jims - Column for 8/29

Capitalism and other quickies


Earlier this week, our own Wanton Hussy spoke about her reaction to a phrase one of her family members uttered, which was 'Why didn't Gerald just forbid her from going?' (In reference to a solo hike she went on). This plays to questions of a mind set that I have been thinking a little about recently. Specifically, that there are people in the US that think, let's say, a little more 'traditionally'.

My own encounter with this is fairly recent. Before embarking on my current trip, I had dinner with my mother and sister, who were visiting California. Also, in attendance was my, not quite yet three year old, niece. To say that my niece was tired and a spot cranky, well, would be an accurate description. During the course of dinner, I mentioned that I was not fond of kids. Well mannered and quiet kids, I don't have a problem with. But children making a fuss in a restaurant, for me is equivalent to cell phones for others. You can at least turn a cell phone off.

Before giving the wrong impression, I was civil and trying to entertain my niece. However, I also had mentioned my lack of fondness for kids during a bit of conversation. Nothing was said at the time, but recently I found out that my sister is upset, simply at the fact that I have indicated my lack of fondness for children in general. This is something I have run across a few times, speak ill of kids around a parent, they have no perspective. I am not annoyed, or even upset, but just realizing that my sister is spending energy on something she has no control over. But it does raise the question of where the general thought, 'everyone likes kids', comes from in parents.

In the case of Wanton Hussy, since I have digressed, the mindset of the husband needing to give permission to his wife to pursue her own desires, is not uncommon. It is much like the grandfather type who has problems with racism or the men who look for wives and companions from former Soviet states, because the women are 'more traditional'. The question becomes, how do you deal with them? Convincing someone to change, more than likely, would be a waste of breath. Do you not interact with people, even if they are related? Or is there some middle ground in all of this?


Whether it is known to the reading audience or not, I am currently living abroad in Finland. Given the proximatey to Russia, it seems like a good idea to visit, at least Moscow and St. Petersburg. The only hitch, one needs to get a visa. The process is pretty straight forward -- you book lodging, and the hotel will issue what is basically an invite for the nights you are staying. You then walkdown to the conculate, with your invites, passport, and some other paperwork, and start the process.

Pretty straight forward. The process, just so happens, to be a pretty good example of capitalism. The fee for a visa is 25 Euros (you know, that new fangled European currency) plus an amount dependent on your country of citizenship plus extra if you want it more quickly. Well, the capitalistic part is quite amusing -- if you are from the US, you get charged among the highest of the 'country dependent amount'. According to some guide books, this is in part due to the way US immigration has handled Russian immigrants and visitors in the past (rather rudely). These same books claim that the consulates try and augment the experience by their own conduct. I have not encountered it myself, however. And in truth, I would take efficient rudeness to a kind, slow, beaurocracy any day -- the finnish consulate, but that is another story.

Columns by jims