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Oddly enough, the military leaders to whom Krauthammer, Boot, and Barnes all insist that Obama should defer also eschew the V-word. McChrystal and McChrystal’s boss, Gen. David Petraeus, have repeatedly said that military power alone won’t solve the problems facing a country such as Afghanistan. Indeed, the counterinsurgency doctrine that Petraeus revived and that McChrystal is keen to apply in Afghanistan in effect concedes that violence alone is incapable of producing decisive and politically useful outcomes. Expend as much ammunition as you want: what today’s military calls “kinetic” methods won’t get you where you want to go. Acknowledging that battle doesn’t work, counterinsurgency advocates call for winning (or bribing) hearts and minds instead. And they’ll happily settle for outcomes—take a look at Iraq, for example—that bear scant resemblance to victory as traditionally defined. That the post-Cold War United States military, reputedly the strongest and most capable armed force in modern history, has not only conceded its inability to achieve decision but has in effect abandoned victory as its raison d’être qualifies as a remarkable development.–“No Exit: America has an impressive record of starting wars but a dismal one of ending them well,” Andrew Bacevich, The American Conservative
For more from Andrew Bacevich, please read in Harper’s Magazine: “The War We Can’t Win” (subs), and “American coup d’etat: Military thinkers discuss the unthinkable” (free)
New York-style vowels are diphthongs— meaning they change into another sound during pronunciation. That’s just a boring way to describe the musical “aww-uhh” that New Yorkers bring to their vowels, pulling them apart like taffy, turning “sausage” into “sawww-sage.” Words like “talk” and “walk” turn into two-syllable words: “Taww-uhk” and “waww-uuhk.” Travis Bickle’s famous line from “Taxi Driver” actually sounds more like, “Yoo tawwhkin’ ta may?”…Nobody’s quite sure when these features melded into the accent we know today, though it shows up on some of the earliest sound recordings. After the British, the next generation of European immigrants to New York City — Irish and Germans in the mid-1800s, Jews, Eastern Europeans, Russians, and Italians starting in the 1880s — contributed their own features. There were references to a “Bowery accent” by the turn of the century. –“Why the classic Noo Yawk accent is fading away,” Sheila McClear, New York Post
A writer on Jezebel made a connection between your previous memoir, about your eating disorder, and your search for a partner. “Gottlieb treats dating like dieting— an unpleasant exercise in self-denial, meant to achieve a socially acceptable result,” she writes. Do you see any truth in that?
I see it as the opposite of denial– it’s about the opening up of possibilities and not denying ourselves the opportunity to fall madly in love with someone because we’ve intellectualized ourselves out of getting to know someone who isn’t our culture’s ideal of Mr. Right….
You do have a very a grim view of singlehood.
You’re right about that. For me, it’s harder to go through life alone than with a partner you love. But I don’t have a grim view of singlehood for those who embrace it. It’s that, for me and many women — we’d rather have the teammate in life. And no matter how many friends we have, there’s a qualitative difference between what those friendships can offer — it’s a completely different level of intimacy and involvement in the minutiae, the little moments in life that have so much meaning to a lot of us, especially as we get older and our priorities change. –“‘Marry Him’’s Lori Gottlieb: Settling and the single girl,” interview by Sarah Hepola, Salon
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.”