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Kevin Baker appears on the The Colbert Report tonight to discuss his article “Barack Hoover Obama: The best and the brightest blow it again”–available now for subscribers only.
Three months into his presidency, Barack Obama has proven to be every bit as charismatic and intelligent as his most ardent supporters could have hoped. At home or abroad, he invariably appears to be the only adult in the room, the first American president in at least forty years to convey any gravitas. Even the most liberal of voters are finding it hard to believe they managed to elect this man to be their president.
It is impossible not to wish desperately for his success as he tries to grapple with all that confronts him: a worldwide depression, catastrophic climate change, an unjust and inadequate health-care system, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the ongoing disgrace of Guant·namo, a floundering education system.
From September 1968.
Jackie Rousseau-Anderson: Originally the internet was a great “unknown.” We saw marked increases in the time spent online as people began to try out this new medium and become acquainted with it. The amount of time people were dedicating to the internet grew significantly because it took people time to sit down and figure out how to use it and where they should be going. These were the days of “hard-core surfing”; people just floating through the internet, not really sure what they were looking for, but just spending time looking around. Now people’s use is more defined. People who have been online awhile understand how to use the internet sufficiently and can maximize the time they have to spend on it. They generally know which sites they are going to when they log in. For new people starting out, the proliferation of website advertising (i.e., websites listed in commercials, affiliated with brands, etc.) helps direct people to where they want to go. Similarly, Google and other search engines have become staples of internet use so instead of surfing around to find what you’re looking for you can simply go to Google, type in your search terms, and all the hard work is done. –“The Web Is Flat: Why time spent online is leveling off,” Abbey Klaassen, Advertising Age
The German Army, mocked and criticised by its NATO partners because of the many caveats limiting its operations, has been taking serious casualties in the north of the country, especially around the Kunduz region. German politicians, aware of an approaching general election that could give voice to pacificist sentiment, are still avoiding the K-word — Krieg (war) — and no modern German government can expect to be re-elected on a war platform. The reality looks a lot like war, and the new rules of engagement adapt to it. The seven-page booklet has been trimmed down to four pages and soldiers are not as hamstrung by regulations. Up until last week it was, for example, forbidden to shoot a fleeing assailant, even though every civilian policeman in Germany has the right to shoot an armed fugitive in the arm or leg after barking a short warning. –“New Rules Let Germans in Afghanistan Stop Shouting and Start Shooting,” Roger Boyes, Times Online
To be quite candid, I don’t see the point in poetry that reveals or revels in the poet’s unhealthy sexual preferences. I would find a poem about rape or sexual abuse to be repugnant, no matter how perfect its technique. Similarly, poetry about the mind of a psychopath, a vampire, or a serial killer would be highly offensive to my sensibilities. I think American contemporary poetry has lost its way in a dark wood, to paraphrase Dante. Like a mole, American poets are snuffling in the dirt of the psyche’s underground, sniffing out every dark crevice of their own subconscious. They have turned away from light and beauty in search of the ugliest layers of human nature. –“On Poetry: Contemporary American work has turned from beauty,” A.S. Maulucci, Norwich Bulletin
Fleming awoke in the dark and his room felt loose, sloshing so badly he gripped the bed. From his window there was nothing but a hallway, and if he craned his neck, a blown lightbulb swung into view. The room pitched up and down and for a moment he thought he might be sick. The word “hallway” must have a nautical name. Why didn’t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet he’d failed to read. A glossary. A history of the boat, which would be referred to as a ship. Sunny biographies of the captain and crew, who had always dreamed of this life. Lobotomized histories of the islands they’d visit. Who else had sailed this way. Famous suckwads from the past, slicing through this very water on wooden longships.
A welcome packet, the literary genre most likely to succeed in the new millennium. Why not read about a community you don’t belong to, that doesn’t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isn’t too much of a downer on your vacation, as indifferent to one another as any set of co-employees at an office or bank? Read doctored personal statements from underpaid crew members — because ocean life pays better than money! — who hate their lives but have been forced to buy into the mythology of working on a boat, separated now from loved ones and friends, growing lonelier by the second, even while they wait on you and follow your every order.
Average portion of its yearly household expenditures that a South African family will spend on a funeral:
Neuroscientists were hoping to use rat brain waves to find people buried by earthquakes.
Four people were arrested for using a remote-controlled hexacopter to fly two pounds of tobacco to prisoners inside the yard at Calhoun State Prison in Georgia.
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Our congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature