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Bill Martel, an international-security expert at the Fletcher School, at Tufts University, told me that Holder, having been impervious to the shifting public mood, had been sucked into “a political riptide.” The Christmas Day bombing attempt, he noted, had come only a month after Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist who had exchanged e-mails with radical Islamists, massacred thirteen people at Fort Hood, Texas. Both incidents had revived public concern about America’s vulnerability to terrorism. Holder’s decisions, Martel warned, had “the makings of a sustained and self-inflicted political hemorrhage.” He added, “I think they’re going to have to give up on civilian trials. And Eric Holder is in for some pretty brutal days.” Indeed, on January 31st, Senator Lamar Alexander, of Tennessee, declared on Fox News that Holder should “step down,” for his inability to make “a distinction” between “terrorists who are flying into Detroit, blowing up planes, and American citizens who are committing a crime.” –“The Trial: Eric Holder and the battle over Khalid Sheikh Mohammed,” Jane Mayer, The New Yorker
Examining one particular part of the limbic system– the ventral striatum– was especially revealing, as its level of activity corresponded with the perceived funniness of a joke. “It’s the same region that is involved in many different types of reward, from drugs, to sex and our favourite music,” says Mobbs, now at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, UK. “Humour thus taps into basic rewards systems that are important to our survival.” –“The Comedy Circuit: When your brain gets the joke,” Daniel Elkan, NewScientist
Unfunny joke only thing holding friendship together;
interview with Gallagher, prop comic;
also extinct: dinosaurs, which scientists now believe to be colorful;
the “primordial soup” theory is so over
Climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease, and may spur or exacerbate mass migration. While climate change alone does not cause conflict, it may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world. In addition, extreme weather events may lead to increased demands for defense support to civil authorities for humanitarian assistance or disaster response both within the United States and overseas. –The U.S. Department of Defense Quadrennial Defense Review Report, as quoted in “Pentagon Considers Climate Change a National Security Threat,” Matthew Cordell, UN Dispatch
New Orleans also elected a new mayor over the weekend;
why do the Chinese save so much? (it’s because there are more men than women);
related: photo-collection of Asian “pretty boys”
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.”