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November 14, 2004

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Anyone who claims to want to leave the country to emigrate to Canada needs to learn more about Canada. Try listening to _As it Happens_ on KALW 91.7 FM at 5 PM weekdays (if you are in the Bay Area) or listen to CBC's stream from http://www.cbc.ca/aih/ Listening to _AIH_ over the years, I've learned that Canada is more racially divided than the US and has culture wars as serious as ours. Furthermore, the much-ballyhooed Canadian healthcare system is underfunded by provincial governments. There is much to admire about Canada, but we might as well make our stand right where we are now.

All right, I'll answer your query about "My America." I had to think about it for a while, but even so answering about the whole U.S. of A. all at once seems too hard. So I'll start small in the spirit of the Morrisons' _Orders of Magnitude_:

1. I like the fact that my neighborhood is diverse -- in fact it's majority Asian. Because I live in a good school district, I'm surrounded by people who care about education, which is wondeful.

2. I like my town because we have beautiful open spaces that the previous residents had the wisdom to preserve for me.

3. I like the Bay Area because I feel free to be a big honking nerd here. More than other places in America, people are judged by their intelligence and their achievements, not by their clothes or possessions.

4. I like California because, despite some setbacks, the state still has progressives who have novel and creative ideas. While some of these ideas (e.g. "Three Strikes," property tax revolt) are not without their problems, I'm impressed to see how intellectually daring Californians are. Another favorite example is the Marin Agricultural Trust, an organization that allowed farmers and environmentalists to stop suing each other and work together.

5. I like the West because despite all the mining and grazing, there are still so many unspoiled wide open spaces. Now that I've seen beaches with sea stacks and cliffs, the white sand and warm water of the East Coast no longer moves me.

6. I like the United States because children still grow up believing that they can go anywhere, be anyone, accomplish anything. Few in the US are forced to go into the family business or live in the parental home, and I think this is far less true in other countries. The belief of every small child that he or she can grow up to be president is a wondeful thing. If we ever lose our fundamental American optimism, we will be done for.

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