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It was Hefner’s great insight that girly pictures divorced from any kind of human individuality could not be anything except dirty. And so his Playmates had names, jobs, personalities, and fact sheets, however illusory these often were. In some crucial way, then, Playboy gave what was previously considered pornography a kind of dignity. It was a deeply limiting, dingbat dignity, to be sure, but to allow the mid-century American woman any identity beyond that of mother, virgin, or whore increased her available social options by 25 percent. Women would naturally revolt against this, and no one could blame them, but the fact remains that Playboy helped liberate female sexuality from a Bastille of iniquitous morality, in the long run surely doing more to help women than harm them. –“The Bunny Revolution,” Tom Bissell, The New Republic
Also from Harper’s contributing editor Tom Bissell: robot deer, comets, vanity publishing, and more (free and subs)
DEAR ABBY: I’m a 26-year-old minor league baseball player. I have been involved in two serious relationships. My first was a girl I became engaged to when I was 20 and in college playing baseball there. I loved her and was committed to her, but she was jealous of my “first love” — my sport. She constantly tried in subtle ways to get me to quit. After we had a huge fight, she finally threw my ring back at me. I stayed single for a couple of years and then met a woman and began slowly dating her. The first year our relationship was good, but over the next three years the same issues arose and I was hearing, “You’re selfish.” “You don’t love me.” “Grow up!” Being a professional baseball player has been my dream since I was 5, and I’m not ready to give up on it yet. Both these women continue to call and text me crying because it didn’t work out. I’m angry at them for not supporting me, but I also feel sad for them because all they did was love me. What do I do about them and about trusting women with my heart and dreams? — LOVELESS IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR LOVELESS: Stop allowing those women to lay a guilt trip on you.–“Dear Abby,” Abigail Van Buren
Reactions to Sarah Palin as TV personality: good, great, her “analysis holds no weight”;
plus other amusing thoughts from the American Right: racially motivated political correctness “alive and well” at Duke;
Americans hate each other even (particularly) when they are poor;
Michelle Obama is a fake–those Iron Chef sweet potatoes were plants!
30 April 1961.
Did not sleep at all last night. It hurts like the devil! A snowstorm whipping through my soul, wailing like a hundred jackals. Still no obvious symptoms that perforation is imminent, but an oppressive feeling of foreboding hangs over me… This is it… I have to think through the only possible way out: to operate on myself… It’s almost impossible… but I can’t just fold my arms and give up. “18.30. I’ve never felt so awful in my entire life. The building is shaking like a small toy in the storm. The guys have found out. They keep coming by to calm me down. And I’m upset with myself—I’ve spoiled everyone’s holiday. Tomorrow is May Day. And now everyone’s running around, preparing the autoclave. We have to sterilise the bedding, because we’re going to operate. “20.30. I’m getting worse. I’ve told the guys. Now they’ll start taking everything we don’t need out of the room. –“Auto-appendectomy in the Antarctic: case report,” Vladislov Rogozov, British Medical Journal (don’t miss photos of Rogozov operating on himself)
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.”