10 Things America Does Worse Than Europe

10 Things America Does Worse Than Europe

I have been lucky enough to have traveled to Europe many times.  I felt in reading this article, based on what I have seen, that there is a lot of truth to it.  I have also been a lot of places where suggesting that America doesn’t do everything the best will drive people crazy.  That seems batshit insane to me.  It is like if you were on a really good football team and you saw another winning team in a different division.  Wouldn’t you try to watch them to see how they were winning, so that you could be even better?

The fact is that other parts of the world do some things better than we do.  Instead of being afraid of it we should try to learn from it and make our country better.  Being a self-declared champion is meaningless and delusional.

Hat tip to my friend Liza.  

Have Americans Gone Crazy?

Have Americans Gone Crazy?

A family member just sent me the above article from Salon.  It is about how many people in the world are increasingly viewing America as something to be watched closely, if not outright feared.  Although I have traveled less extensively than the author, I have been in several foreign countries over the last few years and can vouch for the overall sentiment of the article.

I remember specifically being in England during the Bush years.  Many people would be slightly cold and then sheepishly ask me what I thought of Bush.  Once I explained that I voted against him and hated his policies, it was like a party had started.  Shots and embraces came out, and suddenly I was everyone’s best friend.

So many Americans have no idea not only how the rest of the world views us, but also how much they know about us.  When you go to foreign countries you are often asked deep political questions by average people concerning the U.S. Often these are questions that you are not sure if many of your own countrymen and women could answer.

My Dad has related to me many times a story from a trip to Kenya.  He was walking down the street, in an area that was slightly impoverished, and a man walked up to him.  After finding out he was an American, the man asked him, “So tell me about Jesse Helms?”  Meanwhile I have gone out to drinks with girls here, during a U.S. presidential election, and been stupefied to find out they didn’t know who the vice-presidential candidates were.  Now I know that I am drawing conclusions from limited experiences, but there are many more stories that I have personally witnessed on both sides that make me believe that the author of the above article knows what they are talking about.  It’s strange out there…

The End of Beaches

The end of beaches? Why the world’s shorelines are in serious trouble http://www.salon.com/2014/11/08/the_end_of_beaches_why_the_worlds_shorelines_are_in_serious_trouble/

The above article at Salon is exactly why we don’t need to be letting someone like Jim Inhofe in charge of environmental decisions at this time in our history.  

Russell Brand Interview

Russell Brand Interview

I found this interview with Russell Brand from Salon very interesting.  That’s not to say that my reposting of it is a rubber stamp for everything he says, but I do find him to be intelligent.  He is willing to look beneath the surface of our, and England’s, national bullshit story.  A sample:

Why do you think it is that your message can get applause on the Letterman show — which is probably American tourists from all over the country — and yet the revolution that we have had most recently is a Tea Party revolution, that essentially started with CNBC and a talking head who was outraged that homeowners were getting bailed out. He blamed all the wrong people, and we’ve not exactly had the equivalent revolutionary movement on the left.

I think I understand. Could I borrow your paper? (starts drawing) I think it’s because of the way the energy must move. I think it’s selfishness. Say that Republicans run on selfishness and greed — which is in all of us — I think the way that that energy travels is fast and in short journeys. I think altruism might have a longer journey. I think it might move more slowly. So I think if you’re trying to fire people up on this sort of fear circuit – these ancient systems of anatomical survival, of selfishness and greed, they’ve been functioning for a long, long time. Now we have a culture that is predicated on those things. We’ve acculturated aspects of our nature that are required only for our survival. And if they are overstimulated, fear and desire create a kind of primeval prison.

So I think why it’s easier to get a Tea Party message, a Republican message, across is because they function on fear and desire. These are fast-moving circuits. It’s very hard for me to motivate myself to meditate and do yoga. It’s very easy to motivate myself to eat chocolate or pursue attractive women. There is a lot of fire for those things. So I suppose what we have to do is look at the methods of communication. That’s why I have to go on “Today.” That’s why I have to talk a certain way. That’s why, I suppose, I haven’t yet left, entirely, this aquarium or arena. Because it’s not time yet.

Your Brain On Money

20090403_money_man

Your Brain On Money

The above link is an article at Salon about research that was done on how the rich behave differently than the middle and lower classes.  A key paragraph:

Paul Piff and his co-authors, who have done extended research on the behaviors of the wealthy, find that lower class individuals are more generous, charitable, trusting and helpful than upper class individuals. In another study, they find individuals with expensive cars were more likely to cut off other drivers and pedestrians. Further, in laboratory experiments, wealthy participants were more likely to take valued goods, cheat, lie and endorse such behavior. These studies have support from other sources. For instance, the wealthy actually donate less to charity as a share of their income than the middle class. Their giving is more dependent on the economic climate than the middle class. It is unsurprising that Christ warned, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

The reason I post so many Salon articles is quite simple:  I have the app on my phone and many of the articles are interesting.  However, Salon is quickly following Huffington Post in creating a lot of senseless articles with sensational headlines to simply garner more clicks.

As far as my thinking on the above article.  This certainly isn’t scientific, but I have done canvassing, sales, and customer service.  Basically, I have had a lot of jobs where one deals directly with the public.  Especially in canvassing, I feel as if people are ruder in higher income neighborhoods.  There are a lot more doors slammed in your face.  This particular canvassing jobs wasn’t even political in the sense that it did not take sides.  It was simply giving information to the community so that they knew what was going on pertaining to a certain issue.  It was actually a public service and not pestering people to think one way or the other or ask for money. We were trying to inform the community about something that was going to affect them whether they cared or not.  Meanwhile people in the middle and lower income communities were much friendlier and would often spend time talking to you and even going above and beyond by offering water on a hot day.

Income disparity might not just be bad for the country, it might be bad for the soul.

Welcome to the Terrordome

Why Americans are so easily terrorized by ISIS http://www.salon.com/2014/10/08/why_americans_are_so_easily_terrorized_by_isis_partner/ via @Salon

This is actually a really good article.  Do you know how much I sit around worrying about ISIS being a personal threat?  Never.  My vices and the highways I drive on and crossing the street and a billion other things are way more likely to take me out.  If I am wrong, and someday I am the one to be struck by terrorist lightning, well then I won’t be around to worry then either.  As Warren Zevon sang, “Life’ll kill ya.”

I think it is fair to have an honest discussion about ISIS’s role in the Middle East and how the world, and yes the world and not the U.S. alone, should respond.  However, this constant fear mongering that somehow they are a big threat to our daily lives must stop.  I don’t know what the statistics are for dying in a U.S. terrorist attack are, but they are dwarfed by your chances of dying from a million other things.  Don’t let the lizard brain run your life!  

Cornel West On Obama

Cornel West: “The state of Black America in the age of Obama has been one of desperation, confusion and capitulation” http://www.salon.com/2014/10/05/cornel_west_the_state_of_black_america_in_the_age_of_obama_has_been_one_of_desperation_confusion_and_capitulation/

Salon has been pretty terrible lately.  It has slowly been turning into a Huffington Post that seems designed to generate as many clicks as possible through ridiculous headlines.  It might soon be time to delete this app on my phone as well.  But, for the time being, there are still some really great articles there.  I found this criticism of President Obama, by Cornel West, from a leftwing perspective, interesting.  I think criticism of leaders is important, even if you support them over the opposition.  If you understand how politics work, then you know that the people often lead the leaders towards making changes.