.

It's fashionable amoung the pro-globalization folks to dismiss Trump supporters (and Brexiteers, and anti-globalization forces everywhere) as racists. They couldn't possibly have good reason for their opinoins. After all, they disagree with enlightened people like us, so they must be mistaken if not downright evil. There, there, now. Does that make you sleep better at night, dismissing people who disagree with you as a bunch of nasty, knuckle-dragging racists?

So who are "us," the enlightened, pro-globalization people? Generally better educated, younger, living in bigger, globally-connected cities. Y'know, the people who actually benefit from globalization. (Yeah, I know, not every last one of these people individually benefitted at all times, but statistically, as a group, they did.) And who are "them," the people opposed to globalization? Generally less educated, older, and rural/small town. Y'know, the people who have been hurt by globalization. What! They are actually against something that is hurting them? How unenlightened.

In this way, Trump is right. No one has been speaking to, or for, these people. Not that he'd do anything for them either if he were elected, but he is channeling their anger, their justifable anger. Consider a older, white couple living in a small city. He's a blue collar worker, she's a hairdresser. The Republicans don't care about them because they are neither big business owners nor evangelicals. The Democrats don't care abou them because they are not visible-minoritiy-lesbian-single-parents. There are no government programs helping them, as they are told they are "privileged," while they watch their purchasing power erode, their dreams evaporate, and their town die. Globalization may be helping those educated, young big city folks, it's helping manufacturing workers in China and call center workers in Bangladesh, but it's hurting them. We are not talking about a small fringe of the population, we are looking at 25%? 40%? of the country. (If you look at the Brexit vote, we're looking at >50%.) In Germany, these people are less anti-globalization, because the system is set up to help them adjust and adapt. Here, they get nothing. They are told that they are priviliged and unenlightened, and to stop whining.

Yup, great moral and tactical political leadership to ignore that big a percentage of the population who is actually hurting, and being hurt, by the current policies of both major parties. That's why they are supporting Trump. He's at least pretending to talk to them and their issues. And when Trump loses, the political elites will dust off their hands, pat each other on the backs on how they staved off disaster, and continue to ignore those folks who voices will be silenced. Until the next time.
warriorsavant: (Books (Trinity College Library))
I love to read. Haven't had much time for it lately - well, actually have been reading a lot lately, mostly out loud, including The Cat in the Hat, Caillou, Aubergine... And those repeatedly. As for adult reading, the list has been limited, but some good ones in there. Before going on to that, a tip of the hat to Garrison Keiller, who will no longer be broadcasting A Prairie Home Companion, one of the most brilliant and touching radio shows from out of the heartland of America. Life in Lake Wobegon will continue in our hearts, but we'll no longer get to hear about it. Somewhere in the back of my mind, if I ever go back to writing Science Fiction, there will an equivalent Anasemble Broadcast show.

Now (drum roll please), my little list:
Erik Larson's Dead Wake (courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] eattheolives)
David O. Stewart's Madison's Gift (courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] oxymoron67)
J.K. Rowling's stage play of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (courtesy of my being a nerd)

Dead Wake is about the sinking of the Lusitania. It is gripping reading, with almost the classic definition of a Tragedy, in that you know what is going to happen, you follow the twists and turns with agony, hoping it won't, but knowing it will. One insight, that Larson writes in the Afterward he had had, was that the US didn't immediately go to war right after the sinking. In school, that was rather the impression we got, but in fact it was almost 2 years later. I never thought WW I was our business, but the US got sucked in by a combination of British cleverness and German stupidity. Regardless, one feels for the passengers on the Lusitania, and gets a fine feeling for the background of the tragedy.

Madison's Gift is not as well written. In fact, it's rather slow going, but it too gives interesting insights into a historical period, and into one of the less-well-known but key players, James Madison (political theorist, 4th president and one of the Founders of the US). Worth a read as a history buff.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is also worth reading, but very different from the books. First, it's the script of the 2-part stage play, so you have to imagine it's being staged (some requires very good staging to get the effects described). Second, Harry et al are now adults, with the protagonist being his son. There's lots of father-son/intergenerational issues brought out. Definitely enjoyed it, but not as much as the original books, especially the first one.
warriorsavant: (Time)
Canada is a wonderful country, full of wonderful people, as is the US. Wonderful, but who have grown up sheltered, comfortable, and therefore a bit naïve, with sometimes sophomoric views on world problems. Is there an evil warlord somewhere? Sign an on-line petition against him. Other Problems somewhere? Demand that Someone Do Something. They take such pleasure in their righteousness and indignation and certitude of the good and evil in the world. They kinda forget that warlords don't exactly quake in their boots (well, sandals) because someone clicks 'dislike' on their Wastebook page, and that the Someone who is sent to Do Something often comes back in a body bag.

I was discussing this with a friend and colleague who had grown up in a developing country. His views are different from middle Canada/US because of that; as are Nom's, who was a war refugee; as are mine, having spent 3 decades in the military. We don't get to be naïve. I've been the Someone who was sent to Do Something more than once.

My friend mentioned his son's rapid maturing in the past year of being in University in another developing country. It is a good education at the University he is getting, and perhaps a better education in life. He said the first inklings of reality crossed his son's mind when he asked him how he was going to get around there.
"Oh, I'll just get a STM card" (Societé des transports de Montréal - our mass transit system).
 "Son, they don't have mass transit there."
 "???"

I wonder about my children. Gentle Reader, did you ever see or read Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by the late, great Mordecai Richler? Duddy Kravitz is a young man, growing up on the meaner side of Montreal, trying to make it in life. One of his plans goes horribly wrong, his friend is badly injured. Duddy is driving a taxi, guilt-ridden and depressed, and runs into an older, successful man he knew from when he was a waiter in a resort. The man takes him out for coffee and listens to what happens, and then says, "Listen, Duddy. Years ago there was an accident in my business. A man died. They said it was my fault. I could have gone to jail. But I had a partner who wasn't as bright as I was, so he went to jail and here I am. My son (a young teen) is a good boy. He'll go far. He'll never cheat a partner into jail. But he never came to this country with 5-cents in his pocket and 2 words of English."

I certainly don't mean I want to raise my children to be cheats and con artists. Like all parents, I want them to be happy. Although I claim I've already put in their applications for Medical School, in fact, if they grow up to be happy, productive, and honest citizens, I'll have done my job. But I don't want them to be naïve, even if there is sometimes pain in seeing reality. I don't look forward to the pain in their eyes when they are teens and young adults, when they won’t fit in with the happy, naïve, self-righteous people around them. But later they will have the cold, clear joy of knowing. "Know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."
warriorsavant: (Computer-steampunk)
Driving to work this morning, I noticed the odometer on my car read 22222. Ah, the obsessional joys of symmetry. Since this was my Dad's old car, the odometer reads in miles. The dashboard display also gives outside temperature, which was also a symmetrical number this morning: 0. Yeah, ZERO. (Well, was symmetrical until it dropped below that.)

For the metric aficionados among my Gentle Readers, 0ºF = -18ºC-ish.

Canada is officially metric. (Whereas the US, being the technologically most advanced, and most democratic, country on earth is still using Imperial measurement, based on measuring the King's body parts in 12th century England.) As a day-to-day matter, Canadians use a mix of the two systems. My drivers license lists my height (none of your business) and weight (really none of your business) in metric, but no one actually knows their height & weight in metric, they give it in feet, inches and pounds. (We do not however, use the non-existent English "stones.") For temperature, people do use metric day-to-day. After all these years, I'm finally getting a gut-level feel for Celsius. Before, I would hear Celsius, then work thru a rough mental conversion to Fahrenheit to actually understand what that meant. Now I sorta, sometimes, understand it. On one level it makes sense to say 0ºC = freezing of water = cold. On another level, in Fahrenheit, 32ºF is cold, whereas 0ºF is COLD. The Fahrenheit scale made sense within the technical limitations of measuring things when Professor Fahrenheit lived (17th-18th century), but then so did measuring things by the length of the King's foot make sense in the 12th century. Still, having grown up with US measurements, it's hard for me to have a gut feel for metric. It's like learning another language. First you don't understand at all, then you have to mentally translate, then eventually you "think" in the other language - at least of the time, it tends to waiver in-and-out.
warriorsavant: (Signpost Ft. Benning)

When I was young, there were still a fair number of WWI Veterans around. When I saw an old Vet, I assumed WWI, and somewhere in my subconscious, I still do. There are almost none left anywhere in the world, and the “old men” I thought of were probably younger than most WWII Vets are now (such as my Dad), who themselves are dying off. Probably today, there are Vietnam Vets of the same age as those WWI vets from my childhood.

Speaking now as an American, VN definitely seared itself into the nation’s consciousness at the time, but for a child today, VN was longer ago than WWI was for me, and I doubt young’uns today would feel the sense of history that I felt about WWI Vets. I doubt Iraq & Afghanistan Vets will have the same impact on the nation’s consciousness, in that we represent too small a fraction of the populace. Besides “the Army’s at war, America is at the mall.”

Now putting on my Canadian hat, I do wear a Remembrance Day poppy, and have been doing so all week. Even though it is not an American custom, when I was in the Guard/Reserves in US, when I’d come down to drill, I’d wear one on my uniform. It is such a striking custom, plus John McCrae, who wrote “Flanders Fields,” was a McGill doctor. (Interesting character, look him up. Also referenced in the intro to this blog.)

Normally I observe a minute of silence at my office at 11:11. However today, there was a ceremony at the main campus of McGill, so I jumped in a cab and went. Was in the back and couldn’t see or hear much, but it was very meaningful for me to be there.



They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

New York

Oct. 24th, 2014 12:24 am
warriorsavant: (Autumn-upstate NY)
Had some stuff to do, and needed to visit the family, so put on my goggles, packed up the airship and flew down. Oops, getting a little steampunk here: no goggles and we drove. Oddly enough, in light of male-female clichés, Nom’s suitcase is much lighter than mine. Partly because I packed my laptop and Derm journals, and partly b/c I have bulky t-shirts and jockey shorts and she has little cute female nethergarments (which I heartily approve of). We seem to have more stuff on this trip than on our last couple. Not sure how that happened; I’ll blame it on Hedgefund, since she’s bigger, her clothes take up more room. Yeah, that sounds like why. Duchess Krankenheimer (a.k.a. Hedgefund) actually does quite well on car trips, as does Nom. No traffic until the last 6 miles of our trip, when there was a car accident just ahead of us (some people have no consideration).

Anyhow, it is the best time of year to drive through the Adirondacks in upstate NY; the scenery is awesome: the mist is on the mountains and the lakes, and the leaves are happening. Drove through Lake George Village for a little bit of retro-Americana schlock, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Had a not very good hamburger and a worse cup of coffee. The latter so bad I couldn’t drink it, and actually had to stop at the ‘Bucks. Since their coffee is also dreadful, I decided to give in to mass culture and try a pumpkin spice latte. It actually isn’t bad, as long as you accept the premise of what it is and what it is not, which is to say that it isn’t coffee, it is an overly-sweet, oddly-spiced, dessert which happened to contain a bit of caffeine.

We’re staying in New Jersey, about an hour out of NYC. Interesting area in that it seems very rural, with not much in the towns, and lots of small, winding roads. Yet there is much traffic on these roads, especially at rush hour, and lots of corporate buildings tucked away in the trees. We’re far enough from NYC to appear rural, but close enough (given Americans comfort/acceptance of long commutes) to actually be bedroom communities to lower Manhattan. Further, there are all these corporate buildings tucked away. Each is in it’s own little park (as is our hotel) in a clearing surrounded by trees. Sometimes a fair amount of woods between one site and the next, sometimes only a thin screen of trees, but enough to make each feel like it is alone in the woods. In contrast, 1 hour drive along the highways and through the Lincoln Tunnel, and we were in the crowd, bustle, and vibrancy of NYC.

We picked up WWC, and had lunch at Morimoto, which I’ve mentioned before. They no longer have their bento boxes, but the combination lunches are essentially the same thing. Great as always. They are physically located in the Chelsea Market building (although a separate entrance), so we strolled the market after lunch (well we did need some chocolate after all). It is in the old National Biscuit Company building (better know now as Nabisco). It maintains its industrial-revolution feel about it: brick and ironwork and clerestory windows. A century ago, it was cutting edge building. Fifty years ago it was decaying industrial structure. Today it is retro-industrial chic. After lunch, spent some time visiting with Dad, who is doing better than he has in awhile. He and Hedgefund got re-acquainted, as she also did with the cats. Being WWC’s house, there is quite a quantity of cats, a kilo’s worth of kitties, a flock of felines, and plethora of pussies, a… you get the idea.

That evening, we went to Broadway. Went to see You Can’t Take it With You, a revival of the 1936 Kaufman & Hart comedy. It was good, but not up to the rave reviews we’ve heard about it. It’s rather silly, slightly dated, fun about a highly eccentric family. But it is really well done silly, slightly dated fun, with a splendid cast, including James Earl Jones. With his voice, he can make any line come alive, plus he’s a really good actor as well. I realized I had seen an amateur production of it many years ago, but only remembered one or two scenes out if it. Worth seeing, but again, not rave-worthy.
warriorsavant: (Sword & Microscope 1)
It's not a holiday here. Feels like I should be off today, not just because or the US holiday, but I'm not, so heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it's off to work I go.

There used to be a US ex-pat social/business networking club in Montreal, and I once or twice did things with them on the Fourth, but usually don't pay it much attention. For overseas Americans, the most American holiday seems to be Thanksgiving, although I don't know why.

A cousin of Nom's is getting married tonight, so extended family coming in from everywhere, with the first get together having been last night. I'm starting to recognize some at least by face, as seeing them once/year. (Will be inflicting my family on her in a couple of weeks). Brought Hedgefund with us to show her off introduce her to her extended family. (Also good for her to start being around other people.) About a million people were vying to pet and hold her; she too it in stride like the fashion model-to-be that she is (that's the career after medical school and before MBA school - no pressure here). Okay, she mostly didn't fuss and cry, and everyone said the appropriate things. She survived, as did I.

Origins

Sep. 30th, 2013 09:11 pm
warriorsavant: (Sword & Microscope 1)
This is in answer to Gentle Reader, [livejournal.com profile] michikatinski, who asked: "I've been wondering it--are you a U.S. citizen, then?  I'm confused about your origins."

My origins? I thought as a mom she'd understood the process, but if an explanation is needed: IVF didn't exist back then, so my mom and dad were in bed one night... sorry, I'm blushing now.

Oh, you mean my nationality!

Yeah, okay, I'm born and raised American. Moved to Canada to do my Residency (specialty training) at McGill, where I met my future-ex-wife. Got married and stayed. Well, stayed in Canada; didn't stay married to GoTV, but as you know, I'm now fortunate enough to be with the lovely Nom. (Ahhhh, these Montreal women...) Due to a quirk in the licensing laws at that time, I had to apply for citizenship, otherwise might have stayed as permanent resident (less paperwork). That is not to say that I'm not proud of my Canadian citizenship, because I am, but my first is US. Canada formally recognizes dual citizenship. The US doesn't; their attitude is that I'm a US citizen, and if I want to think I have some relationship to some other country, that's my business (as long as the other country is, say, Canada, and not, say, North Korea), they just aren't going to take that seriously.
warriorsavant: (Me-composite)
Am slowly working thru DVDs of Big Bang Theory. Is really very clever, in fact, downright brilliant. One of the things I don't appreciate about my native country is the strong stream of anti-intelligence ("it's cool to be dumb"). I appreciate with shows like Big Bang Theory smart people can now be the protagonists. On the other hand, they have to be social awkward or even Asperbergers: Sheldon and the gang in Big Bang Theory, the Temperance Brennan in Bones, etc. (Hmm, smart but socially awkward... no one we know in real life, nosirree.)
warriorsavant: (Sword & Microscope 1)
Mentioned yesterday that the CLF is an American initiative but wants to provide resources worldwide. Got me thinking about Americans and American enterprise/initiative. I do hope that by now my Gentle Readers realize that I keep to a well-reasoned intellectual path. I abhor equally mindless, jingoistic “my country right or wrong,” and mindless pseudo-intellectual “my country is always wrong.” I find the latter to show just as little thought as the former, plus be far less honest.

So what did strike me? That this is an American Foundation, but they are trying to be a worldwide resource base. This highlights very positive aspects of the American character.* Firstly, that this Foundation is patient led. Grassroots initiate. Don’t wait for someone on high to take the lead. There is a need; get off your duff and fill it.** Second, to reiterate, is filling needs. Why you? Because you’re there, because you see the need, because you can, because you are willing to take initiative. Third, YOU are the one who is in charge of your disease (and other aspects of your life).

*Do understand that I am not saying Americans are the only ones who do this, nor am I saying this characteristic doesn’t have an negative side too, but neither of those is the focus of this posting.
**In contrast, when wanted to provide their patient information material to doctors in the UK to give out. They were not allowed. Doctors in the UK, as part of the NHS, can only give out patient material that is officially written and approved.
warriorsavant: (HHG-Throne of fruit)
Recently posted about ethnicity http://warriorsavant.livejournal.com/410790.html, which generated some discussion. The response from [livejournal.com profile] ecosopher was long enough to warrant a separate post, rather than just a response there.

Read more... )
warriorsavant: (Time)
Can hardly look at a news service without reading/hearing that people are demanding “justice” in the case of the death of Trayvon Martin. These people seem to forget that there was a fair trial, and Zimmerman was acquitted. Admittedly a trial is about law and not justice, but law is as close as we can get in the real world. “Justice” is an abstract and an ideal; laws and trials are real. Plato said we are guided by the memory of divine justice; a fair trial is as close we can get.

No one has presented any grounds for saying the trial was unfair except that they didn’t happen to like the result. The judge was reportedly known as rather a hanging judge, not one lenient on defendants. The jurors were selected by from a random jury pool with both prosecution and defense allowed to object to, and refuse, individual selectees. The jurors are the ones who heard all the evidence and evaluated it. Unanimously they found a verdict of “not guilty.” Nor did the defense even invoke the “stand your ground” laws; it was a straight up case of self-defense. Zimmerman claims he was on the ground, getting his head smashed into the concrete, when he shot Martin. You are just as dead if someone beats your skull repeatedly into the cement as if someone shoots you. “Standing your ground” is also not the issue; you can’t run away when you are physically in that position. Zimmerman had wounds the jury considered consistent with his story.

The facts clearly aren’t enough to satisfy many people. They want Zimmerman hanged, one way or the other. Even the President - who is charged with upholding the laws of the land - has weighed in against him. These folks don’t even want to hear why the jurors acquitted him. One of the jurors was going to write a book about her decision-making, but a storm of protest caused the project to be scuttled (I don’t recall if it was her backing down, or her agent, or the publisher). How dare this juror try to present the facts, there are folks who want a hangin’.

After all, it must have been racial. Clearly Zimmerman was a racist and this was “White man’s justice.” Well, between Zimmerman and Martin, the only one of the two recorded to have made a racist remark was Martin. In a phone call to his sister, he called Zimmerman a cracker. This is not a term of endearment and multi-cultural tolerance; it is racist. Even talking about Zimmerman being White is racist. Zimmerman has more than once pointed out that he is Hispanic. I could have a whole discussion on what is a race/ethnic group, and does it have any meaning, but that’s for another day. In daily fact of life, people seem to feel such a thing exists. Zimmerman feels it exists and has self-identified as part of a well-recognized (including by the US Census Bureau) race/ethnicity. That fact too is irrelevant to the protestors. In their politically correct racism, there are only two groups: Blacks and not-Black-therefore-equals-White.

Interesting to note that most of the coverage during the trial, and a fair amount of the current coverage overlook two key facts as mentioned above. One: Zimmerman had a good case for self-defense. Two: Zimmerman wasn’t White.

Don’t think this means I like Zimmerman or think he’s a great guy. Probably he and Martin deserved each other. As someone pointed out “what really happened in the Zimmerman case was him being a jerk whereupon the dearly departed attempted to explain why he should not be a jerk but doing so in a manner allowing the right of self-defense. Jerkiness is not technically a crime.  Hitting a jerk is, allowing the jerk to defend himself, and if that defense includes a firearm…” This segues into the Three Laws of Shooting Someone. First Law - anytime there is a body lying on the ground, and it’s your doing, you have a lot of explaining to do. Second Law - it is easier to explain away a dead body than a live one telling a different story. Third Law - you can’t explain anything when you’re the dead body. In fact, there was a body lying on the ground, and Zimmerman had to explain it to a jury. The jury, who had all the facts presented to them, believed his story. The lynch mob doesn’t care.
warriorsavant: (Sword & Microscope 1)

As promised, a post about Disney and Disneyland.

Disney is what it is. Its a lot of fun if you dont take it too seriously. The two mistakes people make are either adulation or contempt.
   Adulation: Oh, its the greatest place on earth. Its so wonderful!
   Contempt: Its so phony and plastic and everything wrong about America.
Lets all get a grip people. Its fun; its not paradise. No, its not phony. Superior American science has developed a species of giant sentient rodents just for your entertainment. No, not really. It is phony. Its supposed to be. We all know that. Thats the fun of it.

Disney is not an evil empire that brainwashed children into thinking its great. They figured out what children like and give it to them. They are masters of evocation - whether they evoke the Wild West or the Medieval Castles or whatever, they present the shiny and wonderful parts of these things. I suppose Disneyland is much like being taken under the hill by the Good Folk (although time doesnt run differently). They use Glamour in the old meaning of the term - you see the nice, glittering, unreal surface. In reality, the Old West and the Medieval days were nasty and dirty and dangerous. We know that. In reality, Disneyland is an amusement park with thousands of hard-working employees and lots of infrastructure and technology to make it look like it does. We suspend our disbelief and allow the magic to take us because we want to. In that sense, Disney is no different from Cirque du Soleil or a TV sitcom or a stage magician; they are just better than most. Equally, we can walk around laughing at the phoniness (with appreciation, not distain), because they do it so perfectly. You want to say they are whores? Fine, whoring also involves suspension of belief and enjoying the show. Seems like all the good burghers claim to dislike prostitution - but they keep coming back for more. Disney, like any good business, gives people what they want, so they keep coming back for more.

As for Las Vegas, same comments apply. Its Disneyland for adults. Enjoy it for what it is. Dont take it too seriously, but experience it and have fun doing it.

warriorsavant: (Springtime in Canada)
First things first: 45 cm snow in Montreal and I'm in California. As in no snow and 17 degrees. Hahahahaha.

What I've seen so far largely reinforces my image of SoCal (Southern California): freeways, malls, strip malls, low flat pseudo-Spanish architecture. We are in the heart of Little Saigon. Driving down the main drag, there is a Vietnamese restaurant, followed by a Vietnamese restaurant, then a Vietnamese restaurant, and after that a Vietnamese restaurant. Interspersed are other rather cliched VN businesses such as nail salons and massages (the legitimate kind). Also a goodly number of the next generation cliches: doctors, pharmacies, and dentists (can you say 'hard-working and therefore upwardly mobile immigrants?'). Between those are the businesses you'd find anywhere (florist, mortician, gym) but with VN owners and sometimes writing, which in turn sometimes is further subtitled hablamos espagnol.

Some of Nom's large extended family lives in this area, but many have come in from across the US and Canada. They are quite varied in age and English ability (although most of the older ones at least speak good French) but all have the justly-famous Asian good manners. The are a pleasant bunch. I'm not fond of small talk, but I manage, and some have interesting life stories to tell. Some use English names, most VN names, and some seem to be 'named' things like 'Aunt Six,' Uncle Seven,' or 'Great Aunt Four.' If any don't like that Nom's dating a white guy, they don't show it to me, although frankly I don't think anyone does mind it. Apparently the other white guy who is with a family member got out of coming by having a heart attack; I wasn't clever enough to pull that off, but as stated, the family is pleasant. The negative, if I can even call it such, which is the flip side to the politeness, is that even more than most large groups, everyone does a version of 'Wadda you wanna do?' 'Dunno, wadda you wanna do?' Then suddenly a decision is made, and Nom gets 5 minutes warning that we're all going out to dinner. Much of the decision making process is unstated, but understood by the participants who grew up in that culture. So far, at least, no karaoke.

Yesterday, Nom and I went to Disneyland. She'd never been, despite being a Disney Princess and loving all things Disney. I find the place vaguely amusing, and enjoyed her enjoyment; she's a big kid at heart. Didn't go on any rides, as the wait times were over an hour for most, but did take the Railroad which is an amusement ride in itself. We mostly strolled around, went through some of the walk-through attractions (eg Tarzan's Treehouse and Sleeping Beauty's Castle), shopped, ate, and saw the Parade. If we ever take our putative future offspring, will go when not a vacation time for most people, and bring lots of time and money. Will philosophize about Disney more in another post; gotta go and act sociable now.

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