Sunday, May 20, 2012

Links for the week ending 20 May 2012

Today in our Big Issues spot, profiting on the poor. Barbara Ehrenreich has a long piece (which ran in Mother Jones and other places) giving an overview of strategies that government (particularly local governments) and corporations use to fleece money from people with the fewest resources and least ability to defend themselves. The criminal justice system, in particular, has become a machine for squeezing money out of the poor. Cindy Chang for the New Orleans Times-Picayune looks at the profit motive that drives Louisiana's incarceration rates, the highest in the entire world. At Colorlines, Leticia Miranda looks at the outrageous rates that private telecommunications companies charge inmates and families for phone calls to and from prisons. And, lest we forget that these predatory practices are disproportionately employed against people of color, two pieces on the very different outcomes faced by whites and blacks: Dafna Linzer at ProPublica (and the Washington Post) on how the Justice Department's Office of the Pardon Attorney has "torpedoed" the chances of presidential pardons for thousands of prisoners — and, of those few that were granted, white applicants were four times as likely to receive a pardon than minority ones. Also, from Julianne Hing, the story of Kelley Williams-Bolar, the Ohio mother convicted of a felony (lated pardoned to misdemeanor charges by Governor John Kasich following a national outcry) for enrolling her daughters in a better school system by listing her father's address. This last is a layered, complicated story that does not end in easy answers.

I promise that I will not subject you to every damn poll-and-prognosticate article that comes down the path between now and November, but this piece for Reuters by Margot Roosevelt (yes, one of those Roosevelts) is fascinating for its window on the exhaustion felt by armed forces veterans after more than a decade of war.

Another window on the often bitter circumstances military veterans and their families are made to endure: Florence Williams at Mother Jones on a breast cancer cluster — among men who lived at the North Carolina Marine base Camp Lejeune, which "enjoys the distinction of having hosted what is arguably the most contaminated public drinking water supply ever discovered in the United States."

In Guernica, Arab-American writer Randa Jarrar describes the (ironically enough) Kafkaesque experience of being denied entry to Israel.

"The Rise of Europe's Private Internet Police," by Rebecca MacKinnon in Foreign Policy. Private corporations making money off restricting access to stuff on the internet? What could go wrong?

From Julia Angwin at The Wall Street Journal's What They Know series on online privacy, the secret court order to reveal information from the email account of WikiLeaks volunteer Jacob Applebaum — who has not been charged with any crime — and how the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act is used to demand information without a warrant. Will the courts and technology companies successfully push back?

When I told my husband that I'd started following Laurie Garrett on Twitter, he shook his head. "That's a bad idea. Too depressing." Truth! Like for example this cheery piece on "Egypt's Real Crisis." Political upheaval? Repression? Sectarian violence? Nuh-uh. Epidemics of bird flu and foot-and-mouth disease, both currently circulating unchecked in the nation. Sigh.

If that didn't depress you enough, learn to look at your bottles of medications askance through Garrett's three-part series: "Ensuring the Safety and Integrity of the World's Drug, Vaccine and Medicines Supply." You're welcome.

I'm really sorry, you guys, but coffee probably won't make you live forever after all. (It will just make you bouncier during the time you have!) By Deborah Katz at the Boston Globe.

At her new home at Wired, Deborah Blum takes a very entertaining look at just how successful a headscarf-based plot to poison the Dalai Lama would be.

Margaret Talbot at The New Yorker looks at the statistical hooey while also summing up the case for a new frame for "boomerang kids," twentysomethings who live with their parents. Or, to put it another way, as did Lindy West in her very funny Jezebel piece offering advice to new graduates, "If you got arrested, do you have someone that could bail you out of jail? If the answer is yes, then you are broke and not poor." See also: Logan Sachon at The Billfold chats with her dad about money.

In a just world, Roxanne Gay would be one of our most highly paid national pundits. This week she has a thoughtful, layered essay at The Rumpus on the complexity of privilege and the ultimate futility of "playing Privilege or Oppression Olympics." (And, yes, she mentions Scalzi's piece, so if for some reason you haven't had the pleasure yet, you can follow her link.)

In the same just world, this fabulous essay by Emily Willingham would be the very last word EVER produced about The Mommy Wars (™). Another response piece of a very different sort from Jill Lepore at The New Yorker on the history of American photographs of breastfeeding. (Watch out. The last paragraph is an unexpected punch in the gut.)

Erin Gloria Ryan at Jezebel offers "A State-By-State Guide to 2012's Anti-Choice Laws (So Far)." It's, um, a long article. (The tl:dr? Vote. Seriously. Vote.) Meanwhile, at Salon, Irin Carmon presents a wish list of proactive bills that Democrats ought to be introducing to further a host of women's issues.

At The Smart Set, Jessa Crispin reviews a trio of books about gender and masculinity and observes:
It seems to me, from afar, that men must choose a subculture and mold themselves accordingly. They are not encouraged to drift between as women are. I’ve read enough gender theory to be able to parrot simple reductions like “femininity is a performance” whenever appropriate. But masculinity is a performance, too, and it seems like a much less fun performance.
(This probably doesn't exist solely to prove Crispin's point, but, if you have not yet seen the glory that is the Is This Feminist? tumblr, I can only say that I find your failure to do so PROBLEMATIC.)

Cheryl Strayed is back this wee with a new Dear Sugar column at The Rumpus. I mean, you knew that already, right? So this link is solely for your convenience. You're welcome.

Wonderfully geeky piece by Skud examining the knitting-as-programming metaphor. Major bonus points for its invocation of Our Lady of Eternal Knitting Awesomeness, Elizabeth Zimmermann. Even if you never plan to knit a stitch in your life, you cannot go wrong by picking up a copy of EZ's Knitting Without Tears as, you know, spiritual guide or something.

At Rookie, Krista Burton writes a lovely and funny piece about not being an OCD child.

Last but not least, the best thing I read all week: at Brink Magazine, Shannon Service takes us on a tour of — and donates some exhibits to — Croatia's Museum of Broken Hearts.