Entries in america (109)


Thinking about Obama in Newtown

One of the most powerful paragraphs in anything he's ever said? Twenty first names of little children.

The context, according to the transcript from December 16, 2012:

"Let the little children come to me," Jesus said, "and do not hinder them -- for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven."

Charlotte. Daniel. Olivia. Josephine. Ana. Dylan. Madeleine. Catherine. Chase. Jesse. James. Grace. Emilie. Jack. Noah. Caroline. Jessica. Benjamin. Avielle. Allison.

God has called them all home. For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on, and make our country worthy of their memory.

Read it. Better yet: Watch it. This part starts around 16:20.


Grantland's Rembert Browne

Spotted in "Points to Ponder" in the new Reader's Digest: The history of being black in America is the history of nonviolence versus "fight back." Of wait versus now. Of a turned cheek versus self-defense.


Ryan D'Agostino in his editor's note

In the new Popular Mechanics: Part of what's changing in the world is that the United States is once again becoming known as a place where people make great things. The kind of stuff that hasn't been made here since my father was a kid.


It's football season again

The life expectancy of an NFL player is fifty-five years, Christine Smallwood writes in the September Harper's. Those who play professional football are nineteen times as likely to suffer from brain trauma–related illnesses as those who don't. Repeated concussions — in seven years a pro will sustain, on average, 130,000 full-speed hits — cause dementia, clinical depression, memory loss, and suicidal ideation.

Yes, but he'll still watch this season, Tom Junod writes in the September Esquire.

And I won't be the only one. Football, as we all know, is under siege. It's under siege from former Pro Bowlers who want the NFL to account for their morbidities and their mortalities. It's under siege from college players who want to get paid. It's under siege from mothers who don't want their boys to be offered up as ritual sacrifices. But mostly it's under siege from the American conscience, which has finally started to ask questions about the human cost of our autumnal weekend entertainment.

But not enough to stop watching. ...

... because it's in the same untenable position as America itself, too big to fail and yet failing, and I own it even as it owns me.


The new Harper's Index

Items I underlined in the September issue:

Chance that a U.S. public school had at least one security camera in 1999: 1 in 5.

Chances today: 2 in 3.

Amount a couple in Sarasota, Florida, earning $62,040 will receive in federal health care subsidies under the ACA: $8,736.

Amount a couple earning $62,041 will receive: $0.

Gigatons of cement used in the United States in the twentieth century: 4.4.

Gigatons used in China in the past three years: 6.1.

Percentage of liberal Americans who would prefer a large house to a "walkable" community: 32.

Of conservative Americans: 69.

Amount of the fine a recently passed New York State law would impose for taking selfies with tigers: $500.


Good Harper's Index this month

Some of what I underlined in the latest iteration:

Portion of Americans who are currently taking at least one prescription drug: 1/2.

Who are taking five or more: 1/10.

Estimated number of U.S. children aged two or three being prescribed ADHD medication: 14,000.

Factor by which the number of Internet-connected objects in the world is projected to increase in the next seven years: 4.

Estimated portion of sex crimes in U.S. jails and prisons that are committed by correctional officers: 1/2.

Percentage change since 1997 in the number of U.S. businesses with no employees: +47.

Chance that a U.S. woman under age 35 has a tattoo: 1 in 2.

That a U.S. man under 35 does: 1 in 4.

Percentage of professional journalists who were college graduates in 1971: 58.

Who are today: 92.

Number of local-government jobs lost since 2010: 351,000.

Portion of those jobs that were in education: 3/4.

Percentage change since 2002 in the average annual income of a recent college graduate: –8.

In the average debt load from student loans: +70.


Why can't we identify killers?

Clinical psychiatry professor Richard A. Friedman in today's New York Times:

We have always had — and always will have — Adam Lanzas and Elliot Rodgers. The sobering fact is that there is little we can do to predict or change human behavior, particularly violence; it is a lot easier to control its expression, and to limit deadly means of self-expression. In every state, we should prevent individuals with a known history of serious psychiatric illness or substance abuse, both of which predict increased risk of violence, from owning or purchasing guns.

But until we make changes like that, the tragedy of mass killings will remain a part of American life.


This here is an interesting idea

Soccer pundit Roger Bennett in today's New York Times: "It is often said that baseball blew up in America in the age of radio, and the NFL rose to dominance once television took over. Soccer is the perfect sport for the Internet era."