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Talk:United States of America/Archive 2007

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This is an archive of all discussions started in 2007 on Talk:United States of America.

Private jets?[edit]

I'm not really sure fractional jet ownership is a critical topic for the USA article, and you can do this outside the US too — should it be spun off into its own article? Jpatokal 23:47, 6 January 2007 (EST)

I view the information as useless to most travelers. It's really just cluttering the article for no good reason. On the other hand, if someone wants to make a travel topic about it then at least it's out of the way. So yeah, what you said. -- Colin 00:52, 7 January 2007 (EST)
Rather than creating an entirely new article, which will be of limited value on its own, can we incorporate the content into a larger topic? Travel transportation is pretty broad but would work... -- Ryan 00:58, 7 January 2007 (EST)
That looks like a good place for it. -- Colin 02:34, 7 January 2007 (EST)
Well, there are sub-topics for hitchhiking and long distance bus, why not include information about the high end of the spectrum? It is among the shortest sub topics in the "get around" section anyway. I agree there is some "useless" information in the article, but most of it falls under the Culture, Respect and other sections.SONORAMA 06:32, 7 January 2007 (EST)
I think there's two thing here. First, the topic appears to apply to more than the US so maybe the topic should be mentioned elsewhere as a more general topic. Second, in the US article hitchhiking needs to be covered since it is a popular mode of travel used by millions... and they need to know that it doesn't work well in the US; buses are used by many tens of thousands of people each year in the US. So when one compares the audience for hitchhiking/buses vs. private jets, I think it's pretty clear that the former are a lot more generally useful.
That said, no one here is proposing deleting it outright. It's just a question of Wikitravel:Where you can stick it. -- Colin 17:26, 7 January 2007 (EST)

Atlanta[edit]

On the city list does anybody think that Atlanta or Denver is more important than Seattle?

Have a look at #Sample Cities, #Nine cities and #5+-2. It's extraordinarily tough to say one city is "more important" than another, and I believe that the current consensus is that the list provides a good representative sample. -- Ryan (talk) 12:56, 17 March 2007 (EDT)
This is one of those angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin subjects: anyone can have an opinion, there is no single criterion for judging what's right, and it's not all that helpful anyway. Following the TTCF principle, I would prefer to attack this via (shorter) sublists that correspond to the identified regions earlier in the article, something like the following:
  • Mid-Atlantic:
    • Baltimore
    • New York City
    • Philadelphia
    • Washington, D.C.
  • South:
    • Atlanta
    • Miami
    • New Orleans
    • Raleigh-Durham
  • Midwest:
    • Chicago
    • Detroit
    • Minneapolis-St. Paul
    • St. Louis

-- and so on. The United States (like China, India, Indonesia, etc.) is too big and complex for a brief listing of "representative" cities to help the traveler much. As long as a solution compatible with the MoS exists, in the form of sub-lists, why not use it? -- Bill-on-the-Hill 13:16, 17 March 2007 (EDT)

I wholeheartedly agree with you, Bill - this will serve the traveler much better, and will appease my concerns over which nine cities are the most "notable." Blackberrylaw 05:45, 29 March 2007 (EDT)
You should not do this because if you evade the restriction here, it will be evaded elsewhere in order to include everyone's favorite city. -- Colin 12:21, 29 March 2007 (EDT)

Stay safe[edit]

There's nothing mentioned about the fact that the US has a very high crime rate. I know that most rural regions are kind of safe, but US cities tend to have a damn high crime when compared to cities around the world. I think the fact that the US has a v high crime rate needs to be mentioned s'where. I'll just look up the stats and put 'em down here in a few mts. Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 06:09, 7 April 2007 (EDT)

Yup. The article should mention that the crime rates are notably higher than European countries. A visitor might incorrectly think that because Europe and the US are similar in terms of development and ethnicity that they have similar crime rates. -- Colin 12:01, 7 April 2007 (EDT)
According to most stats which I checked up on google, LA records more crime than Zurich+London+Paris+Stockholm. Agree fully with colin. Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 04:40, 8 April 2007 (EDT)
First, as someone who has lived and travelled around the world, I don't feel that the United States is particularly dangerious. Secondly, I think a comparison on the level of "The United States has more crime than Europe, so traveller watch out" is flat out useless. IF a particular city has a crime problem, then we should say so IN THAT CITY'S ARTICLE. And we should be specific -- not just say "Big city XYZ has a lot of crime" but specify precisely where, when and how crime is committed. That would be useful to travelers. I sense some people want to turn the United States article into a sociological comparison of United States vs. Europe. That leads to a lot of hemming-and hawing language and useless verbiage that we should best avoid. SONORAMA 05:51, 10 April 2007 (EDT)

I sense some people want to turn the United States article into a sociological comparison of United States vs. Europe : SONORAMA

Just for the record, Mr/Mrs SONORAMA, I'm Asian, and have no prejudices against either Europe or America. But overall crime in the USA is more than it is in Europe, Asia, or even Africa. I'm not specifically talking about LA, even medium sized cities in the US tend to get quite dangerous. Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 06:33, 12 April 2007 (EDT)

Not to mention that Colin (who agrees with me fully) is from California. Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) •

Well Mr/Mrs Upamanyu, you've raised two good points that in support of my position. 1) Why is "Europe" the basis of comparison here? Why not compare crime in the US to that in Asia, Latin America, Africa, Australia... 2) Comparing one continent's crime rate to another's is hardly useful. What part of Europe? Sure Switzerland and Norway may have less crime per-capita than California. But how about Italy, Romania or Paris? They likely have far higher crime rates than America, including the types of crime that affects tourists. Frankly, the article is long enough already. Let's not add silly comparisons to it as they give very little useful information to the traveller. Instead, as I said, put relevant and specific crime information in the appropriate city article or in one of the sub-headings under the America article.SONORAMA 09:23, 13 April 2007 (EDT)

You needn't call me Mr or Mrs. I'm a 13 year old school kid studying in Grade 9. - *Why not compare crime in the US to that in Asia, Latin America, Africa, Australia -- Check up Google:America beats them all. - *Italy, Romania or Paris vs your average Am city? Check up google. USA has over 40% of the world's prisoners. Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 00:41, 14 April 2007 (EDT)

How about a link Upamanyu? That might be helpful to put this debate to rest. Also, having more prisoners does not imply more crime - one could even say that more prisoners = less crime. But whichever country has higher crime, I'd prefer that the article offer specific information, rather than just comparisons of one country vs. another. Peace, SONORAMA 07:37, 14 April 2007 (EDT)

Mr SONORAMA, you perceive hostility that I don't think is intended. Europe is often used as a point of comparison in describing the US because A) it's familiar to many travelers (especially the ones making the comparsions) and B) due to its cultural similarity it's the area that people might expect the U.S. to resemble. I agree that information of which cities (and which parts) are dangerous belongs in the articles themselves, but getting combative like this doesn't help. - Todd VerBeek 10:39, 14 April 2007 (EDT)

Profanity[edit]

There's some weird stuff written about profanity not being socially accepted in America. Well, these figures from WP seem to be telling a diff story

72-percent of American men and 58-percent of American women swear in public, and 61-percent of adolescents and 89-percent of adults swear in public. (from Wikipedia:Profanity

Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 08:16, 13 April 2007 (EDT)

Would some American please explain the stuff to me and solve this issue. Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 08:16, 13 April 2007 (EDT)

This is the text in question. Cursing or using foul language is considered a bad habit that is best avoided. While most Americans use a few choice words now and then, people generally choose their words carefully when in public, and especially so if children are present.

Hmmm, having never been to America, I can't tell (well, i did once stay 2 nights in NYC but I was 5 yrs old at that time). Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 08:21, 13 April 2007 (EDT)

"Is considered"... blech! I hate that term. Vague attribution to anonymous authority.
Taboo words, like "swear" words, are interesting exactly because you're not supposed to say them. Knowing when to transgress those rules is something that Americans (and other people around the world) learn over a lifetime. It depends on a complicated mix of audience, setting, and situation. I think the dissemination of American films and music around the world gives some people the impression that Americans cuss a lot more than we actually do. The consequences of cussing in the wrong way or at the wrong time are almost uniformly minor, but it can definitely get in the way of making a cultural connection. I'll see if I can amend the language to be a little more descriptive rather than proscriptive. --Evan 08:38, 13 April 2007 (EDT)
I was going to list when it's not appropriate to swear, but it's easier to list when you can.
  • When telling a joke.
  • On the road, when the *&$%&!@ in front of you cuts you off.
  • When exclaiming something or asking a question that question the factualness of a statement or situation. (I.e. You're fu*&ing kidding me, right!?) -- Sapphire(Talk) • 08:50, 13 April 2007 (EDT)
I think it all depends on context. One does not say "You're fuc-ing kidding me" when speaking with an elderly lady. One does not tell lewd jokes where children are present. And just try telling someone at a biker bar that his bike or broad looks like shit - the consequences will be very swift and severe. SONORAMA 22:45, 14 April 2007 (EDT)
The current article text overstates the case, but it is true that going beyond the milder curse words with a stranger is going to come across as either crude or hostile. It's only appropriate for joking when you're among people you know well enough to joke with. And I don't think that the last item on this list is going to be considered appropriate with a lot of people over, say, 30. The simplest "rule" is that profanity is for getting people's attention and expressing displeasure, so it's best for the traveler to refrain from using it unless that's what he's trying to do. - Todd VerBeek 09:02, 13 April 2007 (EDT)
Yeah, the last item is somewhat iffy. Being 21, I don't curse all that often, except when to express displeasure with a very serious failure of judgment. I do curse when telling a joke that requires it, but my normally my personality ventures away from the "dirty" jokes. Another example I can think of is all the cursing that goes on at football games, but then again, most of the people that are cursing there are rooting for the losing team and have had quite a few beers. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 09:11, 13 April 2007 (EDT)
Well, there you go. In India for example people don't tend to go beyond "shit". And a person who says f*** on a monthly basis is considered rude and abusive. Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 23:20, 13 April 2007 (EDT)

Well, I seriously don't know much, so thanks for all this feedback. But to me Americans tend to use f words while joking all the time. Here in India it is considered extremely innappropriate and if you curse in a public place (in whatever context) you're likely to receive stares. Of course, there are exceptions, such as Delhi, which is a city of hooligans. Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 23:11, 13 April 2007 (EDT)

In India, people who curse are associated with uneducated folk who can't distinguish between right and wrong. But in America people across all classes curse, right? Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 23:17, 13 April 2007 (EDT)

I mean, even Cacahuate used the f word on Talk:Hell. But I guess it's simply American culture. Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 23:25, 13 April 2007 (EDT)

As Evan was saying above, for a lot of people breaking the taboos and pushing the boundaries of appropriateness is appealing... and in my case a sport (which I excel at, by the way). But also words change their meaning with time, and also gain and lose their strength and signifigance... I find them very dynamic and constantly changing. I hate to use this example, but it's sort of how the "N" word was (and is) such a nasty word here in America, but African-Americans themselves started using it and it no longer has the same charge that it used to have... of course depending on the context and who's saying it. For me, the F word isn't so vulgar, but as you can see, I won't say the N word... ever... and even with the F word, I use it in a joking context which isn't that offensive, but I would never direct it at a person, unless he was a fucking idiot. – cacahuate talk 00:28, 14 April 2007 (EDT)

You mean to say that in America people find negr* more offensive than the f word?
Without a doubt - negro is just ignorant, but the ruder variation of it is most definitely fightin' words – cacahuate talk 00:52, 14 April 2007 (EDT)
You mean nigg**??
That's the one... it's a no-no... – cacahuate talk 02:01, 15 April 2007 (EDT)
Well, I guess it's simply a matter of clashing cultures. To all Americans: Sorry for my ignorance. Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 00:31, 14 April 2007 (EDT)
No need to apologize, you're not ignorant. And who knows, you may suddenly find a liking for the F word in your 14th or 15th year... keep an open mind  :) Just don't tell your parents I said that, I don't want any angry emails. – cacahuate talk 00:37, 14 April 2007 (EDT)
I bet you a million $s that I'll never use the F word throughout my whole life. Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 00:42, 14 April 2007 (EDT)
I bet you've used mata-chudh at least once, no? – cacahuate talk 02:01, 15 April 2007 (EDT)
Nope, never. That lit. means mother- f***er. Just for the record, it is not mata, it is maadar (a distortion of mother). Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 09:36, 15 April 2007 (EDT)
You seem to forget that I'm a Bengali, not a Hindi-phoney. People in Delhi abuse all the time (although it's nothing compared to the US I suppose), but not at other places. Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 09:40, 15 April 2007 (EDT)
People in Delhi use Behenc*** (sisterf****er) as a punctuation mark. That is certainly more than what Americans use in every day conversation. — Ravikiran 11:35, 15 April 2007 (EDT)

Thanks for the info guys... Upamanyu, it looks like I'm just 3 stars away from getting you to say the F word... progress is being made... – cacahuate talk 01:32, 16 April 2007 (EDT)

Cacahuate, this isn't stuff to joke about. I never abuse and loathe abusive language (I've got fed up repeating that about a 100 times...).

To Ravi:Good point. But most of India is way way more civilized than Delhi. I myself detest the place. If you ask me, Delhi should be kicked out of India along with UP and they should form a separate country. They're a shame to the nation. BTW, my mom watched Omkara and resolved never to cross the border into UP :) :( Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 05:12, 16 April 2007 (EDT)

Region map[edit]

While I appreciate the effort to reflect reality by showing that various regions blend into each other rather than having sharp borders, this is somewhat contradictory to how we (theoretically) use regions in our geographical hierarchy. I'd rather have the map serve as a visual guide to which states are in which of our regions rather than trying to show some of the places where the regions blend into each other. - Todd VerBeek 18:31, 14 April 2007 (EDT)

First, nice map! Thanks for doing it! Second, having just realized that on the map the Great Plains blends with the South and Rocky Mountains I'd tend to agree with Todd that we're probably better off just using solid colors, and dealing with the "but X is really in Y" debates as they come up. -- Ryan • (talk) • 19:17, 14 April 2007 (EDT)
It looks like several edits have been made to the region articles that added states to our original regional breakdown, so I've tried to revert back to the original versions. Hopefully any overlaps are now gone. -- Ryan • (talk) • 20:02, 14 April 2007 (EDT)
OK, I have to redo this map, seems like I messed up on the licensing side and based this on an existing map with a GNU license rather than the Public Domain that I though it was. I'm going to remove the map temporarily, but will redo it this weekend and have a new one back within two or three days; if the regions are nicely defined again then I can do it correctly and not use any blending between states. --NJR_ZA 15:55, 25 April 2007 (EDT)
If I can put in my 2¢, I actually really liked the color gradients you used with states that are mostly in one region, but at least partly in another. As long as you keep the same sophisticated boundaries you used before, I would encourage you to keep them in the map because it conveys a lot of useful information to the traveler. But I do think it would help to pick more distinct colors for the Great Plains and Midwest regions. --Peterfitzgerald Talk 18:25, 26 April 2007 (EDT)
I don't think anyone here disputes that traditional boundaries of US regions are "fuzzy" - for example, the traditional "Southwest" region definitely includes portions of Texas, California and Colorado. However, for the purposes of organizing the Wikitravel travel guides the regional borders are drawn at state lines without any fuzziness, and it would probably be best if the map reflected that. My view is that a map of US regions on Wikitravel is a sort of table-of-contents for articles about places in the US rather than a encyclopedic description, and just like a book wouldn't say "this chapter ends between pages 15 and 18", I don't think we want to describe our hierarchy as having fuzzy borders when it doesn't. -- Ryan • (talk) • 00:21, 27 April 2007 (EDT)
OK, I have recreated the region map, this time based on Public Domain work. I did not do the color gradients on the region (The reason I did those initially was because the information in the USA articles were already a bit fuzzy and I was not totally sure where each region ends). If we make the map fuzzy it might encourage people to make the articles more fuzzy as well and that is something I'm sure we want to avoid.
This map is a lot better and more detailed than my previous attempt and we can easily use it to generate maps for the each region as well. If someone can just check that I did not make any stupid mistakes (spelling, state in a wrong region etc) and that everyone is happy with the colors used, then I'll go ahead and generate those individual region maps as well. --NJR_ZA 08:01, 27 April 2007 (EDT)
I like the new map. My only concerns are the inclusion of the cities (state capitals really aren't useful information for travel purposes, and they're also hard to read); and the light-grey borders being hard to make out in the lighter-colored regions. Will you be uploading the vector-based source for it as SVG? - Todd VerBeek 09:30, 27 April 2007 (EDT)
The svg is already on shared shared:Image:Map-USA-Regions01.svg The capitals are on a layer of their own, you can easily switch them off if you want. --NJR_ZA 09:39, 27 April 2007 (EDT)
Just to explain my point (not that its a big deal), while I see that we might want to emphasize the "one parent region per geographic unit" aspect of the geographical hierarchy, I actually thought the gradients helped clear up the fuzziness of our sometimes arbitrary regional groupings. Someone wondering why Florida is not included in the south would get the picture right away seeing that we have acknowledged the Panhandle as being southern. Moreover, some acknowledgement of "regional fuzziness" in the lower level articles is quite useful for the traveler who wants to know, say, that while southern Utah is full of southwestern-style desert attractions, northern Utah is a great destination for Rocky Mountain climbs, hikes, and alpine sports. I liked the color gradients because they conveyed all this useful information at a glance. But anyway, great job with the new map! And I second Todd's point about the cities — maybe just include the most important cities and remove the capitals? --Peterfitzgerald Talk 09:45, 27 April 2007 (EDT)
I also think it looks really good. The only very minor things I would say is to just create a tiny bit more space between the words Rhode Island & Connecticut and Delaware & Maryland... you may have to tilt the pointer lines a bit, but I think that would look better... and then center North Dakota and South Dakota a bit... otherwise, looks perfect to me! Can you put a note somewhere in California though that reminds people that it's the best state? Word it however you like... – cacahuate talk 02:25, 28 April 2007 (EDT)
Sunshine, beaches, babes and non of that cold white stuff covering the whole place in winter. Who needs reminding? --NJR_ZA 03:15, 28 April 2007 (EDT)

Guns, again[edit]

Hey, so if this section stands as is, then I'm going to add a similar section to France. I don't hunt, and as a matter of fact I'm a vegetarian, but it just creeps me out a little that we have a section claiming that hunting is an activity that's special to the USA. It's easier to get a hunting permit in France and a number of other countries than it is in the US, so why the heck don't we cover this topic there? -- Mark 20:34, 5 May 2007 (EDT)

Putting aside the fact that any edits involving guns will invariably be seen as biased by one group or another, wouldn't it make more sense to move information about guns and hunting into articles for cities, states and regions where it would be more appropriate? For example, while there are a fair number of people who visit Alaska or the Rocky Mountains (United States of America) to hunt, I suspect the number that travel to the Mid-Atlantic or many other parts of the country for hunting is statistically insignificant. Similarly, while shooting ranges can be found throughout the country, that also seems like something that would be better handled by listing individual shooting ranges for various city articles since it is such a niche for travelers. Moving the info out of the broader US article would also allow us to avoid any edit battles that would lead to every country article having a section on gun laws and hunting. -- Ryan • (talk) • 20:52, 5 May 2007 (EDT)
I reverted the edits about France (let's keep that in the France article). As for guns being "controversial", I don't think so. Americans have the Constitutional right to own guns, unlike other countries where guns have severe restrictions. I know of quite a few people who have participated in shooting sports such as skeet who previously had no experience with or even interest in guns. As long as the US has a culture of lawful gun ownership, gun information should be kept in the main article. SONORAMA 21:20, 5 May 2007 (EDT)
Note the distinction of "EDITS involving guns" being controversial. My point, however, is that a paragraph about guns probably doesn't belong in the US article, it belongs in articles about regions where hunting or use of firearms are major activities. Without looking up stats I would wager heavily that more travelers participate in bird watching, parasailing, academic competitions, miniature golfing and any number of other random activities than participate in any activities involving guns, and just as a paragraph on those activities is inappropriate for the US article, a paragraph about guns is also inappropriate since they are all niche activities for the vast majority of travelers. The country-level article is meant to provide a high-level overview, and while mentioning country-specific activities like hunting, sport-shooting, etc. is OK in brief, more detailed info belongs in the appropriate regional articles. -- Ryan • (talk) • 23:30, 5 May 2007 (EDT)

I hate the section too and I think it should be removed. As I have stated before, I'm in favor of the Second Amendment, albeit I'm nowhere near as fanatic about the Second Amendment as the National Rifle Association is. Basically my reasoning for the removal of the section is:

  • Hunting is not a solely American activity. Even restrictive Germany has fairly laxed laws regarding bringing in weapons in from outside the country for purposes of hunting. This is the case for apparently quite a few countries.
  • Laws very from state to state Ok, the ATF might give you a permit to bring a rifle in to the U.S., but that doesn't mean California will. Plus, with the unfortunate event at Virginia Tech gun laws throughout the U.S. will likely get more complicated for foreigners.
  • I say we remove the section and use Recreational shooting. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 00:55, 6 May 2007 (EDT)
Agree whole-heartedly with Ryan and Sapphire, would be very happy to see it only mentioned in the regions/cities where it's relevant. Definitely not significant enough to warrant mention on the main US page. It's been bugging me there for a while now. – cacahuate talk 02:10, 7 May 2007 (EDT)
I too agree with Ryan and Sapphire. It is in no way a defining point of the States in my eyes, and is surely an activity pursued by only a tiny fraction of visitors from overseas. Texugo 05:40, 7 May 2007 (EDT)
Folks, ALL of the activities in the "DO" section are "persued by only a tiny fraction of visitors from overseas". The others, in fact (Burning Man, Grand Ole Opry) -- probably attract a miniscule amount of people as compared with all shooting sports in general. If we are going to eliminate Guns, then we should eliminate the ENTIRE "Do" section. Should only large, mass-market attractions be included in a Wikitravel article? Personally I think this would be a sad mistake. As it stands now, the "Do" section offers the reader a few lesser-known activities that nonetheless have won the respect of a huge number of people who visit or "do" them. And THAT, my friends, is what Do section should strive to cover. SONORAMA 07:07, 7 May 2007 (EDT)
I have no problem with recreational shooting being mentioned, but the kind of coverage you seem to be demanding for it here is out of proportion to the other items mentioned, and cluttering the article with specifics better covered elsewhere (something I recall you objecting to when the topic was different). How about "The country's frontier tradition of hunting and comparatively liberal gun-ownership laws make the U.S. a destination for recreational shooting." ? - Todd VerBeek 08:01, 7 May 2007 (EDT)
The thing that I'm having a problem with is that there are lots of other countries that are better destinations for hunters and recreational shooters, and the stuff here reads like it's trying to say that the US is the place to go if you want to shoot guns. I get the feeling that this is wishful thinking, but so far it's just not true. Of course it might actually be true before too long considering that a big chunk of the American left is now in support of an absolute individual right to bear arms, but that's not the point, the point is that there's nothing special about the US for visiting hunters/shooters. Burning man doesn't happen anywhere else. -- Mark 08:11, 7 May 2007 (EDT)
I second Todd's reasonable proposal. The section as it stands reads awkwardly, as though it were making a political point about the greatness of the 2nd Amendment. I agree fullheartedly that shooting is not a unique attraction of the United States and therefore does not deserve a lengthy treatment on the main article. To treat it as such makes the article look less professional, as though wikitravel editors were unaware that shooting sports exist outside of the United States. If it were not for SONORAMA's impassioned arguments on this talk page, I would have removed/reduced this section at first glance as a matter of course. --Peterfitzgerald Talk 10:45, 7 May 2007 (EDT)
Ditto Todd's recommendation. WindHorse 11:09, 7 May 2007 (EDT)

I'm with Mark on this one. I'm not convinced the topic even deserves a sentence. Hunting/shooting off a few rounds is, quite simply, not uniquely American and as such does not deserve a mention in this guide. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 11:36, 7 May 2007 (EDT)

Deferring to the groups's consensus, I changed the Guns item to Todd's text. Any further information about shooting sports we can and should add to the recreational shooting page. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by SONORAMA (talkcontribs)
I'm not sure that two people makes a consensus. I, like Sapphire, am not convinced we need to mention hunting sports at all. We don't feel the need to mention any other sports in the Do section of this article, and there are plenty of more likely sports for tourists to do than go hunting (tennis, swimming, golf, etc.). Why should hunting get special attention here? Texugo 00:21, 8 May 2007 (EDT)
Actually I like having a sporting section. Lots of people travel to the US to participate in individual sports, so why not have a section that includes skiing, hiking, fishing, hunting, shooting, etc? All of those other sports should be there, and the shooting bit shouldn't sound so, well, defensive as does the current text, but individual sports definitely belong in the Do section. -- Mark 03:41, 8 May 2007 (EDT)
Well, Mark is right in that we should and do provide listings for places to practice sports, but those listing are in the individual destinations where they belong. However, there is no reason to mention all possible sports on a page that covers the entire US, nor is there reason to mention a single sport like hunting for which types, regulations, seasons and terrains differ so vastly from place to place within the US. Texugo 04:45, 8 May 2007 (EDT)
I like Mark's suggestion about touching on all those things... but I vote for touching very lightly. It could even be just one sentence/bullet point in the Do section; how about:
  • Hit the great outdoors - The large variety of landscapes across the country yields a plethora of opportunities for about any sport you can imagine including skiing, hiking, fishing, hunting, shooting, etc.
I don't mind shooting being mentioned in the main article if it's in this context... but before it was just too jarring – cacahuate talk 00:57, 10 May 2007 (EDT)
I can support the above suggestion. Texugo 01:41, 10 May 2007 (EDT)
I'd also like to support cacahuate's proposal—that would be a nice way to link to a bunch of travel topics without expanding the section unduly. --Peterfitzgerald Talk 02:00, 10 May 2007 (EDT)

It's for TRAVELERS/VISITORS[edit]

Unless I am missing something Wikitravel is meant for travelers/visitors. Guns? Accept it, we as citzens have a right to bear arms and be glad of it. I was born in 1948 and granted, I may not have traveled to as many places as many of you. But, I have notice a real difference in the attitude towards Americans when outside of the Country, now as opposed to earlier years. It has not improved. Please ponder why this change, and what can we as Americans do to improve our standing with the world wide community that so many of us appreciate visiting. I as a visitor to other areas in the Country and outside, look for events and attractions. Like The Ford Museum, Smithsonian, the 4th of July and other treasures of our Country that are lacking description in Wikitravel. I know Wikitravel is somewhat in its infancy, but I think some are being distracted and spending way too much time on non-issues. I seldom say much and don't be dissapointed if I do not join a debate. AND, by the way where in the heck are all the photo's of this Great Country. Not one of Miami, I don't beleive that. By the way. Great job on the Wikitravel idea!!!!!! Just felt like adding my 2 cents.2old 14:01, 11 May 2007 (EDT)


Applying for a passport[edit]

Swept in from the pub

I have to replace my passport and while I've applied for a passport before I wasn't quite sure if my passport was damaged enough so that I'd be required to re-apply in person and pay the more expensive fees or if I could simply use a renewal form and pay the $67 fee, plus the expedited fee.

After trying to get hold of NPIC for an entire day I decided to stay up all night and wait until 06:00 then call (earliest possible time I could get a hold of an operator). I finally got a hold of someone and they saved me about $70 by telling me to do the renewal form.

This is going somewhere... just give me a second. Now, also with the new border crossing rules that require a passport when flying to/from 'them who are up north', Mexico, the US' Caribbean passports are likely to needed by several million more Americans than the previously 5 - 6 million who applied annually. Also, since by the end of January next year a passport will be required at all land/see/air crossings within the US the need for passports is going to sky rocket. (Might this be a conspiracy to get drunk co-eds to party in the US, rather than Cancun? One can only hope so.)

Anyhow, should we have an article that'd explain the process to apply for a passport? I'm on the fence about whether or not the scope should be expanded, but I definitely think it'd be useful for those of us with those 'what the **** does that mean?' scenarios. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 05:25, 24 May 2007 (EDT)

I was in line at the post office a few days ago thinking the same thing. I'm curious if the application process is similar in other countries as the U.S. (fees, wait time, etc). Also, it would be great to cover what would happen if I am out of the country and I lose my passport. -- Fastestdogever 10:13, 24 May 2007 (EDT)
An article about passports could be useful, but I'm not sure how much we can generalize about them. Certainly the "how to get one" information is going to vary dramatically by citizenship. - Todd VerBeek 11:11, 24 May 2007 (EDT)
The article should concentrated (and be titled?) to cover only US passports, which are thoroughly byzantine to apply for and have completely ridiculous waiting times. Jpatokal 11:22, 24 May 2007 (EDT)
Agreed about the waiting time, but I've never found the application process particularly byzantine. My renewal last year was quick and (just kidding) easy enough. Or is it getting ridiculous for new applications? In any case, topics such as passport privacy/security (e.g. RFID chips) and what to do if you lose it, are international in scope.
We should make sure to mention that there is no such thing as a World passport [1]Ravikiran 11:31, 24 May 2007 (EDT)
I would very much appreciate some information regarding how to get a Sealand[2] passport. --Peterfitzgerald Talk 13:14, 24 May 2007 (EDT)
This is cool. I wasn't expecting any support, let alone general support for the idea. So where do we go from here? A generic Passports article? A US-centric article titled US Passports? The current waiting period for an American passport is 14 - 17 weeks, if you don't spring for the additional $60 to get it expedited, which is rather byzantine, especially since you have to send off your birth certificate.
The Germans apparently only need to go to a city hall, tell someone they need one, and... poof... they have one. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 21:12, 27 May 2007 (EDT)
I'd suggest a travel topic article on Passports and visas. US passports are a section. Countries with odd visa requirements (e.g. Saudi Arabia does not have tourist visas, Tibet needs permits, ...) get another section that is mostly one-liners with links. Pashley 00:08, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
But doesn't information about countries with odd visa requirements go in those countries' articles? - Todd VerBeek 13:47, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
Yes, but it can also be covered at a higher level. Middle East, for example, has some info on problems with visas in that region. An overview pointing out potential problems — e.g. citizens of some countries (US, EU, Canada, Oz, NZ, Japan) can go most places without getting a visa in advance, but for other passports (China, India, ...) you need a visa, and anyone needs a visa almost anywhere (except EU-to-EU and a few other special cases) if they want to work — might be useful to many travellers. Pashley 02:17, 19 June 2007 (EDT)
I don't think it makes much sense to have a passport page. Most countries have fairly detailed directions already available on the web, and it seems to be informationally inefficient to have it reproduced here. At best, a link to the passport page would be enough. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Wandering (talkcontribs)
The US State Department has a lot of information, yes, but if it covered the situations I ran into then I wouldn't have proposed the idea here. By having the information here we can give travelers quick access to information they'd need that the State Department wouldn't be able to give them unless they called NPIC precisely at 06:00. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 19:30, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
It is several months since anyone added to this discussion. It should probably be archived, but where? Is anyone going to plunge forward and start such an article? Pashley 08:21, 18 October 2007 (EDT)
Since the US State department has sorted itself out, and the information and time estimates on their website are now back to mas o menos accurate, and you can call and get a real person on the line any time of the day, this discussion should probably be archived and forgotten.--Wandering 13:56, 18 October 2007 (EDT)

There are now articles titled Passport and Visa. Pashley 04:23, 10 November 2008 (EST)

Christians hate homosexuals[edit]

I'm kind of taking issue with the whole 'intolerance of homosexuals is popularly linked to fundamental Christian churches.' You know, this is Wikitravel and we should dispel a lot of myths. I and my church would never go out and preach 'God kills American soldiers because of gays', nor would any other Christian, except for a few fuck ups. I'm not plunging forward right away because of the explosiveness of the issue, but if it's really necessary to talk about Christian view points on sexuality then we should explain the topic more fully because the way it's currently worded leaves a lot open for the imagination and could make the 99% of us who are sensible look like a bunch of barbarians. Most denominations consider all forms of sex outside of marriage a sin; those same churches that disapprove of homosexual acts would disapprove of me screwing the pastor's wife (assuming I'm not the pastor, which I'm not. ;) ) So in churches, yes, there's an intolerance for many things that churches view as sin or against God's will, but no Christian (except for those few supposed "Christian" radicals, who then go out and sin by harming others) will condemn someone else, especially when we've all done stuff that, if we were judged by Old Testament standards would get us stoned-to-death. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 18:00, 21 May 2007 (EDT)

I'm all for just taking out the reference too. I figured I'd leave it in, toned down, and then just remove it later ;) --Peterfitzgerald Talk 18:33, 21 May 2007 (EDT)
The point here shouldn't be to talk about Christian viewpoints on sexuality or myths about them, but rather what the gay traveler ought to know about traveling in the USA. I have a pretty good perspective on that, and I'd like to take a stab at crafting an appropriate paragraph. - Todd VerBeek 19:20, 21 May 2007 (EDT)
I think the text clearly means fundamentalist as in very conservative, in opposition to tolerant/flexible, and in connection with the general environment foreign gay and lesbian people would find when visiting an area where those kind of churches/denominations prevail. Whatever our own views of the issue are, I don't think dispelling myths is more our job than presenting actual facts. Knowing if they can share a double bed, display affection and openly talk about their homosexuality in public are issues that can matter to a gay couple, for instance, and although I don't live in the US, I'm pretty sure that kind of behaviour is not generally regarded in the same way as other "equivalent"(bigamy, etc.) "sins" in such cases. Maybe some rewording applies, but I wouldn't remove the text at all. -- Ricardo (Rmx) 19:32, 21 May 2007 (EDT)
Todd, by all means, please reword it to be reflective of what's relevant to the traveler.
I probably didn't specify myself as clearly as I should have, but I'd have no problem stating the Westboro peeps are extreme, but fundamentalist is a generic term that I think should not be used. I can agree with the term "Christian extremist", but I don't like these terms invented by the media that have no real meaning. Can someone adequate define what a left-leaning nut job is? or what an conservative is? Not anymore.
I'd identify myself as conservative, but you know I have no problem with gays, in fact my best friend is gay and we go to church together. I just have a problem with the stereotype perpetuated in the media, that just because I sometimes (foolishly) support Republicans, am pro-life that means I'm a homophobic, racist warmonger. I'm probably more fundamental than the stereotypical fundamentalists are since I dislike war/"policing actions" as number six in the KJV says "Thou shalt not kill", even though "murder" may be the better translation. (I know, it may be a bit hypocritical to advocate the traveler would be better suited to carry a weapon in Iraq, but I'm also thinking if if you need to protect yourself, then you have to what you have to do.)
Anyhow, I'm basically against calling conservatives, even the very conservatives, as I can sometimes be intolerant. I'm all for listening to other view points and loving other people, as I am both commanded to and want to. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 20:02, 21 May 2007 (EDT)

Gay and lesbian[edit]

As of 6/5/08, this section is biased and offers little or no practical information for travelers. Why would any traveler care if gays are allowed to marry or serve in the militar in the US? How many come here for such purposes? How many might conceivably come from places where people are more tollerant of gays that we are in the US? Are Orthodox Jews more tollerant of homosexuals than are Chrisitans, and if not, why smear the Bible Belt?

The reality is that outside of certain neighborhoods, in a few big cities, almost nobody in the United States wants to see Public Displays of Affection between Homosexuals, and most prefer not to see Heterosexual ones, either. But it is the rarest person who will react. Most Americans simply do not care what you do in the privacy of your own home or hotel room. (And by the way, travelers will find far more gays in Chelsea than Greenwich Village.)

So assuming gay travelers need any special advice, the most sensible would be:

1) Don't hold hands with your boyfriend in public unless other guys are doing it;

2) If you simply cannot follow rule #1, then restrict yourself to places like: New York's Chelsea, Chicago's Boystown, San Francisco's Castro Street and Noe Valley, Washington's Dupont Circle , and Los Angeles' West Hollywood, or resort areas like Fire Island, Key West, Asheville, Provincetown, Ogunquit, Rehoboth Beach, Saugatuck, and Asbury Park.

3) A rainbow flag hanging outside of a building usually indicates that whoever owns or runs the place will welcome gay patrons. But then again so will almost every other establishment in the US because in a Capitalist economy that's how you make money.--Beenthere 21:40, 5 June 2008 (EDT)

I think you're pretty much on point here—this article is written almost exclusively by US citizens, and we've tended to get way too introspective & political, at the expense of good travel writing for visitors to the country. At worst the article descends into a ridiculous sort of "zomg fear red states!" nonsense. I think the links to "gay destinations" should go back, though, and it might be useful to identify the pink triangle & stripy "ally" symbols (unless those are universally used outside the US?). I'm going to take a whack, but I'll leave out the symbols info until I figure that out. --Peter Talk 03:36, 6 June 2008 (EDT)

Returning to this page on 6/8, I find that most of my edit have been deleted without explanation. Perhaps you could explain:

1. "Attitudes and familiarity with homosexuality vary widely in the U.S.," [Is there any nation on earth of which that could not be said?]

2. "Traditionally, Americans are squeamish about public displays of affection; unfamiliarity plus prudishness means" [Is squamishness a tradition, like baking Chrismas cookies? Why speculate about the psychology? How does that serve the traveler?]

3. "same-sex couples holding hands in public will likely elicit many awkward stares" [Isn't that pretty much the rule worldwide, except in a few Arab nations?]

4. "or - much more rarely - a nasty comment." [Ditto and also if it's so rare, why mention it?]

5. "Hate crimes against gays, however, are rare and extremely unlikely to happen to a traveler." [Then why mention it?]

6. "The U.S. has a long list of gay-friendly destinations, where openly gay couples are the norm. " [Which government agency maintains that list?]

7. "New York's Greenwich Village," [That was once true. Today it is is simply false. While some Village residents and visitors certainly are gay, many are single, and more and more are heterosexuals. For the past 10 to 15 years, you see more gay men and couples in Chelsea, the neighborhood just north of Greenwich Village. Why suggest otherwise?]

8. "GLBT-friendly establishments like to advertise themselves in varying levels of conspicuousness. Often, they'll just hang a rainbow flag out the window. Others will post a small pink triangle or three-vertical-striped sticker in the window. Of course, you'll be welcome at any establishment as long as you bring your wallet, but if the place advertises itself as gay friendly, you can rest assured that you can have a romantic dinner without becoming the talk of the salad bar." [How about simply stating that "A rainbow flag, pink triagle, or three-vertical-striped-sticker generally signals a place where homosexuality is not a novelty, but most American businesses welcome all comers."?]

Hmm, I was just revising what I thought was on point content-wise, but stylistically poor (in the spirit of ruthless modification, editing, and cutting of content). A deletion w/o explanation would not have involved my above comment and would have had the following edit summary: "Reverted edits by Been (Talk) to last version by 87.112.2.58."
This article in particular is subject to the ruthlessness clause, given how closely it's monitored by Wikitravel users. I didn't think I would cause offense. But in any rate, to answer your questions:
1) Absolutely, try Georgia, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, or Uganda for starters. But the important point in this sentence is the dependent clause, "even within specific locales with a reputation for supposed tolerance or intolerance." The point is you can run into abrasive people in Dupont Circle as well as enthusiastically supportive people in Utah's small towns.
2) Actually, this is just a rewrite of what you said ("Outside of a few neighborhoods in big cities, people generally prefer not to see Public Displays of Affection between Homosexuals, and most prefer not to see Heterosexual ones, either"), except it's more nuanced and lacks those the painfully awkward capitalizations.
3) No, it is not; not by a long shot. In most of the entire continent of Asia same-sex hand holding is considered normal, and not indicative of sexual orientation (that includes those "few Arab nations" too btw). In much of Northern Europe, people won't bat an eye.
4) Rare, but quite possible—the idea is to give an idea of the range of likely scenarios in the U.S.
5) To disabuse the impression that some travelers might have, given extensive media coverage given to the subject (particularly in certain Northern European countries), that it is not rare.
6) In keeping with the snarky tone of that remark, the U.S. ≠ U.S.G. If you've got an idea of how to better phrase this, knock yourself out. If someone disagrees with your rephrasing, they'll rewrite it, and then you can hash it out on the talk page if you think their re-write was inappropriate.
7) OK then, change it to Chelsea.
8) I don't see why you would want to do so. That would be less informative and stylistically inferior, IMO.
On an unrelated note, I don't think this belongs in "stay safe," but rather in "cope," which this article lacks. Any objections to creating a cope section & moving this there? --Peter Talk 01:20, 9 June 2008 (EDT)

Peter,

Thanks for explaining your previous edits. I was curious about your reasoning, and hope you feel the same. For your convenience: I shall intersperse my comments:

1. "Attitudes and familiarity with homosexuality vary widely in the U.S.," [Is there any nation on earth of which that could not be said?] “Absolutely, try Georgia, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, or Uganda…” [Are they so monolithic? Saudi Arabia isn’t, not according to a 2007 piece in the Atlantic Monthly.] “…But the important point in this sentence is… "even within specific locales with a reputation for supposed tolerance or intolerance…" [So would we also need to point out that even in the Bible Belt there are some atheists? Or that even in Washington, DC some people carry guns? Assuming so, how about something more concise like: “…even in places with a reputation for tolerance…” ?]

Having spent much of the past half year in Saudi, I can assure you that absolutely no part of the country has any tolerance for any behavior they consider deviant. You do see Saudi men walking hand in hand (because they're friends, not gay!), but any Western men attempting the same would very soon find themselves in a very unpleasant situation. Jpatokal 14:29, 9 June 2008 (EDT)
Perhaps I wasn't clear. The point is that there is plenty of homosexuality in Saudi Arabia, according to this piece in the Atlantic Monthly. Although it's technically illegal and punishable by death, seldom is anyone prosecuted. The authorities evidently turn a blind eye to most of it. Clearly the people who engage in it, those who cover for them, and those who simply ignore it, all hold views very different from those of the Saudis who find it totally unacceptable, or aren't acquainted with it, or both. Hence, we must conclude that there is a wide variety in atttudes toward and familiarity with homosexuality, no?--Beenthere 15:53, 9 June 2008 (EDT)
"Seldom is anyone prosecuted?" Oh, do tell. We're not canvassing opinions here, we're writing a travel guide, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that if you're caught by the muttawa with your pants down in a gay act in Saudi, they will go medieval on your ass. You may not get beheaded, but you will definitely be looking jail and lashes. (Amnesty's latest report states that one poor bugger was sentenced to 7000 lashes for sodomy in 2007.) Jpatokal 08:07, 10 June 2008 (EDT)

2. "Traditionally, Americans are squeamish about public displays of affection; unfamiliarity plus prudishness means" [Is squeamishness a tradition, like baking Christmas cookies? Why speculate about the psychology? How does that serve the traveler?] “Actually, this is just a rewrite of what you said…” [If that’s what you thought I meant, I wasn’t explicit enough. How about something like this: In most parts of the US, female teens and women rarely hold hands or kiss each other on the lips in public, and almost no teen boys or men hold hands or even hug each other, much less kiss in public. Even between heterosexual couples intimate embracing and kissing is not accepted in most public places. It may elicit smirks, ridicule, or even derision.] “…it's more nuanced..” [How so?] “…and lacks those painfully awkward capitalizations… [Good point. But why delete the words “public displays of affection”?]

3. "…same-sex couples holding hands in public will likely elicit many awkward stares" [Isn't that pretty much the rule worldwide, except in a few Arab nations?] “No, it is not; not by a long shot. In most of the entire continent of Asia same-sex hand holding is considered normal, and not indicative of sexual orientation (that includes those "few Arab nations" too btw)” [Where else in Asia is it normal for men to hold hands?] “In much of Northern Europe people won't bat an eye.” [Where? I don’t recall ever seeing men hold hands in Northern Europe.]

"Most of Asia" is a little exaggerated, but men hold hands in friendship very commonly in India, the Middle East and the Muslim countries of SE Asia, and women -- but not men -- do so also in East Asia (Japan, Korea, China, etc). And in Northern Europe, men walking hand in hand would be assumed to be gay, but Peter's point was that this would usually not be a problem. Jpatokal 14:29, 9 June 2008 (EDT)
So even in ordinary small towns and rural regions of France, Germany, and England, two men can stroll hand in hand without provoking any reaction whatsoever?--Beenthere 15:53, 9 June 2008 (EDT)
Now where did either Peter or I claim that? Jpatokal 08:07, 10 June 2008 (EDT)

4. "…or - much more rarely - a nasty comment." [Ditto and also if it's so rare, why mention it?] “Rare, but quite possible—the idea is to give an idea of the range of likely scenarios in the U.S.” [Good point, assuming of course that that is not generally true elsewhere, which we’ve yet to establish.]

5. "Hate crimes against gays, however, are rare and extremely unlikely to happen to a traveler." [Then why mention it?] “To disabuse the impression that some travelers might have, given extensive media coverage given to the subject (particularly in certain Northern European countries), that it is not rare.” [If the media exaggerate most problems, then we need only a statement that the US is a far safer and more civilized place than media reports suggest.]

6. "The U.S. has a long list of gay-friendly destinations, where openly gay couples are the norm." [Which government agency maintains that list?] “In keeping with the snarky tone of that remark, the U.S. ≠ U.S.G. If you've got an idea of how to better phrase this, knock yourself out…” [Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend. How’s this: Many communities welcome openly gay and lesbian visitors and residents alike. You are particularly likely to find plenty of homosexual singles, couples, and families in certain districts, including:]

7. "…New York's Greenwich Village…" [That was once true. Today it is is simply false. While some Village residents and visitors certainly are gay, many are single, and more and more are heterosexuals. For the past 10 to 15 years, you see more gay men and couples in Chelsea, the neighborhood just north of Greenwich Village. Why suggest otherwise?] “OK then, change it to Chelsea.” [I believe I did. I’d like to know why it was changed back.]

8. "GLBT-friendly establishments like to advertise themselves in varying levels of conspicuousness. Often, they'll just hang a rainbow flag out the window. Others will post a small pink triangle or three-vertical-striped sticker in the window. Of course, you'll be welcome at any establishment as long as you bring your wallet, but if the place advertises itself as gay friendly, you can rest assured that you can have a romantic dinner without becoming the talk of the salad bar." [How about simply stating that "A rainbow flag, pink triagle, or three-vertical-striped-sticker generally signals a place where homosexuality is not a novelty, but most American businesses welcome all comers."?] “I don't see why you would want to do so. That would be less informative and stylistically inferior, IMO.”

[I’d want to change it to make it more accurate, clear, useful, and far more concise. First, reality is that many establishments require more than a wallet. (e.g., a reservation, referral, or appointment, a certain age, attire, membership, residence, photo ID, gender, driver’s license, child or dog in tow. A few make would-be patrons wait behind a velvet rope hoping to be chosen for admission on unspecified criteria.) Second, I don’t see how a “GLBT-friendly” designation protects anyone from becoming the talk of the salad bar. An establishment that policed gossip would soon be out of business.

Assuming some version of the above is desirable, a Cope section would indeed appear to be the place for it.--Beenthere 13:38, 9 June 2008 (EDT)

I agree with Peter and the OP regarding gay issues -- if something is inaccurate, fix it in the main article. I do feel the "gay and lesbian" section is getting too large and unweildy. Originally, it was just a line or two under the "stay safe" part, but a lot of the info now is not strictly "safety" related. Perhaps it's time for a whole article just about GLBT travel in the USA, with a link to it from the main article.SONORAMA 21:01, 9 June 2008 (EDT)

"Do" rewrite[edit]

I tried to rewrite the "Do" section. The previous version just lacked any useful information, so I hope my rewrite improved it a bit, if not, by all means revert it, but it's preferable that you plunge forward and fix it. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 07:00, 1 June 2007 (EDT)

Err, I kinda liked some of the stuff in the previous version. Eg Grand Ole Opry and Burning Man are indeed uniquely American, while the generic holiday stuff belongs in "Understand". And that weird Yankee sport where chunky guys throw around pigskins, pat each other on the butt and say "punt" a lot has nothing to do with football as the rest of the world understands it =P Jpatokal 07:41, 1 June 2007 (EDT)
I restored Burning Man and added Grand Ole Opry to Music section... clarified football as American football... and added in the sentence about the "great outdoors" per a recent conversation above. I like the rewrite, definitely a step in the right direction. Yeah, holidays should be moved... I'm a little lazy at the moment... – cacahuate talk 15:12, 1 June 2007 (EDT)

Street gangs[edit]

I've removed a bit advising visitors "to be aware of" street gangs -- there's no practical way to do this, and neither is there much of a reason to. Jpatokal 22:10, 23 July 2007 (EDT)

Jani, obviously you've never been to the suburbs... we don't mess around in da burbs.. we'll stab someone for not maintain' their yard. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 22:22, 23 July 2007 (EDT)
What 'choo say homeboy? I lived on my wits for four years on the mean streets of Scarsdale, where the PTA, the Rotaries and the Lions battled it out. It was brutal, I tell you... especially when Bed, Bath and Beyond had a clearance sale on Martha Stewart quilts... <shudders> Jpatokal 23:03, 23 July 2007 (EDT)

I don't understand the impulse to keep re-adding information about "street gangs" to the stay safe section. Street gangs do not beef with tourists; most members of street gangs have probably never seen a tourist, given that gang turf and major tourist attractions rarely intersect. Even were a tourist to travel to a neighborhood with significant gang violence, it would be silly advice to warn tourists to "look out for street gangs." First, steering clear of large groups of young tattooed men is common sense wherever you are. Second, victims of gang violence who are not in gangs are usually victims of crossfire—chance. The repeated addition of "street gangs information" to the stay safe section is silly and should be reverted. If someone wants to put it back, please discuss here first. --Peter Talk 00:37, 11 January 2008 (EST)

First, steering clear of large groups of young tattooed men is common sense wherever you are. Unless you're in Portland, Oregon, where about a third of the population is tattooed visibly. No, I'm just splitting hairs, I agree with your point: even when everyone is tattooed, a rowdy and violent group is going to be visibly different from a bunch of college students out for a drink and a vegan lentil burger. Tatterdemalion 20:57, 14 January 2008 (EST)

Missing "See" section[edit]

Is there any reason why the US is lacking a "See" section? There are some cross-regional itineraries that definitely belong on this page IMHO:

--Peter Talk 10:57, 22 August 2007 (EDT)

So, should I add the See+Itinerary section? --Peter Talk 20:39, 23 August 2007 (EDT)
Yes! Gorilla Jones 20:58, 23 August 2007 (EDT)


Going to U.S.A for 2 months.[edit]

Do you need to apply Visa or not if you're staying for 2 months in the states? I'm from Australia btw. Thanks

Good question. No, you don't need a visa for stays of up to 90 days, and I've added this to the article. Jpatokal 06:46, 13 September 2007 (EDT)

"Culture" and "Respect" getting too long[edit]

These two sections are getting to long. One person attempted to pare down "Culture" a bit but was reverted. I'm therefore going to discuss here before making changes. But as I see it, the sections need to focus on specific factual, useful things that a normal traveller might need to know about American culture and how to show proper respect while in America. That's what we see in most other destination's sections. This article is getting full of wishy-washy language and "on the other hand" type statements. Any ideas on how to pare it down and make it more useful? SONORAMA 18:44, 15 November 2007 (EST)

Agree. That whole para starting with "Conversely," can go. And what's that 'touching' thing all about. Why would we need to tell a visitor not to touch other people? The things about race, nudity, smoking, and Sept. 11 make sense to me. Touching, criticizing the country you're visiting, etc. are common-sense things applicable everywhere (would one be critical of France with an unknown Frenchman in Paris?).--Wandering 18:58, 15 November 2007 (EST)
Alright - I cut the section WAY down, and changed to a bullet-point format. Bullets are used in a lot of other destinations' respect sections, and help keep us editors focused on concise, specific information. Although I probably cut out 95% of the text, I kept each of the key points - reducing a paragraph or two of wishy-wash to a specific point. That said, I'm perfectly cool to people adding additional bullet points.
Love it! You've kept the essence and made it to the point!--Wandering 17:08, 16 November 2007 (EST)
The issue of personal space and touching is not common sense. It's something that varies from one culture to another, and the fact that you consider it "common sense" simply reflects that you're a native to this one. - Todd VerBeek 11:44, 8 December 2007 (EST)
I agree with Todd. The personal space issue does vary widely and is useful for visitors from close-talker cultures. Although, I do enjoy watching cross-cultural blunders of this sort ;) --Peter Talk 15:09, 8 December 2007 (EST)
All the way back in 1981 Joel Garreau wrote a book about the 9 nations of North America which does a pretty good job of explaining how different chunks of the continent have very different cultures. To some extent the book is now out-of-date, but it's still a useful in terms of understanding American culture, or the lack thereof.
I think the main reason that we keep having problems with this section is that it's premised on the notion that there is a single USAian culture for which respect advice will universally apply. In fact what we get is lots and lots of sometimes conflicting advice, all of which might be true for one or the other of the "Nations".
Now, does this point to a solution? Maybe. Maybe the solution will be to cut this section down to the smallest rump possible, explaining that it's not really possible to understand the USA as a single culture for the purpose of respecting it, and that that sort of thing is better left to more local destination guides, at the state, or better yet at the city level.
Or is that what you guys just did? -- Mark 03:43, 9 December 2007 (EST)
My problem is not as much that there isn't a monolithic definition of 'culture' for the US but rather that much of what is written is not peculiar to the US but applies to lots of countries in the world. The personal space thing for example. Americans don't need more personal space than the Brits for example but do need more than the Indians (in India). A Brit reading that section may be puzzled when he/she comes here and sees that it isn't that different from home. An Indian might find it useful but also may end up being more confused than anything ("should I stand one foot or two feet away from the guy in front of me"). To top it all, a line in a college cafeteria may end up resembling the line back home in India which would confuse him or her even more. I don't think it useful to get into this sort of discussion for any country because not only are we likely to be wrong, we also end up writing from the viewpoint of an amused outsider (one thing I particularly dislike in LP guide books). Wikitravel should aim to be written for everyone by everyone with no North/South, East/West, First/Third World, American/Non-American bias whatsoever.--Wandering 15:56, 9 December 2007 (EST)
Wandering, I couldn't agree more. The whole personal space issue is fascinating for those who study culture (as are related issues, like lining up vs. bunching up at a counter and concept of time), but the whole topic is very naunced and there isn't really any usable information to be distilled in a short paragraph. If someone really wants to push ahead with this topic, a "travel topic" article around this theme would probably be the most useful. SONORAMA 05:32, 10 December 2007 (EST)

Religion[edit]

I'm reverting an edit made to add a "religion" section under the "Culture" heading. To be clear, I don't have a problem with an article addressing religion, but only in a way that would be specifically related to travel. For example: Specific information for someone undertaking a religious history tour, or a how-to for someone wishing to experience a particular religious tradition. What I don't like, particularly in the already long United State article, are the kind of banal, generalized statements like "there's a lot of religions in America, some get extreme, you might want to avoid discussing religion with a new aquaintance." That kind of "advice" is mostly common sense that could apply to a lot of places. SONORAMA 20:55, 7 December 2007 (EST)

I feel that the article is lacking mention of the fact that freedom of religious choices is granted to its citizens here in the USA. In some coutries where visitors commonly come from to visit here, and read Wikitravel, there is no choice. You are either xyz or maybe dead. I feel that the article is lacking in not somehow mentioning the reason that visitors like those who showed up on the Mayflower were looking for and found religious freedom, not available in their place of origin. If it were common sense as you state, we would not have any threat from suicide bombers, who for the promise of 97 virgins and a place in heaven kill innocent children. This was not meant as a political essay, but an attempt to mention the differences in cultures. I guess wikitravel, is not ready for the Religion word yet. I think it is sad that the word is now treated as being scary, or taboo in our culture. Sorry, if I offended you. 2old 10:03, 8 December 2007 (EST)
No one's trying to ban mention of religion here, just questioning how relevant the particular information is to the modern traveler. - Todd VerBeek 11:56, 8 December 2007 (EST)
2old -- The article actually already has a discussion of religion in the Respect section. It's been there for quite some time, and no one has had a "problem" with the word "religion" itself. If you're interested in religion, please plunge forward and update some of the specific city pages with religion-related destinations, or perhaps even create a religion-themed travel itinerary or travel topic. We tend to favor specific, factual information here over generalizations (and the United States article is already quite verbose). Again, I'd love to see some updates along these lines, and I certainly don't mind anyone using the word "religion".
First, I should have known better. Second, the text I added did not say;"there's a lot of religions in America, some get extreme, you might want to avoid discussing religion with a new aquaintance." For the record, the deleted text was :In the USA, all citzens are provide the right of free expression of religion and worship. This also applies to one who has no beliefs or does not believe in a higher power. As in most countries, there is a presence of those who have a fanatical form of belief that they would like to impose on you or introduce you to. It may be in your best interst to avoid discuusions of religion with those who you are not familiar with. 08:55, 10 December 2007 (EST)

Advice for road trip across USA[edit]

Swept in from the pub

Hi

My family are planning on a road trip next year from St. Paul, Minnesota to San Francisco. Any advice on good sights to take in? ~~John.

Hi John. You might try posting in the forums on Wikitravel Extra. (here's s shortcut to staring a new forum discussion: [3])I'm sure plenty of people will have suggestions... including me! Thanks, Maj 08:23, 2 May 2007 (EDT)

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