Previous posts in this discussion:
PostUS Missionary Framed at Manila Airport (Bienvenido Macario, USA, 10/01/15 3:51 am)
When listing countries our hardworking editor wanted to visit, I was relieved not to see the Philippines. At this time it is not advisable to travel to the "Paradise Lost" that is the Philippines, based on Lane Michael White's experience, an American missionary preaching in the Islands.
White, of Florida, claimed that the security personnel at the international airport placed a .22 caliber bullet in his luggage and demanded P30,000.00 to make the problem "go away." When White refused, he was charged with illegal possession of ammunition and had to spend time in jail.
For us nowhere near this incident, it's nothing. But for an American in a foreign land, spending time in jail could be nerve-racking, not to mention having your schedule and work turned upside down.
See: Not again: Another foreigner claims being victim of NAIA workers' "laglag-bala" modus
Posted on September 24, 2015 by Marcus V
This reminded me of William H. Taft's observations over a hundred years ago:
"There are not in these islands more than six or seven thousand men who have any education that deserves the name. Most of them are intriguing politicians, without the slightest moral stamina and motivated only by personal interests.
"Few Filipinos could be entrusted with responsibility, since a certain tendency to venality characterizes them in every position in which there is the slightest opportunity to ‘squeeze' the public." [Soliciting bribes? In fact today, creative Filipinos create the situation to elicit bribes--BM.]
"They (Filipinos) are generally lacking in moral character. . . prone to yield to any pecuniary consideration (taking bribes) and difficult persons out of whom to make an honest government.
"They (Filipinos) are born politicians as ambitious as Satan and as jealous as possible of each other's preferment."
JE comments: I would like to visit the Philippines, but Bienvenido Macario is not too encouraging. "Laglag bala" must mean "bullet scam" or sting in Tagalog. Given how tiny a .22 round is, it would be extremely easy to slip one into a traveler's luggage.
Bienvenido will be speaking about the Philippines at WAIS '15. Perhaps he'll share some ideas on how to change a culture of corruption?
Laglag Bala? Don't Check Your Bags
(Randy Black, USA
10/02/15 4:03 AM)
Bienvenido Macario's 1 October post about the Philippine border control planting a .22 cal bullet in a visitor's luggage and then demanding money as extortion is one major reason I never check baggage. I have not checked a bag in more than 40 years.
Early on, I taught my wife and daughter how to pack for a trip of any length with carry-on luggage only.
I am a graduate student of the book, The Accidental Tourist, an entertaining book by Anne Tyler, 1985. and the equally good movie from 1988 starring William Hurt, Kathleen Turner and Geena Davis in her first starring role. My friends who knew me back then told me that I should have written the book. Ms. Tyler had the idea and the book before I discovered I could write such a book.
When we attended the WAIS conference at Torquay four years ago, Natasha, Olga and I set out on the 17-day trip with carry-on luggage. We did not suffer nor did our WAIS friends. We wore clean clothes every day. No one suffered from a lack of clean anything. At least if you all did, you were polite about it.
Ditto every trip we've made since. We've been the Mexico many times, to Canada, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, Colorado, Nevada, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Honduras, Guatemala, Spain, England, France and a half dozen other locales near and far.
My message: There is absolutely no reason to check baggage. Ever. Any doubts? Read Ms. Tyler's book. It's a really fun read.
JE comments: One word: liquids and unguents. (OK, two words.) In the days of the Accidental Tourist, you could still carry on your toothpaste, shampoos, cologne, and razors. And one of the joys of international travel is that you can check bags for free. Why forgo that privilege?
Unguents, Baggage, and Sweaters
(Randy Black, USA
10/03/15 9:24 AM)
In his response to my post on Oct. 2 regarding the advantages of carry-on bags on plane trips versus checked baggage, John Eipper wrote, "One word: liquids and unguents. (OK, two words.) In the days of the Accidental Tourist, you could still carry on your toothpaste, shampoos, cologne, and razors. And one of the joys of international travel is that you can check bags for free. Why forgo that privilege?"
Before I launch into my post, I must ask why John used the term unguents? This must be his sly effort to get me and perhaps others digging for the dictionary. I found, "Unguents: Any cream containing medicinal ingredients applied to the skin for therapeutic purposes."
Why can't you people speak English and just say skin cream or ointment? Is this a professor thing? I can just visualize my wife's look if, while packing, I might say, "Honey, don't forget the unguents."
To my post: Here's why free checked baggage is not better than carry-on: lost, damaged, broken into, and misrouted bags. It's as simple as that.
Prior to swearing off checking bags, I've had all four happen to me. Plus, I've experienced the nightmare of having my bags not show up in Paris on an international trip and have the airline tell me to come back the next day. The issue was that the next day, I'd be on a train to another city.
Additionally, contrary to John's assertion, you can still carry on your toothpaste, shampoos, cologne and razors on any plane anywhere. You might need to consider a smaller "traveler"-size toothpaste, ditto shampoos and cologne. If John still uses a "safety" razor, he's right, they're forbidden. The solution is a disposable razor, which remains permitted according to the TSA. It's about flexibility and creativity. Hey, it's just a trip. Take a disposable razor. I take an electric, chargeable one that needs to be recharged about every fourth day.
When daughter Natasha went to college in Vermont this past July for one month, for instance, she had a shampoo that she wanted to insure she had enough of and did not want to have to try to find it in a small college town (Burlington). The solution was to buy five 3 oz. soft plastic containers from Walmart that she filled with the liquid and was set to go. Total expenditure for Natasha's shampoo containers, about a buck. And they're reusable.
You can carry an unlimited number of containers as long as none are more than 3.4 oz. each by volume and that they all fit into any number of quart-size clear zip-lock type bags. We did the same thing for the Torquay conference and other trips.
Here's what I've written in the past for travel tip stories: Plan to wash your clothes in the hotel sink along the way rather than carry too many clothes for your carry-on. Feeling wealthy? Use the usually expensive hotel overnight services for such needs.
Put your powdered Tide into smaller zip lock bags. They pack flat and there is no danger of spilling as with liquids. Going someplace where it might be cold or warm or both?
Pack only one sweater and one windbreaker. Better yet, wear one or the other on the plane and pack the second item. Fashion conscious? Get over it. Wear the same color shirt every third day, after washing it of course. It's unlikely that anyone will notice or care. The smart travelers are doing the same thing. Overpacking is your enemy.
Pack light and then buy a new sweater along the way. You may not even need it, so why take it? In the event that you do need an article of clothing, buy it along with way. You'll have a nice souvenir back home that you'll always remember when you wear it.
I have several cashmere sweaters from Pringle's in Scotland when I played the Old Course at St. Andrews in a tournament decades ago. Pringle's is the Holy Grail of cashmere in my view. And, it was a lot less expensive from the factory store at St. Andrews than in stateside retail stores. In my research for this post, I found that the firm is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. Their Website shows that the three sweaters that I purchased in their store across the street from the 18th hole at St. Andrews in 1981 for about $250 each, are now way "up there" in price. I wouldn't be buying three of them today, that's for certain.
Maybe I'll wear one of my Pringles sweaters to Palo Alto next week. The weather prognostication for next Friday, Saturday and Sunday there, indicates lows of 58-60 degrees. Brrrr,
JE comments: I like the ring of "unguents"; there's something spiritual about it. It's one of the last words practicing Catholics will ever hear: extreme unction is another term for last rites.
WAIS '15 will be in full swing one week from today. Plan to show up at the Bechtel International Center, Stanford, by 8:30 AM on Saturday. Breakfast will be served, and WAISer John Torok will be there to sign you in and take your $125 registration fee. It's a sound investment: not only will you receive two catered lunches and a Saturday dinner banquet, the fellowship with other WAISers is priceless.
Unguents and Baseball: Thoughts on the English Language
(Eugenio Battaglia, Italy
10/04/15 5:41 AM)
I wish to thank Randy Black (3 October) for his instructions on traveling. When I was on the road I followed almost all the suggestions he gives, and I had to travel a lot, especially during the eight years I spent in America.
However I have also an objection. Randy complains about the word unguent, which sounds very good to me, while at the same time I have problems with the language used by some American WAISers who use colloquial new words. Often they are in no normal English vocabulary and make understanding difficult.
About traveling, my daughter has just returned from a short vacation in Chicago, and she, theoretically Italian, is very happy because finally she had tasted again the good American food. She returned with her luggage full of cans, sauces, etc. If the Cubs (what the hell is that?) will be in finals, she would like to return to see the match.
JE comments: I can picture this WWII movie vignette: an Axis infiltrator talks chummily with his GI buddies about listening to the deciding match of the American baseball finals. That conversation would not have lasted long.
Sorry for teasing you, Eugenio, but my heart is in the right place. Why do we only have "games" (not matches) in America, regardless of the sport? As for baseball, there is no sporting event more emblematic of American hubris (exceptionalism?) than the World Series. With the exception of one Canadian team, how is the "world" included?
Games and Matches
(Randy Black, USA
10/05/15 8:41 AM)
Surely, John E is guilty of tomfoolery when he claims that the USA has only games, not matches (see John Eipper, 4 October).
"Why do we only have 'games' (not matches) in America," he wrote.
Tennis anyone? It's a tennis match. When the announcer announces the end of a tennis match at the US Open, he does not say "game and set to Ms. Williams"; he says "game, set and match."
Golf is a game, but it's a match when golf is played against one opponent as with the Ryder Cup, the Walker Cup, the Presidents Cup and the other domestic or international pro and amateur competitions.
It's a golf tournament when you play against the field of 144 players. But, in the Ryder Cup, you play individually against an opponent in a "2-ball match." If you play with a partner against two others, it's a 4-ball match, not a 4-ball game. If you compete against another player on a local course on your day off, it's a match.
You might argue that golf's Ryder Cup is international and you'd be right. But, we have several famous PGA events in the US that are match play competition. They don't say it's a "game play" competition. The WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship, played annually, is one of several PGA events played in the United States. This year, it was played in San Francisco. It will be played in Austin in March 2016. The match play event will have a total prize purse of more than $9,000,000 with $1,500,000 to the eventual winner. The golf matches will be played at Harding Park GC, a public course in the state capital.
The United States Golf Association holds dozens of amateur match play tournaments annually. The USGA holds the US Amateur for men and women as two rounds of stroke play leading to the final of 64 players who then play individually for five rounds of match play that produces the champion.
It's a soccer match here, there and everywhere. And let us not forget a boxing match, not a boxing game.
One might argue that it's grammatically proper to label a competition a game of tennis and you'd be correct. But in common usage, tennis match wins hands down.
My favorite golf joke:
"Bad day at the course," a guy tells his wife. "Charlie had a heart attack on the third hole."
"That's terrible!" she says.
"You're telling me," the husband replies. "For the next 15 holes, it was hit the ball, drag Charlie, hit the ball, drag Charlie."
JE comments: Ah, Randy. I don't want to offend anyone, but the US really has three (possibly four) sports: football, baseball, and basketball. In our part of the world, hockey is the fourth, but that's the Canadian influence. And they're all played in games. Every other sporting endeavor is peripheral--that's the American way.
(OK, I'm being cranky.)
Vignettes from Germany and Nicaragua; from Gary Moore
(John Eipper, USA
10/06/15 3:53 AM)
Gary Moore writes:
[I find the sad time has come to offer my profound regrets for not being
able to make your exciting meeting out West. Wish I could. I wish WAISers
all the best at the Jubilee!]
And now segmentally: a) Randy Black's fine golf course sketch belongs
with the one Catholics tell about the golf-playing priest and three nuns
("Darn! Missed again!"). b) My thanks to Tor Guimaraes for the great
take on National Character contrasts among Portugal, Brazil--and Spain.
The way he found fellow passengers on the train jumping into the topic
helps capture the energy buried beneath this topic's superfice of prejudice.
c) Leo Goldberger's generous recriminations as to whether his being
cheated by a crook was no worse than his concealing his language abilities
deserves a special niche in ethics.
And d) regarding Enrique Torner's
East German cop getting huffy about jaywalking: this may have been
more German than Soviet: At a time long after the fall I was in Berlin
at, say, 2:00 AM, facing a street corner where no oncoming car could be
seen or heard, and in that tomb-like silence I ignored the red light
and started walking across the street. But there were a few other
pedestrians bunched up there, dutifully waiting for the light though neither
cars nor cops were anywhere around. They looked shocked that
I would break the rules. (On second thought, maybe this too evokes
Leo's special niche.)
And maybe the great landmark of language-lapse-under-official-threat
was the real incident in 1979 Nicaragua that was hoked up and changed
around by the movie Under Fire, in which Gene Hackman played a Time
magazine reporter killed by Somoza goons. The real incident was arguably
more dramatic, when a real ABC News reporter, Bill Stewart, was ordered
by a Somoza National Guard soldier, in the last moments of the regime,
to lie down on the pavement. American support had been pulled and
the Somocistas caught in the closing vise were going crazy. To the horror of
Stewart's crew, who were watching unseen from a van--and taping the
whole thing for living room TV--the soldier then opened fire on the prostrate
Stewart and his interpreter, killing them both. The news did not belabor the
fact that Stewart had just been rushed to Nicaragua from Iran, knew nothing
about the place and hence was unable to do the crucial rapport-building
with the soldier, rapport-building that has saved many a clumsy intruder
(like me). That same morning, Stewart was said to have been riding down
to destiny in the elevator at the lugubrious old Inter-Continental Hotel in
Managua (the Howard Hughes aerie), and allegedly he joked about the
level of his knowledge in Spanish: "Buenos días!--See, I'm learning."
JE comments: Iran to Nicaragua in 1979--that is out of the frying pan and into the fire. I vaguely remember the Stewart murder. Was anyone held accountable? Probably not, as the Somoza regime was extinct and the US hardly had good relations with its successor, the Sandinistas.
Thank you for your Jubilee wishes, Gary! I'm putting the finishing tweaks on the conference program, which will be posted today.
- Big Three (or Four?) US Sports (David A. Westbrook, USA 10/06/15 5:03 AM)
I think I have to disagree with John E about the NHL (National Hockey League) status as an also-ran 4th in terms of the sports affections in the US. (See Randy Black, 5 October.) At least by one, probably the, significant metric, TV viewership of major events, football rules and hockey doesn't count.
The charts, here, are fascinating.
If we take the last year, 2014 (an Olympic year and a FIFA World Cup year), the only non-NFL event to crack the top 10 was the Olympic Opening Ceremonies.
The next highest event was not baseball, not basketball, and certainly not the NHL, but the FIFA World Cup Championship game, tied for 23rd (with a regular season game between the Eagles and the Packers). It goes on like this: the first non-NFL, non-Olympics, non-FIFA event is... the BCS (college football) championship at 28.
The highest baseball event (after a brilliant series) was the World Series championship game, at 40. In fact, that's the only top 50 event that isn't football, the World Cup, or the Olympics.
If we throw out the NFL and the Olympics, and look at the top 50 remaining US events, we get a somewhat more nuanced sense of what America's "real" sports are.
Again, a huge number of people watch World Cup soccer, which dominates the best of the rest 50. Match after match.
College football edges professional baseball. College basketball (or at least March Madness) edges out the NBA.
Then horse racing (each of the Triple Crown events). Golf (the final round of the Masters) clocks in 39th.
The NHL doesn't make even the best of the rest list at all.
Listed ordinally by sport (excluding the Olympics), the most watched events are NFL, FIFA, and then college football. Followed by baseball, college basketball, horse racing (!), professional basketball, golf, NASCAR racing, and then . . . only then, in tenth place, hockey.
At least three things strike me as salient.
(1) As a country, we really love football. I knew that, of course, but this surprised me.
(2) Soccer is finally a big, big deal in American TV. At least in World Cup years. Finally.
(3) The idea that hockey is America's 4th sport is just not true, at least not now.
JE comments: No quarrel from me, but it's good to get the numbers out there. My original weasel-wording was "in our part of the world." Hockey is huge in SE Michigan. Detroit bills itself as "Hockeytown." I would imagine it similar in David (Bert) Westbrook's Buffalo, New York. Hockey culture is everywhere here. Tiny Adrian College fields--ices?--six hockey teams--four men's, two women's, together with synchronized skating for the women. That's about 10% of the student body.
But nationally, it's football, football, football. Bert told me off-Forum that he just made a football pilgrimage to Oxford, Mississippi. Ol' Miss is one of the Meccas of the game. I'd love a report.
Football in the US is, well, football. And soccer is soccer. For UK WAISers, John Heelan (next) offers a translation.
- American Football, Netball, and Rounders: A Glossary (John Heelan, UK 10/06/15 5:40 AM)
JE wrote on October 5th: "The US really has three (possibly four) sports: football, baseball, and basketball. In our part of the world, hockey is the fourth."
Translation for Brits: "football" is not soccer but a form of rugby played by men in crash-hats and gigantic shoulder pads, "baseball" is like our girls' game of Rounders but played by men, "basketball" similarly is like our girls' Netball game but played by giants, and "hockey" is more familiar but played on ice not field.
Hope this helps!
JE comments: My dear friend John! Wasn't this how the American Revolution started? According to Clausewitz, war is merely the continuation of "trash talk" by other means.
Football and Baseball
(Robert Gibbs, USA
10/08/15 5:36 AM)
In response to John Heelan (6 October), football is football not that other "thing" known as soccer--or known here as metric football--which is a a girly man's game, played by cheap owners and sissy players who fall to the ground embarrassing themselves when someone 50 feet away swats a fly in their direction. And it's usually 2-3 seconds after the swat.
But I digress, as every wise man knows that the only real game is baseball. Look it up. It's in the Bible and Quran starting with the Islamic 11. Those were cricket players meeting the Vatican 9 at Lords. Look it up. It is where Casey struck out and the Islamic 11 lost on a ninth-inning 6-4-3 double play from...??
JE comments: Colleagues are turning a little bizarre in the run-up to WAIS '15! I've been frazzled myself with catering, last-minute program changes, and piecing together transportation.
But Bob: was it Muhammad who struck Casey out? Seriously now, why are there no Muslim baseball players? According to the link below, there has been exactly one Major League Muslim, and his career was brief: Sam Khalifa, a backup shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates:
Want to discuss this and other weighty matters with Robert Gibbs? Join us this Saturday, Bechtel International Center, Stanford, at 8:30 AM.
Where's the "Foot" in Football?
(José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela
10/08/15 3:45 PM)
When I had the opportunity to go to an American football match (or game?), I always wondered why the Americans called it football. In fact most of the game time is played with hands! Only when they have to turn the ball over to the other team, or for the touchdown extra points, is the ball is occasionally kicked.
Do not get me wrong. I like the game, but "that other 'thing' known as soccer" (Robert Gibbs, 8 October) penalizes those who touch the ball with their hands, except of course the goalkeeper. Consequently, that sport should be more properly called football. I suppose this is one of those inexplicable paradoxes.
JE comments: The 3-point field goal is also kicked, but I'm still convinced. No sport is more misnamed than football, except perhaps for "squash." WAISers love to play with language, so here's a question: what would be a more appropriate name for (American) football? Tackleball? Warball? I await better suggestions.
- Football, Soccer...and a Cricket Joke (John Heelan, UK 10/09/15 9:04 AM)
Robert Gibbs (8 October) is correct when he comments: "soccer, or known here as metric football...is a a girly man's game, played by cheap owners and sissy players who fall to the ground embarrassing themselves when someone 50 feet away swats a fly in their direction. And it's usually 2-3 seconds after the swat. "
So many professional soccer players these days spent so much time "diving," trying to earn a penalty kick, that there should be a panel of judges stationed on the sidelines awarding points for degree of difficulty, take-off, execution and landing with bonus points added for histrionics.
There is some commonality between baseball and cricket. Each has a "batter" who attempts to strike a hard ball hurtling towards him (or her) at 100 mph and then running towards the other end of the track before being caught. (Soccer players rarely convert to rugby and survive more than a couple of games.)
Q. What is the first instance of cricket in the Bible?
A. Peter stood up before the 11 and was bo(w)l(e)d.
JE comments: Back in my early days as WAIS editor, John Heelan tried to explain to me the game of cricket. I fear it's a futile endeavor for anyone outside the Empire! (Do any of you non-UK/Commonwealth WAISers understand John's joke? Bob Gibbs probably does, but he's a former Oxonian.)
(Francisco Ramirez, USA
10/09/15 12:38 PM)
Neither Robert Gibbs or John Heelan is even close to being correct as regards soccer.
Diving is called "flopping" in basketball. And this takes place in American football as well. The best wide receivers go down with the slightest of contacts. I watch all three sports and have for decades.
Fútbol is more akin to basketball than American football as regards fluidity, but with two important differences: no timeouts and no substitutions with subsequent re-entries. Michael Jordan is tired; he gets to go the bench and then gets to come back in. He can do this several times during a game. Rooney or Messi leave the game and they cannot return. The whole team is tired; the coach calls a time out. Now, which sport is more demanding?
My first American football game was Stanford versus USC. Stanford had a quarterback called Plunkett and a receiver called Gene Washington. USC had a running back by the name of OJ Simpson. Yes, USC won! This is a sport with a high degree of role or positional specialization. What that means is that if you are in the offensive unit you are not playing when the defensive unit is in and vice versa. Think of this as recovery time. And then there are huddles after every play unless you opt for a no-huddle offense. Now which sport is more demanding? Ever seen soccer players that look out of shape? Take a long hard look at the bellies of offensive linemen in American football.
I have had many enjoyable moments in Candlestick Park watching the 'Niners in the Joe Montana/Steve Young era. My most enjoyable game was an NFC championship game in which the Young-led 'Niners beat a very good Dallas Cowboys team. We all knew that this was the real Super Bowl. I am not knocking this game, just making the point that it makes no sense to pretend that fútbol is soft.
Baseball is the first game that I watched with great interest. Watch is the wrong word. In the pre-TV era in Manila the transistor was the means through my friends and I "watched" major league baseball. I rooted for the Dodgers in a city that rooted for the always-winning Yankees. I had my moment in 1955 when the Dodgers beat the Yankees. In my first faculty retreat I stunned my colleagues by giving them the starting lineup of the Dodgers and the Yankees in 1955. My "cultural capital" got me tenured. To this day I root for any team that plays the Yankees and any team that plays the Cowboys. No fútbol team around the world generates that kind of opposition on my part. I once met a Welshman with a shirt that said I root for A. Wales and B. Any Team that Plays England. I do not recall whether "root" was the word on the shirt but I sure understood the spirit.
Whether in a park or at home you can watch baseball while reading a novel, re-visiting an equation you never understood, or learning a foreign language from the person next to you. It is not a fast-moving game. It is also increasingly more specialized, with an army of pitchers following the starter. Check out the bellies of some of these one-inning-and-out pitchers. Once a year I bring the grandkids to see the Giants.
I have been in Holland for the last two World Cup finals. As a matter of principle my Dutch sister cheered against Germany while my Brazilian sister cheered against Argentina. In the previous World Cup I saw Spain beat Holland in an orange-splashed room full of medical doctors. They were polite; I was a gracious "winner."
JE comments: I never knew Francisco "Chiqui" Ramírez was such a sports fan! When I see Chiqui tomorrow at WAIS '15, we'll have to talk about the 1974 Oakland A's. Unparalleled uniforms. And who remembers Herb Washington, the former track star, who whose only job was pinch-running?
(John Heelan, UK
10/11/15 6:21 AM)
I partially agree with Francisco Ramírez (9 October) about the outstanding fitness required of soccer players (professional ones anyway) compared to other professional sportsmen.
In rugby, players stay on the field unless substituted by their coaches for sustaining injuries or becoming exhausted. Once off the field, they cannot return unless they have left the field to be stitched up ("blood subs"). My body still carries the results of a long rugby career; however they tend to be far less than those of retired soccer players. The main reason is that physical contact in rugby (and I suspect US football) is head-on aimed at the opponent's trunk rather than from the side aimed at the legs. Many of my aged sporting contemporaries from the soccer field now hobble about due to their patellas and cartilages being severely damaged from such contacts.
(However, cricket is a more gentlemanly and relaxed sport in that the Laws allow timed breaks for drinks, lunch and tea.)
JE comments: Francisco Ramírez regaled us with many stories at the WAIS banquet last night. It was the perfect conclusion to an exhausting but wonderful day of presentations, debate, and the exploration of many facets of hegemony (this year's conference topic). Randy Black has been our official photographer. I'll assemble a gallery of Randy's images when time permits.
Tune in for Day Two of the WAIS '15 live stream. Here's the link. Among other presenters, we'll hear from both Francisco and Randy. Events get underway at 9 AM Pacific, noon Eastern:
- Cricket Joke Explained; from Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 10/11/15 7:06 AM)
Ric Mauricio writes:
I am afraid I am quite ignorant when it comes to the game of cricket. Looks a little like baseball to me.
But in trying to understand John Heelan's cricket joke (9 October), I realize that John has borrowed one of the phrases in the Bible.
Acts 2:14 says, "That's when Peter stood up and, backed by the other eleven, spoke out with bold urgency."
Bold/bowled: being bowled is similar to our being "out" in baseball and is referred to as being dismissed. Perhaps we should all be bowled out of class at the end of the period.
JE comments: Ric Mauricio joined us for yesterday's WAIS '15 presentations. Great to see you again, Ric! Surprisingly, our nine hours of discussion never turned to sports, but today is another day.
(John Heelan, UK
10/13/15 6:19 AM)
For those WAISers still confused about cricket, here is the piece I wrote trying to explain the game to our US "Cousins" in 2009. Do not be distressed if you still do not understand the game. You are not meant to, as it is an implicit Brit secret. Who else would play a game each year on a sandbank in the middle of the Solent at low tide?
Ever willing to help global understanding, I'd like to provide a short primer to the only noble game that has intervals for lunch and tea. The game is played by two sides of eleven players, each taking a turn to bat (being "In"). (There is a "Twelfth Man," whose role is to substitute for somebody injured, needing a comfort break or bringing equipment or drinks onto the field as necessary.)
The objective of the side that is "In" is to stay "In" so that they can score as many runs as possible. The objective of the side that is "not In" is to get the "In" side "Out" as soon as possible by a mixture of bowling the ball, catching and hitting the wicket (3 vertical pieces of wood--"stumps"--surmounted by two cross-pieces- "bails") before the batsman can complete scoring a "run" by scampering to the other end of the 22-yard pitch and grounding his bat or body. If they succeed, the batsman is "Out" and the next batsman is "In" and so it continues until the tenth batsman is "Out"--however even though the eleventh batsman is still technically "In," not having been got "Out" by the team that is "Not In," his "innings" are at an end as he is not allowed to bat by himself. (British natural justice comes to the rescue of the eleventh batsman, who although realistically is "Out," for the reasons given above, is recorded in the scorebook as being "Not Out" although he is no longer "In".) When all the team that was "In" is "Out," even the eleventh batsman who was adjudged "Not Out," the team that was "Not In" goes "In" and the team that was "In" attempts to get them "Out."
Generally, the team that has the most runs from their time being "In" wins the game, as long as they have managed to get the opposing side "Out" before they have scored as many. If they do not, then the game is a "Draw," unless the scores are exactly equal, with both sides having been fully "Out," the result is a "Tie." Simple enough eh? Now for the tough bit--the Laws of Cricket (not the Rules--the "Laws!"). There are 42 Laws, innumerable intertwined sections, a myriad of subsections and an infinite host of "decisions" governing the game that has been played from well before the United States was twinkle in the eyes of the Founding Fathers. Added to the "Laws" there are the "Regulations." Each major League, national or international, has its own set of amendments agreed to the basic Laws of the game.
The Laws are administered on the field of play by two Umpires (I used to be one). Until recent times, the culture of cricket was for the players to accept without demur the decisions of the umpires, good and bad. Sadly that has now changed and violence has been know to erupt from players disgruntled by particular decisions. Such behaviour is "not cricket" but increasingly becoming "cricket," as younger generations ape the ungentlemanly behaviours they see displayed by international and county players.
Given the complexity of the game, it is perhaps necessary that method of watching has been developed. Perhaps the best way to observe a game that can last 5 days--with breaks for drinks, lunch, tea and sleep as necessary--is by dozing in a deckchair on a warm afternoon after a bibulous lunch, with a cooling snifter in easy reach, rousing oneself from time to time to mutter "Good Shot, sir!" or "Well bowled" when the sound of some field excitement disturbs the post-prandial slumber. Even in a boring game, one can always look forward to the "tea" interval at 4pm or drinks after "Stumps" at 7:30pm No...I can see why the game would not appeal to our North American cousins--too slow, no instant gratification, too complex to appreciate without years of apprenticeship and, until recently, too gentlemanly. No, no! Let them stick with that adaptation of the "Rounders" game that our schoolgirls play. (wicked smile)
JE commented (then): That perverted adaptation of "rounders" must be something like our baseball. Another un-American aspect of cricket is its tolerance of the tie or draw. We simply must play any contest until a winner (and by default, a loser) is determined.
JE comments (now): Good shot, Sir! Six years ago when this primer first appeared, I remember getting lost somewhere in John Heelan's second paragraph. But now I understand that the point of cricket is found in John's final paragraph: Find a comfortable chaise, a glass of brandy, and doze as needed.
A Trial and the "Cricket List"
(David Duggan, USA
10/13/15 9:39 AM)
As the Chicago Cubs prepare (hopefully) to close out the dreaded Cardinals this afternoon and advance to their first National League Championship Series since 2003, this discussion of cricket reminds me of an actual event in my life as a defense lawyer, representing Gangster Disciples in federal drug trials. Many years ago, I was representing "Dion," claimed to be a "Regent" in that pyramidal organization which essentially divvied up areas for drug-selling monopolies and flowed the money upstream to the "Governors" and then to the "Board of Directors." The Government had seized (probably without a warrant) a document (actually a scrap of paper) that had Dion's name (probably misspelled), along with others as follows:
Latrelle 95-103, etc.
At trial, the Government never "authenticated" the document, for instance by having its author testify to what these inscriptions meant. It simply introduced the document (nobody had claimed that it had been seized illegally, to do so would have required asserting ownership over the document which no defendant wanted to do), probably through the law enforcement officer who found it, and claimed that these were street names on the South Side of Chicago (where the streets are numbered on an 8-to-a-mile system). I objected to this, saying that it could describe the innings pitched in a cricket game, because they go on forever. Henceforth, that document (which was used in other trials) was known as the "cricket list."
JE comments: I'll be flying to Chicago for a layover later today, as I return to Michigan from WAIS '15. On my incoming trip I thought of David Duggan as I gazed out the window on the city's geometrically traced streets and avenues. Chicago: tidy from the air, messy on the ground. I don't know whether Darryl and Latrelle were cricket aficionados, but this childhood St Louis Cardinals fan will say one thing in honor of David Duggan: Go Cubs. I'm not so sure I want them to win the World Series, as that would disturb the natural order of things, but I do hope they'll advance a bit in the playoffs.
- A Biblical Baseball Joke (John Heelan, UK 10/14/15 4:06 AM)
To follow up on my cricket joke of 9 October, here is an easier one for the "Cousins"!
Question: Where is the first baseball game in the Bible?
Answer: In Genesis 3:6-12. Eve stole first, Adam stole second. Cain struck out Abel. The Giants and the Angels were rained out.
JE comments: And the Baby Bears were steadfast, and prevailed. From the Subject Line, US WAISers probably thought this post was about yesterday's victory of the Chicago Cubs, who won their first postseason series at Wrigley Field in 100 years. A joke of Biblical proportions? I landed at Chicago O'Hare shortly after the game ended. A baggage handler was driving around holding a large "W" banner. I presume he didn't have an "L" banner available, just in case.
Congratulations to WAISer David Duggan and to long-suffering Cubs fans everywhere. Lest there be premature joy, remember there are two more series to go.
- National Character: Philippines and Elsewhere (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA 10/02/15 4:22 AM)
Gary Moore writes:
The forlorn call for discussion of that ultimate hot-potato topic--national character (both its fascinating myths and its more fascinating realities: John Eipper Jan. 29
reply to Alan Levine; and resurrected wanly by me in September)--seems now to
have overcome the natural reticence surrounding such a minefield of prejudice
and paranoia. Lacking only the label, the topic has come flooding in the back door
in Bienvenido Macario's heartfelt post on corruption in the Philippines (which
sounds much like a long-ago classic by gifted LA Times reporter David Lamb,
though on corruption in Angola, despite its heritage as Africa's first Catholic country
as early as 1495-1506 and Alfonso I).
A powder keg of personal-anecdote wisdom awaits in WAIS on this generality--the myths and elusive evidences of "national character"--which Bienvenido has
now framed combustibly.
Will it catch a spark?
For instance, for Timothy Brown: I remember a time in Central America when just
stepping across a national border, from El Salvador to Honduras, meant bridging worlds.
The "national character" of terrifically overcrowded El Salvador was visible within it on
every hand in furious activity--a rush of work but also a frantic tendency to overspill
polite queues and shove other people aside in line. However, just step across the border
into Honduras (and this was in a time when the old legacies showed sharply), and the
ancient Lenca refuge of less-fertile hill country showed a discernible slowing down.
Suddenly there were crowds of beggars, people on horseback rather than in cars,
and notably, men without hands after machete fights somehow sprang from the
lassitude. Two populations, carved out only by national borders, had gone in starkly
separate directions (captured also in the 1969 "Football War").
Or the Guatemala-Mexico divide, where the jungle boundary, the Usumacinta River,
allowed me passage on a Mexican smuggler's launch whose pilot was nicknamed Chuchín, a common Mexican variant of Chucho, the nickname for "Jesus," seen everywhere in Mexico, even on a famous bullfighter. But just cross that river, and on the
Guatemalan bank, a lady offering lunch at a palm-thatch shed tidied up with a shout
of "Chucho!"--as she chased a dog from beneath the outdoor table, for in Guatemala,
universally, the word "chucho" means "dog." Needless to say, it hence never means Jesus.
What is the mystical revelation in this reversal of the sublime (Jesus) into the lowly (dog),
by an invisible line at a national border?
The anecdotes don't have to supply answers. The glimpses reach beyond themselves.
JE comments: I'm ready for an entire WAIS thread of border-crossing vignettes. My closest, and certainly one of the most benign, is still discernible: cross from Detroit into Windsor, Ontario, and the people look different, as do the road signs, the stripes painted on the roads, the units of measurements and speed, the languages...
I would imagine that the crossing from China to North Korea is almost as dramatic as the divide between the North and the South.
Germany, East and West, c. 1970
(John Heelan, UK
10/03/15 5:27 AM)
JE wrote on October 2nd: "I'm ready for an entire WAIS thread of border-crossing vignettes."
Here is one from years ago, reporting my experiences crossing Berlin's Checkpoint Charlie to visit East Germany at the height of the Cold War.
JE comments: This 2009 John Heelan classic deserves a reprise, especially on Germany's Reunification Day (October 3rd).
Germany, East and West
(Enrique Torner, USA
10/05/15 4:28 AM)
I was thinking of submitting my experience of crossing into East Germany and East Berlin before the fall when John Heelan (3 October) posted his.
Mine was similar, except I drove by car into East Germany, and by U-Bahn (subway) into East Berlin. I traveled with a German friend of mine, in whose house in Hamburg I spent one whole summer in order to improve my German. I think it was in the early 1980s. Anyway, at the border between West and East Berlin, the border police inspected our car from top to bottom, including the engine compartment! They asked us if we carried any weapons or bombs. Finally, they let us through.
In West Berlin, we took the subway and reached the famous Alexander Platz station. We crossed customs underground. There were long lines of people waiting to go through a door, which was opened and shut after each person went through. When it was my turn, the policeman signaled for me to go through the door. I walked into a narrow and short hall with a door behind me, and another in front of me, both shut. I was surrounded by mirrors on both sides, except for a tiny hole through which somebody asked me questions while he inspected my passport and visa. I think the mirror must have been glass on the other side so they could see me. As happened to John Heelan, they demanded all my western money, and exchanged it for eastern currency, telling me I had to change it all back upon our return. However, I was able to hide and keep some coins on the way back!
While walking in East Berlin, the first thing that shocked me were the cars, which seemed from an old movie, old and shabby as they were. I also noticed observation towers everywhere, so we felt observed. My friend and I walked inside a bar, and drank a mug of beer. That was the best tasting beer I have ever had, by far! Later, while we were crossing a street, a policeman whistled at us, and stopped us. He accused us of jaywalking, and tried to give us a ticket. My German friend suddenly became a Spanish speaker who didn't understand German! I went with his move, and, after a few minutes of arguing, the policeman finally gave up and let us go. Oh, my goodness! That was scary! I'll never forget that: the day I was almost detained in a communist country!
JE comments: WAISers know that I'm a big fan of the Trabant:
And what is it about the Eastern Bloc's obsession with jaywalking? I received a "shtraf" in Leningrad in 1985, for dashing across a square outside the assigned crosswalk. I think it was five rubles.
Language and Culture: A Shopping Trip in Denmark
(Leo Goldberger, USA
10/05/15 1:06 PM)
Enrique Torner's account (5 October) of his knowledge of German to avoid potential arrest reminded me of a similar situation I experienced visiting my own old country, Denmark--after becoming an American back in the 1950s. While still fluent in Danish, which of course I spoke during my visit, on occasion I'd switch to English when it seemed advantageous--as in in a similar police encounter Torner relates, but also in a few other situations, such as in restaurants to lessen the characteristically long waiting time, which is (or was?) the European norm.
In one, to me most memorable instance, I hid my knowledge of Danish, shopping for a suit in a major department store, thinking it might hasten the speed of having the potential alterations done. After several unsuccessful attempts to locate my size, the salesman suggested that the grossly ill-fitting,, larger suit could easily adjusted by their tailor--who was then immediately brought in to the picture. Overhearing their conversation, the tailor expressed his judgment that the suit was simply too large and alterations would simply not work. Nevertheless, the salesman in his stilted blend of Danish and school English blithely lied; he assured me it could be fixed--and quickly. I, in turn, shifted to faultless Danish, expressing my disappointment in the lack of ethics displayed in this otherwise highly reputable establishment. Needless to say, both gentleman were shocked, uttering the Danish for "Oh, my god... you can speak Danish...!" I simply replied: "What difference does that make?" hoping to shame them as I took my leave.
Might I, too, perhaps be morally faulted for having been deceptive in hiding my knowledge of their language? I wonder what others think of these sorts of situations?
JE comments: I believe Enrique Torner and his German friend were speaking Spanish to confound the East German cop. Still, Leo Goldberger's experience is interesting: have other émigrés in WAISworld spoken English in their native lands, in the hopes of better treatment? Is such a better treatment even available to Anglophones these days? You're probably more likely to get ripped off.
Travel, Shopping, and Language; from Ric Mauricio
(John Eipper, USA
10/06/15 7:02 AM)
Ric Mauricio writes:
Leo, I love your story. (See Leo Goldberger, 5 October.)
When I was in Cancún, I kept getting approached by time-share salespeople. Of course, knowing that in order to get that free tour, one must suffer through a hard sell, tiring spiel, and to top it off, they had driven you off to a place miles from your original point of origin. Thus more pressure, because you could not get back without walking for miles.
So, in my worst Spanish accent, I would say "No hablo English" or "No hablo español." My family would be laughing, because they always laugh at my "gracias," saying it sounds like I should be saying "gracias, dude." When I see that I have truly confounded these salespeople, I would say (praying, of course, that none spoke it), "Parlez-vous Francais?"
Then I would walk away.
JE comments: Most of Cancún's timeshare hucksters know French. I was once lured into the nearby Playa del Carmen timeshare purgatory. Advice to travelers: beware of free stuff! As Ric Mauricio says, you are taken into unfamiliar territory and imprisoned for hours.
The Timeshare Tout
(John Heelan, UK
10/07/15 3:31 AM)
Ric Mauricio's way of dealing with timeshare touts (6 October) brings back memories of my method of dealing with these pests in Marbella, Spain. I would lie to tell them in reasonably fluent Spanish and English that I lived in the city and thus did not need a timeshare. Then I engaged them in conversation to find out about the process. Apparently they were divided into the "catchers" and "skinners"; the former would earn (then) about £40 for each sucker they had hooked. The latter would as Ric says, take the suckers way out into the country, relieving them of their credit cards on the way "just to show that the (the suckers) were serious about finding out about timeshares," while accepting the worthless gifts promised. The "skinners" were the heavies and it was not unknown for them to imply violence if thwarted.
However, my favourite true story is how a friend escaped being ticketed by the Highway Police on I-95 outside Boston. He was/is a Sikh complete with turban, dark complexion, ritual steel bangle and so on. He was also a mad driver with a tendency to ignore speed limits including those of the I-95. He was picked up one day by the Highway Police to demand why he was driving at 85mph. Waggling his turbanned head and hands a lot, this highly educated and articulate PhD in cybernetics pointed at the I-95 road sign with a puzzled look and asked in a fake Indian-English accent could he not have driven at 95mph without penalty? The ploy worked, as the officers gave up and waved him on without a ticket.
JE comments: I-94 runs not far from my house. I should give it a try! If successful, I'll up the ante on I-96, which also traverses Metro Detroit. I-75, the major north-south corridor, is more or less an accurate depiction of its average speed.
What about California's Interstate 5? On most days, "5" would be the prevailing speed, if not I-Zero.
[The WAISworld website was down this morning for a couple of hours, hence the late start.]
(Randy Black, USA
10/07/15 9:26 AM)
Ric Mauricio and John Heelan's stories of timeshare ploys (6-7 October) brought back somewhat fond memories of my own run-ins with the timeshare hucksters of the world.
When I took my family to Cozumel on a scuba diving trip 3-4 years ago, as we exited the airport's arrival hall in search of the Alamo car rental desk, we were stopped by a pretty girl who asked which car rental firm we were searching for.
"Alamo," I replied.
"They're closed for lunch, but I can get you a free car rental at my desk at the end of the room."
Olga whispered that free sounded better than paying the usual prices. We dutifully followed the girl to her station where she outlined the terms, which required we attend "only a free breakfast at Cancún" the following morning, free round trip boat shuttle included. "Only 45 minutes and then you're free to go," she said. This went on, back and forth, for about 10 minutes. (Plus the ride to the port, plus the shuttle boat each way, plus the presentation, plus the lunch, which would no doubt include of their hucksters at our table, plus, plus, plus.)
I instantly recognized the timeshare scam and politely declined. The scammer was very pretty and very convincing.
"We'll throw in a free lunch when you get back from the mainland and an upgrade on the car size," she offered.
My wife was already down for the count, hook, line and sinker. I knew I was in trouble. I tried to briefly explain the scam, the timeshare, the wasted day and the high -pressure matters that we'd be subjected to. "Her bosses will try to get us to buy a hotel room, one week per year, for tens of thousands of dollars for the rest of our lives."
"Come on," I said, "We need to move on. We've got a scuba trip scheduled for later today. Thank you for your time."
The scuba reference was a deception on my part just to get us out of there.
In reality, we were not scheduled to dive until the following morning.
We made our way to the taxi stand, rode the short distance into San Miguel and to the Alamo agency, picked up our car from Pepe and made our way to the Iberostar resort where we enjoyed four 2-tank diving days. My wife often mentioned her concern that we'd missed out on a free car. As if...
It took her a long time to understand the concept that there are no free lunches, or dinners or rent cars in this country, or in Mexico.
JE comments: In Mexico's resortland, the phone rings within minutes of checking into your room, offering all sorts of goodies in exchange for the sales pitch. The Spaniards invented the all-inclusive resort concept. Did they also come up with the timeshare? I hope Sasha Pack will comment.
Another question: has anyone in WAISworld ever taken the timeshare plunge? I'm sure that our finance guru, Ric Mauricio, has not. To me it's one of the worst business models, ever.
- Interstate Highways and Speed Limits (Timothy Brown, USA 10/08/15 7:58 AM)
Just don't try John Heelan's "Interstate number equals speed limit" trick on I-395.
JE comments: Not even the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, at 267 MPH (403km/h) would get you there, and I've read that at the Bug's top speed, you empty the petrol tank in 15 minutes. I-395 is in the Washington, DC area, so this discussion is purely theoretical. Should we add a decimal point--I-39.5, or even 3.95?
I Googled "DC Gridlock" and got this:
Interstate Highways and Speed Limits; from Ric Mauricio
(John Eipper, USA
10/09/15 3:51 PM)
Ric Mauricio reflects on Tim Brown's "I-395" speed limit post (8 October):
Or we could just convert to the metric system. For example, Highway 280, which is the freeway that runs closest to Stanford University, would have a speed limit of 280 kmh or 174 mph, which is well within the reach of a Porsche Cayman or an Audi R8.
Once, when I was driving out of 3000 Sand Hill Road, I was behind a Ferrari. He was driving very, very slow. When I met the driver in the parking lot one day, I asked him why he was going so slow. He told me that if he shifted to second, he would either kill the engine or overrun the corner into the hedge. And as he stayed in first, he had to be careful not over rev his engine. He was a young venture capital guy.
I once asked one of our clients, a senior VC guy, why it was that the young VC guys drove the Ferraris and Porsche 911 Turbos, while the senior guys drove the Lexus and Acuras. He said that the young guys liked to play that they've made it, while the senior guys didn't need to play that game. I told him that I guess I've made it, since at that time I drove a Toyota Camry.
In a time long, long ago, when Nevada had no speed limit, I was cruising along at 100 mph in my 1965 Olds 98 on Highway 80, when I saw a glimmer of a sun reflection in my mirror .... and it kept getting closer and closer. How fast was this guy going and what was he driving? He passed me like I was standing still. It was an AC Cobra. I finally caught up to him at a gas station and asked him how fast he was going while I was admiring his car. Oh, about 160. Whoa.
I will be taking Highway 280 this weekend to the WAIS Jubilee, but I guarantee you I will not be going 280 kmh. At most, 129 kmh.
JE comments: Greetings from the Toledo Express airport. I'll be boarding soon for Chicago O'Hare, and thence to San Francisco and the WAIS Jubilee. Look forward to seeing you tomorrow, Ric! But watch your speed.
- on National Character; from Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 10/02/15 4:30 PM)
Ric Mauricio writes:
I was quite dismayed at the tone of Bienvenido Macario's post (1 October) on the national character of Filipinos, together with his recommendation not to visit the Philippines. Being part Filipino (I have never met a pure Filipino, though some are more Filipino than others), I have to disagree with President Taft's depiction of a nation as a whole. To include such inflammatory rhetoric is a disservice to a people who some have described as a very friendly people.
I am sure there are many stories of many travelers in many countries who have been shaken down by the locals. Actually, the worst story was during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when an American was murdered for his watch. Does that mean I would not travel to Beijing? I could tell you that I felt safer in Beijing than in San Francisco, even at night, when I wandered the streets. I would not have gone so far as to depict the people of Beijing as murderers luring in alleys, but one must always be aware. By the way, the Beijing women who approached in the shopping area were very friendly, but I knew what they were after.
As Randy Black indicated in his post, there are certain precautions one can take when traveling. Yes, checking in your luggage is advisable, although not foolproof, but the odds are greater in your favor. I never pack anything that, if taken from me, would freak me out. My luggage is not Louis Vuitton, but Target-bought. Why tempt anyone?
My carryon is rather small, carrying essentials like a small toothbrush and toothpaste, contact solution, extra contacts, MP3 player, a paperback, smartphone, charger, and tickets. My passport and wallet is always on my person. My watch is a Casio. Knowing there are pickpockets in Beijing, Hong Kong, Paris, London, and any other city, I place my wallet in my room safe and carry a photocopy of my passport and a small amount of paper cash. Perhaps one credit card. No bulky telltale sign in my pocket. I am still not quite adept at taking photos with my smartphone, so I do carry a small discreet camera.
When I land on the ground, I try to be as non-descript as possible, sort of like Randy when he landed in Russia. Do not be the loud American, right, Randy? Do not wear expensive clothing and overseas, do not wear white athletic shoes ... oh, so American. Rather, dark or brown shoes with jeans (again, not designer jeans). When in New York, I wore an NYU t-shirt and a Yankee baseball cap. Storeowners would ask me if I was a student at NYU. Yes, in economics, I would answer. Oh, have to go to confession telling that lie. Now the fact that I met some rather rude New Yorkers doesn't mean I won't go to New York again.
As for the corruption in the Philippines, yes, there is corruption. But that doesn't mean that all Filipinos are corrupt. I could easily make an assumption that they are, since I had an experience with a former client, who became a friend, whom I have now unfriended. Said Filipino came to the US over 35 years ago to work as an engineer in the tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He did quite well, becoming an American citizen, and raising his family, in their own right becoming successful doctors and members of the American community. But he hates Americans. He says that the US is corrupt; much more corrupt than the Philippines. Interesting, eh? But more so, he has ripped off more people than I care to mention. He would come up with money-making ideas, present them to other people, and use the money to live on or travel; said idea falling by the wayside. When raising money, he would ask me if what he was doing was legally right. I would caution him that although initially raising the funds was legal, what he was doing with the money was not. Do I make a judgment, then, that all Filipinos are like this?
That would be like encountering a dishonest Brit, Frenchman, German, Hispanic, Jew, Muslim, Persian, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, African, Greek, etc. and saying that all of them who are from a certain ethnic group are morally corrupt.
I met a woman one time who, because she had a bad experience with an Hispanic person, transfers that vibe to the next Hispanic person, thus creating a prejudice that she will continue to build. So do I trust every person I meet? Every person I meet, no matter what ethnicity, sexual persuasion, culture, etc., has a chance to be my friend, but can also prove themselves otherwise.
JE comments: A convincing appeal from Ric Mauricio against the assumption of national character. However, sociologists do assemble corruption indexes by country. And some nations are more trusting than others. Does corruption breed a lack of trust, or is it the other way around? Please discuss.
Yes, fellow Americans: avoid the white sneakers when traveling. Same thing applies for men's shorts.
More on National Character and Corruption: Philippines
(Bienvenido Macario, USA
10/03/15 6:49 AM)
Ric Mauricio wrote on 2 October:
"I was quite dismayed at the tone of Bienvenido Macario's post (1 October) on the national character of Filipinos, together with his recommendation not to visit the Philippines. Being part Filipino (I have never met a pure Filipino, though some are more Filipino than others), I have to disagree with President Taft's depiction of a nation as a whole. To include such inflammatory rhetoric is a disservice to a people who some have described as a very friendly people."
My post was very clear:
"When listing countries our hardworking editor wanted to visit, I was relieved not to see the Philippines. At this time it is not advisable to travel to the 'Paradise Lost' that is the Philippines, based on Lane Michael White's experience, an American missionary preaching in the Islands."
Did anyone bother to think why the Transportation Security Personnel picked an American Missionary instead of a Filipino-American or OFW? Remember this "laglag bala" set-up is the second time. By picking an American Missionary, they knew the supposed victim would bring the whole scam out in the open to embarrass that department of the government and the whole Aquino III administration.
At this time anything goes, because of the May 2016 presidential election in the Philippines. Aquino III's anointed is Mar Roxas II, former Transportation Secretary and current Interior and Local Government Secretary, whose grandfather Manuel A. Roxas, Sr., is being blamed for all the misery the Filipino people have suffered since 1946. It was Manuel A. Roxas, Sr. who sought and unfortunately was granted independence for the Philippines without consulting the Filipinos, even through a rigged referendum.
In fact, since the laglag-bala episode caters to foreigners who do not vote in the Philippines, another scandal developed again at the expense of Philippine Liberal Party standard bearer Mar Roxas II.
During the Liberal Party's mass oath-taking of some 80 local officials in Sta. Cruz, Laguna, as part of the entertainment, sexy dancers twerked with a few local officials.
It went viral.
See: Sexy dancers Twerk at Liberal Party event October 1, 2015:
Aquino III, who will soon step down, is said to be very desperate because he is likely to go to prison if the next president comes from the opposition. In addition to Mar Roxas II, whom he has officially endorsed, He has also anointed an incumbent senator, Grace Poe-Llamansares. She is popular and all the scandals hitting Mar Roxas II are in her favor. But Grace Poe used to be an American citizen who renounced her citizenship to enter Philippine politics. Her husband and children remain US citizens and therefore could not even vote for her.
What do I think? This means Grace Poe could win in May 2016 but will be ousted by technicality and would be replaced by whoever will be elected Vice-President.
Now do you have an idea how creative Filipinos are in weaving plots and schemes when it comes to money and political power?
JE comments: Ric Mauricio stressed the friendliness of the Filipinos, which gave me a thought: what is the correlation between national "friendliness" and corruption? Latin American nations (together with the Philippines) strike me as ranking high on both indices, while dour nations such as Finland are both unfriendly and corruption-free.
The "twerk" video (first link, above) is crude in both the content and technical senses of the word. This particular YouTube clip has just over 5000 views. Hardly viral, I would say.
One further observation: the American missionary who fell victim to laglag-bala was 20 years old.
(Tor Guimaraes, USA
10/03/15 7:21 PM)
This discussion topic compels me to object to a few notions expressed here implicitly or explicitly. The notion of "national character" must be interpreted more carefully. Obviously we are talking about differences in culture, which thank God is a reality making otherwise boring international visits more interesting and much more fun.
Cultural differences is a wonderful thing, but individuals run the gamut of personalities within every culture. For example, Portugal is one of my favorite countries because it reminds me of Brazil fifty years ago. I was very mortified when my new Portuguese partner, trying to be friendly, picked me up at the airport in Porto and very excitedly wanted to show me "something special" for lunch. He drove us to this huge three-level parking garage and we walked into this very large brand new shopping mall with lots of new restaurants: MacDonald's, KFC, Taco Bell, and many others. No sign of any old local Portuguese restaurants that I love so much. I might as well have been downtown any US big city. I wonder how many times I disappointed my national and foreign visitors when they come to the "Bible Belt Deep South" because I did not show our local cultural peculiarities.
Further, I guarantee everyone that crime and corruption in the Philippines are no worse than in Brazil, for example. I also guarantee everyone that we have both wonderful people and "a-hole" idiots among every group. Therefore, we must resist the temptation to believe that there is a "correlation between national 'friendliness' and corruption" I reject JE's notion that "Latin American nations (together with the Philippines) strike me as ranking high on both indices, while dour nations such as Finland are both unfriendly and corruption-free." I assure you that there are exceedingly friendly people in Finland and other "dour" nations, even in Switzerland (I admit in this case I am less than absolutely sure).
To me the most amazing thing is that even in countries with a long history of terrible corruption, some people chose to behave as if untouched by the garbage surrounding them everyday. Some years ago on this Forum I wrote that these people to me "are like beautiful flowers growing on a pile of manure." It is true.
JE comments: When it comes to contrasting cultures, we will never be able to draw a line between crass stereotype and insightful analysis. The important thing with this topic is to be aware of--and discuss--the pitfalls.
Speaking of stereotypes, a question for Tor Guimaraes: what is the general treatment Brazilians receive when visiting the Mother Country (Portugal)? Portugal is unique among empires, in that the colony--Brazil--for a time became the metropolitan center.
Portugal's Perception of Brazilians
(Tor Guimaraes, USA
10/05/15 6:44 AM)
Responding to my post of 4 October, John Eipper asked, "what is the general treatment Brazilians receive when visiting the Mother Country (Portugal)? Portugal is unique among empires, in that the colony--Brazil--for a time became the metropolitan center."
Before addressing this fascinating topic, I must repeat my strong belief, expressed earlier, that "while cultural difference is a wonderful thing, individuals run the gamut of personalities within every culture, thus demanding great care interpreting so-called national character."
Compared to Brazilians, the Portuguese "national character" is noticeably more shy and reserved. So much so that when I noticed this difference during my first visit to Portugal, it was bewildering how such "wild" Brazilian people could possibly be descendants from the Portuguese. That bewilderment lasted until my first visit to Italy, whose influence on the Brazilian "national character" should not be underestimated. Without being a geneticist, that is where the genes for wildness came from, not Portugal.
To address John's question directly, as a Brazilian in Portugal I found the Portuguese extremely friendly, not superficially but at a deeper level. For example, at the end of many of my trips, friends and new acquaintances many times have left small gifts of things they learned I appreciated during the visit. Once they know you and become friends, they are just as deeply friendly as Chinese people, Iranians, and Arabs from traditional countries.
I remember one trip to the city of Guimaraes to help define my roots, waiting for the train departure from Lisboa, I started a discussion about my superficial impression that the Portuguese seems so peaceful and kind compared to the Spanish "national character." For a while during the train ride I was surprised that the normally quiet and reserved Portuguese jumped into the discussion on both sides, with or without invitation. So much for the character of the quiet and reserved Portuguese.
Please forgive one more reminiscence, when on a train trip from Lisboa to the University in Coimbra to check my paternal grandfather's student life. The University's administrators were amazingly kind, allowing a perfect stranger a completely free run of the historical student records, and even some long-distance phone calls to my father in Brazil to check on specific information. That was way beyond their call of duty, and their kindness deeply impressed me.
JE comments: These kinds of comments are the lifeblood of WAIS. Thanks, Tor!
Regarding Brazil's Italian roots, why is it that Argentina, which is equally Italian or more so, is not as spirited and jolly as Brazil?
Argentines and Brazilians
(Tor Guimaraes, USA
10/06/15 6:44 PM)
Replying to my post of 5 October, John Eipper asked, "Regarding Brazil's Italian roots, why is it that Argentina, which is equally Italian or more so, is not as spirited and jolly as Brazil?" That is another interesting question that involves external perception of a group as a whole and the individuals in the group.
My experience is that Argentinian individuals can be as "spirited and jolly" as their Brazilians counterpart. The problem is that as group the Argentinians have gained a very negative reputation among other South American nations. For example, at a Venezuelan resort in Caracas, watching the final of a Copa del Mundo soccer game between Brazil and Italy, the former won and from the veranda we could see that the entire city exploded with car horns blaring, parades, and flag waving in celebration as if the Brazilians were their national team. Somewhat surprised I asked my friends if instead of Brazil it was the Argentinian team the reaction would be similar, since we are all South Americans. The answer was an emphatic no. Pressing for an explanation the retort was that Argentinians are a bunch of (something to do with unusual sexual preferences), and that they think they are Europeans rather than South Americans.
This different view of a group versus individuals in the group manifests itself in different ways. For example, my Jewish friends say that they feel and behave united as a group but they argue like cats and dogs among individuals in the group. On the other hand, they also say that some non-Jews love some Jewish individuals but hate the group as a whole. There seems to be some truth to that but personally I have great admiration for Jewish culture and their accomplishments which have greatly benefited mankind. But, as with any group, there are also many unpleasant Jewish people.
JE comments: Yes, there are unpleasant members in any group. Yet Brazilians are fortunate in that everyone seems to like them, both individually and as a nation. Everyone, perhaps, except the Argentines.
OK, I won't generalize any more for today. Please visit our homepage (waisworld.org) for this weekend's conference program. I'll post more details on the morrow.
More on National Character: Watching the English
(John Heelan, UK
10/15/15 5:38 AM)
By coincidence, a Spanish friend recommended that I read Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour by social anthropologist Kate Fox. It certainly has a lot of home truths that he claimed helped him understand Brits better.
JE comments: That murky domain known as "national character" was one of the underlying themes of WAIS '15. Why, Marie Ridley asked, do the Norwegians so cheerfully embrace their diversity of dialects? In turn, Tamara Zúñiga-Brown gave us an idea of what Saudi students think of the United States. And what is it, in the views of Cameron Sawyer and Roman Zhovtulya, that makes Ukrainians Ukrainian and Russians Russian? Finally, we discussed the relative merits of Cuba and Turkey as a setting for the next WAIS gathering. I failed to mention at the time that there is a statue of Atatürk in Havana. I stumbled across it in 1998. Have the Turks returned the favor, with a bust of Martí (or, egads, Fidel) in Ankara? I'm doubtful.
- More on National Character: Watching the English (John Heelan, UK 10/15/15 5:38 AM)
- Argentines and Brazilians (Tor Guimaraes, USA 10/06/15 6:44 PM)
- Portugal's Perception of Brazilians (Tor Guimaraes, USA 10/05/15 6:44 AM)
- National Character (Tor Guimaraes, USA 10/03/15 7:21 PM)
- on National Character; from Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 10/02/15 4:30 PM)
- Interstate Highways and Speed Limits (Timothy Brown, USA 10/08/15 7:58 AM)
- Timeshare Touts (Randy Black, USA 10/07/15 9:26 AM)
- The Timeshare Tout (John Heelan, UK 10/07/15 3:31 AM)
- Travel, Shopping, and Language; from Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 10/06/15 7:02 AM)
- Language and Culture: A Shopping Trip in Denmark (Leo Goldberger, USA 10/05/15 1:06 PM)
- Germany, East and West (Enrique Torner, USA 10/05/15 4:28 AM)
- A Biblical Baseball Joke (John Heelan, UK 10/14/15 4:06 AM)
- A Trial and the "Cricket List" (David Duggan, USA 10/13/15 9:39 AM)
- Cricket Joke Explained; from Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 10/11/15 7:06 AM)
- Sports Compared (John Heelan, UK 10/11/15 6:21 AM)
- Football, Soccer...and a Cricket Joke (John Heelan, UK 10/09/15 9:04 AM)
- Where's the "Foot" in Football? (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 10/08/15 3:45 PM)
- Big Three (or Four?) US Sports (David A. Westbrook, USA 10/06/15 5:03 AM)
- Vignettes from Germany and Nicaragua; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 10/06/15 3:53 AM)
- Games and Matches (Randy Black, USA 10/05/15 8:41 AM)
- Unguents and Baseball: Thoughts on the English Language (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 10/04/15 5:41 AM)
- Unguents, Baggage, and Sweaters (Randy Black, USA 10/03/15 9:24 AM)