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Streetcars seem to drive some people around-the-bend crazy. In Toronto, the National Post recently filled a few pages with a back-and-forth about whether they are unquestionably the worst or merely awful. In the US, even fans of density and transit find themselves arguing that putting streetcars in mixed traffic is the worst possible way to spend money. In Detroit, a city that could use some infrastructure spending (assuming we’re unwilling to just drop money from helicopters), the usual suspects say the money being allocated for a light rail line would be better spent on improved bus service.

It’s true that Toronto desperately needs to figure out how to operate its streetcars more effectively, and solve the perennially bunched-and-short-turned service. But asking if other cities in the US should build mixed-traffic streetcars is a very different question from wondering what Toronto should do with its existing streetcar network.

In a Super Bowl commercial from 2012, an adorably shabby rescue dog is trained to retrieve Bud Lights on command. He brings his owner a beer. Then he drags over a couple of cold ones for the owner’s friends. Some pretty girls arrive, and the dog is sent to the fridge to beer them, too. At the end the dog does a keg roll, adorably. Everyone enjoys a Bud Light. Scene.

Ask me how I feel about the ad and I might say that it’s kind of weird to celebrate the enslavement of a rescue dog—should pets be forced to become our bartenders?—and then maybe I’d add something sniffy about light beer drinkers. But my brain would tell the truth. And the truth, according to a soon-to-be-published study in Nature Communications, is that my neurological reaction is likely the same as everyone else’s—a clear sign that the ad is bound for glory.

How to deal with the “powerlessness and … utter lack of recourse” upon realizing you’ve been fictionalized.

The great John Jeremiah Sullivan provides annotations to “Upon This Rock,” his wonderful GQ feature about his trip to...

In 2008, hip clothier Juicy Couture launched what might have been one of the most ill-conceived advertising campaigns ever. Plastered all over its flagship Manhattan store and inside nearly every fashion magazine, you could find the image: waifish models posed on a California beach, clad in Juicy’s iconic velour and terry-cloth gear, all sporting different colours, with a bold Gothic-type tagline declaring, “Let Them Eat Tracksuits.”

Turns out there’s very little to protect Canadian home buyers from “stigmatized property,” aka murder homes.

Speaking of twee, here is what happens when twee and pure human evil get into a hot tub together.

The Gavin McInnes of Google.

When he first demonstrated the possibility of vaccinating children against smallpox, you’d think Edward Jenner would have been hailed as the next best thing to Jesus at Lazarus’ tomb: if we can’t bring the dead back to life, surely armoring the innocent against one of history’s greatest killers is a close second.

And yet, when the British government passed laws in the mid 1800s making vaccination compulsory (in an age where there were few other reliable public health measures), people raised an unholy ruckus, calling the measures blasphemous and (this should sound familiar) asserting “the right of parents to protect their children from disease.”

In his foundational 1728 text Le Chirurgien Dentiste (roughly, “The surgical dentist”), Pierre Fauchard laid out a lot of the basis for modern dentistry, including dispelling the persistent belief that cavities were caused by worms (he rightly fingered sugar as a significant factor) and demonstrating that you could affect the growth and alignment of teeth with wire braces (it wasn’t widely accepted at the time that teeth had roots, much less malleable ones).

More than just a technician, though, he also had a host of recommendations for dealing with patients, who tended to be somewhat nervous in the clutches of relatively primitive dentists, who were often as not either barbers (which at the time was essentially a surgeon with a specialization in removing problem areas from people) or charlatans. Probably his biggest piece of advice was that patients should be laid on a raised platform, with an overhead light and the dentist standing or sitting behind them to work. It was a fairly serious improvement over the accepted practice of lying on the floor with the dentist sitting on your chest, your head between his knees, useful as that was for the relatively common practice of tooth removal.

Recently, I got my paws on a copy of Una Lamarche’s Like No Other, a new release from Penguin Young Reader’s Razorbill imprint. Its positive review in The New York Times seemed promising, as did the comparisons to last year’s critical hit Eleanor and Park—at least, that’s what I told myself. More than anything, I dug its illustrated cover of two teens embracing on the Brooklyn Bridge, as well as the copy on the back cover with such dramatically ambiguous lines as “FATE BROUGHT THEM TOGETHERWILL LIFE TEAR THEM APART?” and “THEIR PATHS NEVER CROSSEDUNTIL ONE DAY, THEY DID.” It was a book I could make a point of liking: it had already been dubbed more sophisticated and substantial than the YA fiction that finds itself the subject of derisive Slate profiles, while still indulging all those capital-F Feels—the same ones that will inevitably inspire the Tumblr fan art and playlists and Goodreads raves riddled with reaction GIFs. Shit, all it’s missing is a John Green endorsement.

Like No Other opens on Devorah Blum, a 16-year-old Hasidic Jew who abides by a strict upbringing that includes no TV, no pop music, no talking to strangers, and no being alone with boys. She is at the hospital for the birth of her niece when the power cuts out, trapping Devorah in an elevator with Jaxon Hunte, a geeky, good natured, hapless teenager. Jaxon is male, not Jewish, and black—a person whose very existence Devorah has been taught to avoid. Of course, if you’ve seen the cover of the book, you can predict what comes next: within the span of a couple of weeks, Devorah and Jaxon are professing their love for one another and making plans to run away together. Both seek in the other salvation from what they’ve had a lifetime of experience being: obedient, unattractive, passive.

It’s only been a few weeks since he left Public Radio International and already Ira Glass is going on unrepentant anti-Shakespeare rants.

Inside 
the secret world of the best-selling ghostwriter.

Directors John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, and John Landis 
talk shop in this spooky roundtable from 1982.

“From 2005 to 2013, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons estimates that the number of cosmetic procedures performed on Asian-Americans increased by 125 percent, Hispanics by 85 percent, and African-Americans by 56 percent. (Procedures on Caucasians increased just 35 percent.) This is, in part, simply a mark of rising purchasing power: Plastic surgery is nothing if not a sign that one has money to burn and status anxiety to spare.”

Haiti’s had many problems over the centuries, but only a few have actually been Haitian.

And now, as the millions invested and billions promised after the 2010 earthquake have reconstituted the nation once again, Haiti’s citizens look like they’re turning to tourism to help them out of the pit of despond into which foreign aid has unwittingly plunged them.

It’s a question of vital importance not only to Haitians, but to any number of regions and nations with valuable natural resources of the touristic variety that remain unexploited due to lack of infrastructure, general poverty, corruption, or any of the ills that plague some of the world’s most beautiful places. In a way, Haiti is a perfect test case: It’s in the Caribbean, which is already internationally known and attractive; it’s just off the coast of one of the biggest sources of tourists on the planet; and it’s got a history of tourism to draw on, both culturally and infrastructurally. If Haiti can pull it off, if it figures out how to make tourism work for rather than against it, other traditionally tourist-free zones such as Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Georgia, Kyrgyz Republic, Laos, Liberia, Rwanda, Serbia, and Zambia may be able to use their playbook.

In the dog days of summer, the Republican Party wants voters to know they’re ready to govern. No, seriously. Hey, wait, why are you laughing?

The prospect of the current crop of GOP legislators having to sell voters on the most basic measure of political competence—the ability to productively solve problems, and maybe not create too many new ones—is funny, though, for a few reasons. First, we’ve got the Party of Lincoln (and Eisenhower, etc.) having to convince voters that they who have laid more than one cornerstone in American governance is somehow still worth their time, and not being run by median AM radio chatter.

“The Third Pounder presented the American public with a test in fractions. And we failed.” Why do Americans stink at math?

The “twisted world view” guiding Israel towards the “let the I.D.F. win” mindset, and the Israelis who want something other than to hate their country.

An ode to America’s fluffiest biscuit.

Rest easy, America: Your great Republic may be troubled by the threat of terrorism, migrants crossing your borders, and a level of gun-fuelled violent crime that would make other countries weep (or at least pass substantial gun control legislation), but the threat of dead people flying on airplanes is contained. Probably.

As it turns out, the no-fly list maintained by the National Counterterrorism Center includes a provision that dead people can be added to America’s most consistently ridiculous weapon in the War on Terror. The problem, you see, is that some terrorists may use other people’s names and try to board flights. As reported by The Intercept, this very possibility means the dead must be included in this particular terror watch.

The Fifty Shades of Grey traileris technically SFW but, I mean, you’re probably going to have some NSFW feelings about it.

American TV casts may be looking more diverse these days, but their writers are as white and male as ever.

“The last sketchbook he showed me was titled The Best Way to Smoke Crack. (Once, when asked by an interviewer if he had ever smoked crack, Vollmann memorably responded, ‘I guess that I would say that I have.’)” Tom Bissell hangs out with William T. Vollmann in Sacramento.

Now seems like a good time to be nostalgic about the music of last week.

 

The bodies of the passengers of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 began arriving at Eindhoven airport in the Netherlands yesterday—40 simple wooden coffins unloaded from military transport planes while a single bugle played on the tarmac.

The ceremony marked the end of a trip that had been, to that point, significantly less dignified. Shot out of the sky, the bodies had been left for days in a Ukrainian wheat field while the sun beat down and untrained volunteers, townspeople, and coal miners picked through their belongings. They’d been squabbled over by rebels, packed into black plastic bags, stacked onto refrigerated trains that gave off the powerful stench of decomposition.

For the relatives of the passengers, the delay has been excruciating. “If I have to wait five months for identification, I can do it,” said Silene Fredriksz-Hoogzand, the mother of one of the victims. “Waiting while the bodies were in the field and in the train was a nightmare.”

“Whenever Bill Vignola typed his own name in MS Word, the email to Gates explained, it was automatically changed to Bill Vaginal. Presumably Vignola caught this sometimes, but not always, and no doubt this serious man was sad to come across like a character in a Thomas Pynchon novel.”

“It’s totally reasonable to freak out over how good the essays in Consider the Lobster or Slouching Towards Bethlehem are, but for my money, the writer who has had just as much—maybe more—influence on the style and tone of many of today’s writers is Nora Ephron.”

Feminist horror? Yes please.

It’s been a brutal and confusing week for complex and violent geopolitical issues, which, oddly, has likely served to highlight the one true constant in your life: your ill-informed, barely conscious social media acquaintances trying to make sense of said geopolitical issues in semi-public forums. It’s frustrating enough when educated individuals make foolish statements about Gaza in the news; it’s an entirely different problem when your Facebook friend Taylor—you know the one; you used to get high with her in your dorm room in Vancouver six years ago and now she lives in Red Deer and is really sad about it—thinks she knows what she’s talking about. She does not.

On Monday, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a paper about some startlingly good news: researchers at the Temple University School of Medicine and the Case Western Reserve University say they may have found a path to, per their article, “a viable path toward a permanent cure for AIDS, and … a means to vaccinate” against HIV. There’s a plain-English explanation of their research here, in which the author notes that even if this approach doesn’t work, there’s still other promising research being done in gene therapy to combat HIV.

We’ve seen good news on HIV research go sideways before, of course. Recently, an HIV-positive baby doctors believed they’d cured with aggressive treatment in the first day of her life was revealed to still have the virus replicating in her cells. It’s a terrible reversal, not least of all for the child herself. Meanwhile, clinical trials for prospective HIV vaccines have been stopped more than once without forging that sharp sword for which we’ve been waiting for more than 30 years.

As part of his ongoing efforts to bring the entire Southern canon to the screen, here is a 25-minute test reel of James Franco’s as-yet-unmade adaptation of Blood Meridian.

“He still hates The Wire with a taut fury,” but David Simon was at least able to reminisce with Maryland Governor (and Tommy Carcetti inspiration) Martin O’Malley about the Pogues when the two wound up on the same Amtrak car.

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