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Quy Hop, Nghe An, 2018

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In Marseilles, I met an illegal immigrant from Nghe An. He said his boss and housemates in Paris were all from the same province. Long known for its poverty, Nghe An leads Vietnam in the ratio of people working overseas, with most never returning. In fact, so many have become illegal in South Korea, Vietnam is blocking 11 Nghe An districts from sending people there.

Last week, I was in Nghe An for a three-day wedding. The one-hour-forty-five-minute flight from Saigon landed me at an airport, Vinh International, with no other planes. Across its empty tarmac, we walked to the new, airy terminal. Outside, there was a large, colorful mural of Ho Chi Minh being applauded by citizens and soldiers, and presented with flowers by two children. Flying over Uncle Ho’s head, a plane dropped nothing.

Nghe An is Ho’s home province, so in Vinh (pop. 500,000), his 39-foot-tall granite statue lords over Vietnam’s largest square. As I shall explain, much space was available.

Going into town for lunch, I noticed many houses had roof spires that evoked nearby Laos. Across the border was Xiangkhouang, the most heavily bombed Laotian province during the Vietnam War, with American planes pulverizing all but one of its temples, some dating to the 16th century. As the starting point of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, Nghe An was also pummeled, with Vinh leveled by more than 4,700 air strikes.

On the way to the wedding, I passed Truong Bon, where on October 31st, 1967, American bombs hit a road repair crew. All 13 victims were under 20, with 11 of them female. Perhaps it’s because most were only teenage girls, they’re honored with a huge monument that attracts a thousand visitors daily.

I walked into a spartan roadside store to find some skinny old guy behind a lonely glass cabinet.

“Visiting, brother?”

“Yes, uncle, I just came up from Saigon. Have you been?”

“More than twenty years ago,” he grinned, showing only a few teeth.

“Where were you in Saigon, uncle?”

“Dak Lak!”

That’s over 200 miles north of Saigon, I thought, but close enough. Similarly, many southern Vietnamese routinely refer to all of northern Vietnam as “Hanoi.” Many would even say, “Will you come to Hanoi or Vietnam?”

The wedding was in Quy Hop, an idyllic city of 119,000 that’s ringed by mountains, with a serene lake downtown. Its chief economic activities are stone quarrying, tin mining and logging, resulting in fantastic wealth for some. I walked pass quite a few ridiculously fine houses, including a marble mansion boasting a huge roofed gate that’s made from a single block of stone. I also talked to a man whose daughter, working in Saigon, could only afford to visit him once every few years. “We’re still very poor,” the sun-baked man sighed. Among crotch-high sugar canes, his wife poked around with a hoe.

Unlike much of Vietnam, the water buffalo is still widely used as a draft animal in Nghe An. In tiny, remote Van Loi, however, school kids now wear jeans, with nice backpacks, something I never saw while visiting similar villages in 1995.

At the first banquet, a 57-pound goat was slaughtered, and that’s enough food for seven tables. Every bit of the goat used for a variety of dishes, including blood pudding. A local specialty is “hill chicken” [“gà đồi”], but this mountaineering fowl was so tough, I couldn’t develop a taste for it. For breakfast, locals prefer eel congee or eel soup, eaten with bread. Both are sophisticatedly seasoned and quite hearty. They drink a bright green “stabbed tea” [“trà đâm”], that’s made from freshly crushed leaves of exactly the right age. If too old, the tea darkens, and if too young, it’s bitter. Stabbed tea originated with the Tai, one of 36 ethnic minorities in Nghe An.

A Quy Hop custom requires you to shake everyone’s hand after each toast, and that night, I shook so many hands, it made me groggy for all of the next day. The crazy folks of Quy Hop can sure down their banana wine, much of it home brewed. Women, too, knocked them down. Outdoing the rest, a construction worker guzzled his from a beer mug. Over the next three days, I had to repeatedly decline his aggressive toasts, and once, he freakishly bounded out of the dark as I walked down an empty dirt road in Chau Dinh, miles from the wedding. “Oh come on, just a few! My house is right there!” I had to peel his fingers from my arm. Glancing at his dwelling, I spotted two pool tables under fluorescent lights, his wife’s side business. Along with alcohol, volleyball and procreation, it’s such a village’s chief diversion.

Heroin, though, is Nghe An’s most troublesome addiction, and it’s growing. Smuggling it from Laos, many locals make the news. In 2015, two Nghe An brothers were executed for trafficking 450 pounds of this nodding, passing euphoria. Armed with just a knife, two motorcyclists were caught on January 31st with 15 pounds of heroin and 11 of crystal meth. Since having over 1.3 pound of dope means a mandatory death by injection, they’re done.

I had come to this wedding knowing neither the groom nor bride, only the bride’s brother’s Saigon boss, but it was more than enough, for as soon as I showed up, I was warmly welcomed into the endless carousing. Generous, gregarious and down-to-earth the 43-year-old Saigon boss is very well-liked, and this pervasive affection spilled over onto me.


I was told that the bride had been deeply withdrawn and clearly possessed by some demon, literally, until she was cured by a renowned fortune teller, “He can even tell you when you’ll die, brother. Once he told a perfectly healthy man that he would die four days later, and sure enough, the man went to sleep that night, feeling perfectly normal, but he never woke up again.” At the wedding, the bride was gracious and self-assured. As the Wagner came on, she stood beaming on stage, next to her man.

To plan any important occasion, most Vietnamese consult a fortune teller for the best date, and even time. In real life, however, events can take unexpected turns. In Quy Hop, locals will recount with mirth one recent wedding. After arriving at the bride’s house, the groom’s party wasn’t let in, since it wasn’t yet the auspicious time. Unfortunately, it rained hard that day, so after several rebuffs, the groom’s angry father ordered his people home. On the way, they stopped at a café where there was a pretty, pleasant waitress. Impulsively, the old man asked, “Would you like to become my daughter-in-law?” After she said yes, the wedding went on as planned, but with a different bride.

A retired school teacher, the bride’s father told me about bride kidnapping, “Several of the minority groups still do this, and they’re quite serious about it, they’re not joking around. They’d grab a girl around 14, 15, but sometimes as young as 12, and they’d bring her home, screaming.” Then, “The Bru have a most curious practice. Just before a woman gives birth, they isolate her in the forest, in a tiny hut, and she must remain there for an entire month after childbirth.”

“With her baby?!”

“Yes, with her baby. Each day, though, someone will bring them food.”

The Bru believe childbirth to be the filthiest of acts, which brings to mind Borges’ wicked joke, “Mirrors and copulation are abominable, because they multiply the number of men.”

After his daughter-in-law gave birth, the retired school teacher merely gave her a bit of opium, diluted in water, “It cleans out her system. A lot of people here do it.”

As always, I was all ears whenever anyone told me his life story. A 28-year-old factory worker, Nam was drinking after work with his buddies when they were approached by a labor contractor, who promptly dragged them off to be interviewed. Accepted, Nam ended up in Malaysia just a few months later, but his promised wage didn’t quite materialize. Still, his working and living conditions weren’t too bad. Four Vietnamese were housed in a two-bedroom apartment.

To send just $45 home a month each, though, they had to be super creative with their food procurements. “First, we got pig entrails for free from the Chinese butcher, because no one else wanted them. Later, though, the guy decided to charge us!” Nam laughed. “We caught iguanas. They were tasty. Once, we decided to splurge on beef, but we bought such a bad cut, my teeth were still hurting the day after. We picked edible plants by the river. When a woman asked, ‘What are you guys doing?’ one of us who could speak Malay said, ‘Oh, we’re picking these for pigs!’ We suffered, sure, but things got better and better. We got raises because we worked much harder than the Malays. Unlike them, we always worked overtime.”

“How long were you there altogether?”

“Over six years!”

“Wow, so you must have learnt the language?”

“Yes, I could understand maybe 80% of it, and speak it. I took no classes, though. I had to work.”

“Do you miss Malaysia?”

“Yes, of course, it became a part of me.”

“If things were so good in Malaysia, why did you come home?”

“I had a gambling problem. Plus, I had to come home to get married.”

“Couldn’t you have married a local?”

“No, the Malays were Muslims, and the Chinese looked down on us!”

“So, uh, you guys had no women the entire time you were there?”

“There were Vietnamese women there, but not many. Plus, there were prostitutes of all nationalities, including white ones.”

Based in Kuala Lumpur, Nam and his buddies drank at joints run by Burmese, and would occasionally hire a car to see more of Malaysia. Now married with a kid, he’s thinking of working in South Korea. Around Quy Hop, there are signs advertising employment and study opportunities in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore and even Germany, the last to toil in hospitals.

I met another man, a Tai, who had spent extended time overseas. Loc lived illegally for a decade in Germany, working in Vietnamese groceries in Berlin, Gera and Chemnitz. Finally caught, Loc paid several thousands Euros in fine, but was allowed to apply for political asylum. Knowing this wouldn’t likely be granted, Loc tried to arrange a fake marriage to a Vietnamese with German residency. Though Loc agreed to her asking price, 40,000 Euros, she procrastinated until it was too late, and Loc was deported.

Loc’s German never got beyond what was needed to work in a store. He fondly remembers the integrity of German food, and admires German orderliness and respect for the commons. Of the last, Loc lamented, “I don’t know how long it will take for us to catch up to them.” Near us, an empty bottle of shampoo and other garbage marred a mountain stream.

In a recent interview, I stated that East Asian countries have at least two advantages over white ones 1) They have a stronger sense of community 2) They don’t question their ethnocentrism. The flip side to these is a clannishness that’s often manifested as nepotism, for you can’t form fierce bonds without being biased against those outside your circle. As the Saigon boss confides, “You can’t hire more than three people from Nghe An. They will inevitably form a clique and cause dissension in your workplace.”


Taken to extreme, all those outside your circle become prey. Loc related that after a new director was appointed to the region’s health department, he immediately reassigned every doctor and nurse to a different hospital, “Suddenly, you’re told to move a hundred kilometers away! You can imagine the panic and despair, brother, because people already had homes, their kids were used to certain schools and their spouses had jobs that couldn’t be relocated.” The solution was to bribe the director to be left alone, which was his plan all along.

Hearing this story, the Saigon boss concluded, “This is why the best people are moving into the private sector. In the market place, you can’t act like that.”

A state is totalitarian to the degree that it distorts human relations. In war, however, the state must be intrusive, coercive and unjust to even function, so the fact that many are becoming increasingly totalitarian must mean they’re preparing for strifes of all kinds, external and internal.

Having gone through the worst of war and state, the folks of Nghe An will survive whatever comes next. Will you?

Linh Dinh’s latest books are Postcards from the End of America (non-fiction) and A Mere Rica (poetry). He maintains a regularly updated photo blog.

• Category: Culture/Society • Tags: Immigration, Vietnam 
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  1. Or asked differently:

    Do you belong to a strong tribe?

    Seems to me the US tribal boundaries are clearly divided between urban and rural for the most part. Since the urban areas have the larger population base the politicians elected by them will necessarily impose their will over the rural tribe(See California). At what point does this coercion lead to a breaking point? Is there enough cohesion among the widely spread rural tribe to resist this coercion? What level of coercion are the Urbanists ready to employ?

    Clearly one side has the advantage but passion often wins these wars (See Vietnam).

  2. “In war, however, the state must be intrusive, coercive and unjust to even function, so the fact that many are becoming increasingly totalitarian must mean they’re preparing for strifes of all kinds, external and internal.”

    Preparing?! What were you smoking in chilled-out Nghe An?

    Perhaps you drifted off after America stopped Vietnam so you missed the fact that it didn’t stop bombing.

    It’s bombed 40 countries since them–some for more than a decade–and is threatening to bomb some more this week.

    It’s also threatening to attack a country whose only real claim to fame is that it has disemboweled every super power that has attacked it and is the sole owner of an offensive weapons suite against which we have zero defense.

    That’s why everyone’s preparing.

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
    , @anonymous
    , @Truth
  3. Linh Dinh says: • Website
    @Godfree Roberts

    You must be one hell of a navel-gazing, narcissistic American to think that my writing “they’re preparing” somehow refers only to the USA.

    • Replies: @Che Guava
  4. Linh Dinh says: • Website

    Maybe someone can explain how Unz has become a magnet for so many flippant and angry people who can’t read? I mean, if Godfree Roberts thinks “many” refers to just one country, then can he understand anything at all?

    He’s hardly alone, however, for after each Unz article, there are commenters who have become enraged or triggered because they can’t read a basic word or sentence.

    We’re watching American degeneracy in real time, I’m afraid.

  5. anonymous[340] • Disclaimer says:
    @Godfree Roberts

    You’re apparently not very familiar with this columnist’s work over the years. Or perhaps you mined out a sentence to straw man so that you could post another link to, let me guess, your website?

    • Replies: @Da Wei
  6. Da Wei says:

    Linh Dinh,

    After a spell, I see another of your fine pieces, casual at the start, terse at the end. And this one, more terse than most, 2 syllables, 2 words: “Will you?”

    Then I see this comment of yours with the final 2 words, “I’m afraid.” I believe that.

    I think your fear is real and, though universal, it is for unseeing, betrayed Americans. You spent much of your life in the USA and, as with Nam, it became a part of you. How else to explain your disappointment? You can’t cut it out. Nor can anyone.

    This is very nice work, subtle and poignant, like the work of a philosopher poet, ethical and beautiful.

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
  7. anonymous[340] • Disclaimer says:
    @Linh Dinh

    “Maybe someone can explain….”

    I agree about the general degeneration of the country. But I’m afraid that we’re also seeing the typical decline of the comment threads on any controversial website that grows in popularity. I have written about this here for months, most recently in addressing the new policy of numbering anonymous commenters; see the last article under “Announcements,” where I just posted the news that Taki’s has now pulled the plug on its degraded commentariat. A variety of the bad apple is this person, who as I’ve suggested to him directly is parasitizing in order to draw people to his own website.

    I hope that Mr. Unz can better manage us before the good authors and commenters start to leave in disgust.

    By the way, I would love to see the better writers here like you, Mr. Giraldi, Mr. Whitney, and Mr. Hopkins engage the likes of Andrew Napolitano, who carries Establishment water on Trump and Russia but, unlike you, is afraid to interact with we mere commenters.

  8. Linh Dinh says: • Website
    @Da Wei

    Hi Da Wei,

    The emails I get from friends back in Philly show increasing frustration, sadness and/or anger. Half of the country sees the other half as insane, but all of it is sliding into madness, by design. It is striking, our collective impotence to prevent this.


    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @TonyVodvarka
  9. To send just $45 home a month each, though, they had to be super creative with their food procurement…. I had a gambling problem.

    They might not have enough money for food, but the poor usually have enough for gambling, cigarettes, alcohol, and apparently according to Nam, the occassional prostitute. The guys facing a mandatory death sentence for having over 1.3 pounds of drugs also show an inablity to prioritize and weigh the pros and cons of specific behaviors.

    The mural of Ho Chi Minh shows him wearing sandals. Ho Chi Minh sandals are made out of recycled tires and used to be very popular at one time.

    • Replies: @Bill Jones
    , @Anonymous
  10. Interesting. If I were traveling about, I would probably ask a few question also. One thing I’d ask (discreetly) is what do local engineers think of 911? In other words I’d like to know how the rest of the world views 911 Truth. Sort of a project. I wonder what kind of reaction you would get. Are people open about it? Do they become defensive, refuse to talk about it?

    Recently, the US has released UFO footage what do people think of that? There were many reports of UFOs in Vietnam during the war. Do they have any stories? I’d also ask about strange events lights in the sky, local legends, strange happenings etc.

    Maybe Linh could start a website/Magazine Paranormal Asia.

  11. Biff says:

    To plan any important occasion, most Vietnamese consult a fortune teller for the best date, and even time.

    The Thais consult their Monks for the same thing.
    Opening a business is one such important occasion.

  12. Anonymous[989] • Disclaimer says:
    @Linh Dinh

    It is striking, our collective impotence to prevent this.

    It’s downright inevitable given that the bonds of nationhood have been dissolved. Did they even really exist to begin with in the USA? Or was it just an Anglo ‘nation’ ruling over the other mixed residents? Open question – you’ve got a much better idea than I do.

    And by the way, it was a damned fine article. I didn’t just learn; I felt. Thank you!

  13. I once had a good friend here in America who had escaped Vietnam in the 1980’s as a “boat person”. I had the honor of attending both his bachelor party and his wedding. A special wine (called something like “kom”) was served at the party, and we all became quite intoxicated. Mekong River fish was served at the wedding, and an excellent local rock band had been engaged to entertain us after the ceremony. I must say it was the most fun I’ve ever had at a wedding! Sadly, I lost touch with Du Van over the years, but I’ll never forget him.

  14. @Si1ver1ock

    One thing I’d ask (discreetly) is what do local engineers think of 911?

    The impression I get from my travels is that, outside the Anglo sphere and Western Europe, nobody believes the U.S. government tall tale. NOBODY.

  15. Nghe An is on the rise. Nearly double-digit GDP-growth. 11 billion USD in FDI over the last decade. Several large Industrial Parks coming online over the next years. This year Nghe An’s export will cross the 1billion USD mark.

    The capital Vinh is slowly transforming into “exciting” city with clubs, cinemas and other urban activities.

    Nghe An was one of the recipient of financial transfers from richer provinces in the late 90s/early 2000s, which invested wisely and now reaps the fruits.

    Those booming secondary provinces makes the differences between VN and the Arab/African/Latin-American countries.

  16. Che Guava says:
    @Linh Dinh

    Evening, Linh.

    Roberts is also a columnist on Unz, as you likely know. In my opinion, silly.

    Thank you for another very interesting article and minor apology for previous incorrect but natural assumption.

    Recent change of workplace (not job), I am in an office room where I am the only one who is not Viet. They are nice people, slowly learning names.

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
    , @Linh Dinh
  17. Linh Dinh says: • Website
    @Che Guava

    Hi Che Guava,

    Thanks to a fluke, I’m coming to Tokyo in a few days. My sister-in-law won free plane tickets after a meal at a Japanese restaurant in Saigon, but she can’t go, so she gave the tickets to me and my wife. Let’s meet in Tokyo if you have time. My email is [email protected] .


  18. gdpbull says:

    “All 13 victims were under 20, with 11 of them female. Perhaps it’s because most were only teenage girls, they’re honored with a huge monument that attracts a thousand visitors daily.”

    Is there a monument for the 1000 or so women and children slaughtered on hwy 1 by the North Vietnamese Army while fleeing Quang Tri city in the spring of 1972? Didn’t think so.

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
  19. Linh Dinh says: • Website

    Hi all,

    Barry Yourgraw, Hideo Furukawa, Keijiro Suga, Hiromi Ito and Mieko Kawakami will read at 3PM on 4/21/18 at Rainy Day Bookstore & Cafe: Tokyo, Minato, Nishiazabu, 2 Chome−21−28.

    I will be there to hear them and to hang out afterwards, so if you want to join us, do come. The critic Motoyuki Shibata, translator Miwako Ozawa and, most likely, writer Roland Kelts will be there as well.


    • Replies: @jlee
  20. Linh Dinh says: • Website
    @Che Guava

    Hi Che Guava,

    I’m cringing at Godfree Roberts, not Paul Craig Roberts, whom I have long admired.


  21. Linh Dinh says: • Website

    Hi gdpbull,

    The losing side doesn’t get to honor its victims, and its story is grossly distorted. As a kid, I remember the statue of a sitting ARVN soldier at the entrance to the military cemetery in Thu Duc. As with all other ARVN statues, it’s gone. Two of my uncles were KIA ARVNs.

    The American South is still caricatured and mocked a century and a half after its defeat.


    • Replies: @gdpbull
    , @anonymous
    , @Whoever
  22. Joe Hide says:

    Great story telling Linh, real life discription at a personal level is Your great gift. At times in the past You’ve attempted to give political views but it alienated many readers. This, today, is extraordinarily good reading. It changes hearts and minds because it so real. Good Luck Linh!

  23. Anonymous[989] • Disclaimer says:

    It’s come up a few times during my travels. I’d say that Europeans are 50/50 and Muslims consider the Israel connection to be common knowledge. Both are naturally biased because Europeans are marinaded in Jewmedia while Muslims are marinaded in Jewphobia. A fairly neutral group would be the Chinese. They vaguely ‘know’ the Jewmedia version but are very open to alternative explanations.

    I think one big block Westerners have is that they generally have faith that their governments are benign and corruption is low. The rest of the world has no such delusion.

  24. gdpbull says:
    @Linh Dinh

    So true. I enjoy your articles.

  25. @Linh Dinh

    Linh Dinh reflected & wisely commented:. “We’re watching American degeneracy in real time, I’m afraid.”

    Another masterpiece travel-article, Linh, and thank you!

    B.t.w., the groom’s father’s decision to bolt after finding the bride’s door locked to his family, and afterward coordination of a quicky marriage to a waitress, was unforgettably comical.

    Also, I relate to Borges’ having categorized human copulation as “abominable;” it’s not much different than how dogs and horses “do it,” propagate their specie.

    (Note:I am bad at times, Linh, thinking that The Creator might have done better with the instinctual “hot-to-trot” act of human procreation by having engineered some level of moral responsibility within the brains of participant fuckers)

    Writing as a four-year veteran school bus driver, I have interacted with many neglected & subsequently troubled elementary Scranton school children. At times after having professionally disciplined (yelled at) a 3rd grader for misconduct on bus, his nutty mother/guardian would start preemptive WAR with me upon the kid’s drop off at home.

    Will I survive such embattled employment & proliferating “American degeneracy”?
    Chances are better, given a pregnant supply of opium, reduction of spousal support, and having a sane & safe place to “lay my head.”

    Thanks for the education!

  26. VolInPdx says:

    I travel the world via your very intelligentand well informed writing.
    Thank you, linh.
    Enjoy Tokyo. I’m sure you will.

  27. @Linh Dinh

    LD, I believe that at the base of the “sliding into madness, by design” is the corporate media that saturates the lives of most working people. Essentially controlled by five corporations, the media is virtually lockstep in its presentation of divisive identity politics that have successfully pitted ordinary people one against the other and dissipated the solidarity necessary to resist the rot that has infected our nation. Boycotting this malignant influence would be a great first step toward a better society.

  28. anonymous[277] • Disclaimer says:

    “I stated that East Asian countries have at least two advantages over white ones 1) They have a stronger sense of community 2) They don’t question their ethnocentrism”

    Well…can’t speak for other countries except for the US, and although we may not be (strictly speaking) a “white” country it’s a damn sight sure that we have no real sense of community. And as to questioning our ethnocentrism–hell, that’s all we’re doing these days!

  29. anonymous[277] • Disclaimer says:
    @Linh Dinh

    Revisionist history, Vietnam-style. So sad…so sad.

  30. Truth says:
    @Godfree Roberts

    It’s also threatening to attack a country whose only real claim to fame is that it has disemboweled every super power that has attacked it and is the sole owner of an offensive weapons suite against which we have zero defense.

    We’re declaring war on Israel?

    • Replies: @donut
  31. @Linh Dinh

    We’re watching American degeneracy in real time, I’m afraid.

    Nah… you’re just seeing a deliberate campaign by globalist agents to spread FUD on a site that has become popular enough that it needs to be countered…

  32. @Triumph104

    “They might not have enough money for food, but the poor usually have enough for gambling, cigarettes, alcohol, and apparently according to Nam, the occassional prostitute. ”

    I should imagine that the greater the the burden of the daily drudgery, the higher the appeal of the occasional bust out.

    Don’t you?

  33. Anonymous[989] • Disclaimer says:

    They might not have enough money for food, but the poor usually have enough for gambling, cigarettes, alcohol, and apparently according to Nam, the occassional prostitute.

    What do the foreign workers going to do after the factory closes? What are they going to do on Sunday? It’s risky going to town since Malaysian police love to cruise around and nab the super obvious groups of foreign workers. Only one of them can speak any Malay language? Good luck defending themselves. And how many of them had a valid work permit? None? Then that’ll be at least $50 per head in bribes, almost equal to a week’s pay. So overall, it’s safer to only go out when it’s essential and otherwise hang around the factory in the evenings until they go to bed upstairs in the factory dorm at night. Cigarettes and alcohol help to pass the time, while gambling starts off at no cost (since they’re only betting against their colleagues so it’s a closed system). As for the hooker, I doubt she’s expensive. They probably just paid $25-$50 to a Vietnamese/Indonesian foreign worker who also has a regular day job in a factory/food court.

    By our standards, it’s a shitty life. We shouldn’t judge them too harshly.

    The guys facing a mandatory death sentence for having over 1.3 pounds of drugs also show an inablity to prioritize and weigh the pros and cons of specific behaviors.

    The death sentence isn’t such a strong deterrent for people who are surrounded by death every day. It’s quite normal in countries like Vietnam to regularly pass the scene of an accident where some poor motorcyclist lost their life. It’s not shocking, it’s just vaguely depressing.

  34. jlee says: • Website
    @Linh Dinh

    dang it, will miss you in Tokyo by 6 hrs.! maybe next time. your writing style is lucid and your content always thought provoking. next time!

  35. johnl says: • Website

    “since having over 1.3 pound of dope means a mandatory death by injection, they’re done.”

    well then the PRC should have been excecuted about 1,000 times by now.

  36. @Jonathan Revusky

    Kind of what I would expect. Several years ago Ted Koppel said that after visiting China, that, as he was leaving, a Chinese fellow leaned toward him and said something like: “You know? What you people did on 911 was really evil.”

    This shocked Mr. Koppel deeply and he was very upset. Apparently, he wasn’t privy to inner workings of 911. Lately, it has come out that the Chinese saved some of the steel from 911 for study because it was a unique opportunity and all.

    We were told it was sent to China for recycling and so we assumed it was all gone, destroyed.

    Funny how the penny drops eventually, even years later.

  37. @Jonathan Revusky

    ‘The impression I get from my travels is that, outside the Anglo sphere and Western Europe, nobody believes the U.S. government tall tale. NOBODY.’

    And yet a sizeable number of Unz writers and commenters, to say nothing of, say, Counterpunch writers like Andre Vltchek, or cultural gatekeepers like Zinn and Chomsky, just laugh it off. Once, after trying to convince a neighbor over several excruciating conversations, I finally gave him my copy of David Ray Griffin’s The New Pearl Harbor and said, if he can’t convince you I never will. About two months later I saw him and asked if he’d read it. Oh yeah, he knew all about it–he’d not read the book at all, but had looked up the people who had given blurbs on the cover, such as MP Benn (I think), ‘all liberals’ apparently who weren’t going to pull one over on HIM. He probably graces these comment sections now. But he was a ‘science guy’, who had read ALL THE EVIDENCE, presented by, precisely, Popular Science mag. I said, great, surely in school you studied free fall speed–knowing the buildings came down at this rate was all it took to convince me that that was impossible. But I’d have been better off taking a board to my head repeatedly than continuing to attempt to penetrate his hard head.

  38. @daniel le mouche

    Well, of the five articles I have contributed to this site, none of them were specifically 9/11 pieces. I guess one central theme I was trying to work was just how people (HIQI’s) don’t understand the difference between real facts and storytelling. And often the storytelling has these cartoonish aspects even, but they still cannot see it. I tend to think that once you see the difference between real facts and storytelling, you look at the 9/11 narrative and you see that it’s all basically just storytelling. Osama Bin Laden blah blah blah. No proof of any of it.

    Now, this article I wrote is still about only one little sub-narrative in the 9/11 story. The article is here:

    It will appear on Veterans Today fairly soon as well. It doesn’t look like the piece will run here on the Unz Review. Unz is a pretty big ego and doesn’t want to admit that he was so wrong about this. He first said he wanted to run it but then started attaching ridiculous conditions and it became clear that he didn’t really want to run the article.

    Do feel free to tell me what you think of the article.

  39. @Jonathan Revusky

    Hi Jonathan,
    I did read the article you wrote. It was interesting. To see how these people operate, the lengths they go to, creating a website for the flight attendant for example… I am shocked in a way, but after so many years looking at this stuff, not really.
    In all these events there is lots of investigating that should be done, by journalists, and isn’t. Simply the kind of thing you have done, to try to verify eyewitness accounts, etc. 911 is the ultimate case study. All those made up people, who’s out there interviewing them in depth? I do have one question in this regard for you: did you try to contact any of her supposed classmates over those two years, 73 and 74, to see if they either remembered her or had the original yearbook?

  40. did you try to contact any of her supposed classmates

    No, I have not tried to contact any of the alumni from that time period. Not yet anyway.

    I would be extremely surprised if anybody says that they knew her and certainly if they had a description of Betty that rang true at all. Just look at the description of Betty that is on the memorial site that is supposedly maintained by her family.

    I pointed Ron Unz at that and he couldn’t see anything strange about it. Maybe Unz has Asperger’s syndrome or something. Other people (like Linh’s wife, according to Linh) just look at that and immediately say this is bullshit.

    The original yearbooks must be lying around in various people’s houses on the bookshelf or in some box in the attic that they haven’t opened for years. My belief is that the black girl who is labeled Betty Ong in the 1973 yearbook would have a different name in the original yearbook, probably Victoria Ole or Vivian Ole or something like that.

    Oh, I also saw something new since writing the article. None of Betty Ong’s alleged siblings are in any yearbook of that high school either! Yet it is claimed that all the Ong siblings attended that school. So the siblings are also looking more and more like crisis actors. Even the tiny bit of life history that these people are given, like where they attended high school, is all bullshit, seemingly.

  41. Anderson Cooper, crisis actors, media, Hollywood, celebrities like Snoop Dogg (or Brad, or anyone else), endless phoney attacks, steady and relentless real ones–it’s quite a funhouse.

  42. @Linh Dinh

    Godfree states he grew up in Australia, Dinhbat. Which I think would make him an Aussie, not a Yank. But don’t let that stop you, as you’re not one who concerns himself with, um, facts.

    We’re watching Indochinese derangement in real time, I’m afraid.

  43. Anonymous[989] • Disclaimer says:
    @Jonathan Revusky

    Very interesting indeed. I still don’t understand who altered the yearbook or why on earth they didn’t alter the photo to match. Was the hacked up yearbook just a prerequisite to getting the text string ‘Betty Ong’ inserted into the relevant records?

    Also if Ron Unz’s ego is the issue here, then we need to bring this to his attention! However much good a person does, their ego is always their enemy and an enemy of their enemy is their friend.

    • Replies: @Jonathan Revusky
  44. Che Guava says:

    I agree. Also, I sent you a mail message. Check, if not too late.

    Perhaps it was too late, I don’t check replies to my nonsenically pseudonymous (intentional of course) account here every day.

    If my timing was too late, my loss.

    Had been thinking of places you may find interesting.

  45. donut says:

    Funny guy . If only .

  46. @Anonymous

    I still don’t understand who altered the yearbook or why on earth they didn’t alter the photo to match.

    Well, I don’t know who altered that page in the yearbook. Like I say in the article, the best theory I have is that somebody did it as a little prank or in-joke. Anyway, as I said, it stands to reason that it is a lot easier to alter text on a page than to muck with actual photographic content. Anybody involved in the project of digitizing of the yearbooks might be able to to get in there and alter a bit of text quite easily, so if somebody was going to do something on the spur of the moment as a prank, it would be more likely something that is trivially easy to do, no?

    As for getting the string “Betty Ong” in there, it’s all kinda FUBAR. The name “Betty Ong” is pretty clearly inserted into the Spring 1973 graduating class list that appears on but the black girl labeled as Betty Ong in the yearbook is part of the Fall 1973 graduating class.

    If the conspirators wanted to cover their tracks, albeit sloppily, they could have replaced the name of either Jacki Ono (from Spring 1973) or Betty Ow (from Fall 1973). Of course, I see two basic problems with that. First of all, those people might still be alive and might notice. (Though that same point applies to Black Betty as well, of course…)

    Also, pretty clearly, neither Jacki Ono nor and Betty Ow is a younger version of Betty Ong, the 9/11 flight attendant. BUT… at least they are the right race! Both Chinese girls. A Black Betty Ong is just a total non-starter! So, again, I just figured it was a little joke. It certainly comes off as one. Hence my little excursion into the topic of “duping delight”. But I am not saying I really know for sure either!

    Also if Ron Unz’s ego is the issue here, then we need to bring this to his attention!

    Oh, it’s been brought to his attention all right! 🙂

    Unz has been trying to gaslight me for close to two years saying that I’m obviously nus and one of his talking points is that I doubted the existence of Betty Ong!

  47. Che Guava says:
    @daniel le mouche

    Vltchek is clearly some type of fake. One does not have to read many of his articles to see it.

    The point for me, re. his writing, that was convincing me of his falsity was a long whine about the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.

    I would not dream of staying in such an expensive place, if visiting.

    Also, during a period of work near there, at a nearby eating and drinking establishment, became acquainted with staff from there, from menials to managers.

    They were pleasant people.

    So, when I was reading Vltchek’s whining about the place, my only thought was ‘this Vltchek is a very wealthy or heavily subsidised man with an ugly sense of entitlement.’

    • Replies: @daniel le mouche
  48. Che Guava says:

    ‘obviously nus’, well, the post was making me laugh. By ‘nus’, do you mean Britain’s insane National Union of Students?

    I am not sure what ‘gaslight’ means, except for the form of illumination, but will be looking it up.

  49. @Che Guava

    ‘this Vltchek is a very wealthy or heavily subsidised man with an ugly sense of entitlement.’

    Hi Che,
    Yes, I’ve often felt the same. Like, ‘how the hell can this dude traipse all over hell and beyond as a Counterpunch writer, who don’t pay him anything?’ Buddy buddy with Chomsky, anyone? Interesting comment on the Imperial Hotel in Toky0, I may have read that article–haven’t read anything by him for probably a couple of years now. One of my favorite points about him that gets me going is his absolute sureness that nobody, just him and a couple of his close friends, literally that’s it worldwide, is doing anything, knows anything, isn’t just some worthless, clueless piece of shit. In so many words he has said this on more than one occasion. What an arrogant asshole! Perfect for Counterpunch, a worse than worthless establishment tool masquerading as radical, cutting edge, anti-establishment.
    And he just knocks off lying, shitty article after article on how great China, North Korea, Cuba, Zimbabwe, and more such countries are, and what pieces of shit Americans are. I agree unfortunately more and more with the last bit, brainwashed, braindead, tv-watching a-holes that so many are, but what western (anyway) country is much better? And there are lots of great Americans, too, at least I knew several growing up there.

    • Replies: @Che Guava
  50. Che Guava says:
    @daniel le mouche

    Thank you Daniel,

    My impression was formed some years before I was finding this sIte. Happy to see somebody else has noticed. Wonder where he gets the cash?

    I see great American writing on the Web, occasionaly have met one in Japan, or ovenseas who has a true heart. Don’t mistake me, I would love to visit the U.S.A. before I am shuffling off this mortal coil. Am anti-American polity (MIIC), not anti American people at all.

    Though I gather that many places that may have been nice to visit once (e.g. Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit) are wrecks, and even country towns have been pumped full of Somali and Sudanese and other exporters of their own problems, so one would not want to ever be there.

    For sure, if I ever get the time, I need to research places to avoid.

    How prophetic the movie Robocop was of the reality of Detroit now is dark humour.

    … except for the depiction of whites and latinos as being in charge of it.

    • Replies: @Jonathan Revusky
  51. @Che Guava

    even country towns have been pumped full of Somali and Sudanese and

    Dude, there are 129,000 Somalis in all of the U.S.A. apparently. And even fewer Sudanese. The two groups combined are way less than 0.1% of the population. (I only know that because I just looked it up.)

    I mean, regardless of what you think of those people (frankly, I suspect you never knew any personally) they can’t be causing much of the problems in the U.S. because there are hardly any of them!

    For sure, if I ever get the time, I need to research places to avoid.

    If it’s Somalis or Sudanese you are worrying about, I would relax. You’re unlikely to run into any of them unless you make a point of going and looking for them deliberately.

    But, you know, generally speaking, I can tell you, as a seasoned traveler, having traveled in dozens of different countries, there is fairly little need to research which places to avoid. Granted, there are areas where a tourist would be better off not going, but there is little need to actively research that, because, in practice, you don’t go there simply because there is no reason to go there.

    For example, Linh and I were in Marseilles and went to what is allegedly the worst neighborhood in all of France, Félix Pyat. We had a look around the area, stopped in a bar had a couple of beers, chatted with the barman. Linh wrote about it. But we didn’t randomly end up in that area. This actually was a result of deliberately seeking out a very dodgy part of Marseilles to go have a look, where the poor ethnic immigrants live etc.

    If you just go as a normal tourist to the south of France, there is no need to research where these areas are to avoid them. You never go to such an area because you never have any reason to go there! There is nothing there of any touristic interest. Well, unless you are a very special kind of “tourist” à la Linh Dinh, that is…

    I think you should go to America, and travel more generally, because you’ll probably then figure out that much of crank stuff that appears on this website is not to be taken so seriously.

    • Replies: @Che Guava
  52. Whoever says: • Website
    @Linh Dinh

    Two of my uncles were KIA ARVNs.

    Vietnamese-Americans die for our country, too. I don’t know how you feel about that, considering the ambivalence I detect in your writings about America. Ron Unz, I suppose, would just consider them losers, based on comments of his such as this one (231): “My impression is that nearly all of America’s volunteer servicemen are joining because they can’t find jobs after high school or can’t afford college or want an inside track to a well-paid government job. Fighting and dying isn’t something for which they signed up.”

    Some of us have a different point of view.

    Cpl Tevan L. Nguyen, 21, of Hutto, Texas, assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California; departed this life, Tuesday 28 December 2010, from mortal wounds incurred in an area of fierce aggression, while facing an enemy combatant stronghold the Taliban was unwilling to give up in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

    United States Marine Corps Corporal Tevan Lee Nguyen

    • Replies: @MacNucc11
  53. Che Guava says:
    @Jonathan Revusky

    Thank you Jonathon,

    Point taken. However, my impressions of the U.S.A. at more local level are not from this site, but more occasional reading of (X-ray through half-truths) english-language MSM.

    • Replies: @daniel le mouche
  54. @Che Guava

    Hi Che,
    I would say the main thing about America these days is that it’s deathly boring. All the bars are shit, tv’s blaring, all that. That said, there are lots of interesting people if you look. I can’t really say, it has changed a hell of a lot since I was a kid. But there’s no intersting street scene–pretty much anywhere. There are lots of DANGEROUS street scenes, all over the place, in sections of any big city. But for interest, and danger, I’d recommend Philly, Chicago and NY are too nice and gentrified now, though through Linh it seems Philly’s largely gentrified now too. But the out of the way places, throughout the middle of the country, get my vote generally, though again, I’m way out of touch and live abroad.

    • Replies: @Che Guava
  55. Che Guava says:

    Thanks for the comment, but as you are saying.

    From years ago, my dream visit to the U.S.A. was to be to flyover country’, I decided, in successron, not really interested in Noo Yawk, man, other cities too dangerous if not having *very* much money and not knowing where to be to avoid danger. Linh’s tales of Philadelphia were making me think that woul d be an interesting place to visit, but as a total stranger without any local knowledge, do not think so.

    Despite Jonathan R.’s kind reply and comment about small percentages of Somalis and Sudanese in the U.S.A. popullation, if there, would sure want to avoid places where they are concentrated.

    • Replies: @daniel le mouche
  56. @Che Guava

    I wouldn’t worry one iota about Somalis or other Africans, it’s American blacks that you need to be extremely wary of–they’re often, very often, nasty, aggressive mo fo’s. And Philly’s one of America’s blackest cities.

  57. MacNucc11 says:

    I assume that the rest of the world considers 9/11 total BS. In other countries they do not believe their media or see it as it rightfully is, government propaganda. Most likely the official story in most other countries is controlled demolition and they don’t even consider it a conspiracy. Simply good old government doing what it does. Another great article by Linh Dinh. I love how you notice everything. Nothing is mundane or beneath comment. Often depressing but oddly hopeful at the same time. What I find most striking is how much you understand.

  58. MacNucc11 says:

    I feel our leaders look at human life as capital to be invested. It looks good if we leave dead so we can create memorials, which in turn invest the communities back home. We didn’t just come and kill the locals. We died too. No one dies for nothing right? It works and keeps the supply intact. Is this more unfeeling than what Ron Unz has said? Yeah, maybe so. But he is essentially right. No one has signed on to be killed. It is because they did die for nothing that it is so sad. That they didn’t find something better to live for. It seems like there should be something.

  59. Che Guava says:
    @daniel le mouche

    By the way, I am liking what may be called recent American gothic fiction. One thati f is particurly coming to mind is a story titled ‘The Bone Man ‘, I forget the writer’s name, but if you are to look up the title and Fantasy and Science Fiction, you will find it. When I read it, I hear the sounds.

    Also, many works by Lucius Sheppard (my spelling of, probably wrong on surname spelling wrong, many stories brilliant, not all.

    So, I was wanting to continue supporting the mag. with money, but too much PC bs. Half-truths.

    If you are reading fiction in English language, I am recommending the above.

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