Links — January 5, 2010, 5:45 pm

Links

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Something that’s funny because it’s not: “Mads Oyen, a policy specialist at Unicef in New York, suggested removing from a plane any specific seat that had been used by a would-be terrorist. ‘If he used, say, 36E, remove that seat. Then this cannot be tried again.’”;
something that’s not funny because it’s not: “It is worth reminding those who are still not blinded by the media propaganda that Afghanistan is not a British town… but rather Muslim land which no one has the right to occupy, with a Muslim population who do not deserve their innocent men, women and children to be killed for political mileage and for the greedy interests of the oppressive U.S. and U.K. regimes”;
something that’s just funny: the Argentine Elvis

If George Will sides with Brooklyn hipster/gentrifiers
does that make him a liberal? And what about Tim Robbins? Is he really a crypto-conservative–or just a possible ping-pong cuckold?;
and why does Cosmopolitan use such silly words–“package” (penis), “girls” (breasts), “animalistic noises” (loud sounds)?

Dr. Love (real name), a clinical professor of surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine, on the irrational health fears of women: “All of these women I kept meeting who were scared to death if they didn’t eat a cup of blueberries a day they would drop dead.”
Other irrational fears:
dog-killing sidewalks;
airport scanners represent a child-pornography threat;
the racial cleansing of Harlem

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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.

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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.

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“It is disappointing that parts of Purity read as though Franzen urgently wanted to telegraph a message to anyone who would defend his fiction from charges of chauvinism: ‘No, you’ve got me wrong. I really am sexist.’”
Illustration by Shonagh Rae
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“In Karachi, sometimes only the thinnest of polite fictions separates the politicians from the men who kill and extort on their behalf.”
Photograph © Asim Rafiqui/NOOR Images
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“Defining 'native' and 'invasive' in an ever-shifting natural world poses some problems. The camel, after all, is native to North America, though it went extinct here 8,000 years ago, while the sacrosanct redwood tree is invasive, having snuck in at some point in the past 65 million years.”
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“College is seldom about thinking or learning anymore. Everyone is running around trying to figure out what it is about. So far, they have come up with buzzwords, mainly those three.”
Artwork by Julie Cockburn

Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:

65

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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