Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Fourth of July

I know, I am frequently bitching about the USA on this blog. It's just because I am pissed off they take my fingerprints each time I travel to or through "the land of the free and the home of the brave". But since today is July 4th, here is my personal list of reasons I like them anyhow:

  1. Chocolate Chunk Cookies
  2. Passing on the right
  3. Penny trays
  4. Vanity Plates
  5. 24/7
    Shop open hours. Scientific content of this post: 24 / 7 = 3.42857143...
  6. Drive Thrus
  7. Taking great care of access for disabled persons/braille signs
    In many cities and public buildings I have found the US being outstanding and exemplary in this regard.
  8. Debit cards with credit card numbers and cashback options
    The US debit card has, unlike the European Maestro (formerly EC) card, a 16 digit number and can essentially be used like a credit card, the only difference being that the amount is payed directly from the checking account and not through the credit card company. You can get cash back at the register, say in a grocery store, on that card, which means you don't have to use an ATM each time you need cash.
  9. Built in natural selection process
    Bugger, and I tried so hard being nice...
  10. Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies
    Yes, yes, but I REALLY like them.

And I like their flag :-) Don't worry, tomorrow I'll be back to bitching.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

beurk
no this flag is no good.

Anonymous said...

What's so great about the prohibition on passing on the right? It just makes it more frustrating when somebody drives too slowly in the fast lane!

ANNA-LYS said...

LOL :-))

Carl Brannen said...

The US slowly gets more restrictive on weapons and stuff. When I was a student, you could buy dynamite at the rural "farm and home supply" stores. You had to show a driver's license.

Uncle Al said...

"...But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

We individually and collectively apologize for the current contents of the Executive Branch. We got Nixon; we'll get these bastards hard.

"...certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" Support evolution - shoot back.

Bee said...

Dear Anonymous #2: The great thing about passing on the right is that it is *not* prohibited. (As it is in Europe). - B.

Bee said...

When I was a student, you could buy dynamite at the rural "farm and home supply" stores. You had to show a driver's license.

Those where the days, eh? What is the world coming to...

righty said...

... say, uncle al...

You people still haven't got over what we did to your beloved Soviet Union.

...and so now you people are supporting the Islamofascist crowd.

what a bunch of losers.

Happy Fourth All

Garbage said...

mmmhhh, I lost a bit of respect on you after this one...too bad...that flag aint good...

Anonymous said...

uncle al says: We individually and collectively apologize for the current contents of the Executive Branch. We got Nixon; we'll get these bastards hard.

nice to see some spirit there, keep up:)

one god thing about US though is freedom for having guns :).

and, btw, I have to say, from what I know, Canadians are nice and sweet people, but when it comes down to it they are tough, REALLY tough no-messing-about people, and that's awesome combination!

hola!

Bee said...

Dear Garbage: You know, I really like the colors of the American flag much better than the German ones. I find the pattern somewhat messy though, too much small structures. Especially the inset with the stars I don't like. The Union Jack I like much better - among all the flags that I know it's one that I'd accept as a bed sheet. Regarding respect: It is an oversimplification to divide the world in good and bad. There are points in which the US isn't doing bad at all. One of their biggest minus points is that they do exactly that: dividing the world into good and bad, instead of learning that there are countries who do much better than they do in some regards, e.g. health and social insurance. It's a two-sided ignorance between the US and the EU that I've witnessed repeatedly, which I neither like nor want to promote just because I think GWB sucks. If that lowers your respect for me, I am sorry. But as my mum always says: Ist der Ruf erst runiert, lebt man gänzlich ungeniert. (Roughly: If your reputation is gone, you're free.)
Best,

B.

Anonymous said...

They take your fingerprints? Why? You having some record?

Anonymous said...

They divide world in good and bad categories, yes, as it suits their needs...

Bee said...

Dear Anonymous #4: I am having a record for jaywalking (it's quite expensive). They take my fingerprints for no other reason than that I happen to be born neither in the US nor in Canada, and thus am by definition suspicious and a potential terrorist (speaking of dividing the world into good and bad). Here is the Welcome to the USA sign for the Visa Waiver Program.

Best,

B.

Anonymous said...

All perspectives are relative.

"One of their biggest minus points is that they do exactly that: dividing the world into good and bad, ..."

This is a phenomenon of post-WW2 US, and the result of winning WW2 and the Cold War. Since the US won these 2 against 'evils', they must be the good guys and all that oppose them must be be bad guys. Thus the world must be black and white.

"... instead of learning that there are countries who do much better than they do in some regards, e.g. health and social insurance."

Yes and no. The US health system is running perfectly, precisely as designed if not totally as intended. American health is just another business, to be managed for maximum profit. It is very successful - doctors, lawyers, hospitals and HMOs, drugs, medical equipments and all health care workers are making money. The professionals and businessmen are racking in 'healthy' profits. They are not complaining, and will resist any change. Almost all is well. But like any business, if you can't pay market price that's your problem. I know 50 million people don't have insurance and millions more go bankrupt due to hospital bills. That's not a 'problem' - just the necessary consequence of the health system they designed.

Bee said...

Dear Anonymous:

American health is just another business, to be managed for maximum profit. It is very successful - doctors, lawyers, hospitals and HMOs, drugs, medical equipments and all health care workers are making money.

Yes. Indeed, it's a matter of perspective. I'd say the success of a health system is measured not by profit but by people being healthy. If all the sick, old and poor die, this is certainly beneficial for the economy, and everything else is communism, right? As long as everybody in the US believes happiness, health and quality of life is measured by money the system will be stable. Needless to say, this believe is as naive as wrong, and sooner or later it is going to fail. Neglecting health care, esp. in emergency situations is one of the most stupid decisions a government can make. Whenever it comes to situations where lives are in danger, the own or that of friends, families, or - most importantly - children, people will fight for their rights. It's a matter of time. In the US, health is coupled too strongly to income. Best,

B.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

It is really scarey that between NT and LA there are so many milions of ignorant, fircely religious, one way looking, one way learning people! Creationists as an example.

did you know that the word TALIBAN means student in Pashto? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taliban)

America has endless milions of of (christian) students seeing the world very narrowly. this is an extremeli dangerous situation.

It doesnt make sence to give extremisn a name, they are all the same. The inner workings are all the same.

greetings

Klaus

righty said...

Anonymous wrote:

"This is a phenomenon of post-WW2 US, and the result of winning WW2 and the Cold War. Since the US won these 2 against 'evils', they must be the good guys and all that oppose them must be be bad guys. Thus the world must be black and white."

Nonsense. The European public opinion opposes us unilaterally in the middle east. Do we consider the European public to be 'the bad guys' ? Of course not. If you had listened attentively you would know that we have very precisely defined who our opponents are. They are those who have threatened us and have made good on those threats. Perhaps we do not see the world in quite the simple terms you think we do.

"... instead of learning that there are countries who do much better than they do in some regards, e.g. health and social insurance."

Do you mean France, whose voters just gave the socialists the well-earned boot. Please spare me the lecture on the superiority of the French health and social insurance systems. I'll take the word of the French voters on those issues. Hopefully we won't make those same mistakes here.

Cheers from the USA
On the Glorious Fourth

Bee said...

Hi Righty:

Actually, I was more thinking about Sweden, Norway, and yes also Germany. To begin with I was very relieved to see that Canada has fairly reasonable health and social insurance (though I am not eligible for the latter), so you won't even have to look onto the other side of the big water.

Nonsense. The European public opinion opposes us unilaterally in the middle east. Do we consider the European public to be 'the bad guys' ? Of course not. If you had listened attentively you would know that we have very precisely defined who our opponents are.

I see, this is why my fingerprints are being taken I suppose? The problem is precisely that 'You' have 'defined' who your opponents are - what kind of a politics is that? The worst enemy the USA has is the USA. They are not solving any problem, but just causing new ones. Terrorism is a reaction by (so far) a minority of people in countries who feel threatened by the USA, and who don't see any other way to make their opinion heard than retreating to violence. They are afraid their life, their culture and everything that is important for them will be replaced by a world-wide lattice with McDonalds/ Walmart/ Diary Queen/ Taco Bell corners - even I find this future perspective threatening! The way to deal with this kind of desperate violence is not to punish hundreds of thousands of so far peaceful and innocent citizens, but to give them a way to voice their concerns! Look, people living in Iraq HAD a life, they had apartments, water, electricity, a school system, social networks, and some kind of infrastructure. US military goes there, bombs everything down and actually expects gratitude? Gee, consider next year the Tour d'Eiffel is being blown up in pieces, thousands of people die. Investigations show that act of violence was planned and executed by a group of US college guys who thought they'd 'Go with a bang' because they feel their life sucks. Psychologists conclude they have grown up in a culture with a dangerous decay of values and they have been strongly influenced by media overflow with doubtful informational, educational and moralic content. They apparently belong to a country which is known to force other countries with violence to adapt its own political system, to ignore opposing opinions and whose military equipment is a threat to world peace. The EU therefore 'defines' the USA as 'opponent' and invades the country with the aim to remove the president and to 'save' democracy - if citizens suffer that's really too bad, but unavoidable, and we have to keep in mind the higher goals of future world peace. What would you think about that?

Best,

B.

Anonymous Snowboarder said...

Bee you really must move away from the left coast. And avoid Canada until its the 51st state, eh? Try Colombia or NYU next time and then you won't have any worries about your jaywalking fines.

Anonymous said...

Rightly:
My comment on black & white is of course a simplification and said in jest. Nevertheless it reflects the mindset of Bush administration in the way they approach world affairs. It has worked successfully in turning allies into the unwilling, friends into the irritated ex-friends, traditional rivals into entrenched enemies, and Islamic states into mortal enemies. So USA goes into a security mode that borders on lunacy and see enemies at every corner. This is the price you pay.

Bee:
Americans measure everything by money, including freedom, liberty, justice, health and happiness. Take out the money and they're lost. Of course the Canadian health system is far superior - for the sick that is. That's why Americans will never admit nor adopt it. They've spent half a century sniping it as the hated socialistic system that's bound to fail. I do not look forward to the day when 100 million of our dear neighbors south have no medical insurance, businesses revolt and won't pay for it anymore, and health related financial bankruptcies hit depression proportion. But I'm afraid it will happen. Then, under a new president, they will take pieces of the Canadian, UK and French systems to replace theirs, call it the great American invention and will try to export it.

anon snowborder:
Perhaps you should offer your advise to Lee? After all he left the US. Brace yourself - do you know 10 of the US northern border states find joining Canada a most refreshing idea?

Happy 1st and 4th of July.

Arun said...

As Charlie Reese wrote with respect to healthcare in America

...the only way to beat the system is to live well and die quick and sudden.

righty said...

Hi Bee,

-I see, this is why my fingerprints are being taken I suppose? The problem is precisely that 'You' have 'defined' who your opponents are - what kind of a politics is that?

We are not engaging in politics or diplomacy, we are engaging in war.

-Terrorism is a reaction by (so far) a minority of people in countries who feel threatened by the USA, and who don't see any other way to make their opinion heard than retreating to violence.
You almost have it here but you underestimate the seriousness of the problem.

The terrorism we see in the Middle East is not the result of a few people 'acting out' their fears of Walmart Stores invading the Middle East. It is slightly more complicated than that. I suggest that you google 'Wahhabism' the Muslim Brotherhood and the "Iranian Revolution' and you will see that we are dealing with some very intelligent and very determined people here. Do not underestimate them!!!

-The way to deal with this kind of desperate violence is not to punish hundreds of thousands of so far peaceful and innocent citizens, but to give them a way to voice their concerns!

You would not say that If you were paying close attention to the situation, as that is exactly what the mission is. And where on earth did you get the idea that we have flattened Iraq? The terrorists, Al Qaeda, are the ones who are blowing up the Mosques, the bridges and power stations. We took great pains to leave Iraqis their homes, water supply, power grids, roads and bridges and contrary to what one might have been led to believe by the main stream media their economy has been functioning throughout.

-They apparently belong to a country which is known to force other countries with violence to adapt its own political system.

Kindly name an example. I do not believe we have ever forced a country to adopt our political system. If you are referring to Germany and Japan they both 'chose' parliamentary systems very different from our own.

-The EU therefore 'defines' the USA as 'opponent' and invades the country with the aim to remove the president and to 'save' democracy - if citizens suffer that's really too bad, but unavoidable, and we have to keep in mind the higher goals of future world peace. What would you think about that?

I don' believe the EU to be up to the task. They would have to get past the Brits who are better prepared than one might think. The British alliance with the United States is strategic.They have learned over many centuries of difficulty not to ever trust the continental powers and alliances. The EU is just the current alliance in effect and the Brits who are well known to be ferocious when aroused are quite well armed themselves. But that talk is silly and is not going to happen and I just hope that the terrorists do not make the mistake of exploding a nuclear device in a European or American city. That is what we are trying to prevent. Personally, I believe that if they could they would. The Europeans have as big a stake in this as we do and unfortunately they do not realize the danger we are all in.

Good Cheers and Prosperty to All
on this Glorious Fourth

Jude said...

Most flags are less interesting than that of the US. Ah, if only natural selection worked that way...

Garbage said...

Dear Bee,

This is not about good or evil. This is about facts.
I heard some politician saying that he was surprissed the rest of the world didnt celebrate the fourth of july: "obvisouly *they* dont understand what freedom means." he added. And here you are, a german in canada with those stars up waving on your blog. Where is your post about july first? Canada doesnt have chocolate chips? will you post on july the 14th?
You know, that flag unfortunately is a symbol, of an invasion in Iraq, of uncountable interventions. The 'freedom' this flag represents produced thousands of 'desaparecidos' during the dictatorships all over South America in the 70's.

I agree with you in that people and goverment are two different things, and there are good things about this country too. Unfortunately they sink into the bushit, and no chocolate chips can fix that... sorry "we are f*ed" there is nothing to celebrate... buck fush...

Anonymous said...

righty says: we have very precisely defined who our opponents are.

nonsense.
your opponents are 'terrorists'. and what does that mean? it's so ambiguous that it could mean everything and anybody all around the world and in US, as it suits your ends of the day..

A.

Anonymous said...

and of course, greatest terrorists are US. Culturally and othervise. What has Iraq has to do with US? What is the justification for occupying a country? There is none. They never found even weapons of mass destruction, which, btw, US has in abundance. So, what? Plain and simple: they terrorise whole country without pretext, even a bad one. Spare us...

A.

Arun said...

righty, when I google ( I suggest that you google 'Wahhabism') I see that the Saudi kingdon is Wahhabist and is also one of the US's closest allies in the region.

I see bin Laden's #2, Al Zawahiri, had to leave the Muslim Brotherhood, because he did not agree with their decision to seek power by political means, and not through violence.

I see that the Shah of Iran was almost as bad as Saddam (and a US ally to boot) and that the Shia power that the US now backs in Iraq is not significantly different from what took power in Iran.

Finally, the only reason I see why things are complicated is because the US is unable to play the honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians, because of a domestic millenarian movement that seeks the fulfillment of Biblical prophecies and every politician's craven fear of AIPAC.

Bee said...

Dear Garbage,

And here you are, a german in canada with those stars up waving on your blog. Where is your post about july first? Canada doesnt have chocolate chips? will you post on july the 14th?

We had a post last year on July 14th, I always miss Oct. 3rd because it happens to be one of my brother's birthdays. I didn't write on Monday because a) I was sitting in aiports and on planes the whole day and b) I only learned about Canada Day when I arrived home after a five week trip, realized that my fridge is empty but had to notice every store in this city was closed.

Otherwise I am not in the mood to argue with you because I find US politics as upsetting as you do. Best,

B.

Anonymous said...

Please don't lump most Americans in with Bush and his ilk. To do this is no more fair than to refer to all Germans as a bunch of Hilter-loving Nazis.

Anonymous said...

Nice post Bee, and good responses.

I am still amazed that in spite of all the evidence to the contrary (namely, reality) we still find people like 'righty' who so eloquently argue for neoconservative ideology. But, there are still flat-Earthers and ID creationists around for our amusement, so we should not be surprised.

And yes, happy 4th of July!

changcho

Anonymous said...

Nice post Bee, and good responses.

I am still amazed that in spite of all the evidence to the contrary (namely, reality) we still find people like 'righty' who so eloquently argue for neoconservative ideology. But, there are still flat-Earthers and ID creationists around for our amusement as well, so we should not be surprised.

And yes, happy 4th of July!

changcho

Bee said...

Dear Changcho:

Thanks. Indeed, it is always interesting to see how people can be ignorant of their own ignorance. You know, one thing that I really like about my job is that I have colleagues from all over the world - and we all get along with each other very peacefully. I believe it's because we all have to travel a lot that I think there are less prejudices and less ignorance in the community than among the average group you'd run into in the pub next door. Sometimes it's not so bad at all to live in an ivory tower.
Best,

B.

Rae Ann said...

Don't have time to read that whole firearms thing, but is it solely based on handguns? What is the percentage of handguns owned as compared to hunting rifles, shotguns, etc.?

Freedom is dangerous and requires risk and expense. Unfortunately, some people can't handle freedom. But that's not a reason to take it away from everyone.

In general, the people of the world who hate America for whatever reasons are only showing their own ignorance and intolerance. Despite what the talking heads might tell you, most Americans have a "built in" tolerance for differences, but it's not unconditional. The condition is that others respect the differences and don't attack each other because of them.

Bee said...

In general, the people of the world who hate America for whatever reasons are only showing their own ignorance and intolerance.

Indeed, I have witnessed this repeatedly. It is very sad to see how many prejudices people have just because they think it's the right thing to say at some point and don't question it. Like, currently it seems USA is bah-bah, so I wanted to mention not everything they do is just wrong. I still think if we'd all talk and LISTEN to each other more, we would all benefit much more than from exaggerated polatizations and black-and-white painting.

Reg. guns: if they are available the probability for misuse and accidents increases. The easiest way to avoid it is to severely restrict access. This has nothing to do with freedom, but with safety. I personally can't feel free and safe in a country where every nutcase could potentially point a gun at me.

Best,

B.