Thread: Sunday in Schiphol
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#1 Sunday in Schiphol
06-08-2008, 04:25 AM
- Join Date
- May 2005
- Hartford, CT USA
Cloudy and cold here in Amsterdam. On a day long journey back to the home of dying (what else do they have to do with their lives) insurance salesmen. Flew out of Nice at 6:05 local time this morning and arriving in the megalopolis mid-afternoon.
Loaded down with Biot glassware, in a discussion with my (European) girlfriend yesterday, we talked about why American products (food, manufactured goods, etc.) are all of a single consistency, typically less than, for example, French goods of a similar nature. This is not actually true, but what is true is that the American genius lies in mass production and distribution of goods, all of a consistent, not unique, quality. This was the great leap forward in the midst of the industrial revolution, no better typified than by Henry Ford.
While this capability inevitably leads to (and supports) the creation of a middle-class to consume those goods, all living at a similar standard of living, it does eliminate (or significantly reduce, at least), the extremes, both superior and inferior. Take a simple thing like tomatoes, for example. Because large-scale mass agriculture has not taken hold in France as it has in the US, tomatoes in France tend not to be as "pretty," but do tend to have significantly more taste. The same could be said regarding a wide range of products when contrasting the two countries.
What's interesting is that the standard set by the US via mass production is now being lowered significantly due to the application of similar techniques by China and India. Therefore, you arrive at a $2500 car (by Tata). Since cost is always a key driver, those types of products tend to survive and thrive in a social Darwinistic way, while cars like, say, a Mercedes or Cadillac, die or adapt downward.
TOTD: (At last) Will the very American concept of mass production and distribution of goods combine with the forces of globalization to drive all mankind to a lower (than our current) standard of living or will the rewards of individual excellence and craftsmanship (the European model, shall we call it) triumph?
Hey! It's early and I'm sitting in an airport!!! :D
06-08-2008, 08:32 AM"The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown." H.P. Lovecraft in Supernatural Horror in Literature
06-08-2008, 10:15 AM
TOTD: I like the way us Americans do things...that's CommieSpeak you're talkin', son! :D I suppose individual craftsmanship is a good fine thing....and there's still plenty of that in the good ol' US of A to go around. Perhaps there's MORE of that in the smaller Yer-Oh-Pee-An countries but I'll take my Mega-marts and fine supermarkets any day... Although I do have a weakness for little out-of-the-way bookshops..."The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown." H.P. Lovecraft in Supernatural Horror in Literature
06-08-2008, 11:30 AM
- Join Date
- May 2008
- In my own private Alamo on The Mountain in Georgia
Hey, I like long rambling threads. That's what...I ...write...um
I think there will always be a place for craft and style. We have the everyday dinnerware, but we also have the wedding china for special shindigs and hoo-haas on the mountain.
I drink cheap booze and smoke inexpensive cigars, but every now and then I get a glass of single malt and a really fine cigar.
And CW, today is the French Open, I think Nadal will win handily, the Dauphiné Liberé cycling race kicks off with a time trial (Go Levi!!!) and I think there's an international soccer tournament going on as well.
Nice. Really nice. Or is it Nice? :DHey careful man! There's a beverage here!
06-08-2008, 01:37 PM
- Join Date
- May 2008
- The West
If you look at our taste in beer, it has moved slightly from the rather bland mass produced varieties such as budweiser and miller towards a tastier variety of craft and european beers. That doesn't mean that the behemoth breweries have anything to fear over night, but it does mean that tastes can change over time. Had it not been for my military time spent in other countries, I might still be swilling the home grown stuff and never discovered the real taste of beer. The power of the market can cause a rather homogeneous similarity of products, but the market can also succeed in introducing a taste for variety and quaility.
Anyway, you haven't developed a sense of that french elitism, have you? Are you subtly looking down your nose at our hokey american ways? :eek:
06-08-2008, 02:46 PM
Actually, I feel that America's promoting mass production raised the standard of living for the masses, rather than lowering it. Not everyone can afford to sip their wine out of Baccarat goblets, but there are still some nice things made in the US. An example is Steuben glass, one of the finest.
06-08-2008, 06:07 PM
I got as far as "will the..." ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz:p
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