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ALARMS AND DIVERSIONS FOR THE THINKING PERSON

Forum File

Saturday, April 20, 2013 - 12:01 am

The reading list

“I hope you had it while you could because, last week, sex ended.

“That may sound like a big deal, but it's not when you consider everything else that has ended already.

“Nature and truth. Money and markets. Men and marriage. Faith and reason. They've all ended. Power ended in March, but that makes sense because leadership ended last year. History ended more than two decades ago, while the future ended just two years ago.

“On the plus side, illness has ended, along with poverty, racism, war — even homework.

“If you thought these things were still around, just pick up 'The End of Sex,' by Donna Freitas, published last week, or Moises Naim's 'The End of Power,' which came out last month. Try David Wolman's 'The End of Money' or David Agus's 'The End of Illness.' Those came out in 2012, the same year that Hanna Rosin affirmed 'The End of Men' and John Horgan imagined 'The End of War.'

“One could dismiss this proliferation of 'The End' as a plea for attention by publishers, magazine editors, authors, bloggers, TED talkers and the rest of the ideas industry — a marketing device signaling little more than the end of imagination.

“But it is more than that. 'The end of' is also the perfect headline for our age. It fits a moment that fetishizes disruption over stability. It grabs an audience enamored of what is next, not what is here … We don't know what is coming; that's too hard to discern. All we know is that what we have — old jobs, old ideologies, old phones — is boring, dated, over. Ended.”

– From “The end of everything” at washingtonpost.com

A quiz

What animal is so sensitive to vibrations it can detect earthquake tremors 10 to 15 minutes before humans can?

Wisdom of the ages

“The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are.” – John Burroughs

Current wisdom

“I came to commemorate the greatest hero of our modern age. She took a nation on its knees and breathed new life into it.” – Anthony Boutall, 25, who camped out overnight near St. Paul's Cathedral in hopes of catching a glimpse of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's flag-draped coffin before her funeral.

Quiz answer

The cat, so be nice to Kitty.

Snob words

verisimilitude (ver-uh-suh-MIL-uh-tyood). N. – the appearance or semblance of truth; likelihood; probability, as in: “The editorial writer told the politician his sincerity was wasted because of his lack of verisimilitude.”

Today in history

On this date in 1775, the British began their siege of Boston; tough city then, tough one now.

Now you know

Japan has 10 percent of the world’s active volcanoes.