Sunday, July 3, 2011

Evaluating American Assets

CNN Money has a list of the top 100 great things about the US.  I guess we cannot blame them for their patriotic pontification given that tomorrow is the 4th of July and, aside from the Bin Laden raid, Americans have not had that much to cheer about lately.  Anyhow, the list ranges from on target to pure padding (should have come up with a top 10 or 25).  So, just to have fun with it, I am going to assess the list.

  1. Opportunity.  Yep, the US remains the land of opportunity although wages by most of the country have stagnated.  Still, immigrants continue to come to the US, do well, and improve things for their kids.
  2. Interstate highway.  Um, don't other folks have good highway systems (the autobahn?)?   Sure, there is some great history there, but not that super-special.
  3. Sears Tower.  Um, ok.  Tall building, but great?  
  4. Wal-Mart Employees saving lives in Joplin?  Ok. We do have bundles of stories of Americans doing great things in times of great hardship.
  5. Navy Seals.  Sure. All of the Special Operators are quite, ahem, Special.
  6. ESPN?  Um, I do like some elements of it (Bill Simmons and the new Grantland are pretty cool), but isn't the network also responsible for some of the worst elements in sports, like the focus on ego gratification and big hits, rather than good team play.
  7. Fedex.  The Canadian postal service and their ox-carts certainly make Fedex look good.  Too bad it led to what's-his-face owning the Washington football team.
  8. Steve Jobs.  Sure, as a PC user, I can respect what Mac has done, and I do like my Ipod.  This goes to larger hunk of what makes America great--a good environment for innovation.  Perhaps not as unique as it used to be, but still we have some of the most successful college drop-outs.
  9. Whole Foods.  If you say so.
  10. Microsoft Word.  I am not sure there is a consensus on this one, especially as every new update causes people to get upset at the new formats.  
  11. Ford F-150.  Bestselling pickup.  11?  Really.
  12. Rockerfeller Family?  heaps of good works apparently.
  13. Caterpillar construction machinery.  Whatever happened to Tonka?
  14. Detroit.  I guess buying low, right?
  15. Kindle?  Too soon to say.  
  16. Duct tape.  You mean, this is an American thing.  What do the Germans and Japanese do with their ducts?  And their kidnap victims?
  17. Bill of Rights.  Um, #17?  These should be at the very top.  This land o opportunity would not be such without freedom of speech, assembly, from religion (yes, I am putting it like this to antagonize folks) etc.
  18. Wall Street Bull.  Given the past several years, nothing on Wall Street should be on this list, but this is CNN Money's list. What else can you expect?
  19. Carlos Santana.  Sure, first immigrant listed.  
  20. Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon.  A beverage that is really hard to find and drunk by a few?  I would go with Coke here or Microbrew beers.
  21. LinkedIn.  You have to be kidding me.  Thus far, an annoyance with not so much merit.  Down the road?  We shall see, but not the best social networking hunk of internet around. 
  22. Colin Powell.  Nice immigrant story, sure.  But he enabled the Bush Administration and was the face of the US when it was lying to itself and the world.  Heaps of demerits here.  
  23. Bill and Melina Gates.  Microsoft and now macro-good-doing.
  24. Geico commercials.  Um, is that the best we got?  Mad Men before Geico.
  25. Mississippi.  Yep, cool river, big, and all of that.
  26.  Ben and Jerry's.  I, of course, would have had these guys hiring on the list.
  27. Bose noise-canellign headphones.  Sure.
  28. Self-stick stamps.  American?  We have them in Canada.
  29. 747 airplane.  Ok.
  30. Warren Buffett.  I guess.
  31. Summer Friday hours.  Don't the Greeks have better than this?  It is called every day?
  32. Poland Spring?  Water is water.
  33. Lebron James?  Um, only if being American means showing up for three quarters.  I guess it works then.
  34. GPS.  Big fan of GPS although it was not so helpful in Brussels, but I blame the Belgian beer for that.  Drunk people should not only not drive but should not design urban roads.
  35. Daily deal websites?  Really.
  36. Friday Night Lights.  Coach!
  37. Budweiser?  Oh no.  Such swill.  If that is all the beer there was in the US, I would drink wine.
  38. "American Pie"  They mean the song, but I think I prefer the movie.
  39. Jay-Z.  If you say so.  Beyonce should be higher than Jay-Z.
  40. Louisville Slugger bats.  Good for baseball and for gangster movies.
  41. Kevin Spacy voicing Honda commercials.  Reaching, really reaching here.
  42. Zappos.  Free shipping.  Never hard of it.
  43. Oscar Mayer hot dogs.  I think twinkies should be higher than hot dogs.  And cupcakes above them, and chocolate chip cookies and cinnamon buns ahead of them.
  44. SEC football.  I think Avenue Q and the new Book of Mormon should go above professional college football.
  45. TMZ.  Um, yuck.
  46. Music festivals.  Yeah, because they don't have those elsewhere.  How American are they?
  47. Glee.  I wonder if you can make a song out of this cheer: OH-VER RAY-TED.
  48. Hank Aaron.  You betcha.
  49. James Taylor.  I guess.  But Bruce should go higher.
  50. Tom Brady.  Better than the Mannings, but not much in the big moments lately.  All three (Brady and the Mannings I dislike so much) should go higher than Lebron.  
  51. Nascar.  Not a fan, but is there anything more American than driving fast around a circle, wasting lots of gas, making lots of noise and providing heaps of opportunity for drinking beer?
  52. The Great Gatsby.  No, Catcher in the Rye.  To Kill a Mockingbird, and a few others are more the Great American Novel.
  53. Gatorade.  Nice story, ok.
  54. Sandusky, Ohio?  Sure, I enjoyed the park there and got a good kiss out of it.
  55. Times Square--should go much higher on the list.
  56. Aretha Franklin.  Respect this choice.
  57. Independent bookstore.  They still exist?
  58. 60 Minutes.  Longevity yes, still quality?  I dont know.
  59. Clif Bars?  Never heard of them.  Cliff Notes, sure. 
  60. Seinfeld.  Yes.
  61. Diet Coke?  Um, how about coke, period.
  62. Gmail.  Not friends who have been hacked.  I have it, but I don't rely on it.
  63. Grand Canyon.  Yes, our big hole in the ground is mighty special.  I would put the National Parks as entire category much higher on the list.  Not that I have been to many, but a huge national asset.  And tied to our love of cars since that is the best way to get to these places
  64. Men and Women serving in the US armed forces.  Of course we are going to be patriotic on a patriotic list.  I hope we take better care of these folks.  It has been a tough, tough ten years.  Makes me laugh about the criticisms the Republicans had about the Clinton administration stressing out the force.  
  65. Clint Eastwood.  Sure.
  66. E-ZPass.  I am pretty sure this is not so American, but does play to American themes of driving, hating to wait, fostering laziness, woo hoo!
  67. Jonathan Frazen.  Um, Stephen King goes ahead, plus I could name another dozen authors who should go ahead.  
  68. Windex.  Really?
  69. Michelle Obama.  Sure.  She rocks.
  70. Gibson les Paul.  Rock on.
  71. Morton Salt.  Recognizable image, but salt is salt.
  72. Kardashians.  Really.  Yes, the ability to turn no talent into fame and fortunate is American, but does not make America great. 
  73. Jeff Bridges. The Dude.  Sure.  I would have said Harrison Ford but he is kind of grumpy. 
  74. Nike.  Mixed feelings--shoes that people will fight and die over.  But fun commercials.  I do like my Nike Sharks for ultimate.
  75. Prom.  Very American--spending outrageous sums of money for one night of heavy drinking and more. 
  76. Diners!  Milkshakes!
  77. Old Spice.  
  78. Disneyland, Disney World.  Quintessentially American.  Happiest places on Earth, indeed.\
  79. Philly Cheesesteaks.  Indeed.  
  80. Xerox Parc--Silicon VAlley lab where ethernet, laser printing and other stuff developed.  Again, goes to American innovation.
  81. Tina Fey.  Sure.
  82. Blogging.  This is American?  I guess folks elsewhere do not overanalyze stuff like we do.  
  83. Politicians who tweet.  Let's not go there.
  84. Gulfstream G650.  Yes, this is American--wasting fuel and lots of greenhouse gases created by the equivalent of driving by oneself.  
  85. Coppertone.  Girl and dog--seems like this list is more about advertising than anything esle
  86. Food-labeling requirements.  Really, holy padding!  Plus other countries do this heaps, so not that American.  Now breaded bacon, chicken fried steak, those are American dishes.
  87. Drive-in movies.  Really exist, still!  
  88. Exxon Mobil.  Sure, pollution and a lack of accountability--them's American traits.
  89. Sesame Street.  Much better.
  90. Starbucks.  Overpriced coffee?  Bad. Free wifi?  Cool.  
  91. Brian Williams.  Meh.
  92. Mark Zuckerberg.  Lawsuits are super-American.
  93. Vineyard vines, Ralph Luaren, J. McLaghlin.  Huh?  Really?  Put outlet stores here.
  94. Sully Sullenberger.  We love a good hero, and this one became a hero by saving heaps of lives.
  95. Spielberg.  Sure, Super-8 might have been JJ Abrams but it was pure early Spielberg.  And Late Spielberg rocks with Band of Brothers, Saving Private Ryan and much more.  He is so responsible for heaps of American pop culture that he should be in the top ten.
  96. Girl Scout cookies.  Raising money by inflicting guilt and playing to our worse selves via gluttony?  Very American.
  97. Subway.  My daughter would say yes.  I would say if we have to.
  98. Jeopardy.  A show that kind of rewards intelligence.  Sure.  Better than the freak of the week game shows.
  99. Pulitzer Prize. Again, goes to freedom of speech, press and valuing that stuff.
  100. National Lampoon's Vacation.  Really?  That is the one movie we are going to list.  If I had to list one very American movie, it would either be Raiders (Americans as the good imperialists fighting the bad imperialists), Star Wars (plucky rebels fighting the British Empire, sister kissing brother, tolerance of diversity, etc), or Animal House (plucky rebels fighting the British Empire, tolerance of diversity, mayhem).
 and yes, after an evening of ultimate, I was too tired to do anything else, especially now that Game of Thrones is over for awhile and Breaking Bad is two weeks away.

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