Never such innocence again. But we still make the same mistakes, because we still understand war through analogy and our analogies still fail. Now we see it as a video game, or we see it as a component of the NFL’s set of minor paraphernalia, jet flyovers part of the same combo pack that includes beer commercials and classic-rock riffs. We’re still trying to make the metaphor work, only now we’re doing it in reverse, endlessly describing games in terms of who conquered/eviscerated/bombed/slaughtered whom. It’s the same old trick, though. It’s a way to hide the horror under one layer of spectacle and another layer of moral virtue — a way to pretend that war is like a game, that there are rules, that there is safety. A way not to look into oblivion. We missed the cruel irony in all those soccer balls that show up in World War I photos. Nothing is a metaphor for war. War is a metaphor for nothing.
Brian Phillips, Soccer in Oblivion «

Here’s the frustration: if you’ve been on Twitter a while, it’s changed out from under you. Christopher Alexander made a great diagram, a spectrum of privacy: street to sidewalk to porch to living room to bedroom. I think for many of us Twitter started as the porch—our space, our friends, with the occassional neighborhood passer-by. As the service grew and we gained follwers, we slid across the spectrum of privacy into the street.

Of course, the things you say on your porch are much different than what you’d say on the street. But if the porch turned into the street without you noticing, there’d be a few painful months before you realized you needed to change how you spoke. I remember the first few times I was talking to friends (forgetting the conversation could be viewed by those who followed both of us), only to have strangers piggy-back on our grousing. It felt like a violation. But that’s on me for participating in a kinda-private, kinda-public conversation.

For the better part of a year, I’ve been trying to make Twitter feel like talking on the porch again, but it just can’t happen. Twitter isn’t talking for anyone with more than 500 followers—it’s publishing or advertising. We’re all on the street, and it’s noisy.

‘It’s Ascension Day today,’ he got in first. ‘But maybe you knew that, seeing as you’re off school?’ I nodded that I did know, though in fact I had little idea what it meant. Ascending somewhere, presumably, like the swift ascending through the skies, eating and sleeping and even mating in flight. The carpenter from Nazareth as a space traveller with an aspen-wood cross on His back? The son of man on the verge of leaving us forever?
Tomas Bannerhed, Ravens
On April 30, 1945, the day of Hitler’s suicide, a squad of American soldiers rolled up the driveway of a quaint, green-shuttered villa in the Alpine resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, in Bavaria, and found themselves face to face with the eighty-year-old composer and conductor Richard Strauss. “I am the composer of ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ and ‘Salome,’” Strauss said, in English. The G.I.s had intended to commandeer the house as a temporary headquarters. After listening to Strauss play excerpts from “Rosenkavalier” at the piano, they let him be, and moved on to another destination.

Four Encounters with the Taxi Drivers of Chicago

1)  ”Are you having a good day?”

"Everyday is a good day."  

2) ”How did you get a visa?” 

"I won the lottery. You know the immigration lottery?"

[having consumed a few drinks] “Woah, really? That’s amazing! We have such a broken immigration system that it’s somehow encouraging to meet people who won the lottery. What did your parents say when you told them.”

"That I was lucky." 

3)  ”No, we don’t talk to each other over here. There isn’t the same sense of unity that you have here in the U.S. The sense of being a “Nigerian.” Every tribe thinks they are the best.”

4) ”Let me tell you something! Never trust a woman!”


"Yes! Never trust something that bleeds for three days and doesn’t die!"

"I’d like to pay with credit."

"Ok, swipe.  [almost shouting] I’m serious! I drive a cab and I don’t normally talk to passengers, but I HEAR EVERYTHING." 

"Uh-huh…." [swipes card.] 

"A woman can go have sex and cheat on her husband and he would have no idea that something had happened and she would treat him like normal! How much should I make the tip for."


[Makes it for $2.60] “A woman, say a prostitute, can have sex with 50 men in a night. 50!”

"Can I have a receipt?" 

[Shouting] You, as a man, cannot have sex with more than two! YOU WOULD DIE!”

"I think I would die after one."

[Hands me receipt.]

"Welp, thanks for the ride."

"Ok, have a nice night man." 

In a slapdash reply to an article I published at Slate, the evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne provides just such a response. First, he pretends that the question “Why is there something rather than nothing?” means “How did the universe come about?” And so he has an answer: the Big Bang. I confess I find this somewhat cute, as if I had asked a child why there is money and he had answered, “Because there are ATMs.”
Michael Robbins (paywalled, I think). (via ayjay)
You can’t really say that anything in Indiana Jones is accurate," Haifa University archaeologist Ronny Reich said. "I was once asked in the United States if one of the responsibilities of Israeli archaeologists is to chase down Nazis. I told them, ‘Not any more. Now we just chase down pretty women.’
Bishop Mark Harrison informed Ms. Kelly by email that she had been excommunicated “for conduct contrary to the laws and order of the church,” according to a partial text of the decision shared by an Ordain Women spokeswoman. The bishop said in the email that Ms. Kelly may not take the sacrament, hold a voluntary position or give a talk in the church; vote for church offices; contribute tithes; or wear the sacred Mormon undergarments.

So much about that graf is insane.

Mormon Activist Is Excommunicated -

The single adequate form for verbally expressing authentic human life is the open- ended dialogue. Life by its very nature is dialogic. To live means to participate in dialogue: to ask questions, to heed, to respond, to agree, and so forth. In this dialogue a person participates wholly and throughout his whole life: with his eyes, lips, hands, soul, spirit, with his whole body and deeds. He invests his entire self in discourse, and this discourse enters into the dialogic fabric of human life, into the world symposium.
M.M. Bakhtin
Warren entered the world of policymaking when, in 1995, she was appointed to serve on the National Bankruptcy Review Commission, during the Clinton Administration. She found the work thrilling and the results maddening. She describes a report, sponsored by the banking industry, alleging that bankruptcy protection amounted to a five-hundred-and-fifty-dollar “hidden tax” levied on every hardworking American family: “I’d spent nearly twenty years sweating over every detail in a string of serious academic studies, agonizing over sample sizes and statistical significance to make certain that whatever I reported was exactly right. Now the banks just wrote a check, commissioned a friendly study, and purchased their own facts.” Warren’s frustration was part of what led her to seek a broader audience for her research by writing “The Two-Income Trap,” which led to appearances on the “Today” show and “Dr. Phil,” where she spoke with a family struggling with debt. “Year in and year out, I’d been fighting as hard as I could,” Warren writes. “But by spending a few minutes talking to that family on Dr. Phil’s show—and to about six million other people who were looking on—I might have done more good than in an entire year as a professor.”
Jill Lepore, “The Warren Brief