Boston: Day 7

I began my day by making the short drive to Concord, MA and visiting the Concord Museum. Though relatively small, the museum had some great information and exhibits. I didn’t know so many prominent authors had ties to the small city. Louisa May Alcott. Ralph Waldo Emerson. Henry David Thoreau. And others.

I followed with a trip to Minute Man National Park about a like away. The park is rather large, but the focal point for me was the Old North Bridge. This was the site of the battle of Lexington and Concord. There’s a statue of a minute man, a statue to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battle, and an English gravesite. One of the more interesting places I’ve been to on this trip.

I then made the short drive into Lexington, MA to visit Buckman Tavern. This was where members of the rebellion waited for the British to arrive just prior to that first battle. It’s very small, but on the second floor there’s a new exhibit on 18th century social media. It gives such great perspective because we think we have so many advancements in how news is spread, but in reality all we’ve done is speed up the process a bit. The exhibit compares Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and even fake news to the different methods used during the 18th century. A great exhibit. And that was my day.

I planned on visiting the Louisa May Alcott house and Ralph Waldo Emerson House, but one was closed and the other closed very early in the day. Too bad.

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Bana Alabed Gets a Book Deal

If you dont know Bana, then you may be living under a rock. Or just not on social media. She’s 7. She became widely known last year after she created a Twitter account to document the devastation she was experiencing in Syria.

Now she has a memoir coning out.

I remember the first time I noticed her I immediately thought of Anne Frank. The similarities are striking. Anne had her diary and Bana had the power of social media. The ability to reach the world with the click of a button. I have no issue with her getting a book deal. I’m glad her story will continue to be told. But I can’t be the only one with reservations. She’s a refugee. I imagine her family struggles. This story will be worth millions to Simon & Schuster. My concern is that it’d be easy to offer a very small fraction of the compensation to a family of refugees who need it rather than a more justified market value. My hope is that they treated Bana and her family fairly.

Any thoughts on her book deal?

Saturday Selects: America Strikes Syria

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write on the ocassional Saturday to discuss topics outside the general bookish theme of the blog. Today I’m talking Syria.

If you live under a pineapple under the sea, then you’re likely unaware of the significant escalation that took place this week in the Syrian civil war. Earlier in the week the Syrian government once again used chemical weapons against its own people. Killing dozens. Until this week the international community had spoken a lot louder than they’d acted. That changed Thursday night. The US launched a targeted airstrike against a Syrian airbase where the planes that carried out the chemical weapons attack were believed to have originated.

The US has been active in Syria for a couple of years now. But never once did American armed forces attack Syrian government forces. Some have called for the grounding of the Syrian air force. I think there’s only one country capable of carrying out such an operation. Not Russia. Not Iran. The US. First, there has to be a desire to act. Second, there has to be the capability. Third, there has to be a willingness to stand up to TWO dictators.

I’ve seen people criticize the hypocrisy of Donald Trump bombing Syrian targets in the name of the same people he’s trying to keep out. I understand the criticism. But I won’t pretend to understand the complexities of the presidency. Donald Trump may be a flawed human being. But so am I and so are you. Everyone can talk up their own views and beliefs all they want, but 45 men have known what it means to be POTUS. I’d argue the modern presidency is far more burdensome than those of previous eras. Donald Trump is not who I wanted to be president. But I won’t sit back and hope he drives MY country into the ground and our allies away for four years.

Donald Trump is wrong on several things, but I think he got it right on Syria. It’s long past the time for action. The Syrian people deserve better than what the international community has offered. I will criticize Trump every time he signs anything resembling a travel ban based on religion, but there’s more to the presidency than one issue. One of President Obama’s major weaknesses was Syria. Does that mean I can’t criticize him for his inaction while also praising him for signing the repeal of Don’t ask, don’t tell? No. It doesn’t.

On “American War”

No video today. This is a follow up to yesterday’s post. A new book looks at what would happen during a second American civil war. After writing the post and reading about the book I became intrigued.

There’s a lot more to the story than my post talked about. First, oil is illegal. Louisiana is half underwater. There was a devastating plague. Drones patrol the air around the country.

The idea is essentially that the US has made the decision to use its worst weapons against its own people.

I may buy the book. It’s a debut novel, which always makes things interesting. And the idea isn’t so far fetched that it’s unthinkable. I mean, how many tomes have we heard Trump talk about “sending in the Feds” in less than three months?

With different series exploring life in the former United States I think this may make for a fascinating read.

Five Books I Recommended to a Non-Reader

This was my video topic for this week, but I decided that I’d better express myself through a written post.

I typically don’t recommend books. It doesn’t matter who is asking or why, but I’ve made exceptions to my rule over the last couple of years. The following is the most recent example.

Earlier this week a friend of mine told me he wanted to start reading in an effort to adopt more healthy habits. With all the things one can do with free time, I think reading would definitely qualify as a healthy habit. What did I do when he told me this? I took him to Half Price Books, of course! Not kidding.

The first thing I did when we reached the store was ask him what he enjoys reading. His response was anything that keeps his attention, he’s open to any topic. So I did the only thing I could do in that situation, I referred back to my own reading history. Kind of like your Google history in books. I came up with five books to tell him about.

Lone Survivor – Marcus Luttrell

No matter your position on war or the military, I’m well aware that nonfiction war books are not for everyone. But to say this book is only about war would be a disservice to Marcus Luttrell and every other man who died during the operation to save him and his fellow Navy SEALs. This book is about faith, family, survival, life and death, and yes, war. Most people living today will never know what it means to trust another person with your life and have them entrust you with theirs. The men described in this book are the best the United States has to offer, and their story is one to remember.

Unstoppable – Bill Nye

I’ve read a few hundred books during my lifetime, and this one (like I said here) is easily the best book I’ve read. It’s science. Another type of book that simply isn’t for everyone. But this book isn’t written for scientists. That would defeat the entire purpose. The book takes on climate change, one of those topics that people seem to want to give up on or kick down the road. But not Bill Nye, nope. The reason this book holds so much weight with me is because of the optimism. Bill Nye is part of the generation currently in power. It’s his generation that has moved technology further than ever before, but it’s this same generation that has gotten us to this point in the climate change debate. This isn’t about blame, it’s about what’s happened. The beauty of this book is that Bill Nye recognizes who will ultimately enact the necessary changes to really combat climate change and begin the the process of preserving our planet for generations to come. Millennials. That group of young adults who gets blamed for things completely out of their control. It’s that same group of young people who are more aware of current issues than just about any generation of people who have come before them. Some would say the issues aren’t as important as the ones previous generations have had to tackle, but to say this is to once again belittle the issues Millennials face today. Humans are imperfect, but we have the ability to preserve this beautiful world we have. I believe history will hold Millennials in particularly high regard when humans look back at who decided enough was enough and that the issue of climate change is not something to leave for others to deal with.

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Atticus Finch. I can go on and on about Atticus Finch. I’ll be short and simple. I recommended this book because even when everyone around you is guilty of buying into society’s backward and wrong beliefs, one person can stand up for what’s right and what’s true to the human spirit. That’s what I believe Atticus did in this book, and it’s an idea still relevant after nearly 60 years in print.

The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

With social media today we’re able to get a glimpse into the lives of persecuted individuals. Anne Frank’s diary is more than just a glimpse. It’s her life. Now that I’m sitting here writing this I realize that her diary is her version of a blog or Facebook account. Through her words we know what a young girl and her family endured during humanity’s darkest hour. She gives us an idea of what it means to be unwanted, untouchable, and hated. She shows us that we always have the ability to be kind, even when facing the worst of circumstances. Another book that has never lost its relevance.

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

Society has expectations for just about everyone. It’s up to the individual person and the people they’re surrounded by to stick to what they’re supposed to be doing or to exceed every expectation imaginable. That’s what this book is about. And that’s why I recommended it. In this world the districts are expected to contribute to the welfare of the Capitol by maintaining the status quo and doing as previous generations have done. There’s really no avenue for any individuality. Katniss turns the whole thing upside down. She proved that no matter what society expects of you, you can use your voice to accomplish and change just about anything.

An honorable mention was Elie Wiesel’s Night.

I won’t tell you which book he ultimately decided to buy, but he did buy one.

So those are the books I recommended to an admitted non-reader. I took several minutes to describe the message I took away from each one. This wasn’t a planned thing and I did the whole thing in real time, but I think the books I mentioned shed light on the topics and issues important to me. Every one of these is a notch above their counterparts in my eyes.

Sorry for the LONG post! Have you ever had to suddenly recommend books and felt it was more important than a typical recommendation? What do you think of the books I came up with?

What December 7th Means to me

I was born in 1991 nearly five decades to the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. So everything I think about that day has been learned over the course of my 25 years, but long after the attack.

To me, December 7, 1941 is one of the turning points in human history. And I don’t say this lightly. The attack on Pearl Harbor was a pointless and cowardly act that didn’t need to happen. A formal declaration of war would have forced the USA into WWII just the same.

But back to my original point. Why do I give such importance to that single day? It’s simple. The worst armed conflict in human history was not going well. It was going horribly wrong, as a matter of fact. On that fateful December day everything changed. Thousands of American lives were lost. The Pacific fleet was no longer the threat it was intended to be. But the American hand was forced. War was immediately declared, and the Americans were coming.

I still haven’t finished my point about the date in history. It’s a turning point because the United States had not used its might to change the war’s outcome one way or the other. There’s no doubt in my mind that FDR would have eventually asked Congress to make a formal declaration of war had Pearl Harbor never happened. Why do I think this? Because it wasn’t in the interest of the USA to sit back and allow Japan and Germany to continue to conquer lands. But there’s no way of knowing how long he’d have waited. There’s no way of knowing how much longer the war would have lasted. There’s no way of knowing how many more casualties there would have been. There’s no way of knowing if the Allies would have been able to come out victorious  I think many people take for granted that the Allies would have won the war no matter what, but I don’t. I’m not certain D-Day ever happens if Pearl Harbor doesn’t.

The other dates in recent history that stand on par with December 7, 1941 are June 6, 1944 because it was an actual turning point in the war and September 11, 2001 because the entire world looked at terrorism differently.

December 7 should be a national holiday or at least studied extensively in every class on this single day. Americans of all ages should learn as much as possible about this date that, in my opinion, significantly changed history.

D-Day

Today is the 72nd anniversary of the Allied invasion of German-held France. It remains the largest amphibious invasion in recorded history.

Today is a day that should remind us that freedom is not free. More than 150,000 men and women from various Allied countries helped achieve victory on D-Day and in the days and months after.

The Allied casualties suffered were astronomical with most estimates putting the figure at a minimum of 10,000 soldiers. But the invasion was the result of months of planning and any delay would likely prolong the war in the European theater.

Some might argue that there had to be a better way to invade western Europe than to put so many at risk by storming the beaches of France, and I have a response to those who may think that. In 1944 Germany was on the defensive. Italy had been invaded. The Russians were pushing them further west. The opportunity to invade France was likely as ideal as it would ever be.

D-Day was a definitive turning point in the worst war the world has ever known, and the men and women who took part have earned our undying respect and gratitude for taking the fight to evil and coming out victorious.

June 6, 1944 is forever etched into my memory.

My lone hope is that I never have to live during a time in which such an event must happen again. We’re all human, and as of right now this is the only planet we have. More time spent helping people would better serve the human race rather than killing them.