The Weekender is a weekly column devoted to the ideas/articles/videos that I find fascinating and wish I had more time to explore.
The Swinging Bridge of Death. Guaranteed to be the coolest video of a bridge that you will see today. Or any day. The “Gallopin Gertie” was only in operation for about four months before some stiff winds roiled the bridge into collapse. The video, however, shows the asphalt of the bridge deck waving like a ribbon, and it is hauntingly beautiful. (via Kottke.org)
Did Jesus command death-by-serpent? This extremely though provoking story looks at the aftermath of a documentary gone horribly wrong. Photojournalist Lauren Pond was following pentecostal pastors in the backwoods of West Virginia who were practitioners of snake-handling. This sect interprets Mark 16:18 (“they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover”) so literally that they do take up serpents as part of their worship. Inevitably, someone gets bitten, and sometimes, someone dies. That happened to the subject of Lauren’s story. Pastor Randy Wolford was bitten and killed by a rattlesnake, all in front of the unwavering lens of Lauren’s camera. The story not only raises the obvious questions about the snake-handling religion, but also of the ethics and duty of a journalist thrust into a life or death situation.
Yeah, but where is Hello, Kitty? Somewhere in Tokyo, there is a beautiful, emerald volcanic crater. Actually, said crater is on the island of Aogashima, and is a remote, lush tropical island that is somehow considered a part of Tokyo as far as the Japanese government is concerned. Regardless…just look at this place… Isn’t the world full of amazing mysteries?
I don’t have anything snarky for this. Last week, at least four people died trying to summit Everest. Grayson Schaffer has spent the past few months at Base Camp, and had written an article about the ordeal for Outside Magazine. While he was not on the summit, he recounts the reaction among the people of the camp when the news trickles down. It is hard not to think about Krakauer’s epic tome, Into Thin Air, which recounts the deadliest season ever on the mountain. Now, I once watched a man die on an exposed mountain peak in Colorado, so while it is certainly not Everest, I can empathize with the summit lust that climbers get when they approach the peak. According to the article…most of the deaths were the result of summit attempts that occurred too late in the day, and people who did not fully understand the consequences of their actions pressed on too long. I can’t help but wonder why we treat the top of the world like a tourist destination. What was once the pinnacle of human achievement is now open to anybody with $75,000 to spare. These are deaths that are the result of being ill-prepared, and they are senseless.
Well, that explains why Boehner isn’t pronounced phonetically. Every once in a while, I find an article that is just monumentally pleasing to me. This is one of those times. The Sunlight Foundation had analyzed the vocabulary and sentence structure of Congress and has found that collectively, our Congress speaks at a grade level of 10.6, down from 11.5 in 2005. I am not going to turn this into a partisan issue, I will just let it stand as it is. Of the top five most well-spoken Congressmen, three are Republicans. But think about the fact that our Constitution was written at a 17.8 grade level. Can our Congressmen even understand the Constitution? The most enlightening fact however is this…the highest scoring members of Congress where the moderates of the party. The further you went in either direction away from the political center…the lower the scores became. Food for thought.