When I was showing off my iPhone to family members a couple of weeks ago, the feature everyone liked most was checking out satellite photos of their own backyards in rural Indiana -- "liked" in the sense that they were simultaneously fascinated by today's mapping technology and slightly disturbed at how easily their privacy could be invaded.
A couple days ago I was googlemapping Burma, just to see what I could see -- not much, but it was fascinating that in a country whose people have been systematically shut off from the outside world, the outside world can casually cruise by and study aerial shots of the land that would have been the envy of any military force just a couple of decades ago. When Cavin saw what I was doing, we turned Google on Vietnam, to see if we could find his hometown. Lo and behold, here it was:
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Cavin pointed out to me his family's house, with the mango trees they pulled fruit from (it's the orange/rust colored roof right in the center, on the north side of the river, next to the bridge); the school he walked to; the houses taken over by the Communists who moved down from the north; the house that once belonged to a great-grandmother of his, but was appropriated by the Communists after they took her away; the public pool that was such an unheard of novelty it caused a near riot when the crowds awaiting the opening pushed through the surrounding fence (and an older boy snatched an entry ticket from Cavin's 8-year-old hand); the areas where neighborhood boys had rock throwing battles; and a lot more that I hadn't known about his life pre-America. It also reminded me why I have no patience for Americans with soft-spots for Communist dictators and totalitarian governments.