Gleanings: November 11, 2012

Migrations : The Last Word On Nothing

How fragile they are. How amazing that they know the way home, that some of them make it, and that then they do it all over again.

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For Pieter ten Hoopen, Following Footsteps Into Japan’s ‘Suicide Forest’ – NYTimes.com

Pieter ten Hoopen grabbed onto a rope and made his way down an incline with a sense of foreboding. He was uncertain what he would find at the end of the 300-meter blue rope. He knew there might be clothing, empty pill containers and a diary, a scene suggesting that a suicide had taken place. Reaching the end of the rope, he was relieved there wasn’t a body or human remains.

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Eleanor Arnason’s Web Log: Genre Fiction

What he describes as “literary” sounds like the classic bourgeois novel of character and psychology. These can certainly be good. But they have were done in the 19th century and early 20th century, and I see no reason to do them again. If I want to read one, I will get out James or Proust.

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Our Local Correspondents: Up and Then Down : The New Yorker

While anthems have been written to jet travel, locomotives, and the lure of the open road, the poetry of vertical transportation is scant. What is there to say, besides that it goes up and down?

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twin city sidewalks: Nine Ways the US Democratic System Screws its Cities

he game is rigged against urban life, against the very places where the most people live. Jeffersonian agoraphobia lies at the very heart of our constitutions and procedures.

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Dear Young Conservative – DC Pierson

The war in which they’ve enlisted you is one in which, if your side triumphs, you will need to hold two low-paying full-time jobs just to make ends meet, and neither job gives you health benefits because it’s hard for either company’s CEO to give you those benefits and also be as ultra-rich as they’d like to be, and if you get hurt or sick, nothing and no one will be there to help you, your only solution will be to work harder and harder for less and less until you die

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The American Scholar: Master of the Examined Life – Paula Marantz Cohen

Why not call this program the MEL: the Master of the Examined Life. The degree would not require writing, though it would encourage it. It would involve reading about deep, far-reaching subjects, and discussing them.

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Robert Ben Rhoades: The Truck Stop Killer by Vanessa Veselka

It seems our profound fascination with serial killers is matched by an equally profound lack of interest in their victims.

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Jonah Lehrer, Scientists, and the Nature of Truth – Virginia Hughes

Here is Lehrer, one of the best science writers I ever read, publishing in the most elite magazine with the help of the smartest editors and most rigorous fact-checkers. And still, still, the story isn’t true.

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‘Lunch Atop a Skyscraper’ Uncovered – NYTimes.com

The popularity of the picture, which has been colorized, satirized, burlesqued with the Muppets and turned into a life-size sculpture by Sergio Furnari, is partly about the casual recklessness of its subjects: The beam on which they sit seems suspended over an urban abyss, with the vastness of Central Park spread out behind them and nothing, seemingly below.

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Fantasyland – Frank Rich

At the policy level, this is the GOP that denies climate change, that rejects Keynesian economics, and that identifies voter fraud where there is none. At the loony-tunes level, this is the GOP that has given us the birthers, websites purporting that Obama was lying about Osama bin Laden’s death, and not one but two (failed) senatorial candidates who redefined rape in defiance of medical science and simple common sense. It’s the GOP that demands the rewriting of history (and history textbooks), still denying that Barry Goldwater’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy” transformed the party of Lincoln into a haven for racists.

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