Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ugly American was not intended; an explanation

Image of a Bank of Hell banknote; I am worried that people will view your humble scribe the wrong way and cast aspersions of nationalistic vitriol, withdrawn from the Bank of Hell, on your humble scribe based upon yesterday's posting...Dear Gentle Reader,

Mea culpa.

I wrote some long notes to yesterday's post

But, just as I know that very few roll their mouse over the images to see what messages or titles I have left, almost nobody goes back to look at comments. 

So, I will repackage them because it is important.

Yesterday's post could be seen as an easy attack on three self-centered Americans who happened to be girls. Classic ugly Americans in action. That was not my intention.

The post was meant to be a sardonic look at the actions of three young people, three young girls, who happened to be American.

The posting does me no credit as I had to have an Oscar Wilde line at the end; I couldn't just walk away. 

But, I feel worse if people think I harbour anti-American sentiments.

So, I will risk further assaults on my character and revisit yesterday.

In yesterday's post I meant to highlight the profligate silliness, obtuseness, and self-centered nature of youth (compared, of course, to the foil of my helpfulness, reasonableness, and cleverness.)

First, ugly Americans do exist.

As do hooligan Brits, lager lout Dutch, culturally self-centered and self-righteous French, towel-wielding beach-reserving Germans, et cetera. And snide Canadians, too.

There are, statistically and in my experience, almost as many ugly Canadians as ugly Americans.

But, thankfully for Canadians, there are ten times more Americans than Canadians, which skews the number of ugly Americans as opposed to ugly Canadians that other countries' citizenry get to meet.

Then, we can further skew the ratio because more than ten times the number of Americans, compared to Canadians, have the disposable income to send their kids, or themselves, abroad.

That results in more than the 10:1 ratio of ugly Americans:ugly Canadians abroad that you would expect.

And the ugly idiots always stand out, if only for their idiocy and ugliness. 

Everyone remembers the idiots; their impacts crowd out the memories of the lovely people. 

Now add international resentment to the USA's wealth and power... 

Still, today, a vast amount of the world's GDP (GDP is Gross Domestic Product--the total value of all final goods and services produced with the national borders of a political economy within a particular year) is generated inside the USA. 

Yes, the EU generates a similar GDP, but that is the entire EU... not just one country... (The EU is the European Union whose countries now include all of Western Europe less Switzerland, all of Northern Europe less Norway, all of Southern Europe, and most of Eastern Europe...)

I just crunched the numbers. 

If we use 2007 IMF (International Monetary Fund) numbers then the US produces 25% of world GDP and the EU produces almost 31% of world GDP.

If we use 2007 World Bank numbers then the US produces 25% of world GDP and the EU produces 22% of world GDP.

If we use 2007 CIA world factbook numbers then the US produces 18% of world GDP and the EU produces 24% of world GDP.

Whichever numbers you use, the US is wealthy. 

This wealth provides the US federal government the ability to fund military and economic activities to create and project power.

The USA is still the only global superpower as it has been from the end of the cold war to today. 

It still is the world's policeman, and it struts accordingly, some days. 

It has also taken on the role of the world's judge through the doctrine of extra-territorial jurisdiction which is the US doctrine that US laws apply anywhere and everywhere... ...a bit of a slap in the face to the sovereignty of every other country on the planet.

So, people like to latch onto the idiots and tar the rest with their cultural misdeeds. It allows people to feel better, nationalistically, when innately comparing their country to the might, power, and wealth of the USA.

It's too easy to make fun of the ignorant few. 

Hence my big mea culpa, today; I do not want to be considered anti-American.

I am just intolerant of fools, no matter what their nationality.

I had not intended to raise the spectre of ugly Americans in yesterday's post, I was just poking fun at three vapid, self-centered young girls. 

And, heck, they were likely exhausted, jet-lagged, culture-shocked, and unprepared to hear people tell them hotel rack rates in dollars in English and they might have been confusing the HKD prices with USD prices. 

The ten dollar (USD) per night hell holes in Chungking Mansions might have been interpreted by them as 78 USD per night, instead of the 78 HKD per night that would have been meant when the reception staff would have leered and said "78 dollars, Missie" to their breasts.

What bothered me about the three girls was the way they were trying to control me with orders and their gravity-defying breasts. And the slyness of the looks they gave each other when they thought I had given up some state secrets of housing to them...



Heidelweiss said...

You have no worries here. I'm an American but not an ugly one ;). I don't apologize for being an American (I'm pretty sure you weren't asking me to). I just happened to be born here and ended up kind of liking it (as people tend to do with their homeland).
Those girls were ridiculous idiots. I don't care where they were from ;).

Sepiru Chris said...

Dear Heidelweiss,


I was suddenly disconcerted, reading some of the comments, that some might have thought I was America-bashing, which I was not.

And I would certainly not expect you to apologize for something as simultaneously trivial, and important, as the place of your birth.

The girls were ridiculous. And I had a bit of fun with them.

So, Heidelweiss... There is a Disneyland in Hong Kong--totally aimed at kids...


David Cranmer said...

People are people I've learned as I've traveled around our little mundo.

Junosmom said...

I am NEVER talking to you again. Just kidding!

Oh, Chris, don't apologize. We all know kids like that here, and I'm sure they're other places as well where the young adults aren't running for their lives and have food to eat.

I remember going to Jamaica once, very long ago when I had money :-) and going to get a take out meal. While I waited, I sat and looked at the ocean. Beautiful sight. The waiter repeatedly told assured me the food would be right out. Finally, I said, "no worries" I am not in a hurry. Take your time. You are not like the other Americans, he said, you are too relaxed. Why would I be in a hurry, I wondered with this beauty in front of me? But, alas, we do have a reputation. I'm not like that, so I don't take personal offense.

As to the photos, thank you for alerting me to the titles - I didn't know that was there.

Also, I DO read the comments, and once I have commented, I check "send follow up comments to my email" and I read all the remaining ones. I sometimes will admit to scanning due to time constraints and length, but I do keep up and enjoy your posts.

Oh, and LOVED the French explanation. Anna and I are studying. (I was once almost fluent but now have to relearn.)

Sepiru Chris said...

Dear David,

I am with you, David.

David, are you seriously interested in exploring bamboo scaffolding? I would be game to look into it...

Dear Junosmom,

Well of course you read the comments and check back. I do the same. What, though, is this email thing you are talking about? I need to examine this.

That Jamaica story fits precisely into my impression of you.

It is funny how you get to know people through this medium. I now understand how friends and acquaintances have met partners through online texting and chatting.

And yes, dear thing, each picture always has a hidden title. If the picture is not mine, that is where the authorship and permission is placed (or in the alternate, descriptive title which pops up for people whose browsers do not accept images).

That hidden, mouseover title sometimes merely provides more information.

Sometimes it is meant to be witty.

For example, the interpretive dance piece in Venice had song lyrics for half the images, if I recall correctly.

And, if you go back a few days to the bamboo scaffolding and go to the German cathedral... ...you will find secret information hidden...

And I read all of your posts too, Junosmom, just not in order, especially in the last month or so (and the upcoming months) because things have been a bit frantic in a bunch of areas of life recently.


Richard said...

When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

Heidelweiss said...

You're not in a hole, Chris ;).

Teresa said...

I am an American, and I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday's post. In fact, I enjoyed it enough to share with another American friend, who also enjoyed it.

Don't apologize. As anyone who reads more than one post on your blog probably knows, you have a wicked wit. That's a good thing. I really like your blog. My favorite was your post about the lions in front of the bank and how I could pay you to feed them so they won't eat me when I visit Hong Kong next time. I'm surprised you didn't frighten the girls with some talk about lions and tigers and bears roaming the streets of Hong Kong after dark. You could have helped by lightening their load.

Do the cockroaches in Hong Kong fly and bite like they do in Taiwan? The one pictured on your blog looked a little small...

debra said...

I've gone back and forth through the posts for the past few days and am only commenting here.
Ah, well, bad taste and rudeness certainly have no boundaries. Neither does arrogance. I hope the girls got what they were looking for :-)
I am still laughing.

Sepiru Chris said...

Dear Richard,

I hear you.

Dear Heidelweiss,

I hear you, too.

Dear Teresa,

Glad to hear that you approve. And, I did not need to be snarky myself. But sometimes, well sometimes Oscar Wilde gets the better of me.

The cockroaches in Taiwan certainly do fly, the kitty who owned your Heroine and humble scribe (before rights to us were assigned to your Hero) was so startled that he fell backwards onto his bum when a cockroach flew away from him.

As per the Blatta giganticus I believe that he flies, but, thankfully, not on the same airlines that I do.

PS Thanks for referring the post onwards. I am always delighted to hear such words of praise.

Dear Debra,

My cockles (major and minor, and the sub-cockles, too) are all warmed by hearing that the post made you laugh. Very fine praise. Thank you.

Tschuess all,

Teresa said...

Hi Chris,

I would say that you never know whether or not there are cockroaches on the same plane as you or not. I suspect they are hiding inside the warming ovens where it is steamy and close to food.

Who knows whether or not a cockroach taste-tester hasn't sampled your food with silver chopsticks before it was brought to your seat?

Sepiru Chris said...

Hello Teresa,

Well, you see the Blatta giganticus in the airport security queues...and they cannot use silver chopsticks on the airlines because they are treated as weapons under the security regulations. :(


Teresa said...

I did not realize that airport security in Hong Kong stretched even to the cockroaches. I learn so much from your blog.

On a more serious note, I did forward your Carbon Markets post to my Modern Asia professor and she forwarded it to the class to increase their cultural sensitivity. So you have become a textbook case or some such thing.


Barbara Martin said...

why did you bother? Anyone who reads your blog knows you are outspoken and have a special flair for words.

I've been absent from reading your wonderful blog posts due to awful tap water at home.

Sepiru Chris said...

Dear Teresa,

I am pleased that you enjoy your visits. Thanks for forwarding the post onwards. I look forward to hearing from some of them.

Dear Barbara,

Well, one never knows who will stumble upon a site, and if that was the first story they read, who knows what they may think.

In addition, one day my non-e-identity may be known, and I would rather that I address issues before members of the cable news media do...