Sunday, July 8, 2012

Links for the week ending 8 July 2012

I think every single pundit in America offered at least one commentary last week on this piece by Jan Crawford at CBS News: "Roberts switched views to uphold health care law." But if you were offline all week because of the Fourth or a power outage or a sudden attack of (ahem) electrosensitivity, now you, too, can play along with games of Speculate on the Identity of the SCOTUS Leak Source. ("Anthony Kennedy." "Drink!")

Hackers, activists, resistors, heroes. Molly Sauter at The Atlantic argues, "If Hackers Didn't Exist, Governments Would Have to Invent Them." And maybe they have. At Wired, Quinn Norton wrote an excellent long piece on the political awakening of Anonymous, with particular focus on the role of a prominent hacker who turned FBI mole under threat of prosecution. At The State, rahel aima has a short, fractured piece on "surveillance and the state." (Via Karen Gregory, who has the world's best Twitter handle.) Lauren Wolfe at the Women Under Siege Project writes about the dangers faced by Syrian activists reporting rape and other human rights abuses in the face of government digital surveillance. Meanwhile, a Sudanese blogger recounts her detention and interrogation by that country's security and intelligence service. (Those two last pieces via Jillian C. York.)

At Salon, Irin Carmon will make you mad about how Republican talking points on abortion have made women's health care that much more difficult to come by — and dangerous — in Kenya.

Helen Lewis at the New Statesman on the new lows to which the misogynist campaign against Anita Sarkeesian has sunk. Clearly there is no need to consider violence against women in video games when someone who suggests doing so is made the target of… a video game portraying violence against women. Right. (In related news, I have a new and brilliant idea for the improvement of comment sections! Forget captchas or Facebook registration — what the internet needs is a final step that involves correctly answering five questions about Rebecca Solnit's "Men Explain Things" essay before one's comment is published. The questions would ideally be so detailed as to force frequent internet commenters to more or less memorize the essay, if only for convenience's sake, AND THUS even the most misogynistic trolls would find Rebecca Solnit's words rolling around their heads whenever they crawled onto the internet. WIN, no?)

From the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, an excellent short article by Kari Marie Norgaard about the lessons we can learn about overcoming our tendency to avoidance when it comes to climate change by looking at the similar avoidance we displayed over the threat of nuclear annihilation in decades past. (Via @pourmecoffee.)

In the crush of Higgs boson coverage was this little gem at SciAm from Laura Jane Martin, a paean to her mom and to the small army of university administrative assistants everywhere: "Science functions because of their labor." (If you didn't catch any of the Higgs boson coverage, here's an article by Alexandra Witze at Science News. Or maybe you could ask Rachel's nine-year-old for a recap?)

At SciAm, Christie Wilcox looks at recent research linking behavioral changes to infection with Toxoplasma gondii. If you are a cat owner, this will thoroughly creep you out. Sorry!

Continuing on from last week's theme of Being Suspicious of Vitamin Supplements! At SciAm, Melinda Wenner Moyer looks at new draft recommendations regarding calcium and vitamin D supplements. Meanwhile, at The Last Word On Nothing, Cassandra Willyard re-examines her decision to take fish oil supplements, and concludes that the science behind most supplements is still uncertain.

Fascinating piece by bioarchaeologist Kristina Killgrove at Double X Science: "Childbirth and C-sections in pre-modern times."

"They eventually succumb to starvation or dehydration." Laura Zuckerman for Reuters wrote last week about the silent threat to millions of birds in Western states: uncapped PVC pipes used to mark mining claim boundaries. (Via Deborah Blum.)

Sommer Mathis at The Atlantic Cities looks at the various transportation options — bike-sharing and by-the-minute car rentals among them — that may make taxis a thing of the past in some major cities. But Liz Henry reminds us that transportation options for the disabled non-drivers (who, I suspect, are the most frequent users of taxis in my suburban town) still have a LONG way to go to reach anything like adequacy.

At The Rumpus, Roxanne Gay interviews novelist Karolina Waclawiak on immigration, assimilation, passing, Los Angeles, and what she learned about writing in film school.

A wonderful essay by Shani O. Hilton at The Awl on Andy Griffith, race in Mayberry, and when "all-white can sometimes be all right."

Ah, the Fourth of July. Tracie McMillan at the Washington Post would like you to know that your barbecued hamburgers hate America. At NPR's The Record, Salamishah Tillet makes the case for why the American dream sounds like Nina Simone. From Deborah Blum at Wired, a lovely tribute to the "Tiny Fireworks" of family celebrations. Finally, Jill Lepore in The New Yorker with election-year politics, Emerson, echoes of Annie Dillard's frogs — and a peanut gallery of heckling children. Having it all, indeed.

Two final essays. This is more than six years old, but it has succeeded in convincing me to read Sheila Heti's new novel: her 2006 lecture, "Why Go Out?" (Frankly, the only compelling answer to this question I have ever settled upon is "to buy tortilla chips." But YMMV.)

But maybe this is the ultimate answer. One of the most extraordinary acts of journalism I have ever read, it is a long essay and multimedia piece by Catherine Porter at The Toronto Star on the life of one Shelagh Gordon, ordinary person, who died suddenly at the age of 55, and whose grieving friends and family agreed to be interviewed by The Star. (Via Deborah Blum, whom I've convinced you to follow already, nu?)