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Geography-related Questions 1-10

THE QUESTION:
G10: I’ve spent the past seven years working in the food service industry, and it’s my impression that Canadians in general are very poor tippers. Why is this?
POSTED JUNE 15, 1998
C.S.M., 27, Buffalo, N.Y.

ANSWER 1:
Just a guess, but could it be that Canadians are already shocked by the high prices they have to pay in the United States after converting Canadian dollars into U.S. dollars?
POSTED JUNE 24, 1998
Karen N. <Kdakan@home.com>, Sarasota, FL

FURTHER NOTICE:
Perhaps you shouldn’t generalize us, as I am a Canadian and always tip minimum 15 percent on my meals unless the service was poor. Even if the food is mediocre but the server was good, I still tip. So please do not put all Canadians in the same boat!
POSTED JUNE 26, 1998
Shan, 33, white female, Alberta, Canada

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I am Canadian and feel servers deserve tips. I have worked in this field as well. But in Canada, remember that waitresses get paid minimum wage or better, and they also get good benefits such as health care and sick time. So as a customer, I feel that the need for extra income from tips is something they deserve for service above the call of duty. They get paid well and do not have to live off of the tip money they receive. In the United States, to my knowledge, waitresses don’t always get a wage and rely greatly on their tip money, so it is required for them to receive at least 15 percent.
POSTED JULY 18, 1998
Ayla, 29, <ayla1969@hotmail.com>, Estevan , Saskatchewan, Canada

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
I think tipping should not be depended on at restaurants. Pay your employees a fair wage and they wouldn’t have to depend on tips. I was a waitress at one time, by the way. Eating out is expensive enough without feeling like it is mandatory to tip.
POSTED AUG. 6, 1998
Kathy, Lancaster, Ohio

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
I worked in the hospitality industry in Canada, where Canadian tippers were the norm. A question from my side would be why Americans tip so well. I was a bellman, and we would fight for customers with U.S. license plates and avoid Europeans like the plague. If you think Canadians are poor tippers, all in all people from “non-tipping” cultures, i.e. some Europeans, are worse.
POSTED AUG. 10, 1998
Angus M., Vancouver , British Columbia, Canada

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
Not all Canadians are bad tippers. We may not tip as much when we are in the United States because the exchange rate kills us.
POSTED OCT. 9, 1998
Kevin, Windsor, Ontario, Canada
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THE QUESTION:
G9: I live in the Northwest, grew up in the Southwest and was born in Washington, D.C. My question: Why does it seem that many Easterners, mostly New Yorkers, are so rude and do not respect another’s personal space?
POSTED JUNE 4, 1998
Bickelb, 51, male, Clinton, WA

ANSWER 1:
New York City and its surrounding areas have a culture all their own that many people don’t understand. (I’m a Long Islander currently living in Southern California.) New Yorkers prefer their own space; they like to be left alone to do whatever they’re doing. They work hard and can’t be bothered with any silliness (like singing on the subway). To make some generalizations: East Coasters are true, genuine people. You know where they’re coming from. They don’t mince words. They are not flaky or pretentious. East Coasters have a solid work ethic and a strong sense of family. Just because they don’t go skipping down the street saying hello to everyone they meet doesn’t mean they’re rude. They’d give you the shirt off their back, then ask if there’s anything else you need. Many of my friends in California are from the East Coast. It’s funny how we all seem to gravitate towards each other.
POSTED JUNE 17, 1998
Kris B. <bria@connectnet.com>, Carlsbad, CA

FURTHER NOTICE:
What you perceive to be rude behavior and disregard for “personal space” reflects differences of urban life in most major world cities (i.e. Mexico City, Paris, etc.) Also, please note the difference between New York City and New York State. Most of New York is rural. Upstate residents are completely different from New York City residents. I see three major environmental differences between urban NYC residents and those who reside almost anywhere else. I believe these lifestyle difference directly affect an individual’s conceptualization of “personal space.” Travel: Most NYC residents commute by subway, bus or ferry. In most other areas, individuals travel alone in an automobile. The solitude of an individual in a private automobile is a rare luxury in NYC, where parking costs prevent many from owning autos. Housing: NYC is suffering from a housing shortage. Outside of the city, families generally live in single-family units with at least some yard space separating neighbors. In crowded apartment buildings, residents have neighbors on two sides, above and below. In effect, there is less privacy and “personal space.”Culture: NYC residents, even those who remain in traditional ethnic enclaves, frequently interact with foreigners and first-generation Americans who speak limited or no English. Tact is often lost on those who possess different customs. It is sometimes best to be direct. This “directness” is often perceived by outsiders as rude behavior.
POSTED JUNE 17, 1998
Andrew W., 22, Davis, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
New Yorkers encounter thousands of people daily and have few opportunities for privacy. This lack of personal space may cause them to become indifferent or abrupt. All humans need peace to quiet their spirits, and little peace or quiet is available in a city with 8 million people. Consequently, New Yorkers may become aggressive or abrupt because they are emotionally overwhelmed, and because they must compete for something individuals from rural areas may take for granted – space. In addition, individuals from more than 180 countries call New York home. Imagine the communications nightmare that occurs when no one speaks the same language nor shares a common culture. New Yorkers typically “mellow-out” after having lived in a peaceful, spacious, culturally homogeneous environment – but never quite lose their edge.
POSTED JUNE 18, 1998
Peggy, 39, black, former New Yorker <brownsville3@juno. com>, Atlanta, GA

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
I grew up in New Jersey, lived in North Carolina nine years and have settled back in New Jersey. New York City dwellers may appear to have less respect than others for personal space, but I think their behavior (and maybe my own) is a function of not having any space to start with. Some Europeans, Asians and Middle Easterners have (to my mind) far less respect for personal space than New Yorkers do, and, again, I think it is because they live in very crowded conditions, which simply makes their concept of personal space different from that of people who grow up in wide-open spaces.
POSTED JUNE 18, 1998
Erin B. <eboyle@planet.net>, Morris Plains, NJ

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
I grew up in Brooklyn, went to college in Boston and now live in Georgia. New Yorkers are not rude. We seem to have an “in-your-face” way of dealing with issues that seems to put some people off. To me, it is because New York has been fast-paced long before many cities; we don’t take time for the niceties others may use in conversation and interpersonal relations. I grew up in the “yadda-yadda-yadda” and “cut-to-the-chase” frame of mind, and it is hard to break out of that mold. New Yorkers seem to ask the most personal questions, which people answer without the slightest hesitation, even thought they may feel funny about answering them. I ask those “cut-to-the-chase,” work-related questions in meetings, and people always seem put off by them, like they are sorry the meeting cannot last for hours by “beating around the bush.”
POSED JUNE 22, 1998
Tammra N., 35, black female <nelsont@nscdiscovery.org>, Augusta, GA

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
I grew up in the Midwest, have traveled around the country and world and have now lived in New York City five years. I think the problem is not that New Yorkers don’t respect personal space, but that they tend to have less of it, and by extension perceive you as having less of it, too. The rudeness thing is different. I am convinced Southern manners and Midwestern pleasantness are shams that cover a horrifying mass of ill will, resentment and the inability to express thoughts and feelings without a lot of hemming and hawing. It’s a cover for the same bad wiring New Yorkers have. New Yorkers, as part of their constant feeling of urgency and the need for forward movement, eschew the pleasantries and formalized rituals that much of the rest of the country holds dear. If you want to get along with a New Yorker, speak plainly, succinctly and to the point. Tell it like it is.
POSTED JUNE 26, 1998
Grant B. <files@smtp.jerrynet.com>, New York, NY

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
Grant is right. Living in the South has taught me that all the niceties are theatrics. A great deal of it is suger-coating ill will and prejudice. It’s a lot easier to imply something undesirable about another person with a coy smile on your face than to take responsibility for your opinion and come right out and say it. The charming mannerisms of the South disguise and obscure unpleasantries that could be resolved if discussed openly. I’ll take New York honesty any day of the week.
POSTED JULY 24, 1998
D.M.M. <donikam@hotmail.com>, Charleston, S.C.

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
Most folks responding to this question are ex-New Yorkers, or currently live there, and all seem to have a problem with the “rude” label. They prefer to call it an “in-your-face attitude,” etc. How, then, would they define rude? A rose by any other name…
POSTED OCT. 30, 1998
Danny J., Austin, TX

FURTHER NOTICE 8:
I grew up in Texas, where my grandmother always told me to “Smile so people think you like them” and where my high school guidance counselor told me to go to SMU and “find a good doctor husband.” As soon as I could, I fled to New York state, where I was free to get my own degree, express my own opinions and be me. New Yorkers rude? How about honest? How about real?
POSTED NOV. 2, 1998
Christi G., 36 <cgkemp@hotmail.com>, Orlando, FL
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THE QUESTION:
G8: In what country of the world are drugs most popular, and what drug is most popular there?
POSTED JUNE 3, 1998
Max H., heffesse@ibm.net, Beverly Hills, CA

ANSWER 1:
Drugs are probably most popular in America. I was reading this lesbian magazine called Out, and in it it said what drugs were most popular where. In the Northwest it’s weed, in the Northeast it’s Meth mixed with coffee and in California it’s angel dust smoked in fat joints. So to maybe answer your question, it’s weed, but it kinda depends on where you’re from, too.
POSTED NOV. 29, 1998
Tokeman <tokeman@execpc.com>, Milwaukee, WI
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THE QUESTION:
G7: I’m Canadian, over 50 and I’ve lived in the States. Are Americans becoming more xenophobic and less aware and tolerant of other cultures and values, or do they just cultivate that attitude in their politicians and media? POSTED APRIL 30, 1998
Manfred <manfred@arcturus.ca>, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

ANSWER 1:
I think it has always been this way; the difference is that it is no longer socially acceptable. When it was considered the norm, there was no reason to appear xenophobic, because any new culture (i.e. immigrant groups) were expected to conform at once, or keep to themselves in cultural ghettos that “normal” Americans would rarely or never enter. Like Chinatown in San Francisco, or the old Jewish or Italian neighborhoods in New York.

These days, the new arrivals are refusing to conveniently hide themselves or give up their own customs and traditions. It is frightening to people who are afraid of change and who think “Leave It To Beaver” is an accurate representation of America the way it is and should be.
POSTED MAY 3, 1998
Colette <inkwolf@earthlink.net>, Seymour, WI

FURTHER NOTICE:
I make no apologies for our politicians. Our whole election system is a dreadful mess, and the day of reckoning is near for it. I would also say that it is easy for a Canadian to be critical of the issues we have in this country, especially in the Southwest, where policy toward immigration is controversial and heavy-handed, and the system in place to enforce that policy is corrupt and poorly run. It isn’t that Americans are xenophobes, it’s more of a function of a country whose demographics are changing faster than the population’s ability to deal with it. Canada doesn’t have a fraction of these types of issues.
POSTED JUNE 18, 1998
A.E., 27 <ACEidson@email.msn.com>, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
The day the mainstream media and politicians both reflect popular viewpoints will never come. I think you would find that most Americans are very tolerant of differences in other people. I know all I ask for is to receive the same respect for my views that I give others. The media tends to take issues and show both extremes while disregarding the middle ground most Americans stand on. With regard to immigration and xenophobia, the prevailing belief, at least from the people I know, seems to be “handouts for no one” but that there should not be barriers to succeed, either. If there are no barriers, a person sinks or swims based on his own competency. Most politicians represent this middle ground, but the ones who receive the most publicity are the ones who take radical or bizarre stances. A good example of the American desire for a moderate path is shown by the historical preference for keeping Congress and the Executive Office in control of two different parties.
POSTED AUG. 21, 1998
Joel F. <jflg@aol.com>, Boston, MA

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
I think diversity is the source of our prejudices. This is most true in our cities and at our southern border. People are considered a novelty when they are on the other side of the globe. They might be considered primitive, but they are harmless. When they move in next door with 15 family members, they are perceived as a threat. I think the United States is going through the growing pains of receiving our latest immigrants. Meanwhile, large cities in the West and North are adjusting to large numbers of African Americans. Remember, the Irish used to be discriminated against, too. One day Hispanics will probably have the established position occupied by the Irish today.
POSTED OCT. 13, 1998
Cynthia <ThePowers@aol.com>, Greensboro, NC

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
I think it’s inherent in human nature to want to associate with others like ourselves. This phenomenon isn’t limited to us in the United States – ask people in Vancouver how thrilled they are about the influx of Chinese people from Hong Kong over the last few years. What appears to be U.S. xenophobia is really the convenient scapegoating of people who aren’t politically empowered by opportunistic politicians who don’t fear retribution, coupled with a mass media preoccupied with sensationalistic stories. No wonder we’re “ugly Americans” – look at how we present ourselves.
NOV. 2, 1998
Chris, Chicago, IL
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THE QUESTION:
G6: Does region play a factor in the likelihood of pet ownership or affinity for pets? I grew up in the Midwest, in a city where almost every home was a detached single-family house with a yard. As a result, most people who had them kept their dogs outside, tied up in the yard. And people generally seemed to train them to be watchdogs, meaning they barked at strangers. I never learned to be comfortable with animals because I was strictly taught never to try to pet a strange dog, because it was often a watchdog. But in the densely populated cities of the East Coast, I’m amazed at how much less aggressive toward strangers dogs here are, and how much less dogs bark or jump. I think kids fear strange dogs out East much less than I was taught to.
POSTED APRIL 29, 1998
N.P., 35, African-American male
Philadelphia, PA

ANSWER 1:
It’s partly the way dogs are kept: Dogs chained or fenced alone all day suffer from barrier frustration and loneliness, besides which there is not much motivation for training a dog who is never going to be in the house.

Dogs kept indoors with the family or played with and trained extensively are better adjusted and don’t bark and jump as much.

So dogs are probably better behaved in populated areas, where they are kept indoors, rather than in country areas, where people often believe animals belong outside. Of course, the individual personality of the dog also has a lot to do with it!
POSTED APRIL 30, 1998
Colette <inkwolf@earthlink.net>, Seymour, WI
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THE QUESTION:
G5: Living in Canada, I’ve had a lot of American influence on my life. I know so much about American social life and history (presidents and such) simply from TV alone. My question is, do Americans know anything about Canadian history and Canadian life?
POSTED APRIL 6, 1998
Steve B., 18, Canadian <trendybo@hotmail.com>
Niagara Falls, ONT, CAN

ANSWER 1:
Speaking for myself, an American in New Jersey, the answer is a resounding no. I know next to nothing about Canada. You got your knowledge of us from TV; unfortunately, there are almost no shows from Canada here. The exception I can think of was a children’s show called “The Friendly Giant.” This was not particularly informative when it came to life in Canada. I am ashamed of my lack of knowledge, and plan to do some research after I log off tonight to try to correct that a little bit
POSTED APRIL 8, 1998
Glenn P., 39 <C128User@GTI.Net>
Washington, NJ

FURTHER NOTICE:
I consider myself rather well-read in many areas, including history and world affairs, but about all I could dredge up about Canadian history is “54-40 or fight” and the “Plains of Abraham.”
POSTED APRIL 9, 1998
Jerry S., 49 <jerryschwartz@comfortable.com>
New Britain, CT

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I’m your neighbor to the south, in Wisconsin. When I read Canadian books or see Canadian films, they seem much more like the culture I live in than most American movies and TV shows, which mainly develop on the East and West coasts. “For Better or For Worse,” a Canadian comic strip about daily life, reflects the life of people in the United States also – so much so that it is one of our country’s most popular comics. I know some of your history because it’s the same as our part of the North Woods – French explorers and trappers, lumberjacks, even the same Indian tribes. Everyone knows about the Yukon gold rush and the Mounties. We hear your news occasionally – like when Britain granted you independence, about the Quebec secession movement and how you keep protesting our pollution that gives you acid rain. We know that the northern part of Canada is similar to Alaska – very wild and sparsely populated. Many people probably read books by Canadian authors without even realizing it – Charlotte MacLeod is highly popular here!
POSTED APRIL 10, 1998
Colette <inkwolf@earthlink.net>
Seymour, WI

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
I always felt I knew a lot about Canada. One example: The reason the border follows along the Great Lakes is that young America got greedy and decided to take land from Canada. We ended up getting our butts kicked and lost territory. This was one of the many things taught us about Canada in school in the 1950s.
POSTED APRIL 11, 1998
Lou H. <louh@mediaone.net>, Green Cove Springs, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
Living in Detroit, even I don’t know much about Canada. The only glimpse I get of Canadian life is from the Canadian Broadcasting Company’s “Hockey Night in Canada.”
M. Kershaw, 29
Detroit, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
I’m a 21-year-old from Detroit. When my friends and I were 19, the only thing we knew about Canada was that we could go there to get drunk, since the legal age in the United States is 21. I’m embarrassed to say we could name every bar in Windsor, but not much else. Today, I get one Canadian television station and one radio station. The only time I watched CBC with any regularity was during the Olympics, so I knew more about the Canadian athletes than I did the Americans. Even though I live only 20 minutes away, I still don’t know much about life there other than curling, hockey and casinos.
POSTED APRIL 13, 1998
Kelli, 21 <md45@flash.net>
Detroit, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
As a next-door neighbor to the Canadian asking this question: Americans who live outside the Great Lakes are incredibly ignorant about Canada because Americans rarely get decent history classes about anybody except for the United States, and even that is history written by the conquerors. We don’t get good history instruction about our own regions, which is why North/South, East/West questions also pop up here. Heck, even growing up in west New York, I didn’t know until post-college that “York,” the place where Loyalists went after the Revolutionary War for safety, was Toronto!

Canadian history? Fuggeduhboutit. Not until our high schools dump the Apple Pie and ’57 Chevy mentality. Culture/Life? Except for Celine Dion, hockey, bare-naked ladies, the McKenzie Brothers and snow, you’ll always experience American ignorance unless the person you meet has traveled extensively or happens to live on the border, like my hometown, which now is absolutely dependent on Toronto for decent live music and aspects of fine culture that have declined with Buffalo’s economic base.

For Americans: Little Known Facts: Toronto has a center city comparable only to Chicago, Boston and New York City, with towers, theaters and sidewalk shopping that feel like New York but are safer, cleaner and more pleasant than New York’s will ever be. On a map, the Toronto metro area is as big as Chicago, almost as big as New York. Theater scene: Huge. Music: Huge. Sports: All the majors. Racial diversity: More than New York City (not an exaggeration). Banking: Global presence; every financial institution under the sun. Definitely a city to be reckoned with.
Brendon, 26 <brendon.mcnamara@juno.com>
Buffalo, NY

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
I am a resident of Michigan (which borders Canada on two sides), and although we have frequent encounters with Canadian citizens, we have next-to-no knowledge about Canada itself. I attended two high schools in Michigan, and neither ever mentioned Canada in any context.
POSTED APRIL 18, 1998
J.F, 18
Mason, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 8:
I’m from Detroit, and the most I know about Canada (other than visiting Toronto and Montreal and Windsor) comes from the Canadian Broadcasting Company, which can be seen on television here. Programming is usually better, and the news is more global. When Quebec was having the election about secession, it barely got coverage on American TV. It is easy to think of Canada as non-existent, especially if you don’t seek out information about Canada. That is, unless you want to go to a casino.
POSTED APRIL 23, 1998
M. Johnson, Detroit, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 9:
I think many people assume there is no difference between Canada and the United States, and that is because of their lack of knowledge about Canadian history. I am the daughter of parents who migrated south from Nova Scotia. Recently, my daughter’s teacher assigned her students the task of making a presentation on their cultural heritage. My daughter told her teacher she was going to do her project on Canada. Her teacher said she would have to do it on England or France because Canada had no native culture. However, children from Mexico or other Latin American countries were allowed to focus on those cultures. What an opportunity my daughter lost to educate the rest of her class!
POSTED APRIL 30, 1998
Susan, Canadian-American, Atlanta, GA

FURTHER NOTICE 10:
Excellent question. The answer is an embarrassing no. Remember the phrase “the ugly American”? Well, many of us still don’t seem to know there’s anything non-American anywhere in the world, or if we do, it’s only a fuzzy non-entity. I think this is probably why a country as large and diverse as the United States still doesn’t know how to deal very well with its own diversity. I try not to be this isolated, but I have to stare my own ignorance in the face when it comes to Canada. I know more about India than about Canada. Nothing much comes to mind other than secession fights in Quebec, hockey, the Toronto SkyDome and Leonard Cohen. Thank you for bringing this ignorance to our attention.
POSTED MAY 3, 1998
Tim G., 24 <gilmoret@bellsouth.net>, Jacksonville, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 11:
Here’s the short list: Canadians tend to be wonderful people who don’t take themselves too seriously; thus, Canada produces some of the funniest stuff on the planet, i.e. SCTV, Bob and Doug MacKenzie, John Candy, etc. Their music is great: Celine Dion, kd lang, Bare Naked Ladies, Crash Test Dummies, etc. Hockey, the greatest sport on earth, is so Canadian: Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Lord Stanley’s Cup, etc. (Edmonton, Montreal, and Ottowa are still playing as of this writing.) Toronto is an incredible city; I’ll never forget seeing Kenny Burrell at the Royal York hotel. People skate on the river to work when it freezes over in Vancouver. Winnipeg will teach you what a real winter is. Anything that can survive January in Yellow Knife is worth holding on to. Molson and Labatts are the world’s greatest beers. Mother’s used to be the pizzeria of choice and the Tunnel Barbeque in Windsor is the definition of ribs. If you want great fishing and hunting, there are a bunch of wonderful places you can fly into for a real “roughing it” outing. It’s a real shame most Americans don’t know more about Canada, but it’s their loss.
POSTED MAY 9, 1998
Peter P., <PPROUT20@aol.com>, Redford, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 12:
To Peter P.: The temperature rarely stays below freezing for more than a couple of days in Vancouver. Also, many of the rivers in Vancouver are actually long arms of the ocean, therefore they are salt water. I have never heard of the weather staying cold long enough to actually freeze a river solid, maybe a puddle overnight, but that’s it. In the winter in Vancouver, as in summer, people drive, walk, in-line skate, take transit or bike to work. I believe the record low temperature here is something like 18 degrees Celcius below freezing, and that is exceptionally cold for this area. Sorry to debunk what sounds like a fun way to get to work, but we’d drown if we tried it!
POSTED JUNE 16, 1998
Julie, 30, Canadian <julie@sharpimaging.com>, Vancouver, BC

FURTHER NOTICE 13:
I grew up in California but married a Canadian and have lived in Canada since 1981. When in high school, I learned a great deal about Canada as part of my Social Studies courses. However, my best friend from high school is ignorant about Canada and claims to never have had to study it. (She didn’t study much else, either.) Anyway, my point is that someone in the California education system was trying to broaden our horizons, and at least one student was listening.
POSTED JUNE 30, 1998
Lisa, 42, American abroad, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

FURTHER NOTICE 14:
As a Canadian, it is good to read that some Americans have some knowledge of Canada. As a Western Canadian, I find it sad that it seems to be limited to Central Canada. Although understandable that this is so (large masses of people close together makes for better communication, i.e. Toronto – Buffalo), there is a lot more to Canada than Southern Ontario. The country is huge! Some “non-Central Canadian” tidbits: French immigrants who settled in the Maritimes (East Coast) were known as Acadians. Because they would not swear allegiance to the British Monarchy, most of them were expelled. Many ended up in New Orleans, hence the French culture there and the term Cajun (Acadian – Cajun). The Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin is one of the world’s richest supplies of oil and gas. A good proportion of the natural gas used as fuel in the United States is from here. The oil sands near Fort McMurray, Alberta, have more oil in it than in Saudia Arabia. (Unfortunately, most if it is economically unrecoverable). Although Toronto is great and is Canada’s most recognizable city, it is not Canada in and of itself.
POSTED OCT. 13, 1998
J. Vanover <jvanover@telusplanet.net>, Canmore, Alberta, Canada
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THE QUESTION:
G4: In light of the recent violence in Arkansas, there has been talk about the “Culture of Violence” in the South. Granted, there is a cultural attraction to violence in the United States, i.e. in the media, etc., but is it more pronounced in the South?
POSTED MARCH 28, 1998
James W. <wilsjame@sonoma.edu>, Santa Rosa, CA

ANSWER ONE:
Yes, more Southerners are more likely to own weapons than probably any other group of people in the country, but if we had some kind of violent culture, the South should be a war-zone akin to Beirut. Instead, the rural South is one of the safest and least violent places around – even though, or perhaps because, its residents are armed to the teeth. Just remember the next time there is a drive-by shooting in L.A. or New York to ask yourself if there is an inherent violence in the culture of those two cities. Most people would say no. The “learned” professors who espouse this theory ought to be discredited.
POSTED MARCH 31, 1998
Todd <tdbuk@juno.com>, Suwanee, GA

FURTHER NOTICE:
Having lived in both Massachusetts and Texas for many years, I believe there is a strong culture of violence here in Texas, which is aggravated by the widespread gun ownership. It is apparently a holdover of the frontier mentality. Texans, despite their polite and friendly attitude, are very quick to take offense or pick a fight in a bar. The cause can be just “looking at someone the wrong way.” I think there is a basic lawlessness here that is countered by repressive, brutal policing that only adds to the overall climate of physical violence. The slum areas of Massachusetts are similar in that young males are very quick to pick fistfights and to evaluate each other on who can take whom. The difference is that in Texas, people are frequently armed and the women are often much more aggressive than they would have been in a Boston working-class suburb. Also, there is a much lower education level here, so people unable to defend themselves with words will resort to fists.
POSTED APRIL 24, 1998
L.E., Austin, Texas, 40, straight white male

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
As a longtime native of the South, I do not believe there exists a stronger tendency towards violence. However, I do believe Southerners are far more comfortable with guns. My father grew up in the sticks of South Georgia, and he hunted as a child. He taught me the same thing. I have owned a shotgun since I was 12. This often surprises people who know me as an urban liberal. Guns are much more a part of our culture, stemming from more rural roots. When you combine the proliferation of weapons with a disturbed young child, tragedy can happen. I do not think the violence is necessarily a Southern trait. While living in Boston for four years, I witnessed just as much, if not more, violence. Many more youths in the South have access to guns, however. The guns are a Southern trait.
POSTED APRIL 26, 1998
Julian C. 23, white <dolemite_jr@hotmail.com>, Atlanta, GA

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
To L.E.: You state there is a “much lower education level” in Texas. While there may be parts of the state where this true, it is a sweeping and overly broad generality that you do not have enough evidence to prove. The mere fact that fights break out in bars in Texas has less to do with the fact those bars are in Texas than it does with the social class of the bar’s clientele. You state that people in Massachusetts do not resort to fisticuffs to defend themselves when they can respond with words. I dare say the same happens with similar social class folks in Texas. By your own admission, brawls happen in Massachusetts, yet no one dares presume Massachusetts is an inherently violent place.
POSTED APRIL 26, 1998
Wallace, white male <TDBUK@JUNO.COM>, Suwanee, GA

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
One thing that hasn’t come up in this discussion is the prevalence of hunting in the South. It’s a major sport in a lot of Southern states. Yes, some Southerners feel the need to be armed to the teeth to protect their homes, but in many, many instances it’s because people hunt. All the time. Deer season, duck season, turkey season, the list goes on. I grew up in Arkansas and live in Texas. I was taught to use a gun at a very early age (six) in the same spirit that kids join little league everywhere else. One of those little kids who did the shooting in Jonesboro, Ark., was photographed at about age four wearing camouflage and holding a rifle. It wasn’t because of a “culture of violence,” it was because he was from a family of hunters.
POSTED APRIL 30, 1998
Evin B., white female <evinb@hotmail.com>
Austin, Texas

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
It seems to me a study was done on this a couple of years ago that found that Southerners are more easily insulted, which then more easily leads to violence. I don’t think what happened in Jonesboro has anything to do with this, but I must admit I am ignorant of the motives of what happened there. To answer your question, outside of consideration of the Jonesboro incident: As a lifelong resident of the South, I think the answer lies in the fact that the region never got over its racial problems and is largely wary of anything different. The Southeast is a booming region of the country right now, but progress has been slow in coming and still hasn’t reached many areas. Southeastern cities have certainly admitted much more diversity as job growth has brought people from all around the nation. Nevertheless, from what I have seen all my life, Southern rural areas are not the safest places for everyone. In the rural South, manhood is easily insulted and often physically defended. Many Southern rural areas are almost homogeneous in areas of race, religion, and political beliefs, and that homogeneity is also well-defended.
POSTED MAY 2, 1998
Tim G., 24 <gilmoret@bellsouth.net>, Jacksonville, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
As a “damn Yankee” (transplanted Northerner who doesn’t seem to be leaving), I have seen the South to be less violent than the North. Specifically, I am speaking about Charlotte, N.C., and New York City, respectively. I used to work in NYC and took the subway daily. Everyday was a crap shoot as to whether I would have a problem or not. There are homeless people who are often mentally unbalanced and often carry boxcutters. I was also on a platform when a woman was pushed onto the tracks. I find the South much less violent. A murder is big news in this town, but a statistic in New York.
POSTED MAY 6, 1998
Rob, 26, white male <The_maven@geocities.com>, Charlotte, N.C.

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
I was born on Long Island and also live in rural northern New York. While visiting my brother in North Carolina recently, we got into a card game with his neighbors. There was drinking, but not to excess. I lost my temper, at what I thought was “ball breaking” by one of the players. The next day, after apologizing for my rude behavior, I was told they weren’t suprised by my behavior – that they thought most “Yankees” had quicker tempers and took offense at what they (the Southerners) thought was just “ribbing.”
POSTED MAY 12, 1998
Jim R., 40 <junkyard@northweb.com>, Waddington, NY

FURTHER NOTICE 8:
To Jim W. at the top of the thread: Just look at the recent shootings at schools in Pennslyvania and Oregon, and that should answer your question about “violent Southern culture” being a part of school shootings.
POSTED MAY 23, 1998
Wallace, 23, Southern-American <tdbuk@juno.com>, Suwanee, GA

FURTHER NOTICE 9:
I grew up in western Massachusetts, hit the road when I was young and haved lived in many states. I’ve witnessed a lot. My experience of having lived in Texas for seven years and now Florida for six is that the South is inherently more dangerous. I believe this to be attributed to more poverty, the gun culture down here and the fact that the Southern male is more violent and quicker to take offense. I live in Ft. Myers, and the crime and murder rate here for a small city is very high. Compare this to Boston and New Orleans, or any other large Southern city; the statistics are available on the web or at the library.
POSTED JUNE 24, 1998
Michael G. 43, white male, Ft. Myers, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 10:
The South isn’t more violent, just more repressed. So when the violence comes out, it comes out. I come from a Southern tradition: Hunting, even to my city cousins in St. Louis, is a way of life, and guns are in many homes. The tools are there when you need them. To the responder who said New York City is more violent: Come on back! Part of the perception of the city as violent is that you hear about every major crime that happened to any of the millions of people in the area. But on a per capita basis, the crime is far less than it has been in 30 years, and far less than many other cities. New York City ain’t even in the top 25 anymore.
POSTED JUNE 26, 1998
Grant B. <files@smtp.jerrynet.com>, New York, NY

FURTHER NOTICE 11:
I is true about the South being very repressed, and racial tension does run very very high in North Carolina. Most neighborhoods are still very segregated. I can’t speak for any other state. I guess it depends on which side of the gun barrel you are looking down. As a native Southerner I can honestly say that if you watch what you say to whom, you can feel safe, but look out if you make a Southerner, aka “redneck,” mad. The violence is bad all over, but it is in a rather different form in the South. There is a hierarchy system in the South that one must experience to be able to fully understand. Not all Southerners are rednecks, good ol’ boys or extremely conservative, but a look at the news stories about extremism in religion/politics tells a different story. There are some of us who don’t think the words Damn and Yankee are one word. I have been friends with many Northerners, and most of them leave the area and go back pretty fast. It’s like culture shock to them.
POSTED JULY 17, 1998
K.C., 27, white, gay female, Rockingham, NC

FURTHER NOTICE 12:
To Michael G.: I grew up in Miami, my daughter lives in Miami today, I’ve lived in Ohio, Memphis and Fort Myers. Of them all, Fort Myers is the safest. I suspect the true answer lies in the people you spend your time with. I know people who have guns – as a hobby, for hunting and for protection. They are usually the most gentle people. Hang around in bars, gamble and etc., and you’re apt to find violence in any state.
POSTED JULY 22, 1998
Jennie, Fort Myers, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 13:
Being a fifth-generation Texan, as well as having worked in the Boston area for several years, I find L.E.’s interpretation of Texas and Texans startling and curious. I have lived and traveled all over the world and have always felt that Texans are the most congenial, outgoing and “slow to boil” people anywhere! In Texas, you are raised to say hello (or howdy!) to everyone you encounter. Despite the widely held belief that Texas has always been “Wild-West” with everyone carrying a gun, this could not be further from the truth. In fact, until the passage of the (rigorously controlled) “concealed carry” legislation in 1996, Texas had one of the most restrictive laws in the country regarding carrying firearms. I feel that almost all Texans are raised in a tradition of honesty, open-mindedness and tolerance.
POSTED SEPT. 29, 1998
Kelley, 43, male, <kelley@mail.com>, Houston, TX
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THE QUESTION:
G3: Does anyone know where the custom of cutting a moon-shaped design in an outhouse door began and what the signifigance of it is?
POSTED MARCH 24, 1998
Mark L., 46 <MLaatz@aol.com>
Twin Lake, MI

ANSWER 1:
The occupant of the outhouse would bring a lantern with them at night. The lantern’s light would shine through the hole in the door to identify to others that the outhouse is occuppied. The hole is shaped like a cresent moon for artistic expression.
John D., 30, St. Clair Shores, MI

FURTHER NOTICE:
I had heard the cutout on the outhouse door represented either a ladies’ or gentlemen’s outhouse. One was the crescent, but I can’t remember what the other cutout shape was. I think it might have been a star or full moon.
POSTED AUG. 24, 1998
S.P., Shrewsbury, MA
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THE QUESTION:
G2: I am a native Atlantan and would like to know why many Northern transplants and Northerners in general appear to be rude and condescending to Southern people when they move here. I noticed it a great deal in the UK this summer as well. The only people who really seemed to dislike me were other Americans from the North.
POSTED MARCH 15, 1998
Todd, Atlanta, GA

ANSWER 1:
Unfortunately, many Northerners automatically associate a Southern dialect with “unschooled” and “ignorant,” which of course is not true. There seems to be an embedded belief by many people in this country that the Northern “white” dialect of American English is the only correct, and therefore acceptable, way of speaking in the United States. Therefore, people who speak any other way are “ignorant,” and can be talked “down” to because of their dialect.
POSTED MARCH 19, 1998
Suzanne, 23, Ann Arbor , MI

FURTHER NOTICE:
As a native Long Islander who has been transplanted to the South for the last five years, I think I know the answer. It’s not so much that we’re being rude, it’s more we’re being normal. I am amazed, every time I go home, how rude and obnoxious everyone is to each other. Even if they are friends! Everyone’s got something to say. Half of the people I know would argue with the Pope himself. That accounts for about 95 percent of the rudeness. The other 5 percent are just jerks, and I apologize on their behalf. They’re the first ones who make fun of the way you talk. If it ever really bothers you, sit back and listen to them. A good Long Island accent is by far worse than any Southern accent.
POSTED MARCH 28, 1998
Casey, 22, Reston, VA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I am a many-generations back Southerner who went to college for a year in Connecticut. I lost track of the number of times complete strangers would see me in a Florida shirt or see my license plate as I filled my tank, approach me and say, “You from Florida? You people from Florida act so nasty about us but you would starve if it weren’t for us.” I was shocked. And so were the many, many native New Englanders who are far too kind, well-bred and open-minded to ever think like that, the people I was lucky to have as friends. In any group, there are jerks and there are wonderful folks, I guess.
POSTED OCT. 15, 1998
Midori, 38, white <midorichan1@juno.com>, Orlando, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
I will not apologize for the condescending nature of Northerners. Yes, the Southern accent is associated with ignorance, but I think it is important to recognize that Southern schools consistently rank at the bottom of the national list. Stereotypes are often rooted in truth; they become damaging when they outlive the truth from which they were born. This is not the case for Southern public schools; the sad truth of their inferiority still exists today. Does it mean that there are no well-educated people in the South? Absolutely not. Nor does it give Northerners the right to generalize that Southerners as uneducated. Nor does it give Southerners the right to generalize that Northerners as condescending. However, I am sick of groups (racial, sexual, geographic, etc.) focusing on the way they are treated as a result of their flaws instead of taking responsibility for their shortcomings and thus not giving anyone a reason to believe in the stereotype. Maybe Northerners will stop being condescending to Southerners for their perceived ignorance when the South shows that it cares about education.
POSTED NOV. 16, 1998
The Last Girl You Will Ever Catch Twirling Her Hair and Giggling So You Can Never Stereotype Me As A Ditz, Charleston, SC

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
To the “Non Ditz” in South Carolina: I don’t think anyone was asking you to apologize for all Northerners, but you have just proved that some of those Northerners base their prejudiced “rudeness” on ignorance. If you are not intelligent enough to tolerate a person who speaks differently from you, it doesn’t make you smarter or superior, it just makes you intolerant. While some Southern schools may score lower (I don’t have the numbers here in front of me to dispute you), you make want to take into account that money for local school districts is determined by the local tax base. Since many Southern states have a lower tax base due to the local economy, money allocated to Southern schools is sometimes a lot less than you will find in the Northern schools. I think the real problem is (as someone pointed out before) just plain arrogance. But I think it should be pointed out that some of the most kind and tolerant people are Northerners!
POSTED NOV. 23, 1998
27-year-old Southern black female without an accent, Virginia Beach, VA
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THE QUESTION:
G1: While living in South Carolina, I was amazed at the amount of resentment aimed at Northerners by Southerners. Bumper stickers, signs in stores, Confederate flags, personal insults, etc. directed at Northerners by Southerners were a part of daily life down there, and I lived in a small town that was predominantly populated by Northerners.

My question is: Does this stem from the fact that wealthy Northerners migrate to the South for the warm weather and then dump on the locals, making this more of a class thing? Or is it a lack of self-esteem on the part of Southerners who may feel inferior because of their accents and social positions?
POSTED MARCH 9, 1998
Steve, Lawrence, Kan.

ANSWER 1:
I don’t know about the Deep South, but in North Texas I do not feel inferior to a Northern individual. My educational background was just as top-notch as at any high school or college in the north. I don’t have a Southern drawl and I’m from the suburbs of one of the 10 largest cities in America. Have you ever been to New York state, not in the city, in the country? There are some backward people there, too. They are in every state, including Alaska and Hawaii.

I believe what you may be referring to is not really a North vs. South issue but small town vs. big city and/or people with class vs. people without issue. I have traveled across every Southern state between California and Florida, and believe me, small town folks “don’t take too kindly to city slickers.” You have just come across an area of ignorance – people who cannot accept the differences between people and places. It’s real easy for them to use the Confederate flag and disparaging remarks that were used almost 200 years ago because that’s all they know. They don’t have to exert any brain power thinking up a new reason to hate you.

Many Northern folks (mostly seniors) migrate to south Texas for the winter and return to their Northern homes in the summer. We refer to them as “Winter Texans” and we love them. They are great for the economy and support the community they call home for half the year.

Please do not think it’s a Southern thing. Remember Southern hospitality? It still exists, I promise.
RECEIVED MARCH 11, 1998
Danielle C., 28, Arlington, Texas

FURTHER NOTICE:
A lot of factors, idiosyncratic as well as cultural and subcultural, probably figure into these phenomena. I doubt the accents per se play much of a role, though, except as social markers. I don’t think many of us would feel superior simply by virtue of a change of accent. In fact, certain Southern accents denote high status, at least to the speakers thereof, and they likely would be horrified to wake up and discover they no longer spoke that way! Not a complete answer – but at least one angle on the issue.
RECEIVED MARCH 11, 1998
Julia Cochran, 45, near Savannah, GA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
Northerners who move to the South experience serious culture shock. We talk slow, move slow and generally drive these industrious folks insane. They counter by telling us “We don’t do it like that up North.” We gently raised Southern people just want to be polite and kind, and do resent all y’all trying to change our beautiful cities into little New Yorks (or whereever). Just relax and enjoy what we have to offer, take life a bit slower and stop to smell the magnolia blooms!

So, back to the question: Most of those bumper stickers are on ole’ pickups (with dog boxes in back?) or some other sort of “gently” used vehicle, and you can chalk that up to plain old REDNECKitis.
RECEIVED MARCH 11, 1998
– Patricia G., Charlotte, NC

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
I am a white woman who was raised in the North and have lived in the South for five years. I feel people in the South are very polite and kind; however, in my experience with senior citizens in the South, I find the Mason-Dixon line mentaility still exists. We would be naive to think that this exists without mentioning the Civil War. The Northerners were very angry that the Southerners were gaining wealth off the use of slavery. This put Northerners at a disadvantage. The Northerners fought the Civil War (not for the goodness of black people) but for the right to fair competition in American business.

The Southerners lost the war and many of their families, homes and businesses were destroyed. Like any racism or prejudice of blacks, prejudice of Yankees is taught in the home. My understanding (please excuse my frankness) of the term Yankee is that it derives from the British, who used it to refer to men who masturbated. This was derogatory and thus the derogatory term of Yankees still permeates the Southern dialect today.
POSTED MARCH 16, 1998
BJ Winchester, 33, Cultural Diversity Trainer, Jacksonville FL

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
This resentment is a holdover from the post-Civil War period known as Reconstruction. During that time, Yankee carpetbaggers came by the droves to the South, cheating the war-torn Southerners of every last bit of land, personal property or self-esteem that remained. Reconstruction and Union occupation were demoralizing to the South, heaping insult upon injury. Those who lived through this time passed stories to their children, who passed them to their children, and on down the line. Such prejudice is as deep-seated as that among the warring factions in Eastern Europe or in Africa.
POSTED MARCH 20, 1998
M. Evans, Houston, TX

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
My mother is from the North and has lived in the South for more than 30 years. My father is from Georgia, and I was born in Tennessee, thus I grew up seeing both backgrounds. It isn’t necessary that one be from the South to get along with Southerners; all that is required is a good attitude. There isn’t a group of people anywhere that likes a bad attitude from visitors. For visitors to the South, it’s simple: Remember the Golden Rule and you’ll do fine.
POSTED MARCH 28, 1998
Michael S. <edit15 @aol.com>
Stone Mountain , GA

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
Putting things in terms of “North vs. South” I think greatly simplifies the issue. While there may be a Southern ethos, one area of the South may be as different from its brothers as any two American places can be. I would think some Southerners may feel inferior to Northerners in that the Northeast is generally considered more sophisticated and educated. Nevertheles, a lot of this is stereotypical bunk. A perfect example is a humorous “New Yorker” magazine cover that ran just prior to the last summer Olympics. There was a picture of a good ole’ boy in overalls with a gold medal around his neck. Could it be that the North sometimes thinks itself superior far more than the South thinks itself inferior? The overalled figure is hardly reconcilable with the beautiful and cosmopolitan Atlanta of today. I must concur with the person who said this may largely be a rural/urban conflict as much as a North/South one. I think relations between rural and urban areas have not been given enough thought.
POSTED MAY 3, 198
Tim G., 24 <gilmoret@bellsouth.net>, Jacksonville, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
I perceive the Confederate flag and bumper stickers to be symbols of regional pride. The bumper stickers are meant to be humorous (mostly), and those who are offended should perhaps look at themselves to find out why. To many white Southerners, the Confederate flag does not promote slavery, racial bigotry or superiority, but stands for a bygone age of individuality, rugged survivalism, independence and self-determination that has, for the most part, been lost in our modern civilization.
POSTED MAY 27, 1998
I. Carter, 42, white male Southerner <ICart@aol.com>, Memphis, TN

FURTHER NOTICE 8:
As somone who lives in a “snow bird” area where the population doubles between November and May, I think many of us simply have gotten tired of hearing how it was better up North, of not being able to go to breakfast, lunch or dinner during “season” because all of the tourists feel compelled to eat at 8, 12 and 6 even though they could eat anytime, having to stand in line for 30 minutes Saturday at the grocery store or the dry cleaners because the snow birds – who do not work all week – feel compelled to shop at the only time I have available, and on and on. Many Northeners also act as though Southerners are stupid because of their accents and are unbelievably rude. This is obviously a generalization and many, many tourists/snow birds are wonderfully considerate. I have noticed when I’ve traveled that many people in Northern tourist areas – Maine, for instance – feel the same way about Southerners!
POSTED JUNE 16, 1998
Amy C., 45 <aamylf@aol.com>, Sarasota, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 9:
I don’t think it’s far-fetched to blame it on the Civil War. Some people still treat Africans Americans as inferiors because a long time ago they were slaves, so maybe the animosity between Northerners and Southerners still exists in the same way.
POSTED AUG. 4, 1998
B. Mann, 17, Northwesterner, Corvallis, OR

FURTHER NOTICE 10:
I’ve lived in Texas my entire life. My dad was born in Montana to folks from Wisconsin, and my mom was born in Georgia to a family that comes from North Carolina and Oklahoma. I think most people latch on to the “extreme” Southerner – cowboy boots, country music and a horse. I’ve actually had people ask me if I had an oil derrick in my back yard! But I know that this isn’t because people are trying to be rude, it’s more of an issue of non-education. It’s kind of like how most Americans don’t know much about Canada – how many TV shows about the South do you see on big networks? The two largely Southern shows I’ve ever seen are “Dallas” and “The Dukes of Hazzard,” which portray two vastly different extremes of Southern life. The biggest difference between Northerners and Southerners is the rate at which things are taken. Down here it’s much more casual and easier to keep up with things … could it be that our Northern neighbors are impatient with us?
POSTED SEPT. 1, 1998
Sarah, 18, lifelong Texan <bubbles@texoma.net>, Sherman, TX

FURTHER NOTICE 11:
I have lived, worked and had employees all over the country including Texas and New York City. I have observed that the native Floridians (who never lived anywhere else during their lives) that I hire for white-collar jobs appear to have learned everything by rote, or memorization. They have a difficult time figuring out solutions or solving problems. As an employer, it is frustrating to have to specify tasks instead of giving people goals and tools and letting them find their own way. I suspect that something is broken in the Florida educational system and perhaps elsewhere in the South.
POSTED NOV. 2, 1998
Christi G., 36 <cgkemp@hotmail.com>, Orlando, FL
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