Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Logic & Tradition

A Russian emigre, immigrant, ex pat, refugee from the old USSR came to the States somewhere around the time of the Great Wall Falling in Europe. I ran into him virtually so to speak, on a forum thread about the Metric System. Apparently he is one of those smart guys. He settled in Silicon Valley some years ago and I imagine his engineering expertise has made some Silicon Valley tycoon some serious jingle over the years. Hell, he may even be a tycoon himself. Hard to tell over the Internet.

You see I know he's smart. He writes without an accent. If it was not for the Commie flag he uses for an avatar, I would have no clue about where he came from. Matter of fact he writes like he's from Cleveland, maybe Shaker Heights.

So there we were trading comments back and forth about the stupidity of whatever it is we use here in the US to measure stuff. Both of us agreeing the Metric System is logical and the American system is not. "Well Duh," I thought, "Americans, logical? Why the Hell would we want to be logical?" Right then and there I knew this guy was not as smart as I thought he was.

That he would even tie the idea of logic into any American institution indicated this Ruskie had not completely assimilated yet after 25 years here. The ideas of logic and tradition seem to be on opposite poles from each other. If logic ruled, tradition would not take precedence unless it was the logical thing to do. Tradition is often illogical and counterproductive. That catchy Right Wing go to phrase, "Traditional American Values" comes to mind. Tradition often ends up dividing people more often than it brings them together. That in itself seems to defeat the idea of logic.

What I find a true comedy is that many Americans even think we have been around long enough to establish honest traditions. We only began to pollute the place with our presence some 400 plus years ago. Jeez, we have hardly been here long enough to even wrinkle the sheets.

But there it is. A kind of short guy syndrome in the gang we hang out with. All those Euro types looking down their two thousand years of history noses at us and we start posturing and jiving like we fit in with our paltry two plus centuries. Shoot, I bet Europe has Walmarts older than that.


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sunshine said...

Very funny post. :P

Is America the only country left that does not use metric?
I remember when we changed over here in Canada. I was in grade 2 or 3.
I had no concept of anything else so metric was easy to learn.


Kulkuri said...

I have a cousin who is a Democrat on most things, but gives St. Ronnie credit for saving us from the metric system. He has still had to buy metric tools.

Worked with a guy 25 years ago that told me a funny story about metric tools. He said before he had been a slot machine mechanic at a casino and they got in some new machines from Europe. He was complaining to one of his co-workers that he had been all over town and nowhere could he find any metric screwdrivers to work on the new machines. The co-worker actually went to the supervisor and demanded that the casino buy metric screwdrivers for the mechanics.

As for logic & tradition, nothing has been logical in this country since day one. Just look at Congress and you'll get my drift.

BBC said...

Our ancestors wrote their history to suit themselves, and now it's going to bite us on the ass.

America loves to fight the metric system even though it appears to be a better system than what we came up with.

I'm not fond of it myself but it's just because I didn't grow up with it.

Beach Bum said...

My cousin's wife is from Russia and she will at the drop of a hat tell everyone and anyone that she thinks America is full of itself and not the utopia some like to piant it.

She is free to her opinion and on several points I agree, but I honestly don't know if her opinion comes from actual observations on the differences between Russia and us or that she feel bombarded with left over Cold War feelings from the uberpatriots down here.

Cormac Brown said...

If you can figure out a way to ship it cheap, there is a wealth of things that you could buy from the estate sales and flea markets in Italy, that could be marketed here as "antiques." As you pointed out, what's a century or two, compared to several?