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The years following the war in Vietnam were characterized by grinding poverty, due in part to the fatigue and damage caused by decades of fighting, the isolation from the West, and the government’s repressive political instincts. Vietnam also committed vast economic mistakes, errors that Truong Chinh, a former Secretary-General of Vietnam’s Communist Party, conceded, in the deadpan rhetoric of the socialist five-year planner, were due to “‘leftist infantilism,’ idealism, and the…contravention of the objective laws of socio-economic development.” Centralized economic control, agricultural collectivization, and an emphasis on inefficient heavy-industrial enterprises (largely at the behest of the Soviet Union), resulted in poor-paying jobs, resentment at the inability to own property and engage in commerce—an essential aspect of Vietnamese culture and self-perception—and for people like Thao and Binh, a daily struggle simply to survive. –“Descent into the American Dream,” Theodore Ross, Guernica
A sentry waited by the steps of the second-floor landing while Mohseni paused to talk with three writers—Trudi-Ann Tierney, Muffy Potter, and Sean Lynch—who work on developing series. Although the vast majority of Moby’s employees are Afghan, these three writers are Australian; when Mohseni started Tolo, scriptwriters and experienced production people were scarce in Kabul, so he imported them. “I want you to see the treatment I wrote,” he told Tierney. He described a sitcom based on an inept government minister, his nay-saying deputy, and another aide who always says yes. The minister’s job is to deal with garbage. “The idea is that this minister is dealing with crap all the time. That’s the symbolism. You can write it just by putting writers in a room and coming up with one-liners!” The writers laughed; it was unclear if they were just humoring the boss. –“The Networker,” Ken Auletta, The New Yorker
Afghan television could learn a thing or two from this broadcast mogul;
someone who can bring in talented acts from all over the world;
and soon the high-class political ad money will start piling up
Aristocrats, however, continued to favour wet-nurses, believing it was unsavoury to have sex with a woman when she was breast-feeding – an uncanny precursor of Blundell’s notion that the whole practice is “creepy”. The behaviour of the nobility, as continues to be the case with those in the public eye, influenced the fashion-conscious; by the 18th century, wet-nursing had become so widespread in Paris that almost all of the babies of the urban poor, let alone the wealthy, were dispatched to be nursed by country surrogates. This practice resulted in widespread neglect and galloping infant mortality rates. –“Does a lover really have first claim on breasts?” Rowan Pelling, Telegraph
More from Rafe Bartholomew:
Rolls of toilet paper Chicago’s city government has produced this year from recycled City Hall wastepaper:
Two thirds of U.S. teenagers experience uncontrollable rage.
Russia lost, then regained, contact with a satellite carrying five geckos sent to copulate in zero gravity.
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”