The grapes of complacency. Some great films reflect the Depression, but for this crisis we no longer have the required talent. — The Guardian

Will you be my black friend? Sure, we may elect a black president this month. And yeah, Oprah has all kinds of white ladies in her audience. But in real life, it seems the older you get, the less chance you have of being friends with someone who is not in your racial demographic. Can a nice white boy make some black friends if he puts his mind to it? Devin Friedman posts an ad on Craigslist to find out. — Style

Rock, paper, scissors: How we used to vote. The American adoption of the “Australian ballot”—and the radical idea that governments should provide ballots—was hard fought. It lies, if long forgotten, behind every argument about how we ought to vote now, from the 2002 Help America Vote Act’s promotion of paperless voting to the more recent backlash, favoring a paper trail. And it is also, like every other American election reform, a patch upon a patch. — The New Yorker [via Antony Green]

Hugo Chávez versus human rights. On September 18, we released a report in Caracas that shows how President Hugo Chávez has undermined human rights guarantees in Venezuela. That night, we returned to our hotel and found around twenty Venezuelan security agents, some armed and in military uniform, awaiting us outside our rooms. They were accompanied by a man who announced—with no apparent sense of irony—that he was a government “human rights” official and that we were being expelled from the country. — The New York Review of Books [via Catallaxy]

Peter Fray

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