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Bajaur has attracted would-be conquerors for centuries. Its Nawa Pass predates the Khyber as the most favoured route from Central Asia into the Indian subcontinent. Both Alexander the Great and the Mughal Emperor Babar marched their armies through here. Indeed, local women proved so irresistible to Alexander that, according to folklore, he began an illicit affair with Queen Cleophis from the local Assaceni dynasty. It is impossible to comment on Alexander’s tastes: I see no more than a handful of women on Bajaur’s streets and none in its market. Those who do venture outside are veiled behind the flowing blue burqa that has become synonymous with Taliban rule, even though they are no longer in control. –“Bajaur: A Talk with the Taliban,” Shiraz Maher, Standpoint
It seems McDonald’s has stumbled upon the greatest marketing tactic of all: turning its sandwich into an urban legend. Specialty items at other fast food chains—like the Chipotle Chicken/Asian Chicken at Wendy’s or, arguably, Burger King’s salads—are too easily accessible to generate mystique. Perhaps sensing the wisdom of McDonald’s approach, Taco Bell only puts its Cheesy Gordita Crunch on the menu sporadically. (Spoiler alert: You can special order them!) Like Big Foot, McRib sightings are rare and its taste questionable. –“The Curious Case of the McRibble (And the McRib),” Mary Shyne, The Awl
The early translators of the Nights, in other words, took enormous liberties, editing and embellishing, adding stories from other sources or their own imagination (some of the most famous stories, like Aladdin or Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, were never part of the original collection), vituperating earlier translators and sometimes backing up their own versions with forgeries. Then again, these faithless translators were true to the tradition of the Nights – the most mobile and malleable of texts, open to endless manipulation. –“Night Moves,” Ursula Lindsey, The National
More from Rafe Bartholomew:
Discussed in this essay:
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert. Henry Holt. 352 pages. $28.
The extinction symbol is a spare graphic that began to appear on London walls and sidewalks a couple of years ago. It has since become popular enough as an emblem of protest that people display it at environmental rallies. Others tattoo it on their arms. The symbol consists of two triangles inscribed within a circle, like so:
“The triangles represent an hourglass; the circle represents Earth; the symbol as a whole represents, according to a popular Twitter feed devoted to its dissemination (@extinctsymbol, 19.2K followers), “the rapidly accelerating collapse of global biodiversity” — what scientists refer to alternately as the Holocene extinction, the Anthropocene extinction, and (with somewhat more circumspection) the sixth mass extinction.
Ratio of husbands who say they fell in love with their spouse at first sight to wives who say this:
Mathematicians announced the discovery of the perfect method of cutting a cake.
Indian prime-ministerial contender Narendra Modi, who advertises his bachelorhood as a mark of his incorruptibility, confessed to having a wife.
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Science’s crisis of faith