The part of the news cycle that I struggle with most is the one in which the event and all there is currently to know about it has been discussed at length, but any person who is paid to an express an opinion about anything has had time to write and file his or her column about or incorporating said event. That's the time when I feel it most strongly, how we commodify human tragedy and make it into a product for sale or exchange. That said, there were necessary pieces written about gun violence this week. Among them was this one on starting a movement, by Mother Jones co-editors Clara Jeffery and Monika Bauerlein; this one on the media response by smartest-person-on-the-internet Zeynep Tufekci; and this one on the abomination that was the NRA's press conference, by Amy Davidson. But this struck me as the piece that was most inspired by the author having something relevant to say (rather than the author getting paid to say things): at xojane, Haley B. Elkins with "How a Gun-Loving West Texas Girl Learned to Fear Assault Weapons."
Onward. From the week before, by Nicola Abé for Der Spiegel, "The Woes of an American Drone Operator."
By Sarah Childress at PBS Frontline, "Why Soldiers Keep Losing to Suicide."
At The New York Times (so the usual caveats about cookies apply), Sheri Fink on a death in the Sand Castle apartment complex in Far Rockaway two weeks after Hurricane Sandy laid waste to the region.
"68 Blocks": a joint project by five reporters (four of them women) at The Boston Globe on a year in the life of the Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood, "listening and asking why violence persists where love and loyalty also run so strong." The series includes enough stories to keep you reading a whole afternoon, but it's worth reading piecemeal, too.
Nikole Hannah-Jones at ProPublica with a new installment in her very strong — and very dismaying — series on the persistence of housing segregation in America. This one is about the federal government's refusal to use undercover testing to actively investigate discriminatory housing practices.
Dream Hampton at The Detroit News on the arson of her childhood home, and the neighborhood disintegrating around it.
At The New Inquiry, Maryam Monalisa Gharavi on the the death of Larry Donnell Andrews, the model for the character of Omar Little on The Wire.
Via Gharavi, a personal essay about a hold-up in Tehran by Norma Claire Moruzzi at the Middle East Research and Information Project. "How is it possible to eat tangerines while tied up, hands behind the back?"
"I hadn't thought of how many of these photos could just as easily trigger a happy memory as they could a visit from DHS, CPS, a PO or an abuser." At The Center for Media Justice, amalia deloney thinks about political security and marginalized communities while she nukes her Instagram account.
Via Dan Sinker, a sympathetic and thoughtful essay by Erin Kissane on her second thoughts and reservations after re-reading the piece by Liza Long about her son that was widely-shared (I also retweeted it) in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre.
Seriously amazing and necessary piece by Lisa Carver at VICE on her chronically ill son, Wolf: "The Right to Die Is the Right to Live." Via Longreads, I think.
It has been two whole weeks since I last directed you to be terrified by Maryn McKenna. This week she is at Slate talking about the reestablishment of dengue fever in the United States.
Random more cheerful thought, though it's in Spanish at BBC Mundo by Valeria Perasso: tortillas and salsa outsell sandwich bread and ketchup in the United States, thereby proving that, as a nation, we are not a lost cause after all.
Bigfoot, however, apparently prefers blueberry bagels. Or does he? By Arikia Millikan at The Verge. (Via Sarah Zhang.)
God, Sarah Miller at The Awl every damn time, but especially this time with "The Year In Cheating."
Analee Newitz on corvids at io9: "If meeting once a day to share food makes a friend, then these corvids have definitely become mine."
A trio of pieces: first, one of the most delightfully quotable and aptly titled essays of the year: "Joy," by Zadie Smith at The New York Review of Books. Second, "Can you sit still on fire?" Melissa Seley interviews the author of Zazen, Vanessa Veselka, at Guernica. And third, at The Rumpus, Marie-Helene Bertino on rapping "The Humpty Dance" in front of Zadie Smith and Vanessa Veselka.
Finally: "Creepy" is my 11-year-old's new favorite word to describe the doings of grown-ups. (I can't imagine why.) At The Hairpin, Mallory Ortberg makes creepy the reason for the season with "A Christmas Story."