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388: But I Digress

J. P. Harpignies

J. P. Harpignies

KMO and Olga K talk with J. P. Harpignies, author of Delusions of Normality: Sanity, Drugs, Sex, Money and Beliefs in America, about what it means to be "normal." The conversation covers the creeping pathologization of human behavior, life extension, utopian thinking, commerce, and the halting, counter-intuitive, and unpredictable nature of societal progress.


Music by Mammie Minch.

2 comments to 388: But I Digress

  • yokkaichi1

    Thanks Mr. Harpignies, KMO and Olga K for another interesting episode. I’m looking forward to the Vault this weekend to hear more.

    Just a couple of notes concerning Japan, where I make my home. Some of the information you gave after 30-minute mark concerning Japan’s declining population was not accurate, though much of it was at one time. Japan does not have an approved list of names, but a list of kanji that can be used to make names. (And basically the 2,997 kanji can be made to read any number of ways, so it’s hardly a restriction.) A person can have only two names, family and given, but the given name can be quite long and unwieldy. Children can have two or three given names constructed from any of the three forms of syllabary (not Roman letters), though they will be squished into one given name on official documents such as passports.

    Immigration issues are contentious in Japan as well as the US. Naturalization into Japan is intrusive and drawn out, but even getting a green card from the US is time consuming and very costly, mostly because of bureaucratic delays.

    Japan does not “bring in people” from Korea or the Philippines, and the stripping of Japanese nationality from people of Korean and Chinese heritage after WWII was due to American Occupation policy for Japan in 1947, not Japanese xenophobia. Chinese, Filipinos, Koreans, and Brazilians account for about 69.5% of foreign residents in Japan according to Wikipedia.

    I have one of the last “gaijin cards,” or foreigner registration cards, which has the word “alien” on it, and it will expire in two years, after which I will receive another kind of card, essentially the same, but without the “alien.” (I’ll miss it. I was fond of being ET. ) The policy has changed, and non-Japanese residents have registries just like Japanese citizens. I am now even the same registry as the rest of my family, and am registered owner of my home. The finger print on the gaijin cards was repealed in 1999. Now all non-Japanese visitors to the country are fingerprinted upon entry, just like in the US.

    In the past I have been ultra critical of Japan’s immigration policies, but recently I think that the country has its own brand of multiculturalism, not a North American or European brand, but one which so far has been palatable to a large part of the population.

    • KMO

      Thank you for the corrections. I haven’t lived in Japan since the early 90’s, so I’m not surprised to learn that my information is out of date. When I lived in a college dormitory in a little town in Niigata prefecture, we had a pay phone capable of making international calls in the entry way to the building. Apparently, it was one of the few such phones around. A local night club used to bring large groups of Filipino workers (most of whom were beautiful young women) to my dorm so that they could use the phone there to call home.

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