Bluff The Listener
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on the air.
Hi, you are on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
SHAWN O'DONNELL: Hi.
SAGAL: Hi. Who's this?
O'DONNELL: This is Shawn O'Donnell from Pittsburgh, Pa.
SAGAL: Hey. How are things in Pittsburgh?
O'DONNELL: Pretty chilly right now.
SAGAL: What do you do there?
O'DONNELL: I'm a writer and a musician.
SAGAL: What kind of music do you play?
O'DONNELL: Instrumental stuff and I play the bagpipes.
PAULA POUNDSTONE: Oh, boy.
SAGAL: I'm sorry. I notice how you sort of didn't lead with that.
SAGAL: I was thinking, oh, what a nice guy - lives in Pittsburgh, plays music. And then we'd like you by the time you finally drop the bagpipe thing.
O'DONNELL: More or less, yeah, yeah.
SAGAL: All right.
SAGAL: It is great to have you with us, Shawn. You're going to play our game...
O'DONNELL: Glad to be here.
SAGAL: ...In which you must try to tell truth from fiction.
Bill, what is Shawn's topic?
BILL KURTIS: It's National Nerd Day, and...
KURTIS: ...I didn't get you anything.
SAGAL: Coming up, we have got Thanksgiving, which is a holiday we only celebrate in the United States. So all the other countries miss out on horrible, bitter arguments with our relatives.
SAGAL: However, turns out that other nations also have holidays that are particular to them. Our panelists are each going to tell you about an international holiday, but only one of them is real. You pick that real holiday, and you will win our prize - the voice of anyone you like on your voicemail. Are you ready to play?
SAGAL: All right. Here we go. Your first story of a holiday comes from Luke Burbank.
LUKE BURBANK: On January 17 of next year, Canadians will roll out a new holiday. And if you don't like it - well, you're just going to have to deal with it, buddy, because January 17 is Canada's first ever National Stop Apologizing Day.
BURBANK: The holiday was the brainchild of Todd McCullough (ph) of Kamloops after an incident he was involved in at a Tim Hortons in 2015.
BURBANK: While I was reaching for the coffee, McCullough told the Vancouver Sun, and this other fellow was reaching for the Timbits doughnut holes, and - well, we did that thing where we both kept reaching and then standing back and apologizing and then reaching and then standing back and apologizing. And so about two hours went by like that...
BURBANK: And I realized, we Canadians - we've got a dang problem with apologizing too much. Sorry for the coarse language, he added.
BURBANK: America's notoriously polite and, let's be honest, superior in every way neighbors to the north have always been quick to apologize whether or not it was warranted. The city of Thunder Bay, Ontario, once apologized to Duluth, Minn., for the icy winds coming off of Lake Superior...
BURBANK: ...Saying they felt they could have, quote, "done more to warm it up on its way south..."
BURBANK: ...But never again - or, at least, not on January 17. McCullough had tried for years to generate attention for the proposal via the Internet with little success. But the idea really picked up steam when CBC news anchor Dan Ratner (ph), who's sort of the Canadian version of - you guessed it - Tom Brokaw...
BURBANK: ...Picked up the cause. For 30 years, Ratner's sign-off at the end of each newscast was, so there's the news in Canada. Sorry some of it was pretty grim. Of course, Ratner had no idea what grim was until he started looking at the U.S. headlines post-2016.
BURBANK: And that's when he had an epiphany, which was that, based on America's behavior just in the last two years, Canadians have nothing to apologize for until 2079.
SAGAL: All right.
SAGAL: Canada's first ever No Apologizing Day. Your next story of an important day comes from Roxanne Roberts.
ROXANNE ROBERTS: In Japan, punctuality is sacred, and being late is deeply embarrassing. And yet, there are always some stragglers who can't quite meet deadlines, which prompted this month's Student Procrastination Day at colleges throughout the country. The celebration is the brainchild of University of Tokyo President Makoto Gonokami, a self-admitted procrastinator who wants to reduce stress and promote mental health at Japan's highly competitive universities. Students will be allowed to turn in one final paper, regardless of when it was due, on the last day of the semester.
ROBERTS: But some students say the new celebration stresses them out. Quote, "it's too much pressure to be late," Haruto...
ROBERTS: ...Tanaka (ph) told NTV News. "All my papers are already finished." Gonokami says, it might take years to catch on, but, as I always say, better late than never.
SAGAL: Student Procrastination Day in Japan. The Japanese students are allowed to finally relax a little bit. And your last story of a new holiday comes from Paula Poundstone.
POUNDSTONE: In Finland, November 1 is known as National Jealousy Day when the country publishes everyone's income. The public finds amusement in discovering who among them earns the most. They like finding out what celebrities make and if being a trash collection worker is really worth it or sauna guest washer or northern lights spotter or reindeer farmer or ice hole lifeguard - all of which jobs make Finland tick. This year, the country's most famous porn star, Anssi Viskari, earned 23,826 Euros, which makes ice hole lifeguard look fantastic.
POUNDSTONE: Finland does have low income inequality levels as compared to other places, and this transparency may be part of the reason. It must be tough, though, at Christmas when you give someone a decorative oven mitt, and then they research to find you make millions.
POUNDSTONE: Privacy advocates caution, however, that it is a small step from publishing incomes to making public SAT scores, sperm counts and gym attendance.
SAGAL: All right. One of these is a real holiday.
SAGAL: Is it, from Luke Burbank, Canada's No Apologizing Day, when the entire nation will refuse to apologize for 24 hours; from Roxanne Roberts, Student Procrastination Day in Japan, where those very hardworking students will finally try to relax about a deadline; or, from Paula, National Jealousy Day in Finland, where everybody learns what everybody else makes so they can feel either good or bad about it? Which of those is a real holiday that's happening someplace in the world this year?
O'DONNELL: Oh, wow. They're all kind of terrifying. But I'm going to go with Japan's.
SAGAL: You're going to go with Roxanne's story of Japan's Student Procrastination Day - the one day when they can finally relax and hand things in late.
O'DONNELL: I think so. Can I get back to you on that?
SAGAL: I like your style, Shawn.
SAGAL: All right. Well, that's your choice. We actually spoke to a reporter who told us about the real holiday.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
ELLEN BARRY: Every first of November in Finland, the declared income of every taxpayer in the country is released.
SAGAL: That was Ellen Barry, a reporter for The New York Times who reported on Jealousy Day, which happened this last week in Finland. I'm so sorry you didn't get it right, but you made Roxanne the happiest woman in this room...
SAGAL: ...By choosing her made-up story and winning her a point. So thank you so much for playing.
O'DONNELL: Thank you very much.
POUNDSTONE: Bye, Shawn.
(SOUNDBITE OF THE BLACK CROWES SONG, "JEALOUS AGAIN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.