Oh, Mother's Day. My very least favorite holiday in the whole world! And, of course, it dominates the Writing on Teh Internets this week. Le sigh. But don't worry — I won't ask you if you're mom enough to read this week's links. I won't ask you because I DON'T CARE. (In related news, do you know what I like best about having older children? Being able to GIVE ZERO FUCKS about the Mommy Wars™.)
The Last Word on Nothing spent the week looking at the options available to women today as they consider childbearing. Cassandra Willyard considers whether to have a baby; Christie Aschwanden enjoys her decision to not have children. Cameron Walker speaks up for having two kids; Jessa Gamble and Michelle Nijhuis discuss their (current) One-Child Policy. Sally Adee wraps things up with a look at the prospects for artificial uteri (oh, all right, ectogenesis — but "artificial uteri" is much more fun to say). Read all of these pieces, and I officially bestow upon you the title of Well-Informed Mom, regardless of your reproductive experience. (You must, however, subtract Well-Informed Mom points for every mothering article you have ever read in the New York Times.)
At SciAm, Kate Clancy looks at cooperative foraging and childcare, and how that affects the amount of energy individuals have available for reproduction.
At Colorlines, Mónica Novoa brings us an interview that undocumented student Angy Rivera conducted with her mom, who is also undocumented. The pride and concern — plus the adolescent breaking away and parental guilt-induction — will be familiar to most of us, even if the situation of being undocumented is not something that most of us reading have experienced.
Some people have no papers, and some people have lots. Fresh on the heels of Michelle Bachmann's acquisition and repudiation of Swiss citizenship, Atossa Abrahamian looks at the jumble of legal and cultural factors that underlie double citizenship and asks whether citizenship is still a meaningful category in an era of international travel, when one's personal and work life can take place across national borders. Jennifer Saunders, a poet living in Switzerland, makes a similar point from a personal perspective: "I don't have intentions. I have a life. Who among you can say you intend to remain in the state in which you currently reside forever?
Some people's children get thrown away: Liliana Segura writes in The Nation about children ages 14 and under sentenced to life in prison without parole for violent crimes because of mandatory sentencing laws, questionable prosecutions, incompetent defense attorneys, and — of course — racism: "Of the 13- and 14-year-olds sent to die in prison, 70 percent are, like Trina, kids of color."
At Jezebel, Katie J.M. Baker writes a troubling dispatch from Missoula, Montana, the subject of a recently opened Justice Department investigation into gender bias: "In Missoula, I'm learning, drunk guys who may have 'made mistakes' nearly always get the benefit of the doubt. Drunk girls, however, do not."
Rebecca Solnit is back this week, writing about Fukushima in the London Review of Books: "In Fukushima just over half of the 59 municipalities test for radiation in school lunches, some before the children sit down to eat, some afterwards. Whether or not they change the menu when the levels are too high is not clear." My god.
At Salon, Irin Carmon asks: why has the Obama Administration endorsed an abstinence-only program for sex-education? It's science! Um, kind of. But never mind about government money going to fund homophobic curricula for 7th-9th graders! Obama endorsed gay marriage, and that makes it all better. Right? Well, bitter cynicism aside, E.J. Graff at The Nation makes a compelling case for why Obama's marriage equality stance really does matter.
Hey, did you lose $2 billion this week? No? Slacker. Here's a nice explanation of how it's done by Heidi N. Moore at Marketplace, so that you can do better next week.
What could go wrong? The responsible folks at Wall Street would like to repeal Dodd-Frank and anything else that even thinks about maybe possibly regulating them. (By Suzy Khimm at the Washington Post.)
At the Guardian, Suzanne Goldenberg traces the way oil and coal industries have turned to tobacco-industry tactics to create fake "grassroots" groups to oppose renewable energy funding.
Laura Secor's reportage in the New Yorker from Iran's February elections is smart, sad, and scary in turn.
Melissa Chan got kicked out of China this week after five years as Al Jazeera English's Chinese correspondent. Here she reflects with remarkable fairness and nuance as she says goodbye to a job and a country she clearly loved.
I was a night owl, so I worked in restaurant kitchens, but in nostalgic memory of all my summers spent with prescription drug-scavenging kids for whom "to chambermaid" was a verb, Elizabeth Eslami's essay in The Rumpus about hotel housekeeping.
"Deleting the people I’ve dated would be like tearing up a picture of your ex; except this picture grows and changes and says annoying things and gets married and moves to Zurich." Kelly Bourdet on the zombie-like appeal of exes on Facebook.
Hannah Nordaus writes an extremely clear guest post for Boing Boing about what we do and don't know about honeybee die-offs following recent headlines about the possible role of neonicotinoid pesticides in bee mortality.
Julia Whitty at Mother Jones covers similar territory concerning die-offs of thousands of dolphins and pelicans off the coast of Peru since January.
At SciAm, Ilana Yurkiewicz writes about presumed authority and real helplessness as a first-year medical student taking a history from a suicidally depressed victim of domestic and sexual violence.
I can't believe the Los Angeles Times was stupid enough to let this woman go: in The New Inquiry, Susan Salter Reynolds coins the wonderful term "New Transcendentalist" to describe the work of Marilynne Robinson.
Via Autumn Whitefield-Madrano at The New Inquiry: This is hilarious and terrifying and confirms my suspicion that Amy Chua was ON TO SOMETHING when she forbid her girls to attend slumber parties: the toe hair story, from kate at eat the damn cake. (I am a proud member of Team Hobbit Toes. I mean, I wasn't when I was of slumber party age, but now? See above in re: GIVES ZERO FUCKS.)
If you, like me, were somewhat questionably parented during adolescence, it's never too late to go back and let Rookie cover the bases you missed, like in this essay: "When no one validates your choices, it's OK to validate your own." Also, this fabulous essay on quitting smoking from Sady Doyle: "The behavior of addiction doesn’t rely on physical dependency. It relies on your willingness to use something external to compensate for something inside yourself."
Meandering and, yes, wholly beautiful essay by Elizabeth Bachner at Bookslut about, well, everything, really: "Nothing is going to come off the way I think it’s going to come off. What I think is going to happen in round one isn’t the same thing that I’ll actually discover in round seven."
I WILL NOT EAT THE AZALEAS New Amy Jean Porter! New Amy Jean Porter! New Amy Jean Porter! (The outtake at the end made me laugh and laugh. We have those same pink cups.)
Those of you who have known me forever (in internet years) know that I always link to the same bitterly funny Mother's Day piece every year. (Which I'm not doing here! Because it's by a guy! But you know I want to!) But even a black-hearted cynic like myself occasionally gets all weepy about a Mother's Day essay. So here you go: Drew Zandonella-Stannard writes the most beautiful damn tribute to her two moms.