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Ashley Ellis’s misdemeanor arrest turned into a death sentence. Her crime: “careless and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.” Less than two days after entering a Vermont prison on a 30-day sentence, she died from the careless and negligent operation of a privatized for-profit prison healthcare system. Her death shows what can, and does, happen across the country when states outsource prisoner medical services: states cut corners on monitoring, and contractors skimp on care. Ellis’ death “is a pretty blatant and obvious and extreme case of gross negligence,” says Seth Lipschutz, supervising attorney at the Vermont Defenders office. “We figured out in a day that they killed her.” –“Death by Privatization: For-profit prison healthcare system implicated in death of inmate,” Terry J. Allen, In These Times
For more on prison HMOs, read “Sick on the inside: Correctional HMOs and the coming prison plague,” by Wil S. Hylton, from August 2003 Harper’s Magazine (subs)
A lot of terms were used to describe seventy-one-year-old former U.S. congressman Charlie Wilson when he represented deep East Texas on Capitol Hill from 1973 to 1996, and “hero” was not typically among them. “Hopeless alcoholic” was. So too was “pussy hound.” And the occasional, less colorful term, like “self-serving” or “vindictive.” He was reputed to be a hard-drinking, coke-snorting, skirt-chasing, lightweight lawmaker, a water carrier for the timber industry, and worst of all, a pork barrel liberal. As he’ll cheerfully point out, not all those descriptions were intended as compliments. Though folks back home always loved him, up in D.C. there were plenty of people who considered him a joke, more notable for the good-looking women he squired around the world on the federal dime than any law he ever authored or sponsored. When he retired, eight years ago, mention of Good Time Charlie Wilson in the history books looked to be relegated to a humorous (hopefully) footnote, his most significant achievement being that those same “personal qualities,” to use the term loosely, that inspired investigations by the House Ethics Committee at least three known times—for cocaine use in 1983, writing hot checks to the House bank in 1992, and making illegal personal loans from his campaign account in 1995—were practically celebrated behind the Pine Curtain, where, beginning in 1960, he was elected to public office eighteen times—three to the Texas House, three to the Texas Senate, and twelve to the Congress. That, plus the fact that he gave utterance to the most stupefying, yet somehow non-suicidal, political quote this side of former Louisiana governor Edwin “Fast Eddie” Edwards’s famous “live boy, dead girl” crack. In a 1988 Ms. Magazine piece by Molly Ivins, he provided the following justification for the hiring practices that had earned his secretarial staff the nickname Charlie’s Angels: “You can teach ’em to type, but you can’t teach ’em how to grow tits.” –“The Rehabilitation of Charlie Wilson: From booze-guzzling, skirt-chasing, check-kiting Congressman to American hero in–you guessed–twelve steps,” John Spong, Texas Monthly
Damn the polygamous plot against American education!
For shame to those who would stymie the fashion sense of gaudily dressed figure skaters!
Now is the time to harry, detain, and persecute those who even think about abortions!
And no more poets writing poems about poetry!
Like most people, I would rather be someone else. The prose this other self would write would be sharp and coiled, deadly like a snake; not all soggy and attenuated like a garden hose, spritzing dewily, indiscriminately, over thorns and flowers. But it seems one can’t just choose to be a snake. Temperament, sensibility, culture—all come into play. To be Jewish, for instance, is to incline, from Eden onward, less toward the snake than the snake victim. Most of us, with the notable exception of Isaac Babel, lack that cold equipment, that steely, scrupulous will to violence seen in writers like Flannery O’Connor, John Hawkes, Robert Stone, Cormac McCarthy, and other Catholic rednecks. So the matter is not uncomplicated. Then too, given that any investigation of our personal linguistic patterns will inevitably be conducted within the confines of those patterns, there’s bound to be a certain maze-like, funhouse-mirror effect of not being able to see beyond the freakishly elongated reflection of our own heads. –“Going to the Tigers: Notes on Middle Style,” Robert Cohen, The Believer
Images of presidential hagiography, packaged for kids;
as for Obama’s parenting, well he may be so good that he’s bad for everyone else;
particularly for anyone living in Pakistan (his inclination to “just shoot the bastards” is even more developed than George W. Bush);
small, creepy statute of kiddie-Obama dressed in shorts and holding a butterfly removed from Jakarta park
A recording of Hunter S. Thompson demonstrating the importance of the universal remote:
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.”