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“Her daughter, Fatima Abdul Karim, 5, has barely left the house since she was injured in late 2003 during the chaos that erupted when a car bomb exploded. ‘I dropped her,’ Hassan said quietly. ‘She was in my arms, and I dropped her. She’s never going to walk again.’ When Blauser began fitting the first child, he realized that the wheelchair was missing the custom-made tool that allows parents to adjust the chair as the child grows. He soon discovered that all the chairs were missing the critical part. The U.S. officer in charge of the event called the Iraqi soldiers and questioned them. Minutes later, the Iraqis walked in with 11 of the 32 tools. They had no explanation for the fate of the rest or for a wheelchair that they didn’t deliver. ‘Iraqis enjoy some sense of civility with us here,’ Blauser said later.”
The exceptionally sluggish pace of new-vehicle sales, moreover, in the face of extremely attractive incentives being offered by the automakers might imply that Americans are considering making more-permanent adjustments to their lifestyles. And the denigration of the brand of the Big Three automakers in light of their financial difficulties— about one third of Americans have generally told pollsters they will buy only an American-made car— might reduce some of the patriotic associations with the activity of driving. Building a light-rail system might not persuade Bubba to get rid of his vehicle— but forcing him to buy foreign might.
One can hardly imagine anything that would have better justified the established social and economic theories of the Industrial Revolution than the claim that our very biological natures are examples of basic laws of political economy. How else are we to explain the immediate and continued commercial success of Darwin’s books? The entire first edition of 1,250 copies of the Origin was immediately snapped up by booksellers. The expectation of public interest is revealed by the fact that a circulating library took five hundred copies. The sixth edition, only thirteen years later, sold 11,000 copies. One cannot understand the origin and the immediate success of the Origin outside of the social and economic setting in which it was conceived, nor have historians of science ignored the question. The pages of the Journal of the History of Biology have certainly not been devoid of papers on the subject. Yet what we have been provided with in 2009 is biography and annotations on the Origin, Perhaps it is time for a socioeconomic analysis of our own preoccupations.
Poet Robin Blaser (“Matter over mind or anyway/mattering, muttering, sponge”) dies (more); Poet Craig Arnold presumed dead near Japanese volcano; “Incubus,” by Arnold; his blog, Volcano Pilgrim; Bodleian library bans stepladders (via)
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”