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Last night Harper’s Magazine held a reading at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in downtown New York City. Highlights are available on YouTube:
It is perhaps indicative of the cultural climate of our times that the British Museum and the BBC could announce a programme with a pretentious title such as “A History of the World in 100 Objects”. A pretence to serving the whole world, a title which indicates a wider view but hides in fact the reality of frantic efforts to preserve the interests of a few in the guise of the so-called “universal museums” which have come under some heavy criticisms in recent years. The project appears to be aimed at diverting attention from the fact that the tide of history is moving against the illegitimate detention of the cultural objects of others. It is aimed at impressing the masses about the alleged indispensable role of the major museums and gathering support for their continuing possession that is tainted with illegality and illegitimacy. In the process, public interest for the museum would be stimulated and information about the objects as considered necessary would be produced. –“A History of the World with 100 Looted Objects of Others: Global intoxication?” by Dr. Kwame Opoku, Modern Ghana (via)
Dirty flags advertise rock-bottom discounts on empty starter mansions. On the ground, foreclosure signs are tagged with gang graffiti. Empty lots are untended, cratered with mud puddles from the winter storms that have hammered California’s San Joaquin Valley. Nobody is home in the cities of the future. –Slumburbia, Timothy Egan, The New York Times
During the mind-glazing interludes of gameplay between the real Super Bowl action—meaning: the commercial breaks—I found my thoughts turning, idly, to coach. And to the bullying jocks of my high-school years. And to the question hidden in plain sight, in the middle of the field: What does it mean to be a man in America? Isn’t that what the Super Bowl is all about, in a sense? I thought, too, about the Fear of the Inner Queer—of Being a Homo or, worse yet, Being a Pussy—that seems to gnaw, like some infinitely dense, endlessly collapsing black hole, at the heart of American masculinity. I thought about what Robert Lipsyte said during our phone interview, about the blurry line between the homosocial—male bonding, by any other name—and male eros. –“Jocko Homo: How Gay is the Super Bowl?” by Mark Dery, True/Slant (via)
Years ago, I lived in Montana, a land of purple sunsets, clear streams, and snowflakes the size of silver dollars drifting through the cold air. There were no speed limits and you could legally drive drunk. My small apartment in Missoula had little privacy. In order to write, I rented an off-season fishing cabin on Rock Creek, a one-room place with a bed and a bureau. I lacked the budget for a desk. My idea was to remove a sliding door from a closet in my apartment and place it over a couple of hastily cobbled-together sawhorses.
Amount by which a typical good-looking U.S. worker will out-earn a typical ugly one over a lifetime:
A Japanese inventor unveiled a new invisibility cloak that uses a material made of thousands of tiny beads called “retro-reflectum.”
A couple at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Greenville, South Carolina, left their waitress a note telling her “the woman’s place is in the home,” in lieu of a tip.
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"She never thanked me, never looked at me—melted away into the miserable night, in the strangest manner I ever saw. I have seen many strange things, but not one that has left a deeper impression on my memory than the dull impassive way in which that worn-out heap of misery took that piece of money, and was lost."