Saturday, 9 July 2011

European Differences

I had a blog reader comment on this difference thing between various Europeans and Americans.  After traveling around for twenty years of life in Europe....I will offer the following observations.

The most pro-US and friendly place you end up?  Italy.  I admit....you might not run into alot of Italians who do speak English, but you just can't find that many Italians who are anti-US.  Got yourself lost?  An Italian will do his best to layout the direction to get back on course.  Comedians?  Yes, Italians are born comedians and probably have the best sense of humor of any nation in Europe.

In second place?  Denmark.  The Danes have had this fascination with America for 200 years. Danes packed up and ventured to America in the 1800s.  I'd make a guess that sixty percent of the country speaks some English.  It's difficult to find any Dane who'd be anti-American.  They might confess some dislike of Bush, but forty percent of Americans would do the same thing.

In third place?  Netherlands.  The Dutch are pro-International and would just about welcome anybody but the Nazis.  After WW II, there was a huge popular view of Americans and it really hasn't changed much.

In fourth place?  England.  There is this love-hate relationship of the British for Americans.  They can list forty reasons why they have something against America, and then raise a toast to Ronald Reagan or Jerry Lewis.  A Brit could carry on for hours about American TV shows, American confusion over global warming, or talk negatively about American whiskey (it just isn't as good as anything produced on the Isle), then they'd turn around help you fix a flat or find a decent hotel.

In fifth place?  The Germans.  Presently, about sixty percent of German society has something against America.  They'd like to discuss it with you....even though you'd prefer to eat their food, drink their beer, and sip their wine....all in peace.  The other forty percent of the friendly Germans?  They will confess they've had this fantasy of leaving Germany for thirty years and would love to move to Idaho.  This group is pro-US....to the point, that they'd like to be an American.

In sixth place....the Greeks, the Austrians, and Spaniards.  None of them have a really positive feeling about Americans, and frankly...I don't think Americans really care.

Finally, in seventh place....the French.  Here's the thing...the French hate most any visitor to their country.  You could be some alien off a UFO, and most French folks would question the necessity of you visiting France.  The French hate the Germans because of the Nazi invasion.  The French dislike the Spaniards because they are "cheap".  The French hate the British because they drink alot and are snobs.  The French hate the Dutch because they are lousy drivers.  The French dislike the Americans because we mostly have no style, no grace, no fancy nature, and often amazed that a sit-down dinner cost of $44 per person.  Here's the thing though....if you start getting out into the country of France, away from cities....you start to get this feeling that you've arrived in Tupelo, Mississippi.  Folks pretty much accept an American there and there's no anxiety about "visitors".  The issue is that there's not much to see in the country....except wheat fields, apple orchards, and strawberry fields.

To be honest, Americans that show up in Europe....really don't have an idea about the European culture.  We end up sipping some mighty fine wine and beer....eating some decent meals.....and seeing an awful lot of interesting stuff.  Frankly, we don't know a damn difference between Van Gogh, de Bray, or Rembrandt when it comes to painting.  If you asked us to identify the thirty-two different national cheeses of Belgium....we'd be at a loss.  If you wanted to note fancy French Dijon mustard....we'd confuse it with French's mustard that we buy at Piggly Wiggly.  We might be pleased with Audis, but we might say it's as good as a PT Cruiser.

The plain truth is that Americans travel for reasons vastly different from the typical European.  We've come to see different things and mostly just get bragging rights when we go back to Red Bay and talk about the fancy towers in London or the fine cheese we ate in Switzerland.  I'm sorry if Europeans wanted us to be extremely amazed by life in Europe, but after you've toured Beverly Hills, New York City, and New Orleans....it's hard to be amazed about anything.

Just Observations

On Thursday, the NAACP blasted CNN because they don't show racial diversity.  The organization admitted that they really wanted to blast Fox News but it wouldn't have made much difference....and if it had....I would imagine that Fox News would have found two or three conservative blacks and really upset the NAACP even more.  As for CNN?  If you look at failing numbers for their entire team from 5PM and on.....I think they might do better if they could find a couple of comedians, a midget and some Italian guy to talk about entertainment news.

Some top-level adviser to the President says that the unemployment rate won't be a major topic in the 2012 election.  It's hard to see how this view will occur.  But one has to admit that the election is more than fourteen months away and maybe some massive recovery will occur.  Maybe.

Over the past five years, I've come to notice "self-checkout" lanes more and more.  Almost every store has them now.  This week...Andersons Grocery (214 stores in the US) says that they are getting rid of the self-checkout lanes because they think people want human contact.  The positive side is that more cashiers will be hired, but the question is...do people want this contact?  I don't exactly show up at grocery stores....just to chat with cashiers.  I'm probably one of those customers who liked the self-checkout lane.

How screwed up is the government?  There are former Bush officials (from the last administration) who are still receiving updated Government-Purchase Cards (VISA Cards) in the mail.  These GPC cards are the method that we use to buy simple things like pens, paper, pay for hotel rooms, etc.  It's been almost two years since they were in their jobs....yet, an article this week....brought up the issue of these cards still going to former government workers.  You would think that someone would be around to turn off things as one administration leaves and one arrives.  Maybe we cut that position though....to save money.  Who knows?

So here we are....eighteen months out from the election and in full-blast politics on TV and radio.  It's a strange feeling because we just wrapped up the last political full-blast episode in November...barely nine months ago.  The curious thing is that we can get over forty hours of political garbage at night between seven different channels now.  I've now started tuning in the History Channel the minute I come home because I've become burnt out on this business.  One has to wonder if we will eventually be locked into politics twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, all-year round.