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December 28, 2010

What killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones?

Fantastic essay here about the death of Aiyana Stanley-Jones. She was shot by police filming a reality show--police who were violating procedure at every single level. What Killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones? | Mother Jones
"You might say that the homicide of Aiyana is the natural conclusion to the disease from which she suffered," Schmidt told me. "What disease was that?" I asked. "The psychopathology of growing up in Detroit," he said. "Some people are doomed from birth because their environment is so toxic." WAS IT SO SIMPLE? Was it inevitable, as the doctor said, that abject poverty would lead to Aiyana's death and so many others? Was it death by TV? By police incompetence? By parental neglect? By civic malfeasance? About 350 people are murdered each year in Detroit. There are some 10,000 unsolved homicides dating back to 1960. Many are as fucked up and sad as Aiyana's. But I felt unraveling this one death could help diagnose what has gone wrong in this city, so I decided to retrace the events leading up to that pitiable moment on the porch on Lillibridge Street. People my mother's age like to tell me about Detroit's good old days of soda fountains and shopping markets and lazy Saturday night drives. But the fact is Detroit and its suburbs were dying 40 years ago. The whole country knew it, and the whole country laughed. A bunch of lazy, uneducated blue-collar incompetents. The Rust Belt. Forget about it. When I was a teenager, my mother owned a struggling little flower shop on the East Side, not far from where Aiyana was killed. On a hot afternoon around one Mother's Day, I was working in the back greenhouse. It was a sweatbox, and I went across the street to the liquor store for a soda pop. A small crowd of agitated black people was gathered on the sidewalk. The store bell jingled its little requiem as I pulled the door open. . . .

December 25, 2010

Dick Cavett: "A Bittersweet Christmas Story"

Dick Cavett: A Bittersweet Christmas Story - NYTimes.com
Snow was predicted for Lincoln, and there was every reason to think it would be a really fine Christmas. Having recently received the remarkable gift of puberty with its attendant wonders, I had my hopes up for another great present, not exactly comparable: a longed-for piece of magical apparatus I had reason to believe would be under the tree on Christmas Eve. We always opened packages then instead of on Christmas Day, and in a sort of Norman Rockwellian tableau: nice warm house, a Nebraska snowfall settling outside and relatives of varying ages and beloved Sandy, my big, manly spaniel, all semi-circled around the gifts arrayed under the tree. It’s sad to think how cozy such Midwestern family Christmases were when you were that age, and how odiously I now view the allegedly jolly season, with its trampling crowds and extorted gifts. But let that pass. Back then, in that far-off happier time, Christmas was magical when it finally arrived with excruciating slowness. Nobody, when you’re that age, could ever convince you that there would come a day when all those chatty, friendly uncles, aunts, parents and grandparents in that comfy circle, contentedly digesting dinner around the tree, would be . . . gone. That you yourself would someday be the sole surviving link in that warm family circle. Unthinkable.

December 24, 2010

U.S. teen birth rate hits 70-year low

US teen birth rate at all-time low, economy cited - Yahoo! News
ATLANTA – The U.S. teen birth rate in 2009 fell to its lowest point in almost 70 years of record-keeping — a decline that stunned experts who believe it's partly due to the recession. The birth rate for teenagers fell to 39 births per 1,000 girls, ages 15 through 19, according to a government report released Tuesday. It was a 6 percent decline from the previous year, and the lowest since health officials started tracking the rate in 1940. Experts say the recent recession — from December 2007 to June 2009 — was a major factor driving down births overall, and there's good reason to think it affected would-be teen mothers. "I'm not suggesting that teens are examining futures of 401(k)s or how the market is doing," said Sarah Brown, chief executive of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

December 23, 2010

David Mamet's Xmas cartoon

A Very Special Message - by David Mamet > Tablet Magazine - A New Read on Jewish Life *Thanks, Julia!*

December 21, 2010

So, I guess there's a movie of the Thor comic book?

Worldwide media firestorm over Thor boycott continues. -- Council of...

Continue reading "So, I guess there's a movie of the Thor comic book?" »