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The United States, it would seem, is suffering its own kind of island gigantism. Bigness is the prejudice of American life, our cultural albatross, the axiom being that when something is big it is automatically better….Thus, we prefer our Big Macs and our Whoppers, our food portions supersized, our big cars and sprawling cities, our enormous football players (growing bigger every year, the average offensive lineman now topping three hundred pounds), our big breasts and big penises and big houses (up from an average of 1,200 square feet in 1950 to 2,216 square feet today), our big armies with big reach, and, though we complain about it incessantly, big government that spends big money running up big debt (more now than at any other period in our history). That we allow corporations to grow to outrageous size is just another symptom of the disease. Bigness worship permeates every layer of the culture; it is racked into our brains with every turn of the advertising screw; it is a totalizing force. -“The Curse of Bigness,” Christopher Ketcham, Orion
But the irony of what you’re saying—right now, most people think he’s the most untruthful person in America.
You know, it’s so fascinating to me how people perceive things. Everyone talks about how Johnny has fallen from grace. In reality, he’s fallen to grace. He is integrated. He is living a life of truth. He has grown in awareness and humility. He had all these things within him, but they weren’t the guiding, leading principles of his life. Now they are.
Do you think he thinks that? That he’s more integrated now?
Yeah. I think that he thinks that he is a much wiser and a much better and a more truthful and a more integrated human being.
Did you encourage him earlier to be truthful?
Um, once again, in a male-female relationship, you can offer… I mean, the way that I have learned to keep a relationship going is to offer your advice when asked for it, and love unconditionally when it’s not taken.
That must be hard to do.
It’s beyond difficult. To allow a man to be a man. The biggest mistake that I find is that women attempt to make men women. You know, we want them to be like we are. We want them to get it immediately and do things the way that we want them to do them. And men are men. And I love him for being a man. But oh, my God, yes, it’s been infuriating so many times.
Like when he said on national television that it was impossible that he was the father?
Correct. But I also knew when he did that interview he was not in the right mind. He was traumatized. Because he had been living a life that was now exposed. –“Hello America, My Name is Rielle Hunter,” Interview by Lisa Depaulo, GQ
Ranking America’s blackest white celebrities;
pretty pictures of this country’s loveliest birds;
America’s universities used to be fast food, but now they are slow food (at least compared to the British schools, which aren’t food at all)
Before we can understand a word, we first have to retrieve its meaning from memory. Most of the time, this happens quickly—so quickly we call it automatic—but sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes the word is good and dusty. Say my lab manager says, “Sally saw Rosemary Clooney on the bus today!” I’ll quickly retrieve some meaningful representation for Sally and saw and bus and today, but _Rosemary Clooney_might throw me. I retrieve her a bit at a time, one piece leading to another. She sounds familiar. She’s a singer, right? Isn’t she George Clooney’s aunt? Then I remember Rosemary Clooney, George’s aunt, died several years ago. “No way,” I reply, that bit of idiomatic speech rolling off my tongue effortlessly. “She’s been dead for years.” And here we’ve come to a pronoun. My lab manager delves into memory for representations of dead and years, and finds them, no problem. Delving for she, my lab manager comes back up with a representation of Rosemary Clooney. But she doesn’t always mean Rosemary Clooney. Sometimes she means Sally or Hillary Clinton or the girl I ate lunch with on the first day of seventh grade. She could be anything that can be referenced as a single female—even a ship or a country. But my lab manager knows, straight away, that she is Rosemary Clooney. Pronouns involve that extra step, that discourse mining, that sensitivity to intent and likelihood: that matchmaking. Right here, right now, who is she? Perhaps you are beginning to see why I am obsessed. –“They Get to Me: A young psycholinguist confesses her strong attraction to pronouns,” Jessica Love, The American Scholar
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed may be un-convictable but he’s still not going anywhere;
Republican vampire to run for president in 2012; (no, not Sarah Palin–why would you even think that?);
Starland discovered Gaga!
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.”