"Syria is always sad, it's always tragic." At Syria Deeply, Karen Leigh interviews Jenan Moussa, a correspondent with Dubai-based Al Aan TV, about her experiences reporting in Syria.
"A Justice Department white paper laying out the circumstances in which the President can kill Americans talks not only about Al Qaeda but also about 'associated forces,' and this type of vagueness could easily increase with the passage of time, if targeted killings were to shift from a policy to a precedent." Amy Davidson at The New Yorker makes a compelling case that an executive "kill list" could include non-combatants like activists and journalists.
The cover story from the newest issue of Mother Jones, by Stephanie Mencimer: "What's It Like to Wake Up From a Tea Party Binge? Just Ask Florida!"
"In Florida, African-American voters who voted absentee were nearly twice as likely to have their ballot rejected as white absentee voters, Herron found." Christie Thompson at ProPublica suggests that increased use of absentee ballots, while it may somewhat ease long voting lines at the polls, will also bring a host of new concerns about voter access.
Following up on last week's incredibly depressing articles about women's health issues in Texas, Jordan Smith at The Austin Chronicle reports on a new poll finding that "73% of all voters believe Texas should fund family planning services, including birth control, for low-income women."
"Very low-income families spend as much as 55 percent of their earnings on transportation." Amy B. Dean at Boston Review convincingly argues that public transit services are an essential part of social justice. (Via Susie Cagle.)
Sarah Goodyear at The Atlantic Cities reports on the People's Community Medics, "training citizens in basic first aid techniques to treat gunshot wound victims," in response to both high levels of violent crime and rules that prevent paramedics from going to a shooting scene before being cleared to do so by police.
Great short piece by Dana Goldstein at her blog about the actual demographic realities of the NYT's self-styled Hipsturbia: "American suburbs are not becoming hipper and younger, but are in fact becoming poorer…, browner…, and greyer."
"There is no reason to cover matters of domestic violence in this fashion. Writers can, and should, identify the agent. Identify the action. Identify the acted-upon." Mallory Ortberg at The Gloss for our first link to her of the week.
I am, shall we say, not a huge fan of the "Dear Prudence" advice columns, but Emily Yoffe's full-length piece, "Abusive parents: What do grown children owe the mothers and fathers who made their childhood a living hell?" was pretty damn on target. (Via Els Kushner.)
"When we create a self-brand, we embark on a process that packages, designs, and markets us — human beings — just like other products and commodities." Sarah Banet-Weiser at The Wall Street Journal. (Via Karen Gregory.)
It was Universities Behaving Badly Week in the news! Tressie McMillan Cottom and Natalia Cecire have James "Pragmatic Half-Victories Kept in View the Higher Aspiration" Wagner covered with smart, nuanced critical commentary.
At the Yale Daily News, Nathalie Batraville (with [guy] co-author Alex Lew and contributor Michelle Morgan) raised the alarm about plans by a professor at Yale's medical school to develop with the Department of Defense a training center at Yale for military personnel researching techniques that apparently need to be practiced exclusively on brown people. Wait. What???? (First seen via Aaron Bady.)
Also, ecologist Jacquelyn Gill asks academics, "When someone makes a sexist (or racist, etc.) statement on a society list-serv of a blog, how do you respond? Do you ignore it? Do you call out the person privately? Do you call them out in a response on the list-serv?" This is a sentence I rarely utter in this fallen era, but: There is an excellent discussion in comments. (Via Jenevieve.)
"Today we have at least partial solutions to many natural risks — levees, industrial farming and antibiotics, say — but each solution contributes to new risks — more destructive floods, obesity and drug-resistant diseases — which then have to be managed with new solutions, which then present new risks." Maggie Koerth-Baker is the only reason why I'll send you to the NYT this week. (Though you should totally read that piece about snack food, if you haven't.)
"Jones explains that 'it’s important not to do everything that could be done. I say this not only as an academic, but as someone in the trenches, a patient experiencing the culture of medicine and having to face my own medical decisions.'"Long but quite worthwhile article by Alice Park at Harvard Magazine about the dubious value of common procedures to treat heart disease, and, by extension, the value of many other common medical procedures. (Via Sarah Zhang.)
As long as we're talking dubious medical practices! "In 2009, a decade after the drug was approved, an FDA spokesperson told the BMJ… that clinical trials 'failed to demonstrate any significant difference in rates of hospitalization, complications, or mortality in patients receiving either Tamiflu or placebo.'" Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer at The Atlantic on why you really don't need a prescription for Tamiflu. (Via Julia Belluz.)
"So this was five-dollar therapy. I could’ve done better driving fifteen minutes to the local dog track/casino and feeding a five-dollar bill into a psychotherapy themed slot machine called Bonkers! Get three psychotherapist couches in a row and you win." Ali Liebegott at Her Kind. I would totally play that game.
I keep trying to come up with some consistent rule about whether or not I link to interviews in which either the interviewer or the interviewee is a guy. Does the woman have to have at least 50% of the text space? 25%? Would you believe 5%? Well. Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, right? So here's Maria Bustillos' very fun and breathless interview with George Saunders at The Awl. And here, further, is Jia Tolentino's really stupendously wonderful interview at The Billfold with Mike the Mailman, "Who Delivers the Mail (For Now)."
I am a helpless sucker for pieces that begin like this one: "There are very few pages in Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery that fail to yield something utterly delightful." By Sarah Marshall at The Hairpin.
I am also a helpless sucker for anything that even casually mentions having been in the actual presence of Miss Piggy. Kate Aurthur at Buzzfeed remembers attending the 1980 Oscars with her mother to represent her late father's work on All That Jazz. (Via Shani O. Hilton.)
This is from the end of January, but I'm slow on the uptake. Long but really rewarding essay at the LARB by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, "When the Lights Shut Off: Kendrick Lamar and the Decline of the Black Blues Narrative." Cultural criticism doesn't get much better than this. (Via Dream Hampton.)
I gather from the Twitters that Mallory Ortberg has recently quit her job, which perhaps explains why she has had a monster week. From last Sunday at TheGloss, "Losing Your Best Friend: A Timeline." Also at TheGloss, "Modern Crime And Punishments." And, finally, Best of Show for the week, at The Hairpin: "Texts From Pride and Prejudice."