Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The U.S.A. or the U.S.?

You know, I just now noticed. When I was growing up, I lived in the U.S.A.

I now live in the U.S.

Did you notice that? That's kinda weird.

The food crisis is giving me a sick stomach. It makes me feel silly when I complain about my doubled food budget, because so many are subsisting on one bowl of rice a day. If that. So many have cut out vegetables, even, from their diet. That sucks.

And I usually love The Economist, but I was irritated by this remark that was presented as proof that Baltimore is a safe city with crime on the decline:

"Last year, 89% of those murdered in Baltimore had a criminal record."

Kinda made me sick. I know murdered little girls are treated differently from murdered prostitutes, but ... still. I don't care who is murdered: it's still murder. The statistic quoted above is nothing to be proud of.

20 bonus scribbles:

Melanie Avila 4/23/2008 01:47:00 PM  

Your USA comment brings up one of my pet peeves that's become more pronounced since living outside of it. People who are born in the US proudly refer to themselves as Americans, but the entire continent - heck the entire Western Hemisphere - is called "America." That makes every person native to North and South America an American. At least it does with my logic.

I realize we calling ourselves United Stateseans (or Stateganders) is tricky on the tongue, but the way we casually dismiss the rest of the Americans really irks me.

Just my 2¢.

spyscribbler 4/23/2008 02:16:00 PM  

YES! I completely agree. In fact, even when I was 16 and an exchange student, I refused to be called an "American," let alone call myself one. It was a pet peeve of mine.

I'm an only child with a tendency for self-absorption and self-centeredness that annoys me, BUT ...

It strikes me as ridiculously self-centered of us to call ourselves Americans!

Do Canadians call themselves Americans? Mexicans? Brazilians? I don't think so.

I usually settle for "I'm from the United States," or "from the States." The latter is probably equally ridiculous, LOL.

We do need a better term for it. English feels so limited, sometimes.

R.J. Keller 4/23/2008 03:28:00 PM  

A friend of mine went to Europe several years ago. When she started answering the inevitable, 'where are you from?' with 'Maine' she got a much more positive reaction when she said, 'the U.S.'

Weird.

RE: Food crisis.
We picked up some veggie seeds and starter plants from our local greenhouse this past weekend. Looks like canning and freezing is making a comeback.

Zoe Winters 4/23/2008 04:44:00 PM  

Oh don't get me started on prostitution. Saying someone can't sell their body is the same as saying it's not theirs to sell. Furthermore plenty of women sell their body legally when they marry rich men. The hypocrisy is astounding.

The "law" claims that making prostitution illegal is for their own good to protect them from pimps. But legalizing it would mean regulating it. Plus, I don't know why any woman really would need a go between for that kind of work anyway. Seems pretty straight forward to me.

I'm not saying women should run out and become prostitutes or that I think it's a "good thing" but it certainly shouldn't be an ILLEGAL thing, IMO.

Erica Orloff 4/23/2008 06:45:00 PM  

Spy:
I am starting a BIG garden. I have a family of six. How little I get for what I spend in scary. I can only imagine people living lives below the poverty line.

E

Zoe Winters 4/24/2008 03:18:00 AM  

Erica, I'm helping my parents with their garden this year. I can't wait. We start planting stuff on Monday!

Bernita 4/24/2008 09:10:00 AM  

Dear Girl, just wanted to thank you for the cyber hug.
I needed it.

StarvingWriteNow 4/24/2008 09:11:00 AM  

I still prefer to believe that I live in the United States of America, but I see what you mean--take any drop-down list online and its: United States or worse, just US.

J.K. Mahal 4/24/2008 12:51:00 PM  

The food crisis is so awful in part because it is partially due to our agriculture subsidy system.

I'm not blaming it all on biofuels. The fact is that we have a system that punishes farmers who veer from its tenets to go organic (see the NY Times article titled My Forbidden Fruits (and Vegetables)) and regularly exports food to poor nations, therefore undercutting their farming system (see "Why U.S. Farm Subsidies are Bad for Us").

The U.S., U.S.A., America isn't the only one to blame for the current crisis, but our behavior as a nation is part of the problem. And unfortunately, most US of A'ers, Americans, hey yous are not very up on why we're part of the problem.

That said, if I owned a home, I'd so be planting an environmental victory garden. As it is, I joined an organic CSA and get a share of locally grown fruits and veggies for the family every month.

Melanie Avila 4/24/2008 03:23:00 PM  

We buy all local produce - one benefit to living so close to the market. If we ever have a yard or space for a garden I think I'd like to try growing my own.

J. L. Krueger 4/24/2008 04:09:00 PM  

The proper title for this country is The United States of America. The United States, or US is a shortening of the proper title. Think about it in terms of the states being autonomous nations. Nowhere else in the Western Hemisphere do individual constituent parts of any nation have the autonomy of the individual states of The United States of America.

Therefore by definition it is completely correct that the identity of the nation is defined as The United States of America even if you want to include the entire Western Hemisphere. No other nation can make the same claim as to its political structure.

As to what constitutes America or more correctly the Americas, these are definitions agreed upon long ago. If everyone makes up new geography to fit their personal politics and preference, we’d never know what place is being talked about.

Globally if one says “America”, it is understood to be The United States of America. If I ask an Iraqi or Afghan to point to America, they will invariably point to The United States of America and nowhere else. It is understood worldwide.

If one says “American” then it is understood that that is a person who is a citizen of The United States of America. When I tell an Iraqi that I am an American, they know exactly what I am regardless of any accent. They know I am not from Canada, Mexico, or Argentina. They would not be confused into thinking, “Where in the Western Hemisphere is this idiot from? Isn’t the entire Western Hemisphere America?”

It isn’t self-centered or self-absorbed to call ourselves what the world has come to call us. It isn’t a crass dismissal of the rest of the hemisphere to call ourselves American. The term “American” was coined over two-hundred years ago precisely because the founding fathers (particularly the three most involved in writing the Declaration of Independence) could not think of anything else that made sense. I have yet to hear any other term that works as well or which would garner the same international acceptance.

Melanie Avila 4/24/2008 04:53:00 PM  

JL - I'm not disagreeing with the reasoning behind calling us Americans and I agree that it would be ridiculous to try to change it now. Clearly we called 'dibs' on it a long time ago and it's stuck.

I realize the US is a super-power but I still get frustrated with the the country's belief that it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. (I know not everyone feels that way, but there are plenty who do.) To me the label 'American' perpetuates that belief.

Aimless Writer 4/24/2008 08:43:00 PM  

That line has to be one of the stupidist things I've ever heard. Crime is down because the criminals are killing each other?
Sheesh.
Murder is still murder. But I say this as a person who thinks prostitution should be legalized so we can tax it, make sure they have clean health records and keep those who participate safe. So, what the heck do I know?

J. L. Krueger 4/24/2008 09:02:00 PM  

Melanie,

On many occasions when I am traveling overseas I am positively embarrassed by the boorish “we are the greatest” attitude of other Americans. I think the attitude that many Americans carry when they visit other countries is what gives us a bad name.

It isn’t in being a superpower that makes/made America great, but that it is the first country created out of an ideal as opposed to common ethnic background. If we could get back to striving for the ideal, we would be much better off and less hated.

spyscribbler 4/24/2008 11:11:00 PM  

R.J., I just picked up a bunch of seeds myself. I've been meaning to start a garden for a few years. At this point, saving any money foodwise would be awesome!

Zoe, I don't understand the illegal thing, either. You're right, it's a woman's body, she can do what she wants with it, so can a man.

Re: Regulation: Legal or illegal, they still have to pay taxes. And required health exams don't strike me as all that different from the laws and rules and inspections those in the food industry have to abide by.

spyscribbler 4/24/2008 11:29:00 PM  

Erica, I believe it. Wow! I mean, I could barely stay in our budget when DH was gone, eating UNHEALTHY food, like pasta, pasta, and pasta. Now that DH is back, it's an impossibility. And that's just TWO people!

spyscribbler 4/25/2008 12:51:00 AM  

Many more where that came from, Bernita!

WriteNow, it just struck me. It was always U.S.A. growing up, never U.S. Now it's U.S. I wonder why/how that happened.

J.K., that's a great point. As a society, we always look for one cause we can cure with a magic pill, same with the modern medicine ideology. It just doesn't work that way.

spyscribbler 4/25/2008 12:55:00 AM  

Melanie, I love the market. We do have a Farmer's Market, but it is way EXPENSIVE! In the summer, a local town has a once a week thing that's cool.

J.L., I loved the points you brought up. Especially this one:

It isn’t in being a superpower that makes/made America great, but that it is the first country created out of an ideal as opposed to common ethnic background. If we could get back to striving for the ideal, we would be much better off and less hated.

Amen to that! Amen, amen, amen!

spyscribbler 4/25/2008 12:57:00 AM  

Aimless, so true! And I usually have a great deal of respect for The Economist. That statement did not jive with their normal content.

I agree with your remarks about prostitution, 100%.

Melanie Avila 4/25/2008 12:49:00 PM  

I'll throw in my amen, too. Good points.

I didn't mention prostitution before but I also agree that legalizing it would help the women in that profession and make it safer for everyone.