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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”
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
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 tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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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.”