"Let nothing human be alien to me"- Terence

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Danger of Monomanical Obsession

Sullivan linked to this neat little map from informationisbeautiful.net.   It shows what every country in the world is Number 1 at, even if it is something as silly as Female Farmhands or Brazil Nuts (Bolivia, interestingly).  Needless to say, I looked first for Yemen- because I am obsessed- and it ranked first in "Khat Users".  Predictably, I suppose.  It was in red, though, which I was curious about, so I looked at the key.  Red means "crime"- other red labels are "serial killers" (USA) and "pirate software" (Armenia, of course). 

This caused me to say, out loud, "oh, come on!  Qat use isn't a crime in Yemen!"  I also thought about how absurd it was that it is a crime anywhere, given its mild qualities and how it is just an example of ignorance to think that if something is a crime in America it must be- nay should be- a crime anywhere else and blah blah blah. 

What a bore I am.  It is a fun map, with no harm intended, and certainly without any kind of agenda.  I wonder how many people are this defensive of a subject, willing to get angry over nothing.  I think blogging tends to add to that, which can be dangerous and bad for your mental health.  I am growing increasingly fond of it as a medium, but still need to watch out for the the bad tendencies it can create.  I think the ability to step back and breathe, to have a slight sense of humor, is what is needed here, and what separates most people from, say, Marty Peretz.

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