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The body never lies. In its collusion with the truth, it avoids eye contact, limits movement of arms and hands. The liar is not likely to touch her chest, but fidgets a lot, grazing face, throat, hair. She backs up in her chair, sits stiffly, compresses her physical space. Timing and duration of emotional gestures are also slightly off— too short or late. When a liar is faking emotion— delight or grief— her facial expressions can’t really get into it. Eyebrows furrow as if a fly were in the air, a smile’s confined to the lips instead of the whole face. Aphasics who have lost the ability to speak or understand language quickly develop an acute sensitivity to physical gesture. They are among the best lie detectors, notes Nancy L. Etcoff, and others, in Nature magazine. They pick up all their clues from watching a liar move, rather than listening to her speech. My mother too was gifted with an unusually keen social intelligence, her “shit detector,” as she called it. She never trusted John Erlichman or Gordon Liddy before the Watergate scandal broke. Though Lutheran by baptism, she had a Jewish impatience with niceties, euphemisms, whitewashing, and could see from a mile away whether someone was lying to her. This made my adolescence difficult. To honor my curfew, I went to bed at eleven, locked my door, climbed onto a chair under the window, cranked the handle, squeezed through, and dropped to the begonias below. Then I’d walk briskly to the bridge by Mohegan and Goldsboro where my boyfriend stood smoking under haloed streetlights. Night after night after night, our relationship secretly bloomed. –“The Art of Lying,” Sarah Gorham, Quarterly West
Will Americans look back on this moment as the good old days, when slowly losing in Afghanistan was enough, or will it be something more like the poignant melancholy of life under under Nazi occupation?; Dick Cheney, of course, has more practical concerns: “I begin to get nervous when I see the commander in chief making decisions apparently for what I would describe as small ‘p’ political reasons”
In the beginning, Anna, a massage therapist, and her husband, Brandon, a bagpiper for a rockabilly band, dreamed about constructing a sensory-deprivation chamber: a pitch-dark, soundless room, the air maintained at body temperature, to help users reach an alpha state during meditation. Somehow, that idea lost its charm, and another, slightly more extravagant fantasy replaced it: the opening of an old-fashioned ice-cream shop. They began collecting equipment—a 1936 Bastian Blessing soda fountain (because you can’t make an ice-cream soda worth a damn without one), a Kelvinator ice-cream cabinet, a Multimixer, wooden booths, and Formica tables from the ’40s—and scored a prime location in Roanoke’s hip Grandin Village, in the neighborhood’s oldest building, which, once upon a time, had been a library. Armed with a sixty-eight-dollar copy of Let’s Sell Ice Cream—published by the Ice Cream Merchandising Institute in 1947—they began selecting recipes and assembling a menu. The result featured drawings by Anna’s father, based on the illustrations of anthropomorphized goodies in the aforementioned book (dancing cones, a chorus line of soda glasses, milk shakes with smiley faces) as well as a pleasantly befuddling list of goodies—long forgotten by most of today’s ice-cream establishments—including Rickeys, Broadways, Hobokens, Canary Island Specials, and NY Egg Creams.–“Ode to a Soda Fountain,” Matthew Vollmer, The Oxford American
Beware the bagel, or how to avoid getting sliced by your nosh; a simple question, often asked, rarely answered: if Americans don’t have enough to eat, how come so many of us are so fat?; this question will also not be answered: why must chef David Chang’s every thought be documented, even things like, “In not cooking, it’s hard to know when you really have a good day”?
As a federal policy, welfare has gone through four stages, with some basic features remaining constant throughout…. during stage one, which lasted until the 1960s, the states had almost unfettered discretion to help people they found deserving and turn away those they thought undeserving. Especially in the South, racial discrimination was rampant, and in many states welfare workers based their decisions on facts they dug up about women’s sexual relationships…. Stage two saw the welfare rolls rise sharply and become blacker and browner. An active welfare rights movement interacted with a new cadre of federally financed legal services lawyers and newly receptive federal courts to force welfare officials in many (but not all) states to grant benefits (however minimal) to large numbers of people who had previously been turned away or discouraged from applying…. Not surprisingly, stage three was not long in coming. Beginning in the late 1960s, conservatives began a war against welfare…The underlying politics was largely racial, capped and epitomized by Ronald Reagan’s apocryphal “welfare queen.” Helping to sustain the attack was the fact that over this period it remained relatively easy to obtain welfare because of the judicial decisions of the 1960s and the changed attitude of many welfare administrators…. All this led to stage four, which began with Governor Bill Clinton running for president on a platform of ending “welfare as we know it.” Whatever his intention, the phrase opened the door to a radically conservative approach from the newly muscular and emboldened Republican-controlled Congress.–“Welfare and the Poorest of the Poor,” Peter Edelman, Dissent
Percentage of British elementary-school students who think Isaac Newton discovered fire:
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“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”