Nurse Brown Goes to Washington

Nurse Theresa Brown recounts her exciting trip to Washington, DC, where she attended a nurses’ event in support of health care reform and met President Obama! Click here to catch the speech where Obama quoted Nurse Brown (at the 12 minute mark).

Theresa Brown goes to Washington, DC

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President Obama Praises Nurses–and Quotes Our Author, Theresa Brown

We’re so proud of our author, Theresa Brown, who was invited to Washington, D.C. this past Thursday to attend President Obama’s speech about health care to a group of nurses. Theresa was introduced to the President before his speech, in which he quoted her recent blog on the New York Times website, as follows:

Now, amid all the chatter and the noise on radio and TV, with all the falsehoods that are promoted by not just talk show hosts but sometimes prominent politicians, sometimes it can be easy to lose sight of what the debate over reform is all about. It’s about stories like the one told by an oncology nurse named Theresa Brown. A few weeks ago, Theresa wrote a blog post about a patient of hers. He was in his 60s, a recent grandfather, a Steelers fan — (applause) — spent the last three months of his life worrying about mounting medical bills.

And she wrote: “My patient thought he had planned well for his health care needs. He just never thought he would wake up one day with a diagnosis of leukemia. But which of us does?” she asked. And then she wrote: “That’s why we need health care reform.”

Nurses, that’s why we need health care reform. I am absolutely confident that if you continue to do your part — nurses, you guys have a lot of credibility; you touch a lot of people’s lives; people trust you — if you’re out there saying it’s time for us to act, we need to go ahead and make a change — if all of us do our parts, not just here in Washington but all across the country, then we will bid farewell to the days when our health care system was a source of worry to families and a drag on our economy, and America will finally join the ranks of every other advanced nation by providing quality, affordable health insurance to all of its citizens. That’s our goal. We are going to meet it this year with your help. Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. (Applause.)

We’re publishing Theresa’s extraordinary book, Critical Care: A Nurse’s First Year, next June. (We’ll make sure to send President Obama an early copy!)

President Obama quotes Nurse Theresa BrownClick through to view the video and advance to the 12 minute mark to catch the exciting clip!

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Barack Obama on the Shoulders of Thurgood Marshall

When the proposal for my book about a young Thurgood Marshall was making the publishing rounds last year, the feedback from editors was immediate and positive. It was just the reaction I was hoping for. A true-to-life version of To Kill a Mockingbird, starring one of the most dynamic and flamboyant lawyers the country’s ever seen. I didn’t think anyone could resist it! And they couldn’t.

“This is a great story,” I’d hear, and the excited editor would bring the proposal into an editorial meeting, hoping to acquire it. But something strange was happening. The sales and marketing teams were nervous. Black narrative history is a tough sell these days, they said. Weeks passed, and I was in shock that I might never be able to tell this Thurgood Marshall story.

At the same time, something strange was also happening in America. An African American was running for president, and he was gaining momentum. His opponents tried to derail him by subtly referring to his race and reminding the public that, “He can’t win.” But it was obvious. Barack Obama was not running as a black candidate. He was running as an American. And he began to win.

Obama’s victories were inspiring and I couldn’t help but see the connection to Thurgood Marshall. Marshall studied under the firm hand of Howard University law professor and NAACP litigator, Charles Hamilton Houston, who drilled it into his head that he couldn’t afford to be thought of as the Negro lawyer in a courtroom full of well-trained white lawyers. “If you expect to win,” Marshall soon discovered, “you better be better.”

And Thurgood Marshall was better. He built an unmatched record of wins before the US Supreme Court and eventually became, in the eyes of one historian, “the most important lawyer of the 20th century.” Thurgood Marshall defied the odds, and he did so with his tenacity and intelligence, his beautiful words and the belief that history was on his side. Just like Barack Obama was doing.

One day, I got a call from Julia Cheiffetz at HarperStudio. We talked about Thurgood Marshall and my proposal and even the “black narrative histories are a tough sell” piece. We both agreed that like Barack Obama, Thurgood Marshall transcended race in his time, and that this story was not just a part of black history, but a part of American history. It was a “Yes We Can” moment, and I was reminded of a speech by the man whose shoulders Barack Obama claims to stand upon.

Early in his career, Thurgood Marshall said, “A most gratifying source of inspiration has always been the challenge thrown down by the poor souls who have repeated over and over again, “It can’t be done.” These court cases and the decisions from them have been made possible by the stalwarts who held faith with our Constitution and the men who have interpreted it to prove, “It CAN be done.”

-Gilbert King

King’s book on Marshall will be published by HarperStudio in 2010.

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Stanley Fish on Barack Obama’s Prose Style

Stanley Fish’s analysis of Obama’s inauguration speech is one of the most incisive I’ve read:

“It is as if the speech, rather than being a sustained performance with a cumulative power, was a framework on which a succession of verbal ornaments were hung, and we were being invited not to move forward but to stop and ponder significances only hinted at.

And if you look at the text – spread out like a patient etherized on a table – that’s exactly what it’s like. There are few transitions and those there are – “for,” “nor,” “as for,” “so,” “and so” – seem just stuck in, providing a pause, not a marker of logical progression. Obama doesn’t deposit us at a location he has in mind from the beginning; he carries us from meditative bead to meditative bead, and invites us to contemplate.

Of course, as something heard rather than viewed, the speech provides no spaces for contemplation. We have barely taken in a small rhetorical flourish like “All this we can do. All this we will do” before it disappears in the rear-view mirror. But if we regard the text as an object rather than as a performance in time, it becomes possible (and rewarding) to do what the pundits are doing: linger over each alliteration, parse each emphasis, tease out each implication” [NYT]

(Fish was in the office this morning for our social networking breakfast and is excited to get on Twitter.)

-Julia

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The City Celebrates

Foley Square, NYC 1.20.09

For more stunning inauguration photos by Adrian Kinloch see Brit in Brooklyn

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Obama to Grace the Cover of Jan 14th Issue of Spider-Man

Obamaspiderman
Super Man was created in 1939 on the heels of the Great
Depression. 2009 will give rise to a Super Hero of a different kind.

“The Future President’s Gonna Need Spider-Man” says Peter
Parker
, Spider-Man’s alter ego in the special edition of the Amazing Spider-Man
#583. Indeed, Marvel not only features Obama in the story (which takes place on
inauguration day and apparently involves a fist bump) they put him on the
cover- a first for the comic. Obama revealed a while back that he was a
childhood fan of Spider-Man and Marvel editor in chief Joe Quesada said they
wanted to give him a “shout-out back.” [huffington post]

For a sneak peek click here

[image: Marvel comics] 

 

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Notes from Kabul #2: Driving in Afghanistan is Darwinian

Gayle Tzemach is a journalist currently living in Kabul where she is at work on her book The Dress Maker of Khair Khana:

Today as we battled our way back from Kabul University in inch-by-inch traffic, I heard a police siren. Turning around to see what was happening, I watched a jacked-up grey pick-up truck pass us on the left. Turns out you can buy horns which sound like sirens. My fixer told me they are very popular.

A motor hierarchy governs the roads. Big white SUVs toting foreign VIPs, government officials, and all of the UN officials are the bullies, regularly cutting off with bravado anyone smaller.  We play chicken daily with an assortment of battered mini vans and station wagons, but when it comes to trucks and buses, my driver lets them have their way. Creative maneuvering is his specialty: The other day we drove our car in reverse for two full blocks when we overshot the pale guarded gate of the foreigner’s restaurant where I was meeting a friend for lunch.  Those who loved “A Bronx Tale” would be proud.

Safety standards are different here than in the developed world…. 

(more…)

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Notes from Kabul # 1: Afghans Captivated by US Presidential Election

Gayle Tzemach  is a journalist currently living in Kabul working on her book The Dressmaker of Khair Khana  

The American election captured Kabul’s attention this week. At an airy bar in Kabul shuttered behind two metal doors and four armed guards, a hive of excited Democrats celebrated Election Night, watching CNN and drinking blue cocktails. The collection of aid workers and rights advocates cheered Obama’s win, donning “Yes We Can” tees and signing the Obama ’08 banner hanging from the wall. No sign of McCain/Palin paraphernalia anywhere.

The Europeans in Kabul were almost as excited as the Americans. In international offices across the capital, Wednesday brunches celebrated the end of the Bush era and the Democrats’ return to power. BBC has played nothing but Obama video since Tuesday.

Afghans, too, were captivated by the vote 6,000 miles away. Nearly everyone I interviewed asked me about it. What did I think about Obama? What is his policy toward Afghanistan? Do I think he is serious about focusing on Afghanistan now that the US realizes the war in Iraq was a grave mistake?

Pulling up to one of the short and dingy apartment blocks near the airport, the kind of neighborhood where flies swarm unmolested and the arrival of strangers raises eyebrows, I walked up three flights of stairs to the headquarters of a women’s NGO. Inside I met a woman who organized schools and sewing classes for women during the Taliban years. As we wrapped up our interview, she congratulated me on Obama’s win. “I hope he will help to make things better here,” she said. “I believe that if the US really wanted to bring peace and security to Afghanistan, it would.”

She is not alone in thinking that if the international community really wanted to secure Afghanistan, it could.

(more…)

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A Day to Buy the Newspaper

Last night people partied in the streets. This morning they bought the paper.

6a00e553f04af38833010535d66b97970b-800wi

In fact I’ve never seen the half dozen or so news stands I pass on my way to work so barren (check out this photo of about 100 people waiting outside the Times building) . Matthew Yglesias of Think Progress describes the scene at his local grocery store in D.C:

“I went to the supermarket on my block at around 6:30. I saw a huge line
of people waiting for the delivery of a “special evening edition” of The Washington Post
so that they could keep a souveniere copy of the front page to
commemorate the occasion. Some of them had been waiting for as much as
three hours and nobody quite knew how long they had left. Apparently,
this was happening at supermarkets all across town.”

I guess adding print out of the Huffington Post to your scrap book just isn’t the same.

Check out more Nov 5th front pages at Newsdesigner

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Is there Such a Thing as a Banned Book?

It’s banned book week and everyone from the LA Times to Time magazine is reminding us of the days when if a bookstore or library didn’t carry a book, you really couldn’t get it.

But what about now? Sarah Palin might be able to fire librarians to keep certain books outside of brick walls, but she can’t shut down the Internet to keep curious minds from finding out who Daddy’s Roommate is.

If today’s technology makes it possible to thwart the Sarah Palins of the world, is book banning still technically possible? I would like to think that in this day and age, no one – especially not Sarah Palin – can keep us from reading whatever we want.

In honor of books once banned, here’s a tribute to one of the most banned of all time, courtesy of "Mad Men."

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