You Ain’t Seen Nothing Like Us Yet


It is a truism from psychology classes that you can’t stand at the window and watch yourself go by.  You also can’t grow up in a country and see it as outsiders see it.  And outsiders can’t see it as insiders see it.

If you ever see me standing somewhere and shaking my head and saying “Americans!” it’s not that I suddenly see myself as separate from you.  Or rather, it is, but it’s more that I see myself from separate and part of, which means I don’t fit anywhere.  The part of me that feels separate from the rest of you, though, is the girl who grew up overseas with an idea of America that you don’t see and probably can’t share.  The part that then came here, and adapted her notions, and figured out how you guys see yourselves.

In metaphorical terms, I’m the American that stands at the window and watches America go by. The caveat is that I grew up in a very particular time and place, and though I did see a lot of Europe and had a lot of European and anglosphere friends, I know next to nothing about Asia (though I had Japanese friends too.)  Still as far as I know though we share one or two traits with other nations, we’re the only ones who have all of them.

And I don’t mean some individuals in other nations don’t have these traits, or that some here don’t lack them (boy, I could tell you!) but that in general our culture has these traits and theirs doesn’t.  And that makes all the difference.

So I thought I’d hold the mirror up to you, because you guys keep trying to fit yourselves into roles that just aren’t there. “We’re Rome!”  or “We’re Carthage” or even “We’re the British Empire!”  (Which – Francis is right – is the closest and yet not a perfect fit.  In nation terms, the British take their laws as seriously as we do, but they’re more flexible.  In schoolroom terms, the British might be “in the spectrum” but they’re not full on Aspergers.)

No, we’re none of those.  By the Grace of G-d or the amazing concatenation of chance and self-selection, we’re something quite new in the history of the world.  And if there was something like us before – pre-history perhaps? – it is long since vanished from memory.

I’m going to list in no particular order the things that still strike the me-that-grew-up-elsewhere as amazing and wonderful about our country.  And yet I’m sure I’ll forget a dozen or so of them.  Maybe perhaps just enough of this will explain my view that while I think collapse is inevitable, I don’t think we can predict how it will turn out or what comes next.  The future is unwritten and being the special nation we are, it’s up to us to write it.

[BTW, I’m too lazy to look for it right now, but there’s a Facebook meme that encapsulates what I am: I’m an Apocaliptimist.  I believe everything is going to sh*t but I still think we’ll be all right through it all and it might turn out for the best. (The difference between me and the Libertarians who, like communists, expect their system to emerge spontaneously from the chaos, is that I think we’ll need to work like heck through the dark times to make sure we’re all right at the end.)]

So, here it is what I see when I stand at the window and watch America go by:

-We’re playful.  No, I don’t mean just in the sense that we have a sense of humor.  That too – and I was fully appreciative of the British humor before I came here, but the British humor has a back bite and a bit of the dour irony that American humor might have or not – but that’s not all.  We’re playful even when not making an outright joke.  For instance, the first thing that hit me about the High School I attended in the States for 12th grade was that someone had labeled the corridors in hand lettered signs.  For instance, the math/computer area was labeled Nerd Alley.  And the teachers let it stay up.  And no one thought this hurt the dignity of the school/education.  In fact, I’m almost sure they had the school’s unofficial approval.

Then there’s the senior prank I took part in, where we kidnapped the secretary’s stuffed bulldog collection, and asked for $5 in unmarked pennies.  My counselor called me and very seriously counseled me to give up my accomplices and talked about my making this an international incident.

Right now you’re going “Standard kid stuff.”  And shaking your head and going “and?” – And nothing.  Those are perfectly normal pranks.

Yeah, they are, in the states.  Don’t even try to do it anywhere else.

-We spontaneously organize in clubs and associations.  I think we’re losing this now, because everyone is so infernally busy.  (But the structure is still there.  It would take more than a generation to erase.) It’s impossible to have a club in America – even our writers’ group – without rules that everyone takes very seriously indeed.  In other countries – maybe excepting England – this is reserved for associations that are “official” and “important.”  Here, if you form a club to give crumbs to ducklings in the park, within three months it will be run according  to Robert’s rules of order, (Which I’ve told the older kid should be the name of his blog) with motions and chairs and who knows what.

This is absolutely needed because

-We don’t take orders well.  Any of us, really.  When I came to the US I kept seeing this sign in every work place “The problem in this place is all chiefs no Indians.”  I suppose it is politically incorrect now, so you no longer see it.  BUT it baffled me.  It wasn’t just that these people were saying that their workplace was unorganized, or that they had issues taking orders, but that they were BRAGGING about it in posters and cross stitch pictures. … and that they were right.

Portugal is famously unorganized.  My kids have various colorful expressions for the way things are done in Portugal.  Let’s just say they’re convinced that most people drive with a part of their anatomy no one should use. But it’s different.  The average Portuguese recognizes his “betters” and assumes that someone else has the right to lead them.  They just exhibit a sullen “make me” attitude.

In the States, we just don’t see why anyone else should be in charge.  We don’t recognize social superiors, and we barely recognize technical superiors.  The forlorn cries for us to respect “the office” of this and that when we can’t respect the current *sshat are a measure of how little inclined we are to do that.  In other countries the President or the Premier or whatever is “Important” and you DO respect the office and it rubs off on the person, no matter how much you hate the current clown.

The flip side of this is that we’re all of us forever looking at what we can do.  (There are exceptions, of course.  I’m not talking individuals, I’m talking the American character as opposed to other nations.)  If you face a mess, you don’t sit around waiting for orders to fix it.  You don’t even wait for other people to “buy in.”  You roll up your sleeves and start fixing what you can reach.

This is why that sign in the seventies was a brag.  It was was “We’re all trying to do the best we can, and we’re so good at that we can barely coordinate with which other.”  There is no other country where I can visualize “An army of one” making sense.

-This “We fix it” thing is why Americans open their purses and their hearts to help the less fortunate, whether it’s the person with too many kittens to feed down the block, or the victims of the tsunami across the world, in numbers the rest of the world doesn’t even come close to matching.

It’s not just that we’re well off or generous.  Yeah, we’re that, but we also feel that it’s our duty, dang it.  We don’t wait for the organization or the go-varmint or someone else to do.  We’re an army of one, moving in our own uncoordinated way, and moving mountains without even noticing.

And that’s also because most of us at some time were in need and got help, and know better than to wait for officialdom.

I was never more proud than when science fiction forgot its petty inanities and closed ranks to help Dave Wolverton’s kid.  Because that’s what we do.  We’re Americans.  We fix, we help, we move on, and we don’t keep score of who helped whom, and who didn’t.  You need help we’re there, a mob with a purpose.

– We are flexible.  No, this is important.  We change, and the society allows us to change.  The sense of humor, the organization, the initiative, all of it adds up to us saying “just because I’ve always been like that, doesn’t mean I’ll be like that tomorrow.  And society doesn’t try to keep us in our appointed pigeon hole.

And this is probably why you can become an American.  Most other nationalities, while you can naturalize, you’ll never “really” be whatever they are.

Here?  Despite the idiots running around hyphenating themselves, you can be an American no matter how funny you look or how strange you sound.  (Trust me.  I know whence I speak.)

And people will be offended at the idea that you wouldn’t be able to become a real American.

Part of the unappreciated thing by all – PARTICULARLY progressives – is that for all its flaws America is the least racist, homophobic, sexist and any other discriminatory thing you can think of.  If you’re an American you are an American, no questions asked.  (And all the Americans who think otherwise only think so because they’ve only seen the rest of the world on their best behavior.  Listen to them in unguarded moments, in their native language, and the picture is quite different.  I wish we could get our oikophobic co-citizens to understand that they really shouldn’t take what people say of their own country at face value.  This is why they think we are the worst in the world – because we engage in self-critique, even more than the Europeans.)

-And this is why we have a positive craze for self-improvement.  This can get outright silly with New Age stuff and cleansing your aura, but it also means that most of us aspire to being life long learners, even those who aren’t.

Yes, in other countries people go for adult education or learning this or that, but it’s usually very focused, very serious.  Here, it’s not unusual to find that someone is taking some very serious subject on the side, in their spare time, just for fun.

For years I belonged to the History Book Club, where my royalty checks should just be made over every month.  (My husband said.)  I don’t now, because I can poke around Amazon till I find things.  But that sort of thing, the History Book Club and the Science Book Club, and the Mathematics Book Club, and heaven knows what flourishes in America more than anywhere else in the world.

I remember when my brother rather condescendingly told me about a book on Chinese History he’d just discovered and offered to send it to me “since you won’t have that in America.”  Ah.  I’d read it five years before, through the History Book Club.

This is why despite the fact that our secondary education (and primary too, for that matter) suck rotten eggs, we continue to have an educated populace.  It’s also why finding out someone “only” has a high school education means nothing.  My plumber is an expert on the civil war and its weapons. One of my friends who is “only” a high school education and from a part of the country not known for the excellence of its teaching could give lessons to most of my literature professors.

In the same way that there are second acts in American lives, there are second and third and fourth careers, and a continuing education, and structures to support that, and the fact that no one finds it weird that a computer programmer is “really” a medieval sword expert and a weekend ironsmith.

This makes us uniquely adapted to this world of fast-changing technology, because none of us (okay, again, I’m talking the culture not individuals.  We won’t discuss Wisconsin teachers) regards a job as a sinecure or the education as the hoops to jump through for the sinecure.  No, we regard jobs as things you do for a while, and learning as the way to get another/different job.

Which is good, because

– The future comes from America.  Yes, yes, I know Verne, Wells and all that “invented” science fiction, but the only nation in which it was popularized as a genre, and not an entertainment of intellectuals bent on social critique – the only place it could be so – is America.

Some countries – most countries – are shackled to the past, either in embrace or in denial, and sometimes in both.

Portugal is a tiny country trying to swim through time against the pull of the huge cement sack of history tied to its middle.  They can’t do this and that because it’s never been done, or they have to do this because they did that before.  I get the same sense about all the other countries I know well enough.

But not America.  Oh, no.  Not us.

Americans seem to have come here to make things better, and therefore, the future is always better than the past (Yes I realize this makes the glitterati not really American.  What you thought they were?)

Americans are mad in love with the future.  We’re adult enough to know sometimes there are (d*mnably) rough patches, but by and large “every day, in every way, we’re getting better and better.”  And just wait till we finish tinkering and cajoling and inventing tomorrow.

Come and give me a hand.  We’ll come out of this collapse thing better than ever, stronger than ever.  The future?  Man, is it going to be snazzy, and new, and completely unexpected.

Boy, are you going to love it!

You ain’t seen nothing like us yet!

UPDATE: Continuing the series on Writing With Found Objects, over at Mad Genius Club.

152 thoughts on “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Like Us Yet

  1. Some days it’s nice to stop by and scrub off the layer of despair that keeps trying to build up. Much appreciated.

    1. *grin* I think so, too.

      Even on the days where I just finish wrestling an idea down, pinning it to the page, hitting post… only to then realize a half dozen people made the same point, more succinctly, more eloquently, and with more depth than I managed. *chuckle*

      Optimism is tough sometimes. But hell, it works better than the alternative for me. It’s easier to not go overboard with “things are going to get better, but it’ll take a lot of work!” than “things suck, and they’re going to keep sucking even if it does suck just a little less if we work our butts off.”

      I’ll second that “much appreciated.” To the rest of you fine folks, keep your head down, your powder dry, and your face to the sun. We’ll get through this.

      1. *cough* Some of us don’t do direct sunlight. Call me a starlit optimist rather than a sunny optimist. 🙂

            1. As somewhat of a small time shade tree mechanic, I don’t think I’ve ever worked on a car actually under a tree. *chuckle*

              No it’s usually in a ditch, in the rain, at four am on a wednesday, or in a puddle of used oil fixing what the guy before me “fixed,” or on the side of the highway in the scorching sun fifty miles from the next human being, or cutting down the tree that grew *through the floorboard* in the swamp where it was “parked,” or…

              I think you get the picture. *grin* I can wish for a proper shade tree, but experience and the magic 8 ball tell me “not bloody likely.”

              1. In the dark, in the snow, or in the snow while it is raining. To mention a couple you didn’t, which reminds me I better get off this computer and go get my Ford put together before it starts raining/snowing. But at least now I have a shop half built, there may not be sides on it yet, but there is a roof over it.

  2. On “The future comes from America” and Jules Verne. While Verne was French and often had French heroes, his “Moon Bullet” was launched by Americans from America. His _Robur the Conqueror_ and its sequel _Master of the World_, started out in America (even if its obvious in Master that he didn’t understand how the US government worked).

    Now it may have been that he was “shooting” for an American market but you have to wonder if he saw America as the future. [Smile]

    1. In fairness to Verne, many Americans don’t understand how the US government works. This has not prevented them from achieving high office in that government.

      1. True, but I doubt that an American writer of that time would have had a character who was an American Federal Policeman. [Wink]

  3. I’ve always loved being American – even when I was a small child transported to Mexico City where my Dad eventually started an engineering business, and my Mother’s parents (Papa Memo Mexican, Mamina from Illinois) lived.

    It was tough in school – I was the tall, blue-eyed blonde gringa (okay, I would have been a nerd anywhere, but there weren’t any nerds in Mexico, even boys, then) – but I figured, if I was going to be different anyway, I’d just study physics. The minute I could, I got back here. I love Mexico and Mexicans – some of them are even my sisters – but I belong here.

    You were just accidentally born somewhere else. And represent the good kind of immigrant who happens to like it here.

    1. Mexican nerds exist. They are (often) called Jesuits, and most of them moved to Southern New Mexico. Their families also spoke Castilian Spanish creole (‘el trucko’ is a word– really!) and got narrow eyed and acidic tongued when the word ‘limpeza’ was uttered. NM had a Hispanic nerd density that probably tipped out South America. For some reason the Mexican secret police was especially keen on free-range nerd eradication. *whistles*

      They are also technically still at war with the USA (the Yuma, that is– who aren’t quite a tribe, but sort of are). This, and are the only people I know who are both have Native blood and love Christopher Columbus. Fascinating culture. I hope they deflected the rampant Californiafication in their local communities.

      I like to think that the mothers are still running their farms, the lazy uncles still tilling the soil, and smiling about how they fooled Americans into buying them out of Maximilian’s grasp.

      The Yuma themselves were probably a “tribe” that is, chosen kin, made mostly of Odds. They walked the country trading goods, from the Pacific Northwest to Copper Harbor, to The Aztecs– even Incas in the South. They had a big community in Las Cruces, which because they are such crazy mutts the Government won’t recognize them as a tribe. No one is whining, save outsiders who don’t know any better. They aren’t known much for being drunks, and are known for being serious minded and hard workers.

      They beat the US army. Or rather, their mountain did. The US was silly enough to try to fight a mountain. After a while they just made the land a national park. For a joke, about 85% of the park rangers are Yuma. The local FBI agent is a Yuma. The jewelry makers actually work in the only silver and gold mine in the area that still gives up riches.

      The Mesilla valley was the group of Spanish who went with the Jesuits to the valley to convert the Yuma. The two communities slowly folded into one another. They discovered, as outcasts from Spain met Outcasts from the USA, they got along very well. Welcome to America.

          1. If you knew how to count to twenty in Spanish, understood el lunche, andalay, andalay! (I’m sure I just murdered the spelling of that), hora de saleda, and understood a few hand signals you could get along quite well.

      1. … I hope they deflected the rampant Californiafication in their local communities.

        For the record, it’s spelled “Californication”. 😀

        I never knew about the Yuma. Fascinating. I’d love to hear the story behind your throwaway line “They beat the US army. Or rather, their mountain did. The US was silly enough to try to fight a mountain.” Do you know any history books (or novels, even) that cover this bit of history?

        1. I heard it three places: from a curator at Fort Sumner, From a DNR agent in Cloudcroft, and the family of my best friend, who had an amazing catalogue of history embedded in family lore. The latter were representatives of those stubborn, hispanic nerdy farmers I was waxing poetic about earlier. Because they discovered our family was outcast, we became best friends. 🙂

          On that glorious drive into Cloudcroft (via freeway) is where the story takes place. You go right past where they tried to take an army– including cavalry– up a 3000 feet sheer cliff with a tiny rocky path you have shimmy up and work at unencumbered to climb successfully. The natives just stood at the top of the mountain, marveling, and sometimes pointing and laughing. Maybe threw a rock or two.

          If I recall correctly, the commander in charge was more than slightly insane, and a famous S&A W general had to ride in personally and insist he stand down because he was basically charging his people into a literal meat grinder and wasting personnel and supplies in the process. Yes, even two cannon were lost up that mountain! It is also possible he only thought he had permission to do this in the first place.

          Let me just say it was bad enough that they felt that it was a reckless waste EVEN THEN. Rumor (I don’t remember if there was proof or not) that said commander had to be told to stand down at gunpoint, or was strategically wounded to stop the insanity.

          Before he died, the second in command of that disastrous operation was awarded a medal because the soldiers did not kill the commander. But they might have court marshalled him right after for disobeying orders and getting the general’s attention in the first place. But they waited until he was retired.

          It’s considered one of the finest examples of botched communication in the history of the army. (I think.) But it gets crowded out by other stunning wackiness of the Spanish and American War, including all the stuff that got ignored further North.

          The crazy regs taken off the corpse of the Prussian army that made this sort of thing possible (vis the medal & court marshall) weren’t taken off the books until WW II.

  4. “We spontaneously organize in clubs and associations. ”

    Which is vital to our country — an observation as old as Democracy in America.

    1. Beloved Spouse & I were ruminating on this just t’other day. We wondered whether the increased supervision of children’s activities (regimentation some might say) hasn’t impaired this trait. It is one thing to play Little League, quite another for a group of kids to organize themselves to choose teams in a manner recognized as “fair” and to democratically establish ad hoc rules for play — okay, this dropped shirt is home plate, that rock is First Base, Billy’s hat will be Second, and somebody drop a lunch pail over there for third. That tree is the Right Field foul pole and the fence around Mrs McGillicuddy’s yard is the Left Field foul line.

      It is through such spontaneous interaction that kids learn cooperation and organization.

      1. I have wondered about that too. We used to wander around the countryside on our ponies and visit people on our road (miles and miles). We would come home when Mom honked the horn. If we didn’t come home, we didn’t get dinner. This was before I was twelve. Good days.

        1. But we used to do that too, and Portugal never spontaneously formed any ordered organization. And heck, for four years in elementary school I ran what amounted to an ad hoc LARP group…

          1. lol– I ran a group in fifth and sixth grade that fought against a group of girls who would chase us down and beat on us. At least in those days we could fight back and did by getting a larger group of girls together. —

            but I was talking about how the parents didn’t worry. They knew we had enough smarts to take care of ourselves. I already knew enough first aid at that age to take care of bumps, bruises, broken bones, and snake bites. We even carried .22s around and shot rabbits.

            1. When my father attended high school, he and some of the other boys brought .22 rifles to school during hunting season and stored them in the cloakroom during classes. They shot squirrels for dinner on the way home from school. This was over 60 years ago. I have worked in public schools for 11 years – not 20 miles from his old school – and I can’t bring to mind a high school kid I’d trust with a rubber ball.

                1. Certainly childhood has gotten longer. It lasts well into the 20s. And don’t think I’m claiming to be anything special. I can’t think back on my life prior to age 38 without feeling ill.

                2. Young gentleman of good families would go to sea at 13 in the age of sail, and take their lieutenant’s exam before three captains at 16. I have been assured by parents their children could not do anything so mature. But who’s fault is that?

                  1. Proof “that a lot of [those benefits] were bad. There are a lot of [such benefits] that Americans shouldn’t be able to keep.” Forcing children to grow up so quickly may have made sense in an era when life expectancy was much shorter than now, but is cruel in this cliche-ridden day and age.

                    1. Especially when the law (which, as we all know, is an @ss) will not permit mature individuals under the age of 18 to do productive work outside the home or off the farm or ranch. There’s a 15 y.o. young man in town who has become the de facto breadwinner for his family (Mom’s stationed overseas, we don’t ask about dad). It took some creative arranging for him to get enough work to help his grandmother pay all the bills and keep the younger kids fed and clothed.

                    2. Yep, at that age I was already part of the “grey economy” because they have created so many roadblocks for someone that age being able to actually work and earn money. Being required to do such at such an age creates a lifelong view of government that is not conducive to respect or trust of said government.

                  2. Yes–who’s fault? I think this notion of a prolonged childhood may have started with our child labor laws. I think they were needed in some cases; however, it went overboard (as usual).

                    1. This indirectly, points at a something that has puzzled me. How many countries/socities give the privledges of adulthood before we consider that person an adult?

                      We permit 18 year olds to vote, yet still call them kids. We allow 21 year olds to drink, yet we use the phrase “college kid”.
                      What happened to becoming an “adult” before you got the privledges? Or have I been living in a dream worl?

                    2. In tribal societies, boys and girls go through ceremonies to mark the point between childhood and adulthood. In our society it is when a person is able to shoulder responsibility. Some of our adults never grow past kid.

                      When my dad was 18, he was expected to be able to make enough money to take care of himself and a wife or pay for your own college if you didn’t come from a wealthy family. When I turned 18, the idea that parents were supposed to pay for college was becoming the notion. So if you are supported by family, you are now a “college kid.”

                      In my case I found that I couldn’t support myself through college at that age and I wasn’t getting money from home so I found other ways.

                      My grandfather had his first job at six years old, sweeping the floors of the lumberyard.

                      So we have been taking away adulthood and so these children are staying children. Why I was outraged that a parent had to provide health insurance for a 26 year old adult… Excuse me? 26 is childhood still?

                    3. Some people are supported by their families all their lives. They live with their parents who cook and clean for them, drive them around etc.

                    4. I know a woman in her 50’s who still lives with her mother and sister. Her father died last year.

                    5. I’m not 100 percent sure they were needed. Look, while child labor STILL was needed, it just went underground. Portugal passed the FIRST anti-child-labor laws, and yet in my day people still left fourth grade and went to work in factories.
                      Now they don’t because we’re affluent enough not to need it.

                    6. Yes– I grew up in an area that used child labor for farming. I know that is allowed, but it is still hard work. Plus farmers need the cheap labor or they will go bankrupt quickly. Probably why farm families are traditionally large even today.

                    7. Child labor had just about ended by the time those laws were implemented, and they had exemptions for all sectors in which children were actually employed frequently. (Like movies.)

                    8. Yeah, I guess I’m old fashioned, the idea that my parents should pay for my college (not that I was interested in going anyways) never entered my head, and I immediately lost a lot of respect for anyone whose parents did pay for their college (and lost some respect for those parents, too.) Now it may be standard procedure, but I still think it stupid and detrimental to the kid.

                      Oh and yeah the ‘you can stay on your parents healthcare until you are 26’ is ridiculous. Excuse me, if your parents want to support you they are perfectly able to pay your healthcare for the rest of your life (or at least the rest of their lives) and probably get a discount for buying healthcare for more people also.

                    9. Now you have to help — that’s all we’re doing — because the prices have gone up so much NO ONE can pay for college. And we’re trying to minimize how much debt they start life with. :/
                      All this to subsidize beardo the weirdo on college campuses. If the kids didn’t want highly technical professions, we’d have said “no.”

                    10. I can understand the support if it is for a purpose like doctor or engineer (nod to Sarah) because it is time consuming and expensive. The rest? I find it ridiculous too.

                    11. re: “overboard (as usual) – the first law of making laws/rules/regulations is that there WILL be intended consequences.

                3. Amen. It’s not even a childhood. It’s like scraping out the vital guts of who you are and replacing it with cream of rice. You never grow out of toddlerhood. I for one was lucky, spending my summers Up North with my grandmother, and having a part-time real childhood. Grandma taught me how to shoot a rifle and everything. 🙂 My older cousin was so wild I was never allowed to use it without supervision– because then he could, too.

              1. When I attended high school we regularly brought guns to school during hunting season (and there is always SOME type of hunting season open) but it was illegal. We always left them in our trucks, usually behind the seat or with a coat thrown over them but were well aware it was illegal.

                1. Same. In the toolbox, behind the seat, or just in the floorboard where you’d have to climb up to see them. It was just another of those nonsense rules that didn’t do much but degrade respect we had for authority (which was at that time rather low anyway- teenagers).

                  1. It’s like it’s designed to denigrate respect for authority. Give authority silly stupid rules to enforce, and no one will even listen. Give them silly slogans, and teens gain even keener selective deafness. I once refused to join “DARE” (it was compulsory in middle school.) because I told them that they were just encouraging people to use drugs by making it look “cool”. That did not go over so well. Another swatch from my pink slip collection… and I was a “good girl”. Go figure.

                    1. Try googling the string “does DARE work” and you might be interested to find the academics have moved on from that question. It obviously doesn’t work. The cutting edge research is now on why the fact that it doesn’t work have so little impact on its usage.

                      It’s a tailor made issue for school board insurgents.

                    2. The school board is too much petty politicking. Just getting the power to pick the schopols’ reading lists ought be enough.

                    3. I was vindicated when a local teacher talked Robin Williams to come talk to our school about drugs. This when their own DARE representative/”motivational speaker” managed to motivate the mob practically into a riot.

                      Robin Williams gave the best most effective talk against drugs EVER. I was laughing to the point of pain. It was all about his own life and how badly everything went, and he came out of it with more fans. 🙂

                    4. Look at the vast array of studies demonstrating that Head Start is a waste of money then consider the number of people arguing that “we must do something!!!”

                    5. RES – Yes, we must do something. But when there are plenty of programs out there (dozens if not hundreds) with lots of evidence that they actually work, a majority of districts pick DARE which demonstrably doesn’t work.

          1. lol– oh Mom tried the whistle too. The car horn was the only thing we could hear and only after we didn’t get dinner a couple of times.

            1. I don’t mean Dad had this shiny thing he’d put to his lips and blow air through. He didn’t need it. He just did something with his lips and everybody in the neighborhood knew it was time for my brother and I to head home.

              Mom used the shiny silver thing. IIRC a referee’s whistle.

              1. My grandfather used to put two fingers in his mouth and whistle loud enough to be heard for miles. I tried and tried as a kid but never could master the technique, myself.

            2. If grandma had to go out to FIND you, you were in serious trouble. There was the dinner bell, then there was the holler. If you heard the gunshot three times, you’d better get home before she made it to the car.

              If you think she was being generous… well, yes. She had to cover 80 acres of woodland and the gun would clear it to the far side of our neighbor’s property, which were at least twice that. Also the National Park on the other side. You could hear that rifle clear to Perch Lake, which if we wandered far, was where we’d be.

                1. She was awesome. 🙂 Taught school and sunday school for 30 years, then after retirement tutored school kids who were too sick to go to school or who weren’t mainstreaming. Then she taught me, even during lunch and dinner. I only know my times tables because of her and years, I mean 10+ years of effort.

                  She used to shoot red squirrels off her roof three stories up at 80+. Sometimes they were dinner. She tended the river boats her husband built, and spotted the cars of the canoeists and boaters who floated down river. she was constantly active, and did not start “showing her age” until the stroke got to her. And that because they’d gone through the last heart meds that would work for her.

                  Even then she was amazing. At 98 she was the oldest person ever to get clot buster and respond positively. She tested positive for TB most of her life, and never showed symptoms. She taught TB kids, and they know (because she was quarantined during WWII and left with animals) that she was not a carrier. So there are multiple medical papers written about her, too. 🙂 They tell me the CDC has samples of her blood for use for future work on the cure of TB.

                  I want to be her when I grow up. No joke.

        2. “Come home when the street lights come on.”

          Though I guess that wouldn’t work as well now as it did when I was a kid.

          1. We didn’t have street lights — way way in the country. 😉 Although I met my fair share of scorpions, frogs, deer, snakes, rabbits, squirrels, mice and other critters–

            1. Yes. Dark was our limit too. But long summer twilights gave us some wiggle room. Oh, and flashlights. Grandma had one of those city-sized sodium vapor lights with an electric eye installed on a post in the back yard. If that came on, she was coming to get you. But sometimes, she wanted you home early for various reasons.

  5. I’ve occasionally been exposed to the differences in mindset just between the English speaking countries, and those incidents can be enlightening. For instance, I used to play a wargame using a set of rules written in New Zealand. They speak English there (or so I’m told 😛 ), and so you’d expect that the rules they wrote would be straightforward and easy to understand with no issues whatsoever (i.e. due to translation problems). Unfortunately…

    The impression that I got from hanging around the game’s forums at certain times enlightened me to the fact that the American players were much more focused on playing the rules “exactly as written”. Closing up gaps and loopholes in the rules appeared to be much more important to the American players than it did to the Commonwealth players. And it was much more important for the American players that obvious rules exceptions be noted. I have a vague recollection that at one point one of the Commonwealth English speakers claimed that the distinction between the Americans and the other English speakers was that, for the Americans, if the rules didn’t say that you couldn’t do something, then you could do it. For the other English speakers, if the rules didn’t say that you could do it, then you couldn’t. It’s a seemingly nonsensical distinction… right up until you see it in action.

    1. There’s a saying about Switzerland that fits the Anglophone world pretty well. In German-speaking Switzerland, everything is verboten unless it is permitted. In French-speaking Switzerland, everything is permitted unless it is verboten. In Italian-speaking Switzerland, everything is permitted ESPECIALLY if it is verboten. In order, use “Britain,” “Canada and New Zealand” and “the US and Australia.”

    2. On the contrary, it’s the essential difference between being a subject and a citizen. Power comes to our betters, as subjects, and then gets passed on further down to us. As citizens, power comes to us and we hand pieces of it over to our governments to manage the complicated collective actions that are better done centrally. In the former, an ambiguity means you haven’t been granted the power by your betters yet, therefore you don’t have the power. In the latter, an ambiguity means that you haven’t passed on the power yet, therefore you retain it.

    3. I’d noticed – through living in Spain, mostly – that Americans tended to take a more hands-on approach, when it came to doing things, especially mechanical things. Our Spanish neighbors were absolutely astounded when our maintenance NCO would cheerfully dig out his toolbox and fix things at the drop of a hat; antique clocks, broken furniture, locks, and his own automobile. This just wasn’t something that middle-class Spaniards did. Not in public, anyway. Which reminds me of how my brother’s first wife (Iranian expatriate) used to be so absolutely humiliated when my brother parked his car in the driveway of his condo, popped up the hood of his car and did maintenance on it, where everyone could see. In the circles where she had been raised, this was a very low-class thing to do, apparently.

      1. This does point to an extremely American trait: the fact that (most of us) not only do not look down upon a person who works with their hands but tend, in fact, to look down upon the person incapable of (or too high’n’mighty to) engage in such hands on action.

        American icons — Ben Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford — were each and everyone of them “hands-on” kinda guys, and in most workplaces a boss who won’t roll up the sleeves and lend a hand is not much respected.

        One of the intrinsic traits of Americans is tinkering, and one reason our troops excelled in the two world wars is that when something broke down we didn’t wait for a mechanic or a part to effect repairs. The lead to the jeep’s battery is corroded? Strip the wire, attach it to this brass shell casing and tamp it down over the battery post — we ain’t got time to stand around waiting!

        Maj. Prinz: [speaking German; subtitled] We learned at Chateau-Thierry and Belleau Wood that these Americans are unpredictable. They don’t retreat when they’re supposed to.
        Gen. von Sybel: [in German] How inconsiderate of them, Major.
        From The Lost Battalion (2001)

        1. When I went to Germany, they were working on the roof of the Cologne Cathedral. There were signs telling you not to go past. Everyone insisted we not go past repeatedly.

          We came back after the first tour and discovered the post unmanned. We went past the big scary signs and spent some awesome times hanging out on the roof, taking pictures of the city, and having an unsupervised conversation or three. NO, nothing hinky happened, we were friends. Anyway, we came out of there as if we belonged there, and the people guarding the signs–ignored us. Acted as if we weren’t there, even though we were certain they saw us. Everyone acted as if we were doing exactly what we should have been. Fun times. IN the US they totally would have busted us.

  6. I get to work with people from all over the world – mostly business folks, but plenty of technical types and professionals of all sorts.

    The thing that really strikes me is how uneducated most of them are.

    Sure, they’re often tops in their fields, but one step outside of that competence, and they’re morons. Not in the way that American business/tech/professional types are, but in a “specialized to the point of helplessness” way.

    They also expect everyone they see to be similarly specialized. If you introduce yourself as a computer tech, they assume you don’t know how to use the software. If you’re a manager, they assume you know nothing about the technical stuff you’re managing.

    More to the point: if you don’t have a narrow job title – and introduce yourself with that title – they assume you’re a peasant, and aren’t worth speaking to. It’s amazing.

    1. That shows up in European attitudes toward job descriptions. An American job description nearly always adds, “and other duties as assigned,” and an American not only expects to be assigned occasional other duties but, if they’re smart, recognizes that taking on those other duties may get you a better job. I’ve been told by people with European co-workers that “other duties as assigned” is somewhere between incomprehensible and offensive to many Europeans.

      1. Our Unions are following the European model, which drives everyone who has worked at real job nuts, when they go to work for a big Union outfit.

        1. “You can’t pick up those crates and move them yourself. union rules. the union box carrier has to come do it. Yes, we know, youcan’t get to your assigned work station until they are moved. Just stand here and wait. He should come by in an hour or so”

          And they wonder why non-union shops get the same tasks done in less time.

          1. Pretty normal for union shops. “I’m a visiting engineer, here to troubleshoot the machine we sold you, and you say I have to wait for your maintenance shop to assign an electrician to plug in my instruments?!”

            1. My father’s employer went through heroic efforts to prevent unionization. Fortunately his mechanics were also trained to use forklifts and COULD use forklifts. Otherwise they never would have gotten the car– complete with car bomb– out in time to save at least 10 lives. I was there when it happened. We watched the forklift operator pitch the old clunker over the cyclone fence– and explode with some force. Fortunately, the driver had gotten away quickly enough. Connie came by personally and shook the guy’s hand.

              Not being Unionized meant that Connie could more easily fight for his people. The reason why he got most of the best mechanics and lowballed the competition is that every mechanic, from Michigan to Belize to South Africa, had met him, and he had a fine beverage with every employee group he had. They knew he had their backs. When my father was sick with cancer, Connie personally confronted the insurance company to cover his treatment when they balked at an emergency 18 hour surgery that lasted 28 hours.

              He was also the nation’s biggest provider of Life Flight– because union rules would disallow people flying that long without being paid. Go figure.

  7. I wish we could get our oikophobic co-citizens to understand that they really shouldn’t take what people say of their own country at face value.

    There’s another difference: Americans, by and large, tell it like it is, not like they want to appear to everyone else (yes, I know this is not always true in social groups, but I’m talking about internationally).

    1. I’m not so sure on this one as the reign of political correctness has extended long enough to dent this trait pretty well.

      1. The incidences of such influence by political correctness, however, tend to be inflicted in the opposite direction, in a sort of penitent, self-flagellating manner. And usually by those “Elites” who push the politically correct memes on us in the first place.

      2. Every student through the school system has learned to conform or flunk, which means even with resistance you can feel it tugging at your elbow to direct you to write a certain way.

      3. I’m fairly certain that’s the basis for the stereotype that Americans are rude. Based on my experience Americans are by far the most generally friendly and polite people around. HOWEVER, they have a habit of telling other people exactly what they find unacceptable about their behavior, that gets them criticized for both untoward familiarity and lack of civility.

  8. That Apocaloptimism page is a little iffy.

    Up at the top of their highlights is this shared photo, for instance:

    I can’t help but wonder if 50 years ago they’d have been praising China’s backyard furnaces rather than Russia’s dacha gardens. Self-sufficiency is vital when it’s necessary, but it’s typically so much less efficient than specialization and trade that it *shouldn’t* be necessary. I sometimes plant a vegetable garden for fun, but I’d be happy if I could be certain my diet would never depend on what I could grow in my yard. When you see Americans spending so much spare time on leisure and so many spare resources on luxuries like lawn-covered yards, in one sense that’s actually a *good* sign, not a bad one: having lots of time and resources to spare means you’ve at least been doing something right to get to that point.

    1. Er. I wasn’t talking about page — I haven’t looked at it — just the poster/meme.
      I just agree that you know, we’ll be all right. Or as my friend Kate says in her OZ accent “She’ll be all right, mate.” 😉

      1. Don’t go look at the page. it’s full of conspiracy theory items, like stuff about GMO food, there’s a link to an article about how the Natural Gas companies are using PsyOps procedures to marginalize people who object to Fracking, and things like that.

        But while I haven’t seen the meme you refer to, it sounds like a good one.

    2. We are so wealthy we have pets, as opposed to working animals like a mouser or hunting dog.

      We are so wealthy we have dedicated food for our pets, not just table scraps.

      We are so wealthy that we have obese pets from feeding them too much of their food.

      We are so wealthy that we have special food for our obese pets.

      We are so wealthy we have stores dedicated solely to supplying the needs of our pets, including diet dog food.

      1. And the people who take their obese pet for a walk, and then reward it with a treat when they get back make me want to bang my head against the wall.

        I get really irritated when people look at my dogs, which are in top physical condition, and exclaim, “oh they’re so skinny, don’t you feed them?” When I walk into a veterinarian’s office and they make such a comment, I know I’ll never be back.

        1. I got my cat to LOSE WEIGHT by giving him treats. No joke. He’s down to 18 pounds from 22, because now he bothers to get his furry duff off the mat. I use them to exercise him, because only food motivates him. It doesn’t make sense, but it works, and my vet is the one who gave me the idea. That and catnip means my cat can still move under his own power.

          Treats (at least for cats) are lower in calories than food. And in case you think I’m doing something wrong, my other cat suffers from being perpetually underweight. Go figure.

          1. I might need to do that. Havelock is a Turkish van. The breed has a tendency to gain weight and get diabetes. He’s 16 lbs, but he eats as much as the other four (including outdoors) cats combined, and that worries me. I shall keep this in mind for future.

            1. A daily dose of catnip, plus encouraging him to climb and stand on things to beg. Also doing tricks. I can get him into his carrier without pain with those treats, too.

              My ginger is too smart for his own good. Training him to stand on his hind legs, means that we are working up to getting his flexibility back, and he feels smart and loved. It’s also good for his arthritis. Doc says catnip is a natural pain relief, too. I use “Cat training in 10 minutes” for technique. When ginger boy is happy, little black Claude is happier too.

              As far as treats go, I don’t use anything fancy. Beef flavored Temptations are 2 calories a piece, he loves them, and they don’t set off his allergies.

  9. (apologies if this is a duplicate; I submitted it once already but WordPress seemed to have eaten that post)

    That Apocaloptimism page is a little iffy.

    Up at the top of their highlights is this shared photo, for instance:

    I can’t help but wonder if 50 years ago they’d have been praising China’s backyard furnaces rather than Russia’s dacha gardens. Self-sufficiency is vital when it’s necessary, but it’s typically so much less efficient than specialization and trade that it *shouldn’t* be necessary. I sometimes plant a vegetable garden for fun, but I’d be happy if I could be certain my diet would never depend on what I could grow in my yard. When you see Americans spending so much spare time on leisure and so many spare resources on luxuries like lawn-covered yards, in one sense that’s actually a *good* sign, not a bad one: having lots of time and resources to spare means you’ve at least been doing something right to get to that point.

  10. Interesting book review with some subtle corollary points:

    The American Dream

    Haven’t read the book reviewed, but the reviewer’s take on the concepts is interesting.

    hattip: Instapundit

  11. I still don’t see anything there (clubs, pranks, mocking prime ministers etc.) that isn’t also practised in the UK, Australia etc. Or at least weren’t practised when I grew up in the UK.

    That may actually be a problem, in that the UK today seems to be infested with ugly jobsworths from ‘elf’n’safety’, ‘hate-crime/anti-discrimmination’ and other nosy bits of government that get in the way but it certainly isn’t universal and there are plenty of examples of the jobsworths being told to take a hike. For example the cheese rolling event which was officially banned on ‘elf’n’safety’ grounds but people did it anyway. Also, for example, the Royal National Lifeboat Institute is an entirely independent non-govermnental charity that runs ALL near shore rescues. There’s HM coastguard and the RAF that do more distant rescues and which may get called in by the RNLI when something needs a helicopter but only because the RNLI asked for assistance.

    In fact US governments (city/state/federal) seem to do a lot of things that are – especially post Thatcher – privately run in the UK. Airports for example or water/sewerage.

    I can’t tell you what other schools may or may not have done, but when I was at school we did all sorts of pranks – including moving a teacher’s car into the middle of the library and putting mickey mouse hands on the clock (an excellent example of edificeering that).

    The one thing I find particularly odd about the US is its irrational fear of boozing. Now I admit that a Friday night in Cardiff city center (or many other towns/cities in the UK) is an unpleasant experience but the weird hangups in the US about buying booze, drinking it in public and so on do get me. In fact they caused me my first interaction with the police less than 24 hours after arriving in the US.

    More to the point that whole age 21 to drink thing is one of the more idiotic laws ever passed and has probably led to more binge drinking, alcohol caused hospital visits and for that matter campus rapes than would have occurred had the age limit been 18.

    1. oh, the deep thread of American puritanism bit you… yep. Mrs Grundy never completely leaves us. She’s always lurking somewhere.

      However, note that it’s fully possible to be profoundly American without a shred of that.

      On the other hand, it’s very difficult to be profoundly American without a substantial portion of what is most easily described as “protestant work ethic”

  12. Oh, and spontaneous associations ? We still do it. Two words: BAEN BULK. Even IF Speaker and I went to the same University at the same time, and still somehow never met.. . . and yet share quite a number of friends and acquaintances back then. . .

  13. It brings a tear to my eye when I think about all the funny-looking, funny-sounding people who are Damn-Right Americans, not because of what’s in their blood, but because of what’s in their hearts.


  14. This is great. It reminds me of what I love about this country and at the same time what annoys me. We descendants of the original colonist have forgotten who we are in a rush become someone else. (And, yes, I can say that. I have at least 6 ancestors who were part of the American Revolution)

    Thank you.

    Would you object to me posting a link in my fb and/or lj?

  15. The ability to spontaneously self organize is something Americans have been good at for a long time. Whether it was communities in the Old West coming together to raise the new family a house or whether it was low-ranking GIs on Utah Beach it’s always stood us in good stead. Even the original organizers (I use that term loosely) of the American Revolution were self organized into Committees of Correspondence.

    That will probably be what saves our bacon when the fecal matter hits the rotary air impeller. Our willingness to help ourselves and each other is what will save us. Don’t forget that when it all goes to crap. In the end, all we’ve got is us.

    1. You mention GIs at Normandy — there’s an actual useful comparo here: US paratroops at Normandy vs. German paratroops at the Bulge.

      When the US troops were misdropped six ways from Sunday over Normandy, they either went to the nearest village, secured it, and waited; or they went to the nearest rally point, hooked up with other troops, and every so often some officer would come along, grab them, and go out looking for trouble (to paraphrase _Saving Pvt. Ryan_ 🙂 ).

      The Germans? They hid in a hole until sundown, then hotfooted it east as fast as they could get away with.

      Who won? >;)

      1. The Rule of the Little Groups of Paratroopers.

        After the inevitable demise of the best Airborne plan, a most terrifying effect occurs on the battlefield. This effect is known as the rule of the LGOPs. This is, in its purest form, small groups of pissed-off 19 year old American paratroopers. They are well-trained, armed to the teeth and lacking in serious adult supervision. They collectively remember the Commander’s intent as “March to the sound of the guns and kill anyone who is not dressed like you…” or something like that. Happily they go about the day’s work…..

  16. Over on the Steve Jackson Games general discussion newsgroup, one of the regular participants, M. A. Lloyd, just posted something that I think is both apropos to this topic and well stated. Here it is, with the author’s kind permission:

    By American standards European classes look a lot like more like Indian castes than anything we have here. It’s probably one of the bigger disconnects in making sense of each other’s politics.

    Which actually applies to a lot of the important European political categories – individual Americans (to a lesser degree even those from nations outside the US) change classes, emotional attachments to home towns or regions, religions, and to an extent even ethnicities and races to a degree that’s pretty incomprehensible to Europe. Many are more committed to and identify more strongly with their political party (or favorite sports team, though I think Europeans understand that one) more than any of those.

  17. Finns do have several things in common with Americans, but the one big Achilles heel here is our fondness for the idea of a good king. We want them, and them to tell us what to do, especially when it comes to the larger issues. And to tell that noisy neighbor to quiet down too, since it’s a lot easier when you don’t have to interact with him yourself (not talking about Russia, this time, just the next door neighbor :)). Now we also always dislike the ones we have, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t want them. Maybe the next batch will do better?

    The end result is a tendency to approve of schemes which give more power to the authorities. Never mind how many times it’s proven that they don’t know what they are doing, because if we keep on looking surely we will find a group who will prove themselves as that good king, and then they will need that power in order to put all those other idiots in their place, and all will be finally well.

    Yes, Finns don’t really trust other Finns all that much either.

  18. “the fact that no one finds it weird that a computer programmer is “really” a medieval sword expert and a weekend ironsmith.”

    Naw, people find it weird, but they expect everyone to have some weird quirks. They may think, “Why doesn’t he make butcher knives or modern bayonets, it’s not like people use swords much anymore. But whatever floats your boat, I guess… hey, maybe he knows how to sharpen that lawnmower blade I can’t get to cut!”

  19. My mother was a schoolteacher, and her mother, and hers, and hers, all the way back to Priscilla Mullins on the Mayflower. Yes, I’m a Mayflower descendant, descended from John Alden. Yes, that John Alden, immortalized in Longfellow’s “The Courtship of Miles Standish”.

    There are people who have an equal a claim to be a “real” American as I, but there is no one who has a better.

    And as a “real” American, I have only one thing to say.

    If you think that your ancestry or ethnic background make you more of an American than some Guatamalan who raised his hand for the oath last week, you’re missing the whole point.

  20. Some years ago, I worked with a Vietnamese who had escaped post fall of South Vietnam. I learned his story one day, over a bunch of beers. Working with a small group of friends to gather supplies and a small boat. Escaping from the coast in that boat, being shot at by Vietnamese navy, having one of their party be shot to death during the escape, running the boat out to the South China Sea, running out of supplies and water and drifting until a US Navy destroyer picked them up.

    People risk death to come to this country. F*ck yah!

    1. I worked as a Lutheran Church volunteer in 1975-77 to help resettle the Vietnamese who came out of Vietnam after the fall of Saigon. I heard stories like that – like that of the captain of a 100-foot motorboat in the Viet version of the Coast Guard. The night before Saigon fell, he docked the launch and told his crew to go get their families. He went to get his mother, and found that his sister, her husband and their four children – who were supposed to have been evacuated by the American Embassy- were still waiting. He told them to gather up Mama and the kids and come with him. The sister later told me that there were a hundred people crammed onto that motorboat. They headed out to sea until they were taken on by the Pioneer Contender. Solid and patriotic citizens to this day – the two boys in the family served in the US Army when they grew up a little.
      Then there was the boy who was in the Viet AF, a security policeman, trying to keep control at Tan Son Nhut on the last day, when the North Viets began shelling the runways. He got caught up in a crowd rushing a helicopter, and just on a mad impulse when he was carried to the hatch – he threw away his weapon and got on. He had not intended to escape – he meant to do his duty, I think – but he was seventeen and scared to death. He came away with nothing but what he had in his pockets when he went on duty. He left his parents, sisters and brothers and all behind, didn’t dare let them know he was alive and in the US for years. Later he had a worthwhile career as a mechanic in the Harris County Sherriff’s department garage, married a nice Vietnamese girl and sent his son to Rice.

  21. You betcha! I’m sure that my family lived in Poland/Lithuania/Russia for centuries but they moved here despite that. My mom’s family moved from Russia to Canada. She moved from Montreal to NYC when she was 21. Because she was the eldest, the rest of the family followed her to the States.
    During the first half of the 20th century the axis of Ashkenazic Jewry moved from Europe (Eastern & Western [I didn’t grow up with a concept of Central Europe, even though I now know what it is]) to the US (NYC).

  22. You become American by signing on to agree and abide by our founding documents. Don’t care where you’re from. You can’t become French no matter how hard you might try.

    I believe Bill Whittle on his old web site or maybe it was in his comments on the old USS Clueless had a lot to say about the difference between our self-organizing military and the militaries of other countries. Yes, even in that most rigidly hierarchical of all American institutions, we self-organize when necessary. Andrew Sullivan (in one of his rare lapses into sanity between addled leftist silliness) had a Thanksgiving essay noting the essential, liberating difference between American and British society.

    I had always had a fondness for the Brits, land of Chesterton, Tolkien, Shakespeare, and Churchill, but through a series of acquisitions I once found myself working for a large British company. I discovered a great revulsion working for a company whose leaders were all Lord Whathissnot, and Sir Fumbledyspike. Just the fact of the titles, oft repeated in company newsletters, repulsed me. I learned something about myself there.

    Also I live in a border town where many of our radio stations are actually Mexican owned and broadcast from Mexico although all in English and aimed at the American market. They frequently air government public service announcements (again still in English). One, urging Mexican citizens to vote, said something about, “Soon we will select our rulers….” Oh my! I hope to God no American radio station could ever bring itself to say, “our rulers.” Even under the current dispensation I don’t think even the most left-wing of our fellow Americans would ever think that way.

  23. I must have misplaced my rose-colored glasses. I agree with some of Ms. Hoyt’s points, but I disagree with most.

    “We’re playful.” Putting up a ‘Nerd Alley’ sign isn’t playfulness. Some Americans are playful, and some can poke fun at themselves, but not the majority.

    “We don’t take orders well.” Yes, when it’s our spouse giving them. Otherwise, we take orders very well. Few people tell their bosses ‘NO!’. This was apparent when TSA workers agreed to grope toddlers and grannies and when Park Rangers blocked access to open memorials. We rarely tell law enforcement officers ‘no’ when they want to make illegal searches.

    “We fix it.” Some of fix it. The rest expect the government to do so.

    “We are flexible.” Yeah, the sci-fi fans are flexible. Most others hate change. I directed labs that employed medical technologists with bachelor of science degrees. They hated it when we bought new and better instruments. When technical/scientific people oppose change, the society is in trouble.

    The biggest problem in the USA is that the vast majority of Americans behave like sheep in regards to the federal government. They take any crap the government dishes out so long as they can keep their security net and foist what should be personal responsibilities onto the government.

    1. I think you’re misidentifying the modern pseudo-liberal who, after drinking in Marxist/socialist thought over his lifetime, has turned into a European with an American accent. The degree to which our society is in trouble is measurable by our population ratio of those people to actual Americans. Based on polling I’ve seen, I would estimate that it’s still not far off of 1:1, in spite of the best efforts of our profoundly leftist education and media establishments.

      We also have to consider that when a government agency fills jobs like TSA Agent or Park Ranger under a socialist regime, they look for a compliant personality in their applicants. They will not hire a “real American” if a pseudo-liberal is available.

  24. “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Like Us Yet”

    So what you’re saying is “Watch This!” ain’t a redneck motto, it is the American motto.

      1. As a Southerner, we tend to think the rest of the country takes after us, once it gets its head out of its arse…


        So yes, it is. *grin*

  25. ” also because most of us at some time were in need and got help, and know better than to wait for officialdom.” — does the concept of “paying it forward” compute in other countries you’re familiar with?

      1. Exactly. For many of us, I think “pay it forward” is less of an individual duty or obligation than it is a way to improve the odds for the future. It’s a diffuse thing – the person I’m helping today is unlikely to be in the right spot to help me in the future. But if I by example encourage others to pay it forward when opportunity offers, it’s more likely there will be someone who can help me or mine when needed. Sort of an “anticipatory cooperation”, which seems to me like the opposite of “obligation”.

            1. 🙂
              Coming soon to a cosplay filksing near you. Featuring new, never-before-heard renditions of “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”, “Tom Dooley”, “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Reverend Mr. Black” among others.

  26. “Americans are mad in love with the future. We’re adult enough to know sometimes there are (d*mnably) rough patches, but by and large “every day, in every way, we’re getting better and better.” And just wait till we finish tinkering and cajoling and inventing tomorrow.”

    To quote a great American (or, at least to quote the song he hired to have written and personally approved):

    “It’s a great big beautiful tomorrow,
    Coming at the end of every day!

    A man has a dream, and that’s the start.
    He follows his dream with mind and heart,
    And when it becomes a reality,
    It’s a dream come true, for you and me!”

    I’m finishing off a week at Disney World. I didn’t go into the Carousel of Progress or the American Adventure because tears streaming down my face breaks the semi-masculine air I try to project. I think the people are OK, but the government seems intent on tearing everything apart.

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