Why Americans ‘dwell’ on Nine-Eleven

A few days ago, I was scanning through some Facebook posts when I came across a question that made my blood boil: “Why do Americans dwell on 9/11?”

Nine-Eleven memorial. Cos Cob Park, Cos Cob, CT.
Sunlight behind the 9/11 Memorial at Cos Cob Park, Cos Cob, CT. June 2017. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

I wasn’t sure whether it was posted out of ignorance, malice, or both. I started to reply — and then I realized I wasn’t sure what to say. Now, as I watch and listen to the annual reading of the victims’ names at Ground Zero — as I do every year — I will try to explain.

Of course, I can’t speak for all Americans. I can only speak for myself. So I will start by saying that as someone with family that has survived recent wars, I am well aware that there are places in the world where events the magnitude of Nine-Eleven, and worse, happen every single day. Given that, I can see why some people can’t understand — and some may even resent — America’s preoccupation with the terrorist attacks on our country on September 11, 2001.

That being stated, here’s why I will never forget that day, or the days, weeks, months and years that followed. I will never forget it because I was living and working in the New York City suburbs on that fateful day. Like millions of Americans, I witnessed the horror and devastation on TV as it unfolded. Watched in horror as the planes struck and  bodies fell from the wreckage of the Twin Towers less than 30 miles from home. Screamed as the buildings collapsed, another hijacked plane hit the Pentagon and the heroes of United Airlines Flight 93 paid the ultimate price for averting further devastation. Wept as the world changed.

As seen at the 9/11 Memorial. New York, NY. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

I will never forget it because I was a reporter tasked with writing about the aftermath of the terrorist attacks and their effects in the small, tight-knit community of Rye, N.Y. There were so many stories of close calls and tremendous loss. There so much sadness. So much grief. So much anger.  There were so many tales of heroism. And there were tales of resolve.

In the face of tremendous adversity, we were united. On that day, and in the weeks that followed, all lives mattered. There was no black versus white. There was no left versus right. We were all Americans. We helped those in need regardless of their race, religion, gender or political ideology. We stood as one.

Today I grieve for strangers. I also grieve for friends who were directly affected by the tragic events that transpired 16 years ago. I grieve for my country — a country ravaged by divisiveness and hate.

On September 11, 2001, and every year since, we have sounded the rallying cry, “Never forget.”

I am afraid we already have.

A worthwhile investment: Americans spend billions on pets

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

“The pet humanization trend is alive and well and continues to drive growth at the premium end of the market.” – Bob Vetere, president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association

It’s old news by now. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s something that definitely bears repeating.

Last year, Americans spent a record-setting $60.28 billion on our pets. The total amount falls just a little bit short of the target set by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), but it is impressive nevertheless.

Money Matters

A breakdown provided by the APPA shows that we spent the most on pet food ($23.05 billion); followed by supplies and over-the-counter medications ($14.28 billion). Veterinary care accounted for $15.42 billion in expenditures. But the area that reflected the greatest growth in spending compared to 2014 was “other services.”

In a March 17 press release, the APPA explained just what this category covers. Items classified as “other services” include grooming, boarding, walking, training, pet sitting, exercise and yard services. Americans spent $5.41 billion on this sort of stuff last year, as compared to $4.84 billion in 2014, reflecting an 11.8 percent increase.

On the other hand, data provided by the APPA shows we bought fewer pets than we have in the past. The amount spent on “live animal purchases” dipped from $2.15 billion in 2014 to $2.12 billion last year.

Vetere said there are several explanations for the decline. One may be a “decline in pet types available from shelters or breeders.” Another is a “growing number of pet sale bans.” Finally, pets are living longer due to “improved healthcare,” Vetere added.

In My Humble Opinion

Personally, I would love to get another pet. But right now that’s simply out of the question. For one thing, Eli is definitely an “only child.” He’s also a handful.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

As many of you know, he had a cancer scare earlier this year. Diagnosis and treatment required several trips to the veterinarian — including one for the surgical removal of a small tumor on his back — in just a few weeks. Needless to say, this wasn’t exactly inexpensive — but it was definitely worthwhile. I am happy to say that the type of tumor he had was fairly benign and is unlikely to recur. I am also happy to say he’s made a complete recovery and is back to his feisty self.

Frankly I’ve lost count of how much we spend on food, cat litter, etc. I’ve also forgotten how much we spent on a live-in pet sitter when we went out of the country for three weeks last year — but that wasn’t exactly inexpensive either.

But at the end of the day, Eli is happy and healthy. And as far as I am concerned, that’s priceless.



The whole truth?

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

“The real purpose of this post is to encourage independent, critical thinking.”

On Sunday, The New York Times actually shared some “good news.” Contrary to public opinion… or more accurately, public perception, crime is down. New Yorkers are safer than they think. Their fears are baseless.

If you know me at all, or if you are any good at reading between the lines, you can easily detect the sarcasm here. Or perhaps it’s merely a healthy dose of skepticism. In any case, the purpose of this post is not to bash the Times. If anything the newspaper, which, in my humble opinion, joins the rest of the mainstream media in demonstrating a blatant anti-law enforcement bias, actually made a fairly decent attempt at presenting both sides of this particular story.

The real purpose of this post is to encourage independent, critical thinking – a skill that is not taught (much less encouraged) in American schools  and hence one that I find sorely lacking among the vast majority of Americans.

Of course it is far easier to take what the government – or any other authority – tells us on face value than to question it. Deep down those of us who live in free societies want to believe that authorities have our best interests at heart – so it is far easier to believe that our duly-elected leaders, teachers, police and the media are telling us the truth rather than what we want to hear.

ISIS is being defeated, the economy has recovered, unemployment is down and – at least in New York City – crime has declined as well. A rosy picture indeed. And why not believe it? After all, those who are telling it say they have data to prove their point. Numbers. Cold, hard facts. That’s all the proof you need. Or so they say.

But the numbers can be – and are – easily manipulated by those who provide them and those who report them. This tactic is hardly unique to one political party – or even one group, for that matter. Democrats, Republicans, Socialists, Communists, anarchists, liberals, conservatives, economists, the media and even scientists engage in it.

Acknowledging all of this is the key to sorting through the BS and drawing your own conclusions. It is just one step though. Once you realize that any data can be – and is – manipulated, you must then ask the tough questions. Who is manipulating it? How are they doing so? How do they benefit from twisting the facts?

In some cases finding the answer is simply a question of following the money but in most cases it’s simply a question of using a little bit of common sense.

Speaking of which, here’s a newsflash for The New York Times: perception is reality.