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Even in areas outside national security, the Obama administration quickly came to resemble Bush’s. Gay military personnel, including those with valuable Arabic-language skills, were being dismissed at the same rate as before. Even more egregiously, the Obama administration continued the defiance of the Constitution’s “full faith and credit” clause, which requires states to recognize laws passed by other states, when it defended the Defense of Marriage Act, which lets states refuse to recognize gay marriages legally obtained in another state. Many objected when Dick Cheney would not name energy executives who came to the White House in 2002, though Hillary Clinton, as First Lady, had been forced to reveal which health advisers had visited her. Yet the Obama team, in June 2009, refused to release logs of those who come to the White House. (It later reversed itself, but only in response to a lawsuit.) –“Entangled Giant,” Garry Wills, The New York Review of Books
There is increasing pressure to collapse more and more frames– that is, to get the same number of postmen to do larger amounts of work– and not just in the summer months but over the whole year. Management are becoming noticeably more belligerent. For some weeks now the managers have been bullying and cajoling everyone in our office, saying that a second frame would have to be collapsed– ‘figures are down’– and that the workforce would have to decide which frame that would be. Everyone refused. Collapsing a frame would mean that one person would have to move frames, while another person on a ‘flexible’ contract would lose his job altogether. No one wanted to be responsible for making that kind of decision. No one wanted to shaft their workmates. And then last week it was announced, on the heaviest day of the week, and without notice, that a second frame was going to be collapsed anyway, regardless of our opinion. When the shop steward put in a written objection it was ignored. –“Diary,” Roy Mayall, London Review of Books
You see, each time Eid rolls around, members of Jakarta’s enormous casual work force fan out to their families’ village homes in the countryside. But more important, the exodus “wreaks havoc in wealthy and middle-class households that—given the seemingly endless supply of cheap labor in this country of 237 million, mostly poor people—depend on the domestic servants.” There are upsides to this exodus, correspondent Norimitsu Onishi notes—the “smog” of the notoriously toxic capital “thins,” since everyone knows that the fastest cure for carbon emissions is to eliminate the poor, with their deregulated factories and self-indulgent private aircraft. But that can’t begin to palliate the anxiety that the peasant migration creates for the beleaguered domestic-employer class, Onishi notes: “For many, compounding the holiday stress was the common fear that their maids—after getting their Id al-Fitr bonuses—would stay in their villages or look for better jobs elsewhere.” –“Rich People Things, with Chris Lehmann: The horrible Ramadan servant exodus,” Chris Lehman, The Awl
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.”