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There is a dark irony to the faintly racist idea that Afghans are unprincipled mercenaries available to the highest bidders, especially given the rampant panic in Washington at the inescapable conclusion that Hamid Karzai stole his own reelection. And still, after failed eight years of alternatively condemning a “culture of corruption” and thinking we just need to bribe the Afghans a little more, you see ostensibly smart columnists suggesting we try to bring back the nineteenth century. –“Bribe This: Despite years of failure, pundits still want to bribe Pashtuns,” Joshua Foust, Columbia Journalism Review
These problems have been recognized among linguists for some time. A famous 1971 essay by “Munç Wang” (a pseudonym of the syntactician Avery Andrews) discussed in tongue-in-cheek but linguistically accurate detail the syntax of sexual terms. Wang explored the syntactic constraints of various words and constructions, examining whether the object of a sexual thrust has to be an orifice, if it can be artificial, if “the orifice must be vaginoid,” and whether the object must be animate. Numerous sentences are offered up for analysis of their grammaticality: “Fred fucked the log through a hole that squirrels had made,” “The Wizard balled the witch’s body,” “Jack buggered Captain Bligh in a surgically created false cunt.” –“Can a Woman ‘Prong’ a Man? Why it’s so hard to put sex in the dictionary,” Jesse Sheidlower, Slate
Yesterday’s September labor market report was lousy by any measure, with 263,000 lost jobs and the jobless rate climbing to 9.8%. But for one group of Americans it was especially awful: the least skilled, especially young workers. Washington will deny the reality, and the media won’t make the connection, but one reason for these job losses is the rising minimum wage. –“The Young and the Jobless: The minimum wage hike has driven the wages of teen employees down to $0.00,” The Wall Street Journal (Opinion)
Chances that a deep breath inhaled today will contain a molecule from Julius Caesar’s dying breath:
Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences, by John Allen Paulos, Hill and Wang (N.Y.C.)
The earth once had three moons; the two lost moons may have crashed into the surviving moon, or been sucked into the sun, or flung out of the solar system to drift through deep space.
In Florida, an 87-year-old World War II veteran flying touch-and-go drills in a Cessna collided with an airborne skydiver. “There was a ‘woof’ sound,” said a witness, “like falling on your face into your pillow.”
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“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”