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From “Findings,” in the November 2009 Harper’s Magazine
Among highly sociable stingless Brazilian bees, a quarter of males—who can develop from unfertilized eggs—were found to be the sons of workers and not of the queen; because worker bees put the colony at risk when they choose to reproduce rather than work, the queen often eats their eggs. Queen bees were found to control their workers’ brains with homovanillyl alcohol. Cape honeybees were seen fanning their wings to chase away intrusive ants, and the bee-balls formed by Japanese honeybees wishing to cook hornets to death were found to function by oxygen-deprivation as well as by overheating. Scientists worried that the fussiness of short-haired bumblebees may impede their reintroduction to the British Isles, where the great yellow bumblebee was moving southward. Twenty percent of Britain’s honeybees were found to have died last winter, down from 30 percent the previous winter. Researchers warned that honeybees may die if fed high-fructose corn syrup in warm weather, behavioral ecologists worried that honeybee queens were mating with too few partners, and honeybee colonies continued to dwindle as the bees’ ribosomes were attacked by such pathogens as Deformed Wing Virus and Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus. China planned to begin monitoring its butterflies.
Families have survived the ups and downs of economic booms and busts for a long time, but the fall-behind during the busts has gotten worse while the surge-ahead during the booms has stalled out. In the boom of the 1960s, for example, median family income jumped by 33% (adjusted for inflation). But the boom of the 2000s resulted in an almost-imperceptible 1.6% increase for the typical family. While Wall Street executives and others who owned lots of stock celebrated how good the recovery was for them, middle class families were left empty-handed. –“America Without a Middle Class,” Elizabeth Warren, Huffington Post
To better align with our clients’ needs, we will be organized around eleven business and content segments with similar marketing and consumer profiles including: sports, health/education, entertainment, travel/luxury, automotive, real estate, communications, preprints/grocery, recruitment, retail/finance, and SMB/Interactive. Each segment will be led by a General Manager (GM), a newly-defined role, each reporting to Cyndy Carr, charged with analyzing and growing the business by developing solutions that meet consumer needs and maximize results for our clients. Their responsibilities will include sales and business development. They will also be working closely with news leadership in product and content development. –“Memo from Bob Mong and Cyndy Carr” by Bob Mong (editor, Dallas Morning News), as reproduced in “At The Dallas News, a New ‘Bold Strategy’: Section editors reporting to sales managers,” Robert Wilonsky, Dallas Observer (via)
Will you be kind enough to put the best possible interpretation upon my behavior while in N.York? You must have conceived a queer idea of me– but the simple truth is that Wallace would insist upon the juleps, and I knew not what I was either doing or saying. The Review of Dawes which I offered you was deficient in a ½ page of commencement, which I had written to supersede the old beginning, and which gave the article the character of a general & retrospective review. No wonder you did not take it– I should have been very much mortified if you had. I hope to see you at some future time, under better auspices. –Letter to his publishers, Edgar Allan Poe, July 1842, in Letters of Note
Triple Canopy, issue 7;
Sam Munson on The Original of Laura (“Richard Powers drones on in high, wooden prose about love, Philip Roth engages in bottomless carnal rumination, Foerian pornographers of tragedy eagerly show us their wares-– and Nabokov’s fragments, even in their bereaved condition, reveal that the ideal and the fleshly, form and mind, need not suffer division.”);
Nabokov also invented the emoticon :-(
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.”