Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Culture! har har har

I mentioned Paul Theroux's new/old New Yorker story the other day, and it is certainly a decent read, and relevant to this blog and my experience, to boot:

But I feel as though I should mention two stunning articles also available for free on The New Yorker's website, that are better than decent though irrelevant to my time in Thailand.

First, there is the humorous, playful, anti-union rally cry that is Steven Brill's "The Rubber Room" an unbelievable (in the literal sense of unbelievable) "ex-poh-zay" of the power of the New York City's Teacher's Union. I'll take this space to point out that most of the teachers in the Rubber Rooms in NYC (including the alcoholic and the truant) are making approximately 25 times more money than I am this year. But then again, they work 5 days a week. A fun read, until the outrage sets in.

And second, in what is the most eloquent argument against the American capital punishment system that I have yet read (and I slogged through a lot of bunkum in my final Princeton semester), David Grann's profile of the Cameron Todd Willingham case/conviction/execution has been at the top of the most-read list for a couple weeks now, for good reason. It is a must-read, if only for the "only great sitting Supreme Court justice" Scalia's infamous, scary quote from a 1987(?) capital case (I hear the judge is still out on science). Everyone knows that capital cases disproportionately disadvantage minorities and the poor (even more so than non-capital cases (I'll go ahead and name-check Austin Sarat here)), but now it appears (what am I saying, Now--this is only further evidence) that capital cases actually just disadvantage the scientifically innocent, too. A stunning read, and probably all you need to wage a sophisticated discussion on the advantages and disadvantages (my God, this is English 203 in here!) of capital punishment in America (note: not Capital Punishment as a concept, but the system as it exists).

Also, the New Yorker's Humor section still isn't funny, just in case you were thinking of checking it. Luckily, The Onion is still up and running; and no, I don't know how to play Sepak Takraw, nor have I ever seen it being played.


  1. I rarely feel compelled to write about The New Yorker (see: Malcolm Gladwell), but these two were top-of-the-line. A-Plus.