Originally Posted by bedouin
If you judge the US by its universities and major cities -- NY, DC, LA then it's not that bad. That's true of many supposedly undesirable nations. Unfortunately most people there don't live in major cities, nor do they have much of an education.
And while you can go from DC to LA and see many different landscapes in the US -- the culture doesn't significantly change. You have the same Wal-Marts, shitty townhouses, McDonalds, etc. For its size its incredibly monolithic.
80% of Americans live in urban environments. As of 2000, 27% had a bachelor's degree or higher and according to another survey I found online, as of 2010, 40.4% have an associates degree or higher, but that puts the U.S. in 6th place, behind the Russian Federation, Canada, Israel, Japan and New Zealand (but ahead of all of Europe).
I completely disagree that the culture doesn't significantly change as you move around the country. Some years back, I was an executive for a New York City-based company that acquired a New Jersey company (about 50 miles away), but we moved to the New Jersey location since we needed more space for expansion and the NJ company was already in the process of constructing a new building. Merging the cultures was almost impossible.
I agree that when you travel "main roads", everything in the U.S. looks pretty much the same, especially in suburbia: strip malls, chain stores with crappy plastic primary-colored signs, gas stations, look-alike shopping malls, big-box stores and fast food restaurants. But when you get off those main roads, there is some very beautiful country out there. I took a bunch of German executives to a co-worker's "vacation home" in western New Jersey and I remember them saying, "We didn't realize that there was a place in the U.S. that was this beautiful." (And that was New Jersey of all places!) Not too long ago I was up in Vermont and New Hampshire and was actually stunned by how beautiful so many areas were. There is wonderful architecture (still) in New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco. And in many cases, it's actually the smaller cities that have done less well that actually have the best architecture because their old city centers and great buildings were never torn down to make way for new development. Troy, New York, as just one example, has some absolutely incredible old homes on well preserved streets.
What I will admit the U.S. lacks (as compared say with most of Europe) is a respect for history and culture and a desire to preserve the past. Certainly, there is nowhere in the U.S. where you can walk around and feel the way you do walking around the Haussmann architecture of Paris. Or the beauty of Barcelona. Etc. But those are much older cities than U.S. cities. And Americans have more of a "if they own it, they should be allowed to do with it what they want" even if that means tearing down a hundred year old building to build another ugly Starbucks. But on the other hand, you don't have to be in a major city anymore to experience culture or great cuisine. And if you look in those catalogs of great designers, you'll find almost as many in places like Minneapolis, Seattle, Austin and people working out in the sticks as you do in the big traditional advertising, publishing and design centers.
As for Ive, IMO this would be an incredible loss for Apple, especially at a time when it's questionable whether Jobs will return in an active day-to-day role. It's not that there aren't other great designers out there, it's that this is a time when Apple needs to appear as stable as possible and ready for the smoothest possible transition should Jobs not be able to return.
I'm surprised this rumor hasn't taken its toll on the stock, but the stock is up over 5 pts as of this writing. Although the guy obviously doesn't need any more money, maybe he's jockeying for power. Or maybe he doesn't get along with Tim Cook as well as he gets along with Steve. Or maybe he's just exhausted. I don't know what part of England he's from, but regardless, Cupertino is nothing like it and I can understand that he wants to go back, especially if he wants his kids to grow up in a British culture.