A Generation in Japan Faces a Lonely Death
December 4, 2017 9:29 PM   Subscribe

Every evening around 6 p.m., before retiring for the night, Mrs. Ito closed the paper screen in the window. Then in the morning, after her alarm woke her at 5:40 a.m., she slid the screen back open. “If it’s closed,” Mrs. Ito told her neighbor, “it means I’ve died.
posted by Memo (44 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
 
“The way we die is a mirror of the way we live,” said Takumi Nakazawa

Radical solution # 1: Pass an Elderly Rights Law like that in China to force children to look after their parents

Radical solution # 2: Open the gates of immigration to repopulate the country
posted by Kwadeng at 11:28 PM on December 4 [6 favorites]


I wish she'd publish her book. I'd love to read it.
posted by potrzebie at 11:44 PM on December 4 [2 favorites]


I think about things like this a bit. I am not close to my family and at this middle aged stage of my life I and my partner have no children. The only answer I can see to these problems is to change how I and the people around me interact as a society - to help bring up each others kids, to be in and out of each others kitchens and lives and to do away with the notion of the nuclear family as the primary source of support and contentment. I'm trying to head in this direction and at this stage it makes for a richer life, hopefully that is of some consequence when I'm more elderly.

Forcing people to look after their elders sounds like misery for both and on a planet that could really do with a bit of depopulation we need to work out better solutions than "more people"
posted by deadwax at 12:29 AM on December 5 [47 favorites]


Also, fantastic read, thank you.
posted by deadwax at 12:30 AM on December 5 [1 favorite]


and on a planet that could really do with a bit of depopulation

Why is that? Who decides?
posted by Kwadeng at 12:57 AM on December 5 [6 favorites]


WorldCat entries for the books by Mrs. Ito's great-grandfather Tōrin Hōgyūsha. (Whose name seems to be rendered in the original Japanese as 放牛舎 桃林?)
posted by XMLicious at 1:12 AM on December 5


Why is that? Who decides?

The same questions can, and should, be asked about forcing kids to look after their parents (not so brilliant if you grew up with abusive ones) and having children. We as a society still can't manage to get parents to treat their children right. I'm referring to abusiveness and how widespread it still is, not generalizing about all parents.

Another solution is what democratic socialist governments seek to do, more or less successfully but better than nothing – set up the social system so that, whether you have kids or not, enough is shared so that there's a safety net. This also helps kids in abusive families.
posted by fraula at 1:49 AM on December 5 [60 favorites]


In a country that's been so Innovative with technology over the past century, I wonder why they don't have some kind of wearable, linked-up pulse or heart monitor for elderly people who live on their own, so they don't lie alone for weeks after they've died. My mother has one of those “I've fallen and I can't get up” buttons and it gives both of us great comfort.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:31 AM on December 5 [2 favorites]


Why is that?

Population pressures are significantly contributing to well observed detrimental effects on climate and the environment more generally that are both extremely significant and likely to harm the well-being of future humans. That is without considering the ethics surrounding our effects on other species and lifeforms.

Who decides?

Everyone for themselves, like usual. I'm not suggesting killing people, just that perpetual population growth might not be good for our long term health.
posted by deadwax at 2:53 AM on December 5 [37 favorites]


Solution: like network-connected smoke detectors, only for decaying human flesh, mandated in all residential properties.
posted by acb at 3:09 AM on December 5 [1 favorite]


so they don't lie alone for weeks after they've died.

At the point where the human becomes a corpse - are they alone anymore?

While some of us have mocked IoT pill bottles, the IoT drinking cup, or an IoT bidet - all of these devices are "signs of life" for their use. Heck, a flow sensor on the water or logging the current use the electrical wiring will get ya such info.

No need for a necrowork of cadaverine detectors. Using drug-use and water-use detectors makes more sense. Because someone may still be alive, just unable to get up and do whatever it us the IoT thing isn't registering.
posted by rough ashlar at 3:27 AM on December 5 [2 favorites]


It's from a while ago, but Zojirushi made an internet linked kettle for this purpose.
posted by lucidium at 3:55 AM on December 5 [3 favorites]


First -- thx for posting this, OP. Really a great essay/article/report-from-the-frontlines of an unusual societal hiccup in a land not known for hiccuping. This makes me feel like I've felt the few times I've been in places once bustling, thriving, lively and bright and shiny, and now naked fixtures, the leaks in the roofs leading to rot in the floors, rats scurrying here and there, be it an old house left to the hands of time or an old commercial structure. An old barn can bring this same feeling -- you look around you can tell the life that was in it that is now gone.

More accurately maybe, it reminds me of the images of outstanding buildings in Detroit, when Detroit was never gonna die, what's good for GM is good for the US, Japanese cars are toy junk, we're gonna build an even *larger* Cadillac, and bigger Buicks and they got caught out.

This same thing *almost* happened in Houston in the early 1980s, oil hit 13 bucks a barrel and that hugely rushing city, growing faster than you could even comprehend, ppl in Houston were positive it was going to be the worlds largest city -- all of that going on and suddenly everyone has completely stopped moving, everyone stood with bated breath for about 86 seconds, and then everyone ran, and Houston was a ghost town.

The change was unbelievable and it was FAST.

There were *so many* see-throughs in Houston, which was the name given to all of these huge buildings that were gorgeous and brand new but when you drove by them at night you could see all the way through, no offices has been built. I got lucky, I got a very low-paying but very stable job as a maintenance carpenter for an apartment complex. And in that complex, in which you'd have had trouble getting an apartment, now people were walking away from everything the owned, just got in their cars and drove off, as there was no longer any work in Houston to pay your rent note, and it was Time To Go.

Quite a thing to see, to witness, to be a part of, and Houston had still not recovered when I left in 1992. It's going great guns again; and I'm pretty sure these places in Japan are *not* going to come back, they'll be more like Detroit.

I have no family within a thousand miles. I turn 63 in a few weeks. I'm in excellent health but I could wreck my bicycle once again but this time have stiffer consequences than I've had in years past. I am almost exclusively on the trails now, no street riding, and hopefully this time I hold to that but if I don't hold to that I could get run down by anyone sending a text -- that's what got me off the street this time (last time also), a guy in a pickup almost hit me and then almost hit me again, his text more important than my life.

Seems to me that the theme of that article is what a horror show it would be to die alone, and also how to *live* alone, before the dying part. And that's a really big thing. But what I read showed that the people did have at least tenuous connection -- I don't see why everyone there doesn't have a flippin' cell phone. I've often thought that I could live as long as I have an internet connection, that the world comes to me. But probably most all of these ppl are a shade too old to have picked up how to operate a puter.

I have made decisions but have not made a will, and that's just totally lame. New Years Resolve #1? My mentor here in town has agreed to take care of anything needing taking care of, maybe donate my tools to Habitat For Humanity, shouldn't be too hard to find someone who would want this puter and printers blah blah blah. My clothing a mixed bag, maybe a third of it to be given to anyone who'd taken them, the nice shirts and jackets and coats, they should go to a place where they'd be easily sold, hopefully benefiting some good org here in town The paint and the knives and brushes and canvas, we've got *tons* of painter friends who would love to get their grubby hands on my stuff...

Harvard wants my brain, to study manic depression. Especially since others in my family also suffer it. Plus a sister who suffers schizophrenia. So I'd like for Harvard to have it but a lot of that depends upon how I'd leave the scene. I'm single, no children that I am aware of, but I've a broad collection of friends who'd notice fast if I'm not on the scene, not returning a text or voicemail "Hey lets go grab a cup of coffee." Two of the younger men that I mentor are best friends, and between the two of them my body wouldn't lay in here very long.

My mentor and the men I mentor know where a copy of my front door key is hidden out. My mentor has passwords to everything. (So if someone comes in here to MetaFilter and begins making thoughtful, considerate comments, it's a good possibility that it's my mentor, using my password, since we know that's just not me... .)

I'm not afraid of dying alone. I am afraid of living alone. Totally alone. The idea of no social connection would have me wanting to just leave the scene, but I think I've got that covered about as well as a single man can.
posted by dancestoblue at 4:09 AM on December 5 [30 favorites]


Talking about technological solutions here strikes me as similar to the how do we get cars to stop us from accidentally leaving infants in them discussion in the thread on Gene Weingarten's "Fatal Distraction". The article's not so much about proof-of-life checks as about the larger social and emotional landscape of this sad situation.

scrump, in that thread, mentioned "sitting here imagining the snap of a sniper's bullet going right past my ear" -- similarly I'm reading this as a hauntingly personal message from my future. There's a strong likelihood that, no matter what processes I put in place, what precautions I take, what gadgets I buy and install, someone close to me, or I myself, will be a deeply lonely senior whose physical needs are all taken care of but with depressingly minuscule experiences of meaning and connection.
posted by brainwane at 4:12 AM on December 5 [5 favorites]


Slightly horrified by the suggestion that the solution to people dying in isolation is to IoT their kettles so we know when they are dead. That's the solution to knowing when people are dead. It's a nice technology solution to that problem, but it does fuck all about the actual problem of living and dying in isolation.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:09 AM on December 5 [28 favorites]


Based on national stereotypes, the fully automated part of our gay space communist future will likely come from Japan, hopefully they can progress beyond corpse detectors because talk about a low bar.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:45 AM on December 5 [2 favorites]


I worry about this a lot, for my mother. We live on opposite coasts, we don’t talk daily or even weekly, and she alienates her neighbors. She seems happy in how she lives, but I don’t know how I can even know when she dies.
posted by corb at 5:45 AM on December 5 [1 favorite]


See, there's no reason a technological solution has to be depressing. Give it some zazz.

What I figure on doing if my life path points towards an endgame of "desiccated corpse found when raccoons drag it into the backyard to gnaw upon" is a technological solution. I'll wear a heart monitor connected wirelessly to a computer in my house. When my heart stops, the computer will transmit a fire signal to a battery of compressed air cannons on the roof of my house, each of which is loaded with forty-six pounds of glitter and dozens of handkerchief-sized squares of cloth with "OLD MAN JERKWATER'S KICKED IT".

Go out with some goddamn class, I say.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 6:23 AM on December 5 [40 favorites]


Radical solution # 2: Open the gates of immigration to repopulate the country

Your link suggests that Japan's population could shrink by a third by 2065. At a current population of ca 127 million, close to their all time high, that would put the country down to a population of about 84 million.

Which was about their population in 1950, up from 73 million in 1940. (In 1910 it was about 51 million.)

My point being that Japan, like most first world countries, can afford to shed a few lives, and the world can afford to shed a few million first world life styles.
posted by BWA at 6:57 AM on December 5 [3 favorites]


Slightly horrified by the suggestion that the solution to people dying in isolation is to IoT their kettles so we know when they are dead.

I never said it was "the solution." It would ameliorate one particularly grisly aspect of the problem, is all. It's an aspect I know I'd rather not have to worry about leaving someone else to clean up after I'm gone, while society undertakes the long, slow, uncertain process of changing the overarching situation.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:10 AM on December 5


Now that the GOP is moving toward implementing phase two of their decades-long plans for this country - that is, gutting Medicare and Social Security - they'll probably also move to pass some sort of Elderly Rights Law.

Think about it. Medicare pays the majority of costs for nursing home care for the elderly and disabled now, and it's going have its funding drastically slashed. Who will be left to shoulder the responsibility of providing a home and care for the aged and the disabled, but their families? Whether they want to or not.

Sorry, Millenials, you're gonna get screwed two ways: first you'll be stuck with providing care for your parents, which will be a time- and money-sink. And that means you'll be unable to adequately save for your own retirement, and there'll be no safety net when you run out of money. If providing care to elderly or disabled family members isn't mandated by law, you'll be facing an ugly choice: save them, or save yourselves?
posted by Lunaloon at 7:12 AM on December 5 [5 favorites]


It's a nice technology solution to that problem, but it does fuck all about the actual problem of living and dying in isolation.

As a Gen X member I'm not too worried. I'm sure there'll be a lot of other people living under the overpass or in the alleyways with me. We can do communal things like look for things to burn in our group oil drums. And I'm pretty sure the near - immortal Baby Boomers will pause in stealing the blood of teens just long enough to say how it's like camping, and we should work harder.
posted by happyroach at 7:28 AM on December 5 [33 favorites]


I'm going to live under the overpass, but ironically.
posted by thelonius at 7:32 AM on December 5 [20 favorites]


i can see the Business Insider headlines now: Millennials Living Under Overpasses Are Killing The Cardboard Box Industry
posted by halation at 7:42 AM on December 5 [25 favorites]


Why is that? Who decides?

So a completely serious answer to this is often: The women decide. When women have more opportunities out of the home, they often have less children; there is a correlation between the economic and social liberation of women and declining birth rates.

It's not the only answer. There are other reasons for declining birthrates. (Japan's women are not the most liberated in the developed world, for sure, and their declining birthrate is drastic.) But, you know, encouraging a smaller population doesn't have to be "cruel"--it can also be a side effect of things we should be encouraging anyway.

someone close to me, or I myself, will be a deeply lonely senior whose physical needs are all taken care of but with depressingly minuscule experiences of meaning and connection.

This is something I think about a lot. I'm not going to have children. I'm not going to get married, either--not that that's protection when one of the spouses almost always outlives the other. I don't have any younger family members that I'm close to. I'm not religious, and not a member of a church. That means that when I'm old, my social connections will be the ones that I can make. I'm worried about that, because that's not easy.

As a society, we really need to stop thinking that "the family" will take care of these things. Our families are shrinking and our way of life often demands that we move far away from home, weakening ties. And there were always people left behind in the past, anyway.

We live in isolated boxes. People constantly post to AskMefi asking: "How do I make friends?"

It's pretty depressing. I feel for Mrs. Ito. She deserves better. We all do. But we're never going to get a political solution to this; we can't even convince each other that the elderly deserve basic healthcare, nevermind quality of life.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:42 AM on December 5 [13 favorites]


I'm going to live under the overpass, but ironically.

Troll.
posted by Segundus at 7:49 AM on December 5 [27 favorites]


Mrs. Ito mentioned on the phone that she had great-grandchildren. That means she has adult grandchildren. Where are they? Why would Mrs. Ito rather ask a neighbor to look at a window once a day than ask one of them to text her every day? There's a story there. It may not be their fault.

Moving towards a nuclear-family lifestyle in the 1960s wasn't something that anyone anticipated would ruin old age, but for a lot of people in Japan and the US, it has. From the way Mr. Kinoshita talks about himself, it seems like both the traditional and the 20th-century family systems failed for him. His two marriages ended. His sisters and brothers accused him of "ruining the Kinoshita clan" with his bankruptcy, and he doesn't even feel like he can join them in the grave. He fell between the world's gears.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:26 AM on December 5 [8 favorites]


Read this the very hour it came out; "All I have now is the Eurotunnel" has haunted me for all the days since. (There was a very particular resonance that kept bugging me about that line, too, beyond its immediate sorrow. Finally I remembered what it was: the insane Mizoguchi, in Mishima Yukio's "Temple of the Golden Pavilion," who utters similar words about that rather more beautiful object.)

Horrifying and heartbreaking on every level. Every time I'm tempted to write off the Times for its utter fuckery, it goes and does something luminous like this.
posted by adamgreenfield at 9:03 AM on December 5 [4 favorites]


As a society, we really need to stop thinking that "the family" will take care of these things. Our families are shrinking and our way of life often demands that we move far away from home, weakening ties. And there were always people left behind in the past, anyway.

+100. "Faaaaaaamily" is not the solution to all social ills, despite what conservatives think. Not everyone has living family, not everyone has functional family, not everyone is nice to be around. And the whole family-as-safety-net idea has been built upon the unpaid, uncompensated labor (physical, emotional, spiritual) of women, children, and more vulnerable/low-ranking family members in general.

I think that fully automated luxury gay space communism can help, by professionalizing care and spreading it out to society at large, rather than individuals and families. Vulnerable people shouldn't have to be lucky enough to be born into large and loving families in order to get care and nurturing.

Church/synagogue membership has helped a lot of people in the past, but now more people don't go to church - it will be interesting to see if anything springs up to replace it. Unitarian Universalist churches fill a need for some. I can't find the thread now, but there was a discussion on MeFi a while back about pagan circles/covens/gatherings, which, while they fed the soul, didn't do such a great job on the more practical aspects of community, which churches fulfill for their members.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:12 AM on December 5 [12 favorites]


That means she has adult grandchildren. Where are they?

Living their own lives? We don't know them; I think it's inappropriate to pass judgement on them for their lack of involvement.

Maybe they want to be more involved but can't afford to be, or are under too many other external pressures. Maybe they don't want to be, and there's something that's not obvious on casual inspection about the family dynamic, like shitty or abusive behavior in the past. Maybe they're just selfish, sure, but my experience is that the majority of people aren't.

Plus, even if "family" is the solution to this particular problem, there are lots of people for whom that is never going to be a good solution, and therefore it's not generalizable. Plus, it just perpetuates the idea that you must have children to take care of your in your old age, which just seems like a terrible reason to have children.

I'd like to see a system for elder-care that doesn't run on guilt and a level of inherited obligation that seems suspiciously like original sin, personally.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:38 AM on December 5 [12 favorites]


That means she has adult grandchildren. Where are they?

Possibly too busy -- literally too busy. This was a particularly extreme example, but office/work culture in Japan (depending on workplace) can be extraordinarily demanding. From the article:
In its first white paper on karoshi last year, the government said one in five employees were at risk of death from overwork.

Research shows that Japanese employees work significantly longer hours than their counterparts in the US, Britain and other developed countries. Japan’s employees used, on average, only 8.8 days of their annual leave in 2015, less than half their allowance, according to the health ministry.
If the adult grandchildren don't live nearby -- and the complex is an hour's train ride out in the countryside, so it's likely they don't -- they may simply be under too much pressure at work to take on more family responsibility, even leaving aside other reasons.
posted by halation at 9:57 AM on December 5 [6 favorites]


It was really not clear whether the grandchildren are her daughter's or stepdaughter's children. In a perfect world, her step-grandchildren would see her as a grandmother, but there are lots of reasons that might not be the case. It's mentioned that her daughter died fairly young, so if they're her kids and the father raised them, I can also see how easy it'd be to drift apart.
posted by nakedmolerats at 9:58 AM on December 5 [4 favorites]


We didn't know when my dad died. He was found weeks later, I think because his rent was late.

Not everybody has families that can take care of these things. At the time my dad passed away, I was an unemployed full time student and he refused to live anywhere near where I was going to school. What was I supposed to do about that, even if I'd had a job? He wanted to live near what he thought of as home, which was across the country from the place I'd been born and raised, in a place where I'd only ever been a couple times to visit, that did not have job opportunities for me even if I'd wanted to follow him. I didn't have money for the airfare to visit him. He didn't have money, living on Social Security, to visit me. What was I supposed to do to fix that? How much of my life was I supposed to give away in order to make sure that his home was clean and that he was cremated promptly? Those are good things to have. I wanted him to have those things. But him having those things would have required me to quit school and move to a place where I had no other support network than my dying father.

When people say "family" should do better, what that means in practice is that daughters and granddaughters give up school and career and family and whatever else they have going on in order to make things better, for no pay. I could have given him dignity in those last days, and it would have ruined me to do it. What was I supposed to do?
posted by Sequence at 10:31 AM on December 5 [51 favorites]


Mr. Kinoshita had family and it got him nowhere:
He had lost his company to bankruptcy and also the money he had borrowed from his sisters and brothers, who told him, "You're the one who's ruined the Kinoshita clan." He had lost his house, and his second wife, who told him, "There's no use staying with a husband who'd sell away our house."

Families are fickle. They can love you a great deal and be unable to care for you, they can love you a lot, and put you in a home because they honestly think it's best for you. They can hate you and keep you in their home so they can cash your disability checks. They can ignore you and forget you exist. As an only child married to an only child, I fear my in-laws' and my mother's advancing age almost as greatly as I fear my own. I can easily accept that I'll probably be one of those old women eaten by their cats because nobody noticed I passed, but I live in fear that I'll have to share my home with my mother or mother-in-law because they won't accept any other care-taking alternative. I've seen the hell my mother-in-law is going through with her mother living with them and it is not something I can do myself.

The solution is not and has never been families. The only way we make life better for the lonely aged is to make life better for us all. A social safety net that ensures that everybody has a safe place to live and the resources to live is essential in a functioning society.
posted by teleri025 at 11:05 AM on December 5 [12 favorites]


My Mom lived in a retirement place for a while. Independent living. There was a little latch on the door that would fall in to the down position when you opened the door to go to breakfast. If it was in the up position, a staff member would knock on your door by noon. Many of these retirement communities are for-profit; I won't be affording it. The community was a lot like high school - cliques and gossip. There was Muzak in the hallways; I found that particularly loathsome. And it was on a pretty piece of land, but there were no walking paths. Still better than that enormous Japanese complex full of lonely people who are unable to reach out to each other. My Mom's retirement community felt like a very well-decorated storage unit. That Japanese complex, the same.

I'm 62 and age discrimination is quite real in jobs. White-haired women are nearly invisible and quite negligible. People live longer now, are healthier longer. We can work longer and contribute, except that the contributions of the old are not valued in youth-driven culture. And in hyper-capitalism, we are only as valuable as our retirement accounts. Capitalism and the free market are not going to answer this issue in any way that cares for old people.

If I had the capital, I'd create a co-housing complex for geezers. With shared workshop and craft space, and gardens. Places to be active and to be social. Because that's where I'd like to live.
posted by theora55 at 11:20 AM on December 5 [9 favorites]


Yeah, there's been SO much press about how birth rates have been declining for years in first-world countries, and.... fewer children per couple having to care for two aging parents (when Medicare dies) seems like it's going to decimate that even further. We're already seeing it with the pieces about how this is the first generation where some plurality of mostly-women are juggling eldercare and young children at the same time.
posted by nakedmolerats at 11:23 AM on December 5


For a subject that causes some weeping, I have had a delightfully surprising number of guffaws with the tears from the comments here, for which I thank you berry much. Life is short, though it often feels endless and dragging too. It's also confusing and frustrating at times (most times for me...) I'm grateful for the thoughtful comments that make me think, but I'm nearly in debt to you who make me laugh. Metafilter is life
posted by Redhush at 11:41 AM on December 5 [2 favorites]


Church/synagogue membership has helped a lot of people in the past, but now more people don't go to church - it will be interesting to see if anything springs up to replace it.

I thought this was maybe an under-told aspect of this story. I believe religious organizations and practice in Japan often aren't as communal as those in the U.S. but the article notes that she "spent an hour every morning writing Buddhist sutras to her daughter and husband," which strikes me as substantial religious commitment and an aspect that is under-explored in the article.
posted by Jahaza at 11:47 AM on December 5


Japan as a government has pushed for an equivalent of Medicare that keeps people at home for as long as possible (versus institutionalized care. At home care is proven to keep people happier and healthcare costs lower than a long term stay at a hospital, for example). I see the good intention behind this policy, but this is what leaves people isolated as well.

Another alternative to staying at home as usual or being shipped to a senior care facility is a retirement co-op. I read about them last semester, when I was working on a project that focused on long-term care for the aging for a policy analysis class. This model really resonated with me. I think I would like to participate in something like that when I reach retirement age.

I couldn't focus my research so much on them because they seem to be a new thing, but apparently in Europe and North America, people are starting to get together (with other aging friends, for example) to run their own assisted living neighborhoods. Beyond organizing entertainment and hobbies, this involves communally hiring a nurse for check ups, organizing trips to the grocery store, ensuring that homes and the neighborhood have equipment for different degrees of mobility, etc. The participatory process in running the coop (or depending on how many people there are, voting for a board, for example) also keeps people involved in a micro-government and enables them to apply for grants and organize their own voice for representation in the locality.

This would not only just possible with middle and upper income people, if we used resources well. Even for federal subsidies, it costs about twice as much to keep a person in a senior care facility, versus providing services in their own place. Add the profit component in most senior care facilities where low income people live, and you know that money is not going to quality of care.

Anyway, I think retirement co-ops sound like the perfect middle ground between being on your own and losing all independence. And they tend to be safer than the former and cheaper than the latter.
posted by Tarumba at 11:49 AM on December 5 [5 favorites]


If I had the capital, I'd create a co-housing complex for geezers. With shared workshop and craft space, and gardens. Places to be active and to be social. Because that's where I'd like to live.

Anyone want to look into buying some land in a swing-able district of a red state in the US, setting up a liberal co-op retirement neighborhood with gardens and a workshop/crafts space, and a couple types of community gathering centers (movie room/theater, outdoor flower gardens with benches, sportsball of some sort)?
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:15 PM on December 5 [6 favorites]


There's cheap-ish land near where I am. Buy in the right spot, and there's fiber too, even out in the countryside. Not really a swingable county at the moment, but everything else would work out well. With as relatively few voters as there are here, an influx of socialist or Democratic geezers could easily turn things around.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 5:51 PM on December 5 [3 favorites]


It's interesting that people perceive Japan as this technologically advanced society because Sony makes a robot dog or whatever. Most of the elderly folks I know don't have a smartphone, much less a computer. Get outside Tokyo and the primary method of communication is town announcements over loudspeaker and the friendly lady who runs the coffee shop.
posted by davejh at 4:05 PM on December 6 [3 favorites]


Anyone want to look into buying some land in a swing-able district of a red state in the US, setting up a liberal co-op retirement neighborhood with gardens and a workshop/crafts space, and a couple types of community gathering centers (movie room/theater, outdoor flower gardens with benches, sportsball of some sort)?

I volunteer to start up the theater company! We can call it “The Not Ready For Nap Time Players.”
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:37 PM on December 7 [1 favorite]


It's interesting that people perceive Japan as this technologically advanced society because Sony makes a robot dog or whatever.

On the one hand: yes, this. Three years of living in Tokyo permanently cured me of thinking of Japan as the capital of the future, or anything like it. By the end of my stay there I'd taken to describing that impression as a rapidly-flaking electroplated finish over a bamboo armature.

On the other hand, one of the few sectors in which Japan can, I think, still claim some degree of technological superiority is in the development of humanoid robotics. This is so precisely for the reasons made obvious by this article, and another bracketing circumstance many of you have already noted: Japan is both a rapidly aging society, and at the same time one too racist and xenophobic to offer entry to foreign nurses or home healthcare assistants in anything like the numbers required.

Their solution has been to invest in the development of (IMO appalling and disqualifyingly gender-marked) humanoid systems to care for the elderly, and they have indeed come quite a long way down that road. You'll have to judge for yourself whether this counts as "advancement."
posted by adamgreenfield at 4:56 AM on December 10 [1 favorite]


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