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Posts Tagged ‘United States of America’

Living abroad has given me the opportunity to view my country of birth through another lens. I have written before about how my perceptions of life in the United States has changed since I moved abroad.

I have also written in the past in this e-space about how I do not like e-books.

This post takes those two concepts and combines them into one.

While I don’t read books on my e-reader on a regular basis, I have found a new non-Angry Birds thing to use my electronic reader for. I use it now to read magazines. Rather than wait the week or two (or three or four or five) it would take my currents events publication to arrive in Thailand, I have opted to have the latest and greatest issue dropped into my e-library. While I enjoy reading about the latest tomfoolery occurring in Washington, D.C., New York City, or Cedar City (Utah), the latest issue I received from TIME magazine gave me pause about said magazine and how they view their audience.

The latest issue (Vol. 182 No. 12) from September 16, 2013, that was downloaded on to my tiny screen has a cover story about paying college athletes. Nothing odd about that as the college football season is starting up in the States so it seems like a timely topic.

However, when I was at our local Thai store, I saw the Asian edition of TIME and was confronted with a different cover. Here, look for yourself…

One of these things is not like the other

One of these things is not like the other

So the international editors of TIME thought that a piece about Russian President Vladimir Putin should be on the cover. Well, that makes sense too as Putin has been vocal about not attacking Syria for their alleged use of chemical weapons.

But why? Why is there such a difference between the covers of the American edition of TIME and the non-American versions?

I surmise this is because the editors at TIME think the State-side readers are morons.

Here America stands on the brink of yet another war in the Middle East and one the main global players, the Russian President, stands opposed to such a military adventure. This might be a good time for readers from Hawaii to Maine to know more about Mr. Putin, the ex-KGB agent, the man who thinks the chemical attacks in the suburbs of Damascus was done by the rebels. So, it might seem like a good idea to hook the reader into this serious issue by placing Putin’s face on the cover so that the impulse magazine buyer would want to buy TIME. Apparently, the editors at TIME think that people around the world are interested enough in this issue and this man to put Putin on the cover. Also apparently, the editors of TIME don’t think Americans are that interested and resorted to putting a picture of a college athlete on the cover to attract U.S. readers.

I would tend to think that American readers are smarter than that and would be interested to pick up TIME if they same Putin on the cover. But that’s why I’m not an editor.

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The vacation is over and we’re all back safe snug in our ch√Ęteau away from home a continent away.

In this, my first post back, I wanted to mention some of the things I noticed that had escaped my view before. I do not mean that I will spend this e-space discussing aspects of the culture I now find myself in. I’ll leave that to others (such as here and here and here).

Instead, I hunt-and-peck away to shine a light on those curious aspects of behavior in the United States of America that I had appreciated before. The disadvantage of being submerged in a culture is that I really didn’t see things. It’s akin to asking a fish what’s the difference between water air. How does the fish know what air is when all it swims in is water?

(Yes, I realize the absurdity of the above comparison. Of course one cannot ask a fish a question because it doesn’t understand English. It’s a metaphor…just go with it.)

So, with my approval and your perusal, are the aspects of American life I noticed after being away from the land of the free and the home of the brave for nearly 365 revolutions of the Earth.

Obesity. Mon Dieu! I was astounded by the girth, width, and mass of some of the folks I saw walking around the streets of America. I knew obesity in the United States was a growing problem, but while I lived there I never fully appreciated it. A few weeks ago I saw folk who – to use the old joke – had their own gravitational pull. There were citizens who could not see their own feet. I don’t see a great deal of obese people over here (despite all the glorious food and wine) so I was surprised to see members of the American masses who had a mass equal to all the members of The Brady Bunch.

Piercings. The youngsters of the United States have no monopoly on body piercings and even when I lived in Virginia, I was aware of boys wearing earrings and even the occasional eyebrow piercing. However, while I was walking around California and the Old Dominion and even while watching television, I was amazed at the number of people sporting holes in their ears, cheeks, tounges, navels, wrists, and ankles. In addition, I can recall when seeing someone with a stretched ear was an incredible rarity. Now-a-days, this aspect of body piercing is becoming more and mor popular.

Messenger Bags. It is possible that this accessory was wildly popular as of two years ago, but I was amazed at how many of these items I saw gracing the shoulders of people who were not a bicycle working as a courier.

Seashells and Screens. In the book Fahrenheit 451, author Ray Bradbury writes of a technology called “Seashells“. This item is similar to earbuds as they allow the characters of his dystopian novel to listen to music incessantly. Characters can also do nothing by watching wall-sized television screens. When I read this work, I understood these twin items of technology to show what happens to the members of a society when they can bliss out on entertainment at any time. I was reminded of Bradbury’s citizens as I looked around the streets and airport terminals of the United States and saw person after person fully engrossed in the iDevices.

Baseball. Dear Heavens…this game is incredibly slow. When compared to the beautiful (and fast-paced) game of soccer, the national pastime is like watching grass dry. The pitcher hurls the ball…and then there’s a good minute or two before anything else happens. I love the game, but it took me going away for a year to fully realize that this sport is the tortoise to soccer’s hare. That’s not a crticism…just an observation.

I wonder what I will notice after being away for two years.

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As I may have mentioned in passing once or twice last week (such as here and here), the Summer Olympic Games are coming to London this summer.

One of the links I posted was a collection of predictions made by Sports Illustrated writer Nick Zaccardi. Once the Games are over, I’ll unwrap one of my veridiction (my name for the practice of verifying predictions) posts and see how Mr. Zaccardi did.

Now, I didn’t want to be left out of the prediction fun, so here is one of my own concerning the Olympics.

Here is my prediction for the number of gold medals and total medals that will be won by the following quarter of countries.

France: 5 gold / 43 total
Japan: 10 gold / 27 total
South Africa: 1 gold / 4 total
United States of America: 36 gold / 112 total

We’ll see, once the Olympic Torch is extinguished at the Closing Ceremonies, whether I belong on the medal podium at all for my prediction.

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