Sunday, December 22, 2013

Links for the week ending 22 December 2013

I was down for the count this week with a nasty little respiratory virus, so just a handful of non-current-events links for you today. No list next week. It will return in 2014. Happy holidays to all of you!

"The final measure of any mental disorder is usually the degree to which a person’s ability to handle everyday life—to hold down a job, keep a house and put their pants on the right way round—is affected. There are a great many reasons, right now, why it’s harder to do all those things and more, and not all of them can be explained away by chemical imbalance." Laurie Penny at The New Inquiry.

"Maybe right now you can respond, 'Who cares?' But raise your sons with the same entitled attitude, and in twenty years, in an awful lot of industries, they’ll be the ones shut out. That world is dying." Great essay by Jen Dziura at Medium called "When 'Life Hacking' Is Really White Privilege."

"As I’ve pointed out, people of my ethnicity have existed forever. So. What are we waiting for? When does it get better? Why do I have to wait? Why can’t you go faster?" Jessie-Lane Metz on "Things I Won't Do To Make Your Space Less Racist." At The Toast.

"I began with the pantry, which housed (among many, many other things) four ancient, half-eaten fruitcakes and about a thousand dead ants. The cabinets beneath the stove yielded a rusty colander, a dented Little House on the Prairie lunchbox, and, inside that, a Peanuts thermos without a lid." Also at Medium, Maud Newton on her worst Christmas, which makes me suddenly overcome with anti-nostalgia for the Christmases I spent cleaning out my mother's refrigerator.

"But if those behaviors are coping mechanisms, autistic people might engage in them not because of maltreatment, but because ordinary experience is overwhelming or even traumatic." Maia Szalavitz on Henry and Kamila Markrams' research into autism. At Matter, on Medium.

"Yes, I am tired of rape stories. I think rape stories are boring. I am sick of rape stories on CNN and sicker of rape stories on Jezebel. I would like instead to see national, televised debates and full episodes of morning radio shows and several long-form podcasts and a portion of the next State of the Union address dedicated to determining whether men should be allowed to keep their dicks." A thoughtful, angry, and honest piece from Sarah Nicole Prickett at Medium.

"How sorry I would be, if I were sure that you had been offended by the behavior and actions and also words that have transpired of late. But is it better to give an apology where none is needed, or to refrain from taking positive action in the lack of justifiable belief? Surely we must refrain from taking unnecessary action, lest we descend into anarchy and chaos." Finally, my candidate for Best Reason Not To Give Up on The Internets in 2013, Mallory Ortberg. At The Toast.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Links for the week ending 15 December 2013

Have you already read "Invisible Child," Andrea Elliott's epic five-part NYT multimedia exploration of the world of a homeless child in Brooklyn? If not, that's as far as you need to look this week. Like the nice man said, everything else is commentary.

(If you're looking for ways to help after reading, NYT Public Editor Margaret Sullivan includes the address of the Legal Aid Society fund to help Dasani and her siblings, and the email address of the woman coordinating efforts to help residents of the decrepit homeless shelter described in the piece.)

Elliott's work was the most essential, but it was not the most bravura reporting published this week. That distinction goes to the AP's West Africa bureau chief Rukmini Callimachi, on ethnic cleansing by Mali's armed forces in Timbuktu. "We found the first body almost by accident, after our car got stuck in the sand." Incredible work.

"Targeted killing and military intervention to remove Al Qaeda leaders weakens the government that needs to compete with extremist militants not just militarily, but in meeting citizens’ needs and providing legitimacy in daily life. Given that, such killings may be creating a cycle in which the government grows less effective and militants more extreme over time." If you can manage one more longread this week, this analysis of how the United States has defined war since 9/11 — and how that definition needs re-examination — is very much worth your time. By Heather Hurlburt at Democracy.

"'This isn’t the NSA asking for information,' said Markey, who is planning to introduce legislation this month to restrict law enforcement’s use of consumers’ phone data, including ensuring that tower dumps are narrowly focused. 'It’s your neighborhood police department requesting your mobile phone data. So there are serious questions about how law enforcement handles the information of innocent people swept up in these digital dragnets.'" Another week, another article about some other government entity that's surveilling you, this one by Ellen Nakashima at The Washington Post.

"Along with reading and math, when schools gag their students’ speech, they are teaching them a lesson. Children who are censored grow up to become adults who censor or who tolerate censorship." Of course, that's probably the point of those who wish to censor children, but still this essay by Sonja West at Slate on censorship in schools is worth a read.

"China may force some two dozen correspondents from The New York Times and Bloomberg News to leave the country by the end of the year, apparently in response to their investigative reports on the familial wealth of the Chinese leadership." Emily Parker at the New Republic on how Western journalists self-censor in China. (Via David Hull.)

"Facebook studies this because the more its engineers understand about self-censorship, the more precisely they can fine-tune their system to minimize self-censorship’s prevalence. This goal—designing Facebook to decrease self-censorship—is explicit in the paper." On the other hand… Jennifer Golbeck at Slate on how FB tracks what you decide not to post.

"'If I were a retired public-sector pensioner, I'd be worried today,' said Olivia Mitchell, a professor at the Wharton School of Business and the director of the Pension Research Council. Alana Semuels at the LA Times on the implications of the Detroit bankruptcy ruling for other struggling cities — and their former and current employees — around the country.

"The initiative would require most private and all public health insurance plans to offer a separate rider for an abortion. And a person would have to buy that rider before knowing if they needed an abortion. They would not be able to buy the rider after getting pregnant by any means, including rape or incest." Kathleen Gray at the Detroit Free Press on an anti-abortion law that passed the Michigan legislature this week.

"Congress’s top budget negotiators have reached an agreement that would fund the government for the next two years—this time without the partisan rancor and drama that have poisoned budget talks since 2011." This is what passes for good news these days. By Suzy Khimm for MSNBC.

"People are lining up behind a velvet rope to get their picture with the cutout, which has developed a fold in the torso and no longer stands up on its own. Hillary needs our support, or she will literally fall over." Comedy gold in this piece by Molly Ball at The Atlantic on Ready for Hillary, the super PAC.

"Ukraine stands at the very heart of Putin’s project to revive his country’s imperial reach." Short piece by Miriam Elder at BuzzFeed on why thousands of people are protesting in the Ukraine's capitol city.

"The investigation began after the Massachusetts man was found unresponsive in a car after it went off the road. There was no sign of trauma and he was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. " There are always so many candidates for Medical Freak-Out of The Week, but, as a New Englander, I gotta go with this one: Beth Daley at on the discovery that Lyme disease can cause sudden death due to heart inflammation.

"During the nursery stage, the baby elephants follow their human family, respond to tone of voice, etc. The keepers treat them only with tender loving care, as would their elephant family, because with elephants one reaps what one sows, and since they have very long memories, they must never be ill-treated in any way. Our keepers never carry even a twig." Look, I have brought you photos of baby animals! ORPHANED, TRAUMATIZED BABY ANIMALS. At National Geographic, an interview with Kenyan Daphne Sheldrick, who has made a life's work out of raising baby elephants traumatized and orphaned by poachers. (Via Maud Newton.)

"In a context in which being a man is good and being friendly is being womanly, each time a man tries to form intimate bonds with another man, he potentially loses status." Lisa Wade at Salon on masculinity's friend problem. (Via Elizabeth Gilbert.)

"Then you assemble oranges, apples and pears into pretty piles, making sure to remove the tops off a couple of each with a paring knife so that the ghosts can eat them. Apparently spirits can move through space and time but peel is impregnable." Missed this last month: Mary H.K. Choi at Aeon on a Korean picnic in a California cemetery.

Linking to this interview with Sarah McCarry at The Rumpus because we all love The Rejectionist, right, but also because maybe you'll read her description of The Saskiad (one of my very favorite novels ever) and look it up someday, which will make me very happy even though it was written by a dude.

"And the serpent – which was more subtle than all the other beasts of the field – said Seems pretty unfair there’s a WHOLE WORD you can’t use, and of the white people many nodden their heads at the rightness thereof." The peerless Mallory Ortberg at The Toast.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Links for the week ending 8 December 2013

"'Nelson Mandela, there is no one like you,' they sang, stamping their feet in unison to a praise song usually sung in joy. But in the midnight darkness, sadness tinged the melody." The NYT's excellent South Africa correspondent Lydia Polgreen situates Nelson Mandela's death at a difficult moment for the nation. For more on Mandela's life and leadership, two from The New Yorker: Nadine Gordimer, and Charlayne Hunter-Gault.

"Neither man was ever charged with a crime during a decade of detention at Guantánamo; their lawyers said each man opposed return to his homeland." Carol Rosenberg at The Miami Herald on the forced repatriation of two prisoners to the Algeria each had fled decades before.

"This is especially true in cases like Barnes’, Price said, in which prison officials decide complicated legal questions such as whether an inmate is fit to parent. 'You would never trust your child’s guardianship issues to a bureaucrat in the Bureau of Prisons,' she said. 'They have no competence or expertise in this.'" Christie Thompson at ProPublica on the stonewalling of "compassionate release" programs for nonviolent offenders with terminal illnesses or family tragedies.

"We asked Regan if she actually saw prison officials opening up McDonald’s sugar packets and pouring the sugar inside her wound. 'Yeah,' she said, adding that she was worried if it was sanitary." Investigation by Al Jazeera America into Arizona's privatized prison health care system by Abigail Leonard and dude Adam May.

"The codeine that costs $20 and the bag of IV fluid that costs $137 at California Pacific are charged at $1 and $16 at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, across town. But U.C.S.F. Medical Center charges $1,600 for an amniocentesis, which costs $687 at California Pacific." Another piece from Elisabeth Rosenthal at the NYT on the, you know, completely rational and efficient behavior of the market-based health-care system.

"Over months and years, her research into the epidemic took her across much of rural China. What she found astounded her: villages with infection rates of 20, 30, 40% or more; whole communities of AIDS orphans, zero treatment options, and little awareness of what was sickening and killing a generation of farmers." Kathleen McLaughlin at BuzzFeed on the retired OB-GYN who exposed an AIDS epidemic spread by for-profit blood donation centers. (Via Miriam Elder.)

"The risk with LA-MRSA is not that you’ll cook your food insufficiently, swallow the still-living organisms, and get a gastrointestinal illness; the risk, instead, is that the organism will spread to surfaces in your kitchen, and thence to your skin, and cause either a skin infection that is drug-resistant, or a much more serious illness." More cheerful news from Maryn McKenna, on multidrug-resistant staph on poultry in the UK.

"In the short term, I am the kind of person for whom the Obamacare mandate is a pain in the neck." Margaret Talbot writes for The New Yorker about the cancellation of her family's insurance policy — and what she hopes society is getting in return.

"The simple way to put it is that Luciano drove too fast, and may not have pulled the brakes. But he never should have been driving at all. This was his second shift of the day, only his second as an engineer ever. And he wasn’t well; this was, again, 1918, and he and his family had been hit by the Spanish-influenza pandemic. His baby had just died. He was twenty-three years old, and hadn’t been sleeping." Also at The New Yorker, a masterful Amy Davidson essay comparing last week's fatal Metro-North crash with a terrible train accident in 1918 Brooklyn.

"At her new school, Amanda told none of her first-grade classmates what she had experienced. 'I just tried to make friends and pretend that never happened,' she said. 'I still do that now.'" Meghan Hoyer at USA Today analyzes the demographics of the victims in mass killings, and finds that one-third of them are children. (Via Yamiche Alcindor.)

"But it’s becoming increasingly clear that most of sequestration will stay in place in 2014 and 2015. Restoring $60-$80 billion in funding would reverse only a fraction of the total cuts scheduled to take effect, preserving about $150 billion in cuts over the next two years." Suzy Khimm at MSNBC on "Why budget cuts are here to stay."

"The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is preparing for a scenario in which some 200,000 people leave for neighboring countries next year, factoring in long-standing concerns about security surrounding elections as the current military mission winds down. But the number could be much higher if the U.S. pulls out completely." Margherita Stancati and dude Nathan Hodge at on the possibility of a total U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. (Via Maria Abi-Habib.)

"Blackstone, on the other hand, doesn't have a problem fronting the money, given its $3.6 billion credit line arranged by Deutsche Bank. This money has allowed it to outbid families who have to secure traditional financing. It's also paved the way for the company to purchase a lot of homes very quickly, shocking local markets and driving prices up in a way that pushes even more families out of the game." Laura Gottesdiener at Mother Jones on the new overlords of single-family rental homes. What could go wrong?

"One of the few women in the group is wearing a black T-shirt and short black pants, her hair gathered in a loose, messy ponytail. A mask covers the bottom half of her face. She digs through the muddy scraps with her bare hands, heaving chunks of bamboo out of the way with strength you wouldn’t guess she had." Very moving piece by Amy Dempsey at the Toronto Star on grief and survival in the communities devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. (Via Michelle Shephard.)

"An alliance of corporations and conservative activists is mobilising to penalise homeowners who install their own solar panels – casting them as 'freeriders' – in a sweeping new offensive against renewable energy, the Guardian has learned." Suzanne Goldenberg and dude Ed Pilkington on the worst people in the entire world at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

"I felt a space in me, a wide vacuous space whose sides stretched out, up, around me. It was empty in that space, a kind of soundless empty I’d never felt before." Lauren Quinn at Vela Magazine writing about an abortion.

"Consider the case of eyeglasses. Graham Pullin, in his book 'Design Meets Disability,' shows how eyeglasses have moved culturally from being a medical aid to a fashion accessory. People who use them are getting 'assistance' in a very dependent way, but their cultural register has no stigma attached to it, the way that hearing aids still do." I'm seriously loving The Atlantic's stuff on design, accessibility, and aging, both this interview with Abler's Sara Hendren by Rebecca Rosen, and this post by Emma Green on tricycles and the untapped potential of refrigerators to help the elderly stay independent longer.

"Critics of the media circus surrounding PISA Day, like the Economic Policy Institute, a labor-oriented think tank, contend that politicians, business leaders, and journalists like to focus on PISA rankings because PISA is the test on which American students do the worst—and thus the results paint a portrait of failing American schools that are responsible for our economic woes." Smart Dana Goldstein piece at Slate on the latest hand-wringing over how American teens performed on an international reading, math, and science exam.

"And it’s fine that she’s utilitarian about it? Yeah, totally. It’s like the way you'd go to a doctor. You get more of that in Latin America, like, 'I’m Catholic, but when I’m sick or when my husband is cheating on me, I go see this other lady.' So that's why people don't claim it on the census too much. It fits in this gray area of spirituality and functional service." Jia Tolentino with another one in her interview series, this one with Santeria priest Caridad, who answers questions from readers in the comments.

Finally, two incredible (and depressing, but then you didn't come here looking for cute animal gifs) longreads. "We Are Disposable," from the Texas Observer's Melissa del Bosque, on maquiladora workers making consumer goods without any effective worker safety regulations or enforcement. And, at The American Prospect last month, "The People's Court," by Kat Aaron — a look at American poverty and inequality through the lens of Detroit's 36th District Court (via Annie Lowrey).

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Links for the week ending 1 December 2013

"They were shooting guns and canons as a celebration, which alerted us because we didn’t know who they were shooting at. So Massasoit gathered up some 90 warriors and showed up at Plymouth prepared to engage, if that was what was happening, if they were taking any of our people. They didn’t know. It was a fact-finding mission." Ramona Peters of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe talks to Gale Courey Toensing about what really happened at the first Thanksgiving. At Indian Country Today Media Network. (Via Jody T.)

"Big Friday didn’t stick, but the idea behind it did, in Philadelphia and, eventually, beyond. A few decades later, when the term came to describe a day when retailers’ ledgers shifted “into the black” for the year—a connotation also pushed by marketers—people assumed that had always been the connotation." At The New Yorker, Amy Merrick with the local roots and packaged mythology of the term "Black Friday." (Via the lovely folks at Big Blue Marble Book Store in Mt. Airy, Philadelphia.)

"One tech startup called Drawbridge claims to have found a way to link a person’s laptop and mobile device by analyzing their movements online, enabling advertisers to reach the same consumer whether they’re on their work computer or smartphone." Anne Flaherty for the AP putting rather a new twist on "He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you're awake." Happy Orwellian Shopping Season!

"Written as an agency mission statement with broad goals, the five-page document said that existing American laws were not adequate to meet the needs of the N.S.A. to conduct broad surveillance in what it cited as 'the golden age of Sigint,' or signals intelligence." From the previous week, dude James Risen and Laura Poitras at the NYT on the N.S.A. setting expansive goals for its ability to collect data from worldwide computer networks.

"Hundreds of al-Qaeda members streamed across Iran’s borders. Many were caught and identified. The most dangerous, including Osama bin Laden’s relatives, were imprisoned. Low-level fighters were returned to their home countries - but not before Zarif secretly shared their identities, finger prints, passports and other information with the U.S. government." Dafna Linzer at MSNBC on the ten wasted years that didn't have to precede the nuclear agreement with Iran.

"Like all good revolutionaries, Michael Needham had a sterling upbringing, the kind that allows a young man to pursue ideological purity free from worry about consequence or reality." Julia Ioffe's long takedown of the Heritage Foundation wunderkind blamed (or credited, depending on your point of view) with setting that, ahem, august institution on its head.

"Members of Cairo's gay community, strongly divided along class lines, never visible, never able to publicly protest the latest police violation of its own, seek each other out in the few public venues that allow them to gather." Sarah Carr at Mada Masr on the recent bust of a gay party in Cairo, and what it reveals about culture policing in unsettled times.

"But Natalie Angier’s fascinating statistical and narrative portraits of the contemporary American household – declining birth rates; even more sharply declining marriage rates; 41 percent of babies born to unmarried parents, a fourfold increase since 1970 – offer some context for the sense of dislocation and alienation that, as much as anything else, seems to be driving the resistance to making contraception coverage, without a co-pay, a required part of employer-provided health insurance." Very smart piece by Linda Greenhouse at the NYT on the battle against contraceptive coverage as a battle against modernity. (Via Irin Carmon.)

"Pope Francis called for renewal of the Roman Catholic Church and attacked unfettered capitalism as 'a new tyranny', urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality in the first major work he has authored alone as pontiff. More world leaders like this guy, please. By Naomi O'Leary for Reuters. (Via Jim Roberts.)

"'It is as if with this generous gesture the sheikh is saying that we need to be tolerant of other religions as in the end we all serve one God,' Aivazyan said." Today in Rich Dude Does Something That Doesn't Suck, by Mariam Harutyunyan for AFP. (Via Erin Cunningham.)

"'Here there's not a plant that survives except hashish. It's a gift from God. Can we oppose God?' Afif asks with a laugh." War is always good news for somebody, and Syria's civil war has been great news for Lebanon's cannabis growers, reports Rana Moussaoui for AFP. (Via Sara Hussein.)

'Compared to the privations of living in Kandahar, these guys in Syria are tweeting pictures of KitKat bars and Red Bull drinks. They know they are going to die, martyr themselves for jihad, but they are saying that on the way, you might as well "have a break, have a KitKat".' Ruth Sherlock reports for The Telegraph on the snack foods of choice for today's jihadist on social media. (Via Liz Sly.)

"Now 15 months old, her son, Ryhan, shouts 'dad' when his mum opens up her computer, in anticipation of one of the Skype chats that are their only contact with Zia, 30." At the Guardian, Emma Graham-Harrison reports on American military veterans separated indefinitely from their husbands by very long waits for visas permitting the immigration of Afghani men who served U.S. military forces as translators. (Hat Tip to @sciwo.)

"The officer, equipped with scare pistol armed with blanks, an array of firecrackers, an air horn and a paintball gun, spends his nights and days herding polar bears out of town and back on to the tundra." Suzanne Goldenberg reports for the Guardian on the arrival of desperate polar bears in the remote town of Churchill, Manitoba.

"A geographical analysis reveals that about 15 times as many people in the Philippines die during the year after a typhoon than are killed outright by the storm. That could add another 78,000 to Haiyan's toll, and virtually all will be baby girls." Eye-opening piece by Debora MacKenzie for New Scientist on how gender preference surfaces in the hard economic times following the aftermath of a typhoon.

"Data for the years 2007 to 2010 show the average weight of American women 20 years and older is 166.2 pounds—greater than the weight at which emergency contraceptive pills that use levonorgestrel begin to lose their effectiveness. The average weight of non-Hispanic black women aged 20 to 39 is 186 pounds, well above the weight at which these pills are completely ineffective." Molly Redden at Mother Jones. (Unclear to me from the article whether these are absolute numbers or if they are dependent on BMI — whether a 6'1" woman weighing 176 pounds would have the same risk of failure as a 5'5" woman weighing the same, in other words. Until you see a definitive answer to that question, I suppose you'd better assume that the morning-after pill is ineffective at that weight no matter what your height.)

"If American citizens are to have any chance of speaking truth to power, they will need to have a better handle on the truth part." Essential essay by Belle Boggs at Slate on the failures of science education in the United States. (Via Jody T.)

"In a post-antibiotic era, would you mess around with power tools? Let your kid climb a tree? Have another child?" You should probably plan ahead for how you will regain your will to live after reading this Maryn McKenna piece at Medium on the post-antibiotics future.

"Moral idiocy explains the feeling I’ve always had when being hit on, that the person is talking to himself, not me; that he’s seeing only his needs in a mirror." Ann Finkbeiner at The Last Word on Nothing on sexual harassment… and Kant. (Via @sciwo.)

"There was a time when 'ally' was the antonym of 'opponent' and the synonym of 'advocate,' but more and more it appears that being an ally requires little more than a disavowal of the advocate/opponent dichotomy. If it requires anything at all, it requires only a sort of 'fine by me' indifference." Great little essay by Leigh Johnson called "Tolerance Is Not A Virtue." (Via Rhonda Armstrong.)

"Not only does the story differ markedly from Parker’s other late-career stories, but it is differently written." Galya Diment on the long-forgotten plagiarism scandal of "Lolita" — the short story Dorothy Parker published in The New Yorker not long before Nabokov's book was published. (Via Maud Newton.)

"Sure, the apartment’s rent-controlled, but the rent is controlled by another damn wizard. One month I have to pay him in rubies held in the mouth of a robin; the next I have to fight through a Minotaur maze in order to bring him the scent of freshly baked bread." Oh my god, Mallory Ortberg (here at The Toast with her contribution to the leaving-New-York-City genre) would make Dorothy Parker purple with plagiaristic desire.

"Another reason may have been that most of Kearney’s athletes were afraid to speak up. Often they were the first in their families to go to college, and if they quit the team, they would lose their scholarships, dashing not just their own hopes but those of their parents and their communities. And they didn’t see themselves winning against the brilliant, beloved Bev Kearney. 'Who would have believed us?' asked one former sprinter." Finally, a wrenching and brilliant profile of former University of Texas track-and-field coach Bev Kearney, fired for an affair with a student. By Mimi Swartz at Texas Monthly back in October. (Via The Riveter magazine.)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Links for the week ending 24 November 2013

"The climate crisis of the 21st century has been caused largely by just 90 companies, which between them produced nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions generated since the dawning of the industrial age, new research suggests." Every news outlet in the whole freakin' world should have led with this story by Suzanne Goldenberg at the Guardian this week. I'm just saying.

"Saleh was so troubled by what he saw that he decided to install video cameras in his store. Not to protect himself from criminals, because he says he has never been robbed. He installed the cameras — 15 of them — he said, to protect him and his customers from police." Incredible, outage-causing story by Julie K. Brown at the Miami Herald on the "broken-window" theory of law-enforcement gone very, very wrong.

"For Ms. Barrington-Ward, joblessness itself has become a trap, an impediment to finding a job. Economists see it the same way, concerned that joblessness lasting more than six months is a major factor preventing people from getting rehired, with potentially grave consequences for tens of millions of Americans." From last weekend, Annie Lowrey at the NYT on the dire straits of the long-term unemployed. (Via Lizzie O'Leary.)

"Reed said it was 'ignorant' to question efforts to help people in need or blame Walmart for the economic realities of the labor force nationally. 'You can't find a decent job anywhere,' she said." Nuanced and deeply sad article by Olivera Perkins at the Cleveland Plain-Dealer on the widely reported Thanksgiving food drive one Ohio Walmart is holding for its employees. (Via David Hull.)

"While it’s hard to say exactly what Duquesne should have done for Vojtko in the months before she died, her case highlights the devil’s bargain universities have made by exploiting adjuncts—who, at Duquesne and elsewhere, are finally fighting back." From L.V. Anderson at Slate, a look at the complexities behind the another widely reported labor-outrage case on the death of a recently fired elderly adjunct.

"The rules governing academic and scientific research recognizes that some groups are too vulnerable to risk the failure that the scientific method requires." Super-smart essay by Tressie McMillan Cottom on why education "reformers" should be held to the same Institutional Review Board standards as any other university-based experiment involving other human beings.

"Intersectionality is more like layers of sand than overlapping lines; often, the consequences of inequality don't cross - they coexist and even feed one another. They aren't visibly alien to one another, and it isn't always possible to parse them out." Wonderfully thorough and readable essay by Carmen Rios at Autostraddle on a recent report on the immense diversity of challenges facing LGBT workers of color in America.

"For transgender women, it doesn’t get better, apparently. We experience most of the violence with none of the visibility. We are the dead and we are the forgotten." Powerful piece by Samantha Allen at Jacobin for Transgender Day of Remembrance.

"Qatar has the world’s highest ratio of migrants to citizens, with its 250,000 nationals accounting for only about 12 percent of the population." Mind-boggling statistics in this piece by Abigail Hauslohner for the Washington Post on slave-like labor conditions in one of the world's wealthiest nations.

"The less than one mile her children have to walk to reach school daily has been flooded with sewage for days. Local health officials say that polio has been detected in the untreated sewage, after several outbreaks have been reported nearby this year." This article by Sheera Frenkel at Buzzfeed makes some questionable editorial choices in blaming the sewage floods in Gaza City on the shutdown of Egyptian tunnels (rather than on, say, why fuel-to-power-sewage-plants needs to be smuggled into Gaza in the first place), but it is still worth reading, because otherwise how will you know that Palestinian parents have to decide whether to send their kids to school and exposing them to rivers of polio-infected shit every morning?

"Laura Conteh didn’t know what war sounded like until the night it engulfed her life." It's not often that I say "You have to read this piece at The Telegraph," but this Jean Friedman-Rudovsky article on the lives 15 years later of women who had been forced to join the rebel fighters during Sierra Leone's civil war is exceptional. (Via E.J. Graff.)

"The demonstrators have even been giving the brioches out to the freshly deployed policemen to show that at last Tripoli is getting the upper hand." Forget cronuts. Here is a great little piece from Rana Jawad at the BBC about the role of baryoosh pastries in the movement to expel armed militias from Libya's capital city.

"The fight for bipartisan normalcy has already been lost. The majority leader merely sounded the death knell. There will be lots of loud lamenting at the wake that follows. Don’t be fooled." Emily Bazelon at Slate on the nuclear option and the filibuster in the Senate.

"But Chin is an undisputed leader in the field, and her work has brought new insights to scientists’ understanding of Mesozoic Era, when towering reptiles walked the earth. 'I think it’s fair to say I’ve studied more dinosaur feces than most,' she says modestly." From Elizabeth Strickland at Nautilus, the best article on the study of prehistoric poop that you will read all week.

"The similarities between astrophysics and virtual mass slaughter for recreational purposes begin at the start of both activities." This piece by Elizabeth Tasker at The Toast confuses me, because (back in 19…cough…nevermind) Prof. Robert P. Kirshner did, in fact, demonstrate to the class how galaxies were distributed throughout the universe using a large pepperoni pizza. Maybe the distribution of galaxies throughout the universe is much more like pepperoni pizza than the formation of individual galaxies, which is like playing video games? In any event! My personal confusion notwithstanding, it is a fabulous piece and you should read it.

"It was loud in the way that a flock of geese is loud. One big conversation; nothing individual. What I imagine Twitter would be if all those quips were given voice. And then…out of the crowd of people crushing to connect to the person next to them in some semi-meaningful way, strode this Amazon in a shiny bunny suit." Also fabulous and at The Toast, the second in a series of pieces by Sherlynn Hicks.

"Writers are generally fated to commit the truest parts of themselves to the page, whether they choose to own their work in public or not. That is the ultimate vulnerability, and it is inescapable." Maria Bustillos at The New Yorker on anonymous writing.

I'm making grand and yet ironized claims, announcing a situation and commenting on that situation at the same time. I'm offering an explanation and rolling my eyes—and I'm able to do it with one little word." You've probably read this piece by Megan Garber at The Atlantic already, but you should read it again, because happiness! (Via V.C. Maguire.)

"On Wednesday he ate through three plums but he was still hungry. He had always been hungry. Famine filled his mouth and his throat and his lungs; even his veins felt empty. Death wore him like a hollowed skin." Mallory Ortberg rewrites The Very Hungry Caterpillar and it is terrifying. At The Toast.

"Let me go, and you live, she said to her mother, before the current took her. None of this is metaphor. Ten thousand lives did not shut very beautifully, suddenly, or close like roses." At Vela, a remarkable assemblage of writers' responses to Typhoon Haiyan. Do not miss.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Links for the week ending 17 November 2013

Skimping on news of the world this week, but a lot of personal essays and longreads. First off, though, in case you haven't seen it, here's your one-stop shopping for explaining to your FB friends why the Philippines really does not need donations of your old shoes and crap. By Jessica Alexander at Slate. (Jia Tolentino has suggestions for how to send money for aid and recovery here.)

"A vast majority of red-state Americans believe climate change is real and at least two-thirds of those want the government to cut greenhouse gas emissions, new research revealed on Wednesday." Suzanne Goldenberg at the Guardian.

"In the business world, successful businesses thrive and weak, underperforming ones wither and shut down. Proponents argue that when this principle is carried over into public education, the resulting competition lifts the bar of expectation and results for everyone. But in practice, schools are not businesses and communities don’t function the same way as markets, and school closures haven’t left a trail of academic success stories in their wake." Sobering and aptly titled report by Julianne Hing at Colorlines on "The Brutal End of Public Education" in Philadelphia.

"The cancellation crisis is a product of certain Obama weaknesses—his faith in the obviousness of his own good sense, his failure to measure his opponents—and may turn out to be the single thing he’s done that will most help those who call him a deceiver and a fraud." Amy Davidson at The New Yorker.

"But the free clinic is also where some people learn that there is no hope for the chemotherapy or surgery that they need but can’t afford. When UTMB refuses to treat them, it falls to us to tell them that they will die of diseases that are, in fact, treatable." This essay by Rachel Pearson at the Texas Observer should be required reading at every medical school in America. Also you should read it. (Via Melissa del Bosque.)

"It’s hard to know where to begin, so Dr. Theresa Cheng concerns herself with what she knows best as a dentist: his teeth." From Sarah Zhang at The Seattle Times, a Veterans' Day story.

"That’s part of the genius of the program: By segregating and fast-tracking the veterans from students who might have never treated a wound or seen a patient, they can adopt a go-fast approach that gets them into the job market." From Carol Rosenberg at The Miami Herald, another Veterans' Day story.

'It makes no sense,' said Dr. Leone. 'The people who are really transmitting are the ones who are sort of getting away with not disclosing.'." Seriously good explanation of how complicated and variable a diagnosis of "herpes" really is, by "An HSV-Negative Lady" at The Hairpin.

"When I saw the girls staring, their eyes like marbles, I knew I had to be the calm one because there would be no one capable of saving me except me." I do not even know what to say about this essay by Ariella Yendler at The Toast about being beaten with a tire iron, except that she is a badass, and you should read it even if you have to slide your eyes really fast over all the graphic parts (like I do).

"'He’s alive now,' I said, looking at the person in my left hand. The voice said that he understood, but that it wouldn’t last, and that he would send an ambulance for us right away." This piece by Ariel Levy at The New Yorker is pretty much unbearable reading, and I strongly advise that you do not click on it if you have ever had a traumatic pregnancy loss, unless you're prepared to cope with PTSD all over again. The piece is terribly beautiful if you can handle it, though.

"The same woman can wake up one morning with regret, the next with relief—most have feelings too knotty for a picket sign. 'There’s no room,' one woman told us, 'to talk about being unsure.'" Twenty-six women tell the stories of their abortions. By Meaghan Winter at NY Mag.

"When Hana died, she became one of at least dozens of adoptees alleged to have been killed at their adoptive parents' hands in the past 20 years, and part of a far larger group of children who become estranged from their adoptive families—frequently, as it turns out, large families with fundamentalist beliefs about child rearing." Another wrenching piece from Kathryn Joyce at Slate on abuse of international adoptees.

"A lifetime spent holding a part of yourself in reserve does not resolve with the birth of a child. We mothers are still entitled to unknowable parts, if we want them." A very fine short essay on the particular tension of being an introvert and a mother, by Stacia L. Brown.

"The hostility is not directly specifically at black women, but as the presence of black women in this space as avatars of change. Our hypervisible invisibility in spaces like Austin portend a demographic shift that a country that will tell our president to go back to Africa is obviously not equipped to process. To be the sole black person in any space brings its own challenges. But to find yourself as the sole honest black friend to numerous white people is more than a full-time job. It becomes a second identity, a shadow." At PostBourgie, Joshunda Saunders writes about leaving Austin, Texas.

"Bangs are not historically accurate. Mom worried that the other women would remark upon them." If you never thought you'd have any reason to read anything about Civil War re-enactors, Leigh Stein is about to change your mind. At The Toast.

"Lamenting my age, at this point, even in jest, feels ungrateful. It's sort of an insult to the integrity of my intact life, without which I would not be sitting here. You pull out any of the pieces, however much I may have hated them at the time, and the results would be unpredictable. This is where I am, this is how long it took." Because how can I not link to this essay at NPR by Linda Holmes when she is so approximately my vintage? (Via Jody T.)

"Like most people in New York City, I daily expect to find myself walking the West Side Highway with nothing but a shopping cart stacked with bottled water, a flashlight, and a dead loved one on my back, seeking a suitable site for burial. The postapocalyptic scenario—the future in which everyone’s a corpse (except you)—must be, at this point, one of the most thoroughly imagined fictions of the age." Zadie Smith again at the NYRB, and hooray for that.

"People stroll in and out of the Loaf 'N Jug, a lady with Pringles, a guy slapping a fresh pack of Marlboros, a teenager sipping something blue. It's a clear May day in Colorado, and the hit man is a good listener." At GQ, Jeanne Marie Laskas with the most amazing story you will ever read about undercover agents who pose as hit men.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Links for the week ending 10 November 2013

"Nearly 40 percent of all workers in the country made less than $20,000 last year, according to data from the Social Security Administration, which doesn’t include figures on benefits such as health insurance or pensions." Bryce Covert at Think Progress.

"Now that the average amount per person has dropped from $1.50 to $1.40 per meal, it will be even harder for families to stretch their food budget to the end of the month." Elizabeth Weinstein at the Huffington Post with some hard truths about food stamps. (Via Elizabeth Lower-Basch.)

"I wish they would be more considerate of what we’re doing with the pay rate. They’re a little cheap: 31 cents for a carton of grapes. I would like another two or three cents a carton, because it’s really hard and heavy work." Undocumented farm worker Odilia Chavez talks to Lauren Smiley at Modern Farmer. (Via Nicole Cliffe at The Toast.)

"The gang’s embrace of the bulldog logo has put university administrators in an excruciatingly awkward position amid a gang crisis that has claimed hundreds of lives." At the NYT, Malia Wollan writes about the Fresno State mascot's second life as a gang logo. (Via Lois Beckett.)

"Eight out of 10 misdemeanor cases have been dismissed between 2006 and 2012, shows a Chicago Reporter analysis of records for 1.4 million cases maintained by the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County and the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts." Angela Caputo at The Chicago Reporter on the results of Chicago's version of stop-and-frisk. (Via Christie Thompson.)

"She’s doing paperwork — denying a pile of requests from her physicians for additional care for their patients. The requests are appropriate, she says, but the hospital just doesn’t have the money to pay for the care. 'If someone shows up with a torn ACL, we can’t afford to fix it,' she says. 'He will walk with a limp.'" At Stanford Medicine Magazine, Tracie White reports on the state of health care at Rosebud Indian Reservation. (I cannot remember where I found the link to this, but if it was you, thank you!)

"Why would she be preoccupied with a button while the other people in the photograph were terrified of being killed? Why was the button undone to begin with?" At Bag News, Valerie Wieskamp interrogates one of the iconic images of the Vietnam War — a photo of a group of women and children just before they were massacred at My Lai — for what it says about rape and sexual assault during the war. (Via Marian Wang.)

"Her medical records were so damaging to her case that any rational plaintiff’s lawyer would have been begging for a settlement once they came to light. But Jones’s lawyers had attacked KBR relentlessly in the media for four years, and the company wasn’t about to settle before airing its side. In the end, KBR made sure Jones got her day in court. " At The Washington Monthly, Stephanie Mencimer takes a second, devastating look at a widely reported Iraq-contractor rape case. (Via Pamela Colloff.)

"Things that men were placed into isolation for: gang activity, sharing a cell with a gang member during a previous incarceration, depression, psychosis, throwing feces, fighting off attackers, complaining about the food, schizophrenia, suicide attempts, threats of violence, listlessness, and gang activity by relatives with whom they had no contact." Erika Price is amazing again, this time on a solitary confinement prison operated until last year by the state of Illinois. At The Toast.

"He'd endured awfulness that no child should. But despite that, and because of it, it was naïve to think he had emerged unscathed. But this case wasn't really about who to blame. It was about what to do. What to do with Joseph. " Deeply disturbing piece about the ten-year-old boy who shot and killed his neo-Nazi father. By Amy Wallace at GQ.

"In the years following the war, Stieve would claim that he dissected the corpses of only dangerous criminals.' But on that day, Pommer saw in his laboratory the bodies of political dissidents. She recognized these people. She knew them." From Emily Bazelon at Slate, a long piece about the shocking Nazi origins of the Republican claim that women can't get pregnant from rape.

"Key members of the US House of Representatives are calling for the National Science Foundation (NSF) to justify every grant it awards as being in the 'national interest'. Sarah Zhang at Nature.

"Extrapolating from 34 months of Kepler observations, Petigura and colleagues found that 22 percent of 50 billion sun-like stars in the galaxy should have planets roughly the size of Earth suitably positioned for water." Hooray! There are more planets we can fuck up when we're through with this one (or it's through with us). By Irene Klotz for Reuters.

"Quilting. In space. Could the manly test pilots of the 1950s have imagined such a future? But there she is, blonde and Minnesotan and explaining how she manipulated fabric in zero gravity." Helen Fields writes about astronaut Karen Nyberg, who returns to earth from the ISS today, at The Last Word On Nothing.

"Finally, on a spring day a decade and a half after the seven friends bought the land, my husband, our infant daughter and I found ourselves the only permanent residents of the entire 80 acres, living in what suddenly felt like a gatehouse to nowhere." Michelle Nijhuis at Aeon on how she first embraced and ultimately rejected homesteading off the grid in Colorado.

"I like the term “people with print disabilities,” which encompasses people with visual impairments as well as people with a wide range of cognitive processing issues—various learning disabilities—that affect the ability to process standard print material. The term forces us to think of print as the problem, rather than looking at the individual human being and his or her individual sensory and cognitive apparatus. Fascinating interview with Georgina Kleege by Sara Hendren at The Atlantic on assistive technologies for the visually impaired. (Via Rebecca Rosen.)

"I remember looking at the rattled expressions on the customs officials' faces as a constant stream of Zorn's musicians came through customs all wearing bright red RHYTHM AND JEWS! T-shirts." Laurie Anderson at Rolling Stone on her more than two decades together with the late Lou Reed. (Via Maud Newton.)

"Joni is 70, which means we only have at least 50-60 more years with her." For Janine (and everyone else!), Nicole Cliffe at The Toast has links and videos on the occasion of Joni Mitchell's birthday.

"Things are changing so fast that in some places, transformation is evident even during the relatively short time period of high school matriculation." From Marie Lyn Bernard at Autostraddle, your weekly dose of hope with a roundup of LGBT homecoming queens and kings around the nation.

"When I first traveled to Rio de Janeiro to research all things Elizabeth Bishop, in 2002, I did not understand how or why everyone—from university professors to taxi drivers, artisans, artists, and entrepreneurs—had something to say about a poeta norteamericana." Mostly I am including this Paris Review piece by Magdalena Edwards so that one of you nice people will alert me when this movie arrives on Netflix or Amazon Prime or iTunes or wherever it is Kids These Days watch movies when not in NYC or LA, god knows I have no idea about such things!

"Q: How many male novelists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: ”It’s only the institution I have a problem with,” he explained to the empty bar.
" Mallory Ortberg at The Toast.

"I am convinced that steadily attending to an idea is the core of intellectual labor, and that steadily attending to people is the core of kindness. And I gravely worry that Twitter undermines that capacity for sustained attention." Finally, Kathryn Schulz at NYMag, being very smart about the allure and diminishing rewards of Twitter.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Links for the week ending 3 November 2013

"In testimony that caused the translator to stop and begin to weep, he said: 'Congressman Grayson, as a teacher, my job is to educate. But how do I teach something like this? How do I explain what I myself do not understand? How can I in good faith reassure the children that the drone will not come back and kill them, too, if I do not understand why it killed my mother and injured my children?'" From Karen McVeigh at the Guardian, a sobering account of the testimony of Pakistani drone victims before Congress — well, to the five lawmakers who bothered to show up for the hearing.

"Polio has broken out among young children in northeast Syria after probably originating in Pakistan and poses a threat to millions of children across the Middle East, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday." By Stephanie Nebehay at Reuters.

"Prey had been spotted, he told a friend. When the host asked what they were going to hunt, he said, 'A beautiful deer.' " The incredible Ellen Barry at the NYT on serial gang-rapists in Mumbai.

"Ahead of the Sochi Olympics in February, Russia is taking saliva samples from religiously conservative Muslim women, according to locals in the North Caucasus, gathering DNA so authorities can identify the body parts if any become suicide bombers." Alissa De Carbonnel at Reuters with yet another reason why the upcoming Winter Olympics looks to be the worst idea ever in the history of sports.

"With only 16,000 inhabitants, Greenland’s capital isn’t exactly Copenhagen or Washington, but by Greenland standards, Nuuk is the rare Arctic metropolis. At the foot of the Sermitsiaq mountain, a 12-story apartment complex and a new shopping mall sit side by side with brightly colored wooden houses from the eighteenth century." At Foreign Affairs, Anna-Katarina Gravgaard reports on Greenland's debate on rare-earth mining — and how to more generally approach the new realities that climate change is bringing to the country.

"The National Security Agency and its British counterpart have apparently tapped the fiber-optic cables connecting Google’s and Yahoo’s overseas servers and are copying vast amounts of email and other information, according to accounts of documents leaked by the former agency contractor Edward J. Snowden." From dude Charlie Savage, Claire Cain Miller, and Nicole Perlroth at the NYT, it's another week, another data surveillance revelation.

"In fiscal year 2007, before the recession began, there were about 26 million people receiving food stamps. As of this past July, the most recent month of data available, there were nearly 48 million, representing about a seventh of the American population." As of Friday, those 48 million people have even less money for food. Because that's how we value human life in this country, abortion politics notwithstanding. Catherine Rampell reports for the NYT.

"They are sick four times as often as kids who are not homeless, twice as likely to be hungry, and suffer from emotional and behavioral problems at three times the rate of other children." That's the 1,168,354 homeless children counted in the U.S. in 2011. By Sarah Goodyear for The Atlantic.

"'I would have to work a minimum of three jobs, each 40 hours a week at minimum wage. That’s to keep the lights on. No groceries, no gas,' said Donnie, who made $70,000 in his best year." Suzy Khimm reports for MSNBC on the sequester's effects on the coal-mining areas of Kentucky.

"The Davises’ ordeal was always going to be painful. But the grim path that led them to a night in the car was determined, nearly every step of the way, by a state that has scrambled to be the most 'pro-life' in the nation." Irin Carmon reports for MSNBC on the quest of one poor young Oklahoma couple to end a a pregnancy in which the fetus suffered from severe brain malformation.

"That meant that starting this morning, Nov. 1, clinics in Fort Worth, Lubbock, El Paso, McAllen, Austin, Waco, and San Antonio have had to cease providing women with access to legal abortion care. In Austin, that means that Planned Parenthood's South Austin clinic, which provides abortion care up to 20 weeks at its surgical center, will be unable, until further notice, to provide any abortion care." For couples like the Davises, the options are now even fewer. Jordan Smith reports for The Austin Chronicle on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that shutters more than a dozen clinics across Texas.

"The 2nd Circuit hasn’t said whether Scheindlin’s ruling against New York City was right or wrong. Instead, the three-judge panel said she 'ran afoul' of the code of conduct for federal judges by making her impartiality seem as if it could be questioned and through her 'improper application' of the rule by which judges agree to handle 'related cases.'" At Slate, Emily Bazelon explains the 2nd. U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against Judge Shira Scheindlin in the NYC stop-and-frisk case.

"Notes from a morning meeting of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight total exactly '6 enrollments' after the marketplace’s first day. It turns out that, behind the scenes, the launch looked just as bad as it did for the general public." This Buzzfeed-type list by Sarah Kliff at the Washington Post about the first 31 days of is nonetheless very informative.

"'The idea that it is not statistically significant to have 19 people die in a couple of days really tells you the enormity of this problem,' she said." Yamiche Alcindor and Meghan Hoyer at USA Today report on a week in which four mass murders took place the U.S. in four days.

"In progressive organizations, the health of the whole community hinges on the safety of every member, not just the most popular ones. We have to step up to for the victims, which means listening to them, making their comfort a priority, and not pressuring them to engage with the abuser so that others can come to terms with what has happened." Mikki Kendall at The Toast.

"Exasperated, the protesters began to post criticism of the new policy in reviews of books on censorship, and in some cases posted reviews making ridiculous attacks on authors (such as accusing the late children’s author Tove Jansson of engaging in orgies with moomintrolls), in order to test the limits of the moderation policy." Laura Miller at Salon on the Goodreads Review Wars of 2013. (Hat tip to Jody T.)

"Although the biggest schools have equipment managers, sometimes that conversation happens with the head coach — who has a financial incentive. Coaches typically receive money from shoe companies in exchange for wearing the apparel and making appearances at that company's events." Football players at some colleges can't tape up their ankles because that would… cover up the shoe-company logo their coaches and programs are being paid to advertise. By Rachel Axon at USA Today.

"This is someone weighing your Black history and your Black pain versus their own sense of folly and choosing themselves. And that, beloveds, is what White privilege is all about. 'I hear what you all are saying, but at the end of the day, I come first.'" At Ebony, Jamilah Lemieux drops the mic on white people in blackface.

"I do not know how much my mother spent on her camel colored cape or knee-high boots but I know that whatever she paid it returned in hard-to-measure dividends. How do you put a price on the double-take of a clerk at the welfare office who decides you might not be like those other trifling women in the waiting room and provides an extra bit of information about completing a form that you would not have known to ask about?" Seriously amazing essay by Tressie McMillan Cottom about the survival skills that drive status-symbol purchases by poor people.

"And so it was that, in December 2011, Coy showed up for kindergarten in a rainbow dress and pink leggings, chin-length blond hair held back with barrettes, and a baby-toothed smile – no longer a 'he' but a 'she.'" Another great piece by Sabrina Rubin Erdely for Rolling Stone, on a family's quest to support their transgender child in the very epicenter of Focus on the Family's hate-activism.

Today, a paper in the journal Immunity provides even stronger evidence to support Profet’s toxin hypothesis. In it, Stanford University School of Medicine scientists show that small doses of venom and the subsequent allergic pathways triggered serve to protect mice against fatal doses of venom later on." Did allergies evolve to save your life… from poisonous snakes? Christie Wilcox at Discover. (Hat tip to Rachel Hartman.)

"First-person cultural narratives about major battles are often written through the distorting haze of a long memory — that's what David Carr was trying to counter when he investigated his own past for his memoir Night Of The Gun. But there's no substitute, really, for the necessary honesty that comes with currency. Allie Brosh is Allie Brosh right now." Nice Linda Holmes review at NPR of Allie Brosh's book. (Via Nicole Cliffe at The Toast.)

"a leaf just blew in me a leaf just blew in me." I am not even kidding that Mallory Ortberg made me CRY with "Texts From a Jack-O-Lantern." At The Toast.

"Saying ‘The laundry is done’ is like saying: ‘There, I am old. I am all done ageing.’ No. Just as you will get older and older until you die, you will always have laundry to do." Heather Havrilesky wins the internet this week with this essay about laundry at Aeon.

"'Very grand, that was,' said my father a little later, when we had descended into a not-grand-at-all café to happily eat a baby cow covered in tuna sauce. Seeing his relief I thought sadly of Charlotte Bartlett, and heard her grating voice echoing in my own mind: I feel that our tour together is hardly the success I had hoped. I might have known it would not do." But Zadie Smith wins everything everywhere with this essay on public gardens at the NYRB.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

No links for the week ending 27 October 2013

No links this week, as I took a very peaceful and lovely vacation from the internets. Links will be back next week. As always, thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Links for the week ending 20 October 2013

"Women sit on the shoulder, selling tea to travelers from a row of samovars. Above them, pillars of steam vanish into the sky, just as they did in 1746, the year construction on the road began." Ellen Barry with more jaw-droppingly gorgeous writing in this NYT multimedia piece about rural Russia. (Via Erin Cunningham.)

"'I was accidentally raising cockroaches and then I realized they were the easiest and most profitable,' he said." Barbara Demick in another multimedia piece at the LA Times, on cockroach farming. (Trigger warning for COCKROACH FARMING.) (Via Alana Semuels.)

"The United States is loosening controls over military exports, in a shift that former U.S. officials and human rights advocates say could increase the flow of American-made military parts to the world’s conflicts and make it harder to enforce arms sanctions." Cora Currier at ProPublica.

"The report threatens to definitively refute former C.I.A. personnel who have defended the program’s integrity. But so far, to the consternation of several members of the Intelligence Committee, the Obama Administration, like Bush’s before it, is keeping the damning details from public view." Jane Mayer at The New Yorker on Congressional leaders' battle to disclose a $40 million report on C.I.A. torture practices.

"The women compared politicians’ behavior to kindergarteners or toddlers." In the aftermath of the government shutdown, Molly Ball reports from a focus group of Tennessee women.

Two from Reuters health reporter Kate Kelland. "And there is evidence in tests conducted on sewage samples in some of the country's major cities that the polio virus is starting to spread beyond these isolated pockets and could soon spark fresh polio outbreaks in more densely populated areas." Polio spreading in Pakistan.

And a story for football season: "The difference between the two groups was so marked that a computer program learned to distinguish between ex-football players and healthy volunteers at close to 90 percent accuracy, based just on their frontal lobe activation patterns."

"Pulmicort, a steroid inhaler, generally retails for over $175 in the United States, while pharmacists in Britain buy the identical product for about $20 and dispense it free of charge to asthma patients. Albuterol, one of the oldest asthma medicines, typically costs $50 to $100 per inhaler in the United States, but it was less than $15 a decade ago, before it was repatented." Elisabeth Rosenthal at the NYT. I do not know how pharmaceutical executives sleep at night. (Via Kathryn Schulz.)

"We do know, however, that there was no nurse in the building that day, a nurse who, if she or he became aware of Laporshia’s condition, would have known to listen to her lungs with a stethoscope and take appropriate action based upon what she or he heard." Eileen M. DiFranco at the Philadelphia Public School Notebook on the school funding crisis that was a factor in the death of 12-year-old Laporshia Massey. (Hat tip to Sheila Avelin.)

"A majority of students in public schools throughout the American South and West are low-income for the first time in at least four decades, according to a new study that details a demographic shift with broad implications for the country." Lyndsey Layton at The Washington Post. (Via Mac McClelland.)

"When Hinshaw compared the rollout of these school policies with incidences of A.D.H.D., he found that when a state passed laws punishing or rewarding schools for their standardized-test scores, A.D.H.D. diagnoses in that state would increase not long afterward. Nationwide, the rates of A.D.H.D. diagnosis increased by 22 percent in the first four years after No Child Left Behind was implemented." Maggie Koerth-Baker at the NYT.

"What does it mean if we decide student data 'the new oil'? What does it mean if we view students (and their data) as a resource to be mined and extracted? What's gained? What's lost? What's depleted? Who profits? Who benefits?" Audrey Watters' recent talk at Columbia University (which, I gotta say, is a sentence that delights me to type and probably delights all of you all who've been hanging around since the mommyblogging days of yore just as much).

"Lisak's research shows almost two-thirds of college rapists rape more than once, which explains why repeat rapists account for 9 out of every 10 rapes on college campuses. Yet only 10 to 25 percent of students found responsible for sexual assault at college are expelled, according to the Center for Public Integrity." Kayla Webley at Marie Claire on the failures of American universities to be forthright — let alone do anything — about the immense problem of rape on campus.

"But we are failing to let men know that when they drink their decision-making skills into oblivion, they can do terrible things." Ann Friedman at NYMag answering that I-can't-even piece at Slate.

"Daisy Coleman is a high school student in Missouri and an advocate for victims of sexual assault." She tells her own story at xoJane.

"The campaigns against both kinds of bad women both share one purpose, then. Both aim to manipulate women into sacrificing their interests in order to preserve the stability of a society that first Communism and then economic liberalization shattered—and to do their part to make sure that the growth on which party rule depends continues." Moira Weigel at The New Inquiry on "leftover women" and "BMW women" in China.

"Reiteration of good intentions, but declaration of unusually brave and unbridled honesty forthcoming about the certain failure of Wendy Davis, a woman political person who mainly focuses on woman political things, like abortions and abortions." Writing an article about Wendy Davis' gubernatorial campaign? Andrea Grimes at RH Reality Check has you covered. (Via Melissa del Bosque.)

"Because there are so many uninsured Texans, so few of whom are eligible for Medicaid, and because the state decided not to expand Medicaid coverage, the Kaiser report estimates that 27 percent of uninsured adults in Texas will not have coverage options available to them under the Affordable Care Act. That includes 91 percent of uninsured adults whose incomes are below the poverty line." Becca Aaronson at The Texas Tribune.

"Dr. Lehman hopes eventually to set up a more efficient breast clinic, where women waiting to be seen would sort themselves into 'more and less worrisome groups' by matching their symptoms to images on a laminated card. The images would include photographs of bulging tumors in the breast so that someone like Ms. Namata could move to a high-priority group." Not pinkwashing: this article at the NYT by Denise Grady that focuses on a 48-year-old Ugandan woman's experience with advanced breast cancer. (Via Annie Lowrey.)

"Yet he received a text stating 'Message from the UK Border Agency. You are required to leave the UK as you no longer have right to remain.'" Your WTF of the week, on private government contractors sending threatening text messages to immigrants in the UK. From Felicity Morse at The Independent.

"Juárez seemed like 'a hell on Earth but also a heaven,' she says. 'It was the first place that opened its arms to my husband and me and allowed us to be together, to make a life for ourselves without worrying about one of us being taken away. The Spanish word I feel for Juárez means something like "love" in English, but also something more. The word is cariño.'" Moving piece by Debbie Nathan at The Austin Chronicle on "The Real Housewives of Ciudad Juárez." (Via Jordan Smith.)

"Those are not puppy-dog, crushed-out eyes staring up at you. These are eyes hungry for a professional break. These people are not trying to sleep with you. They are trying to get hired by you." Laura Helmuth at Slate sums up and draws some valuable conclusions from the sexual harassment scandal at Scientific American.

"Decapitation, But Not Cannibalism, Might Transmit Memories". Best headline of the week, if not the decade. From Sarah Zhang at Nautilus. (Non-trigger warning: she's talking about flatworms.)

"The skull was found in Dmanisi, Georgia, near four others from roughly the same time period that incorporate a broad spectrum of bone structure, bolstering the argument that scholars may have underestimated the natural diversity that existed within a single species of early humans. " Carolyn Y. Johnson at

"For the first hundred years of cinema, when images were captured on celluloid and processed photochemically, disregard for black skin and its subtle shadings was inscribed in the technology itself, from how film-stock emulsions and light meters were calibrated, to the models used as standards for adjusting color and tone." Fascinating piece by Ann Hornaday at The Washington Post on how the shift to digital filmmaking undergirds a new wave of nuanced and diverse portrayal of African-Americans at the movies. (Via Laura Helmuth.)

"Having spent eighteen years behind bars—twelve of them on death row— for a crime he did not commit , Anthony Graves could be forgiven for making a few impulse buys with the $1.45 million he was awarded in 2011 by the Texas Legislature for his wrongful incarceration." From Pamela Colloff at Texas Monthly, one man's gratitude to the law school professor who helped set him free.

"And yet discourse after discourse finds a way to rank us, divide us, and create measurements of status linked to race. What use are these artificial layers of status and privilege, when there are seven billion of us in the exact same condition? Scared, fragile, and — above all — temporary?" Finally, there's a lot I'd argue with in this book review by Maria Bustillos at the LARB (particularly in the case of the Phoenix Tso piece; I'd argue that a stranger with whom you have not already made friendly eye contact who interrupts your reading for any reason — except maybe to inform you that you are about to be attacked by wolves? — deserves a "fuck you" even if he is not being a racist fuck). But it is absolutely worth your time to read and maybe argue with yourself.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Links for the week ending 13 October 2013

Shutdown news:
"When army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi appeared on television in July this year to announce the end of Mursi's presidency and plans for elections, it was widely assumed that Egypt's military leaders were the prime movers behind the country's counter revolution. But dozens of interviews with officials from the army, state security and police, as well as diplomats and politicians, show the Interior Ministry was the key force behind removing Egypt's first democratically elected president." Bombshell reporting from Asma Alsharif and Yasmine Saleh at Reuters. (Via Liz Sly.)

"It isn't that she doesn't have any interests beyond her education campaign; it's just that 'a normal teenager' in Swat isn't defined by Justin Bieber and Twilight. If you really want to get her animated, talk about the one subject that can make almost any Pakistani turn into a bit of a teenager: cricket." Charming, inspirational, and heartbreaking in equal measure, Kamila Shamsie's visit with Malala Yousafzai at The Guardian. (Via Nilanjana Roy.)

"Meem is 9 years old and works as a sewing helper in a garment factory. For a few days this summer, she was also my boss." Raveena Aulakh at The Toronto Star. (Via @pourmecoffee.)

"When the morgue was done with her body, Giorgio and other detectives at the Thirty-fourth Precinct paid for a gravestone and for a proper funeral with bagpipes, as well as for that white dress. ('I said, "We’ll never see her in the dress, but please put it on top of her so she’ll know,"' Giorgio told the Times. 'We are her family …. We are burying our baby.') " Achingly good Amy Davidson piece at The New Yorker about persistence in solving the decades-old puzzle of a child's death.

"The suit alleges that U.N. officials falsely claimed that peacekeepers had been tested for cholera and none had come back positive, and barred Haitian health officials from the camp in late October. The suit also alleges that the U.N. issued a false statement that its septic tanks were up to U.S. EPA standards, and that an official told a reporter that a pipe carrying sewage was carrying only kitchen waste." Anna Schecter at NBC News. (Via Yamiche Alcindor.)

"'Most have never met a funding source they do not like,' says Phillip Rogaway, a computer scientist at the University of California, Davis, who has sworn not to accept NSA funding and is critical of other researchers’ silence. 'And most of us have little sense of social responsibility.'" Ann Finkbeiner at Nature examines mathematicians' lack of interest in the ethical issues involved in doing NSA-supported research.

"I know that these East Germans were asking themselves if they were doing their jobs well when they should have been asking whether they should be doing their jobs at all." Thoughtful personal essay from Quinn Norton at Medium on visiting the Stasi Museum in Berlin.

"Administrators can also upload certain details that students or parents may be comfortable sharing with teachers, but not with unknown technology vendors. InBloom’s data elements, for instance, include family relationships ('foster parent' or 'father’s significant other') and reasons for enrollment changes ('withdrawn due to illness' or 'leaving school as a victim of a serious violent incident')." At the NYT, Natasha Singer reports companies that look to harvest and profit from schoolchildren's personal data.

"'It’s a much bigger, more powerful question to ask, If today we are using management techniques that were also used on slave plantations,' she says, 'how much more careful do we need to be? How much more do we need to think about our responsibility to people?'" Katie Johnson at Forbes talks to Caitlin Rosenthal about her book on the plantation roots of many common business practices. (Hat tip to Rachel Hartman and Sheila Avelin.)

"Another solution may be to eat our way through them. At Piraino's lab in Italy, researchers are looking at how to make jellyfish more palatable: to livestock — and to humans." At NBC News, Nidhi Subbaraman writes about the coming "jellypocalypse," which sounds like a culinary, er, delight. (Via Jim Roberts.)

"This means that my chances of being harmed by a mammogram are far greater than my likelihood of being helped." Christie Aschwanden at The Washington Post.

"But there is a deep principle of quantum mechanics, known as the Unitarity Principle, which states that information about a system, including a quantum wavelike universe, is never lost. This principle guaranteed that the mark of the entanglement of our universe with others is preserved somewhere in today’s sky." Amazing essay about searching for evidence of the multiverse by physics professor Laura Mersini-Houghton.

"It wasn’t just that he called me a whore – he juxtaposed it against my professional being: Are you urban scientist or an urban whore? Completely dismissing me as a scientist, a science communicator (whom he sought for my particular expertise), and someone who could offer something meaningful to his brand." Your WTF of the week by DN Lee, deleted from SciAm blogs but reposted at Isis the Scientist. (Via Anne Jefferson.) "When we consider the demographic projections in this country in relation to our clamor to lead the world in scientific discovery, scholars like Danielle are providing a national service. We can’t win the future of STEM without winning it through black and brown girls and boys." For trenchant commentary, Tressie McMillan Cottom.

"Another day one of the teachers flies up a stone wall twenty feet high. He runs straight at it and then leaps, touches it once with one foot, touches it again with another, and there he is, looking down at us and laughing." From the Travel issue of Granta, writer Catherine Chung describes four weeks at a kung fu school at the legendary Wudang Mountain. (Via Maud Newton.)

"With more time now to read and write and enjoy the company of others, she nevertheless wrote to her brother, 'I Injoy all the Agreable conversation I can come at Properly, but I find Litle, very Litle, Equal to that I have a Right to by Nature but am deprived of by Provedence.'" Jenny McPhee reviews Jill Lepore's new book on Jane Franklin, sister to Benjamin. At Bookslut. (Via Heather Havrilesky.)

"Honesty, in Munro's work, is not the best policy: it is not a policy at all, but an essential element, like air. The characters must get hold of at least some of it, by fair means or foul, or - they feel - they will go under." From 2008 at The Guardian, Margaret Atwood on new Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro.

"I am a celebrity magnet. They keep finding me, lured by something deep within my DNA that makes them want to revolve for one fleeting moment in my orbit." At The Toast, Joyce Millman recounts many and various celebrity encounters. Hilarity ensues. Also there is a stuffed Snoopy. REPRESENT if you're old enough that your most beloved stuffed creature was a stuffed Snoopy.

"Shall I draft my email now? Do I dare to send a pitch?
I shall wear mismatched pajamas, and seek my niche.
Cleolinda Jones with "Thirteen Ways of Pitching to The Toast." (Important background by Mallory Ortberg here.)

"The world's pre-eminent drag queen might not consider drag his greatest passion, but he's still a big believer in its power. 'All things to do with drag are inherently therapeutic because the realization of your own insanity is the beginning of sanity,' he says. 'You have to go into this complete artifice to figure out who you really are.'" From September but just ungated to the open internets, Mac McClelland profiles RuPaul for Rolling Stone.

"She was right. I was angry; I wanted to be gone. It’s important to know when it’s time to turn in your kazoo." Finally, a masterful short piece by Amy Poehler, also at The New Yorker, on a summer job scooping ice cream. (Via Sonia Faleiro.)