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It’s so terrible, it induces an entirely new emotion: a blend of vertigo, disgust, anger and embarrassment that I like to call “shitasmia.” It not only creates this emotion: it defines it. It’s the most shitasmic cultural artefact in history. Watch it for yourself. Still, bad though it is, I vaguely prefer the clumping, clueless, uncool, crappiness of Microsoft’s bland Stepford gang to the creepy assurance of the average Mac evangelist. –“Better the Broken Windows than Life with the Mac Monks,” Charlie Brooker, The Sydney Morning Herald (via)
A little more than a year after his death it seems fair to say that Mahmoud Darwish, one of the past century’s signal poets, has finally arrived in English. Six substantial collections of his work have been translated in the past three years and several others are on the way, a level of attention publishers usually reserve for Nobel Prize winners. With a little luck, Darwish might one day join that small group of foreign poets – like Lorca, Cavafy, or Mandelstam – whose idiom becomes a touchstone for peers writing in English. But the Darwish that has begun to come into view for English language readers is, of course, quite different from the one his Arab audience is familiar with. –“Mourning Tongues,” Robyn Creswell, The National
Related: Creswell on Darwish in February 2009
In truth, agreement on the cause of the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous (when not only the dinosaurs, but also a host of other species died) has never been as cut and dried among palaeontologists as it may have appeared to the public. One confounding factor is that the late Cretaceous was also a period of great volcanic activity. In India, which was then an island continent like Australia is today (it did not collide with Asia until 50m years ago), huge eruptions created fields of basalt called the Deccan Traps. Before the discovery of Chicxulub, the climate-changing effects of these eruptions had been put forward as an explanation for the death of the dinosaurs. After its discovery, some argued that even if the eruptions did not cause the extinction, they weakened the biosphere and made it particularly vulnerable to the Chicxulub hammer-blow. –“I Am Become Death, Destroyer of Worlds,” The Economist
Chances that an American knows the position of his or her senators on health-care reform:
Climate experts proposed creating a fleet of cloud-seeding yachts that will pump water vapor into the atmosphere to thicken global cloud cover, thereby reflecting more sunlight, in order to counteract the effects of global warming.
In San Antonio, a 150-pound pet tortoise knocked over a lamp, igniting a mattress fire that spread to a neighbor’s home.
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"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."