The limitations of "politics"

Maybe it's time to re-think how we use the word "political"

Sree’s newsletter is produced w/ Zach Peterson (@zachprague).

Scroll down for Read Something; Watch Something; and a weekly tech tip from Robert S. Anthony (@newyorkbob).

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The police officer who killed George Floyd was found guilty, but it doesn’t bring George Floyd back, and it doesn’t end police violence. The trial was a telling snapshot of policing in America, and it didn’t paint a very rosy picture. I keep going back to the story of the original police report released by the Minneapolis PD after George Floyd’s death in police custody:

From the report:

Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s, in his car. He was ordered to step from his car. After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.

As Eric Levenson gets at in this piece for CNN, nothing in the police report is technically untrue, but…wow. Reading this and then seeing the video of the entire interaction would leave anyone scratching their head. Any time I see a report that includes “police say…” in it, I instantly apply a sort of mental asterisk to whatever comes next.

And what comes next is crucial, because there always seems to be a “next time.”

In Minnesota, “next time” came quickly. As the Derek Chauvin trial was coming to a close, police killed Daunte Wright. The officer who shot Wright claimed it was an accident, saying she thought her gun was a taser—which is somehow more absurd than the police descriptions of the George Floyd killing.

Police violence and broader systemic racism are in the political discourse like never before, and, in general, I view that as a good thing. But, calling these issues “politics” or “political” does nothing but undercut and downplay the severity of this situation. It’s a cheap reaction that belies a lack of will to even begin to understand the issue of racism in America and the manifestations of that racism.

Sure, politicians have a huge role to play in fixing things, but nothing about police violence strikes me as political in nature—we’re talking about a very fundamental part of how our society is set up. Communities need to be able to trust those charged with keeping them safe, it’s that simple.

Here’s an example, again from Minnesota (Sunday Note co-producer Zach was born and raised in the state). The day Daunte Wright was killed, the Minnesota Twins postponed their scheduled baseball game against the Boston Red Sox. The team posted a statement about the killing on Instagram that was actually quite strong as far as these things go. The comments on the post are enough to make any normal, thinking person’s blood boil, but it’s staggering how many of them boil down to “keep politics out of sports.”

This can only be described as nihilism.

There’s a trial going on that is being watched by most of the country, the police kill another Black man, and the baseball team (along with the local basketball and hockey teams) decides maybe the game can wait a day or two. That’s not “politics,” it’s common sense. Talking about police violence and how people of color are uniquely victimized by it is not talking about “politics,” it’s talking about the fabric of our society, and don’t let anyone tell you different.

- Sree
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Read Something

The modern Republican Party has no real policy or legislative agenda to speak of. Instead, Republicans target trans people, voting rights, and protesters. Unreal.


Apple’s 2021 iMacs: Color Me Powerful

By Robert S. Anthony
Each week, veteran tech journalist Robert S. Anthony shares a tech tip you don’t want to miss. Follow him @newyorkbob.

In a normal year, the debut of new Apple iMac desktop computers would be a big deal. Tech journalists would pack a huge venue for a press event soon to be followed by loyal customers piling into Apple Stores to gawk at the new gear. Not this year, however, thanks to the pandemic.

Yes, the 2021 iMacs are stunning machines, but due to the urgency of other items in the news, the media attention given to their rollout was short-lived. The good news, however, is that these colorful new iMacs hit on all cylinders: They offer higher-resolution screens, thinner bodies, more powerful processing and graphics hardware, sharper cameras, clearer microphones and superior speakers than their not-too-shabby predecessors.

The 2021 iMacs clearly reflect pandemic times and the need for quality video and audio. The 24-inch, 4.5K (4,480 by 2,520 pixels) displays are much sharper than previous iMac generations, the 1080p front camera offers intelligent image processing and a three-microphone array offers smart noise cancellation that filters out unwanted background noise.

The use of Apple’s powerful M1 system-on-a-chip, which replaces multiple data processing and graphics chips from other companies, is music to the ears of video and photo professionals. According to Apple, the M1 chip allows the new iMacs to offer up to twice the graphics processing speed with Adobe Photoshop than previous iMacs. Thanks to the M1 chip, the hardware inside the 11.5mm-thick iMac is smaller and easier to cool than older iMacs, thus allowing the use of smaller fans and more powerful speakers.

Despite the new features, the new iMacs still lack one: touchscreens. Adding touch and pressure-sensing technology would thicken the iMacs’ profiles—a tradeoff Apple doesn’t want—and iMacs already work well with trackpads and digitizers for pen or finger input.

The new iMacs are well-timed for the upcoming in-person fall school and college sessions and for corporations and public institutions like libraries—allowing time for budget decisions as offices and buildings start to reopen.

Interestingly enough, the $1,299 iMac model (256GB storage, 8GB RAM) is the same price as the original 1998 iMac. The colorful 1998 iMac, which drew criticism for—*gasp!*—not including a floppy disk drive, had a 15-inch picture tube, a 4GB hard disk, 32MB of RAM and a CD-ROM drive.

The three new iMacs ($1,299 to $1,699) come in shades of yellow, orange, blue, green, pink, silver or purple—depending on the model. The iMacs can be ordered on April 30 and should arrive by mid-May, according to Apple.

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#WorthyThread

My heart breaks watching Covid-19 tear through India, and this thread does a great job of capturing what so many of us in the Indian/Indian-American community are feeling. Last year at this time, there was very little to be optimistic about in America in terms of the pandemic. Now the exact polar opposite is true, and the situations in India, Brazil, and a good portion of Europe put in stark relief just how far we have to go if we are to really turn the corner on Covid-19.


Watch Something

The conviction of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd was certainly a welcome bit of justice, but we still have a long ways to go in America. Trevor Noah has been so excellent so on point so often that I can’t keep up, but this is particularly powerful.


Odds & Ends

🗞  TUNE IN: #NYTReadalong - our guest this week is Michael Moss8:30 am ET, live or later.

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