Tuesday, August 01, 2006

How to win friends and influence dictators.

If you have a little time on your hands or need something to listen to during your commute, This American Life produced an amusing and thought provoking 45 minute segment about an unusual set of pen pals. The story starts with a family in small town in Michigan watching Manuel Noriega on TV. The father, an avid hat collector, decides he likes Noriega's unique hat, the family decides that their 10 year old daughter might be able to get Noriega to send them one by writing him a letter. What ensues is a unusual friendship between a 10 year old American girl and a notorious dictator and drug trafficker.

One thing you should know about this piece before listening is that it presents a biased and sympathetic view of Noriega which isn't necessarily accurate. If you want to know more about him, the Wikipedia has a pretty good summary of his life and the controversy surrounding his arrest by the United States after the 1989 invasion of Panama.


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