Sunday, May 27, 2012

Links for the week ending 27 May 2012

New Big Issues, same as the Old Big Issues. This week's reminder that our justice system is… not so just comes from Our Lady of Changing How We Parent Forever, Carol Dweck, who was one of a team of Stanford authors that found that knowing a defendant's race changes how we view juvenile crime and rehabilitation. "The findings showed that people without racial animus or bias are affected by race as much as those with bias." Want to watch a similar effect in action? Nicole Pasulka at MoJo asks whether 23-year-old CeCe McDonald was really convicted of having the gall to survive a hate crime.

At AlterNet, Adele M. Stan takes note of the ways that major media frames Obama's unpopularity among struggling whites without college degrees as a racism issue, when in fact the numbers were very similar for the past several Democratic candidates. It's always good to remember that racial angst sells newspapers… er… advertising eyeballs. When in doubt, look for the data.

Efforts to "Suppress the Vote" get taken to a whole new level in Ohio, writes Dahlia Lithwick at Slate. As vote-suppression tactics gain traction across the country, Lithwick quotes the author of a new guide to stomping down the vote, Wendy Weiser at the Brennan Center for Justice:
"If you want to find another period in which this many new laws were passed, restricting voting, you have to go back more than a century — to the post-Roconstruction era, when Southern states passed a host of Jim Crow voting laws and Northern states targeted immigrants and the poor."

Because suppressing the vote is never enough: Sarah Libby at TPM reports that Republican state houses have also managed to redistrict out a disproportionate number of women in legislatures at both the state and federal level. Great work, boys.

But don't worry! Angry mobs protesting the diminution of democracy will be controlled via armed drones — ahem, unmanned aerial vehicles — in the skies, writes Annalee Newitz at io9. Won't that be fun? Um. Probably not, if their NATO use has been any guide, writes Louise Arbour at Foreign Policy. "Recent studies estimate that one civilian dies for every four to five suspects killed." And that's a statistic that's sure to bring an end to insurgency, right? Just ask Yemen.

Via EJ Graff, a well-researched article by Sharon Johnson at Women's eNews about the scandal that is waitresses' wages. "Ninety percent of female serves are not paid enough to enjoy basic economic security."

Facebook executives and insiders, however, are doing just fine, despite a completely botched IPO described by Heidi Moore for The Guardian (which, as usual, does a better job covering American issues than most American media sources do).

This link is to a .pdf because the first part of the online series appears to be down. At Center for Democracy and Technology, Erica Newland publishes her speech, "Disappearing Phone Booths," a powerful exploration of how we are losing the ability to do just about anything — including use the bathroom! — unnoticed. If you'd rather not download the .pdf, here is a link to the second part of the four-part post — maybe they'll fix the link to the first part eventually.

This week in questions you can't believe someone still has to answer, Diane Ravitch at the NYRB takes on the latest industry-laden task force report that claims that only private industry can Save Our Schools and the Nation. Lest you think that these are simply academic questions, let me remind you that the forced corporate takeover of schools in high-poverty areas has already begun. Let's not wait until they come for the suburbs to object, okay?

By Kiera Feldman at This Land Press, a heartbreaking look at how one private evangelical school near Tulsa allowed sexual abuse of its students to go on for years. A fine, if sobering, explanation of how closed systems protect themselves rather than the students they are supposed to serve.

At the NYRB, the essential Alma Guillermoprieto looks at how Latin America has begun what may be the beginning of the end for what must be the most unsuccessful war in human history: the war on drugs.

Maryn McKenna looks at the continuing fallout for what most be one of the most spectacularly bad decisions the CIA ever made: sponsoring a fake polio vaccination campaign in Pakistan as part of its plan to smoke out Osama bin Laden. Meanwhile, at SciAm, Judy Stone questions whether a new government push to develop and test pediatric vaccines for anthrax won't prove just as counterproductive for public health in the long run.

At Wired, the First Lady of Poison, Deborah Blum, recounts a nicotine murder in 19th century France and how it drove the development of forensic science.

At the Columbia Journalism Review, Trudy Lieberman looks at a local New Jersey paper's report on health care providers who pressure patients to sign up for new credit cards in the office before providing treatment. Seriously. How this is not five million different kinds of illegal, I do not know.

At Time, Maia Szalavitz looks at recent recommendations against PSA screenings (and similar recommendations against frequent mammograms). Why do people roundly ignore those recommendations? Because a single personal anecdote from someone we know, no matter how rare the situation it describes, drives how we approach testing far more effectively than a raft of population statistics.

Moving piece by Petula Dvorak at the Washington Post about the experience of a family whose child began showing strong signs of being transgender by the age of two.

GQ is rather an odd source for an article for this particular longreads list — or maybe the question should be why women's magazines don't publish more longreads? — but, in any event, this GQ profile by Amy Wallace of R&B genius D'Angelo is a masterpiece of the genre. Read it, and you'll never be satisfied by a celebrity puff piece again.

At The Millions, Jennifer Miller pleads the case for writing what you know even though the literary world is full-on glutted with people just like you, where "you" are (for the purposes of this essay) "white girls from Connecticut." (My people! We are legion!) Meanwhile, at Full Stop, Stephanie Bernhard takes a fascinating look at the historical development of "identity literature," arguing that copyright and its concomitant promise of originality have led inexorably to the privileging of authorial identity over the text itself. Wide-ranging and deeply considered, this is not to be missed — and not just because of the many sharp-eyed digs at our current pantheon of male literary grouches.

Speaking of identity! Only half of this conversation is being conducted by a woman, but, oh, hell, go on and read it anyway. Hilarious, surprising, and wise in equal measure: Maria Bustillos and David Roth converse on TED Talks, Scalzi, and the existential question of whether it's not easy, being a straight white male.

This is pretty much just for Paige, but it is so perfectly just for Paige that I think you should all admire it: at Legal Nomads, "It's Surprisingly Easy to Be Gluten Free in Italy." (I personally would solve the problem of being gluten-free in Italy by eating nothing but gelato, but THAT'S JUST ME, right?.)

If you decide to walk around Italy in search of gluten-free food, start off with a pro tip from Mary Beard at the Times Literary Supplement, who schools you on the walking habits of the Roman Empire.

A wrenching piece on divorce, loss, grief, madness, and (re)birth by Gayle Brandeis at The Rumpus.

Finally, one more thing from Maria Bustillos, at ANIMAL: on travel, bureaucracy, and the undermining of what she calls Americans' invincible kindness.