Author Topic: 10 Things Americans Waste Money On  (Read 24597 times)

gaja

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Re: 10 Things Americans Waste Money On
« Reply #100 on: June 08, 2016, 12:36:00 PM »
This is not a reaction that I've noticed from the other Canadians, Europeans, or Asians when someone from another country makes simple observations about their home country . . . when it's generally laughed off, or agreed with.  Of course not all sweeping generalizations are true every time and for every American, but they are true often enough that people notice them.

Really?  Go tell a Frenchman what's wrong with France or a German how Germany is wrong and get back to me.  Americans, in my (relatively limited, I'll admit) experience, take themselves far less seriously than many Europeans.
Conan O'Brien tried that with Finland, and got a postcard saying: "I hate my homeland too, keep up the good work". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijWZA-7uHLk

dragoncar

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Re: 10 Things Americans Waste Money On
« Reply #101 on: June 08, 2016, 12:44:55 PM »
I prefer a temperature of 60 F.

I prefer a temperature of 40 F

GuitarStv

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Re: 10 Things Americans Waste Money On
« Reply #102 on: June 08, 2016, 12:48:44 PM »
I prefer a temperature of 60 F.

I prefer a temperature of 40 F

I'll see your 40F and raise you (lower you?) absolute zero.  You can always put on some extra clothing right?

dragoncar

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Re: 10 Things Americans Waste Money On
« Reply #103 on: June 08, 2016, 02:16:07 PM »
I prefer a temperature of 60 F.

I prefer a temperature of 40 F

I'll see your 40F and raise you (lower you?) absolute zero.  You can always put on some extra clothing right?

When it's absolute zero out, I put on my solar system and atmosphere.  It really takes the edge off.

exterous

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Re: 10 Things Americans Waste Money On
« Reply #104 on: June 10, 2016, 09:43:57 AM »
I thought I heard it all, but Norway having an advantage in public transport potential over the USA because of geology is one of the best ever.
Norway is essentially made of mountains, fjords and ice.
It's incredibly long and thin, has ZERO plains and it's almost impossible to go on a straight line from point a to point b
A good chunk of the country has multiple months with only a few hours of sunlight per year
It's scarcely populated.

The public transportation system in Norway follows roads that were already in existence meaning the path through the mountains has already been forged rendering the existence of plains or mountains largely immaterial to serving most of their population where they currently reside aside from point to point trip durations. It might be a relevant discussion if construction was primarily based on public transportation needs, however E6 would have been completed\upgraded\maintained without the existence of public transportation so that does not apply here.

I also don't know what relevance the amount of daylight has on the operation of transportation along established routes. It certainly doesn't seem to impact it much at all given the functioning transportation services available in places like Alaska or Norway.

As for scarcely populated if you haven't ever been to northern Norway I would suggest looking at a population density map. You'll see most of the people in the north live along a very narrow corridor served by 1-2 major roads. Run a few buses and ferries along those routes and you have now served the majority of the northern Norwegian population.

Now compare that to a population density map of South Dakota and it quickly becomes apparent that to serve the same percentage of population you need far more buses and roads. Keep in mind that your typical bus is going to run you around $500,000 and then costs around $115 per hour to run in terms of driver salary, fuel, maintenance etc. So, depending on how you run your bus, you are looking at around another $250,000 a year for operation. Decentralized bus service adds up fast. Inclement weather service also becomes more problematic the more decentralized your road system is
« Last Edit: June 10, 2016, 09:48:45 AM by exterous »

gaja

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Re: 10 Things Americans Waste Money On
« Reply #105 on: June 10, 2016, 11:39:47 AM »
I thought I heard it all, but Norway having an advantage in public transport potential over the USA because of geology is one of the best ever.
Norway is essentially made of mountains, fjords and ice.
It's incredibly long and thin, has ZERO plains and it's almost impossible to go on a straight line from point a to point b
A good chunk of the country has multiple months with only a few hours of sunlight per year
It's scarcely populated.

The public transportation system in Norway follows roads that were already in existence meaning the path through the mountains has already been forged rendering the existence of plains or mountains largely immaterial to serving most of their population where they currently reside aside from point to point trip durations. It might be a relevant discussion if construction was primarily based on public transportation needs, however E6 would have been completed\upgraded\maintained without the existence of public transportation so that does not apply here.

I also don't know what relevance the amount of daylight has on the operation of transportation along established routes. It certainly doesn't seem to impact it much at all given the functioning transportation services available in places like Alaska or Norway.

As for scarcely populated if you haven't ever been to northern Norway I would suggest looking at a population density map. You'll see most of the people in the north live along a very narrow corridor served by 1-2 major roads. Run a few buses and ferries along those routes and you have now served the majority of the northern Norwegian population.

Now compare that to a population density map of South Dakota and it quickly becomes apparent that to serve the same percentage of population you need far more buses and roads. Keep in mind that your typical bus is going to run you around $500,000 and then costs around $115 per hour to run in terms of driver salary, fuel, maintenance etc. So, depending on how you run your bus, you are looking at around another $250,000 a year for operation. Decentralized bus service adds up fast. Inclement weather service also becomes more problematic the more decentralized your road system is
Serving the majority is rarely a problem when you plan public transport. The people insisting on living on remote islands (Røst, Utsira, Ona), and in the end of fjords where there are so many landslides, avalanches and rockfalls that you have to have a ferry and passenger boat on standby, is what causes grey hairs on the planners' heads. "The percentage" that we need to serve is 100. If you want to live on Røst, we will take you there by public transport https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R%C3%B8st. If you want to live in Geiranger during the winter months, we will provide a "Avalanche ferry", with a printed time table, ready for when the rocks and snow comes crashing down: http://www.sunnmoringen.no/incoming/article307338.ece Some years we have to use dynamite to get the avalanches to go before the tourists start to arrive. That makes manning the avalanche ferry easier, since we can tell them to be ready this tuesday, instead of some time during the next few weeks.

E6 in your description sounds like a broad highway. The reality is that it is regularly closed do to storms, avalanches and landslides. Almost all of it has paving and two lines now, but not everywhere.
Earlier this year a landslide over E6 caused a lot of problems: the only possible detour was via Finland, and took 7 hours: https://www.nrk.no/troms/jordraset-i-troms-gir-omkjoring-pa-700-kilometer-1.12353626 In cases like that, we have to use boats, helicopters and planes to ensure that people get where they need to be. Also, all restrictions on snowmobile use were lifted. When E6 crosses the polar circle, it also goes over Saltfjellet (the Salt mountain). Tuesday this week, they had +1*C, heavy snowfall and gale force winds there. I'm not sure how many days each winter the transport over Saltfjellet gets restricted, but it is not few. "Kolonnekjøring over Saltfjellet" is a common part of the weather forecasts, it looks like this:

I don't doubt that planning and operating public transport in the US has it's own challenges. But the biggest challenge in my part of Europe is that we have to provide it for everybody, no matter where they live, no matter what happens. And beacuse of this, geography and weather is a big issue, and the stats that show where the majority live is of little relevance.

xclonexclonex

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Re: 10 Things Americans Waste Money On
« Reply #106 on: June 10, 2016, 03:17:50 PM »
What all of these foreigners who complain about how Americans consume don't understand is that consumption is a function of cost and availability.

Americans consume more, live in bigger homes, upgrade their electronics more often, etc because it is much more inexpensive to do so here than in Germany, Spain, etc.

We drive big sedans, SUVs, trucks, and sports cars because in the USA because they're more affordable than in the UK/EU. The money you pay here for a sports car gets you a Fiesta or a Focus overseas.

The money you pay for a 2,500 square foot home in the suburbs here gives you  a 2 bedroom 1,000 square foot apartment in Europe.

The point isn't that the USA is better or worse or that Americans consume too much or too little. The point is that consumption is tied to cost and availability. If the cost were higher, we'd consume less, it's that simple.

If the costs were lower in EU, they'd consume more, hands down.

Now whether or not we consume too much, that's up to each individual to decide.

The most sensible post in this entire thread...

woopwoop

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Re: 10 Things Americans Waste Money On
« Reply #107 on: June 10, 2016, 04:50:32 PM »
Also, most people in a service role seem really good at their jobs. I'm sure others would disagree, but I'm always amazed at how smoothly things seem to run in the states.
Oh my GOD, this! I recently visited Ireland and Germany, and 90% of our interactions with people in customer service roles were awful. Workers would scowl at us as we came in the door, sigh and moan when we asked for any sort of help whatsoever (why yes, I would like a hotel pillowcase without bloodstains on it, thank you for rolling your eyes at me for that one), and just generally act like they were doing us a big favor by taking our money for services.  We thought it was just us being stupid Americans, but the native friends/family we were visiting said no, it's just not expected that customer service people act nicely to customers.

When we got back to America and went to the carpark at midnight after twenty hours of travel, and the attendant there smiled and asked us how our night was going, I wanted to give him a hug around the neck. I never knew how much it meant to me to have people smile and act friendly with all of the small interactions in a day.

This has only been my experience with Europe, though. South America, Central America, Canada, Mexico, Pacific Islanders, all very friendly and approachable. If I didn't have most of my family living in France and Ireland, I'd swear off visiting Europe forever :(

exterous

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Re: 10 Things Americans Waste Money On
« Reply #108 on: June 13, 2016, 07:22:57 AM »

E6 in your description sounds like a broad highway. The reality is that it is regularly closed do to storms, avalanches and landslides. Almost all of it has paving and two lines now, but not everywhere.

I don't believe I ever mentioned that it was a broad highway (although it is in some parts) and it was never my intention (nor do I believe I did) convey that there are not issues keeping it open. I have no doubt that keeping it open is quite a task for those involved

Quote
And beacuse of this, geography and weather is a big issue, and the stats that show where the majority live is of little relevance.

Where people live, including the majority, is the cornerstone of public transit planning. I think you are under estimating the road network in the Dakotas that would need to be kept clear of ice and snow for a public transportation system to work. (I actually think we would need to widen the discussion a bit in terms of states due to the size differences in comparisons) This means that even if keeping E6 and its ancillary road network open has to deal with larger issues it may still not be as difficult or expensive as keeping a much larger road network open. This can still be true even if that larger road network does not deal with singular issues as big as the concentrated system.

For whatever its worth I worked at a firm helping cities in many places in the world (including many very snowy places) work on their public transit options and large span decentralized networks add up much faster than people realize.

exterous

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Re: 10 Things Americans Waste Money On
« Reply #109 on: June 13, 2016, 07:37:26 AM »
Oh my GOD, this! I recently visited Ireland and Germany, and 90% of our interactions with people in customer service roles were awful. Workers would scowl at us as we came in the door, sigh and moan when we asked for any sort of help whatsoever (why yes, I would like a hotel pillowcase without bloodstains on it, thank you for rolling your eyes at me for that one), and just generally act like they were doing us a big favor by taking our money for services.  We thought it was just us being stupid Americans, but the native friends/family we were visiting said no, it's just not expected that customer service people act nicely to customers.

When we got back to America and went to the carpark at midnight after twenty hours of travel, and the attendant there smiled and asked us how our night was going, I wanted to give him a hug around the neck. I never knew how much it meant to me to have people smile and act friendly with all of the small interactions in a day.

This has only been my experience with Europe, though. South America, Central America, Canada, Mexico, Pacific Islanders, all very friendly and approachable. If I didn't have most of my family living in France and Ireland, I'd swear off visiting Europe forever :(

You may have just been unlucky, or, perhaps the area you were visiting? It seems that at least one of our international trips is to somewhere in Europe every year and that isn't something we've regularly run into, particularly in regards to Ireland. Heck, during our last trip the cabbie in Dublin refused to charge us the full fare because 'he enjoyed the trip'. Good luck getting a cabbie in DC to do that.

gaja

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Re: 10 Things Americans Waste Money On
« Reply #110 on: June 13, 2016, 11:47:20 AM »
Oh my GOD, this! I recently visited Ireland and Germany, and 90% of our interactions with people in customer service roles were awful. Workers would scowl at us as we came in the door, sigh and moan when we asked for any sort of help whatsoever (why yes, I would like a hotel pillowcase without bloodstains on it, thank you for rolling your eyes at me for that one), and just generally act like they were doing us a big favor by taking our money for services.  We thought it was just us being stupid Americans, but the native friends/family we were visiting said no, it's just not expected that customer service people act nicely to customers.

When we got back to America and went to the carpark at midnight after twenty hours of travel, and the attendant there smiled and asked us how our night was going, I wanted to give him a hug around the neck. I never knew how much it meant to me to have people smile and act friendly with all of the small interactions in a day.

This has only been my experience with Europe, though. South America, Central America, Canada, Mexico, Pacific Islanders, all very friendly and approachable. If I didn't have most of my family living in France and Ireland, I'd swear off visiting Europe forever :(

You may have just been unlucky, or, perhaps the area you were visiting? It seems that at least one of our international trips is to somewhere in Europe every year and that isn't something we've regularly run into, particularly in regards to Ireland. Heck, during our last trip the cabbie in Dublin refused to charge us the full fare because 'he enjoyed the trip'. Good luck getting a cabbie in DC to do that.

I'm getting more and more intrigued by the concept of politeness. We get so much training in it from we are very young, that we think our type of politeness is natural, and that people who do not follow our norms are inpolite. But in reality, there are so many different rules in the different cultures of the world. In Russia, smiling at strangers is a sign that you insincere. In Scandinavia, the more you leave people alone, the more polite you are. I have several times left shops in other parts of Europe, being annoyed because the sales people wouldn't let me look at things in peace and quiet. When talking to Americans, I often have to stop and remind myself that it is not impolite in their culture to use my name when they talk to me. In my culture, we only adress someone with their given name if we are going to scold them, or if we don't think they are paying attention. in a lot of western cultures, asking people how much they earn, or how much something costs, is impolite. In several of the Deaf cultures it is considered impolite to not answer honestly to such questions. This can cause som tension in families that have both Deaf and hearing members. (Deaf with capital D=deaf culture. deaf with lower case d=non-hearing).

This TED talk by a French Canadian is really good: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-Yy6poJ2zs
Or for a less academic approach, from fucking Finland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMFut003-bM

MgoSam

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Re: 10 Things Americans Waste Money On
« Reply #111 on: June 13, 2016, 11:48:04 AM »
This is not a reaction that I've noticed from the other Canadians, Europeans, or Asians when someone from another country makes simple observations about their home country . . . when it's generally laughed off, or agreed with.  Of course not all sweeping generalizations are true every time and for every American, but they are true often enough that people notice them.

Really?  Go tell a Frenchman what's wrong with France or a German how Germany is wrong and get back to me.  Americans, in my (relatively limited, I'll admit) experience, take themselves far less seriously than many Europeans.

I completely agree at least from my personal experience. I dated a Frenchwomen who would rail about things she hated about America and how things were better in France, I would politely ask her why she was staying in the US and she would be quiet. When we were in France any comment I made about how things were done differently in the US was met with a death stare and the potential of no cuddling that night, so I bravely bit my tongue.

That said, when she visited me and we went to a party I hated the fact that people upon hearing her accent would ask her where she's from and when she told them, would say, "I hate France." I just thought that saying that was rude, thankfully she her response to one guy was, "Where are you from?" and the guy said, "Livonia, Michigan," and she smiled and said, "I hate Livonia."

I miss her!

MgoSam

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Re: 10 Things Americans Waste Money On
« Reply #112 on: June 13, 2016, 11:50:45 AM »
Oh my GOD, this! I recently visited Ireland and Germany, and 90% of our interactions with people in customer service roles were awful. Workers would scowl at us as we came in the door, sigh and moan when we asked for any sort of help whatsoever (why yes, I would like a hotel pillowcase without bloodstains on it, thank you for rolling your eyes at me for that one), and just generally act like they were doing us a big favor by taking our money for services.  We thought it was just us being stupid Americans, but the native friends/family we were visiting said no, it's just not expected that customer service people act nicely to customers.

When we got back to America and went to the carpark at midnight after twenty hours of travel, and the attendant there smiled and asked us how our night was going, I wanted to give him a hug around the neck. I never knew how much it meant to me to have people smile and act friendly with all of the small interactions in a day.

This has only been my experience with Europe, though. South America, Central America, Canada, Mexico, Pacific Islanders, all very friendly and approachable. If I didn't have most of my family living in France and Ireland, I'd swear off visiting Europe forever :(

You may have just been unlucky, or, perhaps the area you were visiting? It seems that at least one of our international trips is to somewhere in Europe every year and that isn't something we've regularly run into, particularly in regards to Ireland. Heck, during our last trip the cabbie in Dublin refused to charge us the full fare because 'he enjoyed the trip'. Good luck getting a cabbie in DC to do that.

I'm getting more and more intrigued by the concept of politeness. We get so much training in it from we are very young, that we think our type of politeness is natural, and that people who do not follow our norms are inpolite. But in reality, there are so many different rules in the different cultures of the world. In Russia, smiling at strangers is a sign that you insincere. In Scandinavia, the more you leave people alone, the more polite you are. I have several times left shops in other parts of Europe, being annoyed because the sales people wouldn't let me look at things in peace and quiet. When talking to Americans, I often have to stop and remind myself that it is not impolite in their culture to use my name when they talk to me. In my culture, we only adress someone with their given name if we are going to scold them, or if we don't think they are paying attention. in a lot of western cultures, asking people how much they earn, or how much something costs, is impolite. In several of the Deaf cultures it is considered impolite to not answer honestly to such questions. This can cause som tension in families that have both Deaf and hearing members. (Deaf with capital D=deaf culture. deaf with lower case d=non-hearing).

This TED talk by a French Canadian is really good: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-Yy6poJ2zs
Or for a less academic approach, from fucking Finland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMFut003-bM

A guy I know that emigrated from Korea said that people only smiled at babies and "retarded people" (his words) and so when he came here he was shocked that strangers would smile at him, and it took him a while to realize that it was just them being polite and not thinking that he was mentally impaired.

cube.37

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Re: 10 Things Americans Waste Money On
« Reply #113 on: June 13, 2016, 02:14:33 PM »
Also, most people in a service role seem really good at their jobs. I'm sure others would disagree, but I'm always amazed at how smoothly things seem to run in the states.
Oh my GOD, this! I recently visited Ireland and Germany, and 90% of our interactions with people in customer service roles were awful. Workers would scowl at us as we came in the door, sigh and moan when we asked for any sort of help whatsoever (why yes, I would like a hotel pillowcase without bloodstains on it, thank you for rolling your eyes at me for that one), and just generally act like they were doing us a big favor by taking our money for services.  We thought it was just us being stupid Americans, but the native friends/family we were visiting said no, it's just not expected that customer service people act nicely to customers.

When we got back to America and went to the carpark at midnight after twenty hours of travel, and the attendant there smiled and asked us how our night was going, I wanted to give him a hug around the neck. I never knew how much it meant to me to have people smile and act friendly with all of the small interactions in a day.

This has only been my experience with Europe, though. South America, Central America, Canada, Mexico, Pacific Islanders, all very friendly and approachable. If I didn't have most of my family living in France and Ireland, I'd swear off visiting Europe forever :(

Interesting. I've always been frustrated by how slow everything is in the states. I was raised in Korea, and things moved so quickly there: customer service for internet comes within hours, entire subway lines get built in a year, updating my license at the DMV takes 20 minutes, etc.

Part of it is probably the expectation on the customer part: speed > building rapport/conversation.

The flipside, is that people tend to be generally nicer/friendlier here.

cube.37

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Re: 10 Things Americans Waste Money On
« Reply #114 on: June 13, 2016, 02:24:40 PM »
I guess I didn't take any offense because I view myself as a contrarian to the general American as I ride my bike to work, eat a healthy diet, etc.

I don't agree with disrespecting someone's opinion based on their nationality, age, race, etc.

Thought it would be fun to search for a 10 things America is great at post to make everyone feel better:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/25/travel/10-things-u-s-does-better/

1. Everyone says hello

2. Road Trips

3. Derbies

4. Craft Beer

5. Diversity

6. Canyons

7. National Parks

8. Eating

9. Sports

10. TV/Movies/Youtube

Definitely diversity. When compared to a homogenous nation like Korea, where essentially everyone comes from an area the size of Indiana, the US seems super diverse and welcoming to different cultures/skin colors. When I first moved for college, I was surprised how racially sensitive everyone was - racism is very common back in korea. Despite all the claims of racism here, it's really amazing how accepting the culture is. (Obviously it can always be better)

This was the first link I found, but still very interesting:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2325502/Map-shows-worlds-racist-countries-answers-surprise-you.html

dragoncar

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Re: 10 Things Americans Waste Money On
« Reply #115 on: June 17, 2016, 10:14:04 AM »
LOL, I didn't see this last time.  There's only four things we do better than anyone else:
music
movies
microcode (software)
high-speed pizza delivery

I guess I didn't take any offense because I view myself as a contrarian to the general American as I ride my bike to work, eat a healthy diet, etc.

I don't agree with disrespecting someone's opinion based on their nationality, age, race, etc.

Thought it would be fun to search for a 10 things America is great at post to make everyone feel better:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/25/travel/10-things-u-s-does-better/

1. Everyone says hello

2. Road Trips

3. Derbies

4. Craft Beer

5. Diversity

6. Canyons

7. National Parks

8. Eating

9. Sports

10. TV/Movies/Youtube

NoVa

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Re: 10 Things Americans Waste Money On
« Reply #116 on: June 17, 2016, 11:10:22 AM »
LOL, I didn't see this last time.  There's only four things we do better than anyone else:
music
movies
microcode (software)
high-speed pizza delivery

Ha! Snow Crash quote, and quite possibly true.

jfolsen