Last spring, the remains of 10 missing Afghan villagers were dug up outside a U.S. Special Forces base – was it a war crime or just another episode in a very dirty war?
Volunteer-Run Morgues Are a Terrible Idea
Australia’s Northern Territory is huge, sparsely populated, poor, and crawling with deadly animals. It’s not surprising, then, that it doesn’t attract many professional types. Types like, say, people who are good at managing morgues. As a result, the territory’s dead-body storage system is a mess. The morgues are staffed primarily by volunteers, and no agency is specifically in charge of them.
This is a problem, to put it mildly. An inquiry led last year by Northern Territory Ombudsman Carolyn Richards uncovered a host of horrible practices, like a body that got put in a courtroom when there wasn’t space for it elsewhere, and a corpse stored in a doctor’s kitchen for a week while he was away. Things haven’t gotten better since then, and in the past few months, the bodies of two Aborigines were placed in the wrong graves—an especially big deal because in that culture, being buried with your clan on tribal land is of the utmost importance. The bodies were reportedly exhumed and reburied, but the families never received an official apology.
Also still waiting on a “We’re sorry” from the well-meaning but undertrained—or incompetent—morgue workers is the family of Charlton James, who committed suicide in 2011. Charlton’s body was taken to a morgue in the town of Kalkaringi, but after a power failure, the refrigeration system went down and his corpse was left to rot in the Outback heat. By the time his mother went to view the body, it was so badly decomposed that she couldn’t recognize him.
The Act of Puking
Like many people over a certain age, vomiting no longer disgusts me. I’m not proud to admit it, but on occasion, I throw up after poisoning my body with too much alcohol. As a result, I’ve developed a handful of techniques that take me from retching to flushing without too much discomfort. Sometimes, when the first pangs of rusty saliva leak down my throat, I like to pretend that I’m an angry dragon, hurriedly flapping my wings to spray an unsuspecting porcelain city with waves of bilious puke-fire. It’s pretty awesome.
“Nausea and vomiting can be at the end of a whole buildup of things,” said Charles Horn, a neuroscientist who specializes in emesis, the clinical term for blowing chunks. “But the truth is, when you vomit, you feel better, almost every time.”
In fact, vomiting makes some people feel so good that they’ve devoted their lives to studying it. This year, along with another neuroscientist named Bill Yates, Charles co-hosted a two-day, single-track academic conference at the University of Pittsburgh, officially known as Biology and Control of Nausea and Vomiting 2013—the International Vomiting Conference for short. In attendance were 62 prominent doctors who share the goal of advancing research on the biological mechanisms that cause nausea and vomiting. Their ultimate goal is to answer the questions: Why do people blow their grits, and what are we to do about it? The answers are more complicated than one might think.
No One Wants a Nazi Body Except These Shady Catholics
On October 11, Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke died. He was 100 years old and had been under a very lax state of house arrest at his lawyer’s apartment in Rome, serving out the final days of the life sentence he was given for orchestrating and conducting the Fosse Ardeatine massacre on March 24, 1944.
The ex-SS captain never expressed any kind of remorse for the 335 civilians and soldiers who were killed that day, always maintaining that he’d simply been following orders. Even in his “testament”—a seven-page message released by his lawyer last week—Priebke denied both the Holocaust and the Nazi gas chambers, claiming they were just “very big kitchens.”
While remarks like these have turned him into a kind of spirit animal for fascism fetishists and Nazi nostalgists, unsurprisingly Priebke remains widely despised. Argentina, where he lived for 50 years after the war, wouldn’t allow Priebke’s body to be returned to the country to be buried alongside his wife, and his German hometown of Hennigsdorf also shunnedhis corpse, fearing his grave would become a pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis.
Your Corpse Will Never Look This Good
Contemporary burial practices suck. They put a suit or dress on you, throw you in a box, and stick you in the ground, doomed to an eternity of looking boring. It wasn’t always like that, and art history scholar Dr. Paul Koudounaris’s photos of skeletons covered in bling prove it. You might remember some of his photos from 2011’s The Empire of Death: A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses. Now, Koudounaris has a follow-up book called Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures and Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs, which also features bedazzled dead people. But according to the author, that’s where the similarities end. “They are very different—almost diametric—projects,” he says. “Because it deals with identity, Heavenly Bodies is in effect much more intimate.”
Koudounaris started documenting skeletons in earnest less than five years ago while photographing East German charnel houses, aka vaults full of dead bodies. “These skeletons became my life,” he says. “I felt like it was some kind of divine dictate that I was supposed to tell this story.”
While there had been articles about the skeletons in academic journals (mostly in Germany, where many of the bones are located), as well as a few doctoral dissertations, nobody had ever treated them as works of art. “They approached them as historical objects or devotional objects, but that, I think, is missing the point,” Koudounaris says. “To a modern audience that’s going to appreciate them, it’s because they’re incredible works of art, and that’s the context I wanted to create for them.”
What It Means to Be a Slut in 2013
Now that I’m feigning adulthood, I truly thought the word slut was behind me. If I wake up next to someone different than the person I remember making out with the night before in some bar’s bathroom, I’m OK with it. It’s my decision and I’ve managed to surround myself with people who happen to be OK with it, too, so that the remnant guilt doesn’t make me feel hungover for days afterward. Yet, I find that the word slut is thrown around more carelessly than ever these days. Member of the European Parliament Godfrey Bloom called a room full of women “sluts” recently (earning him a booting from UK Independence Party), UK tabloids still think it’s OK to use it in their headlines, and I’m pretty sure I overheard my neighbor call her dog a slut the other day.
It’s 2013 and though some people are still using the term to shame one another, other, much better people, are attempting to address this, be it with hashtags, neologisms, or simply by running around London half naked.
Still, the word is as slippery as a used condom. Everyone has a different conception of what constitutes a slut these days, which makes it really hard to know when to be offended. To save confusion, here’s a brief guide to what certain breeds of people mean when they use the word slut in 2013.
WHEN ELDERLY RACISTS CALL YOU A SLUT
Etymologically, slut comes from the word slattern, meaning “untidy” or “unclean.” This is what old people usually in the UK mean when they call you a slut. To use it in a sentence: “I find cigarette butts in my dishwasher ‘cause I live with a bunch of sluts,” or, “I have the detritus of a Domino’s Pizza crust in my belly button because I’m a filthy slut.” This is basically what Godfrey Bloom says he meant when he called a bunch of women sluts at that UK Independence Party (UKIP) conference, after they admitted—in mocking reference to a previous speech he’d made about the slobs who pass for women these days—that they didn’t “clean behind the fridge.” So it’s still misogynistic, but in a different way. Fair enough, Godfrey, but I’m keeping that pizza crust there just in case I get hungry later.
WHEN TEENAGER GIRLS CALL YOU A SLUT
If there’s one thing I learned by attending an all-girls’ school, it’s that everyone’s a slut, to the point where the word becomes virtually redundant. The head teacher’s a slut. Your best friend’s a slut. The school cat that belongs to the caretaker is a slut. Whether or not you actually gave a guy a blowjob on the ferry ride back from that tenth-grade trip to France, you will get called a slut by any teenage girl who is insecure about her appearance and ability to navigate another human body, which is, oh, all of them, ever. You will also probably call another girl a slut at some point, because she was allowed to wear Steve Madden heels and a Victoria’s Secret thong and your mom wouldn’t let you have those, because she thought dressing you like that would make you look too slutty.
With comedian Joe Rogan as his guide, Hamilton Morris travels across the United States seeking new heights of sensory deprivation.
Tanks for the Memories, Part 1
With comedian Joe Rogan as his guide, Hamilton Morris travels across the United States seeking new heights of sensory deprivation. In part one, he investigates what happens to the mind, body, and spirit while inside the tank.
My Greatest Moments in Binge Eating
My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, because the whole point of it is to eat like a hog and then lie on the floor and pretend we aren’t a country of tunnel-visioned murderers. Food fills your blood and brain, and if anybody talks to you it is acceptable to just grunt in response. Even sports start to make sense, which means to me that to live in America is to be approaching a certain death by endless, needless fat ingestion.
Having grown up a fat kid who lost the weight of a whole third grader over a summer to assume my current body shape of a normally-appetited guy, Thanksgiving is one of the few times I let myself feel like who I really am on the inside. “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach,” my mother used to tell me when our family would go to Morrison’s cafeteria and I’d try to take one of almost every item (they were eventually forced to limit me to five). Sometimes I think my entire life has been me trying to prove I can eat everything I touch.
Holidays not-withstanding, here are some of my choicest moments on my lifelong journey to becoming a lard ass. Some are marathon-like, and some stretched over years, because the truest form of binge-eating takes whole eras; each is pretty much the only time I’ve ever really began to feel like a person among people. In other words, a human.
1. Lettuce Soup-Rise You
My friend John and I were bored in the suburbs and we’d already watched Eddie Murphy’s Raw three times and Dumb and Dumber twice when we decided to go to the soup-themed buffet chain down the street and see who could eat the most. Lettuce Soup-rise You was a place that had a salad bar in the front that was hyped as the central draw, though every time I ate there I remember everybody walking straight past the salad to where they had the pasta with meat sauce and the pizza and the beefaroni and the bread and the ice cream and the chocolate cake. John and I ate plate after plate for three hours, refusing to say anything to each other while shoveling horrible things into our faces that we had stopped enjoying after the first ten minutes because all buffet food tastes like it was made for horses. At some point the food turns from seeming like food and into cement, and there you are. I don’t remember which of us offered a truce, but I do remember I couldn’t really lift my arm to shake on it. When we got home we both went into our rooms. I felt so disgusting I came up later to find John watching Dumb and Dumber again and told him I felt demonic and he told me I should force myself to puke like he had as soon as we got back. Having never been able to force myself to barf, I let John talk me into taking my first shot of vodka ever (I was straight-edge at the time) to induce the barf-desire and then hung over the toilet semi-crying and still not able to get it out. The food liked where it was in me and insisted to stay there. Finally I decided to go for a run for the first voluntary time in my life, putting on sweat-clothes that felt tighter than ever to go pudge-trudging through the neighborhood sweating grease. I have run at least six days a week every week since, trying desperately to rid myself of what the rest of me keeps making.
2. Taco Bell Drive Thru
Some percentage of my current total body is comprised entirely of Taco Bell shit. It’s probably my face. I don’t know what it is about the colors of that sign, but every time I’ve had even a drop of alcohol I find myself magnetized to the glass like a brain damaged vacuum toddler. You can tell you’ve eaten Taco Bell when the next day you wake up feeling like someone rinsed your chest with rubber cement. Once I actually called ahead to the Bell from the bar at 3:00 AM to verify they were still open on a Sunday. The most I ever spent at Taco Bell was when my friend York and I pulled through and pretended like we were ordering for all the other people we’d been at the bar with, even though they’d already gone home to bed. Somehow every time the lady asked “Is that all?” one of us said “No” until we’d racked up $50 worth of recycled beef and beans and flour and cheese. I remember somehow we were both riding in the backseat on the way home like blue-eyed human voids each hoarding nachos and folded taco shit into our faces while an invisible driver escorted us magic carpet style to the scene of the crime where we would each gain ~10 pounds in beef weight before passing out still listening to Danzig.