Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Some more random thoughts

1. There are no guns in this country! 
We had dinner with some Japanese folks last night, and we were comparing the different types of crime here in Japan and in the US.  In Washington Heights, theft and mugging seem to be fairly common crimes.  In Japan, the most common crime is 'molestation' on the subway, or basically, men touching women's behinds.  There are no problems with guns here because no one, except for possibly the Mafia, has guns!  Not even the police carry guns!  Our friends could not believe how commonplace guns are in our country, nor could they believe the amount of violence to which we are accustomed.  I wish we had much tighter gun control laws.  No matter what people say about 'the right to bear arms,' violence in our country is out of control, and I believe its roots lie in the ready availability of guns.

2. Cigarettes are so cheap!
As in $3/pack!  One thing we do right in the US is levy high taxes on cigarettes.  At $3/pack, people smoke like chimneys.  A couple of packs a day?  Sure, no problem.  But try that in NYC, where a pack can run you almost $10.  Go New York!

3. Suicide by subway is quite common.
A 'popular' way to commit suicide is to jump in front of the oncoming subway car.  Our friend estimates that there is one of these suicides every two weeks or so.  You can see it on the subway status board, indicating why the train is late.  The government has tried to combat this by instituting a huge penalty on the family.  A family may have to pay more than $1 million! The amount you pay varies by how much disruption in the subway line you have caused.  If you commit suicide during rush hour, you cause the Metro a lot of money, and your family will have to pay even more.

4. The trains here are almost always on time because if they aren't, customers complain and complain.
Our friend who works in the Metro department explained why trains here are so punctual.  If they aren't, they never hear the end of it from the customers!  I guess in NYC, we are so used to trains running late, that we never complain.  It's such a commonplace occurrence that when the train breaks down, we all just continue to read our magazines calmly -- and I've been stuck on the train for over 30 minutes before!

5. Each train line has its own jingle.
The jingles are played when the doors are closing.  I'm not entirely sure if it's each station or each line that has its own jingle?  Does anyone know?  In any case, the jingles are remarkably catchy and I bet they would be great cell phone ringtones.  Today I was on the Fukutoshin line, and they had really melodic (think polyphonic) jingles.  Very impressive.

All right, I think that's it for now.  :)

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