Category Archives: Books and Reading

“What is now called resisting is often Americans simply helping others: a concept so alien to the Trump administration that it is labelled as subversive.”

The Globe and Mail Opinion, by Sarah Kendzior: The resistance to Donald Trump is not what you think. “There is no unified, hierarchical group on the periphery trying to overthrow the U.S. government. There are only regular people, in every city, hoping for better, and trying to rescue the America they once knew”.
Sarah Kendzior is the author of The View From Flyover Country and the co-host of the podcast Gaslit Nation.

“There is no question that most Americans disapprove of Mr. Trump and the GOP. The question for November is whether dissent matters in the face of an increasingly autocratic regime, one whose disregard for rule of law is unparalleled in U.S. history, and one that may have engaged in voter suppression and one whose associates are being investigated for whether they collaborated with operatives of hostile states to win the previous election. The midterms have become an existential matter: Will we salvage our damaged democracy, or lose what rights remain? For non-white Americans, immigrants, women, LGBTQ Americans and other groups targeted by the administration, there is nothing abstract about this inquiry.

I spent most of the year on the road in America, and I don’t think we, as a people, are as cruel or mercenary as those who represent us. Political activists and Democrats are not as disorganized as pundits claim. Everything sounds confusing when you listen for a coherent message, and what you hear instead is an anguished cry. But at least that cry is honest. That cry means people still care. The worst sound, these days, is silence.”

Link via MetaFilter.

“Je besser die Bildung, desto schlechter die Augen “

Deutsche Welle: Brille nötig: Kurzsichtig durchs Smartphone. “In 30 Jahren wird jeder zweite Mensch kurzsichtig sein. Schuld ist auch die übermäßige Nutzung von elektronischen Medien, vor allem bei Kindern. Dabei läßt sich Kurzsichtigkeit leicht vermeiden.”

“Der ständige Blick auf den Bildschirm kann vor allem Kinderaugen reizen, ermüden und austrocknen. Eine übermäßige Nutzung von elektronischen Medien führt nach Ansicht der Wissenschaftler aber nicht nur zu mehr Kurzsichtigkeit, es leidet auch das räumliche Vorstellungsvermögen. Verschwommenes Sehen oder Schielen können die Folge sein. “

“To Obama: With Love, Joy, Anger, and Hope.”

The Atlantic: The Education of Bill Oliver. “How a letter to Barack Obama tells the story of two strangers who became family, and one lifelong Republican’s journey to a new kind of patriotism.” By Jeanne Marie Laskas.

“Word came that President Barack Obama wanted to see some of the mail just the day after he took office. Mike Kelleher was the director of the Office of Presidential Correspondence (OPC). He got the call from the Oval saying the president wanted to see five letters. Then they called back with a correction. The president wanted to see 15 letters. They called back one more time. He wanted to see 10 that day, and every day.

“It was a small gesture, I thought, at least to resist the bubble,” Obama later told me. “It was a way for me to, every day, remember that what I was doing was not about me. It wasn’t about the Washington calculus. It wasn’t about the political scoreboard. It was about the people who were out there living their lives, who were either looking for some help or angry about how I was screwing something up.”

And why should the president be the only one reading 10 letters a day? What about everyone else in the West Wing? Surely Obama’s advisers and senior staff could benefit from seeing this material.
[…]
Fiona Reeves, an OPC staffer who soon became the office’s director, developed a distribution list, kept adding to it. Letters to the president, dozens of them, just popping into people’s inboxes. Why not? And not just the 10LADs—the president’s 10 letters a day—but also others from the sample piles. “We send out batches of letters we think are striking,” she said. At first she worried about being an annoyance, but then she got bold. “I hope people read them; that’s why I spam them. But I mean, they don’t have to read them.”

They did. Soon people started asking why they weren’t on the distribution list. The people in OPC came to know which people in the West Wing were particularly tuned in to the letters. The OPC staff came to regard these people as special agents, ambassadors, and they had a name for them: Friends of the Mail.”

Candid insights on the often excruciating process of moving through and with loss

New York Times: You May Want to Marry My Husband. By Amy Krouse Rosenthal, March 3, 2017.

“I have been trying to write this for a while, but the morphine and lack of juicy cheeseburgers (what has it been now, five weeks without real food?) have drained my energy and interfered with whatever prose prowess remains. Additionally, the intermittent micronaps that keep whisking me away midsentence are clearly not propelling my work forward as quickly as I would like. But they are, admittedly, a bit of trippy fun.

Still, I have to stick with it, because I’m facing a deadline, in this case, a pressing one. I need to say this (and say it right) while I have a) your attention, and b) a pulse.

I have been married to the most extraordinary man for 26 years. I was planning on at least another 26 together.”

New York Times: Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Children’s Author and Filmmaker, Dies at 51. March 13, 2017.

New York Times: My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me. By Jason B. Rosenthal, June 15, 2018.

I am that guy.

A little over a year ago, my wife, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, published a Modern Love essay called “You May Want to Marry My Husband.” At 51, Amy was dying from ovarian cancer. She wrote her essay in the form of a personal ad. It was more like a love letter to me.

Those words would be the final ones Amy published. She died 10 days later.

Amy couldn’t have known that her essay would afford me an opportunity to fill this same column with words of my own for Father’s Day, telling you what has happened since. I don’t pretend to have Amy’s extraordinary gift with words and wordplay, but here goes.

Ted.com: The Journey through Loss and Grief, by Jason B. Rosenthal.

Links via MetaFilter.

“Are you sure there isn’t something else we could calculate?”

XKCD What if: Earth-Moon Fire Pole. “My son (5y) asked me today: If there were a kind of a fireman’s pole from the Moon down to the Earth, how long would it take to slide all the way from the Moon to the Earth? – Ramon Schönborn, Germany”

I loved this and am tempted to use it in one of my next physics lessons…

Link via MetaFilter.