Seeing Ourselves As Others See Us
May 18, 2003 9:08 AM   Subscribe

It Hurts, It Rankles, It Smarts, It Annoys, But... To see ourselves as others see us is still one of the most soul-cleansing and brain-sobering exercises we can indulge in and profit by. National stereotypes, like clichés, often have something to them. This view of Portugal, written by a Canadian called Ray Vogensen is full of gross mistakes, infelicities, oddities and even lacks of perception and yet... and yet I immediately, definitely recognized my own country in his careful, almost clinical dissection. Which is high praise in my book. Most of it, unfortunately, is spot on. I hate to say it but it's the most truthful assessment of the real Portugal I've ever seen outside a book. Are there any foreigners' views of your own country that you find yourself grudgingly agreeing with? Here's 911 Things To Hate About America to start off the American contingent.
posted by MiguelCardoso (63 comments total)
911 Things To Hate About America.....Kidnapping Guatemalan children for their internal organs...

Miguel, I'm Canadian, and I freely indulge in the Canadian national sport of ridiculing and/or criticising the U.S. I'm the one who posted the "freedom fries" link.

And even I think that list is just as kneejerk and repulsive as the "my country right or wrong" nationalism I so despise wherever I find it.
posted by orange swan at 9:17 AM on May 18, 2003

Orange swan: I agree there's much that's repulsive in that list (in fact, 75%) but, hidden among the facetious, stupid and downright mistaken reasons (hexxed up just to reach the number 911) there are at least 30 good reasons - unfortunately interspersed - to be ashamed of the United States. Thirty is a small number compared to (what I think and believe) is the number of great things about the U.S. (around a thousand in my book) but they're there.

What I guess I'm saying is you really have to love a country to see its faults and face the fact that you've somehow accepted them; the bad along with the good.

Canada is probably the one example of a country whose positive qualities are most often overlooked and replaced by generally silly, tired jokes. In fact, I sometimes think Canada absorbs a lot of aggression that the Americans south of the border would otherwise have directed at the UK and Europe.

The question is: don't foreigners sometimes see what we've become too blind - or at least enured - to see?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:24 AM on May 18, 2003

So Miguel-what do YOU see when you look at the United States?
posted by konolia at 9:59 AM on May 18, 2003

Of course an "other" can see us more clearly than we'll ever see ourselves, and I even think it's important to listen to those others.

What I object to is its many offensive and inflammatory features - for starters, the very choice of nine hundred and eleven reasons. It's so counter-productive to be offensive when one has a point to make. You hand legitimate grounds for argument to the very people you want to prod into changing, and then naturally, they will argue with you instead of changing.

I thank if you want to change anything or anyone, be wickedly funny and unfailingly fair. Be irreverent and satirical, thorough and honest. Craft your arrows with infinite care and send them flying swift and straight to the target. But don't be stupid, obnoxious, or insulting, or no one will listen to you and you'll wind up in a celebrity boxing match against Ann Coulter. And she might even win.
posted by orange swan at 9:59 AM on May 18, 2003

Yes, I DO belive that the greatest threat to the US's integrity as a nation is the fat chicks. WHATEVER!

Good concept Miguel. I agree, that time for self reflection SHOULD have started on September 12th 2001, and I think for many Americans did. Unfortunately it wasn't the Americans who really NEEDED to reflect. those people just slapped a "These colors don't run" bumpersticker on their SUV and rattled their swords. But I think this guy squandered his opportunity to make a real impact when he decided to include "fat chicks", "Overpriced white whores with bad attitudes", "Childless career women in their mid-30s" and "Black people who talk like white people" on this list.
posted by evilcupcakes at 10:04 AM on May 18, 2003

He was right about the white guys with dreadlocks though. They do suck.
posted by beth at 10:08 AM on May 18, 2003

I hope the last link doesn't completely derail what might be a good thread before it even gets started. It's just a bunch of complaints, don't take it as anything more.

From my perspective, I think that Canada is in the opposite position fromthe US in that no one knows us at all, whereas we spend a great deal of time trying to figure out who exactly we are.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:11 AM on May 18, 2003

I think that Canada is in the opposite position from the US in that no one knows us at all, whereas we spend a great deal of time trying to figure out who exactly we are.

Space Coyote - that rings so true! My parents lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the Eighties/Nineties for eleven years. My father was a compulsive bibliophile so he assembled quite a good little library on Canadian self-identity.* I always found it enthralling how obsessed the Canadians are with their own culture. In a (big) way, I identify with them. Being Portuguese, I have the same problem with my big neighbour, Spain. The Dutch (with the Germans) and the Belgians (with the French), the Danes (with the Swedes) probably have the same very interesting problem too.

*Once I arrived at their home to find my room filled, from floor to ceiling, with thick, academic tomes on veterinarian gastro-enterology, pathology, what-have-you. Thing is: most of them were underlined and annotated by my father. So I asked why this was. "Oh", he said, "your mother was thinking of getting a dog."

Any excuse for book-buying was legitimate in his world. He loved books so much he'd take one when he had dinner with his best friends. They'do go: "But, Kim - why are you reading instead of talking to us?" And he'd reply, as if this was a truly acceptable excuse: "Hey, but who can compete with a truly good book that's taken years of work and thought to read?" Needless to say, he didn't have many friends. Anyway, they did get a dog, an Alsatian, and this prompted a whole new load of bibliography. What breaks my heart, regarding my father's death, is how much he would have loved Amazon Books. If he'd been alive, they'd have been profitable from day one. It's really sad thinking of people you just know would have loved the Internet but died before it even started...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:33 AM on May 18, 2003

" years of work and thought to write", I meant.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:37 AM on May 18, 2003

This is cool to me because national identity has only really become importnat to me due to recent events. Nationalism was jsut never my bag. Through most of my life, I considered the fact that I was an American to be about as significantly as the fact that I have an innie. But lately, now that my government has shifted its international terrorist activities over to the realm of the non-covert (not intended as a political derail, please ignore if necessarry), I feel this new responsibility: it is harder to hide, harder to keep the plan of expat'ing to somewhere warm.

All I've figured out so far is that if we split california into like twelve states we could have the numbers for some cool constitutional reform.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:39 AM on May 18, 2003

is there any significance in the fact that "Fake angry grrls" appears twice in 911 reasons, or are we just supposed to hate them twice as much?
posted by quonsar at 10:58 AM on May 18, 2003

Hee hee. This would make a good Maupassant story. Foreign guy writes a long letter to all his American friends, all of whom he's invited to come stay with him in Portugal (equivalent of "a post", ten linksworth), saying his much-lauded Portugal isn't all it's cracked up to be. To serve as a warning, as it were. He wraps up his warning with some preemptive moralizing on how important and good for the soul it is to see others as others see us. He adds, as an afterthought, perhaps sensing boredom, a sordid newspaper clipping where some fool berates America.

They all write back to say they'd love to come, clearly not having read his longwinded admonitions, but go haywire about the clipping. Quel fuck, Michel? The result: they come; they hate it; they blame him for not telling them in advance.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:19 AM on May 18, 2003

Miguel, you should know by now that your post is teh equivalent of a plate of vegetables served alongside a large, extremely unhealthy desert. All the kids will go for one of the two first and fill themselves on it, despite any admonishions to eat your vegetables. A shame, but funny to see anyway.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:30 AM on May 18, 2003

I have little to say on the topic after turning to 911 reasons to hate America. I note that this weekend some top American offical let the world know that the US would sup-port a UN move to try to banish most smoking etc. Yet the list carps about no smoking constraints in America. As for Bill Bennet: he no longer wil be heard.
In general: there is usually a truth behind stereotypes but there is also the fact that there are many exceptions and, more important, figuring out why various peoples are as they are (causes, roots, etc) is helpful to further understanding. Thus, while America is greedy and crass and materialistic it also this week alllotted 10 billion dollars for AIDS relief in much has your country given?
posted by Postroad at 11:35 AM on May 18, 2003

Oh great, postroad - now it's a competition! ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:41 AM on May 18, 2003

among other things on this list wtf is wrong with being over 28 and single, or being over 30 and childless...? are they saying it's better to be in a relationship you don't want, or to have children you don't want...? or is the issue that they can't get a date or someone to bear their idiot spawn...? and yet single women who introduce themselves at parties are a bad thing...

what's the sense in derailing your own point with trivialities, axe grinding, and letting your dirty little bitter bits show...? it's not worth reading straight thru' to the end, it's not an honest look at what's apparently wrong with the usa's culture.

"Fake angry grrls" appears twice in 911 reasons

there's at least 10 items repeated. guess when you're that traumatized over girls who don't wear make up or shave their snapper it's hard to do simple math.

whoever wrote this list deserves to be as bitter, unlaid, and as unhappy as they appear to be.
posted by t r a c y at 11:45 AM on May 18, 2003

I'm too lazy to do it, but someone should forward this page to the author(s) of the last link. I'm sure they'd read all the complaints and think 'mission accomplished'. (as in , that link was flamebait)
posted by Space Coyote at 11:50 AM on May 18, 2003

It seems that MiguelCardoso has fallen into the trap of carelessly posting eXile articles, which tend to contain tactical-nuclear-weapon-level inflammatory writing. I love the posters who got huffy about the "many offensive and inflammatory features - for starters, the very choice of nine hundred and eleven reasons". That's the entire point of the eXile. Please don't read their articles advocating the nuking of the USA if a mere number offends you...

Now to un-derail this thread, I'd like to post another inflammatory eXile link which contains a handy table of all national stereotypes in Europe. For example, the Spanish apparently think that Miguel's people make good servants and are lazy, smelly and stupid. And the Welsh think my fellow Englishmen are bloodthirsty, perverted, all homosexuals, and untrustworthy (what rubbish, some of us are quite trustworthy). And all of us Europeans can come together in hating the Americans. But without stereotypes and national hatred from centuries of pointless wars, where would we get our national identities from?
posted by Bletch at 11:56 AM on May 18, 2003

Wow, thanks, Bletch!

I mean it's all very well you fellow users saying how much you enjoy reading on MetaFilter about other cultures' perspectives on the U.S. and whatever interests you all at any given moment but, hey, what about the other fuckin' way round, now and then? It's a big world in here; never mind out there. Does Portugal suck or what? Spain? India? Malaysia? Norway? South Africa? Italy? I'd very much like to know, you self-centred, endlessly-pampered, navel-gazing bunch of tantric egotists! Honestly, the way you go on, I've half a mind to start mistreating, in no uncertain fashion, all the American sorry asses who turn up here plangently asking for my help. Have you any idea how much time it would save me? :)

I kid because I love, that much should be clear. Yet I still have to say you're, in general, far too touchy and defensive - even chippy - to ever gain understanding from those who see you from a friendly, but culturally distant perspective. Bush's Mistake, it might well be come to be known as, in the psychiatric literature. There is a world out there. Deal with it, Godammit! :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:59 AM on May 18, 2003

The only stumbling block in all this is that the very nationalistic yahoos that might benefit from reading this list are completely unwilling to indulge in such introspection - if they were, that list might not have so many complaints on it. Non-U.S. people might look at their country's list and think, "Man, we suck." U.S. people will look at the U.S. list and think, "Man, whoever wrote this list sucks."
posted by RylandDotNet at 12:16 PM on May 18, 2003

Non-U.S. people might look at their country's list and think, "Man, we suck." U.S. people will look at the U.S. list and think, "Man, whoever wrote this list sucks."

That's a great comment, RylandDotNet.

p.s. Just curious, Miguel. Have you ever actually been to the U.S.? (Or do you just admire us from afar?)
posted by LeLiLo at 12:23 PM on May 18, 2003

I don't even understand how the eXile link is an other's view of America, considering it's written by a bunch of American expatriates. As it stands, it's less then useless, in addition to being a bunch of random crap. I really would like to learn what other people from different countries think about my country, but the eXile link was a step backwards in that regard.
posted by Snyder at 12:28 PM on May 18, 2003

Neighboring countries, just like people, often have interestingly conflicted relationships stemming from historical differences or inferiority complexes.

The descriptions -- "Spanish music is played in Portugal but Portuguese music is not played in Spain", territorial disputes, the often unpopular influx of foreign companies -- are eerily reminiscent of my own country, Norway, and its relationship with our bigger (in most senses of the word) and more well-known brother, Sweden. Our hundred-year union with that nation was dissolved in 1905, and it seems we are still proving ourselves.

I wonder how Lichtenstein feels.
posted by gentle at 12:35 PM on May 18, 2003

In teh spirit of equality, things to hate about Canada:
  • Losing at Olympic Hockey for 50 years, then celebrating for months the one time we win just makes our losing streak all the more pathetic.
  • For all our hockey pride, no one seems to give a shit when NHL teams leave the country, while municipalities in teh US practically build the arenas and pave the roads for any sports team wanting to move down there
  • Just because an artist is Canadian doesn't mean they should be played on teh radio.
  • Toronto
  • The rest of Ontario (for different reasons, but eqaually)
  • Western alienation, most of which is due to their getting mad at having to read french on their cereal boxes.
  • Whiney Maritimers
  • The fact that local governments in all of the poorest cities want to build casinos, which only end up sucking more money out of the local community.
  • The fact that making this list is much easier than I thought it would be
  • One party rule
  • The opposition parties
  • Treating Indians on reserves in a manner to cause Desmond Tutu to speak out against Canada
  • Aside from the CBC, all television stations just recycle American content with Canadian ads slapped on top of them, wh then whine to the CRTC to get cable companies to block US cable signals when they are broadcasting the same show.
  • Media consolidation
  • Jean Chretien's lauding of Canada's position atop the UN's 'best countries to live' ranking for seven years while single-handedly putting in place policies which would lead to our losig said position.
  • Ungrateful Motrealers are about to cause my favourite baseball team to disappear
  • Toronto-centric national media seeking to kill of any other city's sports franchises (see: Vancouver Grizzlies)
  • snow. Can't forget the snow.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:39 PM on May 18, 2003

Also add 'my keyboard' to that list.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:42 PM on May 18, 2003

lelilo: I've often been to New York - sometimes for a long time - and once to LA. So you could argue I've never really been to the U.S, yes.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:50 PM on May 18, 2003

how much has your country given?

This page includes a table comparing overseas development aid by 22 developed countries for 1999-2001.

For 2001, the overseas aid as a percentage of GNP was as follows :-

1. Denmark 1.01
2. Norway 0.83
3. Netherlands 0.82
4. Luxembourg 0.8
5. Sweden 0.76
6. Belgium 0.37
7. Switzerland 0.34
8. France 0.34
9. Ireland 0.33
10. Finland 0.33
11. United Kingdom 0.32
12. Spain 0.3
13. Germany 0.27
14. Portugal 0.25
15. New Zealand 0.25
16. Austria 0.25
17. Australia 0.25
18. Japan 0.23
19. Canada 0.23
20. Greece 0.19
21. Italy 0.14
22. United States 0.11

For 1999 and 2000, the US was also bottom of this table.

Until at least 2001, the US gave significantly less as a percentage of GNP than any other developed nation on the list. (Don't have the figures for 2002, unfortunately).

The table also gives absolutely figures - for 1999 and 2000, in fact, Japan gave more away in dollar terms than the US, despite having a significantly smaller economy and

(This should not detract from the highly commendable step of allotting 10 billions US$ for Aids relief; but figures such as those on this table allow us to put that into historical context).
posted by plep at 1:46 PM on May 18, 2003

Non-U.S. people might look at their country's list and think, "Man, we suck." U.S. people will look at the U.S. list and think, "Man, whoever wrote this list sucks."

i'm not an american, not particularly fond of the usa (lived there for a few years, would absolutely freak if i had to go back) and i think that list sucks. in fact that list should have given me a little thrill but the exile is too busy venting personal problems which distract from any influence the list might have.

come to think of it, is it even possible to make a list like this without grinding an axe, showing some sort of bigotry or being too anecdotal...? space coyote sure wasn't able to.
posted by t r a c y at 1:53 PM on May 18, 2003

Miguel, your dad would have been a better dinner companion if he'd taken his lithium.
posted by konolia at 2:06 PM on May 18, 2003


Your father rocked....I thought I was the only jerk who takes a book to the dinner table...
posted by drstrangelove at 2:15 PM on May 18, 2003

t r a c y:
hyperbole: (Rhet.) A figure of speech in which the expression is an evident exaggeration of the meaning intended to be conveyed, or by which things are represented as much greater or less, better or worse, than they really are; a statement exaggerated fancifully, through excitement, or for effect.
I thought I treated each of the regions equally, myself. Though taht alone means I'll offend everybody at least once. Then again, I'm just another damn whiney maritimer, so what the hell do I know?
posted by Space Coyote at 3:00 PM on May 18, 2003

Space Coyote: I think Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie did a much better version of that list here.*

* factual inaccuracy in song: No, Edmonton sucks. Calgary clearly does not.

That's not really the sort of outsider perspective Miguel was talking about, though. In fact, I'm not really aware of any significant examples of that pertaining to Canada, except of course for the South Park movie (it's true, our heads move funny when we talk and we hate hate HATE the numerous Baldwinssses, they sstole our preciousss!) and Canadian Bacon, which was rather Michael Moore criticising his own country rather than any sort of grand statement on Canada. I do, however, find it interesting to watch COPS and the Canadian version, "Protect & Serve" back to back. US cops: "Up against the WALL, MOTHERF***ER!" Canadian cops: "Excuse me, I'm going to have to ask you to pour that beer out in the parking lot and go home now."

p.s. Your parents spent ten years in Nova Scotia *and* you say "chippy"? Congratulations, you're Canadian. Expect an Order of Canada in the mail, along with a 1988 Winter Olympics hat and a copy of "Don Cherry's Rock 'em Sock 'em Hockey volume 7". Do you prefer VHS or Beta?

p.p.s. Portugal: Don't worry, we'll send you one of our *ahem* national cultural treasures in exchange. Would you prefer a Bryan, a Celine or a Shania?
posted by arto at 3:03 PM on May 18, 2003

There's only two words needed to prove Portugal's great: ABEL XAVIER
posted by Celery at 3:18 PM on May 18, 2003

I do, however, find it interesting to watch COPS and the Canadian version, "Protect & Serve" back to back. US cops: "Up against the WALL, MOTHERF***ER!" Canadian cops: "Excuse me, I'm going to have to ask you to pour that beer out in the parking lot and go home now."

Ha! Ha! A connoisseur of cultural niceties, arto - bravo!

Would you prefer a Bryan, a Celine or a Shania?

P.S. Can I have a Leonard Cohen, a Young, a Mitchell instead? :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:02 PM on May 18, 2003

I missed class in graduate school the day they taught us that intellectuals can use gratuitous hurtful symbolism (911 things, ha ha, so funny!) to lash out against one's imagined enemy.

Decent intellectuals are saddened.
posted by jtm at 4:18 PM on May 18, 2003

Japan gave more away in dollar terms than the US

I'm really not one to defend the US, ever, but you could also note that in 2000, the ratios for number of refugees accepted to population was :

Canada 1:572
United States 1:588
Japan 1:33,395

So, you know, let's not start praising the Japanese too much yet for their sterling contributions to the world's poor and downtrodden, OK?

(Just to balance things out, my first response to Miguel's post was : only 911?)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:26 PM on May 18, 2003

Also : Korea sucks too. Fiercely.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:31 PM on May 18, 2003

jorge cadete as well of course ,
i liked him.
ahh...the days when we had cadete,di canio and van hoojidonk up front....great players...
i leave it to migs to start the uefa cup final post,getting back to the topic:

‘Fuckin failures in a country of failures. It’s nae good blamin it oan the English for colonising us. Ah don’t hate the English. They’re just wankers. We are colonised by wankers. We can’t even pick a decent, vibrant, healthy culture to be colonised by. No. We’re ruled by effete arseholes. What does that make us? The lowest of the fuckin low, the scum of the earth. The most wretched, servile, miserable, pathetic trash that was ever shat intae creation. Ah don’t hate the English. They just git oan wi the shite thuv goat.
Ah hate the Scots.’
- trainspotting.

Scotland will be free when the last Church of Scotland minister is strangled by the last copy of the Sunday Post
Tom Nairn (1970)

‘England player: You Scotch are just a shower of bloody animals. Scotland player: Aye, and don’t you bloody well forget it.’
(conversation reported between players at a Rugby international)
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:04 PM on May 18, 2003

stavros: An interesting statistic, but how many refugees appealed to Japan or Korea in 2000? Not saying you're wrong, but more information seems to be necessary.
posted by tss at 6:06 PM on May 18, 2003

Sarge: I had to laugh as this despatch from the Daily Record's correspondent in Seville:

The weather is glorious. The only cloud on yesterday's horizon was when my boozer closed at 5am.

The people are generous and friendly. With a liking for the Portuguese on a par with our love of the English, everyone you meet is a Celtic fan - except you can't understand a word they say.

Sounds like Lisbon! Don't forget Old Lisbon, now! Or your nemesis, Benfica!

Celtic! Celtic! Celtic! :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:30 PM on May 18, 2003

P.S. Can I have a Leonard Cohen, a Young, a Mitchell instead? :)

Interesting thing, but these people left Canada, then got famous, never lived in Canada again and aren't really known for being all that nationalistic. Also included in this list are Jim Carrey, Michael J. Fox and stavrosthewonderchicken (kidding!). Of course we'll claim their genius for our own, and laud them as sons and daughters of Canada that have done us proud.
posted by ashbury at 6:40 PM on May 18, 2003

I found the information about Portugal really informative and fascinating. Who knew only "strong wind and bad marriages" came from Spain? And that Spanish food and wine are no good? (always slightly suspect, if you asked me) But I wonder why so many Portuguese would immigrate to Paris? The mysteries of life.

And beer vending machines on the streets? Heavenly!
posted by hama7 at 6:50 PM on May 18, 2003

these people left Canada, then got famous, never lived in Canada again

Ashbury! Ashbury! Leonard Cohen still has a home in Montreal - has always had - funnily enough in a Portuguese neighbourhood which he's mentioned in his poems. He loves Canada and speaks very fondly of it.

Once, in the Palace Hotel bar in Madrid we developed the theory that while each Bloody Mary is entirely, mysteriously different from the previous one, for which there is no logical explanation, it's also true that it's marginally better, every single time. And yet this had yet to be proven to anyone's satisfaction; thereby requiring more Bloody Marys.

In the middle of all this, he made me intercede for these neighbours of his who wanted some support from the Portuguese embassy. Or access to some garage, I forget. But he's certainly very loyal to Canada so don't let me catch you comparing him to those other...emigrants! :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:04 PM on May 18, 2003

I'm into my second gin here and so can't resist contributing to this thread's derailment by casting my Canadian musical content vote for the Tragically Hip, who just might be the best Rock and Roll band currently working. The Hip might have tried to leave canada, but they can't stop singing songs about hockey and Bobcaygeon, so they keep getting sent back.
posted by timeistight at 7:05 PM on May 18, 2003

Leonard Cohen accepting one of the Junos he's won (either in 1993 or 1994):

"[Some New York reviewer] wrote that Leonard Cohen is a boring old drone and he should get the eff back to Canada where he belongs. Well, I did, and I do. Thanks for this. [flourishes award, exits]"
posted by orange swan at 7:24 PM on May 18, 2003

miguel, are you saying that you've hung out with Leonard Cohen? If that's the case, and he's actually said that he still loves his country, then my apologies. Of course, just because he has a house in Montreal doesn't mean that he lives in it . . . Just saying . . . But if he does still live in Canada, then good for him; our icons should damn well stay here!
posted by ashbury at 7:31 PM on May 18, 2003

these people left Canada, then got famous, never lived in Canada again

Let's hope we can hang on to these gems.
posted by btwillig at 8:07 PM on May 18, 2003

So you could argue I've never really been to the U.S, yes.

Arguing? On MetaFilter? I can't imagine such a thing. As I said, I was just curious if you'd ever been here, because I was wondering which misconceptions (not yours, anybody's) are worse -- those gathered by people who just read about a place, or watch it on TV, and assemble their own ideas from afar, or those gathered by people on vacation, say, who now think that since they're seen the place in question, they know all about it.

I guess the reverse would be someone who meets an ignorant citizen of (fill in the country), and thinks he / she / it is a typical representation of same.
posted by LeLiLo at 8:08 PM on May 18, 2003

ooops, I mean here
posted by btwillig at 8:10 PM on May 18, 2003

dude, Neko Case is an American export. I love the New Pornographers too, but they're not all Canada grown...

on topic? naaah.
posted by tss at 8:26 PM on May 18, 2003

Ya, you're right about Neko (and being off topic) but she did spend a lot of time in Vancouver. I'm making her an honorary Canadian (whether she likes it or not, damn it) .
posted by btwillig at 8:37 PM on May 18, 2003

(The skipper (subsequently murdered and dismembered by his girlfriend) of the second sailboat I crewed on in Mexico was apparently a roommate of Leonard Cohen in the depths of the past at some point. His stories may well have been apocryphal, however.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:27 PM on May 18, 2003

Does anyone have any links to good essays showing an external view of the strengths and flaws of the United States? I think I'm pretty much up to speed on the subject, but anything more to read is food for the brain.
posted by moonbiter at 9:49 PM on May 18, 2003

The United States is simply too big a subject to fit into a concise objective essay. You'll either concentrate more on teh good things or the bad things and be accused of bias from basically everyone. Then again it's difficult to be objective when talking about the United States since aspects of its culture and government tough all of us daily.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:28 AM on May 19, 2003

And beer vending machines on the streets? Heavenly!

As always, I am in complete agreement with hama7 :)
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:41 AM on May 19, 2003

a! Ha! A connoisseur of cultural niceties, arto - bravo!

Wait, wait... these TV shows I mentioned, are they something I would have to own a TV to know about? Because--c'mon, join in if you know the words--I do not own a television. (Phew! Dodged a bullet there.)

Actually, I think there's an interesting duality here that's maybe not quite being explored, that of identity and stereotype. I tend to think of stereotypes as being imposed from outside, but like to think of identity, at least in a national sense, as being a product of cultural achievement. So I think of the whole "aboot" thing as a Canadian stereotype, f'rinstance, but think of, say, Stan Rogers, Mordechai Richler, and Banting and Best as definers of a Canadian identity. I will say this, though, for stereotypes of Canada: I say "eh" alot, eh, and I really like my beer, so I'm gonna go get one and if you don't like it, take off, ya hoser.
posted by arto at 1:38 AM on May 19, 2003

yeah , i was the cabin boy on a pirate ship off st lucia and the skipper was a close friend of julie andrews ...spooky huh?
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:20 AM on May 19, 2003

There's only two words needed to prove Portugal's great: ABEL XAVIER

Speaking as a Liverpool fan, I disagree. Funky hairstyle though.
posted by walrus at 3:28 AM on May 19, 2003

yeah , i was the cabin boy on a pirate ship off st lucia and the skipper was a close friend of julie andrews ...spooky huh?

Some of us had a life before we chained ourselves to these fucking computers, sarge.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:34 AM on May 19, 2003

fyi : tall ships race 1992 , gran canaria to puerto rico , crewed tall ship fredrych chopin in race , take your hangover elsewhere stav.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:27 AM on May 19, 2003

So what, you take a cheap shot, and then take another one when I protest?

Go fuck yourself, laddie.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:46 AM on May 19, 2003

more stats to dig into. "Switzerland had received the largest number of refugees per capita (23.4 refugees per 1,000 inhabitants), followed by Sweden (16.6) and Denmark (13.8)." Switzerland? Who would have thunk it? (2001 numbers)
posted by dabitch at 6:59 AM on May 19, 2003

(I sense my pottymouth language was a bit over the top, there, as well as continuing to be offtopic, so I withdraw it and will settle for fiendishly glaring at sgt.serenity and vowing to get him at recess.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:02 AM on May 19, 2003

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