Archive for December, 2009

Some Thoughts on Laura Dekker

That’s the Dutch fourteen year-old who’s been blocked by a Netherlands court from attempting to sail around the world solo – she’d been aiming to set a new world record for the youngest sailor ever to manage the feat. After she managed to run away to the Caribbean last week, defying a court order, she’s facing not just occasional monitoring by childcare authorities – they’re actually talking about taking her into protective custody.

Ever since I heard of Dekker a few months back – when her attempt was first postponed, while she was still just thirteen – I’ve been trying to sort out my feelings on the case. On the surface, the whole thing seems absurd, a clear over-reach on the part of Dutch authorities: After all, she’s an experienced sailor, and her primary guardian, her father, is entirely behind the effort. (Her mother is against it.)

But then questions start to pop up. For instance: Is it really that far beyond standard levels of government “interference” in child-rearing?



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A couple of quick notes: First, this past Friday at World Hum was devoted to “Up in the Air,” the travel-themed movie that looks set to tear up the awards circuit this year. It was adapted from a Walter Kirn novel of the same name, which Jim and Mike have been keeping tabs on since World Hum was brand new. (Among other things, the novel is the source of one of our main themes – “Airworld.”)

Here’s our coverage:

Beyond Airworld – A look at “the bittersweet challenge of the traveler’s life”

A video interview with director Jason Reitman and author Walter Kirn

A whole whack of links related to the movie, the book and Airworld in general

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but here’s hoping it makes it this far north.

Second, I’m thrilled to see that a travel book has FINALLY made its way into the What is Stephen Harper Reading? project. If you’re not familiar, WISHR is author Yann Martel’s one-man effort to make our illustrious Prime Minister more appreciative of the arts – or, in his own words, “to make suggestions to his stillness” – by sending him a series of carefully chosen books. The latest? “Tropic of Hockey” by former Rheostatics frontman Dave Bidini. Here’s what Martel had to say in his accompanying letter to the PM:

Tropic of Hockey is about one man’s love for the game and his quest for its soul. This quest leads him to places where you wouldn’t expect to see ice hockey. And as different as those places are, the spirit of the game, by Bidini’s reckoning, burns with the same intensity as it does in his rec league in Toronto. He finds in Harbin, northern China, in Dubai, in Miercurea Ciuc, Transylvania, the refreshing purity of a game that is not mere entertainment but a way of meeting and being, hockey as culture rather than business, “the spirituality of sports, sports as life,” as he puts it at one point.

I’ve been meaning to read this book for a couple of years now, so thanks, Yann Martel, for the reminder. (And for the effort to expand Prime Minister Harper’s stillness, too.)

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Settling into Whitehorse

I arrived here in Whitehorse Saturday night, and am slowly getting set up in my new home. I’m still recovering from the drive – it was a more thoroughly exhausting trip than I really expected – and processing the experience, but in the meantime here are a couple of blog posts I wrote from the road:

The Coldest Morning

Canadian Beauty

I’ve also updated my Blogging page for the first time in ages, to include a couple of personal posts I wrote during my Caribbean and Yukon/Alaska travels last summer.

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