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Issue 08 – Christmas 2021



Thoughts, musings, odds and ends.


❖ During a recent trip to Barnes & Noble, we were immediately confronted by a table advertising novels which are popular on something called #BOOKTOK. This pyramid of fiction included such titles as Conversations With Friends, People We Meet on Vacation, The Charm Offensive, Dirty Rowdy Thing, and The Kiss Quotient. We don’t object to B. and N.’s decision to dump its refuse at the very front of the store, just as we don’t resent its aisles dedicated to “Teen Paranormal Romance” and “Religion & Inspiration.” But we left the store wishing that the Olympia Press were still around to repackage these lurid paperbacks in its smart green Traveller’s Companion series.

❖ We do not pretend to understand much about the conflict between the People’s Republic of China and its estranged cousin across the Taiwan Strait. But we were surprised to learn that the youths of that island—even more so than some of their contemporaries in the United States—want no part in a struggle with the mainland. A recent report in the Wall Street Journal detailed the lengths to which many young Taiwanese men will go to avoid military conscription. One claimed to have “stuffed himself with large meals every four hours for a month, including McDonald’s combo meals, to gain enough pounds to be exempted.” Another confessed to a similar strategy, adding that a local government official encouraged his desperate gluttony.

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