Posts tagged ‘Europe’

September 19, 2012

Bicycles

Every year I come back from a summer in Europe to find things changed (and prices for staple foods up).  Last year it was the local Borders bookstore that, along with all others in the nation, was about to close and during its last days of “final final everything must go sale” offered mainly fluffy blankets made of shiny synthetics and left over shelving units.  This year it was the inexplicable disappearance of your local chain Mexican food place which we actually quite liked.  We still find ourselves saying on Sundays “lets go to Baja Fresh” to then add “oh, no.  It’s closed, darn.”  (of course we only say darn because of your son, else stronger language would be used).

Ways to go before Silicon Valley looks anything like this, pic: blog.brothercycles.com

This year I came back to a better change: bike paths have appeared.  Nothing like in Germany or Holland but there are bike paths now.  Along busy 4 lane city streets which are pretty much suicidal to ride on, bike paths that suddenly start and just as suddenly stop leaving you to wonder whether you are supposed to just disappear or have a friend with a car pick you up or what.  But bike paths never the less.  And I have actually seen people ride on them: few and tentatively and quite fearful – understandably.  But it is surprising and good.  This is how it starts.  I don’t expect our silicon Valley suburb to ever look like Amsterdam but every little but helps!

March 7, 2011

Europe = Bad?

Maybe Europeanization wouldn't be such a bad thing after all. Source: http://nyti.ms/hsL0iy

I read a blog at the Guardian the other day which made an interesting observation that I think is worthy a mention here. The claim was the following: if you want to call something bad in the US but can’t quite put your finger on the exact nature of the badness just call it “European”.

First I thought this was an overstatement bordering on the outrageous but come to think of it, there is something to it:

Small cars = European shoe boxes

People using strong language say “excuse my French” as if the French were particularly prone to obscenities when in fact the Americans have a pronounced fondness of the f-word, even if it is bleeped out on TV.

People against health care reform carry on about the risk of Europeanizing the country – as if that was the end of the world as we know it or a head first plunge into Marxism.

Senator McConnell (a Republican) just recently warned that the health care reform plan will turn the US into Western Europe.  He said this not in support of the health care plan (which all Republicans are opposed to as a matter of ideology) but as a scathing damnation of Obama’s health care reform – and everybody understodd it to mean that, no explanation required.

Nobody even seems to feel the need to explain how health care for unemployed and children should be a scary thing.