Monthly Archives: September 2014

A harrowing story of random gun violence. A crazy-cool dance by the New Zealand basketball team. And the New Yorker’s awesome Derek Jeter cover

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Some more ruminations and links while the wife and I wait for this kid to finally make its appearance in the outside world. I’ll say this for my unborn child: He/she certainly doesn’t seem to be in any kind of hurry. Due date is Friday, and they’ve said they’d only let my wife go a week after that, so sometime in the next 10 days, I’m going to be a daddy. I think…

So often when gun violence is talked about in America, it’s in the abstract, with numbers and statistics, and with one side (the NRA) completely whitewashing the innumerable tragedies that result from guns in the name of protecting Americans’ “personal freedom.)

So when a terrific writer does a story on an innocent victim of senseless gun violence, maybe it hits home a little more, and just maybe makes a person think.

The above photo is of a 26-year-old Boston woman named Dawnn Jaffier. She supervised at-risk youth at a local  Boys and Girls Club. She had big dreams, a beautiful smile… and she’s lying in a grave right now, accidentally caught in the crossfire of a gunfight.

The Boston Globe’s Evan Allen wrote this fantastic piece on the last day of Jaffier’s life. It made me angry, and sad, and … just read it.

Goddamn guns.

**And now, for something you just don’t see every day. The New Zealand men’s national basketball team played the U.S. at the FIBA World Cup this week, and before the game the “Tall Blacks” (that’s what they’re called) did a ceremonial Hakka Dance, which they do before every game.
It’s quite… something. I love the looks on the faces of the American players, sort of like “what in the hell are they doing?”
I thought it was very cool.

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**And finally, maybe you hate Derek Jeter, maybe you love Derek Jeter. Either way, I think everyone can agree that this week’s New Yorker magazine cover starring No. 2, drawn by Mark Ulriksen, is pretty cool.

And oh yeah, Ulriksen is a Red Sox fan.

Glenn Greenwald’s book on Snowden and NSA is fascinating, and terrifying. Russell Brand tears apart Fox News. And a beautiful story about a man learning to swim

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If you don’t know exactly who the writer Glenn Greenwald is, you’re probably not a liberal.
Greenwald, a fire-breathing columnist for The Guardian newspaper, is a hero of mine, and many others, for constantly railing against the National Security Agency and the incredibly intrusive and illegal surveillance they do on Americans and non-Americans alike, all under the often-flimsy guise of “the war on Terror.”

Greenwald was firing his missiles via his scathing columns on his blog, known to a fairly small readership, until former NSA employee Edward Snowden (above) chose him in mid-2013 to help leak the most explosive set of U.S. government documents since the Pentagon Papers.

Now, everyone has their own opinion on what Snowden did; personally I think what he did was surely illegal but 100 percent heroic and patriotic, for exposing the enormous lies, and way-bigger-than-they-said spying operation the NSA has operated since 9/11.

Greenwald has written a book, “No Place To Hide,” that’s 50 percent about his incredible adventure with Snowden and how he met him, and how crazy that week in Hong Kong was when they began writing about the leaked documents, and 50 percent breaking down exactly what the NSA does.

It’s chilling. It’s terrifying. It will certainly keep you thinking long and hard about putting any personal info on the Internet (no worries, both Twitter and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg have been remarkably compliant in helping the NSA spy on their users).

Greenwald writes clearly and concisely, both about Snowden’s motives for leaking the NSA information, and about the specifics of how the NSA and other branches of government, in full cooperation with private companies like Verizon and Google, are in every corner of Americans’ lives.

He points out the hypocrisy of the U.S. government scolding the Chinese for their spying efforts, yet shows how America does exactly the same thing. He also, amusingly, points out just how cozy the establishment Washington media is with the NSA and other government offices, to the detriment of transparency and shining a light on the illegal spying that’s gone on.

Whether you agree with what Snowden did or not, Greenwald’s book is fascinating. Definitely recommend reading it.

 

**Next up, I’m  not really much of a Russell Brand fan; don’t have much against him, but not necessarily a fan of his.

Still, I’d heard he’d been making these videos excoriating Fox News for their Ferguson coverage, so I checked out one that DailyKos.com had sent me.

Highly entertaining! Best excerpt:

“They say Conservatives… What they are ‘conserving’…Actually, it’s hatred they’re trying to conserve, misery, they’re trying to conserve, existing power structures, they’re trying to conserve.”

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**And finally, this story just about knocked my socks off. It’s from N.R. Kleinfeld at the N.Y. Times, who is a master storyteller, and it’s about a seemingly-simple topic: a 33-year-old man with a lifelong fear of water, trying to learn to swim.

It’s beautiful, it’s honest, and it’s oh so real. I loved this story; courage comes in so many different forms.