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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)
Flor Arely Sánchez had been in bed with a fever and pains throughout her body for three days when a July thunderstorm broke over the mountainside. She got nervous when bolts of light flashed in the sky. Lightning strikes the San Julián region of western El Salvador several times a year, and her neighbors fear storms more than they fear the march of diseases — first dengue, then chikungunya, now Zika. Flor worried about a lot of things, since she was pregnant.
Late in the afternoon, when the pains had somewhat eased, Flor thought she might go to a dammed-up bit of the river near her house to bathe. She is thirty-five and has lived in the same place all her life, where wrinkled hills are planted with corn, beans, and fruit trees. She took a towel and soap and walked out into the rain. Halfway to the river, the pains returned and overcame her. The next thing Flor remembers, she was in a room she didn’t recognize, unable to move. As she soon discovered, she was in a hospital, her ankle cuffed to the bed, and she was being investigated for abortion.
Amount the town of Rolfe, Iowa, will pay anyone who builds a home there:
Ancient Egyptians worshiped some dwarves as gods.
In Italy, a judge ordered that a man who paid for sex with a 15-year-old girl must buy her 30 feminist-themed books, including The Diary of Anne Frank and the poems of Emily Dickinson.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”