David Foster Wallace – “Shipping Out” (1996)

What I think of when I think of a luxury cruise.

What I think of when I think of a luxury cruise.

For whatever reason, today I’ve been reading features about cruises, cruise ships and their utter surreality. One is from David Foster Wallace’s A Supposedly Fun Thing I Will Never Do Again; Essays and Arguments. His article below was originally published in Harper’s.

BONUS:

The Rise of Angela Merkel

Photos by Herlinde Koelbl

Photos by Herlinde Koelbl

I spent a bit of time in Berlin and Cologne a few years ago, and really enjoyed Germany. To me, Germany is a country experiencing a new life for the first time. They are a nation steeped in history, conflict and triumph. Now, they are quietly living their life, perhaps reticent to play a role in today’s global village. The story of Merkel, an East German, and her rise to power through quiet decision and scientific objectivity, is quite fascinating. This article is also over 10,000 words. It’ll take a while to get through.

The House Mouse Rules

Image via LA Weekly

Image via LA Weekly

Imagine this: there is, in one of America’s toughest urban jails, a wing solely for gay and transgender men. Would you be surprised to learn that said wing is less violent and safer than gen pop? That there seems to be evidence of lower recidivism? That straight men try and ‘gay’ their way into this wing so as to remain safe or satisfy their trans fetishes?

Read (and see) what life is like inside the gay wing of the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles:

These problems exist

While there is, legally speaking, no death penalty in Canada, our opinions on capital punishment tend not to stray too far from our neighbours down south.

Our histories are different, and evidence of slavery in Canada generally isn’t as explicit and generationally destructive to as many people. I mean, for a time, the human slave trade in America was the largest part of their (and the world’s) economy. This is a frightening thought.

Which is why I was saddened, yet not surprised, to learn this legal relic still alive and well in (surprise) Alabama:

In Alabama, though, a capital case doesn’t necessarily end there. The state’s judges can exercise an unusual power: they can “override” a jury’s collective judgment and impose the death penalty unilaterally.

In Florida, for example, a judge must give a jury’s decision “great weight” and override a verdict only if any reasonable person could see a problem with the verdict. It’s different in Alabama though. A judge in Alabama doesn’t really have to consider a jury’s verdict in a capital murder case; he or she (mostly he) can decide for themselves whether or not a person shall live or die. As the article outlines, there are many things wrong with this approach.

Learn about the utterly racist and classist application of the dealth penalty in America, which is still happening today…in 2014:

How To Talk to Terrorists

Obama Harper

As CF-18s leave Cold Lake, Alberta to (fight? destroy? mitigate?) the Islamic State along with our bestest best friend in the whole wide world – America – I encourage everyone to listen to a man who knows what it’s like dealing with terrorist organizations.

Harper pretty much unilaterally decided for the entire the country that the best course of action is do whatever the U.S. tells us to. God, this man has no spine. He’s not even pretending to have Canadians’ best interests at heart. Let’s go to war, appease our deranged Baby Boomer Base, and hope we disenfranchise as many voters as possible. Because we know we don’t have the popular vote and that our policies and decorum are derided by fair, progressive and proud Canadians across the board.