Links — May 7, 2009, 1:08 pm

Links

1923-01-0132

From the Web

This conflict has very little to do with Stanford and gender-neutral housing. It has everything to do with my parents having a hard time adjusting to the fact that I’m out of the house (I’m the oldest), I’m 3,000 miles away, and -especially- that I’m a liberal agnostic while they are conservative Catholics. [The National Review] really should have looked into this situation a little bit before publishing that article.”

Catholic mother yells at son (YouTube, profanity)

Afghanistan’s only known pig has been locked in a room, away from visitors to Kabul zoo where it normally grazes beside deer and goats, because people are worried it could infect them with the virus popularly known as swine flu. The pig is a curiosity in Muslim Afghanistan, where pork and pig products are illegal because they are considered irreligious, and has been in quarantine since Sunday after visitors expressed alarm it could spread the new flu strain. ‘For now the pig is under quarantine, we built it a room because of swine influenza,’ Aziz Gul Saqib, director of Kabul Zoo, told Reuters. ‘We’ve done this because people are worried about getting the flu… most people don’t have enough knowledge. When they see the pig in the cage they get worried and think that they could get ill,’ Saqib said.”

The strip of a pillowcase stained with the blood of Abraham Lincoln is usually locked away in a display case or safe at the Grand Army of the Republic Museum and Library in the city’s Frankford section. But last night it was brought out as Exhibit A during a debate among members of the museum’s board over whether to allow DNA testing of the relic to solve a medical mystery. Was the 16th president dying of cancer, with less than a year to live, when he was shot by assassin John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre? John Sotos, cardiologist and consultant for the television series House, asked to test the artifact to prove Lincoln had a rare genetic cancer syndrome called multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2B (MEN2B).” (via)

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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.

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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.

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“It is disappointing that parts of Purity read as though Franzen urgently wanted to telegraph a message to anyone who would defend his fiction from charges of chauvinism: ‘No, you’ve got me wrong. I really am sexist.’”
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“In Karachi, sometimes only the thinnest of polite fictions separates the politicians from the men who kill and extort on their behalf.”
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“Defining 'native' and 'invasive' in an ever-shifting natural world poses some problems. The camel, after all, is native to North America, though it went extinct here 8,000 years ago, while the sacrosanct redwood tree is invasive, having snuck in at some point in the past 65 million years.”
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“College is seldom about thinking or learning anymore. Everyone is running around trying to figure out what it is about. So far, they have come up with buzzwords, mainly those three.”
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Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:

65

An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.

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