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Survey Results: America: The History of Us

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"What happened today in American history?" I ask on June 6, June 14, November 11, December 7, and other dates. It's fun to quiz my associates at work and my customers, too. They love it! The answers and conversations they spark are priceless. On the Fourth of July, I suspend the dress code and ask all the associates to wear red, white, and blue. We have a "share-your-lunch" buffet that day, too. "Don't get any potato salad on the flag!"

History has always been a favorite subject of mine and I've always associated current events to historical events. My father's birthday was the same as Pearl Harbor. He got out of the army on the day that, several years later, was my birthday. He died the day after Veteran's Day. July 4th always meant home made ice cream and I'll never forget the expression on the face of Miss Ola Cooper when she announced to our sixth grade class that President Kennedy had been shot. My wife's birthday is a day or two away from November 22 and I often tease her about her having been on the "grassy knoll" smoking a cigarette when the motorcade passed.

In one of the many activities to support the premiere of America: The Story of Us, the History Channel commissioned an online survey by the Harris Interactive company to "gauge Americans' feeling and attitudes about the figures, events, ideas and innovations that have shaped American history."

The 12-hour series premiered Sunday, April 25, 9PM ET/PT, and continues with new episodes airing on Sundays through Memorial Day. Nancy Dubuc, President and General Manager of The History Channel said, "When people watch [this series], we hope it will further engage them in this amazing story in an exciting and gripping way."

When I reviewed the survey results, I was surprised to discover what we as a country don't know. (2,450 American adults aged 18 or older were surveyed online.) Fifty-one per cent of us do not know in which decade slavery was abolished ( 1860s). Forty-eight per cent of us do not know in which decade women were given the right to vote (1920s,) and 60 per cent could not name the conflict/war that resulted in the greatest number of American casualties (the Civil War).

A significant part of the poll asked for opinions or votes on events, documents, innovations, and people that have left lasting impressions or helped invent our country. The electric light, the Internet, the Hoover Dam, Lewis and Clark, and the first amendment to the Constitution all got the most votes in their categories. To no surprise, George Washington was recognized as our greatest founding father, garnering twice the votes of second place Thomas Jefferson. Bernie Madoff edged out Timothy McVeigh by one percentage point as our "biggest villain" and the American flag doubled the votes for first place over the Statue of Liberty as our "most iconic symbol".

What would you say has been America's greatest achievement?

The top vote getter in this poll was: "A constitution stating that all men are created equal."

Mark your calendars and reserve the next six Sunday nights for a landmark series on The History Channel.

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About FCEtier

  • Tony

    I would have to say that Nikola Tesla was a major player in American history and contributed a huge role in the innovations that we enjoy today. For example, he was the inventor of the electric motor and the radio. I definitely believe we as Americans need to know more about our history…especially our children and grandchildren.

  • http://pagesfromthepast.com Debbie

    As a high school teacher I see so many of the pitfalls in our education, especially as it pertains to our American History. Spitting out just facts and not really understanding the significance to these events and how it relates to us presently is a system that fails the student. Until we challenge students to use higher levels of thinking, synthesizing information and show relevance in the information taught, we will not reach our kids. Our students are so used to new technology that if our presentation isn’t “entertaining” we lose them. Our clientele has changed significantly and we must adapt to this or we will lose our kids to the other types of media.

  • STM

    There’s a classic example of what’s wrong with America’s education system: Tony’s comment about Nicola Tesla. No doubt Tesla was a very clever guy, but Nicola Tesla didn’t invent the radio.

    He invented a part of the hardware that helped facilitate radio transmissions.

    The other part of American history I’ll never understand is the mythmaking aspect … like the US war of independence being a war fought against a tyrant (it wasn’t, it was a nice rallyuing cry but it was more about powerul Americans cementing their money, power and iifluence), or like America winning the War of 1812, when serious historians the world over, including the foremost American expert Donald Hickey, who bravely published a book, Don’t Give Up The Ship: Myths of The War of 1812, saying as much), have concluded that the fledgling US not only lost the war in the accepted sense but was very lucky to survive it – and to benefit subsequently from the peace and growing friendship with Britian.

    I’m not Canadian, but given that the US launched a full-scale invasion of an unprepared Canada, or British North America as it was then known, at the outbreak of the war and was given a thumping at the hands of the Brits who sent the US forces packing back across the border, to hear it described in the US as “America’s second war of independence” must really irk.

    The problem is, it’s not the fault of Americans: that’s what’s taught in schools. Americans could do with a really more honest look at their own history, so that some of the myths can be broken once and for all.

    The problem with myths is that stop people seeing the truth. Whe Americans tell me that the way it’s always been in America is that all men are born equal, and that is legally so according to the constitution, I always think it’s timely to remind Americans that all men weren’t equal for 200 years afterwards, and still aren’t except on paper … because equality, liberty, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness only applied to wealthy white folk, and later to white folk generally, ebacuse in the process of founding a country said to be based on that myth, the founding fathers forgot to tell the blackfellas down in the shed at the back at the same time.

    Perhaps some of these things need to be taught in American schools, or perhaps the greatest gift of all when it comes to studying history … to examine it impartially and to look at the facts and the myths rather than just the myths and to decide for yourself which are which.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I’m not Canadian, but given that the US launched a full-scale invasion of an unprepared Canada, or British North America as it was then known, at the outbreak of the war and was given a thumping at the hands of the Brits who sent the US forces packing back across the border, to hear it described in the US as “America’s second war of independence” must really irk.

    We try not to think about it. :)

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Stan,

    Americans making up a mythical history may irk some – but at least the kids get taught something. Here in Israel, history is so controversial and politicized that kids are taught nothing beyond some nice stuff about the various waves of immigrants coming here.

    I was the history teacher in our home while our kids were in school.

  • STM

    Jordan: “We try not to think about it. :)

    What would irk the most in regard to that is that it was actually America’s first war of aggression.

    This is so deeply ingrained in the American pysche, that zing asked me regarding the disastrous and failed US invasion of Canada: “fighting for freedom to remain a British colony?”

    Well, yes, the US doesn’t have the monopoly on that stuff. Just because it was a colony doesn’t mean the colonists didn’t have the rights of Englishmen at the time.

    Mate, sometimes I get so mad at that certain type of American (it doesn’t apply to everyone) in regard to their constant self-congratulation and their mythical, one-eyed approach to history that I feel like snotting them fair in the nostrils.

    I love it/hate it when they start comparing themselves to Romans. Byzantines would be the more accurate comparison, with the Brits more accurately compared to Rome (although to their credit, for once, they never use that analogy).

    Lucky it’s all just happening on BC then, rather than in some dimly-lit bar room, don’t ya reckon??

  • STM

    Ruve, you have to make sure you don’t go down the santised history path. The truth’s always worth telling. We are having the same argument here currently – the black armband view of history vs the white folks never did anything wrong version.

    Somewhere, the truth lies in the middle ground, Finding it and being honest about it is the key.

    I reckon the debate America needs to have is, like us, on “history wars” … myth vs truth and santised vs boots-and-all.

    Then once that’s aired, go and actually study the history that an honest look allows you to focus upon.

  • zingzing

    oh, stm: “This is so deeply ingrained in the American pysche, that zing asked me regarding the disastrous and failed US invasion of Canada: “fighting for freedom to remain a British colony?”

    Well, yes, the US doesn’t have the monopoly on that stuff. Just because it was a colony doesn’t mean the colonists didn’t have the rights of Englishmen at the time.”

    that’s what happens when you miss the bloody point. as i said in the comment directly following this malarkey the first time you uttered it. you know damn well that that’s not at all what i was saying, so why do you present it like that? really…

    you also consistently fail to acknowledge that america got everything it wanted out of the war. and that canada was never even on that list. but let’s not start this again… if you want to argue something, just go read that comment thread.

  • http://jetsgaypride.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Um, it the U.S. lost the war of 1812, why didn’t we fall under British rule?

  • zingzing

    the point of my question (“fighting for freedom to remain a british colony?”) of course being that canada (which barely existed at that point) WASN’T fighting for their freedom. the british were fighting the americans to retain control of canada, even if that was never really the point.

    this all comes from, i think, ruvy’s statement that canada never had to fight for their freedom and my (and others’) reply that the war of 1812 might not be the best example of canadian freedom fighting or whatnot. but stm (twice now) has willfully missed the point, even after i corrected him as to my intentions with that question. why? don’t ask me. i have no problem with stm, but the answers to why he’d want to misinterpret me consistently on this issue does bother me.

    either way, this is a horrible example of anything being “deeply ingrained in the american psyche” or whatever. and yes, it was a “war of aggression.” but it was britain that forced america’s hand.

  • http://etierphotography.blogspot.com/ FCEtier

    Thank you all for your comments! Please take an extra second or two while contemplating the opinions and “Digg” my article. Much appreciated!
    FCEtier

  • STM

    Jet: “Um, it the U.S. lost the war of 1812, why didn’t we fall under British rule?”

    See Jet, this is a classic example of the problem.

    The British didn’t start the War of 1812, the US did.

    The US invaded Canada, and were beaten back. Jeffesron said victory in Canada would “just be a matter of marching”. Madison is on record as saying the war was his greatest mistake. There was more to it than that of course, but essentially, the British never fought the war with the intention regaining control over the new republic.

    Their intention was to retain Canada against US aggression and to secure its position in North America by grinding down the US will to successfully fight the war.

    It succeeded on all counts, even while engaged in a life and death struggle with France at the time.

    It was the US that asked for a peace, not the British.

    The fact that Canada is today not a half dozen states of the US is the clue to the result. A very magnanimous peace treaty also returned to the US the territory, mainly around the border, captured by the British.

    The maritime reasons for starting the war (orders in council and impressment of British subjects to serve on British ships against the French) were not even really an issue, although the war hawks in congress used it as an excuise to start the war.

    The orders in council had been rescinded by the British BEFORE the start of the fighting because they knew that was was most irked the US, and in the peace treaty, impressment of Britons serving on US ships wasn’t even mentioned.

    How come a non-American (and a non-Canadian) knows more about this than an American?

    A: Because it was a failure, it’s glossed over in American schools. I wonder if Vietnam will receive the same treatment?

    Any nation forgetting the lessons and mistakes of history is doomed to repeat them.

    Given America’s position in the world, this is why it’s so important that young Americans learn this stuff properly and move away from the kind of self-congratulatory view of history that begins with the first settlers to America.

    A true look at American history would go back to the Roman invasion of Britain and the development of the laws and convetions and democratic traditions of the society that spawned America and which gave it its own rule of law. Regarding the Bill of Rights: There is nothing in the US constitution except the 9th amendment that didn’t exist previously under English that applied to the colonies.

    If I want a genuine history of all the English-speaking countries, I would go back to the Roman invasion of Britain, perhaps even a bit beyond, as my starting point.

    To see where the American democratic tradition came from, I’d also study the Glorious Revolution of 1688 as a starting point.

    Not, in the case of the US, the arrival of the first white settlers, or in Australia, say, of the arrival of the first convict fleet.

    Even that last event is tied up with American history: the British founded Australia to replace their lost American colonies.

    What I’m really trying to say is that if you to look at the history syllabus in the US for primary and high school education, you would largely get the sense that American history and America generally exists in a vacuum.

    Of cousre, that is totally wrong, a recipe for disaster when it comes to equipping Americans with useful knowledge, and perpetuates the very misguided myth of American exceptionalism and the cultural insularity for which the US is infamous.

    For America to truly take its rightful place in the modern world, Americans must be equipped with knowledge based on truth, not myth.

    Until that happens, the perception of arrogance and ignorance that dogs Americans will remain.

    The sad part about that is that Americans are very clever people. It’s just that they are perceived as being ignorant when it comes to having any knowledge of anything that happens, has happened or might happen outside their borders.

  • STM

    Zing: “it was britain that forced america’s hand.”

    Another American myth, zing. The war hawks forced Madison’s hand. Jefferson knew what it was about. He thought they could just walk in and expel the British. There is no doubt the key aim of the US was to capture Canada (that’s where the vast bulk of its resources were turned. After that failure it became a two-year battle for survival).

    Historian Donald Hickey is regarded as the foremost American expert on the War of 1812.

    Someone kindly sent me a copy of his excellent book, Don’t Give Up The Ship: Myths of The War of 1812.

    I suggest you give it a read. It’s rather enlightening.

    All American schoolkids should have to read it while studying that era of US history. It make make them want to question some of the other stuff they’ve been force fed over the years.

    Starting with Bob’s example of the number one good thing about American history: a constitution affirming all men are created equal.

    Clearly, that was not the case in the US and remains not so.

    Words are fine but unless they match reality, they mean diddly squat.

    Even up to the Korean War, black servicemen did not serve in combat units with white soldiers. In some states, if your black, you could use the same shithouse as whites until not that long ago.

    Clearly, it took 200 years for reality to even start to catch up with good intention.

    Lip service doesn’t equate to equality.

  • http://jetsgaypride.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Um Stan? Doesn’t it follow that if we Americans were taught with slanted facts, that you also were taught with slanted facts?

    Who is to say that your version is any more correct than ours?

  • zingzing

    stm: “Starting with Bob’s example of the number one good thing about American history: a constitution affirming all men are created equal.”

    you assume far too much with that statement. do you REALLY think he doesn’t realize the hypocrisy of it? really? i hope not. that would be silly.

    “Another American myth, zing. The war hawks forced Madison’s hand.”

    but why? why did they go to canada? for resources? at that time in america? …come on. they went to canada in order to get britain to recognize the united states as a legitimate nation. you’ve got your motivations all backwards (according to what i know). you’ve been taught this history from a certain perspective. if an american happens to agree with you, that’s just the way history works. maybe you’re right. maybe i am. it doesn’t really matter. “history” is rarely what actually happened. you know that.

    “Until that happens, the perception of arrogance and ignorance that dogs Americans will remain.”

    look, stm. your little america bashing, and you know i’m not the ra-ra type, is getting a bit suspect. what’s behind it?

  • zingzing

    oh yeah, stm, and why did you bring up my question (see #10) in a light that you knew to be false?

    i’m just not sure why you’d do that, what with the fact that i’ve already explained it to you. even if you think i’m wrong about it, you knew my intentions, yet you deliberately used the quotation in a way you knew was never intended. don’t like that, i don’t. disappointed, i am.

  • STM

    zing: “come on. they went to canada in order to get britain to recognize the united states as a legitimate nation.”

    Are you serious? They went to Canada to take it over and boot the British out of North America. There’s no dispute about that, not even among American historians. Most of the resources of the fledgling US were given over to that one single aim.

    You, of all people, are defending the indefensible … for someone who has a decent grasp of world affairs, you are a remarkably one-eyed, candy-stripe patriot when it comes to this stuff … which is my point exactly. Just the fact that you accuse me “America-bashing” is evidence of that. I’m not an an America basher and I never have been. But a few home truths presented from an opposite viewpoint can be valuable food for thought if you’re open to them. This is always the argument I encounter from Americans when you say something about them they don’t like .. “you’re obviously anti-American”, “you must be suss”, etc.

    Actually, no … I’m an Aussie so I like Americans. But I’m anti-bullsh.t. Doesn’t matter who’s spinning the brown stuff either, and that includes your cousins on the other side of the Atlantic or the many people in this country who are blind to the truth one way or the other.

    You are all making the point for me on this thread.

    And Jet … no, we weren’t taught slanted facts about history. It was all on the table, good and bad. We were encouraged to use our own powers of critical thinking to see what was behind it all. That is one thing for which I will thank the education systems of both Australia and Britain.

    There is no attempt to gloss over the travesties and mistakes of history. There is no attempt to cement a myth in place. It’s all presented exactly as it was, although some people choose to believe different things in the interpretation of those facts.

    I think this kind of approach is key to Americans understanding their place in the world. Like I say, the US doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

    Sometimes when I’m talking to you, I get the feeling that most Americans think it is. That’s OK up to a point and I can understand why, but America is now the most important country in the world and its people need to have a clearer understanding of their place in it and the reasons why.

    As I have said before, a lot of Americans have trouble even pointing to Canada and Mexico on a map.

    That is a sad and terrible thing and a genuine indictment on American education.

  • STM

    And zing, the US didn’t get “everything it wanted out of the war”. The two issues cited as being behind it, as I’ve already explained, were pretty much null and void by the time it ended.

    The free-trade issue (the orders in council aimed at preventing US trade with France during the continental wars) were rescinded BEFORE Madison declared war on the British, and the impressment of British sailors from American ships wasn’t even mentioned in the treaty thrashed out in Ghent.

    Once Bonaparte was defeated, that was the end of it.

    All that America really got out of the cessation of hostilities was a) a cessation of the fighting, which the US had requested and b) a return of the territories captured by the British.

    It did well to get them back too.

    Please, at least read Hickey’s book. It’s written by an American from an American point of view and very clearly explains all this way beyond the level Americans might have learned at school.

    In it, he deliberately addresses that last issue by – bravely, for an American – attempting to debunk those myths (and some also thrown up by Canadians in the aftermath).

  • zingzing

    “As I have said before, a lot of Americans have trouble even pointing to Canada and Mexico on a map.”

    which is complete and utter bullshit you’ve been taught to believe. give me a damn break. you know that’s not true.

    “All that America really got out of the cessation of hostilities was a) a cessation of the fighting, which the US had requested and b) a return of the territories captured by the British.”

    and free expansion westward, and the end of british/canadian support of the indians (odious consequences notwithstanding) and the end of any threats to its sovereignty. come on.

    and answer #16. it’s got me a bit perturbed.

    i’m not really calling you anti-american. some of your best friends are american. (take that how you will.) but you seem to think that bashing on america, whether it be in history or in sport, does you some good. i just think you could choose your words in less insulting ways. you know i’m not the patriotic type. i love america, but i’m a bit wary of it at the same time. still, such nonsense as your idea that americans can’t pick out canada or mexico on a map are just ridiculous. then you turn around and willfully misinterpret what i say (see #16), which throws me into doubt about your ability to understand the written word. not really… but still. that’s not a nice thing to do.

  • STM

    Zing: “which is complete and utter bullshit you’ve been taught to believe. give me a damn break. you know that’s not true.”

    Sadly, zing, it IS true. Maybe not in the circles you move in, but I’d hazard a guess that wouldn’t be representative of much of the US population. I have spent some time in the US, in case you’ve forgotten, and sadly, I did discover that level of ignorance. Geography’s not a strongpoint of Americans.

    Go and do a straw poll somewhere with an unmarked map and see how you fare. You’d probably be surprised yourself.

    Personal experience: I even had people telling me I spoke good English and “where did I learn it”. That didn’t happen just once, but quite a few times. I mean, come on, mate … it’s not the rosy picture you are attempting to paint.

  • zingzing

    good god. i can’t name one american i’ve ever known in my life that wouldn’t be able to identify either. and i’ve been here a whole lot more than you have. and i’ve known a lot of stupid people. but not one couldn’t identify our neighbors. IT’S NOT TRUE. don’t fool yourself. geography may not be a strong point for americans, but to suggest something as utterly ridiculous as that is just some fucking stupid shit someone told you and you choose to believe for no good reason.

    and answer #16. why’d you do that? why are you constantly avoiding the question?

  • STM

    zing: “the end of british/canadian support of the indians (odious consequences notwithstanding)”.

    America’s expansion westward had nothing to do with the start of the war of 1812. The British never expressed any interest in going any further soutgh into that territort than they did.

    If it was being discussed at that stage, the expansion westward was thus only early evidence of the idea of “manifest destiny”. It had nothing to do with the War of 1812.

    Why don’t you make it your mission to get a copy of that book, then come back and argue with me. I believe on this issue – unusually for you – you are arguing from a position of a little knowledge, which, as you know, can be a dangerous thing.

  • STM

    #16 I brought it up in the context I believed it was at the time we had the original discussion.

    You almost questioned why anyone would fight for the right NOT to be American.

    We should find it wherever it is. If people are happy where they are and are invaded by someone else, that’s not freeing them, it’s invading them.

    The British colonise, they are imperialists. America colonises, and it’s bringing democracy. Once again, that is the myth of American exceptionalism in operation and it’s a dangerous myth.

    Simple. The same rules that apply everywhere else also apply to America.

    The Philippines is a classic example.

    Ask Filipinos what they think of “the Philippine insurrection”. They call it a war for freedom – from America.

  • zingzing

    “America’s expansion westward had nothing to do with the start of the war of 1812. The British never expressed any interest in going any further soutgh into that territort than they did.”

    horseshit. (btw–you drunk? you’re a typo heaven tonight.) us expansion was not in britain’s best interests. the british wanted to expand their holdings, as any sensible nation would.

    “Why don’t you make it your mission” to answer #16, or #10 or #8, whichever you want…

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Zing –

    I’ve got to back up STM here – most Americans ARE terrible at geography. Why? Because unlike most of the rest of the people in the industrialized first world nations, most of our people never even leave the country of their birth for a vacation – and if they do, it’s to Canada or Mexico.

    Look at Dubya – he never once stepped foot outside the U.S. before he ran for president. That’s why he was so clueless about the world.

    One part of the problem is America’s traditional (arrogant) viewpoint that we’re the biggest, baddest, and best at everything in the world…so many American citizens think to themselves, “why would I want to go somewhere else?” Many of those same Americans also scoff at the idea that other countries just might have a higher standard of living than we do here.

    STM’s also right about our habit of myth-i-thizing our history. How many Americans know the first man in space was from the Soviet Union? How many Americans know that the lion’s share of WWII was fought on the Eastern Front? How many Americans know that Sept.-March 1918 was the deadliest four-month period in human history?

    Most Americans know so little…because we think we are all that and a bag of chips.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “a lot of Americans have trouble even pointing to Canada and Mexico on a map.”

    That has to be the most ridiculous thing I have read here, which is saying something. More like people were pulling a fast one on you and sounds like you were dumb enough to fall for it.

  • zingzing

    oh, alright, here we go… ignore that last bit of 24 then.

    “You almost questioned why anyone would fight for the right NOT to be American.”

    except i didn’t at all. you know that. you know the point i was trying to make. maybe i failed initially, but i explained myself and that doesn’t excuse the fact that you tried to make it out like that was my point when you knew damn well that that wasn’t it. so why? why would you do that?

    “The British colonise, they are imperialists. America colonises, and it’s bringing democracy. Once again, that is the myth of American exceptionalism in operation and it’s a dangerous myth.”

    not that most people believe that. many americans mock the foolish “bringing democracy to the world” bullshit. the british were certainly imperialists. that’s why they had an empire. americans are no better.

  • STM

    OK zing, here’s something to ponder: 20 per cent of Americans can’t identify the their own country on a map

    This is from a US TV show, not a piece of Aussie propaganda.

    I could post a few more but I won’t.

  • zingzing

    glenn: “I’ve got to back up STM here – most Americans ARE terrible at geography. Why? Because unlike most of the rest of the people in the industrialized first world nations, most of our people never even leave the country of their birth for a vacation – and if they do, it’s to Canada or Mexico.”

    so they don’t know where they’ve been? seems kinda… implausible.

  • zingzing

    um, stm… that site says 97% of “young americans” can find the us on a map and that 11% can’t. there’s no basis for the 20% claim…

    just what the site says… and that miss sc was roundly ridiculed around here for her amazing ignorance.

    so… shot down by your own link?

  • STM

    No, very few Ameriocans actually travel outside the US. So those that DO go to Canada or Mexico are in a very small minority. Try checking out how many Americans actually hold passports.

    It’s not a huge figure.

    This has morphed into something that looks like a putdown. I feel I’m perfectly entitled to voice an opinion on the state of America’s education system and how it relates to history and geography since I live in a world now largely of America’s making, and what happens in the US impacts on me and my countrymen in virtually the same way it does to Americans living in the US.

  • zingzing

    you are entitled to your opinion, of course. but quoting ridiculous shit you’ve got no basis for doesn’t make that opinion look too credible.

  • STM

    Read the whole lot zing: Then there’s the bit after National Geographic survey that says 11 per cent of Americans can’t find their own country on a map.

  • zingzing

    read my whole comment… where’s the 20%? there’s 3%, there’s 11% (which i noted…), but there’s no 20%. either way, your argument is thrown into doubt.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “I could post a few more but I won’t.”

    Probably best you don’t considering you are using articles where the titles don’t agree with the content.

    Being entitled to voice an opinion doesn’t means it’s a correct one.

  • STM

    I said I wouldn’t do this but you’ve forced my hand.

    Lol. OK, I know they’ve been set up … and there are just as many silly people everywhere, including here, but it’s good stuff all the same.

  • STM

    EB: “Being entitled to voice an opinion doesn’t means it’s a correct one.”

    True, but just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s wrong, either.

  • zingzing

    oh, stm… you could do that for any country on any issue. that’s like taking the dumbest aussies and then judging your country based on it like it’s real evidence. “average” americans my ass.

    from the description: “If you want to know why there’s a ‘dumb American’ stereotype here’s why. This is an excerpt from “The Chaser’s War On Everything” in Australia.

    To everyone watching this is a COMEDY show.It brings up a stereotype (read: STEREOTYPE) that some Americans are stupid, as can be seen by the folks in this video. The intention is to select the idiotic responses—just like what would happen on Letterman or Leno. It isn’t aimed at giving people an insight into American culture; it’s a show for people watching to laugh at.

    People shouldn’t think that `all` Americans are this stupid. That would be as ignorant a belief as the ones held by the people in this clip. Remember that the video would be just as funny if those interviewed were Australian, British, or Indian. Stupid people are entertaining!”

    come on, stm. if you were trying to make a joke, bravo. if you were trying to make a serious point, you’ve just undermined your argument by falling for a fucking joke.

  • STM

    Glenn, Thanks for backing me up mate. This started as a valid criticism of the American education system and has segued into an argument that might be interpreted as me thinking all Americans are dumb.

    They’re not and I don’t. Be that as it may, a lot STILL don’t know anything about history or geography, which are key when it comes to America’s place in this world.

    It really IS important.

    And that is the entire point I am trying to make.

  • zingzing

    i’ll repeat for effect: “People shouldn’t think that `all` Americans are this stupid. That would be as ignorant a belief as the ones held by the people in this clip.”

  • zingzing

    stm, there’s 320 nobel prize winners from america. how many are from australia? (10.) obviously, our education system does work, at least at the higher levels.

    i’ll be the first to admit that public schools in the us do have their issues. but higher education in this nation is, and this is obvious from the amount of people worldwide that come here to study, world-class.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    When I went to college in the United States, I wanted to be a history teacher. Having lived in the United States – being a product, to a degree of its educational system, and its self-congratulatory view of history, I have to agree with Stan Denham in his comment #12. He accurately traces the sources of most American institutions to the Roman invasion of Britain, and he is right.

    HIS more inclusive view of history is what AMERICAN history should be. If it were, then WORLD history, something Americans are woefully ignorant of, and uninterested in, could be a lot more inclusive in its scope, and made far more interesting than “American Idol”. Heck, it could even talk about Australia!

    When you look at American history from the point of view of Americans conducting a series of aggressive wars of expansion and an unorganized genocide (of Indians) during the 19th century, you get a far more accurate view of how events played out.

    When you realize, for example that the United States made the same mistake with Mexico that Napoléon made with Prussia – conquering the country and not annexing it – but humiliating it instead. And now the “immigration” problem you face with Mexicans is not an issue of law or civil rights or discrimination against the brown skinned people or all the other bullshit you read about. It is the attempt of a resentful Mexican nation to reconquer its land and overcome its humiliation. The Prussians had guns and huge allies in Europe and were able to do things the conventional way, defeating Napoléon at the Battle of Nations in 1813. The Mexicans have had nothing in their military arsenal but wetbacks. And that is what they are using to reconquer California, New Mexico and Arizona at the very least. It’s taking them over 150 years to do, but they are beating the shit out of you. But you need to understand military and diplomatic history of Europe to see that. You native born Americans, so busily congratulating yourselves on your “History of Us”, are missing the action altogether!

    He who does not know history is doomed to repeat the mistakes others make, as well as the ones he has already made. And that is what you are doing. Worldwide. Too many of your problems can be traced to your ignorance of WORLD history, and your utter disregard for the importance of knowing that history.

  • STM

    It all pans out zing. We had a population of 10 million not that long ago, you have a population of nearly 320 million and plenty of opportunities for people to work in those important areas that people might be denied elsewhere simply because other places aren’t as important, as big, as America.

    That was never in doubt. I do not think America is populated by dumb people.

    Did you read what I said further up????

    I said that history and geography were not being properly taught at primary-school and high-school level in the US.

    There is no argument that America’s institutions of higher learning are world class … and world beating in some areas.

    This is how these things can segue into arguments that detract from the original atrgument and bear no relevance to them.

    I think my POV is legitimate, given America’s place in the world.

  • STM

    Thanks Ruve, thanks zing.

    Now we’re getting somewhere.

    And when I said most Americans couldn’t find Canada or Mexico on a map, I meant it the same as people do when they say all Poms have really bad teeth.

    A generalisation based on some truth, but not the entire truth.

  • Jeff Forsythe

    In all of my travels I have found that it is not a good to tell someone that they are not who they think they are.

    Where is the profit?

    Mr. Forsythe

  • STM

    No one expects the whole of America to be able to launch into a discourse on Francois Salle’s The Anatomy Class At The Ecole des Beaux Arts, 1888.

    I mean, I’m simply trying to make a constructive criticism about a very important education system (America’s).

    For that, I stand accused of anti-Americanism or America bashing for some underhanded reason … isn’t that what folks like the teabaggers are criticised for by educated Americans: isn’t it what’s said about anyone who doesn’t subscribe entirely to their narrow world view.

  • Jeff Forsythe

    They are all blinkered Mr. Stan. To further attempt at reason would just result in more bollocks

    Mr. Forsythe.

  • STM

    Geoff Forsythe: “In all of my travels I have found that it is not a good to tell someone that they are not who they think they are”.

    Why keep anyone in suspense. Sooner or later, they’ll find out.

  • STM

    Mr Forsythe, you have wisdom beyond your ears.

  • Jeff

    I prefer Jeff or Mr. Forsythe actually. True to a point, but they will remember you as the one that burst their ego bubble and resent you for it later.

    Mr. Forsythe

  • Jeff Forsythe

    All in all the whole booming thing has become a a bore that deserves a Bob’s your uncle.

    Mr. Forsythe

  • STM

    Mr Forsythe: Egos must be punctured. Ego deflation at depth can be a valuable key to learning.

    Those who believe they are unteachable have already lost.

    My motto: “Dare to be Average”, remembering not only that one might not be an undiscovered genius, but no kind of genius.

    Or, if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.

    If I’m badly thought of as a puncturer of egos, then that is how it must be.

    I won’t lose any sleep.

  • STM

    “a Bob’s your uncle.”

    What, a big thumbs up, then??

  • Jeff Forsythe

    I’ll jot that down

  • Jeff Forsythe

    To quote the bandit, “How smart something you say is, depends on what part of the world you’re a standin’ in at the time you say it.”

    Mr. Forsythe

  • zingzing

    “And when I said most Americans couldn’t find Canada or Mexico on a map, I meant it the same as people do when they say all Poms have really bad teeth.”

    oh. well, that’s certainly not how it looked. benefit of the doubt to you, if with doubts…

    not that british people needn’t see the dentist more often. when i lived in england, my best friend had one of his front teeth ROT OUT. motherfucker never brushed his teeth. of course, he also was found urinating on his very expensive component stereo one night. he also pulled the greatest, most epic upper decker (look it up) in history. and he broke my fucking rib when he thought i cock-blocked him. and he owes me about 400 quid. still, the day we had tripping out on e and smoking pot in a rented boat in england’s lake district will go down as one of the nicest days i’ve ever spent one-on-one with a man. i love the memory of him.

    lee anderton, where are you?

  • Jeff Forsythe

    Where I am from a “Bob’s your uncle” signifies the end of a list or recipe or discussion.

    5 carrots, two beets, a pint, and bob’s your uncle was what he had for dinner.

    Mr. Forsythe

  • Jeff Forsythe

    Never hang about someone who is bladdered Zing it gets extreemly messy.

  • zingzing

    yeah well, we were all bladdered back then. and drunkeness was the least of our troubles. if i had been drug tested a decade ago this time of year, you’d think you’d tested a… hrm. i can’t think of anything that could possibly explain the amount of drugs i was doing. i haven’t done any serious drugs for several years now, but i think i can say there’s little for me left to try. pcp and crystal meth are on the list, but i have little desire for either of those…

  • Jeff Forsythe

    I get high naturally here in Utopia.

    Speaking of which I must depart for work soon.

    A pleasure cooresponding with all of you.

    From the Wizard of Oz:

    “We get up at noon,
    and start to work at one,
    Take an hour for lunch,
    and then at two we’re done!

    Ta
    Mr. Forsythe

  • STM

    Nah, Mr Forsythe, you haven’t quite got the nuance.

    It’s more like: “There’s the four-inch pipe over there. I f.cken told you it was right underv the shithouse.”

    “Fair dinkum?”

    “Yep. Here’s the spanner”.

    “Right, bob’s your uncle then”.

  • STM

    Mr Forsythe, I’m glad you live in Oz. I live there too. One day we might meet.

    zing: “lee anderton, where are you?”

    He moved to Oz, to join many more of his temporarily white, toothless Pom brethren.

    And where, upon encountering Mr Forysthe in a wine bar frequented by the mentally ill, those afflicted by dipsomania and the highly worrisome, raced headlong to the airport, clicked his red shoes three times and immediately booked a flight back to the Old Dart.

  • STM

    Mr Forsythe: “Never hang about someone who is bladdered”.

    What, like goat-faced you mean??

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Nah, Mr Forsythe, you haven’t quite got the nuance.

    I knew that Jeff Forsythe needed a dictionary of ‘Strine….

  • STM

    I think he might be from that pretend land of Oz, not the nice one.

  • STM

    Zing, have you tried googling lee anderton. I think you’ll find him.

  • zingzing

    i googled him not too long ago. there are many lee andertons in the world. maybe i’ll try again…

  • STM

    You lived in Manchester-Liverpool didn’t you. There is a Lee Anderton on youtube out for a night in a pub in Eccles. Could this be him??

    Accompanying pictures on google of a man bearing the same name appear to show a person with crook teeth, as described.

  • zingzing

    he’s originally from liverpool. but i lived in canterbury. and that guy in the youtube video wasn’t him. too… em, large?

  • Michael Brew

    I wholeheartedly agree with the fact that Tesla should be a part of this program. Edison’s DC electrical system could only power within a few miles, while Tesla’s AC system could send electrical signal for thousands of miles without signal degradation. Tesla designed the turbine system that powers the Niagara falls hydroelectric plant to this day.
    And to correct a common mistake stated here: In 1943, the year Tesla died, the US Supreme Court upheld Tesla’s patent number 645576, making Tesla the inventor of the radio not Marconi.

  • Rod Anderson

    Edison invented the first practical direct current lightbulb. Tesla invented alternating current, then designed and built the first AC hydroelectric power plant at Nigra Falls, which powered Buffalo, NY. The world’s entire power grid is AC — not DC. Edison electrocuted elephants trying to convince people of the danger of AC power. If your device uses a battery it is DC. EVERYTHING else is AC. Tesla’s patents were used by Marconi in his radio. The US Patent Office recognizes Tesla as the inventer of the radio.

  • TNT

    To STS: Tesla filed his patent before Marconi. It wasn’t until after Tesla’s death that the US Supreme Court reinstated his patent. So it is arguable who came first, Marconi or Tesla.

  • Sylvester

    “Ask Filipinos what they think of “the Philippine insurrection”. They call it a war for freedom – from America.”

    My wife is a Filipina. Their country lives in poverty, most areas. They all want to come to US. We had guys asking my wife to marry them (even when they knew I was her fianc� at the time, and we knew the guy was married). They would do anything to get to US, so much for getting their freedom. Great move on their part, naked and hungry, but proud!