Sunday, April 1, 2012

Links for the week ending 1 April 2012

Again I lead off with the Rejectionist, for whom no pull-out quote suffices, and I sure hope she is soon to be published in a fashion that allows me to pay for the privilege of reading her. Because I am nothing if not Team People Who Just Don't Leave Your House.

At Colorlines, Mónica Novoa writes about "The Horrific Death of Shaima Alawadi and the Many Lessons of Hate." As I had reason to learn this month, this kind of hatred lives in my neighborhood, too. Does it live in yours? And how can we do more to raise our voices against it?

Fascinating account by Anna Holmes in the New Yorker about racist responses on Twitter to The Hunger Games movie casting and the man who compiled them, and connected the dots about how that racism translates into the real world. "'Remember that word innocent? This is why Trayvon Martin is dead.'"

Melissa Harris-Perry in the Nation on Trayvon Martin and being the problem: "A black body in public space must presume its own guilt and be prepared to present a rigidly controlled public performance of docility and respectability." DNLee at SciAm writes about what this looks like for a science researcher — and a concerned sister: "Brown Faces in White Places doing science (and wearing hoodies)."

Very, very long — I'm not done with it yet — but equally rewarding (and distressing): Arundhati Roy in Outlook India with "Capitalism: A Ghost Story."

Via Aaron Bady, at Al Jazeera Sarah Mousa tells the stories of Syrian activists currently taking refuge in Cairo.

Pizza, Uighurs, and Guantanamo's legacy: a moving look at dislocated former Guantanamo detainees, and how they are coping with their new lives in one of the few countries that was willing to piss off China and accept them: Albania. By Michelle Shephard for The Toronto Star.

An op-ed in the LA Times by Vicki Divoll, former general counsel of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: "So now we are targeting not just the phones but the lives of Americans, and there is no constitutional doctrine, statute or executive order addressing the issue. This is where the framers would have expected the legislature to take a good, hard look."

Incredible essay by Laura Rena Murray in The New Inquiry about seeking to be emancipated from Child Protective Services. "But I was tired of living a life that felt out of control; waiting for things to happen to me; waiting to get caught. Emancipation was proactive and no one could take that freedom away once I had it."

Via Maddow Blog, an interview in the Orlando Sentinel with outgoing president and CEO of the local Planned Parenthood, Sue Idtensohn on being on the front lines for reproductive freedoms and women's health: "I've always said, ‘I hope that someone knew that I was here.'"

From Dr. Jen Gunter, a heartbreaking description of what no health insurance looks like: late-stage cervical cancer discovered in the ER, and doctors forbidden to offer the patient treatments that would offer her a slim chance of survival. "Cancer v. the Constitution."

Does food poisoning have long-lasting later effects, like arthritis, diabetes, and kidney failure? Cheery questions from Maryn McKenna at SciAm. Now you can freak out doubly the next time you or your loved ones go down with a stomach bug!

At Nature, Heidi Ledford asks biologists what discoveries in their field would be as important and fundamental as the discovery of the Higgs-Boson particle would be in physics. Lots of interesting points about the origin of life and about aging.

Sharon Begley for Reuters reports that an incredibly high percentage of studies in cancer research could not be replicated. That's bad news for the "war on cancer," and it's bad news for science. So maybe we should take Katherine Harmon's reminder seriously: "U.S. Cancer Rates Could Be Cut in Half Today Based on What's Already Known."

"Today we have Bayer Aspirin. It relieves headaches. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, they had Bayer Heroin." Awesome piece by Esther Inglis-Arkell for on the era of wide medicinal use of heroin, opium, cocaine, and absinthe. Dosing regimens for five-day-old infants! Papal cocaine use!

This is the most depressing thing you'll read all week, by Nina Chestney at Reuters (republished by SciAm): "Global Warming Close to Becoming Irreversible."

This, on the other hand, is not bad news! Capped landfills being repurposed as solar energy fields. By Robynne Boyd for SciAm. (Now if your landfill uses methane capture AND and a solar energy field, then its contents are transmuted into pure unicorn farts, I think.) Also, Maggie Koerth-Baker looks at the potential of small hydroelectric power. Hey, if it worked for the turning the mills of the Industrial Revolution…

And another Maggie Koerth-Baker piece with an extremely necessary take on Earth Hour and the false promise that individual choices are what makes the difference.
Europeans don't use less energy than us because they're better people, who are more willing to make sacrifices and sit in the dark. They use less energy because their shared systems allow them to use less energy without having to think about it, and without it being a hardship.

At SciAm, Kristin Hendrickson (a.k.a. SquintMom) takes a long, detailed, and very interesting look at what we do and don't know about high cesarean section rates in the U.S.

Wonderful rant by Scicurious about networking in academia, though some of the questions she raises would hold true for networking in any field. The post also sports an unusually high percentage of actually useful comments, too.

If the phrase "riveting linguistic change" does not sound oxymoronic to you, you are sure to be fascinated by this piece by Julie Sedivy in Discover about vowel-shifting and political affiliation.

Wonderful piece on fact-checking in The New Inquiry by Atossa Araxia Abrahamian. "We don’t fact-check because we love facts. We fact-check because we hate liars."

Speaking of liars… Placing Mike Daisey in the context of Orientalism: another valuable piece from Maria Bustillos in The Awl.

At the venerable Geeky Mom blog, Laura Blankenship writes about Women and Coding.
I’ve taken a couple of these courses. In one from MIT, the first lesson had us calculating the first 1000 prime numbers. Woo hoo. That’s going to be something I use again. My first lesson in the class I teach? Draw a square with your robot. Same principles apply, but it’s a lot more fun, imho.

"Ghosts Are Real, At Least In Publishing." Fun Sari Botton piece at The Rumpus on ghostwriting.

Here I must confess that I may be the only feminist in the world who was never particularly drawn to or moved by the work of Adrienne Rich. But this moved me: Marge Piercy's "Another obituary." And, okay, for everyone who was irritated by the piece in the NYT (who hasn't already had this discussion with me on Twitter, hi Susan!), Michelle Dean takes on David Orr: "Adrienne Rich: 'Every Mind Resides in a Body'."

Finally, I hear there was some guy in the NYT fulminating about adults who read YA, or any other level of children's book. If any of you were so unfortunate as to read the piece in question, might I recommend an antidote? Tove Janson's Moominpappa's Memoirs, which is both a children's book and the most perfect skewering of Very Important Man syndrome ever.
I put my trivial surroundings aside and mused more and more about myself, and I found this to be a bewitching occupation. I stopped asking and longed instead to speak of my thoughts and feelings. Alas, there was no one besides myself who found me interesting.

As always, more links throughout the week @PhantomsList. Thanks for reading!