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What if a guy nobody’s ever heard of, from Hawaii no less, with a Muslim African father and a Muslim Indonesian stepfather and a mom from Kansas named Stanley inexplicably glides from Punahou to a short sheep-dip at Occidental to the Frankfurt School’s favorite Ivy League haunt, Columbia, to Harvard Law? What if he’s such an arrogant, aloof suckup of no particular ability or accomplishment that his fellow students openly ridicule him with the invention of the “Obamamometer,” which measures epic brown-nosing on a scale from one to ten? What if he’s blissfully unaware of his own deficiencies, and instead comes to believe that he’s earned everything that’s come his way — or ever will?….What if his opponent for president is a creaky, cranky, cantankerous old fart who hates his own party and then — I know this bit is unbelievable but we’re still spit-balling here — out of the blue selects some dizzy moose-hunting dame from… Alaska!… to be his running mate? And what if she electrifies his doomed candidacy (heck, even he doesn’t really seem to want to win) and sends him vaulting into the lead in the polls? What if he’s on the verge of actually defeating BO2 when Barry’s media pals lay down some serious covering fire and then, mysteriously, the booming U.S. economy collapses almost overnight as George Soros strokes a white cat and chuckles menacingly? –“What If…,” David Kahane, The Corner
“Islands of distress”: hotels and resorts go bankrupt in Hawaii;
gainfully employed women smoke pot;
it is unlikely, however, that they order pizza from a company running a promotion for unlimited toppings that is actually limited to five toppings;
the job market–in charts!
I’ve been to Prague and saw with my own two eyes and what can I tell you? A miniature Budapest. Can I say it like it is? It’s no big deal. It was a bonus trip from the plant. So why not? A freebee. But I wasn’t impressed. A buncha churches. But I’m no church goer, so what was I supposed to do with all them churches? A side like in Buda, a side like in Pest, and between them a small imitation of a Danube, but so small, it brought tears to my eyes, I got so homesick! And them bridges! The Charles Bridge, lordee lord! An antique with nothin’ modern about it. Nothin’! Back home we’d give it to the panhandler at the Ecseri. You put it next to the Elizabeth Bridge and you wouldn’t believe your eyes! And if that weren’t bad enough, for three days you couldn’t get a decent plate of goulash anywhere, just slices of roll drenched in all sorts of sauce with a side of cabbage. And that’s what they call food! Enough is enough, guys, let’s head for home! But what really got my goat was the uvaga, uvaga, everywhere uvaga, blah-blah-blah, and you’re supposed to know what they’re talkin’ about! Which is something I’ll never understand. Why can’t they speak proper HUNGARIAN and say, this here is a chair, this a table, and this here’s a mug of beer, lordee lord! ‘Cause, sure, the Germans speak German and the French speak French and not Hungarian, which is bad enough, but there ain’t a lot we can do about that. But speakin’ CZECH? What an idea! –“What are the Czechs like?” by Zsolt Csalog, Eurozine
Jonathan Safran Foer meanders at length on meat, seafood, Mark Twain, bedtime stories, and his grandmother, who “survived World War II barefoot”;
Gourmet, or why we must burn the magazine to save it;
goober peas in Brooklyn
There are many reasons why the record of accomplishment for space diplomacy is so modest, at least compared to nuclear accords. Reducing nuclear dangers comes at the very top of every presidential “to do” list. In contrast, space-related issues usually have to wait far back in line. Nuclear weapons are also distinctive. Because they have very narrow purposes, it is somewhat easier to place boundaries around negotiations, unlike “space weapons,” which can encompass many multipurpose technologies used for other essential military and nonmilitary purposes. Another reason why space diplomacy has been moribund is because the negotiating forum where such talks are supposed to occur – the 65-nation Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament operates by consensus and has been tied up in knots for more than a decade….President Obama appears intent to reinvigorate space diplomacy after eight years in which former President George W. Bush’s administration rejected any initiative that might constrain the U.S. military’s freedom of action in space. The Obama administration will be more proactive diplomatically, but familiar impediments to success remain in play: nuclear-related issues will demand the president’s attention, his “to do” list is daunting, “space weapons” remain hard to define, and overreaching can doom prospects for success. –“A Rare Opportunity for Space Diplomacy,” Michael Krepon, Global Security
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.”