Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Musings on Japan, Turkey, and nanny states

Well, the week before my vacation, work sends me to Japan. Yet another culture, and yet another mixture of individualism (well, almost none during the work day) and nanny state. These people have a serious sheeple culture, especially at work. The boss there could claim gravity a theory and not a fact, and nobody would have the guts to contradict him. That and the planning fetish - no wonder they lost the war, since the loss of a battle wasn't planned for because consensus could not be reached, leaving only one answer: suicide. Nice.

While I was there, one government minister killed himself out of embarrassment of being caught embezzling funds (Note: not because he committed a crime, but for being caught), and the occasional subway delay because some other sod got embarrassed about something and threw himself in front of a train.

Other notes:
  • There are no garbage cans anywhere, yet the sidewalks are super-clean
  • Nobody drinks coffee on the subway there (there are no signs against it, but "it's just not done"). Imagine the shock I caused...
  • Japanese mating and dating habits are really weird, and as it turns out, the English language newspaper there states that only Nigerians have less sex than the Japanese. No wonder men there prefer to sleep in piles of panties.
A short layover in Canada, then the US, and then in London. Again, the UK never ceases to amaze me in its attempts to protect its citizens from the evils of responsibility for anything. Apparently, standardized exams for school children under 16 should be abolished because they "are too stressful for the children." You read that right. In other news, it was also shown that students who get regular exercise are less trouble in the classroom. Next thing you know, they too will throw themselves in front of trains out of embarrassment.

Now on to Turkey:

Nice place, it's kind of like Argentina with mosques:
  • Both countries have edible olives
  • Both countries grill a lot
  • Nationals of both countries are notoriously short-tempered
  • Drivers are absolutely crazy by western standards (to my friends: they drive like I do)
  • Men like to wear suits
  • If it's not guarded, it's where your garbage goes
The notable differences:
  • The men here smoke, not the women
  • Tea is the drink, not espresso
  • It's unusual for restaurants in Turkey to serve alcohol, and there isn't a restaurant that doesn't in Argentina
  • People generally are not drunk
I think the last three points above explain the traffic fatality differences between the two countries. Turkey is on par with Italy, and Argentina is ten times higher.

Once you head outside the big cities though, you're absolutely sure you're no longer in a euro-centric country. Roads and highways are bad, and pavement optional. But you're in the middle of history here, and I suppose this is an impediment to development: you can't dig anywhere around here and not find something Hittite, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, or Ottoman. Think you're alright on solid rock? Bzzt. A cave containing an early Christian church was just found under your site. Just the sheer amount of this stuff is staggering - I tripped, yes, tripped, over a piece of marble column rolling around a park near the Ankara citadel.

Also, the less educated the parents, the less appreciation of risk do their young children have. I would compare the extreme of this with a friend's account of Afghanistan: village children would dig up land mines and give them to the American soldiers, and not quite understand why the soldiers raised their weapons and asked the child to put the ordnance on the ground gently. The difference is that if a tunnel or 600 year-old abandoned building collapses on children here, it's God's will. In Iraq if children run into the middle of a raging street battle to watch and get shot by either side, it's the evil Americans.

It's the other side of nanny-stateism. We open the bus doors early here - if you fall out, watch the rear wheels. I guess they do believe in evolution here.

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Blogger enide said...

"and the occasional subway delay because some other sod got embarrassed about something and threw himself in front of a train."

Oh, you and your cultural sensitivity. Marry me.

11:23 AM  
Blogger Les said...

I love your logic. Never responded to a blogger, but this is great.
Yes, I am a Sunrocket sucker, but Packet 8 is on the way.

6:35 PM  

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