Sunday, December 30, 2012

Links for the week ending 30 December 2012

An abbreviated list for the last Sunday of the year, when there's not much being written besides best-of lists.

Because I have only pulled a weapon on another human being once in my life — on an Indian bus — I'm starting with Nilanjana Roy's "For Anonymous." Via Lydia Polgreen.

From Kim Barker at ProPublica, an essential story for understanding how American elections get bought and sold: "In Montana, Dark Money Helped Democrats Hold a Key Senate Seat."

A blog post from Linda Greenhouse at The New York Times, on the National Rifle Association's influence over judicial confirmations.

From Elizabeth Bachner at Bookslut, on being a blond tourist in Nepal, and being a reader who travels: "You can start to feel like you've already been someplace you've never been. You can also start to feel, dangerously, like you're a person you've never been." (N.B. for any of you who are also looking for a living equivalent of Alexandra David-Neel: Dervla Murphy. You're welcome.)

Also at Bookslut, an appreciation of Ursula LeGuin's literary legacy and a convincing argument for reading her not as a genre writer but as a profoundly influential American novelist. By Julie Phillips.

At The New Inquiry, Atossa Abrahamian on the libertarian appeal of the Paleo diet.

Via Longreads, Abigail Tucker at Smithsonian Magazine with, "Are Babies Born Good?" Possibly more interesting for the profiles of researchers in the field than for the conclusions drawn so far, but worth reading either way.

At the Smithsonian Magazine's blog, Karen Abbott presents a haunting unsolved mystery from West Virginian: "The Children Who Went Up In Smoke."

The Michael Pollan title made me laugh so hard I cried. Mallory Ortberg with "Predictions For The 2013 Bestseller List" at The Gloss.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Links for the week ending 23 December 2012

The part of the news cycle that I struggle with most is the one in which the event and all there is currently to know about it has been discussed at length, but any person who is paid to an express an opinion about anything has had time to write and file his or her column about or incorporating said event. That's the time when I feel it most strongly, how we commodify human tragedy and make it into a product for sale or exchange. That said, there were necessary pieces written about gun violence this week. Among them was this one on starting a movement, by Mother Jones co-editors Clara Jeffery and Monika Bauerlein; this one on the media response by smartest-person-on-the-internet Zeynep Tufekci; and this one on the abomination that was the NRA's press conference, by Amy Davidson. But this struck me as the piece that was most inspired by the author having something relevant to say (rather than the author getting paid to say things): at xojane, Haley B. Elkins with "How a Gun-Loving West Texas Girl Learned to Fear Assault Weapons."

Onward. From the week before, by Nicola Abé for Der Spiegel, "The Woes of an American Drone Operator."

By Sarah Childress at PBS Frontline, "Why Soldiers Keep Losing to Suicide."

At The New York Times (so the usual caveats about cookies apply), Sheri Fink on a death in the Sand Castle apartment complex in Far Rockaway two weeks after Hurricane Sandy laid waste to the region.

"68 Blocks": a joint project by five reporters (four of them women) at The Boston Globe on a year in the life of the Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood, "listening and asking why violence persists where love and loyalty also run so strong." The series includes enough stories to keep you reading a whole afternoon, but it's worth reading piecemeal, too.

Nikole Hannah-Jones at ProPublica with a new installment in her very strong — and very dismaying — series on the persistence of housing segregation in America. This one is about the federal government's refusal to use undercover testing to actively investigate discriminatory housing practices.

Dream Hampton at The Detroit News on the arson of her childhood home, and the neighborhood disintegrating around it.

At The New Inquiry, Maryam Monalisa Gharavi on the the death of Larry Donnell Andrews, the model for the character of Omar Little on The Wire.

Via Gharavi, a personal essay about a hold-up in Tehran by Norma Claire Moruzzi at the Middle East Research and Information Project. "How is it possible to eat tangerines while tied up, hands behind the back?"

"I hadn't thought of how many of these photos could just as easily trigger a happy memory as they could a visit from DHS, CPS, a PO or an abuser." At The Center for Media Justice, amalia deloney thinks about political security and marginalized communities while she nukes her Instagram account.

Via Dan Sinker, a sympathetic and thoughtful essay by Erin Kissane on her second thoughts and reservations after re-reading the piece by Liza Long about her son that was widely-shared (I also retweeted it) in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre.

Seriously amazing and necessary piece by Lisa Carver at VICE on her chronically ill son, Wolf: "The Right to Die Is the Right to Live." Via Longreads, I think.

It has been two whole weeks since I last directed you to be terrified by Maryn McKenna. This week she is at Slate talking about the reestablishment of dengue fever in the United States.

Random more cheerful thought, though it's in Spanish at BBC Mundo by Valeria Perasso: tortillas and salsa outsell sandwich bread and ketchup in the United States, thereby proving that, as a nation, we are not a lost cause after all.

Bigfoot, however, apparently prefers blueberry bagels. Or does he? By Arikia Millikan at The Verge. (Via Sarah Zhang.)

God, Sarah Miller at The Awl every damn time, but especially this time with "The Year In Cheating."

Analee Newitz on corvids at io9: "If meeting once a day to share food makes a friend, then these corvids have definitely become mine."

A trio of pieces: first, one of the most delightfully quotable and aptly titled essays of the year: "Joy," by Zadie Smith at The New York Review of Books. Second, "Can you sit still on fire?" Melissa Seley interviews the author of Zazen, Vanessa Veselka, at Guernica. And third, at The Rumpus, Marie-Helene Bertino on rapping "The Humpty Dance" in front of Zadie Smith and Vanessa Veselka.

Finally: "Creepy" is my 11-year-old's new favorite word to describe the doings of grown-ups. (I can't imagine why.) At The Hairpin, Mallory Ortberg makes creepy the reason for the season with "A Christmas Story."

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Links for the week ending 16 December 2012

With apologies, I am not linking to any stories about the Newtown school massacre this week. Firstly because I think the stories that matter are yet to be written. But mostly because I cannot yet bear it. (By the banks of the Housatonic I sat down and wept.)

Some weeks there are released into the world dozens and dozens of stories months or years in the making, every one of them worth reading. This was one of those weeks, and I have not managed to catch up with them all. But here is a smattering of them. Trigger warnings for those of you with NICU experiences. For the rest of you, a wrenching but — stick with it — ultimately triumphant three-part piece at the Tampa Bay Times by Kelly Benham on the birth of her daughter, Juniper, at 23 weeks' gestation. Via Andrea Pitzer.

"They were the oldest teenagers in America." At the Washington Post, Anne Hull profiles a teenage girl's struggle to escape the tremendous gravity of poverty in New Castle, Pennsylvania. Via Stephen Burt.

"It was as if so many of us, myself included, were looking at the protestors and saying, 'Please, let something matter again.'" At Wired, Quinn Norton's elegiac look back on the year she spent covering Occupy encampments around the nation.

"Today the Citadel is no longer a stage for impressing visitors. It is no longer a protected UNESCO World Heritage site. It had reclaimed its original purpose — a fortress in an active battle between Syrian sons, a site to be occupied and captured once more." An incredible, Calvino-inflected eulogy for the ancient city of Aleppo, by Amal Hanano at Foreign Policy. Via a lot of people, including Azmat Khan and Rania Abouzeid.

Julia Angwin at the Wall Street Journal reports, "U.S. Terrorism Agency to Tap a Vast Database of Citizens," mining our everyday records for patterns of suspicious behavior.

"'If you believe this is a social welfare organization, I have a rocket that can get you to the moon very quickly and at very little cost.'" Kim Barker at ProPublica on the contents of Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS application for nonprofit status with the IRS.

Molly Ball at The Atlantic takes you on a long, winding tour of "The Marriage Plot: Inside This Year's Epic Campaign for Gay Equality."

"'My child was killed, and nothing on the ground has changed. No one achieved anything. Families lost children and loved ones. How can this be a victory?'" Harriet Sherwood reports from Gaza for The Guardian.

Irin Carmon writes for Salon about the loophole that allows non-Native men to abuse Native American women with impunity — and how the U.S. House of Representatives would rather torpedo the Violence Against Women Act than allow that loophole to be closed.

And they wonder why people who have the means would rather drive their damn cars. "Public Buses Across Country Quietly Adding Microphones to Record Passenger Conversations," reports Kim Zetter at Wired.

"Oil may be seeping from Deepwater Horizon site," Sharyl Attkisson reports for CBS News. I gotta tell you, my House representative could not be any more awesome. Thank you, Ed Markey.

At the NYRB, Francine Prose asks why poor kids in New York City's metal-detector-equipped public schools are forced to spend five dollars a week storing their cellphones in privately owned trucks outside school buildings, to the tune of some $4.2 million per year.

"Scalia clings to hate — what he calls animus — because he's got nothing else; what he is missing, though, is that an increasing number of Americans have found that when legal strictures and open discrimination are stripped away they are left not with the reprehensible, but with neighbors, friends, and family members whom they love, and see loving each other." Amy Davidson at the New Yorker.

Even on a week like this one — especially on a week like this one — we should not forget to be awesome. Taylor Kate Brown in the inaugural issue of Somersault Magazine on the "Epic Politics" of Nerdfighters and brothers John and Hank Green. My kid saw one of their videos in class last week, which is all by itself some pretty substantial awesome.

At Baltimore Fishbowl, Rachel Monroe interviews the awesome duo behind a whipsmart feminist parody of Victoria Secret's PINK brand for young women.

Jessa Crispin at The Awl. "Sometimes he would just sit on the edge of my bed and squeeze my foot through the blanket until I got back to sleep. At other times, we would talk. Mostly about the loneliness that is so deep it leads you into conversation with people who are dead."

Finally, at Bookforum, Ruth Franklin reviews a new compilation of interviews about Madeleine L'Engle, which will probably get passed along hand to virtual hand amongst some of us. (I love you guys.)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Links for the week ending 9 December 2012

This week in The Doom Hanging Over Our Heads: Elizabeth Kolbert at The New Yorker observes, "the possibility of a carbon tax has come to seem more likely than ever, that is, not very likely, but also not entirely out of the question." At Mother Jones, editors-in-chief Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery pull no punches in making the case that the time to do something is now.

In the aftermath of Doom, do you plan to use your cellphone? Cora Currier at ProPublica explains how the big cell phone carriers have strongly lobbied for "voluntary best practices" rather than preparedness requirements — like 24-hours of emergency backup power for cell towers.

Via @jillheather, on the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, The Seattle Times published for the first time journalist Elizabeth McIntosh's eye-witness account, which was deemed too graphic by her then-employer, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

At Time, Rania Abouzeid profiles a sniper for the Syrian rebels in the ruins of Aleppo. "'We will not become Somalia after Bashar falls,' he says. 'We will have many Somalias in every province.'"

More reporting from Erin Cunningham in Cairo: "Things are getting weird in Egypt." On the alliance that is bringing pro-democracy revolutionaries and pro-Mubarak counterrevolutionaries together.

"'I do not want to pretend everything is wonderful.'" Tracy Jan at the Boston Globe profiles grumpy, brilliant, trailblazing Barney Frank as he packs up his office in the House of Representatives and prepares for retirement.

Chilling and thoughtful piece by Sarah Goodyear at The Atlantic Cities: "Life on the streets and in the tunnels of a densely packed city presents us with dozens, even hundreds of daily choices about how we behave toward our fellow humans."

Joanna Carver at New Scientist reports on a new study that found that urban birds use cigarette butts to line their nests — and decrease their parasite loads. It must have killed editors not to run with "smoking is for the birds" jokes.

At Colorlines, Akiba Solomon interviews Dr. Yaba Blay on her (1)Drop Project with photographer Noelle Theard. Stunning photographs if you click through to the project itself.

Via Andrea Pritzer, a review of a biography of singer Buffy Sainte-Marie by Lindsay Zoladz at the Los Angeles Review of Books. If you watched Sesame Street in the 1970s, you wanna read this.

Another book review, by Esther Freud for The Guardian, of the newly released (and only in the UK, alas!) The Moomins and the Great Flood by Tove Jansson. Yay, Moomins!

Today in Healthcare Paranoia news, from Maryn McKenna at Wired: "Antiseptics Used to Prevent Health Care Infections Might Cause Them. Oops."

I can't even keep track of all the articles about football and violence anymore, but this one, about how the Notre Dame community hounded a sexual assault victim until she took her own life, says exactly what needs saying about the collusion of fans and the football establishment in creating that culture of violence. By Melinda Hennenberger for the Washington Post.

Wow. From Annalee Newitz, a remarkably matter-of-fact list of "Six Good Habits I Learned from Being Bullied as a Geeky Kid."

"Sometimes the known bad advice of the Inner Foot-Stomping Toddler is just too compelling, alas, to resist." Maria Bustillos at The Awl on not banishing irony in favor of some supposedly more authentic self.

IRONY ALERT: a totally true story about "The Amazing Reformation of Mitt And Ann Romney." By Ana Marie Cox at The Awl.

"[E]veryone I have spoken with has a working, personal theory that explains for them the nature of the psychic in the city." At THE STATE, Karen Gregory takes sociological theories out for a walk on a tour of New York City's psychic readers.

Via @missludmilla, a very smart post by Karen Coyle on her blog considering Clay Shirky's Cognitive Surplus in the context of gender inequality in available leisure time, asking, "Does this explain, in whole or in part, the masculine view of 'hacking,' the participation in Open Source, the gender nature of games and gaming?"

Helen Lewis at the New Statesman on the gamification of misogynistic abuse in the treatment of Anita Sarkeesian.

Finally, an incredible essay about video games, love, and death via @jillheather, by Jenn Frank at Unwinnable: "Allow Natural Death." I recommend locating the nearest box of tissues first.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Links for the week ending 2 December 2012

Once more into the breach, dear friends! From Erin Cunningham for GlobalPost, coverage of new protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square, and the "constitution conundrum" that has driven ordinary Egyptians back to the streets.

At The Daily Beast, Sarah A. Topol looks at Gaza's one flourishing business: running smugglers' tunnels underneath the border with Egypt.

Torie Rose DeGhett publishes "This Week in War" at The Political Notebook. I highly recommend it if you're looking for a weekly roundup that focuses exclusively on conflicts around the world.

The New Yorker's indispensable Amy Davidson on Private Bradley Manning's testimony this week. And also on the question of a possible Hillary Clinton candidacy for President in 2016: "one finds oneself asking, Must we?"

Colorlines' infographic wizard Hatty Lee presents some eye-opening statistics for World AIDS Day.

"'[D]efendants engage in a pattern or practice of unlawful conduct through which they routinely and systematically arrest and incarcerate children, including for minor school rule infractions, without even the most basic procedural safeguards…'" Also at Colorlines, Julianne Hing reports on the Department of Justice lawsuit again Meridian, Mississipi for violating its schoolchildren's basic constitutional rights.

Stephanie Simon for Reuters on the dubious returns on Jeb Bush's vaunted education "reforms" in Florida.

An interview at Bitch Magazine with Laurie Penny and Molly Crabapple about their very cool-looking e-book, Discordia, based on their travels and reporting in Greece.

From Alison Flood at the Guardian, how a single editor at the Oxford English Dictionary deleted thousands of words from the OED between 1972-1986 because of their "foreign linguistic influences."

This is excessively awesome. Rebecca Boyle at Popular Science on the installation by a Swedish utility of light-therapy panels at bus stops. Now THAT'S socialized medicine for the win.

Does smiling improve your mood? Does smiling around a pair of chopsticks improve your mood? Scicurious covers a recent study and finds… well, it couldn't hurt.

Moving piece from Rebecca J. Rosen at The Atlantic on "The First Time Humans Saw the Structure of DNA."

From Maggie Koerth-Baker at (use your clicks wisely!) The New York Times Magazine, a fascinating piece on the surprising homogenization of urban ecosystems — and how that might be a good thing.

The best news I have read all year! (Even if it doesn't turn out to be true!) First, from Lindsay Abrams at The Atlantic, "The Case for Drinking as Much Coffee as You Like." Then, via @bug_girl, a post from Julie Craves at Coffee & Conservation examining media coverage of a recent scientific paper and asking, "Is coffee really at risk of extinction?" (Spoiler: not more than anything else is thanks to climate change.)

Is there anything more fun than a book review by Zoë Heller at the NYRB? With this review of Salman Rushdie's third-person memoir, I submit that the answer is certainly, "No."

"'If you're good, you can have that when I die.'" Get into the holiday spirit with this wonderful piece by an anonymous author at The Billfold: "My Nana's Will of Iron."

If you like erudite gossip about the sexual habits of the British aristocracy, this excellent piece by Emma Garman at The New Inquiry, "Baby Daddies and Dandy Scandals," is going to make your day.

Via the lovely folks at Big Blue Marble Bookstore, Ann Patchett at The Atlantic: "You may have heard the news that the independent bookstore is dead, that books are dead, that maybe even reading is dead—to which I say: Pull up a chair, friend. I have a story to tell."

Finally, at n+1, a fine essay by Kathleen Massara on "The Good Life" in Omaha, Nebraska.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Links for the week ending 25 November 2012

Only a mini-post this week, as your host is only just returned from the usual round of holiday travel, and took yet another small holiday from the news whilst away.

Maria Bustillos at The Awl writes, "Assets & Liabilities: Understanding The Rolling Jubilee Project." Some illuminating interviews here.

Carin Cooper guest-blogs at Scientific American about how citizen science is helping to make sense of an avian pox epidemic among birds in Great Britain.

Also at Scientific American, a very funny book review of the Encyclopedia Paranoiaca by Maria Konnikova. You'll never want to eat anything again!

Fabulous piece by Virgina Hughes at The Last Word on Nothing on one young woman's struggles with a crippling sleep disorder — and how her search for a cause has been complicated by an epidemic of "slipping the mickey" in a rural Italian village in the late 1980s!

Finally, from Sarah McCarry at The Rejectionist, an essay about not being able to sit through violent movies. I pretty much haven't gone to the movies since Quentin Tarantino came into vogue, so I can only say: amen.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Links for the week ending 18 November 2012

I'm afraid this was the news that most firmly gripped my household this week, though the world continued generating distressing events at its usual pace.

Amid the debate about the Israeli army's use of Twitter to taunt Hamas, Sara Hussein at AFP writes about women and young children in Gaza enduring night after night of air strikes. For the AP, Karin Laub reports on the propaganda war in which "the suffering of children has served as a powerful tool."

A reproductive health tragedy from Ireland, where a woman who was neither Irish nor Catholic was denied an abortion for religious reasons and instead succumbed to septicemia during a prolonged miscarriage. From Emer O'Toole at The Guardian, "I am ashamed that Ireland's medieval abortion law still stands."

At io9, Annalee Newitz covers research presented at the 2012 American Public Health Association conference: "What happens to women denied abortions? This is the first scientific study to find out."

From Habiba Nosheen and Hilke Schellmann at The Atlantic, more reporting from Pakistan, where a teenage rape survivor whose family refused to end her life in an "honor killing" struggles to find any semblance of justice in the courts.

A long piece by Lee Hancock for the Dart Society about American military sexual assault survivors whose battle for justice in both the courts and the media has been stymied at every turn. It will give you an even greater appreciation of what rape survivors endure to get even the possibility that their stories will be told.

One last piece about violence without redress, from Alma Guillermoprieto at the NYRB on the murders of Mexican journalists. "We would like you to consider the consequences of offending us further. We know you would not look forward to the result."

In the aftermath of the recent U.S. elections, Maeve Reston at the Los Angeles Times covers Mitt Romney's phone call to big donors blaming his loss on "gifts" the Obama campaign gave to young and minority voters. Meanwhile, back in reality, Lois Beckett at ProPublica recaps what we actually know about how the Obama campaign used big data to target and persuade voters. At the New York Times (click wisely!), Zeynep Tufekci worries about the implications for democracy of data-driven persuasive techniques. And Elizabeth Drew at the NYRB looks at how voter suppression efforts effected election outcomes.

At her blog, Dana Goldstein reflects on the future of a social justice curriculum in an era of competing school reform agendas driven largely by nonprofit foundations.

Knockout piece by Madeleine Schwartz at The New Inquiry on teen pregnancy, MTV documentaries, and very real changes in the importance and relevancy of the nuclear family.

From Logan Sachon at The Billfold: "The First Time I Ever Actually Thought About Gun Laws."

From the previous week, one of the oddest stories I have ever read: "The Man Who Smelled Too Much," by Gendy Alimurung at LA Weekly. Via Longreads.

I'm still enamored of Arika Okrent's column at Mental Floss. This week, "11 Weirdly Spelled Words — And How They Got That Way."

"A sentence is, in fact, a machine, an intricate and delicately balanced equation; good copy-editing — good editing more generally — is a way to help a writer get the equation so exactly right that it starts to not seem like one at all." Yuka Igarashi at Granta on the perils and pleasures of, ahem, copy-editing.

Via Maida, Jennifer Dziura making a fabulous point at The Gloss: "When Men Are Too Emotional To Have A Rational Argument."

The Rookie crew discusses cultural appropriation and fashion and agrees on one thing: Björk can wear anything she wants.

Serious(ish) and thoughtful personal narrative at Gawker from comic genius Mallory Ortberg: "Have You Heard the One About the Religious Woman Who Stops Being Religious in College?"

This is quite possibly the best thing ever. From the incomparable Sarah Miller at The Awl: "Brad And Angie Go To Meet The African Pee Generator Girls."

On the other hand, here is Nicole Cliffe being just delightful with "For Those Who Have Asked Politely About My 'Novel'."

Finally, from Kathryn Schulz at Vulture, an incredibly moving meditation on categorization of human difference, compassion, and "radical humanity." An amazing piece.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Links for the week ending 11 November 2012

It was a heartening week for re-immersing myself back in the news. To start, here's a compilation of some of the best writing I read about the U.S. elections on Tuesday.

From Amy Davidson at The New Yorker: "If the quarrels and deliberations associated with politics are, as Obama said in his speech, 'a mark of our liberty,' then his daughters were a mark of the passage of time."

Irin Carmon writes at Salon on the election outcomes of the war on women: "I once heard Ruth Bader Ginsburg quote her husband — a feminist ally before there were very many — saying that 'the symbol of the United States really isn't the bald eagle. It's the pendulum.'"

E.J. Graff at The American Prospect on the victories for same-sex marriage at the ballot box: "Americans have moved farther and faster on marriage equality than I had dared to dream."

At The Atlantic, Rebecca Rosen writes about the get-out-the-vote sociological experiment that you were part of if you logged into Facebook on Election Day.

"'We went into the evening confident we had a good path to victory,' said one senior adviser. 'I don't think there was one person who saw this coming.'" From Jan Crawford at CBS News, a report that will make you even more thankful that this team is not going to be in charge of managing the U.S.

This made me a little weepy and should be the very definition of how one goes on to live a dignified life in the wake of such a public failure. At The New York Times (but it's a blog post, so it shouldn't count against your 10-article tally), Katharine Q. Seelye shadows 79-year-old Michael Dukakis and his wife, 75-year-old Kitty Dukakis, as they go door-to-door for Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts.

Finally, two reports from the voting booths on election night. At The New Yorker, Louise Erdrich writes a dispatch from Minnesota. "'Valiant attempt,' she says as he walks away. It is more a sneer than a compliment." And this heartbreaker from Laurie Penny at Vice: "Feeding Hurricane Victims Democracy Hot-Dogs on Election Night."

From the indefatigable Rebecca Solnit, here reprinted at Guernica Magazine, "Disaster has now become our national policy: we invite it in and it directs us, for better and worse."

Elizabeth Kiem at The Morning News: "Our final class, a discussion of Colson Whitehead in a Dumbo bookstore just yards from the East River was canceled. Whitehead's Zone One had become Zone A, and our far-ranging musings joined the mandatory evacuation."

From Scicurious at SciAm, a look at a new study that concludes: "not all stresses are created equal, even the traumatic ones. And it turns out that it's not the stress itself that is important… it's whether or not you have any control over it."

My kids agree that this is the coolest story of the week's news cycle (though even my kids are savvy enough to question why the girls are labeled "African," as if they had no nationality): Leslie Katz at CNET covers "Pee power! African teens create urine-fueled generator." (Thanks to Rachel Hartman for finding coverage of this story by a woman!) For a broader look at the Maker Faire in Lagos, Nigeria, Yinka Ibukun covers it for the Guardian.

Amazing work at Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker, who interviews James D. Watson about the newly released extended edition of his classic book, The Double Helix, showcasing (among other things) primary documents relating to the treatment of scientist Rosalind Franklin.

"If this trend continues, the universe will get only 5 percent more stars, even if we wait forever." Rebecca Boyle at Popular Science informs us that we are — cosmologically speaking — already in the End Times.

This is the "Leave 'Em Hanging" portion of the List this week. At The Hairpin, the first in a forthcoming series of posts about the pseudonymous author's personal experience with Scientology. At The New York Review of Books, the first article in Janet Malcolm's three-part series about the murder of Michelle Malakova's father, and the prosecution of the child's mother, Mazoltuv Borukhova, for that crime.

Yesterday was a "global day of action" for wounded Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai. At the Guardian, Irna Qureshi writes about her British-born cousins who were denied the right to an education for being female.

Sady Doyle continues to hit it out of the park at Rookie: "I Am Whatever I Say I Am: A persona is a handy thing to have."

Thoughtful reflection by Autumn Whitefield-Madrano at The New Inquiry: "On Being a Fat Child."

Via Maria Bustillos, who reminds us that some old white guys know how to be the good guys: "Harvard Library To Contribute 'Crown Jewels' to Digital Public Library of America." By Radhika Jain for The Harvard Crimson.

A moving personal essay on new parenthood in the surveillance age at The Rumpus by Megan Stielstra: "Channel B."

And finally, this, which I saved from a couple of weeks back because it was too awesome to go unrecorded even during a vacation from the news: by Arika Okrent at Mental Floss, "From Y'all To Youse, 8 English Way to Make 'You" Plural."

Sunday, October 28, 2012


The list will be back the week following the U.S. elections (and back on Twitter the night before the elections). In the meanwhile, its proprietor is enjoying a much-needed break from the outrage of the internets. Luckily there are no shortage of wonderful books by women to read!

Have a good week or two, all of you. And I hope all of you in the path of Sandy stay safe, dry, and fully powered.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Links for the week ending 21 October 2012

From last Sunday. If these mind-boggling statistics are accurate, it seems to me to be the most shameful outrage committed against a civilian population by the United States in my lifetime — which is some pretty stiff competition. "The latest study found that in Fallujah, more than half of all babies surveyed were born with a birth defect between 2007 and 2010." I would sure like to see one of the major science journalists take a good look at this study, because if it holds up to scrutiny, this ought to be changing everything about how we conduct armed conflict. By Sarah Morrison for The Independent.

By Heather Stewart at The Guardian, an article that will undoubtedly seem prescient: "the financialisation of the market for basic foodstuffs has led to prices drifting far away from the fundamentals of supply and demand, as investors treat betting on the future price of food as just another asset for their portfolio." What could possibly go wrong?

It's not enough to shut Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein out of the debate. No, she and her running mate had to be arrested. For blocking traffic. Uh-huh. By Allison Kilkenny for The Nation.

"'Acts that have no criminal nexus whatsoever, talking about who should be a speaker at a church panel, for example, are listed under headings of criminal acts'." Monica Brady-Myerov at WBUR reports on the efforts of the Boston chapter of the ACLU to end police spying on lawful activities.

I have to admit that I have more or less Had It with the internets this week after reading too many articles about trolling and misogyny. If you have not already met the same fate, here is one piece for the Independent by Laurie Penny about the suicide of Canadian teenager and harassment victim Amanda Todd — this piece seems to me to be more about righteous outrage and motivating for action than about using a child's tragedy as a platform to prove how clever and lyrical and worthy of employment one is as a feminist writer. Also, this piece in the Atlantic by Whitney Phillips makes the very necessary point "that trolls and sensationalist corporate media have more in common than the latter would care to admit, and that by engaging in a grotesque pantomime of the best corporate practices, trolls call attention to how the sensationalist sausage is made."

On the other hand, THIS is how clever, lyrical, employment-worthy feminist writing makes itself the most excellent kind of cultural commentary: Alyssa Rosenberg at ThinkProgress with "Gawker's Violentacrez Expose And How 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer' Predicted Geek Misogyny."

"It is like saying that Oprah would be the right one to manage the auto bailout because she gave away cars on her show." Amy Davidson at The New Yorker on "Mitt Romney's Charity and a Family's Story."

While the FDA is now recommending checking for infection anyone treated with products from the Framingham, MA compounding pharmacy whose injectable steroids have killed 15 people, Carolyn Johnson and Kay Lazar at the Boston Globe profile a meticulously run and accredited compounding pharmacy not far away. Sharon Begley for Reuters explains how compounding pharmacies have thus far escaped any attempt to regulate them more closely.

While we're on the subject of bad faith and injectable drugs! At The Last Word On Nothing, Christie Aschwanden writes about whistleblowers and Lance Armstrong.

On the other hand, sometimes people have good reason to be operating off the books and just outside regulations, like in the case of this Philadelphia cardiologist who has been smuggling used cardiac implants in his luggage for reuse for desperately poor patients in Indian hospitals. By JoNel Aleccia for NBC News.

Oh, look! Science has found that I'm personally responsible for the failures of feminism after all (pace Linda Hirshman): men whose wives are not employed are more likely to "'exhibit attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that undermine the role of women in the workplace.'" By Gayle Tzemach Lemmon for the Atlantic, which is itself, of course, a stalwart and consistent defender of feminism.

This, however, was the Atlantic article voted "Most Likely To Make Me Cry": Emily Badger on a collaborative project that allows you to compare photographs from an aerial survey of Connecticut in 1934 to current Google satellite imagery. Watch the trees disappear!

Quick! Mood-improvement break! "Omaha schoolgirl dresses as a different historical figure each day." By Erin Grace at

"I've seen dozens of 'diverse' workplaces in which all the people of color are in the manual jobs and all the women are doing clerical work." Rinku Sen at Colorlines on the ways binders full of women and lip-service commitments to diversity mean nothing if they're not linked to the goal of equity.

Appalling portrait of the dehumanization of domestic workers (most immigrants from Asia and Africa) in Lebanon by Jess Hill for The Global Mail.

"It is this not-our-fault mentality that accounts for the plutocrats' profound sense of victimization in the Obama era." An excerpt from Chrystia Freeland's new book Plutocrats at Reuters.

"Jim Cullinan, vice president of corporate communications for Clear Channel Outdoor, said in an email that 85 billboards contain the message, and that they will not be taken down." But voter intimidation in Milwaukee is, of course, not Clear Channel's fault. By Georgia Pabst of Milwaukee's Journal Sentinel.

Science shows that kids' behavior reflects whether or not they judge the adults around them to be full of it! Rebecca Boyle at Popular Science reports on a new version of the classic "marshmallow experiment" measuring children's ability to exert self-control.

At Colorlines, Channing Kennedy (who is a guy) interviews Negin Farsad (who is not a guy) about her new documentary, The Muslims Are Coming!, about six Muslim comedians on stand-up tour across the United States.

This may be more than you really wanted to know about the state of Moroccan hip-hop, but there are a lot of excellent observations about how "we have to make a genuine effort to see things through a frame in which the US and our narratives, our expectations, our 'national interests,' are not the center of the conversation — and keep seeing them that way." By Kendra Salois for The New Inquiry.

By Mae Rice at The Morning News, "Under the Bridge Downtown," an essay about her high-school job as grocery bagger — and learning to accept human complexity.

At Rookie, Emily Gordon on "Why We Play: It's true — video games are good for you."

At The Crunk Feminist Collective, wpeeps goes to the shooting range and comes away "Armed and…. Ambivalent?"

Because I have to admit that I stood in front of the Pumpkin Spiced Coffee for a full minute wondering, "Do I dare disturb the universe?" At The Awl, Sarah Sprague breaks down "How Many Pumpkin Items Are In This Trader Joe's Flyer? A Pie Chart Analysis."

At Letters of Note, a 2006 letter from Harper Lee to Oprah Winfrey on learning what books were worth.

Finally, at PandoDaily, "Suddenly everyone wants New Yorker style content. Only one catch: Who is going to write it?" By Sarah Lacy

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Links for the week ending 14 October 2012

Thursday marked the first observance of the International Day of the Girl, but the rest of the week provided a relentless stream of news that shows how very, very far the world has to go before we can say that we actually do respect and honor girls. At Al Jazeera English, Manuela Picq looks at the way entire communities often collude to protect the perpetrators of sexual violence against girls and concludes, "It takes a village to rape a woman."

At the Guardian, Kamila Shamsie reflects on the shooting of 14-year-old Pakistani activist for girls' education Malal Yousafzai and asks, "For political differences, seek political solutions. But what do you do in the face of an enemy with a pathological hatred of women?" (You can read Yousafzai's original diaries for the BBC, written when she was 11 years old, here.)

Two members of Pussy Riot — the ones with young children — are sentenced to two years in penal colonies, while the third member is released. From Moscow, Miriam Elder reported on the sentencing for the Guardian. At The New Republic, Julia Ioffe analyzes the divide-and-conquer techniques at play.

Political scientist Laura Seay summarizes a new report from Simon Fraser University concluding that sexual violence in wartime is not on the rise, and is as much a function of continuing domestic violence as it is about assaults by combatants. Lauren Wolfe, the director of the Women Under Siege Project, which documents reports of rape in conflict, takes a closer look at the report and disagrees with the upbeat frame in which it has been presented.

Closer to (my) home: at The Boston Globe, Yvonne Abraham profiles a young mother who fell through the holes in a shifting safety net and was raped as a result.

At Jezebel, Katie J.M. Baker reports on one Reddit member's short-lived campaign to out men who post to the subreddit r/CreepShots, which posts clandestine, sexualized photos of women and girls. At Betabeat, Jessica Roy advises us to take cover in the coming "inter-website war" as Gawker writer Adrian Chen publishes the identify of an r/CreepShots moderator. **Edited to add link to the post Zeynep Tufekci published this morning on this and what it says about how we define free speech.**

At The New York Times, public editor Margaret Sullivan takes no prisoners on the question of whether a male freelance journalist should still be published by the paper of record after insinuating that successful women have slept their way to the top — or wanted to. "Given his misbehavior on Twitter and his status as a highly replaceable freelancer, I think his editors are extraordinarily generous to give it to him."

At The New Yorker, Amelia Lester writes about Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's blistering speech in parliament about the misogyny of the leader of the opposition. If you haven't, do watch the clip of the speech. It is very satisfying. But also check out this post from ourcatastrope on what viewers outside Australia should know about whether Gillard should qualify as anyone's feminist hero. (Via Lili Loofbourow.)

At The American Prospect, E.J. Graff takes a second look at the question, "Are Women Better Off Than We Were Four Years Ago?" Spoiler: yes, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, which disqualifies "being a woman" as a pre-existing condition.

At The Christian Science Monitor, Jina Moore examines the surprisingly complicated question of how one defines poverty in America.

For Reuters, Margot Roosevelt profiles economically struggling voters, who still largely support Obama in the bitterly disputed swing-state of Nevada. Meanwhile, Colorlines' Aura Bogado presents a dispatch from Kate Sedinger about how Nevada state-run public service agencies are failing to perform their federally mandated responsibility to serve as voter registration sites.

I suspect that Zeynep Tufekci may just be the smartest person on the internet. Here is a wonderfully clear post on her blog about political party identification in polls that explains confounding variables, "the reason you should run, most of the time, when someone says 'correlation does not equal causation' without saying anything more substantive."

"Why Your 4-Year-Old Is As Smart as Nate Silver." Er. Maybe not, but still an interesting read from Alison Gopnik at Slate about how very young children can interpret statistical data more quickly and accurately than adults, who filter it through the biases of our already-acquired knowledge.

A blog post by Marie-Claire Shanahan at the University of Alberta on Helvetica, science education, and the failures of modernism: "Why is it so hard to give up on hoping that facts speak for themselves?" (Via Scicurious.)

Should disadvantaged children be given drugs to improve their performance in school? Maia Szalavitz at Time is — understandably — skeptical that this approach benefits anyone besides pharmaceutical companies in the long run.

News you can use: "Many drugs are just fine years after they 'expire,' study finds." By Karen Kaplan for the Los Angeles Times. (Via Eryn Brown.)

From that well-known liberal rag Fortune, Becky Quick wonders why the Justice Department is quick to make sure that consumers don't face a monopoly when it comes to sticky-notes, but seems to be just fine with vertical integration that allows drug store behemoth CVS to move into the prescription benefits business.

At the Daily Dot, Jennifer Abel explains why the Supreme Court may effectively shut down the secondhand market for any goods made abroad when it decides Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley and Sons.

As the Supreme Court hears arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas, Julianne Hing at Colorlines traces the history of how "the diversity rationale" became the main legal argument in the defense of college affirmative action policies.

Mind-blowing: "Of the 10,000 firefighters in New York City, only 28 of them are female." Ravenna Koenig at Women's Media Center with a case study on how discrimination can flourish despite laws that theoretically end it.

From lady business (which has a laugh-out-loud tagline), a very preliminary analysis of the gender breakdown of authors and protagonists among award-winning YA books. Surprise! If Our Boys aren't reading, it's not because books that portray them are suffering from a lack of visibility. (Via Penni Russon in one time zone and Rachel Hartman in another!)

It was also National Coming Out Day this week. I loved this post from crunkashell at the Crunk Feminist Collective: "what does a person with a belief profile like mine do on a day like today? I was going to use my rainbow umbrella but it didn't rain."

At The Independent, a surprisingly lyrical and very moving piece by Peaches Geldof on the very different coming-out of her adolescent best friend and his boyfriend.

At The New Inquiry, Leah Caldwell makes me grateful to be middle-aged with her analysis of "Party Rock," and the band that holds the trademark on that phrase: "The LMFAO party simulacrum at their performances masks the way our ordinary lives have become an endless, joyless elaboration of the same party principles." Fun!

At The New Republic, Eliza Gray looks at how Scientology has been successfully recruiting the Nation of Islam. In the future all UFO-based religions will be one?

For The New York Review of Books, Anne Applebaum reviews four new books about various moments in the history of Russian spying. You don't have to have grown up watching Get Smart reruns to know that is a MUST-CLICK topic.

If I know my audience, something like 97% of you hold opinions on this topic. So enjoy this post from Rohan Maitzen: "Am I Making Excuses for Gaudy Night?" Via Aaron Bady.

And finally: Mallory Ortberg wins the internet this week! First for this (what I can only hope is the beginning of a book-length) profile of children's book editor extraordinaire Ursula Nordstrom, at The Awl. And, second, for "Texts From Little Women." Featuring the all-time classic line: "Jo, Father still isn't dead" OH MY GOD.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Links for the week ending 7 October 2012

Hey! Let's not talk about the debate this week! Though if anyone wants to go in on a group tweet-a-long of Follow That Bird in lieu of watching the next one, I am SO THERE, baby. In the meantime! In The New Yorker, Chrystia Freeland reports on the tender feelings of the super-rich. My personal favorite: the president and his family did not write a prompt thank-you note after being presented with a book of self-published poetry written by the billionaire's 14-year-old granddaughter. The nerve!

A pair of stories: At The Atlantic, Julia Edwards profiles the "High Priest of Runaway College Inflation (He Regrets Nothing)." At ProPublica and The Chronicle of Higher Education, Marian Wang, Beckie Supiano, and Andrea Fuller report on the ethically dubious business of federal Parent Plus college loans: "The loans are both remarkably easy to get and nearly impossible to get out from under for families who've overreached."

At Al Jazeera English, Sarah Kendzior considers the case against Aaron Swartz, who downloaded almost the entire catalog of JSTOR, and writes that "In academia, the ability to prohibit scholarship is considered more meaningful than the ability to produce it." (Repeating my usual friendly public service announcement to my Massachusetts readers: your residence in the Commonwealth entitles you to JSTOR access via an e-card to the Boston Public Library. Pass it on!)

This week California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill guaranteeing basic workplace rights — including overtime pay and meal breaks — to the state's domestic workers. At Salon, Irin Carmon looks at how "Devaluing care work — and women" became seen as a smart political move for the scions of the Democratic party.

Julianne Hing at Colorlines reports that Walmart workers walked off the job at several different locations on Thursday. Martinne Geller and Jessica Wohl for Reuters wrote about the complaints described by five Walmart employees to Wall Street analysts on Monday, with limited results. "Wal-Mart's labor practice have garnered criticism among consumers and in the press, but so far have not impacted investors." Sigh.

This seems to me like a Big Fucking Deal, as it's one of the longest-lasting legacies a president can leave: Joan Biskupic for Reuters on how President Obama has done little to counteract the successful conservative domination of the federal judiciary.

Here's one reason why the make-up of the federal judiciary matters immensely. At the ACLU's blog, Mitra Ebadolahi writes about the case of Nick George, who was denied access to his flight to California when the TSA objected to Arabic-English flashcards in his luggage.

Here's another: ""The death penalty? Give me a break. It's easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion,' he said. 'Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state.'" Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon on that prince among justices, Antonin Scalia.

Lots more reasons when you consider how the prison industrial complex wrings money from the poorest communities. At Colorlines, Jamilah King interviews Ava DuVernay, whose film, "Middle of Nowhere," was presented as testimony at a recent FCC hearing on the cost of phone calls from prison.

Cassie Rodenberg published some truly amazing work this week. On her Tumblr, her account of going to Rikers Island to visit an incarcerated sex worker named Beauty, whom she knows through her work documenting prostitution and addiction in the South Bronx. Then, at her column at SciAm, a powerful personal narrative about the addict she grew up with: her father.

Liz Goodwin at Yahoo! News writes about how the proprietors of Colorado's flourishing medical marijuana dispensaries fear that a state ballot initiative to decriminalize trade of small amounts of pot will end with the federal government shutting them down entirely.

From a little over a week ago, Dr. Jen Gunter asks, "do you want your own health care provider to consider their own religious or personal beliefs first before offering you medical care?" That was the way it historically worked, after all. And weren't we all healthier then? Oh, right…

Who'd have thunk it? "Free Birth Control Access Can Reduce Abortion Rate by More Than Half," by Katherine Harmon at SciAm.

While Gov. Brown was denying protections for CA domestic workers (and immigrants, and plenty of other vulnerable populations), he did sign legislation requiring doctors to inform mammography patients if they have dense breasts. Laura Newman at Patient POV asks whether "dense-breast right-to-know laws" are helpful. (Spoiler: um, no?)

This story just got worse and worse as the week wore on. An outbreak of serious (and in some cases, deadly) fungal meningitis in patients who'd received injections in the spine was traced back to contaminated methylprednisolone supplied by a compounding pharmacy in Framingham, MA. Marilynn Marchione for the AP situates the outbreak within recent drug shortages that have encouraged compounding pharmacies to make products on a larger scale.

This, however, was my personal nominee for worst story for the week. At Wired, Maryn McKenna recounts becoming (maybe) part of her story about Salmonella contamination in peanut butter. (In this household, where peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are considered food of the gods, we are thankful to have experienced nothing worse than mild illness and one missed morning school bus as a result of the contamination.)

Perhaps you don't eat peanut butter, and your week did not have enough really disgusting moments in it? Then here's a nice article about bugs in people's ears. By Karen Rowan at MyHealthNewsDaily.

Do surgical checklists really reduce post-surgical deaths by nearly fifty percent? Julia Belluz at Science-ish investigates.

Maia Szalavitz at Time on the possible reasons why a new review suggesting that ketamine is effective at providing immediate relief from depression may not result in increased clinical use of the drug.

"'Teenagers enter unsafe situations not because they are drawn to dangerous or risky situations, but rather because they aren't informed enough about the odds of the consequences of their actions.'" Eryn Brown at the Los Angeles Times covers a new study on teens and risky behavior that destroys all my comforting illusions that my own risk-averse children will be protected by their anxiety from the more hazardous situations adolescence has to offer.

"Actually I think I just have a heightened case of the human condition." Lovely essay by Ann Finkbeiner at The Last Word On Nothing about two brothers, science, religion, and the anxiety of being alive.

Long, fascinating blog post by Kimberly Gerson summing up what science currently knows about the innovation and intelligence of crows and other corvids.

Lyrical guest post by Rebecca Wragg Sykes at SciAm, about the upheavals recorded in rocks of the northwest Scottish Highlands: "Time Is Not Made to Flow in Vain: Eternity and Apocalypse in Assynt and Mars."

At Nature, Helen Thompson reports on efforts to create hybrid chestnuts that might someday withstand the fungal blight that wiped out the once-dominant tree of American eastern deciduous forests.

At the Guardian, author Jo Marchant on the resumption of diver surveys off the Greek island of Antikythera, where divers over a hundred years ago found fragments of a sophisticated clockwork machine constructed in ancient Greece.

To follow are two New York Times articles. Use your free reads (or clear your cookies) wisely, okay? Last week Stephanie Coontz wrote a very satisfying Sunday opinion piece on "The Myth of Male Decline." In this week's Magazine, Maggie Koerth-Baker writes about the historical accidents and cultural peculiarities that determine why some technologies succeed and others fail: "Why Your Car Isn't Electric."

At Mother Jones, Dashka Slater profiles the founders of iFixit: "These Guys Can Make Your iPhone Last Forever." (Well, maybe not my iPhone — I'm kind of a klutz — but for those of you who are either braver or more dextrous, this is pretty damn cool.)

Via Rebecca Hamilton (@bechamilton), a wonderful piece by Ayom Wol Dahl for South Sudan's New Times on new English words and usages being coined to describe life in that newest of republics. "I am somehow" is my new favorite sentence ever, I think.

This is what you get when a senior reporter studies for the U.S. citizenship test: "I told her that my partner wrote an entire book about the vice president and won a Pulitzer Prize for the stories. I was pretty sure about this one. A parade of constitutional scholars backed me up." Dafna Linzer at ProPublica with "How I Passed My U.S. Citizenship Test: By Keeping the Right Answers to Myself."

At Rookie, Jenny Zhang writes about techniques for dealing with racism with humor — and the limitations of this approach. Read through to the end; the opening anecdote does not wrap up triumphantly the way you expect it might.

Anne Helen Petersen at The Hairpin presents the first part of a two-part look at Gloria Swanson. Are you ready for your closeup?

I have never read any books by Seanan McGuire, but after this blistering blog post on the assumption that rape of female protagonists is realistic and even inevitable, I shall. Wow.

At Vela Magazine, "Sweat Ride through the Smog Swamp," a moving essay by Lauren Quinn about navigating the maze of Hanoi's streets — and the scars of past experience — on the back of a hired motorbike.

Finally. Gawker, of all the unlikely places, is running a personal essay every Saturday. This week's essay, by dream hampton, is a flat-out devastating account of learning audacity in the face of ever-present danger. Last week's essay on infertility by Alison Umminger, "Don't Think of Elephants," is also very much worth your time.

Oh, okay, one more: if you have 11+ minutes left to kill this week, this bit of storytelling from Lindy West about coping with her internet trolls is just wonderful.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Links for the week ending 30 September 2012

"… he filled his time with remedial studies designed by a Canadian college professor— literature, physics and videos of 'Little Mosque on the Prairie.'" Omar Khadr, captured by the U.S. and sent to Guantánamo as a child of 15, was yesterday turned over to authorities in his native Canada, there to serve out the rest of his 8-year sentence for "war crimes." By the Miami Herald's excellent reporter on the Guantánamo beat, Carol Rosenberg.

GlobalPost's Tracey Shelton reports from a bombed-out hospital in Aleppo, Syria. (Warning: I did not watch any of the videos in this article; I assume that any and all of them may contain graphic footage of injuries and violence.) Erika Solomon at Reuters reports further on the burning of Aleppo's historic souk, which dates back to medieval times. At the AP, Zeina Karam reports, "Syrian authorities sent text messages over cell phones nationwide Thursday with a message for rebels fighting President Bashar Assad's regime: 'Game over.'"

Some fascinating writing this week on clashing cultural constructions of freedom of speech. Sarah Kendzior at Al Jazeera English insightfully analyzes this summer's Chick-fil-A boycott in the context of protests against anti-Muslim hate speech: "Free speech does not mean deferring to people's right to abuse you." Also, danah boyd looks at Mona Eltahawy's spray-paint protest against racist anti-Muslim ads on the NYC subway system and concludes: "there's a huge international disconnect brewing over American free speech and our failure to publicly untangle these issues undermines any effort to promote its value." I'm hoping that Zeynep Tufecki will write up a piece expanding on her Twitter thoughts about how freedom of speech means something entirely different in countries that have experienced ethnic cleansing.

This is just plain hilarious: Sarah A. Topol at The Atlantic on tourist-kidnapping as political protest by hopelessly hospitable Bedouin tribes of the Sinai Peninsula.

This will not be the cheeriest thing you read today: Nina Chestney at Reuters on a new international report concluding that "more than 100 million people will die" by 2030 if nothing is done about climate change.

Increased carbon dioxide makes ocean waters much more acidic, with "major catastrophic" consequences for species and ecosystems. At COMPASS, Nancy Baron writes about scientists and journalists talking together about how to communicate the problem to the public: "like dropping a tooth into Coca-Cola and watching the corrosion."

On the other hand, now you can sail across the Arctic Ocean in summertime. Whoa. That's Fridtjof Nansen turning over in his grave, there. By Rebecca Rosen for The Atlantic.

"'We don't have a police state in this country, but we have the technology.'" At the Wall Street Journal, Julia Angwin and Jennifer Valentino-Devries report on a new frontier in public and private surveillance: license-plate tracking. After you read this, you may feel that a little sailing jaunt in the Arctic isn't such a bad idea…

Just in case you needed to hear that twice: from Naomi Gilens at the ACLU, "New Justice Department Documents Show Huge Increase in Warrantless Electronic Surveillance."

Gee, I can't possibly imagine a scenario in which this could go wrong. "Facebook Now Knows What You're Buying at Drug Stores." By Rebecca Greenfield at The Atlantic.

Voter intimidation never goes out of style. Mariah Blake at The Atlantic profiles the RNC's history of "voter-fraud" campaigns, newly incarnated as independent organization "True the Vote." ProPublica's Suevon Lee offers a reading guide to True the Vote's recent media coverage.

A new longread from Sabrina Rubin Erdely in Rolling Stone: "The Plot Against Occupy: How the government turned five stoner misfits into the world's most hapless terrorist cell."

Interesting piece by Steph Herold at RH Reality Check on a recent study about low-income women's opinions on public funding for abortion.

From Liz Szabo at USA Today, coverage of a new study finding that BPA exposure impacts not just the developing fetus but also the eggs forming in the ovaries of female fetuses — meaning that exposure has the potential to disrupt three generations at once.

Cheap, personalized cancer treatment? Marilynn Marchione reports for the AP about a recent NEJM study describing a new technique that allows doctors to culture cancer cells from patient tumors in order to test the cancer's susceptibility to various drugs.

At The Open Notebook, Michelle Nijhuis interviews author Florence Williams about her book, Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History, which I am promptly adding to my to-read list.

Another week, another scary new disease! Helen Branswell reports for the Canadian Press about a new coronavirus that caused two deaths in people recently in Saudi Arabia, where the hajj is soon to begin. At Wired, Maryn McKenna discusses "Why the New Coronavirus Unnerves Public Health: Remembering SARS."

Christie Wilcox at SciAm looks at whether lower pesticide residues are in and of themselves a good reason to buy organic and concludes, "you have more to fear from your home than from your food." That would be more comforting if we hadn't just established that our furniture is stuffed with toxic flame-retardant chemicals, yes.

Also at SciAm, medical student Ilana Yurkiewicz's excellent analysis of why it matters that a recent study shows both male and female scientists display gender bias against women.

At the Washington Post, Frances Stead Sellers writes about Gallaudet University professor Carolyn McCaskill, author of the first formal study of Black American Sign Language and how it differs from ASL.

Sady Doyle writes for Rookie about being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. A brave piece, and, god, I can't say enough admiring things about writers who take teenagers seriously enough to address this kind of work to them.

At The New Republic, Julia Ioffe bids a fond — and not-so-fond — farewell to Moscow.

At the Los Angeles Review of Books, Carol Berger finds barbarians inside the gates at the Egyptian Museum.

At Smithsonian Magazine, Jen Miller writes about the complicated, bitter, and loving history of Navajo frybread.

Finally, also at Smithsonian Magazine, Abigail Tucker writes about "The Great New England Vampire Panic." Bram Stoker might have found an inspiration in… Rhode Island???

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Links for the week ending 23 September 2012

So many excellent longreads this week, and so little time! I'm just going to assume that you all spent the week cackling over the 47% coverage, and go on from there, okay? Let's start with Elizabeth Drew at the New York Review of Books on the issue of "voter fraud": "This is the worst thing that has happened to our democratic election system since the late nineteenth century, when legislatures in southern states systematically negated the voting rights blacks had won in the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution." If you're not already following Colorlines' Voting Rights Watch 2012, do so — the primary investigative reporter is a guy, alas, so I'm not linking to much of its very essential work here. But here's one from editor Aura Bogado: "Voting Outcasts: Why One in Five Blacks in Kentucky Can't Cast a Ballot."

At The Awl, Sarah Miller writes up her experiences canvassing for Obama in South Reno, Nevada. "'Nev-ADD-uh,' we chorused obediently." Now you know.

The inestimable Jill Lepore at The New Yorker with the surprising history of Upton Sinclair's political career, the first flush of the Democratic party in California — and the invention of the American political consulting industry.

From Anna Yukhananov at Reuters, the plight of health officials in red states who risk being expunged by their fellow conservatives for trying to implement the insurance exchanges mandated by the Affordable Care Act. "'If you'd ever been to a picnic, and found out you were the main course, that's what happened,' Chaney said about the experience later."

The Chicago teachers' strike has ended, but Kathryn Salucka from the Council on Foreign Relations thinks young voters should be prepared to strike — against Congressional inaction leading to the sequestration. At Huff Post.

Mary Slosson at Reuters reports that UC Davis' pepper-spraying cops will not be facing any charges for their actions, per the Yolo County District Attorney's Office.

Also at Reuters, Jessica Donati reports on last Sunday's "insider attacks" on NATO troops by Afghan allies, which have led to a halt in all joint exercises between NATO and local forces.

At Time, Rania Abouzeid reports on the factionalization of Syria's rebel forces by the two Gulf States providing them with weapons, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Via Azmat Khan.

At Reuters, Mariam Karouny reports on how the violence in neighboring Syria has increased the incidence of sectarian fighting in the Lebanese city of Tripoli. ""If they shut off the money and the weapons nobody will fight. But they have a political interest in igniting the situation.'"

At Al Jazeera English, Sarah Kendzior rejects the stereotyping mindset behind the phrase, "the Muslim world."

Bah, I can't remember via whose Twitter feed I found this: a sweet anecdote about ordering a sandwich in Cairo by political scientist Emily Regan Wills.

At Foreign Policy, Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt takes a closer look at China's policy changes in response to Japan's purchase of disputed islands in the East China Sea — and how China may be tying its own hands by encouraging anti-Japanese nationalist protests at home.

At Womens eNews, Samantha Kimmey reports on allegations that the Philippine Consulate in NYC has done nothing to protect its nationals who have been trafficked into this country as domestic and household workers. Includes the mind-boggling statistic that ten percent of Filipinos work overseas.

Fact-based takedowns, how I <3 them. At Foreign Policy, Mara Hvistendahl does some preliminary fact-checking of statements in Hanna Rosin's The End of Men about the situation for women across Asia — and finds an awful lot of botched statistics and assumptions.

Maia Szalavitz at Time does something similar for the neuroscience claims in Naomi Wolf's Vagina.

And Scicurious is at Discover Magazine, critiquing the bad science behind the recent study purporting to show that rats fed GMO corn and/or Roundup weedkiller developed enormous tumors and died. Not that anyone is recommending that Roundup is good for you, but bad science is bad science even when you're predisposed to agree with its conclusions.

Headlines are sometimes hyperbolic, but this really is as advertised: "Bad to the bone: A medical horror story." How a medical device company peddled its new product directly to operating rooms — with deadly consequences. By Mina Kimes for Fortune.

At SciAm, Maryn McKenna makes the argument that well-trained — and well-paid — janitorial staffs are a key part of hospital infection control measures. You will so not ever touch a hospital privacy curtain again after reading this.

Just to keep you from curling up into a little despairing ball, here is a blog post from S.E. Gould at SciAm about the progress being made in developing a new broad-spectrum antibiotic.

On the other hand… I'm not throwing out my kids' rice cereal just yet, but maybe the store will just happen to be "all out" of it next time I need to resupply. Deborah Blum at Wired on the lack of real answers emanating from the FDA on whether or not elevated levels of inorganic arsenic in rice means consumers should severely limit their intake of rice.

Very long and not one page, but it may be the best "fish story" since Cod. Alison Fairbrother at The Washington Monthly on menhaden, the little fish that may be key to collapsing fisheries of all sorts. "Pound for pound, more menhaden are pulled from the sea than any other fish species in the continental United States, and 80 percent of the menhaden netted from the Atlantic are the property of a single company."

I bet this isn't helping, either, though: Julia Whitty at MoJo reports that sea surface temperatures off the East Coast this year were the hottest ever recorded.

At Nature, Michelle Nijhuis reports that the intense burns from wildfires in the American West over the past several years are leading to permanent, irreversible ecological changes.

Such a great piece by Ann Finkbeiner at The Last Word On Nothing: "The Theorist, the Tundra, & the Forbidden Crystal," the tale of a physicist searching for 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite fragments in remote eastern Russia.

From Christine Baumgarthuber at The New Inquiry, an essay about 19th century illustrator and naturalist William Hamilton Gibson, sentimental and overwrought, but also one of the first and most tireless defenders of New York City's green and wild places.

At The Verge, Maria Bustillos has a conversation about "reality in the age of Instagram." Lots of thoughtful observations here about authority, representation, and the unprecedented "recording of life as it passes."

Huff Post's tech editor, Bianca Bosker, pinpoints the fly in some of this ointment, though, at least when it comes to social media platforms: "the authentic, human experiences that attracted millions of people to these platforms now risk being polluted by the marketing noise ushered in with these companies' push for profits."

"When your heart goes dead, it's always for a reason; something hurts too much to feel." Sady Doyle at Buzzfeed, "On Bruce Springsteen And Disappointing Fathers."

At GQ, Marin Cogan profiles Al Sharpton. Via Longreads.

At the BBC, Kate McGeown on Hernando Guanlao, an elderly man in central Manila who has turned his home into an informal library for his neighborhood and beyond.

Kate Fridkis is fast becoming one of my favorite young writers. Two Rosh Hashanah pieces from her this week: "horrible fragility," and "the things grownups say automatically to kids they run into in the hall."

Jamia Wilson is another young writer whose work impresses me more often than not. At Rookie, "Go for Yours," on gender norms and asserting one's skills at negotiation.

Anne Helen Petersen's gift to the internets this week was another in her series of "Scandals of Classic Hollywood." Nothing in the text a former teenage old Hollywood buff hasn't read before, but that collection of Garbo photos will undoubtedly launch a new generation of teenage old Hollywood buffs. Wow.

Wonderful book review of Lisa Cohen's All We Know: Three Lives at the London Review of Books by Terry Castle. Posting for Sheila's benefit — so she can play "spot your undergraduate mentor" in the initial cast of characters — but it's a fun read even if you've never heard of any of the people involved.

Why, look at this glowing book review by Michael Ann Dobbs at "the prose itself is an absolute joy." But you all have already read Rachel Hartman's Seraphina, yes? Or you're about to, as soon as you finish reading this. Right? RIGHT?

Finally, at The Morning News, Lauren Daisley's personal essay about a career in voiceovers that goes derailed for leaving too many things unsaid.