Saturday, January 12, 2008

ABC 20-20: Happiest cities

On Friday, Jan. 11, ABC 20-20 reported on the relative happiness of a number of places. Copenhagen, Denmark was shown as a happy place where people trusted each other, in a modern social democracy, with relatively fewer tensions between "rich and poor" than in other places. People can leave their babies in strollers unattended outside shops briefly. People don't lock their bicycles. I visited Copenhagen in July, 1972 and remember the amusement park (and the strong beer, which I wasn't used to.) The Fox Searchlight film "Smilla's Sense of Snow" (1997) directed by Bille August, presented a less benign view (incorporating a road trip to Greenland, a "province" of Denmark, part of the global warming controversy.)

Another happy place was Singapore, despite the somewhat authoritarian, pro-natalist government of the City State. It has become an economic powerhouse, governed by a curious but successful blend of capitalism and Confucian conformity. There is extreme emphasis on order, and violators of misdemeanors can experience corporal punishment by caning, especially of AmericanMichael Peter Fay. The government pays civil servants high salaries, and there is almost no corruption. But there is no trial by jury and weak due process by American standards. The show interviewed a young American from Apple Valley, MN and he was quite happy with the culture there.

An unhappy place was Italy, because of the corruption.

One of the happiest cities in the United States is Asheville, NC, in the Smokies.

The ABC story is "'20/20' Friday: What Makes People Happy? '20/20' Explores the Myths and Misconceptions About This Essential Emotion," link here. The story mentions Eric Weiner's novel "The Geography of Bliss."

Note: (Jan. 13)

I covered the Golden Globes today on my movies blog, here; look to the end of that posting for an update today. True, a lot of the TV shows that won awards aren't among the ones that I follow a lot. I'll check out some of them. I cover shows that deal with the issues (artistic, social, or political) that concern me, and many are news-related or guest-generated shows, and these aren't usually part of the Globes. Most of the movies that won awards I have covered on my blogs and sites.

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