Monday, September 23, 2013

Young American, I want the Young American

Why does the United States live in a bubble?

I'll give you some examples.

The U.S. is basically the only country in the world that taxes based on citizenship not on residence. This means that we pay the same amount now then we would if we were still in Nashville.  Yes, we also pay Australian taxes.  Luckily, we can use what we pay in Australian taxes as a deduction but we are still paying in the U.S.  Every expat does this every year.  So even though I'm living in Australia I am literally paying for the right to be called an American.  I will still try not to complain.  Once again people; we have it really good.  Even when you think it's rough.  I saw a stat that blew my mind last week.  If you have a roof over your head, a refrigerator to store food, running water and indoor plumbing, you are richer than 75% of the world's population.  Wow!  Perspective can be so startling sometimes.  But I can't wait to vote.  I think I have to drop off my ballot at the embassy. I hope so because I want to see it.  I'm paying for it after all.

The United States and its associated territories, as well as Jamaica and the Cayman Islands are the only countries in the world that use Fahrenheit.  Celsius is not so hard now that I've been here a while.  0 degrees Celsius is the freezing point of water.  100 degrees Celsius is the boiling point of water.  I use this little ditty to help me with the rest.  "30 is hot, 20 is nice, 10 is cold, 0 is ice", end of story.  I used to think, "why doesn't everyone just use Fahrenheit," but now I'm thinking, "wait a minute, why are we the only country that doesn't use Celsius?"  We DO think we are just better than everyone else.  No wonder why everyone else in the world thinks we act that way.  Oh my gosh, we do.

Countries that use the Fahrenheit temperature scale
Map courtesy of

That's not all.  The United States, Myanmar (Burma) and Liberia are the only countries in the world that use the Imperial system and not metric.  Most people these days don't even call it Imperial anymore, they just say "the American" system.  In fact, ask anyone that deals Internationally in business what their favorite conversion app is because they will certainly have an opinion as they have to use it daily.  Not to mention every scientist that has to have both systems in place and mostly use metric anyway.  Metric units of measurement are all based on units of ten.  Obviously arguments can be made on both sides as to which is better because Americans use Imperial, right? Why else would we stick with it?  Right?!

Countries in the world that use Imperial measurements
Map courtesy of

My kryptonite is any type of measurements so it doesn't really matter to me either way.  I'm not going to know how long it is, or how much it weighs.  Can I pick it up?  Then it doesn't really matter to me.  But, seriously, why do we make ourselves the odd man out?  If we somehow lose all of our money and relevance and need help we will have put ourselves on an island away from the rest of the world.  How is this a good thing?  If your kid decided to play all different games on the playground and only had friends because they owned the soccer ball, how would you react?  What happens when the soccer ball gets a hole in it?  Do they play by themselves on the seesaw?  Cause I've done that and let me say you definitely need two people for a good teeter-totter.  Otherwise, it's just you jumping up in the air with a giant board beneath you.  No fun.

Once again, I'm not saying these things to bash the United States.  We PAY to remain American after all.  But, looking from the outside it's just disheartening how isolated we have become.  Even our news is filtered and made "American".  Please click here to see the illustrations of the Time Magazine covers in the U.S. v. the rest of the world.  It's not that we are physically so big and demanding.  Look at this link that shows comparisons of our size to other countries of the world.  Trust me, it's fascinating and it really helps when you see them against the perspective of something we know.  We always say, "it's such a big country."  True, but we aren't the only one.  Watch the video too.  It's a clip from West Wing, featuring my favorite TV writer, Aaron Sorkin.  And I'm sure it's biased too, of course everything is, but you might as well get both sides.

I guess my point is that we need to learn to get along better on the play ground.  If our government isn't helping us then we have to do it as individuals, one by one.  Be better Americans!  I know we can do it. I admit I didn't know most of this before I moved here so I thought it might be enlightening to you guys as well.

We live in the age of the Internet.  I know it takes a little more effort but let's try to not let ourselves fall into the rabbit hole of blindly believing the media. Any media. That includes the stuff that riles you up because it falls in line with what you believe.  Get your news from several sources: BBC, Al Jazeera (no, it's not a terrorist organization and wouldn't you want to learn about the Arab world from people who actually live there?) National Geographic,  Sky News, CNN International.  If CNN automatically steers you to the American version check the top of the page.  It gives you the option of "International".  Click and see the different stories.  Watching the news now I can see how biased EVERY news organization is in the U.S.  The difference between CNN for America and CNN International is shocking.  In America, news has become another form of entertainment because they are in the process to make money.  It is not to inform you anymore.  It hasn't been for a long time. Think about how many stories you see that try to scare you or make you mad.  That isn't news, it is editorial.  News is fact not conjecture.  But, we have the Internet and if you use it wisely there are people out there that are trying to inform you.  We can do this!  Don't let yourself fall in the Facebook trap of pictures and stories that make it seem like America is destitute and spinning out of control and you are losing all of your freedoms and our President doesn't care and is trying to do harm and nobody cares and we have no hope.  Every one of us can make it better, every day.  We can do this! Get informed!

On a completely random fun note, I was recently told this story you might like.  You see,  Australians call what we call Jell-o, "jelly".  So, as a young girl, my friend would read the American Girl stories and always wonder what a peanut butter and jelly sandwich tasted like.  So, one day she made one, with Jell-o.  She couldn't figure out why Americans were fascinated with the delicacy until many years later when she realized they were talking about a peanut butter and jam sandwich.  I thought it was hilarious as I pictured her trying to scarf it down.  Now she says she likes them but would still rather have Vegemite.  Crazy Australians!

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