England vs. America: Part II

15 03 2012

Part One, which can be found here, illuminated America’s dominance in the food category whilst giving England the edge in comedy and public transportation.  Now we move on to Part Two, wherein I discuss more differences and declare a winner.

At this point, I implore thee, the reader, to comment on my blog or facebook and ask me what to compare in Part Three.  So, without further ado, here we go:

4.  Everything Road and Car related:  Winner–America

Despite what you are thinking, this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the British drive on the left side of the road.  However, as a side note, I must wonder:  why?  It seems that, over and over again, the British think of their little country as something special, something more special than other countries.  This may or may not have anything to do with it, but noting that the UK’s currency is not the Euro like pretty much every other country in the Eurozone, there is a pattern for this sort of thing.  It’s not even that many countries do this sort of thing.  This map shows which countries drive on which side of the road–red is right, and blue is left.  I’d say the results are telling:

Almost everyone except the UK and some of its former colonies drives on the right.

But, I digress:  I don’t actually care that they drive on the left side, I just find it immensely amusing that they decide to do it that way when billions of people living in other countries do it the opposite way.  Now, as far as cars go, America has the edge for a number of reason.  First of all, gasoline is much, much cheaper.  Generally, in the UK, gasoline is 1-2 pounds per liter.  Now, that might sound nice, except there are 4.5 liters in a gallon.  How does approaching $7 a gallon sound to you?  It sounds ludicrous to me, but that’s just how it is here.  Basically, the cheapness of gas in the States allows for a larger variety of affordable (or semi-affordable) vehicles; there is much less interest in the UK vehicles.

Also, British roads are completely ridiculous.  They apparently got the second-hand road engineers (probably the ones that graduated from the University of Missouri), because their roads and intersections leave something to be desired.  First off, they are often dealing with less-than-stellar road situations in the first place due to the old-ness of the cities and whatnot.  I do understand that.  However…they aren’t very good at building intersections.  There is no left turn on red rule like the ‘Right on Red’ rule in the States, which slows thing down (British readers:  this allows people turning into the flow of traffic to go during a red light if the coast is clear).  In addition, there are practically no stop signs, which is not good because sometimes stop signs are the most effective means of governing an intersection.  The intersections that they do have are not efficient in directing the traffic flow.

Secondly, there’s the British love for roundabouts, which borders on a fetish.  Why do I say this?  They’re everywhere.  They’re even on the highways.  That slows things down as well, as even if you aren’t getting off at a town, you are forced to go through the roundabout anyway.  Then there’s this:

Evil. They should call this the Eye of Sauron.

This wonderful bit of road-making resides in Swindon, where they apparently enjoy torturing adolescents who wish to learn how to drive.  It’s called the ‘Magic Roundabout’, and I’m pretty sure it would have sided with Lord Voldemort instead of Harry Potter.  Five mini roundabouts that comprise one big roundabout.  The inner circle goes counter-clockwise, while the outer roundabouts go clockwise.  And, on top of that, it takes up an enormous amount of space.  Geez.

5.  Charm:  Winner–England

England has been around for a long, long time.  Americans have a bit of a skewed perception of history:  our country’s beginnings lie in the 18th century, and our country is less than 250 years old.  England has an entirely different history.  They can look back 250 years as we can.  Then they can look back another 250 years.  And then another, and then another, until you’re talking about the Anglo-Saxons only a few centuries after Jesus lived.  There is a historical weight that England (and the rest of Europe) has that America lacks.

How is this relevant?  Well, firstly, any large city will have a much wider range of architecture.  Cities are much more individualistic due to local geography and history as opposed to the specifically grid-like model to which many American cities ascribe.  Simply put, England has way more charm.  One minute you can be in the Apple Store in the mall, and you can literally walk for less than 5 minutes and enter a half-millennium old building.  In America, a house built in the early 1900s is a cool old house.  In England, it’s just a house.

6.  Variety:  Winner–America

America is a large country.  England isn’t a particularly small country–especially if you consider the rest of the UK–but it is severely limited in geographical and weather variance.  Take a look at this:

War Horse, anyone?

This is rural England.  Beautiful, to be sure.  Rolling hills, green grass, trees–very nice.  But that’s kind of all you get.  This is rural America:

I can feel the heat from here.

This is also rural America:

Ah, Mountains.

You can get almost anything you want in the States.  Like deserts or mountains?  Got those.  Beaches?  Yep.  Forests?  Of course.  All of the above?  California.  Boring, boring rolling plains?  Got those too.  Temperate rainforests?  Yes sir.  This principal can also be extended to other areas as well.  There are a variety of huge cities in which to live if that’s your thing.  If not, there are huge amounts of suburbs and rural areas too.  England, for all its charm and individual personality, isn’t extremely varied.

 

Total:  America 3, England 3

 

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