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Fifty-two things they do better in America,
December 17, 2001 2:06 PM   Subscribe

Fifty-two things they do better in America, to which I'd also like to add community weblogs, road movies and cheesy christmas singles [from The Guardian].
posted by feelinglistless (89 comments total)

 
"19. No amber between red and green."

Where on earth was he driving when he came across this?

Ack!
posted by silusGROK at 2:22 PM on December 17, 2001


Music, movies and microcode - and high-speed pizza delivery.
posted by GriffX at 2:24 PM on December 17, 2001


While I appreciate the kudos to our nation's many achievements, I must note that --

31. Bumper stickers that are genuinely funny and which, at a steady 65mph, you can safely read.

-- anyone who can posit the existence of a "genuinely funny bumper sticker" is not a person whose judgements I would endorse.
posted by BT at 2:24 PM on December 17, 2001


I don't get it - is this list supposed to be funny, sarcastic or earnest?
posted by wfrgms at 2:26 PM on December 17, 2001


I don't get it - is this list supposed to be funny, sarcastic or earnest?

its some kind of bizarre violation of the international law against saying non scathing things about the states.
posted by badstone at 2:31 PM on December 17, 2001


The loyalty to Fahrenheit and pounds and miles and whatnot is not something I'd include on this list... that goes in the negative column!
posted by edlundart at 2:32 PM on December 17, 2001


15. Newspaper vendomats on street corners in major cities.

Oh, yeah, them's really something, ain't they?
posted by rschram at 2:32 PM on December 17, 2001


This is lame.

9. Overtaking on the left or right on the motorway.

So he's the jackass
posted by computerface at 2:33 PM on December 17, 2001


...and let's not forgety: better spelling.
posted by Postroad at 2:34 PM on December 17, 2001


19. No amber between red and green.

I'm assuming he means "no amber between red and green". However, there IS an amber (yellow) between green and red.

Apparently where he's from, the light goes red --> amber --> green.
posted by drinkcoffee at 2:34 PM on December 17, 2001


Vis10n: UK traffic lights go Red, Red + Yellow, Green, Yellow, Red. Many regard the extra yellow stage to be a complete waste of time since most drivers take "prepare to go" as "go". As far as I remember, US traffic lights just go straight from red to green - much better.
posted by dlewis at 2:36 PM on December 17, 2001


20. Big things with wings that kill America's enemies from 50,000ft (also known as "kicking Afghan butt").

Aah. I'd always wondered what the RAF was for, obviously killing America's enemies. Since they do it so much better over there. I would be gratuitiously offended at this collumn if they didn't do it so much better in America.
posted by nedrichards at 2:36 PM on December 17, 2001


he forgot 12 Spanish networks, 43 shop at home channels, and c-span all on BASIC cable!
posted by Hugh2d2 at 2:37 PM on December 17, 2001


Okay, in earnest:

- Cheques (or "checks") seem to clear instantly - if they're bad, the amount is taken off. More sensible than waiting 3/4 days for the cheque to clear.

- (in California) In-N-Out Burger. Fast food that tastes like real food.

- Free condiments in fast food restaurants - often in Burger King or Macdonald's in England they'll still give you the Spanish Inquisition if you want more than one ketchup.

- Free refills of popcorn in the cinema! During the movie!

- Respect for Seinfeld, as opposed to in the UK when one week it's at midnight, another week it's at 2am, and another week it's replaced entirely by the 'World' Snooker Championships.
posted by skylar at 2:37 PM on December 17, 2001


9. Overtaking on the left or right on the motorway.

So he's the jackass


Um, I'm that jackass too. If you'd get over to the left lane where you belong, gramps, I wouldn't have to pass your 45-mph-on-the-highway ass on the left.

And quit looking at that guy changing the tire! He's changing a tire. There's nothing interesting going on.
posted by UncleFes at 2:39 PM on December 17, 2001


Shit.

That's RIGHT lane where you belong.

:D
posted by UncleFes at 2:40 PM on December 17, 2001


And I'm passing you on the right.

You know what I meant!
posted by UncleFes at 2:42 PM on December 17, 2001


what a banal and ignorant list. I hope mr. sutherland was kidding.
posted by mcsweetie at 2:48 PM on December 17, 2001


As usual, making blanket statements about the United States is a mistake. That goes for you, too, Skyler. I dare you to find free refills of popcorn anywhere in New York City. And please explain why my last check took six days to clear, and the one before that five. (It has been worse since September 11; used to be three days, max). 7-11 aren't everywhere. "Merry Christmas" is everywhere. Not everyone has flip light switches, and they don't always flip up for "on." Farmer's markets are still relatively rare. Validated parking exists largely in huge metro areas. Street signs that indicate the range of house numbers? Where? You can't directly pay cash on the NYC subway; you still have to buy the middleman token or card (obviously, he rides the bus exclusively, since you can pay cash on the bus). Ice water is not guaranteed anymore. You might have to nag. Those speed limits are not universal. I dare you to ask for a free refill at Starbucks.
posted by Mo Nickels at 2:51 PM on December 17, 2001


I'd happily drive through more rotaries in the US (and Canada) rather than sit still with 2-3 light waits at busy intersections, if more of our urban planners could see fit to include them.
posted by astirling at 2:52 PM on December 17, 2001


Yeah, that overtaking thing.... can anyone give a decent explanation of why you shouldn't be allowed to pass on both sides (granted it's pretty dumb to pass a truck in the slow lane).
posted by dlewis at 2:52 PM on December 17, 2001


Street signs that indicate the range of house numbers? Where?

All over the place on the west coast, actually. *Shrug*
posted by Skot at 2:55 PM on December 17, 2001


He seems especially enamoured by our nation's supermarkets and bagboys... does grocery shopping really suck that bad in England?
posted by spilon at 3:01 PM on December 17, 2001


I thought it was funny.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 3:02 PM on December 17, 2001


As usual, making blanket statements about the United States is a mistake.

Who said they were blanket?
posted by o2b at 3:04 PM on December 17, 2001


Respect for Seinfeld

Actually, Seinfeld won a Best 'International' comedy award at the weekend. The ceremony featured a wonderful sequence were the guy who played Kramer chased a camera crew who'd turned up to give him his award from his shower, out of the house and into the driveway totally naked.
posted by feelinglistless at 3:11 PM on December 17, 2001


He seems especially enamoured by our nation's supermarkets and bagboys... does grocery shopping really suck that bad in England?

Yes.

No, it's wrong to say it sucks, but it is different. When I lived in London for a few months and would stock up once a week or so, I'd get the strangest looks from Britons. They thought I was feeding an army or something. I think it goes back to the WWII generation or maybe pre-refrigerator days when people shopped more often, but bought fewer items. (But that's just another American assumption/generalization of the UK.)
posted by msacheson at 3:11 PM on December 17, 2001


does grocery shopping really suck that bad in England?

Oh yes...and in fact the whole of the United Kingdom...
posted by feelinglistless at 3:13 PM on December 17, 2001


Farmer's markets are still relatively rare.

Huh? As far as I know, farmer's markets are pretty widespread (at least in the parts of Virginia, Maryland, New York, Maine, New Mexico, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oregon, Washington state, California, and Minnesota that I have frequented in the past year). They've been in Virginia since at least the early '80s.

As someone who's spent half her life overseas I thought the article was funny in an on-the-mark kind of way. Sure, these things aren't ubiquitous, but they are increasingly standard, especially in metro areas. And they tend to be the things that Americans miss when abroad.

It would be just as easy to make a list of 52 things Brits (or Europeans, Asians, South Americans, etc) miss when in the states.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 3:16 PM on December 17, 2001


"Not being a materialist in the U.S. is kind of like not appreciating opera if you live in Milan or art if you live in Paris. We support materialism better than any other culture. Because retailing and distribution are so efficient here, stuff is cheaper than anywhere else in the world. And then we have huge houses in which to archive our stuff." -- Philip Greenspun.
posted by mcguirk at 3:18 PM on December 17, 2001


you go philip!
posted by o2b at 3:23 PM on December 17, 2001


47. Flip-up, not -down, light switches (much easier in the dark).

That's necessary for safety codes in many industrial settings. In an emergency, you want gravity working with you if you need to cut power in a hurry.


Kerb? Is that for real?
posted by NortonDC at 3:23 PM on December 17, 2001


Farmer's markets are still relatively rare.

Huh? As far as I know, farmer's markets are pretty widespread (at least in the parts of Virginia, Maryland, New York, Maine, New Mexico, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oregon, Washington state, California, and Minnesota that I have frequented in the past year). They've been in Virginia since at least the early '80s.


Also Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio...I'm not sure where they ARE relatively rare, actually.
posted by 40 Watt at 3:31 PM on December 17, 2001


Americans spell it curb, the British, kerb.

Our Factory of Need: In the reigning system of belief called "economics," we Americans are "consumers" by nature and definition. We are genetically programmed with an insatiable desire to consume. Our closets and garages might be bulging, and our waistlines, too. But still we must be driven like the beast in Dante's Inferno, the one that "when she has fed is hungrier than ever." Jonathan Rowe
posted by Carol Anne at 4:01 PM on December 17, 2001


Free refills of coffee...

Huh? You call that stuff coffee???

What a strange list. What the heck has he got against A4 sized paper - a ream fell on his head when he was a kid, or something? A compellingly mystifying read. Although I'm with him on the supermarkets, the NYC subway, and the over-the-counter sleeping pills.
posted by blue at 4:02 PM on December 17, 2001


Anyone else want to give Christopher Hitchens back? I'd be happy with just 49 good things...
posted by machaus at 4:05 PM on December 17, 2001


can anyone give a decent explanation of why you shouldn't be allowed to pass on both sides?

It makes for more confusing flow of traffic. On the German Autobahn, it would be absolutely insane to allow this. It's bad enough to have Beamers zip by at breathneck speeds on the left lane -- if they were slaloming around the rest of traffic instead of merely flashing their lights at anybody blocking the left lane at 120 km/h, it would be an ugly scene.

I much prefer the mellow, steady flow of American highway traffic. Set cruise control and hold the wheel steady!

GriffX -- funny that you should mention movies and music. Any arts are curiously absent from this list. In fact, it's the kind of list a first-time visitor would compile from his daily observations. Supermarkets. Bah.
posted by muckster at 4:09 PM on December 17, 2001


That's a pretty weird list. And some of it doesn't apply here in NYC (some of the chains here I think do have free refills on large popcorns - I think Lowes does at least, or maybe it's the AMC). Some of the things don't quite make sense (like I'm not sure what his point about the NYC transit system was - you can't actually get on the subway with cash, you can't use bills on the bus - but it is a 1 fare ride the whole system deal, and based on my dealings with Euro travel systems (and DC) that's probably what he was mainly talking about).

Oh, and the one about pennies not allowing people to cheat you by rounding up... what a cheapskate.
posted by QrysDonnell at 4:17 PM on December 17, 2001


I think the triviality of this list was part of the point, and I'm sure it would be just as easy to come up with fifty-two points on the British side...In any case, Sutherland's vantage point on the USA may be California-centric, as he spent many years teaching in the humanities program at CalTech.

From my point of view as a Victorianist, Sutherland is practically a saint--when it comes to the history of Victorian fiction and publishing, he's right up there with Michael Sadleir, R. L. Wolff, and R. D. Altick. Anyone who loves Victorian novels must have this.
posted by thomas j wise at 4:19 PM on December 17, 2001


Okay you're right about not generalising. But at least, the places where I've been in America were like that. And about groceries... yes, England is that bad. Rarely does anyone pack your grocery bags, even if you ask, and quite often they employ only the very least skilled (and I'm talking about mentally handicapped) people to do this job, which requires more intelligence than you might think.
posted by skylar at 4:20 PM on December 17, 2001


It makes for more confusing flow of traffic.

Visibility is better on the left is better than on the right (My first two cars didn't even have passenger-side mirrors), so someone is more likely to see a car coming up on their left.

Everyone knows that Hollywood makes better pop movies than the rest of the world - they export them so much that you can't not know.

And don't go knocking supermarkets. Being able to get a huge variety of decent-quality food at ridiculously low prices no matter the season or hour, all in one convenient location, is no small matter. It's one of the things that I miss when I visit big cities.
posted by jaek at 4:23 PM on December 17, 2001


Muckster... GriffX has been reading Snow Crash, which describes a future where those are the only things that America does any good anymore.
posted by bragadocchio at 4:23 PM on December 17, 2001


machaus: Anyone else want to give Christopher Hitchens back? I'd be happy with just 49 good things...

Let's send Andrew Sullivan home, too! 48 good things are fine with me.
posted by Carol Anne at 4:30 PM on December 17, 2001


*cough*

The list contains 52 entries.
posted by NortonDC at 4:38 PM on December 17, 2001


Validated parking exists largely in huge metro areas.

Duh. Everywhere else, parking is free.

Street signs that indicate the range of house numbers? Where?

On the street signs. Look for yourself sometime. Everywhere I've traveled throughout the country has them, so I'd say it's a valid blanket statement.
posted by David Dark at 4:46 PM on December 17, 2001


Re: street signs

More to the point, have a look at street naming and numbering in London, and you'll see that any half-assed attempt at rationality shines in comparison.
posted by Zurishaddai at 4:51 PM on December 17, 2001


I thought the list was cute, except #24 ticked me off a little, as one of my pet peeves is when people say America and mean New York. I don't know if it's because of or is caused by New York's self-centeredness.

And I long for the day when it's 'ok' to hate New York and New Yorkers again.
posted by Hildago at 4:54 PM on December 17, 2001


can anyone give a decent explanation of why you shouldn't be allowed to pass on both sides?

it's dangerous.
posted by mcsweetie at 5:10 PM on December 17, 2001


And I long for the day when it's 'ok' to hate New York and New Yorkers again.

Feel free to do so anytime. We've already proved that we kick all kinds of ass anyway. MeFi lives in New York City, ya know.
posted by anildash at 5:21 PM on December 17, 2001


Okay, I concede Farmer's Markets are widespread, but the ratio to citizens is very, very low. Hell, the ratio of farmer's markets to supermarkets is very, very low, probably somewhere in the realm of 1000 to 1. I maintain it's still not characteristic of the US.

Also, as for the street signs indicating the numbers on that block? I've never seen it. Now, numbers painted on curbs, sure.

As for me, I long for the day when New Yorkers can walk around other cities without being harrassed by pathetically fake expressions of sympathy, and unbothered by mush-mouth sentimental clap-trap. (Also, a quick reminder: waving your flag accomplishes nothing. The real work is still being done by someone else).
posted by Mo Nickels at 5:38 PM on December 17, 2001


I've heard of farmer's markets in every single state except Utah. Which just kinda pisses me off, 'cause I love the darn things, and haven't been able to find a single one up here. And from what the 'natives' of this state tell me, there aren't any, period.

grrrrr.... Gimme my Galt Auction back, ye scurvy scumbags!!

oh, and that list was rather weird... but considering it was written by a Brit, I'm somehow not at all surprised. ;)
posted by po at 5:58 PM on December 17, 2001


can anyone give a decent explanation of why you shouldn't be allowed to pass on both sides?

Must have system. Obey the system. You're already doing enough multitasking when you're driving as it is without having to guess which side of your car is going to have the next fast-paced distraction zip by it.

39. Fierce loyalty to illogical Fahrenheit, mileage, gallon and pound avoirdupois measurement.

If he's going to get all tongue-in-cheek about it why doesn't he just stick that irrational date system there as well? Big-endian? Little-endian? Ah forget it, lets just mash the numbers together somehow.
posted by MUD at 5:58 PM on December 17, 2001


Also, as for the street signs indicating the numbers on that block? I've never seen it.

Try opening your eyes. Practically every street sign tells you what block you're on - the sign at the 2200 block of Main Street has the number "2200" in the right corner. A block down, the sign has the number "2300" in the right corner. And so on. It couldn't be simpler, or more obvious.
posted by David Dark at 6:19 PM on December 17, 2001


Re: the street numbering thing? It's only in the newer subdivisions in my area. The older neighborhoods are lucky to have readable street names on the signs, let alone block numbers.


And for po, who lamented:

"I've heard of farmer's markets in every single state except Utah. "

Try starting here.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:42 PM on December 17, 2001


FYI: Lincoln Square Movie Theater by Lincoln Center in Manhattan has free refills on popcorn. And there are at least a half-dozen regular farmers' markets in Manhattan.
posted by UrbanFigaro at 7:13 PM on December 17, 2001


He should try living in Cincinnati. They do not bring water to the table. You have to tackle someone to get a refill on every beverage. Asking for a free refill on popcorn from National Amusements (otherwise known as the only game in town) for your movie would be considered a holy sin. On the other side of the river in Kentucky where our airport is (don't ask, sigh), they don't have street signs at all, even on major roads. I spent an hour trying to find the airport first time I went there, and I had to follow the flying metal things in order to find the damn thing. The other street signs that are in the city rarely have the numbers on them, and are oftentimes wrong or the signs are bent the wrong way. People pass on the right, the left, and if you're lucky, they won't hit you if they try to pass from above you. Our bag-boys are generally invalids who thing the proper way to bag groceries is eggs, then bread, then a bottle of laundry detergent. The stores might be a little better, but at least there you don't have to have a card for every store you go to. I have a CVS card, a Kroger card, a Sam Good/Media Play card, a Sams card, a Costco card, and more.

Ok. I'm done. I feel much better now.
posted by benjh at 7:14 PM on December 17, 2001


Rah Rah Rah, the US is wonderful....etc., etc.

Ok, I've said my mandatory nice things about the US...can I go now?
posted by Poagao at 7:21 PM on December 17, 2001


So Bragadocio, Muckster: is Snow Crash any good?

I enjoyed the list from my experiences in England, but I puzzled over a couple of them, must be that dry British wit.
posted by wsfinkel at 7:30 PM on December 17, 2001


Snow Crash is great, if you can muddle through the Babylonian bullshit.
posted by crunchland at 7:36 PM on December 17, 2001


benjh - I live in Cincy, I work and go to UC. I live in OTR...many street signs with addresses...very helpful. No Costcos, No SamGoodies, a Kroger. I have no cards...and I love it. At school we have a basket of cards that a number of people have filled out, when we go to a store, we just randomly choose a card. F-em and their market research. Regardless...I agree with you...the 'Nati is the crotch of America.
posted by plemeljr at 7:49 PM on December 17, 2001


crunchland - Sorta like how LOTR is fine if you can withstand the hideous poetry?
posted by NortonDC at 8:11 PM on December 17, 2001


The loyalty to Fahrenheit and pounds and miles

Is a blessing. After all, it didn't prevent the US from inventing the PC; going to the moon; and leading in just about every other technological field. Moreover, any place where 30 degrees is warm is primitive.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:22 PM on December 17, 2001


Also, as for the street signs indicating the numbers on that block? I've never seen it.
Try opening your eyes.
Um, excuse me? Try visiting Boston, where there are *no* street numbers on street signs. Or, if I remember correctly, the Denver area. In fact, I don't recall seeing them in Everett, WA either...dunno about Seattle. They're definitely not in Nashua, NH. Or Providence, RI.

Try opening your eyes. Or getting out of the city you live in and visiting a few others.
posted by CrayDrygu at 8:45 PM on December 17, 2001


Try opening your eyes. Or getting out of the city you live in and visiting a few others.

As I said in my earlier post, everywhere I've traveled throughout the country has them, which I think clearly implies that I have gotten out of the city I live in and visited a few others. Try opening your eyes and reading the thread before you spout off, misinformed.

I didn't know we were making lists, but here are the states I'm talking about (I'd do cities, but I'd be here all night): California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Utah, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Tennessee. Driving across the country three times will have you looking at all kinds of street signs.
posted by David Dark at 9:22 PM on December 17, 2001


A very amusing and encouraging article. I now have 52 more things to like about America.

Since I'm in this nice feel good mood, I'll go read Sinclair's The Americans again. You should too.
posted by matt324 at 10:02 PM on December 17, 2001


A very amusing and encouraging article. I now have 52 more things to like about America.

Since I'm in this nice feel good mood, I'll go read Sinclair's The Americans again. You should too.
posted by matt324 at 10:07 PM on December 17, 2001


Moreover, any place where 30 degrees is warm is primitive.

"You're primitive. No, you're primitive. My system of measurement is superior. No, my system of measurement is superior."
posted by muckster at 11:11 PM on December 17, 2001


Actually, a lot of American drivers just THINK it's OK to pass on either side. That's why we have so many idiots over here going 50 mph in the left lane of the freeway. They're dangerous.

I've spent just two weeks in Britain, but one of the things I learned to love was how sensible the drivers were on the motorways. The slow drivers stayed in the left lane, the medium drivers stayed one lane to the right. That left a lane or three for the rest of us who wanted to go fast. I got my little Renault rental up to 110 mph, which I'd never try in the States.

Stupid? Probably. Dangerous? I expect so. But it seemed as safe as 75 does over here. And I'm immature enough to admit it was fun.
posted by diddlegnome at 12:37 AM on December 18, 2001


I have no idea about that article. Was it for real, tongue-in-cheek or supposed to be humourous? I really don't know. It seemed to me the list could be split into three roughly equal segments:

a) things which probably are better in America, or a bit of a pet peeve in the UK:
22. Mailmen and women who collect as well as deliver stamped letters.

b) things which I would consider to be worse in America than in the UK:
5. A 35mph speed limits in built-up areas and 65mph on freeways.

c) things which I don't see as actually being different:
13. Iced water placed on your table (and refilled) without nagging.


Either way, a poor article.
posted by salmacis at 1:13 AM on December 18, 2001


Salmacis: do you live in the same England as me? Even in the most expensive restaurants they don't give table water without me asking first. And it's rarely iced, certainly not to the degree that American water is, in my experience, iced (this is obviously a matter of taste). No, I find English restaurants are usually more keen to sell you a bottled mineral water than to give you a full jug of iced tap water.
posted by skylar at 4:22 AM on December 18, 2001


It's interesting, but it actually reads like a list of about thirty reasons why I enjoy living in London, and about twenty completely incomprehensible things. The other two, I disagree with on principle.
posted by walrus at 4:57 AM on December 18, 2001


wsfinkel... I enjoyed Snow Crash, There were a lot of good ideas, including a computer virus that can affect peoples' minds directly, and some very funny sections. But it probably could have used an editor to tighten it up a bit.

As for Sutherland's 52 things, many of them are trivial, but it's kind of interesting to go the thinking behind them and try to guess why the behavior is different in the USA than the UK. Why free refills of coffee/ice water/popcorn, and why should that matter to Sutherland? Why are some of these other things so important to mention? Was it just to pad the column to get to 52 items?
posted by bragadocchio at 5:27 AM on December 18, 2001


re: numbered street signs... They seem to me to be more popular in the Northeast than in the South, and in larger cities than smaller ones. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have the nicest street signs in my experience. Philly's tell you when you've found an arterial. Pittsburgh's have the name of the neighborhood on them, as well as numbering. Pity about there being six or seven addressing systems within the city limits.

Atlanta has numbered signs downtown and midtown - which is largely a novelty, as Atlanta's actual urbanized area covers about thirty square feet, Atlanta having choked to death on its own suburbs back in the fifties.

Memphis has (I'm not kidding) one block-numbered street sign that I know of, at Poplar and Highland. I don't know whether it's a relic, an abortive attempt, or just a tiny piece of an alternate universe poking through the space-time continuum.
posted by Vetinari at 5:56 AM on December 18, 2001


Try visiting Boston, where there are *no* street numbers on street signs.

Point of clarification: Boston doesn't have street signs to begin with.

It's the only major city in this country that I have seen without any street signs whatsoever at major intersections. Of course, with the drivers here, that's the least of your worries.
posted by thewittyname at 6:28 AM on December 18, 2001


Boston has plenty of street signs - just never for the street you're actually on (how do they do that?). So if you get lost, you can go for miles and miles before figuring out where you are - except that when you cross a town line, the unsigned street always changes names (sometimes, even former town lines - there's a major north-south road in Boston that changes from the Riverway to the Jamaicaway to Centre Street to the VFW Parkway in the span of about two miles).

Plus, Boston has tons of roundabouts, um, rotaries (I go through four of them to get to work).
posted by agaffin at 7:24 AM on December 18, 2001


If you're being passed on the right, you're in the wrong lane. Many is the time I've been on a three-lane-on-a-side highway, and the slowpokes are hanging out in the nice, safe, non-committal center lane. Those going a bit faster are in the left lane, leaving the right lane uninhabited, the only option for passing. Keep right except to pass, even if there are multiple lanes!
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:26 AM on December 18, 2001


The loyalty to Fahrenheit and pounds and miles

Is a blessing. After all, it didn't prevent the US from inventing the PC; going to the moon; and leading in just about every other technological field. Moreover, any place where 30 degrees is warm is primitive.


Most professional American scientists and engineers are very familiar and comfortable with S.I. units of measurement. They have to be to work in international companies and markets and it makes their job easier.
posted by normy at 7:33 AM on December 18, 2001


And let's not mention that Mars satellite that was lost because of confusion between SI and Imperial measurements....
posted by salmacis at 8:14 AM on December 18, 2001


In fact, it's the kind of list a first-time visitor would compile from his daily observations.

Well, yeah. It feels a lot like the sort of list I'd have written after tramping around the U.K. for a few months, and that's exactly why I liked it. I don't see why people are taking this cute little article so seriously.

If you're being passed on the right, you're in the wrong lane.

Yes! This is a necessary corollary to "only pass on the left on a U.S. highway". I'd never need to pass on the right if people didn't cruise along in the left lane at 60 mph. As is, the rule has to be left as more of a suggestion, or the entire highway would end up clumped up into packs of people fuming away at some slowpoke who for some reason thinks it's a good idea to stay in the left lane all the time.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:08 AM on December 18, 2001


Any Americans care to write a concilatory -- 52 things they do better in the UK?
posted by feelinglistless at 11:32 AM on December 18, 2001


65mph on the freeway? Someone has never been to Michigan. In the Detroit area most people drive over 80mph without a second thought.
posted by Localemperor at 11:39 AM on December 18, 2001


No, I find English restaurants are usually more keen to sell you a bottled mineral water than to give you a full jug of iced tap water.

Indeed, during my last trip to London with my family, I had to learn that it was imperative to be specific with my request -- asking for "water" in a restaurant in the U.S. garners a glassful, likely with ice, even in a fast food restaurant you can get a small plastic cup of water. Asking for "water" in a restaurant in London -- at least, the moderately priced types of places we frequented -- would result in a slightly chilled bottle being dumped on the table at a price of £2 or more.

Pittsburgh's have the name of the neighborhood on them, as well as numbering. Pity about there being six or seven addressing systems within the city limits.

Care to expand on that, Vetinari? As far as I've seen there's only one.

Keep right except to pass, even if there are multiple lanes!

Amen, and again I say Amen -- not only is it the safe, reasonable and correct thing to do, in many civilised places, it's been nicely codified into law. (PA and NJ to name two offhand. Yay for Trenton and Harrisburg getting something right for a change.)
posted by Dreama at 11:53 AM on December 18, 2001


1. Guess so. Don't send much international mail. 2. Nope. Senior citizens reductions are usually only on certain days. 3. Not always. 4. Not at my local supermarket. I'd rather pack the stuff myself and know I'm not going to get a carton of cracked eggs. 5. Doesn't matter, nobody in the U.S. pays attention to speed limits anyway. 6. OK 7. Yeah, if you can afford it. 8. Total B.S. Guess this guy has never listened to Top 40 radio. 9. People who pass on the right AND who block the passing lane should lose their licenses on the spot. 10. Huh? Is killing cockroaches illegal in Britain? 11. Huh, again? 12. Yes. 13. I suppose. 14. Whatever. 15. Not always. 16. Don't know 17. Yes. Driving and touch typing are much more important than math, science, art and history. 18. Whatever. 19. Whatever. 20. No comment. 21. Total BS. I guess this guy most be thinking of Mexico where you can buy Valium over the counter. 22 and 23. Ooh, that's an important advantage! 24. In the handful of cities where effective public transport is available. 25. Yeah, if you can read the tiny numbers as you drive past them at 50 MPH. 26. Return to sender. 27. Get a life. 28 and 29. I'll take the guy's word for it. 30. Don't care. I hated most of the people I went to high school with anyway. 31. Nope. 32. Yeah, like such laws are actually enforced. Guess he thinks that people get ticketed for littering too. 33. Not as many as you would think. Most convenience stores close around midnight here to reduce the chance of armed robbery. 34. Not really. 35. Yes. 36 to 39. Who really cares? 40. American stupidity at it's best. Even the U.K., one of the most clueless countries on Earth has rejected the English system of measurement. 41. Well, we have more than our fair share of morons in this country. This is just to prevent lawsuits. 42. Who cares. 43. Thank God. Convenience is so much important than security! 44. B.S. 45. So? 46. Nope, not around here. 47. If you really have that much trouble with light switches, do the rest of us a favor and go home, get in bed and never come out. 48. Thank God. It's the only reason for President's Day! 49. People in the U.S. pay about as much attention to parking laws as they do to speed limits. 50. Whatever. 51. You mean you can't buy used junk and fresh vegetables in the U.K.? 52. Yeah, especially those TV timeouts that have made college basketball unwatchable.
posted by zeb vance at 6:06 PM on December 18, 2001


Visibility is better on the left is better than on the right (My first two cars didn't even have passenger-side mirrors), so someone is more likely to see a car coming up on their left.

Not to mention that the far right lane is also for entering and exiting the highway. If you come zooming along that means that someone can't get right to exit. And, you piss people off who are trying to enter the freeway.

Left lane -- faster than the other traffic. Right lane -- slower than the other. Middle -- just right.

I've spent just two weeks in Britain, but one of the things I learned to love was how sensible the drivers were on the motorways. The slow drivers stayed in the left lane, the medium drivers stayed one lane to the right. That left a lane or three for the rest of us who wanted to go fast. I got my little Renault rental up to 110 mph, which I'd never try in the States.

Ding that! I was always amused at the sort of heckling I would see on the highway (is it the M1 that goes down and around London) when some driver would act up. There always seemed to be a chorus of horn-honking at the offender. I know because my Dad felt the wrath a few times when he passed wrongfully.
posted by amanda at 6:24 PM on December 18, 2001


"I got my little Renault rental up to 110 mph, which I'd never try in the States."

I got my Prizm up to 110mph once. Keep in mind this is a little car with a 4-cylinder engine.

Of course, it was in the middle of the night, on a long stretch of near-empty highway, but still.
posted by CrayDrygu at 9:55 PM on December 18, 2001


Any Americans care to write a concilatory -- 52 things they do better in the UK?

1. History.

2. Beer.

3. Pubs.

4. Prime Minister's Question Hour.

5. Rugby.

6. Tea and crumpets.

7. Rural road signage.

8. Trains.

9. The Underground.

10. Pound coins.

11. Did I mention beer?

12. Pissing off the Irish.

13. "Mind the gap."

14. Oxford.

15. Maybe Cambridge too.

16. Radio stations that you can listen to from one side of the country to the other without interruption, even if the programming sucks.

17. Awareness that other nations exist outside the UK.

18. Fox hunting.

19. Single malt anything.

20. Maintaining the dignity of the legal profession through use of wigs and robes.

21. Cheaper deprivation of medical care through socialism rather than HMO's.

22. Militias. No, seriously - ever been to Belfast?

23. Castles, castles, castles!

24. Making fun of the French.

25. Archery.

26. Bagpipes.

27. Pop music.

28. Devising a baseball-like game that can last for days - cricket.

29. Guinness. Yes, its mostly brewed in the UK.

30. Monty Python.

31. Big Ben.

32. Theatre.

33. Soccer hooligans.

34. The Town of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch

35. Stonehenge.

36. Hats.

37. Swords.

38. Bond... James Bond.

39. Raincoats.

40. The Queen's English.

41. Formal gardens.

42. Double-decker buses.

43. Cliffs.

44. Wool sweaters.

45. The Chunnel.

46. Plate mail.

47. Military uniforms.

48. Gin.

49. Gibraltar.

50. Walking sticks.

51. Tennis on grass.

52. Changing the guard.
posted by mikewas at 5:41 PM on December 19, 2001


You know, I'd never have expected to see #20 from anyone but you, Mike. (But my Irish grandfather'd box your ears for #12, and my anti-animal cruelty friends would kick you for #18.)
posted by Dreama at 9:37 PM on December 19, 2001


Disclaimer: Some of the 52 may be tongue-in-cheek.
posted by mikewas at 10:42 AM on December 20, 2001


mikewas,

As for #34, in Massachusetts we have a lake called :

Chargoggagoggmanchauggauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg. Or the simplified name, Webster Lake.
posted by LinemanBear at 7:33 AM on December 28, 2001


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