Wednesday, May 03, 2006


I'd like to say I have a love/hate relationship with the dental profession, but there's not a lot of love there. Let me tell you what I mean.

Perhaps the best -- or least annoying -- dentist I ever had was back when I was a kid. This dentist was a lone duck, didn't have a team of dental hygienists or even a receptionist. If the phone rang, he had to stop the tooth cleaning to answer it. Unfortunately, over time this guy's practice became a tad antiquated. Started to remind me of Sir Laurence Olivier in Marathon Man. ("Is it safe?") I needed a slightly more modern approach, so I moved on.

After several years of not denting (or is it dentoring?), I got a new dentist nearer my home. This guy was very aggressive; after decades of never having a cavity, this guy discovered something that needed fixing on every visit. And he wanted me to visit every three months, more often than my doctor wanted to see me. To top it off, he had the most annoying dental hygienist imaginable, overly perky and always talking about some damned thing that I just couldn't care less about. I gave this guy the heave-ho after a couple of years.

My latest dentist isn't drill happy, and only wants to see me once a year. So good so far. The problem is, he's forgotten who the customer is. I made an appointment a year ago for a cleaning today, and when I showed up ten minutes late, he wouldn't take me. Wanted me to reschedule. After 12 months, ten minutes isn't that big a deal. And, besides, it's his job to serve me and my schedule, not the other way around. Frankly, I view visiting the dentist as a minor annoyance at best, and you have to work harder than that to keep me as a customer. I told the receptionist thanks but no thanks, and now I'm looking for a new dental practitioner.

Bottom line, I hate dentists -- even when they're not poking their fingers in my mouth.

But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Star-spangled hypocrisy

Yesterday, in response to the artificial controversy surrounding a Spanish-language version of "The Star-Spangled Banner," President Bush said the following:

"I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English, and I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English."

Okay. Then explain this:

When visiting cities like Chicago, Milwaukee, or Philadelphia, in pivotal states, [Bush] would drop in at Hispanic festivals and parties, sometimes joining in singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" in Spanish, sometimes partying with a "Viva Bush" mariachi band flown in from Texas.
(Thanks to ThinkProgress, as first reported by Kevin Phillips in his book, American Dynasty.)

Or the fact that the U.S. State Department lists four different Spanish-language versions of "The Star-Spangled Banner" on their website.

Or the fact that all the way back in 1919, the United States officially commissioned a Spanish-language version of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

I find the entire uproar over this issue quite embarrassing -- especially the fact that two-thirds of Americans apparently agree with the President's latest statement. I simply don't see what the fuss is about; I'd rather have Hispanic-Americans singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" in Spanish than singing the Mexican national anthem in any language.

And the President's stance? Call it flip-flopping, call it hypocrisy, call it what you like, but it remains that he said one thing when he was running for election and is saying another thing now. He either lied to Hispanics then or is lying to rabid white males now. You can't have it both ways, Mr. Bush -- you're either with us or against us, you can't be both.

But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.