Magazine article New Internationalist

Windows 11: Political Economy

Magazine article New Internationalist

Windows 11: Political Economy

Article excerpt

The Wafer Man

The sounds of the little organ announced the wafer man's arrival in the neighbourhood. Made of wheat and air, and of music too, those crusty wafers made our mouths water.

[Graph Not Transcribed]

[Graph Not Transcribed]

The number of wafers was a matter of luck. For a coin you'd spin a dial until the needle pointed to your lucky number: from zero to twenty, if I remember right. You'd end up either with nothing, a little, a lot, or a banquet.

I'll never forget my first time. I handed over my coin, reared up on my tiptoes and spun the dial. When it stopped, I saw the needle pointing at twenty. Then the wafer man stuck in his finger and proclaimed, 'Zero.'

I protested, in vain.

I knew something about economics, I think I could count to twenty with the help of both hands, but I didn't know a darned thing about political economy. That was my first lesson.

Marketing

Salim Harari always kept pepper, that unfailing weapon of the East, close at hand to throw in the eyes of thieves, but not even thieves bothered to enter. The store, 'Prettypretty Girl', was as empty as the stomachs of his nine children.

Salim never gave up, having come from far-off Damascus to sell fabric in the town of Rafaela. The lemon tree didn't bear fruit, so he tied lemons to the branches. Not a single customer turned up, so from the balcony he tossed yards and yards of cloth into the street: 'We're giving it all away!' News came that a ship had sunk in the Parana River, so he sprayed water on his satins and linens and shouted: 'Cloth rescued from the shipwreck!'

Even that failed. It was useless. People walked by and looked the other way.

His misfortune lasted for a long time. Every day was worse than the last and better than the next, until one night Salim was visited in his dreams by a genie from the old country. The genie divulged the magic secret: you have to charge to get in.

That's when Salim's luck turned. The entire town lined up.

State-of-the-Art Technology

Levi Freisztav reads, writes, paints and carves wood, until the sun sets. No more. His eyes feel the weight and length of the years, and he prefers to save them for looking at mountains.

His gaze fixed on the woven strips of dusk amid the high peaks, Levi recalls bygone days. It's been nearly half a century since, out of curiosity or happenstance, he came to Patagonia from Buenos Aires and stayed for good. …

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