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The water: a parable

Soft-drink manufacturers notice something annoying: people like drinking water, and what's more, municipalities give it away for free. So advertising companies, at the behest of those companies, convince those with money to waste -- the companies' target market -- that there is something suspect about the water coming from their taps. At first, people become convinced it's more "convenient" and stylish to carry little bottles of packaged water around, depsite the fact that the packaging requires a whole recycling industry to process them once they are emptied. It is fashionable to drink pre-packaged water, so much so that people will pay more for it than for other soft drinks. Soft-drink manufacturers are suddenly much less annoyed. Then, slowly people begin to believe they shouldn't drink tap water at all; to do would be putting themselves and their children at risk. They believe this in part because advances in science allow the detection of toxic substances in water at much, much more minute levels and in part because the novelty of drinking packaged water has evaporated and a new justification is required. As more people become convinced of this, fewer in the political classes use tap water, and in the meantime the water treatment facilities begin to decay. Should taxes be levied so that these could be repaired? Why should they? That wouldn't be fair, since it would force the middle class to pay twice for water -- once at the superstore where they buy their bottled water and once in local taxes. So tap water begins to truly become dangerous, but this doesn't matter since those consituencies who exercise power -- middle-class voters, corporations -- are happy and safe. And meanwhile health and beauty corporations have noticed something that annoys them (check out this in the New York Times Magazine) -- people are washing themselves in tap water instead of using expensive lotions and moisturizers. Clearly something needs to be done about that.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

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Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

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Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

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A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

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Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

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