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Switzerland

In Praise Of The "50-Year-Old Teen"

Some adults between 45 and 55 years old act more like they're 25 or 30. At least one sociologist says they may be onto something.

Hipster parents
Hipster parents
Marie-Pierre Genecand

GENEVA — You're between 45 and 55 years old, maybe have adult children. But judging from the clothes you wear and the way you speak, your hobbies and travels, you still act like a 30-year-old. They say you're an eternal teenager. You identify with the movie While We're Young. Don't feel bad, because for the first time in human history, age has actually gotten younger, says French sociologist Serge Guérin.

The so-called quincado is a "50-year-old teen." The French portmanteau designation appeared in 2013 to describe people of a certain age and sociocultural background living with, well, a particular zest. Men have been having mid-life crises forever, so this term mostly applies to women. The quincado is a baby boomer who grew up in the 1960s or 1970s and prefers freedom over authority, parties over chores, a chosen profession over suffered labor, improvised trips over organized holidays.

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Geopolitics

Russia's Military Failures Are Really About Its Soldiers

No doubt, strategic errors and corruption at the highest ranks in the Kremlin are partly to blame for the Russian military's stunning difficulties in Ukraine. But the roots run deeper, where the ordinary recruits come from, how they are exploited, how they react.

Army reserve soldiers go to Red Square to attend a Pioneer Induction ceremony

Anna Akage

To the great relief of Ukraine and the great surprise of the rest of the world, the Russian army — considered until February 24, the second strongest in the world — is now eminently beatable on the battlefield against Ukrainian forces operating with vastly inferior firepower.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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After renouncing the original ambitions to take Kyiv and unseat the Ukrainian government, the focus turned to the southeastern region of Donbas, where a would-be great battle on a scale comparable to World War II Soviet victories has turned into a quagmire peppered with laughable updates by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on TikTok.

The Russians have not managed to occupy a single significant Ukrainian city, except Kherson, which they partially destroyed and now find difficult to hold. Meanwhile, Ukrainian civilians are left to suffer the bombing of cities and villages from Lviv to Odessa, with looting, torture and assorted war crimes.

The reasons for both the poor performance and atrocities are many, and include deep-seated corruption and lack of professionalism up through the highest ranks, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who had never served in the army, and arrived in his position only because of his loyalty to the No. 1 man in the Kremlin.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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