“Inside Japan’s Booming Rent-a-Friend Industry”: The Week

isn't the "ohh those kooky Japanese!" story I feared. All the many reasons you might hire a friend: There's a word in Japanese, gaman, that translates roughly as "stoic forbearance in the face of the unbearable." It's a deep-seated Japanese value, this idea that you suck it up no matter what. A lot has been happening lately. Anxiety and depression spiked after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The country itself is shrinking, its population plummeting and aging rapidly. And there's the apparently … [Read more...]

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“The Convict-Bourgeois”: My Hans Fallada Rediscovery Piece, Which I Want You All to Read

The two biggest things I left out here (mostly due to space constraints): Fallada always gives you a laugh. He has the satirist's eye for absurdity. His humor is pretty much always also horror (you can make a case that Expressionism influenced him, & horror fans will find a lot of scenes that use genre techniques like "the things that should not be") and so it turns up even in his Nazi prison diary. The whole vignette he opens the diary with, about the night of the Reichstag fire, is a … [Read more...]

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Bad Catholics, Anxious Christians

A very small thought about this review of several "young evangelical memoirs."So first, there's a lot of good stuff in that review, even if Jake Meador is not quite as sympathetic to the authors as I think he thinks he is. (Yes, I am reviewing a review, because the Internet is bad.) I really liked the discussion of performance vs "putting on Christ"--cf the mask of obedience. Liked the line, "The problem [scandal and its discrediting of religious authority] creates is that religious … [Read more...]

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Our Enemy the State: Link Roundup

"Obama's Economics Team Is Taking on One of America's Most Underrated Economic Problems": Occupational licensing rules, which require government approval (typically by a state government) before a person can practice a given profession, are one of the most under-discussed aspects of the American labor market. A new report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers argues that the way licensing is applied in practice often leads to higher prices, reduced opportunity, and more … [Read more...]

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From A. Bates, “Party Line”

(yes, I am reading a Point Horror '80s paperback about a 976 teen talk line. My summer is going great) Robbie started over to the Chevy and Mark, relieved, climbed into the Jeep. He'd been hoping for a four-wheel drive for his mother to get to work in the winter, but hadn't figured he had much chance of finding one in their price range. But if there was any hope of getting either of these cars, he wanted the Jeep.It smelled musty inside, reeking of old oil, mouse droppings and dust. The … [Read more...]

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“We Find Corpses: 5 Weird Truths of Cleaning Port-a-Johns”: Cracked, Again

Sorry to do this twice, but their personal-experience articles are such a mixed bag that I feel obligated to note when they find a real, uh, hidden gem: If you were an alien sent to Earth to study humans, what one profession would give you the best insight into how people work? Beat cop? Trash collector? Phone sex operator? Well, we've got a candidate here you would have never picked: The guy who cleans your port-a-potties.We talked to a guy who, every day, is elbow-deep -- sometimes quite … [Read more...]

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Job-Seeking in Community, Not Alone: A BenOp Mitzvah

This strikes me as a great idea:...Next up on my end: I’ve been using the two questions “What do I do alone that I could do with others?” and “What do I do privately that I could do in public?” as prompts for BenOp-ish ideas, and, thus, I’m opening my living room sometime soon for a little salon for people between jobs to work on applications, get feedback on resumes, practice interviews, etc. Job applications always make me miserable, especially because the slew of rejections (or rather “So … [Read more...]

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