Misplaced Objects

Check out Amy Jean Porter's gallery of misplaced household items at The Awl.


Censorship In Prisons

The prison system's censorship process of books and publications is more complex than it appears. It seems reasonable for some censorship of materials in prisons to ensure safety and security. Understandably how-to books about illegal activities seem sensible to ban to this population, but many books fall into a gray area. Some banned books are arbitrary: classics like James Joyce's Ulysses.

Prison Legal News founded by Paul Wright in 1993, has been censored in more than twenty one states and has an interesting history of providing information and unique struggles for a publication:

The incarcerated in America have limited Internet access, so one might imagine that it's still possible to produce a profitable print publication when your target readership resides in jails and prisons. But like the print industry in general, publications focused on prison policy have struggled. Their advertising and subscription numbers are declining even as the prison population -- and by extension, the number of people with family members in prison -- increases.

"Look at the number of prison magazines there were in the 1970s, when the prison population was like an eighth of what it is today," Wright says. The educational level of the average inmate is also a factor. "You're targeting a population that, depending on the state, is 60 to 80 percent functionally illiterate," Wright shrugs. "On its face, this isn't a good demographic for a magazine."

Adam Serwer explores Books Behind Bars in The American Prospect this week.


Shipping Containers Become Part of the Ocean Floor

The words "sunken treasure" don't conjure up images of modern shipping containers, but these industrial packages have become a part of the undersea landscape in recent years. And they're being accepted by the local wildlife:

Cargo ships regularly lose these containers overboard — they write them off and collect insurance. But now marine biologists have found one off the coast of California and have decided to study how it may affect sea life. Already, they've discovered that the container has become a new type of habitat on the muddy ocean floor, attracting its own suite of creatures.
Read the full story from NPR here.


WWII Bombs Resurface in Germany

Joshua Hammer writes in this month's Atlantic about the problems that German construction companies face due to unexploded ordnance left behind from World War Two. Once discovered, the aging weaponry still poses risks:

In the past, most unexploded armaments could be successfully defused and taken to disposal facilities. But as the munitions age and the fuses grow more brittle, the risk of uncontrolled detonations has increased. Last June, a bomb-disposal team in the central German town of Göttingen attempted to cut through the acid fuse of a 1,100-pound bomb discovered during the construction of a sports arena. The bomb exploded, killing three members of the disposal team and critically injuring six more.
Read the full story here.