Stanislaw Lem on Philip K. Dick

An article titled “Philip K. Dick: A Visionary Among the Charlatans“:

Dick is a prolific author, but I speak only of those of his novels which constitute the “main sequence” of his works; each of these books (I would count among them: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Ubik, Now Wait for Last Year, and perhaps also Galactic Pot-Healer) is a somewhat different embodiment of the same dramatic principle—the conversion of the order of the universe to rack and ruin before our eyes. In a world smitten with insanity, in which even the chronology of events is subject to convulsions, it is only the people who preserve their normality. So Dick subjects them to the pressure of a terrible testing, and in his fantastic experiment only the psychology of the characters remains non-fantastic. They struggle bitterly and stoically to the end, like Joe Chip in the current instance, against the chaos pressing on them from all sides, the sources of which remain, actually, unfathomable, so that in this regard the reader is thrown back on his own conjectures.

The Secret History of Rum

Even before Fidel Castro took power, the Bacardi family moved its headquarters from its Cuban home to the Bahamas, allowing it to get British imperial trade preferences, while opening a large distillery in Puerto Rico to allow penetration of the American market. Now its management is mostly living in exile in Florida, monopolizing the local markets across the Caribbean and the world with its bland, branded spirit. Fifty years of marketing have made Bacardi almost synonymous with rum in much of North America, and as Thierry Gardère, maker of the acclaimed Haitian rum Barbancourt, pointed out with a pained expression to me once, “They always advertise it as mixed with something else.”

Top 10 Greatest Impostors in History

Interesting list. The ads on the site may be nsfw however.

Victor Lustig (1890-1947) is held to have been one of the most talented confidence tricksters who ever lived. Lustig’s first con involved selling a $30,000 money-printing machine that didn’t worked well.

In 1925, Lustig’s master con began when he was reading a newspaper: an article discussed the problems the city was having maintaining the Eiffel Tower. So he adopted the persona of a government official, and sent six scrap metal dealers an invitation to discuss a possible business deal.

Lustig told the group that the upkeep on the Eiffel Tower was so outrageous that the city could not maintain it any longer, and wanted to sell it for scrap. So he sold the Eiffel Tower to one of the scrap metal dealers and took a train to Vienna with the suitcase full of cash. The buyer was too humiliated to complain to the police.

Burgers of L.A.

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In Los Angeles, the beef is in the burger. Everywhere. And I’m sure every Angeleno has an opinion about which joint reigns supreme, answers ranging from original, landmark burger stands to popular chains to a trendy restaurant’s rendition of this classic American fare. For me, this represents the beginnings of a Los Angeles Burger Tour, a small slice out of the bigger burger picture. Here’s a sampling of the where and why:

Loving v. Virginia

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More great moments from people who use religion to justify their agendas.

The plaintiffs, Mildred Jeter and Richard Perry Loving, were residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia who had been married in June of 1958 in the District of Columbia, having left Virginia to evade a state law banning marriages between persons of different races. Upon their return to Virginia, they were charged with violation of the ban, pled guilty, and were sentenced to one year in prison, with the sentence suspended for 25 years on condition that the couple leave the state of Virginia. The trial judge in the case, Leon Bazile, echoing a common sentiment of the time, proclaimed that

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.

The Lovings moved to the District of Columbia, and in 1963 began a series of lawsuits seeking to overcome their conviction on Fourteenth Amendment grounds, ultimately reaching the Supreme Court.