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From “Usury Country: Welcome to the birthplace of payday lending,” by Daniel Brook in the April 2009 Harper’s Magazine
During the Gilded Age of the late nineteenth century, the race-based
legal oppression of slavery was replaced with the economic bondage of
sharecropping—a race-neutral system that ensnared blacks and whites
alike. In his short lifetime, King helped lay waste to more legal
barriers, those of racial segregation, but in the past twenty years a
new, race-neutral form of economic exploitation has arisen in their
place. This twenty-first-century sharecropping is called payday
lending; and each indentureship under it begins, fittingly enough, with a bad check.
Thirty-three international terrorists, many with ties to al-Qaeda, reside in a single federal prison in Florence, Colo., with little public notice. Detained in the supermax facility in Colorado are Ramzi Yousef, who headed the group that carried out the first bombing of the World Trade Center in February 1993; Zacarias Moussaoui, convicted of conspiring in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; Ahmed Ressam, of the Dec. 31, 1999, Los Angeles airport millennium attack plots; Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, conspirator in several plots, including one to assassinate President George W. Bush; and Wadih el-Hage, convicted of the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya. –“Supermax Prisons in U.S. Already Hold Terrorists,” Carrie Johnson and Walter Pincus, The Washington Post
Niall Ferguson: …Now we’re in the therapy phase. And what therapy are we using? Well, it’s very interesting because we’re using two quite contradictory courses of therapy. One is the prescription of Dr. Friedman— Milton Friedman, that is— which is being administered by the Federal Reserve: massive injections of liquidity to avert the kind of banking crisis that caused the Great Depression of the early 1930s. I’m fine with that. That’s the right thing to do. But there is another course of therapy that is simultaneously being administered, which is the therapy prescribed by Dr. Keynes— John Maynard Keynes— and that therapy involves the running of massive fiscal deficits in excess of 12 percent of gross domestic product this year, and the issuance therefore of vast quantities of freshly minted bonds. There is a clear contradiction between these two policies, and we’re trying to have it both ways. You can’t be a monetarist and a Keynesian simultaneously—at least I can’t see how you can, because if the aim of the monetarist policy is to keep interest rates down, to keep liquidity high, the effect of the Keynesian policy must be to drive interest rates up. –“The Crisis and How to Deal with It,” Bill Bradley, Niall Ferguson, Paul Krugman, Nouriel Roubini, George Soros, Robin Wells et al., The New York Review of Books
Photographs of people amidst sewage (via); video: a day in the life of boda-boda (bicycle taxi) cyclist Dennis Ewalu in Katine, Uganda; Miss Earth can’t be a mother, short, or married; Playboy on the block
Flackery requires putting together credible narratives from pools of verifiable data. This activity is not categorically different from journalism. –“Hired News: Will P.R. pros take the baton of investigative journalism?” Tim Cavanaugh, Reason
13,500 pages etched into nickel; Charles Bernstein reads, among other things, “Pompeii”, published here in August 2008; Shake-speare’s sonnets turn 400; pub remains associated with Alexander Pope (whose birthday was yesterday); Catholic Pope, no fan of Facebook, now on Facebook; advice on de-friending annoying exes
Years ago, I lived in Montana, a land of purple sunsets, clear streams, and snowflakes the size of silver dollars drifting through the cold air. There were no speed limits and you could legally drive drunk. My small apartment in Missoula had little privacy. In order to write, I rented an off-season fishing cabin on Rock Creek, a one-room place with a bed and a bureau. I lacked the budget for a desk. My idea was to remove a sliding door from a closet in my apartment and place it over a couple of hastily cobbled-together sawhorses.
Amount by which a typical good-looking U.S. worker will out-earn a typical ugly one over a lifetime:
A Japanese inventor unveiled a new invisibility cloak that uses a material made of thousands of tiny beads called “retro-reflectum.”
A couple at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Greenville, South Carolina, left their waitress a note telling her “the woman’s place is in the home,” in lieu of a tip.
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"She never thanked me, never looked at me—melted away into the miserable night, in the strangest manner I ever saw. I have seen many strange things, but not one that has left a deeper impression on my memory than the dull impassive way in which that worn-out heap of misery took that piece of money, and was lost."