Best of the Week
of Dec. 19, 1999

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Dec. 19, 1999, as selected by Y? These postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found by accessing our new database using our search form, or, in the case of answers posted before April 24, 1999, in our Original Archives (all questions from the Original Archives have been entered into the new database as well). In the Original Archives and the new database, you will find questions that have received answers, as well as questions still awaiting responses. We encourage you to answer any questions relevant to your demographic background, as well as to ask any provocative question you desire. Answers posted are not necessarily meant to represent the views of an entire demographic group, but can provide a window into the insights of an individual from that group.

First-time users should first make a quick stop at our guidelines pages for asking and answering questions.


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Question:
This may seem a very silly and ignorant question to those out there who are Native American (American Indian), but do Native Americans have facial and body hair? The reason I ask is I have always heard that Native Americans are related (albeit distantly) to East Asians, and as I have lived in East Asia for some time, I know they have very little facial or body hair. Recently, I met a man who said he was 100 percent Native American but who had heavy beard stubble and very hairy arms.
POSTED 12/22/1999
Charles R., Nashville, TN, United States, 33, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Gay, Student, Over 4 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 12211999110651
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Question:
In the Bible, Jehovah refers to himself as a jealous God. But since covetousness is forbidden by the Ten Commandments, and jealousy and covetousness are basically the same thing, isn't Jehovah breaking his own commandments by coveting human devotion so strongly?
POSTED 12/22/1999
Leonard, Seattle, WA, United States, 28, Male, Pagan, Straight, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 730199971730
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Question:
Why are Americans obsessed with the class system? I thought they were proud of their classless society, as compared with other countries.
POSTED 12/14/1999
D. Arnold, Taipei, NA, Taiwan, 37, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, English teacher, 2 Years of College , Lower class, Mesg ID 12131999125835

Responses:
I've lived abroad for several years and have had the advantange of observing American culture from the outside. I believe Americans are obsessed with class because Americans are obsessed with self-expression. In the American point of view, a life lived in anonymity is a wasted life. Thus, many Americans feel they must find some way to set themselves apart from the rest - to mark their passage in this world. The best way to do this is to accumulate wealth and then show it off, because wealth is not easy to attain. The American dream is to live in an expensive dwelling, situated in an exclusive area of town, drive (or be driven) to a high power-job in an expensive car, eat power lunches at exclusive restaurants, send the kids to exclusive schools, belong to exclusive clubs and generally disassociate one's self and one's progeny from "the great unwashed." It seems that many of the people who have attained membership in the upper-class feel it is their God-given right to look down at those who haven't and sneer because they've set themselves apart. It's their form of self-expression - that they're intrinsically better than most other people because of who they are and what they have. The beauty of America is that class-climbing is possible with hard work and luck. Membership in the upper-class is not barred to those who choose their parents poorly. However, the ugliness that is exhibited by those who have attained membership in the upper-class is not confined to Americans. Rather, this ugliness is common to all members of the upper-class, nationality notwithstanding.
POSTED 12/21/1999
Rob, Tacoma, WA, United States, 33, Male, Episcopalian, White/Caucasian, Attorney, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 12209995415
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Question:
When visiting another country, we as Americans, are expected to follow the customs of that country as much as possible. Why is it, then, that when people from other countries come here, we are still expected to accede to their customs? Why do we never insist, as they do, that our customs be followed, especially if they are coming here permanently?
POSTED 12/20/99
Nicholas F., Panorama City, CA, United States, 38, Male, Catholic, Human, Straight, Network Engineer, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1215199912404

Responses:
In my experience, foreigners visiting or moving to the United States adapt to your customs. I see them tip when tipping is not done in their culture. I see them queue up (get in line) when that isn't done at all in their homeland. I see them eat with a knife and fork when that isn't customary in their culture.
POSTED 12/21/1999
James, Melbourne, FL, United States, Mesg ID 122099100056

Actually, "foreigners" often observe that Americans are the ones who show no respect for the customs of others. For example, most Europeans are multilingual, but Americans rarely learn other languages and expect everyone else around the world to speak English.
POSTED 12/21/1999
Astorian, Austin, TX, United States, 38, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Programmer, Mesg ID 122099101505

The United States was founded on the principles of personal freedom. This means that in this country, people are free to live as they choose within the framework of our laws. This includes the freedom to practice customs brought over from other countries. The United States has so many different cultures that it is imposible to define a set of "American" customs. The customs that are practiced by the people in my area may seem totally foreign to people in other parts of the country, yet we are all Americans.
POSTED 12/21/1999
Lucy, San Jose, CA, United States, 25, Female, Hispanic/Latino, Engineer, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 12209930543
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Question:
Many times during my life I have passed near a black man (a stranger) on the street or in a public place, and when our eyes meet there seems to be a moment of recognition or something that suggests we know each other more deeply than is previously experienced. Has any black man had this experience with a white man?
POSTED 12/20/99
George G., Boothbay, ME, United States, <goodwood@nqi.net>, 60, Male, Church of Christ, White/Caucasian, Straight, Boatbuilder, 4 Years of College , Lower classm, Mesg ID 1217199940400
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Question:
To people who seem to behave as if their actions have no impact on others (examples: playing your high-powered car sound system loudly, regardless of where you are, or bringing your cellular phone to an acoustic music concert and not muting the ring): What is your attitude toward others?
POSTED 12/20/99
Phil S., Panama City, FL, United States, 65, Male, Straight, retired, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 12199932950
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Question:
What would be the most inoffensive way for a gay male to approach or solicit a straight male in the hope of prospective sex?
POSTED 12/20/99
James S., Vero Beach, FL, United States, Male, Mesg ID 12199942148

Responses:
Why would a gay man want to have sex with a straight man? Wouldn't there be less aggravation involved for everyone in approaching another gay man for sex? As a straight man, there's no way for a gay man to approach me for sex if he's serious about getting it. Sorry.
POSTED 12/21/1999
Andrew, Huntington, NY, United States, <ziptron@start.com.au>, 36, Male, Straight, Mesg ID 12209984725

I assume when you say "straight guys" you mean repressed bisexuals. So if a gay man meets a likely prospect, he should work the conversation around to: "Hey, do you know where I can meet a guy to go out with around here?" If the straight guy is curious or closeted, it's the gay man's lucky day. But if the straight man is not interested, the gay man probably would not have offended him.
POSTED 12/21/1999
Daniel, Ann Arbor, MI, United States, 35, Male, Straight, Law Student, Mesg ID 12209961906
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Question:
Where did the terms used by blacks for whites such as "honkie" and "ofay" come from?
POSTED 12/20/99
S.W., St. Petersburg Beach, FL, United States, 51, Male, Agnostic, Hispanic/Latino, Straight, retired, Over 4 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 12199963357
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Question:
Why do black people have such a strong and offensive odor when they get warm or sweat?
POSTED 12/20/99
Jim P., Clearwater, FL, United States, Male, Mesg ID 12199992757
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