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From Leipzig to Osaka, part II:  The Children

June ‘70   (**Images not Available)  **People only  Jerusalem **Osako **Lu Wu **Ayudhya **Bangkok: food on the mind **Tokyo: food on the table **Hamburg: food for the doggy Whoever invented that nonsense about the “true internationalism” of children, whoever first said that “children are the same the world over” must have been blind in both eyes. With Coca-Cola signs dominating the entire inhabited universe, the only truly different and therefore characteristic sights the quick traveler gets a chance to see these days are the faces of children. The “cute sameness of kids” is in the mind of the gusher. The real thing is beyond that belabored facade. Children are people. They are fat or hungry, energetic or lethargic, bright or stupid, ambitious or complacent, happy or depressed… They are people and therefore different. Those four pictures on the front page show four different groups of children, picked at random from different countries, different civilizations, different circumstances. There is very little that’s similar about them. Physical size may just be the only clear possibility: they are

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In Lieu of Summing Up

VIENNA—Looking back at the end of a year in Europe, the following item from the London Times stands out among truly significant memories: The Course of Nature The riddle of the worm’s wriggle From a Correspondent Worms are hardly a subject for popular observation, and the literature about them is thin underfoot.  So when a Royal Navy commander wrote asking me why worms “tied themselves into complicated knots not to be found in the Admiralty seamanship manual” if suddenly brought to the surface, the possible answer needed some reflection. Long ago Darwin showed how hypersensitive worms are to any contact.  He found that even a slight puff from the mouth caused instant retreat into the burrow.  Here, it would seem, lies the answer to my correspondent. An authority I consulted said that sudden exposure of worms to duce a reflex “escape” reaction – the air while digging would pro-they turn blindly in upon themselves in trying to reach safety.  Sometimes they coil tightly into little balls, as I have observed myself when turning over a

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From The Moon to a Land Yet Stranger…

Lerchengasse 28/43 1080 Wien, Austria   BELGRADE—Freedom is chaos. At least here, in East Europe. (And there are some people who feel that way even in America.) But there is no question about the chaotic qualities of freedom here, especially in comparison with the splendidly rigid discipline of East Germany or Bulgaria or Romania. Bucharest was OK for Nixon, “safe” as it could be—but Belgrade is not recommended. Even the astronauts were in a bit of jeopardy from the crowd. Yugoslavia is considered to be the freest of Communist countries (and there is a question in the mind of the visitor here if this is a Communist country at all) — an opinion which becomes visibly justified by an apparently complete lack of regimentation. Balkanic passions explode here freely, uninhibited by Party, social, or police discipline. The astronauts of Apollo 11 (here Oct. 18-20 on the 13th stop of their tour around the world) learned of these conditions as soon as they stepped down from Air Force One. They were surrounded immediately by officials, journalists,

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Hungarian Mass Media and its Cultural Emphasis – I

Lerchengasse 28/43,1080 Wien, Austria   BUDAPEST—The number of television sets in Hungary (population: 10 million) has shot up from 16,000 in 1958 to over one million in 1966 and to 1.4 million by 1968. The 1966 figures indicate that there were about 100 TV sets in use for each 1,000 residents in Hungary—still considerably behind the 357 per thousand in the U.S., but ahead of the Soviet Union’s 67 and Yugoslavia’s 30, and just a few fractions ahead of the rate for Austria. More significant than these impressive figures is the fact that Hungarian TV is good, its programs more varied, engaging, entertaining, and experimental than just about any other nation’s (with the possible exception of the best of BBC). Although HTV’s growth is phenomenal, it is still a young and often weak enterprise. Program hours, for example, amounted to only 2,391 in 1968 and that compares unfavorably with Western TV output notwithstanding the fact that it represents a two-fold increase over 1960. Mondays are still without any program at all on Hungary’s only station

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Life Among the Natives or Scenes from the Hungarian Jungle sans Dorothy Lamour

(but Zsa Zsa may be substituted)   Oct. 1969 Lerchengasse 28/43 1080 Wien, Austria   BUDAPEST—Hungarians are all crazy. They really are. All right, we are. I mean it helps to have a name like “Janos” to make such a statement. It prevents any charges of prejudice or xenophobia. “Crazy,” the way it is used here, means more than “foolish” or “cute.” It also means neurotic, sick, and unreasonable. The proof of the pudding is in the Hungarian suicide rate, among the highest in the world, as well as in the world-wide spread of Hungarian greats, way out of proportion for a nation of 10 million, from nuclear scientists to opera tenors (and in these two extremes the evidence, indeed the need, of some kind of unbalance is obvious). In the category of lesser greats of damning Hungarian exports are a frightening number of malicious journalists. Impeccably courteous to foreign visitors, to the point of a national mania, which is constantly lampooned in their own press, Hungarians among themselves are rude, crude, and socially unacceptable.

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