Links — November 3, 2009, 7:46 pm

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The world almost missed out on the final film clips of Michael Jackson–which some might consider a loss; and wouldn’t it have been better if the “Age of Twee Hipsterdom,” as identified by Harper’s Contributing Editor Christian Lorentzen, was actually over, and the “muscular, bravura” filmmaking of Wes Anderson vanished from the earth? And is it really better to prefer the current films of Lars von Trier, a director who was once described in Harper’s Magazine as having suggested that “gang rape might be a simple girl’s way of gaining entry into heaven”? (subs only)?

The relationship between do-it-yourself funerals and the illicit market for online sperm is complex; to simplify it one might use this equation calculating the “phenomena of association,” but the one thing that is eminently clear is that money is important, particularly in New York, and pretty much everywhere else, too

To find an American shepherd, one must first understand the Basque diaspora, but really, what is being discussed here is not ranching or even dogs, but rather “romantic exoticism” of a sort that is uniquely American, like crypto-Jews or tribal tattoos, or the myriad ways in which one can become a Veblenian “connoisseur in creditable viands of various degrees of merit, in manly beverages and trinkets, in seemly apparel and architecture, in weapons, games, dances, and narcotics,” as discussed by Mark Kingwell in this month’s Harper’s Magazine (subscription only)

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In Havana, the past year has been marked by a parade of bold-faced names from the north — John Kerry reopening the United States Embassy; Andrew Cuomo bringing a delegation of American business leaders; celebrities ranging from Joe Torre, traveling on behalf of Major League Baseball to oversee an exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team, to Jimmy Buffett, said to be considering opening one of his Margaritaville restaurants there. All this culminated with a three-day trip in March by Barack Obama, the first American president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. But to those who know the city well, perhaps nothing said as much about the transformation of political relations between the United States and Cuba that began in December 2014 as a concert in the Tribuna Antiimperialista.

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"If you have ever wondered what it’s like, being a young and avaricious teetotal German-American philistine on the make in Manhattan, then your curiosity will be quenched by The Art of the Deal."
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"To Chomsky...every child’s language organ could use the 'deep structure,' 'universal grammar,' and 'language acquisition device' he was born with to express what he had to say, no matter whether it came out of his mouth in English or Urdu or Nagamese."
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"Si told me that various paintings had spoken to him, but he wished they had been hung closer together 'so they could talk to each other.' This observation planted a seed that would come to fruition years later in his mature work."
Artwork (detail) by Si Lewen
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"Amid the festivities and the flood of celebrities, it would be easy for Americans to miss that the central plank of the long-standing cold war against Cuba — the economic embargo — remains very much alive and well."
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Ratio of the amount J. P. Morgan paid a man to fight in his place in the Civil War to what he spent on cigars in 1863:

1:1

The Food and Drug Administration asked restaurants to help Americans eat less.

Pope Francis announced that nuns could use social media, and a priest flew a hot-air balloon around the world.

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Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'

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