A low-angle view from a virtually bed-ridden blogger: Our ancestors shouldn't have opted for erect bipedalism
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
|Recently I came across a young Russian lady named Zara who is willing to teach me her native language at a token price that buys her a little more than a cup of coffee and the subway tickets. You guys will think I have found some time to kill in the waiting room of Grim Reaper's office. But that isn't the case.|
To me, learning any language can't be a goal in itself. This is especially true this late in life. A language is nothing more than a tool with which to conceptualize a raw idea into a communicable thought so a new resonance can be created every time you want to share it with others.
|On Sunday one month ago, I was in a hurry to be on time for Zara's private lesson braving the stormy weather which hit this windy port city of Yokohama that afternoon.|
It's when I was jaywalking toward the bus stop that all of a sudden a gusty wind estimated to have reached the velocity of 35 meters/second, or 78 miles/hour, violently thrust me from behind.
After taking several faltering steps forward, I fell down flat on the road like a frog run over by a car. There were at least dozens of pedestrians. Most of them stopped to have a look. Some of the witnesses may have videoed the scene but not a single one of them came to my rescue or even dialed 119 (Japan's 911.)
The Japanese are known to be the world's most compassionate and caring people. In this close-knit nation everyone babysits or wet-nurses everyone else all the time even when there is no need to do so. But they make a 180-degree about-face at the slightest sign of self-respect and self-reliance on the part of someone in trouble. They not only turn a cold shoulder to him, but make every possible effort to see to it that he is subjected to a merciless punishment because that's what he deserves. Their overgenerous compassion and contrasting cruelty here are the flip sides of the same coin.
Historically they have been victimized, rather than rewarded, for their unconditional allegiance to their society. That's why these conformists always gang up on the wrong people. Especially they tend to take it out on independent-minded individuals like me. I'm inclined to call their twisted cold-heartedness sadism of the slave.
Maybe I was supposed to play the role of a poor Gregor Samsa hit by the apple his father throws at him. In fact, though, their empty but unmistakably hostile stare down at me made it look as though the tables had been turned on these dregs of humanity. I found myself looking back at them from the ground level as if it was these insidious bastards that had metamorphosed into Kafkaesque vermin.
For a while I struggled, in vain, to get back on my feet. It's a couple of minutes later that a man in his late-30s or early-40s pulled over his SUV to the shoulder of the road and rushed out of it to do what Mencius expected any individual to do instinctively when he spots a toddler on the verge of falling into a well. If I remember it correctly, the famous Confucian went so far as to say if you don't have this instinctive empathy, you aren't a human being anymore.
While helping me up, he asked me, "Are you OK? You may have hit your head on the pavement. Shall I give you a ride to a nearby hospital?" All I could say was: "It's very nice of you. Thank you so much. But I think I'm OK now."
I stopped short of telling him the truth. I would have confused him if I had said: "I was not OK at all. Even before the accident I had long been far from OK physically because those who are surrounding me are not OK mentally."
The next day I visited my friend Hiroshi Shiono to ask him how to measure my blood pressure with the left arm totally disabled. He is the only doctor I can trust.
Although he isn't an orthopedic specialist, the moment he looked at my swollen wrist, he said, "Forget about blood pressure for now and visit an orthopedist right away. I'm sure some bones have been fractured there."
On doctor's instruction, the lovely and bright ladies at the reception desk, who are also my good friends for years, quickly made a web search to find me a nearby orthopedic clinic. One of them who bothered to come out from the office to keep the door open for me while I was stepping out said, "Good luck with your new doctor." They all know I am an extremely demanding patient.
As I wrote in the above-linked post, when I terminated my contract with the German software company ten years ago, I decided to opt out of Japan's medical and nursing-care system, entirely and for good, because it's cartelized from tip to toe by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, Japan Medical Association, Japan Federation of Medical Workers Unions, pharmaceutical companies, medical equipment manufacturers, media, and the most important of all, tens of millions of juicy patients.
More specifically, I had five compelling reasons, one of them being the fact that arrogance on the part of doctors always goes over the top.
Traditionally outpatients, and inpatients alike, are so submissive to authoritative directives from Sensei, as a doctor is addressed here as if he were a deity. The physician, for his part, takes it for granted that it's him, not his patient himself, who has the final say on whether a treatment is needed at all, let alone what kind of treatment it should be. This is why I'd crossed out practically all medical practitioners before I somehow found my way to Dr. Shiono's clinic four years ago.
To me the only part of doctors' job which is irreplaceable with a machine is triage, even outside of a typical emergency room situation. A quack who is unable to triage is nothing but a ripoff because he can't translate a diagnostic observation into a valid prognostic prescription that gives the patient two or more specific options for treatment and medication.
Aside from getting prepared for the same old norm of "3-hour wait for 3-minute consultation," I was readying myself on my way to the clinic to have to educate the chief surgeon on how to deal with a human being who has lived his life in his own way and now is going to die his death in his own way.
Looking at the radiographs, the chief surgeon explained: "Here you can see intra-articular fractures." I asked: "How long does it take to fix them? And more important, how much am I supposed to pay? Remember I'm uncovered." He started to size me up like the owner of a five-star sushi restaurant pondering how far the customer can swallow within his expense account.
"Maybe it costs you several hundred thousand yen over a few month period." He continued: "Our standard practice is to send you to a better-equipped hospital we are affiliated with for closer examinations and a full-fledged surgery. Of course we take you back to help you with the postoperative rehab."
He looked astounded as if he hadn't heard such outrageous words from anyone before when I said, "I would need to undergo a brain surgery before paying twice the amount of my monthly pension just to get the broken bone reconnected. And don't tell me my 80-year-old limbs could be fully recovered. They had long been on the verge of disassembly before I sustained the injury yesterday."
Showing him my left knee which was still bleeding, I added: "Just for instance I deliberately refrained from showing them to you because I think I can live with these bruises left untreated until the last day of my life."
I continued pressingly:
"So what would my option 2 be like?"
Obviously he had no Plan B prepared beforehand. But he reluctantly offered an alternative plan which he termed "joint preservation method" as it came off the top of his head. Actually it was nothing more than nonprofessional, and perhaps unprofessional, services bundled together to expedite the self-healing process. There is no role to be played by a highly-paid professional.
When I asked him how much this would cost me, the chief surgeon quoted it at Suman-yen (some 30-50K yen.) This was also outrageous because all he would need to make available to me are an aggregate 2-3 man-hours from:
● anyone who has the power to yank my forearm so the fragments of the broken bone fit together once again,
● an unskilled nurse who can immobilize my forearm with a "Schiene" (splint) and bandage and,
● a senile man licensed to operate an outdated X-Ray machine.
When I asked him to write me a diagnostic/prognostic certificate, which would cost me 2,160 yen, the orthopedist revised his verbal quotation to 100K. His excuse: "I intentionally doubled the estimate because I thought the higher the price, the more advantage you'll get if and when you show the certificate to the city hall."
In fact it turned out this trick didn't work for tax mitigation purposes because these tax-collecting zombies at the city hall still remained the prisoners of the 522-year-old, single-entry, cash-based, pre-Pacioli system. They said, "We can't tell if we will comply until you show us the actual amount you've paid."
In 1494 Luca Pacioli, who was a mentor and close collaborator of Leonardo da Vinci, and thus the real central figure of the Italian Renaissance, thoroughly systematized the double-entry, accrual-based accounting method as something one revolution or a big evolutionary step away from the dark ages.
|That's how I had to settle for option 2 as it was proposed.|
The main thing is how you live your life and die your death like a human being. But in any event you can't get around the money issue, or more specifically the affordability issue.
The real problem, however, is the fact that it's totally useless to discuss them with these thinking-disabled apes on either side of the Pacific.
I think only when you can buy something that exclusively makes your life worth living, you should use this word. On the other hand when you buy something essential for your mere subsistence, affordability can never be an issue.
It's primarily out of curiosity about his criteria for affordability that I sent a mail to my ex-son. Admittedly, though, I wouldn't have had any reason to decline it if he had offered me some assistance such as a bridge financing for the medical cost. But as I had expected, the sadistic slave dis not offer anything to his former father, not even a single lip service like, "I sympathize with you."
He just wrote back: "If you expect something from me, you should agree to a precondition I might spell out then." He didn't specify his condition certainly because he couldn't. The only thing I knew he had in mind is an absurd delusion that I'm doubly suffering, first from the physical pain and then from the consequence of my decision to stay away from the "mandatory" medical and nursing-care insurance.
The truth of the matter, however, is that if I were to take out what tens of millions of gullible Japanese are duped into believing is an insurance policy, I would be paying an annual premium of 306K yen. This should mean that with 70% of the exorbitant medical cost of 100K-500K "subsidized" by the government, I would recover my premium only on the most "optimistic" assumptions that I sustain an injury of the same magnitude almost every year, or more than four times a year.
From the last half of the 1960s through the mid-1970s, I learned quite a lot from my counterparts and dotted-line bosses in New York about business administration and computer science. Among other things, I learned from them about risk management and actuarial science as the project manager who was assigned to implement Japan's first full-fledged corporate pension plan in the wake of the enactment of ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) in the U.S.
Those were the days Americans still had a lot to teach me. Although I didn't want to be a qualified actuary, they helped me become familiarized with the basics of actuarial matters which would all come down to this equation:
where C, I, B and E stand for Contributions, Income, Benefits and Expenses respectively.
My ex-son is intellectually too lazy to imagine how hard his former father had to study to become a professional, if he was always womanizing at the same time.
Now he is one of those thinking-disabled, immature grownups who can't read, let alone write, a message any longer than 140 characters. But to make his short text long enough for communication between human beings, the bastard wanted to say: "Who cares? After all you deserve all this predicament because you have disowned us just because we don't defy the basic rules of this community and ditched my poor mother just because she had brought us up into people persons that you call conformists."
I didn't respond because I knew there's nothing in common between our sets of criteria for affordability and priorities.
I divorced his mother 35 years ago. At that time I was forced by her and her father to pay at least 40 million yen in cash and real estate. My ex-father-in-law was a small-time yakuza, previously peddling illegal substance. And now his metal-scrapping business was on the verge of going under. They said the money would be used mainly for the education of the kids. But years later I learned they deliberately punked me.
On top of the initial alimony, I spent an aggregate several millions during the subsequent 20 years especially to support my biological elderly son and his mother who was habitually getting her hand on the cash in her employer's safe until the next time the auditor would come in.
Eventually my ex-son dropped out of the School of Science and Technology at Gunma University because the guy thought it wouldn't be affordable anymore to go on pursuing his studies of information technology.
After he dropped out of school, the owner of a micro-company, who had been his high school senior, hired him at a fire-sale price. But the moment he got a job there, his maternal granduncle asked him to cosign as the guarantor when applying for a 15-million bank loan. The borrower had no intention to repay from the beginning. As a result, my ex-son had to file for personal bankruptcy several years ago after a protracted litigation.
The guy didn't learn a lesson from all this in part because he didn't have to. If he still learned anything, he rediscovered a magic to turn an unaffordable life into an affordable one. Every Japanese knows how it works.
To that end he first landed a position at the above-mentioned dad-and-son company which is actually a second-layer subcontractor of a major construction firm, or firms. Since then he has been doing more harm than good to his poor employer. At one time, he was named the prime suspect by the police and the owner when cash was stolen from the company safe although they didn't know his mother had been doing the same thing habitually.
Last Friday I took a long train ride to have a clandestine meeting with the owner of the company. I just wanted to find out why my ex-son hasn't been sued or fired by now.
He confided to me that the debt balance of his company is 70 million whereas its capital stock is as small as 10 million. A mortgage must have been placed on his private property, But that doesn't make the company's balance sheet shape any better. The owner seems to be too ignorant to understand the serious implication of a negative equity situation. He just insinuated that his company would be much better off if he were able to rid it of my biological son.
My ex-son can't read company books if they are kept with the double-entry accounting method as stipulated by the Commercial Code. But at the end of our meeting, I had an impression that the incompetent company owner is being blackmailed by the rogue I carelessly fathered over some irregularities and all he can do with that is to neutralize the blackmailer in one way or the other.
The next thing my offspring did to the same end when he was in his late-30s is to get married to a senior divorcee who had been kicked out by her former husband and child, or children. By that time he seemed to have decided to put all the blame on me for his miserable life, or make me always subjected to the severest possible punishment. To him this broad was an ideal mate because the surest way to unduly punish his parent was to punish himself.
Soon after the marriage, or possibly prior to it, she developed a "refractory illness" named CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome) and became wheelchair-bound. By now it's evident her disease is 120% psychogenic. i.e. totally fake. But nevertheless her husband succeeded in getting her a handsome disability pension. As my son admitted at that time, the annual amount is more than 2 million yen, a little smaller than my pension, whereas the premiums she had paid from her paychecks were, at most, 10% of mine. In this weird kleptocracy of the people, by the people, for the people, they call it income redistribution.
Thanks to these nanny-state measures, they now find everything they want to afford more or less affordable. For one thing it's more than just affordable for them to feed their 2 Pomeranians with decent food their ex-father can't afford. This is essentially how most Japanese adults make their worthless lives affordable.
It's a couple of years ago I last visited their place. While pretending to listen to me, my son held tight one of his castrated dogs and concentrated on doing something to it. Then he looked my way with a creepy grin to show me the dog's penis which he'd caused to erect. This is his way of doing a symbolic masturbation to make up for the sexual unavailability of his mate, or incompetence of his own.
This is when I finally concluded I shouldn't have fathered him, or any child for that matter, in this rotten country. Most Japanese fathers cherish their offspring as if they were his doppelgangers. But since my reproduction activity was solely driven by the instinct for creative evolution, I never told my kids specifically which way to go. That's why they kept complaining I was intellectually too demanding.
To me it was a Long Goodbye which kept tormenting me almost for four decades.
On my part nothing is readily affordable.
All I can do is to save 1,180 yen every time the bandage the unskilled nurse wrapped around my injured arm loosens up by turning to either of the two kind women who have spontaneously volunteered to redo it on behalf of the nurse.
Last Saturday, the day after I visited the company owner, I met up with DK, one of the few male friends of mine. at a nearby coffee shop. I just wanted to talk about something Japanese macaques or American apes never want to talk about. We discussed a wide range of topics from music to creative evolution for more than 3 hours.
But when saying goodbye in front of the apartment building where I live, DK casually said, "Please feel free to let me know whenever you need a financial assistance." I know I should refrain from accepting his offer so lightly. But I'm afraid I can't rule out the possibility that I turn to him as the last resort once again.
Cancers are a different story. It would go against my principle to fight a battle, whether it's winnable or unwinnable, just for a mere subsistence. By the same token, I wouldn't allow anyone to tamper with my corpse. This is the last bastion of my dignity.
I might change my mind if and when the treatment by stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency technology became affordable to everyone. But now it's abundantly clear that chances are remote for STAP cells to be commoditized in the next millennium. As I wrote almost two years ago, Yoshiki Sasai, the mentor of the ambitious stem-cell biologist named Haruko Obokata, was murdered, and subsequently Obokata herself was stripped of her doctorate by the despicable Nobel laureate named Shinya Yamanaka, et al. That's the end of the story.
The most serious problem facing me for now is the fact that there are very few "little ordinary things that everyone ought to do" but can't with one hand almost disabled.
As a fallout, I've been even more confined to bed, or what used to be a futon mattress to be more precise, despite the further worsening of sleep fragmentation. I didn't take a low-angle shot at the onlookers because my camera in the backpack had been thrown out of my reach at that time. But actually I didn't have to because their vacant eyes only filled with unforgettable hostility have haunted me ever since.
The other day when I was lying awake as I do most of the time, a funny idea flashed into my mind. I said to myself:
"Our ancestors, be it 'Australopithecines' or any other genus, made a serious mistake several million years ago when they opted for erect bipedalism. If we were still crawling around on our four limbs, we would be able to move more smoothly and we might have learned to run at the speed of 60 miles/hour like the cheetah. As a result we would never take a tumble when we were blown by a gusty wind of 78 miles/hour."
Take it easy, though. You needn't get on your hindfeet to discuss serious issues such as which bathroom a transgender ape should use.
It's been said they started practicing bipedalism primarily because they wanted to make tools and handle them with their forelegs. But did they have specific purposes in mind for which they were going to use these tools? Of course they didn't. So it was like putting the cart before the horse.
Time and again I have argued in this website the claim that Japan has successfully civilized, or modernized, herself since the 1850s is totally false. I don't think I was wrong. The Japanese have imported the Judeo-Christian civilization under the slogan of wakon yosai, translated as "Japanese spirit coupled with Western learning." In other words, they turned the relationship between means and end upside down from the beginning.
As a result this cultural wasteland is now inhabited by tens of millions of Samurais wearing a suit, which they call a Savile Row (to be pronounced Sebiro) and feudal serfs in jeans.
But now at the sight of the yawning gap between technologies and quality of life everywhere, I have realized the perpetual and pervasive inversion of means and end has its real origin in the fact that our distant ancestors started practicing erect bipedalism so prematurely.
I was thinking about concluding this post by adding something about my enthusiasm for relearning Russian, the language I learned more than 60 years ago as the third foreign language next to English and German. That's what I wanted to talk about more than anything else. But let me stop here for now because I feel too exhausted to go on. ·
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