Review and More Recommended Reading

For my week in review, I’m reposting several reading suggestions that I’ve already linked to. I’m also adding new article/essay recommendations.


  • Three percent of American adults own half the nation’s firearms.
    • These “super-owners” have an average of 17 guns each.
    • Only 22% of American adults own guns. The NRA doesn’t represent a majority.
    • This guy is one of the 22%. Sad!
    • Source for stats: A Harvard/Northeastern survey that was obtained by the Guardian and the Trace.

The Ascent of Hitler … and Today’s Anti-Semitism:

  • Michiko Kakutani reviewed Volker Ullrich’s Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939 for the New York Times. Here’s a sample paragraph:
    • “Hitler was an effective orator and actor, Mr. Ullrich reminds readers, adept at assuming various masks and feeding off the energy of his audiences. Although he concealed his anti-Semitism beneath a ‘mask of moderation’ when trying to win the support of the socially liberal middle classes, he specialized in big, theatrical rallies staged with spectacular elements borrowed from the circus. Here, ‘Hitler adapted the content of his speeches to suit the tastes of his lower-middle-class, nationalist-conservative, ethnic-chauvinist and anti-Semitic listeners,’ Mr. Ullrich writes. He peppered his speeches with coarse phrases and put-downs of hecklers. Even as he fomented chaos by playing to crowds’ fears and resentments, he offered himself as the visionary leader who could restore law and order.”
  • If you were born into a Jewish family, read this Politico piece on a new generation’s introduction to open anti-Semitism in the U.S.
    • I say “born into a Jewish family” because it doesn’t matter if you are an atheist or, for instance, a wealthy convert to Catholicism — to an anti-Semite, you’re Jewish.
    • It also doesn’t matter if you’re an army veteran, an Olympic gymnastics champion, or a child actor.
    • The only thing that might save you is having the right connections.
  • When a guy wearing Nazi emblems commits a mass shooting in Houston, does anyone call him a terrorist? Anyone?


  • This story about a 10-year-old girl finding out that she has HIV will break your heart. She was born with HIV and has been treated for it all along, attended to by doctors, nurses, and therapists.
    • But the medical personnel “… do all of this without telling their youngest patients why. And when the time to tell them does come as they reach puberty, the staff plans for weeks how to do it, debating whether the kids are ready to know — whether they can handle it.”
  • Susan Schneider Williams, the widow of Robin Williams, wrote an essay for the journal Neurology about the actor’s diffuse Lewy body dementia, the symptoms of which which likely led to his August 2014 suicide.
    • Lewy body dementia is related to and often confused with Parkinson’s disease, which was the case with Williams.  But Parkinson’s-related dementia usually comes 10 to 15 years after physical problems present, while in LBD, cognitive problems begin very early on. (I notice that the Lewy Body Dementia Association was immediately suspicious when Williams’s autopsy was released in November 2014, but only ABC seemed to pick up that story directly from the association. Other news organizations waited till Susan Williams sat for an interview a full year later.)
    • The Neurology essay elaborates on Williams’s ordeal with paranoia, delusions and looping, insomnia, irrational fears, anxiety, depression, and possible hallucinations, as well as a host of physical symptoms.
    • I’m sharing this because I saw some people write cruel things online immediately after Williams’s suicide, including — interestingly — a few folks who identified as having Parkinson’s (without dementia). The latter group seemed to interpret Williams’s suicide as a message that THEIR lives weren’t worth living.  But even if Robin Williams had Parkinson’s, one person’s Parkinson’s isn’t necessarily the other person’s Parkinson’s. And Williams didn’t have Parkinson’s. He had a quickly worsening dementia that caused him to lose touch with reality for periods of time. He was prescribed antipsychotic medicine that worsened his symptoms. Not only did the public not know what he was going through, his own doctors didn’t figure it out. His wife now writes, “I will never know the true depth of his suffering.” So … I guess what I’m trying to say here is …