🇺🇸 a note on death.
hi & welcome to sam’s brain drain, a weekly collection of thumb-stopping things to tap, read, & watch.
estimated reading time: 4m 08s.
👋 it doesn’t feel right to shout ‘happy monday’ this week.
as such, it’s an understated beginning to this week’s newsletter.
📄 a note on death:
it’s difficult to write this week’s note on anything but the two mass shootings that occurred within twenty-four hours in the u.s.
twenty human beings killed in el paso, texas.
nine human beings killed in dayton, ohio.
i find it difficult to interpret numbers—especially when they concern people—so i drew a symbol to represent each mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister that now lie dead. dead at the hands of white nationalist terrorism—and those who continue to enable it—in the united states.
america is a huge outlier among developed countries when it comes to gun deaths—in large part because it has so many guns, making it easy to carry out an act of violence.
the united states also has the weakest gun laws in the developed world. since 2013, there has been only one full calendar week—the week of january 5, 2014—without a mass shooting there. studies have linked stricter gun laws to fewer gun deaths. however, there is not a lot of data to work with.
well, there is a reason:
the national rifle association (nra) and other influential gun rights advocates have long pressured political leaders to shut down research related to firearms.
political forces had effectively banned the centers for disease control and prevention and other scientific agencies from funding research on gun-related injury and death. the ban worked: a recent systematic review of studies evaluating access to guns and its association with suicide and homicide identified no relevant studies published since 2005.
- mother jones
one of the most positive things that i’ve seen, aside from the outpouring of genuine grief, is that people in the united states are being moved to action.
mom’s demand action is a grassroots organisation fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence.
shannon watts, a stay-at-home mother of five, was folding laundry in front of her television in 2012 when she heard the news that a gunman had walked into sandy hook elementary school in newtown, connecticut, and fatally shot 26 people, mostly children. as she watched coverage of the tragedy, her emotions turned from shock to despair to outrage. then she decided to do something about it.
- mother jones
for further reading, mother jones has created an open-source database documenting mass shootings in the united states. they list only indiscriminate rampages in public places that result in four or more victims killed by the attacker.
📚 word of the week:
acts of violence by random extremists, triggered by political demagoguery.
originally defined by an anonymous blogger back in 2011 as “the use of mass communications to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.”
🤪 mildly humorous:
given that humour is an effective way of regulating our emotional health, i’ve left mildly humourous in this week. in fact, take some extra tweets while you’re at it.
and some deliciously succinct responses to neil degrasse tyson’s awful hot take on the shootings in texas & ohio:
🧠 brain candy:
beautifully written piece on how close apollo 11 came to never making its destination:
the console responded with error code “1202.” despite his months of simulations, aldrin didn’t know what this one meant; armstrong, equally baffled, radioed mission control for clarification. the stress in his voice was audible, but only later would the two men learn how bad things really were. in that critical moment, hurtling like a lawn dart toward the surface of the moon, the apollo guidance computer had crashed.
anecdotally confirmed by all who are lucky enough to live by the sea:
cuhk lead researcher professor martin wong and his team surveyed 1,000 people visiting a cancer screening centre in sha tin, a town in hong kong’s new territories. they asked participants questions about their contact with the sea and other bodies of water, their health and well-being. due to the nature of the screening, 80 per cent of respondents were aged over 50.
the research authors say their findings form part of a growing body of evidence worldwide that suggests contact with blue spaces benefits the health and well-being of people of all ages.
that’s all for this week. i hope you hold me accountable to keep this interesting 😝.
😌 see you next monday!
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