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.