Nicely done, Darren.
CULTURAL AFTERTHOUGHT: It's interesting to see those down-home country folk like Kate McMillan get their thongs all bunched up over what they interpret as a nasty bit of anti-rural discrimination since, truth be told, those same folks are just as capable of some amusing bigotry going the other way.
American economist Paul Krugman put it best here:
I've been a stern critic of the Bush administration, but this is one case where Democrats in the Senate were the lead villains. To its credit, the administration initially opposed an increase in farm subsidies, though as in the case of steel protection, it didn't take long before political calculation trumped the administration's alleged principles. But politics aside, maybe the farm bill debacle will help us, finally, to free ourselves from a damaging national myth: that the "heartland," consisting of the central, relatively rural states, is morally superior to the rest of the country.
You've heard the story many times: the denizens of the heartland, we're told, are rugged, self-reliant, committed to family; the inhabitants of the coast are whining yuppies. Indeed, George W. Bush has declared that he visits his stage set — er, ranch — in Crawford to "stay in touch with real Americans." (And what are those of us who live in New Jersey — chopped liver?)
And isn't that fascinating? It's outrageous to suggest that Western Canadians might be a bunch of straw-chewing, Hee Haw-watching, Scripture-spouting, knuckle-dragging rubes. On the other hand, those same yokels never seem to have a problem thinking of the rest of us as a pack of whiny, latte-sipping, Seinfeld-watching pansies.
It's funny how that works, isn't it?