Jan 29, 2004, 9:10am
Word seems to be getting around that I hate the US and hate Americans.
A phrase I've used in the comments section comes to mind: Nothing could be further from the truth. I really like most Americans I know, and I really like the US of A.
I know at least 340 Americans on a first name, face to face basis (so says my P800 smartphone's contacts list, at least), and out of that bunch, there's maybe three or four... ur, maybe six I genuinely don't like. The rest are great folks, we get along famously, and they are definitely good "ambassadors", representin' your typical American.
I like a lot of the culture and "can do" sense the US has brought to the world - not all of it (and frankly, I think we could do with a bit less US produced porn flooding the Internet), and I give credit where credit is due - the US has lead in so many ways on a global scale when it comes to "quality of life", it's awesome.
I even like most of the US cities I've been to - Seattle and Portland earn a tie for my fave, closely followed by Chicago and, yes, NYC, which I've been to a few times, but not since 1988, unfortunately. Probably the only US city I didn't like was Detroit, but I probably visited a bad part of town.
I like US television shows for the most part (though I could do with a bit less reality TV, Monster House, Monster Garage, and American Chopper excepted).
And for a long time in my life, I even considered emigrating to the US, mainly because I'm completely sick and tired of working for the Cdn govt for half the year like most Canadians do (our tax free day is a few days after July 1). In fact, I still am sick of it, and if a plumb enough job offering comes up at some point in the US, I'd probably jump all over it.
But where I do have problems with the US is where most of the rest of the world has problems with the US. Let's look at a few
- Support a Dictator, Take Down a Dictator. US government policy is probably the most hypocritical, lying and conniving "government policy" the world has ever seen, and I'm including the Soviets in the comparison (my undergrad degree in PoliSci had and emphasis in Soviet Studies - I wanted to work for External Affairs at one point). The US has propped up more violent and "evil" dictators than probably any other country in the history of the world. One of many that comes to mind is everyone's good buddy Saddam Hussein. In the 1980s, the US propped him up as a buffer against that "evil regime" Iran, giving Saddam many of the chemical weapons that were used against the Iranians and his own people.
Yet when it suits their means (read: suits corporate America's means), they'll also take down a dictator. Case in point: Saddam. They didn't take him down for weapons of mass destruction (he'd already used all the WoMD that the US gave him in the 80s). They took him down because American oil interests wanted access to the largest global crude supplies outside of Saudi Arabia.
- "We hate them for what they do, but we'll do it too" mentality. The US was very peeved at Iran in 1979 and beyond. Peeved because the Iranians had enough of a (US supported) bloodthirsty dictator, and overthrew him. I only believe about 1/3rd all the "evilness" of the Ayatollah Khomeini, as reported by US media (and a lot of Canadian media at the time leaned towards US thinking) Yeah, he was a religious despot too, and they treat women like absolute shit in Iran (to this day, though supposedly things are improving), but for the average Iranian (including the women), life got better under the religious rule. That's a simplification, I know, but here's my point for article #2: The US got especially peeved when the Iranians took Americans hostage because the US was holding up Shah assets that (rightfully) belonged to the country of Iran.
Okay - that was BAD. Very bad.
But the US, today, is doing something similar with their base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba - holding hundreds of "suspects" without trial or any real rights (not even rights guaranteed by the Geneva Convention to prisoners, prisoners of war, etc). Yes, there's probably some serious al-Qaeda baddies in the mix, but how much you wanna bet there's probably some innocent dudes there too? The US is using a terrible event (9/11) to abuse human rights. Kinda what the Iranians did back in 1979 (their horrible event was the Shah, and subsequent "theft" of the national wealth by said Shah.
- Iraq was a corporate sponsored war. I've come 180 on this. I initially supported the US efforts to go in and "take out" the Saddam regime, regardless of the reasons. And for a while, I believed everything the corporate White House was spewing - WoMD, in league with al-Qaeda, Saddam and Osama were best buds, etc etc etc. I thought (and still think to this day) that Saddam was an evil dictator who should be eradicated. But my mentality towards most of this is changed.
But here's what I believe today. The US sold the world (or tried to - various countries wouldn't buy) a bag of goods made up of mostly lies and conjectures. Saddam had no nukes, no biologicals, no WoMD. Saddam and Osama hate each other - Osama and his ilk think of Saddam as an infidel, and hate him for the being the catalyst to bring the US into Saudi Arabia in the first place back in the Gulf War (this is Osama's main beef with the US - he didn't like the US coming into Saud). "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" thing doesn't work too well for folks who like to Jihaad.
The US went into Iraq for three reasons, I believe - first, for the oil and the juicy contracts that Gee Doublya's Texas buddies would get; second, reduce reliance on those finicky Saudis and their oil; and third (and a contentious one), to continue the fear and loathing mentality that's gripping the US, post 9/11. It makes things oh-so-much easier for corporate White House to do things, like pass the Patriot Act, reduce rights guaranteed by the US constitution, etc etc.
When no WoMD were found, the US govt speaking boxes switched their tune from the WoMD argument. "Saddam was an evil dictator who killed his people, tortured, etc etc". Okay, good reason for going in, I think. I can buy that. So when is the US going into China? When will the US go to Saudi and ask them to ease up on their human rights violations? When will the US stop the propping up of various African dictators who make Saddam look like a bed of roses? When will the US stand up and say "Tibet must be free!"? Hrmm.
Oooh. Ooooh. One more point: those poor French. Did they ever take it up the heiny for not supporting the US in their war!
People forget this, but Jacques Chirac was the first sovereign leader to go to the US post 9/11 and express his country's deep sadness and support for the US in that troubled time. People also conveniently forget that, if not for France, the US of A wouldn't have been created - the Brits would have kicked colonist ass. Here's a geniune factoid most Americans probably don't learn in school: when the Brits finally decided to give up on their war against the US colonists, they formally surrendered... to the FRENCH, who had surrounded their boats with the French Fleet! Wowsa.
And did Britain give anything to the US to celebrate the United State''s gifts to the world - democracy and liberty? Did the Germans? Did Canada? No serious gifts that I can think of. But hey, those zany French... they sure did. Next time you're in NYC, have a look out to the water and look at that nice big statue on Liberty Island.
Yeah, those bastards, the French. The French had the unmitigated gall (sarcasm) to stand up and say, "where's the proof" on WoMD before agreeing to send in UN supported troops into Iraq. They had the audacity to say prove al-Qaeda is in league with Saddam! (btw, those bases that the US said al-Qaeda had in Iraq? They were in the northern lands, held by the Kurds - Saddam had no control over that area! But the Kurds are the US's friends!).
I could go on, but I'll leave it at this. Americans? Almost every one I know personally is an excellent person. America? Overall a great physical land mass, lots of beauty (lots of waste too, but let's not go there). American cities? Mostly love them! American culture and standard of living? Awesome for the most part - the world is better off because of it.
American global stance? I could do without it. Or without most of it.
America as the world's policeman? Puh leese. The most corrupt police force the world's ever known.
American servicemen who give their sweat and effort, and sometimes their lives fighting for what they believe in or what their orders are? I can never, ever, in a million years fault the average armed forces personnel. Those guys and gals are in my top five "people" - Firemen come first, but soldiers are in there for sure. Their bosses though - they kinda suck.
American foreign policy? A big stinkin' bag of lies that for almost the entire existence of the United States has been ruled by dollars, not culture, compassion, and what's right.
And that's my take on "America". :)
Oh one more thing - we could do without any more Excursions and Escalades :)
|Previous Ten Daily Rants
|The continued fallout on auto gratuities
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|The Real Reasons for Olympics Auto Gratuities
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|Vancouver Olympics - Nice Prices, Profiteer (gouger) Restaurant Listings
|| 12:15am, 02/18
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|Price Gouging in Vancouver During Olympics (and Price Heroes!)
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|Ideal Mac (or any pc) netbook....
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|Balance Board Wii Game I'd like to see - Boxing!
|| 4:00pm, 07/26
Photos from Algonquin Park
Photos from my trip to Algonquin Park this fall with my Mom and two brothers.
Making Snow for the Fortress
One of the worst jobs I ever had... till I got out.
Tools I Use
The tools I use to build websites and lead a tech life.
iPod and iTunes Offline
iMark's iTunes and iPod isn't iPlaying anything right iNow.
Most Recent Songs
Fiddlers Green by The Tragically Hip
Around The Bend by Pearl Jam
Here With Me (Rollo's Chillin' With the Family Mix) by Dido
With arms open wide by Creed
truffle pigs by Matthew Good Band
In the News
Burundi and Beyond - NY Times
Great article by Peter Meehan - provided some background.
St. Petersburg Times
Side mention in an article about good machines
AP Story on Espresso
Background and information provided
NY Times - Grinders Article
Especially proud of this one - got the reporter to focus on grinders
Globe and Mail
LOL - showing bad reporting, dude says I'm an American-based site!
The Olympian, WA
Talks about my love for the El Sal Siberia Pacamara
Seattle Times - Clover
Interviewed for comments on the Clover brewer
NY Times - How it Works
Background and information for various espresso machines
Time Mag Article
Just a brief mention, article about roasting beans.
Front page article about consumers getting into specialty coffee.
Quoted reference to what I wrote in an article at CoffeeGeek.
USA Today - Barista Jam
Intereviewed for my thoughts on what the epitome of espresso is.
The Wall Street Journal has interviewed me 3 times. This is the first time my name got in a story.
Interview with Reuters, Jan 2 - this is the USA Today version.
My Other Stuff
Launched Dec 22, 2001, this is THE online community for espresso and coffee fanatics.
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Hey, if you feel the need to buy me something, check here!
Great gadget site run by the guy who used to do Gizmodo.
This is how I get my daily news fix.
The most active forums for digital photography online today.
Need my Daily Zen fix!
A blog about car stuff. Vroom Vroom.
An industrial design blog. Very cool stuff.
Friends and Family Plan
Beata's got her own blog! She updates it most days.
Riddla on Flickr
Matt Riddle's flickr account, updated regularly
Irdy, my friend from Jakharta, on Flickr
Canon EF 24-105 f4 L Lens
The best lens I've ever owned. Super sharp and quick.
A full frame dSLR, with luscious colour reproduction.
Alzo Digital Lights
Some amazing florescent cold lights for product photography
Canon Xsi dSLR
Amazing technology and image quality in a tiny package.
Latest prosumer camera from Canon - a much better upgrade than the 30D
Great 2.2lb computer that does most of my travel / writing needs
28mm f1.8 Lens
A great lens for closeup work and full picture photography
Finally got the right tools for freezing green coffee.
Canon 50mm 1.4
Most amazing lens I've ever owned. Produces stellar photos.
Super wide angle (full frame fisheye) zoom for my Canon 20D