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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
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
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 naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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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.”