Monday, May 18, 2009

I want to visit Japan

I've obviously never been there:

"...a national obsession with cleanliness that makes even Switzerland look messy. Masks are common on subways because it is considered rude* to lack one if you are sneezing..."

..."Kobe residents rushed to hospitals, where doctors in biohazard suits checked people for fever in tents set up in parking lots"...NYT

As the masks of very, very questionable effectiveness are now out of stock in nearby drug and convenience stores, I'd like to get ahold of one of those biohazard suits. Actually, I'd like a number of them for the whole family. Fortunately(?), we stockpiled several boxes of masks earlier because we want to try to avoid a flu of any type, especially for older family members. Seems like a lot of others forgot.

Take a look at those masks. Ever notice that few people wear them correctly? Notice the large gaps between the mask and skin. Notice how when someone coughs or sneezes the mask moves away from the face. Then you have to wonder how you take them off without touching the outside where the virus from the saliva of those who cannot keep from coughing all over everyone** collects. If you do manage that, where do you put the contaminated mask? In your pocket? A difficult to find trash bin? What do you do, carry a dozen around with you?

Several weeks ago I heard one official in the US claim that masks were next being to a fraud for preventing the spread of a virus and only a very few brands were effective even under the best of circumstances. Perhaps it's different here (whatever country this is), but I think the masks are just about as useful as gargling or placebos. I suppose though, when you have to ride crowded subways where a number of rude people seem to cough and sneeze without masks or handkerchiefs or tissues, it's better than nothing.

*I wonder, could it be that even if it is considered rude (which coughing and sneezing openly is) that rude people can easily---very easily---get away with doing unbelievably rude things in public places because very few will ever complain? That's how it seems to be in the country I live in.

**I have heard that this sort of thing does not happen in Japan either. What a perfect country that place must be.

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