To be a better Net gambler

Who in the world are the most hopeless gambling addicts? You'd better believe me: Japanese are at the top of the world in this field. The undisputed champion gamblers. Their game of choice is a very expensive kind of gambling, euphemistically called "insurance".

Who in the world are the most hopeless gambling addicts?

No, not the Americans. They are a distant second in the per capita gambling stakes, in terms of rate of money spent in this one-sided game of fortune.

You'd better believe me: Japanese are at the top of the world in this field. The undisputed champion gamblers. Their game of choice is a very expensive kind of gambling, euphemistically called "insurance".

Sure, insurance is a pure and simple gamble. The definition of this game is, the macro dominance of statistic reality versus its micro fluctuation. In plain words, the house always wins in the long run, but sometimes you can bankrupt them.

Most Islamic jurists agree with me that insurance is a kind of gambling, though the prophet Muhammad himself did not explicitly call it that. So, is insurance entirely prohibited in Islamic cultures along with interest on credit? Our CNET readers know better than your correspondent. House rules

Anyway, you can't flee from gambling in Modern Japan, even though you are not one of the compulsive gamblers. If you drive any vehicle, except a pushbike or a wheelchair, the all-pervasive government forces you to gamble, in the name of compulsory third-party vehicle insurance.

Well, theoretically, you can refuse to enter this gambler's vicious circle. Then, their menacing enforcers, euphemistically called the police, are going to be really nasty when they find that you are a non-gambler.

Of course, it's not enough--you have to gamble more heavily.

For example, the going rate for a Japanese life crushed under the wheel is a minimum 1.5 million dollars in greenbacks, and it climbs higher every minute. If you end up on the paying side of this game, the real trouble starts.

Since the compulsory insurance covers only a tiny part of this inflated amount, say, a tenth or less, how are you going to cough up the rest? Yes, more gambling, dubbed "voluntary supplementary insurance".

Sure, the bet varies. These days, a clever gambler therefore consults with the Internet, and compares which company gives the best odd/bet ratio. Many a gambling, er insurance, comparison site has popped up recently, and it is said that gamblers are flocking to them. Finding the best bet on the Net

I drive a motorcycle and a four-wheeler. Year after year, I've been a blind, captive customer to the bookie division of our teachers' union that accepts the bet on my vehicles. But, one day, a friend of mine, who is an extreme Net connoisseur, enlightened me about an alternative.

"Wow, are you a caveman? You'd better consult with one of those insurance comparison sites. You save tons of money by being a clever gambler, I mean, consumer!"

Alright. I jacked in to one of the sites. There, around 10 insurance companies could be summoned as suitable candidates. I registered using a fake name. No trouble for that, so far.

Then, the first page of questionnaires to be filled. Name, address, phone number, fax number, so on. I started answering diligently.

Father's name, mother's maiden name, father's first religion if any, paternal grandparents' birth place... things are getting pretty hard to fill with fake information. Nevertheless I persevered. It was the duty of a good gambler, I told myself.

When the powerful summer sun just started declining, I finally came to the middle point of the page. Your sexual tendency-- homo/hetero/bi/tri/omni/pan/xeno--am I really required to answer these kinky questions? Frequency and duration of sex, number of regular partners, method of contraception, favorite position...

I gave up, and pushed the "Submit" button. The reaction was prompt and severe. "Some of the important questions were not answered. Fill the blanks and try again!" I barely managed to fake my sexual identity (or fantasy, rather).

The summer dusk deepened. After the one thousandth try, the site miraculously accepted my submission. No, it was not the end. The second page appeared on the screen in full color. I cursed the guardian angel of the Net.

"Your vehicle's manufacturer, model, type, shape, style, color, smell, specification, performance, registration number..." My fictitious vehicle slowly started getting a concrete image. My imagination was flying in full swing.

"Previous accident(s) within past 120 years, number of people you massacred in the abovementioned accident(s), number of limbs you annihilated in the abovementioned accident(s)" Oh, no, I'm not a bloody butcher. The answers were all a simple "None".

After several hours of intense interrogation, the inquisition reached the matter of the tire condition of my imaginary vehicle-- bald/a quarter bald/half bald--and present state of ashtray-- empty/half full/full of cigarette butts. Though I could not understand why the last question was vital information, I duly answered with sheepish resignation.

Next page. About my fictitious family history, and the life history of my incumbent vehicle, my ex-vehicle, and ex-ex-. I had to confess to some illicit relations with my neighbor's glamorous SUV, too.

An essay of more than 2,000 words to be composed: On the superiority of motor vehicles over any inter-human relations. I ground my teeth. Is it really worth it to go into this trouble? Just to save a few yen? I can't stop now, because, so far, I've invested too much time in this silly business already.

Two successive sleepless days in front of my computer. The last page of questionnaires was filled. "Do you agree to donate any of your organs in case of your accidental brain death?" "Yes, except my brains!"

For the last time, with my fingers firmly crossed, I clicked the "Proceed" button.

A few minutes of non-action. The server was busy chugging millions of bits of my personal and vehicular information. And finally, the display spat out the verdict clear and loud. And the loser is...

Eight out of ten companies told me in unison. "We cannot accept the insurance under the conditions you stated. Please try again!" None of them explained to me how to alter the conditions for their possible acceptance. It meant I had to try blindly for another two nights of intensive answering sessions.

It was only my superhuman restraint that saved my computer from being smashed into atoms. Instead, I sent several expensive plates, pots and pans into oblivion.

Oh, as for the two companies that did not dump me outright, they said: "Thank you for inquiring. Our estimate will be sent to you by fax/email".

The fax/email duly arrived. What did they say? Don't ask me. Because, after having demolished half the kitchen utensils in my apartment, I am still too furious to utter a word.

Thus, my first attempt to become a better gambler came to an ignominious end. To this day, I still bet blindly with my union. Oh sure, I always lose, I know that.

When some more user-friendly comparison sites materialize in the future, I surely will try to improve my odds. And maybe, I will be able to bankrupt the house some day.