We Are Not The World

I was seventeen the first time I packed a suitcase and headed off into the unknown by myself. (Well, technically with an exchange student group, but really by myself, because I hadn’t known any of those people long and wasn’t close to any of them.)

Even then, this wasn’t the first time I’d met different cultures or had to adjust my perception of the world.

This is because – heaven help me – I was born in a country so small that if you want to swing anything larger than a kitten, you have to have a passport. When my dad showed me Portugal on the globe when I was three, it was the size of his pinky nail.

And yet, as small as it is, it has fossilized cultures and subcultures. I thought I could speak normal every day Portuguese, until I found myself at six, in the classroom, realizing I had no clue what the standard word for bathroom was, because we didn’t use it around the house.

In fact, by the end of that year, I’d learned almost an entire second language. Add to that that written Portuguese was a different dialect than spoken Portuguese, and it was a year of acculturation. As was, six years later, when I went to school at a magnet school in what was called the “Hollywood” area of the big city next to the village, because it was where all the big mansions were. Again, there were different ways of behaving and being in the world.

But beyond that, every Summer Portugal gets infested with tourists, rather like my current city does. (How do you answer a tourist asking where Pikes Peak is? “First, you go to Pueblo.”)

Only these are foreign tourists. And since I was learning languages, I was doing translating to and from mostly English, but sometimes French and Italian from about the age of fifteen.

On top of that I read books. A lot of books that weren’t set in Portugal. Books set in England, the US, Australia, Romania, France, Poland.

All of which is to try to explain why half the time when I hear people talk about world politics, or about where we’re headed or about anything at all having to do with mass scale culture and culture change, with interactions between cultures, with individual reactions to cultural events, my back brain locks into a kind of “argh.” And that’s all I can think “argh.”

Look, perhaps it is a very bad thing that the most advanced culture of our time (us, the French just THINK they are) and the one with the most outsized influence, is a continent-spanning, relatively uniform (shush. Yeah, I know the differences. Shush) culture.

I find after living here for a few decades, I too am starting to think in terms of “the US is the world.”

The US isn’t the world. This is obvious, if you think about it a moment, but most people never do.

This is not just the other side of the political divide where they obsess about cataloguing just every kind of sexual orientation possible (and some impossible) and detail the rights for them, as though this is the way to the future… All the while sweetly unaware that in 99% of the world the notion is not just morally laughable, but laughable period. Most of the rest of the world isn’t rich enough to worry about such frills. They’re too busy surviving.

It is true for our side too, because the extreme Libertarians think that if the US stops caring about the rest of the world no one will attack us, which is a delusion that denies the rest of the world the right of free agency, free culture, and ways of thinking that are markedly different from ours. Meanwhile the small l libertarians and the conservatives, in their most despondent times talk about how the US is now a dictatorship or the equivalent, thereby revealing they know bloody nothing about dictatorships or even mild unpleasantness. (Oh, I think we should fight for every inch of liberty and individual determination taken from us, don’t get me wrong. But don’t go imagining we’re anywhere as bad as the rest of the world.)

And then there’s the international comparisons. Oh, sweet baby Buddha the international comparisons and studies.

I’ve mentioned before how seriously ya’ll take the numbers you get from abroad. You wouldn’t if you knew the fifty million ways they can be fudged, and are. Oh, not to fool you, but because other countries are really different.

Look, France has three kinds of “murder” and only one is counted as “murder-murder” in statistics, while we count it all as murder.

And Portugal – Oh, if I hear one more hopeful question about how great legalizing drugs in Portugal must be because look how arrests have pummeled… I’m going to remind the person how great Obamacare has been for job creation. Because now full time jobs are part time, so everyone works two jobs. Yeah. In the same way Portugal decriminalized drugs. That means there are fewer arrests for drugs. So… um… yeah. I’m not saying this might not be a good thing. I don’t live there, so I don’t know. Though the last time I was over it seemed to me they had a massive drug problem, kind of like here in the early seventies. BUT that was an impression, and I have no data. Neither does anyone else.

So why does all this upset me?

Well, it upsets me in books. Heinlein does it, but his future history provided for a sort of universal Americanization of the world. Most writers don’t. They just assume things are the same everywhere. In the future, we are using the same forms and fashions, the same demarcations of adulthood and accomplishment, as we do in the US now.

But more than that it upsets me in politics.

If the left stopped and thought for a moment, they would realize their “progress” is not actually proceeding everywhere in the same direction; it’s not starting from the same place; and the idea of an international society is a pipe dream.

However, it took Heinlein taking a world tour to fully get it. Before that he’d assumed, like most Americans, that it wasn’t that different. After his world tour, he understood that things like the UN can’t and won’t work because people had different aims, interests and specialties.

As for the right… I don’t think any of you realizes how close Europe is to snapping. We tend to judge them for ourselves, but the Charlie Hebdo thing bit deep, and they’re going through a sort of crisis of their own, anyway, before that.

And I don’t think anyone realizes just how different the texture of life is elsewhere.

If you did, you’d understand why America won’t be left alone. America is the clean, shoe-wearing kid in the playground. The fact he washed in the river and made his shoes himself, out of bark, won’t save him. On the contrary, because it means they too could have done it, if they’d tried. And then that kid is weird. Instead of believing in the sovereignty of blood, or of caste, it believes in this individuality and freedom thing.

So the other kids will keep poking. They have too. We’re too different.

Only by knowing how different we are can we be a model, instead of an irritation. Only by looking further than our little differences and our petty categorizing of wants can we get anywhere.

I’m minded of the story Heinlein told in Have Spacesuit, when the kid has government studies in school, and they all decide every kid must have his own room.

At which point the father points out the family with more kids than house can’t comply, no matter how much they might want to. So that can’t be mandatory, because it can’t happen.

I wish our elites, who dream of a multi-gendered, multi-accepting, transnational world understood the only way their world would work is every one in it is an American. No other culture is equipped to even consider those as needs. (Oh, the rest of the Anglosphere, maybe, but not like America.)

They are sophisticated, and they have friends abroad, and they’ve traveled.

But in their sophistication, they never realize they don’t see beyond the surface. They’re blinded by what they think they know and what they’ve been told is true.

Too blind to see the real amazing diversity of cultures out there. And the way in which they’re their own microcosmos, self-directed and capable of decisions we can’t control.

Maybe then they’d understand that hating America is hating the only hope for achieving everything they hold dear.

And maybe they’d start their civilizing process.

333 thoughts on “We Are Not The World

  1. Whoa. Thank you, Sarah; this NEEDED to be said. My dad was State Dept., and we spent ten years in various Third World ports of call (1965-75). When we came home – yes, not “back,” but HOME – I was ready to kiss the runway. One of the sad developments of recent years which you note above: Foreign travel used to broaden people, who were urged to keep open minds and appreciate what they saw, but today they’re taught an all-encompassing framework of cliches and slogans in which to integrate their observations, so it becomes almost impossible actually to learn anything.

    1. Even the framework wouldn’t work if they were even given something to do with stuff that doesn’t fit, besides hand-waving about insanity and misunderstanding and “they were just reacting to us.”

  2. IRL, I feel a bit parochial anymore these days. I’m only monolingual still (unless you count giving imperative instructions to inanimate objects as ‘languages’). I’ve never been outside of the US. I’ll have to fix that sometime.

    PS – your new year’s resolution to avoid politics has probably crashed and burned.

    With regards to sci fi, monocultures do grate a bit, if only because I wouldn’t want to live with the sort of homogenous controlling world order that you would have to have to produce them. Planet of the hats was always a cop out.

    In space opera, one of the only films that managed to imply something like the scale/diversity/difference you would have to have in a galaxy-spanning setting (100 billion stars – billion with a b) is Star Wars.

    1. In written sci-fi, Poul Anderson did a bit better with the size of an interstellar setting also. He managed to imply/explicitly show the existence of all these other civilizations/colonies/cultures out there doing things/living lives/believing principles that were different from the ones his protagonists came from. It’s one of the things that I liked about his Polesotechnic League setting. Niven did alright with this also, though you’d first want to get the hell away from the Earth ARM regime.

      Contrast Next-Generation Trek: You have a dozen different sprawling socialist empires, all alike except for color scheme, and within them everyone adheres to uniform loyalties, attitudes, cultures, etc. Bleh.

      Contrast a lot of military sci-fi, which doesn’t really stop to smell the alien-roses because it’s too busy trying to nuke them from orbit. Us, them, and not a whole lot of room to explore. (Heck, Star Wars was about a war and managed to be far more interesting than that.)

        1. I’ve only read Falling Free so far, so I’ll have to read more. (Nice shout-out to professional engineering ethics in there)

            1. I think she’s a lot better than most, but there remains a lot more commonality than there is among Earth cultures today.

              They really aren’t like us in a lot of ways that matter.

              Except in the most basic ways. The seven deadly sins…

          1. No need to waste nukes. Just throw big enough rocks from orbit, yes? There are better uses for the fissionables.

            Love that quote, though. Especially when I imagine what Mr. Cameron Greenpeace may be thinking of its popularity now. 😀

            1. It has to be the most sensible reaction of a character to the intelligent nasty monster scenario ever. 😀

      1. Contrast Next-Generation Trek: You have a dozen different sprawling socialist empires, all alike except for color scheme, and within them everyone adheres to uniform loyalties, attitudes, cultures, etc. Bleh.

        A stable world gov’t was a requirement to join the Federation.

        1. “A stable world gov’t was a requirement to join the Federation.”

          So… no democracies, representative republics, or other “unstable” forms? Only tyrannies, oligarchies, and monarchies?

          1. Exactly. Always heard about the ‘President of the Federation”, but you never heard about anyone needing to vote, did you?

            1. DS9 referenced elections indirectly. Maybe Starfleet, holding all the guns and the high ground, wasn’t eligible to vote. Maybe the Federation follows Starship Troopers voting rules. It would explain why people join Starfleet.

    2. A couple of points:

      Any sci-fi is going to have a certain amount of monoculture, because the majority of your audience is going to be from one, and if you get too diverse, there won’t be any common touch points for them to relate to.

      Second, you probably will have a certain monoculture in any species that makes it to space, because if we’ve proven anything in the last 50 years, too much diversity and unassimilation to a common culture means there won’t be enough common purpose to get to space.

      After all, what is Sarah trying to do? Get a majority of people to believe in a common culture, call it USAian, and use that as the monoculture that will give us a common understanding rather than multiple groups fighting over the spoils. Then use the resources freed up to get to space.

      As far as series go, Babylon 5 actually did a pretty good job demonstrating both a more diverse group of aliens, and also the conflicts that too much diversity generates even among humans. “Free Mars!” ring a bell? Again, without a cultural background that allows for a common set of touchpoints, existential conflict is inevitable.

      1. Monocultures are easier, too. It’s hard to show multiple cultures of the same species when you only have 43 minutes of screen time. In fiction, you have more space for development.

      2. *eyes are unfocused*

        Getting into space… people who are in space have a lot of room, a lot of options about who they’re around.

        You’d have to really trust the people you were with, or at very least the system you’re all working and living in. It’s really life or death.

        Space might turn out to be a lot like the internet– various blogs have definite cultures, after all. If you can move relatively easily, take everything with you, why wouldn’t you move to be with people you share a “culture” with?

          1. “Ah, he has become one with his inner self!” “He’s passed out.” “That too.”

      3. A random historical analogy: The Chinese had a uniform stable monoculture with a political class that had been entrenched for geological time, which is why they killed their explorer-admiral and burned his maps. Why would they need the merchant class getting ideas? Why did their people need to know anything outside of the world they controlled even existed?

        Europe needed it’s nerds, merchants and engineers, because it was a boiling mess of perpetually warring states. Their political class couldn’t afford having the other guy discover something before they did. Apparently there was a period where Italian engineers like Leonardo roamed Europe designing fortifications (and seige weapons, and waterworks, and steam-pumps for mines, and …) (Desperately needed by their patrons, somewhat of a plague on the taxpayers though). European monarchs couldn’t afford (as much) to kill off their innovators.

        The stable monoculture vs. insecure competitive culture probably has the opposite relationship to exploration/innovation to the one you are thinking of. You can’t have a complete anarchy like Somalia (on the other hand, if you have a complete anarchy like the Wild West, you’re golden.) But a stable world order doesn’t need anything they do not already control, and will probably try to kill you if you start prying into it.

        1. PS – the original rocket equations were developed by a dedicated communist, and the first rockets were built by Nazi weapons engineers in factories that were being actively bombed by the Allies. The world was probably at it’s most disorderly when all the progress was being made.

          Today, various space companies are building the rockets that we have that still work – the stable and vast bureaucracy that grew up around the traditional space programs have paralyzed themselves and can’t seem to scrape together much that works without contracting it out. We’re talking organizations of 10,000 ish engineers, not world-spanning empires.

          1. Are you talking about big rockets, or little rockets? Because afaik, the first mass-produced rockets were used by the Soviets on the Eastern Front.

            Stalin’s Organpipes

            1. I was thinking about bigger ballistic rockets – V-2, buzz bomb, things with efficient chemical engines developed by engineers who were, on the side, thinking about the possibility of using them to get into space.

              Gunpowder rockets were used by various armies previously.

              1. IIRC, most of the “innovative” work was done before the war years – surreptitiously funded by both the “democratic” and “Fascist” German governments.

                The war years were mostly fiddly engineering bits (not that I am trying to say that those are the “easy” part), mostly related to being able to produce the weapons in useful quantity while the infrastructure was being bombed. (Note that the next “innovative” leap in development – multistage rockets – didn’t get anywhere further than engineering concept drawings to be shown to the Fuhrer.)

        2. China isn’t my area of expertise, but I’m pretty sure they’re not exactly a monoculture– the way it was explained to me is that they had a lot of very different cultures under very strict control.
          So strict that their bureaucrats became a culture all on their own.
          I guess it could be called a monoculture built around the expectation of “you are X, you will not go outside of X, Y and Z bounds,” but with very different ideas about how people interact and stuff.

          Europe also shared a lot of… I don’t know how to put it. The bones of a culture? Basic expectations? That’s why the religious wars were so big– it was less about converting away from a religion/starting a new variation, it was a public announcement that you weren’t going to be following the basic expectations.

          You have to have a very strong assumption that everybody is going to play by the same rules for freedom to be maximized.
          ….which wraps around, oddly, to Mr. Whittle’s essays that Mr. Wright recently posted:

          1. China had an “ultra-culture” that disliked change with control of the “lesser” cultures.

            Europe lacked anybody with the power to prevent change along with cultural links between the countries. IE Christianity which also provided a common language that linked the educated class of the various countries. Of course, there was enough competition between the various countries so no smart leader attempted to prevent change within his country.

          2. “You have to have a very strong assumption that everybody is going to play by the same rules for freedom to be maximized.”

            Which is why there is no living with Leftists: they’ve made it quite clear that they will change the rules whenever it suits them.

    3. My favorite example of an implausible Planet of Hats was an episode of Farscape featuring a culture composed entirely of lawyers. How in the unholy heck does THAT work? Do they sue each other all the time? How?

      1. Maybe it’s the Dorsai principle? They handle the lawyer needs for other planets who don’t want to bother?

        1. Or their parent culture banished all their lawyers and exiled them to that planet.

          1. There are days that I think the Golgafrincham Solution is not such a bad idea.

            Then there are the days that I fear it is what actually did happen…

      2. It’s not totally implausible. In some orthodox (Jewish) communities many men get the training to be a rabbi. Of course most of them do other things as their livelihood. On this planet of lawyers, were they all practicing lawyers?

        1. You know, depending on what communication is like, why ever leave the best law college type place around? You’d be able to live comfortably, make connections with the people that you’d do most of your business with, collect all information in a secure place, etc.

          There may be some cases where it’s important enough that you’ll want everybody in the same court room, but the vast majority could probably be done entirely long distance– and that’s assuming there’s no holodeck type option available.

    4. The example I like to use is: “We are Humans. Our homeworld is Humania. Our capital city, in fact, our only city is Human City. We speak the Humanish language. Sounds pretty silly, doesn’t it?”

      1. Yep.

        Still I had an alien species where a single culture conquered their world and later spread across several star systems.

        Mind you, there are several “sub-cultures” within the species but the sub-cultures are generally based on the culture that conquered their world. (The conquering culture was able to suppress all other cultures of their home-world.)

        Oh, my human heroes are at war with one sub-culture while viewing the other sub-cultures as neutrals at best for most of the sub-cultures.

        One of the sub-cultures, while neutral officially, unofficially supports the human heroes.

        1. Mind you, I giggled in Guardians of the Galaxy when Star-Lord described Earth as “a planet of outlaws”. It made me wonder how many Planets of Hats were actually exaggerations on the parts of their inhabitants.

      2. Not all that old colony worlds, maybe. Settled by a homogenous group, not old enough to have properly diversified. Or for whatever reason the population growth has stalled, and they have gotten stuck.

        Several of the Star Trek etc world do seem kind of like they might be that, even if it is usually not stated at least I used to imagine they were. Made them seem a tad more plausible.

        1. In one of the Weber/White Starfire novels, one of the Orionians (catlike warrior aliens) is commenting on the diversity of human societies.

          It was pointed out that the Khanate (the Orionian society) had a somewhat united culture when they left their homeworld while humans had multiple cultures when we left Earth.

          1. The problem of course is combining a unified culture with intelligence. Beavers all over build very much the same sort of dam and homes. It has long been observed the precocial animals, capable of doing stuff very young because it’s pre-programmed, are dumber than altricial ones.

            1. Nod.

              It’s extremely likely that an intelligent species would have a diversity of cultures.

              The question is “why happens when technology allows for fast communications” on a given world.

              Would there be a melding of cultures to create a common culture?

              Would one culture have the power to impose it’s “views of the world” onto the rest of the world along with the power to suppress “views of the world” it dislikes?

            2. Wouldn’t the factor be time and whether a colony had a melting pot or insular attitude? Before Paul mentioned it, I was thinking about North America, Australia, and the UK. We’ve diverged some in language and culture, but our differences are less than they are with, say, Yemen. True, the oldest colony is less than half a millennia removed from the mother country, relatively short as such things go, and was dominated socially as long as more stepped off the boat than was born in the colony. But that we have as much in common as we do has to mean something, particularly considering the other cultures that have arrived.

              What will it be in another half millennia, though?

            3. The easy way would be to have some sort of bottleneck event . . . say human exploration is just really getting started, we’ve got a couple decent size space stations and a lunar base, and some comet hits the earth and Yellowstone goes off and bye-bye earth-based humanity.
              Or someone screws up the medical nanobots and they eat everything with DNA on the face of the earth.

              Now you’ve got a set-up with a thousand survivors to produce a uniform source culture from.

              1. In Orson Scott Card’s Enderverse, the colonies were each different from each other. But internally each was a uniform culture. This was done intentionally by the planners back on Earth. The thinking was that since each of those cultures had managed to last (in some form or another) for a long time on Earth, why risk upsetting things with some “unified Earth culture” colonies, or colonies that were likely to induce culture clashes between the colonists?

                On a related note, as much as I enjoy the new Civ off-shoot, Beyond Earth, this is one of the things that always bugs me about the background of the game. The game background seems to suggest that Earth is sending out multiple colony starships. But the starships are all going to the same planets. Admittedly it wouldn’t be much of a game otherwise (since the competitive part of the game is pretty much part and parcel of the genre). But it doesn’t make much sense from an in-universe perspective.

                1. It may depend how many suitable planets you have. If there’s lots of Earths or Wet Mars, every nation could have their own colony on a different world. If there’s only a few, everybody who has a space program would want a piece of them.

                  1. The game background seems to suggest that there are a bunch – at least in comparison to the number of ships going out.

                2. On earth, the outliers of those cultures could leave for another. On the colonies, they are going to stick around and start changing things.

          2. IIRC, the Orions in the Starfire novels had a unified culture because one culture managed to survive and dominate their homeworld after a world war nearly wiped out their species.

      3. Some of the better handled ones have made the point that what one culture calls another isn’t necessarily what they call themselves. Earth examples: Deutsch (what they call themselves), the English speaking world calls them German, the Russians call them Nemtsev (mutes).

    1. I never expected tye EU to last. When the Euros were first minted I said ghat I wished I knew whether they were going to me rarities or the new Confederate Dollars (looks like the latter), and all my Liberla friends were shocked.

        1. Before Portuguese currency got debased in the eighties and the silver coin discarded, dad made a habit of keeping every one that passed his hands. Last heard of, he’d divided them in four piles, for his grandsons…

        2. Funny, I remember the Cleveland History Museum selling sizable packets for the kimd of chump-change grade school,children would have. Has something changed the rarity level?

          1. Back in the day, gift shops would sell packets of reproduction Confederate currency. IIRC, there were two different series. These were “aged” paper, stiff with a chemical smell. Ironically, the paper of the real deal tends to be lighter, almost an off-white.

            Real Confederate currency can be worth a good bit more, but it depends on things like condition, and how many were printed.

      1. Back in 2002 I said 10 years.

        I was wrong by at least 2 years, but between Greece, Britain and what’s happening in France, it might not be much more than that.

    2. One reason I’m trying to arrange things so I stay away from the big cities this summer. The Eurocrats are about to rediscover just how different Germans are from Poles from French from northern Italians from southern Italians from Hungarians. We won’t talk about the Greeks. The culture and history are too deep.

          1. I have a feeling if one happened the other might as well.

            That said, I’d prefer the EU ‘dissolve’ and not ‘collapse’…

          1. The question would be how effective France’s ethnic cleansing. We might see a Franco-German expedition across the Mediterranean.

      1. With a nasty spasm of nationalism like the 1920s and 30s and a dash of 1848, burning neighborhoods, deportations, riots, and a lot of grim-faced men and women who won’t talk about certain things.

        1. In the past year I’ve read both “Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe on the Mediterranean” by Philip Mansel and “Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe” by Simon Winder. One common them in both was that as the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires broke up, culturally-diverse cities and towns were often made less diverse by riots, massacres, or forced migration. Where that didn’t happen immediately it was often only a temporary reprieve due to attitudes by strong but tolerant leaders. When those leaders were replaced by more populist governments or intolerant leaders, the reprieve ended. Alexandria, Egypt remained multicultural until the overthrow of King Farouk in the 50’s; Hungary still had a large Jewish population until the Nazi’s deposed and imprisoned Admiral Horthy. The remaining enclaves of different cultural groups in central and eastern Europe were largely eliminated by the Soviets in the immediate aftermath of WW2, and not always gently. Will the EU go the same way? I wouldn’t bet against it.

          1. The end of World War II saw a wild expulsion of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe and the regions of Germany that were seized by Poland — including babies, children, and Holocaust survivors.

          2. Right now Europe seems to have three serious irritant groups; Travellers/Gypsies/Rom (whatever the PC are calling them rhis week), Muslims, and Bureaucrats/Social Planners. I can see a general lynching of the first two. Sadly I think the third, which actually has CAUSED most of the problems, is going to be passed over.

              1. Anything to distract the mob. Hope so,e of the Islamotwits take some government buildings with them, then. Allowing Islamic ghettos was an abysmally stupid idea.

    1. I think it’s going to have a grand convulsion and throw off the strangers in its midst. I think it would already have done it, if it weren’t for their paucity of young people.

      1. The Euros ain’t been spending a lot of money on the military in the last generation. They’ll need to build up the force a lot before they can go. And a lot of their manufacturing is now in China and India….

  3. I’ve never traveled abroad. This is not my fault, as I joined the Navy to see the world (Hey, they PROMISED! They lied) but never got more than 100 miles off the west coast. When stationed in Washington State, I did visit British Columbia but traveled no more than 20 miles across the border. And when stationed on a ship with a stop in San Diego, I planned on visiting Tijuana, but we were all strictly enjoined NOT to go there.
    And since then I haven’t had the money.
    But I have ‘traveled’ vicariously in what I’ve read and watched, in conversations with others on computer chats; making friends from Finland and Kenya and South Africa (who lives in Tasmania!) and I’ve listened to them.
    I find two things: people all over the world mostly want the same things. Sustenance, protection, a chance to grow, opportunity for their children to succeed. These people are real easy to relate to; they are, in one sense, my neighbors.
    And I’ve found there are others who just want more. They want want others have, or they want to destroy what others have becauze they do not. They don’t want different ways and customs, because they see them as reflecting badly on their own ways and customs. Some of these people achieve influence over others, and then this cancer spreads, invading even the ‘healthy’ communities.
    Cancer has to be removed. Judiciously, so as to avoid destroying surrounding tissues, but expeditiously.
    I love seeing how different cultures and customs relate to mine. I’d love to visit them – because they are different.

    1. I know a lady who was in the Navy for 6 years and never got on a ship until she went on a whale watching tour in Seattle. Spent most of her time in one sandbox or the other (Corpsman for the Marines … really nasty stories about why you should not wear Under Amour in a combat zone)

        1. imagine wearing a nylon wind breaker and walking through a blast furnace.
          Now, take off that windbreaker.
          They basically flayed the guys to get them out of what was left of those shirts.
          I once bought several desert tan UA like shirts as surplus as they got dumped before issue because they realized real fast they were a bad idea

          1. Makes sense. Some years ago, when polypro long-johns were first a thing, one of the big aviation magazines had an article suggesting that you should stay away from them for that reason. Fire on board + synthetics = bad things.

              1. My dad had the arm of his nylon windbreaker melted to his arm by a gas water heater he was lighting. You just have to wait a couple of weeks for the skin to grow out and it will come off just fine. 🙂

                1. Yup. But having the threads and the melty-bits attached to you for a couple of weeks means having to keep that area *very* clean to prevent infection. And it *itches* like nobody’s business. I’d rather deal with fiberglass than that again.

      1. They’ve now got different gear for folks who may reasonably expect to get caught on fire.

        1. well, with the all attacks there were that included pretty much everyone in country.
          There are some nomex formulations that are cooler and more comfortable than older styles.

  4. I have traveled abroad. And not just to First World Countries. It’s really a pity most Americans simply don’t: it’s one thing the Aussies and Kiwis do that I think is a MUST: the Year Abroad.

    Heck, even adapting to Britain required some head re-arrangement. . .

    1. I never had the money to do something like that, and most people don’t. I don’t know how Aussies and Kiwis manage it, since they’re farther away from other places than we are.

  5. When leftists go on about how Europeans spend less on medical care and get “better” care, counter-observe that they spend less on education and get actually better results, so we should bend the cost curve there, too.

    1. Thanks for the idea! I’m definitely going to do this the next time the subject comes up…

  6. In modern day Great Britain, Jack the Ripper’s victims would not have been murdered, because they never caught, let alone convicted, the murderer. Yes, folks, if you get away with it, your victims are not murdered.

    1. IIRC, if the victim is taken to hospital and dies there, it is not murder either, at least not for the international statistical reports.

      1. I believe that was that it wasn’t a “violent death” according to the stats from the police– a slightly different stat, but if I remember the case correctly it was one of those “and the street full of people saw nothing” cases, so it wouldn’t be a murder, either.

        In related BS, a 15 year old girl fell in the shower and bled to death. (My sympathy to her family.) The CDC is classifying it as a flu death, because the theory is she fainted due to having the flu.
        The Navy is infamous for classing someone stepping on a beer bottle as an “alcohol related accident.”

        1. Sheesh. And when I think of the self-righteous Euroweenies bragging about how safe Europe is compared to the U.S.

          1. You want real fun, ask them who collects their malpractice statistics, and if it’s the same one that defines premature kids as miscarriages unless they survive….

            1. That would make an interesting book. Statistics around the world, comparing what counts, how it is counted and who is doing the counting.

              1. Yeah, was talking with Nathan and said something about how someone really needs to collect a go-to resource for these kind of misleading statistics, and he told me I should do it… Argh, no time…..

                1. I’m not sure they’re necessarily misleading, they may just represent a different worldview – foreigners are foreign. For example, one could say that murder is a legal judgment that should be made by courts, not medical examiners.

                  That doesn’t excuse comparing them to US statistics. Saying the US has more murders than the UK is like saying that the UK is healthier than the US because the average weight in the UK is 76 (kilograms) while in the US it’s 180 (pounds).

  7. “And I don’t think anyone realizes just how different the texture of life is elsewhere.”

    Read primary source.

    Read primary source.

    Read primary source.

    It helps.

    I still remember reading a critique of a story demanding to know what sort of society let princes gallivant about freely and kept princesses carefully sheltered and protected, and my first thought was, “A normal one.”

      1. Or one in which the princesses tried to kill off most of the princes…and they reacted poorly to the idea.

        1. I suppose, though I was trying to suggest something basic abkut the nature of Princes;

          A Prince is kind of like a Vice-President. Havjng on on hand greatly simplifies the succession if something happens to the Head of State, but other than that they are likely to be a great deal more trouble than they are worth.

            1. Thought it was a glass or pitcher. I thought it was from much earlier – around the Jackson time frame, but my googlefu can only come up with John Nance Garner. VP 1933 to 41.

              1. That was the cleaned-up version. I’ve heard that Cactus Jack’s original involved another fairly common organically-produced liquid.

                Since Truman actually worked to give the VP a bigger role (regular briefings, etc) based on how FDR kept him in the dark on plans, agreements, and war status, Garner had a point.

                Even with the post-Truman changes the job is still pretty much a placeholder until/unless something happens to the President. Considering some of the people who’ve held the job, that might not be altogether a bad thing, as long as the President remains healthy.

                1. Don’t forget that Truman and the Senate were voting to censure FDR after he blackmailed that one senator for homosexual activity, in order to prevent more Senate/Truman investigation into crony crimes. The Senator killed himself, and the Senate reacted by planning to censure him, bipartisan-style. As President of the Senate, Truman was planning to add his vote for censure, even though it wasn’t even close to a tie and he normally wouldn’t have voted. FDR is one of the few presidents who has ever been censured, in the days when censure meant deep disgrace.

                  Of course, FDR died the next day, so IIRC, the censure didn’t happen even though the votes were lined up. Coverage of that incident has been very poor. The FDR miniseries on PBS skated right over the whole thing like it didn’t happen.

                  But it did happen. That’s what Allan Drury’s nonfiction book A Senate Journal, 1943-1945 is about, and that’s what his bestseller Advise and Consent was about.

      2. Statistically, most have an even distribution. Which actually translates to too many princess and too few princes, because marrying off too many of your sons means too many rivals for the throne in a couple of generations, but marrying off your daughters means alliances. Naturally you would ideally marry off one son and all your daughters, but your neighbors are thinking the same.

  8. But… But… I’ve vacationed all over the world they are all just like home.


    1. Nah. Australia has (or used to, it looks like they’re going away) Pie Face, and Italy’s streets are dirtier, narrower, and full of even *worse* drivers.

  9. When somebody like say – Kerry – goes aboard it must be startling how much foreigners live the same.
    He stays suite in a top ranked hotel and then visits an official who wears a suit just like his. He may show a little more cuff and less structured shoulders , but hey…
    The man lives in a big isolated home much like his with the same sort of servants. He has the same sort of security lurking nearby. The man has a driver who brings him to work in a nice big car and he has an office not much different than Kerry’s.
    If they have lunch together it’s in much the same setting it would be at home. In their own dinning room or a fine club.
    How can this fellow be regarded as different in any important way? He has all the right toys in which the game is counted.

    1. Also consider that the man has also almost certainly been educated in western universities, reads western newspapers and other publications, has access to western music and other cultural artifacts…

      1. Yes, I was going to point out that, even if they went traveling, they would need to go to the non-tourist, non-rich areas to see how things actually are.

        Of course, they would have to do the same thing here, too.

        1. Reminds me of a co-worker who traveled quite a bit to our foreign suppliers.

          He noticed in Tijuana that the plant bussed in its workers, with armed guards on the bus. It was explained to him that they were necessary to ensure that people who didn’t work at the plant didn’t get on the bus.

          He noticed in Shanghai that they did the same thing. There it was explained to him that they were necessary to ensure that people who worked at the plant didn’t get OFF the bus.

    2. I think it was Chesterton who said that “cosmopolitan” people were the most provincial of all: they go around the world and traffic only with people who think like they do.

  10. Well, I got involved in soccer, and that drew me out of American culture like nothing else did. (That was back in the 1970s; I don’t know what it’d be like to be young today and to get involved.) I wanted to travel to see games, and I did so, and I learned a lot, both about other cultures and other Americans.

    1. No, the names Britain and England are not synonymous. I know Americans with Ph.D.s who haven’t figured this out.

    2. Americans of Chinese descent act in a very different way from the Chinese in China (Ok, Taiwan, but from what I’ve heard the mainlanders aren’t any different from the Taiwanese). They are much ruder over there. And racist.

    3. Even liberal and leftist Americans, who are supposedly open-minded, who live overseas often pay no attention to the sports over there. You’ll say, So what? And I say if they are ignoring one aspect of a foreign culture, they are probably ignoring others. Generally, liberals and leftists pay attention to nothing but the politics.

    4. Lots of liberal or leftist Americans who go live in foreign countries are disappointed. They expect a more leftist culture in Europe, but find that there are other things over there that are so annoying that they can’t wait to get back. On my first trip to Europe I visited an old girlfriend living in Paris. She had been there a couple years and by that time couldn’t stand the French. When she got back to America, she refused to speak French anymore, even though it was her college major. I also visited some friends in Sweden. They, like me, are of Scandinavian descent, and they went over thinking it was a socialist paradise. They spent the first two days of my visit – two whole days – complaining about the Swedes. They came back as soon as they could.

    5. Nearly every woman in Egypt has her head covered these days. My wife went out of our hotel just once without me, and even though she had her head covered, she got harassed. I thought our news organizations, who sent female reporters over there at the start of the Arab Spring without having them cover up, were crazy. And of course some of those women did get attacked.

    6. No American, it seems, bothers to look at foreign newspapers, even though this is very easy these days. (Back in the 1970s and for a long time afterwards, The Times of London took a week to get to my college library. I think it still does.) Leftists who read the NY Times religiously never bother to look at Britain’s Guardian.

    My point is this: If you depend on American sources for your foreign news, then you are allowing other Americans to make the decisions on what you get to hear about. Those people do not necessarily share your interests or values, so why depend on them? Especially when it’s so easy to read foreign newspapers these days.

    Well, I could write a book on what I’ve learned, but this will do.

    1. re: 1 Yeah, I get odd looks when I tell folks Great Britain and The United Kingdom are not the same thing.

      re:2 I’ve heard and read that “Orientals” are among the most racist of races. See a bit of it with a guy I know who had to pay $20,000 to the family of his fiancée because she being Thai, wants to merry some lowlife Cambodian. (supposedly this was twice the price they wanted from a Thai kid)

      re: 4 Johnny Depp comes to mind. Left the US for France after the electing of GWB (The only star who lived up to his promise of leaving that I can recall) and was back, I think within a year, after noticing that Carbecues and minor versions of Charlie Hebdo go on all the time, added to the need to fly to the US for best medical treatment meant that it probably was best to just live here instead.

      1. Hmmm. I was under the impression that Johnny Boy bailed out when they told him he’d have to start paying his “fair share.”

        1. I think it was cumulative. I recall reading a statement by him about the violence being a bit ignored or something, The rest were others quoting him off record etc.

    2. To be fair, I’ve heard that everybody gets sick of living in another country after about a year. It’s like being horribly homesick. Then you either get over it or you hate it and try to leave. Happens to tons of people who live in Japan, though of course the insularity of most Japanese toward gaijin makes it even rougher.

  11. Other countries have been fun to visit, but even developed countries are very, very different from America. I always find the combination of similarities and differences more fascinating than either individually, because of how the traits we hold in common are shaped by and shape the traits that are different.

    1. I sometimes have a strange feeling when visiting Canada. There are enough differences in most other countries, in terms of language, dress, and/or architecture, that I’m always conscious I’m in another country, not in America. However, much of Canada is so much like America I often forget I’m in another country, until I see a Canadian flag, or a maple leaf instead of an apostrophe, or somebody uses a strange term. Then a I experience a brief moment of cognitive dissonance and mentally go “Oh, yeah, I’m in Canada.”

      1. The differences between us and the Canadians tends to be more subtle. And the further west you go the less difference there is. My friends out BC and Alberta way were talking about what would happen if Quebec ever did go independent (other than most of Quebec abandoning Montreal to rejoin the rest of Canada). And it got to the ‘well if Canada falls apart’ stage of discussion. Most everything west of Ontario would vote to join the US because they have more in common with us than the rest of Canada (their own words.)

        1. Quebec was the only part of Canada I visited that felt truly foreign, on a more or less constant basis. I’ve been to the Niagara Falls area in Ontario and have spent significant time in Calgary, Alberta and they seem so similar.

      2. There is a very clear indication that Canada is foreign – all the signs are in English and French. As an adopted Texan, I expect signs to be in English and Spanish 😉 .

        1. I remember my visits to Miami feeling more foreign. Not the spanish signage – I could follow that – or speaking – ditto.

          It was how stores were handled. Receipt confirmation lines at Home depot/etc., and not just Costco. Fences around almost every house, especially middle class. Upper-middle friends with door braces. Cages around front doors of homes in nice neighborhoods so you could step out and get the paper on your stoop without leaving a locked space.

          1. Good heavens — Ohio felt utterly foreign to me last time I visited. We couldn’t figure out where to buy what we needed, or where to eat late at night. And Dan grew up there…

            1. Where to eat depends on which side of Cincinnati you’re from. East side, it’s Gold Star Chili. West side, Skyline Chili. Everyone is required to have goetta at least once a month.

              Oh, and remember, in Cincinnati, “cornhole and a three-way” is a family activity.

              There are rumors there are other parts of Ohio, but as they involve Cleveland, no one believes them.

                1. Air Force Museum and Sunwatch Village are just about all there is to Dayton. Maybe a hobby shop or two, but it’s been years since I was up there.

              1. We were around Akron and Cleveland. And our class reunion — Stow High 1980 went cornholing. We read this in the letter of invite and went “Whoa, what?” Then they posted pictures…

              1. Depends on what is meant by “Pharmacy”. For some people “pharmacy” means Drug Store while to others “pharmacy” means place where you get your prescriptions within a drug store or other type of store.

                  1. If it weren’t for your descriptions, I might not have thought it, and it would have been my second choice, but I have gotten the impression that much of Portugal is similar to rural America up to about 1960 (it helps that I grew up in a town that was behind the times).

                    So here’s the thinking I had: A pharmacy is going to be its own store, but obviously not like pharmacies here today. The pharmacy is going to carry health-related things, which will include, among other things, antiseptics, soaps, shampoos, and, yes, toothbrushes (because let me tell you, THOSE are definitely health related).

                    1. Ours have shampoos, soaps and so on. But no toothbrushes. For that you need to find a grocery store. They usually also have shampoos and soaps and female hygiene products.

                    2. Wasn’t just 1960. In the seventies and eighties (and early nineties!) here, you got your toothbrush from the local pharmacist. The only department stores were Sears and, briefly, Hills. And those were a Big Deal at the time, too.

                      Of course, Speck has historically been about a generation back behind the rest of the U.S. *chuckle*

                    3. Timid1 :

                      Allegedly there is, or at least used to be a Longs Drugs outside of Reno (or maybe Vegas) that has at least one box of almost every firearm caliber that is (or has been in recent memory) commercially loaded.

                1. In Korea, where I lived for nearly a year, the drug store/pharmacies were a surprise. I developed some kind of bronchial infection while I was there (Korea often has heavily polluted air, even outside of Seoul, which is not where I was). The way it worked is that I told the pharmacist my symptoms (in English), and he then prescribed medicine (!). I still have some packets of that medicine around here somewhere. It looks like a packet of dirt with some small colored nodules in it. I suspect that much of the “dirt” was powdered deer antler–traditional Sino/Korean medicine and western medicine in one neat package! The package also contained instructions about what foods to avoid when taking this medicine. Boneless chicken feet were one of the foods. I certainly had no problem with that prohibition!

                  1. I don’t know if it still happens in Portugal, but pharmacists could prescribe some meds, and also perform some treatments. When I peeled my back from shoulder to waist sea-cliff climbing (with no ropes) with my dad, when I was eight, he took me to the pharmacist for daily treatment.
                    To this day I have no idea how we kept mom from figuring out how hurt I was, or even that I was hurt…

            1. I would expect to find toothbrushes in the pharmacy, but I would *also* expect to find them other places.

          1. Baby stroller in Italy.

            No, seriously. We even asked in a children’s clothing store and the clerk had no idea (one of the other customers did though. that one cost us 110 bucks).

            1. Yeah, in Rome I wanted to find moleskin pads or other protection for blisters, so I went to a pharmacy. It was pretty clear they had nothing I needed, *AND* that I didn’t have enough grasp of the language to explain it.

        1. Try getting sick in Canada. Our health care system that Michael Moore loves so much isn’t so great if you or people you know are being treated under it.

          1. I go through International Falls at least every other year to go fishing on the English River near Sioux Lookout. There are a couple of clinics right near the border that had more Canadian plates in the parking lot than Minnesota plates.

          2. I lived in Atlantic Canada (Newfoundland) for three years. Luckily, I never had to deal with the Canadian health services.
            But I have a couple of fun facts about it:
            1) Nurses can (and did!) go on strike. Imagine the fun when your hospital shuts down because the nurses are picketing…
            2) Danny Williams, during his term as Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador (which is the full name of the Province), needed heart surgery in 2010. So, he flew to the USA to get it, in spite of Canada’s amazing free health care. He defended himself by saying, “It’s my health, it’s my choice.” I doubt that he would have extended the same privilege to his constituents (his province is the poorest in Canada, and quite a long ways away from the USA).

  12. I’ve been in several European countries for work, and while I doubt I experienced what somebody would living there, I saw and heard a lot that was at odds with what is popularly depicted. After weeks working with foreign colleagues, eating in the lunchroom with them, a few dinners, etc. I started hearing unguarded remarks. Those remarks were often a far cry from how our media depict the “cosmopolitan European”.

    1. They are also a far cry from how the “cosmopolitan europeans” depict themselves….

      Perhaps the ones who come over here and live in the middle class feel a need to feel better than “uncultured, untraveled” americans and rednecks?

      *shrug* I dunno.

      I love pointing out that LA and NY are as far, or further apart, than any two major cities in Europe.

      1. My brother — my BROTHER for crying out loud — back when there wasn’t Amazon, called me and asked if I wanted him to send me a particular book of Chinese history because “I know you guys don’t get anything but generic stuff there.” I’d read the book 2 years before, ordering it through the history book club.
        BUT for his information, I’d needed a highly specialized book on Tudor England one night while finishing a book, and found it in our relatively small town at a Borders. (Dashed in, dashed out just before they closed.)
        Now not only is Amazon mine, but there are blogs for EVERYTHING including specialized medieval history.
        My brother still thinks educated Portuguese are more “cultured” — even though they do have tiny print runs only of books expected to be popular, and you can’t find books that came out three months before.

        1. It’s a common belief here in Canada, too. You’re all a bunch of warlike, semi-literate hillbillies. Who somehow put someone on the Moon.

          1. Keep in mind, a large number of the people who put people on the moon WERE the warlike hillbillies.

          2. I met someone in St. John’s, Newfoundland, the capital city (population about 100,000) who didn’t want to visit the USA because he knew it was so violent from watching our TV shows…

          3. If we can put a man on the moon then why can’t we put a man on the moon?

            ( …or cis-whatever….)

      2. The idea that we here are more cultured and better educated than you Americans is pretty popular among lots of people I know here. Especially the better educated ones. Gotta be able to feel superior to somebody, and right now professing superiority towards the brown people is frowned upon by the beautiful popular people, so…

        1. It’s pretty popular among a lot of folks here, too.

          *Toothy grin*

          Have I mentioned how much my mom loves to play up the “just a plain, simple ranch wife” thing, and then hit folks with her bachelor’s of science?

          1. Every now and then, around music festival season, we get a few hipster tourists gamboling through. SUV with surfboard rack? Check. Tie-dyed SJW-themed shirt (Che, Obama, etc)? Check. “Paddle faster, I hear banjos!” bumper sticker? Check.

            It could be noted that “Deliverance” and “Wrong Turn” could have been filmed not far from my old stomping grounds. And tourists can’t much tell the difference between de-fleshed human remains and deer bones, as long as you leave out the easily identifiable ones (skull, pelvis for the more advanced students, maybe distal carpals and tarsals).

            Better than selling them bleached coffee grounds as grits. *chuckle*

            1. Ribs, spines and some of the long bones are much more quickly identifiable, anyways.

              Heck, some idiot called the police about having found a “human thigh”….

              It was a cow bone. As big around as my wrist at the smallest point, and the ball joint part was the size of a fist, minimum.

              1. People get tripped up by femurs and humerus around here, mostly. Even some first year osteology students. *chuckle*

                We get one of those “human thigh” calls ever couple years or so. Granted, the National Forest *would* be a decent place to dump a body, down in the fens… but there’s always one that just *knows* he’s stumbled upon a nest of vicious cannibal redneck murder-people.

                That said, I can say that the Body Farm *has* had a problem with thieves in the past. Skulls, mostly. *rolls eyes* People are weird.

            2. The Legend of Sleepy Hallow (Headless Horseman) can be read as a “practical joke on a city-slicker by a country bumpkin” not as a ghost story. [Very Big Evil Grin]

                1. True but there was a movie (and a TV show) that assumes that it was a ghost story. [Smile]

                  1. The Atlanta Radio Theater Company took part in a salute to Sleepy Hollow. One of our members wrote a sequel set generations later in the South.

                    The first draft was much in the original style. The later versions became ghost stories. Why? “The audience expects it.”

            3. when I was in WV the ranger at the state park had a bit to scare the tourists. He held his hands so high off the ground and said “Eyes this high and it is a racoon, this high it is a bobcat, so high it is a bear,” ***pulls iPhone from pocket and brings up a picture*** and the state assures us there are no cougars in the area … this was taken from a tree stand by a hunter just up the valley” The pic was a large cougar that climb a tree a few over from the hunter.

              When I was at the Marion County Campground I heard a wolf. Big one, about 500 yards away when it howled. Wasn’t a Husky or Malamute, they have different tones, and it certainly was not a coyote. they yodel and can’t get the same resonance.
              I’m sure it scared the folks at the other campground it was closer to.

              1. One of my favorites was: “Despite what the hiking guidebooks and local residents may claim, the state Fish and Game Department reports that officially there are no cougars in this part of the state.” Wink.

                I got the message loud and clear.

                1. What I’ve heard is, that once a state admits to having cougars, federal endangered species act provisions kick in. Being an unfunded mandate, states try to keep from making the admission for as long as possible.

                  1. How, exactly, do you list a species as “endangered” when it is obviously successful in expanding its’ range?

                    Yes, that’s a rhetorical question: they lie, and redefine words to mean what they want them to at that moment.

                2. Michigan DNR outright lied about wolves in the U.P. for years. they were bringing them in and releasing them while denying the existence of them. Then, when people finally got the truth admitted. lied about where some were coming from. Folks soon learned that a wolf in a radio collar was a “problem wolf”. Those that learned that farms and people were sources of easy food, and attacked livestock and pets elsewhere, were trapped and shipped away. one annonymous whistle blower claimed that one wolf he knew of had been sent from state to state 5 times before someone in the U.P. shot it and dumped the collar into the Escanaba river. the gps tracker supposedly showed it was spending almost all its time on three farms, and the DNR was hassling the owners trying to find out who shot it.
                  Also, after 30 years of sightings, the DNR has finally admitted there are cougars living in much of the U.P. Those however came of their own accord, and the numbers recently jumped due to a rather large deer population.
                  That same whistle blower said they knew years ago they were there, but there was no program of reintroduction.

  13. The US isn’t the world. This is obvious, if you think about it a moment, but most people never do.

    We Americans tend to have a prejudice that everybody wants to be like us. That isn’t a particularly bad prejudice and it even has some evidence. We met everybody’s cousin who moved to the US, and that cousin DOES want to be an American (on the whole). But of course those cousins are a self-selected sample that isn’t representative.

    1. And the minute they get over here, they encounter a large group of people telling them why wanting to be an American is bad.

      1. I think this is class and location dependent. I didn’t, but I had the good fortune to be upper-middle class in Texas.

        1. Ah, but there *is* class to be found, even out here in the sticks! It just looks a bit different. Okay, a lot different… *chuckle*

          There’s “No Good.” Probably the lowest. In jail, most of the time. Oughtta be, rest of the time. Bound to get you in trouble just by being in the same space as them. Source of most-all the meth lab busts.

          “White Trash.” Just about the lowest of the low. Won’t ever work for one thin dime when they can have it give to them, or steal it, or better, get it from my tax dollars via the government.

          “Po.” Not rich enough to afford the “or” because they’s po and got no choice about it. Not necessarily in a bad way, just… po. Could be hard workers barely making by, could be sinkin’ their way to White Trash through sheer laziness. Respectable, if the former. Not so much, bless their rotten little hearts, if the latter.

          “Middlin’.” Better than fair, which might be a smidge above po. Gettin’ by. Got enough to eat, can feed an unexpected guest ’till he bursts, no problem. Works steady. Dependable. Kind of folk that always brings two casseroles to church luncheons.

          “Fine.” Two cars, at least. Nice house, paid for. Kids get cars on their sixteenth birthdays. Always have a little extra. Might be lower middle class, anywhere else (except big cities). Might be one or two above fine but below the last, but we don’t see ’em much.

          “Filthy stinkin’ rich.” Owns the whole farm, doesn’t worry when one field goes poorly. Might not know it to look at ’em (one of the millionaires I know dresses like a homeless person when he can get away with it. Could buy most people’s houses out of pocket-money). Has been to Cancun. Bought a congresscritter once, to keep the taxes down. Might have been one, once upon a time.

          It’s an odd way of doing “class” that probably really isn’t (yeah, I know), but it works. Sorta. *grin*

          1. That sounds . . . familiar. But I only bring two casseroles (actually desserts or breads) to the potluck on account of being a family of ten. ‘S not fair else.

          2. I concur with this description. Especially not being able to tell the exact social status by looking. Here in Texas that guy in a lamentable shirt, well-worn jeans and a pair of battered boots, driving a dusty pick-up might be a roofer or a plumber, the owner of the nearest large ranch, an open-heart surgeon slumming … or a former President. Of the US. It provides a great deal of amusement to gold old boys, being misunderestimated by slick city folk.

            1. Pioneer Woman’s autobiography of how she met her husband is all about that. (And after I read her autobiography, and finally found out the name of her husband’s place and looked it up on Google… i yi yi, she didn’t tell the half of it.)

            2. When I lived in Louisiana, both the “obscenely rich” guys I knew were mostly in faded slightly tattered but very comfy jeans, well worn work boots, and plaid shirts 99% of the time, both drove a few year old pickups (though the wives had near top model luxury cars), and one actually did but the occasional house on a whim.

              Another guy I knew was working for a Dodge dealer in Franklin, Tn when a farmer drove up in a beater Dodge, dressed in rags with manure stuck to his boots, and when he left he had as much Dodge Dually as it was possible to buy (something like $45,000+),
              He asked the salesman “Wow, they approved that guy’s credit for that?”
              sales- “No, he paid cash”
              So they looked him up and found out he was the top breeder of Tennessee Walking Horses.

    2. It’s a matter of ignorance, not prejudice. Our regionalisms and class differences are minor compared to differences abroad. We can drive a distance greater than across all of Europe, and still be among those who share most of our values and perspective. We can meet those from other countries, or even travel abroad, and still not “get” it. We are so immersed in our own culture that, while we think that we understand another, on a visceral level we simply don’t. And it shows in our writing.

      When it comes to foreign policy . . . disaster, and a dazed expression as we wonder what happened.

  14. My wife and I spent three weeks in a central Mexican village where I was researching my latest writing project. I was not prepared for what I encountered.

    The locals we met were extremely hospitable, generous, and eager to talk to us. I admired how social they are — we attended a birthday party for a 75-year-old man we’d just met, and our hosts kept offering us homemade rum and beer.

    But they’re different. There’s a certain Mexican attitude that encompasses both cheerfulness and fatalism, and it’s expressed with a grin and a shrug of the shoulders. Their national character is a striking contrast to American triumphalism.

  15. Two thing I noticed in my short excursions overseas;

    Europeans (at least those I saw) are Racist and Chauvanist with a bone deep certainty that would startle a KKK Grand Dragon. Their Chattering Classes may or may not approve, but that doesn’t seem to be changing.

    Europeans view their government with a sort of amused or exasperated contempt. They seem to view government meddling as inevitable as the weather, but they don’t believe it will actually ACCOMPLISH anything useful. They are accustomed to working around the State, rather than either independent of it or with it.

      1. Not just the Italians. I have run into matter-of-fact accounts of routine tax evasion in France, Britian, and Sweden. I expect it’s endemic throughout the European States. The governemnts there have ALWAYS taken it as their place to control the populace. And the populace has always done its level best to gnore sch control to whatever degree possible. Add to that the notion (apparently foreign to the LIRPs) that if he who is expected to,pay the piper is not allowed to call the tune, he will chisel on the bill, and you have the European attitude to government as I have seen it.

        1. Heh. I’ve gotten the advice to not report something to the tax office from a few officials who worked there. Individuals I didn’t know, and first met when I went there to ask about what to do about something… and that has happened more than once.

          And the general idea is that Finns are among the most honest people in this part of the world. 😀

          1. I think, but cannot prove, that there is a general policy made by mid to low level functionaries to ignore a large degree of evasion, because they are fairly sure that if the full weight ever got enforced there would be hell to pay.

    1. While it’s a pretty dark anti-hero series, the first few episodes of Lilyhammer (Netflix) are worthwhile. My wife, having lived in Germany, thought the depiction of the self-serving, slow as molasses, the experts-know-better bureaucracy was spot on.

      1. Love that show.

        One of the attractions for me is all the old American farm equipment. In the finale, I spotted an International Harvester 504 as soon as it showed on screen — that’s the tractor we had when I was growing up. The one in the show was *clean* — as in polished — so I suspect whoever rented them the equipment was a collector.

        Is it sad that I recognized the tractor quicker than I recognized Bruce Springsteen?

      2. Oh, yeah, the Norwegian government agencies that the main character is constantly working around are horrible! If the reality is anything like the fictional portrayal…yeesh…no wonder alcoholism is so high up there (not to mention the weather).
        NOTE: Lilyhammer is NOT family friendly–lots of “adult” words and “adult” situations. But I love listening to the Norwegians’ talking. Those are my peeps from way back in 1840!

  16. They are sophisticated, and they have friends abroad, and they’ve traveled.

    But in their sophistication, they never realize they don’t see beyond the surface. They’re blinded by what they think they know and what they’ve been told is true.

    Too blind to see the real amazing diversity of cultures out there. And the way in which they’re their own microcosmos, self-directed and capable of decisions we can’t control.

    Maybe then they’d understand that hating America is hating the only hope for achieving everything they hold dear.

    And maybe they’d start their civilizing process.

    Once you hit that set of elite – and it’s not just Americans, i can tell you about an English lady and her Turkish husband (love the guy, but can be a snob at times about blue caller stuff) – they’re too sophisticated to SEE what’s under their nose.

    One notable exception – a German engineer I knew who we often discussed politics/etc. I got to point out to him that nationalism/patriotism here didn’t map to what he was sued to (he agreed). And while his line was further along, he fully realized there was a point at which welfare / social programs undermined things by keeping people dependent.

    1. I have a sister in law who is German (married my brother who was stationed in Germany with the Army). Her brother, an engineer by trade, came to visit his sister and her family in the USA over 10 years ago. My brother said that Berndt (the man’s name) was frequently surprised that what he thought he knew about America was wrong. He thought that we had cut down our forests–then he saw Northern California and Southern Oregon. Driving across Nevada, Berndt couldn’t believe that nobody lived there. Every 50 miles or so, he kept exclaiming that nobody lived there, either. (Of course, if you’ve ever driven I-80 across Nevada, you can understand why.)
      Berndt also loved to see American machinery and critique it with his engineer’s eye–we often didn’t measure up to his standards!

            1. Actually, my stepson, who is in Arusha, tells me that cheetas are one of the few species that does prosper. Sort of like the coyotes in Boston.

              1. Africa is crawling with leopards and has been for quite some time. They’ve been spotted in a den under the Johannesburg soccer stadium, for crying out loud.

                We’ve had a bobcat spotted in our suburban Plano TX neighborhood. Animals will adapt to living around and occasionally on humans any time you give them the chance.

        1. Vices can be virtues, if you’re twisted enough to bend them to your will…

          “I will put off (procrastinate) washing those dishes by cleaning the bathroom… I’m procrastinating!” Also, I procrastinate my angry rants until later. That usually seems to work out better, with my temper.

          1. Yeah, I do that too. Especially on dishes (that’s why they’ve been delegated to a minion).

  17. I was also an exchange student, during my junior year of high school. (Besides the travel and culture shock and mind-broadening, it changed the trajectory of my adult life completely–I got into a much more demanding college and met my husband there.) One thing I learned was to let go of the American idea that Europeans are all more sophisticated and better-educated and generally more world-aware. The teens I met were surprisingly like teens at home, and completely oblivious to the fact that the Berlin Wall was falling next door. I was often lectured on American racism (black/white race relations), and witnessed more shockingly overt racism (to Asians and Middle Easterners) than I’d ever seen in my life.

    If anyone remembers that I asked for Heinlein recommendations a few weeks ago, I’ve now read Have Spacesuit (LOVED it) and Puppetmasters (awesome), and I’m nearly halfway through Harsh Mistress. I now see what one of you meant about envying me the first-reading experience–someone else said that to me as well. My 14yo daughter is along for the ride too. We are quite excited. 🙂

    1. “I was often lectured on American racism….”

      My sister was in Europe a number of times in the 1970s. By the late 1970s, she was noticing how many more Muslims were there and how the men would harass European women. Meanwhile, the Europeans didn’t notice this and instead lectured her on how awful America is.

      There are plenty of Europeans who still haven’t noticed the way that Muslim men over there harass women. Sheesh.

      1. You have to remember a couple of things:

        1. As Sarah has noted in the past, they evaluate our media based on their media. In other words, they assume we’re presenting the best face of things and that must mean —- wow, America is terrifying!

        2. The subtle belief that recognizing that someone is okay, for a German, but he’s no Frenchman is not bigotry. It’s simply — rational understanding. Frequently I’ve found European notions of bigotry to be — shockingly extreme.

        So when they hear all the criticism of America in American media, and the charges of rampant racism they have a mental picture closer to Rwanda just before the violence than to anything going on here.

        1. There are those of us who hear the stories they tell and think that sounds cool, let’s make being like that our goal.

          At least, if we could convince that the conclusion was correct, and they should look at it seriously, perhaps we would be left alone in peace.

        2. This is why my friends from other countries have such a skewed view of the U.S. My British friend thinks everyone here is armed, gunbattles happen in the streets every day (literally), and nobody goes to the doctor unless they are rich. Even as “close” culturally as we may be compared to, say, India, they seem to think of the entire U.S. as Ferguson during the riots *every day.* Also, she seems to forget (often) how much empty space is in the U.S. Travel in terms of time rather than distance is, well, foreign to her.

          On the other hand, the 2011 riots, knifings, people spitting on you in public, and a more… “if you can get away with it, it’s morally okay, even if not legal” approach is common among people there than here, from my perspective. The entire EU is taking on a definite powder-keg appearance, and I worry for my friends over there. Foreigners, immigrants in Britain, seem to be a lot *less* acculturated- tales of West Indians pretending not to know English and getting off scot free in traffic accidents raise no eyebrows. And that is from nearly ten years ago. Now, I wonder when, not if, things will… degenerate over there. Not if.

          1. When German friend and his son came for a visit a while back they brought two of the son’s friends with. The two had never left Germany before. They flew into DFW with a hold over at Dulles, drove to Houston, drove to the Mississippi gulf coast (the dad owned property there), drove to Tampa (also had property) then stopped for a visit with us in N.O. La on their way back to DFW for the return flight … “What do you think of the US?”
            “BIG!” they said in unison.

  18. I think too many Americans traveling abroad (and by this I mean actually ABROAD, not like the 34654654654654654546 times I’ve been to Canada because it’s almost five feet away. ) spend their time in tourist areas to really get the full effect of a foreign culture, and not just guys like John Kerry. And yes, I understand that the plural for “anecdote” is not “data,” but consider the following:

    I personally took a two-day cruise to the Bahamas. We got to Nassau, went snorkeling, took a trip to the island where Flipper was filmed (which is now owned by the cruise companies jointly) then took the boat back to Nassau, had dinner at the Hard Rock Café there ( My shot glass collection made this imperative. Had to get one.) and then got back on the boat and went home. The only natives I remember seeing were the guys driving the boat and some ladies offering hair-braiding services.

    I have a friend who went to Acapulco as well. Other than a bus trip organized by his resort he never left it. He apparently had a good time, but again, his time getting to know the local culture is located to sampling the local booze, most of which he could’ve gotten here anyway.

    The one person I know who HAS spent time among a native population overseas spent his time kicking doors in Iraq. (For the record: No, this was not me and I am not claiming someone else’s valor. I know a guy who was there.) He definitely got some face time with the people who lived there, but I’m not sure how much of the local culture he got to experience given the situation he confronted them in and his lack of knowledge of the local language.

    In all three examples we have people who were in a foreign country who spent their time primarily among other Americans. I know there are your Peace Corps types as well, but I wonder how much of this comes from the fact that this is the way that most Americans travel.

    1. I think to truly experience a foreign country you have to try to accomplish something there: build an oil tanker or just dig a well, as long as it requires getting supplies, cooperation, labor, and/or permission from the locals.

      1. There is a book called “A House in Portugal” by an American who tried to fix a house there. I keep meaning to read it. She must have been flattering enough that it was a bestseller there, but I wonder how much of the bakshish required and contradictory regulations she exposed.

        1. Ah, that reminds me of Peter Mayle’s book A Year in Provence. It is an often hilarious account of a British ex-pat trying to figure out how things work in a VERY foreign place.

      2. Doing something, on the economy.

        My uncle was in Peace Corps (or maybe the predecessor) and most of the time he was being moved around as labor, not actually interacting with the locals beyond the local reps and maybe random guy-holding-the-rope type situations.

    2. I lived two years in Japan, two years in South Africa, six years in Panama (Central America), and six years in Germany. The basics are the same- eat, sleep, and poop. Love and train your children, etc, etc. But there are a lot of things that do not translate from culture to culture. In Germany, I noticed that humor doesn’t translate — Germans cannot understand English-speaking people, and the English (Americans, US, Canada, etc) cannot understand the German humor. … plus in Japan there were things you cannot do there like pat a child on the head. It was bad, bad, extremely bad to do.

      1. There is a great bok about living in Japan; HOME SWEET TOKYO by Rick Kennedy (an American expat with a Japanese family). It consists of columns he wrote for an English language newspaper there, and deals with things like how to get through the day on ticks and grunts without really speaking Japanese, the way the Japanese do.

      2. “you cannot do there like pat a child on the head”

        How do they ward off the evil eye, then?

        1. I don’t know… I do know that when you pat a person (especially a child) on the head you are being invasive (personal area) because the spirit dwells in the head.

        2. Same in Vietnamese culture – but shoulders, too. There are good spirits who sit there, and if you touch the child’s head or shoulders, you’re in danger of knocking them off.
          No, never been to Vietnam. Spent a couple of years in college working refugee resettlement with refugees who came out in 1975.

  19. I’ve heard so much about the idea “that people are more the same than not all over the world”.

    While there’s a slight element of truth in the idea, it ignores how different cultures view the world.

    Even cultures similar have differences.

    There have been comments here about the differences between Canada and the US.

    There are differences between Britain and the US.

    Chris Nuttall, one of my favorite authors, is British (IIRC born in Scotland) and made mistakes portraying Americans & America. Nothing worth “throwing the book across the room” but the errors exist.

    It’s sad/annoying that the biggest offenders in ignoring cultural differences are the multi-culturalists.

    While fictional, there was an “amusing” scene in _Island In The Sea Of Time_ where a multi-culturalist was shocked that the people she wanted “to save” were not acting as she thought that they should. [Sad Smile]

    1. I firmly believe that people “are more the same than not” around the world.

      In their basic drives. The way the express, repress, and/or channel those drives is strongly shaped by culture, and any group separated from each other for more than a few years is going to diverge from the others. My thinking is that, if it weren’t for easy travel and communication, even Western cultures would be more broadly separated than they are now.

      1. The problem with “People are more the same than not” is that it s used to mean “All people conform to my personal fantasies about how people SHOULD be”. That ain’t true, amd never was.

        1. Well, yes, and that is a result of them reading too high up the chain for their concept of “basic drives”, and they’re going to get rude shocks when people don’t act the way they expect them to.

          1. The thing is, people almost NEVER act the way the LIRPs plan on them acting, and it basically never penetrates the depleted uranium the LIRPs use for skulls. They have been makimg rubbish plans longer than I’ve been alive and they are genuinely astonished that some people like me consider that thus disqualifies them from running things. I mean, they seem to get absolutey OUTRAGED.

    2. To get at the truth in “more the same than different,” you have to first stop lying to yourself about what your own nature is like…..

    1. I will, as long as it is like a Cheif Judge’s Final Walk… i.e. I get issued some nice armor, a book of the law, and a BIG-ASS GUN.

      1. Dora is no American. I turned her off for good when an episode’s morals was “give your cookies to the bad guys so they won’t hurt you.” Kids got tired of rants about Dora the Dhimmi and eventually lost interest.

          1. I’m currently enjoying Peg + Cat. Math-based and obviously written by adults with a functioning sense of humor—a recent episode about The Arch-Villain had his crimes accompanied by a brief “y=-x^2” imposed on the screen and the scene changes were accompanied by the 60s Batman scene change sound. Plus they have Beethoven and Einstein as characters just because.

            1. Have you seen the election episode where Peg and a Pig wind up trying to out-compete each other giving the voters free stuff?

        1. I’d like to agree with you, but considering how often people settle nuisance lawsuits out of court, I can’t. This kind of “not worth the fight” mentality is part of our culture.

    2. I tried to. But I got sent to eastern Washington (state) instead.

      Still kind of annoyed at Salt Lake about that…

        1. That was a couple of decades ago. And most of the locals didn’t need that kind of converting. Some of them even mentioned how a few years prior one of the local parades included a pick-up that was dragging an Earth First in Effigy behind it.

          1. Eastern Washington is fine. Eastern Oregon, too, from what I understand. Meanwhile, Portland just got a 100 page tree code dictating that you need permits not just to cut a tree down on your own private property, you also need a permit to TRIM said tree, and one to PLANT THE TREE IN THE FIRST PLACE.
            And the fee for a violation is $1000.00. Per day. (I imagine per day until you get the permit to plant the tree in the first place.)
            I mean, yeah, Austin’s blue, but we’re not THAT blue.

            1. Ehhhh… Once upon a time I had some association with commercial construction in Austin. Municipal code requires (in commercial activity, at least) that the prospective site be assessed, to include an evaluation of the total diametric inches of tree growth. A percentage is allowable for removal, all the rest — if it is removed must be replaced with equivalent diametric inches of new trees.

              There were also significant penalties (per inch) for damage or destruction of trees determined to be inviolate.

              Has that changed?

                1. I’ve not seen the relevant statutes, unfortunately. My awareness of the requirements was picked up second-hand through the — ah — lively discussions surrounding construction planning.

                  And it’s been a couple of days ( 😐 ) so I would not be at all surprised to learn my info is out of date.

                  I am reminded of them frequently here in DFW when I drive by a previously wooded site that’s been scrapped flat so they can then go back and plug in a landscape architect’s pretty vision.

                  It irritates my notions of private property, but I really wish they wouldn’t do that…

            2. Zach, 3 years ago I was working a software project out at Camp Pendleton testing a field deployable supply system. We opened up the shelter one day to find a 6 foot rattlesnake outside. The Marines were not allowed to shoot it because that was against state law and therefore part of the base regs; we had to wait 2 hours for “animal control” to come and take it away. I am prepared to believe any sort of blue-state idiocy after that.

  20. Look, France has three kinds of “murder” and only one is counted as “murder-murder” in statistics, while we count it all as murder.
    Exactly. Every comparison of US murder rate to some foreign murder rate is disguised first by the refusal to acknowledge any murders not committed by firearms, second by refusing to acknowledge the fact that manslaughter as formerly defined in US law no longer exists, at most a classical manslaughter is second degree murder so it will show up as murder-murder in international comparisons. Mexico’s murder rate, even ignoring the murders committed by drug gangs, is hideous enough without counting manslaughter, and most of the killings called murder in the US are manslaughter in Mexico. William S. Burroughs killed his common law wife in Mexico playing William Tell with a .380 pistol, and though the case as told in Wiki gets complicated, it’s obvious Mexican law enforcement and judiciary assumed one of the men who fled immediately afterward had been caught in bed with the poor lady by Burroughs and he’d shot her in a fit of anger. Even after he fled to the US and was tried in absentia, he got two years suspended, which is take what a Mexican would have got plus add the fact he ran and plus add the fact he was a Gringo.

    1. All of my life, Lefty Nitwits have been comparing stats on America with official stats collected jn other countries, and I have always wanted to know “And we are believing the Governments of the U.S.S.R., socialist Sweden, and chaotic France why, exactly?”

      1. Because it makes us look bad. If it made us look good, every nuance of difference between the statistics would be explained and elaborated upon.

        1. That actually hasn’t been my experience. Oh, sometimes, sure. But on the whole, the LIRPs appear to be completely ignorant of any of the nuances of statistics.

          1. At the minion level sure. The high level useful idiots do know the difference and they twist statistics to make their case quite often. Another good example being the old saw about “A person is more likely to be killed with a gun in the house.”

            To the average street level lefty, this means that having a gun in the house means that you are likely to have it used against you. The leaders in the gun-control movement especially will be able to tell you that what this REALLY means is that a man, sitting at his kitchen table eating dinner with gun locked in a safe in his basement, who is killed by a bullet aimed for someone else is killed “with a gun in the house.” They seem to be unable to equate this with the fact that people in high crime areas tend to own guns for some reason.

            It is my belief that this is a deliberate misconception created by the authors of the study but I have absolutely no proof to back that.

            1. I am very unlikely to be able to shoot a home invader if I don’t have a gun in the house.

              He’s unlikely to shoot me– rather than the wide range of other ways to kill a small woman who didn’t know you were coming– if he didn’t bring a gun in.

          2. “LIRPs appear to be completely ignorant of any of the nuances of statistics.”

            Or even that they can be nuanced.

    2. A friend recently pointed out… alright, ranted… that the American rate is homicide, and we don’t remove the justifiable homicides from the list.
      That’s a bare minimum of .5% of the total number, going off of the FBI.

      (They use a restrictive definition– “killed in the commission of a felony”– although they do at least include cops and civilians. If the correct boxes aren’t checked, it won’t get counted except as a homicide. If someone is never charged, or is charged and it’s found that it was justified, it’s too late for the statistics.)

  21. I haven’t been abroad significantly, but by far and away the major cause of marital disputes has been that his mental English dictionary is different than mine. Not the differences between cultures, but that words in what appears to be the same language don’t mean the same thing. Take “This is my best cake.” I mean by this that I made this cake and it is better than other cakes I have made. He means that this is his favorite kind of cake, with no implication of him having been involved in making it at all.

  22. It’s one reason I appreciate Michael J. Totten. He’s a writer—I started following him before he started going abroad, based on a series he wrote on Eastern Oregon—who decided that there wasn’t good information coming out about Iraq a dozen years back, so he would go himself. (Which led to other travels, and books, and you get the idea.) His articles deal with what he’s actually seen with his own eyes, and his thoughts about his own experiences, and there’s a refreshing lack of a predetermined frame. I mean, he’s actually committing journalism in a profession where most practitioners are coasting along doing the equivalent of handwriting exercises.

    He’s also aware of what people don’t say, which can be important. He went to Cuba last year, and his article points out the huge silences and the implications thereof, which the Cuba boosters don’t hear.

  23. If you did, you’d understand why America won’t be left alone. America is the clean, shoe-wearing kid in the playground. The fact he washed in the river and made his shoes himself, out of bark, won’t save him.

    Nope. It just marks that kid out as a witch. And you know what we do to witches, right?

    (no, not wiccans; *Witches*)

    As for the direction of the US… I still believe that my home state of California might be salvageable. I guess that marks me out as a pie in the sky optimist.


      1. I’m hopeful that when that event eventually happens, most of the techtonic fury will be focused at the Bay Area (again, I’ll note… *cough*1906*cough*). As bad as things are here in LA, there’s just something *wrong* with much of SanFran.

      2. Except, as many people know, the portion west of the fault isn’t moving out to sea, its moving *north*. In about 40,000 years Juneau will be a suburb of Los Angeles… for 2 or 3 thousand years before it dives under the north Atlantic plate.

  24. Where’s Pike’s Peak? Over thataway. Got a map?
    A book set in Romania? Perhaps, Trrrrrrrrrrrransylvania?
    I’ve moved around some, even met some furriners, enough to know that my life and upbringing are NOT the same as others, and reading SF has illustrated that we have some presumptions and assumptions on how the world works, and the physics thereof, that are not shared by some others. Some of whom don’t know that our presumptions and assumptions CAN be different.
    Ah desert planets; probably cold at the poles, depending on spin, Ice planets; could be all ice, but likely weren’t at some time.

  25. When you mention how people like to complain that we’re now a police state and/or dictatorship, I’m reminded of the story Michael Totten told after he’d returned from a trip to Libya after it got taken off the “don’t go” list, but still had an estimated 20% of the country on the government payroll as informers.

    He was in a coffee shop in Portland, OR and was listening to the people at the table loudly complaining of our police state under W. Bush, and he was struck with the idea of going over and saying “Secret Police! you’re under arrest for sedition!” becuz his experiences in Lebanon and Libya had shown him that in true dictatorships/police states that no one *dares* to complain about the government where anyone else might overhear.

    As you say — we ain’t there yet.

      1. I once saw an episode of “Rumpole” in which it was made pretty clear that certain abuses of rights were allowed by the British version of CPS. All “for the children”, of course.

        The fun bit was in the climax of the episode when Rumpole was able to flip the rights abuses to his advantage and win the case for his clients. “For the children”, as he contemptuously noted.

  26. I have been coloring some of the planning for my future Japanese thriller with post WWI and post WWII murder mystery reading.

    I like aspects of the flavor, and think it matches the world building.

  27. I read a blog from Portland, and one from just across the river; both agree Portland is nuts, and corrupt, and expect no change in the foreseeable future. Those guys believe “The Stupid is strong in Portland”.

    1. Having spent 2 years there on a software project, “nuts” is such a feeble word to describe Portland OR.

      1. I’m sorry if my attempt at politeness harshed your mellow, maaaaaaaaaaaaan. I do accept the validity of your point. I kinda thought that “wild, crazy-ass loons” might be a touch excessive. For me to use.

  28. Someone online (I don’t remember who – but they might post here) coined the term a number of years ago ‘only America is real’. Because that’s how many Americans behave. Only what goes on here is real, what we see and hear about everything else is fake, because only America is real, and everyone think/acts/feels/talks like Americans

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