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It was at this point that I decided to kill him. After all, would the world really miss this fatuous little suppository, with his preening self-confidence and emetic cuteness? At first I thought of trampling the bespectacled vontz, but I felt that to do the job properly I’d need about two hundred more head to really stomp him good. There were no rocky cliffs where I could brush against the wretch with a little hip action and send him plummeting. Then it hit me. A nature walk had been mentioned, and all were anxious to participate. All, that is, except for a certain cringing homunculus, who carried on like Duse over the prospect of being in the woods among Lyme ticks and poison oak. He chose to remain in his room and make phone calls to check on the grosses of his new movie, which Variety had said would have limited appeal and suggested should open in Atlantis. My plan was to enter the house, sneak up on him from behind, and strangle the nattering little carbuncle with a sash. With everyone away, it would appear to the police to be the work of a drifter. –“Udder Madness,” Woody Allen, The New Yorker
Things smart people should have seen coming:
the intellectual (and financial) bankruptcy of the creative class;
Sarah Palin at Fox News;
Afghan fighters stop hibernating, start killing in winter
The history of games is as old as civilisation. Competitive games are recorded as far back as 2,600BC, while archaeologists have found game “boards” that were apparently scratched onto the backs of statues by bored Assyrian guards in the 8th century BC. Technology has not changed human nature but it has given unprecedented rein to some of our innate impulses and, in particular, to those parts of us that the world of work and business have not used to best advantage: our love of exploration, learning, interaction and, perhaps above all, our sense of fun. Playfish has created ten games to date, and most of them are a long way from the traditional idea of videogames as a violent, crude form of escapism. Its first title, Who Has the Biggest Brain?, is an IQ quiz. Starting to play it takes less than 30 seconds: having logged into Facebook or MySpace (or switched on your iPhone), you look up the application and, after a few clicks and no expenditure, start playing…. The game does all the basics well: it features a bouncy, appealing interface and is challenging without being infuriating. The key to its success, though, is its integration into the social network itself. The moment you finish a game, it tells you how you rank compared to anyone on your “friends” list who has played the game and invites you to send a “taunt to a friend” to show off your prowess. –“All the World Is Play,” Tom Chatfield, Prospect
There are people out there who reject the existence of the tribe and have willed away their own sense of tribal affiliation. These dissidents think that sports fans are simpletons–immature, shallow, mentally damaged people without inner lives, who need vicarious attachments to feel like they are at least minimally alive. Such people view eternal tribal warfare–such as that between Sunni and Shiite Moslems–as the specific ongoing consequence of an ancient dispute over religious doctrine. They don’t see that tribal blood is lifeblood, that it can flow out of a body, but it can never go away. People who have opted out of the tribe–many are academics and intellectuals highly serious about subjects like deconstruction and penis envy–seem to be spectral figures, too thin, gnawing on the insides of their cheeks, hopped up over abstruse ideologies and theoretical abstractions. They are like atheists who, now that they have reasoned God out of existence, are disconsolate about having no one to blame for their troubles. –“Tribal Bloods,” John Wenke, The Gettysburg Review
Design of world’s first “sex robot” laudably focused on “appealing to the mind”;
meanwhile, back at the office, it seems that women act differently at work than men because they are different than men at work;
show of hands: who wants to be embalmed?
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.”