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 Tor.com, 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?