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The movie’s denouement— the explosive ordnance disposal (E.O.D.) team responds to a massive truck bomb in the Green Zone— is so completely wrong in every respect that it borders on farce. Insurgents did not operate freely in the Green Zone. They would never have kidnapped a soldier in an area with thousands of U.S. troops. And they would never have hung around an active investigation scene with their weapons. No American E.O.D. team in existence (or any other three-man squad) would go charging alone down dark alleyways when there are hundreds of infantrymen at hand. –“Essay: How Not to Depict a War,” Michael Kamber, the New York Times
The U.S. Postal Service is at a tipping point due to the combined effects of the economic recession, increased use of electronic communications, and its obligations to prepay Retiree Health Benefits. Always dedicated to providing reliable, affordable, high-quality universal service, the Postal Service has developed and begun implementing a range of cost-reducing and revenue-generating initiatives. But these aren’t enough to close the financial gap between revenue and costs. For the American public to continue receiving affordable universal postal services from a self-sufficient Postal Service, these issues need to be addressed quickly and comprehensively with legal and regulatory action. –“Envisioning America’s Future Postal Service “ (via)
How to make a steampunk book cover (with gargoyles);
“Väinämöinen sings a ship”;
Gordon Lightfoot on “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” (it wasn’t a hatchway)
“Let’s talk about why you plan to kill me.” It was March 1987, and Milt Bearden was sitting in a spare interview room at the Islamabad headquarters of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. Bearden was then the CIA’s station chief in Islamabad, serving as the link between Washington and the U.S.-funded Afghan rebels bleeding the Soviets in Afghanistan. He had come to see the mujahedin’s most lethal warlord, a radical Islamist named Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. No other Afghan leader had received more money from the United States than Hekmatyar, yet he showed his Western patrons precious little gratitude. He claimed to despise the United States as much as the Soviet Union, and, while visiting the United Nations two years earlier, he had refused an invitation to meet Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office. Now Bearden was hearing grumbling from Washington about why the United States was financing an anti-American zealot known for splashing acid in the faces of unveiled women. He decided it was time to confront a man he considered “the darkest” of the Afghan warlords. And Hekmatyar was convinced he’d come to snuff him. –“Our Man in Kabul? The sadistic Afghan warlord who wants to be our friend,” by Michael Crowley, The New Republic
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.”