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."