Friday, May 22, 2009

Standing Stones

This BBC News opinion piece compares the American and British response to the current global economic troubles. Roughly it says that the US government seems to be moving in a more or less united fashion to get back on track, while the UK government is weak because it is divided by scandal. The scandal at hand is that members of Parliament have for years received government funds to cover personal living expenses. In some cases these expenses have gone to support a quite regal lifestyle. The allowance for horse manure seems to be the favorite to quote. The revelation of the expenses smacks of class warfare, pitting the government against the governed. As I understand it, there is not an accusation of fraud, simply the long deferred scrutiny of this system which allows the landed gentry to live high on the hog.

I hope the British will find common cause again soon. But I have to admit that mostly I’m giddy at the thought the US is seen to be cleaning up its act, appearing sober and full of positive potential. Can we be increasing our international standing already?

On the personal level, life makes more sense to me with the new administration in place. There is something approaching straight talk (thanks for the phrase Sen. McCain) from the White House. Given my I am inclined to be sympathetic. But even beyond my pleasure at regime change, I am reassured by the actions and words of my government. Well, not all the actions and words. But so much more than I expected to be. I love that President Obama* states ideals for himself, his staff and the country. There are a host of ugly problems that are being discussed and dealt with. The fact that this administration is taking on huge and difficult challenges seems to show an admirably adult sense of responsibility. I don’t see as much flash and charm as from Clinton. I see more work going on. Here’s hoping for good things for all Americans in the next four years. Oh and Brits too, here’s to having something positive to look towards in your leadership.

*That title and name still thrill me. It makes me think of my first time voting for a presidential candidate. In 1984 I remember saying that I wished there was a Rastafarian candidate to vote for since the available options both seemed so remote, blue suited and of the same white guy mold. Part of that was youthful generational grumbling. But I’ll take Obama as a really cool halfway point between Ronald Reagan and our first Rastafarian president.

Wait, I have something else for which to praise England: the wonderful cultural artefact, the stone. Because the English weight system isn’t complicated and lyrical enough with the 16 ounce pound, body weight is traditionally measured in stones. I just looked it up because when reading English novels I always guess (10 lbs? 12?): a stone equals 14 pounds. Today I read a blogger who lamented her winter weight gain of “nearly a stone” and I thought now that’s a humane unit of measurement. No obsessing on meaningless one or two pound variation here. If your weight hasn’t gone up or down by at least 14 pounds, you haven’t changed a whit! I do not diet but I am trying to walk away from butter, my dear companion this past winter. And to make regular exercise something I can have at least a little of every week. To all of us who are hoping to tone things up in the next few months, let us embrace the stone. And remember that the feel and function of our bodies bring health and contentment, rather than a weight number. Or something high-minded like that.


Bee said...

I hate to tell you, but you don't get to round up (or down) to the closest stone! No, dear one; it is more like this: 10 stone 7. (Also expressed as 10 1/2 stone.)

10 stone is 140 -- so I always have to convert up and down from that, as I never learned my 14 times table.

The MP expenses scandal is horrible, by the way. Not only are some of the disclosures vile, but it is really detracting from the sense that anything is getting done. You are right; while the U.S. seems to be in an ascendancy, the UK is stuck in the muck.

Nimble said...

oh damn! Well, so much for my rosy picture of British self acceptance.

Speaking of the Angles I made my first creme anglaise last night. I was craving custard but didn't want to turn on the oven. It was lovely. I ate a it over prunes simmered with lemon juice. The children were lucky to get the leftovers today.