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Is the pervasive resistance to untethering ourselves from our social worlds or disconnecting ourselves from the media drip, even for an instant, at root a fear of the emptiness in our heads? What does it say about us, as a society, if we’re unable to be alone and unplugged without being bored or lonely? Is the girl in Deresiewicz’s anecdote who wonders why anyone would want to be alone an outlier or a poster child for our times? If Deresiewicz is right, should we preserve some small space in our lives for solitude—a Walden of the mind, away from the Matrix? –“A Walden of the Mind: The Fate of Solitude in the Age of Shariness,” Mark Dery, True/Slant
It’s no great mystery that seasoned warriors like McChrystal harbor a secret relationship with their self-destructive side, what Conrad called “the fascination of the abomination.” You don’t habitually parachute out of airplanes nor go to shuras in treacherous tribal areas without body armor if you don’t enjoy stepping up to the brink from time to time, both in word and deed. And with a samurai like McChrystal there was never, ever any doubt about his physical courage, except to wonder if he didn’t suffer from a surplus of it, if his valor didn’t in some way deafen him to the better angels of his nature or force him to rely too heavily on his physical vigor to the detriment of his compassion, prevent him from cultivating the killer empathic sense that both Lee and T.E. Lawrence possessed which allowed them to project themselves into the mind of their opposite, be it an enemy commander or a visiting journalist. –“The Stringer and the Snake-eater,” David J. Morris, VQR
The arcane virtues of the techno-Luddite;
the “tensions and pleasures” of Brooklyn’s class war;
“radical honesty,” or yet another way to keep the writer’s belly full;
five places we’re all going to die
On March 30 of 1906, Ty Cobb interrupted his spring training to travel to Lavonia, Ga., where his mother’s five lawyers were squaring off against the state’s four-attorney prosecution. Amanda Cobb was questioned in detail about the time between the two shotgun blasts and other specifics of that night, providing at least some contradictory testimony. But the prosecution made no mention of possible infidelity on Amanda’s part, and the all-male jury found her innocent, based almost solely on her testimony that she had been awakened by what she took to be an intruder and had acted to protect herself, resulting in a horrific accident. –“Ty Cobb: Death in the Dark,” Kurt Rheinheimer, Blue Ridge Country
More from TedRoss:
Years ago, I lived in Montana, a land of purple sunsets, clear streams, and snowflakes the size of silver dollars drifting through the cold air. There were no speed limits and you could legally drive drunk. My small apartment in Missoula had little privacy. In order to write, I rented an off-season fishing cabin on Rock Creek, a one-room place with a bed and a bureau. I lacked the budget for a desk. My idea was to remove a sliding door from a closet in my apartment and place it over a couple of hastily cobbled-together sawhorses.
Average number of bacteria living in a pound of U.S. mud:
Canadian doctors saved a baby from drowning in his own drool by using Botox on his salivary glands.
A black bear named Pedals, famous for walking upright on his hind legs through Rockaway Township, New Jersey, was reported killed by a hunter, and a hiker in California was attacked after he interrupted two bears mating. It was a “pretty good bear attack,” said the local police chief.
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"She never thanked me, never looked at me—melted away into the miserable night, in the strangest manner I ever saw. I have seen many strange things, but not one that has left a deeper impression on my memory than the dull impassive way in which that worn-out heap of misery took that piece of money, and was lost."