Happy 1st Birthday, Little Soldier!

This has become a custom among some members of Vietnam's nouveau riche. I took this photo at a five-star hotel in HCMC. I grimaced when I saw this baby dressed up in a military uniform. The teddy bear adds a special touch. Talk about an alienation effect! The formula is simple. Rent out a large … Continue reading Happy 1st Birthday, Little Soldier!

How Wealth Reduces Compassion

Source: The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley I recently stumbled upon this 2012 Scientific American article that makes the point, using the results of various studies, that people's empathy for others is generally linked to their economic status, hence the subtitle, As riches grow, empathy for others seems to decline. … Continue reading How Wealth Reduces Compassion

Vietnamese Billionaire to Donate $211 Million to University of Oxford College

An announcement on the International Vietnamese Academics Network's Facebook page jumped off my screen. Ly Le, who posted it, mentioned that while it was Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao's (Nguyễn Thị Phương Thảo) money and she could do what she wanted with it, she was sad for Viet Nam and for the donor. Ms. Thao is … Continue reading Vietnamese Billionaire to Donate $211 Million to University of Oxford College

If You’ve Got It, Flaunt It!

Luxury, of course, is a revolutionary new way of life in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, whose citizens have had to contend with war, poverty, a devastating US-led economic embargo that ended in 1994 (i.e., only 18 years ago!), dislocation, corruption and mismanagement in recent generations. This explains the typically nouveau riche behavior on display, mostly in the nation's big … Continue reading If You’ve Got It, Flaunt It!