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Until now, passenger convenience has largely been ignored. After 9/11, a litany of sharp objects was banned from carry-ons. After Richard Reid tried to ignite explosives hidden in his sneaker on a flight from Paris to Miami in Dec. 2001, travelers were told to remove their shoes for screening. And after British officials foiled a plot to blow up planes with liquid explosives in August 2006, liquids, gels and aerosols were banned, though later allowed as long as they were packed in tiny bottles and in plastic bags. And just when passengers think they know the routine, the Transportation Safety Administration adds a twist. Earlier this month, for example, it began screening certain powders in carry-on luggage. And screeners recently started asking passengers to place shoes directly on conveyor belts rather than in bins, giving officers a better view of shoes as they come through. It’s hard not to ask: Is all this necessary? Is it making us any safer? And will it ever get better? Based on interviews with a range of security experts, the answers increasingly seem to be no; not really; and not for a while. –“No Rest for the Airport Security Weary,” Michelle Higgins, The New York Times
Torture makes alleged terrorist forget possible crimes;
real estate that floats: panacea to bereft property speculators or just modern design?;
beware of falling coconuts; Head injuries: best while drunk
Schimmelpenninck: Made in Holland. A dented little tin taken down from the cluttered top shelf of the bookcase behind my attic desk, a bookcase that has become one of my default reliquaries, kind of like the mesh sieve in the kitchen drain that catches everything left from the wash-up of a family meal, except that the sieve then gets emptied into the kitchen trash while the sentimental refuse of living just accumulates. I picked it up in the spirit of ‘you have to start somewhere,’ but also with a certain confidence. I am, after all, the writing teacher who quotes to his students the line from Flaubert: “Anything becomes interesting if you look at it long enough.” And I do believe it, interest being the discovery of connections that feel as if they are leading somewhere, marking a path. It is the product of attention. Look! Look closer! What do you see? Start with the eye and see what happens. Pray, as Lowell did, for the grace of accuracy. Schimmelpenninck. Well, the little tin is there to be looked at, but it would be nothing to me—sentimentally, associatively—if it weren’t for the sound and look of that word. A word that means absolutely nothing to me. –“Bits,” Sven Birkerts, Agni
Ego-surfing and its linguistic variants;
tourist excursion to polygamous communities–clothing still required;
note to Middle East: cupcakes are done!;
bailout bucks: irony for Republicans;
conformists kill society
On the eve of the 60th anniversary Oct. 1 of Communist rule that was supposed to create a classless utopia, China is instead gripped with a renewed sense of anger toward a new elite. The Mandarin phrase, “fen fu,” or to hate the rich, has been coined in recent months to capture the public’s bitter resentment. Three decades ago, then-leader Deng Xiaoping launched China’s economic miracle under the slogan, “to get rich is glorious.” He added a caveat, however: “Let some people get rich first.” They did — but not everyone else followed. China hasn’t recreated its old class system, and even in Mao Zedong’s day people resented abusers of power. Mr. Deng’s reforms enabled hundreds of millions of people to lift themselves out of poverty. Yet today’s richer China is also a more divided China. It is split between poor rural areas and richer cities; between developed coastal regions and poorer inland areas; between the educated and the uneducated. And these growing gaps, widely believed to be at the root of social unrest, are only part of the problem. –“China’s Rich Youth Spark Bitter Divide,” Shai Oster, The Wall Street Journal
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 number of times each week U.S. surgeons operate on the wrong patient or body part:
Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare (Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.)
A pair of drunk Swedish moose invaded a home for the elderly.
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