Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Ozymandias

Weekend Links

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* Now we see the violence inherent in the system: Unreturned library books can mean jail time.

It’s intuitive but wrong to picture the public debt as private debt we’re all on the hook for. In reality, public debt isn’t really properly thought of as borrowing at all, according to Frank N. Newman, former deputy secretary of the U.S. Treasury under President Clinton. Since the U.S. doesn’t need to borrow back the dollars it originally spent into existence in order to spend them again, the purpose of issuing Treasuries is really just for “providing an opportunity for investors to move funds from risky banks to safe and liquid treasuries,” he writes. Investors aren’t doing the U.S. a favor by buying treasury securities; the U.S. is doing investors a favor by selling them. Otherwise, without the option “to place their funds in the safest most liquid form of instrument there is for U.S. dollars,” would-be bondholders “are stuck keeping some of their funds in banks, with bank risk.”

We frack the places we’ve already abandoned.

Sherlock Holmes, First Published in 1893, Is Officially in the Public Domain in the US.

* Twitter account of the night: @ClickbaitSCOTUS.

* The problem with white allies.

* …added up, this is a picture of massive corruption and cowardice at the top levels of our law enforcement agencies.

An Open Letter to the Makers of The Wolf of Wall Street, and the Wolf Himself. How the “Wolf of Wall Street” Is Still Screwing His Real-Life Victims.

Institutional Prestige and the Academic Caste System.

* “If we’re hyperanxious about college access, costs, and returns, it is because we’re hyperanxious about the fissures in our social contract that college is supposed to patch up.”

What happens to workers when jobs becomes gigs? The Fear Economy.

An administrative law judge in Florida this week upheld new rules by the State Department of Education that require significantly more of state college faculty members — particularly in the areas of student success — for them to earn continuing contracts (the equivalent of tenure).

* Slate covers the US’s insane hostility towards presymptomatic genetic testing.

* Connecticut just hands ESPN sacks of money every year.

Degenerate, Inc.: The Paranoid and Obsessive Life of a Mid-Level Bookie.

Reality Pawns: The New Money TV.

Why I voted for an academic boycott of Israel.

* Wisconsin finds another use for cheese.

* The kids are all right — they’re abandoning Facebook.

The 38 Most Haunting Abandoned Places On Earth. Some new ones in the mix here.

* And good news everyone! Your dystopian surveillance nightmare is legal again.

shipwreck

Sunday Afternoon Links

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A Symposium on the Gender Gap in Academia.

* How the University Gets Laid Off: The University of Texas at Austin plans to drastically downsize its workforce, according to a draft of a plan obtained by the Texas State Employees Union that was confirmed by the university Friday afternoon.

The House GOP’s Little Rule Change That Guaranteed A Shutdown. Why did Obama force Boehner to change the rules to guarantee a shutdown? The man’s a monster.

National Cancer Institute director warns staff of increasingly dire effects of shutdown on science. Cancer research, classic big government bloat; I don’t even have cancer.

* Sobering reminder: What Democrats call victory.

* When Ditka shrugged.

Those who urge us to “think different,” in other words, almost never do so themselves. 

* Breaking Bad: The Text Adventure.

* Stay safe Durham: What Is This Photo Of The Duke Basketball Team Handling Assault Rifles?

Family Gets Driven Out of Missouri Town After Daughter Gets Raped.

What Happens When a 13-Year-Old 4Chan Cam Girl Grows Up?

* The Soaring Cost of a Simple Breath.

The arsenal of medicines in the Hayeses’ kitchen helps explain why. Pulmicort, a steroid inhaler, generally retails for over $175 in the United States, while pharmacists in Britain buy the identical product for about $20 and dispense it free of charge to asthma patients. Albuterol, one of the oldest asthma medicines, typically costs $50 to $100 per inhaler in the United States, but it was less than $15 a decade ago, before it was repatented.“The one that really blew my mind was the nasal spray,” said Robin Levi, Hannah and Abby’s mother, referring to her $80 co-payment for Rhinocort Aqua, a prescription drug that was selling for more than $250 a month in Oakland pharmacies last year but costs under $7 in Europe, where it is available over the counter.

Wait. Repatented? That’s a thing?

* It begins: Tennessee, North Carolina Football Players Sue NCAA Over Concussions.

* Yet another take at getting to the bottom of Pale Fire: this one’s all about the gulags.

* Scenes from the abandoned Mark Twain Branch of the Detroit Public Library.

* And Alfonso Cuarón talks Gravity. Still haven’t seen it, alas…

The Monday Morning Links Market Is Ripe for Disruption

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* This man owed $134 in property taxes. The District sold the lien to an investor who foreclosed on his $197,000 house and sold it.

Stanford Is Now Basically a Venture-Capital Fund With Some Dorms.

* Remaking the University: Rather than accept further gutting and the corporate solutions that are a domestic version of structural adjustment, we should work to meet our actual needs.

Intellectual property and the struggle over value.

The six ways we talk about a teenage girl’s age. “The ‘unreliable narrator‘ of Nabokov’s Lolita infuses our media and apparently permeates parts of our judicial landscape”:

When you consider the many ages of adolescent girls, it is clear that our cultural imagination encourages boys and men to think of young girls as fair game. By the time a girl is 12, she isn’t even seen as a whole human being, but regarded for her parts. She’s “forbidden fruit,” “a temptress,” “a man trap” and “asking for it.” All she has to do to be targeted sexually is go for a walk. If she wears skimpy clothes, is overly friendly with a teacher, dances with abandon, especially if she’s a girl or young woman of color, she might be blamed for her own assault. This is a male fantasy.

* Teaching naked, parts 1 and 2.

I had my students fill out mid-semester evaluations last fall.  No big deal, just answer these four questions: 1) What am I doing to help you learn? 2) What could I be doing better to help you learn? 3) What are you doing to help yourself learn? and 4) What could you be doing better to help yourself learn?  I had them turn the evaluations in anonymously to allow more genuine feedback.

Later that afternoon, I started going through the responses. It was encouraging to see that, in general, responses to the first two questions indicated I was getting better, which was gratifying given the amount of time and energy I spent re-developing the class. For the most part, students were surprisingly honest when responding to questions 3 and 4, showing they understood their responsibility in their progress, or lack thereof. Somewhere towards the end of the ~160 evaluations, I came across one that answered question #2 with: “Teach naked.”

What’s Killing Poor White Women?

Most Americans, including high-school dropouts of other races, are gaining life expectancy, just at different speeds. Absent a war, genocide, pandemic, or massive governmental collapse, drops in life expectancy are rare. “If you look at the history of longevity in the United States, there have been no dramatic negative or positive shocks,” Olshansky says. “With the exception of the 1918 influenza pandemic, everything has been relatively steady, slow changes. This is a five-year drop in an 18-year time period. That’s dramatic.”

NSA Revelations Cast Doubt on the Entire Tech Industry.

* Book Crooks “exposes a (zero-day?) vulnerability in Google Books that allows us to download entire books/novels/textbooks.”

* Anthology of “21st Century Science Fiction” Coming November 5.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden and David Hartwell have edited Twenty-First Century Science Fiction , a 250,000-word anthology of short fiction by writers who came to prominence since the turn of the century. The authors include “Vandana Singh, Charles Stross, Paolo Bacigalupi, Neal Asher, Rachel Swirsky, John Scalzi, M. Rickert, Tony Ballantyne, David Levine, Genevieve Valentine, Ian Creasey, Marissa Lingen, Paul Cornell, Elizabeth Bear, David Moles, Mary Robinette Kowal, Madeleine Ashby, Tobias Buckell, Ken Liu, Oliver Morton, Karl Schroeder, Brenda Cooper, Liz Williams, Ted Kosmatka, Catherynne M. Valente, Daryl Gregory, Alaya Dawn Johnson, James Cambias, Yoon Ha Lee, Hannu Rajaniemi, Kage Baker, Peter Watts, Jo Walton, and Cory Doctorow.

* Scientists are losing confidence that climate change will increase the frequency of hurricanes. I’m sure the reporting on this will be balanced and responsible, dedicated to getting to the bottom of what’s really going on.

* Does the dog die? Check before you view.

* One of the First Known Chemical Attacks Took Place 1,700 Years Ago in Syria. Obama will appear on TV six times this week to hype the war, just like he did all those times to push the public option, economic stimulus, infrastructure spending, climate change legislation, closing Guantánamo…

Bloomberg lets the mask slip. Yikes.

Why Big Pharma should be scared of the gaming industry.

Much of the height in Earth’s tallest towers is useless space.

Overworked America: 12 Charts That Will Make Your Blood Boil.

What Are Students Tweeting About Us?

* Prove me wrong, boy. Prove me wrong.

* And Angus Johnston concludes his series on the most important student activism stories to watch in 2013-2014: Part 3, 4.

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Monday Morning Links

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* The baby from Salt of the Earth works at Wal-Mart.

Some 74 percent of professors aged 49-67 plan to delay retirement past age 65 or never retire at all, according to a new Fidelity Investments study of higher education faculty. While 69 percent of those surveyed cited financial concerns, an even higher percentage of professors said love of their careers factored into their decision.

“Studies show that about 30 percent of the cost increases in higher education over the past twenty-five years have been the result of administrative growth,” Ginsberg noted. He suggested that MOOA can reverse this spending growth.  “Currently, hundreds, even thousands, of vice provosts and assistant deans attend the same meetings and undertake the same activities on campuses around the U.S. every day,” he said.  “Imagine the cost savings if one vice provost could make these decisions for hundreds of campuses.”

Our great, global cities are turning into vast gated citadels where the elite reproduces itself.

Philadelphia Closes 23 Schools, Lays Off Thousands, Builds Huge Prison.

The conclusions are inescapable: In our zeal to dehumanize criminals we have allowed our prisons to become medieval places of unspeakable cruelty so far beyond constitutional norms that they are barely recognizable.

* Life for a 31-year-old after fifteen years in jail.

These Photos Of NYC’s Subway Project Are Astonishing.

* I think I’ve done this one before, but hey, it’s summertime: 30 Beautiful Abandoned Places.

GPS maps reveal where cats go all day.

Six Fairy Tales for the Modern Woman,

* Imagine there’s no bees.

* And David Simon comes to his senses. UPDATE: Nope. See comments.

‘The Accumulation of Ruin-Space’

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There are other ruins that are no longer present, hidden under new construction, purposefully not curated as ruins, and willfully forgotten so more building can proceed—those are stories for another time. But the question for these ruin-spaces is, how long will the exist? We seem to have an attraction to ruins—we want them and seek them out, though never with the same functional desire with which we seek out current structures. What will we do in the future as these ruin-spaces pile up, unable to be destroyed because of their enforced temporality as preserved agedness? The earth is becoming a solid mass of scar tissue, as the tracks of human endeavour scour crosshatching into its surface.

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May 5, 2013 at 11:34 am

‘He Estimates That If One Person Visits a GPS Location Each Day with a Metal Detector, The Game Will Be Unearthed Sometime within the Next Million Days — A Little over 2,700 years’

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March 28, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Look Upon My Works, Ye Mighty

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The 33 Most Beautiful Abandoned Places In The World. Below: The Kerry Way walking path between Sneem and Kenmare in Ireland.

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March 27, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Links for the Weekend

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What Search Committees Wish You Knew. This is a reasonably good article with one piece of deeply terrible advice. Do not tell a search committee anything about your personal life or your relationships that will harm your chances until after you have received a written offer. Being open and honest about your two-body problem will not help you in the least. UPDATE: When I posted this on Twitter, @academicdave had a much harsher take, and found the piece pretty wanting. I don’t know. I think it’s useful for applicants to try to humanize their imagination of the search committee a bit (which can be hard). And then of course once you’ve done that you have to put brakes on that impulse, because they’re still not your friends, and they don’t really care about you much at all.

* Ads without Products has a great pedagogical post on teaching writing and critical perversity. I think I’m going to steal some of this language for my course next semester.

So how do I teach “practical criticism”? In the seminar groups that I lead, I model and encourage the following “flow chart” of thought: Anticipate what other intelligent readers of this piece might say about it. Try to imagine the “conventional wisdom” about it that would emerge as if automatically in the minds of the relatively well-informed and intelligent. And then, but only then, figure out a perverse turn that you can make within the context of but against this conventional wisdom. “Of course that seems right, but on the other hand it fails to account for…” “On first glace, it would be easy and to a degree justifiable to conclude that…. But what if we reconsider this conclusion in the light of….”

Students tend to demonstrate resistance, early on, to this practice. For one thing, especially in the first year, they don’t really (and couldn’t possibly) have a fully developed sense of what the “conventional wisdom” is that their supposed to be augmenting, contradicting, perverting. At this early stage, the process requires them to make an uncomfortable Pascalian wager with themselves – to pretend as though they are confident in their apprehensions until the confidence itself arrives. But even if there’s a certain awkwardness in play, it does seem to exercise the right parts of the students’ critical and analytical faculties so that they (to continue the metaphor) develop a sort of “muscle memory” of the “right” way to do criticism. From what I can tell, encouraging them to develop an instinct of this sort early measurably improves their writing as they move through their degree.

But still (and here, finally, I’m getting to the point of this post) there’s a big problem with all of this. I warn the students of this very early on – generally the first time I run one of their criticism seminars. There’s a big unanswered question lurking behind this entire process. Why must we be perverse? What is the value of aiming always for provocative difference, novelty, rather than any other goal?  Of course, there’s a pragmatic answer: Because it will cause your writing to be better received. Because you will earn better marks by doing it this way rather than the other. Because you will develop a skill – one that can be shifted to other fields of endeavour – that will be recognised as what the world generally calls “intelligence.” But – in particular because none of this should simply be about the pragmatics of getting up the various ladders and depth charts of life – this simply isn’t a sufficient response, or at least is one that begs as many questions as it answers. What are, after all the politics of “novelty”? What are we to make of the structural similarity between what it takes to impress one’s markers and what it takes to make in “on the market,” whether as a human or inhuman commodity? What if – in the end – the answers to question that need (ethically, politically) answering are simple rather than complex, the obvious rather than the surprising?

* A possible example of critical perversity from Deadspin: Everything You Need To Know About Pennsylvania’s Lawsuit Against The NCAA (And Why You Should Support It). Though frankly I’m pretty sympathetic to the claim that the NCAA has no jurisdiction over criminal conspiracies, much less that it followed a rational procedure to adjudicate competing claims in this case.

Bousquet asked the audience why police departments are far more diverse than English departments, by and large. Noting the silence in the audience following his question, Bousquet noted, “We have made it too difficult for those who are not advantaged” to enter the profession. Asked whether he believes faculty diversity is a priority for elite institutions, such as the one he now teaches at, Bousquet said such institutions are “constantly trying to work on the question of diversity.

“For me, the question is why do they fail so much, despite all of those efforts. And I think one of the reasons, amongst many, is the irrationalism of faculty compensation.” Bousquet adds, “Eighty percent of faculty are working like for $15,000 a year” taking into account adjuncts and graduate students.

* “Sustainable Teaching Fail”: The conditions of non-tenure-track faculty are setting us up to be failures as effective pedagogues.

* Lincoln explains the modern GOP.

“Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events.”

* But don’t worry! There’s a hack for that! The self-evident Calvinball lunacy of this trillion-dollar-coin thing is all the proof I need that our system is broken and our elites are insane.

Politicians Should Learn Bigger Lessons From Their Pet Causes.

But too many politicians, and this especially includes self-described fiscal conservatives, simply can’t draw the obvious conclusion from all this: namely that you shouldn’t support help for the poor and the sick and elderly only if you personally happen to know someone who’s poor or sick or elderly. All of these people exist whether or not they happen to be family members.

* Blue Mars: What Mars would look like with oceans and life.

* A California appeals court has found that raping a sleeping woman isn’t illegal if she’s unmarried. I swear to God, I don’t even know where to begin with this bullshit anymore.

* Elsewhere in rape culture atrocities: Basically an entire town colludes to protect their football team from rape prosecution.

House GOP lets the Violence Against Women Act expire for first time since 1994. I mean really.

* Inside Chernobyl’s Abandoned Hospital.

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* More Evidence Shows That Pro Sports Teams Don’t Boost The Economy.

* There Are Two Law School Grads for Every Lawyer Job.

* The Original Star Wars Trilogy As Maps.

Commander Riker lorem ipsum.

* Everything that’s wrong with football, in ten seconds. WHAT A HIT! I’M SO EXCITED I CAN’T EVEN WAIT TO SEE IF THE PLAYER HAS BEEN HURT OR KILLED! VIOLENCE! EXCITEMENT! YELLING!

* Google is not an illegal monopoly, so they can go on ruining all their products with dumb attempts to monetize your data. Hooray!

* And George Saunders Has Written the Best Book You’ll Read This Year. Sold!

After the Olympics

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Written by gerrycanavan

August 5, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Wednesday Night

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‘Science Fiction without the Future’

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I was recently asked to write a review of Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America for a special “Petrofictions” issue of American Book Review. Imre has put the full text up on Facebook; hopefully you can read it there. Here’s a bit from the end:

…Here then is what science fiction looks like without (or after) the future: the twentieth century is envisioned not as the launching pad for a glorious technofuture but as an anomalous moment of prosperity and historical possibility which quickly burns itself out, leaving in its place the worst combination of Manifest-Destiny America, feudal Europe, and decadent Rome. The novel’s odd, melancholy temporality—a retrospectively narrative bildungsroman set in a future that is simultaneously a parody of the past—completely upends our sense that the last hundred years represent the apex of progress, and indeed the idea that history can be thought of as any story of progress at all. By its end Julian Comstockhas taken its reader well beyond the postmodern mood Fredric Jameson famously called “nostalgia for the present,” and comes to feel something like officiating at our own collective funeral.

But for all its anticipatory retrospection of the coming post-oil disaster, the novel is not hopeless. In the epilogue we are told that Adam has in essence gone on to reinvent the lost art of science fiction itself; in 2192 his most recent novel is American Boys on the Moon, a Jules-Verne-style adventure yarn about a group of youngsters who discover an old NASA rocket buried in Florida and use it to reach the moon. (In a footnote, Adam concedes the story is completely implausible, but admits he likes it anyway.) There are similar hints throughout the novel that a second age of enlightenment and invention could be in the offing, and indeed that the reign of the despotic and theocratic Dominion may soon be at its end. The theocrats are themselves huge believers in progress, insisting “the history of the world is written in Scripture, and it ends in a Kingdom”—but Julian’s revolutionary retort, seemingly borne out, is that history is actually chaos, written in sand and shaped by the wind (674). For Wilson, it seems, there’s an exciting, even necessary freedom in this permanent historical flux, which when juxtaposed against the violent schemes of the rich and powerful becomes in its own unstable and impermanent way a kind of unexpected utopia. The cyclicality of history turns out to be as cruel to kings and tyrants as it is to everything else; in time all their dreams of power and control turn to ash as well. Even in a history that can’t stop repeating itself, we find, the bad times eventually end, and good days someday come again.

Live by the Bro, Die by the Bro

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I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Burger, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

Thanks @millicentsomer.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 23, 2012 at 6:56 pm

List of Destroyed Libraries, Archives and Museums

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Written by gerrycanavan

November 15, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Detroit Lament

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If the number of people who left Detroit in the last decade all moved to the same place, it would be America’s 80th largest city, and, assuming they didn’t also flee Michigan (which they probably did), it would be the second largest city in the state, behind Detroit.

The latest salvo in the Detroit wars: What’s Really Pornographic? The Point of Documenting Detroit.

The next track, “Scrap or Die” is where Danny makes things even more interesting, as we find out what his role is in all this blight. It takes the form of a street rap standby: the crime story track. But instead of telling another tale about a motel-room heist or a harrowing trip down the 95 corridor with a trunk full of coke, Danny describes in detail the process of stealing scrap metal from abandoned houses, and selling it at junkyards.

Tonight’s that night we about to get right
piled up in the van with a couple flashlights
metal crowbar gon’ get us through the door
take everything, nigga, fuck the landlord
so now we at the place skullies on bare-faced
bout to leave this bitch bare, strip the whole damn place
my Unc’ took outside, he stripping out the gutters
so we inside tearing up this motherfucker
bust open the walls just to get the wiring
took the hot water tank and leftover appliances
aluminum siding, and had to come back
cause the furnace so big it wouldn’t fit in the back

From the abandoned house, Danny takes his loot to the junkyard, where he gets shorted by the man running the operation. As he and his uncle go to steal computers from a shuttered school (Detroit, by the way, has made plans to close half of their public schools by 2014) he gets caught by police. One more hook, and the song is over.

This is the life of one musician from Detroit. It doesn’t sound like he thinks its ruin provides a great landscape for creativity. While Mayor Bing has planned to destroy Detroit to save Detroit, Danny must destroy Detroit to save himself.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 4, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Depressing Sunday Links

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Establishment Democrats are enthusiastically betraying their constituents, and gloating about it. I’ve already committed to not giving money and not volunteering in 2012, but the sticker’s coming off the car if the deal as described goes through. I’m done.

While the New Deal stoically awaits the guillotine, some links, many shamelessly stolen from zunguzungu’s supersized edition of Sunday Reading:

* Congressional Black Caucus: Use the 14th Amendment.

* Jeffrey Sachs: “Every part of the budget debate in the U.S. is built on a tissue of willful deceit.”

* The basic error was that Buchanan approached American politics in procedural or legal terms at a moment when the reigning political conflicts in American life were no longer in any sense shaped or resolved by procedural or legal processes. Obama as James Buchanan. More here from John Judis:

Over the last four decades, the Republican Party has transformed from a loyal opposition into an insurrectionary party that flouts the law when it is in the majority and threatens disorder when it is the minority. It is the party of Watergate and Iran-Contra, but also of the government shutdown in 1995 and the impeachment trial of 1999. If there is an earlier American precedent for today’s Republican Party, it is the antebellum Southern Democrats of John Calhoun who threatened to nullify, or disregard, federal legislation they objected to, and who later led the fight to secede from the union over slavery.

* In a nutshell, what’s going on is something that hasn’t happened in American politics for 50 years: an ideologically coherent social movement with clear political aspirations has taken shape out of murkier antecedents and disparate tributaries and at least for the moment, it has a very tight hold on the political officials that it has elected. The movement is not interested in the spoils system, its representatives can’t be quickly seduced into playing the usual games. And the movement’s primary objective is to demolish existing governmental and civic institutions. They’ve grown tired of waiting for government to be small enough to drown in a bathtub, so they’re setting out with battleaxes and dynamite instead.

Social movements that aren’t just setting out to secure legal protection and resources for their constituency, but are instead driven to pursue profound sociopolitical transformations are unfamiliar enough. What makes this moment even more difficult to grasp in terms of the conventional wisdom of pundits is that this isn’t a movement that speaks a language of inclusion, hope, reform, innovation or progress. It speaks instead about restoration of power to those who once held it, the tearing down of existing structures, about undoing what’s been done. This movement is at war with its social and institutional enemies: it has nothing to offer them except to inflict upon them the marginalization that the members of the movement imagine they themselves have suffered.

* Ezra Klein dangles the carrot: maybe Obama won’t capitulate on the Bush tax cuts again. Sure, maybe.

* Surely there must be a name, in advertising parlance, for the figure of the anthropomorphized food item that happily consumes a non-anthropomorphized version of itself?

* The great teddy bear shipwreck mystery.

* On misremembering the victims of injustice as small children.

* Julian Sanchez: “The very existence of such massive trade in “defensive patents” is, in itself, pretty strong evidence that there’s something systematically quite wrong with the American patent system—because a patent that’s useful for “defensive” purposes is very likely to be a bad patent. I love that Planet Money and This American Life got non-IP people talking about this.

* And I may have done this one before, but what the hell: Inside an abandoned East Berlin amusement park.

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