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We’ll Keep Humiliating You

Review of Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s Guantánamo Diary, excerpted here. It is “no masterpiece”, even allowing for the censors’ deletions, but Slahi is “an intelligent and sensitive writer whose sense of irony somehow survived along with his sanity”. He lives now in a hut at Guantánamo taking antidepressants and playing video games. “It’s a strange ending to a book that is otherwise a relentless catalogue of grotesque abuses” (2,720 words)

Passport Tales

How to renew a passport in Pakistan. It takes for ever, unless you pay a fixer, in which case it takes two hours. “When my number was called for my picture to be taken, I was asked to sign a paper that guaranteed I believed in the finality of the Prophet. I clutched the paper, and sat down with it. The man looked at me quizzically. If I did not sign, I was a man without a passport. What civil resistance is possible?” (1,520 words)

The Language Of E-books

I wish this were longer. A brief guide to the neologisms needed for talking about e-books; or ebooks, or eBooks — “there is much hand-wringing in the industry over the correct spelling”. You use an EPUB format to make an ePub book. Older Kindles want Mobipocket. Newer Kindles want KF8. If all this that sounds too confusing, seek out a formatter, or a converter, or an aggregator. Some will even handle your POD (620 words)

Friendship Is Complicated

My Little Pony takes a strange turn. The magic ponies go through a mirror and come out on the other side as fashion-obsessed high-school students with a show of their own called Equestria Girls. Why? Because business. Branded toys make much more money than the films and cartoons on which they are based. Hasbro owns the franchise for My Little Pony. Hasbro wants a high-school show. The ponies must provide (3,700 words)

On The Run

An anthropologist observes street life in Philadelphia. “Those who interact rarely with the police may assume that running away after a police stop is futile. Worse, it could lead to increased charges. While the second part is true, the first is not. I observed young men running away on 41 occasions. In 24 cases the man got away. In 17 of the 24 the police didn’t know who the man was and couldn’t bring charges against him” (3,340 words)

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