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Haiti is everybody’s cherished tragedy. Long before the great earthquake struck the country like a vengeful god, the outside world, and Americans especially, described, defined, marked Haiti most of all by its suffering. Epithets of misery clatter after its name like a ball and chain: Poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. One of the poorest on earth. For decades Haiti’s formidable immiseration has made it among outsiders an object of fascination, wonder and awe. Sometimes the pity that is attached to the land — and we see this increasingly in the news coverage this past week — attains a tone almost sacred, as if Haiti has taken its place as a kind of sacrificial victim among nations, nailed in its bloody suffering to the cross of unending destitution. –“To Heal Haiti, Look to History, Not Nature,” Mark Danner, New York Times
More from Harper’s contributor Mark Danner
Things that simply can’t be true, but may be: “Necrophiliacs behind Haiti Facebook hoax”;
Anderson Cooper isn’t exactly heroic, but he’s hardly the world’s worst human being;
actor Danny Glover may be every bit as stupid as Pat Robertson
Ha, who manages a stall that sells artificial maidenheads at a commercial center near Tan Thanh border gate, said the hymens are sold two at a time in a box that costs VND700,000 (US$38), accompanied with a solution that costs VND380,000. Customers are told to use one hymen first to see how it feels and the other one in a “real situation”…. The artificial hymen, which is a 6.5×3.5 centimeter rectangular piece made of a transparent material that shrinks and dissolves after being soaked in hot water, will expire in two years, according to the label. Ha said she sells almost all the hymens to beauty salons in Hanoi. “Retailing it here could easily get me caught.” –“Virginity Protected for $38 at China Border,” Thanh Nhien
Three things you (hopefully) already know about the Internet: smiling will up your chances of finding a mate;
blogging about Park Slope in the Times is a dangerous business;
and Dallas Maverick’s owner, Mark Cuban is smarter than you might think
The garden-based curriculum has good news for the state’s catastrophically underachieving students: a giant team of volunteers is ready to help them. Here is how our garden-loving, home-cooking, recycling superintendent of instruction describes one of the program’s principal advantages in the introduction to A Child’s Garden of Standards, a gargantuan compendium of charts and lesson plans intended to link the beloved method of gardening with the hard-ass objectives of the state standards: “Some families, particularly those from other countries, may feel uncomfortable when asked to help out at school because their English skills or educational background do not give them a solid classroom footing. For these families, the living classroom of a garden can be a much more inviting environment in which to engage in their children’s education.” If this patronizing agenda were promulgated in the Jim Crow South by a white man who was espousing a sharecropping curriculum for African American students, we would see it for what it is: a way of bestowing field work and low expectations on a giant population of students who might become troublesome if they actually got an education. –“Cultivating Failure,” Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic Monthly
Is there any value in being the search engine for “food lovers?”
And why would anyone want to grow pork in a laboratory?
Because when you’re really serious about killing, you boil your victims in lye and then stew them with hominy
Percentage of British elementary-school students who think Isaac Newton discovered fire:
The earth once had three moons; the two lost moons may have crashed into the surviving moon, or been sucked into the sun, or flung out of the solar system to drift through deep space.
In Florida, an 87-year-old World War II veteran flying touch-and-go drills in a Cessna collided with an airborne skydiver. “There was a ‘woof’ sound,” said a witness, “like falling on your face into your pillow.”
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“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”