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Showing posts from December 4, 2011

Ends of the Earth -- Destination #6: Honningsvag, Norway

If I had the means to visit the ends of the Earth, here are the ten places I would visit. What ten "ends of the Earth" places would you like to visit? Leave me a comment.
Destination #6 : Honningsvag, Norway
Honningsvag, Norway is the first destination on this list reachable by cruise ship, and for some reason, I imagine Honningsvag to be a lot like Barrow, Alaska – minus the English speakers. The current population of Honningsvag is around 2300, and the area itself has had humans roaming around it for at least the past 10,000 years.
An Alaskan cruise is fun, but the two main cruise route options are the Inner Passage and the Gulf of Alaska. Both options don’t take you all that far north. Although I haven’t gotten out the ruler, I’m guessing that Honningsvag is about 700 miles further north than, say, Anchorage, because 700 miles is the approximate distance between Anchorage and Barrow. In other words, a Norwegian cruise may be a lot like an Alaskan cruise, but it goes a lot …

The Price of Liberty -- Writer's Poke #347

My Levis never come from the same place. I have pairs from Nicaragua, Honduras, Haiti, and Lesotho. No matter where they’re made, I’m charged the same price at the retailer. So when I go to J.C. Penny’s, I expect to shell out about forty bucks for a pair of jeans.

Just how many pairs of Levis can an average work produce in an hour? I googled this question, but could not find a quick answer. For sake of argument, let’s assume the answer is 10 pairs. The retail value of 10 pairs of Levis, then, is $400. Wholesale value might be $200 for 10 pairs. Material costs might be $100 for 10 pairs. Shipping and other distribution and factory-related expenses might be, what, $50 for 10 pairs? After all this, what’s left over is profit and labor expenses. So how much does the average Haitian working for Levis make per hour? Maybe 30 cents, or 3 cents per completed pair of jeans. Is that fair?

Defenders of sweatshops suggest that they are simply part of the economic development process. If Haitians…

Flirting with God -- Writer's Poke #346
Okay, so what if malls are our temples? What’s the big deal? According to Phyllis Rose’s article “Shopping and Other Spiritual Adventures in America Today,” Americans know how to handle materialism. To discuss materialism as if it were a problem doesn’t sound very American, anyway, does it? Makes those entering into the discussion sound like Marxists. 
The beauty of American materialism is that everyone has opportunity for stuff. Over the weekend, the Home Shopping Channel was advertising a 73 inch LCD TV for $1399, and it was available on EZ pay. Who can’t afford six easy payments of $233.17 a month? And, the salesman noted, a 73 inch TV won’t even feel like it’s consuming the room. 
Americans are sophisticated. We know that the purpose of shopping isn’t singular. We shop for a multitude of reasons; Rose even shop without any intention of buying. We window shop, and that takes on, she says, the same function as fl…

The Mall Is Our Temple -- Writer's Poke #345

This weekend as I was loading up on $3.99 DVDs at Best Buy, I was thinking about the hundreds of statues the Polynesians created on Easter Island. They didn’t recognize it at the time, but their dedication to building these statues ultimately lead to their demise. 
While they had plenty of stones to make their statues, they ended up cutting down all of the trees to help move these statues to their final locations, and the natural resources they consumed could never be replaced. Why? Because Easter Island is a very small speck of land, which is literally out as far in the middle of nowhere as a human being can get.
How the Polynesians originally managed to navigate to and settle what we now call Easter Island is one of the greatest travel stories never written. Somehow, a few brave and hardy souls hopped into their canoes and risked sailing thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific Ocean’s name is a bit of a misnomer, of course, as it’s a very rough and unforgiving body…

Ends of the Earth -- Destination #7: Easter Island

If I had the means to visit the ends of the Earth, here are the ten places I would visit. What ten "ends of the Earth" places would you like to visit? Leave me a comment. 
Destination #7: Easter Island

Easter Island is probably the most remote island inhabited by human beings. Located in the South Pacific Ocean, Chile and the continent of South America are 250 miles to its east. No human beings live on an island to its west for over 1200 miles.

So where did the human inhabitants of Easter Island come from? Most likely, Polynesians traveled over 2000 miles to reach the island around 300 A.D. If true, this must be one of the most amazing travel stories never written. The folks who traveled back in that day weren't sailing via luxury yacht, and they certainly didn't have the ability to carry many provisions with them. Needless to say, they didn't have maps, didn't have an end destination in mind, and didn't have any clue when they'd find land suitable for…