Saturday, October 20, 2012

Links for the week ending 21 October 2012

From last Sunday. If these mind-boggling statistics are accurate, it seems to me to be the most shameful outrage committed against a civilian population by the United States in my lifetime — which is some pretty stiff competition. "The latest study found that in Fallujah, more than half of all babies surveyed were born with a birth defect between 2007 and 2010." I would sure like to see one of the major science journalists take a good look at this study, because if it holds up to scrutiny, this ought to be changing everything about how we conduct armed conflict. By Sarah Morrison for The Independent.

By Heather Stewart at The Guardian, an article that will undoubtedly seem prescient: "the financialisation of the market for basic foodstuffs has led to prices drifting far away from the fundamentals of supply and demand, as investors treat betting on the future price of food as just another asset for their portfolio." What could possibly go wrong?

It's not enough to shut Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein out of the debate. No, she and her running mate had to be arrested. For blocking traffic. Uh-huh. By Allison Kilkenny for The Nation.

"'Acts that have no criminal nexus whatsoever, talking about who should be a speaker at a church panel, for example, are listed under headings of criminal acts'." Monica Brady-Myerov at WBUR reports on the efforts of the Boston chapter of the ACLU to end police spying on lawful activities.

I have to admit that I have more or less Had It with the internets this week after reading too many articles about trolling and misogyny. If you have not already met the same fate, here is one piece for the Independent by Laurie Penny about the suicide of Canadian teenager and harassment victim Amanda Todd — this piece seems to me to be more about righteous outrage and motivating for action than about using a child's tragedy as a platform to prove how clever and lyrical and worthy of employment one is as a feminist writer. Also, this piece in the Atlantic by Whitney Phillips makes the very necessary point "that trolls and sensationalist corporate media have more in common than the latter would care to admit, and that by engaging in a grotesque pantomime of the best corporate practices, trolls call attention to how the sensationalist sausage is made."

On the other hand, THIS is how clever, lyrical, employment-worthy feminist writing makes itself the most excellent kind of cultural commentary: Alyssa Rosenberg at ThinkProgress with "Gawker's Violentacrez Expose And How 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer' Predicted Geek Misogyny."

"It is like saying that Oprah would be the right one to manage the auto bailout because she gave away cars on her show." Amy Davidson at The New Yorker on "Mitt Romney's Charity and a Family's Story."

While the FDA is now recommending checking for infection anyone treated with products from the Framingham, MA compounding pharmacy whose injectable steroids have killed 15 people, Carolyn Johnson and Kay Lazar at the Boston Globe profile a meticulously run and accredited compounding pharmacy not far away. Sharon Begley for Reuters explains how compounding pharmacies have thus far escaped any attempt to regulate them more closely.

While we're on the subject of bad faith and injectable drugs! At The Last Word On Nothing, Christie Aschwanden writes about whistleblowers and Lance Armstrong.

On the other hand, sometimes people have good reason to be operating off the books and just outside regulations, like in the case of this Philadelphia cardiologist who has been smuggling used cardiac implants in his luggage for reuse for desperately poor patients in Indian hospitals. By JoNel Aleccia for NBC News.

Oh, look! Science has found that I'm personally responsible for the failures of feminism after all (pace Linda Hirshman): men whose wives are not employed are more likely to "'exhibit attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that undermine the role of women in the workplace.'" By Gayle Tzemach Lemmon for the Atlantic, which is itself, of course, a stalwart and consistent defender of feminism.

This, however, was the Atlantic article voted "Most Likely To Make Me Cry": Emily Badger on a collaborative project that allows you to compare photographs from an aerial survey of Connecticut in 1934 to current Google satellite imagery. Watch the trees disappear!

Quick! Mood-improvement break! "Omaha schoolgirl dresses as a different historical figure each day." By Erin Grace at

"I've seen dozens of 'diverse' workplaces in which all the people of color are in the manual jobs and all the women are doing clerical work." Rinku Sen at Colorlines on the ways binders full of women and lip-service commitments to diversity mean nothing if they're not linked to the goal of equity.

Appalling portrait of the dehumanization of domestic workers (most immigrants from Asia and Africa) in Lebanon by Jess Hill for The Global Mail.

"It is this not-our-fault mentality that accounts for the plutocrats' profound sense of victimization in the Obama era." An excerpt from Chrystia Freeland's new book Plutocrats at Reuters.

"Jim Cullinan, vice president of corporate communications for Clear Channel Outdoor, said in an email that 85 billboards contain the message, and that they will not be taken down." But voter intimidation in Milwaukee is, of course, not Clear Channel's fault. By Georgia Pabst of Milwaukee's Journal Sentinel.

Science shows that kids' behavior reflects whether or not they judge the adults around them to be full of it! Rebecca Boyle at Popular Science reports on a new version of the classic "marshmallow experiment" measuring children's ability to exert self-control.

At Colorlines, Channing Kennedy (who is a guy) interviews Negin Farsad (who is not a guy) about her new documentary, The Muslims Are Coming!, about six Muslim comedians on stand-up tour across the United States.

This may be more than you really wanted to know about the state of Moroccan hip-hop, but there are a lot of excellent observations about how "we have to make a genuine effort to see things through a frame in which the US and our narratives, our expectations, our 'national interests,' are not the center of the conversation — and keep seeing them that way." By Kendra Salois for The New Inquiry.

By Mae Rice at The Morning News, "Under the Bridge Downtown," an essay about her high-school job as grocery bagger — and learning to accept human complexity.

At Rookie, Emily Gordon on "Why We Play: It's true — video games are good for you."

At The Crunk Feminist Collective, wpeeps goes to the shooting range and comes away "Armed and…. Ambivalent?"

Because I have to admit that I stood in front of the Pumpkin Spiced Coffee for a full minute wondering, "Do I dare disturb the universe?" At The Awl, Sarah Sprague breaks down "How Many Pumpkin Items Are In This Trader Joe's Flyer? A Pie Chart Analysis."

At Letters of Note, a 2006 letter from Harper Lee to Oprah Winfrey on learning what books were worth.

Finally, at PandoDaily, "Suddenly everyone wants New Yorker style content. Only one catch: Who is going to write it?" By Sarah Lacy