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Kids turned pro: Are they sacrificing their childhoods?
Kids turned pro: Are they sacrificing their childhoods?

Kids as young as three years old are kicking major athletic butt. But how does a kid cope with the training and pressure of competition?Eight-year-old Ashima Shiraishi from the US has been climbing some difficult boulder problems, like Power of Silence (V10) at Hueco Tanks. She started out climbing in Central Park, and has gone on to win the Youth Bouldering Championship.

US Army’s A/C bill in Iraq greater than entire NASA budget
US Army’s A/C bill in Iraq greater than entire NASA budget

* Amount of taxpayer money spent on NASA: $19 billion* Cost of providing air conditioning to the US troops in Iraq & Afghanistan: $20.2 billionI have lived in an un-air conditioned place where summer temperatures reach into the 100 degree levels even late at night. I layed awake in my own sweat, feeling both the need for new sheets and the futility of changing them, making the trade-off between bearing with mosquito bites or suffocating inside closed windows.

A day in the life of an expat in Gunpo City, South Korea
A day in the life of an expat in Gunpo City, South Korea

Expat life in one of the world’s most popular teaching destinations.MorningMost mornings, my alarm clock rouses me from sleep, but at least a couple days a week, I’m awakened early by the fruit propagandist. Today is one of those days.From dawn until noon, the fruit propagandist yells out the day’s deals on pears and persimmons, his rhythmic, authoritarian voice booming through the PA speakers strapped to the top of his fruit-laden truck.

Open letter from Sarah Shourd
Open letter from Sarah Shourd

Sarah Shourd, one of the three American hikers who was detained and imprisoned by Iranian authorities, was released in mid-September; the other two hikers remain in Evin Prison. This letter was sent by Sarah to supporters of Free the Hikers in late October. She has given Matador permission to reprint the letter in its entirety here.

Notes on My Polish Informant
Notes on My Polish Informant

Now fully in love with Poland, Matador Goods Editor Lola Akinmade remembers her very first date with the country.September 2003. We cross the border into Poland from Slovakia. Our party bus is pulled aside and a control officer hops on. He glides down the aisle, sucking air and grabbing passports. He must love his job.

The Protector of Tophane
The Protector of Tophane

There had been a distinct increase in the occurrence of random ululating in my Istanbul neigbourhood earlier that week.My flatmate and I had written this off as seasonal declarations of random excitement, or perhaps a sudden arranged marriage or engagement. The women’s voices below rose and fell, their tongues creating a long, trilling, high-pitched sound like the howl of a wolf.

13 Additions to the UNESCO World Heritage List (and One Deletion)
13 Additions to the UNESCO World Heritage List (and One Deletion)

World Heritage Site chasers rejoice: you now have 13 more destinations to add to your list. And one to remove.Fresh off the World Heritage Committee’s press, 13 new places around the world have been granted the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site. There was also one subtraction from the list, and a few were shifted over to the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Notes on Having AK-47s Pointed at You
Notes on Having AK-47s Pointed at You

Joshywashington recalls a night in Laos crossing rivers and having guns drawn on him.THE POINT isn’t to dwell on the fact that I had ingested large amounts of hallucinogenic substances sold to me at the restaurant where I ate my pizza and drank my beer.But just to get a solid grasp on the situation and the headiness of the coming machine guns it would do you well to know that I was tripping major balls.

Dubai: A damning portrait
Dubai: A damning portrait

Slave labor, oblivious expats, environmental collapse. Is this the real Dubai?Slow to the punch, I was recently directed to an article from The Independent published in April of this year: The dark side of Dubai.It’s the story of a failed experiment in city/utopia building, where the global economic crisis has emptied malls and hotels and halted nearly all construction — this in a city that gave rise to the oft-repeated (and oft-debunked) factoid that it employees a quarter of the world’s construction cranes.

Beauty Is In The Ride Of The Beholder
Beauty Is In The Ride Of The Beholder

My idea of camping is staying in a hotel room without room service and a wall-mounted blow dryer. Give me a clean hotel room with 400 thread count sheets and a lanai I can walk out on so I may greet the early morning sunrise.I long for a place with a cool swimming pool and hot tub to soak in after a long day of sightseeing.

How To Make New Friends On The Road
How To Make New Friends On The Road

As your first backpacking trip approaches, you can’t help but feel the excitement.You’ll be tempted to pack and re-pack, study maps of your first destination, go over your budget for the millionth time, confirm your hostel bookings, check your flight times and obsessively keep an eye on the drawer with your passport.

Gadget Review: MSI GX630 Laptop
Gadget Review: MSI GX630 Laptop

While the MSI brand may be a bit of an unknown, don’t let that scare you away from considering the value packed MSI GX630.With it, you’ll be able to browse the web, look at some spreadsheets, write that next great American novel, and then blast away some enemies in a game of BioShock.This laptop has a 2.