Monday, June 23, 2014

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Entering the hypothetical realm

I hesitate to speak too much about having children, in part because I am mostly ambivalent on the topic and in part because it's an endeavor that requires (at least) two willing parties. Still, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little curious on how that would go -- poorly, more than likely.

That is probably why I spent more time than I normally would mulling over this interactive article from PBS. It's based on the results from the 2010-2014 World Values Survey, in which 82,000 adults across 54 countries were surveyed to gain a better understanding of what they consider most important when raising a child, whether or not they were parents themselves. The respondents were asked to select which of 11 qualities they considered to be especially important for children to learn.

In the PBS article, readers were asked to rank each of the 11 qualities -- determination/perseverance, responsibility, imagination, self-expression, independence, tolerance, unselfishness, thrift, religious faith, obedience and hard work. Their answers were then matched to which country's values most closely corresponded with the reader's.

My list is below.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Another one from the 'Privilege Files'

If embassies and consulates did all the things people believe they do, it might be hard to keep people in their home country. Singapore's foreign minister, K. Shanmugam, recently made a Facebook post in which he detailed some of the stranger requests Singaporeans abroad had made of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. While those listed are undoubtedly outliers, it may also betray a certain level of entitlement felt by travelers.
In one instance, Shanmugam said a Singaporean sought Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) intervention "for a refund after he had gotten illegal sexual services in a foreign country".
"He wasn't satisfied with what he had gotten. We had to tell him that MFA could not help!"
Shanmugam said the ministry also declined to intervene when a man demanded an investigation over alleged racial discrimination while overseas.
The man had claimed "he received a smaller piece of KFC chicken compared to what the locals had".
"He wanted MFA to investigate this instance and seek justice in that foreign country for the unfair treatment he claimed to have received," Shanmugam said.
Say what you will about eating at KFC while abroad, but sometimes there's just no other option.

As the bottom of the article suggests, Singapore followed the lead of the UK, which released a similar list a few years ago. It's easy to have a chuckle at the expense of these travelers, of course, but given the sheer number of Americans out there and the vast array of embassies, consulates and missions the country has, there must be just as many – if not more – such requests by Americans abroad.

Odds are we'll never hear those stories, though. After all, that's classified information that could be integral to national security.