Skip to comments.The quaintness of America, the backwards superpower
Posted on 03/10/2012 7:36:57 AM PST by Cincinatus' WifeEdited on 03/10/2012 7:39:16 AM PST by Admin Moderator. [history]
At the outset of this post I would like to make the disclaimer that America is the greatest country on earth. It invented the iPad, after all; it put a man on the moon, not to mention giving voice to the great and noble precepts set down in the Declaration of Independence.
We Europeans tend to scoff slightly at all that lofty US guff about freedom and democracy, particularly when it is used as a cover for invading oil-rich parts of the Middle East but go and live in China for three years, and youll quickly re-discover the point.
But and I expect you guessed there would be a "but" here as a new arrival to America I keep stumbling over things that I find gloriously, surprisingly how to put this? backward.
If this came from the UK they seem to forget that they would all be speaking German if it were not for this “backwards superpower”.
Good lord this Brit whines. He should put on his wife’s knickers and man up.
Always helps to read the column, first. He’s writing about personal checks, ATM’s, imperial measurements, and cable TV.
Bitching about our use of non-metric systems. Ouch!
Yes, and since turnabout is fair play - the Brits still drive on the wrong side of the road. How quaint!
When he gets back he'll cry about gas prices and tiny cars.
Don't get me started on that great British food.
I was stationed in the UK. I know backward and we ain’t it.
Umm, no. Last routine checks I wrote were installments on a car I bought from a relative. Everything else os on-line.
Checks are for private sales when cash is impractical, or for gifts, or for important transactions for which I want a paper record.
I wish Western Europeans wouldn’t presume to speak for my friends here in Central Europe. Poles, Romanians etc. have a different mind-set from Western Europeans...
They all speak English.
In 1944, we were not backwards in relation to things he discusses in this article.
The comparisons he makes about the state of things elsewhere in the world versus here are all pretty much valid. I would prefer to drive my vehicle on the M4 in South Africa than the I-45 between Dallas and Houston, for example.
Living on past glory is not really an answer to most of the questions, large and small, that we face as a nation.
$450 in ATM fees for one trip? Bad planning. Or the ignorance of foreigners.
Look mummy, I’m a journalist!
Americans like corks in their wine because it’s part of the process of having a glass of wine. You get to practice with the corkscrew and the reward is that you get to smell the cork. I’ve never bothered to try smelling a bottle cap. Corks are just cooler.
I will say that European train stations are nice. But....I hate German toilets. Who wants to stare at your own crap?
Screw top wine bottles? So uncivilized it borders on barbaric...
...as a new arrival to America I keep stumbling over things that I find gloriously, surprisingly -- how to put this? -- backward.Probably he was thrown off by our continued devotion to monarchy.
Not really. The Brits were holding their own against the Germans in WWI. In WWII they would have retreated to their island and stayed there. Hitler was “fond” of the English considering them his Aryan brothers.
Also, our mobile phone bills are huge. India and China in comparison didn't even have much phone density until the 90s so they were able to leapfrog past all that to mobile phones and cheap talk time
However, the good thing is that we can then leapfrog past them :) later
The United States is huge for a developed, first world country. Of course there are going to be regional variations, and not every place or every thing is going to live up to expectations formed via movies and television. Will some manage to out-America America in some regards as a result? Yes, but that's merely a validation of the American ideal. They're so immersed in Americanisms that they don't really realize just how Americanized they've become, they just look back and say “haha our cell service is better” or some other comparative minutia.
No, its a whine... he may have some technical points, but he sounds like a 16 year old girl whose dad doesn't let her stay out late.
How about $50 - $100 per day parking fees in London? Parking spaces half the size of ours. 1 pound to use a public restroom. Speed cameras every five miles, even on country roads. It is technically illegal to be drunk in a pub. Etc, etc, etc.
His commenters are having a bit of fun with him at his site.
We don’t use the “old Imperial system of measurements.” We use the US Customary Weights and Measures, adopted by Congress in 1830, which is similar yet different in numerous ways from the Imperial system.
This from a nation which requires a license, to watch television.
He certainly makes a valid point about Chinese freeways. Chinese road builders probably don't have to put up with the red tape that American road builders have to deal with--environmental impact reports, and the like.
It was different in the old days. In the summer of 1963, houses taken by public domain along the route of the San Gabriel River Freeway in Southern California began to be demolished. A year later, cars were driving on one section of the freeway, and by the summer of 1966, the freeway was completed. Today, it takes 20 years to improve an existing freeway, and one wouldn't even dream of building a new one.
Once I was in Kiev and flushed a toilet. After our low environmentalist toilets, I was completely unprepared for a real toilet. It actually startled me. I thought I had pulled the lever on an ejection seat or something.
A second flush was NOT needed. Damn,,,
Anyone who has ever driven the roads in Ohio and Michigan would agree. Those roads are horrible.
OK he had one good point but i do find it interesting how visiting foreigners adjust to being in the greatest country in the world.
Oh, lighten up. There's not a thing in that article anyone should feel the least bit insulted over.
Yeah, the comments thread is really good.
I agree with his point about the Metric System. It is much more logical and easy to use than the hodge-podge of random measurement standards we use in the US. I am tired of keeping two sets of tools.
However, I haven’t written a check in years. I prefer wine with a cork rather than screw top. I have 350 channels on my cable box and only watch about a half-dozen of them, anyway. We just happen to have much more to choose from.
Lastly, about the crappy roads: blame our idiot liberal politicians who waste the public treasury on social programs rather than road maintenance and view infrastructure spending as a means to pay off political donors.
And those skinny roads with dozens of circles you have to go around to get anywhere.
And the rinky-dink golf-carts that pass for cars over there. Gad.
That is sophistication?
Britain has their odd quirks as well. My brit-inlaws have houses where you have to unlock the doors with a key to get out. They have two spouts for cold and hot water. You have to buy the plugs for appliances separate...they do not come attached. There are some other oddities, but big deal. Different countries have different customs. My Brit born and raised wife says it’s much easier living in America than England. And from what I’ve seen, it appears most Brits live very well. At least my in-laws do. However, it’s a lot more expensive and a lot more crowded. But as they say in England, things may get a bit dodgy, but they’ll sort them out eventually. Cheers mate! (as my male in-laws frequently say)
They love to “take the mickey” out of other people.
Definitely taking the mickey
Last check I wrote was probably 2 years ago.
Online banking and a debit card which helps avoid ATM charges by taking $100 in cash at checkout.
Only way to go.
I was stationed in England. I could complain about the road tax, the annual car inspections (what a racket!), the roads, the 50HZ electricity, the food... but hey, that’s part of the experience of living outside my culture. It was great fun.
Oh MAN! That is the truth! Ugh.
My German landlord actually liked renting to Americans so he went out and bought an American toilet to install in the rental apartment. I was so glad to not have to view yesterday’s corn.
I'd imagine it's easier for a smaller country Britain to maintain a few important highways than it would be for a large country like the US to keep all its arteries in top shape.
And I guess it's easier to introduce changes and apply them uniformly in a smaller country, especially if bureaucracy is more entrenched there.
I like this comment:
“I expected America to be the land of free commerce, but just about everything you try to do is a bureaucratic nightmare. Although, on the plus side, the booze is cheap and there aren’t many Muslims.”
But the Brits have their own problems. For one thing, a ridiculous leveling effort that has underrepresented letters like "u" tacked on to perfectly adequate spellings such as "color" and "favor". That one was done solely for votes from minority letters for the Labor - er, "Labour" - party if you ask me.
I realize they were our friends once - they burned down the White House in 1812 - but just try to get them to do that for us these days! You'll just hear a bunch of guff about special relationship and all that. One little, tiny napalm strike - is that too much to ask?
Gosh, I’m sorry, Peter. Feel free not to let the door bang you in the butt on the way out.
I use checks for charity and taxes, and to pay the maintenance service people who come to my house. Otherwise, debit card and online, and I know I'm not alone in this.
That tells us right there how much credibility the article has.