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#NPRreads: China's One-Child Policy, And Pat Sajak's Politics

NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. On Fridays, we highlight some of the best stories.

This week, we bring you three items.

From Sarah McCammon, a reporter on NPR's Washington Desk:

This piece put a surprising twist on a subject that many Americans have strong opinions about: China's one-child policy and the cultural preference for boys over girls. The story of a young American woman, Ricki Mudd, reconnecting with her Chinese birth parents and brother speaks to the larger relationship between the United States and China.

Mudd writes:

"I've learned not to be nostalgic about what might have been. The one-child policy brought my family, and many Chinese families, immense pain. But by forcing my parents to give me up, it also opened incredible opportunities for me — opportunities so irresistible that my brother, the child my parents kept, moved here from China last year for the education and other advantages that time in America can provide."

What I didn't expect was this sense that Mudd, incidentally, benefited from policies designed to exclude her from Chinese society or even from existing at all. Her connection with her Chinese brother and her efforts to maintain ties to both her American and Chinese families make this a fascinating personal study in an international issue.

From NPR producer Brakkton Booker:

Pat Sajak is a Republican? Who knew?

That's probably the first thing that struck me when I read Kyle Preston's feature piece in The Wall Street Journal titled, "The Conservative Wheelman." The article highlighted some of Sajak's recent tweets about Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton. A more recent check at his account shows he's up to date on the will-he-or-won't-he saga playing out with one of her would-be challengers.

Sajak held jobs as a weather forecaster and a radio host for Armed Forces Radio during the Vietnam War, according to the piece. When he was offered the Wheel of Fortune host job in 1981, he thought it would only last a season or two and then he'd move on.

If that would have happened, we could not have enjoyed these gems, as the Journal reports.

" 'Sesame Street' once paid tribute to Mr. Sajak in a pig-themed parody called 'Squeal of Fortune.' Billy Joel sang about the show in 1989 in his headline-spitting No. 1 hit 'We Didn't Start the Fire,' wedging 'Wheel of Fortune' right between 'Russians in Afghanistan' and 'Sally Ride.'

"Yet Mr. Sajak seems slightly mystified by his own success. 'If I went in to pitch this show today, the pitch would last about 12 seconds,' he says. 'I would say, "OK we're going to play hangman. Here's the show: 'R.' 'No.' " And the guy would go, "Excuse me? That's the show?" ' "

In case you were wondering, Wheel of Fortune is mentioned at about 3:10 into the song.

From Carol Ritchie, an NPR digital editor:

If you follow baseball even a little, you probably heard about Jonathan Papelbon's attack on teammate Bryce Harper over a spurious violation of the game's unwritten rules. The incident inspired some crackling-good writing by some of the best journalists covering sports. And why wouldn't it? The story arcs are irresistibly multilayered and rich. A team with World Series ambitions hires a bully midseason to fill in bullpen gaps; bully ends up assaulting a presumptive MVP for alleged violations of the baseball unwritten rules.

On, former major league pitcher Dirk Hayhurst lays out the trouble with a warped culture and its unwritten codes under which "the preferred tool for teaching is assault":

"Oddly, while baseball's social norms are about as clear as mud, one thing is crystal: baseball is full of fragile narcissists who justify a great deal of their behavior by citing sources that don't exist. They rationalize their foolish behavior as customary or, worse, crucial to the development of a younger generation. The system that makes Jonathan Papelbon a narcissistic borderline fascist is the same system that encourages Bryce Harper to be a narcissistic egomaniac."

But don't miss these other great pieces on the incident:

Thomas Boswell rips the team apart in the Washington Post: "A public viewing was held at Nationals Park on Sunday for one of the worst professional team failures in D.C. sports in a generation."

Ben Lindbergh on Grantland spies, in the much-played assault video, a bright-eyed fan in the seats, oblivious to the ruckus about to erupt and thrilled to just wave at Harper: "This is the saddest four-second silent movie I've ever seen. It's a baseball remake of the 'Daisy' ad, with Papelbon playing the part of the mushroom cloud."

But Barry Svrluga, also of the Post, has the definitive story on the Nats' season (Part 3 of three): "They should have been rolling. They were reeling."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit

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