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 - NYTimes.com

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
Defenders of big pay packages like to claim that senior managers earn their vast salaries by boosting their firm’s profits and stock prices. But Piketty points out how hard it is to measure the contribution (the “marginal productivity”) of any one individual in a large corporation. The compensation of top managers is typically set by committees comprising other senior executives who earn comparable amounts. “It is only reasonable to assume that people in a position to set their own salaries have a natural incentive to treat themselves generously, or at the very least to be rather optimistic in gauging their marginal productivity,” Piketty writes.

A note on a recent review I wrote

Recently, I was sent to review Son of God, a movie I would otherwise have never elected to see. In retrospect, my review comes across as anti-Evangelical, the ending overly Catholic. And while it is true that Evangelicals will be the largest audience for the movie—and the ones who will buy the door-hangers and yard signs and 5 part Son Of God sermon series that the publicity people hawked at the screening I attended, the ones who will say yes to buying out screenings for $2,000 to “spread the love of God,” as I was encouraged to do—my desire was not to slander Evangelicals, who, though I am now a Catholic, are still my people. Rather, my frustration is  out of concern for Evangelicals, particularly those of a rather American, non-denominational stripe, who seem to be the (willing) victims of corporations (20th Century Fox, in this case) hoping to cash in on Christianity. There was a word limit and a Catholic audience, but I’m afraid I wasn’t a skilled enough or charitable enough writer. 

Throughout the spring semester of 1985, I climbed that narrow staircase every two or three weeks to learn what he thought of my short stories. He welcomed me with a formal friendliness. There was never any question of whether I could call him by his first name, the way other faculty invited us to address them. To his friends, he was Jim, but to us students, he was always “Mr. Powers.” He wore eyeglasses with dark plastic frames that looked straight out of a black and white photograph. His face had a sour, serious expression. He clutched a pencil. We sat side by side and went through his markings on my stories. Some pages had more of his pencil marks than my ink. He noted with brackets where I could cut words. He squiggled lines under awkward phrases. He added missing commas and struck errant ones. He circled inconsistencies where I’d typed “100” on one page but then spelled out “one hundred” on the next. He noted in the margin, “say it better—I’m tired of that word” (adrenaline) and “dialogue isn’t going anywhere, is it?” and “Any point in this? Bad transition is why I ask” and “such a cliché it’s hard to take seriously” and, where I’d written, “A twinge of anxiety shot into his gut,” he’d penciled “THIS IS A GOOD EXAMPLE OF A BAD SENTENCE. STUDY IT.”