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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:
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”