Sunday, February 17, 2013

Links for the week ending 17 February 2013

If you read one article about meteors over Russia this week (and you should!), make it Elif Batuman's short piece for The New Yorker, which I swear runs its online-only section as a sort of clinic to show the rest of us how to derive meaning on the fly from the events of the day as they happen.

"The issue of whether attorney-client confidences have been breached has overwhelmed these latest Sept. 11 pretrial proceedings." Multiple articles from the redoubtable Carol Rosenberg — who also live-tweeted the emergency landing of the planning carrying Guantánamo journalists this week — at the Miami Herald on the discovery that the rooms in which defense attorneys meet with accused 9/11 plotters sported CIA-planted bugs disguised as smoke detectors.

"Why I'm unfriending you on Facebook." A personal post from The Wall Street Journal's Julia Angwin, whose concerns may be specific to journalists, but are worth considering no matter what you do (or don't do) for a living.

"'They are literally bringing in kitchen sinks.'" Jordan Smith at the Austin Chronicle on the explosion of biologic evidence seized in criminal investigations — and the degree to which no one has quite figured out how to properly archive that evidence. (Via Pamela Colloff.)

Thorough investigative reporting from Stephanie Simon at Reuters about how the charter school movement in the United States bills itself as being "open to all," but is in many cases relying on exclusionary admissions procedures in order to cherry-pick a higher-achieving student population. (Via Christie Thompson.)

"This is merely a Valentine's Day reflection on state-sanctioned guidelines for proving true love." At Salon, Natasha Lennard on her marriage green card.

"I've seen these gatherings compared to forcing peanut butter on those with allergies." Dahlia Lithwick answering the eternal question, "How are women like peanut butter?" in a piece about diaspora Jews challenging ultra-Orthodox control of Judaism's holiest site, the Western Wall. (Via Jill Heather.)

"Maternal mortality rates approaching 1-in-1,000 pregnant women occur in places such as Somalia and Texas." Womens eNews editor Rita Henley Jensen parses a new report from the Texas Department of Health Services and finds an extraordinarily dismal record on women's health even before recent defundings of women's health programs and the state's Planned Parenthood clinics went into effect. Here's another article by Jordan Smith at the Austin Chronicle from last month, about those recent funding cuts. Taken together, the two pieces are pretty terrifying.

"Lowe's fetus received legal representation, but Lowe did not receive legal counsel until 12 days after she was taken into custody." At Alternet, Kristen Gwynne reports on attempts in several states to bolster fetal-personhood laws by charging pregnant drug-users with child abuse.

"The favourite flavour of hyper-religious hate-mail is the delivery of a set of rosary beads in an unmarked package, which seems an odd message to send: 'Jesus knows where you live.'" Laurie Penny reporting at VICE on how the death of Savita Halappanavar has galvanized Irish activists for women's reproductive rights.

Do you read breathless media coverage of new evolutionary psychology research? (Are you on the internet? Then the answer is almost certainly yes.) Arm yourself against sketchy, stereotype-laden science with Kate Clancy's excellent piece about how to critically evaluate work in that field. At SciAm.

"Most people who are optimistic will still think they have a lower chance of being hit by a helicopter." Also at SciAm, Scicurious looks at the role of the neurotransmitter dopamine in helping you predict outcomes, like whether or not you're likely to get hit by a helicopter while sunbathing on your roof!

Oddly, dopamine is never mentioned in this article about the sinking of the Bounty, a wooden square-rigged ship originally built for the Marlon Brando film Mutiny on the Bounty, 100 miles off the coast of North Carolina during Hurricane Sandy. By Kathryn Miles for Outside. (Via Jill Heather.)

As someone who gave up cycling out of sheer cowardice after I became a parent, I heartily applaud this piece by Sarah Goodyear at The Atlantic Cities about new bicycle maps developed by the city of Austin, TX, based on how peaceful — or traffic-imperiled — a road is.

Two pieces about the mashup of pop culture and religious separatist culture: at The Hairpin, Esther Werdiger writes about the Hasidic pop star for the Lady Gaga-era. At the Paris Review, Racher Yoder writes about how contemporary Amish romance novels stack up to the book she obsessed over as a child, Martyr's Mirror: The Stories of Seventeen Centuries of Christian Martyrdom from the Time of Christ to A.D. 1660. (And you thought your childhood reading was heavy.)

"A pin is a picture taken out of context with a short description that belittles your life choices." Very funny "Revised Pinterest FAQs" by Dana Norris at The Rumpus.

This week in You People Are Not Making My Life Any Easier By Publishing Good Stuff On The Weekends After I Thought I Had This Post Written, Maria Bustillos writes about the shutting down of Intrade in the U.S., "Place Your Bets (Oh Wait, You Can't)."

Every week in YPANMMLAEBPGSOTWAITIHTPW (deep breath), Mallory Ortberg at The Gloss: "Don't Forget Not To Murder Your Girlfriend This Weekend."

I haven't gotten a chance to read through this one yet, but I trust Lucy Pigpuppet when she tells me it's fabulous, especially because every sentence my eye happens to fall on while I'm trying to type this is a wonder. Hilary Mantel at the London Review of Books on "Royal Bodies."

The usual sharp, thoughtful work from Kathryn Schulz, here at Vulture reviewing Amity Gaige's new novel, Schroeder, which turns a Clark Rockefeller sort of story into "homage to Lolita… so complete as to be fractal."

"It isn't easy to even think about Edna St. Vincent Millay's body of work without thinking about her — well — actual body. This is entirely her doing." Kate Bolick at Poetry Foundation on how the life and the work of the poet became one in the public eye.

Finally, Lili Loofbourow wins the internet with this amazing (and very long!) essay on the forgotten bestselling literary foremother of… Gollum. As my grandmother in-law used to say (in her thick Bronx accent), "So. Who knew?" At the Los Angeles Review of Books.