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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:
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.”