In the opening credits of the gritty HBO crime series, “The Wire”, viewers see a street thug break a surveillance camera with a rock. It’s an act of contempt against the perceived omnipresence and intrusion of government into his neighborhood. But as regular viewers might note, the subject of “The Wire” was the violence of drug dealing.
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The costly, counterproductive war on drugs has turned the United States into incarceration nation. According to the International Centre for Prison Studies, 716 of every 100,000 people in this country are locked up, by far the highest rate in the world, well ahead of such beacons of freedom as Rwanda, Cuba and Russia.
Around this time of year, when we hear names like Amazon.com, Toys “R” Us, Saks, Zappos, Target and Dillard’s, we think of places to buy presents. When we hear brands like Alexander McQueen, Walt Disney and Marvel Comics, we think of favorite designers and popular characters.
Sunday is World AIDS Day, and there is much to celebrate but also much to frighten.
Imagine that you’re 9 years old. Imagine further that your mom works two part-time jobs and the two of you — along with your younger brother and sister — live in a cramped drafty little apartment. Now imagine that your teacher figures out that you can’t see the board clearly, even when you sit in the first row. In short, you need glasses.
The 13th Century Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart, once said, “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”
It is an indisputable fact that the Internet has transformed retail commerce. Many state legislatures are currently addressing (or have previously addressed) the loss of sales tax revenue that would otherwise enter more local coffers. As many of us are in full-tilt Christmas buying frenzy, it is fitting that we consider the consequences of being overly reliant on web merchants for holiday wares.
The Federal Communications Commission may permit airlines to experiment with allowing passengers to use cellphones in flight, officials said last week. The agency should do so, and airlines should get on with experimenting. Permission is not requirement; a change in federal rules would not necessarily mean the ruination of air travel for all time.
This past week we commemorated the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, Texas. For many of us the only images of the event are those captured by Abraham Zupruder and the clutch of press photographers gathered at the Dallas airport. For others, the memories are more animate: the teary, halting crack of news anchor, Walter Cronkite, telling the nation of the terrible deed.
The declaration that “selfie,” a photo taken of oneself usually with a mobile device and often posted on a social media site, was the word of the year by the Oxford English Dictionary garnered a lot of press attention last week. But a far more important phrase became part of our conversations in the last year, a truly despicable turn of phrase to describe a truly despicable state of being: “rape culture.”