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OK, Americans, borrow this and this. But not that.

Yet another sign of Brazil's growing international influence. In the last few days I've noticed two cultural phenomena that the United States seems to be borrowing from Brazil. And they have nothing to do with bossa nova, soccer, bikiniware or any of the other usual suspects.

First, instead of just joining pages like Oberlin College or New Orleans Saints Football, my Facebook friends are now joining quirky groups like "When I was younger I would record my favorite songs off the radio onto tape," which has like 670,000 members since it was created a month ago. This clever cultural reference stuff has been a staple of Orkut, Brazil's primary social networking site, for years. I'm a proud member, for example, of the community called "I've kissed a gringo." (It's true!)

Second, here come the pizza cones. Turns out some guys spotted the Brazilian version, maybe in this spot, and have opened a place in New York. (FYI, the pizza coneries in Rio sprouted as an offshoot of the cone-shaped temaki roll phenomenon, which I wrote about once).

Now, here's something I saw yesterday in the Consolacao subway stop in Sao Paulo that I hope no American transit system has adopted or will adopt, ever: special chairs reserved for the obese. Sorry for the low quality photo, taken with my phone, but you get the idea. 

Whatever was wrong with the good old-fashioned, all-inclusive seating that worked for both the obese and the spindly — you know, benches? 

In the unlikely event an obese person would actually use a seat with a sign specifically reserving it for an obese person, guess what they'd be staring at? (No more than 10 feet in front of them, and I am not kidding.)

Great planning, Metro authorities! Brazil, we'll take your quirky quips and your pizza cones, but you can keep this one.

http://www.globalpost.com/notebook/brazil/100223/ok-americans-borrow-and-not