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  1. #171
    Senior Member compulsiverambler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Athenian200 View Post
    So, what else would you say applies to American culture as a whole, that isn't related to a specific region, and isn't shared with Western/European/English civilization as a whole? I find myself having trouble thinking of such qualities, except perhaps for the strong Protestant influence.
    I can't think of any country I know much about for which the same couldn't be said. How many customs and social norms are completely unique to one country these days? American inventions such as fast food restaurants, rap and basketball have spread all over the world, especially the Western world, as happened with English culture in the not-so-distant past. That doesn't stop them being aspects of American culture. Just ask Rammstein. (Sorry if anyone's already predictably linked to that, I haven't read most of the thread...)

    People sometimes think their area doesn't have a culture for the same reason they think it doesn't have an accent: it's shown as normal in many other contexts, as certain American accents are used as the USA's default or standard on TV, or as members of the English upper class all speak the same way where ever they were born. An accent is a set of pronunciation patterns, so being used in lots of contexts can't make it any less an accent. In the same way, if a group of intelligent beings form a society it's impossible for it to not have a culture, even if it turns out similarly to or is adopted widely by others. I say impossible because even if a society had an extremely individualistic attitude with no traditions or behavioural norms or common identity beyond that of the land and government it shared - that individualism too would be a cultural characteristic.

    While it doesn't have to be unique to meet the definition of 'cultural', if you want something that doesn't seem to have caught on anywhere else there may be this. I'm not aware of any other country that routinely uses knives and forks in which US table manners apply, e.g. swapping the knife and fork over, cutting with the fork, putting the knife down for most of the meal. I imagine it never caught on because, unlike most aspects of US life, which seem to place convenience at the front and centre, it appears rather clumsy and inefficient.

  2. #172
    Your time is gonna come. Oom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victor View Post
    Your roots lie in Puritanism and your bourgeois revolution against the Crown in 1776.

    Just as my roots lie in the Aristocratic Ascendancy and the English and Scottish Enlightenment.

    Neither of us can escape our origins.

    We can though come to understand them and develop them further.

    So for short we can say your first job is to be a puritan revolutionary and my first job is to be an enlightened aristocrat.

    And our second job is to find way a puritan and an aristocrat can work fruitfully together.

    And already we have a good working relationship based on three treaties, a military treaty, a land treaty and an economic treaty.

    Why not read them?
    I suppose I shouldn't have replied to your post Victor. I thought you would just dance around the question. Looks like I might've been right.

    Interesting words, but they don't have to do with the context of my question.

  3. #173
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    The amount of liberty we enjoy in this country is a defining characteristic of our culture. I would also argue that we are more individualistic than most other countries.

  4. #174
    Senior Member compulsiverambler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    The amount of liberty we enjoy in this country is a defining characteristic of our culture. I would also argue that we are more individualistic than most other countries.
    I'm not sure of that. Relatively speaking perhaps, compared with much of Asia and Africa, but in absolute terms it's Scandinavian culture that's long been defined by actual liberty, as opposed to lip-service to liberty. The same is true of tolerance, which has been mentioned a few times. There has been some trend-bucking from both sides in recent years but in general I think that's the difference.

  5. #175
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edgar View Post
    Yes, aside from that whole crotch hair thing.

    Well in Europe you can't travel 100 miles without hitting another country. Here in America, some people commute 100 miles to work. So geography plays a part. Also, English is de facto esperanto of the 21st century, so the need to learn foreign languages for English speakers is not that pressing... except maybe for those living in the Southwest USA, but they are getting pretty handy with Spanish.
    Certainly.

    Yet, the average European joe still uses more of a certain part of their brain than the average American. This is normal due to proximity as you said. However, is it really good enough for Americans to complete the bare minimum?

    To stay on top, you must be just as bright and hungry as everyone else with the same aspirations. I don't see that kind of motivation here aside from smart immigrants. The general population acts so entitled. Like everything should be handed to them without any work. With globalization, learning the major languages can only be an asset for individuals interested in retaining or gaining upward mobility.

  6. #176
    Senior Member compulsiverambler's Avatar
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    More: You don't care much for soccer, that's pretty unusual. Speedos are mainly worn at Gay Pride parades and swimming shorts aren't just worn by the insecure boys at the pool with rolls of flab to hide. You're the only majority Christian/secular country in which male genital mutilation is still at all common and certainly the only one in which parents consider it a health measure.

    The 'bigger is better' philosophy is fairly unique as far as I can tell. Huge buildings, huge bridges, huge dams, huge cars, huge meals, huge people, huge everything. Even the Smart car is made bigger for the American market, and its unique selling point was supposed to be that it's small.

    I've heard that condoms are bigger in the US too, but I've never compared. Anyone know?

  7. #177
    Nerd King Usurper Edgar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by compulsiverambler View Post
    More: You don't care much for soccer, that's pretty unusual. Speedos are mainly worn at Gay Pride parades and swimming shorts aren't just worn by the insecure boys at the pool with rolls of flab to hide. You're the only majority Christian/secular country in which male genital mutilation is still at all common and certainly the only one in which parents consider it a health measure.
    What do you have against non-Christian/religious countries?
    Last edited by proteanmix; 10-06-2009 at 01:56 PM. Reason: edgar! tisk!
    Listen to me, baby, you got to understand, you're old enough to learn the makings of a man.

  8. #178
    Senior Member compulsiverambler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edgar View Post
    What do you have against non-Christian/religious countries?
    Every other country in which it's common is majority Muslim, Jewish or other circumcision-encouraging religion. Christianity is not such a religion and the USA is AFAIK unique in having most parents asking for it for reasons other than religious custom.

  9. #179
    Don't Judge Me! Haphazard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by compulsiverambler View Post
    While it doesn't have to be unique to meet the definition of 'cultural', if you want something that doesn't seem to have caught on anywhere else there may be this. I'm not aware of any other country that routinely uses knives and forks in which US table manners apply, e.g. swapping the knife and fork over, cutting with the fork, putting the knife down for most of the meal. I imagine it never caught on because, unlike most aspects of US life, which seem to place convenience at the front and centre, it appears rather clumsy and inefficient.
    Okay, wow. I spent my whole morning researching this, and I came up with five different answers, and I have no idea which one is the right one.

    1. It's meant to slow down the eaters, like a QWERTY keyboard, by the constant switching of utensils, so people would remember to chew their food and talk to each other during mealtimes (it's debatable how successful this is, if this is the case)

    2. Colonizing was dirty business, so the colonists adopted the Middle Eastern/Indian practice of reserving the right hand for eating and the left hand for the toilet (no idea how they would have known this, but eh), so mostly the right hand was used for eating in this method.

    3. American colonists were so poor that families often only had one knife between them. By setting the knife down for most of the meal, it allowed everyone to have a turn with the knife. (This would explain the 'cutting with the side of the fork' thing Americans do that apparently no one else does, because you wouldn't take the family knife if you didn't have to, if it were true)

    4. This way of eating is actually older, and the "European" style, always holding both utensils, came into fashion because of the French revolution/occupation/whatever. In the new style, you could see where the other person's hands were at all times, so you knew they weren't doing any treachery. Because this never happened in America, they never adopted the new style.

    5. Probably the most convoluted one: England was the last of Europe to catch onto the whole fork idea, so when England began to colonize America, they knew about forks but they weren't in style yet, so Americans didn't use them until later. However, as forks became more popular in England, shipments of knives into America became duller, so Americans began to use spoons to steady their food while cutting it and then switching it back to the right hand because before these dull knives they would always wield the utensil with their right hands. (This would explain why this method is uniquely American if it were true, because pretty much nowhere else had this circumstance)
    -Carefully taking sips from the Fire Hose of Knowledge

  10. #180
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    Quote Originally Posted by 01011010 View Post
    Interesting observation.

    All the non-American Chinese people I've encountered, say they come here to purchase their degrees. America to them, is a place where one can buy education.
    generally speaking, degrees from america are still relatively valuable all over the globe.

    from what i seen from other koreans, japanese, etc... is that their opinions of american universities are pretty aligned with PhD program rankings. bc the elite still consider an American PhD tops, and they see those rankings associated with their top professors, gov't officials, elite of the respective countries.

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