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With only days to go before the election in Afghanistan, it looks like the fix is in. That’s what most Afghans have been saying all along. The danger now is not that the election might be tainted by backroom deals or fraud. That’s old news. Even international bodies charged with facilitating the process have given up the goal of “free and fair” elections. They aim instead for “credible” elections–which means results that look pretty good, even when they’re not. No, the real danger is that those international bodies, led by the United States, will validate the crooked election as “credible” even when it doesn’t look good at all. Yet the hopes of the US-led international community ride on a credible outcome to provide evidence of Afghanistan’s conversion to “democracy.” Not to mention their vested interests–including an estimated $500 million to stage this extravaganza. If they were going to fess up to fraud, they should have done so long ago. –“Ballots and Bullets for Afghanistan,” Ann Jones, The Nation
“The ugliness of the Armadillo is what makes it unique,” says Jim Pasco, executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police. “A police car is not a particular stigma, but if people see that thing in front of your house, they know something bad is going on in there.” –“‘Armadillo’ Plays Well in Peoria But Is Panned by Drug Dealers,” Carrie Porter, the Wall Street Journal
A new study has found that downloading music is substantially better from an emissions perspective than buying compact discs. The study, which was financed by both Microsoft and Intel and written by two academics at Carnegie Mellon University and a third affiliated with Stanford University, found that buying an album digitally reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 40 to 80 percent relative to a best-case scenario for purchasing a CD…. Even in a situation in which a consumer downloads the music — and then burns it onto a CD and puts it in a CD case— the carbon differential is 40 percent in favor of the download, the study found. If the downloaded music is not burned onto a CD, the differential rises to 80 percent. –“The Carbon Case for Downloading Music,” Kate Galbraith, The New York Times
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.”