Monday, November 26, 2007

11/28/07 Labor Thanksgiving

This Friday we observed Labor Thanksgiving Day. Where better to celebrate labor on a Thursday night than under the revolutionary eye of Che Guevara at the local Cuban bar? I met a few new people as well as a few mojitos. Earlier in the day I bumped into an American working in Ashikaga that I hadn`t met before. I think that its amusing that I am still meeting foreigners after almost four months in this city. I think that there are a lot more people from other countries still hiding... Ashikaga isn't as small as it feels sometimes. So, this guy has apparently slightly elevated himself from English teacher to the person who keeps English teachers in line. I snagged his card and then we were out the door. Don`t know if I will ever actually call, just nice to network a little sometimes. Then back at communist headquarters I met a couple that is fairly new in town. A French guy who had met a Japanese girl in Hawaii and had moved to Japan with her. I gather that they are engaged. Relationship stories can become humorously complicated here. English is a second language to both of them. I get along with them quite well and have already hung out with them on a separate occasion. Fun times.

Last week Japan began its program of fingerprinting and photographing every foreigner entering Japan`s borders(with a few small exceptions, none of which apply to me). It is unfortunate that Japan is following the United States down a path toward police state, simply to combat a shadowy threat that may or may not exist. I find it especially amusing that while Japan claims to be doing this in order to stop terrorists, all of Japan`s recent terrorist events have been carried out by the Japanese themselves, most notably the 1995 Sarin attack on a Tokyo subway. Now every time I enter Japan my fingerprint information will be taken and kept forever by the Japanese government. I think that this is ridiculous, and I hope that the number of visitors to Japan decreases as a result. Here is the propaganda poster I`ve seen a couple of times explaining this nonsense.

It`s hard to be too mad though, as the US has been harassing its own visitors for some time with the US-VISIT program. Invasive laws might not seem like a big deal to an American living in the United States, until you realize how many other countries this annoys, who will then reciprocate with annoying procedures of their own. Americans entering Brazil are now required to provide prints and a photo. Just Americans.

On the lighter side, I recently graded another fat stack of students` essays. This time the students wrote about their dreams for the future. Here are a few short highlights.

My dream is to eat all kinds of fruits. I want to be a fruit doctor.

I want to be a loan shark ... I want to see people`s smiles.

I want to eat butter potatoes.

The future is bright.

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