Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Geographic preferences

The state of the world leaves a lot to be desired as we look into 2009. Yet let's look at the things that are good, the gems that each country has to a slightly less dirge-y and dignified way. The economy's going to hell and we may be running out of oil, but let's have a little fun. Here are my two cents, anyway.

Country: Germany.
Pros: Beer, Angela Merkel, green technology, exacting standards, the poetry of Goethe and Schiller.
Cons: Neo-Nazis, exacting standards, people from former East Germany who are still economically depressed and pissed off, a resume that would be red-flagged in an instant ("You were doing what from 1939 to 1945?") PS. Sorry resume is spelled with a regular "e" but I can't be bothered to add the accent right now, 'k?

Country: France
Pros: Wine, several of my favorite actresses (Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Juliette Binoche), 'progressive' sexual mores (see also STDs, under 'cons'...)
Cons: General demeanor, second-hand smoke

Country: Italy
Pros: Cuisine (especially angel-hair pasta, limoncello and tiramisu), long leisurely lunches, fashion, olive oil, Isabella Rossellini (twenty years ago...not that I still wouldn't, but, you know...), Roman ruins and generally an assload of historically interesting sites
Cons: Riding scooters without helmets=brain injury, the Vatican (which is really a separate country, I know), Mafia wars

Country: Sweden
Pros: Democratic socialism, the occasional reindeer, same-sex unions, a profusion of 6'6'' blondes
Cons: It's always cold as balls, and the seasonal affective disorder is so rampant that Sweden (or is it Norway? You can see this has been exhaustively researched) has one of the highest suicide rates in the world.

Country: UK
Pros: History, and did I mention history? Also more minsters and cathedrals than you can shake a stick at. A fantastic literary tradition. Pubs. British humor.
Cons: A less-fantastic history of colonization and forced conquest. British food.

Country: Iceland
Pros: Bjork (Sorry for the lack of umlaut; see note on accent grave, above). Wealth and peace and happiness. Geothermal energy and hot springs.
Cons: Bjork. Long, unpronounceable and constantly-morphing last names.

Country: Canada
Pros: Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morrissette, the health-care system, and the fact that with one very notable exception, every Canadian I've ever known has been a great human being--real mensches. Ever since I saw the segment on Canada in "Bowling for Columbine," I've thought it must be a stand-up kind of place...just nifty, y'know?
Cons: Proximity to Sarah Palin, marauding moose, marauding Quebecois.

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