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You set the link incorrectly in your old website... I thought it looked kind of fishy so I monkeyed around with it until I finally got through to the new site by typying in "/hereticsalmanac/" after the typepad domain.

I enjoy your thoughts and will be sure to check in often. How do you like typepad compared to blogspot? The site sure looks nicer. Does it handle better, too?


Regarding "dominance of the US in practically everything ..." Feeling slightly anti-European, are we? The rest of the world isn't emulating the US, especially in cultural matters, because the US is doing things the best. We are not living in a meritocracy. Marketing affects people's perceptions more than quality. Afterall, Unix is a better operating system than DOS, Apple better than PC's but the cheaper, mediocre technology prevailed. In the US, English units prevail over metric. Here are a few categories where the US lags behind Europe:

architecture, control of urban sprawl, craftmanship, vocational education, construction methods, energy conservation (for buildings), recycling (consumer goods), mineral water (despite Perrier's benzene), inexpensive daily drinking wines, regional cuisine variety and quality (czech beer, german sausages - being Kosher, you might not understand, cheese, etc), public transportation, parking garages, equestrian sports and equipment ...

It seems difficult to support that geniuses were created by, "untying themselves from national conformity". To rebel or to conform still requires a cultural and historical framework. Genius implies a transcedence beyond what is already accepted or known. Nothing springs from nothing. I do agree with the tendency for democracies to reduce themselves to the lowest common denominator.

Regarding your main point ... you might find Robert Kagan's "Of Paradise and Power" an interesting read. His treatise is that both European countries and the USA have vacillated in their view towards force as a resolution of conflict. Basically, if you have it, you flaunt it. This argument has less to do with insecure Europeans fighting against US unilateralism than insecure Europeans knowing that they don't have the capability (militaristically or politically) to sustain a forceful campaign in another country. If the US, after 9/11, had taken the stance of pouring the same amount of money used for the war, towards education, infrastructure and consumer advertisements, Europeans wouldn't have rallied against the US to go to war. I do believe that Europeans are generally less likely to form neighborhood groups and have block parties together - which might explain their difficulty in mobilising together for touchy global issues.

Anyway, I enjoy your blogs. Kathy said you would feel popular if people responded to you. Though she says that I am slightly anti-American, I feel that I am more anti-mediocrity.


Hey Yungie - good to "see" you here. Thanks for visiting, and I'm glad you enjoy the blog.

I am critical to much of what is going in Europe, just as I'm critical to much that goes on in the U.S. I don't feel particularly "pro" one thing and "anti" another. I think that Bush's policy is overly simplistic; but I also think that the European response is cowardly and childish in the sense that they seem more concerned about being different from the U.S. than doing the right thing.

Mediocrity, in my mind, is a function of several factors, one of them being pressure to conform and not rise above the crowd. At the risk of invoking Ayn Ran, I'd say that in addition to talent, it takes courage to be extraordinary. Geniuses usually (always?) stand on the shoulders of others, but I still feel pretty confident that most of them defied the constraints their locan environments placed on them. It's no coincidence that the more cosmopolitan a city was, the more it attracted cultural and artistic innovators.

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