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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
Number of people who attended the World Grits Festival, held in St. George, South Carolina, last spring:
The brown bears of Greece continued chewing through telephone poles.
In Peru, a 51-year-old activist became the first former sex worker to run for the national legislature. “I’m going to put order,” she said, “in that big brothel which is Congress.”
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“Civilization masks us with a screen, from ourselves and from one another, with thin depth of unreality. We habitually live — do we not? — in a world self-created, half established, of false values arbitrarily upheld, largely inspired by misconception, misapprehension, wrong perspective, and defective proportion, misapplication.”