Cheat-Seeking Missles

Monday, December 27, 2004

The Uniformity and Excellence of America

All three Incredible Daughters and I strolled from our hotel over to the Fresno International House of Pancakes yesterday morning. After giving our names to the host, I walked back to the restroom, knowing just where to go because the restaurant is exactly the same as the one we breakfast at after church back home, 280 miles away.

This struck me, so I paid attention. The tables were full of people who looked just the same, and talked about just the same kind of subjects, and dressed just the same as those back home. Home is the third most dense and, I think, third most affluent county in the US. Here in Fresno, it's much less urban, with a still strong agricultural base and a less go-go economy. Yet the clothes, the appearance and the permiating good, confident nature were the same.

The standardization that is McDonalds, Home Depot and Borders may be chilling for some, but it also represents not just the perfecting of a concept far above what the world has ever expected, but also the ability to successfully replicate it.

Things like standardization and abundance drive my Internationalist mother and brother nuts. I remember my brother saying, "Who needs 35 kinds of cupcakes?" as a damning indictment of all things American after he was overseas for a number of years. Well, we Americans seem to, and the fact that we can choose between Ho-Ho, Moon Pies, Twinkies and Snow-Balls is as American as 12 apple pie choices.

These thoughts were confirmed by the start of a new Washington Times series this morning under the headline, "America enjoys view from the top." (here) David R. Sands starts the article with a quote from the former head of the Australian Film Commission: "A country that makes a film like 'Star Wars' deserves to rule the world."

It's a great piece, full of quotes and stats you'll want to remember, particularly if your life includes a few Internationalists like mine does. Just a couple appetite-whetters for you:

"You cannot imagine the impact of the American election in Europe," Italian religious philosopher and politician Rocco Buttiglione says during a recent Washington visit.

"America is modernity, and what takes place in America today will take place in Europe in 10, 15 or 20 years," he says. "The Europeans, all of a sudden, had to discover that America is religious, that ethical issues are relevant to politics." ...

The Internet's early partisans saw it as a global leveler, giving equal access and voice to users in the most remote corners of the globe.

But the Web became yet another expression of U.S. dominance, cementing the status of English as the globe's universal language. Although Americans aren't the most numerous users of the Internet, a recent survey found that the estimated 115 million U.S.-based Web sites dwarfs that of second-place Japan, home to 13 million sites. ...

In matters of faith, the United States remains distinct from other industrial powers. America has more churches, synagogues, temples and mosques per capita than any other country on earth, U.S. News & World Report recently noted. That's about one house of religion for every 865 persons. ...