The more you think about carpet, the less it seems like a good idea. Much like toilet paper, really, it’s best not to question too closely the suitability of carpet for its assigned duties.

That’s probably why in Japan you get less carpet and less toilet paper. Surprising, really, given that Japan has such an ancient culture; you’d expect if anyone would be stuck in the past with old ways of doing things, it would be Japan. Japan with the carpet and the toilet paper, while new cultures such as America — where you have a fresh start and no historical baggage — would have the patent paper-free toilets and carpet-free houses.

Carpet — almost designed to retain any and all detritus it comes into contact with, is everywhere in America. Essentially unhygienic, there must have been a very powerful marketing department at the first carpet factory else it would have been consigned to the ”cancelled’ bin into which we’d tossed projects such as the vacuum cleaner that blows, roofs made of grass, fruit cake, and the laying on of leeches.

But in America, we seem to deliberately saddle ourselves with the most ugly, unworkable, and inconvenient that the world has to offer. Some of all that came with the original settlers — that may be why for many many years domestic cars looked like the back end of a horse. It’s definitely why American kitchen appliances and plumbing fixtures have that folk-art look about them, proudly displaying the nuts and bolts that characterize their previous-century manufacturing techniques. It could be why the cell phone network, suffering as it does from corporate and State competition, features exorbitant costs and incomprehensible rules. We should be happy that it, and the internet, works at all.

But anyway; carpet, really. It’s no wonder the folks in China don’t even try to sell their latest robotic vacuums over here; the limits of artificial robotic vacuum intelligence are terminally tested by the lingering United States’ penchant for shag pile.

Which makes toilet paper a little easier to understand I suppose. Maybe that’s the way we, as a relatively new country, express our sense of history. Carpet is where we came from; it was in vogue when we left, so to speak. Like self-flagellating monks, we express our faith in the past through personal pain and inconvenience in the present. Same goes for toilet paper, otherwise we would have long since out-designed our Japanese competitors in the personal hygiene appliance department.

Incredibly, in this case even the French out-do us.

Of course you can never underestimate the power of the incorporated business in the United States, and it may be that the century-old vacuum cleaner industry is responsible for people still, to this day, picking out a nice wall-to-wall berber for the family room. And toilet paper, invented some 50 years before the vacuum, is propelled into the future by three massive corporations for which it generates many billions of annual dollars.

So until the American public rises up and says ‘enough’ — or at least, the public in California rises up so the other States can eventually follow — sucking and smearing will continue to characterize our daily routines, and baffle our more enlightened Eastern visitors.