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“People only care about being rich now – this is the only way to achieve social prestige. Before, careers weren’t so important; people had more time for their friends. In the countryside life has changed completely. My granny lives in the southern mountains and in her village, when I was growing up, everyone had a cow and a pig and chickens. Now they are selling off their cows because the milk is worth nothing. There is no future in small farming and the young people are leaving for the towns. It’s sad when I go there because I’m watching a whole way of life disappear. I hope that Poland will bring in laws and regulations that make life easier for people, rather than more difficult, the way it is with the bureaucracy we have now. I hope I can get a job that pays well enough for me to own a flat and also travel around the world.” –“Meet the Children Who Came in from the Cold,” the Guardian
John Kenneth Galbraith: Edward Kennedy’s age and youthful inexperience were, at the beginning, sadly adverse circumstances. But not always. Arising early one morning in his first campaign to shake hands with the workers arriving at a Massachusetts factory, he was greeted by a man of mature years who came rolling down the line. He said, “Teddy, m’boy, I hear you’ve never done a day’s work in your life.” It was the candidate’s most vulnerable point; he braced himself to make a reply, but the old man didn’t wait for it: “Let me tell you somethin’, lad. You haven’t missed a thing.” –“The Many Sides of Ted Kennedy: Memories from those who loved and loathed the man,” Salon
One of the leading theories of why religion is so popular goes by the ominous name of ‘Terror Management Theory’. Put simply, this is the idea that people turn to religion to ease their fear of death. Gareth Morris and Tina McAdie, of Huddersfield University in the UK, set out to test this idea in a group of mostly young people (a mix of Christians, Muslims, and the non-religious) recruited within the University. The study was simple, but the results were very interesting. While Christians did indeed have a lower death anxiety than the non-religious, Muslims did not. In fact, their death anxiety was markedly higher than both the other groups. –“Is the Social Function of Religion Changing?” by Tom Rees, Epiphenoma
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.
Rank of Detroit among major U.S. cities whose residents give the largest portion of their income to charity:
A South Dakota researcher concluded that only scant blood spatter results when chain saws are used to dismember pigs.
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