June 11, 2004

Normal people have real lives

Up, up and away!
Posted by Hello

This new "Hello" photoblogging program by Blogspot is great! I've just learned how to post my desktop (which you see hovering above) or even a screenshot of a window.

But onto other, hopefully deeper issues.

What is "normal"? This is a question that has bothered me for most of my life. Everywhere I go, and I have been many places, people develop images of me that never match the image I have in my own mind. One problem that often arises is that no one has ever considered me to be "normal". I am 43 years old, I have a loving wife and two strong, strapping sons. We live in a (by Tokyo standards) spacious and comfortable apartment in a good neighborhood. Not only am I gainfully employed, but my wife is starting her own company and very soon I will be working two jobs. Yet, no one considers me "normal".

To the locals I will always be a "foreigner": woefully ignorant of common sense and hopelessly self-centered. This, despite the fact that the Japanese themselves are among the most self-centered, self-referential people in the entire world. The "ugly American" hanging out in topless bars in Paris is certainly no worse than the "ugly Japanese" hanging out in Thai whorehouses that specialize in providing "fresh, young talent" (in other words, boys and girls around ten years old). Still, I am the oddball, because rather than skipping into Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, or even Paris, for a bit of sexual adventurism (not that I'm opposed, mind you, just broke and paranoid), I am the crazy foreigner who plays a female character in an online game. Oh, a word about those Thai whorehouses, what most people don't realize and refuse to see is that they cater to both men and women. Contrary to popular belief, pedophilia crosses all boundaries, including gender.

Oh wait, I know. "Normal" is you and your second spouse (having been divorced once, you see) living in a three-bedroom house with two-car garage in the suburbs, kids in private schools, a gas-guzzling SUV out front and a pool in the backyard. And how do you pay for all this? By being the best cost-cutter in a Fortune 500 company and initiating a plan to outsource the customer service department to India, Thailand, or the Phillipines, creating 50,000 more jobs in the world's poorest countries (a good thing) and putting 40,000 of your own hardworking countrymen into the unemployment queue. But hey, they can always get jobs at your competitor right? Except that in order to compete with your Fortune 500 company, now every Fortune 500 company must outsource their customer service department.

But I know, "normal" people don't worry about that.

CNN claims that one million new jobs have been created since the beginning of the year. How many of those are government jobs at the state and local level (requiring local tax increases) in order to staff the now overflowing and hopelessly backlogged unemployment offices?

But I suppose "normal" people don't worry about that either.

Like it or not, our entire globe has become elaborately interlinked and completely interdependent. If India raises taxes, Americans feel the bite in higher prices for textiles and clothing. When Thailand closes a whorehouse, Australian and German tourist agencies lose money and cut employees (even if the individual agents themselves don't sell "sex tours"). If you call in sick for work because the sun is shining and you'd rather go fishing, your best friend from college will have to pay a higher price for his shiny new Italian sports car.

So what does any of that have to do with the price of tea in China? Everything!