Sunday, June 24, 2012

Links for the week ending 24 June 2012

Was it just a few weeks ago that I was complaining about the dearth of interesting articles in summertime? Oy. NOW I am complaining that my [cough] rigorous summer schedule of providing fascinating and stimulating activities for my children is NOT COMPATIBLE with keeping up with all the wonders produced by the internets. How can this be? I thought I could have it all! Just like Anne-Marie Slaughter in The Atlantic this week! Though Slaughter shares some of Our Lady Of Excessive Elitism Linda Hirshman's more blinkered qualities, she is unlike Hirshman in that she appears to be sincere, well-meaning, and not interested in cudgeling other women over the head. Like Hirshman, she has a talent for ubiquity. Here she is being interviewed at The Hairpin, which (as they say) trigger warning for OMG PRIVILEGE. ("… since we moved to Princeton and I became dean, we've had a full-time housekeeper. Never a live-in.") Then she is everywhere else in the guise of responses to her piece. E.J. Graff at The American Prospect has a good linkfest of said responses, as well as an essay of her own in response: "Why Does The Atlantic Hate Women?" (A question which is hilariously and depressingly answered by Atlantic editor Stossel himself in the linkfest: don't take it personally, baby. It's all about the page views.) Besides those I recommend Lindy West being funny at Jezebel ("For a minute there I was worried that it'd be impossible for me to have a family AND read this article all the way though.") and Elizabeth Renzetti at the Globe and Mail (hat tip to Janice Liedl), if only for the glorious line, "In the never-ending 'having it all' debate, which sometimes feels like Groundhog Day with a pedicure..."

Other things were written this week! (I know! The nerve!) You don't have to be married to an epidemiologist to find this one by far the most depressing, though that probably helps: Maryn McKenna at Wired discussing the CDC's new report about the spread between patients in a Rhode Island hospital of bacteria carrying the NDM-1 mutation that confers resistance to almost all known antibiotics. Friends, this is Bad News. Let us just say that it inspired several rounds of hilarious jokes in our household about scheduling any elective surgeries AS SOON AS POSSIBLE…

Heartbreaking piece from Maggie Koerth-Baker at Boing Boing: "The only good abortion is my abortion." But heartening — to me, anyway — to see her writing about her experiences for Boing Boing, whose readership probably skews male if it skews at all. Remember when we confined such stories to the very bravest of mommy blogs, where male readers almost never ventured to tread? The conversation is changing, vagina gag rules notwithstanding.

About those gag rules, you might as well laugh: Dahlia Lithwick's modest proposal regarding the scourge of women using the word "vagina" in debates about legislation seeking to regulate such unspeakable organs.

At The Atlantic, Habiba Nosheen and Hilke Schellmann report: "Abandoned, Aborted, or Left for Dead: These Are the Vanishing Girls of Pakistan."

"'You don't believe in all that Al Gore global warming nonsense, do you?'" From Texas Monthly's special report on the state's hydrologic future, Kate Galbraith looks at how the brunt of the bad news is beginning to move from farmers and ranchers to water-dependent industrial production.

An incredible piece about the material culture of inmates in some American prisons, by Katy Bolger at The Awl: "What Paper Means In Prison." (And a parenthetical lament for The Awl's comments, once so delightful, and now going the way of the rest of the internet, alas.)

Your weekly dose of outrageous racially imbalanced American injustice, from Maia Szalavitz at Time: newborns subjected to drug tests (with the intent of prosecuting the mother and/or removing the child from her custody) often show falsely positive results for marijuana based on some ingredients in common baby soaps and shampoos.

Jamilah King at Colorlines with a long, thoughtful look at at how LGBT activism is reinventing itself in communities far from the traditional coastal urban strongholds.

Also at Colorlines, Julianne Hing with two pieces, one talking back to the Pew Research Center's recent report on "The Rise of Asian Americans," and one looking back at the anniversary of the murder of Vincent Chin and its galvanizing effect on diverse Asian-American communities.

At Prospect (the UK publication, not TAP), Elizabeth Pisani's wonderful look at the current political realities in the further-flung outposts of Indonesia.

I'm sure the digital humanities stalwarts in the audience have already read it twice, but this long address by Bethany Noviskie is interesting even for us civilians. "We make things because that’s how we understand. We make things because that’s how we pass them on, and because everything we have was passed on to us as a made object."

In a similar vein, but as personal narrative: at NPR, Amanda Katz traces the history of a single copy of The War of the Worlds, and ponders what will be lost as we readers amass digital libraries instead of physical ones.

In my continuing quest to get you all to read Kristin Hersh's Rat Girl (because it is incredible, and because, if you've been following all the David Lowery stuff about musicians and compensation — like in this piece by Maria Bustillos this week at The Awl —then Hersh should be on your radar as one of the founders of what describes itself as "WordPress for musicians"), this great essay by Rachel Berkowitz about Hersh's band, Throwing Muses.

I was knitting while I read this article, so you know I'm a little bit dubious about the cost-benefit analysis of making "the architecture of the common thread" more complex (more corporately controlled and less receptive to hacking or modification?), but still I enjoyed guest author Meagan Phelan at The Last Word on Nothing blogging about the prospects for revolutionizing some of the oldest and most taken-for-granted materials of our daily lives, like clothing, windows, and paint.

This short article by Julia Angwin at the Wall Street Journal makes me anxious about how many of the mobile phone apps I use every day give me no option to decline or clear cookies: "Real-Time Auctions Drive Rise in Online Tracking."

At Kirkus Reviews, Jessa Crispin talks to Eva Illouz about her new book, Why Love Hurts: "psychological modes of understanding, at the end of the day, always blame it on you."

At the Los Angeles Review of Books, an appreciation of underrated author Daphne DuMaurier (and an argument for the creation of "literary romance" as a critical category) by Alix Ohlin.

More pop-culture reconsidered in this lovely essay from my friend Elisabeth Kushner: "Toy Story 3: The Steadfast Plastic Cowboy."

Finally. I know this may not be an opinion shared by all of my fellow merry jokesters from our "I'm remarkably functional for my ACEs score!" conversation on Twitter awhile back, but you all probably get where I'm coming from on this. What floored me the most about that Slaughter essay was that she didn't learn that "having it all" was impossible until she was working 100-hour weeks at one of the nation's top jobs hours away from her family. Most of us bump into our absolute limits a LOT earlier in life and at far less stratospheric levels of ambition. So I'm concluding with two very different perspectives on ambition, care and caretaking, and the choices one makes in order to achieve — or even to survive. From Sarah McCarry/the Rejectionist, a quietly brutal look at what she left behind to pursue her writing. And this devastating piece from Samantha Irby at the Rumpus about a childhood spent caring for her rapidly deteriorating mother, who suffered from multiple sclerosis: "My Mother, My Daughter."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Links for the week ending 17 June 2012

This week's most essential reading: Maria Bustillos at The Awl with "Our Billionaire Philanthropists."

A nonsensical headline, but an important article: Lois Beckett at ProPublica with "How Microsoft and Yahoo Are Selling Politicians Access to You."

Laila Lalami at The Nation on civil liberties outrages committed against American Muslims: "Islamophobia and Its Discontents."

"Ruling Facebookistan," by Rebecca MacKinnon at Foreign Policy. On Facebook's fumbling attempts to manage its role as a primary host for political speech and dissent around the world.

What could go wrong? Emily Bazelon at Slate on Facebook's newly floated plan to develop strategies for allowing children under the age of 13 to use the site.

Distressing but necessary piece by Amy Davidson at The New Yorker: "Screams in the Basement: How the Prosecution in the Sandusky Trial Made Its Case."

As the article itself says, a "Kafkaesque" account of one immigrant family's ordeal, by Marian Wang at ProPublica: "Grieving Father Struggles to Pay Dead Son's Student Loans." Honestly, why are financial companies are legally allowed to securitze anything at this point?

Oh. Right. That's why. Suzy Khimm at the Washington Post on Jamie Dimon's appearance before a fawning Senate Banking Committee.

For all the articles floating around at any given moment about The Death of Journalism, here's the flip side: how Kelly Goulnoush Niknejad singlehandedly created the preeminent English-language news outlet on Iran from her parents' living room.

A first-person account by Agnes Johnson at the Indypendent about raising teenagers in the shadow of the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policies: "I noticed the NYPD were becoming more aggressive around 2005 when police vans began stopping children early in the morning as they headed to school." My god. Via Liliana Segura.

At The New Inquiry, a fascinating and layered piece by Xarissa Holdaway on growing up Mormon.

At Matador Network, Sarah Baughman on "Raising Third Culture Kids" — children being raised (if only temporarily) in a culture that is not native to either parent. Via Travelreads.

At Vela Magazine, Amanda Giracca's "Summer People," on the seasonal invasions of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Also via Travelreads.

At The American Prospect, Deborah Weisgall considers Little Women through several frames, few of which will be unfamiliar to any of you (but sometimes familiarity is comforting). I did appreciate the comparison of the novel with Middlemarch, which was both unexpected and (once you've thought about it for 10 or 15 seconds) blazingly obvious.

Via Maud Newton, a thoughtful piece at The Oregonian about Beverly Cleary's memoirs and literary style, by Anna Keesey.

Instead of linking to Jane Hu's piece at The Awl asking whether book reviews have a future, I am going to link to Quinn Norton's review of We Are Anonymous at Wired, which seems to me a rare and shining example of what it looks like when a book review contributes something essential to the conversation about not just what we read but how we think.

Via Jackie Regales, Reina A.E. Gattuso writes a very strong account of a student-organized commemoration of the work and life of Adrienne Rich. "Her many papers and diaries, ink-smudged, doodled-on, and worn, reveal a personal evolution as radical as that of her poetics."

A lovely photo essay by Hatty Lee at Colorlines talking back to that Time Magazine cover: women of color breastfeeding their infants or toddlers, and talking honestly about the rewards and difficulties of nursing.

A four-year-old who cannot speak is a casualty of a patent lawsuit between a manufacturer of communication devices and Apple. "The Silencing of Maya." This looks like the sort of thing that might actually respond to bad publicity from pissed-off mommy-bloggers, so spread it around.

From Dr. Jen Gunter, a terrifying portrayal of what health care on the ground looks like in the wake of new, oppressive, anti-women laws: "'Here's the number for the hospital lawyer. He'll arrange a conference call between you and the politician and then he'll contact me if you've made her case.'" Death panels, indeed.

From medical student Ilana Yurkiewicz at SciAm, the lessons — and the limits of lessons — offered by rare medical survival stories.

Butter, sulfur, and colitis: Katherine Harmon at SciAm on how a diet high in dairy or other saturated fats may encourage bowel disorders. Microbiomes are complicated, yo.

Finally, a short but very funny piece from Jenny Diski at the London Review of Books in defense of "the space in between the writing, when nothing seems to be happening, or random stuff is having an incoherent party inside your head."

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Links for the week ending 10 June 2012

Again I failed to find the internets entirely scintillating this week. Perhaps we all just recycle old thoughts from Memorial Day until Labor Day? Or perhaps I'm just a little impatient with the intractable stupidity we humans put on display week after week after week. In any event, it's a shorter list this week, heavy on literary pursuits and light on news. I hope you are all too busy enjoying your summer to feel the want of hand-picked bad news, anyway.

Heidi N. Moore has an ominous question over at Marketplace: "Hey Brother, Can You Spare $500 Billion for America's Banks?"

This is nothing you don't already know, but an awfully endearing way of expressing it: at Kaiser Health News, cartoonist Jen Sorensen explains to the Supreme Court the realities of health insurance for small (and very small) business owners and employees. Via @mariabustillos.

On the anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre, an affecting essay by Jiayang Fan at the New Yorker, on the day's repercussions in the life of a child far from Beijing.

Via @azmatkhan, journalist Iona Craig's tumblr essay about her trip to Abyan, in Yemen's south. "Encouraging and arming men to fight is the simple part. Choosing their enemies for them is likely to be rather more problematic."

At the BBC, excerpts from Helen Benedict's book on sexual violence faced by women soldiers in Iraq. "According to several studies of the US military funded by the Department of Veteran Affairs, 30% of military women are raped while serving, 71% are sexually assaulted, and 90% are sexually harassed. "

"'The vigor of these baton thrusts is most distressing and should not be repeated.'" Some seriously deadpan reporting by Nanette Asimov for the San Francisco Chronicle on the final report about UC Berkeley police force's handling of November's student protests.

"Maybe what you've spent the past 13 years reading has done something to you too." The New Inquiry's Autumn Whitefield-Madrano reconsiders how her work history has affected her interest in beauty and appearance.

Roxanne Gay asks a graduate student to crunch numbers on every book review published in the NYT in 2011. Surprise! Nearly 90% of books reviewed are by white authors. (No word yet on what percentage of those white authors were men from Brooklyn named Jonathan.)

"Then she noticed my new phone lying on the table. 'Is that a Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket?!' she asked excitedly, her eyes shining." Maria Bustillos at Buzzfeed with "Technology Is The New English."

At, Emily Asher-Perrin asks: do we read YA because it gives us the kick-ass female heroes that are largely missing in stories (books, TV, movies) for adults?

But Ursula LeGuin at Book View Cafe says, "The whole idea of YA as a literature apart is shortsighted and arbitrary. But it’s marketing, so it’s a sacred cow. Milk it, and question not."

Tablet Magazine has been killing it lately. Rita Rubin on the changing demographics of nose jobs and what they have to tell us about the progress of assimilation.

Speaking of! In the nose-job years of my adolescence, I spent a lot of time with the collected works of these two difficult women. Michelle Dean fills her Saturday slot at the Rumpus with a tale of Dorothy Parker's ashes and the cranky executor — Lillian Hellman — who let them languish.

Lovely blog post from Penni Russon (and thanks to @lucypigpuppet for pointing me at her), "The Girl in Bed 1," scenes from her young son's recent hospitalization.

This is a couple of years old now, but worth your time if you're idling around. The Paris Review interviews Lousie Erdrich. "I used some long scarves to tie myself into my chair. I tied myself in with a pack of cigarettes on one side and coffee on the other, and when I instinctively bolted upright after a few minutes, I’d say, Oh, shit. I’m tied down. I’ve got to keep writing."

Two articles to make you slightly weepy. First, via @katzish, the Gaston, North Carolina Gazette on homeless high school senior Dawn Loggins' acceptance to Harvard.

Second, from Julia Lyon at the Salt Lake Tribune, "Mormons march in Gay Pride Parade to build bridges."

Finally, a tiny little essay from Kristen Hersh on mistakes and genius. "It's discouraging: how is it that we can fall in love with music and then repeatedly step on its toes when we're supposed to be dancing?" Worth reading, though mostly I am using it as an excuse to tell you to read her memoir of the very early years of her wonderful punk band, Throwing Muses, whose tapes were frequently to be found in my precious yellow walkman, back in the day. Rat Girl in the US, Paradoxical Undressing in the UK (I don't know which version you lovely Canadians got). Whatever the medium, she is a strikingly original and truly heartening voice. And who couldn't use a little heartening these days?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Links for the week ending 3 June 2012

I considered offering up just one article for the list this week. This was it: Elif Batuman's account in the London Review of Books of visiting the Museum of Innocence, an actual museum built in Istanbul by Orhan Pamuk to accompany his novel, also titled The Museum of Innocence. Such a delight!

To be honest, I also considered making that the only link this week because I nodded along a little too vigorously with this observation by Trish Hall, op-ed editor at the NYT: "'The hardest thing to find in this deluge of opinions is something that you haven't actually read before. There's not that much original thinking going on.'" Et tu, internets? (From an article for Columbia Journalism Review by Erika Fry on the gender disparity in bylines on the editorial pages. I strongly suspect that the question actually asked here is, "How do we convince straight white males that their uninformed opinions on whatever subject is at hand do not merit public broadcast, thereby freeing up space for people who actually know something about a topic to make their voices heard?")

In related news, "men had 81 percent of the quotes about abortion" in major news publications. Of course they did. By Abigail Pesta for the Daily Beast.

By Zadie Smith in the NYRB, an elegy for libraries and, by extension, all the other ways that the state once created and maintained public space for the public good, spaces now being sold off for private profit.

By Ailsa Chang for WNYC, an article profiling (ha!) lots of adorable New York City 14-year-olds and their extensive histories with the NYPD's stop-and-frisk program. Hey, Mayor Bloomberg? You know what else contributes to poor health outcomes besides massive amounts of sweetened sodas? Constant societal stress and harassment. Just saying…

In the Los Angeles Times, Barbara Demick visits the Chinese village of Dongshigu, still effectively a prison for its inhabitants six weeks after the escape of blind activist Chen Guancheng, who had been held there under house arrest since September, 2010.

In the aftermath of this week's revelations about the president's "kill list," the New Yorker's Amy Davidson distills the most troubling questions they raise into a single short but essential piece.

What could go wrong? Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal launches a plan to privatize the state's public schools, one voucher at a time.
The school willing to accept the most voucher students -- 314 -- is New Living Word in Ruston, which has a top-ranked basketball team but no library. Students spend most of the day watching TVs in bare-bones classrooms. Each lesson consists of an instructional DVD that intersperses Biblical verses with subjects such chemistry or composition.
By Stephanie Simon for Reuters.

"'Look at this, he said, 'it's a ball bearing.'" On smart farm boys, the perfect marriage of form and function, and the atom bomb. By the inimitable Ann Finkbeiner at The Last Word on Nothing.

The most incredible knitting photos grace this Last Word on Nothing post by Virginia Hughes about women in neuroscience. @lucypigpuppet, check out the knitted dissected lab rat!

At The Awl, Michelle Dean invites English speakers to be less stupid about what is really happening in Qu├ębec.

Tell people what you make at work! Irin Carmon gives you good reasons why. At Salon.

When cartoonists interview cartoonists! Mari Naomi's very funny illustrated interview with Alison Bechdel at The Rumpus.

"Maybe I'm done with nostalgia and have finally entered into the age of delete." Jennifer Sharpe, Early Web Aggregator. Interviewed at The Awl.