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[P]
Why I like Americans

By dash2 in Op-Ed
Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 01:51:53 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

Anti-Americanism, and accusations of the same, are a regular Kuro5hin theme. Just to reduce some of the intercontinental friction, I thought you might like to hear an alternative point of view.


Full disclosure: I am a Brit. My two brothers both live in LA. My oldest friend is another Brit who lived in New York for several years.

The UK, and Europe in general, has plenty of anti-Americanism. People who would never say something like "black people are stupid", will happily call Americans dumb. This is an attempt to set the record straight.

Americans are smart

Of course this is just as big a generalisation as "Americans are stupid". Let's say, well-educated. American public schools may not be much good, but more Americans go into tertiary education than most other nations. If you check the quality of public debate, the American version is far superior to the English one. Going deeper into academia, American philosophers - Rawls, Dworkin, Rorty - have shaped the thought of the past fifty years. If you see a scientist on telly, it's usually an American, because all the best science is being done in the US now.

So maybe the best way to put it is: America is smart. Like every Top Nation before it, the US has translated economic dominance into cultural influence.

American culture is better

We hate Hollywood, don't we? All those brash, soulless, special-effects based flicks. We'd much rather go and see the latest arthouse production from the Continent! Oh, come off it. Everyone knows that the French haven't produced a decent film for years (try to see L'Humanite and not die laughing); and the latest saviours of intellectual cinema, the Iranians, aren't up to much if wildly-praised The Apple is anything to go by (imagine a public information film made on camcorder by your Mum).

Meanwhile, America continues to turn out, among the inevitable dross, excellent films. Love or hate Tarantino, he took high-class, character-driven dialogue, and complex, morally ambiguous plots, and made them popular; and these virtues have been combined with Hollywood's traditional understanding that a film is a story, not a picture. The Coen brothers make intelligent, thoughtful cinema that is at the same time eminently watchable - and all over the world, punters come in droves. Stick that up your Battleship Potemkin.

Turning to the other great popular art: we Brits have contributed our bit, but pop music continues to be shaped by America. As for the rest of Europe... I'll pass over David Hasselhof and Die Toten Hosen in silence. If only they had done the same.

Americans are polite

You wouldn't think it from seeing American Pie II or whatever, but America is a fantastically polite place. The notorious "Have a nice day" you get when you leave a shop is an example (I don't see why people have a problem with this friendly remark). Americans are polite because they consider others as equals. My class-ridden country has become famously rude. Visiting America, I was astounded when my brother warned me against saying "fuck" in public.

They care about freedom

Well, of course they do! They love to shoot their guns, don't they?

Yes, and like most people outside the US, I think the Second Amendment is mad. (Note to contributors: please, please, no gun control debates.) But there's so much more to it than that. For Americans, freedom really is like a religion. You may disagree with their particular choice of church, but you have to admire the underlying faith. This is the country where citizens can hold binding referendums in many states; where you can expose the multifarious crimes of your government with the aid of the world's most powerful Freedom of Information laws; where free speech really means free speech - not "free till we don't like what you say".

They're funny (not just unintentionally)

It's another hideous stereotype that Americans have no sense of irony. There is a grain of truth in this. I've often seen some dry comment on a bulletin board, followed by a desperately earnest reply with the addendum "I hope you're being ironic". But this is really a reflection of British culture, where our sense of irony is on a hair-trigger. Anyone who thinks Americans really don't get irony should look at The Onion. It's funny as hell - funnier than Viz - entirely irony-based, and it's not even from New York.

They have a good word for bum

Last but not least, all Anglophones owe America a heartfelt thank you for coming up with the only erotically acceptable word for bottom. Where "bum" is too parental, "bottom" is too formal and "buttocks" are too reductive, "ass" trips lightly off the tongue. Like what it refers to, it has a smooth, velvety sheen. (In Britain, we have "arse" - an inferior substitute, which doesn't sound nice at all.)

Americans, then: they're clever, funny, polite and culturally gifted, and snobbish Europeans had better get used to it. We can dislike American foreign policy - and I do - but we shouldn't confuse that with disliking the American people. Have a nice day.

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Display: Sort:
Why I like Americans | 172 comments (171 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
Hooray for the USA! (1.88 / 17) (#1)
by delmoi on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 09:35:14 AM EST

um... yeh...
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
Well... (3.44 / 9) (#2)
by wiredog on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 09:42:47 AM EST

The Onion does have a New York office. And, as Bill Maher and Ann Coulter have recently discovered, freedom of the press belongs to those who own one.

The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.
Phage

Amazing (3.80 / 5) (#6)
by finkployd on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 10:12:32 AM EST

It is truly amazing that someone would have to discover something so blindingly obvious.

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
What can I say? (3.50 / 2) (#24)
by wiredog on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 12:06:18 PM EST

I'm a master of obviousness discovery. And the single entendre.

The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.
Phage
[ Parent ]

Maher and Coulter (4.00 / 1) (#77)
by sonovel on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 06:15:50 PM EST

Maher and Coulter were never more popular than now.


[consider the irony of that, and how it applies to the reality of their being censored]


[ Parent ]
As it should be (4.25 / 4) (#98)
by rgrow on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 10:57:34 PM EST

Speech is free, but you have to bring your own bullhorn. To be able to demand the right to use someone else's bigger bullhorn without their agreement is a violation of their right to control their own property, the bullhorn.

[ Parent ]
Up to a point (none / 0) (#150)
by pavlos on Sun Oct 07, 2001 at 10:57:56 PM EST

On the one hand, it's reasonable for media organizations to put forward the views of their owners. On the other, this means that only the views of the owners of media organizations would ever be aired.

That would be very bad for free speech, so I think the government should either ensure healthy competition (and hence diversity) by curbing media monopolies, or it should establish some not-for-profit and impartial channels so that minority views from poor people can be heard.

Pavlos

[ Parent ]

As an American (3.93 / 16) (#3)
by Skippy on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 10:00:31 AM EST

this makes me feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside. On the other hand I can't help but feel like I'm supposed to. And I can't get out of my mind that Americans are also isolationist, generally ignorant (this is different than smart) especially of things outside our borders, imperialistic, and boorish if we actually manage to leave our borders. None of this means we aren't good people, just that we have room for improvement.

I think that's really what sets America apart. There are prevailing attitudes of "nothing's sacred" and "everything has room for improvement" and we apply these to ourselves as a society. This results in us (VERY slowly) improving both our society and the people who make it up. Maybe one day we'll be as good as we think we are :-) I hope so.
# I am now finished talking out my ass about things that I am not qualified to discuss. #

Heh (4.14 / 7) (#39)
by rusty on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 01:36:11 PM EST

And a great principle of debating Americans is born!

"Tell them what's bad, and they'll focus on what's good. Tell them what's good, and they'll pick out what's bad."

All this time, you anti-american Euros should have been kissing our arses, and we'd have done all the criticizing for you. ;-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Eh... (4.83 / 6) (#49)
by NovaHeat on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 03:06:18 PM EST

I'd have to disagree with the "generally ignorant" comment, because that puts you in the position of saying that you're somehow better than everyone else, and as part of that 'everyone else', I resent that.

I think the average American is about like the average citizen of any other country (honestly, something tells me the 'average' Czech doesn't really grasp the deep sociopolitical problems facing post-colonial African nations, and probably doesn't care much...). That said, there certainly are ridiculously ignorant people in the U.S., but i wouldn't lump them in with 'average' Americans. To the contrary, I think they tend to stand out. Folks like Jerry Falwell, David Duke, the ELF, 'neo-Nazis', etc.

Everyone likes to point out that "POLLS SAY 31% OF AMERICANS SAY WE SHOULD LOCK MUSLIMS IN CAMPS!!" as proof of the "ignorance" of the "masses" in the U.S., but these are the same people who when faced with a poll that says "70% of Amercians think Bush is doing a good job right now" claim "Polls can't be trusted!" which is true. We all know polls can be made to say anything, and personally, I don't know of ANYONE who thinks followers of Islam ought to be locked up.

I would also dispute the claims that Americans are "imperialistic". I think that American corporations can be "imperialistic" but they're really no different than Japanese corporations or European corporations in that respect. The average American, as you say, tends to be a bit isolationist (which puts into dispute your later claim that we're imperialist...), and that's just one of those historical traits that's been passed down since the founding of the nation.

As for boorish... well I'd have to probably go with that one... seeing how the idiots on these "reality shows" go galavanting around the globe embarasses me.

-----

Rose clouds of flies.
[ Parent ]

Culture (none / 0) (#119)
by svampa on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 01:09:46 PM EST

I think the average American is about like the average citizen of any other country

What's culture? someone said culture is any knowledge you don't directly need for your life, for your carrer, and perhaps far from your interest

You mustn't think about the average American or the average Czech, You must compare 1000 American workers with 1000 Czech workers, or 1000 middle school teachers, or 1000 mathematic university teachers, or 1000 literature university teachers, or 1000 first year university students of computers etc..

In the university where I studied the was a project of excange with foreign students, USA students were more ignorants than us, they used to focus some matters, but didn't know anything else and had no interest in lerning other things. In the other edge, Japan students where incredible, they had knowledges about averything, even about my country history (better than me).

I think that USA students could well had become successfull guys with their deep but thin knowledges. Successfull guys but ignorants.

I do think this a good sample of "average american" culture. That's just a matter of how USA education is focused, it is quite practical. And in Europe we are going to that model, unfortunatly from my point of view.

Culture is not imprescidible for success, it's the gospel truth. But perhaps helps to get the whole picture when you are out of your rutine life and your career matter.

I would also dispute the claims that Americans are "imperialistic". I think that American corporations can be "imperialistic" but they're really no different than Japanese corporations or European corporations in that respect

a) I'm afraid that American corp. has more influece in USA government than EU corp. in their own governments

b)I do think that USA is imperialistic, there are a lot of examples. CIA acts are a good source of them.

I don't like USA government. But I don't dislike Americans, there are stupid ones and nice ones, like people of every country. The ones I know are nice people.



[ Parent ]
Not really (none / 0) (#121)
by Skippy on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 01:40:36 PM EST

I'd have to disagree with the "generally ignorant" comment, because that puts you in the position of saying that you're somehow better than everyone else, and as part of that 'everyone else', I resent that.
Where did I say that? Oh, I didn't, so fuck off! My knowledge of what goes on outside the borders of the U.S. is woefully inadequate. I am an average American. Sorry you have an inferiority complex and took my statement wrong.
# I am now finished talking out my ass about things that I am not qualified to discuss. #
[ Parent ]
Have a nice day.. (3.70 / 10) (#5)
by ignatiusst on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 10:12:20 AM EST

The notorious "Have a nice day" you get when you leave a shop is an example (I don't see why people have a problem with this friendly remark).

People have a problem with "Have a nice day"? Are you kidding? Why would anyone have a problem with this?

As to our (American) humor, let's not forget South Park and the Simpsons. I don't know if South Park has reached Europe yet, but the last I heard, The Simpsons were hot in England.

As for irony.. well, have a nice day.

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift

Typical reaction is.... (4.83 / 6) (#37)
by Elkor on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 01:26:01 PM EST

A typical reaction of those that don't like "have a nice day" is as follows:

Person: "Have a nice day!"

Person A: "What? How dare you try to tell me what to do. What if I want to have a miserable day?"

Person B: "Only a nice day? I'm not good enough to have a good week? Or month? I only get to have one good day and that's it?"

Person C: "I don't need you to tell me how to live my life. I'll have a good day or not as I see fit.

People seem to have forgotten that the phrase is a shortening of the well wish of "I hope you have a nice day!" Never said it made sense.
Personally, I have adopted the phrase "Have a good one." When asked "good one of what?" I answer "whatever you want."

Regards,
Elkor


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
[ Parent ]
Another one (2.00 / 5) (#41)
by wiredog on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 01:40:00 PM EST

Q. What's up? A.
Hard dicks and airplanes.

The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.
Phage
[ Parent ]

"Have a Nice Day" (4.33 / 3) (#43)
by Karmakaze on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 02:31:16 PM EST

I've run into the same sort of responses to "Good Morning", as well. (You know, someone mutters "What's so good about it..." etc.)

I've taken to telling people who gripe, "It's not a description, it's an expression of intent."


--
Karmakaze
[ Parent ]

South Park has hit Europe (3.00 / 3) (#80)
by theantix on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 06:41:29 PM EST

As to our (American) humor, let's not forget South Park and the Simpsons. I don't know if South Park has reached Europe yet, but the last I heard, The Simpsons were hot in England.
Just so you know, I was just in France a few weeks ago, and when visiting a friend I noticed that one of their room-mates had a giant South Park poster on the wall. So it might be rare, but it certainly has arrived in europe. And most of the French people that I talked to that could speak English and were in the 20-30 year range were fans of the Simpsons.

--
You sir, are worse than Hitler!
[ Parent ]
Good word my arse (4.00 / 10) (#7)
by Scrymarch on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 10:14:00 AM EST

Via my native accent I am quite incapable of saying "ass" and so must protest.

And the first time I heard "fanny" being used in family television I nearly choked. I am used to it referring to another, specifically female, part of the anatomy, that doesn't belong in the jingle for "The Nanny" <shudder>.

Ass? (4.00 / 11) (#8)
by priestess on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 10:16:51 AM EST

Huh? Well I'll have to disagree with your conclusion that "Ass" is any better than "Arse" for a start. Simply not true. Saying Ass is too quick, you can't extend the word to fill a longer gap at all, you can't roll the R that's been so lovingly placed in the word Arse for very good reason. Even most American's I know seem to agree with me on this usually.

Think about when you're feeling demotivated, lazy and apathetic. Do you tell your friends that you don't wanna go down the pub because you can't be "assed?" surely not everybody knows that what you actually can't be is Arsed.

And 'ass' still isn't even a word for the butt in my book anyway, it's a word for Donkey not Rump. Maybe a donkey's rump, if you're getting specifc. A Dumbass is someone who's as stupid as a donkey. What's so stupid about a tush exactly?

And an Arse is never, that's never ever to be falled a fanny. Really, it's so not right you won't believe it. Even 'ass' is better than that.

All these words as better than 'ass', if you have some problem pronoucning your R's:
  • backside
  • behind
  • bottom
  • buttocks
  • bum
  • buns
  • butt
  • derriere
  • end
  • fundament
  • hind
  • hindquarters
  • keister
  • posterior
  • rear
  • rear end
  • rump
  • (Howard) stern
  • tooshie
  • tush
Some of these words are also primarily American, but Ass is just so wrong, such a short word for such a big (in americans anyway, heh) thing.
Pre..........

----
My Mobile Phone Comic-books business
Robots!
But what about... (4.00 / 3) (#9)
by DesiredUsername on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 10:27:14 AM EST

...erotic uses. You've got a great arse? Hey, nice arse? Her arse looks good in tight pants? Get real.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
Sounds fine to me (4.33 / 3) (#13)
by priestess on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 10:41:37 AM EST

All those useages sound perfectly acceptable and normal to me. Maybe I've spent too long hanging around with people from Somerset, they stick R's in almost any word you care to mention.

I want someone in the new Star-Trek to have a massive Somerset accent ready for when the Enterprise gets stuck in a Traaaaactor Beam. Heh.

Like I said, whenever anyone says 'ass' in anything other than an American accent I think of a donkey anyway. She's got a great donkey! Look at the nice donkey on that!

And whenever I mention R's I think "Arse" too, so that proves everything.

Pre.........

----
My Mobile Phone Comic-books business
Robots!
[ Parent ]
"arse" (4.25 / 4) (#15)
by DesiredUsername on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 10:55:25 AM EST

To me the word sounds like the Salty Sea Captain from the Simpsons. "Land ho, arrrrse" "Shiver me timbers, arrrrse" "Yo ho ho and a dead man's chest, arrrse". Not the kind of image I'd want to project in an intimate moment.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
Unattributed (5.00 / 1) (#128)
by M0dUluS on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 04:27:24 PM EST

There once was a girl from Madras,
Who had the most beautiful ass,
Not as you'd think,
Firm, round and pink,
But grey, with long ears and eats grass.


"[...]no American spin is involved at all. Is that such a stretch?" -On Lawn
[ Parent ]
You forgot... (3.00 / 2) (#20)
by catseye on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 11:14:28 AM EST

Don't forget about:
      hiney
      bootie
      back
      seat


[ Parent ]
donkeys (3.50 / 2) (#23)
by Kellnerin on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 11:30:25 AM EST

An English prof I once had in college was a Spenser scholar, and in fact edited a journal devoted to Edmund Spenser and his magnum opus, The Fairie Queene. He used to tell the story of how an excellent article was once submitted to him, entitled "Another look at Una's asse", which explored the symbolic significance of the four-legged animal she rides on. My prof would have published it on the spot, except for the, er, controversial title. He wrote back to the author saying that he'd be happy to print the article if only he could change the title. The author came back with "Una's asse again" which still didn't seem quite right for publication. The piece was never published -- or so the story goes.

--
it's under my skin but out of my hands
I tear it apart but I won't understand
I will not accept the greatness of Man
--tears for fears

[ Parent ]
Hear, hear. (3.18 / 11) (#10)
by quartz on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 10:36:10 AM EST

*raises hand* Me too!

You're right, Europe has a lot of anti-Americanism going on, and as an European I resent that. Hatred is bad, mkay? I think most of them are just jealous to see America thriving, both economically and culturally, while their EU project is dragging because of infighting and petty nationalist squabbles. The fact that most of their own citizens prefer American pop culture shit to the locally-produced pop culture shit isn't helping either. But hey, I see a lot of Europeans coming to the US for their graduate studies, so at least some of the *smart* ones seem to like America.

That said, I'd give a Tarantino for an Almodovar anytime. :-P



--
Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, and fuck 'em even if they can.
Yeah... (4.00 / 3) (#46)
by NovaHeat on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 02:52:37 PM EST

As an American looking at Europeans, I see alot of jealousy and cloud-headed idealising. My ex-girlfriend is German, and all I ever heard from her was just how crappy America is (even though it's apparently good enough for her to come here and study...) and just how wonderful the free paradise of Germany is. Certainly, European nations have alot of things over the U.S. (such as vastly lower crime rates, for one), but the U.S. certainly has alot over Europe (such as a much better economy).

I'm just getting quite tired all the world whining about how bad America is, because the rest of the world is just as bad in one way or another.

-----

Rose clouds of flies.
[ Parent ]

Vastly lower crime rates? (4.75 / 4) (#79)
by phatboy on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 06:25:54 PM EST

International crime report. For overall victimization (page 16), the ranking is: Australia England/Wales Netherlands Sweden Canada Scotland Denmark Poland Belgium France USA Finland Spain Switzerland Portugal Japan Northern Ireland (WTF??) The US is exactly the western average.

[ Parent ]
Staying sane (3.50 / 8) (#11)
by slaytanic killer on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 10:36:13 AM EST

One good thing (for an American) to keep her self-respect in other cultures is to download good TV shows and comedy skits. The US likes to export the worst, most inoffensive stuff. And while dubbing can occasionally add a new dimension, usually it just removes subtleties. People like to find that the US is home to some very cutting-edge, world-weary humor. And it's good to bring some of your culture with you, no matter where you're from. Some people are very interested.

Plus, I'd have to wait a year to watch Buffy: tVS otherwise, with all the accents and weird intonations intact. Enjoying that show is one of my better flaws.

As many cultures know, the stuff we eat at home is better than the stuff we ship abroad. ;)

Aww yeah... (none / 0) (#44)
by NovaHeat on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 02:46:27 PM EST

Amen to Buffy, dude. For all America's problems, at least we've got Buffy.

-----

Rose clouds of flies.
[ Parent ]

Can I get an Amen! (none / 0) (#54)
by bADlOGIN on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 03:38:53 PM EST

Buffy rocks:) I went out and blew $300USD on a TiVo so that I don't miss either the re-runs on FX or the new season on UPN. Joss is still doing an outstanding job after 100 episodes.
---
Sigs are stupid and waste bandwidth.
[ Parent ]
Very subtle! (2.57 / 7) (#12)
by pallex on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 10:40:56 AM EST

Excellent stuff... (perhaps a little too subtle though).

Uh-oh (4.00 / 4) (#14)
by slaytanic killer on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 10:49:30 AM EST

I looked at his earlier posts and noticed he wrote a very even-handed article about the US. If he is being sarcastic now, then it certainly flew over this American's empty head.

A wise man once wrote that you should never trust a UKian. Unfortunately he can no longer be with us, perhaps because he made that final mistake.

[ Parent ]
Hehehe! (3.33 / 3) (#18)
by pallex on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 11:12:10 AM EST

Subtle...sarcastic...whatever. It made me laugh.

At the end of the day, thats all that matters to me!

:)

[ Parent ]
Well fortunately... (3.50 / 4) (#22)
by slaytanic killer on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 11:26:17 AM EST

I didn't get all mushy about the US in my earlier comment, so I guess I escaped a trolling. Good thing I rarely read articles carefully, and just post whatever random garbage comes to mind...

[ Parent ]
My goodness (4.10 / 10) (#16)
by jabber on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 10:57:12 AM EST

I don't know what to say.. Other than, I hope you're being ironic.. Teehee.

You make some relatively good points, and they are as delicate and convoluted as those in a British crossword puzzle.

ASSuming sincerity for the moment, people all over the world tend to predominantly talk only about the things they do not like. That which is good is par, and rarely mentioned. There's plenty of good things about the US, much of it doesn't even come at the cost of something negative... Like cheap petrol, 500 channels of television and abundant food.. What's wrong with that??

For the most part, I like Americans. They're a trusting, sincere and openminded people who tend to disregard sarcasm and prefer to take things at face value, rather than pick them apart ad nauseum via wonks and talking heads..

A nice article, sure to promote healthy discussion. +1FP!

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

Re: Whats wrong with that (3.30 / 10) (#17)
by Best Ace on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 11:05:20 AM EST

Like cheap petrol, 500 channels of television and abundant food.. What's wrong with that??

Well how about depletion of oil resources, global warming, commercials every 5 minutes, and what good is abundant food when most of it is hamburgers and steaks? :)

[ Parent ]

Hamburgers and steaks (4.33 / 9) (#21)
by jabber on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 11:22:51 AM EST

That's exactly my point.. There's nothing wrong with hamburgers and steaks.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Hamburgers and Steaks? (4.42 / 7) (#26)
by Lizard on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 12:24:37 PM EST

"what good is abundant food when most of it is hamburgers and steaks?"

??? You say that like there's a different kind of food. I'm puzzled...
________________________
Just Because I Can!
[ Parent ]

Some points you missed (3.42 / 14) (#19)
by iwnbap on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 11:13:17 AM EST

  • They're patriotic. They love America. They _love_ it. They might bitch and whine about the gov'ment, and know that some 3 letter agency spook is currently got a camera on them in the toilet cubicle, but still they love it. They might think their president is a moron, but they still love him. I'm enthralled by this absolute patriotism.
  • Beautiful women. (I generalize somewhat, but not excessively)
  • Those nifty toilets. I can't get enough of those toilets which are 90% full of water. The first time I sat on one I thought I was going to drown, but no - it all works.


Those toilets are super-nifty (2.60 / 5) (#30)
by miller on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 12:56:08 PM EST

But I don't trust anyone who's that patriotic. That's the only thing I tend to find I dislike about actual individual USians. Patriotism in the UK is usually a nasty unthinking thing. Besides, if it's all just a big love-in, how's democracy meant to work? Come to think of it...

--
It's too bad I don't take drugs, I think it would be even better. -- Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]
Patriotism (4.83 / 6) (#33)
by elefantstn on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 01:17:55 PM EST

I think what the misunderstanding is here is that there is a difference between love and agreement. While most Americans intensely love their country, that doesn't mean that they always agree with it. You can think George Bush has never done a single thing right in his life but still be absolutely patriotic. In fact, one of the main reasons Americans do love their country is their ability to disagree with it whenever they want to.

It's like your parents. The fact they were sometimes unreasonable and did stupid things doesn't mean you don't love them and wish you could trade them in for different ones. Same basic idea.



[ Parent ]
I love my parents (4.50 / 2) (#45)
by miller on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 02:51:20 PM EST

But I don't go around telling everyone how great they are, if you follow my analogy. Granted, that's a gross generalisation, just as I suppose it was a generalisation for me to have said that I find most Americans overly patriotic.

I'm proud to be British, I just don't tend to tell anyone about it because frankly the country as a whole is rather embarassing. I suppose therefore I am patriotic - that's a good point you made.

--
It's too bad I don't take drugs, I think it would be even better. -- Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]

Yup... (5.00 / 2) (#47)
by elefantstn on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 02:58:08 PM EST

I'm proud to be British, I just don't tend to tell anyone about it because frankly the country as a whole is rather embarassing.

Frankly, the world as a whole is rather embarassing. So is every country in it. There's no point in being ashamed of the one you happen to call home.



[ Parent ]
Of course you don't (5.00 / 2) (#140)
by suick on Sun Oct 07, 2001 at 04:58:44 AM EST

But I don't go around telling everyone how great they are, if you follow my analogy.

But then, how often do you find yourself having to defend your parents' reputation?

order in to with the will I around my effort sentences an i of more be fuck annoying.
[ Parent ]
Pariotism (5.00 / 6) (#38)
by rusty on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 01:30:10 PM EST

The thing that Americans are patriotic about isn't anything you can point at. It's not the government (i.e. the current administration) which is usually hated by almost everyone. It's not the land itself, because most of us haven't seen even 1/100th of the US (though if you have, you probably feel some pride about it, unless you've been to Gary, Indiana). The thing Americans are patriotic about is an ideal-- "America." It's a bunch of ideals, principles, and rights best described in the constitution. It's not the constitution itself we're patriotic about, either, mind you, but what it's describing. That's what we want the country to be, and we all know that we fall short all the time. But it's something to shoot for.

And before I start sounding too purple, I think Americans are also rather attached to their comfort, education, and luxury. We'd probably fight just as hard to protect "The Daily Show" as we would for freedom of speech. Good thing? Bad thing? I don't know.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Hey! (none / 0) (#62)
by garlic on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 04:25:06 PM EST

What's wrong with Gary?

HUSI challenge: post 4 troll diaries on husi without being outed as a Kuron, or having the diaries deleted or moved by admins.
[ Parent ]

Gary smells like crap, that's why (4.00 / 1) (#90)
by thenick on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 08:58:02 PM EST

I've been through Gary many times, and I have never gotten through there without a nasty smell sneaking into my car. Gary is the only town that you can smell before you see. I'd love to know what makes that town stink and why something hasn't been done.


"Doing stuff is overrated. Like Hitler, he did a lot, but don't we all wish he would have stayed home and gotten stoned?" -Dex
[ Parent ]
It's the steel mills, man. (4.00 / 1) (#95)
by Mr. Piccolo on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 10:35:26 PM EST

I'm from around there (not Gary, but Hammond), so I know why the area "stinks".

It's Inland and LTV Steel. And if it's not that, its the Amaizo plant (or whoever owns it now).

You would probably prefer downtown Milwaukee, which smells like the Miller Brewery half the time, that is yeast fermenting. Not my favorite smell.

And in Champaign, you can smell the South Farms once in a while. At least that's natural...


The BBC would like to apologise for the following comment.


[ Parent ]
milwaukee (4.00 / 1) (#106)
by emmons on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 01:24:18 AM EST

First of all, you spelled Milwaukee correctly. Bravo!

You would probably prefer downtown Milwaukee, which smells like the Miller Brewery half the time, that is yeast fermenting. Not my favorite smell.

That may be true, but remember that by ancestry Milwaukee is a very German city . They love the smell of beer. :)

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]
whiting, east chicago (none / 0) (#146)
by garlic on Sun Oct 07, 2001 at 01:31:38 PM EST

I thought it was whiting (IN) with the Amoco refinery that smelled bad.

HUSI challenge: post 4 troll diaries on husi without being outed as a Kuron, or having the diaries deleted or moved by admins.
[ Parent ]

Not true. (4.00 / 1) (#122)
by physicsgod on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 02:53:10 PM EST

When the wind it right (i.e. not blowing towards the town) you can smell Greeley, CO from 30+ miles away. It got so bad the people of Ft. Collins were considering installing giant fans to keep the wind going the "right" way.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Patriotism ... hmm (5.00 / 2) (#83)
by mami on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 07:31:54 PM EST

I think what you might be really patriotic about is that you or your ancestors all "made it" after having immigrated here.

I think it takes a lifetime to become an American, if you arrive here as an adult. You loose a cultural identity (painfully) and regain a new one. That's traumatic. And then you do not want to think about it anymore and forget it. The American dream is invented to let you forget how hard life is and how little it really was "a piece of cake". Nothing worse than to be a whiner, nothing more deadly than to "loose hope", so "smile, fight and be brave" no matter what. That's to me American.

After you have gone through this immigrational process, you are an American and you will defend it patriotically, because there is nothing else you can do anyway. And hell no, you won't give those ignorant European whiners a reason to believe that the American dream was a bit of a nightmare first. None of their business, right, and heck, in the end "you made it to be the greatest dream ever".

I don't even think that this is a conscious thingy for most second generation Americans. All they got from their parents are memories of tough times and lives and stories about what your parents worked for. So, even if the hardship has not been experienced by the second generation, the mechanism and rhetoric, which helps you to get through tough times, is still handed down and inherited as an idea.

I think the reactions now after the attack have shown how deeply this experience of "loosing everything, building something out of nothing, defending your land etc" is in fact something still very close to every American. The struggle for survival and to make it in this country as a new immigrant or the memories handed down from your ancestors to you, is something European visitors will never really understand, it's completely foreign to them. One has to go through the experience of immigration and loosing its roots to understand what makes one to become a very "patriotic" believer into the "idea" of being an "American".



[ Parent ]
Very true (none / 0) (#148)
by rusty on Sun Oct 07, 2001 at 09:54:55 PM EST

Yes, I think you're completely right. My wife's second-generation American, and talking to her parents, I very much see what you describe. And by comparison to many immigrants, they had it pretty easy.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
I was also thinking (4.00 / 1) (#149)
by mami on Sun Oct 07, 2001 at 10:55:29 PM EST

a bit about the whole issue of Americans being polite. I just don't feel like commenting right now, but it would be really more insightful to think about *why* Americans are polite (in a different way than most Europeans, not that we don't have also a polite side at times, just somewhat different), not if or if not.

May be next time.

[ Parent ]
these toilets are unusual? (4.75 / 4) (#56)
by rebelcool on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 03:57:44 PM EST

Wow.

Someone really knowledgeable about toilets across the world should do a writeup about it. As for trivial facts *I* know, is that german toilets often have the 'Sheisseplatz' in them (where you can inspect your feces for signs of illness) and any toilet south of the equator flushes in a different spiraling direction than north of it.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

no opposite spirals. (4.33 / 3) (#63)
by garlic on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 04:27:18 PM EST

this is, in fact, false. check out snopes for if you'd like to verify, but basically, the water spirals in the direction its forced in by the pumps, not by gravity.

HUSI challenge: post 4 troll diaries on husi without being outed as a Kuron, or having the diaries deleted or moved by admins.
[ Parent ]

no spirals at all here (none / 0) (#108)
by ajf on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 02:19:16 AM EST

just straight out.



"I have no idea if it is true or not, but given what you read on the Web, it seems to be a valid concern." -jjayson
[ Parent ]
The toilets (4.00 / 1) (#85)
by aonifer on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 07:40:03 PM EST

Those nifty toilets. I can't get enough of those toilets which are 90% full of water.

I just see a colossal waste of water. My mother's toilet uses less than half the water that mine does and it works just fine, though it does need cleaning more often (I'm an American, if that wasn't obvious).

[ Parent ]

Waste of water (4.00 / 1) (#112)
by Cameleon on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 05:11:45 AM EST

I believe that an average American toilet, when flushed, uses 20 litres of water, while an average European one uses only 7 litres.

[ Parent ]
That's changing... (4.00 / 1) (#123)
by physicsgod on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 02:56:11 PM EST

I don't know what the average is, but due to US federal law, all new toilets made have to use 6.0 Liters/flush or less.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Water (4.00 / 1) (#117)
by PresJPolk on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 12:07:06 PM EST

After all, we know that water is scarce, and our supplies of water regularly evaporating from the Oceans are bound to run out shortly before our petroleum reserves.

If you want to be careful about water in a desert, fine. But in most of America water isn't a problem.

[ Parent ]
potable water is scarce (5.00 / 1) (#144)
by anonymous cowerd on Sun Oct 07, 2001 at 12:18:39 PM EST

...our supplies of water regularly evaporating from the Oceans are bound to run out...

That would be relevant if you used rain water - surface water - in your toilet, but the chances are you don't. Most of this country gets its household water from deep wells which draw upon the aquifers, and with our geometrically increasing usage they are under considerable stress from coast to coast.

I used to live in South Arizona, you'd think there'd be a scarcity there. But now I live in Florida. You'd hardly expect there to be any lack of water in rainy, florid Florida, right? Fact is, though, there is a scarcity of drinkable fresh water here in this state, and it gets worse every year. We get our drinking water from the vast Floridan Aquifer; despite a pretty rainy year, we are still officially in the middle of a drought.

Here's a map of the Tampa Bay Water system's program to keep ahead of the demand for fresh water. See the dot labeled "Tampa Bypass Canal Supply"? My survey crew will be there at 7:30 AM tomorrow. We're monitoring the ongoing construction of four thirty-five foot deep, six foot diameter fresh water pumps.

Note that there is a site labeled "Seawater desalination" down by Apollo Beach on Tampa Bay. If drinkable water were not in such short supply, no one would be investing the considerable expense of desalination. This in probably the wettest of all fifty states!

Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

A drowning man asks for pears from the willow tree.
[ Parent ]

wells (2.00 / 1) (#145)
by PresJPolk on Sun Oct 07, 2001 at 12:34:08 PM EST

But where do you think the water got to those aquifers from?

But it is a good point. Water's not scarce - conveniently available water *is*.

[ Parent ]
On disliking and criticizing (3.80 / 15) (#25)
by christianlavoie on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 12:20:42 PM EST

The main problem isn't that people dislike americans per se, and that all americans are stupid, blind, ignorants, and everything.

The simple fact is that you don't criticize stuff you agree with, since there's no reason to change it.

Americans have a very strong view of themselves, and like to apply their views to others. They like to convert others to something similar to them, and such. (Please, let's not argue whether this is a good or bad thing just yet). Think about China, Russia, Cuba. All must be converted to capitalism, right? And the amerindians that were living here, they must follow the "In God we trust", right?

So the point is that if we are to be converted to americanism, I might as well change americans to be something I want to be. Let's criticize their bad points so that when I become one, I might as well be something worth it.

Now, this is really an extremum, but I think you see the point: You always criticize the bad things first. That's what on the news anyway.

Americans have some serious problems. There's more serious crimes (kills, rapes, etc) in New York state per month than in Canada per year. There are school-shootings. People are allowed to see an execution, etc. Of course people are gonna criticize that. Of course, people are gonna criticize American when most governemental three-letter acronyms are behind half this world's problems (bin Laden and Hussein are both ex-CIA trainees, remember?). We don't want to be americanized. Yet americans love their country, and somehow try to push it on us.

For the record, I'm Canadian. And I will not be subjected to the DMCA, the SSSCA, and the American Way. I'll criticize them and try to change them. For anyway, they're trying to change me, aren't they?


Maybe Computer Science ought to be taught in the school of Philosophy
   -- Christian Lavoie [modified from RS Barton]

Executions (4.25 / 4) (#29)
by jasonab on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 12:55:25 PM EST

People are allowed to see an execution, etc.
I'm not sure what your understanding of this is. There are a few witnesses at an execution, mostly family of the victim and some law enforcement personnel. It's not open to the public, though.

[ Parent ]
Against executions (3.66 / 3) (#57)
by christianlavoie on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 03:58:33 PM EST

The point is that the victim's family viewing of the execution somehow validates a sentiment of revenge.

Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.

And that one I oppose.


Maybe Computer Science ought to be taught in the school of Philosophy
   -- Christian Lavoie [modified from RS Barton]
[ Parent ]

Eye for an eye (3.00 / 1) (#105)
by sigwinch on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 01:15:19 AM EST

Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.

And that one I oppose.

Would your opinion change if I broke out all your teeth with a hammer and a pair of pliers?

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Not sure (5.00 / 2) (#124)
by christianlavoie on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 03:17:27 PM EST

I'll admit it, I don't know I'd react if I was the victim of some horrible crime.

My opinion would have to be overlooked just a bit, because I'd be biased. Justice (with the big J) is bias-free, remember? (Which, as it is, is the main reason why the US should hand it's request for blood to UNO or NATO, or whatever, instead of seeking revenge)

But for the minor crimes we're all ever victims of (being ripped off by a vendor, being ridiculized at school because we're different, etc) I don't usually seek revenge, but protection for the weaker than I.

So I don't think I'd seek revenge. But then, I've never been through it.


Maybe Computer Science ought to be taught in the school of Philosophy
   -- Christian Lavoie [modified from RS Barton]
[ Parent ]

Very confusing. (4.00 / 6) (#32)
by elefantstn on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 01:10:35 PM EST

I don't think any of this comment makes a whole lot of sense. The point seems to be that forcing your views on others is wrong, so I'm going to force my views on Americans. Not only that, but the criticisms levelled at the US in this comment are almost wholly unreasonable:

  • "There are school-shootings"? Um, yes. Not really an exclusively American problem though. Happened in the UK a little while back. And just this year, a man in Japan went on a stabbing spree in an elementary school (different weapon, same result).
  • "People are allowed to see an execution"? I guess, but it's not exactly a public exhibition. Frankly, I disagree with the death penalty, but I think letting the victims watch is hardly the worst thing about it.
  • "...most governmental three-letter acronyms are behind half this world's problems"? That's such a stretch, I don't even know where to begin with it, but I'll just cite one counterexample. In the case of Afghanistan, the root cause of instability is not armies of CIA-trained guerrillas who suddenly turned their backs on the US, but instead decades of British imperialism followed by a Soviet invasion and the imposition thereafter of a Pakistani-backed fundamentalist regime. The fact that the CIA attempted to aid anti-Soviet rebels in the 1980s does not make America to blame for regional problems. And bin Laden is not "CIA-trained." He may have indirectly received CIA-funded weapons during the war against the USSR, but your implication that he was somehow created by shadow CIA military trainers is stunningly wrong.


[ Parent ]
Well.... (5.00 / 3) (#59)
by christianlavoie on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 04:11:33 PM EST

Admitedly, rereading the comment, I'm almost ashamed at how it came out... Sorry.

Also, keep in mind that it doesn't reflect perfectly what I think, but more a general point-de-vue on why people criticize always the bad things, and never claim out loud to like something. (Well, in general)

As for your 3 main oppositions:

"There are school shootings"
My point is that I don't have that here, so I'm gonna criticize it. I'm gonna point it out, because compared to what I'm living, it's a bad thing. (Canada here. New York's Crime rate vs Canada's)
"People allowed to see an execution"
As I said in another comment, this encourages revenge.
"...most governmental three-letter acronyms are behind half this world's problems"
That one came from a reading stating that bin Laden and Hussein were both strongly supported by the CIA. Now, most killings these days are done in the Middle-East. Just about everyone there is in some sort of violent conflict with itself, its neighbors, and others. The CIA backed that.

That problem is a complicated mess, mostly coming from the Russian-American cold (and not so cold) war(s). I'll not dive into this one too much because of lack of knowledge, but I know that the US meddled too much in it, without publicly stating all of its reasons about it. Remember that that's the region behidn the world's petroleum, and the US couldn't allow that to change.




Maybe Computer Science ought to be taught in the school of Philosophy
   -- Christian Lavoie [modified from RS Barton]
[ Parent ]
Confusing racism and politics (4.15 / 13) (#27)
by LQ on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 12:29:09 PM EST

There are two types of anti-Americanism. The first is the I hate McDonalds and isn't all that 'have a nice day' really phoney. The second is a political criticism of America's foreign policy.

I have travelled a lot in the US, business and pleasure, and by-and-large would agree that the Merkins are a likable lot. But when you drive through a town with 2 gunshops, 3 lawyers offices, 7 churches and no general store, you do realise just how foreign the USA is. And their government's actions abroad really do stink.

31% (3.16 / 12) (#28)
by GreenCrackBaby on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 12:53:15 PM EST

Americans are often perceived as ignorant. If you're wondering why this is, just look at that CNN scientific pole that pegs the percentage of Americans that favour putting Muslim-Americans in camps at 31%.

What do you think that makes the rest of the world feel about you?

Personally I like the US, but I can see why some people don't.

CNN (4.71 / 7) (#35)
by rusty on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 01:22:32 PM EST

What do you think that makes the rest of the world feel about you?

It makes me feel that our media is pathetically incompetent at making a representative poll.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

I'd agree with this (3.66 / 3) (#51)
by Karmakaze on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 03:22:54 PM EST

If I had not listened to a radio call in show this morning where a caller said "We should do what we did in World War Two and put these people in camps." After the caller hung up, the moderator followed up with "they're now saying there are as many as 200 'sleeper agents' in the US and we know what they look like! Who's against racial profiling now!"

Was this a right wing show? Not especially. This was NJ 101.5, which carries traffic, news, and talk.

I am very dismayed.


--
Karmakaze
[ Parent ]

Ummm... (5.00 / 5) (#75)
by ttfkam on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 06:10:20 PM EST

Traffic, news, and wacked out talk. Just because it's good ol' NJ 101.5 doesn't mean that it's a valid cross-section of American sentiment.

We have a "right wing" president who went out of his way in his state of the union address to state that people of Arab descent should not be unfairly treated. We have a "right wing" attorney general who has publically stated that any hate crimes toward people of Arab descent will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

This isn't a left/right wing thing. The guy on the radio show was a head case. Head cases attract other head cases such as the caller. This is not representative of all Americans or even the slightly below average American.

And as compared to what? Compared to Osama bin Laden stating that all Americans are potential targets of the Jihad?

This was an idiot with a microphone talking to another idiot with a telephone. Vocal minority and all that...

If I'm made in God's image then God needs to lay off the corn chips and onion dip. Get some exercise, God! - Tatarigami
[ Parent ]
To little credit (2.00 / 1) (#68)
by Rand Race on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 04:47:09 PM EST

Heh, it makes me feel that our media is incredibly competent at making a poll that produces preordained results.


"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
[ Parent ]

more sinister than that (2.00 / 3) (#69)
by alprazolam on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 04:49:54 PM EST

CNN is notoriously anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian. Now is it because of this that they draw a lot of people who would vote this way anyway? Or is it that people who read CNN all the time don't get any opinions about why camps are bad, and get a lot of information about sleeper agents. Considering the national reach of CNN I don't think the first is possible. Which is quite disturbing and disappointing to me.

[ Parent ]
Not hardly (3.50 / 4) (#60)
by Verminator on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 04:14:14 PM EST

I don't think the beliefs of a CNN-employed Pole should be indicative of the opinions of most Americans, even if he is a scientician.
If the whole country is gonna play 'Behind The Iron Curtain,' there better be some fine fucking state subsidized alcohol! And our powerlifting team better kick ass!
[ Parent ]
AOL (none / 0) (#118)
by PresJPolk on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 12:08:12 PM EST

You're believing AOL.

Think about it.

[ Parent ]
Ah, what do you expect... (2.66 / 15) (#31)
by trhurler on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 12:56:15 PM EST

If you check the quality of public debate, the American version is far superior to the English one.
Picking out a couple of right wing nutrags and comparing them to anything in general as though they were "public debate" exemplified... well, it'd be funny, if it were funny, you know? You may want to keep the day job, if you have one:)
Going deeper into academia, American philosophers - Rawls, Dworkin, Rorty - have shaped the thought of the past fifty years.
You do know how to pick the winners from any given crowd. Replace Rorty the wannabe pragmatist with Haack. Replace Dworkin with a swift kick in the ass(arse?) and explain what the hell she's doing in a list of philosophers. Rawls... inspires apathy which prevents me from bothering. (By the way, next time you're looking for a worst of the worst, I recommend the "philosopher-scientists" like Dennett. Some of the most dishonest pseudoscientific crap ever written comes out of those morons, and most of them are Americans too! I think Rorty has flirted around with this breed of stupidity, and of course, these morons are just eaten up by the "digerati" singularity AI crowd too!)
Meanwhile, America continues to turn out, among the inevitable dross, excellent films.
I admit my ignorance(and apathy:) of European cinema. In fact, nobody outside Europe except wannabe "intellectuals" who also do things like collect "art" consisting of paint thrown at a canvas watches that stuff. Just thought you should know:)
Turning to the other great popular art: we Brits have contributed our bit, but pop music continues to be shaped by America.
Pop is crap, no matter where it is made. For the worst pop ever, look to Japan.
Americans are polite
Depends entirely on where you are, and sometimes on who you are too. In other words, no different from any other place in the world.
It's another hideous stereotype that Americans have no sense of irony.
Given the context, you win; nothing I can say will be as funny or as well timed. Hopefully my utterly unironic, utterly superficial choice to ignore whatever humor I can will strike you as mildly amusing.
In Britain, we have "arse" - an inferior substitute, which doesn't sound nice at all.
I know a lot of people in the US who use it precisely because, to American ears at least, it sounds somewhat more vulgar for some reason. However, it sounds really, really bad when spoken with an American accent. On the other hand, most people in the US would only use "ass" erotically in limited contexts, too. You could say "nice ass," but to most people, "kiss my ass" is not a very nice thing to say, for instance.

I will say this though. The wonderful British expression "Get your tongue out of my arse" deserves wider recognition as one of the all time great feats of crude and yet concise phrasing. Unfortunately, it just isn't the same if you substitute "ass."

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Ummm.... (3.60 / 5) (#34)
by DesiredUsername on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 01:20:40 PM EST

You responded point by point and then voted "Don't Care"?

And I agree about the pseudoscientific claptrap from the "digerati AI singularity crowd"....but what's wrong with Dennett? Out of all the "philosopher-scientists" he seems like one of the most down-to-earth and level-headed.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
Hehe (4.50 / 2) (#40)
by trhurler on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 01:38:49 PM EST

Yeah, I thought the vote thing was quite appropriate in a "this is going to get posted no matter what I do, so why not have fun" sort of way.

As for Dennett, he's trying to make sweeping claims about the nature of consciousness(actually, about a claimed nonexistence of consciousness as most of us think of it,) on the basis of neurobiology that is so primitive that honest scientists won't even begin to speculate as to what it means. In other words, he's just like his predecessors in the contemporary scientistic epistemological stew.

I could make other criticisms, but they're the proper work of a real critique, with citations of significant size and so on, and I don't have the time to do that sort of thing. In particular, when reading Dennett, ask yourself whether he's even arguing the same points consistently and with the the same claimed degree of certainty, or whether he switches around via clever turns of phrase and hidden equivocations. Then ask yourself whether you even think he's aware of it.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Oh yeah, that (none / 0) (#42)
by DesiredUsername on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 02:12:01 PM EST

I couldn't even finish that most recent (?) book by him. I had forgotten about that thing. I was thinking about "The Mind's I" co-authored (co-edited?) with Hofstadter which was pretty good.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
Tongue in cheek? (none / 0) (#81)
by M0dUluS on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 07:12:37 PM EST

The wonderful British expression "Get your tongue out of my arse" deserves wider recognition as one of the all time great feats of crude and yet concise phrasing.

Hehe. Perhaps you'd care to translate? Not familiar with this phrase despite having lived in England for 6 months. I must say that in the absence of other information I have to ask: in what context did you hear the phrase?
The mind boggles.

"[...]no American spin is involved at all. Is that such a stretch?" -On Lawn
[ Parent ]

Well, (4.00 / 1) (#82)
by trhurler on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 07:27:37 PM EST

It has made its way over here in the form of one guy I met from some apparently slummy place not far outside of or else in London and a couple of movie references, one from the US, a title I can't remember, and one from somewhere in the UK(can't remember if it was Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels or Snatch.)

As far as I can tell, the intended meaning is essentially "don't flatter me," and it is probably a lower class sort of thing to say. I don't understand British society well at all, though, so I could be wrong. I just think it is one of those phrases that is inherently funny regardless of meaning:)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
JPop rules (none / 0) (#170)
by WhizzKidd on Wed Oct 10, 2001 at 09:08:45 PM EST

Pop is crap, no matter where it is made. For the worst pop ever, look to Japan
I really think this is a matter of taste. I'm quite a recent victem of JPop, having only really been afflicted with it within the past 6 months. I'm surprised its taken this long, considering that I've been a fan of anime (at least knowingly, not counting the innumerable childrens cartoons that were Japanese exports that I used to watch as a child) for the past 8 years. Currently I've taken to downloading as many anime mp3's as I can get my hands on, although I'm sure I'll branch out as soon as I figure out who the artists actually are.

Previous to this JPop affliction my interest in Japanese culture was limited to a few anime (Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Fist of the North Star, 3x3 Eyes and a few others), some Japanese movies (all the Godzilla movies, anything by Takeshi Kitano and a few others), various random bits of Japanese death metal (just for insanity value) and of course video games (too much to list). I personally find my interest in JPop quite bizarre as from a young age I shunned pop music, in fact I shunned music in general because pretty much all music I heard was pop music so I got the idea "music = bad" in my head. I eventually hit my teens and went through various forms of rock/metal (punk, acid, death, goth, industrial, etc) and now here I am, nearing the end of my teens (20 in January...) and in JPop world. I'm well aware of how trashy, commercial, soulless and otherwise crap it is, but at the same time its so bright, sparkly, happy and, well, so good.

I'm fairly sure its part of a more general Japanese cultural conspiricy to take over the world. After all, I've been exposed to enough Japanese "culture" through what they've exported to the rest of the world for any attempts at brainwashing to be well and truly effective. To be honest, if a troupe of JPop singers were to come prancing down the street singing bright and sparkly songs about how they now rule the world I'd probably be quite happy about it all, and I suppose thats what really matters.

--
Nick
"Get your tongue out of my arse" -- cheers for reminding me of a very humourus moment with a previous girlfriend =P.

[ Parent ]

Don't blame us for Chuck Norris (4.25 / 8) (#36)
by Otter on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 01:24:49 PM EST

American culture is better
We hate Hollywood, don't we? All those brash, soulless, special-effects based flicks.

It should be pointed out that most of those schlocky action movies and TV shows (which righteous citizens in other countries are apparently coerced into watching against their will, usually while eating a cheeseburger) are not "American culture". They're US-made export goods for European and Asian lowbrow taste, for the most part not even released domestically. The same goes for David Hasselhof, although you seem to blaming Germany for him.

"American culture" in film and TV is mostly comedies that wouldn't translate well, the best 15% of the action dramas that the rest of the world sees, talk shows that aren't exported (although Latin America is starting to imitate them) and game and "reality" shows that are mostly knockoffs of British and European shows.

pop culture (5.00 / 3) (#55)
by rebelcool on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 03:54:19 PM EST

It's an interesting social phenonomenon, but it cant really be called 'culture' because it changes so incredibly fast. Id say culture is the longer lasting things - like the drive for freedom, the american dream and so on.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

American Film (2.75 / 4) (#64)
by PhillipW on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 04:30:55 PM EST

I'm sorry, but American Film really isn't that good. Sure, I can't find a whole lot of great movies coming from anywhere else, but to say that American taste is good, and European and Asian taste is low brow IS a tad unfair. I mean, Tomb Raider was a hit here. Need I say more?

-Phil
[ Parent ]
Missing the point (none / 0) (#154)
by Otter on Mon Oct 08, 2001 at 02:38:01 PM EST

..but to say that American taste is good, and European and Asian taste is low brow IS a tad unfair.

Of course, but I'm not saying any such thing. My point is that most of the godawful American made movies and television that international audiences see are made specifically for those foreign markets and are not released domestically (or, at most, show up on cable in the middle of the night). The Hollywood stuff Americans buy is far better than the Hollywood stuff foreign markets buy.

[ Parent ]

Have you even been to those places? (4.00 / 1) (#168)
by iserlohn on Tue Oct 09, 2001 at 04:33:14 PM EST

Hollywood movies are released around the world fairly quickly after the North American release date (within a few months)? Most of the time the movies are released with subtitles in the target language. That's it!!! Tell me what does Hollywood make that caters specifically to Euro/Asian lowbrow taste? Have you even seen a movie outside of the USA? Friends and X-Files are syndicated around the world, that's mainstream American TV, is that lowbrow as well? The truth is that everything that Hollywood exports is at least considered a mild success domestically before they can risk exporting to more sophisticated markets worldwide. Get your facts straight!

:: Ultimate Control Dedicated/VM Servers 20+ OS selections
[ Parent ]
Politeness and friendliness (4.12 / 8) (#48)
by JML on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 03:00:46 PM EST

I have lived all of my life in the US, but I I spend about 4-5 weeks a year working in the UK. I do like visiting the UK, but I don't think I would ever want to live there.

I prefer the US for a few, purely practical reasons. Mostly, in the US our toilet paper is of the proper width, and our toilets flush properly. These are just two crass examples, but I can sum up my reason for prefering to live in the US as we are much more decadent than the UK (the only part of Europe that I have experienced as a non-tourist).

Anyways, the politeness thing. I always find people in the UK to be more polite than people in the US. I am talking about the standard one-on-one service industry type people, bus drivers, waiters, security guards, etc. I think the difference is that in the US these people confuse politeness with friendliness. At the checkout counter I am looking for fast, courteous service, not a new best friend.

The "have a nice day" is an example of this, it is said whan what is meant is "goodbye, thankyou for doing business with us," the same as "how are you" should be "hello, welcome to my place of businsess." It is other mildly annoying things, like people I have never met before addressing my by my first name just because they can read it off my credit card.

An exaggerated example of this is what happened at Safeway several years ago. The company mandated that employess be friendly (not merely polite), and customers thought they were being flirted with, so they began chatting up the checkout girls.

Of course the fake friendliness is less annoying than the British practice of being completely and totally polite, while at the same time not actually doing anything to fix the problem (BT has some how managed to have even worst service than Qwest).

Britain, America and Politeness (4.66 / 3) (#50)
by Simon Kinahan on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 03:07:16 PM EST

Brits seem to be polite, in a relatively formal way, to strangers, but really quite rude to their close friends and family (I say this as a Brit, incidentally). This seems to worry some Americans, who can be offended by what I'd consider to be friendly teasing. Its probably that irony thing again.

Americans seem to be friendly to everyone, if not necessarily very polite. I think some Brits find this oppressive, not realising that its really just an alternative form of politeness.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Politeness (3.00 / 3) (#52)
by elefantstn on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 03:23:38 PM EST

I think there are varying degrees of this across America, as well. Certainly in the northeast (where I'm from), most people make fun of family members constantly. If we have visitors from other parts of the country, though, they're shocked when my 19-year-old sister says of my 10-year-old sister "S-P-O-I-L-E-D!" and she retorts, "Oh, she learned how to spell? When did this happen?" So that's not just a transatlantic thing, it's also a transcontinental thing.



[ Parent ]
friendly/polite (3.00 / 3) (#65)
by alprazolam on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 04:37:11 PM EST

I'm not very friendly at all. That has a lot more to do with your personality than with the society you were raised in. That said I consider myself very polite, except when driving. There's no cost to it, and it generally makes you feel better, so I can see no reason not to.

[ Parent ]
Yeah, you're a regular sweetheart. (2.10 / 10) (#116)
by marlowe on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 11:45:45 AM EST

Everyone in America is evil but you.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
I admit (1.09 / 11) (#139)
by alprazolam on Sun Oct 07, 2001 at 02:52:28 AM EST

I do have a tough time being polite with little pieces of shit like you.

Have a nice day, jackass.

[ Parent ]

Americans vs French (none / 0) (#163)
by Ami Ganguli on Tue Oct 09, 2001 at 11:19:25 AM EST

I was just about to post something similar about France. It's kind of funny observing Americans in Paris. They tend (and this is obviously a generalization) to be rather "friendly". Almost jovial. But extremely rude from a French perspective.

Of course this is all a matter of culture. An American trying to make a good impression in a foreign country tries to be friendly and chatty. To the French this is comes across as overly forward and loud.

The French, on the other hand, seem to place unusual importance on the technicalities of politeness, but prefer to stay a little distant. So French people on their best behaviour will be very careful about saying hello, goodbye, please,and thank you, as well as more complex forms like "excuse me sir, could(formal) you(formal) tell me where one would find.." rather than the American "excuse me, do you know where...". To an American this "over-polite" verbage plus the deliberate social distance amounts to snobbishness, bordering on rudeness.

All in all the effect is quite entertaining. It's neat to sit in a restaurant and watch American clients and French staff almost come to blows. (Of course, I'm the sadistic sort :-)



[ Parent ]
No, no, no. Not the toilets. (3.00 / 1) (#100)
by urgan on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 11:07:55 PM EST

When I was at China, the hotels used to have the so called "american" toilets and let me tell you they are not the correct size,because they weren't tall enough, the balls touched the walls. BRRR. And you don't have "BIDÉS" either, how can you live without them =


[ Parent ]
American Toilets (4.00 / 1) (#153)
by odaiwai on Sun Oct 07, 2001 at 11:51:56 PM EST

In the context of China, an 'American Toilet' is one which isn't a hole in the ground. More often they're called 'Western Style'.

dave
-- "They're chefs! Chefs with chainsaws!"
[ Parent ]
Americans are not the only polite ones (4.00 / 1) (#101)
by deaddrunk on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 11:08:56 PM EST

At least in saying 'Have a nice day'. In most of the shops I've been in in my travels around Europe, the assistants have said bonne journee, god dag, guten tag etc etc.

That's probably where the American habit comes from. Only in the UK is the routine surliness unless ordered otherwise by management.



[ Parent ]
Boy's Own (3.91 / 12) (#53)
by hotseat on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 03:36:23 PM EST

What bothers me most about the US what one of the other posters wrote about their faith in the Bill of Rights - that very faith.

The activities of the last few weeks have made this trend come to the fore. With American economic dominance there has been a very worrying display of attitudes like "We've got overpowering military might, we're not happy so we're going to go and fight a glorious war and destroy terrorism for good".

There seems to be no comprehension that other viewpoints could exist, that taking the Boy's Own option of having bigger guns and feeling invincible might not be the best course of action in the long term and a sense of shock mixed with outrage that anyone might question either the glory but, far more importantly, the "rightness" of America.

What I'm trying (in a rather rambling way) to say is that many of the Americans I have met in the last few weeks have a faith bordering on the messianic that there country can do no evil. In light of the (pretty good but by no means perfect) US record, that is what scares me.

Tom (Englishman in Washington, DC)

what a lot of americans dislike about america (1.00 / 2) (#66)
by alprazolam on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 04:43:17 PM EST

The sort of blind obedience that a lot of people seem to have to their television sets. In the same way that "geeks" pretty much seem to get brainwashed by slashdot, the average American is almost completely unaware that there are alternate opinions to those you hear on CNN or read in the USA Today. But you can't really go out there and make everybody care all of a sudden so you just start with yourself, don't let people tell you what to think, and don't feel afraid to defend your opinion when you're discussing it at dinner or wherever.

[ Parent ]
I agree. (2.75 / 4) (#71)
by beergut on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 05:01:00 PM EST

We need to heed the admonishments of our founders, Washington and Jefferson. We should disentangle ourselves from world affairs, be at peace with other nations (unless they fuck us, then POW!) and stop sticking our noses in where they don't belong.

We should also have some better media here, which will tell us what our government is doing, rather than ignoring it, hiding it, or spinning it. Hardly anybody here would have been very thrilled with our dicking the Soviets in the Afghanistan, however much good it did in the long run. Our CIA is too involved in silly shit all over the world, and is not performing its core task, which is to collect and interpret intelligence.

This government does way, way, way too much that the average American has no idea about, and the things that it does are seldom mentioned in our national press, and even less often criticized or even reported upon objectively.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

What a pointless discussion! (4.46 / 15) (#58)
by Best Ace on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 04:06:45 PM EST

Am I the only one who is struck by how pointless this discussion is? A country of pushing 300 million people is far too diverse in its culture, society, outlook and expectations for anyone to come up with generalizations about its worth in comparison to other countries.

Even by focusing on specific areas, as the author has tried to do, there are far too many diversities to make any meaningful arguments. The examples quoted, quite simply, are mundane and trivial and even taken together, cannot prove the thesis that America (meaning the augmented concept of everything the word evokes, not just the country itself) is better.

I mean, Tarantino and the Coen brothers are excellent film-makers, but does merely citing them really prove the argument that American culture is better? This just ignores the fact that there are plenty of good non-American directors making equally good films.

This international dick-measuring contest is so futile and unproductive it makes me laugh. Maybe I'm just missing the typically British sardonic, post-modern irony of the article

Or maybe this article is just one long troll, in which case I can consider myself well and truly bitten ;)


Obviously written by a british. (4.00 / 11) (#61)
by Betcour on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 04:24:16 PM EST

Only a british could have written this. It is well known that Britain (the country) and its inhabitants are very pro-Americans. Whenever the European Union want to something without the Americans or against the Americans, guess who is always vetoing... Also, which nation is the last one to support the US against Iraq and dropping a few bombs there, while the rest of the world call for a stop to this ? Yes, UK. Which European country is claiming to be closer to the US than Europe ? Yes, UK again.

Now it is not hard to see why - US being mostly an ex-British colony.

Americans are smart

I'd say they are rather average in this regard. While the sheer size of the population combined with the education investment makes for a rather educated population, the average education level is nothing spectacular. According to the CIA factbook itself, literacy rate in US is "only" 97%. A quick look at random gives France (99%), UK (99%), Japan (99%) or... Cuba, not far behind US with 95.7%. Literacy rate is not a perfect representation of education and intelligence, but it is the most easely available and as you can see, Americans are quite average considering their wealth.

American culture is better

LOL. What culture ? Scary Movie 2 ? Jerry Springer ? Britney Spears ? What many people call American culture is all these - what Americans buy for themselves and what they export to the rest of the world. London or Steinbeck don't sell as well as Barbara Cartland's latest production.
As for calling a culture "better" than another one - well the whole idea is plain stupid.

Americans are polite

I'll agree to that - but in some country it is not a quality. People accross the world I've met seems to agree on the fact that Americans are always polite and friendly, but that it is so much that it sounds fake and artificial. And it IS fake and artificial because nobody can be friend with everybody.


I think most anti-Americanism in the world is not targetted at Americans individually, but at their countries foreign policy which stamp on other peoples right, install sponsored dictatorship when it is in their advantage. Pinochet, Saddam, the Taliban : they were all funded and supported by the CIA at some point. When the US foreign policy will be to support democracy and freedom first, before taking economic or military gains for themselves, then they'll be very popular. But this will never happen if Americans themselves don't start to look at what is their governement foreign policy and what is going on outside of their country.

A great big American "Fuck You." (2.92 / 13) (#67)
by beergut on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 04:45:32 PM EST

Yes, I said it.

What you don't seem to realize, but what the author captured, is that there really is an ethic of respect in America.

We're taught to grant others the same respect we'd like to be granted, until the other person proves that he is not worthy of even that basic amount. Then you can be rude and nasty.

Quite frankly, I'd rather live in a place where a modicum of respect and civility is present. If Europe and the rest of the world don't have that, well, whose problem is that?

So, since you have obviously proven yourself to be nothing but just another unenlightened Europeon, might I extend to you a heartfelt "Go ye forth and fuck thyself."

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

Misreading (4.27 / 11) (#70)
by aphrael on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 04:52:33 PM EST

People accross the world I've met seems to agree on the fact that Americans are always polite and friendly, but that it is so much that it sounds fake and artificial. And it IS fake and artificial because nobody can be friend with everybody.

This is probably the most common misunderstanding that foreigners have about American culture, and it's particularly problematic in California.

The point is not that Americans are pretending to be your friends when in fact they are not, although I can understand why it would seem that way. The point is (a) that Americans are taught in general to be polite to everyone; (b) that everyone should be treated equally because we're all supposed to be equal to one another (until proven otherwise); (c) that any person you interact with has the potential to be a friend, and should be treated as such.

Most European languages have a formal politeness built into them with the distinction between the formal you and the informal you. Fair enough. English, particularly American English, doesn't do that --- the language we use to address everyone is the same. But there is a public formal politeness which many non-Americans do not understand, and which gets confused with fake friendliness; that is not what is going on.

[ Parent ]

Oi! (2.60 / 5) (#76)
by SIGFPE on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 06:11:04 PM EST

Stop generalising. Me and my British mates think Americans are the dumbest people on earth so stop saying we're pro-American.
SIGFPE
[ Parent ]
What the hell? (4.66 / 3) (#84)
by aonifer on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 07:34:13 PM EST

I'll agree to that - but in some country it is not a quality. People accross the world I've met seems to agree on the fact that Americans are always polite and friendly, but that it is so much that it sounds fake and artificial. And it IS fake and artificial because nobody can be friend with everybody.

Nobody can be friends with everybody, so don't even try. Has it ever occured to you that maybe the person behind the counter that says "have a nice day" genuinely wants you to have a nice day? Even if they don't, is it any skin off your nose to assume they do? Aren't people deserving of being treated as potential friends rather than potential enemies? Is it really bad to try to make our pointless existences on this stinking feces of a rock a little less miserable for each other? Christ, if the modicum of dignity we give to each other is so unusual on this planet, then I guess I've found a reason to like being an American.

Have a nice day.

[ Parent ]

Europeons don't believe in basic civility... (2.00 / 4) (#88)
by beergut on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 08:02:28 PM EST

... which is why their history is fraught with wars upon wars upon wars. They are disgusting, piglike people, uncouth, uncivilized, and undeserving of even the modicum of respect Americans would normally give them. As much can be seen from this poster's post. (Not yours, aonifer, but the parent of your post.)

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

roflmao (1.00 / 1) (#93)
by speek on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 10:13:51 PM EST

Beergut, you don't make me laugh often...uh, actually, you never have before...but you got me this time. Somehow, when you say "piglike", French people immediately come to mind. I wonder why...

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Of course ! (1.00 / 1) (#99)
by urgan on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 11:01:19 PM EST

Man, you are a genious. Those F*cking euro F*ckers, how can they have a thousand years civilization ? Barbarians, that's what they are.

[ Parent ]
Maybe I wasn't clear... (5.00 / 3) (#111)
by Betcour on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 04:48:14 AM EST

OK let met explain further for you and the other posters who reacted to this part of my post what I meant.

Yes civility and politeness is nice - and a minimum is necessary in order to avoid people from fighting each others at the slightest conflict. But in most other cultures there's politeness (ie applying rules etc) and there's familliarity (ie behaving like longtime friends). Politeness with familliarity is supposed to be something which puts a safe distance between too people. When I talk to a bank clerk or order a meal at McDonalds, I expect politeness with distance. When I talk to an old buddy, I expect familliarity and respect (not necessary politeness). When I'm with a long time colleague, I expect a small bit of politeness and a good chunck of familliarity.

But in the US it just doesn't seem to be this way. The guy at the bank will often talk to you like he is your best buddy, so will almost anybody else. So will also do, for example, a colleague that thinks you are a complete asshole and whom you think the same. There just seems to never be any distance at all. And distance is quite useful to know on which foot to stand with someone. Remember, in old English, there was two different you, a formal and a causual, just like in many other languages.

[ Parent ]
Politeness, friendliness, and giant purple monkeys (5.00 / 1) (#120)
by aonifer on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 01:31:50 PM EST

But in the US it just doesn't seem to be this way. The guy at the bank will often talk to you like he is your best buddy, so will almost anybody else. So will also do, for example, a colleague that thinks you are a complete asshole and whom you think the same. There just seems to never be any distance at all.

Well, either I'm incredibly naive, or we're simply talking about a different definition "distance." I suspect that if I lived in Europe for any length of time, I'd find them cold and distant, or I'd realize that there are different cultural mores involved and that it would be wrong of me to pass off Europeans' relative distance as rudeness, much as you passed off Americans' relative friendliness as fake.

[ Parent ]

heh... (4.66 / 3) (#107)
by rebelcool on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 01:57:20 AM EST

LOL. What culture ? Scary Movie 2 ? Jerry Springer ? Britney Spears ? What many people call American culture is all these - what Americans buy for themselves and what they export to the rest of the world. London or Steinbeck don't sell as well as Barbara Cartland's latest production. As for calling a culture "better" than another one - well the whole idea is plain stupid.

Rather disingenous here... you're talking about pop culture. Which is hardly a 'culture' in the standard sense of the word since it changes on the monthly basis.

American culture (or any country's culture) is the long standing beliefs and views that change very, very slowly. Think the American dream (quite possibly the most unique aspect of real american culture). It ties in with beliefs of liberty and freedom and questioning the status quo.

The CEO of my company (an indian fellow) I think said it best. Elsewhere in the world, people dont think about making things better on an individual scale. Like in America, you go into a restaurant or anywhere and see something you dont like you think 'why dont they do it this way? I could do it better'. This kind of attitude is what shapes the real american culture.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Re:Obviously written by a british. (5.00 / 1) (#158)
by sqwudgy on Mon Oct 08, 2001 at 04:18:14 PM EST

``Only a british could have written this. It is well known that Britain (the country) and its inhabitants are very pro-Americans.''

Hmm... you should really try diversify your reading material. Some of the more rabid anti-American essays I've read since the Sept. 11th attacks came from the British liberal newspapers. It's apparently fashionable to be anti-American in some circles of British society.



[ Parent ]

kuro5hin.org is what I like about America (4.25 / 4) (#72)
by Lode Runner on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 05:07:19 PM EST

... and Slashdot too.

And one thing I really like about those communities is that non-Americans are heavily involved at every level. Just like all other major American endeavors, I suppose...



Uneblievable (2.40 / 5) (#73)
by MSBob on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 05:26:45 PM EST

It's incredible what some people will say just to get their story posted on the front page!

[for the humour impaired: this comment is a joke, m'kay?]

I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

Why I like Americans (4.11 / 9) (#74)
by strlen on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 05:53:02 PM EST

I'm a former USSR (Belarus is my specific place of origin) resident, and I currently reside in the USia. While I don't like many parts of the US foreign policy (although I do agree with some) and critisize US domestic politics, US pop culture, various segments of the US population, I have things that I like and respect:

Americans don't whine

Americans keep their personal affairs out of their work, and out of their non-intimate interactions with others.

Americans aren't afraid or ashamed of having a political opinion on practically everything. Back in Belarus you don't just critique the government in front of your friends, even if the KGB isn't watching. Most people I've known (older generation adults) especially consider it improper to discuss politics with their friends.

Also, Americans are in general much more eager to express their opinion and much more likely to have it. I've noticed even in schools, where teachers ask for essays that agree or disagree with certain points, rather than simply state the facts or state both arguments.

At least in big urban centers Americans are much more tolerant and much less interested in someone's ethnic heritage. In Minsk (Belarus, where I'm from), every classmate in my school knew who's a Jew, who's a Russia, who's a Belarussian, who's Ukranian, and actually cared. Very few identified themselves as Belarussians simply on the merit of living in that country and being born there. In the US it's much simpler: you speak Russian, you're Russian (even though you're not from Russia, and are an ethnic Jew).



--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
Huh? (1.00 / 5) (#78)
by mikael_j on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 06:24:48 PM EST

So you are basically saying that since the USians are allowed to disagree with their politicians (and other powers that be), they are somehow really great?
NEWS FLASH!
This just in! There are lots of countries where people are allowed to express their opinions about their government. You heard it first at B.L.A.H. news agency.

/Mikael Jacobson
We give a bad name to the internet in general. - Rusty
[ Parent ]
Allowed vs. are interested in (5.00 / 1) (#86)
by strlen on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 07:46:40 PM EST

Yes, of course many are allowed. But are they interested in doing so? And will they?

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
P.S. Not only the government (none / 0) (#87)
by strlen on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 07:47:37 PM EST

Their political opinions in general, whether they agree or disagree.

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
On Politeness (4.50 / 4) (#89)
by Logan on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 08:52:46 PM EST

The key to a free and peaceful society is politeness. Not the formal politeness you might find in other countries, but just basic consideration of others on a day-to-day basis.

The country was founded on a premise of minimum government and a classless society. With such a combination, good manners are not only critical, they are inevitable. You can't live peacefully with people if you are hostile. Nor can you live peacefully with people if you treat them constantly with disrespect. And if we cannot live peacefully with our neighbors, then we have to turn to government. During our nation's infancy, there was little government to turn to (ah, the glory days). Even today, however, many Americans pride themselves on their self-sufficiency, so they do what they can to keep their society functional.

Robert Heinlein (a good author to turn to if you want to be exposed to the ideas behind those that seem to be fanatically patriotic, intensely love freedom, and practice good manners) once said of the hallmarks of a sick and dying culture:

[A] dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than a riot.

He also said

An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.

For those that have this ill-conceived notion that the America represented in spaghetti westerns is reality, perhaps this second explanation seems more plausible.

And while the subject of my post is politeness, I can't help but quote Heinlein again regarding patriotism:

Love your country, but never trust its government.

Unfortunately the government is doing a "good" job of capitalizing on this intense surge of patriotism in order to redirect it towards blind government approval. If our government succeeds in this, then American patriotism will become a bad thing. Until then, I'll remain proud to be American, but ashamed to be represented by my government. And I'll smile and nod at you if I make eye contact with you on the street.

Logan

I am American....... (5.00 / 3) (#91)
by rapett0 on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 08:59:55 PM EST

....and I think these generalizations and so called opinions are crazy. I am from the heart of the mid west, Chicago. I have lived in LA, San Juan, and Atlanta. I am a third generation American so I have bore the full influence of our culture from day one, I was an Atari/Nintendo kid. I was educated in the public schools and just recently graduated after 5 years with three degrees from the Uni. of KY. Why am I giving you such a broad background here? Just to let you know where I am coming from.

I have always lived in multiethnic neighborhoods my entire life, I like to think of myself as a global citizen who happens to hail from America. I like to think that I can trust anyone from anywhere, regardless or race or ethnicity. In fact the only limit to my trust is depending on how well I know you period. I have an open mind, my last three ex-girlfriends were from Ethiopia, Sri Lanka and Iraq. Not jungle fever, just good girls.

I had some aspects about our culture, but love the main one, that American culture is the assimilation of ALL other cultures. Sure we are Borg-like, but we don't extinquish, just embrace. Granted there is evidence to the contrary, but for example, you see redneck kids all over mid America with Chinese tattoos they can't read, but that doesn't mean Chinese-Americans no longer practice their traditions.

America has issues with foriegn policy, but ALL countries do. One of my three degrees were history and my masters is actually focusing on Internation Diplomacy and Foriegn Relations so I think I can safely say we are not alone, even to the scale at which we intervine. America has only been around 200+ years in its sorta current form (really 100+ in a modern sense, post Civil War). I think China will be doing the same things that America is being bitched at about now in 50 years just as Britain was 50 years ago. Human nature doesn't seem to change much, unfortunately.

Patriotism is a touchy subject. I *love* this country and what its done. I however *hate* what this country has done in other regards. Some I can't change, others I can try. Back to point one, thanks to the way our country is shaped, we *can* do something about it. Try it in 90% of other countries and see how far you get, even on a local level. I must say I would proudly defend this country and its fundatmental ideals to the death. However, if we were to say, oh I don't know, hijack some planes and fly them into the Sunshine Observatories 40th floor in Tokyo, I think I would be moving north asap.

America is a great place. But it is a different place. But people are different even in your same cultures. So why categorize Americans and their supposed culture? Just try to get along with your neighbor and more then likely they will try to get along with you. It is truly that simple.

And also, if you can do it better, please do. :)

Atari/Nintendo (5.00 / 1) (#96)
by DarkZero on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 10:46:32 PM EST

I am a third generation American so I have bore the full influence of our culture from day one, I was an Atari/Nintendo kid.

Nintendo is JAPANESE culture. The system and 90% of the games were made in Japan. In fact, every popular video game system after the Atari has been created by the Japanese, and most of the software for them have also been Japanese games that are translated for America. Just a minor quip. ;)



[ Parent ]
American Culture (5.00 / 7) (#104)
by ucblockhead on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 12:48:54 AM EST

Some friends and I were sitting at the sushi bar one day, listening to the children at the school across the street screaming about their Pokemon games when the discussion fell to how American Culture was invading the world. We came to no conclusion, though, and as true geeks, quickly fell into an argument as to whether "Lord of the Rings" or "Harry Potter" was going to be the first true blockbuster of the new millenium. We all agreed, though, that as long as it didn't have some crappy Celine Dion song, we'd be happy. Hopefully it would just be some old fart like U2 or Bowie.

Perhaps if we hadn't been geeks, trained on stupid little puzzles like the Rubik's cube, or Tetris, we'd have the people skills to figure out how to deal with this invasive American culture, but, alas, we did not.


-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

hum... (4.50 / 2) (#127)
by rebelcool on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 03:54:24 PM EST

pokemon is japanese :)

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Yes (none / 0) (#129)
by Simon Kinahan on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 05:38:10 PM EST

And "Harry Potter" is British, Professor Rubik is Hungarian, and Tetris is Russian. I think that was his point.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
"I hope you're being ironic" (none / 0) (#165)
by zakalwe on Tue Oct 09, 2001 at 11:47:48 AM EST

On the other hand, this is an article about how American's can't grasp irony. Ironically, this means that you are the one who has failed to grasp the meta-irony

Unless you were being meta-meta ironic :-)

[ Parent ]

wow. (4.50 / 2) (#130)
by rebelcool on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 05:57:16 PM EST

I didnt catch it at first, but I must say that is perhaps the finest pieces of writing I've ever seen on k5.

You should put that in a story somewhere.

American culture *is* world culture.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Damn good. (none / 0) (#135)
by DarkZero on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 10:38:24 PM EST

Dude, turn that into a rebuttal article! Subtle and brilliant. I loved it.

[ Parent ]
everything is that way (5.00 / 1) (#132)
by rebelcool on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 07:32:05 PM EST

the chair you sit in is from ikea. the desk from poland. clothing styles? italian. The italian or mexican food you eat. Even the humble sandwich is british. I'm not sure where the hamburger came from, but its sandwich like appearance cant be ignored.

In fact, the one thing I can think of that is truly american culture, is Jeans. Levi Strauss (a german name...) came up with them for the miners in the 1849 gold rush.

Your coffee? Columbian.

Your rock music? African.

All this talk reminds me of the german Auslander Raus! movement and all its illogicalness.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Whats your point? (4.00 / 1) (#143)
by rapett0 on Sun Oct 07, 2001 at 11:43:35 AM EST

First of all, gaming culture (video game that is) really came to fruition in America before Nintendo, not to say Japan did not have a small base already. Additionally, I never said Nintendo isn't Japanese, my point was I was your typical sports/video gaming kid in the 80's. I know what your saying, I think you just missed my context of my statement.

[ Parent ]
Chicago (slightly OT) (none / 0) (#137)
by regeya on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 10:54:03 PM EST

I am from the heart of the mid west, Chicago.

Which, much to my chagrin, is known to most of the world as "Illinois."

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

heart of the midwest my ass (none / 0) (#155)
by alprazolam on Mon Oct 08, 2001 at 02:43:43 PM EST

city dwelling urbanites in Chicago think they're better than the rest of the mid west, just like New Yorkers think they're better than the rest of America. There's not even a midwestern culture in Chicago.

[ Parent ]
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA (5.00 / 1) (#160)
by regeya on Tue Oct 09, 2001 at 01:07:30 AM EST

No shit. :-) city dwelling urbanites in Chicago think they're better than the rest of the mid west, just like New Yorkers think they're better than the rest of America.

Noticed that, eh?

There was a politician a few years ago...don't remember her name...that made some comment about anything south of, erm, Joliet?...yeah, I think that was it...was Southern Illinois. She also made no secret that she cared not for anything other than northern Illinois. And she was running for state office. :-)

There's not even a midwestern culture in Chicago.

Tell me 'bout it. :-)

What cracks me up is when Chicagoites decide to move to where I live, to get away from Chicago, and insist that everyone around them change to make them feel more comfortable. For God's sake, don't call a Coke a soda unless you want a lecture about how it's "pop" pronounced "pap" almost as in "pap smear." Don't ask if one of them wants merchandise put in a sack, unless you want to see a guy grabbing his crotch saying, "This is the only fokking sack around here, put it in a beg (bag)!"

And the funny thing is, they're the same way if you try to convince 'em in the Chicago area that a Coke is a sodee and that you put your groceries in a sack. And that stuff seems cheap downstate because everyone South is poor, because the rest of the fucking state has to support Chicago.

Oh, I know; Lake Shore Drive was falling apart a couple of years ago. Take the money away from public-school superintendents making in excess of $400K/yr, willya?

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Chicago (even more OT) (none / 0) (#156)
by sqwudgy on Mon Oct 08, 2001 at 03:16:57 PM EST

``Which, much to my chagrin, is known to most of the world as "Illinois."''

To my chagrin, it it usually known as ``Ellinois'', because most people (TV news people are some of the worst) cannot seem to pronounce it correctly.

Is there a name for the dialect of English that sees ``il'' and says ``el''? The best that this Midwesterner can come up with is: ``lazy''.

[ Parent ]

Ass? (2.75 / 4) (#92)
by Kasreyn on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 10:04:28 PM EST

Please describe to me how Americans invented that word.

Anyway, I find "derriere" much more erotic. Ooh, speak French to me, baby! =P


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
Ass=Arse=Orsos (none / 0) (#171)
by pandeviant on Sat Oct 13, 2001 at 04:55:07 PM EST

This page has the origins of Ass ....

[ Parent ]
I wouldnt exactly say Americans are too polite.... (2.33 / 3) (#94)
by Desterado on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 10:16:25 PM EST

When you leave a store they are GOING to say "Have a nice day!" THEY WANT YOU TO SHOP THERE AGAIN. I say fuck in public all the time, nobody cares. Are you sure you didnt visit the bible belt? I know many people who have been assholes, its just the way it is. Then again, you seem to be saying that England(that is where you are from right?) seems to be a lot worse than america itself, but I haven't ever been to England, so I cant really say. I do appreciate the fact that SOMEONE actually views Americans as smart people, in general we truly ARE NOT SMART. Anyone who tells you otherwise IS an idiot.

You've got the flag, I've got your back.
I would, and do. (4.00 / 1) (#103)
by emmons on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 12:46:11 AM EST

It's all too evident that you've never been to europe and therefore don't have the same frame of reference as this man. In America, for the most part, store owners respect and cater to their customers' needs and desires. In europe, the store is always right, not the customer. As a whole, Americans are polite people. The motivation for their being so is unimportant, the point is that they are. On a personal note: you needn't be so cynical. Lighten up a bit, it'll make the world so much nicer for you.

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]
Bull shit. (3.75 / 4) (#97)
by DarkZero on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 10:53:55 PM EST

Negative American stereotypes are absolute bull shit... but so is this article. It's all 100% bull shit. You can't take a country as massive and diverse as America and make any generalizations about it. We create so much media that we could equal the negative media product of at least a dozen countries, as well as the posiive media product of just as many. We have so many people, that we have not only hundreds of times the amount of assholes as the UK, but also hundreds of times the amount of nice people. The same with intelligence: we have many more dumb people and many more smart people than several civilized countries combined.

America is a huge country with a millions of people and a land mass that is absolutely gigantic compared to the vast majority of the countries on the Earth. It is also arguably THE most multicultural country on the planet, because over ninety percent of its population is made up of people whose families immigrated in the last couple hundred years. The only generalization you can make about a country as large and multicultural as America is that you can't make generalizations about it.



America Is "Multicultural"? Spare me... (none / 0) (#126)
by BigDaddy71 on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 03:51:29 PM EST

America is the "melting pot" in which you come to the country and are assimilated, whether you like it or not. For an example of a multicultural country, just look north past the porous borders and look at Canada. Canada is a true "multicultural" society, backed by money from the government to almost every ethinic group imaginable.

[ Parent ]
Example (none / 0) (#133)
by regeya on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 08:39:35 PM EST

America is the "melting pot" in which you come to the country and are assimilated, whether you like it or not.

Take, for example, the Amish.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Heh. (5.00 / 1) (#134)
by DarkZero on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 10:36:09 PM EST

Let's look at about 150 miles around me. The Amish Country, a couple China Towns, a Little Italy, several towns dominated entirely by blacks, and several towns dominated so completely by either Jews or Koreans that the billboards and city-made signs are actually either in Hebrew or Hangul. Not to mention the Latin-Americans, which pretty much live wherever they want, regardless of the community's nationalities. And by the way, I live in a mostly Irish caucasian town.

And this is compared to Canada's entire TWO European cultures? Feh.



[ Parent ]
Hehe (none / 0) (#136)
by regeya on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 10:49:32 PM EST

I'm pasty-white (redhead, come to that), and I have more in common with the black residents of this town, because my ancestors were Not Italian(TM). I have no idea how to play bocce, and that's a real handicap. And damn if they don't believe me when I tell them "Simmons" is really Italian . . . ;-)

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

"Salad Bowl" more like it (none / 0) (#157)
by aluminumaloi on Mon Oct 08, 2001 at 03:52:39 PM EST

I think America more resembles a salad bowl than a melting pot. It's all a bunch of clumps of different cultures all around, not the uniform grey of things melted together into a single homogenous fluid.

Er.

Or perhaps it's more like soup.

[ Parent ]
man.. (4.00 / 4) (#102)
by tokage on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 11:38:45 PM EST

Who cares already. As much as they can reflect negatively on people, stereotypes and generalizations have always been around in some form. They will continue to do so long after we're all gone. Are Americans greedy capitalist pigs? Yes, some. Are Brits prissy? Yes, some. There seems to be advantages and disadvantages to every culture. I find nothing wrong with being a little country-centric. Part of it is pride for your homeland. Most of it is all in good fun. The only time it's a problem is when either 1) someone pushes it too far, or actually believes generalizations can apply to specific people 2) when the person being teased has no sense of humor and takes it all to heart 3) it goes outside the bounds of humor and becomes racist. Plays on stereotypes make up a large portion of humorous material. Suddenly that's a Great Evil because it's being applied to people from other countries? Humans are strange, silly creatures for the most part, with absurd thoughts and actions. Laughing at that is no crime.

Pretending there is something left

is like pretending there was anything at all. - Angela Smith
From your argument... (3.00 / 3) (#109)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 02:26:35 AM EST

...I must conclude that I like French Canadians better.

--em

americans are not better than europeans (3.00 / 7) (#110)
by slashdotterz on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 04:31:07 AM EST

Europeans are definitely wiser and smarter than Americans. Most americans i met are just loud. they are more known to talk more and act less. And when they do act, it is always not well thought and very judgemental. As we try to globalize world, americans are inevitably forcing other countries to accept their cultures through monopolistic practices, embargo, & sanctions. This doesnt sound like freedom to me. It is true of course that many of the scientific research and some of the greatest advances in the world is done in america but thats no reason to be an arrogant country. As you can see in the tragedy in september 11, although horrificly 6000 people has died and its not just americans by the way, 3 million people are displaced through military fears on the american forces build up. of course, americans through britain have pulled Nato in as well. In contrast, while americans gives 3 billion of aid to Israel, Israel continues to pound artillery on innocent people in Palestine and taking more land. And then, Palestine starts to blow themselves as a last resort to life. and so the cycle of violence begins. Why doesnt the americans apply any pressure on Israel? certainly because the US administration has many israelli interests within. And so in the middle east, distrust continues amongst the people there. Instead of trying to integrate the world into a safer place, it is allowing countries like Israel to divide and conquer. I respect the current administration in dealing with this crisis because it doesnt take retaliatory action immediately and weighs in carefully and tries to understand the problems. Have a nice day

You should consider buying a cleaner kettle (none / 0) (#164)
by zakalwe on Tue Oct 09, 2001 at 11:31:41 AM EST

Europeans are definitely wiser and smarter than Americans.... ... no reason to be an arrogant country.

Yeah, those arrogant bastards - probably think they're wiser and smarter than us.

[ Parent ]
Americans vs. Eurpoeans (2.00 / 1) (#166)
by orichter on Tue Oct 09, 2001 at 03:31:01 PM EST

1. Europeans were the ones who set up the Middle East the way it is today to a large degree. How quickly Europeans forget. Or is it that they want to forget and pretend they had nothing to do with it. Part of the "blame someone else for all the worlds' problems" syndrome I see everywhere. 2. Americans and American foreign policy has been no better or worse than European or any one elses foreign policy over the years. In fact it has many times been to a higher ideal than most. Even when mistaken the ideal was bettering the world and making it a better place for the average person to live in. Yes, many have mistaken this as an effort to take over, when in fact this has been the least of the intention. Look at the French in Algeria, was their foreign policy any better than American? Look at Italy and Germany during and before WWII, was their foreign policy better or worse than the US? Look at the Soviet Union, was their foreign policy better or worse (when they were the Imperialists, by the definition of Imperialist, they always accused the US of being so when it was not). What Hitler and Stalin did was some of the worst foreign policy ever (not seen since Genghis Khan or the Ottoman Turks), they killed nearly a hundred million people between them with their "enlightened" foreign and internal policies. What about Switzerland and Sweden, supplying war material and financial refuge to Hitler, Mussolini, and now we find out to Stalin and others even more recently as well. Was their foreign policy better or worse? So who in Europe is better at foreign policy over time than the US? Don't get me going on the horrific foreign policies of the many Balkan or Middle Eastern countries and factions, at one time or another they have been truly abysmal as well. And, a digression. But over the years the US HAS put pressure on Israel to give up territories captured during war, and the US HAS given other financial aid to the Palestinians (as someone on Kuro5hin noted in a previous response to another article, even mentioning the official US State Department figures as being in the billions of dollars per year). Convenient to forget these small facts? Isn't it? And the US still is the biggest giver of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, lest anyone forget. Where are the wonderful Europeans and their foreign policy there? End of digression. Overall, I think the US foreign policy has been somewhat better, more fair, more idealistic (wanting to help people be free, even when many do not understand freedom at all, though many flee to America to be free) but overall better than most foreign policies of most nations. If nothing else it is most often well meaning and not destructive as the criticisms make it out to be. 3. Remember Americans are made up to a large degree of ex-Europeans and many others. So why would you consider them different from Europeans or others? Yes, America is still the great melting pot. They all bring their ideas to the US and the US implements some of them internally and some in foreign policy as well. Yes, I am American (born here) I have lived in Europe for many years, I have European parents and grandparents. I can see the differences between the US and Europe. Your complaints just don't stand up. In fact they follow the propaganda of a lost age (the Soviet one) very well. Maybe you should get a little more up to date. Most of the arguments you make just do not stand up to history. Rant follows: I constantly have to remind people to read their history books. Sadly, they show a profound lack of knowledge of history, or change it to fit their current argument, or just choose to ignore it entirely in their comments. I suppose that this is caused by a profound lack of access to history books, something I take for granted in the US. Or is it that they are only reading propaganda inspired history books? In the US I can read history books from many countries and sources, and I do. That way I can pull the truth out of many sources. This is called analysis, something else that may be impossible in many foreign countries. Why is this impossible in so many countries? This is due to the lack of sources dictated by their governments, religions or some other group in control. Or it could be that there are only propagandized sources available with a single viewpoint in favor of the local government. So people end up looking silly to the ones who have bothered to do the analysis and research the history.

[ Parent ]
Scientists (3.57 / 7) (#113)
by twodot72 on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 06:00:02 AM EST

If you see a scientist on telly, it's usually an American, because all the best science is being done in the US now.
I think you meant to say "it's usually an indian or chinese who lives in the US" :-)

(Yes, the US has been very successful in attracting bright scientists from all over the world, especially asia, by providing a great environment for research.)

Attraction (5.00 / 1) (#115)
by demaratus on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 11:43:58 AM EST

Of course all the great minds are attracted to America. Does anyone remember the Manhattan Project? It attracted the greatest scientific minds of the 20th century to the United States, where they were free to pursue their own religious and social convictions. Guess what. They all became Americans...

The beauty of the United States of America lies in its open arms, and that being an American is open to anyone in the world.

[ Parent ]
Distinction (5.00 / 1) (#138)
by reeses on Sun Oct 07, 2001 at 12:57:11 AM EST

We also pride ourselves on assimilation. If we ask someone if they're Chinese, or Indian, or African, and they say,"I'm an American!" we're feel embarrassed at our rudeness.

While other nations tend to be comprised of people of relatively similar genetic stock, we're mostly comprised of people who had a particular drive to move here. Apart from a few exceptions, we're a nation of immigrants.

We like that. Not only is everybody equal (more or less), everybody is us.

No one is more ashamed or angry when that's forgotten than we are.

[ Parent ]

Integration (none / 0) (#141)
by twodot72 on Sun Oct 07, 2001 at 06:07:15 AM EST

Yes, america has certainly been more successful in accepting immigrants into society than most european countries. America is indisputably a more open society for foreigners, it's one of the things I like the most about it. (of course, saying that being an American is open to anyone in the world as demeratus did in another comment is a bit of an exaggeration, but I'll let it slide for the moment :-)

I'm not sure I like your use of the word assimilate though. In this context, it would mean To absorb (immigrants or a culturally distinct group) into the prevailing culture. I would prefer the word integrate; to admit (a racial or ethnic group) to equal membership in an institution or society. (I'm borrowing the definitions from American Heritage Dictionary here). That is, a society where we can learn to live together and accept cultural differences, maybe even learn from each other; not a society where we expect newcomers to become exactly like us. Maybe I sound like a corny idealist, but that's how I try to think and behave.

[ Parent ]

Point Taken (4.00 / 1) (#147)
by reeses on Sun Oct 07, 2001 at 08:46:38 PM EST

While some assimilation does indeed occur, it's the integration of foreign influences that makes living here so interesting.

[ Parent ]
non-US movies? (4.33 / 3) (#114)
by Ubiq on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 09:32:11 AM EST

I like Luc Besson's movies. Not deeply philosophical but fun nonetheless. And they're french.

"Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain" is (none / 0) (#142)
by looksaus on Sun Oct 07, 2001 at 06:15:55 AM EST

"The wonderful destiny of Amélie Poulain"

Isn't it so the somewhat less dumbly commercial films are just unlikely to make it across the ocean, from both sides?

I do know that some great movies have been made in France for the last few years. The French catastrophes (films I mean) that might reach America are probably just blockbusters. Exactly the same the other way round, I suppose.

I can't imagine the trash (mostly) from Hollywood we get to see in Europe is representative of the entire US movie production. Sure there must be more!
http://MusicaLiberata.org Towards a Free Classical Music Library
[ Parent ]
Amelie Poulain was great (none / 0) (#152)
by obi on Sun Oct 07, 2001 at 11:39:47 PM EST

... i really loved that movie.

But then, I like anything that director made (Brazil, Delicatessen, even Alien Resurrection was okay - for a hollywood thang)

[ Parent ]
! America is a free country ! (none / 0) (#125)
by looksaus on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 03:24:37 PM EST

A friend of mine spent a few months in Miami. (I'm from Belgium myself.)

I tried to tempt him to betting quite a few bottles of -Belgian- beer on the following:

He had to wear a Che Guevarra T-shirt for just one day. He could chose himself what day so he didn't have to take it to work, university, friends, ...

He refused... and not because he dislikes Che Guevarra so much as many Americans...
http://MusicaLiberata.org Towards a Free Classical Music Library
America vs. Areas within (none / 0) (#161)
by Ether on Tue Oct 09, 2001 at 01:26:23 AM EST

You _do_ recognize the difference between Miami, Florida and, say, Boston, MA or Los Angeles, California? Miami is home to a very dense concentration of expatriate Cubans and Cuban Americans, most of whom lost a lot when Castro and Che caused them to flee the country? Even given that- I'd be shocked if anything worse than being verbally harassed happened to him. Just because your friend (whom I assume was not American) had an irrational fear, doesn't make all of America crazed antiCommie lunatics.

If the offer's still on the table, send me a Che shirt and a six-pack of Belgian beer and I'll gladly send you pictures of me wearing it on the steps of the State Capitol building. I'd gladly pose on the steps of the national Capitol building, but it's about a 12 hour car drive from where I'm at now- so you'll have to settle for state government. I'd also gladly put it on in front of the Lincoln, Washington, or Jefferson Memorial, or the Pentagon. I'll even wear it by Kennedy's grave.


I've seen T-Shirts espousing much worse than the image of a failed revolutionary. I'd even say that fair amount of Americans couldn't even identifty Guevarra. I'm not saying Americans are ignorant: Ernesto was a Marxist flunky who presided over mass killings- and when his economic 'reforms' devestated the country he had 'won' he was shipped off to start several failed revolutions. The greatest thing that ever happened to him was the Bolivian Army shooting him- it made him a martyr. There are thousands of people who have had a much larger impact on the US than him- most Americans, on average, have many more important things to remember than semi-obscure foreign revolutionaries.

[ Parent ]
Politeness (3.50 / 2) (#131)
by MrEfficient on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 07:16:24 PM EST

I'm not sure that we're any more or less polite than any other culture. I can't say for sure because I've never visited any other countries. I think that it may just appear to foriegners that we are more polite because we are being very polite to them.

I think we are more polite to foreigners than we are to fellow Americans. We just like foriegners. We think you're interesting, we think your accents are cool, and we think your women are sexy. Anyway, my point here is that as a foriegner, unless you have lived here for a long time, you aren't able to see how things really are.

Of course that being said, I like your article. It's nice to know that not everyone hates the US (it seems that way sometimes).

damned Americans (4.00 / 2) (#151)
by Tyke on Sun Oct 07, 2001 at 11:18:48 PM EST

Only a Brit could ever write something like that, the fact that you live in the states doesnt suprise me in the least. As a Brit writing from back in blighty ive been talking to americans on irc for years. And my impressions are that Americans are funny, smart, but definitly not polite, americans seem to suffer from brashness and big headedness more than most. But i can forgive them this due to their excellent sense of humour and underlying current of decency. so on the whole id say i like them too. But shit, jerry springer and rickie lake dont do them any favours. ;-)
Beware of looking too deeply into the abyss, lest the abyss look deeply into you F.Nietzche
Don't Forget: We Recycle Our Trash Culture (1.00 / 1) (#159)
by dagoski on Mon Oct 08, 2001 at 04:54:25 PM EST

To be sure we Americans didn't invent camp. Or did we? Anyway, what other culture recycles its cultrural abominations into art? Look at Mystery Science Theater or the Smithee Awards. And, what other country cold host a company like Troma Studios?



ASS!!! (1.00 / 1) (#162)
by phliar on Tue Oct 09, 2001 at 01:34:29 AM EST

I like Americans. Why, some of my best friends are Americans!

The US is a huge and diverse country. Perhaps not as huge and diverse as, say, India - but close. You can't really find a simple characterisation of it. Although everyone nominally speaks the same language, I have a hard time understanding the locals in the South. Political and religious attitudes vary all over as well. The quality of humour, of xenophobia, of awareness of the outside world - all vary significantly. US society is so incredibly conservative and religious I feel claustrophobic. It drives me to distraction that there is so much here I consider worthless!

However, I've lived here for over 15 years and don't plan to leave. I am as amazed by the quality of the things I find good as I despair of other things. I am astounded at the quality of my every-day life: the accessibility of art, music and culture - even if it's not american. (Which other country could I get such a varied selection of foreign culture in? True, I do have go looking for it but it's easy to find.) I complain long and hard about US foreign policy, and I celebrate that I can complain. I rant and rave about Jerry Falwell and his ilk, and I find Americans ranting alongside me. For all this society's problems with race, it has done the best job so far of dealing with it. Other societies may have better records with women's rights and gay rights - but this society is getting there. Yes, there's People Magazine - but also Mother Jones, The New Yorker, and - as you mentioned - The Nation.

What I like about the US: it's so diverse there's something for everyone!

And we - yes, I said we - have the best word for le derriere. Ass. ASS. ASS!!!

PS - I say fuck in public all the time.

Faster, faster, until the thrill of...

yeah, but... (3.00 / 2) (#167)
by flummox on Tue Oct 09, 2001 at 04:01:24 PM EST

please don't judge me because of where i live. judge me by how i act and hold myself in public and private. i sure as hell don't persecute anyone by these standards, so don't do that to anyone. americans are americans. but, we are all individuals. don't insult yourself, or others by stereotyping ANYONE or ANYTHING... it's bad form...

later,

cap'n flummox

"Good Evening. For those of you who have candy, I hope you brought enough for all of us."
- Maynard James Keenan
Damn Skippy! (1.00 / 2) (#169)
by Heywood Jablowme on Tue Oct 09, 2001 at 09:55:43 PM EST

Now this fellow here has it just right. We Americans, (Native Texans more specifically) are the big swingin dicks of this here new millenium. We are smart and funny, and havent got the slightest ego problem. Its nice for some one to finally give me the credit I am due.
Did you just grab my ass?
:-/ embarassed brit... (5.00 / 1) (#172)
by m0rzo on Mon Oct 15, 2001 at 04:48:57 PM EST

This brown nosing submission to k5 puts you well up there with the likes of Tony Blair..congragulations!!

You're the reason I tend to avoid my fellow brits when I'm abroad. Did you stop and examine what you wrote here before submitting it? Or did you plan to score browny points with the American users in the hope of it getting to the front page?

I'm fond of American culture and of the many Americans I've met I've found them to be extremely pleasant. How can you generalise a whole nation though? That is so ignorant. It's just as bad as if you HAD said "Americans are dumb" - everyone is different. We're all citizens of a global community to generalise about any nations characteristics is inherantly prejudice and somewhat ignorant!

I've met funny Iranians, boring Americans, annoying French people, dumb Australians and even dumber English people but that's got nothing to do with their nationalities. Get a grip!
My last sig was just plain offensive.

Why I like Americans | 172 comments (171 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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