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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
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.”