Sunday, September 30, 2012

Links for the week ending 30 September 2012

"… he filled his time with remedial studies designed by a Canadian college professor— literature, physics and videos of 'Little Mosque on the Prairie.'" Omar Khadr, captured by the U.S. and sent to Guantánamo as a child of 15, was yesterday turned over to authorities in his native Canada, there to serve out the rest of his 8-year sentence for "war crimes." By the Miami Herald's excellent reporter on the Guantánamo beat, Carol Rosenberg.

GlobalPost's Tracey Shelton reports from a bombed-out hospital in Aleppo, Syria. (Warning: I did not watch any of the videos in this article; I assume that any and all of them may contain graphic footage of injuries and violence.) Erika Solomon at Reuters reports further on the burning of Aleppo's historic souk, which dates back to medieval times. At the AP, Zeina Karam reports, "Syrian authorities sent text messages over cell phones nationwide Thursday with a message for rebels fighting President Bashar Assad's regime: 'Game over.'"

Some fascinating writing this week on clashing cultural constructions of freedom of speech. Sarah Kendzior at Al Jazeera English insightfully analyzes this summer's Chick-fil-A boycott in the context of protests against anti-Muslim hate speech: "Free speech does not mean deferring to people's right to abuse you." Also, danah boyd looks at Mona Eltahawy's spray-paint protest against racist anti-Muslim ads on the NYC subway system and concludes: "there's a huge international disconnect brewing over American free speech and our failure to publicly untangle these issues undermines any effort to promote its value." I'm hoping that Zeynep Tufecki will write up a piece expanding on her Twitter thoughts about how freedom of speech means something entirely different in countries that have experienced ethnic cleansing.

This is just plain hilarious: Sarah A. Topol at The Atlantic on tourist-kidnapping as political protest by hopelessly hospitable Bedouin tribes of the Sinai Peninsula.

This will not be the cheeriest thing you read today: Nina Chestney at Reuters on a new international report concluding that "more than 100 million people will die" by 2030 if nothing is done about climate change.

Increased carbon dioxide makes ocean waters much more acidic, with "major catastrophic" consequences for species and ecosystems. At COMPASS, Nancy Baron writes about scientists and journalists talking together about how to communicate the problem to the public: "like dropping a tooth into Coca-Cola and watching the corrosion."

On the other hand, now you can sail across the Arctic Ocean in summertime. Whoa. That's Fridtjof Nansen turning over in his grave, there. By Rebecca Rosen for The Atlantic.

"'We don't have a police state in this country, but we have the technology.'" At the Wall Street Journal, Julia Angwin and Jennifer Valentino-Devries report on a new frontier in public and private surveillance: license-plate tracking. After you read this, you may feel that a little sailing jaunt in the Arctic isn't such a bad idea…

Just in case you needed to hear that twice: from Naomi Gilens at the ACLU, "New Justice Department Documents Show Huge Increase in Warrantless Electronic Surveillance."

Gee, I can't possibly imagine a scenario in which this could go wrong. "Facebook Now Knows What You're Buying at Drug Stores." By Rebecca Greenfield at The Atlantic.

Voter intimidation never goes out of style. Mariah Blake at The Atlantic profiles the RNC's history of "voter-fraud" campaigns, newly incarnated as independent organization "True the Vote." ProPublica's Suevon Lee offers a reading guide to True the Vote's recent media coverage.

A new longread from Sabrina Rubin Erdely in Rolling Stone: "The Plot Against Occupy: How the government turned five stoner misfits into the world's most hapless terrorist cell."

Interesting piece by Steph Herold at RH Reality Check on a recent study about low-income women's opinions on public funding for abortion.

From Liz Szabo at USA Today, coverage of a new study finding that BPA exposure impacts not just the developing fetus but also the eggs forming in the ovaries of female fetuses — meaning that exposure has the potential to disrupt three generations at once.

Cheap, personalized cancer treatment? Marilynn Marchione reports for the AP about a recent NEJM study describing a new technique that allows doctors to culture cancer cells from patient tumors in order to test the cancer's susceptibility to various drugs.

At The Open Notebook, Michelle Nijhuis interviews author Florence Williams about her book, Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History, which I am promptly adding to my to-read list.

Another week, another scary new disease! Helen Branswell reports for the Canadian Press about a new coronavirus that caused two deaths in people recently in Saudi Arabia, where the hajj is soon to begin. At Wired, Maryn McKenna discusses "Why the New Coronavirus Unnerves Public Health: Remembering SARS."

Christie Wilcox at SciAm looks at whether lower pesticide residues are in and of themselves a good reason to buy organic and concludes, "you have more to fear from your home than from your food." That would be more comforting if we hadn't just established that our furniture is stuffed with toxic flame-retardant chemicals, yes.

Also at SciAm, medical student Ilana Yurkiewicz's excellent analysis of why it matters that a recent study shows both male and female scientists display gender bias against women.

At the Washington Post, Frances Stead Sellers writes about Gallaudet University professor Carolyn McCaskill, author of the first formal study of Black American Sign Language and how it differs from ASL.

Sady Doyle writes for Rookie about being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. A brave piece, and, god, I can't say enough admiring things about writers who take teenagers seriously enough to address this kind of work to them.

At The New Republic, Julia Ioffe bids a fond — and not-so-fond — farewell to Moscow.

At the Los Angeles Review of Books, Carol Berger finds barbarians inside the gates at the Egyptian Museum.

At Smithsonian Magazine, Jen Miller writes about the complicated, bitter, and loving history of Navajo frybread.

Finally, also at Smithsonian Magazine, Abigail Tucker writes about "The Great New England Vampire Panic." Bram Stoker might have found an inspiration in… Rhode Island???

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Links for the week ending 23 September 2012

So many excellent longreads this week, and so little time! I'm just going to assume that you all spent the week cackling over the 47% coverage, and go on from there, okay? Let's start with Elizabeth Drew at the New York Review of Books on the issue of "voter fraud": "This is the worst thing that has happened to our democratic election system since the late nineteenth century, when legislatures in southern states systematically negated the voting rights blacks had won in the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution." If you're not already following Colorlines' Voting Rights Watch 2012, do so — the primary investigative reporter is a guy, alas, so I'm not linking to much of its very essential work here. But here's one from editor Aura Bogado: "Voting Outcasts: Why One in Five Blacks in Kentucky Can't Cast a Ballot."

At The Awl, Sarah Miller writes up her experiences canvassing for Obama in South Reno, Nevada. "'Nev-ADD-uh,' we chorused obediently." Now you know.

The inestimable Jill Lepore at The New Yorker with the surprising history of Upton Sinclair's political career, the first flush of the Democratic party in California — and the invention of the American political consulting industry.

From Anna Yukhananov at Reuters, the plight of health officials in red states who risk being expunged by their fellow conservatives for trying to implement the insurance exchanges mandated by the Affordable Care Act. "'If you'd ever been to a picnic, and found out you were the main course, that's what happened,' Chaney said about the experience later."

The Chicago teachers' strike has ended, but Kathryn Salucka from the Council on Foreign Relations thinks young voters should be prepared to strike — against Congressional inaction leading to the sequestration. At Huff Post.

Mary Slosson at Reuters reports that UC Davis' pepper-spraying cops will not be facing any charges for their actions, per the Yolo County District Attorney's Office.

Also at Reuters, Jessica Donati reports on last Sunday's "insider attacks" on NATO troops by Afghan allies, which have led to a halt in all joint exercises between NATO and local forces.

At Time, Rania Abouzeid reports on the factionalization of Syria's rebel forces by the two Gulf States providing them with weapons, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Via Azmat Khan.

At Reuters, Mariam Karouny reports on how the violence in neighboring Syria has increased the incidence of sectarian fighting in the Lebanese city of Tripoli. ""If they shut off the money and the weapons nobody will fight. But they have a political interest in igniting the situation.'"

At Al Jazeera English, Sarah Kendzior rejects the stereotyping mindset behind the phrase, "the Muslim world."

Bah, I can't remember via whose Twitter feed I found this: a sweet anecdote about ordering a sandwich in Cairo by political scientist Emily Regan Wills.

At Foreign Policy, Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt takes a closer look at China's policy changes in response to Japan's purchase of disputed islands in the East China Sea — and how China may be tying its own hands by encouraging anti-Japanese nationalist protests at home.

At Womens eNews, Samantha Kimmey reports on allegations that the Philippine Consulate in NYC has done nothing to protect its nationals who have been trafficked into this country as domestic and household workers. Includes the mind-boggling statistic that ten percent of Filipinos work overseas.

Fact-based takedowns, how I <3 them. At Foreign Policy, Mara Hvistendahl does some preliminary fact-checking of statements in Hanna Rosin's The End of Men about the situation for women across Asia — and finds an awful lot of botched statistics and assumptions.

Maia Szalavitz at Time does something similar for the neuroscience claims in Naomi Wolf's Vagina.

And Scicurious is at Discover Magazine, critiquing the bad science behind the recent study purporting to show that rats fed GMO corn and/or Roundup weedkiller developed enormous tumors and died. Not that anyone is recommending that Roundup is good for you, but bad science is bad science even when you're predisposed to agree with its conclusions.

Headlines are sometimes hyperbolic, but this really is as advertised: "Bad to the bone: A medical horror story." How a medical device company peddled its new product directly to operating rooms — with deadly consequences. By Mina Kimes for Fortune.

At SciAm, Maryn McKenna makes the argument that well-trained — and well-paid — janitorial staffs are a key part of hospital infection control measures. You will so not ever touch a hospital privacy curtain again after reading this.

Just to keep you from curling up into a little despairing ball, here is a blog post from S.E. Gould at SciAm about the progress being made in developing a new broad-spectrum antibiotic.

On the other hand… I'm not throwing out my kids' rice cereal just yet, but maybe the store will just happen to be "all out" of it next time I need to resupply. Deborah Blum at Wired on the lack of real answers emanating from the FDA on whether or not elevated levels of inorganic arsenic in rice means consumers should severely limit their intake of rice.

Very long and not one page, but it may be the best "fish story" since Cod. Alison Fairbrother at The Washington Monthly on menhaden, the little fish that may be key to collapsing fisheries of all sorts. "Pound for pound, more menhaden are pulled from the sea than any other fish species in the continental United States, and 80 percent of the menhaden netted from the Atlantic are the property of a single company."

I bet this isn't helping, either, though: Julia Whitty at MoJo reports that sea surface temperatures off the East Coast this year were the hottest ever recorded.

At Nature, Michelle Nijhuis reports that the intense burns from wildfires in the American West over the past several years are leading to permanent, irreversible ecological changes.

Such a great piece by Ann Finkbeiner at The Last Word On Nothing: "The Theorist, the Tundra, & the Forbidden Crystal," the tale of a physicist searching for 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite fragments in remote eastern Russia.

From Christine Baumgarthuber at The New Inquiry, an essay about 19th century illustrator and naturalist William Hamilton Gibson, sentimental and overwrought, but also one of the first and most tireless defenders of New York City's green and wild places.

At The Verge, Maria Bustillos has a conversation about "reality in the age of Instagram." Lots of thoughtful observations here about authority, representation, and the unprecedented "recording of life as it passes."

Huff Post's tech editor, Bianca Bosker, pinpoints the fly in some of this ointment, though, at least when it comes to social media platforms: "the authentic, human experiences that attracted millions of people to these platforms now risk being polluted by the marketing noise ushered in with these companies' push for profits."

"When your heart goes dead, it's always for a reason; something hurts too much to feel." Sady Doyle at Buzzfeed, "On Bruce Springsteen And Disappointing Fathers."

At GQ, Marin Cogan profiles Al Sharpton. Via Longreads.

At the BBC, Kate McGeown on Hernando Guanlao, an elderly man in central Manila who has turned his home into an informal library for his neighborhood and beyond.

Kate Fridkis is fast becoming one of my favorite young writers. Two Rosh Hashanah pieces from her this week: "horrible fragility," and "the things grownups say automatically to kids they run into in the hall."

Jamia Wilson is another young writer whose work impresses me more often than not. At Rookie, "Go for Yours," on gender norms and asserting one's skills at negotiation.

Anne Helen Petersen's gift to the internets this week was another in her series of "Scandals of Classic Hollywood." Nothing in the text a former teenage old Hollywood buff hasn't read before, but that collection of Garbo photos will undoubtedly launch a new generation of teenage old Hollywood buffs. Wow.

Wonderful book review of Lisa Cohen's All We Know: Three Lives at the London Review of Books by Terry Castle. Posting for Sheila's benefit — so she can play "spot your undergraduate mentor" in the initial cast of characters — but it's a fun read even if you've never heard of any of the people involved.

Why, look at this glowing book review by Michael Ann Dobbs at "the prose itself is an absolute joy." But you all have already read Rachel Hartman's Seraphina, yes? Or you're about to, as soon as you finish reading this. Right? RIGHT?

Finally, at The Morning News, Lauren Daisley's personal essay about a career in voiceovers that goes derailed for leaving too many things unsaid.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Links for the week ending 16 September 2012

Anti-American protests erupted all over the Middle East this week. Reuters reporter Hadeel Al Shalchi was on the ground in Benghazi and provided a detailed account of the events that began with the destruction of the U.S. consulate there and the deaths of four American diplomats: "In Libya, deadly fury took U.S. envoys by surprise." Also, Michelle Shephard at the Toronto Star reports on the suggestion that the deaths in Benghazi were part of an organized plot by a small band of Al Qaeda-linked militants rather than a result of spontaneous mob violence. Erin Cunningham at GlobalPost reports that the protests have spread to 20 countries and involve a lot more than just anger about the YouTube video blamed with sparking the violence. And national security analyst Heather Hurlburt writes at The American Prospect that these protests do not signal the end of the Arab Spring, but do mean that it's "time to move on from the images of cuddly protesters."

But for all the violence that made headlines elsewhere in the Middle East, what is happening in Syria is more massive and deadlier. As PBS's Frontline begins a new season, Azmat Khan looks at "Syria's Shocking Civilian Death Toll."

Lena Groeger and Cora Currier at ProPublica have collated four years of statements by Obama Administration officials about drone strikes. It is an incredible piece of data mining, and essential to understanding why anti-Americanism in Pakistan and the Middle East seems to constantly renew itself. (Though of course the offensive YouTube film produced by a Coptic Christian felon in Californian has not helped matters any.)

For The Guardian, Emma Graham-Harrison profiles a group of skateboarding (!) child hustlers who were blown apart by a suicide bomber near NATO headquarters in Kabul. I cannot recommend this piece highly enough, though I also guarantee that it will break your heart.

Back in the U.S., on incomes spiraling lower and lower among the formerly middle class: "of the three million people who lost a full-time job they'd held for more than three years and found a new one, fewer than half were making as much as they once had." By Allison Linn for NBC News.

In possibly related news, "Southern whites troubled by Romney's wealth, religion." By Margot Roosevelt for Reuters.

In the long term, these are the numbers that make current Republican rhetoric a suicide strategy. "Democrats See Arizona Gain as Backlash Drives Hispanic Voters," by Amanda J. Crawford for Bloomberg.

At The American Prospect, Tracie McMillan has another article based on reporting she did for her book: "Farm-labor contractors give American produce growers what companies like China's Foxconn offer to Apple: a way to outsource a costly and complicated part of the business, often saving money in the process and creating a firewall between the brand and the working conditions under which its products are made."

Meet "The Norma Rae of Fashion Interns," Diana Wang, who initiated what is now a class-action lawsuit against the Hearst Corporation alleging that unpaid internships at Hearst's magazines violate state and federal labor laws. By Kayleen Schaefer for New York Magazine.

Liliana Segura at The Nation writes about the case of Terrance Williams, sentenced to death for two murders by a jury who was not informed that the victims had repeatedly sexually abused the then-teenager. The Pennsylvania pardons board meets tomorrow. If it does not issue a pardon, Williams will be executed on 3 October.

By Jamie Stengle (and coauthor Nomaan Merchant) for the AP, an awful story from Texas about the murder of 16-year-old Shania Gray by the man charged with with raping her while she babysat his children, a crime that was scheduled to go to trial next month. Gah, stories like this one are why I can't say that I'm 100 percent against the death penalty.

Last week we read about urban street harassment. This week at Women's Media Center, Holly Kearl talks to Native American women about the street harassment they experience both on the reservation and off.

"'You show me a business person who cares about his federal tax rate more than his customers, and I'll show you Darwin at work.'" Suzy Khimm at the Washington Post reports from NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg's well-received recent speech suggesting that debates about tax rates are a sideshow from the real business of growing business.

Also from Suzy Khimm, a very important explainer about the sequester, which (I didn't know what it was, either) is going to automatically cut $1.2 trillion from the federal budget between 2013 and 2021 if Congress doesn't get its act together.

It's not a week without new abortion restrictions, right? From Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones, a report from the Virginia Board of Health's Friday meeting that may end up shutting down all of Virginia's abortion clinics.

If you're wondering why anti-abortion zealots engage in such tactics, Irin Carmon at Salon has your answer: attempts to change a woman's choice don't work to lower abortion rates. But severe restrictions on abortion access do.

On the other hand, this is so many different kinds of awesome I can't even stand it. Nashville mayor Karl Dean has decided that his first pick for "citywide read" is… Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. By Betsy Phillips (who is, herself, so many different kinds of awesome) for the Nashville Scene.

Climate change! Still the funniest joke EVER; or, don't I link to a piece with this title at least once a month? "In U.S., 2012 so far is hottest year on record." By Deborah Zabarenko at Reuters. But no problem! We'll just crank up the AC, right? Er. "Climate change challenges power plant operations," by Juliet Eilperin at the Washington Post, on how the hydroelectric grid is faltering under relentless drought in parts of the nation.

At Yale Environment 360, Elizabeth Kolbert reports from the slopes of the Peruvian Andes, where climate change threatens to decimate species in one of the most incredibly diverse places on earth. Can the trees migrate up slopes in time?

Wired's Maryn McKenna spent the week at a conference sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology. Pick your poison: "The Outdoors Hates You: More New Tick-Borne Diseases," "E.Coli Behaving Badly: Hospitals, Travel, Food," "'Superbug' NDM-1 Found In US Cat," and finally, "Drug Resistance in Food: Chicken, Shrimp, Even Lettuce."

After those last links, I would like to be vaccinated for ALL THE THINGS. But Liz Szabo at USA Today explains that, at least when it comes to whooping cough vaccine, the formulation in use since the 1990s loses its effectiveness after only a few years, and is in need of redevelopment.

"For-profit school degrees cost on average three to four times what students would pay for equivalent degrees at community colleges and public universities," writes Julianne Hing in a look at how racially stratified higher education has become, with black, Latino, and Native American students disproportionately attending for-profit schools. But the situation is only going to intensify, as Nanette Asimov writes for the San Francisco Chronicle about how California's community college system is set to ration access to courses to certain set categories of students.

Tami Winfrey Harris at Clutch Magazine takes on white feminist criticism of Michelle Obama's "Mom-in-Chief" speech: "A Black Mom-in-Chief is Revolutionary."

At the Women Under Siege Project, Jamia Wilson writes a moving piece about how she came to learn of her own mother's history with sexualized violence in the struggle for civil rights, and places it in a wider global context.

""I am not a Puzzle Box." Absolutely spot-on metaphor and analysis of geek culture misogyny from Felicity Shoulders. Via the Geek Feminism Wiki.

From Decca Aitkenhead at The Guardian, an, er, buzzworthy history of the vibrator. (Sorry.)

Apparently Bambi should have been a movie about killer whales? Kate Kelland at Reuters (with the most wince-worthy title of the week, which I'm sure she didn't write) on how postmenopausal killer whales are apparently the key to their adult sons' survival.

Via @jillheather, GrrlScientist at The Guardian on the story of a bald eagle who was fitted with a 3-D printed beak extension after her original beak was shot off by a poacher.

So glad that Annie Murphy Paul covered this study, because it was KILLING me not to be able to mention it this week. You guys: watching an old, familiar, favorite TV rerun restores mood and mental focus after a long day. Why are my kids watching that episode of Fetch for the 495th time after school? Now you know. It's SCIENCE!

You think this piece is going to remain in the realm of "amusing, absurd," and then it blows you away with how smart and serious it really is: Nicola Twilley at Edible Geography with "Syrup Stockpiles, Wine Lakes, Butter Mountains, and Other Strategic Food Reserves."

The Billfold has really been killing it lately. Colleen Hubbard with "They Called Her the Homeless Woman Who Lived With Us (I Called Her Gabrielle)."

And finally at The Hairpin: "Numbers About My Mother." Melissa Chandler with a simultaneously lyrical and tough-minded mediation on the attempted suicide of her mother.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Links for the week ending 9 September 2012

Twitter informed me early and often that the Democrats held their nominating convention this week. Garance Franke-Ruta diagnoses the reasons behind the "enthusiasm gap" for The Atlantic.

It's clear that the Republican strategy for addressing their party's unpopularity with minority groups is to simply suppress minority voters in every possible way. Lois Beckett and Suevon Lee at ProPublica report on the "Five Ways Courts Say Texas Discriminated Against Black and Latino Voters."

What could go wrong? The EPA grants Shell permission to begin preliminary work on oil drilling in the Arctic waters of the Chukchi Sea even though the company has already stated that it will not be able to meet environmental emissions standards. By Yereth Rosen for Reuters.

At The Nation, Bryce Covert examines staggering job losses in the "pink collar" sector of the economy — administrative support and secretarial work — and how those losses are sending increasing numbers of women to minimum wage service industry jobs.

Hilary Russ for Reuters reports on how Central Falls, Rhode Island emerged from bankruptcy with a plan that pleases credit markets but leaves elected officials powerless, city taxpayers fielding millions of dollars in of fees, and retired city employees grappling with slashed pensions.

Kim Zetter reports for Wired about sophisticated hacker attacks involving "zero-day vulnerabilities," often involving weaknesses in the Adobe Flash Player.

Do you welcome our robot overlords? Geeta Dayal at Wired on the blocking of a livestream broadcast of the presentation of the Hugo Awards, and why "We pause this program for copyright identification" may be the signature announcement of the century.

At The Guardian, Hilary Osborne asks, "Do you own your digital content?" Spoiler: no.

"It's not my fault you're pretty." A harassment tale.

More harassment tales. Via @actuallyaisha.

Amanda Marcotte hits it out of the park about harassment: "women are discrete individuals, not support staff for men… They aren't your moms. You are adults now. It's time to start self-soothing."

At The Crunk Feminist Collective, "At the Risk of Sounding Angry: On Melissa Harris-Perry's Eloquent Rage."

An often frustrating but important three-part piece by "Jungli Pudina" at The New Inquiry about the ordeal of a Pakistani-American family whose children were put into foster care after the mother initially attempted to treat a burn with home remedies rather than taking the child immediately to the emergency room. "(Actually, the crux of the matter is that the System itself is rotten. And these people think that there is no world other than their own.)"

And then on the other hand: at The Chicago Reporter, Maria Ines Zamudio on the 233 children murdered between FY 2000-2011 "after the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services had investigated their cases for alleged abuse or neglect."

"That day, her son had received 31 electric shocks as punishment for misbehaving." Jennifer Gonnerman at New York Magazine on the horrifying punitive practices of a residential treatment center for troubled children and adults. Via Longreads.

At Ms. Magazine, Michele Chabin writes about a brave group of Palestinian and Israeli women who travel illegally between the West Back and Israel in order to socialize — and challenge Israeli policy.

I was and am completely awed by the sheer journalistic accomplishment that is Katherine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers — my choice for the best book of 2012, whatever else gets released this year. Emily Brennan interviewed Boo for Guernica on the ethical dilemmas of reporting on poverty.

Maggie Koerth-Baker at Boing Boing does such a great job of sketching complexity in a few paragraphs: "Are pesticides evil, or awesome?" Good links, too.

Hantavirus, brain-eating amoebae, West Nile virus… how about "Brain Parasites, California's Hidden Health Problem"? By Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato at SciAm. Warning: bloody photos of brain surgery.

I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this. "Bed Bugs Reported at L.A. Central Library." By Simone Wilson at LA Weekly. Includes helpful list of other municipalities with library bed bug outbreaks.

Wait! Don't give up in despair! This week, NASA astronaut Sunita Williams and her colleague, Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, made a critical repair to the International Space Station using… an extra toothbrush. By Megan Garber at The Atlantic.

I have never been to a CON of any sort, and do not even read sci-fi but rarely. Still I find fascinating Annalee Newitz's close analysis of how various geek communities are adjusting to the idea that women should be equal participants. This is how social change happens, yo.

At SciAm, Kate Clancy wins the internets this week with a piece critiquing media coverage of a recent study identifying a factor in semen that may induce ovulation — in llamas. Now everyone sing along: "Yes, it's just my llama and me!"

Was the Minnesota State Fair just past the greatest flowering of cultural expression in human history? You decide. Photos from the 2012 Llama pageant, by Meg Holle (via @missludmilla). And gay marriage seed art, courtesy of Kiera Butler at Mother Jones.

Rebecca Lawn for the BBC on the triumph of "tu" over "vous" on Twitter.

By Nicole Pasulka at The Believer, "Eddie Is Gone," on surfing, anticolonialism, tourism, and bravery.

It… confuses me that an article this good is on BuzzFeed. Doree Shafrir on night terrors and so much more. Really, mind-bogglingly good — and I'm not just saying that because I live with two people who suffer from night terrors. (I'd have them read the article, but it would just make them anxious, which would give them more night terrors. Right.)

On a plain old ordinary Blogspot template, the legendary Judy Blume writes about being treated for breast cancer. May she have the most rapid and complete of recoveries. (I suspect I am not alone among middle-aged ladies in finding her presence on social media as heartening to me now as her books were to me as a child.)

Zoë Heller writes the takedown of the week and The NYRB goes NSFW in, er, honor of Naomi Wolf's Vagina: A New Biography. "It is unclear how Wolf tells a uniquely dimmed vitality from the ordinarily dimmed kind." This, friends, is how you write a negative review!

Elizabeth Bachner at Bookslut with another essay that somehow manages to be about everything: birthdays, ballet dancers, suicides, marmosets. "History of My Mind: Reading 'The Walk.'"

Finally, the most layered and moving piece I read all week, by Martha Bayne in The Rumpus last Sunday, "Knocked Over: On Biology, Magical Thinking and Choice."

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Links for the week ending 2 September 2012

Women wrote a veritable tsunami of interesting things this week. I had more than twice the number of articles tagged for consideration than usual — and this for a holiday weekend, when I expect half the number of usual readers. (Isn't that ironic? Don't you think?) Given the flood of links I have for you, lots of good things must needs go unacknowledged. When in doubt, I cut the usual suspects that I link to most weeks, and the RNC coverage. You all read that stuff already, right?

At Businessweek, Sheelah Kolhatkar attends a fundraising breakfast with Karl Rove and the Republican party's biggest donors. These are the jokes, folks. God help us all.

Ha, ha, climate change is also hilarious. Just check out this laugh-a-minute article by Julia Whitty at Mother Jones on the record-breaking melting of Arctic ice this summer. (I might have linked to the more substantial article by Juliet Eilperin at the Washington Post on the same topic, except I have a new policy: no linking to work that quotes climate-deniers without addressing their truthiness as sources.)

In related news! At The Last Word on Nothing, Anne Casselman writes about recent research that suggests "there may be a fail safe built into our human nature to help alleviate the tragedy of the commons. It's called peer judgement."

Did you or someone you love lose large sections of childhood to an obsession with Marguerite Henry's books? You might want to take that literary nostalgia trip to Chinctoteague National Wildlife Refuge soon. Because climate change is hilarious. Of course. By Jennifer Weeks for the Daily Climate.

In case any of you were still wondering, "Are campaign appearance crowds a good indicator of how people really feel about candidates?" Sabrina Eaton at the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that coal miners in Beallsville, Ohio, were told that "attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend." Uh-huh.

At least they didn't charge the Ohio miners with murder? Lydia Polgreen at the NYT (count your articles or clear your cookies!) on charges of murder leveled against 270 striking miners at a platinum mine near Johannesburg after 34 of their fellow miners were shot and killed by police.

Michelle Shephard at the Toronto Star has yet another amazing piece, this one tracing the harvest and rush delivery of the mild stimulant khat from Kenya to the East African diaspora community in Canada. "'The shock absorbers are out,' Mrefu explains, saying he often reaches a speed of 170 kilometres an hour."

Frontline is back for the fall season, and here is Azmat Khan with an explainer about the biggest problems in the nation of Yemen (which include a dire water shortage related to the production of khat). Also, from journalist Iona Craig in Yemen, the suffering and celebrity of a boy who lost both eyes to gunshot wounds when gunmen fired on protesters in Yemen's capital in March of 2011.

At Reuters, Alissa de Carbonnel writes about the growing Islamic revolt in Russia's Caucasus region. "In a survey, as many as 13 percent of Dagestanis under 30 said 'yes' or 'maybe' they could see themselves ending up as rebel fighters, sociologist Zaid Abdulagatov said."

Laurie Penny at The Independent on the rise of political xenophobia and anti-immigrant violence in Greece.

At the AP, Helen O'Neill reports on a few of the families shattered by the record number of deportations — nearly 45,000 parents in the first six months of 2012. Heartbreaking.

At Colorlines, Mónica Novoa reflects on a recent study on the impact of immigration policy on children, and her own personal experience with "illegal" and "wetback" when she was in elementary school.

Wow. Sarah Stillman at The New Yorker on the deaths of young people pressured into becoming police informants after being caught with small amounts of drugs. "'Now I lost my baby for an ounce of weed,' Nelson said at her kitchen counter. 'It's like they just threw her away.'"

Climate change is still funny, right? Dr. Judy Stone at SciAm on the increasing incidence of "Neglected Tropical Diseases" like dengue and Chagas disease in the Gulf states.

Oh, fun! "New tick-borne virus puts the bite on Missouri farmers." By JoNel Aleccia for NBC News.

Mites. On my face. Fabulous. From Linda Carroll at NBC News, the new study showing that rosacea may be caused by poop explosions following the deaths of the aforementioned mites. Now please hand me a Pussy Riot-style balaclava. Thanks.

But! There is good news! "Calorie Restriction Fails to Lengthen Lifespan in Primates," says Amy Maxmen in a Nature article reprinted at SciAm. So if I can only figure out how to keep from smearing chocolate all over this balaclava, I should be fine.

Sarah Lohman at Four Pounds Flour looked at the history of both chocolate and vanilla ice cream this week.

At The Walrus, Sasha Chapman writes, "Tell me what you think of Kraft Dinner, and I will tell you who you are."

At Slate, Tracie McMillan exhorts, "Cooking isn't fun, but you should do it anyway." (But, oh, boy, the article is brought to you by… the makers of breakfast cereal.)

Take time out from your busy schedule of cooking organic food from scratch to vaccinate your kids. Megan Boldt at on the surprising demographics of who refuses vaccines in Minnesota.

Some really lovely writing from Jia Tolentino at The Billfold: "Venice on Silence And Three Euro a Day."

Paging Jill Heather: the new Amy Jean Porter at The Awl riffs on Murakami's Cat Town.

Nearly half the students in Government 1310: Introduction to Congress are under investigation by Harvard for cheating on a final take-home exam. Just learning to assume their roles at the helm of the ship of state! By Mary Carmichael at the Boston Globe.

Best explainer ever? Annalee Newitz at on "How to Write About Hermaphrodite Sex."

It was Women Reading Comics in Public Day last Tuesday. Maggie Koerth-Baker wrote about being ashamed of reading comics as a girl, and how "Shame perpetuates shame."

The weirdest thing you will read all week: Sabrina Rubin Erdely at Rolling Stone profiling "The Gangster Princess of Beverly Hills."

The sweetest thing you will read all week: Jessalyn Shields at The Hairpin with "How to Live Practically Forever."

And, finally, Roxanne Gay at The Rumpus on trigger warnings: "The Illusion of Safety/The Safety of Illusion."