- Above, Major Neil Franklin, a retired Police Officer, speaks at Riverside Church in Harlem (NYC) on the impacts the war on drugs has on people of color.
- Miami police officers caught people taping them recklessly shoot up a car and took their phones and broke them on the ground.
- A slew of celebs are petitioning the United Nations to end the war on drugs.
GOOD magazine has a slideshow of pictures depicting America’s relationship with food.
Can be found here. Check out who at the bottom of the alphabetical list actually had home values increases.
In case you were still considering Pat Robertson worth listening to. Keyword, Pat, is some.
Some interesting thoughts:
Surprisingly are 1) mostly in cold regions of the country and unsurprisingly 2) correlated with income, wealth, and innovation. Richard Florida explains:
The fittest metro in America is Minneapolis-St. Paul, according to the annualAmerican Fitness Index™ (AFI), just released by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). The Twin Cities finished third last year; this year they pushed perennial winner Washington, DC into second place. Their winning rank reflects the cities’ relatively low (and rapidly-diminishing) smoking rate, their above-average percentage of regular exercisers, moderate-to-low rates of obesity, asthma, diabetes, and other chronic concerns, and rising share of farmers’ markets (indicative of a trend towards healthier dining). Boston takes the bronze, with Portland, Oregon fourth and Denver in fifth place. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Oklahoma City ranks as America’s least fit metro, followed by Louisville, Memphis, Birmingham, and Detroit.
Many people think fitness is better in warmer locations. Not so much. Each of the top five metros is pretty chilly, and the top ranked Twin Cities are among the coldest locations in the United States–certainly compared to warm and sunny LA, which languishes in 41st place. Our analysis found no correlation between fitness and January temp and a negative correlation between fitness and July temperature (-.49).
From The Biggest Loser to Oprah’s documented struggles with her weight, fitness is a signal obsession of American popular culture. We suffer from no dearth of health, fitness, and nutritional experts; celebrities, politicians, and even first ladies exhort us to eat better, exercise more, and get fit. But we need to face up to the fact that healthy or unhealthy lifestyles are not simply the result of good or bad individual decisions. They are inextricably tied up with the nature and structure of our culture and society. America’s increasingly uneven geography of fitness is perhaps the most visible symbol of its fundamental economic and class divide.
As they say, with the passing of Memorial Day weekend, we now enter summer. With that, here are some books mostly geared towards education and information. I have churned through a few fiction (Ordinary People) and nonfiction (Underboss, the History of God, which I am only 70 pages in) lately and am on the lookout for some others for the summer.
6. THE FILTER BUBBLE
We live in a culture that puts a premium on customization, but this ultra-personalization has its price when it comes to the information we’re being served. That’s exactly what Eli Pariser, founder of public policy advocacy group MoveOn.org, explores in his fascinating and, depending on where you fall on the privacy spectrum, potentially unsettling new book, The Filter Bubble — a compelling deep-dive into the invisible algorithmic editing on the web, a world where we’re being shown more of what algorithms think we want to see and less of what we should see. (Did you know that Google takes into account 57 individual data points before serving you the results you searched for?) Implicitly, the book raises some pivotal questions about the future of the information economy and the balance between algorithm and curator — something I feel particularly strongly about.
KT provides some interesting points for those willing to discuss America’s prison system:
In the twenty-seven nations of the European Union, whose combined population exceeds ours by nearly two hundred million, the total prison population for all crimes combined is around six hundred thousand. In the US, we’ve got almost that number of people – five hundred thousand to be precise — in prison for drug related crimes alone. And many of these crimes involve no violence whatsoever.
Even the racial aspects of incarceration are striking:
African Americans make up roughly twelve percent of our total population, but they make up over forty percent of the prison population. Latinos make up thirteen percent of the population, but twenty percent of prison inmates. The prison system is one of the epicenters of racial inequality in America. If current trends continue, one-third of all black males and one-sixth of all Latino males will go to prison during their lives, as opposed to one in seventeen white males.
As easy as it is to say “fix the broken system!” it is harder than many can fathom. Just spending one day in an in-school suspension room at a middle school will give you a taste of what reformers are up against. We cannot talk to these detained students, yet (healthy) attention is most likely just what they need. We cannot really help them with their work and are to encourage them to figure it out on their own (because they ruined their chance in class to be taught), yet patient help is what they do need.
This may take me off of the original topic, but it has me questioning aspects of the public school system (which I have been for a few months). The system is very much assembly-line-esque with almost a one size fits all approach. The outlier pupils – most notably those who cannot sit still due to ADHD, anxiety, etc. – are disciplined. From my first hand experience, the students I had who exhibited ADHD or anxiety symptoms had issues stemming from their parents (or lack of parental presence). Some of these students became hyper-active due to these home issues and others reticent to the point that I unfortunately might not even notice them on a day to day basis.
I hope this all can emphasize a few things. One, family (supportive, loving, present, active) really does matter. Two, support systems (teachers, tutors, clubs, teams, religious institutions, et al) are strong supplemental systems that in some cases are even the primary support for our younger generation. Third and finally, having the first and second aforementioned points as positive presences in a students life are just what they (and we all) need to move along through the ups and downs in life (whether through discipline issues at school, a lost job, or a string of incarcerations).
“The strange thing is, while the drugs screwed me up in a lot of ways, they improved me in certain others. I’ve never been good with numbers, but when I was on crack I could do math really, really well. I became a fucking whiz at calculus. But I also became kind of psychotic, unfortunately.” –Courtney Love
Andrew J. Bacevich gives his take on supporting our troops as they continue to embark into two wars without ends in sight:
Members of the civil-military-corporate elite find war more than tolerable. Within its ranks, as Chris Hedges has noted, war imparts meaning and excitement to life. It serves as a medium through which ambitions are fulfilled and power is accrued and exercised. In Washington, the benefits offered by war’s continuation easily outweigh any benefits to be gained by ending war. So why bother to try?
As the 10th anniversary of what Americans once called their Global War on Terror approaches, a plausible, realistic blueprint for bringing that enterprise to a conclusion does not exist. Those who might once have felt some responsibility for articulating such a plan—the president, his chief lieutenants, senior military leaders—no longer feel any obligation to do so. As a practical matter, they devote themselves to war’s perpetuation, closing one front while opening another. More strikingly still, we the people allow our leaders to evade this basic responsibility to articulate a plan for peace. By implication, we endorse the unspoken assumption that peace has become implausible.
In a way, patriotism and the ambiguous “protect America” mantra have trumped peace because, well, we live in a “fallen world”.
Barack Obama lead the Memorial Day services at Arlington Cemetery. This was then protested by the Westboro Baptist Church, whose protest was then counter-protested by a group claiming to be part of the KKK.
Pictured: Afghan poppy farmer, Zareen (left) stands in his poppy field with son Azim, 8, in Faizabad, Badakshan, Afghanistan, on May 25, 2011. Local authorities in Badakshan use a tractor to destroy cabbage size poppy plants at their early stages as to lessen the burden on the farmer. According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) the cultivation of poppies in the Badakshan region has more than doubled this season. Opium production in Afghanistan has been on the rise since U.S. occupation started in 2001, and more land is now used for opium in Afghanistan than for coca cultivation in Latin America. In 2007, 92% of the opiates on the world market originated in Afghanistan, reportedly amounting to an export value of about $4 billion, with a quarter being earned by opium farmers and the rest going to district officials, insurgents, warlords, and drug traffickers. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
“In the late 1990s, a flurry of books were written about what the Bible says and what the Bible does not say about homosexuality. Outstanding Bible scholars joined the fray. There was a clear winner. The commonly held position today is that the Bible says nothing about same-sex relationships that is relevant to the modern discussion. There are many voices who are still shouting “the Bible says …” but they are seen as irrelevant to our modern discussions of same-sex marriages. They are of the same genre as the recent predictions of the end of the world.
Serious theological discussion has turned to the nature of the marriage relationship rather than the sexual orientation of those who are being bound together. In traditional Protestant wedding ceremonies, the persons presenting themselves for a blessing of their relationships are asked to make promises. They are asked to promise to have and to hold one another from that moment on, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, so long as they both shall live. They are truly joined in marriage when they promise to be faithful in those responsibilities. There is no mention of sexual activity or childbearing. Faithfulness in the keeping of promises is the glue of Christian marriage.
A new discussion of the marriage relationship is a refreshing development. While I am glad to see the demise of legal barriers to gay marriages, and while I am glad to see the growing acceptance of our gay friends in our churches, I am most pleased to see the move to looking at the marriage relationship as an opportunity to experience both human and sacred wholeness.” –Rev. Howard Bess, writing from Wasilla, AK (where Sarah Palin is from)
Enjoy your holiday weekends, yall! Eat some hotdogs and burgers with me :)
The Musalman: Preservation of a Dream tells the story of a small Urdu-language broadsheet based in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, which distinguishes itself from other dailies by being (possibly) the world’s last handwritten newspaper.
The Onion does it well:
Mike Brant has become a favorite among Republicans for his complete apathy towards government and overt unwillingness to serve.