With apologies, I am not linking to any stories about the Newtown school massacre this week. Firstly because I think the stories that matter are yet to be written. But mostly because I cannot yet bear it. (By the banks of the Housatonic I sat down and wept.)
Some weeks there are released into the world dozens and dozens of stories months or years in the making, every one of them worth reading. This was one of those weeks, and I have not managed to catch up with them all. But here is a smattering of them.
Trigger warnings for those of you with NICU experiences. For the rest of you, a wrenching but — stick with it — ultimately triumphant three-part piece at the Tampa Bay Times by Kelly Benham on the birth of her daughter, Juniper, at 23 weeks' gestation. Via Andrea Pitzer.
"They were the oldest teenagers in America." At the Washington Post, Anne Hull profiles a teenage girl's struggle to escape the tremendous gravity of poverty in New Castle, Pennsylvania. Via Stephen Burt.
"It was as if so many of us, myself included, were looking at the protestors and saying, 'Please, let something matter again.'" At Wired, Quinn Norton's elegiac look back on the year she spent covering Occupy encampments around the nation.
"Today the Citadel is no longer a stage for impressing visitors. It is no longer a protected UNESCO World Heritage site. It had reclaimed its original purpose — a fortress in an active battle between Syrian sons, a site to be occupied and captured once more." An incredible, Calvino-inflected eulogy for the ancient city of Aleppo, by Amal Hanano at Foreign Policy. Via a lot of people, including Azmat Khan and Rania Abouzeid.
Julia Angwin at the Wall Street Journal reports, "U.S. Terrorism Agency to Tap a Vast Database of Citizens," mining our everyday records for patterns of suspicious behavior.
"'If you believe this is a social welfare organization, I have a rocket that can get you to the moon very quickly and at very little cost.'" Kim Barker at ProPublica on the contents of Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS application for nonprofit status with the IRS.
Molly Ball at The Atlantic takes you on a long, winding tour of "The Marriage Plot: Inside This Year's Epic Campaign for Gay Equality."
"'My child was killed, and nothing on the ground has changed. No one achieved anything. Families lost children and loved ones. How can this be a victory?'" Harriet Sherwood reports from Gaza for The Guardian.
Irin Carmon writes for Salon about the loophole that allows non-Native men to abuse Native American women with impunity — and how the U.S. House of Representatives would rather torpedo the Violence Against Women Act than allow that loophole to be closed.
And they wonder why people who have the means would rather drive their damn cars. "Public Buses Across Country Quietly Adding Microphones to Record Passenger Conversations," reports Kim Zetter at Wired.
"Oil may be seeping from Deepwater Horizon site," Sharyl Attkisson reports for CBS News. I gotta tell you, my House representative could not be any more awesome. Thank you, Ed Markey.
At the NYRB, Francine Prose asks why poor kids in New York City's metal-detector-equipped public schools are forced to spend five dollars a week storing their cellphones in privately owned trucks outside school buildings, to the tune of some $4.2 million per year.
"Scalia clings to hate — what he calls animus — because he's got nothing else; what he is missing, though, is that an increasing number of Americans have found that when legal strictures and open discrimination are stripped away they are left not with the reprehensible, but with neighbors, friends, and family members whom they love, and see loving each other." Amy Davidson at the New Yorker.
Even on a week like this one — especially on a week like this one — we should not forget to be awesome. Taylor Kate Brown in the inaugural issue of Somersault Magazine on the "Epic Politics" of Nerdfighters and brothers John and Hank Green. My kid saw one of their videos in class last week, which is all by itself some pretty substantial awesome.
At Baltimore Fishbowl, Rachel Monroe interviews the awesome duo behind a whipsmart feminist parody of Victoria Secret's PINK brand for young women.
Jessa Crispin at The Awl. "Sometimes he would just sit on the edge of my bed and squeeze my foot through the blanket until I got back to sleep. At other times, we would talk. Mostly about the loneliness that is so deep it leads you into conversation with people who are dead."
Finally, at Bookforum, Ruth Franklin reviews a new compilation of interviews about Madeleine L'Engle, which will probably get passed along hand to virtual hand amongst some of us. (I love you guys.)