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Old 09 Dec 2017, 05:07 AM   #681924 / #1
Swammerdami
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Default Hello; I'm a Rip Van Winkle! What's new in U.S.A.?

On another message board, new members start threads like
Ask the Brain Surgeon
or
Ask the Serial Killer.
I thought of starting a thread
Ask the Idiot-Savant living like a Hermit in an Asian "Jungle."
but it seemed useless. There'd be no questions about interesting events in the jungle, and lots of questions trying to psychoanalyze the hermit! (Not to mention replies like "Yes, the 'idiot' is obvious. Why the heck do you think you're a 'savant'?")

So ... I'll encourage you to inform me. The last time I visited North America Bill Clinton was President. (And I lived a fairly hermit-like life even then.)

What big differences would catch my eye if I visited the U.S. today?
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Old 09 Dec 2017, 05:30 AM   #681927 / #2
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Drunk driving has been augmented with distracted driving.

More people have more guns they don't know how to properly control.

The price of housing is even more outrageous.

Inflation since then is over 100%.

Don't even expect a decent passbook savings rate. Anywhere.

The shopping malls are dying.

In my town, the economic elite is buying up the city center and the marginals are being forced to the margins in the far-flung suburbs.

Rural America is hooked on meth.

Prison has become a 'business'....government contract bid, of course.

Cannabis is widely available and legal for recreational consumption in several states.
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Old 09 Dec 2017, 01:59 PM   #681945 / #3
Koyaanisqatsi
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Republicans have finally pulled off their white hoods and are openly supporting predators and pedophiles (both in the WH and in Congress), while Dems have replaced due process with torches and pitchforks.

Net neutrality is about to go bye-bye, along with the ACA and Medicare and abortion rights and the Johnson Amendment (prohibiting churches from publicly endorsing political candidates).

No one is doing anything about the environment and Russia installed their own asset into the Oval Office.

What’s new with you?
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Old 09 Dec 2017, 03:13 PM   #681949 / #4
Swammerdami
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My country of residence (whose well-known nickname is in my Location) practices Net censorship so to avoid having the Secular Café blacklisted I'll avoid proper names.

One regret in moving here was the substitution of banana-style government for Western sanity. I guess I needn't have that regret anymore!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Koyaanisqatsi View Post
Republicans have finally pulled off their white hoods and are openly supporting predators and pedophiles (both in the WH and in Congress), while Dems have replaced due process with torches and pitchforks.

Net neutrality is about to go bye-bye, along with the ACA and Medicare and abortion rights and the Johnson Amendment (prohibiting churches from publicly endorsing political candidates).

No one is doing anything about the environment and Russia installed their own asset into the Oval Office.

What’s new with you?
New with me? I'm retired contentedly in my wife's wonderful garden of flowers, fruits, herbs, etc. Our relatively meager savings go a long way here.

Two reasons I've not returned to U.S.A. for a long while:
(1) It was shortly after my last U.S. visit that I had a heart attack. I eventually got a coronary stent ($8500 altogether, most of which was for the American-made stent itself). I could afford another stent or even a bypass here. In America without insurance? I'd just hope I was conscious enough to say "Spare my family bankruptcy please; just drive me straight to the morgue."
(2) After a beer or two I often become outspoken. I'm fairly docile and even amusing around Homo sapiens here. I'm afraid if I encountered a Homo trumpturdis over there things might get violent.
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Old 09 Dec 2017, 03:37 PM   #681954 / #5
Old Woman in Purple
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Welcome to the neighborhood (again; I've seen you in the game threads )!

Just as well you didn't start a thread about anyting 'Hermit'-ish; SC already has one of those!
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Old 09 Dec 2017, 08:05 PM   #681961 / #6
Politesse
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swammerdami View Post
On another message board, new members start threads like
Ask the Brain Surgeon
or
Ask the Serial Killer.
I thought of starting a thread
Ask the Idiot-Savant living like a Hermit in an Asian "Jungle."
but it seemed useless. There'd be no questions about interesting events in the jungle, and lots of questions trying to psychoanalyze the hermit! (Not to mention replies like "Yes, the 'idiot' is obvious. Why the heck do you think you're a 'savant'?")

So ... I'll encourage you to inform me. The last time I visited North America Bill Clinton was President. (And I lived a fairly hermit-like life even then.)

What big differences would catch my eye if I visited the U.S. today?
Welcome!

The size of the nation has reduced slightly due to global warming. The general flight toward cities and away from the country-fried middle has continued, though at a slowing pace as more and more of the population has become stuck in various urban ghettoes.

Which keep gentrifying and pushing those people into new but still nearby ghettoes. This has a debatable impact, with some people very happy that cities like Detroit are getting some new life (and are demonstrably safer to visit) while others wonder whether the new segregations of society will have even worse consequences down the road.

There is in general increasing talk of supraorganic "corridors" or "zones" replacing traditional definitions of the city.

The majority of the population now regularly uses the internet.

Gay people have the right to marry, but are still working on the right to order cakes for the wedding.

Public lands are being gradually siphoned away by closure or neglect, while new extractive industries are invented by the month. Ironically, the remaining parks are more popular than ever, and starting to experience some rather severe crowd-control issues.

It's okay to bring guns to a political protest now! (if you're white)

Police have become a lot more bold about pointing guns at Black and indigenous people, despite also being caught on film doing so and at the center of a lot of hullaballoo as a result.

Throughout this period, the rate of immigration from Mexico slowed and stabilized, at around 12 million border crossings a year.

Politics seem to have become (somehow!) even more like lowest-common-denominator daytime television programming.

There has been a lot of artistic fusion, bringing the two sides of the Pacific closer together on issues of fashion, food, and architecture.

"Middle Eastern" was invented as a race separate from "Whites", often coded not-so-secretly as "Muslim", and applied rather liberally to just about anyone with lightish brown skin, even if they are actually Sikhs.

Marital rape has been made illegal in most states.

We've gotten more militaristic, but are having trouble recruiting new soldiers.

We had our first only-half-White president, and our first entirely orange president.

Politics haven't gotten more contentious, but a lot of people believe that they have due to the constant influence of the news cycle.

Russians aren't the bad guys anymore! (okay, to half the country ... but it's the other half now).

We seem intent on nuking our own international trade relationships for some bizarre reason.

Overall religiosity declined, and the powerhouse political engine that was Christian Conservatism during the Clinton years, though still influential, has lost a lot of power and is showing increasing signs of strain. The young increasingly prefer the label "none" or "spiritual" to describe their outlook on the supernatural, while older Americans tend to describe themselves as "Christian" without necessarily going to church. Those who do go to church have trended more firmly conservative, though a "Progressive" wing has also grown within and over the "liberal" flank, echoing political developments but apparently without actually being attached to them.

The younger generation is better-educated, harder-working, and longer-working than any other American generation, but seem to be universally derided, even by each other, as lazy, pampered, ignorant whelps (for reasons that defy my understanding).

Our national credit rating got downgraded, and a number of domestic industries ceased to exist.

The elder generation is older than it has ever been, but also more active and generally awake than it has ever been.

There's a race to develop wearable technology that people actually want, cars that drive themselves, and computers that can learn things.

We have been fighting two endless wars overseas for most of this time period, with less impact on popular culture and consciousness than you might assume a fifteen year war to have, in part because our military is mostly made up of volunteers, mercenaries, and overseas "recruits", and we're buying most all of our hardware on credit, so no need for rationing. The Wars are basically there as an anxiety-relief mechanism for the Right, who have a Freud-Douglas style fear of symbolic penetration by outsiders.

Baseball continued to lose ground, but was surprisingly joined by American football, and the kids are more prone to experimenting when it comes to picking a sport than they used to be, with their concussion-fearing parents leading the charge.

The social sciences have been moving in the direction of intersectionality, replacing modernist theories of unified social organisms with a post-modern melange of scalar and interactional models of human identity and behavior.

Some pretty good books that have been written since then:
"Middlesex" by Jeffrey Eugenides
"The Road", by Cormac McCarthy
"The Corrections",by Jonathan Franzen
"Ex Libris", by Anne Fadiman
"Hillbilly Elegy", by JD Vance
"The Known World", by Edward Jones
"The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie
"Citizen", by Claudia Rankine
In general, it's been a good decade and a half for American authors being taken seriously by international audiences.

Film-making has in general gone distinctly downhill, especially in Hollywood, where every second movie is about a complicated superhero "continuity" and shot in consistent tones of dark blue and some sort of obnoxious pale orange. The more fringe side of American films has fared better, though, and we got:
Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will be Blood"
The Coen siblings' "No Country for Old Men"
Wiseman's "In Jackson Heights"
Jenkins' "Moonlight"
Reichhart's "Wendy and Lucy"
Van Sant's "Elephant"
Granik's "Winter's Bone"
I'd have to let someone with more mainstream tastes explain the music scene, though I am given to understand that Beyonce is now our "queen". I for one am appalled at the common inclusion of "auto-tuned" technology in actual music that is sold in actual stores. When I was a kid, machines that made your voice sound funny were commonplace as children's toys, I did not realize that they were a harbinger of doom.
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Old 09 Dec 2017, 11:26 PM   #681967 / #7
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SC at its best, with more to come hopefully.

Thanks for asking, Swammerdami.
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Old 10 Dec 2017, 03:23 AM   #681972 / #8
Swammerdami
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I do spend much time at another message board and I follow political news. I watch a lot of YouTube and use Pirate Bay a magic genie to watch some movies and TV shows. In fact ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
...
Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will be Blood"
The Coen siblings' "No Country for Old Men"
Wiseman's "In Jackson Heights"
Jenkins' "Moonlight"
Reichhart's "Wendy and Lucy"
Van Sant's "Elephant"
Granik's "Winter's Bone"
... I am given to understand that Beyonce is now our "queen".
... I've actually watched the first two movies on that list! (And never heard of the other five.)

I'd barely heard of Beyonce before I caught a recent Superbowl Halftime Show on YouTube. But she impressed me there enough to agree with John Oliver who said he would rather bow down to that Queen than HM Elizabeth II.


I'm especially looking for very minor developments that wouldn't be discussed prominently in political blogs.
For example, where I live if you buy a mocha or latte at a coffee shop (for about $1) the barista will draw a design with the cream — perhaps a flower or animal figure. Is that common in U.S.A.(*) ? Some coffee shops even draw a silhouette of each customer with the cream in his/her coffee! (* Maybe it was already common decades ago: I've barely ever set foot in any Starbucks, whether in 20th-century U.S.A. or here, where Starbucks can be found in the very biggest cities.)
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Old 10 Dec 2017, 04:30 AM   #681973 / #9
Politesse
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swammerdami View Post
I do spend much time at another message board and I follow political news. I watch a lot of YouTube and use Pirate Bay a magic genie to watch some movies and TV shows. In fact ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
...
Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will be Blood"
The Coen siblings' "No Country for Old Men"
Wiseman's "In Jackson Heights"
Jenkins' "Moonlight"
Reichhart's "Wendy and Lucy"
Van Sant's "Elephant"
Granik's "Winter's Bone"
... I am given to understand that Beyonce is now our "queen".
... I've actually watched the first two movies on that list! (And never heard of the other five.)

I'd barely heard of Beyonce before I caught a recent Superbowl Halftime Show on YouTube. But she impressed me there enough to agree with John Oliver who said he would rather bow down to that Queen than HM Elizabeth II.


I'm especially looking for very minor developments that wouldn't be discussed prominently in political blogs.
For example, where I live if you buy a mocha or latte at a coffee shop (for about $1) the barista will draw a design with the cream — perhaps a flower or animal figure. Is that common in U.S.A.(*) ? Some coffee shops even draw a silhouette of each customer with the cream in his/her coffee! (* Maybe it was already common decades ago: I've barely ever set foot in any Starbucks, whether in 20th-century U.S.A. or here, where Starbucks can be found in the very biggest cities.)
I'm pretty sure it's our fault, actually. The indie coffee scene has "waves", like feminism; the artistic swirly designs are characteristic of the second wave, and there is currently an arms race among the third wavers to make them more complicated and "artisan". The Latte will not cost a dollar, though, I'm afraid. $3 or $4 are more common (a fair total of bahts I imagine).


You're not wrong in guessing that this was already an art form when you were last here, but it has definitely become more common these last few years.
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Old 10 Dec 2017, 04:54 AM   #681974 / #10
Roo St. Gallus
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After health issues, I went back to drinking tea and only ordering a rare coffee.

The problem is I remember the bottomless cuppa joe for $.10 (raised on Juan Valdez, don't you know?) and how counter trolls lived off the stuff at the local donut shop.

What this has morphed in to is still a bit....challenging...for me to handle with a straight face.

I'm still waiting for this year's outrage over Starbucks' holiday cup design. The viral ad guys at Starbucks seem to be slacking this year. Gorilla wallflare in the drive-thru line. Oh, and pumpkin spice. 'Nuff said.

Was 'Black Friday' a thing back when you were here last?
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Old 10 Dec 2017, 05:33 AM   #681975 / #11
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Hi, Swammerdami. My brother has been living in the land of smiles since around 2000. According to him corruption is totally out of hand, especially in the political sphere where votes are routinely and openly bought. Also, the oppression of workers by the bosses all too often extends to murdering difficult employees. I am very unlikely to set foot on its soil, but even less so than that of the USA. Apart from the low cost of living, what keeps you there?
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Old 10 Dec 2017, 10:35 AM   #681979 / #12
Swammerdami
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermit View Post
Hi, Swammerdami. My brother has been living in the land of smiles since around 2000. According to him corruption is totally out of hand, especially in the political sphere where votes are routinely and openly bought. Also, the oppression of workers by the bosses all too often extends to murdering difficult employees. I am very unlikely to set foot on its soil, but even less so than that of the USA. Apart from the low cost of living, what keeps you there?
I first visited the Land of Smiles in 1982 and have watched it go through a lot of changes. Yes, there is corruption here, but trends have been pointing in the right direction. A huge majority of government workers are honest. And there's been little or no vote-buying in Parliamentary elections for the past six years. ... For the simple reason that we haven't had any Parliament for a while!

The "all too often murdering difficult employees" comment sounds very exaggerated. We do have interesting, but rare, murders and suicides around where I live — Buy me a beer after we get to know each other and I'll relate some stories.

My reasons for staying here are rather different now in my late 60's, than when I was in my 40's. The surrender of my wife's Green Card plays a role in the story....

I do have two children here, each with dual nationality. The older one graduated from University recently. Life for them would be very different in the U.S. — possibly much better (though that isn't clear-cut). Whatever mistakes I've made in raising them, they'll always have the 'blue passport option' later in life.
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Old 10 Dec 2017, 10:47 AM   #681980 / #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roo St. Gallus View Post
Was 'Black Friday' a thing back when you were here last?
Yes. In fact, recently on another message board I responded when a non-American asked about thanksgiving. I thought my response was hilarious, but on that message board all I got in response were astonished-face and sad-face icons. That's one reason I went looking for another message board.

I'll repost my comment here so you can see what kind of "humor" to expect if you welcome me to your neighborhood. Please give your honest reactions; if even one in five gets a chuckle from this post, I'll feel vindicated!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Quote:
Btw, when is thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving is the day before Black Friday. You're probably familiar with Black Friday from the famous Punxsutawney Phil movie with Bill Murray — if Phil, the merchant of Punxsutawney, can see his own shadow that day, GDP growth will be negative in the next fiscal quarter.

But, like Easter, Black Friday is a moveable feast.

Traditionally, Black Friday was the day after the last Thursday in November; this was decreed by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. However in 1939, the last Thursday was the 30th, and Black Friday (the day when American stores begin their Christmas sales) would have been pushed all the way to December 1. There was fear this late start to holiday sales might plunge the country, and thus the world, into a new recession whether Punxsutawney Phil could see his shadow or not.

For this reason and with Black Friday barely three months away, Franklin Delano Roosevelt unilaterally changed the 1939 Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday instead of the fifth Thursday. Of course hotel rooms had already been booked for Thanksgiving Day proms, etc. so the country was thrown into confusion, indeed fractured in half. Some celebrated the new "Franksgiving" Holiday; others celebrated Republican Thanksgiving. (Many party lovers celebrated both. ) A Gallup poll found that Democrats favored the switch 52% to 48%, while Republicans opposed it 79% to 21%.

FDR didn't stop there: his plan called for Black Friday to be the fourth Friday in 1940 and the third November Friday in 1941.

Think Godwin's Law is a new thing? Listen to what the Republican 1936 nominee for President had to say in 1939:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alf Landon
[The Franksgiving holiday is] another illustration of the confusion which Roosevelt's impulsiveness has caused so frequently during his administration. If the change has any merit at all, more time should have been taken working it out... instead of springing it upon an unprepared country with the omnipotence of a Hitler.
Finally, on November 26, 1941 (the day before Republican Thanksgiving and six days after Franksgiving), with Europe and Asia both enflamed with war and Japan threatening the U.S. in the Pacific, a rare moment of bipartisanship was achieved; and Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a law fixing Black Friday at its present date: the fourth Friday after the first Thursday in November.

Hope this helps.
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Old 10 Dec 2017, 03:15 PM   #681997 / #14
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Heh.

Along similar lines-


Also, something I wrote back in 2004.

Quote:
Y'know, as an atheist, I have to admit that sometimes I'm embarrassed and chagrined at how loud and demanding we are here in the US. I mean, look at all the atheist churches, down here in Georgia there's at least one on every street corner. And the message boards out in front of most of them- why, some of the stuff I've seen urging believers to deconvert, and threatening them with non-supernatural punishment before they die, it's simply disgraceful! Not to mention all the red laws forcing Christians to get drunk every Sunday, and requiring any business owner to keep their business open on whatever day they consider holy, and the fact that nobody who announces their theistic belief stands a chance of being elected to public office- terrible, just terrible!

Just the other morning I was awakened on my day off by these angry-looking and scruffy young men, smelling of booze, who came to my door insisting that I listen to them talk about how great it is to disbelieve, and trying to give me copies of works by Robert Ingersoll. And the huge media conglomerates which do nothing but broadcast the meaninglessness of religion, and the relativity of morals, and the preeminence of science, by radio, TV, and print, 24/7/365- I can well understand how some believers might find that overbearing and unfair.

So, given the shy and retiring nature of believers in this country, I have to agree that we atheists should just shut the hell up!
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Old 10 Dec 2017, 03:26 PM   #681998 / #15
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Heh. Got one chuckle anyway.
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Old 10 Dec 2017, 04:20 PM   #682000 / #16
Swammerdami
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I'm happy for the chuckles!

I'm not sure I understand my own humor. I got a chuckle writing that post, but if someone else had written it and I were reading it, I think I might also have responded with a baffled-face icon.

(Perhaps I really am autistic.)

But Jobar's was funny!
I think it would be fun to discuss the meaning of the lyrics to Dylan's mysterious Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest with you guys!
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Old 13 Dec 2017, 01:31 PM   #682069 / #17
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We're an oligarchy now. Congress is pretty much in the pocket of the banksters and billionaires. The middle class is fading fast. Roosevelt's New Deal reforms have been successfully rolled back.
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Old 14 Dec 2017, 08:21 AM   #682095 / #18
Swammerdami
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Yes, it's very sad. Occupy Wall Street was a step in the right direction but (with help from cynical media) they turned themselves into a Joke.

I see no help in sight. The American people aren't hungry, are kept placated by their smart-phones, and focus their political energy on minor social issues (public bathrooms??) while trillion dollar larceny goes on before their eyes. A recent book, Dream Hoarders, places the blame not on the super-rich but on the upper-middle class, who are benefiting too much from the income inequality to rock the boat.

I put much of the blame on the replacement of paper media and human contact with electronic media and its associated isolations — today's Americans are herded into bubbles of propaganda.
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