Sunday, August 26, 2012

Links for the week ending 26 August 2012

It was Every Sperm Is Sacred Week here on the internets, as in the world at large, I suppose. Perhaps you'd like to read 40 gazillion articles about Todd Akin and Republican misogyny? Yeah. Me, either. So here is only the merest selection of the Outrage of the Internets from the week:

At SciAm, Kate Clancy brings it: "Here is Some Legitimate Science on Pregnancy and Rape."

At xojane, fierce and eye-opening "Open Letter to Rep. Akin From a Woman Who Got Pregnant From Rape," by lawyer Shauna Prewitt.

Rev. Martha Spong reminds anyone who needs reminding that no variety of rape comes with a "Magic Diaphragm of Holy Conception Preventing Power."

The second-best thing to ever appear on the internets on the subject of Todd Akin and his ilk: Mallory Ortberg at The Awl with "Other Things Missouri Representative Todd Akin Believes To Be True About The Uterus, Besides Its Ability To 'Shut Down' A Legitimate Rape."

And, finally, the best thing to ever appear on the internets on the subject of Todd Akin and his ilk: on YouTube, "Legitimate Rape," by the Renegade Raging Grannies. Via Jenni Diski, and I could not be more grateful.

Lest we forget that some people who belong to the Todd Akin School of Thinking About Women's Bodies are in other branches of government, too: Jordan Smith at The Austin Chronicle on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals deciding this week that Texas can block Planned Parenthood from providing care to the state's uninsured women under the Women's Health Program. Justice is only as good as the courts that deliver it, yo.

Laurie Penny at The Independent on Assange, Wikileaks, and rape apologists. "It is not only possible to defend both women's rights and freedom of speech. It is morally inconsistent to defend one without the other." Also from Laurie Penny, a guest post at The New Inquiry on how the news has made it "Trigger Warning Week" for her and for countless other rape survivors.

Fariba Nawa writes at Forbes about the death of her friend Roya Hamid, in childbirth.

Amy Davidson spent most of the week at The New Yorker writing about either Akin or gun violence in the U.S., but this quiet piece, on the lynching of an Arab teenager by Jewish teens in broad daylight in a crowded public square in West Jerusalem, is the most chilling.

At the NYT's Latitude blog, Dayo Olopade writes about the legacy of Ethiopia's autocratic prime minister, Meles Zenawi, who died this week.

Ailsa Chang at WNYC has a two-part piece of kick-ass journalism about the dysfunctional cycle of of hostility and distrust between the Bronx DA's office and the community it's supposed to be serving.

At The Daily Beast, Olesia Plokhii on witnessing the murder of Chut Wutty, a Cambodian ecological activist trying to save the largest lowland evergreen forest in southeast Asia. Via Lois Beckett.

Moe Tkacik isn't one to mince words. "Why Thomas Jefferson's University Is Killing Off Climate Science."

Christie Wilcox at SciAm is also not bothering to mince words: "Record-breaking incidences of West Nile are strongly linked to global climate patterns and the direct effects of carbon dioxide emissions."

At NPR, transcript of Monica Brady-Myerov's look at my home city's "Plans For 'Near-Term Risk' Of Rising Tides."

Those Republicans! So touchy about science. At Mother Jones, Kate Sheppard on "Republicans Attempt to Ax Program Monitoring Carcinogens." This is the most recent edition of the biannual report to which she refers, if you'd like to get it while you can.

Much as I love Mother Jones' long-form reporting (which I'll get to in a minute), it is one of a list of online media orgs whose quick-hit science coverage often relies on button-pushing alarmism rather than fact-checking. This week at The Last Word on Nothing, Cassandra Willyard takes on the alarmist repackaging and uncritical journalism that gave us goofus headlines about eggs being more deadly than cigarettes. Fabulously done, with a shout-out to the one young reporter who actually did her research before writing up the story.

More breaking news from the Department of Correlation Is Not Causation: "Why Cell Phone Bans Don't Work," by Carol Cruzan Morton at Science.

Because I am always here for you in re: hope for our future, here is the most absolutely depressing article of the week, by Maryn McKenna at Wired, about the "NIH Superbug" story: "There was nothing unusual about this outbreak, other than the resources that the NIH infection preventionists were able to marshal to attack it by means of their unique funding." Need a second opinion? Here's one from Dr. Judy Stone at SciAm: "I am called to treat highly resistant bacteria like this regularly." Yeah. Have a nice day.

Planning to get any new tattoos? Er. Maybe wait awhile? "Infected tattoos linked to distilled water in ink," by Maggie Fox at NBC News.

Maia Szalavitz at Time on recent studies confirming the wisdom behind "Fake it 'til you make it."

Here it is, a year and a half in the making: long-form reporting at Mother Jones by Kristina Rizga from inside what test scores describe as one of the nation's worst-performing public high schools: "Everything You've Heard About Failing Schools Is Wrong."

At Al Jazeera English, anthropologist Sarah Kendzior on "the end of higher education as a means to prosperity."

Via Sarah McCarry, "How to Succeed in Journalism when You Can't Afford an Internship," by Alexandra Kimball.

Kate Fagan at espnW on "the cannibalization of female athletes," and the NYT's hatchet job on American sprinter Lolo Jones.

For Sheila and anyone else with an obsession with the stuff: "Being a Cheesemonger Is Better and Worse Than You Think It Is." Excerpts at The Billfold from Martha Grover's new book, One More For the People.

From Kate at Eat the Damn Cake, "being friends with other people's moms." I felt this way at that stage of life, and now I'm vowing to be one of those moms.

"There was a bigger me and a smaller me, and a bigger voice and a smaller voice." Tavi Gevinson briefly interviews Quvenzhané Wallis, star of Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Finally, a tie for the Winning the Internets category this week. First, Ann Friedman's Pussy Riot Pie (chart). Second, Michelle Dean absolutely nails ALL THE THINGS with "Critics Who Explain Things." Both at The Awl.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Links for the week ending 19 August 2012

From Moe Tkacik at Reuters, a blistering opinion piece on the peculiar institution of student loans.

"Eight attacks, 11 days." Uzma Kolsy at Salon on the violence visited on American Muslim and Sikh communities.

Annalee Newitz at breaks down some of the reasons why Trapwire, the ubiquitous data-storing surveillance system recently made public by Wikileaks, could be illegal.

Lisa Rein reports for the Washington Post that electronic monitoring of their own employees by federal agencies may be targeting whistleblowers rather than actual threats.

From Jennifer Valentino-DeVries at the Wall Street Journal, "Is Your Chat Program Safe Enough? Why It's Tough to Say."

At CNN, Mary Ellen O'Connell, a professor at Notre Dame specializing in international conflict law, examines the surprisingly complex question, "When are drone killings illegal?"

Of course, "legal" and "illegal" are only worth as much as the court judging them, in which case this wins the very crowded field of competitors for most depressing news of the week: "Warrantless cellphone tracking is legal, federal court rules," by Helen A.S. Popkin at MSNBC.

Amy Davidson at the New Yorker on Mitt Romney's mysterious tax returns.

Worth one of your precious free New York Times reads: Maggie Koerth-Baker explains what we know about what does — and doesn't — change our minds.

Also at the NYT, Atossa Araxia Abrahamian writes about her own quest to make a home for herself in New York City in the face of immigration hurdles and a lifetime of statelessness.

In Arizona, undocumented young people celebrating having been awarded the right to work and a two-year stay on the threat of deportation were brought up short when Gov. Jan Brewer announced that the state will refuse to issue them drivers' licenses. By Liz Goodwin at Yahoo News.

The defeat of Republican moderates in primaries this week in Kansas means the state that saw Dr. Tiller murdered is about to become that much crazier, writes Irin Carmon at Salon.

The most unflinching article I have ever read on the topic of abortion, by Lynn Beisner at The Guardian: "I wish my mother had aborted me. "

At Mother Jones, Stephanie Mencimer writes that VP candidate Paul Ryan sponsored an antiabortion bill so extreme that it would effectively end the IVF as it is currently practiced.

You can read the closing statements of the Pussy Riot Three here at n+1. Susan Bernofsky writes about the team of translators that made these statements so quickly available.

And in squashing-freedom-of-expression news in the US, The New Inquiry reprints Polina Marinova's letter of resignation from the University of Georgia's student newspaper, The Red & Black, after new rules basically forbid students from practicing journalism.

Also at The New Inquiry, Astra Taylor on responses she received to her observations on attending public schools after being homeschooled: "The Prison-Educational Complex."

"It is strange and sad to recommend that someone censor your own work." Via Jillian York (I think), Sarah Kendzior on advising an Uzbek reader to stop sharing her work on Facebook.

At Time, Maia Szalavitz looks at the evidence suggesting that the diagnosis of "Bipolar 2" is a construct designed by pharmaceutical companies for profit.

"If I make a mistake, it's not because I have ovaries." Fabulous takedown of sexist Gizmodo commenters by Molly Oswaks.

Very long and thought-provoking, a post by Dorothy Bishop on the advantages and disadvantages of creating medical labels for learning difficulties. Via Scicurious.

Scicurious covers the Spanish study showing that pop music really does all sound the same these days. Ah, science!

At Grantland, Jane Leavy profiles neuropathologist Dr. Ann McKee, whose research on sports-related concussion's effects on the brain threatens to upend the NFL.

"How a Tick Bite Made Me Allergic To Meat." Yikes! By Helen Chappell at Discover.

At The Last Word on Nothing, Sally Adee looks at a species of lizard with a DNA mutation that has eliminated males. Because you know your day needed news about lesbian lizards.

At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova has a tribute to Julia Child on the occasion of her 100th birthday.

Is YA so dominated by women because it's a "prestige-free zone?" Interesting argument by Laura Miller at Salon.

Finally — and, dear god, yes! — "Why I Hate Food: A Polemic," by Mary Rechner at Propeller. Via Suzi Steffen.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Links for the week ending 12 August 2012

"Shenyang Zhou assured the American buyers that his Chinese-made weight-loss capsules were safe. Zhou was sure because he had a test — one person eats a whole bottle." Another story from Trine Tsouderous at the Chicago Tribune that will make you rethink ever taking any optional drug-type product again.

At Reuters, Melanie Hicken reports, "New homes burn faster, but states resist sprinklers." I had no idea about the fast-burning property of lightweight-construction. (On the other hand, my house is so old that it probably burns in slow-motion.)

Also from Reuters, your Let's Despair story of the week, by Deborah Zabarenko: "July was hottest month ever for continental U.S.: NOAA." But Julianne Hing at Colorlines will make you smile with "Our Aunties' Best Tips to Beat the Summer Heat."

"How lobbyists became Congress's leading policy wonks." By Suzy Khimm at the Washington Post.

Able to save American health care with one arm tied behind her back two broken ribs: "Justice Ginsburg shrugs off rib injury." By Joan Kiskupic for Reuters.

The new health care law may have devastating consequences for immigrants and mixed-status families. By Salimah Ebrahim for Reuters.

Also, Michelle Andrews at the Washington Post reports, "Parents' insurance covers children up to age 26 — but not for pregnancy."

It was Be Horrified At Louisiana Charter Schools Week at Mother Jones. Kate Sheppard reports on a Delhi, LA school that requires female students to submit to pregnancy tests and expels those students found to be pregnant. And Deanna Pan covers "14 Wacky 'Facts' Kids Will Learn in Louisiana's Voucher Schools." Oy. Friends, just say no to privatizing public education, m'kay?

At Boing Boing, Maggie Koerth-Baker digs into the math and answers the question, "What do Christian fundamentalists have against set theory?"

Pussy Riot's show trial is drawing to a close in Moscow. Miriam Elder at The Guardian reports on the powerful closing statements of the accused young women.

Maria Sudekum reports for the AP about the arson destruction of a mosque in Joplin, MO only a few days after the massacre of worshippers at a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee, WI. Here's the link to contribute to the rebuilding campaign for the mosque. This E.J. Graff piece at The American Prospect, "The Opposite of American," sums up exactly why I am making a contribution.

At Salon, Irin Carmon combs through Ann Romney's public statements to create a portrait of the woman who would be First Lady.

At ProPublica, Lois Beckett continues her series on political campaigns and online targeting: "Pandora Asks Listeners to Share Their Emails With Romney."

From Soraya H at Tehran Bureau, "The Open Secrets of Ramadan," about fasting observance in Iran this year.

This story is being sold on the quirkiness of the inmates' entertainment choices — The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air!—but there is a lot of poignancy to Carol Rosenberg's reporting for the Miami Herald on what gets stocked in the small library for Guantanamo inmates now entering their second decade of captivity.

Katherine Harmon at SciAm on what brain scans of people with hoarding disorders reveal. Oh, boy. If the underlying issue is an inability to make decisions about what to do with your stuff, I'm in trouble…

Science + history = APOCALYPSE. "Mass grave in London reveals how volcano caused global catastrophe." By Dalya Alberge at The Observer. Via Janice Liedl.

At SciAm, Dana Hunter has been blogging a wonderful series of posts about volcanic monitoring and the Mt. St. Helens eruption in 1980. This week she covers the eruption itself (but I highly recommend going back to read the whole series, too). "The Cataclysm: 'Vancouver! Vancouver! This Is It!'"

Pretty soon it will be controlling drone attacks, right? "Brain In a Dish Flies Plane: A living 'brain' of cultured rat cells can control an F-22 fighter jet flight simulator." By Jennifer Viegas at Discovery News. Via Dan Sinker.

Oh, dude. At Jezebel, Lindy West eats the new "female gaze of contempt" for dinner. Hilarity ensues.

By Jennifer P at, an excellent advice column on creeper dudes and rape culture. Via Liz Henry.

Shani O. Hilton at Outside: "Gabby Douglas' Blackness Matters, Except When It Doesn't."

At The Atlantic, Jen Doll interviews Molly Templeton, who set up a women's How-to Tumblr in response to the NYRB's disgracefully gendered how-to issue. I haven't even read the Tumblr yet, and already it makes me happy.

"My kind of base position on existence is that you just have to admit you're a bit of a twat." At The Hairpin, Chiara Atik interviews Caitlin Moran on how to be a feminist.

Oh, please, go right ahead and belabor this point: "only a white man would believe that the online literary culture — or anything on the Internet — suffers from too much niceness." Roxanne Gay at Salon on the latest literary faux-outrage.

This article has perhaps the greatest collection of categorical tags of all time. "Let's Discuss the Merits of Anthropologie (The Clothing Store, Not the Discipline)." By Logan Sachon and Miranda Popkey at The Billfold.

Also at The Hairpin, another essential pie chart from Ann Friedman: "What Are We Doing Now That Birth Control Is Free?"

Via Jodi Ettenberg, a lovely essay by Annia Ciezadlo at Granta (in honor of the publication of the late Anthony Shadid's memoir) about the bakeries of Beirut.

Not sure how I missed this the first time around, but better late than never. From last month, Maria Bustillos at The Verge with a thoughtful (and gorgeously illustrated) piece: "Not fade away: on living, dying, and the digital afterlife."

Emily Rapp on cultural manifestations of grief, from the Batman movie to Yaddo, at The Rumpus. "Don't worry about inspiring anyone, or how to be a model of someone else's idea of resilience and survival."

Finally. This is by a guy, and it is exactly how it's done right. Shaun Usher at Letters of Note asks for our help in redressing the gendered imbalance in the letters he usually publishes. Know of some awesome letters by women? Send 'em to him. Thanks.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Links for the week ending 5 August 2012

Perhaps you hadn't heard, but apparently there is some sort of global sporting event taking place this week? People have things to say about it. For myself, I can only say that a small part of my 14-year-old self died when "Going Underground" was blasted to a billion people around the world. At the LRB, Jenni Diski deconstructs her depression following the opening ceremonies. At Colorlines, Jamilah King takes a closer look at the small group of athletes who marched without a country, under the Olympic flag. At the Guardian, Heidi Moore excoriates the American carrier of Olympics coverages for #NBCfail.

Some of the women athletes displayed not only grace under pressure but the ability to kick misogyny where it counts. In Salon, Mary Elizabeth Williams recounts American weightlifter Holley Mangold's flip and perfect response to jerky behavior by Conan O'Brien. (Particularly moving and infuriating are the contrasts between Holley Mangold's fortunes and the fortunes of her similarly built brother, who plays in the NFL.) Even better, British weighlifter Zoe Pablo Smith responded to Twitter-haters with a fabulous blog post: "what makes you think we actually give a toss that you, personally, do not find us attractive?"

At Jezebel, "What Do Gymnastics, Orthodox Judaism and Feminism Have in Common? Me," an excerpt from a book by Dvora Meyers.

Wonderful interview at Deadspin in a series about the ends of athletic careers by Rob Trucks, who is, you know, not a woman. But the words are all those of 1984 swimming gold medalist Nancy Hogshead-Makar, and they are fascinating: from child swimming prodigy to rape survivor to gold medalist to Title IX activist and beyond.

Oddly, some people remained interested in something other than athletics this week. Like Elisabeth Bumiller at the NYT (use your free articles wisely!) on American drone pilots who spend their days in suburban video-screen rooms, monitoring and killling people thousands of miles away. At The New Inquiry, Lea Rosen explores the brief history and future prospects for drone use within the USA and concludes, "The sky is about to get super weird."

At the Guardian, Amy Goodman writes about how the Obama Administration killed an international treaty that would do nothing to change domestic American gun laws — but might affect the business models of American arms manufacturers, the world's largest producers and exporters of weapons. Shame!

Via Jamilah King at Colorlines, another knock-out investigative piece by Cindy Chang at New Orleans' recently decimated Times-Picayune: "Louisiana state prisons appear to be dumping grounds for doctors who are unable to find employment elsewhere because of their checkered pasts, raising troubling moral questions as well as the specter of an accident waiting to happen."

At Techcrunch, which is… not an URL normally cited around here (because it is, shall we say, not overly endowed with women's bylines), Susanna Burke has a piece about playing dumb with tech moguls (and mogul moguls) at a resort. "To virtually guarantee success, I brought something I knew would be a conversation starter. No, not my boobs. I carried an enormous bright blue hardcover book that I planned to open and actually read."

For those of you who've met her in real life, enjoy playing "spot Liz Henry's purple hair" in this upbeat article by Julianne Hing at Colorlines reporting from a Black Girls Code event in San Francisco.

Not so upbeat: Roxanne Gay at Salon on Jonah Lehrer, the tropes of white male genius, and the inevitability that the system will find a way to hand him redemption. Bonus points for a link within the article to a 2002 Atlantic Monthly piece by Marjorie Garber.

Carole Cadwalladr at the Guardian writes a long, absorbing piece on Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist punk collective who have become the symbol of Putin's repression since three of its young members were arrested and face seven years in prison after an in-your-face prank performance flouting gender restrictions at a Moscow cathedral.

Happy Free Birth Control Week, my fellow Americans-who-are-not-actually-fellows! Katherine Harmon at SciAm describes the happy event as it affects those of use who are privileged enough to be covered by the new rules.

Also at SciAm, a moving post by Kate Clancy on how we talk about miscarriage — and how prevalent it is.

A truly horrifying story about the death of an improperly trained research assistant, and the dirty tactics being used by the chemistry professor responsible for the laboratory in defending himself against felony charges of violating occupational health and safety standards. By Deborah Blum at Wired.

"Fish with Melanoma." Your depressing environmental degradation story of the week, by Christie Wilcox at SciAm.

Not depressing! And it involves duct tape! At Discover, Veronique Greenwood describes how scientists investigate "How the Elephant Makes Its Rumble."

At the Paris Review, Amie Barrodale is having adventures in Indian hotels and pharmacies. Friends, don't ingest potassium parmanganate!

Don't ingest anything except kale! "The Terrible Tragedy of the Healthy Eater," by Erica at Northwest Edible Life. Alas, I cannot remember where I saw this little gem linked, but, whoever you are, thank you!

I had the bad fortune to grow up in a town where the daily newspaper could never bring itself to carry Doonesbury for very long, not even on the editorial pages instead of the comics. But still this made me happy. Alyssa Rosenberg at Think Progress: "Alex Doonesbury Succeeds Her Father as 'Doonesbury's Main Character.'"

This is fun: Annalee Newitz at io9 arguing that "Remakes Are One of Our Greatest Achievements as a Civilization."

"'Mommy, why is the door locked?'" Megan Stielstra with an entry in the "Where I Write" series at The Rumpus.

Lizzie Skurnick at The Awl answering the age-old question of "Why We Hate-Search."

And, finally, in our tearjerking heartwarmer spot this week! At the Washington Post, Petula Dvorak on a gay couple's adoption story.