When I wrote this, it was our second last day in the US, we hired a car to tide us to our 10pm departure tomorrow. It’s a pretty smart way to handle our luggage as we’ll have ‘checked out’ of our Airbnb. The travel took us to Sauscilito, then south to Palo Alto and Moutain View. To tech nerds, those are the homes of Facebook and Google.
I think I geeked out more than the BF and took lots of photos of the Google bikes and the general sites of what is possibly one of the biggest game changers in my adulthood. Ten or twenty years ago, there were googles you swam with and a Google was a large number. Now, it’s a verb.
The campus is much like a lot of the US – low level sprawl. Many building but none more than a few stories. Our return to San Francisco was between 5 -6pm, so we got to see a fair bit of traffic. It made me somewhat hopeless about how American ‘is’. This highway nation – things so spread out. It’s just incredible to think people make these lengthy, congested commutes every day. I can’t believe the level of industry I drove past – not heavy industry, but this medium level for the developed world – strange centres, huge hotels in the middle of an urban nothingness. I feel lucky to have travelled to and seen so much of Europe and know that they present a slightly more balanced approach to life and work, and consumerism. I know it’s not all rosy in Europe, but I just feel like they work harder to balance the pros and cons of everything.
I suppose my melancholy isn’t aided by my current reading, a book I found in the Airbnb and am racing to get finished before we check out called Fast Food Nation. I’ve been sickened by the accounts of how mega companies have lobbied government and got away with murder. quite literally. There are meat packing plants that operate such that people have limbs amputated by machines, or have respiratory problems from cleaning everything with hoses at scalding temperature and bleach. These cleaners are lower than the low that are those people who work in slaughterhouses, often illiterate, if not illegal migrants too. And then there’s the inevitable infections and problems of spoiled meat – in a hurried production line, it’s bound to happen that fecal matter when removing a digestive tracts can spill and mix with meat. Meat we eat. However, despite E. coli being found as the cause for illness or death in people there’s not legal obligation for companies to publicise the recall (it could hurt their business too badly). Furthermore, there is often such delays and hand wringing, that by the time the announced tainted meat is known, much of it is consumed. Oh, and of course the meat distributors are the least likely to spoil their contracts by disclosing where meat has been on sold to – such as public school lunches in a time when the government seeks the lowest bidder. It makes me sick to think how business and profits manipulate regulations, that effectively skirt so many responsibilities as HUMANS. The ‘best’ meat, by and large, goes to the buyers who are big and demand it – sadly, the McDonalds is likely to have better tested meat from a better processing plant than a school lunch. It just beggars belief. I’m not really looking at the hamburgers as intently as I have previously! That being said, I’m under no illusion that chicken farming, or fish farming is widely better! However, it’s so hard to know how to thwart the greater hands at play here – I’m mindful green washing of products is just as prevalent, and adds a surcharge that may often be pure profits.
What are your thoughts on the ‘greatest nation in the world’?