On birthdays…

Screen shot 2014-08-30 at 2.56.04 PMI’ll never forget how my parents forced me to have a special dinner for my 15th birthday. It involved months of big-time arm-twisting. I’ve never been big on birthdays, or, more accurately, the attention that is gushed upon one on that day. I may be a loud, outgoing person, but my thing is to be the person to make people laugh, talk about fun times or things going in the world; not ‘anyway, back to me.’

Secondly, my parents often worked two jobs to make ends meet; I didn’t want them spending money on this big dinner. Also, I was very into wearing black that year. I didn’t want to wear a dress (which turned out to be mint green!)

Although “Sixteen Candles” is one of my favorite John Hughes’ movie, if someone forgot my birthday, trust me, I didn’t sulk; I was happy!

Years later, I still that way about birthdays. This is not to say I’m criticizing close friends who choose to celebrate with bigger to-dos. I enjoy celebrating others’ birthdays. But, I will admit that the whole, “So… what are you doing for your birthday?” pressure gives me anxiety, so I removed by actual birthdate from Facebook last year, which helped. And  I love my very close friends (and family) for respecting my wishes on big workups for my “born-day.” Much like New Year’s Eve, I’m the type to agree to have a special drink, but it’s “just another day.” I’m ok with that.

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Every time an anti-government gun nut …

via WNYC
via WNYC

… would go on an internet rant about how he would rather be well-armed in order to protect himself against a government takeover (see top anti-government conspiracies here), I’d roll my eyes, and think to myself, “What is your weapon going to do against the military’s tanks or drones?”

Not much, I’d think. But now it’s time to revise that to, “What is your weapon going to do against the local police department’s war tanks?”

Take a look at all this military surplus sitting in the wee town of Little Falls, NJ, population: 10, 800, courtesy of WNYC‘s Sarah Gonzalez.

Police in the small suburban town of Little Ferry recently received six military trucks for its 25 police officers. 

Police departments in the state have received everything from armored trucks, rifles and grenade launchers to shirts for extreme cold weather, boots, and ladders. But the use of military equipment to quell protests in Ferguson, Mo., following the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager, has sparked a national conversation about whether local law enforcement agencies are becoming too militarized.

For example, among the most expensive items on the list of supplies used in Iraq and Afghanistan are the MRAPs – 30,000-ton armored, mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles.  

Police in Middletown, N.J., have one. And the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office has just ordered two.

Read or listen to the rest of the report here. And then read about the sad demise of our democracy in this fantastic piece by Fordham’s Heather Gautney in the Huffington Post:

“Social control is the opposite of social change. And it is the opposite of democratic freedom.” (Ferguson and America’s Hatred of Democracy.)

When Parenting Feels Like a Fool’s Errand: On the Death of Michael Brown.

There was another police shooting of an unarmed teenager (18) last night. This time it was St. Louis, Missouri. Details about the incident are very sketchy, but this blog post about this shooting, and so many others like it, is very moving. Read on…

Stacia L. Brown

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I don’t want to talk about the boy and the sneakers peeking out from the sheet crudely draped over his corpse in the street, because I have been happy this month and it is so rare that I’m happy and that you, at age 4, don’t have to touch my knee or shoulder or face and say, “What’s wrong, Mama? You sad?”

I don’t want to think of who will go out on her hands and knees to scrub what’s left of the boy’s blood from the concrete. It will probably be a loved one, her hands idle after hours of clenching them into fists, watching what used to be her breathing boy lie lifeless, as she waited and waited and waited for the police and the coroner and the county to get their stories straight and their shit together and their privilege, sitting crooked as a ten-dollar wig, readjusted till it was firmly intact…

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