How many ways can you quantify?

Posted on April 29, 2009. Filed under: American culture | Tags: , , , , , , |

Obama’s first 100 days are an important milestone. Why? Because 100 is a big, round number!!

Americans love to quantify. Everything. From rating Obamas first 100 days to Time Magazine’s World’s 100 Most Influential People. (Really? Out of 6 billion?) Even Miss USA contestants were judged to the .001 in the swim suit competition. To the thousandth of a point!!  Ridiculous, when, as my son pointed out, “if you cut off all their heads, you couldn’t tell them apart.”

For Americans, the essential quality of anything is its measurability. Everything can, and should,  be measured and quantified. This is often problematic for Americans conducting business in cultures where relationships take precedence.

 If you are American, you probably know how tall the Washington Monument is  (555 feet), or that there are 2.5 children in the typical American family. The idea of 1/2 a kid in a family makes absolutely no sense to many other cultures that believe people are human souls and not statistics.

You may have rated a restaurant or hotel from 1-5 stars and asked a friend “How good do I look in this dress on a scale of 1-10?”  You probably describe your house by square footage, number of bedrooms, and cost, and know your exact height and weight though you probably don’t tell the truth about them. (I look smokin’  from 121-123, good at 125-127, and puffy over 130. I am also 5 feet 4 and 3/4 inches tall)

During those rare times that Americans travel overseas and visit tourist sites, they are likely to ask: How big is it?  How old is it?  How much did it cost? Travelers from other cultures may ask more about history and aesthetics.

Here’s the best part of all of this. The quantification doesn’t even have to make sense.

  Check out how this senator quantifies the stimulus bill. Try your best to make it through all 2 minutes. It’s worth it.



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2 Responses to “How many ways can you quantify?”

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How much did it cost to come up with those useless facts?

how long did it take you to write this?

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