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Travel and the Dearth of Geographical Education in America

By xram in Op-Ed
Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 04:09:15 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

All of us, if awakened in the middle of the night, can find our way from the bed to the bathroom.

In the dark.


It's a start.  Out of the wide world we carve our own worlds and know them almost instinctively.  We are masters of an intimate geography of floor plans, daily commutes, shortcuts, scenic drives, back alleys, and paper routes stretching back to childhood.  We would be lost and poor without it.

But now we can be lost and impoverished with it. No longer is it enough to know one's individual piece of Earth, one's place, because today all places are fundamentally linked.  On an average day we may put on an Italian suit made in Malaysia; order from a Romanian waitress in an Indian restaurant; fill the tank of our Japanese car with gas from Saudi Arabian oil; and then settle down for a quiet evening of televised baseball with players from the Dominican Republic and South Korea.  We can graze a dozen different cultures simply by getting up in the morning.  The broader world has engulfed, and enriched, our smaller ones.

This heightened exposure may explain, in an odd way, our general lack of curiosity about the world.  It's right here, so why go out and explore it?  Less than 20 percent of U.S. citizens have passports, a figure which suggests that many of us are world-weary without ever having left home.

We are in fact a nation of immigrants, mostly, or children of immigrants, so a certain amount of detachment is understandable.  Only we in the United States declare, with an insistence that's almost touching, that our country is the greatest in the world because it's the only one composed of people from all the others.  And while this reiterated sentiment is not very gracious, it does in this context make some sense.  What doesn't make sense is loudly proclaiming ourselves No. 1 among nations when we know so little about the rest of them.  Wouldn't the greatest country be, among other things, the best informed?

Also, the constant brushing up against foreignness -- a phenomenon that a century ago happened mainly in large coastal cities -- gives us a false sense of worldliness.  We eat sushi and dance salsa and practice yoga.  How much more cosmopolitan can we be?  Well, cosmopolitan enough to be able to name and locate on a map the places from which those three things came.  Knowing where a country is located is the first step toward understanding it.

Yet, as has been embarrassingly demonstrated over the last decade, Americans don't possess a very clear picture of the world.  The National Geographic-Roper 2002 Global Geographic Literacy Survey found that given a map of Europe most of the 18-to-24-year-olds queried in the United States were able to identify only three countries.  Half of the group could not locate New York State, one of our most populous.  A short year after the 2001 World Trade Center attacks, only 17 percent of young people could find Afghanistan.  Iraq and Iran proved even more elusive.  Asia languished in its own thick fog.  We've eradicated smallpox, but we haven't taught our children to find Mongolia on a map.

It's not just the young -- they take the rap because they take the tests.  Geographical howlers are as prevalent in the culture, and as frequently unnoticed, as grammatical mistakes.  People consistently confuse Switzerland and Sweden, put into Central America countries that are perfectly at home in South America, go mum when it comes to Africa.

The media are not a great help.  Many newspapers, to cut costs and play to hometown readers, have closed their foreign bureaus.  The glossy travel magazines often seem more interested in restaurants and resorts than in the countries where they're located.  

In his new book Why Geography Matters, Harm de Blij traces the decline of our geographic knowledge to the 1960s.  He points his finger at our public educators, which in that fraught decade decided to lump geography, history, and government together under "social studies."  De Blij notes that Harvard University has not offered geography to its students for about half a century.

Of course, there are savants in our midst that can name capitals, rivers and seas the way the rest of us rattle off movie titles.  And the Krakow McDonald's and the Maputo Holiday Inn are testament to a small group of Americans armed with a global, utilitarian knowledge.

But for the rest of us, the world we know is the world we've seen.  This is what's priceless about travel.  It allows us to fill in the blanks, put names to faces, and make bits and pieces of the wide world part of our own worlds.  And through it we gain a better understanding of everything from the front-page news to our next-door neighbors.

Yet no matter how impressive our grasp -- especially of the regions where we've lived and traveled -- there will always be people who surpass us.  They would be the locals.  Geography is the field of the unfair advantage.  

So we are all, to greater and lesser degrees, geographically illiterate.  The world is far too bounteous for us to know it completely.  But it's too infinitely fascinating for us not to try.

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Poll
do you have a passport?
o yes 85%
o no 11%
o I don't travel 3%

Votes: 148
Results | Other Polls

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Travel and the Dearth of Geographical Education in America | 507 comments (466 topical, 41 editorial, 0 hidden)
A couple of comments (2.81 / 11) (#3)
by Coryoth on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 02:29:21 AM EST

First, I think pinning the decline of US geographic knowledge as late as 1960 is being optmistic. Among his many highly quotable quips Ambrose Bierce said: "War is God's way of teaching Americans geography". While I don't have an exact date on the quote it would have to be very early in the 20th century as Bierce died around 1913 or 1914 (the inexactness is not my lack of memory, but rather due to mysteries surrounding his disappearance and death).

Second this is an interesting topic to me because I come from a culture, New Zealand, where overseas travel is something that young people are expected to do. "The big OE" (Overseas Experience) is a standard part of the culture and something people usually do after finishing high school or university: young people are expected to get out and travel and see the world, taking anything from a month to several years before you get around to settling down. As much as 15% of New Zealand citizens are overseas at any given time (a figure bloated, admittedly, by expatriates in Australia). It takes effort to think of many of my New Zealand friends (I am currently living and studying in Canada) who have not been overseas - the vast majority have travelled around Europe, or backpacked through sout east Asia, or hitchiked through central America, or otherwise travelled and explored foreign lands at some point. The concept of a population where the majority are unfamiliar with foreign climes is a strange one.

Of course New Zealand and the US are very different in many ways that tend to exaggerate the difference: New Zealand is a small and relatively isolated country - if you're going to go far you'll be going overseas and at that point the trip is almost guaranteed to be a long one, so you might as well go a very long way and make the most of it; the US, on the other hand, is a vast country in it's own right and you can travel for a very long time indeed without ever leaving - and certainly there is a lot to see just within the US. In the end though much of the New Zealand OE culture is something that has become a deep seated part of the culture - that young people are expected to explore and experience different places and different cultures. It's an aspect of New Zealand culture that, on reflection, I am very proud of.

Jedidiah.

Jedidiah.

like most things, it comes down to cost (2.40 / 5) (#8)
by SocratesGhost on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 03:22:29 AM EST

While Peter Jackson did a good job at emphasizing your islands' diversity it remains just that: a chain of islands. If you want to see some place, you already have to overcome the cost of travelling the ocean in order to go someplace and see other things.

New Zealand is about the area as Colorado(#8 out of 50 by size) and has a smaller population than South Carolina (#26 of 50 by population). My country's size and diversity makes overseas travel a somewhat unnecessary cost. Many things that can be encountered overseas have been repeated in the U.S. so a person wanting to see world class art could spend a few thousand to fly themselves to the Louvre and spend a week in Paris or they can drive to the National Galleries in Washington, D.C. for a fraction of the cost. There's also a tremendous number of geographic wonders in the U.S.: Yellowstone, Niagara Falls, and the Grand Canyon come quickly to mind but there are many others. One need not ever get bored when looking for a new place to travel in the U.S. Also, I wonder if the experience of a Californian going to school in New York City may be similarly foreign as a New Zealander travelling to Canada? I'm a native Californian and I can always spot a person from the midwest(Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, etc.) because they behave and talk as midwesterners behave and act. Texans and New Yorkers are pretty easy to spot as are native Montanans once you've met one and I can tell generally from what part of California a person was born and raised after working with them for a little while. I think it's dismissive to think that the Cajun, the Menonite, and the Seattlite are all "just Americans". There are sections in Los Angeles and San Francisco where all the street signs are in Chinese and numerous stores don't have anyone who speaks English. Here in Southern California, there is even a growing number of Latino families who have lived in the U.S. for several generations but no one speaks English. The American culture is highly diverse and if a benefit of travel is to experience diversity, we don't really need to go far. As a result, there are many inexpensive alternatives to incurring the burdensome cost of travel.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Strange view of travel (2.00 / 2) (#14)
by Milo Mindbender on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 10:58:57 AM EST

Other countries and cultures are really different, thats what you go to look at and pseudo-experience. The national gallery isn't the Louvre. The grand canyon is not the alps.

Its like the Disney view of tourism, oh, theres a 1/8 Eiffel Tower, guess I don't need to bother with the real thing now.

I'm having putting this more eloquently than WTF?
I feel like you are missing the point but maybe I am or something. Confused.


[ Parent ]

I don't entirely disagree but (2.66 / 3) (#18)
by SocratesGhost on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 12:05:10 PM EST

While I think there is value to travel, I'm not so arrogant as to demand that everyone find the same type of value that I find in it. You seem to think that people want to see the Eiffel Tower. Many people do. However, I think that most people want to see an engineering marvel and can find equal satisfaction with visiting Hoover Dam or the Statue of Liberty. On this view, it's not about a reduced size experience; it's about a comparable but different experience.

And, like I said, America is pretty diverse. Not impressed with the National Gallery? Come out to the West Coast and enjoy the Ghetty, Norton Simon, MOCA and LACMA. Heck, you can throw in the La Brea Tarpits during your trip to LACMA; sure it's not Lascaux but Lascaux is no La Brea Tarpits, either.

And anyone who thinks that East Coast culture is the same as West Coast culture (or even that there are homogenized coastal cultures) must be incapable of discerning all but the most obvious contrasts. If you want a real contrast, visit the Amish or Cajuns, or spend a nickel at the slot machines of an Indian Reservation. Only a limited perspective believes that artificial political boundaries demarcate the foreign from the familiar; foreignness is commonplace in America.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Hmm (3.00 / 2) (#22)
by Milo Mindbender on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 01:20:15 PM EST

I think that the crux of it maybe.

I don't see travel as "instrumental" particularly. If it was warmer here I wouldn't go to the south of France or Italy as much for example, but I don't consider either to be especially foreign to me. Similarly, if I go climbing in Spain in the winter its because I can't climb outdoors here not so much because I have a burning desire to go to Spain especially (not that I mind either though). Same deal with skiing in Charmonix. And so on. Thats "instrumental" in that sense and I wouldn't do as much of it if I could do it domestically for less.

But when I went to Thailand or India, it wasn't because I wanted to eat curry or whatever. For that matter I didn't go to the States because I can't get a hamburger here. It was because I wanted to see what Thailand and India and, yes, parts of America, were like as best I could as a visitor. My view of Americans was much improved by visiting actually and that after a life-time of (allegedly) sharing a culture...films, books, etc etc. You've gotta go there. And I tell you something else, the English people I met in America were fucking weird. Its a self-selecting sample after all.

[ Parent ]

Have you actually ever been outside America? (3.00 / 2) (#23)
by shambles on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 01:32:27 PM EST

I can't see how you could have if you think the difference between the East coast and West coast is anyway comparable to the difference between France and Germany or Vietnam and Russia. How can there be that much difference if people watch the same TV, buy the same types of food from the same shops and even vote for the same people. And can't you see the value in seeing both the Eiffel Tower AND the Hoover Dam, the Guggenheim AND the Louvre, La Brea, Lascaux AND Stonehenge. It's not an either/or situation, travel truly broadens the mind. However large it is the US is one part of one continent, dominated by one culture. It is less than about half the size of Russia; about three-tenths the size of Africa; about half the size of South America.

People are more important than Truth - Edgar Malroy
[ Parent ]
Yes (2.66 / 3) (#27)
by SocratesGhost on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 02:10:36 PM EST

I lived in Japan and Kenya.

I listed subtle cultural differences in America (if you can call the difference between a Texan vs. a New Yorker subtle) and not so subtle differences (Native Americans vs. Cajuns). I guess no one in the world can imagine that someone can disagree with this pollyanna romantic view of travel; it seems to be the same people who possess an unreasonable assumption that Americans are homogenous because 15% of the population tunes in to watch Lost.

Look, I see value in travel abroad. If you want to see the Taj Mahal, a picture book won't suffice. But I also recognize that my enjoyment of these things is comparable to my taste in music. I like classical while others like country. So-called "worldliness" is a preference and it hints of snobishness to say that growing up with a UN of friends who were Asian Indians, Persians, Koreans, and Philippinos is somehow inferior to knowing the capitals of those countries or spending a week feeling morose over the sight of shantytowns outside of Mombasa. We're daily in direct contact with these cultures and that's an enormous difference from any other country in the world. My argument is that the average American is much more cosmopolitan than you give credit. They're friends with refugees from Cambodia and Viet Nam and they know people who jumped a fence or crawled a tunnel to get here. They may not have seen the Daibutsu in Kamakura, but what is more important: knowing the individual people or knowing their individal structures?

Just so you know what great insight my travels abroad gained: there's racism everywhere. Beauty and fascinating differences, yes, but most of all racism.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Other countries also have immigration... (3.00 / 4) (#35)
by shambles on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 02:42:19 PM EST

...so I don't think America is unique in allowing the meeting and melding of different cultures. In fact America's very size works against it here. If you live in the big costal cities in America you are going to come in contact with other cultures, but if you live in Odessa, Texas or Glenville, West Virginia it is much less likely. I've been to Odessa, Texas and my English accent was marveled at in almost every place I went into.

I wouldn't call the difference between a New Yorker and a Texan subtle but I would say it was very small when compared to the difference between a Vietnamese farmer and a Parisian office worker. What's more I live in Texas and I know many Texans who have never left Texas, let alone been as far as New York.

Also traveling gives you context, you mentioned the Cajuns. Their culture can be better understood if you have seen some of France. The Native American culture can be compared to the Inuits in Canada or Maori in New Zealand or the early Germanic tribes.

People are more important than Truth - Edgar Malroy
[ Parent ]
I have been abroad and seen a lot of friendliness (1.50 / 2) (#46)
by tetsuwan on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 04:45:35 PM EST

Yes, I've seen racism too, but most of all kindness and hospitality. Maybe you only see a reflection of yourself?

Only in Japan would an electronic shop owner send you a $50 battery abroad that you thought you had forgotten in the store. He said I hadn't forgotten it there but was concerned about selling me a stereo that had the wrong FM-frequencies.

Only in Japan would an innkeeper chase after you several blocks in order to give you that extra information she didn't recalled the time you asked.

I've met some extremely friendly people in Thailand too. And no, they didn't expect to get paid in any way.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Only in Japan? (3.00 / 2) (#53)
by rusty on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 05:11:10 PM EST

That sort of thing would happen in the vast majority of the US too. In fact, I can't think of very many places I've been in any country where I'd find such behavior implausible. Idaho, certainly. Ain't much brotherly love in Idaho. But other than that...

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
They would never send commodity for free (none / 0) (#61)
by tetsuwan on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 05:47:56 PM EST

I had no case, but I faxed my complaints and a receit, and they sent me stuff 'for free'. I was totally taken back, and very happy.

So innkeepers come running into restaurants to give you extra information where your live? That's splendid, I want to go there.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Ask for directions in New York (none / 1) (#92)
by rusty on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 09:51:13 PM EST

For all their legendary surliness, it's very instructive to ask for directions on a busy street in New York. You will get about fifteen different opinions about the best way to get there, and likely a couple of offers to actually personally escort you where you need to go. Of course, if you're not familiar with New Yorkers you will still find it somehow threatening and mean, but in retrospect you won't be able to figure out exactly why.

This works in Boston too, for the most part. But you won't understand a damn word of it.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Excellent (none / 0) (#125)
by tetsuwan on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 02:39:27 AM EST

Giving proper directions and guiding people until the possibly cannot miss the place their looking for is something I've picked up. I can't follow directions for shit, so I know what it's like.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Hee hee (2.50 / 2) (#141)
by rusty on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 10:54:21 AM EST

I frequently go wrong on Step One of directions. I also get lost in parking lots. :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Politeness vs. Helpfulness (3.00 / 3) (#174)
by NoBeardPete on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 05:13:56 PM EST

I've lived in Philadelphia and Boston, and it's much the same there. People don't make a big show of being polite, of waving to you when you drive by, of saying good morning to you on the street. But when you actually need some sort of help, they'll give it to you. Anytime my car has been stuck in the snow in Philly, someone walking by has stopped to ask if they can help give me a push. People always try to provide useful directions. It's not that they don't have good will towards man. It's that if you live in a big, pedestrian oriented city, you simply can't make a show of being polite and friendly to everyone you see.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

New Yorkers (none / 0) (#289)
by AngelKnight on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 08:08:02 PM EST

Just speaking for myself:

I think we're surly because when we're on the street we're always going somewhere.  I think there is a learned resentment for someone who stands idly on the street with no apparent destination or purpose.

[ Parent ]

Try walking slowly sometime. (3.00 / 2) (#358)
by vectro on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 12:38:39 AM EST

It's not as easy as you think, but it's terribly subversive.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
Boston directions (none / 0) (#314)
by cpt kangarooski on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 08:34:27 AM EST

Well, remember, directions in Boston are a lot like the signs that tell you where major roads, highways, etc. are. They're meant to route people out of Boston, since no one who belongs here would need to rely on them. ;)

Regarding the topic generally, I have a pretty good knowledge of geography, but I hate travel. Not just outside of the US, but within it as well. I already live in Boston, and aside from visiting relatives from time to time, I see no need to go outside of 495, if not 128.



--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

Heh (none / 0) (#315)
by rusty on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 08:44:04 AM EST

Yeah, you're from Boston alright. :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
my own private Idaho experience (none / 1) (#68)
by SocratesGhost on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 06:25:52 PM EST

I was driving up to Montana to get away from it all when I made a pit stop in Idaho to get gas. They didn't demand pre-payment.

That floored me. I'm so used to the wariness of gas station attendents, I almost insisted that they take my cash first because it would make me feel more comfortable.

There I was--a complete stranger--and they trusted me. Unremarkable in any other time. Entirely remarkable from a SoCal perspective. I've thought more kindly of the entire state ever since that single experience.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Huh (none / 0) (#89)
by rusty on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 09:48:13 PM EST

SoCal must be an utter hellhole then. No pre-pay was universal in New England until the installation of credit/debit card pumps made it largely an obselete issue. People would have been rather offended, I think, if you had tried to insist they pay first.

Last time we drove cross-country, Idaho was the only state we both said we had no interest in seeing ever again. Perhaps we just hit the wrong town...

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

I thougt no prepay was pretty much universal. (none / 1) (#112)
by krishna on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 01:48:23 AM EST

With the recent leaps in gas prices there was a rash of thefts that caused a few scattered stations to start forcing prepay in the Pittsburgh area. I don't know if they stuck with that policy.


[ Parent ]
Except New Jersey (none / 0) (#462)
by CivisHumanus on Wed Mar 08, 2006 at 12:22:47 PM EST

All NJ gas stations are full service. They don't allow you to pump your own gas.

[ Parent ]
Missouri must be a hellhole (none / 0) (#463)
by Cro Magnon on Wed Mar 08, 2006 at 01:46:41 PM EST

At least in the city. My neighborhood has been pre-pay for years. Several nearby neighborhoods switched to pre-pay about the time gas got above $1.80. I think it sux, but apparently it's neccesary.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
WTF... (none / 0) (#121)
by BJH on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 02:29:21 AM EST

...is "pre-pay" for gas? Weird country you have there.
--
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]
IAWTP (none / 0) (#135)
by tetsuwan on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 08:08:13 AM EST

Pre-pay gas? Never heard of it.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

weird state, apparently (none / 1) (#161)
by SocratesGhost on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 02:45:53 PM EST

From what everyone else is saying, in the rest of the country you don't have to pre-pay for gas. Must be a California thing.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
It's an urban thing. (none / 1) (#177)
by glor on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 05:54:43 PM EST

In Tennessee the trend is towards "prepay after dark."

--
Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
[ Parent ]

REASONS: (3.00 / 2) (#180)
by Abominable Abitur on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 07:15:51 PM EST

People here think driving is a right, therefore if they can't afford $2.50 gas they will steal it. They drive up to the pump, fill up their car, and then drive away. Now they won't activate the pumps until you provide some form of payment. Paying at the pump also allows stations to provide gas without having to hire someone to watch it.

"Terrorism is only a viable "political activist" method for marginalized nutjobs, bottom line. The backlash that it causes makes it intractable for any reasonable ideology. Which is why you don't generally see wild athiest suicide bombers in america's streets." - lonelyhobo
[ Parent ]
Thanks for reminding me (none / 1) (#155)
by godix on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 01:22:13 PM EST

I've been to several trips to California and not once have I enjoyed it. I had forgotten the pre-pay thing though. Thanks for reminding me of yet another reason California sucks.

More CORN!

[ Parent ]
I just want to say. (none / 0) (#483)
by DavidTC on Tue Mar 14, 2006 at 09:56:33 PM EST

I'm from Georiga, and I'm saying 'What. The. Fuck?'. They make you pay for gas before pumping it?

I've seen that twice in my entire life, both in very slummy streets in Atlanta, and only applying late at night. In both cases, these gas stations had the clerk behind bullet-proof glass, and you locked your car before you walked inside to pay, because there were people standing around mysteriously in the parking lot with no purpose at all, and you just hoped they were waiting to steal from your car instead of waiting to mug you.

Hell, most gas stations around here take checks.

Of course, here in Georgia, if you drive off without paying for gas, you'll lose your driver's licence. Maybe you people just need some stricter laws?

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

Only in Japan (2.80 / 5) (#55)
by SocratesGhost on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 05:21:18 PM EST

would they look at you with a measure of pity for not being Japanese.

Only in Japan would a friend take you to karaoke and sing Japanese war songs while black and white zeros bomb American aircraft carriers on the display.

Only in Japan would I get a job to be a token white guy so that his company would seem more worldly and cosmopolitan. I had no responsibilities other than to attend meetings. They even wanted me permanently.

Only in Japan can women be often accosted on the trains and feel pressure not to say a word.

Do I really need to bring up Bata'an or any of the atrocities they committed against Koreans during World War II and their steadfast refusal until only the very recent past to admit that maybe they might have done some bad things?

Only in Japan can you have University professors deny that Pearl Harbor, Iwo Jima et al. ever really happened. They were simply minding their own business when the U.S. dropped two nuclear weapons on the country.

Like I said, there's a lot of interesting and beautiful differences but the prejudice is quite present. Just try claiming that you're Japanese if you're white and you were born and raised there. They are more conscious of the color barrier than you give them credit for.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
I am sorry for you. (none / 1) (#58)
by tetsuwan on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 05:41:59 PM EST

While I have stayed with an old racist woman (she was my landlady), none of my friends are racist. That I know of, of course.

But you should now that Japanese differentiate on more grounds than skin color, and I suspect that many still have a problem when dealing with Americans. Maybe I am lucky that Swedes are held in universally high regard. Japanese are mostly concerned with Chinese and Koreans, where skin color isn't the foremost difference.

Although I am usually the only foreigner in the group I have never felt that I have been treated with disrespect. I am usually able to set new people back with my totally ordinary Japanese behavior.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

To be clear (2.80 / 5) (#63)
by SocratesGhost on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 05:59:29 PM EST

I'm not a niponophile (if that's the right word), but I went to work in Japan with an open mind, a willingness to learn but no desire to abandon my own sense of justice and fairness. I wanted to see both the good and bad. While it's a different culture I can accept certain differences but I think it dishonest to tolerate another's culture values at the expense of your own. The blatant sexism and groping on the trains alone is reason enough for me to be avoid unabashed devotion.

One more story and I think it's illustrative of the whole "white man in Japan" story. Back in the U.S. I had a Korean girlfriend who was adopted into a white family. She spoke no asian languages and knew next to nothing about Japanese culture. At the end of my year there, I brought her over for a month so we could travel the country. We'd eat at a restaurant and the waiter would ask her questions. Now, I studied Japanese for 2.5 years and I spent the previous year nominally translating manuals into English (like I said, though, my job really was to be a token white guy to be showed off like a pony before customers). So, I'd look at the waiter, and say "Excuse me, but she doesn't speak Japanese. She would like this and that and an iced tea, please." They'd look at me, and then they would look back at her asking questions and expecting a response. They would frequently look to her to translate my orders, too. It got to be very frustrating and I better understood Ellison's book The Invisible Man.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
I have to say that I was true to my values too (2.33 / 3) (#64)
by tetsuwan on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 06:22:58 PM EST

By "acting Japanese" I do not mean being a raging sexist racist. And the only train incident I had was with an old man who "collapsed" into the lap of a young woman. I and the Japanese guy next of the accident would have none of it and immediately forced him to stand up. The woman was quite hemmed in and couldn't do much, but she didn't have to. We kept the old man with the "bad legs" under scrutiny for the rest of the trip.

As for the invisible man feeling, I've heard your story told by others too, but never in two years time experienced it myself. To sound pompous: maybe this is because my accent is almost flawless. I have repeatedly fooled Japanese on the phone. Japanese never try to talk English to me. I know your experience is true, but I don't think I will ever experience it myself.

As for Japanophilia (don't know either), I have big problems with their view on work/private life/family. My view is that family comes first, and work and private life are close seconds. The Japanese take is that private life doesn't exist and that the family should be taken cared of by the women. No wonder their birth rates are the lowest in the world along with Italy.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

and because I feel bad (2.50 / 2) (#76)
by SocratesGhost on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 07:15:38 PM EST

One thing that sucks about trying to make a point is that no matter how nuanced you want your comment to be, if you're speaking "anti-", you're forced to dwell on the negatives and I'm giving short shrift to a people I very much respect and admire. The friends that I met there are some of my most favorite in the world.

In fact, an enormous counter-example was my immediate boss: the company's vice president was a woman and her husband had taken her surname since she was the last of that family. In every way, she was not what I thought the typical case would be. But she was the only counter-example. Every afternoon at tea time, one of the office girls would go make tea, put a tray of snacks on a platter and would then distribute it around the office. When she was done, she'd go back to the phones to resume sales calls. The female sales girls rotated this duty. None of the male sales agents ever did.

It makes me sad, really, to remember such details because they meant no harm and I think such otherwise generous and kind people are very rare in this world.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
I know plenty "exceptions" (none / 1) (#151)
by tetsuwan on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 01:06:57 PM EST

I got angry at an obviously talented girl once who said "maybe women aren't supposed to work". Silliest notion ever. She cut the crap and is doing great as an architect now.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

when I was there (3.00 / 3) (#159)
by SocratesGhost on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 02:03:06 PM EST

There was a growing problem with flight attendents. There were too many of them. The typical pattern was a girl would be an attendent for a short while to make some money, she would get married, and then she would quit. However, women were deferring marriage for longer. The airlines hadn't really scaled back their hiring practices and so they were hiring all of these fresh young faces and consequently were putting a lot of pressure on the more experienced attendants to quit. I don't know how they resolved it.

It's not that they think poorly of women or see them as inferior--that's not the nature of their prejudice. But I think Japanese behavior is very hierarchical and organized. The nail that stands out gets pounded back in. So, with my experience on the trains, the flight attendent fiasco, how the girls always served tea at tea time, the men who had wives and children in the country and girlfriends and lovers in the city... all of that painted a less-than-idyllic situation. And that saddened me because I really wanted to openly love the culture. Why else would I study the language? Even your own experience indicates a strong idea of women as homemakers. You--a foreigner--said it was a silly idea but what would her parents say?

It goes without saying that America ain't perfect and neither is it necessarily a "superior" culture (whatever that would mean). But I think if we're going to say that "Country X is great because Y" that we must acknowledge that Country X may also do Z and we shouldn't ignore it.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Hm. (3.00 / 4) (#120)
by BJH on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 02:27:27 AM EST

To sound pompous: maybe this is because my accent is almost flawless.

I've lived in Japan for sixteen years, graduated from a Japanese university, worked for a Japanese company (as the first foreigner they'd employed since the company was founded in 1930 or so), and edited books in Japanese; people don't notice I'm foreign on the phone until I say my name, and yet I can sit down in a restaurant and have the waiter conduct a conversation with my wife where I answer all the questions.

That said, I think SocratesGhost's other experiences are fairly atypical.
--
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]

Did it happen once (none / 0) (#122)
by tetsuwan on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 02:29:44 AM EST

or several times? I've been a lot of restaurants with Japanese and never got this treatment. Funny.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Doesn't happen to me... (none / 1) (#124)
by BJH on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 02:37:29 AM EST

...when I'm out with a group of adults - only when I'm with my family.

--
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]
I think specifically (none / 0) (#145)
by SocratesGhost on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 12:49:29 PM EST

it was because I was with an asian girlfriend and it was just the two of us. It happened on several occasions when I was with her.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
I have to try it (none / 0) (#148)
by tetsuwan on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 01:03:11 PM EST

Were the ordinary or the snobbish restaurants worst?

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

from my experience (none / 0) (#154)
by SocratesGhost on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 01:20:16 PM EST

When we went out to eat, we generally went to nicer restaurants. The only small ones where I remember taking her, the mama-san already knew me.

This was back in 1994, though, and my memory of it may have exagerrated over time but I remember getting this treatment several times.

Where abouts are you? I was in Higashi-Yamato, not far from Tachikawa.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
I was in Odate, Akita pref and Tokyo (none / 0) (#164)
by tetsuwan on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 03:02:51 PM EST

Ending up on the countryside was a real hit, I realized some years later.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

I mean (none / 0) (#165)
by tetsuwan on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 03:03:41 PM EST

I wass lucky my first stay was on the countryside.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

You can think that Swedes are universally loved (2.50 / 2) (#403)
by IVotedCthulhu on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 07:19:36 PM EST

But I want you to attempt to obtain services from an establishment that specifically refuses to serve gaijins after telling them that you're from Sweden.

[ Parent ]
Have you....? (same comment with paragraphs) (3.00 / 2) (#24)
by shambles on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 01:34:22 PM EST

I can't see how you could have if you think the difference between the East coast and West coast is anyway comparable to the difference between France and Germany or Vietnam and Russia. How can there be that much difference if people watch the same TV, buy the same types of food and even vote for the same people.

And can't you see the value in seeing both the Eiffel Tower AND the Hoover Dam, the Guggenheim AND the Louvre, La Brea, Lascaux AND Stonehenge. It's not an either/or situation, travel truly broadens the mind.

However large it is the US is one part of one continent, dominated by one culture. It is less than about half the size of Russia; about three-tenths the size of Africa; about half the size of South America.



People are more important than Truth - Edgar Malroy
[ Parent ]
Hm (2.50 / 2) (#52)
by rusty on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 05:08:01 PM EST

Well, for one thing, the east cast and the west coast are much farther apart than France and Germany.

I've spent time in both France and Germany (and with actual French people and German people, no less -- not just in hotels) and I think if you disregard the language difference, you'll find they have quite a lot in common. Like, as a thought experiment, imagine yourself being drugged and blindfolded, and then waking up some time later in a house in either Germany or France, where you cannot see any printed text or hear anyone speaking a language. How would you know which country it was?

The answer, of course, is, "Go and look at the toilet." But I hope I've made my point anyway. Not that there isn't difference, but I think there's a tendency to ascribe more importance to language than it really has.

Also, let me make it clear that I don't think anyone in this thread is arguing that it's not worth it for Americans to travel abroad. It certainly is, like it is for anyone. I think the point we're trying to make here is that Americans who have traveled broadly within the US should not be discounted right off as unworldly bumpkins. That "dominated by one culture" is exactly the misapprehension we're talking about here.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

beep beep (3.00 / 4) (#65)
by Milo Mindbender on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 06:23:02 PM EST

There is a classic fallacy here.

We are very different and varied.

They are all the same (for one thing, they are the same in being not like us).

I'm not disgreeing with you as much as I'm saying I think this is unanswerable for any of us, Martians excluded I guess.

[ Parent ]

We are all unique (none / 1) (#139)
by wiredog on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 10:33:44 AM EST

Just like everyone else.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
I'm not. [n/t] (none / 0) (#484)
by DavidTC on Tue Mar 14, 2006 at 09:58:12 PM EST



-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]
Exactly what I wanted to say. § (none / 0) (#226)
by New Me on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 10:15:19 AM EST


--
"He hallucinated, freaked out, his aneurysm popped, and he died. Happened to me once." --Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

I've heard all this before (2.50 / 2) (#26)
by Coryoth on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 02:04:52 PM EST

Yes New Zealand is small and the US is big. New Zealand does have remarkable diversity packed into that small area though. The real point, however, is that for all this talk of the great diversity of the US and how different everyting is and how Americans can just stay there and get the same experiences... that is simply not my experience. I've travelled around the US and the relative cultural homogeneity is actually quite striking. Moreover for all your claims of Americans travelling and experiencing their own country and being as broadened as those who have travelled abroad: again simply not my experience; the majority of Americans I have met have a very insulated view and travel within the US doesn't seem to change that; those Americans who have been overseas and travelled and explored really do stand out.

You note that a New Zealander studying in Canada is little different than a Californian studying in New York and I would agree that's similar. Of course I'm not studying here to travel. I've already done a lot of my travelling, having spent  backpacked through Japan, and extensive travel in western Europe and the US. I'll be visiting he Nordic countries next summer. All of that misses the point a little as well, because in the end I think it's intent rather than purely travel itself that makes the OE what it is. It's not just the act of going to another country, it's  the intention of going somewhere different to explore and see the world. In practice burying yourself in a suitably foreign place where little is familiar is a large part of that, but it is going there with the right mindset that counts.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

that's not quite what I'm saying (none / 1) (#34)
by SocratesGhost on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 02:37:23 PM EST

I'm not saying that America has exact copies of everywhere else in the world and needs never travel but simply that they can get what they want out of comparable experiences without having to endure the greater cost and inconvenience of travelling abroad. They won't get the full experience, but they will get a cost effective experience. Like I've said, I find value in travelling abroad but I'm not about to impose my preferences in vacationing upon everyone else; not everyone wants or can afford the air fare.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
McTravel? I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Travelling? (2.20 / 5) (#105)
by DrToast on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 11:36:46 PM EST

The Margarine of travelling. Its almost like traveling but all within a safe and familiar environment.

Yeah, if someone can't afford to go to another country, then that's fine. But lets not kid ourselves and say travelling within the US is the same as going to another continent.

[ Parent ]

I guess you only drive Ferrari? (none / 0) (#146)
by SocratesGhost on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 12:50:34 PM EST

Not everyone is made of money, you know?

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Money is less of an issue... (2.50 / 4) (#158)
by Coryoth on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 01:48:56 PM EST

... than you seem to think it is, presuming there is actually any interest in travelling and seeing the world. Most New Zealanders, as I said, tend to travel after finishing high school or University. They are usually young and don't have much if any money. That doesn't stop them. They work a couple of summer jobs if necessary, save as much as they can, and just go. If you are young and hardy you can travel extremely cheaply... presuming of course that you're interested in actually seeing the world, and not just having a comfortable holiday somewhere.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

Losing your safety net (3.00 / 6) (#147)
by Coryoth on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 12:53:35 PM EST

One of the things that has a significant impact when it comes to travel is losing your safety net: finding yourself in a foreign culture with no ability to quickly get back to something familiar when you need to. It's the point where you realise yu have to just let go and follow whatever this culture does - and that's when you actually learn about another culture as opposed to just confirming prefixed beliefs from a safe distance.

Experiencing culture by travelling in the US is like learning to swim by only ever swimming in waist deep water.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

how very Fight Club of you (none / 1) (#160)
by SocratesGhost on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 02:26:03 PM EST

Unless you risk everything, you'll get nothing.

Find yourself by losing yourself.

P-shaw...

There's two ways to travel: with a round trip ticket and without one. Most people in the world get the round trip. This notion of a safety net is typically in place so I think what you're talking about is an exceptional form of travelling and is a luxury for people who want to buy a house and start their career near their family and friends.

Also, you're talking to someone who has spent a lot of time outside of the country; I'm practically a mexican citizen with the amount of time I spend down there. I find value in travel just as I find value in classical music but I'm certainly not going to impose this view on others and feel superior for my preferences and experiences.

My position is to avoid making making evaluative claims between travellers and homebodies. I'm not sure you can say the same.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
My point (3.00 / 2) (#163)
by Coryoth on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 03:00:05 PM EST

I was rather more hinting that the real difference between going to China-town and going to to China is that with one you can put your feet on the bottom as soon as you get the least bit uncomfortable, and with the other you have to wait till you scheduled return flight in a week or two. Dipping your toes in is not the same as swimming.

You seem to want to cast me as claiming some sort of moral superiority, but that's either a misinterpretation or a misrepresentation on your part. I'm not claiming everyone needs to learn to swim, I am simply saying that there's a big difference between dipping your toes in the water and learning to swim.

Put another way: you find value in classical music, but you're not going to impose your views on others. That doesn't mean you won't take issue when someone says that Britney Spears is just as good as Mozart. You won't argue that they don't get just as much pleasure from listening to either, but you can make a case that the two are qualitatively different.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

dipping your toes vs. swimming (none / 1) (#169)
by SocratesGhost on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 03:56:55 PM EST

I doubt many people really do swim when they do go to other countries unless they're ex-patrioting. For some reason, I get the silly idea from your previous comment that a die-hard traveller steps off of a plane in Japan and immediately dons a yukata and prays to his ancestors a la Shinto. To me, that's the real swimming. It would also be disingenuous.

You're disparaging the Chinatown experience because people can leave quickly. Unless you're living and working in that foreign country (again, this is the exception) if you're uncomfortable with the environment you can spend the time in your hotel room until your plane arrives.

But this whole line of discussion is really moot. I'm not arguing that people travel to Chinatown to encounter another culture. Most people in the U.S. encounter them in their own hometowns. There are some places in the States where this doesn't happen all the time but, as I said, anyone who lives in a metropolitan area will experience this. Even in the more rural parts, they will often be an asian or a mexican or a native american community not far away. But I guess that's all just too American for some people.

There does seem to be a tone of "my way of travelling is so much better than your way of travelling" in your comments. Maybe it's just me, but you're the one who's ascribing a purpose to travel and unless they do X, Y, and Z they're not really travelling or they're not really encountering the other culture.

When people travel they usually go to see certain attractions or to encounter a particular culture. For the attractions, they can usually find a comparable experience inside the states. For the culture, they already have been meeting and talking with representatives of those cultures anyway. You may need to travel overseas to find a Persian. For me, it's my friends that I knew back in elementary school: Patrick and Pedrum.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Whatever. (none / 1) (#171)
by Coryoth on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 04:35:30 PM EST

There does seem to be a tone of "my way of travelling is so much better than your way of travelling" in your comments. Maybe it's just me, but you're the one who's ascribing a purpose to travel and unless they do X, Y, and Z they're not really travelling or they're not really encountering the other culture.

All I am trying to do is point out qualitive differences in experience. I said at the beginning that a lot of it was intent based. My point is that there is a difference between the sort of travel of a kiwi on an OE and the sort of travel you're discussing. I'm not trying to say one is better, I'm just trying to make you understand that there is actually a difference. You, on the other hand, seem intent on recasting all my comments into soem bizarre extreme so you can safely ignore their content. I'm not sure I see the point in continuing.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

qualitative difference? Yes. Significant. No. /NT (none / 0) (#173)
by SocratesGhost on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 04:51:50 PM EST


-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
ignorant (3.00 / 4) (#200)
by balsamic vinigga on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 04:14:25 AM EST

you're talking about something you don't understand. Don't say going to japan is just as much like dipping your toes as going to japantown is.. unless you've been to japan.  But if you've been, you'd realize just how stupid it sounds.

If going to japantown is dipping your toes, and going to japan is jumping into the deepend and either drowning or learning to dog-paddle...  then being an expat who is fluent in the language and culture is olympic swimming.

There's a huge fundamental difference. Foreigners living in America are fitting into america.  You travelling abroad is you fitting into that foreign culture.

If your dumb white ass went into a dim sum place in San Francisco that you don't really understand... you might expect the waiter to come up to you because you don't know that in their culture it's up to you to get their attention. However, they are aware that in American culture it's the waiter's job to come to you, not your job to call the waiter.  They know this about you and so they'll come up to you.  Now, imagine instead that you're in China eating at a restaurant and it's the same situation.  They don't know you expect them to come to you.  You wonder if they're ignoring you.. they're wondering why the hell you're there if you're not going to order anything.  What you must do instead is watch and observe what others are doing.  Or better yet, travel with someone that can explain it all.

Bottom line is you can't experience culture shock by meeting foreigners in your own country.

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]

I never said they were equivalent (2.33 / 3) (#236)
by SocratesGhost on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 12:01:46 PM EST

where did I say that?

Perhaps this article should have decried America's deficiency in reading comprehension.

Look, the problem I have with this notion of travel that everyone is talking about is that for travel to be effective, you have to be a person for whom travel must already be effective. What Coryoth called "swimming" is not the idea that a person first learns to swim when dropped in the deep end of the pool but rather that a person learned to swim so that when they were in the deep end of the pool, they were already prepared. And yet, all of you are claiming that the only way to swim is to go to right into the deep end, that is, to travel to another culture. What you're talking about is a willingness and openness to understand other cultures. But, unless you're open to understand other cultures, you won't understand it even if you get there.

Look at it this way: if a business traveller leaves America to close a deal in Japan, his experience is not that of a vacationing traveller. He may despise the Japanese culture but is forced to arrive there and negotiate his way to close the deal. He may know exactly where Ginza and Roppongi are located but hate ramen, bowing, and the obtuse demand placed on learning honorifics. In this case, his knowledge of Japanese culture may be very high. Would either you or Coryoth be satisfied at that point? I'd suggest that you wouldn't because you two equate familiarity with understanding. You'd likely say that he never went out into the countryside, saw rice paddies, or climbed Fuji-san. He never tried to "relate" to that culture and to live as they live.

I have been to Japan. I have also been to a few Little Tokyos. I know they aren't the same experience. But, I have a friend Chuck who is second generation Japanese-American who introduced me to mochi and provided help when I studied Japanese at University. I learned more about the Japanese culture through my friendship with Chuck than I ever learned in my year working as a translator for a manufacturer in Japan. I may treasure my walk on Fuji but I was only marginally more informed about Japanese life as a result. I was already swimming before ever arriving and I never even needed to go to Little Tokyo.

That was my point. You can disagree with me but I'm going to assume that you learn more from the results of an airline ticket than you do from an actual person. If so, I find that very strange.

And to this day, I still can't stand most types of sushi. Tama-go is about as daring as I'm willing to go.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
ok but (none / 0) (#242)
by balsamic vinigga on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 12:48:04 PM EST

I've known plenty of first and second gen japanese americans - some very close. You can gain plenty of knowledge about their culture from them - but knowledge is not like experience.  Your Japanese American friend, again is fitting into America - not vice versa.  Sure you can go to a sushi joint in America and you can kind of experience what it's like to be in a sushi joint in Japan - but Japanese-American is different than Japanese and while there may be similarities and shared knowledge - the experience is just vastly different.

And the results of an airline ticket are the meeting of actual people - so if you say that the results of an airline ticket aren't like learning from an actual person, I find that very strange.

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]

how I think about it (none / 0) (#251)
by SocratesGhost on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 02:13:38 PM EST

You will probably disagree, but my experience is that the pleasure in knowing a Japanese-American and knowing a native person in Japan is not that vastly different. Or rather, the difference is one of vastness in a small percentage.

It's like the 80-20 rule of thumb in software development. You'll develop 80% of the application's features in 20% of the time, and you'll finish the last 20% of the features in the remaining 80% of the time. The most subtle and complex aspects take much effort to ferret out.

Knowing an immigrant or the child of an immigrant is much the same: I'll get the large brush strokes pretty quickly and the detail work will just take effort and time on my part.

From my experience, going to a foreign country was about as informative although perhaps faster. Spend a week there and you'll be at about the same 80%. Maybe you'll get a different 80%, but my experience from having known people in the States and then from living in those countries is that the typical tourist experience won't get you farther. It may be a great experience but it has been nothing comparable to the experience of making friends and talking to them. The difference is that we'll spend months and years with friends and perhaps a week or so while travelling.

Perhaps I'm not living in an insular part of the States but I don't find that an encounter with a foreign culture--even a deep encounter--is all that difficult to come by if you want to seek it out. And that should be the point here: the emphasis on being willing to seek it out not to ask people to travel.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
maybe we agree (2.00 / 2) (#258)
by balsamic vinigga on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 02:31:47 PM EST

but to me befriending someone is more of a personal experience than a broad cultural change.  When I befriend an immigrant person or family I learn about who they are and how their culture has effected them.  When I go traveling in Japan it's much broader and wonder-inducing.  It feels less like learning and more like an altered state of consciousness. It's no wonder when people take drugs they call it a "trip" because I find the experiences parallel eachother in how it how it stimulates me.

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]
i think ultimately we do (none / 0) (#271)
by SocratesGhost on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 04:10:26 PM EST

I'm just not stating my case very well.

The problem, according to Coryoth(I think) and the article's original author is that Americans don't travel or read a map. To me, I have no problem with that. Travelling and geography is not an end by itself. The result from travelling though is the broadened perspective that comes from meeting other cultures. They may get it more profoundly abroad but I think that Americans can get a useful amount of it at home.

However, the article and Coryoth insinuate that by extension Americans must also be ignorant of those cultures. And there I must strenuously disagree both for the reason that we encounter those culture's representatives already and also because we've always been working to integrate with others in the world. Knowing Japanese culture is a good thing to know by itself but more important is the ability to live side by side with people from other cultures no matter where they come from. This has been a topic of conversation since before West Side Story was first premiered, (which incidentally covered the topic more intelligently and less antagonistically than this article). The opportunities are in America, we just have to avail ourselves of them.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
True enough (none / 1) (#277)
by balsamic vinigga on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 05:43:36 PM EST

It's up to everybody to determine what they want out of life and what they find meaningful... and knowledge is just a google query away.  Hell, you don't even need to know any japanese people first hand you can just read a japanese person's blog and absorb all sorts of knowledge and even understanding of what it's like to be japanese... which is critical to be able to function in a quickly globalizing world.

But the main point, and I THINK you agree though you seem hesitant to aknowledge is that stepping out and experiencing roll reversal - suddenly you're the foreign one, you're the one everybody else fines odd or interesting is a vastly different experience.  Like being in a third world village in south east asia and trying to explain to people whose only knowledge of AMerica is hollywood that no AMerica isn't particularly dangerous, and yes I do go outside without a gun.  Or learning to throw out any notion of personal space and not think it's odd that a kid finds your arm hair facinating and wants to pet it...

Or, switching out of the third world, explaining to a Japanese person how their culture exists in America.  I noticed many thought this was odd. Like, "Really? You've eaten Japanese food since you were a kid? You watch our cartoons and learn about our culture??," etc. etc...  I noticed that often a Japanese person's first assumption is that you're there on business - not for pleasure or to appreciate their culture.

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]

that's the opposite side of the coin (2.50 / 2) (#284)
by SocratesGhost on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 07:41:02 PM EST

it's one thing to reach out and understand another culture. Your last two paragraphs is about reaching out as an ambassador of your own culture to have them touch yours.

Or if your point in the second paragraph is to talk about alienation amid a foreign environment, there's plenty of opportunity for that here. Compton comes to mind and so does the Bronx. Last time I was in NYC on the subway there was this bastard gangsta-type who took an interest in the hair on my legs and kept taking a lighter to it. Everyone else on the train was laughing at me; the fact that he was twice my size made it so there was not a damn thing I could do about it until the next station. No need to go to Baghdad for that experience.

I'm still not seeing the whole necessity for travel, at least within the domain of being a good citizen of the world. I do it for two primary reasons: Sensuality and writing. By sensuality, I mean the physical senses like eating food derived from different soils or smelling the fragrances (even the unpleasant ones) of certain lands. Much of this I treasure, like many different faces of Fuji or a shrimp taco in Ensenada. As for writing, going to different locations draws attention to mundane stuff that exists even back home but going to another place is like going to a museum to look at a painting of a bowl of fruit. Something about the act of painting it forces people to take notice of the commonplace just as strongly as Ansel Adams photographs of an otherwise ordinary tree. But I consider all of this very low on the meter when it comes to global awareness.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
It's the act of travel, not the knowledge (3.00 / 3) (#294)
by TheGaffer on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 10:50:39 PM EST

You can learn everything there is to learn about Japan, but unless you go there you'll never have that moment of panic when you realise you're totally illiterate, stripped of all your usual survival skills down to the last streetsign, that you are in effect a lost child in a country that's a total mystery to you. Travelling around Europe has been such an essential experience for so many young people because the whole journey is one of shifting sands, a culture shock that requires you to develop a whole different set of resources. Every train journey brings a new language and a new culture at a rate impossible to keep up with - you have to learn to get by as an illiterate, how to busk it and live on the skin of your teeth. The point of the exercise is not to learn facts about things but to fundamentally change your understanding of yourself and of human nature.

What makes the hardened traveller truly worldly-wise is not what he knows about other cultures but what he knows about people and the things that connect them. They know how to communicate without words, they are able to blend in to totally unfamaliar situations, they can read between the lines and see beyond the explicit. Proper travel equips you for the uncertain, gives you the resources to deal with exceptional circumstances.

Looking at the stereotype of the American abroad really highlights why I think Americans should travel beyond their borders. Stereotypically (and in my experience) Americans are often loud, brash and unyielding. Americans often expect the world to conform to their picture of it and fail to understand why anyone wouldn't think of America as the best country in the world. It's what makes America what it is, it's been pivotal in the US's exemplary cultural and economic success, but it's also why guys with beards and arabic names hate you.

To call yourself a traveller you have to admit that sometimes you're wrong, that sometimes you're the one being an asshole and that sometimes it's better for everyone involved if you just keep your head down and shut up. To call yourself a traveller you have to know that sometimes you're right, that sometimes they're the one being an asshole and that sometimes it's better for everyone involved if you just keep your head down.

America really is culturally homogenous, more so than anywhere in the world. There's a lot to see, but there's precious little challenge. It's a perfectly valid way to spend a vacation, but it's no more travelling than checkers is chess.
Poker for Linux, Mac & Windows
[ Parent ]
I think.. (2.66 / 3) (#274)
by Coryoth on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 04:18:41 PM EST

...what's being decried is not that people are learning to swim at the shallow end, but rather the bit where people are claiming they know how to swim perfectly well despite never have been in water any more than waste deep.

I, and I believe it is the same with others taking similar stances, am not claiming that travel is necessary or makes people better, merely that travelling around the US and visiting chinatown is decidedly not the same as travelling overseas and immersing yourself in a different culture.

Compared to many other countries the US has a very insular outlook, and no real culture of travel. You are trying to make excuses claiming that it's all the same really, and I am simply trying to point out that there is, in fact, a vast cultural difference.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

strawman or moving goal posts? (none / 1) (#283)
by SocratesGhost on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 07:21:38 PM EST

I don't think anyone is claiming that Americans know a specific culture perfectly. My argument is that they understand multiculturalism sufficiently. Big difference.

It would be incorrect to say that visiting Chinatown is the same as visiting China. No one is saying it is. I've even said that the comparison is moot. You think that knowledge of a people can only come from visiting a place. For certain experiences perhaps this is true though I can't really imagine what these would be other than directly viewing physical structures--an aspect of travel to which no one here has yet given any importance.

However, the vast majority of understanding about a culture can easily come from a book and more importantly from knowing people. In the field of knowing foreign peoples, the US has this capacity. And, I would contend that knowing actual-in-the-flesh Chinese people gets you more knowledge about the Chinese culture than a backpack trip to the Great Wall.

And yes, I've been to China. I got more out of my three years at HP in my lunchtime conversations with Jimmy.

Marco Polo needed to go to China. There were no Chinese in Venice. The same cannot be said for Venice, California.

So at this point I'm going to say: Proof or STFU. What kinds of things can you only experience about a culture by being in a country that cannot be gathered from talking to an immigrant? Be specific otherwise I'm going to say you're spouting platitudes.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
it's not getting the answers (2.50 / 2) (#288)
by balsamic vinigga on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 08:05:24 PM EST

it's discovering the questions.  Sure maybe if I KNEW to ask about sichuan peppercorn and where it comes from and what it tastes like and what foods it goes in I could get that information from Mr. Chan down the road.  But how would I know to ask him about it if I've never heard of it or tasted it because of a trade embargo?

How would I know to ask Mariko-san around the corner about money trays at SunRu's and that you put your money in the tray, if I didn't know to ask!?  And why would Mariko-san think to just bring up such a mundane thing in regular conversation?  If you were to write a book set in Japan could you research that book as easily through asking a friend as you could by going to Japan?

---
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[ Parent ]

Mariko-san, is banking different in Japan? (none / 0) (#343)
by SocratesGhost on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 04:11:01 PM EST

I don't think that the idea of money trays is as mundane as you make it out. It actually is a good illustration of how Japanese generally relate to/around money. And while Mariko may not tell you about the trays specifically I'm sure you can get enough of the idea of how Japanese handle money from her.

I think the trade embargo angle is a corner case at best. Most people don't travel to countries because they are under embargo. Sometimes, yes, but most time they just want to enjoy the beaches or see a jungle.

As for the larger question of dietary habits, you could invite Mr. Chan over for dinner and he'll probably invite you over for dinner in return. That's how I usually got my introduction to more exotic foods. Where I grew up, there weren't restaurants that served gyros, dolmades or kimchi, at least not one where my parents went. Fortunately, Patrick and Pedrum's parents made the first two and my Korean friend (whose name eludes me) introduced me to some homemade kimchi. That's how I got to know their families by inviting myself over for dinner.

The problem with your approach is that it gives the impression that a person would have to go to every province of every country. That's an unreasonable expectation. Or, if a couple countries are sufficient, why is having a United Nation of friends insufficient?

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
The problem with your approach (none / 1) (#344)
by balsamic vinigga on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 05:06:41 PM EST

is that you think a UN of expats in your country would make you as worldy as if you traveled to every country. Many arrogant narcissists may have ruined the virtues of being worldy just like they may have ruined BMW's.  But that doesn't mean being worldy and driving a BMW CAN'T be a good experience.  You're arguing that reading a review of a BMW is "just as good" as driving that BMW.  Sure, you can say that that's true for you (to must people we would think 'wow, this person puts an inordinate amount of importance on cognitive experience') but you can't say that that ought to be true for everyone just because you're put off by BMW snobs.

---
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[ Parent ]
not a very good comparison (none / 1) (#347)
by SocratesGhost on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 06:14:03 PM EST

For one thing, no one is claiming that the experiences are equivalent. Nor, for that matter, are we all capable of travelling to all other countries so that seems like an outlandish comparison. Maybe I don't know the world as well as the uber traveller, but is that really the yardstick?

Let me change metaphors though and maybe we can find more common footing. Reading about football is one thing (reading about a culture). Watching a football game on TV is another(meeting ex-patriots). Going to a football stadium for a game is another (meeting people within those cultures). Playing a football game is yet another (being a member of that culture). Even for a travller, their interaction will at best be the spectator level.
Either way, we're still talking about people who are watching the game as opposed to those who are not watching the game or don't care to get involved with it. Even so, individual understanding of the game is more proportional to their own level of interest and you'll find all types in the stadium or wielding the remote control.

My complaint is that euro-backpackers are claiming that only if you see every type of sporting event from the sideline at the 50 yard line can you only understand the game. It's only a more intense experience; learning the game is another matter altogether.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Distance travelled geographically or culturally (3.00 / 2) (#176)
by NoBeardPete on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 05:26:03 PM EST

You could travel the length and breadth of the United States, staying in the main office and financial centers of major cities, and it'd look very much the same. If you travelled the country visiting upper-middle class suburbs, it'd look very much the same. If you travelled the country visiting poor black urban areas, it'd look much the same. If you travelled the country visiting assorted Chinatowns, it'd look much the same.

You could go thousands of miles without seeing any dramatic differences.

If you live in a major city in the US, chances are you could experience some pretty serious culture shock without travelling more than a dozen miles. The biggest cultural rifts in the US aren't those between one coast and the other, or even one state and the next, but between neighborhoods.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

Which is ofcourse very different then (none / 1) (#228)
by New Me on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 10:46:45 AM EST

in any other country.

--
"He hallucinated, freaked out, his aneurysm popped, and he died. Happened to me once." --Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

I think it's more pronounced in the US (2.50 / 2) (#257)
by NoBeardPete on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 02:30:32 PM EST

The US is generally more culturally diverse than the majority of countries, largely on the strength of being made up of immigrants from all over the place. And Americans move around a lot more than people in most other countries do. We're mobile, but we're also very good at segregating ourselves into communities of similar people. I think that we have bigger differences from neighborhood to neighborhood, and lesser differences from coast to coast than is typical in other countries.

The distribution is unusual. I don't think it's qualitatively a big deal, but a matter of the degrees of the various differences. The US is at a bit of an extreme.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

Of course the US is the only country... (2.50 / 4) (#270)
by shambles on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 03:49:02 PM EST

...created by immigrants. Except for New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Israel and Liberia to name just a few.

Are Americans more mobile than other people. I have moved six times in the last 10 years, twice to a different country.



People are more important than Truth - Edgar Malroy
[ Parent ]
CA to an easterner (2.66 / 3) (#50)
by rusty on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 04:59:25 PM EST

I can vouch that in its own very subtle way, California was as foreign a place for this Yankee to live as anyplace overseas. In some ways it was worse than being in a totally foreign country, because the veneer of sameness lulls you into thinking you know how things work and what people are like, so when you run into the fact that you don't and they aren't it always takes you by surprise again.

For just one tiny example, it took me literally months to find a convenience store in the Bay Area. They don't have them there, in the way I've been conditioned to expect them. Eventually I figured out what they looked like and what they were called, and could distinguish them from the cheap liquor stores I had assumed they were, but it took a really long time. Another one was Vista Point. All along the highways in CA there are signs proclaiming "Vista Point." One day I turned to my wife and said "Why the hell are there so many towns called 'Vista Point' out here? Don't people get confused?" Eventually we figured out that these signs translated to "Scenic Overlook" or suchlike, in Eastern.

You don't have to get into Cajuns and Menonnites to find foreign cultures in the US. Even your bog-standard Euro-mutt white boy will find a surprising amount of difference if they have always lived in one region and move to another.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Sorry, rusty... (3.00 / 2) (#119)
by BJH on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 02:17:08 AM EST

...but using the wide variety of convenience stores as proof of diversity in the USA is not going to win any arguments.
--
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]
but but (2.00 / 1) (#128)
by tkatchevzz on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 05:18:51 AM EST

that's all there is in the u.s., pretty much.

that, and different ways of calling carbonated beverages.

[ Parent ]

Meh (2.50 / 2) (#140)
by rusty on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 10:53:06 AM EST

One or two anecdotal examples aren't going to prove anything to someone who doesn't want to understand, no matter what they are. Believe what you want.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
You should have... (none / 0) (#196)
by BJH on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 02:55:07 AM EST

...ended that first sentence after "anything" ;)
--
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]
Meh (3.00 / 3) (#198)
by balsamic vinigga on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 03:57:13 AM EST

It seems like you're the one who doesn't want to understand.  Getting used to quirks is nothing like experiencing culture shock. I've spent a lot of time in the japantown and chinatown of San Francisco - they're both quirky experiences.  But I've also been to Japan and China... and "quirky" would be an enormous understatement. Overwhealming Awe, Joy, Excitement, frustration, embarrassment.  You leave the western world and become a minority.  That experience cannot be even slightly felt or understood by traveling within the US, travelling in the western world (including much of western europe), or travelling to some place exotic but staying in a traveler's resort.

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]
I don't doubt it (2.66 / 3) (#219)
by rusty on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 08:55:33 AM EST

However, we weren't really debating the kind of difference between the US and Japan, but rather that between, say, Spain and Sweden. At issue here is the snobbery of the Euro-backpacker, who feels superior to the American bumpkin because he's traveled Eurorail for three months. That's all we're argung about.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Oh! <slaps forehead> (none / 1) (#232)
by smithmc on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 11:29:01 AM EST


All along the highways in CA there are signs proclaiming "Vista Point." One day I turned to my wife and said "Why the hell are there so many towns called 'Vista Point' out here? Don't people get confused?" Eventually we figured out that these signs translated to "Scenic Overlook" or suchlike, in Eastern.

I always wondered why there were so many eastern towns named "Scenic Overlook"...

[ Parent ]

As a kid (3.00 / 2) (#285)
by SocratesGhost on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 07:45:30 PM EST

(and this is going to be obscure) the Prime Minister of Israel was named Manachem Begin. I kept hearing his name on the news and then baldrson-like I begin to wonder if there was a conspiracy since there were a lot of roadways called "Begin Freeway".

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
The Americans who can afford to (none / 0) (#104)
by Benway on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 10:53:31 PM EST

Backpack around Asia, etc., often do. I certainly never had the money.

[ Parent ]
Cost of travel? (3.00 / 3) (#149)
by Coryoth on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 01:03:58 PM EST

It needn't be very expensive. That's partly why south east Asia is popular in New Zealand - it's very cheap to travel and stay once you're there. The only expensive part is getting there, and that's a one off issue of air fares. From the US it's probably only around $1000 for a return ticket. Live cheaply for a winter or two can probably save that much.

If you don't want to do that there's always south and central America. Sure the people with money fly to Cancun and avoid contact with anything resembling local culture if possible, but you can actually just travel though exceptionally cheaply, and it doesn't cost you much to get there. A friend of mine travelled down through mexico and right the way up around the hook of the Yucantan peninsula. By travelling cheaply and a few doing odd jobs along the way his net expenditure for the entire trip was negative - he actually came back with more money than he started.

[ Parent ]

Well, I had no money when I graduated (none / 1) (#195)
by Benway on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 01:33:37 AM EST

High school, so I worked through college, and still didn't have any money, so I got a job. I couldn't very well leave the job to go vacation or I'd lose it, and it was pretty hard to get. Now I'm back in school, and can't afford to go anywhere. Once I'm working again, I won't want to get fired for running off to South America or wherever (and consequently screw up my career).

[ Parent ]
sure, 2 weeks isn't 2 months (2.66 / 3) (#197)
by balsamic vinigga on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 03:41:04 AM EST

but it's infinitely more than 0 seconds.

In other words, if you have a job that wouldn't let you travel for two fucking weeks then tell them to fuck off.

---
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[ Parent ]

No. (none / 1) (#223)
by Benway on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 10:06:36 AM EST

Financial stability is important to me. I'm not going to trash my career just so I can see Argentina, or whatever.

[ Parent ]
false delimma (2.66 / 3) (#246)
by balsamic vinigga on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 01:06:20 PM EST

the point is a job that doesn't let you have a life outside of your job (be it family, travel, whatever) is no longer a job but a prison.

If you WANT to travel then don't let your "masters" stop you.  If you want to spend time with your family don't let your "masters" stop you.  I've met plenty of people who use "oh I work too much" as an excuse for never living and it's always a lie.

If you're valueable to your employers they'll let you take 2 weeks.  If demmanding that very reasonable request is the equivalent of throwing your career in the toilet then how can you even call it a career???

---
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[ Parent ]

Then don't call it a career. (none / 1) (#250)
by Benway on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 02:10:28 PM EST

The fact is, I can't take two weeks of vacation without risking everything I've worked for. I'd like to go overseas. I'd like to do any number of things. The personal costs are just too high, though. I don't understand people who think they can get away with doing everything they want. Fact is, for most of it's impossible, at least in the long term.

[ Parent ]
ok, that's fair (3.00 / 3) (#254)
by balsamic vinigga on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 02:21:24 PM EST

who am i to continue to say i know your situation better than you do.  It would just be condescending and prickish to do so.  But all I can say is that USA is currently the the world's elite. Even the moust underpaid common folk here are in the top 10% of worldwide incomes.  I've known baristas - people who make coffee for minimum wage + tips. take months off to explore the world - so to see you making these claims are somewhat alarming - though I'm not an expert in your situation.  I can imagine that perhaps you are a founding member of a startup and thus not expendable in any way shape or form - but even THAT I find hard to believe that 2 weeks would tank your business plan.

Just sayin...

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]

You misunderstand. (3.00 / 3) (#261)
by Benway on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 02:43:16 PM EST

I'm completely expendable. That's why if I take time off, I quite likely won't have a job when I get back. Being let go for that reason would make me pariah, of course.

If I weren't expendable, they couldn't very well get rid of me that easily, no?

[ Parent ]

I'm sorry for your misfortune. (3.00 / 2) (#268)
by New Me on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 03:25:08 PM EST

Yet I find it difficult to understand- the US is the richest country in the world and unemployment is among the lowest in the western world.

Surley it must be easier to find a good job there.

Which field are you working in?

--
"He hallucinated, freaked out, his aneurysm popped, and he died. Happened to me once." --Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

And that's part of the problem ... (none / 1) (#436)
by taniwha on Sun Mar 05, 2006 at 03:09:46 PM EST

2 weeks vacation! you people are insane.

I'm a kiwi and lived in the US for 20 years - the whole 2 weeks vacation thing is quite silly - just about every other western country has more, some many more. Jeez you guys can't get it together to stand together against the Man and demand more.

Here in NZ we have 3, soon to be 4. How did we get from 2 to 3? A political party said "vote for us and we'll give you an extra week" ... think of that a party promising something simple that people can understand and actually want and following through when they got elected.

In California you could do it yourselves ... start a 3 weeks vacation initiative ... of course it would pass, and once CA has it everone else would follow through

[ Parent ]

Yeah, but you havent proven how this is a problem (2.00 / 6) (#6)
by alphaxer0 on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 02:42:49 AM EST

Seriously, even if we lack geographic or historical knowledge, how does it really matter? I mean I memorized all the state and most of foreign capitals as a kid, but in the long run it has done nothing for me. I'd been off focusing on sports, rather than academics that way I would have gotten a free ride like most sports players, rather than paying down a couple of grand in student loans.

Well (none / 1) (#106)
by DrToast on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 11:40:04 PM EST

Aren't you curious as to why most of the world hates America?

And on the flip side, don't you want people in the world to know that not all Americans are assholes? Or maybe you yourself are an asshole, in which case you can ignore this question.

[ Parent ]

Americans and passports (2.83 / 6) (#9)
by rpjs on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 04:15:07 AM EST

Americans shouldn't feel too badly about only 25% having passports: not only is their country continental in scale, but they don't need passports, at the moment, to visit most of their neighbours. We Brits, for instance, may have a larger proportion of passport ownership, but the only places we can get to without one are Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Isles.

I understand though that the US government is planning to require Americans to have passports to return to the US from visiting Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean islands, so quite possibly in a few years form now, America's passport-owning figure will be similar to other countries.

Truy visiting Ireland without a passport. (none / 0) (#29)
by mr strange on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 02:20:26 PM EST

Go on. Yes it's theoretically possible, but...

If I was president I would just blow up their fucking shitty island [Aruba] and be done with it - Acidify

intrigued by your idea that fascism is feminine - livus
[ Parent ]

I have (2.50 / 2) (#51)
by rpjs on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 05:05:15 PM EST

Crossing the border by the Enterprise train from Belfast to Dublin all we were asked for was our tickets. I know some of the budget airlines require photo ID now (but that doesn't have to be a passport if you have a photographic driving licence) but I believe that you still don't need ID to fly from Britain to Northern Ireland with BA's franchisees at least.

[ Parent ]
They don't seem to ask for them (none / 0) (#194)
by ross.w on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 12:56:17 AM EST

I arrived in Dublin from the UK once travelling on my Australian passport.

There were two lanes, one for EU passports with nobody attending it and no barrier, through which the majority of people were walking unchallenged. The other one for non-EU passports was manned by a customs guy who I had to practically wake up to show him my passport.

When I travelled on the car ferry to France, there was no arrival control at all. We just drove off the ferry and went on our merry way (remembering to put all those headlights down the left side)

Coming back they have more probs with illegals entering the UK so we were checked, had to fill in an arrival card and had our passports stamped again, but only because we had non-EU passports.

Border controls are very loose within the EU, or were in 1999.



[ Parent ]
Yeah, it's really embarrassing! (2.14 / 7) (#10)
by tetsuwan on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 05:16:17 AM EST

I can only correctly place 15 or so countries in Africa. And I have a tendency to confuse Syria and Jordan. OTOH, I am not American.

But travel isn't really necessary. All it takes is a little humility, which is a trait sorely lacking in the US. I talked to a fisher in a local bar in Sendai, Japan, and he could readily argue about the Gulf stream, which isn't of much practical importance on the other side of the world. He was a bit ashamed to know so little about Sweden, but could still mention five or so things that were Swedish without guessing.

My latest task is to learn the provinces of China. Good day, self aggrandizing pricks.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance

I'm still trying to learn stuff like that (none / 0) (#111)
by livus on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 01:10:24 AM EST

I think it's easier for the bits where I've come to learn a little about the history and politics, because it becomes something more dynamic in the mind.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
Absolutely (3.00 / 2) (#336)
by tetsuwan on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 02:47:47 PM EST

Learning only the geography is pretty lame. Ethnic and religious groups, present and past conflicts internal and external, major industries, major languages, wealth and wealth distribution, political system, and culture are all things that helps you give a picture of a country or a region.

Capitals are a weak spot for me. I am much better at remembering news events and placing them right in time and space.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

New rule ... (2.60 / 5) (#11)
by werebear on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 07:52:59 AM EST

New rule - America doesn't get to invade anywhere till over 90% of the population can find it on a world map.

The stat that really scared me from the nat geo survey is that 11% of schoolkids couldn't even identify the USA. I have a horrible feeling we're not that much better over here in the UK either ...

As Coryoth pointed out (2.50 / 6) (#12)
by wiredog on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 08:01:42 AM EST

The US is a big country. It takes 4 days, if you push hard and stay on the interstates, to drive from one coast to the other. This is about how long it takes to drive from southern Europe to Scandanavia. Taking your time, and doing the US highways, it takes about twice as long. In the continental US you can find deserts, rain forests, oceans, rivers large and small, almost tropical climates to very cold climates. If you add Alaska and Hawaii to the mix you can go from truly tropical to absolutely arctic without ever leaving the country.

Immigration is also, I think, a rather large factor. My ancestors came here to get away from those other countries. Today it's even better as I can visit several cultures (or their cuisines, anyway) every night here in NoVa.

OTOH, I've traveled to the UK and Korea (where I spent a year). Many people in the US military have spent a fair amount of time overseas.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

American's don't travel much in their own country (2.60 / 5) (#21)
by shambles on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 01:14:02 PM EST

There is still a sizable part of the population whose only travel is to go from where they have moved to for work back to their home town for Thanksgiving and Christmas. In their defense though, with two weeks holiday a year how much are you ever going to see?

I'm a Brit living in Texas (temporarily) and I take every chance I get to travel around the US, but I regularly meet people who have never traveled out of Texas (and some who are quite proud of it). I've been to about half the states and quite a few of the major cities (Top six at least) and most of my fellow ex-pats are the same.

There is general lack of curiosity about anywhere else shown by most of my America colleagues. I work in an international business but I am generally the only one in the office who is willing to take an overseas project for a couple of months.

Even for those people who do travel around the US, a major reason to travel is to see different cultures. America maybe a large country but it is admirable consistent. New York and San Francisco have some superficial differences but have much more in common with each other than two small villages less then 100 miles apart in Europe do.

Oh, and BTW you seem to have vastly inflated idea of the relative size of the US;
New York to Los Angeles: 2,854 miles
Seville (Spain) to Hammerfest (Norway): 3,508 miles

People are more important than Truth - Edgar Malroy
[ Parent ]
Disingenuous (2.50 / 2) (#28)
by virg on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 02:13:43 PM EST

> There is general lack of curiosity about anywhere else shown by most of my America colleagues. I work in an international business but I am generally the only one in the office who is willing to take an overseas project for a couple of months.

I could make the argument that you're working in Texas, and that particluar area of the country isn't well known for wanderlust. I could also argue that there are those in the United States that worry about international travel because of recent ill will toward our government. All in all, though, it just seems your company is populated by people who don't want to be away from home for months at a time. My experience with people from all over the world would tell this true.

> Even for those people who do travel around the US, a major reason to travel is to see different cultures. America maybe a large country but it is admirable consistent. New York and San Francisco have some superficial differences but have much more in common with each other than two small villages less then 100 miles apart in Europe do.

Did you pick these two locations at random? If I had to pick two geographically distant cities in the U.S. I'd be hard-pressed to pick two more similar. Sure, there's tight cultural diversity in parts of Europe, but then there's plenty of that here too, if you're willing to look outside the cities. Try travelling 100 miles from NYC to Vermont. Or 100 miles from Atlanta to Tennessee. Or 100 miles from San Fransisco to inland California. The list goes on and on, and it seems that while you've visited half of the states, you haven't really looked around if you think there's not a huge cultural variety around. Not to sound like a travelogue, but I've lived in quite a few different parts of the U.S. and at times the cultural differences are annoying because they were so large.

> Oh, and BTW you seem to have vastly inflated idea of the relative size of the US...

If you're going to pick two points in Europe that are specifically as far apart as you can manage, you might be fair to do the same for the U.S. too. The distance from Miami, Florida to Seattle, Washington is 3,394 miles, so saying that 3,508 miles for your choice is "vastly" larger isn't right.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
Not really (2.50 / 2) (#40)
by shambles on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 03:15:06 PM EST

I could make the argument that you're working in Texas, and that particular area of the country isn't well known for wanderlust.

True, but the fact that 75% of USians don't have passports would seem to suggest that this attitude is not confined to Texas. I have also heard the argument that people won't travel because of recent ill will toward your government. In fact most countries still have a lot of sympathy with the US. If you travel to Iran it might be a different story but I'm pretty sure the British aren't welcome there either. On the subject of projects, the projects range from weeks to months in duration and the same people who won't go abroad are happy to work away from home in the US.

Did you pick these two locations at random?

Wiredog picks not mine. I have traveled from New York to Essex, Massachusetts and I could get a Dunkin Donuts in both. Can you give me an example of the great culturally differences I'm missing (besides a superficially change in accent)?

so saying that 3,508 miles for your choice is "vastly" larger isn't right.

I said wiredogs figure was vastly overrated not that the EU is vastly larger (in fact in total land area it's smaller). He stated you could drive from Spain to Scandinavia in under four days, clearly wrong. Also notice he choose the points from which to travel to and from not me.

BTW don't get me wrong, I am enjoying living in the US and I think from what I have managed to get to see it is a extraordinarily beautifully country with friendly people and it's own distinct and fascinating culture. I just don't think that's an excuse not to try to see the rest of world.

People are more important than Truth - Edgar Malroy
[ Parent ]
If you drive like an idiot, it is possible (3.00 / 3) (#42)
by tetsuwan on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 04:19:20 PM EST

I have gone from Stockholm to Paris in two days with some friends. The driver most of the time was a crazed ex-Iraqian noble gone economist. He averaged 100 mph. I averaged 80 mph and that was pretty damn stupid too. We were all scared stiff, but being young men we were too stupid to veto the speed.

So if you drive like a madman, you can get from northwestern Spain to southern Sweden in three days. I wouldn't recommend it though.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

At the same av. speed it's < 2 days... (none / 1) (#45)
by shambles on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 04:42:16 PM EST

...from New York to LA, though you don't have the Autobahns.

People are more important than Truth - Edgar Malroy
[ Parent ]
IF you don't stop to sleep... (none / 1) (#136)
by wiredog on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 08:35:44 AM EST

If you stop to sleep, 4 hours/night in rest stops and for food and fuel, NY to LA is 4 days.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
If you drive across the US at that speed... (none / 0) (#486)
by DavidTC on Tue Mar 14, 2006 at 10:06:45 PM EST

...you'll never get across it, because at some point you'll be arrested and thrown in jail. ;)

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]
I can give you differences (2.50 / 2) (#69)
by thankyougustad on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 06:26:56 PM EST

Wiredog picks not mine. I have traveled from New York to Essex, Massachusetts and I could get a Dunkin Donuts in both. Can you give me an example of the great culturally differences I'm missing (besides a superficially change in accent)?
They don't have frybread in either of those too pretty similar places you named. If you think Americans differ superficially in accents only, then you haven't done much traveling. Do you know what a snake doctor is? How do you order a carbonated beverage in Savannah? To get even more diverse, try doing some real traveling. Spend some time in Appelachia and try telling me its not too different from Manhatten, Texas, or anywhere else. The same goes for the Lousianna Bayou, and Indian Reservation in Oklahoma, an Amish community in Pennsylvania. . . etc, etc. You make think that the six months you've spent in Texas makes you a real expert on the American cultural melting pot, but I might think you're wrong.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
I never said there was no difference... (2.75 / 4) (#95)
by shambles on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 10:00:52 PM EST

...I said there were more differences between France and Germany than any two places in America, because however you cut it there is always an underlying cultural similarity in the US. That's why you can be a country and the European Union never will be.

The only places in America I think could even get close are the Native America reservations, but even there English is language used in every day life, Pop Idol is the major entertainment and Walmart is the local market. I've lived in Texas for three years and Oklahoma for another two. I've travelled to about half the states in the US, walking and cycling, and been to quite a few of the major cities.

How many places have you been to in Europe and the rest of the world?

Again, America is one part of one continent. It is a beautiful and fascinating place but that is not an excuse not to see the other 93% of the world that exists outside your borders.



People are more important than Truth - Edgar Malroy
[ Parent ]
But the difference is trivialized (2.50 / 2) (#409)
by IVotedCthulhu on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 09:04:25 PM EST

The thing is that there's a lot of cultural variance in the U.S. that is ignored by people that visit it superficially but isn't missed by those that travel through it significantly as part of their lives. You realize people eat gravy and poultry on their waffles, make grand events out of barbecue (and will ridicule you if you don't know the difference between grilling and barbecuing), eat peas for breakfast, have different views on the cause and even who "won" the U.S. Civil War, different architectural styles motivated by the source of original European settlers, different local governments (direct democracy via town meetings in New England, and especially Vermont), different legal origins (Roman Civil Law in Louisiana vs. English Common Law elsewhere), different cultural burdens (slavery and segregation in the South), different religious congregations and their impact (Utah vs. New Jersey), different social values (Kansas City, Kansas vs. Cambridge, Massachussetts), ethnic divisions (Southern California vs. New Hampshire), and so forth. It's the condescending ignorance of this superficial travel masquerading as enlightenment that is far more "American" than you apparently realize. I've lived in Japan, spent considerable time in Montreal (which I'd never be arrogant-enough to suggest is just like Toronto), visited Mexico, and visited parts of France, Italy, Greece, and Turkey. After visiting numerous places, I still can't simply look at the cultural variance in the U.S. by region and refer to it as homogenized. There doesn't need to be an excuse to not leave one's country of birth. If people don't feel the desire to travel abroad, so what? Would they be any better for obtaining superficial opinions of foreigners from brief visits to their tourist destinations? Because that is what it would really mean. There wouldn't be any meaningful cultural exchange. It would be an experience whatever the individuals made of it, and wouldn't change the U.S.'s outlook on other nations. I've come across people from the U.S. abroad that thought shopkeepers in France were being rude to them because they wouldn't speak to them in English, and then further wouldn't speak to them in German when they tried to communicate with them in their own broken-German. I looked at them strangely as they were telling the group we were all in how "rude" the French were because of this incident. And here people comment on how culturally homogeneous the U.S. is because teenage girls across the country watch American Idol.

[ Parent ]
I don't think America is homogenous (none / 1) (#452)
by shambles on Mon Mar 06, 2006 at 03:43:19 PM EST

I have specifically stated that's not what I believe and not what I have experienced several times in this thread.

But I really cannot see how if you've lived in Japan that you didn't see how much MORE different Japan is to anywhere in the US. I also don't understand why if you have travelled yourself you haven't noticed that similar internal differences to those you quote can be seen in almost any country you care to name.

As for whether you should travel or not. There are a lot of skills and knowledge you don't need for daily life but that doesn't mean people should be encouraged to learn and experience as much as they possibly can.

People are more important than Truth - Edgar Malroy
[ Parent ]
Regarding passports. (none / 0) (#103)
by Benway on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 10:49:32 PM EST

One doesn't need a passport to travel to Canada or Mexico. An American has to go pretty far before he needs a passport.

Consider the expense of doing so and the extremely limited amount of vacation time the vast majority of American workers are afforded and one can get a better idea of why most don't have passports.

[ Parent ]

Forget the no-passport thing. (none / 1) (#118)
by BJH on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 02:11:39 AM EST

Important Note: The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative will soon require all travelers to and from the Americas, the Caribbean, and Bermuda to have a passport or other accepted form of documentation to enter or reenter the United States. The program will be rolled out in phases. The proposed timeline is as follows:

    * December 31, 2006: Requirement applied to all air and sea travel to or from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.
    * December 31, 2007: Requirement extended to all land border crossings as well as air and sea travel.


--
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]

Yeah, I heard about that. (none / 0) (#123)
by Benway on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 02:32:57 AM EST

It'll be interesting to see what effect it has on the number of Americans with passports.

[ Parent ]
Back in 1999-2000 (none / 0) (#178)
by Corwin on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 06:10:50 PM EST

...I flew from Canada to the States, and the US customs official asked me for my passport. She was very unhappy that I didn't have one, and was grilling me for proof that I would return to Canada. (Let us ignore the fact that having a passport in no way implies that I intend to return) Eventually she let me through, but I was seriously worried that I would be denied entry without my passport. Even on the way back I was asked for my passport by a ticket agent. Everybody seemed quite suprised when I told them that I wasn't supposed to need a passport to go from Canada and the US. A few years later when I travelled to the States again I made damn sure that I had a passport on me and had no problems at all.

---
I'm in search of myself. Have you seen me anywhere?
[ Parent ]
Counterpoints (2.50 / 2) (#144)
by virg on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 12:40:18 PM EST

> True, but the fact that 75% of USians don't have passports would seem to suggest that this attitude is not confined to Texas.

That's not a very fair assessment. How many Indians have passports? How about Chinese? Or Brazilians? Or Russians? Countries with large geographically contiguous areas tend to breed domestic travel, and on top of that leaving the U.S. for anyplace other than Canada or Mexico takes a long and costly flight. It's not realistic to compare that to Britain, where taking a holiday in another country is a three hour drive. On a personal note, I've been outside the U.S. many times, but I let my passport expire because I haven't had the time or money recently to travel outside the U.S. I don't think that a low percentage of people in the U.S. not having passports is a realistic measure.

> I have traveled from New York to Essex, Massachusetts and I could get a Dunkin Donuts in both.

There's a McDonald's in Athens, and one in London. Does that make them only superficially different? Sure, there's not much difference between NYC and a suburb of Boston for cultural diversity, but then how much cultural diversity is there between London and Bristol? Go from New York to New Orleans, or Kentucky, or New Mexico and even though you'll find a Dunkin Donuts there I'm sure you'll notice a few things different.

> I said wiredogs figure was vastly overrated not that the EU is vastly larger (in fact in total land area it's smaller). He stated you could drive from Spain to Scandinavia in under four days, clearly wrong. Also notice he choose the points from which to travel to and from not me.

I also noticed that Hammerfest is about as far north as you can go without a dogsled. If you run the numbers from Toledo to Oslo the trip is much shorter. Whether it's four days of travel or not I'll leave to you since I can't seem to get the map site you're using to work correctly on my broswer. Still, I think you see my point.

> I just don't think that's an excuse not to try to see the rest of world.

My complaint with your approach has always been that I think you're inaccurate to say that a lack of curiosity is the reason why people in the U.S. don't travel abroad more. I've presented my reasons for thinking that cost and convenience of demestic travel options play a much larger part in it. I'm with you that provincialism isn't a good thing.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
Uh huh (3.00 / 4) (#153)
by Coryoth on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 01:18:17 PM EST

...and on top of that leaving the U.S. for anyplace other than Canada or Mexico takes a long and costly flight. It's not realistic to compare that to Britain, where taking a holiday in another country is a three hour drive.

And getting anywhere from New Zealand takes a long and costly flight, but that doesn't stop people from doing so. You can claim that New Zealand is small, but the same is true of Australia and they do just as much travelling as New Zealanders. If you want to claim that Australia is small... well you obviously haven't been there. It's a matter of culture. In some countries it is expected that you will travel, see the world, and experience ifferent cultures so you save up some money and go, travelling cheap while you're young and up to it. In the US there just isn't any culture of travel or exploration, or even interest in much of anything beyond their borders. That's the difference, not the expense of travel.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

New Zeal for Travel (none / 0) (#230)
by virg on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 11:13:36 AM EST

> And getting anywhere from New Zealand takes a long and costly flight, but that doesn't stop people from doing so.

So, you find a country that has a culture of travel and compare that to the U.S. like it's only the U.S. in all the world that has a culture of not traveling. I don't see big list of folks from Madagascar lining up to see the world, nor the Phillippines, and both of those fit the New Zealand way of isolation. Sure, there's not as much of a culture of travel here as in New Zealand, which you keep falling back to, but then how many countries anywhere in the world compare favorably to a culture where virtually everyone travels? Can you try to compare the U.S. to the rest of the world and see if it just might not be that USians are alone in not traveling as much?

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
Madagascar or the Phillippines, (none / 0) (#237)
by New Me on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 12:18:27 PM EST

are not rich countries.

If you'll take a look at first world countires (let's say the best payed 15% of the world's population) I'd bet almost all of then have a 'traveling culture.'

--
"He hallucinated, freaked out, his aneurysm popped, and he died. Happened to me once." --Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

Yes. (3.00 / 3) (#240)
by Coryoth on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 12:34:12 PM EST

Can you try to compare the U.S. to the rest of the world and see if it just might not be that USians are alone in not traveling as much?

I never claimed that the US was alone in their situation, just that it is an ingrained cultural thing and not something that can be written of with simple excuses of "We don't need to travel because we have all the diversity here" or "It's much too far to go for us". All I'm suggesting is that people own up to the fact that they live in a fairly insular society that is uninterested in travel and the rest of the world and stop tyring to make excuses.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

Owning Up (none / 0) (#330)
by virg on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 11:37:35 AM EST

> I never claimed that the US was alone in their situation, just that it is an ingrained cultural thing and not something that can be written of with simple excuses of "We don't need to travel because we have all the diversity here" or "It's much too far to go for us".

Um, so you're saying that it's a cultural thing, but that any reason presented for why it's a part of the culture is invalid? That makes no sense. I'm arguing your assertion that it's simply apathy, but since you reject that anything other than apathy is "too simple" an explanation, I'm not sure what else to say.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
Not really ... (none / 0) (#438)
by taniwha on Sun Mar 05, 2006 at 04:16:35 PM EST

I currently live in Dunedin NZ ... cheaper for me to fly to Australia than Auckland (the other end of NZ) 'long and costly' is relative

[ Parent ]
Very old joke. (2.50 / 2) (#62)
by Apuleius on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 05:50:03 PM EST

A Texan rancher is touring his ancestral region in Germany when he stops by a small homestead farm to learn about how the locals live. Spends some time talking with a local farmer, and naturally they talk shop, so he asks the local how many acres he tills. The German answers, "well, the landmarks are from before the middle ages, and I think it's been centuries since a surveyor last measured, but I think I alf about 50 acres." The Texan, astonished, says "well ah do declare! why, in mah ranch in Texas, ah can get in mah truck on one end and drahv from mornin' till dawn the next day an' still be on mah ranch." And the German answers "jah, I once had a truck like that too." Consider the possibility the locals were kidding with you when they said they had never left Texas.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Size. (none / 0) (#102)
by Benway on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 10:44:37 PM EST

The United States is more than 90% the area of Europe. Maybe the grandparent got the shape confused, but I wouldn't say he vastly inflated the relative size of the US.

[ Parent ]
I agree... (none / 0) (#137)
by shambles on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 08:38:09 AM EST

...the US has a much larger area than the EU, but that's not what the post I was replying to was saying. He was talking about driving from one side to the other.

People are more important than Truth - Edgar Malroy
[ Parent ]
Big Cities (none / 1) (#245)
by TheBeardedScorpion on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 01:01:40 PM EST

New York and San Francisco have some superficial differences but have much more in common with each other than two small villages less then 100 miles apart in Europe do.

Does this really mean anything? Every big city I have been to (in the industrialized world) has been the same, in that they've had McDonalds, similar technology, etc. What sort of differences do you want to see? Smaller towns are going to be more diverse than big cities, in the US and in other countries.



[ Parent ]

Nope (none / 0) (#371)
by CaptainZapp on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 09:38:54 AM EST

Every big city I have been to (in the industrialized world) has been the same, in that they've had McDonalds, similar technology, etc. What sort of differences do you want to see?

Well, how about the centuries old culture and air of Prague compared to the almost Newyorkesque skyline of Frankfurt?

What about the graachts and the typical dutch houses of Amsterdam as opposed to the grand boulevards of Paris?

You want to tell me that the vibrant life of Madrid is just the same as the slightly seedy harbor influenced air of Antwerp?

You sir prove that you didn't make it around the world a lot. Let alone around Europe.

[ Parent ]

Culture (2.00 / 2) (#407)
by TheBeardedScorpion on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 08:57:17 PM EST

Perhaps I wasn't very clear.

I have travelled quite a bit, at least compared to most Americans. I've been to the UK, France, Ireland, Sweden, Japan, Korea and every major city in Canada and the United States.

Here's the thing: In the modern industrialized world, if you are not adventurous, and do not seek out local culture, it is not going to fall into your lap. You can stay at the Hilton Tokyo, eat hamburgers at McDonalds and drink coffee at Starbucks. Or, you can stay at a a ryokan, and go to an onsen before dining on okonomiyaki.

My point is simply that it is meaningless for "shambles" to say that he was able to go from one US city to another and not see anything other than superficial differences, since the same thing can be done the world over.



[ Parent ]
MMkay (none / 0) (#439)
by CaptainZapp on Sun Mar 05, 2006 at 05:25:40 PM EST

Fair enough; the Starbucksiation of major cities seems somewhat unavoidable. But the thing is: You don't have to stay at the Hilton (actually the Holiday Inn in Prague is fairly nice and located not far from one of the most mysterious places in the city [Visherad], but I digress), you can stay at a ryokan, instead, if you're in Tokyo, or at a local guest house in Chiang Mai and gain a hole world of different experiences. You don't have to eat at McDonalds and as some posters quite rightfully point out, it's prohbitively expensive compared to some of the local fair. You don't have to drink your coffee at Starbucks and I'd actually recommend Petes, when you're at the west coast.

Granted, you need to seek it out, you need to grab a fucking streetcar, or a subway and get away from Wencels Square (to stick with the Prague example).

But then again, you probably won't pick up the bird flu and chances that you get mugged are low, provided that you stick with some common sense rules.

[ Parent ]

obligatory (3.00 / 14) (#41)
by circletimessquare on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 03:30:55 PM EST

"War is God's way of teaching Americans geography."

Ambrose Bierce

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Ambrose_Bierce

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

God Bless the USA! $ (none / 1) (#49)
by LilDebbie on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 04:49:00 PM EST



My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
tikrit, mosul: like any americans knew in 2002 nt (none / 1) (#54)
by circletimessquare on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 05:12:37 PM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
IAWTP (none / 1) (#59)
by xram on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 05:43:40 PM EST

best start buffing up on your Iran arcana now, friends and neighbors

[ Parent ]
Like any Americans know Tikrit or Mosul now (3.00 / 2) (#72)
by godix on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 06:44:26 PM EST

Americans other than the military people in charge of screwing those places over I mean.

More CORN!

[ Parent ]
oh, I dunno (none / 0) (#74)
by creativedissonance on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 06:56:26 PM EST

I suspect a fair number of us are keeping 'places my country has flattened' lists.


ay yo i run linux and word on the street
is that this is where i need to be to get my butt stuffed like a turkey - br14n
[ Parent ]
That's a short list (3.00 / 2) (#75)
by godix on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 07:08:11 PM EST

1) Earth


More CORN!

[ Parent ]
humorous and retarded (2.00 / 3) (#84)
by circletimessquare on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 08:26:05 PM EST

so +3 for you!


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
You boost my ego (1.50 / 2) (#152)
by godix on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 01:08:05 PM EST

Therefore you get a +3 and my gratitude

More CORN!

[ Parent ]
-1, you're not part of the Cabal, you will need (1.50 / 4) (#56)
by Brogdel on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 05:25:05 PM EST

plenty of dupes to get this through.

bastards have my application on file (none / 0) (#57)
by xram on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 05:33:43 PM EST

they say its been 'in processing' for over THREE YEARS NOW!

[ Parent ]
I guess you mean three months? (none / 0) (#67)
by tetsuwan on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 06:24:54 PM EST

You still have a long way to go.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Not just too US centric... (none / 1) (#70)
by Lord Snott on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 06:29:49 PM EST

...but wanky, as well.
Only we in the United States declare, with an insistence that's almost touching, that our country is the greatest in the world because it's the only one composed of people from all the others.
The US is not the only country in the world made primarily of immigrants. Not even close.

And wording it like your using someone elses words doesn't help, it just drives home the national ignorance of the US.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This sig in violation of U.S. trademark
registration number 2,347,676.
Bummer :-(

Reading comprehension... (3.00 / 3) (#81)
by partialpeople on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 07:38:07 PM EST

<blockquote>it just drives home the national ignorance of the US.</blockquote>

Isn't that the point of the entire fucking article?

[ Parent ]

Yes, and? (2.66 / 9) (#71)
by godix on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 06:40:56 PM EST

This article leaves me with a huge 'and your point is?' feeling. Americans (in general) don't know how to navigate by the stars, how to sew, how to trap and prepare wild animals for dinner, or how to tell the difference between France and a pile of fly shit on the map. I honestly don't see a problem with this, it just doesn't make a difference. Most people don't need to know where Tanzania is and the few who do need that knowledge can always grab an atlas. Now don't get me wrong, I'm vaugely interested in geography (meaning I can tell the difference between fly shit and France. Fly shit isn't being set on fire) but I don't consider it a vital life skill anymore than my ability to insult France, no matter what the topic at hand, would be a vital life skill.

More CORN!

I agree. (none / 1) (#78)
by maynard on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 07:21:12 PM EST

The prose is good. It appears to lead somewhere at first, but by the end there's no conclusion offered for readers. Except that travel is good, and locals will know their own geography better than do travelers. I'd love to vote this up. Instead I reluctantly voted it down.

Oh well.

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

It should be valuable (2.50 / 4) (#82)
by partialpeople on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 07:42:37 PM EST

If our country is going around acting like it runs the damn world, we may as well know what's out there.

Who are we to claim being "The World's Last Superpower", when most of our citizens couldn't put Beijing, Moscow or New Delhi on a map?

[ Parent ]

Move on. (1.60 / 5) (#87)
by lukme on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 09:13:47 PM EST

I have no problem with placing beijing, moscow or new delhi on a map despite the fact that I have never been to china, russia or india (and I was educated in a backwoods swamp). Furthermore, I have zero desire to go to any of thoes places due to political/social unrest, and my own lack of interest.

Quite frankly, I have met people from all of those places, the funny thing is those people would rather be here (in a US backwoods swamp) than there.




-----------------------------------
It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
[ Parent ]
What does American geographic ignorance (none / 0) (#88)
by partialpeople on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 09:23:51 PM EST

or ambitions of global hegemony have to do with the superlative education and national diversity of your backwoods swamp?

[ Parent ]
Could you explain to me using your harvard ed. (none / 0) (#90)
by lukme on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 09:48:20 PM EST

Why I should care about knowing other cultures and places in overly simple manner, just because, some 2-bit village idiot - that incidentally, I didn't vote for - happens to decide to go to war in some god forsaken place?

I really couldn't care about global amgitions of the ruling class in the US, I am much more concerned with getting through this week - let alone this month or this year.




-----------------------------------
It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
[ Parent ]
Because (3.00 / 4) (#99)
by partialpeople on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 10:19:20 PM EST

maybe if the people in this country knew a little more about "god forsaken" places, they'd be more hesitant to accept the ambitions of the ruling class.

Bush didn't just "happen" to invade Iraq- he used the average American's ignorance of Iraq to build support by implying that he was taking the fight to Al Qaeda.

If Americans knew more about political geography, the world would be better place for it.

[ Parent ]

Not so fast, quick one (none / 0) (#172)
by lukme on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 04:50:38 PM EST

Bush and channey manipulated the intelligence concerning iraq. Keep in mind there was a minor tiff that sent the US military there about 16 years ago. Granted that is almost distant past for the average american (including myself), however, it did make an impression.

Unfortunately, the 50 some odd percent of the US that voted for the villiage idiot from odessa, have been somewhat brainwashed fall victim to the marketing both during the election and supporting the war in the begining. It isn't knowlege of the geopolitical history of a region that is needed, it is how to resist the efforts of the marketing gurus that effectively sell silly notions to people who cannot effectively think for themselves.


-----------------------------------
It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
[ Parent ]
the average american doesn't run the damn world (none / 1) (#101)
by scatbubba on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 10:42:03 PM EST

I assure you there is someone in gov't somewhere who can locate the countries required. The army always seems to get to the correct place.

[ Parent ]
Thank god (3.00 / 3) (#126)
by partialpeople on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 02:44:16 AM EST

we can always count on the Government to take care of our ignorant asses.

[ Parent ]
Except, of course, for Chinese embassies (none / 0) (#143)
by godix on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 12:34:01 PM EST

The people in the government, and ESPECIALLY the people in the military, don't have a great record of finding where the chinese embassy is.

More CORN!

[ Parent ]
Except? (2.25 / 4) (#170)
by Kijiki on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 04:33:28 PM EST

That cruise missile certainly appeared to hit its target.

Are you implying that there was another, secret Chinese embassy that was missed?

[ Parent ]

Don't be silly. (none / 0) (#485)
by DavidTC on Tue Mar 14, 2006 at 10:04:00 PM EST

A 'secret' embassy would be completely idiotic.

Sheesh, what are they teaching people these days? ;)

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

That's easy... (none / 0) (#419)
by DoctorD on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 10:35:41 PM EST

They can find it because of the Global Positioning System. :)

"If you insist on using Windoze you're on your own."
[ Parent ]
That is a really good point (none / 0) (#455)
by splitpeasoup on Mon Mar 06, 2006 at 11:58:40 PM EST

You make a really good point.

The US, fortunately or unfortunately, exercises tremendous influence all over the world. The elected representatives of the American people decide which countries to wage war on, which countries to pass sanctions against, which countries to reward, and which countries to ally with.

It is therefore a must for the American people to educate themselves about other countries, because the American people vote (indirectly) on what happens to these other countries.

That, if nothing else, is a compelling reason for kids to be taught geography properly.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi
[ Parent ]

Aye, ignorance is strength. (3.00 / 4) (#100)
by Lenticular Array on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 10:41:24 PM EST


ANONYMIZED
[ Parent ]
Perhaps... (none / 1) (#116)
by BJH on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 01:53:38 AM EST

...you could at least learn where the countries you've invaded recently (say, within the last ten years or so) are located.
--
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]
Why bother? Time enough for that when (3.00 / 2) (#187)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 10:30:54 PM EST

they apply for admission to the Union.

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
Wipo: (none / 1) (#80)
by guyjin on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 07:37:34 PM EST

Had a passport, let it expire. haven't done any traveling lately, and I don't see any chance to in the near future.
-- 散弾銃でおうがいして ください
No problem. (none / 1) (#83)
by gr3y on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 08:19:29 PM EST

I've been practicing dark room techniques all of my life.

I know where I am, and I can get there with the lights off. This may be a metaphor, or allegory. You decide.

I am a disruptive technology.

I know, let's teach everything (2.66 / 3) (#86)
by lukme on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 09:02:21 PM EST

Since you believe that culture, geography, government and history are not somehow linked, then we should increase the school day for our children by at least 4 hours. I am sure this will not cause any difficulties, since, in order to live in the US, parents must work until 7 anyways.

Or better yet, Let's let our kids experience new cultures by having them travel to the places that they are studing. Since you really cannot get the true experience by just visiting for a couple of weeks, let's have them spend at least 6 months in a place abroad - perhaps even longer, so they can truely pick up the language and understand the culture.

In all seriousness, I think you need to consider the implementation of what you are talking about, and you should realize that most foreigners are as ignorant about US culture/geography/history as US citizens are about theirs. You should also realize that the vast majority of cultures are very unaccepting of different cultures.




-----------------------------------
It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
That's crazy talk (2.00 / 4) (#94)
by livus on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 10:00:19 PM EST

and no, the USians really are a bit sub on the geography, unusually vague about their own countries, unusually ignorant and incurious about others.

I grew up in a tourist area and it does sort of stand out. That and the new jeans. Kinda like how the Germans stand out for that socks/sandals thing. You notice it also when travelling yourself, because you're moe often in a position to overhear their remarks.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

Not so crazy. (2.50 / 2) (#355)
by lukme on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 09:08:24 PM EST

I never get to know a place that I have been until I settle in for at least 6 months.

Personally, I don't like being a tourist, it just doesn't facinate me.  I like knowing a place for its culture and intimately knowing the geography.

I have lived in and around 2 major cities in the US, off in the middle of no where, as well as at one of the cornors of charted US.  It takes several weeks for me to settle into the rhythm of the new place and several more to find the out of the way places that I enjoy.

In one of the places that I have lived, it was renown for its trout fishing (several presidents have gone trout fishing around the area), only the locals really know where the fish are biting.  It takes a while, but you can figure out where to fish (ie, down stream of the exclusive rod and gun club at an adjacent state park that is unmarked).  I like the out of the way places that you just don't find as a tourist.

Furthermore, I really don't want to look like a couple of tourists that I saw when I was a tourist.  In interlocken (I went on a bus tour of europe), a husband and wife approached me.  As they got close, the husband said to the wife "Here is a local, let me do the talking, I know the langage".  I kept a straight face and as he spoke to me in an germanic dialect, I just looked blank.  The wife eventually told her husband, let me try, and so she asked me in plain english where the park was.  Since I had just come from the park, I gave her directions in enlish.


-----------------------------------
It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
[ Parent ]

Looks like the US needs... (1.00 / 2) (#113)
by BJH on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 01:50:37 AM EST

...to work on its English education as well.

let's have them spend at least 6 months in a place abroad - perhaps even longer, so they can truely pick up the language and understand the culture.

Uh-huh.

anyways -> anyway
Let's -> lets
studing -> studying
truely -> truly
implementation -> implications
--
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]

Most certainly. (pardon my dsylexia) (none / 0) (#175)
by lukme on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 05:18:42 PM EST

I agree, let's throw in an extra hour or 2 of english per day.

Just where should we fit in the time for science and math education?

anyways -> anyway Let's -> lets studing -> studying truely -> truly thank you for being my spel cheker. implementation -> implications My point was that there was no practical way to implement what he was suggesting.


-----------------------------------
It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
[ Parent ]
Sorry, what? (none / 1) (#181)
by white light on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 07:28:25 PM EST

Let's -> lets

Huh?

 


..do you really want to help foster this type of laziness?
[ Parent ]

My favourite USian geography story: (3.00 / 7) (#93)
by livus on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 09:55:03 PM EST

Met someone who, doing his postgrad in the US, was amazed how ready his fellow students were to believe him when he said that NZers are familiar with US culture because there is a huge NASA base here - because New Zealand is closer to the moon.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

Similar story (3.00 / 3) (#156)
by Coryoth on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 01:31:51 PM EST

My father, while doing his postgrad, would tell stories of how wonderful it was to live in "down-under" New Zealand. For instance, you didn't need elevators, you could just walk into the ground floor and fall to the top...

And yes, there were some people that bought it. Of course that is less about Americans and more about the universality of gullible fools...

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

My favorite USIan geography story. (3.00 / 5) (#192)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 11:42:24 PM EST

Having to convince a dutch woman that while I did, in fact, work in the Pentagon, that did not mean I personally knew her friend who also worked there.1

1In 1988 nearly 30,000 people physically worked in the Pentagon. I assume the number is higher now.

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]

My favourite NZ geography story (3.00 / 5) (#205)
by livus on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 04:33:22 AM EST

Guy I sat near on the plane back from london. Silence until we get past Australia and realise we're both on the way to nz.

"Oh, you're from W? do you know X?"

Turns out he sold my parents my first guinea pig and has been wondering ever since if my father really ate the poor thing, like he said he would.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

LoL - okay, you win. (none / 1) (#208)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 06:16:28 AM EST

I'm racking my brain to think of a "small world" story of my own, but I don't think I can beat top that one!

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
My second favourite USian geography story! (3.00 / 11) (#98)
by livus on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 10:12:03 PM EST

My parents stop for gas, somewhere in Louisiana in the 1960s, go in to shop:

Woman in shop asks them where they're from.

My mother, naively: "New Zealand."

Woman in shop [calling to someone in the back]: "No, it's only some damn yankees!"

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

Time for another (3.00 / 5) (#291)
by styrotech on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 08:55:04 PM EST

A friend of mine when living in the US and asked where he was from replied "New Zealand".

The response: "Really? Your english is really good."

Then again, maybe they actually knew more about Kiwis than it first appeared...



[ Parent ]
roffles! n (none / 0) (#300)
by livus on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 01:14:04 AM EST



---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
yeah, but (none / 1) (#108)
by hyperbolic pants explosion on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 12:28:10 AM EST

I bet you couldn't find your ass with both hands

in the dark

Education in general. (2.75 / 12) (#109)
by jd on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 12:55:29 AM EST

It's a good thing for the sanity of school teachers that I'm not in charge of educational policy, but these are the sorts of things I would absolutely insist on:

  • World geography (including not only boundaries as they exist today, but those that are historically significant)
  • Politics (including all the different categories and classifications, and at least one concrete example of where each of the systems has succeeded - including the ones the US is opposed to)
  • Crafts (with absolutely zero discrimination - women should be required to use blowtorches, lathes and chisels, men should be required to know how to cook, knit and stain glass_
  • World History (should cover the basics and major events of European, Mediterranean (ie: classical), Middle Eastern, Northern American, Southern American, Australian, Polenesian and Asian history over the past 6,000 years)
  • Languages (all students should learn 2 or even 3 languages - at least one should be their own)
  • Exchange Visits (at least one language should be the language of the country the student will exchange visit with) - should be to as alien a culture as humanly achievable, with culture shock being a tool to expand horizons and break down prejudicial barriers
  • Non-Traditional Skills (this could be anything that would have no function in the modern society in which the student lives, but which would help improve thinking skills by looking at problems in a totally different light)
  • Lateral Thinking (including all of Edward De Bono's thinking course material)

Would this add more time to schooling? Certainly. How would this be achieved - by having longer hours? No, by having more years. Mandatory schooling should not finish until a person is 21 - nobody can be qualified to earn a livable income at 16. Finishing schooling then is therefore a massive drain on the rest of the system, quite senselessly and needlessly.

I would argue that University education starts a bit too young and is too compact. University education should start at 21 and current 3-4 year programs should have far more useful, quality information, perhaps extending the time to 4-5 years.

You have to remember that the current educational system is largely unchanged from the 12th century. (Oxford University dates back to the 8th century, I think, but it's with the founding of Cambridge that the system as it exists today was born.) However, the amount of information needed to understand a subject properly has changed over the past 800-900 years. This needs to be reflected not by cramming and over-specializing, but by generalizing and having more layers.

Yes, a person does their best work in their late 20s, early 30s. So it would make sense to have that timeframe as close to the end of education as possible. Those just doing a straight degree will graduate with the knowledge fresh in their minds. Those doing research will do their very best research under the very best conditions.

This does mean that you have to totally do away with Selective Service. Nobody would miss it. It would also do away with the notion of education as a sufferance before you get to do something real. The only way you could pay for such a system is if it DID do something real, producing people who were highly skilled and highly knowledgable. Nothing else would generate sufficient revenue to keep the whole thing going.

And that should be the determining factor for schools. Not what scores their students got in a SAT test, but what those students - once graduated - are able to do for the community. If they are a drain on society, then the school failed, no matter how good the test results. If they revolutionize an industry, then the school succeeded, no matter how bad the test scores.

Oh, one final thing. Books used in ANY level of education (be it the most junior of elementary schools, or the most advanced PhD program in the world) must be factually correct. They may be factually simplified, as you can't easily cover quantum electrodynamics in a class for 5 year olds learning about color, reflections, etc. But simplifications must nonetheless be accurate.

This is not a trivial thing. Too many students are taught bullshit, tested on bullshit, and expected to work some kind of miracle when they step out of schooling to realize what reality is. That's not going to happen and is likely a major contributing factor to errors in the workplace.

Education boards and Universities should be penalized heavily for the use of any text that is demonstrably false, up to and including a revocation of all Federal assistance, accreditation, recognition of educational status, etc. If the facility is that determined to put their egos above their obligations (and, yes, if a person is paid to educate, I regard them as having obliged themselves to educate truthfully and accurately), then they have no business being involved in such work.

This would likely result in the closure of many American schools, but by world standards, most of them are crap anyway, so who'd miss them?

It's time for the educational system to borrow from the Classical mindset of having a broad background, to borrow from our understanding of the mind to fashion the best timeframe for a complete understanding to be taught, and to borrow from supply-and-demand to meet what the school system demands from the observable, measurable benefits ofd what that system supplies.

Yes, I think we need to start the entire educational system over from first principles. Yes, I think that typical BS programs (how right that title is, as things stand) should not finish until the average student is 25. Oh, and yes, I believe all education should be 100% paid for by the Federal Government.

That last part is important. The whole notion of private schools is that nobody has to give a shit about public education or national standards, because that's not where the skilled workers come from anyway. If the system is crap and the standards don't work, replace them. But the Government has no reason to do so, if it can count on alternatives. If what it serves out is ALL that it is going to get back, it'll need to make sure that what it serves out is enough to serve ALL of the country's needs now and for the forseeable future.

(It's no different from making sure to only eat at resraunts where the cook will eat their own food AND isn't dying from the results.)

I'd vote for you (none / 0) (#110)
by livus on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 01:01:49 AM EST

though I'd prefer a life skills emphasis in "crafts".

I'd much rather flatmates who can change a fuse than ones who can do some artsy fartsy cross-stitch pattern.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

Having dorm-mates who can fix the hole (none / 0) (#134)
by tetsuwan on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 07:40:04 AM EST

in your favorite T-shirt ain't all bad either.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Do you really get other people to do that?! (none / 0) (#202)
by livus on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 04:18:50 AM EST

I can't imagine making other people sew or wash my clothes.

Then again, I also can't imagine having to sit in the dark waiting for a flatmate to get home and change a fuse.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

No, it's the other way around (none / 1) (#241)
by cburke on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 12:40:43 PM EST

You want a roomate who is able to change the fuse on their own when it blows and you're not around, rather than them waiting around in the dark and you having to do it when you get back.

Just like you want a roomate who is able to re-light the pilot light of a gas oven so that when they blow it out, it isn't your problem.  Especially if they don't fix it and don't tell you about it, you can't smell gas leaks, and you don't find out for a couple weeks that natural gas has been spewing into your kitchen.  Not that this has happened to me. :P

But yeah, getting them to sew your shirts is silly.

[ Parent ]

To sum up (none / 1) (#298)
by livus on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 01:11:33 AM EST

we want a flatmate who can take care of their own shit whether that be fuses, pilot lites, elements, computers (nothing more annoying than catching something through your own lan), holes in crotches, missing buttons, goldfish.

Seems pretty reasonable.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

Why not? (none / 0) (#334)
by tetsuwan on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 02:36:30 PM EST

Girls ask guys to fix their computers all the time. But of course if I asked I would probably be answered by a blank stare.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

So you'd only ask females?! (none / 0) (#349)
by livus on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 07:54:35 PM EST

I've always flatted with guys, so I was picturing one man coming up to another sheepishly holding a sock and a pair of underpants.

Asking people for gender reasons seems a little assholian, however.

Nothing wrong with asking a flatmate for a favour occasionally. TBH I just find the idea of other people handling my clothes to be a little disconcerting. I also don't like to share soap. Perhaps these are just foibles.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

I know it sounds assholian (none / 0) (#359)
by tetsuwan on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 05:35:33 AM EST

But somehow it is much more ok for women to ask favours from men.

I'm going to a friend with a curtain and a aikido gi, however, I expect to do the work myself.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

They both seem assholian to me (none / 1) (#383)
by livus on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 04:40:36 PM EST

if they're based on gender assumptions. Also, it's a bit of a gamble isn't it? In computer shops one often overhears men who don't know what they're talking about, yet proudly passing on all sorts of misinformation to their humble gf. It's quite difficult to resist intervening.

I wonder how the heirarchy of favours goes, from most acceptable to least acceptable:

women asking men
women asking women
men asking women
men asking men

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

Depends on the kind of favor (2.50 / 2) (#387)
by tetsuwan on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 04:59:59 PM EST

I am so underused that if someone asks me to put together a mix CD, I will happily do it. Heck, if someone asked me to do anything I'd do it. Some things are more acceptable than others, though. And a lot of men have helped other men with cars and computers.

It bugs me though that I am often asked to help out with computers, and since I am basically an ignorant mac user, my skills are not l33t at all. It's a pain to say "I don't know" when you know more than the person asking, but not enough to help.

I do interrupt strangers when obvious misinformation is spread. It hurts too much to not do it.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

In that case (none / 0) (#389)
by livus on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 05:20:00 PM EST

would you please make me a mix cd? j/k

I'm not asked much at all, except by people who know me well. I'm not sure why, but people tend to assume I'm rather clueless - perhaps because I tend to look a bit younger than I am, or sound vague.

Your heroic interrupting makes you a much better person than I.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

Sure, why not? (none / 1) (#390)
by tetsuwan on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 05:31:42 PM EST

Just PM me your address and I'll send one right away. What's your preferred format? I can't guarantee you'll like it, though.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

It's okay, I was joking (none / 0) (#392)
by livus on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 05:54:00 PM EST

given that I mostly listen to classical music, jazz, and boy faux-punk bands, mixes are likely to fall on stony ground. Plus, postage to nz.

Thanks though - you really are helpful.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

I have jazz (none / 1) (#394)
by tetsuwan on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 06:06:57 PM EST

Not much punk or classical, though. Mattheus passion and Gang of Four. I have loads of more or less obscure electronic pop.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

I like pop (none / 0) (#397)
by livus on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 06:27:00 PM EST

but my taste is attrocious.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
Stop bitchering and PM your address. (none / 1) (#399)
by tetsuwan on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 06:53:10 PM EST


Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

No, I was just kidding. (none / 0) (#400)
by livus on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 07:06:49 PM EST

I'm sure your mix cd is very good, but if I was going to make people post me things from all the way over there, it would not be mix cds.

Besides which, I'm incurably lazy and last time I made someone post me things, I never returned the favour, thus offending her. So I've now given the whole thing up for lent.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

ok (none / 1) (#402)
by tetsuwan on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 07:17:39 PM EST

I could just skip the part where I write the return address.

But never mind then.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

I think your idea of teaching students... (none / 0) (#129)
by eavier on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 05:50:19 AM EST

...a wide range of skills is great.

I understand the need for specialisation in many fields, but I think that people's skill-sets in general are becoming way too focused.

Many people I know are now well and truly entrenched in their chosen profession, no longer through choice, but by the fact that a) they make good money in it and b) the job they do is the only marketable skill they have in such a specialised world.

If they were wanted to change professions to something else, they would have to go the bottom of the professional heap again and learn completely new skills. That's something that a lot of people can't do simply because of their economic circumstances.

Don't get me wrong, I want my brain surgeon to be the best at what he does, but should that guy down the track decide that he's had it with scalpels, it would make it easier for him to change jobs to something like joinery if he'd been given a decent tuition in lathes, wood working & carpentry at school. Hell, the guy might want to become a translator, surely not too much of a major if he was encouraged to learn 2 or 3 languages with competency at school.

This would also help to offset the shock of a redundancy should your position come to an end. You could either go back into the same profession you are now in with another company, or take the opportunity to launch yourself into one of the back-up skills you learnt in school.

There will always be professions that are way too specialised to switch between, but there needs to be some flexibility built into the education system now and in the future so people don't feel increasingly pigeon-holed into one job. All you do is end up creating zombies dreading days Monday through to Friday.


Whatever you do, don't take it into your house. It's probably full of Greeks. - Vampire Zombie Abu Musab al Zarqawi

Ufology Doktor in da house

[ Parent ]

No need to add more years (none / 1) (#130)
by bml on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 06:02:06 AM EST

Except for the lateral thinking and the exchange visits, those subjects are pretty well covered in most most European countries' curricula. At least in my country they are, I studied them.

We were also taught philosophy (for 2 years) and Latin, although these are in risk of being removed from future curricula. A pity IMO.


The Internet is vast, and contains many people. This is the way of things. -- Russell Dovey
[ Parent ]

If you can do it in the same time... (none / 0) (#346)
by jd on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 05:27:31 PM EST

...that's fine, but I always felt my English school tried to push through too quickly, never studying anything and never addressing very obvious difficulties with explanations. The only time I touched Latin was for General Studies. I passed that with a decent grade only because I have a very good ability to infer. It's irritating, because I now feel that even archaic languages are valuable in helping keeping the brain strong and active.

I do recognize that everyone has subjects they are good at and go faster at. I think that streaming at the subject level would be good.

I believe the youngest ever graduate of BSc mathematics at Oxford University was 15 at the time. She got a first, I think, and went on to get a few more degrees and a doctorate by the time she was 17. I would NOT want someone like that to be slowed one iota in the fields they are good at. I would also NOT want someone like that to have to sacrifice those things they're not so good at, in order to keep the pace up.

[ Parent ]

on being taught bullshit (3.00 / 2) (#279)
by Eventide on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 06:44:16 PM EST

I remember my high school introductory physics, the highest level most would take, actually called "physical science". My teacher described electrical resistance as something like a worm chewing through the insulation around a buried cable. Thankfully I was knowledgeable enough at the time to recognize this as BS, but I wonder how many were not. I'm sure someone somewhere has classified types of learners; I would fall into the "has a mental model, fits newly aquired information into this model, notices conflicts and either resolves them or blurs the model at the conflict until new information is aquired that can resolve it" category. I knew the worm chewing on the insulation had nothing to do with the fact that a copper wire has an inherent resistance. I can only wonder what other students took from this lesson.

Now, most people can probably live without knowing what causes electrical resistance (my current incomplete model knows that it has something to do with temperature activated vibrations of and crystal lattice imprefections), but I still find it extremely frustrating that my teacher would tell me such a thing, and I won't forget that event.

In many other subjects I was not so knowledgeable. Now that I know better, I feel cheated by, for example, my history lessons ("social studies"). I don't know how much misinformation I "learned", and now I face either living in ignorance or making the effort to learn on my own. Which is of course, the only way to learn anything; teachers merely serve to guide and motivate. But that doesn't change the fact that I've wasted the time.



[ Parent ]
That's an excellent example (none / 0) (#345)
by jd on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 05:08:45 PM EST

I've no doubt there are a few people who use way too many insecticides and pesticides in an effort to reduce electrical resistance. Bad information can have consequences far beyond those ever anticipated by the providers.

Because teachers are often presented as The Givers Of Knowledge, and it is frequently hard to question what is taught (or examined), the onus is on the teachers to ensure that the material is factually correct. Simplified, perhaps, but nonetheless correct.

In the Middle Ages, it was frequently presented that the world was flat, even though those with a solid enough education knew better. Why? Because it was easy to explain to people to whom that information would probably not matter a whole lot to. Same thing, same reason, though probably with a rather less significant consequence in the present-day. At least as far as electrical resistance is concerned. There are probably many other areas where the consequences are just as great or perhaps greater.

Education is only valuable - only worth the time, effort and money - if what you get out will exceed everything invested and everything sacrificed because of making that investment over another. If what is taught is bullshit, though, then all you'll get out is bullshit and it won't be worth a damn thing.

[ Parent ]

Thanks! (none / 1) (#114)
by Reverie on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 01:52:08 AM EST

Great points!

The 80% (2.75 / 4) (#131)
by A Bore on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 06:45:15 AM EST

Why have a passport when you have almost every concievable holiday type available within your own shores? In the US, you can have a beach holiday, a skiing holiday, you can visit areas of outstanding natural beauty or a dense metropolis, whatever you wish.

If Europeans were held to the same standard, how many of them travel outside of Europe on holiday? If European travel didn't require a passport, how many would actually not have one?

It is only because individual European countries have a dearth of tourist facilities that they are forced to travel to find them. Once you've seen one crumbling building, you have seen them all. Then your only motivation to roam is culinary, and even this can be recreated in America with an Internet to search for recipes, and a stocked local mall.

The 80% without passports figure isn't a sign of parochialism or insularity - it's a medal of honour to celebrate America as the world's best place to live.

I know this is a troll, but oh well... (none / 1) (#138)
by tmenezes on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 08:58:29 AM EST

People say the main reason to travel to distant places is to grow and learn. Some things you could learn: - No passport is needed to travel inside the EU; - There are sunny beaches, skiing resorts, dense metropolis, outstanding natural beauty, outstanding natural boreness and crumbling buildings for everyone inside EU borders. I have been to the USA 3 times and I loved the experience. It really is a different place. I'm sure you'd also be enriched to come and visit Europe. There's more to life than beach and skiing resorts you know?

[ Parent ]
Actually, yes (2.00 / 2) (#218)
by A Bore on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 08:17:31 AM EST

Yes you do. You do need a passport to travel inside the EU. But you're missing the point. I equated travelling within the EU to travelling within the US. If you didn't need a passport for EU travel, would most EU citizens have one? Probably not, I would suggest.

[ Parent ]
Actually, no (none / 0) (#278)
by kinenveu on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 06:16:55 PM EST

All the EU states, except the UK and Ireland, are part of the so-called "Schengen area". Neither the EU citizens nor the foreigners (i.e. USians) need a passport to cross borders inside that area.

[ Parent ]
Whoopsy (none / 0) (#311)
by A Bore on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 07:18:10 AM EST

Schengen doesn't apply pan EU as you suggest. There are about 12 signatories - if one were to travel all across the EU, you still need a passport! And a schengen visa is a passport by any other name! Whether you call them passports, schengen visas or purple truffles, the point still stands - for much of the EU, the majority of the population holiday only within the EU.

[ Parent ]
Like nowhere else right? (3.00 / 2) (#157)
by Coryoth on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 01:39:21 PM EST

In New Zealand you can go from semi-tropical rainforest, to high mountain peaks, to rolling plains, to a metropolis, to golden sand beaches in a day. Without driving or flying (on foot, bicycle, and kayak is sufficient). And that's just the diversity from the west to east coast of the central South Island. There's plenty more if you try the north/south variation. That doesn't stop New Zealanders travelling though.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

Ummm. dude. (2.66 / 3) (#186)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 10:27:28 PM EST

The population of your entire country is half the population of New York City.

It's great that you've got a varied and unspoiled climate; but the average New Yorker is going to meet more people from more cultures just by walking out his door than he ever could by flying to Malaysia.

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]

Im not sure that explains it (2.66 / 3) (#204)
by livus on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 04:29:23 AM EST

living in nz's main city, I get to meet and talk to people from many different cultures, everyone from Japanese, USian, etc to poor ethnic minorities from Afghanistan and so on (our penchant for refugees probably helps). Aside from our bigger populations (Pasifik people, Sth Asians, Chinese, Somali, etc) this weekend there are around 48 different cultures celebrating some sort of thing in one of the local parks. It's hardly a cultural desert.

New Zealanders are disturbingly well travelled primarily for cultural reasons: 1. travel is institutionalised here as the "OE"  2. we're nosy, 3. we need the work experience - we can get a lot more money working in many other countries, yet as a western nation with lots of white people in it, we also get quite easy access to those countries.

Face it, different cultures have different attitudes to travel and to the rest of the world.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

You could well be right. (2.66 / 3) (#209)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 06:23:58 AM EST

Still, Americans do travel - we travel constantly. We're likely to move houses at least 5 times during our lives (if I remember that correctly) - and we are constantly taking trips to hear there and everywhere - it's just all inside the united states, the various islands (on my coast) and mexico (on the other coast).

Most of the U.S. states have tourism bureaus dedicated to attracting visitors from other U.S. states.

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]

No matter how hard you look (3.00 / 3) (#215)
by jwdb on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 07:39:02 AM EST

All you'll find in America is Americans (nothing negative intended). Yes there are plenty of immigrants (am one myself), but these are like fish out of water. They'll have plenty of stories about 'the old country' and will most certainly have their own customs, but far less so than if they were still back in their home country.

If you really want to experience different cultures, international travel is your only option.

Jw

[ Parent ]

Why did 500 Swedes die in the Tsunami? (none / 1) (#296)
by tetsuwan on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 11:08:17 PM EST

Was it because we stayed in Europe?

Or was it because 0.5 % of the Swedish population is found in Thailand in the winter?

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

It's the Chewbacca argument (none / 0) (#472)
by A Bore on Thu Mar 09, 2006 at 11:53:38 AM EST

IF 500 Swedes died in the Tsunami, you MUST ACQUIT. 500 Swedes define the whole of the EU, do they? Fucking news to me.

[ Parent ]
I've never seen ... (none / 0) (#406)
by kraut on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 08:37:04 PM EST

.. a more suitable screen name. "A Bore".

"If European travel didn't require a passport, how many would actually not have one?"

Maybe it's a good thing that so few Americans travel; at least the ones that do might be a bit interested.  Last time I drove from Sweden to England, passing through Denmark, Germany, Belgium and France on the way, the only reason I spotted I'd passed the border was because the language on the road signs changed.  Of course, you still need a passport to get through the channel tunnel, but that's just because the Anglo-Saxon's are a bit insular.  A trait they seem to have kept even after going to the colonies.

"it's a medal of honour to celebrate America as the world's best place to live."
The further away you live from me, the better we'll get on.  Shame this internet thingy is connecting us, though.


[ Parent ]

You guys don't get much holiday (3.00 / 3) (#133)
by nebbish on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 07:39:39 AM EST

I get 25 days a year in my job (average for UK), so I have time to travel. If you only get a few days then it's going to be taken up with commitments to family and friends.

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee

holiday (none / 0) (#162)
by midas2000 on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 02:53:52 PM EST

I live in the USA and I get 4 weeks a year for holiday / sickness. Additionally, 10 federal holidays, like xmas, etc. Those usually just turn into 3-day weekends though and aren't good for travelling.

I dunno if that is average or not though. Also, I guess I can find all those places on a map, so apparently I'm already the exception over here. :)

[ Parent ]

Lucky you (none / 1) (#182)
by blaaf on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 07:44:11 PM EST

You are incredibly out of touch with your own country, then, and even within your bubble all it would take is a quick Google to show your numbers are "not average." First hit is http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0922052.html and it says 13 days vacation for the USA, and I think that includes regular holidays as well.

And your 10 "federal" holidays apply only to federal employees. Most state and local governments observe them as well, and traditionally banks (although not most of them anymore), but the U.S.A. is pretty much the only developed nation with NO mandatory holidays or vacation time. Most employers only give time off for a few of these holidays. And if 13 days vacation is average, that means a whole lot of workers are getting practically no time off at all.

[ Parent ]

False. (none / 1) (#184)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 10:22:26 PM EST

Dude. Federal holidays are, in fact, legal holidays - as in, most things close.

Second, 13 days vacation does not include legal holidays; so the total time off is more like 23. Less than Europe, true, but that's one of the reasons Europe has been growing so much more slowly than the US and Asia for so many years.

But, thanks for playing "misinformation". Please take this lovely parting clue with you as you leave.

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]

True. (2.66 / 3) (#189)
by blaaf on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 11:20:59 PM EST

Aren't you a smug bastard? Unfortunately, you seem to be living on a different planet.
Federal law does not compel states to recognize these days in any way. Most states do use the same holidays for their employees, however, as well as their public schools. Neither does the federal government recognize state and local holidays, although some offices may close as circumstances dictate.

Neither are private employers required to observe them, although many businesses will close at least for New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.*

Finally, even given the meager vacation time most Americans get, if you look at how much time they actually take off, it's even less. Either because they need to save them up for an emergency to supplement inadequate sick or personal leave, or because they that their work environment does not permit it:

According to the WTO, we get an average of 12.4 days (which actually sounds high to me.) The United States, not incidentally, is the only industrialized nation that refuses to mandate vacation time for workers in the private sector.

But we're making the most of those precious few days, right? Hardly. The average American planned not to use three of his vacation days this year, according to a study conducted in May by Harris Interactive for Expedia.com. Nearly 40 percent said they had canceled or postponed vacations due to work.

Amazingly, Americans will give back 415 million unused vacation days to their employers this year, according to another published report.

*

[ Parent ]
Errr... (2.00 / 2) (#190)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 11:32:32 PM EST

Please indicate where what I wrote contradicts the all mighty wikipedia.
  1. Just because federal law doesn't "compel" anyone doesn't mean that just about everything shuts down. I dare you to try and fill your gas tank on thanksgiving day, if you can.
  2. I have never heard of a business that doesn't recognize at least 10 of the federal holidays. they may not all close for the same ten, but that's the usual number.
  3. What does whether or not we take our vacation days as time off or in cash (an American habit you fail to mention) have to do with whether or not you add the standard 10 federal holidays to those 12.4 days you quote?
  4. As far as being a smug bastard goes, which of us is actually living in America and which of us has only read about it on a web site?


People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
couple comments (2.50 / 2) (#193)
by R343L on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 12:49:09 AM EST

#1 Ever hear of automated pay at the pump?
#2 Ever hear of places that just don't give vacation? (think retail, food service, etc.) The restaurant I worked at in college needed like 2 years of full time employment to get like 5 days of vacation. Granted you could generally get a given day off with a week or so notice, but you weren't going to get a standard 2-week vacation. We didn't, btw, get federal holidays off unless the restaurant closed (we closed earlier in the evening on Christmas Eve and Day, but that was it. The family holidays were always big days.)

Rachael
"Like cheese spread over too much cantelope, the people I spoke with liked their shoes." Ctrl-Alt-Del
[ Parent ]

That's a good point. (2.66 / 3) (#213)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 07:21:06 AM EST

Service jobs always get less leave time because they need to be open when the customers are available - which is usually when other businesses close.

Personally, I never understood the need to go out to dinner on a holiday - but I like to cook, too.

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]

Good God. (3.00 / 2) (#216)
by blaaf on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 08:08:04 AM EST

Stop digging and get out of the hole already. I was born in America and live in NYC. I've worked a variety of jobs in different industries, and I have seen with my own eyes people working six days a week year round, as well as people who worked 40 hour weeks with decent vacations. Unlike you I would not mistake the experience of my coworkers as a national average.

Most of the federal holidays are big shopping days and retail establishments close early. Maybe out in the sticks you can't find a place to fill your gas, but in any decent city it's not too hard to find a gas station that's open all day with an attendant. For 24 hours.

[ Parent ]

s/close/do not close [N/T] (none / 0) (#217)
by blaaf on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 08:10:32 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Gas (none / 1) (#227)
by Cro Magnon on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 10:29:44 AM EST

I have no problem getting gas on Thanksgiving. I could probably get it on Christmas at any of several 24/7 convienience stores.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Holiday Shutdown (none / 1) (#243)
by TheBeardedScorpion on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 12:48:54 PM EST

I live in Philadelphia (I think you do too?) and I filled my gas tank on Thanksgiving Day before driving to Maryland.

Maybe small towns shut down on holidays though.

I think vacation habits are going to depend a lot on what you do. In theory I could take my vacation whenever I want, but in reality my boss would be pretty pissed if I tried to take off 2 weeks in a row.



[ Parent ]
In the area, yeah. (none / 0) (#327)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 11:18:21 AM EST

It might be a on the interstate / off the interstate kind of thing. Heading out to visit my sister in deepest, darkest Kutztown on Christmas morning, getting gas just isn't going to happen.


People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
I live in America... (none / 0) (#244)
by shambles on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 12:53:17 PM EST

1. About the only time Houston shut down was for Hurricane Rita. Wal-Mart was open on Christmas day. 2. I agree, I get 8 days plus 2 personal days. 3. The point is if you are taking your holidays in cash you're not using them to travel and broaden your mind. Instead, you are using it to buy a bigger TV (which I suppose works to increase growth as well). It seems to be a bit of a wasted opportunity. 4. See title.

People are more important than Truth - Edgar Malroy
[ Parent ]
ummm (none / 0) (#221)
by midas2000 on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 09:25:46 AM EST

Like I said above, I had no idea if that was average or not, and in fact I implied that it probably wasn't. I'm well aware that not everyone in the country has an identical federally mandated benefit package. Thanks for doing the research though!

For the record, I am not a federal or state employee, and I don't work for a bank. Just a lowly computer programmer. Yes, I still get Columbus Day off. What a world!

Still holding out for Flag Day, though.

cheers,
-midas

[ Parent ]

I get 15 plus unlimited sick time (2.50 / 2) (#185)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 10:24:17 PM EST

but "unlimited sick time" is pretty rare, I'd never heard of it before I went to work for my current company.

But there's also the attitude difference. When I'm away from work, I still fret about all the things I should be doing. I can't stand it when I leave something unfinished, and apparently that's a common American trait.

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]

I've heard that from an American friend (2.50 / 2) (#207)
by nebbish on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 05:40:29 AM EST

Who was over here working. He couldn't believe that on a Friday everyone just drops what they're doing at 5pm and goes to the pub. We couldn't believe that he'd consider staying at work. My job definitely takes a back seat in my life and I think it's the same for a lot of Europeans.

The French get even more time off, and their children don't even go to school on Wednesdays.

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

Yes. That attitude might be changing but it (3.00 / 3) (#212)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 07:19:26 AM EST

could just be me - I'm always telling people "my work pays for my life but work is not my life" but, at the same token, there I am, 7:30 at night trying to debug a memory failure because I'm trying to meet a deadline.

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
Not me (none / 1) (#231)
by wiredog on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 11:17:17 AM EST

My employer won't let me work over 40 hrs/week. Breaks my heart, I tell ya.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
It's a communist menace, I tell you! (3.00 / 2) (#233)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 11:29:06 AM EST

It's socialist welfare-state employers like yours that are dragging our economy down, I tell you!

;-)

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]

socialist welfare-state employers (3.00 / 2) (#256)
by wiredog on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 02:28:42 PM EST

That is, sadlt, true of the Military Industrial Complex. OTOH, my job probably won't be outsourced.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
Two words for *you* my friend... (none / 0) (#323)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 10:44:08 AM EST

"port security"

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
The security is still run by USians (none / 1) (#335)
by wiredog on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 02:42:15 PM EST

The Coast Guard, IIRC, is respopnsible for the security. P&O is just responsible for scheduling ships and the like.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
If you get job satisfaction (none / 0) (#313)
by nebbish on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 07:24:32 AM EST

Then it's no biggie working longer hours. A lot of poeople in IT work long hours, it's a creative industry and people take pride in what they do.

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

The labor market is so fluid in the US (3.00 / 2) (#253)
by Benway on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 02:19:00 PM EST

That white collar workers very frequently have to compete on the basis of willingness to work long hours, etc. Very few people can compete solely on the basis of skill, so often the workers who are willing to put the most time in are retained and promoted while the others are laid off.

Blue collar workers work long hours (and multiple jobs) to afford health care.

[ Parent ]

Blue collar workers (2.50 / 2) (#312)
by nebbish on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 07:21:24 AM EST

Read about that recently, I was quite shocked. I don't think the market's working when you work all hours god sends and are still living in poverty. Especially in richest nation on earth.

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

This is the downside to all the illegals in the US (none / 0) (#326)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 11:14:30 AM EST

They drive down the wages. Since, by the standards of their home country, they are still making out like bandits it's worth it to them to make minimum wage and send most of it home to their families.

Meanwhile, people trying to work and support their families at American prices suffer.

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]

Quit blaming the illegals (none / 1) (#332)
by blaaf on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 01:04:55 PM EST

It's American corporations that are (often illegally, sometimes with the protection of the law) hiring and paying these undocumented workers unlivable wages. They are the ones that should be blamed and punished.

[ Parent ]
I have no problem with that. (none / 0) (#333)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 02:29:23 PM EST

Sure, the employers take advantage of them - but I think you're wrong to single out corporations. I'm willing to be most illegals are hired by small businesses that think they won't be noticed.

Thus, I'd be happy to see some sort of open-borders
program to let them work in the "day light" so that companies couldn't take advantage of them - but even if they did, the sheer flood of cheap labor will continue to depress wages.

Why would anyone pay a guy 25k/year to do work that another guy will do for 12?

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]

Well (none / 0) (#411)
by IVotedCthulhu on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 09:22:26 PM EST

What about the regions of the U.S. with miniscule immigrant populations where one wouldn't find a legal immigrant working in a factory or a Walmart, and certainly wouldn't find any illegal ones?

[ Parent ]
Which regions are those? (none / 1) (#460)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Mar 07, 2006 at 11:06:03 AM EST

Dude. I don't think there is a part of the United States that doesn't have a large immigrant community.

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
If imigrant != Canadian, (none / 0) (#479)
by DavidTC on Tue Mar 14, 2006 at 08:32:27 PM EST

which it doesn't for the purpose of talking about price of living, than the middle north of the country is sans immigrants. (That is, recent immigrants.)

Throughout the southwest and the west, it's Mexicans. Over here in the Southeast it's Cubans and, confusingly, Mexicans. (Are they swimming the Gulf of Mexico or something? How are they getting to Georgia? That's a damn long walk. Are they in Alabama or Mississippi?)

In the major Northeast cities, from New York to Boston to Chicago, it's Europeans.

And Asians show up everywhere. I suspect they have realized they are arriving via plane, and don't have to select geographically-close cities, which the Europeans have not caught to on yet, most of them getting caught on New York like flypaper as they fly past. (insert joke about New York being sticky here)

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

Bull shit. (none / 1) (#495)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sat Mar 18, 2006 at 02:34:39 PM EST

If the northern midwest is devoid of immigrants, please explain how latinos shut down businesses in Milwaukee during a protest against the crack down on illegal immigrants, or why Idaho has websites dedicated to immigrant workers' rights.

And, no, it's not just Mexicans - it's people from all over Central and South America.

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]

There's often a big difference (none / 0) (#225)
by Benway on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 10:13:05 AM EST

Between the number of vacation days one supposedly gets and the number one can take off without getting in trouble.

[ Parent ]
as citizens (2.00 / 2) (#142)
by nilquark on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 12:34:00 PM EST

of the world's military and economic superpower that produces the bulk of cultural and scientific achievements (as sad as that may be), there is simply no need for them to know more than the fact that the world is round.

If they want to though, there's always the library. It's not like they're being forced at gunpoint not to learn.

Meditation on why no one teaches geography... (2.80 / 5) (#166)
by starX on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 03:04:27 PM EST

Because you can look it up in a reference book?  I'll fully admit that, given a map with political boundaries, I might be hard pressed to find any given country.  There are, of course, many I would be able to define, but when I do need to know where in the world a counry is located, I ask an ecyclopedia, or more recently google, about where in the world it is, and then can look it up on the map.  I consider it a great boon that we have moved passed the days of making students continuously memorize facts by wrote when we know that they'll have the reference material available.  

The way to defeat American isolationism is to try to get passed the cartoonish multi-cultural experience that most Americans have of the rest of the world.  Taco Bell is Americanized Mexican food, just like the Olive Garden is Americanized Italian.  We have mass marketed a Disney version of the world and packaged it to ourselves in the form of something appealing to our palettes.  Educators need to teach their students, from a very early age, to look beyond these stereotypes of the rest of the world that we tend to propogate for our own sense of ease and comfort.  Whatever happened to the high school trip to Europe?  How about foreign exchange student programs?  

Oh right, they cut the budget.  

"I like you starX, you disagree without sounding like a fanatic from a rock-solid point of view. Highfive." --WonderJoust

Parochialism is hardly an American invention (none / 1) (#191)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 11:38:13 PM EST

Americans like to Americanize ethnic food?

Do you really think what the English call a "curry" has much of a relationship to real Indian food?

As for a high school trip to Europe - can your parents adopt my children? Because I certainly don't have 5-10 grand to drop so my kids can eat hash brownies in Amsterdam.

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]

Again, (none / 0) (#319)
by starX on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 09:33:12 AM EST

Do you really think what the English call a "curry" has much of a relationship to real Indian food?

No.  Hence it's Anglicized.  Hence it offers the Disney version of another culture.  

As for a high school trip to Europe - can your parents adopt my children? Because I certainly don't have 5-10 grand to drop so my kids can eat hash brownies in Amsterdam.

Can you read?  What I said was: "Whatever happened to the high school trip to Europe?  How about foreign exchange student programs?  Oh right, they cut the budget."  Methinks your reading comprehension could use some brushing up if you've inferred from this statement that I or my parents are wealthy, or that I went on this high school trip.

"I like you starX, you disagree without sounding like a fanatic from a rock-solid point of view. Highfive." --WonderJoust
[ Parent ]

Dude. You are insane. (none / 0) (#328)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 11:20:37 AM EST

Neither do you have a clue.

Here's clue #1: The federal budget doesn't pay for squat in local education.
Here's clue #2: Local property taxes do.

I have never, in my life, heard of public schools paying tax dollars to send kids to Europe. The local tax payers would have had a screaming revolt. Every such trip I've heard of, the kids raised the money from their parents and by various fund-raisers.

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]

Pot calling the kettle black.... (none / 0) (#338)
by starX on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 03:01:06 PM EST

Here's clue #1: The federal budget doesn't pay for squat in local education.
Here's clue #2: Local property taxes do.

Bot things of which I am very much aware.

I have never, in my life, heard of public schools paying tax dollars to send kids to Europe. The local tax payers would have had a screaming revolt. Every such trip I've heard of, the kids raised the money from their parents and by various fund-raisers.

I have.

Next?

"I like you starX, you disagree without sounding like a fanatic from a rock-solid point of view. Highfive." --WonderJoust
[ Parent ]

A rumor does not constitute evidence of anything. (none / 0) (#459)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Mar 07, 2006 at 11:02:22 AM EST

On the other hand an entire industry has  sprung up to pay   for class trips.

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
BTW - NPR had an interesting report today (none / 0) (#214)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 07:30:33 AM EST

from and Indian working in America who went back home recently.

At first he was shocked at all the American brands in India, then he was shocked at how they had localized themselves to Indian tastes. At the end of the report he was petitioning KFC and Frito-Lay to offer the same flavors of fried chicken and potato chips he was able to get "back home".

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]

the high school trip to Europe (none / 1) (#229)
by wiredog on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 11:10:42 AM EST

What high school did you go to? Admittedly, my high school had a trip to Europe. Restricted to the kids whose parents could afford to pay for it.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
Exactly my point (none / 0) (#317)
by starX on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 09:14:17 AM EST

We didn't.  But from what I understand by talking to my elders, this was something that used to be done in better off communities.

"I like you starX, you disagree without sounding like a fanatic from a rock-solid point of view. Highfive." --WonderJoust
[ Parent ]
Yeah - better off communities (none / 0) (#329)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 11:23:01 AM EST

BECAUSE THEY PAID FOR IT THEMSELVES YOU IDIOT.

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
Not according to my sources (none / 0) (#337)
by starX on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 02:56:56 PM EST

You moron.

"I like you starX, you disagree without sounding like a fanatic from a rock-solid point of view. Highfive." --WonderJoust
[ Parent ]
You are exactly right. (none / 0) (#480)
by DavidTC on Tue Mar 14, 2006 at 08:49:39 PM EST

I hate the fact they can teach things that any idiot can look up in two seconds in a book. They should be teaching how to learn.

OTOH, the fact that kids and adults don't know basic geography says rather a lot about us, and what it says about us would still be true even if we spent three years of our life learning the location of every single country and state and capital in the world instead of other stuff. Anyone proposing we try to each kids more about other countries is treating a symptom, not a cause.

Note when I say that, I don't mean we shouldn't do it some. Treating symptoms is perfectly valid.

What would be more useful, however, is having educated and curious kids, who can, in general tell you where things are because they are interested in learning and paid attention when it was mentioned. And one of them can explain all the election results between 1900 and 2000, and one of them can produce a fairly accurate drawing of all the state borders, and one of them can explain the evolution of rights of Americans starting with England in 1066 up to now, because at some point they got interested in those things and learned them.

And as the reason we don't have kids like that is partially because our education system has decided to beat knowledge and behaviors into children, I have to suggest that adding more knowledge would not really be productive there.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

Mixing up geography with travel experience (3.00 / 3) (#167)
by balsamic vinigga on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 03:22:25 PM EST

I didn't need to know where central, tsim sha tsui, mong kok, and kwun tong are until I was in Hong Kong.  I would have thought it too boring to care or learn about.  But since I've been there I know where they are and what characteristics each have. What good would it serve to be able to point to it on a map without ever having been there?  That would just be pointless fact absorption..

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
here's the reason... (3.00 / 6) (#179)
by bobzibub on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 06:24:39 PM EST

Living in the US is isolating.
For example, it is tough to find non-US TV, at least legally. Of course there is BBC America.. but that is pre-packaged for US audiences. Foreign news on US stations consists of natural disasters, and wars.
Live somewhere non-US and there is much more exposure to "their" foreign news. Most countries are not so big, hence isolated. Canada, bigger, is less isolated. Perhaps because there is so much trade. There is a cosmopolitan attitude, at least in Vancouver.
People here also assume that if they travel, people won't distinguish between them and their governments and dislike them or rip them off. Or that they'll at least get "the lecture" about US policy, so there is a lot less interest.
To bad, really. There are so many fantastic places to visit. I want to see them all.
Cheers,
-b

down with isolation (2.50 / 2) (#201)
by slaida1 on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 04:18:37 AM EST

Living in the US is isolating.

I think it's the same with all large (high pop) countries, Russia, China, India, etc. There's so much happening and going on locally that people's attention gets saturated and they don't have time to keep up with foreign happenings. To me it's the opposite: I read so much info from the net that I don't know much about local stuff.

(nt:) One day when it again hit me that there must be so many good, ordinary people in US with their everyday worries and stuff but without need or channel to show outside world that they really are there, I must find some local webchat there and make them less alien to me. By ordinary I mean someone who doesn't know irc, only browser and webchats, who isn't IT oriented and not much interested about life outside their daily circles. You know, the type who likes to hang around webchats, just chit chatting on their freetime after work?

Problem was and is still, I can't find any nicely done, only javascript req. chats. Only awful, hit-reload, fill-screen-with-garbage semi-functional chat-like wtfs. I know they can be done because finnish webchats just work.

[ Parent ]

Hrm. (none / 1) (#235)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 11:43:47 AM EST

I think you'll find that 99.9% of the population of American doesn't do "webchat".


People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
It's ok, 0.01% of pop would be enough =P (none / 0) (#266)
by slaida1 on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 03:17:28 PM EST

Same thing here, I just don't see or hear them because they're strugling to get even DSL and computer. ...ok so they won't bother strugling. Dang. They don't even care. But it's ok, that 0.01% is plenty!

[ Parent ]
The message is obvious (3.00 / 5) (#220)
by Viliam Bur on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 09:12:40 AM EST

Foreign news on US stations consists of natural disasters, and wars.

"Do not go outside US. The world is scary out there. Stay home and be a good citizen."

It is also interesting how the other countries are described in many American movies. How often the plot is "American goes abroad, and something very bad happens to him/her". The other thing interesting in similar way is how often in movies Devil is described as a person who speaks foreign languages fluently. I mean, if you are a kung-fu master in a movie, you can speak some asian language; but if you speak more than 3 foreign languages, you are the Devil.

[ Parent ]

you can't get Telemundo? /nt (none / 0) (#286)
by SocratesGhost on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 07:52:38 PM EST


-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Telemundo (none / 0) (#433)
by Dyolf Knip on Sun Mar 05, 2006 at 01:56:35 PM EST

Si, pero cuando no hablo espaÑol, es muy deficil lo comprendo.

Yes, I know, I probably butchered the grammar.  Lo siento.

---
If you can't learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly.

Dyolf Knip
[ Parent ]

Most foreign news outside the US is about the US (3.00 / 2) (#305)
by nlscb on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 04:03:47 AM EST

BBC News admittedly tries, but still tends to focus on America.

I heard a lecture by a NYT foreign correpondent, who had a show with other foreign journalists to discuss world issues. She complained that the topic always kept coming back to America.

Comment Search has returned - Like a beaten wife, I am pathetically grateful. - mr strange
[ Parent ]

Try finding anything worth watching on Japanese TV (none / 1) (#410)
by IVotedCthulhu on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 09:18:26 PM EST

Now that's isolating.

[ Parent ]
Very true (none / 0) (#416)
by Coryoth on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 09:59:43 PM EST

I could watch the Sumo, but otherwise yeah... nothing.

[ Parent ]
Here's a hint. (2.71 / 7) (#183)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 10:16:34 PM EST

What percentage of Chinese have travelled the world?

What percentage of Indians?

I can drive in a straight line for nearly a week without leaving the United States. During that trip I will meet individuals from every ethnic and racial background the planet has produced.

Given that fact, why do you find it odd that most Americans don't think much about other countries?

Here's another hint: I have a friend in New Jersey who is sick and tired of explaining to his Dutch relatives that they can't simply hop in a car and visit Hollywood when they come over to visit him.

The fact that europe is divided into dozens of itty-bitty countries all desperately clinging to their tribal roots does NOT mean that other cultures should aspire to similar behavior.

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.

Well (1.75 / 4) (#199)
by marx on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 04:06:11 AM EST

This is the reason you have failed in Iraq. US soldiers have to take courses to learn that you should take off your sunglasses when you talk to people. It's not even funny, it's just pathetic.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Rw (none / 0) (#206)
by SkullOne on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 05:30:18 AM EST

Is it an insult to talk to people with your sunglasses on, while a lot of ameericans are blue-eyed, and therefore sensetive to light?

[ Parent ]
Are you saying (2.50 / 2) (#203)
by livus on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 04:20:38 AM EST

that the reasons US americans don't travel is because they're too poor?

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
No. (3.00 / 2) (#211)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 07:16:48 AM EST

As I mentioned in the another post, Americans travel constantly. I took 2 or 3 trips last year; I have one planned for next month - but they're all within the united states itself.

Personally, I have travelled out of the country, several times, but always on business.

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]

I get it now (none / 0) (#299)
by livus on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 01:12:39 AM EST

it was the China/India part that confused me.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
Yes. (none / 1) (#224)
by Benway on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 10:09:21 AM EST

It's kind of irritating to be talked down to by someone who has the income and time to travel when one doesn't have much money on hand and would be fired in a tight job market if one took time off.

[ Parent ]
You don't think... (2.80 / 5) (#222)
by shambles on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 09:34:20 AM EST

...that a culture who refuses to even have a look at the rest of the world is worse then cultures who 'cling to their tribal roots' but acknowledge and enjoy other cultures?

While immigration has brought a lot to the US there is a great deal of pressure on most immigrants to 'Americanise' themselves as soon as possible; China-Town is not China, it's not even China Lite, it's China for Americans. China-Town in London, Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Min City are the same, Chinese culture filtered through the local culture.

Let's not forgot that the US is not the only large country that has been enriched by immigration. Australia is country founded by immigrants that is bigger than the US and Auzzies are some the of world's most prolific travellers (sorry to any Kiwis reading this).

I'm not saying there is not a huge amount to see in America, I'm not saying America has no culture and I'm not saying America is homogenous. Due to having spent time in the US as a child and now working here as an adult I have traveled more in the US almost more than I have around the UK. However, there is a whole world out there and average US citizen has more opportunity to travel (i.e. money) than 90% of the rest of the world.

People are more important than Truth - Edgar Malroy
[ Parent ]
Lol. (2.33 / 3) (#234)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 11:36:59 AM EST

Y'all need to make up your minds, you know? On the one hand you complain that we don't bother leaving our country but on the other - the MOMENT we take it in our heads to visit some furrin land, you complain about that, too.

More seriously - I'm flabbergasted that you seem to think America has a homogenous culture. I've work with people who were born on every continent on the planet; at lunch time the office kitchen is an insane amalgam of Indian, Italian, Chinese, Polish, "American" and Philadelphia cuisine. I spent New Years' Eve with a family that was born in Namibia but who have a huge McMansion in the suburban USA. I spend Sunday mornings with a family that fled Rwanda. My boss at my last company was born in Ireland. A friend of mine in Iraq right now has the unique perspective of being a naturalized hispanic citizen who - in civilian life - was a philly cop seconded to the INS.

But, yeah, obviously the United States is populated with insular xenophobes.


People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]

Didn't you read my comment at all? (3.00 / 3) (#238)
by shambles on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 12:32:10 PM EST

"...I'm not saying America has no culture and I'm not saying America is homogenous."

I can only say again that I like the bits of America I have seen, I like most of the Americans I have met. I know there is a difference between Houston and Chicago, between Californians and Montanans and between recent immigrants and those who have been here a couple of generations. BUT it is not the same as traveling to a different country where you are the absolute outsider.

Welcome to working in almost any office in any part of the first world. It's called globalisation and the fact that you can order a Kielbasa for lunch doesn't make you particularly worldly.

The same situations can and do happen to people living in Australia, Canada and Britain etc and we still travel. In the office I worked in London before I came to the US, my boss was Russian, my colleagues were Chinese, Nigerian, Rumanian, Dutch, French, South African, Saudi Arabian and Malay. Admittedly, I work in a multi-national business, but do you notice a particular nationality missing?

You can learn so much more about people by meeting people in their country, trying to speak their language and navigating their cities/villages than you can when they are trying their best to adapt to yours. Also before you say that it's ok for me to preach this while living in US myself, where English is spoken and there is great deal of cultural overlap; later this year I am moving to Malaysia - 3 year contract.

The only American tourists I have ever complained about are the ones who come to London and insist on only eating at McDonalds or TGI Friday. I have the same problem with Brits who travel to the Costa Del Sol and only eat egg and chips. (and yes I have heard all the cracks about English food, mostly made by people who have never eaten any actual English food in their lives)



People are more important than Truth - Edgar Malroy
[ Parent ]
Right. Sure. (none / 0) (#252)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 02:14:36 PM EST

You can learn so much more about people by meeting people in their country, trying to speak their language and navigating their cities/villages than you can when they are trying their best to adapt to yours.

Yeah. Like that ever happens - dude, spending a weekend on safari in Kenya is not going to teach me more about Kenyans than I learned from working with one for two years.

Sorry, but I still disagree with your fundamental premise here - and it does you no good to insist that you aren't claiming that American culture is homogenous and then claim that immigrants to America work very hard to adapt to the culture you claim we don't have.

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]

Meh... (none / 1) (#260)
by CAIMLAS on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 02:37:02 PM EST

Just ignore him. He's a Euro-centric ninny and is merely making these distinctions as he believes that European culture is superior to ours'.
--

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.
[ Parent ]

Euro-centric? (3.00 / 2) (#265)
by shambles on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 03:04:18 PM EST

I'm arguing that people should travel and see the world no matter where they are from.

How is that Euro-Centric?

I'm not the one arguing everything in the world can be found and experienced in one small part of it.

People are more important than Truth - Edgar Malroy
[ Parent ]
it's... (none / 1) (#379)
by CAIMLAS on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 12:56:25 PM EST

It's Euro-centric because your world is significantly smaller than our's. As has been stated elsewhere in this topic, it takes less time to travel across the entire continent of Europe than it does to cross the United States. Just to leave our country it costs over $1k. That is, unless you're going to the Caribbean, Mexico, or Canada. US citizens go to the Caribbean pretty damn often, but not so much to Canada or Mexico unless you want cheap fake watches or to pick up easy faux-French and Mexican women.
--

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.
[ Parent ]

What? (none / 1) (#441)
by shambles on Sun Mar 05, 2006 at 08:24:33 PM EST

I think we have already proved that it is a fallacy that it takes longer to travel across the US at its widest point (coast to coast) than it does to drive across Europe at it's widest point (north to south);

New York to Los Angeles: 2,854 miles
Seville (Spain) to Hammerfest (Norway): 3,508 miles

America is bigger though (about twice the area of the EU, though I'm not sure if that figure includes the new states) but Australia is even bigger than the US and it's more expensive to travel from there, yet Aussies are some of the worlds biggest travellers.

Over 1K just to get out of the country? Just a cursory look at Expedia for flights leaving 6/1/2006, coming back a week later;

Los Angeles to Lima, Peru - $633

New York to Reykjavik, Iceland - $872

New York to Montreal, Canada - $394

So only about 50% more to travel to Peru and see Machu Pichu ($45 internal flight not included) rather than go to Canada. You'd probably save that much with the cheaper food and hotels in Peru.

And it's only cheaper for Europeans to visit other countries in Europe (which would be truly Euro-centric) once we travel out of Europe we have the same costs as you do.

For comparison ;
London to Reykjavik, Iceland - $570

London to Lima, Peru - $990

There also other ways to see the world. For example take a TEFL course (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and get paid to travel to a country like Spain, Thailand or Rumania. In fact in some schools they insist on only hiring Americans because they want to be taught American English.

People are more important than Truth - Edgar Malroy
[ Parent ]
not entirely 'fair' assessment (none / 1) (#453)
by CAIMLAS on Mon Mar 06, 2006 at 06:33:58 PM EST

In those numbers did you subtract the international water distance from the land distance?

If not, the distance from, say, Nightmute, Alaska to West Key, Florida is slightly more accurate a comparison than from NYC to LA.
--

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.
[ Parent ]

Fair (3.00 / 3) (#456)
by shambles on Tue Mar 07, 2006 at 08:26:08 AM EST

You do know that there is a bridge between Denmark and Sweden? No water travel required.

Plus I'd like to see you get from Alaska to Florida without going outside the US. If that's not a problem, why not include the Falkland Islands into Europe?

People are more important than Truth - Edgar Malroy
[ Parent ]
You loony tune. (none / 1) (#481)
by DavidTC on Tue Mar 14, 2006 at 09:24:38 PM EST

You can go from New York, the state, to Canada for free. You just walk across a bridge.

And your prices only work from those specific locations, or Atlanta. Most airports in the US do not do international flights.

And I don't know in what universe New York or Los Angeles are the farthest east-west points in the US. Or in what universe they're more than 2,500 miles apart, for that matter. But if you count the continental US, the end of Florida is about 2,800 miles away from the corner of Washington state as the bird flies, although you can't drive that as you'd end up in the Gulf of Mexico. Going from the tip of Norway to the tip of Portugal, OTOH, gives me 2,700 miles, which again you cannot do unless you can drive through water.

But that's not the point at all. The point is that Europeans get all proud about travelling next door. Oh, look, someone in England drove to Poland for the weekend! Well, we go that far on vacation also. My family went to Washington DC for a week, for example, which is 500 miles straight, and we drove, so it was probably twice that. It just is within the same county, whereas over in Europe, if you plotted two random points 500 miles apart, you're probably cover three countries.

If you want to argue that Europeans travel outside Europe more often than Americans travel outside America and Canada, you are probably correct, but that's not what the GP was asserting.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

America has a culture. (none / 1) (#267)
by shambles on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 03:22:36 PM EST

You seem to be just making things up now. In fact I said that America has a distinct and fascinating culture and that I quite like it here.

http://www.kuro5hin.org/comments/2006/2/28/1829/03456?pid=28#40

Do you think that immigrants don't try to adapt to any culture they find themselves? I've had to change the way I speak (I tended to speak too fast and wasn't understood), I've had to change the words I use, I've had to adapt what I eat and what I do in my spare time (not many rugby pitches in Texas). I've only been here three years, I'm not planning to stay, I started off speaking the same language and I don't have kids. How many adaptations would a Nigerian with a wife and child along the way have to make just to function in normal life?

As for how much travelling helps with understanding people. Yes, it depends on how you travel but that is reason to encourage good tourism not a reason not to travel.



People are more important than Truth - Edgar Malroy
[ Parent ]
Surely you jest. (none / 1) (#259)
by CAIMLAS on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 02:35:23 PM EST

The same situations can and do happen to people living in Australia, Canada and Britain etc and we still travel. In the office I worked in London before I came to the US, my boss was Russian, my colleagues were Chinese, Nigerian, Rumanian, Dutch, French, South African, Saudi Arabian and Malay. Admittedly, I work in a multi-national business, but do you notice a particular nationality missing?

You're not serious, are you?

Why the hell would your average American urbanite move to Britian (particularly London) to work? The crime is obscenely high, the polution is smothering, the beaurocracy is thick, and the income is significantly less after taxes. If you've got a family, there's additional complications. There are no inalienable rights. The only incentive I can see for someone to move from the US to England to work would be to avoid having to drive and the local beer.

On the other hand, someone from Suadi Arabia or Nigeria obviously has a very substantial economic incentive to move to Europe.
--

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.
[ Parent ]

Of course America is the promised land... (none / 0) (#263)
by shambles on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 02:59:24 PM EST

...you've just proved my point about Americans being insular. 1. Crime is lower than in New York for example, and you're much less likely to be shot. 2. Pollution - it's a city what do you expect. As London restricts cars in the city itself pollution is quite low compared to most cities. 3. Bureaucracy - you can tell you've never had to deal with US Immigration Service. I fill in a lot more goverment forms than I had to in the UK. 4. Yes tax is higher but you don't to pay for health insurance. Also most international companies have tax equalisation policies. The cost of living is much greater though. 5. Plenty of American schools in London and companies will usual pay for schooling. 6. No inalienable rights - you do realise that as a UK citizen living in the US I don't have most of your inalienable rights? 7. What obvious reasons do French, German or Australian citizens have to go to London? Have you actually been to London?

People are more important than Truth - Edgar Malroy
[ Parent ]
London is the most expensive city on earth (1.00 / 2) (#356)
by nlscb on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 11:37:17 PM EST

Depending on where the GBP is compared to the JPY and what the current economic growth rates are between UKia and JPNia.

You pay a fortune for a very crowded and dirty life. Most of the benefits you described are for top flight executives - not for the average Joe Schmoe office worker.

The weather is awful. Even Alaska has better weather than London (at least you can look forward to sunny and warm summers).

The transport is worse. When you make the Boston T and NY Subway look good, you've got a really big problem. The tube is fun for tourists, since it goes everywhere. It sucks for commuters - it costs an arm and a leg and is completely unreliable. Eventually, Londoners as a whole are going to have to stare down the Unions and tell them to knock it off. At least in America driving is an option.

Don't get me wrong, I love visiting London (great museusms, resaurants - MMMMMMM - Belgos, and night life - no more 11PM last call - whoo hoo!), but I would never want to live there.

Despite America's problems, particularly with education and health care, it's just a better life here - especially compared to London.

Look, I'm pro immigration and ashamed of the INS and Gitmo. I'm not sure how to put this, but often it seems that many European complaints about America only make it more difficult for those in the US searching for a reasonable comprimise.

Comment Search has returned - Like a beaten wife, I am pathetically grateful. - mr strange
[ Parent ]

Promised Land (with paragraphs) (2.00 / 4) (#264)
by shambles on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 03:00:46 PM EST

...you've just proved my point about Americans being insular.

1. Crime is lower than in New York for example, and you're much less likely to be shot.

2. Pollution - it's a city what do you expect. As London restricts cars in the city itself pollution is quite low compared to most cities.

3. Bureaucracy - you can tell you've never had to deal with US Immigration Service. I fill in a lot more goverment forms than I had to in the UK.

4. Yes tax is higher but you don't to pay for health insurance. Also most international companies have tax equalisation policies. The cost of living is much greater though.

5. Plenty of American schools in London and companies will usual pay for schooling.

6. No inalienable rights - you do realise that as a UK citizen living in the US I don't have most of your inalienable rights?

7. What obvious reasons do French, German or Australian citizens have to go to London?

Have you actually been to London?

People are more important than Truth - Edgar Malroy
[ Parent ]
Depends on what you mean by lower. (3.00 / 3) (#273)
by Benway on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 04:14:44 PM EST

You're more likely to be murdered in New York than in London, but you're more likely to be raped, robbed, or assaulted in London than in New York.

[ Parent ]
wow, just wow... again. (2.00 / 2) (#378)
by CAIMLAS on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 12:50:19 PM EST

1. Crime is lower than in New York for example, and you're much less likely to be shot.

No, it's not. It's been shown repeatedly through the last ten years that England has a significantly higher crime rate in pretty much everything but firearms.

2. Pollution - it's a city what do you expect. As London restricts cars in the city itself pollution is quite low compared to most cities.

That may be so, but the air there was much more smothering than in NYC to me. Now, LA is another story, I'll give you that.

3. Bureaucracy - you can tell you've never had to deal with US Immigration Service. I fill in a lot more goverment forms than I had to in the UK.

And once you got here? The fact that the bar to get into our country is higher simply indicates a higher level of security.

4. Yes tax is higher but you don't to pay for health insurance. Also most international companies have tax equalisation policies. The cost of living is much greater though.

And how good is your free health insurance? Not as good as in the US. That extensive cost of living is also largely due to taxes and beaurocratic overhead.

5. Plenty of American schools in London and companies will usual pay for schooling.

What's that have to do with anything I stated?

6. No inalienable rights - you do realise that as a UK citizen living in the US I don't have most of your inalienable rights?

So become an American citizen. Regardless, you do have inalienable rights here. You can purchase a firearm, you can speak freely, and your property can't be taken from you.

7. What obvious reasons do French, German or Australian citizens have to go to London?

For one, it's closer than the US, and for two, there's minimal economic divide between England and those countries these days. In short, it's easier to do so.

Have you actually been to London?

Yes.
--

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.
[ Parent ]

Piffle (none / 1) (#473)
by it certainly is on Thu Mar 09, 2006 at 07:34:04 PM EST

And how good is your free health insurance? Not as good as in the US.

It's very good, thanks. We also have private healthcare if you're rich or your employer pays for it - don't worry about what life is like for the rich, it's always the best.

But you're missing the important part - all essential healthcare is free to all citizens, regardless of their means. How good is your non-free health insurance to a minimum wage family?

That extensive cost of living is also largely due to taxes and beaurocratic overhead.

The cost of living in London is expensive purely because it's London. House prices are directly correllated to rent/mortgage and council tax - most of your cost of living goes on these two. Average Greater London house price: £289,500. Average Scottish house price: £125,934. [1]. Shop prices are also higher because business rates and rental are higher. Don't blame bureaucracy, it's the economic climate - more want to live in London than can fit, naturally the richest businesses and people are predominant.

Regardless, you do have inalienable rights here. You can purchase a firearm, you can speak freely, and your property can't be taken from you.

  1. Convicted criminals can't purchase firearms. Why would you want one, anyway? What on earth would you shoot in a city?
  2. There is no inalienable right to free speech, that's a misnomer. You can't legally incite a riot, for example.
  3. Your property can be taken by eminent domain.


kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

Ha. (none / 0) (#482)
by DavidTC on Tue Mar 14, 2006 at 09:30:25 PM EST

As London restricts cars in the city itself pollution is quite low compared to most cities.

Yeah, but I've never been in downtown Atlanta and unable to see.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

Methinks not, my friend (2.50 / 2) (#408)
by kraut on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 08:58:21 PM EST

> Why the hell would your average American urbanite move to Britian (particularly London) to work?
Cab drivers that speak English?

The fact that it (particularly London) is an interesting place to work, whether you're in music, finance, fashion...?

> The crime is obscenely high,
Are you talking about London, England here?  OK, so Miss Marple doesn't personally investigate every murder anymore, but crime rates are hardly outrageous.  IIRC Homicide in particular is far less frequent than in the US.

> the polution is smothering,
Compare to rural Wyoming, yes.  Compared to NY - central london is about par, or slighly easier.  compared to LA - London wins hands down.

> the beaurocracy is thick,
For non-EU citizens, there is a moderate amount of bureaucracy.  But it's not like a European moving to the states wouldn't have hassle with work permits etc.

>and the income is significantly less after taxes.
I don't think so; by the time you've added federal, state and city taxes, I have been told it's roughly equivalent.  Not dramatically higher.  Admittedly some things are a lot more expensive in London (food, e.g.), but then there are fringe benefits like being within an hour or two of lots of exciting places for the weekend.

>If you've got a family, there's additional complications.
That's a result of having a family, not of your destination.

>There are no inalienable rights.
1. You only think you have them in the US
2. Actually, we have them in Europe, too.  google european convention on human rights.

> The only incentive I can see for someone to move from the US to England to work would be to avoid having to drive and the local beer.
Don't you think it's sad that you have such a limited view of the world?  Still, the "beer" should be enough to drive you out of the US ;)

> On the other hand, someone from Suadi Arabia or Nigeria obviously has a very substantial economic incentive to move to Europe.
You'd be surprised; lot's of Nigerian's are moving back from England at the moment.  Something about 10% growth in the economy....

[ Parent ]

Actually I thought (none / 0) (#367)
by CaptainZapp on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 09:06:25 AM EST

Australia is country founded by immigrants that is bigger than the US

That the Australian citizenship was selected by Britains finest judges, some 200 years ago.

[ Parent ]

Nope. (none / 1) (#362)
by For Whom The Bells Troll on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 07:05:18 AM EST

India or China is an inexact comparison for the US, both due to distances involved, but primarily because of the costs. INR and the Chinese yuan might be doing well against the USD lately, but they're POS compared to other currencies. I should know; the family is still in India, while I'm based in South East Asia. Essentially, it's not cost-effective enough for most (ie in percentage terms) Indians and Chinese to travel out of their countries as yet.

In addition, until very recently, it was actually quite expensive to travel internationally from India even in absolute terms; in 2000, for instance, travelling to London from Singapore was cheaper than to travel to my hometown, Hyderabad. A strange mix of quotas, monopolies, and cartels meant that the airline industry you had to disregard geographic proximity while planning your trip.

But things are changing quite rapidly now; the old monopolies for state-run airlines is being steadily removed, and there's a boom in budget airlines out here, just as there was in Europe a few years back. We're talking dirt-cheap fares now; if you plan properly, you can get tickets for less than USD 25 one-way. Indeed, international air traffic from my hometown has ballooned in the last five years; in 1999, there were barely two international flights from Hyderabad every week. Now there are at least five on a week-day, and many more on weekends. That's something you can see here in Singapore as well; Indian arrivals in Singapore are not only the fastest growing demographic for the service industry, but also have become the second-largest after Japan.

So yes. Sitting here in Singapore, the general impression I get is that, despite 911 and all those security/bureaucratic hassles, there's more travel afoot for most of the world. While it was always fairly common to see Germans, Scandinivians and Australians in most backpacker ghettos (read "Khao San Road, Bangkok") in the region, it's interesting to see Indians, Chinese, Israelis, Latvians and Russians as well in the list; clearly, for people of most countries, seeing the world is fast becoming an important factor in their lives. We all think in terms of "gap-years", of taking time-off from our careers and college, and simply exploring the world at our own pace.

All, that is, except Americans. The sheer undeniable fact is that the vast majority of Americans simply do not find value in trying to travel abroad, certainly not in the numbers in which Europeans come to Asia. I don't claim to know why this is so; I haven't travelled to the US as yet.

(As an interesting aside btw, travelling abroad is so sure a sign of economic prosperity in India, that if you travel out of the country at least once in a calendar year, the government automatically puts you in the tax bracket. It is then incumbent upon you to show otherwise, if you dont make it under your current income levels. )

---
The Big F Word.
[ Parent ]

Who says we have to know? (1.75 / 4) (#188)
by United Fools on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 11:05:56 PM EST

We don't want to know where is Arabia or Serbia or Russia. They are just some ia somewhere remote.

We know New Mexico is not the same as Old Mexico. And New York is not far from Los Angeles. These are good enough.

We object to stereotypes.


We are united, we are fools, and we are America!

New Mexico (none / 1) (#262)
by dogeye on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 02:48:48 PM EST

Actually, a lot of us don't know that New Mexico is different than old Mexico. New Mexico is the only state which prints "USA" on the license plate, because so many people think New Mexico is part of Mexico and not part of the United States.

[ Parent ]
CNNNN reports (3.00 / 2) (#210)
by voxol on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 07:00:14 AM EST

It's just a bit of fun but:

CNNN host asks average Americans which countries United States should invade next in order to curb terrorism.

Many Americans can't even find these so-called "terrorist" states on the map, and they proved their own ignorance by placing markers on the continent of Australia.


http://www.tian.cc/2005/10/cnnn-on-streets-of-america.html

Since I can find both Australia and Iran on a map (none / 0) (#414)
by IVotedCthulhu on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 09:42:21 PM EST

Does that mean I get to decide who the U.S. should invade next to "curb terrorism?" Or would I just be less qualified if I couldn't? What if I could draw every country's accepted boundaries from memory on a blank sheet of paper, would that mean I was more or less aware of which countries posed a "threat" to me? I'm pretty sure a lot of these people treat countries as abstractions which have properties affixed to them through education and the news. They might be able to accurately state which countries whose populations celebrate the beheading of some random U.S. citizen and not have the slightest idea which set of lines demarks them. That would be a piss-poor reason to support invading the country, but it's certainly a better qualification for deciding than being able to recall its location.

[ Parent ]
thanks everyone (2.00 / 2) (#239)
by xram on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 12:33:41 PM EST

for your kind attention to this subject.

I appreciate even the harshest criticism.

to put it lightly (none / 1) (#449)
by eavier on Mon Mar 06, 2006 at 11:23:33 AM EST

I'd say you're article has been an absolute friggin hit considering the amount of comment it's generated.

Maybe the next one could be on history, that would also draw in some comment ;)

cheers

Whatever you do, don't take it into your house. It's probably full of Greeks. - Vampire Zombie Abu Musab al Zarqawi

Ufology Doktor in da house

[ Parent ]

A handfull of things (2.50 / 4) (#247)
by strawser on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 01:12:11 PM EST

First and foremost, when I walked by that McDonalds in Krakow, I had to wonder who the fuck would travel all the way to southern Poland and then eat at the McD's. Christ, you can get that every block without having to get on a plane. You can't get Polish food (which has a tendency to be delicious and cheap) everywhere. That irritates me in every foreign city I travel to. (Honestly, though, it irritates me here, too. That stuff is garbage).

Second. Most of the people I talk to who find out how much I travel (I've been hitting about 5 different countries a year for the last couple years, just for personal adventures) always get excited. They want to go places and do things, but they don't know how, and they're intimidated. I've sent them links to everythign they need to get a passport, airfare, rail passes, and hotels, pensions or hostels, and they're still overwhelmed. On their own, they have no idea where to start, and they think it's going to be a massive hassle.

Third, there is some merit to the size and proximity of the US as a reason for cultural isolation. Going from Holland to France is like going from Florida to Georgia. On average, I believe that Americans are actually more mobile. It's jsut that our states aren't nations like they are in the EU. Ask an American to spot France, Belgium, Poland, and Austria on a map, and then as a European to spot Nevada, Alabama, New England and Utah on a map. It's a reasonable comparison, as far as the physical geography.

Also, I can tell you from experience that it's as easy, or possibly easier, to get from one EU state to the next than it is to get from the US to the EU. It's probably easier to move around Europe than it is to move around the US, but you're covering whole different countries.

And I don't think the average American is any more jingoistic than the average Parisian or Veinese or a lot of other places that have the same attitude toward their own cultures.

All of that being said, it would be nice if more people here would get a better idea of what's going on in the world outside of their own town.

"Traveler, there is no path. You make the path as you walk." -- Antonio Machado

The McDonalds in Krakow is not for you, (3.00 / 3) (#248)
by New Me on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 01:47:38 PM EST

or any other American turist - it's for the local Poles.

--
"He hallucinated, freaked out, his aneurysm popped, and he died. Happened to me once." --Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

I was afraid of that. (none / 0) (#293)
by strawser on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 10:30:43 PM EST

That it's "American food", like a Chineese resturant is "Chineese food" and an Italian resturant is "Italian food", that a McDonalds is "American food". Like going out for foreign, and that's the representation of America.

We really have to have something better than that, don't we? Creole/cajun? Southern BBQ? Cincinatti chillie? New York or Chicago pizza? I mean, there's gotta be something better to represent "American food" than "corporate megaburger chain store".

"Traveler, there is no path. You make the path as you walk." -- Antonio Machado
[ Parent ]

Navajo Tacos. (none / 0) (#301)
by Apuleius on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 01:18:19 AM EST

Frybread and chopped beef. Hey, better than McDonalds.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
We should promote Chocolate Chip Cookies (none / 1) (#306)
by nlscb on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 04:07:54 AM EST

Seriously. People outside the US and Canada don't know about them. I once became the toast of a dinner party in Denmark (not exactly of a country of poorly travelled people) because I made Chocolate Chip Cookies. The Danes, normally polite, forgot to leave one for me, and I must have made 100.

Comment Search has returned - Like a beaten wife, I am pathetically grateful. - mr strange
[ Parent ]

Never knew that. (none / 0) (#309)
by strawser on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 05:00:23 AM EST

That's a shame. Those poor people have no idea what they're missing.

"Traveler, there is no path. You make the path as you walk." -- Antonio Machado
[ Parent ]
Cookies in India (none / 0) (#476)
by Fortezza on Sat Mar 11, 2006 at 01:28:02 AM EST

While in Bangalore, India I visited a Cookie Man store at the local mall. Most of the cookies had cashews (blech), I would've killed for some chocolate chips. The cookies were very dry and brittle as they don't use eggs to bind everything togther.

[ Parent ]
There are also real american restaurants here. (none / 0) (#310)
by New Me on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 05:22:48 AM EST

At least from what I can tell, havn't been in the US in 9 years.

--
"He hallucinated, freaked out, his aneurysm popped, and he died. Happened to me once." --Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

I gotta say (none / 1) (#287)
by rusty on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 07:57:19 PM EST

The McDonalds in Paris was really very good. Like by McDonalds standards it was off the charts -- by the standards of a place you can get a meal in under an hour, it was at least decent.

Not really relevant to anything, particularly, but perhaps worth noting.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

There's a difference? (none / 0) (#292)
by strawser on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 10:26:50 PM EST

I would have thought McDonalds was McDonalds. I don't know, becuase I didn't eath there. Luck of all, when I was there I had friends who were expensing my meals for me, so I ate in the best resturants their bosses could afford (ohmygodthatwasgood).

It does seem kind of odd to eat McD's when you're in Paris, of all places. All the best chefs on the planet are there.

"Traveler, there is no path. You make the path as you walk." -- Antonio Machado
[ Parent ]

it's a little unintuitive but (3.00 / 3) (#295)
by balsamic vinigga on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 10:50:58 PM EST

fast food is not the same everywhere.  Different places have different tastes and politics and fast food joints quickly adjust to accomidate.

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]
Food on a budget in Paris can SUCK (3.00 / 2) (#304)
by nlscb on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 03:59:47 AM EST

You really have to hunt for it.

Now, OUTSIDE OF PARIS (think 100 miles) - eating on a budget is absolute heaven.

One of the stangest experiences of my life is that I spend a summer in SE England and Paris. The best food that I had was in England. The worst was in Paris. It got to the point where I just went to Burger King.

Comment Search has returned - Like a beaten wife, I am pathetically grateful. - mr strange
[ Parent ]

Wow. That's whacked. (none / 0) (#308)
by strawser on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 04:59:00 AM EST

The best food that I had was in England. The worst was in Paris.

That's funny as hell.

"Traveler, there is no path. You make the path as you walk." -- Antonio Machado
[ Parent ]

Maybe (none / 1) (#363)
by CaptainZapp on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 08:55:56 AM EST

But I absolutely second his notion, at least when it comes to London.

Granted, English lunch is usually terrible, english dinner a desaster and breakfast, well, let's say it's consistent. The toast is usually burned, but cold. The butter a block of ice. The glibbery eggs are worse for your health then smoking and the coffee, well, you instantly understand why the English are so fond of (usually lousy) tea. (Shamelessly ripped off from Ross Thomas).

But that doesn't discount the fact that you can eat absolutely heavenly in London and that some of the best chefs come from there.

Ususally the price is quite steep, though (unless you go ethnic).

[ Parent ]

Indian (none / 0) (#369)
by strawser on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 09:12:06 AM EST

I spent a long weekend in London and, save for one breakfast, only ate Indian. Some people at work were joking around about that and said that the English national meal is a curry chicken or a kebob.

"Traveler, there is no path. You make the path as you walk." -- Antonio Machado
[ Parent ]
Heh. (none / 1) (#393)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 05:55:59 PM EST

My experience in England was that I had one good meal the time I was there (on biz) - "Bangers and mash" at a pub with the guys I was visiting.

Oh, wait - untrue - I actually decided to skip the restaurant experience one night and wandered till I found a hole-in-the-wall selling fish and chips; they really were great - better than any fish I've had anywhere else.

Now, this was also many years ago before the foodie revolution I've heard they've had since then. But these days I have children and a job that lets me stay at home with them.

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]

Cheap food in Paris (none / 0) (#469)
by Fred_A on Thu Mar 09, 2006 at 05:34:15 AM EST

Quite true.

As a local I can attest that unless you know where to look it's probably not easy to eat cheaply in Paris. Your best bet is probably the day's special in a café (a normal one, not the one just across from a tourist spot) which is typically fresh and decently prepared.

OTOH I don't know why everyone bashes food in England, they have some very decent stuff over there The worst food I had was in the US, so I guess YMMV... ;)

Fred in Paris
[ Parent ]

Extenuating circs (none / 0) (#316)
by rusty on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 08:48:12 AM EST

I was in Paris for like 6 hours total, waiting for a train, immediately after a delayed flight. I had been awake for like 36 hours at that point, and all I wanted was something to put in my face to keep me upright. McD's was the first thing I saw.

But yes, it was different from American McD's. The bread, for one thing, was much better. And generally, the whole burger was much more carefully and competently constructed than you'd get in the US.

Don't worry, I went on to eat in many wonderful local crepe and cider joints in Brittany. :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Ah. Makes sense. (none / 1) (#321)
by strawser on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 09:56:15 AM EST

I spent a couple days in Vienna last fall. I travelled in by train from Budapest to meet a friend. He had been too tired by the time he got there to hunt for a good hotel that was cheap and in a good location, so he just grabbed an expensive tourist room in a touristy location near the main train station.

Aaaaanyway. When I got in I asked him where we could get some food, since he'd already been there for a full day and a night, and he said he'd eaten at McDonalds twice. I lectured him about it and told him he was a fool for going all the way there and getting something he could get locally, but he insisted that there was nothing but McD's and pizza joints in Vienna, and he didn't feel like pizza.

I swear we walked for 45 minutes looking for something to eat, and all we saw were three McDonalds and a bunch of pizza joints. It was the funniest thing. I ended up eating pizza.

The next day, we got out of the tourist area and found some good local food, but it was funny to have to admit he was right. I was walking through Vienna amazed the first evening, wondering if it was true that the Austrians live on fast food and pizza.

"Traveler, there is no path. You make the path as you walk." -- Antonio Machado
[ Parent ]

Only on Mariahilferstraße, (3.00 / 4) (#324)
by New Me on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 11:05:23 AM EST

once you get away from the train station (and especially in the first district, but the 7th is good as well,) there are plenty of very good restaurants (Austrian and otherwise).

--
"He hallucinated, freaked out, his aneurysm popped, and he died. Happened to me once." --Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

Yep, you nailed that one (none / 0) (#340)
by strawser on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 03:07:29 PM EST

We were on Mariahilferstraße several blocks up, to the right, from the station. I got in as the sun was going down, so I just went and found the hotel, dropped off my backpack (I'd been hauling it all over Budapest that morning, then on the train in, then up to the hotel, so I was kind of beat), and wanted to go out for food.

You can imagine how insane it seemed to be walking around in Vienna and only seeing burger and pizza joints. It was that kind of funny that's like when everything goes wrong at work, and eventually it's just something you laugh at. "A contractor accidentally cut a bundle of OC 48's? HAHAHA! OUTSTANDING!" That kind of funny. The one that happens right before the nervous breakdown, where everything is just hillarious.

Anyway, the next day, after a hot shower and a good sleep, I humped it all over the city and found good places for breakfast, lunch and dinner. (THough I have to admit, it was a good slice of pizza on that first night.)

"Traveler, there is no path. You make the path as you walk." -- Antonio Machado
[ Parent ]

Austrian pizza (none / 1) (#339)
by rusty on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 03:04:45 PM EST

Is that anything like German pizza? German pizza is one of the most revolting foods on the planet. Why yes, I'd love a salami pizza with barbeque sauce. Mmmm.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Hahaha. Nah (none / 0) (#341)
by strawser on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 03:11:02 PM EST

salami pizza with barbeque sauce

Haha. Damn. Just when you think you've seen everything.

Nah. This stuff was actually really good. Of course, I was also extremely hungry, and almost anything is delicious if you're hungry enough. It actually reminded me of New York style pizza. Huge, thin slices with little effort made to remove the excess grease. Tasty, though. It was also a little bit spicy.

"Traveler, there is no path. You make the path as you walk." -- Antonio Machado
[ Parent ]

You're lucky (none / 1) (#351)
by rusty on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 08:01:19 PM EST

Just avoid the German pizza, is all I can say. That one above is something I've actually had, and it still sounds like a joke to me.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Could it be (none / 1) (#365)
by CaptainZapp on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 09:00:42 AM EST

that you're generalizing here a bit?

Granted, you wouldn't necessarily look to Germany for Pizza. But there are a lot of Italian restaurants run by immigrants and I can't imagine that all those cater to the (usually bland) German taste.

As a side note. The US style pizza (as you get it at Pizza Hut for example) with a thick crust is not necessarily popular in Europe and certainly not in Italy.

[ Parent ]

Italian Italian is completely different (none / 1) (#368)
by strawser on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 09:09:36 AM EST

The US style pizza (as you get it at Pizza Hut for example) with a thick crust is not necessarily popular in Europe and certainly not in Italy.
Everything I ate in Italy was nothing like it's American counterpart. I enjoy American Italian food, drenched in a slightly sweet tomato sauce and covered in parmegean cheese, but it's not at all like Italian Italian food. They seem to prefer a thick paste instead of a wet sauce, not much of it, not very sweet, and they don't shake cheese onto everything.

I ate almost exclusively at snack bars in Italy, though. I was traveling alone there. (I travel alone about half the time, and I'm more likely to just get something cheap if I am.)

"Traveler, there is no path. You make the path as you walk." -- Antonio Machado
[ Parent ]

Indian Pizza (none / 0) (#477)
by Fortezza on Sat Mar 11, 2006 at 01:37:39 AM EST

Ever had pizza in India? Generally you won't find any pork or beef based toppings. Meat toppings consist of chicken, ground lamb, mystery fish, or maybe prawns (shrimp). Instead of marinara sauce for the base, they put ketchup on top.

[ Parent ]
Krakow McDonalds (none / 1) (#353)
by livus on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 08:14:23 PM EST

is a foul little hole in the wall of a side street, usually filled with teenagers.

Plus, the food it sells is expensive compared with a local meal. Even if you're into teh junk food you can get a huge thing of beer and fries and a satisfyingly oily grilled sausage for the price of a  lame McDonalds burger.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

Prices (3.00 / 2) (#370)
by strawser on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 09:24:45 AM EST

Plus, the food it sells is expensive compared with a local meal.
That was the odd thing. The food there, like in Czech (outside of Prague) and in Budapest, is really good, and extremely cheap. All over Eastern Europe, you can get really great 4 star meals in nice linin cloth joints with crystal glassware and waits in tuxes and all that jazz, really nice food in a really nice environment, for a few bucks.

In the Czech town of Czesky-Krumlov, I had one of the best meals of my life for slightly over $6.

I have no idea what the attraction of fast food would be in an environment like that.

"Traveler, there is no path. You make the path as you walk." -- Antonio Machado
[ Parent ]

IAWTP. I think what happens (none / 1) (#384)
by livus on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 04:44:35 PM EST

is that some people are intimidated by those places because they can't afford them at home, and then, they're also scared of the really cheap places because of the higher interaction requirement, the language barrier and the poor people.

 

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

It would make sense (3.00 / 2) (#412)
by strawser on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 09:32:21 PM EST

I almost walked past a place in Budapest because, looking in the window, it was obvious that I couldn't afford it. Then I remembered that I was in Budapest, so I checked the menu. I spent about $15 there. Delish.

In Poland, in Krakow, was the first time I got to see a real language barrier. I was outside of the tourist area, in a sort of ghetto, I guess, walking around looking for pictures and soaking up the environment, and I went into some breakfast joint. No one in the place spoke any English, none of the staff spoke any English, and nothing was written in English, or in any even remotely derivative language.

In most places, you can recognize at least something, sing English shares roots and prefixes and suffixes with Germanic and Latin languages, but there was nothing at all in there that looked even remotely familiar, and they were serving food I couldn't identify. It was a little rough, but kind of liberating. I managed to get breakfast and coffee (she did understand the word 'coffee', but that was it). So I'm not really as afraid of the language barrier as I used to be.

In most of western Europe, it's not hard to find people who speak English, and most everywhere the wait staff and hotel staff speaks English, and you can identify root words, like, for example, 'tabac' means 'tobacco store'. Not as true in Poland and Hungary. At least not outside of the tourist zones. They don't even use the same alphabet.

Anyway, since I'm telling everyone stories, I might as well add that East Europe is a great destination for vacation if you're even remotely adventurous. Krakow was my favorite city, followed by Prague. (Prague is far hipper, but Krakow is more friendly).

"Traveler, there is no path. You make the path as you walk." -- Antonio Machado
[ Parent ]

Shhh (none / 0) (#415)
by livus on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 09:44:30 PM EST

I love Krakow so I'm telling everyone not to go there.

It can be scary, but I think it's people's pride that impedes them. So what if you get laughed at or shouted at and what you hoped was fish turns out to be something odd stuffed with pig fat? It's really not the end of the world, and if you're humble and keep trying, the rewards are well worth it.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

Wow... just wow. Speak of ignorance... (1.70 / 10) (#249)
by CAIMLAS on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 02:08:09 PM EST

... and you say you live here in the United States, yet you know so little about it.

Only we in the United States declare, with an insistence that's almost touching, that our country is the greatest in the world because it's the only one composed of people from all the others.

Well, no, that's not why we say the US is the best - unless by "we" you mean ignorant PC types. We say the US is the best because of our Constitution and Bill of Rights, which are wholely unique throughout the world, and superior to the foundational laws of Europe because they acknowledge inalienable rights; they can't grant us anything.

What doesn't make sense is loudly proclaiming ourselves No. 1 among nations when we know so little about the rest of them.

Does an Olypmic athlete know the winners of the Special Olympics? Does Microsoft know the name of the CEO of my company? Does a cat care what kind of worm comes out of its ass?

Wouldn't the greatest country be, among other things, the best informed?

When you're looking off a cliff in the midst of a mountain top race, and you see a village far down below, its sometimes difficult to observe the minuate of the citizens' actions. Besides, you've got more pressing issues than survailance. You're several thousand feet up and need to protect yourself from the elements while getting to the top before the other racers.
--

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.

hi there (2.20 / 5) (#272)
by wowboy on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 04:11:13 PM EST

little newsflash for you. your "constitution" only applies to citizens.

in countries like Canada we have a charter of human rights that applies to everyone who comes to Canada.

your "constitution" is rubbish without the US government recognizing you as a citizen. inalienable rights, my ass.

[ Parent ]

but their unaliable Rights... (none / 1) (#281)
by LodeRunner on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 07:11:16 PM EST

...were enowed upon them... by GOD!!!

---
"dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

s/unaliable/unalienable;s/enowed/endowed/ (none / 1) (#282)
by LodeRunner on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 07:13:12 PM EST

Sheesh, God must be hitting back at me with all those typos!

---
"dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

not just non-citizens (1.50 / 1) (#290)
by rhiannon on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 08:23:22 PM EST

Constitutional and inalienable rights have been revoked from citizens as well.

It's pretty tacky in my opinion.

-----------------------------------------
I continued to rebuff the advances... so many advances... of so many attractive women. -MC
[ Parent ]

hi (none / 0) (#322)
by Rahaan on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 10:20:46 AM EST

actually, the US constitution applies to anyone who steps foot inside the borders of the United States.  This is one of the reasons why Camp X-Ray, or whatever they're calling it nowadays, is, in fact, in Guantanamo Bay.


you know, jake.. i've noticed that, since the tacos started coming, the mail doesn't so much come as often, or even at all
[ Parent ]
Incorrect - or, at least, not completely correct. (none / 0) (#325)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 11:08:45 AM EST

The truth is that it depends on which part of the Constitution you're talking about.

That's why the whole bush-spying scandal isn't an open and shut case; courts have ruled that much of the constitution doesn't apply to people in the country illegally (for one example).

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]

here's a quote from the administration (none / 0) (#331)
by Rahaan on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 12:37:57 PM EST

http://www.scotusblog.com/movabletype/archives/2006/02/government_deta.html
The Bush Administration told the Supreme Court on Monday that the Justices could put a stop to a foreign national's challenge to a military war crimes trial without worrying about any constitutional violations, since detainees like him have no rights under the Constitution. In the latest court filing by the Justice Department on the meaning of the new Detainee Treatment Act, the Justice Department argued: "The Constitution does not guarantee aliens held abroad a right to habeas corpus." As a result, it said, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni national, "cannot claim the protection of our Constitution."

emphasis mine

The spying scandal only doesn't have much to do with the constitution but with some other laws which were passed about domestic spying.  And a bunch of legal bullshit about whether bypassing FICA (or whatever the name is) speeds up the process in a manner which would make terrorist actions much more preventable.


you know, jake.. i've noticed that, since the tacos started coming, the mail doesn't so much come as often, or even at all
[ Parent ]

I still can't figure your post out. (none / 0) (#458)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Mar 07, 2006 at 10:53:11 AM EST

Are you agreeing with me or what?

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
No, the US is the greatest country in the world (3.00 / 3) (#280)
by LodeRunner on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 07:07:34 PM EST

because of people like you.

---
"dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

thank you, sir. [nt] (none / 0) (#375)
by CAIMLAS on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 12:27:29 PM EST


--

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.
[ Parent ]

+1FP: worm coming out of cats ass. (none / 1) (#307)
by osm on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 04:42:24 AM EST


--------
4thelulz.org
[ Parent ]

We used to be the greatest country in the world (none / 0) (#374)
by jolly st nick on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 12:26:57 PM EST

because, although like everyone else we considered ourselves to be the greatest, we simply took it for granted that God made us this way. We never wasted our breath trying to justify the idea, which is an utterly pointless exercise. Can you imagine somebody listening to your argument and saying to themselves, "Gee, I never thought of that. You're right: contrary to my belief of one minute ago, I now see that America is unquestionably the best country in the world." ?

So, while we may have been from an intellectual standpoint as foolish as anybody else, from a practical standpoint we were functionally superior for spending less time on such foolishness.

[ Parent ]

Oh dear. (none / 1) (#468)
by Fred_A on Thu Mar 09, 2006 at 05:22:48 AM EST

This kind of sillyness is what gives US people a bad name in the rest of the world.

The US is the only country where people spew this kind of nonsense (with the possible exception of USSR party members when they knew other party members might be listening, a few years back).

The only image you project is that of someone who has been throughly brainwashed. It's saddening.

Fred in Paris
[ Parent ]

And it's the over-serious humorlessness (none / 1) (#494)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sat Mar 18, 2006 at 02:20:23 PM EST

of people like you who make trolling so damn funny.

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
upon further reflection.. (none / 0) (#255)
by CAIMLAS on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 02:24:13 PM EST

I would agree completely that there is a dirth of knowledge of our world, and I would put the "blame" squarely on the head of primary and secondary educators for that. Of course, people do have to take personal responsibility for themselves, but most people aren't going to take that initiative.

Part of the problem I see with your assay is that geographic knowledge itself is pretty damn useless. What good is it to be able to point to a map and identify countries, if those countries mean nothing to the person?

The real situation I think you're hinting at is that the majority of Americans have no knowledge of the geopolitical elements throughout the world. This is largely because they've got no natural inclination to know this stuff. In other words, it's just useless information in their daily lives. Unless you're the type of person who revels in the halls of history and/or politics, there's little point in it. (Of course, you could make the point that not enough people concern themselves with things, but it could also be argued that what happens in France is of more significance to Britian than it is to the US due to the geographical and political proximity.)

Yes, I think it's important to be aware of our world. I do think that there's a huge absense of world affairs and history in the US. But the problem isn't an absense of geographical knowledge. Knowledge of the globe is simply helpful in understanding which people groups and what have you live in a given country, and which countries border it. It's really one of the smallest parts of global understanding. History, I think, is the most important, by far.
--

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.

How can you understand history... (none / 1) (#269)
by shambles on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 03:26:14 PM EST

...if you don't know where any of the places you're reading about are?

People are more important than Truth - Edgar Malroy
[ Parent ]
You probably can't. (3.00 / 3) (#275)
by Polverone on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 04:57:25 PM EST

But learning about those locations should be an activity that takes place in tandem with learning the history (or learning anything else that references geography). If I am learning about something and I encounter an unfamiliar concept, term, location, whatever that I can't pick up from context, I have to take a moment to look up information on the unfamiliar thing. Learning geography (where "learning geography" means memorizing place names and locating them in pictures) without any motivation apart from "it's a mandatory part of education" is not very useful. It's like a horrible high school biology class where you memorize dozens or hundreds of names without ever understanding fundamentals like cell respiration or the molecular basis of heredity.

You can't understand writings that reference geographical terms without knowledge of the geographical terms themselves. But if Americans wanted to understand writings that reference geographical terms, they would already be more geographically aware: geographical ignorance is just a symptom, not a disease in its own right. Force-feeding Americans with geographical knowledge that they will not use is a non-solution to a non-problem.
--
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.
[ Parent ]

totally (none / 1) (#276)
by balsamic vinigga on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 05:25:09 PM EST

It's like the little nerd who might be able to point to and talk about all these locations on middle earth map or on a Final Fantasy VII map, but then is clueless about the real world even though it's infinitely more fantastic than any fantasy world.

The real problem is that most history teachers suck at reaching the child's imagination and making the material accessible and engrossing.

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]

yeah, but it goes beyond history (none / 0) (#352)
by livus on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 08:08:19 PM EST

I mean, as a kid when you keep hearing about places you become interested in where they are and who lives there.

Part of the problem is more with general knowledge and current affairs.  

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

We don't teach history to children... (none / 0) (#427)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Sun Mar 05, 2006 at 07:02:36 AM EST

In public school. They get 45 minutes of social studies a day, most of that taken up by anything other than geography or history.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
Just clearing that up ? (none / 0) (#467)
by Fred_A on Thu Mar 09, 2006 at 05:15:21 AM EST

Since I don't know enough about the US curriculum to know if that was meant in jest or not, is that for real ? Or more likely how much truth is there in that ?

I expect that as in schools worldwide everybody in the US laments about the sad state of affairs in education but there really is that little history and geography being taught ? Is there any world history/geography or is it mostly focused on the US ?

Fred in Paris
[ Parent ]

I've lived in Europe (3.00 / 5) (#297)
by jubal3 on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 11:57:59 PM EST

Germany (West Germany at the time)for about 3 years.

It's simple enough, it's called geography. From my starting point near Trier, I routinely spent weekends in:
Brussels -45 min train ride,
Amsterdam -4 hour train ride plus (hopefully) a delightful chance to see the Cathedral in Cologne
Paris -6-8 hour train ride

I skiid in St, Johan -14-hour train trip plus abuot an hour on a bus to the slopes from  my hotel in Berschtesgaden.

The train fare is cheap, the trains work, usually are on-time and customs is a breeze.

Contrast living on the west coast.

Seattle to Spokane: 8-hour drive, or a 14 hour train ride, the train is about $100 one-way

Seattle to San Francisco: 18-hour train ride or 18 hour drive
Note I haven't even approached leaving the west coast of the country.

Etc, Etc.

I think it's great to travel in Europe. Better yet to live there for a few years. It was a great educational experience for me and I had a lot of fun.

But the simple fact is that being so close together makes being cosmopolitan not a virtue, but a necessity. And really, I have a LOT of european friends, and not one in 50 really understands the U.S. they either think we all live in the wild west or NYC, that movie stereotypes represent most Americans, and like another poster mentioned, have difficulty grasping that a trip to Hollywood from Boston isnt a matter of a few hours.

Ignorance is worldwide, I'd bet you any amount you care to name that my landlady in Speicher couldn't have placed Iraq on a map, nor Columbia, nor the STATE of Florida.

Ignorance is also voluntary (I bet I could correctly place most countries in the world on a map other than the really tiny/obscure ones (Ghana for instance).

The information is there for anyone who wants it. Furtermore, my daughter can place things on a map almost as well as I can, and thats not because she went to great schools, it's because she had parents who gave a damn.

It just gets tiresome listening to how terrible Americans are, assuming we are somehow terrible for being on average, about as well-informed as anyone else, GIVEN SIMILAR DISTANCES.

Sorry, I think this is a non-issue.


***Never attribute to malice that which can be easily attributed to incompetence. -HB Owen***

Distances (3.00 / 5) (#318)
by Crispy Critter on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 09:15:18 AM EST

My sister's husband originally came from Manchester, UK, and he (and his family) were flabbergasted by distances in the US - even the distances between towns in central Michigan, let alone the distance to Chicago or Detroit.

Bad geographic education isn't unique to the USA, either; he had been taught that the Great Lakes were entirely within Canada, when in reality four of the five are part of the US/Canada border, and Lake Michigan is entirely within the US.

[ Parent ]

I'm sorry, that's complete bullshit. (1.66 / 3) (#361)
by For Whom The Bells Troll on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 06:32:38 AM EST

Tell me, why are there so many European, Australian, Israeli backpackers here in South East Asia and ZERO backpackers from the US? Don't say ''coz Asia is in the other side of the world', because, travel distances/time notwithstanding, the cost to travel to Europe from here is roughly the same as it is to travel to the US.

Fact is, you guys have no concept of a 'gap year' or 'backpacking'. You'd rather stay at home, attend four years of university, work in your cubicles and pay mortgages for that white porch in the suburb, while the rest of the world is busy discovering, well, other parts of the world.

Whether that's a good or a bad thing is a different argument altogether, but it's fairly easy to argue that Europeans use their passports much more despite Europe's compact diversity, not because of it.

---
The Big F Word.
[ Parent ]

yeah jubal3 is wrong because (none / 1) (#372)
by An onymous Coward on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 11:32:54 AM EST

OMG AMERICANS IN CUBICLES! BACKPACKING LOL

"Your voice is irrelevant. Stop embarrassing yourself. Please." -stuaart
[ Parent ]
Gap Year (3.00 / 2) (#380)
by DoctorD on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 03:10:48 PM EST

Well, I'd say part of it is due to by the time most people get out of college in the US they're pretty well in debt due to student loans so they're antsy to go make money to pay off the debt.  But then the US lifestyle is all about debt.  Credit card debt, mortages, student loans and so on...  

I'd love to take a couple week trip to europe, but sadly even though I managed to work on 3 weeks of vacation a year with my former employer--I still didn't have enough time to take a serious trip anywhere.

"If you insist on using Windoze you're on your own."
[ Parent ]

Not bullshit (2.50 / 2) (#398)
by tinkertux on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 06:47:50 PM EST

There were a rather large number of us who got to backpack through SE Asia in our youth, courtesy of the US government. Many of us, when we became solvent enough to travel again, would not particularly want to go back there. Obvioiusly, there are exceptions. Just because we don't hang out in your back yard, doesn't mean we don't travel.

[ Parent ]
Theory (none / 0) (#491)
by The Real Lord Kano on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 04:12:05 AM EST

Because the US is so big, there are many things that can be experienced without leaving the country. In any given day, someone will be out in a swamp, someone will be in a desert, someone will be in a field full of crops, someone will be in a jungle, and someone will be in a frozen wasteland. All in the US. We have states that are bigger than most European countries. LK

[ Parent ]
You drive too slow (none / 1) (#465)
by projectpaperclip on Wed Mar 08, 2006 at 03:58:43 PM EST

Seattle to Spokane in 8 hours?? Back before they raised the speed limit from 60mph to 75mph it took only 4-6 hours depending on traffic and pass conditions. Unless you encounter snow over the pass, the trip can now be made easily under 4 hours, and I'm not even talking about getting pulled over for speeding, that's within the speed limit. It's only 230 miles. You must be making a LOT of pit stops.

And who would take the train when they can hop on a Southwest flight for $49 one way?

Seattle to LA can be done in 20 hours, so I suspect your estimate to SF is also high.

And don't forget, Seattle to Vancouver BC takes only 2 hours assuming a short line at the border, and you'll be in a whole different country!

[ Parent ]

Colombia. It's Colombia. (none / 0) (#489)
by GooseKirk on Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 02:56:40 PM EST

I promise, it's spelled ColOmbia. Thanks.

[ Parent ]
America is benevolently ignorant of the world ... (2.60 / 5) (#302)
by nlscb on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 03:45:54 AM EST

The world is malevolently aware of America.

Comment Search has returned - Like a beaten wife, I am pathetically grateful. - mr strange

I see no evidence (2.66 / 3) (#376)
by jolly st nick on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 12:39:39 PM EST

that the world hates America. First of all, the world is not united enough to speak of it that way. Second, I'd say from what I've seen that full blown hatred of America is not really so prevelant. Although perhaps this is changing.

Resentment of course is widespread, but that's not the same as hatred. Sometimes this manifests itself as patronization, but while patronization may be hateful, it's not hate.

I'd say something like a love/hate relationship is not uncommon; although I'd argue that a love/hate is almost always better characterized as love/resentment. In any case, when we talk of Europeans, there is a saying that used to be very true, is still somewhat true today, but may become less true in the future: Europeans love to hate America, and they hate to love America. It used to be that we could count on European opinion swinging back towards us duing a bad spell of relations.

The reason I think that this may become less so in the future isn't just because of the efforts of the current administration. I think that a relative waning of American power in the world will reduce the world's preoccupation with America. There's no question we're at the apex of our military power, but our cultural and economic power relative to the rest of the world is on the decline.

[ Parent ]

Um, it's called hyperbole (2.00 / 2) (#395)
by nlscb on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 06:20:57 PM EST

Man, does anyone have a dark sense of humor on this site anymore?

Anyway, I stole the quote (don't remember where), except s/world/Canada/g. Even Canadians giggle at it.

Comment Search has returned - Like a beaten wife, I am pathetically grateful. - mr strange
[ Parent ]

Well, OK. (none / 0) (#428)
by jolly st nick on Sun Mar 05, 2006 at 09:22:56 AM EST

But you have to realize that blog posts don't carry the ironic smirk you wear when you write them. That said, I take this idea that the world hates America very seiously. It's poisonous. People have been known to spread this idea under the banner of irony.

[ Parent ]
If we want European ... (2.33 / 3) (#303)
by nlscb on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 03:54:12 AM EST

We just go to Montreal. Plus, they are much nicer and it's easy to find Dorritos.

Comment Search has returned - Like a beaten wife, I am pathetically grateful. - mr strange

If we want European (none / 0) (#373)
by jolly st nick on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 12:18:05 PM EST

assuming we're American, we don't need to leave our doorstep. Culturally, we may be on one of the European spectrum, but compared to Africa, the Middle East, or any part of Asia (including Russian territory), there's no question we're Europeans. We have English common law and European Enlightenment political philosophies; we just split from the main branch of European thought before the concept of "Social Democracy".

I'd argue that we're more European than even Latin America. Not only are there substantial moorish influence in Spanish culture, but native American influences are greater in most of Latin America than in the US.

[ Parent ]

i've given up on geography (none / 0) (#320)
by elaineradford on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 09:39:05 AM EST

Six months after Katrina, and I still meet people who think New Orleans is on the ocean. To be honest, I don't believe that most people can find their way to their own bathroom in the dark. I think they're tripping and bumping plenty. People -- not just Americans, but people -- have an amazing inability to retain even the most basic of directional and geographical information.

Either google earth is wrong.... (none / 0) (#405)
by kraut on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 08:25:11 PM EST

... or you've just proven your point.  

[ Parent ]
Uh. (none / 0) (#426)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Sun Mar 05, 2006 at 06:54:52 AM EST

That would be the gulf coast. As in Gulf of Mexico. Not the same as the Atlantic.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
Misleading question (none / 1) (#432)
by Dyolf Knip on Sun Mar 05, 2006 at 01:40:56 PM EST

For instance, I scored 94% on that geography test floating around, but if somebody asked me "Is N.O. on the ocean", I'd answer yes, or close enough as makes no difference.  If the question instead was whether it was on an ocean, gulf, or sea, then I'd know what it was you were after.

But by itself, the ocean thing is a trick question and misleading as hell.

---
If you can't learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly.

Dyolf Knip
[ Parent ]

Does Italy have an ocean coast? (none / 0) (#437)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Sun Mar 05, 2006 at 03:38:48 PM EST

Think carefully before answering.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
christ it isn't on an ocean, gulf, or sea (none / 1) (#450)
by elaineradford on Mon Mar 06, 2006 at 01:43:24 PM EST

New Orleans is at the Mississippi River and Lake Ponchartrain. Sure, the lake (technically an estuary) is big but it ain't the ocean. I don't care what Google Earth or a mis-reading of Google Earth says. Get in your car, drive on down, and take a look for yourself.

The port of Gulfport is actually right on the Gulf and that's why Gulfport suffered so terribly from the storm surge. New Orleans should have been OK except for wind damage, because we ended up on the west side of the storm, which was only Cat 3 after traveling that far away from the Gulf, but the so-called rated for Cat 3 levees failed.

These are pretty basic facts not just of geography now but of current events.

Maybe Chicago is on the ocean too, after all, every time I visit I see this huge body of water there, and people keep insisting every big body of water is an ocean!

[ Parent ]

Dude. (none / 1) (#457)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Mar 07, 2006 at 10:51:38 AM EST

It's within 20 freaking miles of the Gulf. Personally, when the ocean is only a bicycle ride away I think it's reasonable to say it's "on the ocean".

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
another one who can't read a map (none / 0) (#474)
by elaineradford on Thu Mar 09, 2006 at 08:57:55 PM EST

I challenge you to come on down and get on your bike and get to the ocean from New Orleans in 20 miles. Christ, you can't even get over the Causeway Bridge in 20 miles. Look, if you don't know what you're talking about, just take a deep breath and stop talking. I live here. It ain't on the ocean. It ain't on bicycling distance of the ocean. If your point is that Americans can't read maps and can't read google, fine, you have proven your point. I have to get in my car and drive for over an hour to hit the beach. And we do have interstates.

[ Parent ]
LOL (none / 0) (#493)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sat Mar 18, 2006 at 02:18:23 PM EST

Dude, I'm not the one who can't read a map.

If you can't get to the Gulf of Mexico from the edge of NOLA in about 20 miles, you're pointed in the wrong direction.

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]

sounds like you can't read google earth (none / 0) (#451)
by elaineradford on Mon Mar 06, 2006 at 01:45:51 PM EST

It is hard for me to sympathize with pure idiocy. I am sitting in New Orleans right now. I am going to speculate that with a nick like "Kraut" you are in Germany. I invite you to visit and see for yourself. New Orleans is not on the ocean. It is on the Mississippi River and Lake Ponchartrain.

[ Parent ]
I don't think this is an American phenomenon (3.00 / 4) (#342)
by Delirium on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 04:09:03 PM EST

Even in cosmopolitan Europe, people are, in general, woefully ignorant about the geography of anywhere except that of their vicinity.

For example, nearly every American and Canadian who has European friends and relatives has a story about how they've been asked questions belying a complete lack of even approximate understanding of North American geography. A former professor of mine from the UK who was attending university in Vancouver had relatives in the UK ask if she was close to Toronto! That's about as woefully ignorant of geography as asking someone from London if they live near Istanbul (actually, even more so: London-Istanbul is about 3000km, versus about 4000km for Vancouver-Toronto).

It's not about distance, (none / 1) (#350)
by warrax on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 07:56:15 PM EST

it's about culture. (I'm only half kidding.)

-- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
[ Parent ]
It's like this. (1.50 / 2) (#360)
by For Whom The Bells Troll on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 06:24:25 AM EST

Out here in South East Asia, we get backpackers, tourists, travellers from all over the world, from Europe, India, Japan, China, Israel, Australia... everywhere, that is, except US. This even as the cost to travel from Europe is roughly the same as that from the US.

Personally, I think the main reason here is that Americans are lazy bums who don't like to move out of their strip malls. The travel culture simply isn't there.

---
The Big F Word.
[ Parent ]

americans don't get any vacation time (3.00 / 3) (#364)
by elaineradford on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 08:56:04 AM EST

It is the opposite of being lazy. The United States has an extremely demanding work ethic. Most people get no vacation time or only very limited vacation time -- one week or two weeks out of a whole year until they have worked for the same company for 15 or 20 years or sometimes more. A popular poster here, whose name you would recognize, gets 2 weeks of vacation after 20 years with his company, and you'd think the heavens were about to collapse if he tried to take both of those weeks together. Key employees, the same employees who actually earn enough money to travel, simply do not have the time.

A professional might go for years without being able to take his accumulated vacation if he is serious about advancing or sometimes just keeping his job. There is no disappearing to the other side of the globe for weeks at a time. Europeans, by contrast, get many weeks of mandatory vacation, and they are even limited in some countries as to how many hours they can work. Back in the day, we had some Norwegian employees working in Houston at the oil company where I worked. To comply with Norwegian law, which we had to do as we had a Norwegian office, we had to keep track of all hours that they worked over 35 hours per week and give them comp time for those hours -- even though they would be exempt professionals (geophysicists) under U.S. law and not entitled to one single minute of comp time. These young men had to each be given several weeks paid holiday after their six month tour in Houston. It really opened my eyes to the differences in how professionals are treated in the United States versus how professionals are treated in Europe. To slam the American worker, who works harder and longer hours for less benefits than anyone in western Europe, seems a tad unkind.

As far as getting more visitors from Japan, China, etc. it all comes back to looking at your globe. I'm fairly sure that China is way closer to South East Asia and far more convenient for the Chinese visitor than it is to, say, the visitor from Jackson, Mississippi.



[ Parent ]

American workers choose this (none / 0) (#381)
by Milo Mindbender on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 03:17:45 PM EST

I have zero sympathy for them. Browse Slashdot or Kuro5hin whenever the issue of working hours comes up, Americans, who have entirely bought into the Protestant work ethic (c.f. Max Weber) practically break their elbows they are so keen to pat themselves on the back for having shitty lives as cogs in the machine. I've worked 100 hour weeks in the past but I'm far happier to do 37 hours, and frankly, its between me and my employer whether this is appropriate.

More to the point, the time to travel is when you are 18 or 21 (ie. when you leave college). Then again, Americans also choose to spend the price of a small house on often dubious standards of education they could get for free or almost free anywhere else(ie. 9k tuition for 3 yrs in England, if you go to Oxbridge you'll probably get a bursary to cover it anyway)  so I suppose there are no funds in the kitty. And again, there is no point making that point, because Americans choose it and are once again profoundly proud of it for some reason.

The typical American values nothing unless it has a price tag clearly attached.

Go figure.

[ Parent ]

good lord NO that isn't the age to travel (2.66 / 3) (#388)
by elaineradford on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 05:14:31 PM EST

18 to 21? What a wicked waste. I'm a hypocrite, I know, since I traveled to virtually all of the 50 states, except Hawaii, when I was a teen, but if you can only have enough time and money to travel at one period in your life, the great time would be middle age, when you still have your health and your ability to run and up down a few mountains but when you also finally know yourself well enough to find the sights that you truly want to see and the experiences you truly want to experience. Besides, you haven't got any palate at 21. I thought Jack and Coke the height of sophistication at that age. I thought moo goo gai pan the pinnacle of a gourmet meal. Develop your taste buds and then travel when you can really appreciate it. When you travel as a teen, you just do what everyone else does and see what everyone else sees. When you travel as a mature adult, you can feel confident enough to slip away from the crowd and explore what interests you. Hell, I still kick myself that I didn't have a decent pair of binoculars to study that Snowy Owl back in the day, but who knew that I'd need it for my life list? Who even knew what a life list was? Teens are just looking for the party. There's nothing wrong with that, but I live in Louisiana. I can get a better party at home.

[ Parent ]
Small house? (none / 0) (#422)
by Kal on Sun Mar 05, 2006 at 12:10:27 AM EST

Then again, Americans also choose to spend the price of a small house on often dubious standards of education they could get for free or almost free anywhere else

I don't know what schools you're looking at but the school I went to, out of state for me so it was more expensive, only cost around $40,000 for four years. I can't think of any place I've lived where you could get anything more than a trailer for that price. For people going to an in state school you can probably cut that in half.

[ Parent ]
Well sure (none / 1) (#429)
by Milo Mindbender on Sun Mar 05, 2006 at 11:13:03 AM EST

but Harvard costs $39,800 a year, Princeton is $33,000 a year, MIT $44,600.
When I went to University, it cost me $0 and my bar job paid for going out and buying CDs. When I did my graduate degree it cost me $0 and I received enough money to buy a car whilst I was doing it amongst other things.

Those look like pretty stark differences to me. All I'm saying is with costs like that in prospect, spending a year travelling either before or just after would seem unaffordable.

[ Parent ]

Perhaps 'lazy' was being harsh. (none / 1) (#420)
by For Whom The Bells Troll on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 10:48:15 PM EST

Perhaps you are right in saying that it isn't laziness, but multiple committments, that keeps Americans from travelling. My point on a lack of a travel culture, however, still stands.

As I pointed elsewhere in the forum, the norm lately is for people to take a year off and see the world. For instance, I met this 40-something British woman down in Cambodia who took four months off her job to simply see the Angkor monuments. Then there was this Russian who resigned from her job, in order to trek across the region and add to her amateur portfolio. I did a similar thing myself; I work here in Singapore in a Singaporean investment company that gives 10 public holidays and 12 days of annual leave. And yet, I visited four countries in the last eight months, none of them on business.

Essentially, I believe that there's a common urge out here at least, to see the world at large. I believe this has become a significant driver of cultural globalization lately, and that, by not sharing this travel culture, Americans are losing out on a valuable life-experience. Which is why I think it'd be intellectually more honest if you were to say that Americans don't want to see the world, rather than say they can't.

---
The Big F Word.
[ Parent ]

Well, you'd be wrong. (none / 0) (#423)
by Benway on Sun Mar 05, 2006 at 01:31:35 AM EST

You're so stubbornly attached to your unfounded notions about what motivates Americans that you're absolutely refusing all of the efforts here to educate you.

Why, exactly?

[ Parent ]

Many americans would say (2.66 / 3) (#444)
by emmons on Mon Mar 06, 2006 at 02:04:56 AM EST

If all you want to do is see cool stuff, why bother leaving the country?  There's an enormous amount of diverse geogrophy and culture within the United States that gives a lot of people plenty to see and do.  And you don't have to worry about passports or different money every few hundred km.

Think of it, to get from New York to Los Angeles you go through an old major mountain range, a thousand miles of farmland with the world's largest river in the middle, (depending on which way you go) a desert, and then another newer major mountain range. It's a 4000km trip through at least 10 states, each with their own government.  And contrary to what many people think, there actually are fairly significant differences between them and between different parts of the country.

Or if an American does feel the urge to see a different country, Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean countries are both relatively close and generally safe.  Passports to go Mexico and Canada generally aren't needed (though that is changing), and unlike some countries Americans aren't required to have one.

Personally I love going abroad. I lived nearly a year in Germany during high school.  But I don't hold anything against those who don't leave North America.

---
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 ]

I agree with most of what you're saying (none / 1) (#501)
by Elohite on Sun Mar 26, 2006 at 05:25:42 AM EST

Americans do indeed have some of the best geography in the world at their fingertips, and it is a contributing factor to their choosing to spend their limited vacation time at home than abroad. But your post also betrays some of the, I'm sure unconscious, lack of geographical knowledge the original poster is writing about. The Mississippi isn't the world's largest river, neither in length (that would be the Nile, the Amazon coming 2nd) nor in volume of flow (which would be the Amazon).

[ Parent ]
Another thing to consider... (none / 0) (#500)
by curunir on Wed Mar 22, 2006 at 07:16:08 PM EST

Is how much anger USian travellers have to put up with. It's no secret that the US isn't the most well-liked country these days. As someone who does leave the US as often as I can, I often have to pretend to be Canadian or Australian (yes, I can fake the accent) in order to be treated normally.

Either because they disagree with the current US government's policies or because they buy into the stereotype that USians are all uni-lingual and incapable of cultural sensitivity, when I openly admit to being from the US, I'm frequently treated as if I'm not welcome. Just as many American's have bought into stereotypes that the rest of the world is backwards and not worth visiting, many non-USians have bought into the stereotype that we're all backwards and not worth getting to know.

And so the less-inclined-than-I are further dissuaded from travelling. And the rest of us just tell you we're Canadian...it's not like you can really tell the difference, Eh?

[ Parent ]
It's all in your mind. (none / 1) (#502)
by vectro on Sun Mar 26, 2006 at 08:28:42 PM EST

I've been to hundreds of foreign cities, towns, and villages, in countries with many different popular opinions of the US, and I never felt that I was being singled out for anger because of my nationality. Which is not to say that I was treated as a local, but rather that I didn't feel I was being treated any differently from westerners from other places.

It's true that sometimes I was called upon to denounce or justify US foreign policy, but since I disagree with the vast majority of it anyway, that was not so hard. And even in cases where I did agree (e.g., discussing Taiwan with mainland Chinese), I didn't feel that my point of view was discarded in anger, but rather valued (if not accepted) as a truly novel thought.

If I might offer a hypothesis, I suspect you find you are treated differently when you travel under an assumed nationality because you expect people to treat you differently that way -- and thus they do. If you traveled as an American by name but consciously avoided the stereotype, you might have a different experience.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]

Try being English (none / 0) (#506)
by pmgolz on Mon Apr 03, 2006 at 07:51:13 AM EST

Surely we're the most hated populus in the world? The US hasn't had enough time to piss off people the world over, though it's catching up fast. I can't even travel to parts of my own country (e.g. Scotland, Ireland, Wales) without getting grief about my nationality.
------
Enthios
[ Parent ]
Whose wife are you? (none / 0) (#425)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Sun Mar 05, 2006 at 06:52:59 AM EST

Or are you wampswillion? She might have 20 years of seniority whereever she works.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
This joke may be old, but pretty relevant.. (1.66 / 3) (#348)
by carsamba on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 06:58:49 PM EST

http://img303.imageshack.us/img303/821/worldaccordingtoamerica4rg.jpg

Looking at the comments (none / 1) (#354)
by livus on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 08:16:27 PM EST

I find it interesting that there's a recurring argument that goes something like "well we can't differentiate between countries in Europe but Europeans can't differentiate between our states".

What about the rest of the world?

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

the rest of the world hasn't a clue either (2.60 / 5) (#366)
by elaineradford on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 09:03:49 AM EST

For instance, while climbing Daimonji in Kyoto, I met some well-spoken, clearly well-educated young high school students from Osaka who spoke excellent conversational English and were eager to practice it on a real American. They asked where I was from and I said New Orleans. They then asked if it was near California or New York.

In Kenya my friend and I would just say we were from the U.S.A. Several times after a minute of head-scratching, the questioner would then reply, "Ah, Bill Clinton!"

We're all lost in the dark, my friend. Living in a state of confusion is nothing special to Americans.

[ Parent ]

You can find LOCALS like that everywhere (3.00 / 2) (#386)
by livus on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 04:48:39 PM EST

I think what happens is that tourists aren't normally like that. The reason why we get this exaggerated picture of USians is paradoxically because some of them do travel.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
On American apathy and ignorance, from an American (none / 0) (#357)
by regeya on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 12:13:27 AM EST

Less than 20 percent of U.S. citizens have passports, a figure which suggests that many of us are world-weary without ever having left home.
Perhaps. In my case, merely traveling to the other side of another state is a major financial undertaking. So many of us are running so close to the edge of bankruptcy, partly at our own doing and partly due to companies "tightening belts" by lowering wages and reducing benefits while charging ever more for their products and services.

Having said that, I once watched a Yemenite give U.S. geography tutoring sessions to a girl from the Chicago area. She couldn't find the Mississippi River on the map. This was at the Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, where not only does the state border the Mississippi, the county the campus is in actually borders the Mississippi.

Ignorance of geography is one thing; not knowing where you are is quite another. On that subject, I know quite a few people who're unable to identify which direction is West at dusk.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]

Ah (none / 0) (#377)
by jolly st nick on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 12:41:46 PM EST

no doubt she was too old to be in the Carmen Sandiego generation.

[ Parent ]
Actually, no. (3.00 / 2) (#443)
by regeya on Sun Mar 05, 2006 at 11:58:41 PM EST

She was younger than me. She may have been young enough to remember Carmen Sandiego as a kids' quiz show rather than as a cheesy computer game on an Apple II near you.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

I'm all in favour of it (none / 1) (#382)
by Milo Mindbender on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 03:28:09 PM EST

I rather like the idea that Englishmen are portrayed as haughty, moustache twirling evil geniuses with aristocratic connections. I'd hate you to find out we're really a bunch of chavs (on average).

That said, I would like to know what the hell Mel Gibson thinks we've ever done to him.

ROR (none / 0) (#385)
by livus on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 04:46:26 PM EST

he probably thinks you had him transported.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
Ha! (none / 0) (#475)
by Milo Mindbender on Fri Mar 10, 2006 at 09:19:15 AM EST

Perhaps the doctrine of preemption works after all then...

[ Parent ]
Geography quiz... (3.00 / 4) (#391)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 05:47:19 PM EST

For those of you who are curious about how your own geography knowledge rates,

Here's one of those online quizzes that people seem to have about everything these days.

It is not easy, the test is full of gotcha type questions.

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.

My results: (none / 0) (#401)
by warrax on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 07:17:25 PM EST

"Good Job You scored 70% knowledge, and 0% confusion Well done. You have a good basic knowledge about the world. You still need a bit of study, but nice work. Also, you didn't choose any obviously wrong answers. Great job on that part. Don't forget to vote on this test!"

I'm european, btw.

-- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
[ Parent ]

My results (none / 0) (#404)
by Coryoth on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 07:37:05 PM EST

"Very Smart
You scored 88% knowledge, and 0% confusion
You are very smart. You know a lot of details about the world. You have probably traveled a bit and were paying attention along the way. Also, you didn't choose any (or many) seriously incorrect answers. Great job on that part. Don't forget to vote on this test!"

[ Parent ]
My results: (none / 1) (#413)
by Milo Mindbender on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 09:32:49 PM EST

  1. % Knowledge
  2. % Confusion
Eek. I wish it would tell me which ones I got wrong...

[ Parent ]
I know what you mean (none / 0) (#435)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Mar 05, 2006 at 02:34:22 PM EST

I got the same score you did.

I'm betting I blew the "white sea" question for sure, I've never heard of the White Sea and I was too proud to google.

:-P

People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]

I guessed Russia (none / 0) (#446)
by tetsuwan on Mon Mar 06, 2006 at 05:48:06 AM EST

But that's not very impressive since the White Sea is connected to the Baltic Sea via a canal (I didn't know of), and I live right next to the Baltic Sea.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

It was the population questions (none / 0) (#447)
by Milo Mindbender on Mon Mar 06, 2006 at 08:08:40 AM EST

I was clueless on.

[ Parent ]
My results (none / 0) (#417)
by Stickerboy on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 10:25:31 PM EST

Very Smart and 6% confusion.

I'm surprised I didn't rate a lot higher on confusion!

[ Parent ]

Woohoo! (none / 0) (#421)
by sydb on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 10:55:27 PM EST

Geography Genius

You scored 91% knowledge, and 6% confusion Excellent! This is the highest score. You are very knowledgeable about the world. You didn't answer any (or many) of the questions with seriously incorrect answers. Great work. You are now ready to write your own Geography Knowledge test. Don't forget to vote on this test!

How long before the one-off sexual encounters start rolling in???
--

Making Linux GPL'd was definitely the best thing I ever did - Linus Torvalds
[ Parent ]

My Results (none / 0) (#431)
by Dyolf Knip on Sun Mar 05, 2006 at 01:30:21 PM EST

94% knowledge and 0% confusion. I rock!

---
If you can't learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly.

Dyolf Knip
[ Parent ]

You only get to rock (none / 0) (#434)
by sydb on Sun Mar 05, 2006 at 02:04:46 PM EST

if you answered your questions at 4am after a bottle of red wine, like me, you whippersnapper.
--

Making Linux GPL'd was definitely the best thing I ever did - Linus Torvalds
[ Parent ]

97% Knowledge, 0% Confusion (none / 0) (#440)
by Grognard on Sun Mar 05, 2006 at 07:16:11 PM EST

nt

[ Parent ]
88% knowledge, 6% confusion (none / 0) (#442)
by Psychology Sucks on Sun Mar 05, 2006 at 10:03:12 PM EST

I'm surprised I did so well without cheating considering I'm from the midwest USA.

[ Parent ]
ditto (none / 0) (#445)
by tetsuwan on Mon Mar 06, 2006 at 05:39:34 AM EST

I think I did 100% on eurasian continent questions. It was still less than I expected.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

82% (none / 0) (#448)
by eavier on Mon Mar 06, 2006 at 10:59:11 AM EST

I thought the 6% confusion was a nice touch

I would have personally given myself a much higher score as 6 percent seems conservative considering how much time I spend in a daze


Whatever you do, don't take it into your house. It's probably full of Greeks. - Vampire Zombie Abu Musab al Zarqawi

Ufology Doktor in da house

[ Parent ]

Geography Genius (none / 0) (#464)
by projectpaperclip on Wed Mar 08, 2006 at 03:29:21 PM EST

You scored 91% knowledge, and 0% confusion

[ Parent ]
Very Smart (none / 0) (#466)
by vivelame on Wed Mar 08, 2006 at 05:04:11 PM EST


You scored 79% knowledge, and 0% confusion
You are very smart. You know a lot of details about the world. You have probably traveled a bit and were paying attention along the way. Also, you didn't choose any (or many) seriously incorrect answers.

--
Jonathan Simon: "When the autopsy of our democracy is performed, it is my belief that media silence will be given as the primary cause of death."
[ Parent ]
94% (none / 0) (#470)
by bml on Thu Mar 09, 2006 at 10:55:20 AM EST

I thought I was going to do worse than that. I suppose I got lucky with several questions.

The Internet is vast, and contains many people. This is the way of things. -- Russell Dovey
[ Parent ]
WTF (none / 1) (#488)
by GooseKirk on Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 02:34:53 PM EST

Yeah, a geography test where they can't even spell the name of Colombia properly. Way to climb on that high horse. ColOmbia, goddammit. With a goddamn O! It's not so hard! Come on! Just cheesed off because I live there, and it makes us gringos look even stupider every time it happens... which is ALL THE TIME. Colombia. With an O. Thank you.

[ Parent ]
You scored 100% knowledge, and 0% confusion (none / 0) (#492)
by alba on Sat Mar 18, 2006 at 12:13:55 AM EST

You scored higher than 91% on knowledge
You scored higher than 0% on confusion

Don't try this at home, kids.
I'm a geography nerd and have no a life.

[ Parent ]

Word! (none / 1) (#503)
by lucius on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 09:26:41 PM EST

  1. % knowledge
  2. % confusion
And he misspelled "Malaka", in English we write "Malacca".

Interestingly, it´s a hotpot for modern day piracy, and one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

[ Parent ]

Comparing to other countries (none / 1) (#396)
by svampa on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 06:21:01 PM EST

I have a friend who worked for Arthur Andersen (years ago, before it was split), they used to have a litle "joke/punishment" for those who were late at class. They had to stand in the stage and point in the map a country. USA's citizens performance were always the lowest... for a long shot... and good laughters.

This shocked me, I had always thought that the legend of american ignorance about the rest of the world was refered to the average people, not to high educated people.

Another information that shocked me was that most congressman don't have passaport. If I had money and time, I would travel a lot. Usually congressman have money and excuses to travel.



No impetus for geography (none / 0) (#418)
by Stickerboy on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 10:31:22 PM EST

Why would lawyers and accountants need an extensive geographical education?  They don't.  I bet AA's teams had an extensive knowledge of countries/regions of international clients, but overall geography/anthropology probably rates slightly higher than belly-dancing on the priority list of those workers.

As geographically isolated and self-centered as America is, is this surprising?

[ Parent ]

Curiosity? (none / 0) (#424)
by svampa on Sun Mar 05, 2006 at 06:33:36 AM EST

I admit that if you have never heard about other countries, it is unlikely you are curious about them. But asking what is beyond is part of human mind.

India or Nepal have little to offer to me. I have no bussines there, no friends, no interests of any kind. Nevertheless, If I had money and time to, I would like to travel there.

Are not lawyers curious? don't they like new experiences? Don't they like going to Rome or Kenia?

I think curiosity is part of inteligence, a mind without curiosity is a crippled mind. Something is going really wrong when that kind of people run the world.



[ Parent ]
Heres the thing (none / 1) (#430)
by Milo Mindbender on Sun Mar 05, 2006 at 11:18:24 AM EST

that isn't "extensive" its the level that most people regard as basically educated, as in, finished High School. I would say for any businessman working internationally, such poor knowledge is a liability. If nothing else you are going to look like a idiot chatting over drinks or whatever.


[ Parent ]
I could just as easily argue (none / 1) (#454)
by 123456789 on Mon Mar 06, 2006 at 07:48:40 PM EST

I could just as easily argue that everyone should know how to do long division and solve simple quadratic equations. You're missing the point that what people will concnetrate on is what matters to them.

I think your point had something to do with "we live in a global culture so we should get to know each other better" or some crap like that. Like I'm so sure all of those Africans know all about my hometown, and why should they?

---
People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid.
- Soren Kierkegaard
look at the inside labels on your clothing (none / 1) (#461)
by all4none on Tue Mar 07, 2006 at 01:55:03 PM EST

how many of the manufacturer's countries can you find on a map?

do you know anything about the conditions in those factories?  do you know what language the people speak?

do you care?

if you knew those countries and those people as well as you do you own, you might.

[ Parent ]

Next country to invade? (none / 0) (#471)
by bml on Thu Mar 09, 2006 at 10:56:29 AM EST

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2587661313510275113

The Internet is vast, and contains many people. This is the way of things. -- Russell Dovey
Romanian waitress (1.33 / 3) (#478)
by SEWilco on Sat Mar 11, 2006 at 05:24:14 PM EST

I'll check my map and find a Romanian waitress.
I don't think that is particularly relevant to knowing geography.

I don't have a passport. (2.00 / 2) (#490)
by The Real Lord Kano on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 04:02:18 AM EST

I won't leave the US for idealogical reasons. There are rights that I enjoy as an American citizen within the United States that I wouldn't have elsewhere. I have no desire to go to another country where I can be prosecuted for saying something that is politically unpopular. LK

That's hilarious (none / 0) (#496)
by p3d0 on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 06:52:30 PM EST

Lord, I hope you are joking.
--
Patrick Doyle
My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
[ Parent ]
I'm sorry for you. (none / 1) (#497)
by The Real Lord Kano on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 10:21:42 PM EST

I'm not joking at all.

In many other countries, one CAN be prosecuted and/or incarcerated for saying something that is politically unpopular.

LK

[ Parent ]

no passport AND no clue (none / 0) (#498)
by mingusTheMerciless on Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 09:20:29 AM EST

OK, I'll bite..... In many other countries? Does the name John Ashcroft or the term "no free speech zone" ring any bells?
maybe this will help

[ Parent ]
Examples? (none / 0) (#505)
by The Real Lord Kano on Fri Mar 31, 2006 at 04:11:29 AM EST

How many people have been prosecuted for violating such a zone?

LK

[ Parent ]

In which case... (none / 0) (#499)
by transport on Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 10:30:54 AM EST

... go to a country where you cannot be prosecuted for saying something that is politically unpopular. There are plenty to choose from.

[ Parent ]
If only ... (none / 1) (#504)
by mrt on Thu Mar 30, 2006 at 10:04:16 PM EST

... Dmitry Sklyarov had your philosophy. It would have saved him from being arrested by an authoratarian regime when he travelled overseas for a conference.
-

I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous
[ Parent ]
Heck, I LIKE traveling...! (none / 0) (#507)
by KC7GR on Thu Jun 08, 2006 at 07:29:07 PM EST

I have a curiosity streak a mile wide. I rarely, if ever, question WHY I want to know something, I just try and learn it.

On that okcupid test: I did pretty well. 76% knowledge, 0% confusion.

On travel itself: I've been fortunate to be able to do as much as I have. Southeastern Mexico (tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, nice little spot called Playa del Carmen) was fascinating in a number of ways, not the least of which was learning how family-oriented and deeply religious the native population was when compared to the US.

The biggest revelation for me, on that trip, was finally figuring out a key difference between how people behave in the US vs. how they behave in Mexico in terms of personal responsibility.

Bear with me, and I will explain. A few minutes south of Playa del Carmen, there's a gorgeous nature park called Xcaret. It was constructed entirely out of native rock and coral formations, and supports a local ecosystem all its own. The place is so big and detailed that I estimate it would take at least two full days to explore it in depth.

First thing I noticed about this park compared to US 'theme' parks was how spotlessly clean it was. No paper, no cans, no cups, no cigarette butts. There were lots of trash cans, spaced at regular intervals, and none showed any sign of overflowing.

Second thing I noticed: Every single visitor I took the time to observe was behaving POLITELY! No arguments, no fights, no pushing or shoving, no screaming kids. Heck, even the behavior of the kids I saw was positively angelic!

Third: Families actually having fun TOGETHER! It's very typical, in US-based theme parks, for families to split up and do their own things. Here, I saw more than one family, playing with their kids in one of the local lagoons, and having a blast at it.

Fourth, and perhaps the most telling: Personal responsibility. Xcaret, as you might imagine, is full of trails and walkways, some of which are not exactly easy to negotiate due to trees, terrain changes, etc. Handrails are not common except in the steepest areas. It's no effort at all to go off a trail, if you wish, and go exploring through the native jungle. I saw kids doing so more than once.

A setup like that in the US would be a ripe breeding ground for frivolous lawsuits. Here, though, I got the clear impression that each visitor was expected to take full responsibility for their own actions, and those of their kids (if you were a parent traveling with your kids). NO ONE I observed seemed to have a problem with this.

Parents would tell their kids to be careful, sure, but they never said Thing One to them  about "Don't go that way, you'll fall and break your neck," nor did they think twice about seeing their kids emerge from the undergrowth a significant distance down the trail, scratched up but in otherwise great shape.

It was some hours after seeing this that I suddenly understood something that had been bugging me for years. I finally realized that one of the biggest problems we have here is that the US government treats us, collectively (I'm talking the entire US population), like a bunch of rowdy sixth-graders who have to be constantly monitored and spoon-fed, or we'll get into "trouble."

People, being great mirrors, will often behave exactly like said sixth-graders. Tell someone "You're an idiot!" enough times, and they will start to believe it and act accordingly.

Mexico, at least the part I was in, appears to expect that people will 'act their age,' as it were. Kids are welcome to be kids (yes, they do get banged up and scratched; that's part of BEING a kid!), but both adults and kids are expected to be responsible for themselves while at the park.

Wow... what a concept.

Maybe, if we had more people taking responsibility for their own lives, we wouldn't have so many frivolous lawsuits (two words: McDonald's Coffee). Heck, I suspect there'd be a lot fewer problems, period.

Keep the peace(es).

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Bruce Lane, ARS KC7GR,

Salvadore Dali's computer has surreal ports...


Travel and the Dearth of Geographical Education in America | 507 comments (466 topical, 41 editorial, 0 hidden)
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