To be honest I haven't given "Texan Bill" any kind of undue attention - I read all his posts, as I do those of everyone else who takes no doubt valuable, precious time to do so. I reckon that's what's called common courtesy as everyone is free to post in here, an "open forum", and all opinions are valid, whether we like them or not, and even when we can see that they are clearly a load of tripe. The thing to do though is to sort wheat from chaff and either respond with reasonable civility or let it all pass by without comment, and if you stay around long enough that pretty much becomes easy peasy.
If Texan Bill's true nationality is in doubt, I'd have thought that our American friends in here would soon be able to tell from his writing style, his phraseology, and not to mention his spellings, whether or not he was really one of their fellow compatriots? One mistake (like a misplaced "u") surely would be enough to determine whether he was American or European, unless some Europeans really do follow the American style....as some do. No Brit ever would.
Just remember, Damian in Edinburgh, that we Americans know all too well how you Brits write and spell, and we know how to sound like you, so don't think that we cannot pass as British ;)
I myself have fooled you several times on this forum, and I no doubt have the wherewithal to do so again ;)
Bill in Los Angeles,
I'm glad you think my rather blunt analysis was non-inflametory. I felt a little bad about being so harsh.
But I feel your response is not really getting to the point, as I am not a 'European' looking from the outside. I lived and worked there for five years and only left six months ago. Americans are not more stupid, more red-neck, more homogeneous, or whatever, than the rest of the world, but they are less self-critical. It's museums and media play dangerously with the truth, bending it towards an ideal view of itself that is not true.
It is certainly not the only place like this in the world, I imagine there are much worse. But it is the only one that claims so strongly to be otherwise.
Now for a twist in the direction of this thread:
What is a faggot or a gay? Is it a male with freak looks who has difficulty finding a girlfriend and as a consequence has to hang around with male friends? I have noticed that many of these people are called gays or faggots.
<<I'm glad you think my rather blunt analysis was non-inflametory. I felt a little bad about being so harsh.>>
I may have disagreed with some of what you said, and missed the point of some of your arguments, but your post was intellectually honest. Your post, while critical, was credible.
<<Americans are not more stupid, more red-neck, more homogeneous, or whatever, than the rest of the world, but they are less self-critical.>>
I think you're right about that. Although there's an element of our society that is *always* critical of the US, it's not real self-criticism. I'm speaking of the Michael Moore approach to critiquing the US. It's not real self-criticism because these guys place themselves *outside* of the criticism (in a self righteous manner) and their criticism of the US is knee-jerk... not reflective. Those who could be described as flag waving jingoists are usually not open to self-examination. It's like religion for both sides, pro and anti. Very polarized.
Part of the issue lies in the fact that most Americans have not lived in other countries, as you have. I have gone to school and worked in Europe, and I have to admit there are things about the US that drive me crazy. I've never been able to figure out the homophobia that we see even from purportedly non-religious people. And why do we have so many serial killers compared to other countries? Europe has racism to rival our most virulent. But even in a big city like Paris you can walk down a deserted street at one in the morning without fear of being murdered. I've never felt physically afraid in Europe. I don't have hard stats on this, but I would not be surprised if there were more murders in the San Fernando Valley in a year than in the entire city of Paris. What is this fascination Americans have with guns? Why are we so terrified of incidental nudity on television (say if a character exits the shower) while at the same time, California is the word capital of porn? I live in the San Fernando Valley and I have 2 porn actresses for neighbors. (As an aside, they are very nice girls but my girlfriend is not happy that I have them as neighbors)... Why is life so much more stressful here? I think it's our obsession with "productivity" and acquiring things.
On the other hand, life in Europe sometimes felt like living in a Monty Python skit. I can't count the number of times I asked for directions in Europe and was told, "Oh, you can't get there from here." An individualist by default, DNA or programming, I had a hard time adjusting to the European paradigm of doing something or not doing something because "it's just the way it's done", or, "it just isn't done". In Europe they tell you not to stand out from the crowd.. stay under the radar. In the US, if you're not finding a better way to do something, you're considered lazy.
<<It is certainly not the only place like this in the world, I imagine there are much worse. But it is the only one that claims so strongly to be otherwise.>>
It's a case of Happy Ignorance, or put more nicely, "blissfully unaware".
<< Just remember, Damian in Edinburgh, that we Americans know all too well how you Brits write and spell, and we know how to sound like you, so don't think that we cannot pass as British ;)
I myself have fooled you several times on this forum, and I no doubt have the wherewithal to do so again ;) >>
If you are as good as you say you are, you should get enough satisfaction from fooling people. Recently, this satisfaction must have been wearing thin for you to have had the need to tell us how good you are.
For me being called a 'faggot' is the worst possible insult.
<< It seems to me most American school children are not taught any kind of balanced history. How many Americans know there was an elected government in Massachusetts before the War of Independence? How many Americans know it was the French who won the War of Independence? That a whisky tax was imposed by the US government similar to the tax on tea after the War? to I could go on...>>
I've never heard of a balanced history. All history has a tendency to be written by the victor. Yet, I must disagree with you on several points you brought up. They remind me a great deal of what my friend Sandra, from Munich, first said to me when she came to the U.S. She thought that the news media showed pictures of Hitler every time the Germans won during the Olympics and that American students were never taught about the atrocities committed by the American military during the Vietnam War. She was inevitably proven wrong in these things. Now, I can't answer how many Americans know this or that. But I can tell you that I had a relatively normal public education.
First, "a whisky tax was imposed by the US government similar to the tax on tea after the War"
So, the American war for independence was not simply fought over taxes. It was fought because the American colonists wanted full representation in the English Parliament just as the people still living in England possessed. The fact that they were being taxed with out representation in Parliament only added insult to injury. So it did not matter if there was a tax on whisky after the war because the tax was imposed by their representatives. This in addition to the growing distance between the colonists and the English people, culturally, led to the war. This brings me to my second point.
<<How many Americans know there was an elected government in Massachusetts before the War of Independence?>>
By god, I hope every American knows that there was an elected government in Massachusetts before the war for independence. Every colony at the time had at least some form of elected government at the time. All of the signers of the declaration of independence were elected representatives. But what I think you are getting at, or at least trying to, is that the American colonists had representation. Yes, in their own colonies they did. This is, again, not what the war was over. They wanted representatives in Parliament.
<<How many Americans know it was the French who won the War of Independence?>>
Lastly, the French refused to join the war of Independence until the colonists had turned the tide:
"In early 1778, shortly after an American victory at Saratoga resulting in the surrender of an entire British army, France signed treaties of alliance with the new nation, and declared war on Britain that summer..."
Now, I think most Americans are keenly aware of the fact that the French helped immensely in the war. This was particularly true at the final battle of York Town. The French navy blockaded the Chesapeake Bay, preventing British reinforcements from assisting Cornwallis. This allowed Washington's army to bring the land war to an end.
"The war continued at sea between the British and the French fleets in the West Indies. The British might have sent more troops to attack the colonists if not for the numerous American ships attacking British shipping lanes worldwide. Due to the impact on British pocketbooks, the merchants put pressure on Parliament to end the war."
All this is available online to any American who would like to read it, in addition, it was largely taught to me as a child. And, as far as your five years in the U.S. it hardly makes you an expert, and, suffice it to say, your experiences concerning Americans willingness to criticize themselves does not match my own. I think Bill in L.A. has a more similar understanding to my own. Here is another fag for you all:
There's no doubt that America is a strange country in so many ways - at least in the yes of most Europeans. We see it as a country of extremes - extreme good on on one side, and extreme bad on the other. There never seems to be a happy medium somehow....as Judi Dench said in the film Mrs Henderson Presents as she addressed a young American serviceman in the crowd outside her Windmill Theatre: - "You're an American? - strange people but very polite".
I think this odd mix in its national character is because it is a mix of so many cultures but somehow this rather weird puritanism it displays so clearly in strange ways maybe some kind of reaction to the fact that it produces more lurid porn and material of a violent nature than any other country in the world. You only have to look at all the rubbishy, intensely annoying, highly sexual spam crap infesting our e-mail inboxes every day to see that most of it originates in America.
Then we see the other side of America - extreme religious fervour which seems to us Europeans as verging on the fanatical, with apparent lunatics in the streets waving banners declaring that "God Hates Fags", which surely must be the most incomprehensible of statements. How do they work that one out, for goodness sake? How can God hate what He has created in the first place? How come we never see banners crying out "God Hates Rapists" "God Hates Murderers" "God Hates Thieves" "God Hates Adulterers" "God Hates Tax Evaders" and whatever other sins human beings are capable of committing.
America is a land of extremes - even down to its climate. The obsession with sexual depravity on one side, and an obsession with Fire and Brimstone on the other. Extreme violence is acceptable while the sight of a woman's boob being exposed to the nation at a sporting event sends the whole country into a frenzy of moral indignation, the like of which makes Europeans doubt the sanity of a whole nation. The strange prurient double standard of the American psyche is puzzling, to say the least.
For all this, Europe does appreciate all the good things about America, and in spite of everything Americans really are respected in Europe. Just look at the rapturous reception Barack Obama enjoyed in Berlin yesterday. And today, it's London's turn to show affection towards him and the American people generally. Maybe this is Europe's way of appreciation for what America does and represents outside of the more unsavoury aspects of American society. It may also be some kind of hope for the future after the last eight years or so.
We do like seeing all our American visitors over here in the UK and the rest of Europe and hope they enjoy their stay amongst us. It would be even nicer if they could just talk a wee bit quieter.....we know you're here so there's no need to broadcast it so volubly! ;-)
"in the yes of most Europeans" ....eyes.
<<How can God hate what He has created in the first place?>>
It could be a Frankenstein's monster type situation. Only when it was too late...
Bill in Los Angeles, you are quite right that all countries have problems. It is interesting how different countries try to deal with these things. I want to shy away from lumping Europe together in opposition or in contrast to the US, while every country has variations within it, and the US is no exception, Europe is a continent and cannot be directly compared to the US as one entity, dispite the EU.
Sometimes just seeing something done in a different way, even if silly, like traffic laws, makes you realise that you were making assumptions or not thinking about why certain things are the way they are. So I think you are right: On returning home, this does help you be more self-critical.
I don't know where you were in Europe, but the idea that the French are taught to stay under the radar, doesn't really ring true. Tell a French farmer their subsidies might be reduced and before you know it the city hall is covered in cow manure and the roads are blocked. Tell an American student that an anti-war demonstration clashes with an exam, and you can be sure their GPA will not be the thing that loses their attention.
Wintereis, you seem to suffer from the exact problem I am describing. I too can read Wikipedia, and I think it is a great resource. It seems I am a little more out of practice at cutting and pasting, though. Just to get back into it, I tried copying and pasting some of the same lines you did. Here is the result:
'The war continued at sea between the British and the French fleets in the West Indies. The British might have[weasel words] sent more troops to attack the colonists if not for the numerous American ships attacking British shipping lanes worldwide. Due to the impact on British pocketbooks, the merchants put pressure on Parliament to end the war.'
Look, it's not quite the same! For some reason I have these extra words 'citation needed' and 'weasel words'. Okay, so 'weasel words' is Wikipedia terminology, but I assume you know the meaning of 'citation needed'. Please remember it is a secondary (or tertiary) source and might not even be that when no references can be checked. It's not that this says anything terribly wrong, but overall this economy with the truth can lead to a blurring of the national consciousness. That this happens even when there's nothing much to hide makes me very cautious. Saratoga was a turning point in the war because it lead to France openly entering the war (as opposed to just giving indirect support). The Battle itself was just that, one battle, not the whole war. That the war continued for another five years tells you it was not won at Saratoga.
Taxation was certainly the main cause of the War of Independence. I'm not sure what you mean by cultural differences, but I don't see how anything which could be put under such a banner could manifest itself in this way. I think this is your indoctrinated side coming out. My point is that Americas often hold the view that they put in place a fairer government, which was truly representative of the people. However, the whisky tax made small producers pay tax at a rate per gallon produced, whereas large scale producers paid a flat rate. This was exactly the problem with the tax on tea, it favoured large companies who had influence with the government. All this happened within a decade of independence, so for all the idealism, not much had changed.
<<If you are as good as you say you are, you should get enough satisfaction from fooling people. Recently, this satisfaction must have been wearing thin for you to have had the need to tell us how good you are. >>
It has nothing to do with being good; and I'm not good, never claimed that. Faking Brit just isn't that difficult that's all.
<<There's no doubt that America is a strange country in so many ways - at least in the yes of most Europeans. We see it as a country of extremes - extreme good on on one side, and extreme bad on the other. There never seems to be a happy medium somehow....as Judi Dench said in the film Mrs Henderson Presents as she addressed a young American serviceman in the crowd outside her Windmill Theatre: - "You're an American? - strange people but very polite".
Your jealousy is fueled by the fact that we enjoy benefits that you do not, and you nitpick to find reason WHY we shouldn't enjoy them but do. Plain and simple.
What is the obsession you have with pulling us down (crabs in a pot mentality)???
Are we stranger to you than anyone else in the world? I doubt it.
YOU'RE JEALOUS. Deal with your immature emotions and GROW THE H*LL UP.
<<How can God hate what He has created in the first place?>>
It's not a matter of "hate" but a matter of 'judgment'. God judges certain behaviours and attitudes--in fact, He already has but the sentence is in suspension in this dispensation (for the most part).
Our perception and immaturity cause us to knee-jerk it as "hate"
GROW UP :)