Those Forgotten by America: Vietnam and Today

I’ve picked up a few books along my travels in Mexico through various book exchanges. Right now, I’m reading a book called Blood on the Risers by John Leppelman who served in Vietnam for three years when he was a young man.

forgotten by america
CC by manhhai via Flickr

His account as a soldier during one of the United States’ most controversial wars sparked my interest in the distrust of the press during that period of American history and its connection (if one exists) to the current level of distrust in the mainstream media in today’s political environment.

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I’m Baaaack!

Well, I’ve been MIA for a few months now and with every day that I don’t post I can feel my motivation to maintain my own blog drifting further and further away. Before all hope is lost, let me explain where I’ve been and what I’m doing now.

I finished my last semester of undergrad in December and left Boston with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics. From there I returned to California (to my ‘homebase’ so-to-speak) to stay with my mom while I sorted out my next step. I only stayed there for about two months, but still I wonder, does that include me in the high percentage of millennials that move back to their parents’ house after college? I’m not sure…

While I was there, I started to work as a freelance writer hoping to make enough money to at least pay my monthly student loan payments, if not pay for food and other necessary expenses. So far, I’ve been able to make enough money to pay off about 0.004% of my principle loans (that’s not including accumulated interest). But, I’m still looking at the glass 0.004% FULL.

Looking for a more exciting (and cheaper) way to spend our time, my boyfriend and I left California behind and jetted down to Mexico. And here we are, almost two months later, and we’re nearing the end of our trip. Soon we will be on our way back to the States for a short stop before returning to our (new for me, old for him) home in Israel.

But where does that leave me and my blog? I never stopped writing, even when I stopped posting my own writing here, but I know that I should commit myself to posting my own content at least once a week. Still, I am in a period of intense transition in my life, and my focus is being pulled in all different directions. I just want to recommit myself to my blog and plan to focus more of my free time developing my own ideas and putting them into words for all of you to read. How’s that?

Re-Tweetable: Beautiful Mapping Project from The Washington Post

Just yesterday, Tim Meko from the Washington Post published a beautiful visualization project of our nation’s infrastructure. As President-elect Donald Trump plans to invest billions of dollars into policies that will “[t]ransform America’s crumbling infrastructure.”

Meko looks at six visualizations of the nation’s infrastructure based on data gathered from OpenStreetMap and other government sources. Included are visualizations of: the electric grid with electric transmission lines, bridges with those that are in need of repair distinguished as such, pipelines (crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas byproducts all included), railroads, major and minor airports with air traffic patterns, and ports and inland water ways.

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A Look at the Connection Between Judaism and Higher Education

Jacqueline Firsty grew up going to temple with her dad almost every Shabbat and celebrated the High Holidays with her grandparents every year. Judaism is such a significant part of her self-identity she even wrote about the impact being Jewish had on her life in her college applications.

Still, when looking at schools, Jewish life wasn’t something that she factored into her decision. Firsty explains, “I went to a public school where I was one of the only Jewish students, and at my own temple I was the only person my age. So, I never had a Jewish group of peers, like my own age.”

Because of this, being surrounded by Jewish peers was not something she went looking for as a part of her college life. And she isn’t alone in her experiences as a young Jewish American. In speaking on the affluence of the Jewish people, Alan Dershowitz, a law professor at Harvard University, claims that, “a Jew today can live in any neighborhood,” which creates small communities within cities and towns.

In looking at the religions of college-educated adults in the US, the numbers closely reflect the religious breakdown of the overall population. Per the Pew Research Center, only 3 percent of college graduates in the US are Jewish, while 66 percent are Christian. Compared to the percentages of Jews and Christians in the total population, 1.8 percent and 70.6 percent respectively, these numbers are relatively close. The percentages for other religions follow a similar story.

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Data from Pew Research Center

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Who are Our Nation’s Readers?

As I am rapidly approaching my graduation from Northeastern University, I realize that the continuation of my education will be entirely in my own hands. Reading, whether it be news articles, opinion pieces, or book, will be one way that I hope to do so.

Image from Pew Research Center
Image from Pew Research Center

Research from the Pew Research Center found, recently, that 26% of U.S. adults haven’t read a book in the last 12 months. Of course, we’re a busy nation and many adults in the U.S. work more than one job and simply don’t have time to sit down and read an entire book. The Pew Center went on to break down the demographics of those Americans who hadn’t read a book, either in its entirety or just a part, in 12 months and the results are not surprising.

It’s easy to see that demographic groups that are the most powerful in our society are those that were least likely to have not read a book in the last year (i.e. were likely to be among those who HAD read a book in the last year).

Relatively speaking, U.S. adults who were women, white, between the ages of 18 and 49, made more than $75K per year, were college educated, and lived in urban America were most likely to have read a book. Forty percent of Hispanics and adults with a high school degree or less hadn’t read a book in the last year and 33 percent of those with an income of less than $30K hadn’t either.

The amount of leisure time that adults from different demographics have is, clearly, an influencing factor here. Researcher Andrew Perrin also draws connections to another study from Pew which found that uneducated Americans are among the least likely to own a smartphone or tablet which could also contribute to these distinctions.

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Black Friday Numbers and Why They Don’t Matter

Every year, Black Friday provides news outlets with at least of a weekend worth of stories, most of which illustrate the worst of our capitalist society. Reading about the obscene amounts of money that Americans spend at the start of the holiday season serves as a welcome distraction from the articles about violence and rioting that occurs among shoppers. This year, some of the biggest news stories about Black Friday included the mess created by bargain-hunters in a Nike store, the FBI’s claim that there were a record-number of gun background checks processed, and that the numbers show that more shoppers were out spending less money than last year.

Image (CC BY 2.0) Courtesy of Diario Critico Venezuela
Image (CC BY 2.0) Courtesy of Diario Critico Venezuela

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The Many Ways to Talk About Income Inequality

At the beginning of November, I wrote about the wage gap that women experience compared with their male counterparts. Income inequality is much more than a gendered issue though. Income inequality exists among any number of groups within countries’ populations around the world as well as among the world’s population as a whole.

In 2011, Max Roser (@MaxCRoser) started Our World In Data, a web publication out of the University of Oxford where he is employed. The site covers the changing development of the world in various areas such as population, technology, war and peace, and education. Empirical data for each topic is represented with superb interactive data visualizations which are all considered “public goods” by the creators and are listed under a permissive creative commons license.

Roser recently published a piece on the site’s blog which gave a brief look at the shift in global inequality that occurred in the decade spanning from 2003 to 2013. In this blog post, he looks at the disposable annual income of world citizens against their position in the global distribution of incomes.

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