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Some readers have asked, in the context of my recent Congo columns, why I have named rape victims, including the name of a 9-year-old girl. Let me say at the outset that it’s the policy of the Times not to name rape victims and that making exceptions requires consultation with a senior editor. That’s a policy that makes sense to me; I didn’t consult but should have (and will in the future). In any case, let me explain my thinking here. –“Is It Ever O.K. to Name Rape Victims?” by Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times
Nickels (173), Pennies (161), Quarters (3), Dimes (26), Military buttons (22), Insignia clasps (5), Nails (50), Staples (5), Screws (16), Metal bolt (1), Metal nuts (4), Overall buckles (19), Metal cap top with keys (8), Lock key (1), Crucifix (2), Bottle caps (2), Knife handle (1), Fork handle (1), Spoon handle (1), Complete fork (bent double) (1), Dessert spoon (1), Rifle shell (unexploded) (1), Pieces of lead (14), Brass ball (1)… –“Management of Ingested Foreign Bodies in the Psychotic Patient,” as quoted in “A Varied Diet,” Mind Hacks
PLAYBOY: If you didn’t know you, would you think you’re a douche bag?
MAYER: It depends on what I picked up. My two biggest hits are “Your Body Is a Wonderland” and “Daughters.” If you think those songs are pandering, then you’ll think I’m a douche bag. It’s like I come on very strong. I am a very…I’m just very. V-E-R-Y. And if you can’t handle very, then I’m a douche bag. But I think the world needs a little very. That’s why black people love me.
PLAYBOY: Because you’re very?
MAYER: Someone asked me the other day, “What does it feel like now to have a hood pass?” And by the way, it’s sort of a contradiction in terms, because if you really had a hood pass, you could call it a nigger pass. Why are you pulling a punch and calling it a hood pass if you really have a hood pass? But I said, “I can’t really have a hood pass. I’ve never walked into a restaurant, asked for a table and been told, ‘We’re full.’”
PLAYBOY: It is true; a lot of rappers love you. You recorded with Common and Kanye West, played live with Jay-Z.
MAYER: What is being black? It’s making the most of your life, not taking a single moment for granted. Taking something that’s seen as a struggle and making it work for you, or you’ll die inside. Not to say that my struggle is like the collective struggle of black America. But maybe my struggle is similar to one black dude’s.
PLAYBOY: Do black women throw themselves at you?
MAYER: I don’t think I open myself to it. My dick is sort of like a white supremacist. I’ve got a Benetton heart and a fuckin’ David Duke cock. I’m going to start dating separately from my dick.
–“John Mayer: Playboy Interview,” Playboy (NSFW, obviously)
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.”