Sunday, July 20, 2014

Links for the week ending 20 July 2014

"Asked what he would miss most about his brother, Ramzi looked at the ground. 'Kul,' he whispered in Arabic. 'Everything.'" Anne Barnard is in Gaza and reporting for the NYT along with Jodi Rudoren in Jerusalem.

"In the wreckage of the home on Friday morning, Salem Entez, 29, Mohamed Salem's father, approached the Guardian with a plastic bag, which he opened to reveal pieces of flesh he was collecting for burial. 'This is my son,' he said." Dude Peter Beaumont and Harriet Sherwood for the Guardian. Also, from this morning, the same team reported, "All morning, terrified people ran from their homes, some barefoot and nearly all empty-handed. Others crowded on the backs of trucks or rode on the bonnets of cars in a desperate attempt to flee. Sky News reported that some had described a 'massacre' in Shujai'iya." In addition, Harriet Sherwood reports on the Israeli military's use of anti-personnel ammunition in Gaza.

"They described hours of terror, as tank shells slammed into homes, with no electricity and no way to escape. They called ambulances, but there was no way for the vehicles to get in under the constant fire. So in the end, thousands of desperate residents fled on foot at first light, walking two hours or more into Gaza City." Sara Hussein reports for AFP.

"There were strong indications that those responsible may have errantly downed what they had thought was a military aircraft only to discover, to their shock, that they had struck a civilian airliner. Everyone aboard was killed, their corpses littered among wreckage that smoldered late into the summer night." Sabrina Tavernise is reporting from Ukraine for the NYT along with some dudes.

"Scientists have, for the first time, linked hundreds of earthquakes across a broad swath of Oklahoma to a handful of wastewater wells used by the fracking industry." From two weeks ago, but still news you can use, from Suzanne Goldenberg at the Guardian.

"This begged a larger question: How many of those 70,000 American plants offshored in recent decades, those millions of American jobs lost, had been the result not of a ruthless commitment to the bottom line, but of a colossal failure of due diligence?" Esther Kaplan with a longread at the Virginia Quarterly Review. (Hat tip to Jill Heather.)

"That means a rep could get all the way to the second-to-last day of the pay period only to have a customer cancel four products. Suddenly the rep is below her goal, losing $800 to $1,000 off her paycheck." Adrienne Jeffries at The Verge with "Here's why your Comcast rep is yelling at you." (Via David Hull.)

"Waller reminded him that Parks was a 'sanctuary,' a 'safe haven' for the community. If the school didn’t meet its targets, Waller explained, the students would be separated and sent to different schools, outside Pittsburgh. Lewis said he felt that 'it was my sole obligation to never let that happen.'" Rachel Aviv at The New Yorker with the tragedy of Atlanta's school-testing cheating scandal.

"This is a story about what happened when I tried to use big data to help repair my local public schools. I failed. And the reasons why I failed have everything to do with why the American system of standardized testing will never succeed." Meredith Broussard at The Atlantic. (Via Audrey Watters.)

"All of the highways out of the Valley have checkpoints like the one in Sarita. When the checkpoint means they can't drive to San Antonio, some women go through with pregnancies they don't want. Others turn to Cytotec. Still others find out about unlicensed providers who perform cheap abortions out of their homes. Jill Filopovic at Cosmopolitan, and this is why our feminism had better be intersectional or it is complete bullshit. (Via Cory Ellen.)

"It’s a microcosm of the ways that beauty is about more than who we are just “naturally attracted to”. It’s a kind of oppression with far-reaching consequences for black women that leave us with almost negligible wealth, criminal justice battle stories, mass media accounts of our undesirability, poor health, and impoverished golden years." Tressie Cottom McMillan at her blog on a casting call for a new NWA video.

"Summer was the worst. Holiday weekends were full of needless shootings — arguments, stray bullets, kids finding their parents’ guns. Compiling weekend reports took me 10 hours every Sunday. It was a slog, but it was necessary. This is exactly why I went to journalism school. It’s rare that you get to effect change on such a big stage." Jennifer Mascia at RawStory with the behind-the-scenes story of the Gun Report, which tracked news reports of gun violence over a year and a half.

"But underneath all her work is the question posed in Ursula K LeGuin's well-known story The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas: if you know that the beautiful manner of living you yourself enjoy is built on a foundation of misery deliberately imposed on innocents, can you in conscience do nothing? Her own answer was always no." Margaret Atwood at the Guardian on the late Nadine Gordimer. (Via Jody T.)

"I can’t situate my thoughts in the topography of a big book the same way when I'm able to see the text only through a keyhole, as it were, unable to feel with my hands whether I'm a third or a tenth of the way through; I feel as if I’m on the surface of the text, rather than in it. That hard, glossy surface!" Maria Bustillos at The Awl with a meditation on the latest way to Disrupt Reading.

"I’m reminded here of viruses, which, as Wikipedia points out, can only replicate inside the living cells of other organisms. Facebook benefits when this relationship remains invisible. When we make the mistake that I made—when we forget that Facebook is using our friendships as hosts, and not the other way around—our forgetting is very convenient for Facebook." Jessica Ferris from two weeks ago at Medium.

"But Ebola, far away and ripe for the imagination, has grown legendary—and, like most legends, the truth is not quite as awesome as the tale. But before we wake ourselves up from this nightmare, let’s bask in the mechanics of this notorious killer." Leigh Cowart at Hazlitt (Random House Canada). (Hat tip to Jill Heather.)

"A powerful new technology could be used to manipulate nature by 'editing' the genes of organisms in the wild, enabling researchers to block mosquitoes’ ability to spread malaria, for example, or to make weeds more vulnerable to pesticides, Harvard scientists said Thursday." Carolyn Y. Johnson at The Boston Globe, where the zombie movie plots practically write themselves.

"But he positively bounded toward the Popemobile at the end, like a child who has unexpectedly been offered his favorite peanut-butter sandwich. Refusing assistance, he climbed on energetically, as if to say, Let’s go!" Wow, Matter (Medium) brings in Alma Guillermoprieto (usually at the NYRB) for this nuanced and moving profile of Pope Francis.

"It was there, in 1974, that some co-workers, prodding to know how tall she really was, kicked off their pumps and climbed on desks and chairs and dangled a tape measure down. They sent the figure to Guinness, in London, which replied that she was taller than any woman they had on record but the measurement needed to be verified by a medical professional. Sandy got in her car — which was hard-earned, and into which she barely fit — and drove to her family physician, where the figure was confirmed." Another moving profile, by Sandra Allen at BuzzFeed about another Sandra Allen, who just happened to be the tallest woman in the world.

"I wish that every woman whose actions and worth are parsed and restricted, congratulated and condemned in this country might just once get to wheel around—on the committee that doesn’t believe their medically corroborated story of assault, or on the protesters who tell them that termination is a sin they will regret, or on the boss who tells them he doesn’t believe in their sexual choices, or on the mid-fifties man who congratulates them, or himself, on finding them appealing deep into their dotage—and go black in the eyes and say, 'I don’t fucking care if you like it.'" Deeply, deeply satisfying piece from Rebecca Traister at TNR. (Via Betsy Phillips.)

"Gleaners meet, then carpool to a designated farm, and over a few hours, harvest the seasonal crop — strawberries and peas in spring, corn in August, and root vegetables in winter. After enough boxes of produce are harvested to fill a van, the day’s pickings are driven directly to local food pantries and shelters." Perhaps for some reason you need to fortify your faith in humanity this week? This might help. Kathy Shiels Tully writes for the Boston Globe about a revival of gleaning.

"As it turned out, Brill, his wife, and I were early, so I had a chance to ask how a middle-aged research associate at a giant pharmaceutical company with a degree in history became the Rube Goldberg of rice." Sheer delight: Nicola Twilley (from Edible Geography) at The New Yorker. (Via Paige Morgan.)

It has been a rough week out there. Here is your reward: Caity Weaver at Gawker with "My 14-Hour Search for the End of TGI Friday's Endless Appetizers."

"When I was growing up, my father kept a pronunciation dictionary of the English language by his seat at the table. Finally, this gorgeous essay by Mattie Wechsler on language, the autism spectrum, and her father. (Grateful hat tip to Els Kushner.)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Links for the week ending 6 July 2014

"It doesn’t matter what women choose to do with the opportunities provided by birth control—what matters is that women are allowed to make these choices for ourselves." Best pop star ever Cyndi Lauper at The Daily Beast. (Via Anna Limontas-Salisbury.)

"I have come to the point that, whenever I read the word dignity in a majority opinion, I start to flop sweat." Dahlia Lithwick signing off after the Supreme Court equivalent of "Oscar week." But before she goes, catch up on her take on the Hobby Lobby decision's, er, highlights: "For one thing we are—going forward—no longer allowed to argue the science." Fabulous. At Slate. (Via Jody T.)

"She added, “I would like to see the Supreme Court get its fanny out here and talk to these people.”" Jess Bigood and dude John Schwartz reporting for the NYT on the scene at a Boston abortion clinic after the Supreme Court struck down buffer laws.

"'But thinking one’s religious beliefs are substantially burdened … does not make it so.' She added, 'Not every sincerely felt "burden" is a "substantial" one, and it is for courts, not litigants, to identify which are.'" Irin Carmon at MSNBC covering the "open revolt" on the court evinced by a dissent issued by Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Ginsburg. You yourself may have some revolt to express. Katherine Fritz at Ladypockets has some crafting solutions for you. (Hat tip to Sheila Avelin.)

"Roberts explicitly rejects the idea that there are simple analogies between the search of physical objects (tangible things) and the data to which a phone is a portal." Amy Davidson at The New Yorker on the not-bad-news decision the Supreme Court made unanimously on the need for a warrant before searching a cellphone.

"The FBI conducts a “substantial” number of warrantless queries for Americans’ e-mails and phone calls in a special database of intercepted communications, but it does not track exactly how often, an intelligence official said in a letter released Monday." Ellen Nakashima at The Washington Post.

Can't keep up with what NSA program you should be outraged about today? Julia Angwin and dudes Jeff Larson and Albert Cairo have for you special this handy chart. At ProPublica.

"Operational security and data journalism are just plain hard. But they are the realities of accountability journalism today. Not just the accountability that journalists bring to those in power, but the responsibility journalists have to their subjects, their readers, and especially their sources." Quinn Norton at Columbia Journalism Review describing the process by which a Syrian hacker got documents revealing Russian support of the Assad regime to ProPublica.

Keep up to date on Iraq by checking in with Loveday Morris at The Washington Post.

"Meera completed a BA from Jhansi in 2006; Kavita (32) has had no formal education. Both of them have children. When Meera’s daughter calls her, she gently chides her. 'You know I am working on the field, I will be late.'" At The Hindu Business Line, Priyanka Kotamraju profiles two intrepid reporters for a local weekly tabloid in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. (Via Sonia Faleiro.)

"But perhaps more subtly too, 'Spent' sells another idea being brought home by fast food and other low-wage worker protests around the country: Working class and low income Americans just are not earning enough money." At Colorlines last month, Carla Murphy reviews a YouTube documentary on poverty and the financial services industry.

"'But I don’t know why anyone has the right to use the power of the state to force their religious views on other people. If your god doesn’t want you to end your life early when you have a terminal disease, then… don’t! This law wouldn’t require anyone to do anything. But don’t tell someone else who has different religious beliefs that they can’t live their lives according to their own beliefs.'" Very long piece by Emily Guendelsberger on Pennsylvania's attempt to prosecute on homicide charges a woman who handed her 93-year-old father (then in hospice care) the bottle of morphine that hastened his death. At Philadelphia City Paper.

"It is now a crime to use drugs if you are pregnant in Tennessee." Katie Zezima at The Washington Post.

"'I felt like this was my opportunity to basically improve life for all of us, and the one key part of it is now not available, so what do I do now?' Ms. Taylor said. 'That was my only thought: "What do I do now? What do I do now?" That was kind of what started the whole chain of events that day.'" If you didn't read the NYT piece about Shanesha Taylor from two weeks ago, it is heartbreaking. By Shaila Dewan. (Via @prisonculture.)

"This week the university billing itself as the “New American University” is back in the news with a more personal story about class (and race and gender). ASU campus police arrested professor Ersula Ore for jaywalking on a campus street." From last week, Tressie McMillan Cottom at her blog.

"Weaving scholarly analysis with interviews of leading black environmentalists and ordinary Americans, Finney traces the environmental legacy of slavery and Jim Crow segregation, which mapped the wilderness as a terrain of extreme terror and struggle for generations of blacks—as well as a place of refuge." Francie Latour at The Boston Globe interviews geographer Carolyn Finney about the hidden history of African-American engagement with environmental stewardship. (Hat tip to Jill Heather.)

"If Alice is happier when she is oblivious to Bob’s pain because Facebook chooses to keep that from her, are we willing to sacrifice Bob’s need for support and validation? This is a hard ethical choice at the crux of any decision of what content to show. And the reality is that Facebook is making these choices every day without oversight, transparency, or informed consent." danah boyd at Medium with incisive commentary on the FB research study uproar.

"If Facebook is a country, then it is a corporate dictatorship. This is not a metaphor. I believe that it is beyond time that we began to hold social networking not just to the laws of the market, but to the common laws of the societies we live in and the societies we want to see." Laurie Penny at the New Statesman.

"States can make minor modifications in the Pearson contract. For instance, the contract anticipates a shift to grading student essays by computer algorithm, assuming the technology pans out, but lets states pay more to have them scored by a human reader." Count me as overwhelmed by enthusiasm to think of my kids spending the school year prepping for an essay test that will be graded by computer algorithm! By Stephanie Simon and Caitlin Emma for Politico. (Via Audrey Watters.)

"While technology has often been hailed as the great equalizer of educational opportunity, a growing body of evidence indicates that in many cases, tech is actually having the opposite effect: It is increasing the gap between rich and poor, between whites and minorities, and between the school-ready and the less-prepared." You don't say. Annie Murphy Paul at Slate.

"Hospitals across the country are struggling to deal with a shortage of one of their essential medical supplies. Manufacturers are rationing saline — a product used all over the hospital to clean wounds, mix medications and treat dehydration." Yay, free-market health care! By April Dembosky for KQED.

"s if the threat of Lyme disease weren’t enough, a new study finds that a deer tick carrying the potentially debilitating illness has a good chance of toting some other malady, too — and that may be especially true if the tick hails from the suburbs." Yay! Now enjoy summer! By Claire Hughes at

"It is one of the highest-profile retractions of the last decade, and several stem-cell researchers said they are now convinced that the stunningly simple method for producing stem cells, reported in two papers in January, won’t work." Carolyn Y. Johnson at the Boston Globe, following up on her excellent coverage of the stem-cell-discover-that-wasn't.

"Overall at the top US research institutions, male professors employed 11 percent fewer female graduate students and 22 percent fewer female postdoctoral researchers than do women professors." Also by Carolyn Y, Johnson at the Globe. Sigh.

"I wasn't hired to talk to the men." An illustrated interview with a woman in tech by Ariel Schrag, at Medium. (Via Susie Cagle.)

"It’s hard to believe this is what actually happened, but Patience Wright pulls from her skirts a bust of William Pitt from his head down to his navel, so it looks like they’re in an act of congress. And Jane Franklin thinks this is like the coolest thing she’s ever heard of." I just finished reading Jill Lepore's fantastic biography of Benjamin Franklin's sister Jane, so, in honor of Independence Day and all, here is a wonderful interview with Lepore by Joy Horowitz at the LARB from last November.

"Tampons were packed with their strings connecting them, like a strip of sausages, so they wouldn’t float away. Engineers asked Ride, 'Is 100 the right number?' She would be in space for a week. 'That would not be the right number,' she told them." At The American Prospect, Ann Friedman on a new biography of Sally Ride. (Hat tip to Jill Heather.)

"People of all genders deal with unwanted attention, but women are especially likely to be regarded as resources rather than people. It is unfair, according to many a manbaby I have spoken to, that I’m selfishly hogging my goodies. Such a shame that only I get to be in my body." Julie Decker at The Toast.

"Several years later, after my banking days were long over, my dad called me, laughing, and told me the news that a pair of robbers had walked down the line of cars waiting at the drive up window at my favorite bank, and had methodically robbed them all." Lovely essay about paranoia, risk assessment, and bank robbery by Kathleen Cooper at Medium. (Via Nicole Cliffe at The Toast.)

"Here was a game not unlike Clue—the object being to solve, from a rogue’s gallery of Cabot Cove’s finest, whodunnit—with an added twist: one of the players WAS the murderer. If you drew the murderer card, you visited people around the Cove spaces on the board and replaced their alive character tile with a dead one, thereby secretly MURDERING." For a certain child of my acquaintance, this great piece from Kate Racculia on her girlhood devotion to the doyenne of the murder capital of the world, Cabot Cove, ME.

Continuing on the theme of "things a certain child (and I) would love to own," Maria Popova at Brainpickings with some sublime illustrations from the Tove Jansson edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

"We both love Philly, and also live with a constant, yawning void of homesickness and alienation. We both tend to fill that void with junk food." Really great essay from May on dislocation, nostalgia, and junk food, by Virginia C. McGuire at Medium.

"The use of a SWAT team to execute a search warrant essentially amounts to the use of paramilitary tactics to conduct domestic criminal investigations in searches of people’s homes." Finally, I am taking next week off, so keep yourself busy next weekend reading this pdf on the militarization of law enforcement from the ACLU by a team of authors, including Kara Dansky, Sarah Solon, Allie Bohm, Emma Andersson, Jesselyn McCurdy, and dude Will Bunting. (Via Meghna Chakrabarti.)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

No links for the week ending 29 June 2014

No post this week. I'll be back next week with links. As always, thanks for reading, whatever it is you read!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Links for the week ending 22 June 2014

"And getting the job done—if the job is collecting electronic data, and not, say, figuring out that two disaffected Chechen-Americans were plotting to detonate pressure-cooker bombs at the Boston Marathon—is what Alexander has accomplished." At the NYRB, where women are rarer — excuse me, more precious — than rubies, Sue Halpern reviews a small armada of books about the NSA and Edward Snowden.

"Some 2,764 civilians have died from violence in Iraq so far in June, according to Iraq Body Count, which monitors the death toll. That figure is already more than double the 1,027 killed in May and the highest monthly death toll since May 2007, according to the group." Loveday Morris, Liz Sly, and Abigail Hauslohner at The Washington Post.

"There are now two kinds of refugees in Diffa: those fleeing Boko Haram and those fleeing the weather. The chaos wrought by dislocation and some of the world’s worst social indicators renders these communities vulnerable to extremism." So many interesting facts and insights in this very long Eliza Griswold profile of General James B. Linder, head of the United States Special Operations forces in Africa, at the NYT. (Via Sonia Faleiro.)

"'In terms of people’s understanding of what Africa is, it’s a place where people are waiting for the west, and again this narrative is patently false,' argued Olopade. Great piece about journalist Dayo Olopade by Kate Douglas at How We Made It In Africa.

"Now, several days later, I watched these Shuhada Street boys risk death for the sake of a liberty so rudimentary and fundamental that my own children are not even aware of its existence, or its importance, or its simple human beauty: the right to walk down the street." Ayelet Waldman at The Atlantic on the outrages of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian communities.

"I try to say it out loud: I am a Palestinian Jew. But it doesn’t easily roll off my tongue. I am not ready to say it to anyone else – I don’t even know what it means. But in all likelihood, I will become one sooner or later, so I better practice." Dorit Naaman at +927 Magazine. (Via Sarah Schulman.)

"One woman described her TANF enrollment appointment as lasting from eight in the morning until two in the afternoon, and several mentioned they had their TANF benefits cancelled for reasons they couldn’t understand." Olga Khazan at The Atlantic on a new study by the Urban Institute on barriers to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cash assistance program.

"When Ashworth asked David whether it was a good enough reason to kill the girl because she was annoying, he replied, 'Well, the way the other boy and I see it, but you don’t, no.' He said the plan was 'actually good to me, and bad, but mostly bad for the real world cause I had a feeling that I’d get arrested.'" Amazing longread at BuzzFeed by Victoria Beale about two fifth graders in rural Washington who planned to kill classmates. (Via Women We Read This Week at Vela.)

"I had spoken several times about his violent ramblings to the campus police and to the university’s office of mental health, and this was what they came up with: I should invite the student to my office and calmly begin a conversation with the following question: 'Do you have a plan to harm yourself or anyone else?'" Julie Schumacher at the NYT. (Via David Hull.)

"Misogyny and homophobia are central to the reproduction of violence in radical activist communities. Scratch a misogynist and you’ll find a homophobe. Scratch a little deeper and you might find the makings of a future informant (or someone who just destabilizes movements like informants do)." This piece is a couple of years old, but still worth your time: Courtney Desiree Morris at INCITE! with "Why Misogynists Make Great Informants." (Via Rachel Hartman.)

"This is, in the strictest of senses, showing both sides. But one side is a woman talking about her personal experience, and the other is a man and his supporters saying she’s wrong." Jess Zimmerman at Dame Magazine on apologists for photographer Terry Richardson. (Via Kera Bolonik.)

"In the 19th century shit as a noun was reserved exclusively for men — the 'West Somerset Word-Book' defines it as 'a term of contempt, applied to men only,' as in 'He’s a regular shit.' Now, women too can work, vote, own their own property, and be called a shit." More than a year old, but maybe it's out in paperback now? An excerpt at Salon from Melissa Mohr's book, Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing. (Via Paige Morgan.)

"'Mr. Jacobs,' Rabbi Goldstein continued. 'We hear that DeDe uses disgusting language. Like the s-word.'" So great: DeDe Jacobs-Komisar at The Toast on her yeshivish school days.

"Instead of trying to reverse engineer the teaching profession through complicated evaluations leading to divisive firings, these changes aspire to reboot it from the beginning." Amanda Ripley at Slate on raising the bar to entry for teaching. (Via Jody T.)

"But for the cells that make up all living things, noise — meaning random variability in the outside environment, including fluctuating food sources, pathogens and deadly toxins, or random processes within the cells themselves — can be a matter of life and death." Another fascinating piece from last month at Quanta Magazine, this one on randomness at the cellular level. By Emily Singer.

"On the hottest of days relief came in the form of apocalyptic rain that flooded our roads and basements in minutes. Once, during one of these storms, my mother and I rafted down Main Street in our bathing suits." Short reminisence in the "My Madeleine" column at Intelligent Life by Miriam Toews, worth reading for that image alone.

"On top of the physical sensation, there is a weariness that hovers around what you might call your soul. My brain is tired, my heart is tired. If I knew where to go to officially give up, I would." Molly Pohlig on mental illness at The Toast. (Hat tip to Jill Heather.)

"We were especially frustrated because when his caretaker, Erin, arrived at 9 a.m., she could get him to eat scrambled eggs with cheese, yogurt, cereal—a meal fit for a kid twice his age and size. Why? And why was he suddenly chanting 'Bee-bee, bay-bee' every five minutes?" Kera Bolonik at NY Mag with a happy-ending essay about a Justin Bieber-compass to navigate around a toddler's unexplained medical issues, which, oh yeah, the memories...

"Men take it for granted that the world wants to hear what they’ve got to say, women have to be convinced that anyone besides their immediate family members care." Literary, not literary, I don't much care, but Jennifer Weiner has very smart things to say in conversation with best-interviewer-around Jia Tolentino at The Hairpin. (Hey, someday let's discuss why Weiner drew Rebecca Mead at The New Yorker — because, right, who's going to be more sympathetic to a pop-culture best-selling author than someone whose cultural touchstone is Middlemarch, while John Green drew Margaret Talbot.)

"Sinara threw her two-year-old out the window. 'Parenthood is a prison,' she said. 'I always hated that baby.' That’s the only way to reject institutions, sometimes, is to throw a baby out of the window." Mallory Ortberg, "My Prestigious Literary Novel." At The Toast.

"OHTC disrupted the idea of whiteness I’d developed as innocuous, inoffensive and existing in laugh-track isolation. OHTC did not exist in isolation. Their smiling success was propped up by something—us." Finally, a summer story about race and class by Lauren Quinn at Guernica. (Via Vela.)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Links for the week ending 15 June 2015

"Iraq was on the brink of falling apart Thursday as al-Qaeda renegades asserted their authority over Sunni areas in the north, Kurds seized control of the city of Kirkuk and the Shiite-led government appealed for volunteers to help defend its shrinking domain." If you've been here awhile, you probably don't need to be told that The Washington Post has a very strong trio of women reporting from the Middle East. This one is from Loveday Morris in Iraq and Liz Sly in Beirut. You wanna stay up to date, I suggest periodically checking for new articles written or co-written by Morris.

"Heeding the call to arms by Ayatollah Sistani, Shiite volunteers rushed to the front lines, reinforcing defenses of the holy city of Samarra 70 miles north of Baghdad, and helping thwart attacks by Sunni fighters of the radical Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in some smaller cities to the east." The NYT has Alissa J. Rubin in Baghdad, reporting here with dudes Suadad Al-Salhy and Rick Galdstone.

"This is the front line of a new war between ISIS and Kurdish forces, only a few hundred yards from the flares of Kirkuk’s lucrative gas fields." Ruth Sherlock reporting with Carol Malouf for the Daily Telegraph.

"Tehran is open to the possibility of working with the United States to support Baghdad, the senior official said." Parisa Hafezi reporting for Reuters. (Via Jenan Moussa.)

"No one pressed for answers about how many U.S. weapons supplied to the Iraqi forces had ended up in insurgents’ hands as Iraqi forces shed their uniforms and fled their posts. Or what the fate will be of the U.S. military assistance program to Iraq, on which American taxpayers have already spent $14 billion." Nancy A. Youssef reporting from Washington, D.C., for McClatchy.

"'I am the Storyteller of Damascus,' Hallak said, chain-smoking, in an interview with The Associated Press in the Syrian capital. 'In these events, many people were harmed. I am one of them.'" Diaa Hadid for the AP.

"But to call the community traumatised was to do it a gross disservice. It missed the point. The town had not been struck down by some psychopathological post-conflict plague. It was still under social and economic siege." From last month at Aeon, Lynne Jones argues that the concept of PTSD can erase the actual ongoing causes of suffering.

"Voter turnout was so abysmally low that Martelly won the presidency with the votes of only 17 percent of the electorate. Essentially, the OAS mission, backed by the international community, installed Martelly as president with utter disregard for democracy and sovereignty in Haiti." Nathalie Baptiste at Foreign Policy In Focus with a short history of international (mostly American) meddling in Haiti's political process. (Via Brian Cocannon.)

"The dissident fetishist takes a brave, principled person, and uses them like a codpiece of competitive virtue." Damn, Molly Crabapple at Vanity Fair.

"Microsoft, one of the world’s largest e-mail providers, is resisting a government search warrant to compel the firm to turn over customer data held in a server located overseas." Ellen Nakashima at The Washington Post.

"A federal appeals court has ruled that the warrantless collection of cellphone tower data, which can be used to track the location of a suspect, is unconstitutional without a probable-cause warrant from a court." Kim Zetter at Wired.

"A Pennsylvania mother of seven died in a jail cell where she was serving a two-day sentence for her children’s absence from school, drawing complaints from the judge that sent her there about a broken system that punishes impoverished parents." Maryclaire Dale for the AP.

"But correctional industries, all told, employ only about 60,000 inmates—less than 4 percent of America’s prisoners. Why does a program with proven results remain so marginal? Largely because private-sector companies see inmates doing work that they do, at a fraction of the labor costs, and cry foul." Essential longread from Beth Schwartzapfel at The American Prospect on prison labor and labor rights.

"I’m a white blonde girl who went out and willfully fucked up and committed armed robbery, and I got five years. There were tons of black girls in my prison who were holding onto a bag of dope for a couple of days, and they always seemed to get, like, 10 years. If you ever find yourself in prison and wonder why there’s tension between white and black, shit like that is probably one of the reasons." With all due respect to the legions of folks who write about TV shows for a living, this is the best thing I've seen yet: dude Adam Dawson talks to former incarcerated person Susan K. about Orange Is the New Black. At Washington City Paper. The second part is even better. (Via @pourmecoffee.)

"Driving is exactly the kind of high-speed, high-stimulus situation in which implicit bias thrives." From last month, Sarah Goodyear at City Lab on a study that found that drivers were less likely to stop for black pedestrians at crosswalks than for white pedestrians.

"The end beneficiary? Wall Street, of course, which has driven the growth of private student loans in order to cut them up into bundles, securitize them and sell them to other financial institutions." Heidi Moore at the Guardian on how predatory private student loans are.

"The situation violates those students’ constitutional right to an equal education, he determined. It is believed to be the first legal opinion to assert that the quality of an education is as important as mere access to schools or sufficient funding." Jennifer Medina at the NYT on a California judge's decision against teacher tenure laws this week.

"Tracking people using their real names—often called 'onboarding'—is a hot trend in Silicon Valley. In 2012, ProPublica documented how political campaigns used onboarding to bombard voters with ads based on their party affiliation and donor history. Since then, Twitter and Facebook have both started offering onboarding services allowing advertisers to find their customers online." Julia Angwin at ProPublica with "Why Online Tracking Is Getting Creepier."

"For us, there is a sociopathic freedom in knowing there is no individual behind the Twitter account. The corporation will not reach out for support in hard times the way an individual person on Twitter may. Laughing with it doesn’t trigger an existential fear that we might be relied on for support, sending vibes or crowdfunds during @dennysdiner’s darkest emotional hour." Excellent essay by Kate Losse at The New Inquiry on "Weird Corporate Twitter." (Via Cam Larios.)

"This is a story about those 'hornets' and that nest, about the extraordinary multifront lobbying campaign waged by one of the most powerful research universities in the country. It was an exercise of muscle along the Massachusetts-Washington axis that did something significant even on gridlocked Capitol Hill — restoring funding for a program axed by the White House." Tracy Jan at The Boston Globe takes a deep look at a single lobbying campaign waged on behalf of MIT.

"But the melanoma capital of the world is welcoming back the sun after a half-century on the outs. The move follows a new understanding of skin cancer and vitamin D." From last week, Jessica Seigel at Nautilus on what remains poorly understood about sun exposure and skin cancer.

"The book is the first to delve deep into the history of an early American same-sex marriage. Cleves sees Drake and Bryant not as an aberration, but as part of a larger history of same-sex partnerships that has yet to be written—one that now exists mainly as clues dropped in family histories and stories told in the archives of local historical societies." Rebecca Onion at The Boston Globe interviews Rachel Hope Cleves about her new book, which sounds fascinating. (Hat tip to Sheila Allen Avelin.)

"But the act of investing in others is not selfless at all. In fact, it's something that requires exchange, not in a one-for-one way, like some therapeutic tennis volley, but as if two people were taking a boat out onto a lake." Thoughtful personal essay by Dayna Evans at The Hairpin.

"'It’s kind of a disharmony in space,' Steinhardt explained this winter in Princeton, carefully handling a plastic model of a quasicrystal that he keeps on his desk." A tale of rocks in a museum box, a secret secret diary, and the possible structures of matter in the solar system. By Natalie Wolchover at Quanta Magazine, which, look at all those women on the masthead! More like this, please! (Via Sarah Lyall.)

"'YA is formulaic, worthless dreck,' she said, transforming into a vampire." If you haven't already read this Kathleen Hale piece on The Great YA Controversy Of (The Second Week of June of) 2014, congratulations, you are about to laugh very hard. (Hat tip to Rachel Hartman and Els Kushner.)

"When you were raised to regard America as a refuge from ignorance and despotism—as many children and grandchildren of immigrants are—there's something perverse about standing in the aisle at Hobby Lobby, contemplating all the varieties of yarn and what you might make of them, and realizing that, if you worked there, you'd have less control over your own healthcare, your own body, your own religious beliefs, and your own procreative decisions than you would over a stupid afghan." Finally, Susan Schorn at The Hairpin with an intricately woven essay on "Hobby Lobby and the Tangled Skein of Reproductive Rights."

Sunday, June 8, 2014

No links for the week ending 8 June 2014

End-of-school madness being what it is, I had no time whatsoever for the internets this week. I will be moving to a more sporadic and reduced schedule for the summer, but intend to be back at full strength this fall. In the meantime, please go on sending me links even if you don't see me around on Twitter — I'll see them eventually, and be grateful that you passed them along.

As ever, thanks for reading! And have a great summer.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Links for the week ending 1 June 2014

"Every day, Mr. Nasr, 68, a Transportation Ministry employee, pads around his offices in the Ottoman-era building, where light filters through red, yellow and blue stained glass. He imagines the past — the few short years a century ago when the place bustled with travelers headed for Mecca." Lovely color piece from Anne Barnard at the NYT on the lost railway culture of Syria and the greater region.

"He has also received marriage proposals, which he declines. One woman asked whether electricity was working in Syria so she could bring a hair curler. 'Advice to people who want to come is, Don’t bring your hair curlers,' he said." Also at the NYT, Kimiko De Freytas-Tamura talks to Westerners who have traveled to Syria to become jihadis.

"That’s partly because stigma, like all vulnerability in the rural north, doesn’t affect only the girl who has been assaulted." BuzzFeed's Jina Moore reporting from Nigeria, where contingency plans are being drawn up to address the needs of the kidnapped Chibok teenage girls, should they be successfully rescued.

"Violent extremism entices those who long to lash out at a system they believe has cheated them, but lack they courage to think for themselves, beyond the easy answers they are offered by pedlars of hate. Misogynist extremism is no different." Laurie Penny at the New Statesman.

"The experience of feeling simultaneously threatened and unable to speak, of feeling as if I would be persecuting this man who was committing a sexual impropriety were I to pipe up and tell him to knock it off, was unsettlingly familiar. " Sasha Weiss at The New Yorker.

"Women who have experienced this can recognize that placating these men is a rational choice, a form of self-defense to protect against setting off an aggressor. But to male bystanders, it often looks like a warm welcome, and that helps to shift blame in the public eye from the harasser and onto his target, who’s failed to respond with the type of masculine bravado that men more easily recognize. " Amanda Hess at Slate. (Via Jody T.)

" Let’s talk about how many conventions have been forced to use disturbingly careful language to basically say, Don’t assault people. Let’s talk about how much pushback statements like that have gotten from people whining, 'Aw, c’mon, can’t I assault someone just a little?'" N.K. Jemison's speech at Wiscon 38, republished on her blog. (Via Rachel Hartman.)

"Bookstores are a privilege. They’re not accessible to everyone, and when they are accessible, they’re not always worth it. Why would I or anyone else want to spend time in a shop where my presence isn’t welcomed?" Kelly Jensen at Bookriot making an important argument (sez someone who grew up in a bookstore desert). (Via Malindo Lo.)

"Every human being has paid the earth to grow up. Most people don’t grow up. It’s too damn difficult. What happens is most people get older. That’s the truth of it. They honor their credit cards, they find parking spaces, they marry, they have the nerve to have children, but they don’t grow up." From the Fall, 1990, issue of the Paris Review, an interview with Maya Angelou.

"In the city’s post-Katrina reform frenzy, New Orleans has shut down all but five of its traditional public schools, kicked out tenured teachers, and replaced schools with charters and a predominantly black teaching force with young, overwhelmingly white recruits from the controversial education reform and teaching training program Teach for America." Julianne Hing at Colorlines on a federal civil rights lawsuit filed against the school systems of Newark, Chicago, and New Orleans. (Via Carla Murphy.)

"Each morning around 6, Mary Ellen Snodgrass swallows a computer chip. It’s embedded in one of her pills and roughly the size of a grain of sand. " Ariana Eunjung Cha at The Washington Post. (Via Katie Zezima.)

"The problem with these philosophies isn’t that they seek to abolish, or challenge, the state; it’s that, in their current incarnation, they appeal mostly to individuals like Gogulski, who by accident of birth start off on top of the global pile. They aren’t solutions that management consultants would characterize as 'scalable'; rather, they’re limited, solipsistic. That makes ideologies like Gogulski’s more symbolic than globally meaningful." Atossa Araxia Abrahamian on an intentionally stateless person in Bratislava.

"To know a lot of smart, complicated adults is to know a lot of escapists and a lot of social media/booze/TV addicts and a lot of moms who obsess about every dimension of their kids' development and a lot of hothouse flowers with insanely complicated, expensive needs." Heather Havrilesky hits this particular edition of Ask Polly out of the park. At The Awl.

"There was a spelling bee in which anybody who participated was given extra credit. And I figured I could make up for some bad homework grades. I won the spelling bee, and I kept going along." Sarah Kilff at Vox with a delightful interview with five former champions of the National Spelling Bee.

"Ayn Rand's Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone" is worth it for the tags alone. From Mallory Ortberg at The Toast, of course.

"Ninety-five-year-old Beverly Wilson was the only one who had been alive during the trial, though she didn’t remember much about 1925 except her parents arguing—not about theology or science but whether to name her baby brother 'Evolution.'" Finally, at the Oxford American, a wonderful piece by Rachael Maddux about Dayton, Tennessee, where the Scopes trial took place.