Category Archives: Travel

U.S. Healthscare

Put down your teeth whitening kits, California… this sh*t is real. Take a minute to study this healthcare ad above… It’s a real ad, from a real Los Angeles magazine, read by real people.

I’m still trying to figure out why I was so shocked by this. Perhaps the notion of selling a health service isn’t something we Brits are used to, but still – just look at it! It appears Best Price Evaluations Medical Services (catchy name, by the way) are offering an October Special, awesome. And what’s more, you’ll get seen by this super sexy doctor who definitely topped the charts at Harvard. She’s got ‘experienced and trustworthy’ smeared all over her, albeit with foundation and lip gloss. Non-prescript glasses are a nice touch though, if only my GP was cast in the role of a 1950’s secretary.

Sarcastic onslaught aside, what started as an entertaining discovery at a coffee house in Hermosa Beach, has since descended into a self-actualising critique of  US health history. Namely, the forced sterilisation program of the 20th Century.

Compulsory sterilisation was first proposed by Gordon Lincecum in 1849, a Texan biologist who believed that genes of the mentally disabled and undesirable sectors of society should be made impassable. In a movement that spanned dozens of countries, including Nazi Germany; the following 100+ years saw the mentally ill pooled with the black; the poor; the deaf; the blind; the physically deformed and even criminals. They all faced sterilisation at some point or another, many against their will, many without even knowing…

In 1968, Elaine Riddick was raped by a neighbour who threatened to kill her if she told what happened. She was 13, the daughter of violent and abusive parents in the desperately poor country town of Winfall, North Carolina. Whilst she was giving birth in hospital, a social worker deemed her “feeble-minded” and petitioned the state Eugenics Board to have her sterilised. Officials coerced her illiterate grandmother into signing an “x” on an authorisation form. After performing a Caesarean section, doctors sterilised her “just like cutting a hog”, she says.

In total, over 60,000 Americans were sterilised under eugenics laws; laws that were eventually abolished in 1981 – a mere 30 years ago. Suddenly, a tasteless magazine ad doesn’t seem quite so barbaric.

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Undress to Impress

Meet Mike (left) and Andy (right). Two beer-swelling inked-up cricket lovers from Wolverhampton, who I met at the SCG during England’s sumptuous Ashes victory this winter. We bonded over a shared love of Mitchell Johnson (see badge on Mike’s bandana); an Australian fast bowler who had such a shocker of a series that he might as well have been donning the 3 lions. England’s 12th man… love you Mitch. “He bowls to the left, he bowls to the right. That Mitchell Johnson, his bowling is sh— you get the picture. Who’d be a sportsman, eh?

So from what you know so far about Mike and Andy, what do you think these life-loving Wolves FC diehards do for a living? Well… Mike is a dentist who owns his own practice, and Andy has a PHD – but works in London as a banker. Surprised? I was. Which leads me to my point… first impressions.

‘Don’t judge a book by its’ cover.’ We’ve heard it all before. One of many moralistic bullshit sayings that get drilled into us as a child. The reality is, books do have covers. And if they didn’t, we’d only make our judgements based on the first page instead. People judge. It’s what we do, it’s what we’ll always do – and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.

Did I feel bad about my misjudgement? Not really. We judge quickly because we’re pre-occupied with other thoughts – more important thoughts:

“We could really do with getting Ponting out.”

“Whose round is it next?”

“I could do with a wee, but don’t want to miss anything.”

“Wow, she’s good looking.”

It’s this lack of importance we place on a first impression that means, if we are wrong, then f*ck it. We recognise we’re wrong and draw a line under it.

Mike and Andy weren’t bothered at my surprise, and why should they have been? I was just another face in the crowd. The fact is, we all loved Mitchell Johnson; and THAT’S the reason we got on so well…

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