Questions about the USA

Discussion in 'Introductions & Off Topic' started by Vintage, Jul 12, 2007.

  1. Vintage

    Vintage Glass Walker

    Hi Purrsia and Catspat!

    Now I understand, so it's almost like here. A few years ago we had to give our names and say something like: "I'm going to college, can't serve the army", then you have to send, each year, a letter proving that you are indeed in the college and that you haven't failed a year. Recently we don't even have to do that, meaning that only go there if you really want to join the army.

    Since I am Brazilian and have also Portuguese nationality, I have this ridiculous task of going to the Brazilian Consulate to "stamp" each year a paper to say "I don't want to go to the army THIS YEAR". I must do this until I'm 32!

    Only a very few young people want to go to the army here, some go because they can't find a better "job" and a military career can earn some good $, and have a lot of benefits. And since the country is not on war since the 60's or 70's there isn't much "danger". Only a few when to Afganistan but only in those "patrol missions". They didn't fire one round.

    Purrsia, I'm glad your husband didn't have to go there, it was a real luck! And also your grandfather, serving in WWII and returning alive...

    Catspat, it's always a pleasure having your colaboration! :D

    About the aqueduct, I asked my grandfather that knows a lot about this stuff and he told me this one has the biggest arch made of stone in the world! That one I didn't knew! He said "Something like 25 meters wide and 60 in height". that one is just a part of the whole water system, since there are a lot of underground canals and ramifications. If one would measure the whole size of it, the system is about 50,60 km.

    Lisbon has a river crossing it, the Tagus that is "born" in Spain, but the water there is salty, because of the proximity with the sea and there was very little good water for the people that lived there in those ancient times. The lack of water was so huge that people had to stay in line for only a cup of water. Sometimes there were fights and it was said that "People went for water, they return with blood". Then in 1750s they build that aqueduct that, as you said, the gravity leads the water to a reservoir where, back then, it was distributed to the city! I believe that there was a spring on the other extreme that filled the canal.

    Here we don't have drafts, at least to my knowledge, since the country hasn't been in war for decades and we haven't that "military pride" like I see in the USA. In fact, most of the war veterans here not seen as war heroes. I have some uncles that served in Africa back in the 60's-70's and I enjoy to hear their stories. Some are really dramatic but every time I'm with them I ask if they don't remember "other story". Yesterday I went to the post-offices and noticed some veterans asking for donations... I talked with one of them and told him: "Well, here's one idea: I've never seen a book that has the stories of Portuguese war-heroes, since your association has a lot of members, why not each of them writes one story? Then try to sell that book for some company." I would buy it! :)
  2. Vintage

    Vintage Glass Walker

    Hi everybody!

    Last night I was zapping thru my TV Channels and there was a wrestling fight going on, one of those from the famous WWF.

    I've seen this since I was a kid but I never enjoyed it, specially because it's something "fake". My childhood friends loved those and they had action figures.

    Today I ask myself (and you guys, off course!), why is this so famous in the USA? I see so many people in those arenas, not only kids but grown cheering like their lives depended on it. I could understand that kids loved this, but why grown men? Is it just like we are grown, but still like Thundercats and come here to the forum to discuss a kid's tv show, like these grown men and women where once fans of the WWF when were kids and still are?

    What's the fascination with the "fake fight"? I see young people talking here about "that fight last night" like they were talking about a boxe combat between Tyson and... dunno... Hollyfield! :)
  3. catspat

    catspat also known as...Leppardra

    Hi, Vintage. Like you, I've never liked wrestling. It always left a bad taste in my mouth.:thumbsdown:

    As to why grown men and women are crazy about wrestling, I would agree with you in that they loved it when they were kids and still love it now that they're adults. You can say it's their religion. I'm will to bet that some of them came from families who also love wrestling, As with any other form of entertainment, people watch wrestling to forget their problems And I believe there's a big psychological aspect to it as well. It's a safe way someone to vent their anger and/or frustration by cheering and screaming as two wrestlers fake-fling each other about like ragdolls. I can't tell you how surprised I was as a child when one evening I saw my white-haired grandmother watching a wrestling match on TV! I knew she wasn't a fan, so I think she was watching it to forget her troubles for a while (her husband, my grandfather, was completely incapacitated from a stroke. She was his caregiver until he died).:bengali:
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2007
  4. Vintage

    Vintage Glass Walker

    Hey there, Catspat!

    I didn't reply soon to see if someone else wanted to say something about it! I can always count on you to help me know more about some things about the USA! :)

    Now I understand, it's like an "old passion", the same way people here get crazy on a soccer match. It's a very funny thing,what happens to people as soon as they enter the stadium. I went to a match last Tuesday (the season has begun here) and the funny thing is that respectfull men that come from their works wearing suits and smoking they cigars and the blue collar men all behave the same: screaming like crazy, 9 out of 10 words they say are cursed words (almost all of them to the referee)! It's like entering a new reality!

    BTW, on that same day I drove below the aqueduct, guess who I remembered? :)
  5. catspat

    catspat also known as...Leppardra

    Well, Daniel, I don't know if you can always count on me; my own knowledge of the United States isn't really all that comprehensive. In many ways I know as much about the USA as I do about Portugal.:?

    You don't have to tell me about what happens to people in Europe once they're in a soccer stadium. I've seen enough news footage of games to know; the screaming, the singing, the chanting, the flags, the "wave", the fans painted in their team colors. It's all there. However, its bad side is just as well known: the soccer riots, the deaths they caused, and the soccer hooliganism. And wasn't there something called "the soccer war", where one South American country defeated another and the losing country used it as an excuse to actually declare war on the winner? Talk about bizarre! :shocked:

    And I take it you remembered me when you drove under that aqueduct? Aww, that was nice of you. :D
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2007
  6. Vintage

    Vintage Glass Walker

    Hey there!

    It's been a while since I come up with something to ask! :roll:

    Today I was watching a sitcom I enjoy a lot, "Everybody Loves Raymond" and there was a line that I've heard quite a lot, coming from americans.

    Raymond says to his brother: "We're Italians".

    This is my doubt. Why in USA, people born there tend to say they are "Irish" or "Italian" if they are born in USA? I know, it's their fathers, or grandfathers or great-grandfathers. Sometimes 4,5 generations are already born in the USA, but they still call themselves "where their ancestor came".

    In Brazil, for instance, we have all races and peoples from all countries living there, but we don't even say that an Asian girl is "Japanese", get it? She's Brazilian just like any White, Black or Mulatto person.

    Also I've seen that there is "friendly" names to people from other countries / races and I wonder why? Please, I am asking this like a child would ask, with no bigotry or something like that. I see a lot of "African American", "Italian American", "Native American" on TV... Is it not polite to say "that person is black" or "that girl is indian"?

    Is there a term for "white-person" similar to this?

    For instance, my ancestors are Brazilian Indian, Portuguese and Italian. But... "I call myself Brazilian" because that's were I was born.

  7. Purrsia

    Purrsia Moderator

    Hey Vintage. Good Question.

    Some people, I think, like to identify with their heritage even after generations pass. Especially if traditions from the 'old country' still carry strongly through their families.

    I don't really have a prob with that - to each their own - so long as everyone else still has their rights intact. The thing about the different terms for races, I think that's just political correctness run amok again - trying to appease everyone at once; those who want the multi-culturalism of identifying the old culture, and those that want the cohesiveness of the 'American' term. You're left with something of a contridiction.

    I'm more with you though, and just think of myself as an American. While it can be interesting to know where one's roots began and learn about the culture ancestors originated from at the end of the day I'm a mix of a lot of things through the generations and one term covers it - American ;)
  8. catspat

    catspat also known as...Leppardra

    Hi, Daniel, it's catspat. What you ask a complex question that has several answers to it. Here's my take:

    I myself am of predominantly Irish descent on both sides of my family, with a good dose of English and Alsace-Lorraine on my maternal grandfather's side and English on my paternal grandmother's side. I also have a soccer hoodie with "Ireland" on the front and a patch of the colors of the Irish flag on one sleeve. But do I call myself "Irish"? No, I'm American, born and raised; I merely use my Celtic heritage as an anchor to give me more of a sense of who I am and where my bloodline came from. But we here in the good old U.S. of A. tend to romanticize everything into the ground. Every Saint Patrick's Day we have parades (New York City is famous for its March 17th parade), party decorations in the shape of shamrocks, green platisc cauldrons and beer mugs, green party hats, green shiny beads, and red-haired leprechauns in their green clothes. "Shamrock shakes" (milkshakes with green food coloring) abound and everybody goes to the nearest bar to drink themselves under the table. In other words, it's a good excuse to party until you drop as well as a golden opportunity for certain businesses to make a lot of money. The same goes for Columbus Day in October when everything Italian is emphasized; Oktoberfests with beer drinking and bands playing Old World German music; and Cinco de Mayo when everybody's suddenly Mexican.:?

    On a serious note, I think people of various extractions identify with that heritage because the USA is not made up of just one dominant people and culture. We are a mix of peoples and cultures and I guess that's both confusing and scary, so people cling to what they know.:bengali:

    "Political correctness" took hold in the USA as a way to combat racial prejudice, but I think it backfired because it created a nervousness that did nothing to lessen racial tensions. :( So you'll hear "African-American" or "Native American" more than "black" or "Indian". However, some people still say "black" and "Indian".

    As for "white", well, heh, you hear "white" instead of "Caucasian-American". Go figure. :roll:
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2007
  9. Vintage

    Vintage Glass Walker

    Catspat and Purrsia, thanks once again for giving me those wonderful answers! :D

    Purrsia, we think the same way, we see ourselves as belonging to the country we are born, but still care for our roots! I'd love to have the $$$ to do one of those DNA tests that tells where you come from, you know? People tend to discover that their roots come from places they never thought! For example, I saw a interview with the singer from Simply Red , who's very white and with reddish hair and he discovered in one of those tests that some percent of him is Portuguese! Who would have thought that he would have Latin blood? :D

    Hey there, Catspat! I am very familiar with those Saint Patrick's Day parades, I see it every time on movies! It's one of the most recognizable ones in the US, right? I have also seen one of those in a picture in the UK, wow, that's a LOT of people in green! That's one thing I am sad we don't have here in Portugal or Brazil, celebrations like that or Halloween, for instance. Or that Civil War thing (I don't know the term, but you know, where some dress as the South and the Confederates).

    I never knew about the Columbus day until I recently saw a "The Sopranos" episode where a group of Native-Americans (see, I'm learning! ;)) where against it because Columbus was related with the killing of lots of their people, and off course, the Italians where not giving up their "Columbus day". I saw the kind of celebration they did and this one resembles the ones we have here on each town, like a "Town's Holiday". It's just like what I saw, lot's of food, wine, toys and some parade with some Saint or the Virgin Mary.

    I understand now the need for the Political Correctness there, after all, only 37 years ago people didn't have anything like that. I used to watch that "All in The Family" TV series from 1971 and they said every word that now would never show nowadays on TV!

    BTW, I went to Wikipedia to find what "Alsace-Lorraine" meant! So you've got German roots! :)

    Thanks once again for sharing with me those things, I really appreciate it! :D
  10. catspat

    catspat also known as...Leppardra

    Hi, Daniel. The Saint Patrick's Day parade in New York City is the most famous of the March 17th parades in the USA, probably because it might be the very first one. Don't be surprised to see a lot of people in the United Kingdom wearing green on March 17th; Ireland's right next door to Britain and a great many Irishers immigrated to the UK as well as to the USA! You wouldn't have Saint Patrick's Day in Portugal because Patrick is Irish and not Portuguese. Also, Halloween stems from the Celtic folk customs that the Irish and the Scots immigrants brought with them to the United States, so Portugal and Brazil wouldn't recognize that either and would more likely celebrate All Souls' Day on November 1st. I also hear that England is not too big on Halloween festivities; they seem to prefer their "secret Halloween", better known as Guy Fawkes's Day, on November 5th. Nobody does any trick-or-treating, but they do burn a number of Guy Fawkes effigies and shoot off fireworks (clever way to sneak in an ancient Celtic fire festival -disguise it as a politico-religious statement). Thanksgiving is our traditional American holiday that kicks off the six-week Christmas season. And there's an interesting bit of Christmas history that you might not know about. It seems no one had a Christmas tree in their living room or parlor until Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the husband of England's Queen Victoria, had a pine tree (don't quote me, but I think that's what it was) brought into England from his native Germany, and that's when Christmas trees caught on. :)

    As for the "Sopranos" episode you mention, that's basically what Columbus's landing on American shores did -- it marked the beginning of the wiping out of a number of indigenous peoples of the Americas. If you really want to see an American horror story, watch "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" if it's ever shown on Portuguese TV. When the Dee Brown book on the subject came out in 1970, it caused an uproar that hasn't died away. It really changed the view of American Indians as savage, bloodthirsty killers preying on helpless white settlers. Unfortunately, that part of our history was true in some areas of our country, but Mr. Brown showed it wasn't the entire story. Read the book or see the HBO film, Daniel. It'll be worth your while. I plan on buying the HBO film, as it's now out on DVD.

    I guess you can say a little bit of Germany and France slipped into my lineage with Alsace-Lorraine, but the English and the Irish predominate. Also, if I'm not mistaken, Lorraine in France is Joan of Arc country, and I have several historical novels on her. She's a fascinating character. :)

    As for people who dress up as Yankee and Confederate soldiers from the American Civil War, they belong to what's known as historical reenactment groups. They're history buffs who like doing that sort of thing. And I once heard that there are reenactment groups in Europe (particularly in Germany) who love to dress up as ancient Roman soldiers. Hey, same difference. :)
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2007
  11. thunderkittensmom

    thunderkittensmom Active Member

    That is true, there are a lot of reenactment groups in Germany. I used to be part of one, but we didn't dress up as Roman soldiers. I used to be a sutler (I don't know if that is actually the right word, I had to ask my dictionary and thats what it came up with) from the 15th century. I just love reenactment! But this is getting off topic I guess :cheetaraveryhappy:

  12. catspat

    catspat also known as...Leppardra

    Thank you, Nadja. I mentioned the German reenactment groups because, back in the 1990's, they actually made the news over here in America. There was a photo in my local newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, of such a group who were dressed to the hilt as ancient Roman legionnaires, and accurately too! When I said "German groups", I didn't mean all of them. My apologies if that's how it came across. I should have known better.:oops:
  13. thunderkittensmom

    thunderkittensmom Active Member

    No need to apologize, catspat :cheetaraveryhappy: I just wanted to point out that we have a lot of reenactment groups in Germany for all the different eras :)

  14. Vintage

    Vintage Glass Walker

    Hey there, Catspat!

    Thanks as always for sharing that info with me, about those traditions, specially the Saint Patrick's Day parade. One thing is when you read about it and see it on TV, other is when someone really talks to you about it! It's a different experience!

    Maybe I expressed myself wrong when I told "We don't have things like St. Patricks day here", what I meant to say is that we don't have anything "Like it" :). We do have some of parades, specially in each towns holiday, but they are all catholic related and there isn't much of a "party", it's much more religious. There is always a fair around, with the toys and the beverage, but this is the same for every town.

    For example, I can't remember anything that looks like "Oktober Fest" or Halloween. In Brazil we have the famous Carnival of Rio de Janeiro with samba and the whole country stops to party. In Portugal there is some carnival too, but it's a cheap imitation of the Brazilian one. The real Portuguese, that used to be something to mock on Political issues is slowly dying. It's not that fun, anyway. ;)

    Thanksgiving is also one interesting holiday, that one I see also a lot on Tv series and movies. It's more familiar to me because it is very common to see it on Tv. That's one interesting history you told me about, the one about the pine tree, I didn't know! I'll keep that one in my pocket, it will sure be handy on next Christmas! :D

    I am looking for information about "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee", it seems it won several awards. Since it will probably take ages to arrive here, I'll see if I can find it on the Internet. It does seem very interesting, thanks for letting me know!

    "Reenactment", that's it! That's the word I was looking for! I read that sometimes its an activity that passes through generations, right? Father and son getting together to prepare something like this. It must be fun, but I believe that some people must be against it, since its like "celebrating war", right?

    Once again, thanks a lot for keeping me informed, it sure is very interesting to me to learn things from other cultures "first hand"! The experience is much better! :D
  15. catspat

    catspat also known as...Leppardra

    You're welcome, Daniel. I know a little about the Carnival of Rio de Janeiro; I think it's the Brazilian version of the Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans. It certainly looks like it. Now, if you really want to see people partying and doing the samba, just have Brazil win the World Cup Soccer championship for the gazillionth time! :D

    Heh, heh, I'm not at all surprised that Brazil and Portugal have nothing like the holidays I mentioned. The Roman Catholic Church is Europe is still quite conservative, probably even more so now that Pope Benedict XVI is in power. So, I don't think your local Church authorities would approve of people drinking large amounts of beer. And I'm pretty sure they would not like seeing folks going around dressed up like devils, ghosts, witches, or vampires! Too bad, they're missing out on some great cookies baked in those shapes. ;)

    I don't know if you would call what some reenactment groups do "celebrating war"; I've never viewed it that way. I don't doubt there probably are people who do, but I've never heard them or anybody else speak out against it.:bengali:
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2007

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