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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
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.
Number of people stopped and frisked by the NYPD in 2011 for “furtive movements”:
The faces of Lego people were growing angrier.
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