Sunday, March 31, 2013

Links for the week ending 31 March 2013

Maybe you heard that the Supreme Court was hearing the Prop. 8 case this week, but you haven't had time to read official transcripts of the proceedings? Follow along with romance author Courtney Milan's public-service truncated transcript, which she posted to her tumblr: "BREYER: I'm going to ask you an extremely long question riddled with nonspecific nouns, and you're going to have to guess what I mean by it." (Via Irin Carmon, and, eventually, pretty much everyone else I follow.)

At Alternet, Kristen Gwynne reports from the class-action lawsuit against the NYPD's stop-and-frisk practices: "Polanco and Serrano testified that supervisors cared more about whether cops met the numbers than whether they met them legally."

"As the video rolled and the armed men came into the camera's view, the color drained from the officers' faces. 'I know who that is,' one of them said. 'That's Jonathan Treviño. The sheriff's son.'" Powerful piece on drug corruption in a Texas border county by Melissa del Bosque for The Texas Observer. (Via Jordan Smith.)

Also in Texas, the Kaufman County district attorney and his wife are assassinated less than two months after the murder of an assistant district attorney. By Tanya Eiserer and Tasha Tsiaperas for The Dallas Morning News. (Via Pamela Colloff)

At Boston Review, a chilling profile by Beth Schwartzapfel of a questionable conviction in an Alabama shooting case that has left a man who is almost certainly innocent in jail for 17 years. "To this day, Jordan is untroubled by his role in convicting Rodney of a crime that another man confessed to."

"That means that there are six times as many prisoners on hunger strikes as there are who have actual charges lodged against them." Amy Davidson at The New Yorker on the growing numbers of hunger-strikers at Guantánamo Bay.

"Directing his remarks to me, he continues, 'You are a woman and you are sitting here with us. As long as you are respectful, there is no problem.'" Rania Abouzeid reports for Time from Raqqa city, where Islamist forces have seized complete control from the forces of Syria's President Assad.

"They headed to the country's biggest paint manufacturer, Seigneurie, which made one paint that they say topped their charts with a lead content of half its weight, 5,500 times the U.S. standard." Rebecca Kessler at Yale Environment 360 on studies finding that U.S. and multinational paint manufacturers still produce leaded paints for developing countries despite decades of consensus about that product's risk to children.

Maggie Koerth-Baker at Boing Boing writes a cautionary tale about a perfect (poisonous) potato chip — and the unintended consequences whenever people try to shape our food supply, whether through conventional breeding or genetic modification.

"Caffeine-Addicted Bacteria Die If You Give Them Decaf." Best headline of the week. Article by Martha Harbison for Popular Science. (Via @pourmecoffee.)

Also at Popular Science: "'Everyone wants to be Meow Mix.'" The inimitable Mary Roach reports from the trenches on science's quest to feed your pets while disgusting you as little as possible.

"Intuit has spent about $11.5 million on federal lobbying in the past five years — more than Apple or Amazon." Liz Day reports for ProPublica on why the United States will not be following the lead of European nations in allowing taxpayers to file using returns already filled in based on information the IRS has received from employers and banks.

"From the outside, it is hard to know that people live in the Ramada Inn." Clear-eyed and sympathetic reporting by Monica Potts at The Nation, on Colorado families who lost their homes in the Great Recession and now live precariously in budget hotels. (Via Annie Lowrey.)

"[S]ince 1960, almost everyone in Whittier has lived in the same building — a former army barracks called Begich Towers, built for military families during the cold war." Erin Sheehy writes for n+1 on an Alaskan town that's seeing a boom — in reality show production crews. (Via Dayna Tortorici.)

"Sandberg assumes instead that the feminist question is simply, how can I be a more successful worker?" At Dissent, Kate Losse zings Lean In as "an updated Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism." (Via Atossa Abrahamian.)

"'They suggested that the union certainly would not accept a negro woman. I told them, "You want to bet?"'" At the Guardian, an excerpt from Maya Angelou's new book about her relationship with her "terrible, wonderful mother."

"Why is this thing so valorized?" Nuanced essay on "naturalness" and choosing against motherhood by Urvashi Butalia, the founder of India's first feminist publishing house. (Via Genderlog India.)

"No writing can be any good at all unless people are participating in it together, reading it, and enjoying it, and with any luck quarreling with it and being interested in it and talking about it and making new things about it." Maria Bustillos at The Awl, in a tribute to departing editor Carrie Frye.

"It really came as no surprise to me to learn that at the time she was writing Harriet the Spy, Louise Fitzhugh had been a butch known within the lesbian community as Willie." WAIT WHAT YOU GUYS HOW COME YOU NEVER TOLD ME THIS???? Er, I mean, thoughts on the queer subtext of Harriet the Spy by Kathleen T. Horning at The Horn Book. (Via Maud Newton.)

Finally. You have to enable cookies and stuff, but you will not regret it. From last July, an article by Karina Bland at that will single-handedly restore your faith in humanity: "Bikers Against Child Abuse make abuse victims feel safe." (Via Liz Henry.)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Links for the week ending 24 March 2013

"Rather than spend a nickel per gun to fix the flaw, Bryco rewrote the gun's instructions, telling users to remove the safety before pulling back the slide. As Ruggieri like to say, that's like removing your seatbelt just before a crash." Robin Abcarian for the Los Angeles Times, on a 26-year-old quadriplegic shooting victim whose lawsuit against the makers of cheap handguns single-handedly wiped out much of California's gun manufacturers. (Via Jim Roberts.)

"In a city that has often promoted itself as a model for combating gun violence, here were the living, breathing examples of the dangerous trade off it purports to make: allow organized harassment of specific kinds of people in specific kinds of communities in order to feel like Bloomberg’s New York is a safer, shinier place than its past." Jamilah King for Colorlines on the protests in Brooklyn in response to the NYPD's slaying of 16-year-old Kimani Gray.

"It's true that the university, for whatever reason, offered provisional admission to some students with lower test scores and grades than Fisher. Five of those students were black or Latino. Forty-two were white." At ProPublica, Nikole Hannah-Jones looks at what the plaintiffs in the "affirmative action" case before the Supreme Court actually hope to accomplish — and finds that university admissions are almost an afterthought to the matter.

'It was shot down big-time,' said a Health and Human Services official who is not authorized to speak to the media. 'Universities were too powerful. In a nutshell, the lobbyists killed it.'” Tracy Jan at the Boston Globe on how Harvard and other elite universities killed a proposal to reduce the amount of federal research grant money allocated to university's general expenses. (Via Carolyn Y. Johnson.)

"How do you build the Harvard University of the for-profit college sector?" Tressie McMillan Cottom at Inside Higher Ed on the real significance of California's proposed new rules mandating that the states public colleges and universities give credit for private online courses.

Meanwhile, back in Mississippi, the Department of Justice has stepped in to put an end to Meridian's school-to-prison pipeline, reports Julianne Hing for Colorlines. "Under the new decree wearing the wrong color socks won't necessarily land a kid in jail again." Progress!

'Is jail over yet, Daddy?' calls out Jhaniyika, who runs into her father’s arms." Please locate the nearest box of tissues before reaching the end of this piece on a father-daughter dance in the Richmond City Jail, by Emily Wax for The Washington Post. (Via Christie Thompson.)

"As McKinney goes on trial for a third time, the most pressing question apart from his guilt may be whether, in Shelby County, innocence matters. Says Gleason, 'It’s very easy in Memphis for an innocent person to get convicted and not get released.'" Liliana Segura at The Nation on a death penalty case in Memphis, Tennessee.

I suspect everyone on the internet has by now read at least 10 opinion pieces on the Steubenville rape case and the media's coverage of it. If for some reason you were not on the internet this week, Mallory Ortberg's blistering Gawker piece was quoted everywhere for good reason. Also there is point (Mia McKenzie, who says jail "does not fix broken people. It only breaks them harder") and counterpoint (Irin Carmon, who says, "juvenile sex offenders often can and do get better").

From Anne Elizabeth Moore at The New Inquiry, a troubling piece on a "date-rape" drug, raising questions that ultimately boil down to: "We don’t actually know what effects the drug can have on users." (Via Jill Heather.)

"She said she wanted this job because it is the only job she's seen where to get to sit all day." Chana Joffe-Walt for Planet Money has her eyes opened about how disability payments have become a de facto welfare program for Americans who don't have access to white-collar jobs. (Via Jill Heather.)

"He expected his chain and others would generate EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) margins of about 20 percent when fully operational." If you're wondering why you see so many privately owned walk-in urgent care clinics these days, Atossa Araxia Abrahamanian explains the economics of it for Reuters.

But the easy rapport he’s developed, particularly with strong female judges, is perhaps natural for someone who was raised largely by his mother, a deaf grandmother and many aunts — women, he says, 'who don’t take no mess.'" Wonderful profile of the federal office clerk who moonlights as a personal trainer to Ruth Bader Ginsburg and several other high-level justices, by Ann E. Marimow for The Washington Post. (Via Annie Lowrey.)

Two from the NYT, which I'm categorizing together for reasons my ancestors would have no difficulty grasping. From Maud Newton, "Oy Vey, Christian Soldiers," on the fad among certain evangelical Christian circles for appropriated Jewish rituals, up to and including bar mitzvahs. And, from Ellen Barry, "The Cossacks Are Back. May the Hills Tremble." (Cossack link via Miriam Elder.)

"'My father started laughing and said, "Here we go, we have a Genghis Khan in the family,"' she says, referring to the Mongolian warlord of the 12th Century." Bethan Jinkinson profiles Pakistani squash player Maria Toorpakai Wazir for the BBC. (Via Genderlog India.)

"A peculiar thing happens when people watch women's sports — to fans and media alike. Even though we're viewing these athletes in a space we've all agreed is designated for competition (in this case, the basketball court), we still expect them to represent traditional gender roles." Wonderful Kate Fagan essay for ESPN about Baylor basketball standout Brittney Griner. (Via Jamilah King.)

Apparently Amish romance novels are now such a thing that the literary internets are each taking a turn publishing essays about them. At the Los Angeles Review of Books, Valerie Weaver-Zercher considers how evangelical Christianity may — or may not — be making inroads in Amish culture through these novels. (Via Jill Heather.)

For the Guardian, Monica Mark reports on reactions to the death of Nigerian literary giant Chinua Achebe in Boston earlier this week. At Bookslut, Mary Helen Specht reflects on the cradle of the Nigerian literacy scene in the city of Ibadan.

"Mr. Fiessler says he foresees an even more useless machine in the future, 'as soon as I have an even more useless idea.' Meantime, he has built a remote control duck." Abigail Pesta winning the internets for the Wall Street Journal this week. (Via Carolyn Y. Johnson.)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Links for the week ending 17 March 2013

Oh, internets, why must you always be feast or famine? This week, I am buried under the avalanche of things to read. Some of it is even good news! Like for example! "Ultra-secret national security letters that come with a gag order on the recipient are an unconstitutional impingement on free speech, a federal judge in California ruled in a decision released Friday," writes Kim Zetter in Wired, and you better believe I could not hit EFF's DONATE button fast enough after I was through reading.

Also, because I truly believe this qualifies as good news, "Fathers with children younger than 18 are now about as likely as mother to say they feel pressed for time and have difficulty balancing the demands of work and home," writes Brigid Schulte at The Washington Post following the release of a new report by the Pew Research Center. Consider this your inoculation against whatever new salvo in the Mommy Wars™ gets released next week. (Via Elizabeth Lower-Basch.)

And this, from Anya Kamentz at Fast Company, on "How Etsy Attracted 500 Percent More Female Engineers." (Spoiler: by paying to train junior-level prospects rather than trying to poach a few people from within Silicon Valley's inadequate stock of female engineers.)

It wasn't all good news, alas. (I know, you're shocked.) From Annalyn Kurtz at CNN Money, an excellent profile of the burgeoning job opportunities for home health aides — positions that pay so poorly that "about 40% of home aides rely on public assistance, such as Medicaid and food stamps, just to get by." (Via Suzy Khimm.)

This story is an outrage from start to finish: the death of a disabled man in a Los Angeles courtroom, where he was (futilely) attempting to seek restitution from Wells Fargo for having foreclosed on his condo based on a typographical error even after the corporation had acknowledged the error. By Jessica Ogilvie for LA Weekly. (Via Lili Loofbourow.)

From the other side of the country, in a week in which there were any number of reasons to be appalled at Mayor Bloomberg's New York, a five-part series at by Diane Jeantet on the utter failure of what was supposed to be "a comprehensive effort to dramatically reduce homelessness in New York." (Via ProPublica.)

Rania Abouzeid with an unbearable and beautiful essay at The New Yorker answering the question, "What does the Syrian war look like?"

"But it's possible the boys around them, who were teenagers, had no idea that if the girl was repeatedly vomiting and unable to walk or generally communicate, what they were seeing met the legal definition of rape and they should have done everything they could to stop it." Deeply depressing but important piece about rape culture and the Steubenville case, by Irin Carmon at Salon.

Also deeply depressing! A new study finds that "babies prefer individuals who harm, rather than help, characters who are different from them." By Carolyn Y. Johnson at (Via Ruth Graham, who said, "Uncool, babies. Uncool.")

"For a 25-year-old computer whiz enlisted in a People's Liberation Army hacking unit, life was all about low pay, drudgery and social isolation," writes Barbara Demick for the Los Angeles Times in an investigation of the personal blogs of some unhappy Chinese military hackers. (Via Melissa Chan.)

"'Rusty should call his congressman,' Wenk said in frustration, rubbing his eyes." From Lisa Rein at The Washington Post, a really first-rate story about the sequester's effect on Yellowstone National Park. (Via Jennifer Steinhauer.)

At Boing Boing, Jessica Morrison writes about "Ships of Opportunity" — commercial vessels that allow ocean scientists to conduct research onboard in a tradition that stretches back at least as far as the 17th century. (Via Maggie Koerth-Baker.)

Via Anne Jefferson, Paige Brown at SciAm writes about the results of a recent long-term study at Plum Island Estuary that showed for the first time that nitrates and phosphates cause salt marshes to actually crumble — taking with them the ability of the marsh to protect inland areas from storm surges. (Here also is a Boston Globe article from October by Beth Daley on the same study, which better answers questions I immediately had about HOLY FUCK WHY DID THEY DELIBERATELY DAMAGE THE PLUM ISLAND ESTUARY?)

"Being a heterosexual male was oddly linked with liking 'being confused after waking from naps.'" Maia Szalavitz at Time with the somewhat idiosyncratic insights uncovered by yet another study on Facebook likes.

From Michelle Nijhuis at The Last Word on Nothing, a haunting short essay about a single victim of the Khmer Rouge genocide: "The Flower of Dangerous Love."

"Salma was 12 years old when she began menstruating. Her family pulled her out of school and locked her up at home. This is standard practice in Salma's village." From Deepanjana Pal, a review of a documentary by Kim Longinotto profiling the incredible courage and determination of a Tamil poet. (Via Genderlog India.)

"An average American newspaper-reader in the first decade of the last century immediately understood, if he read that something was 'of the Mary MacLane type,' that this name was shorthand for outsized self-absorption of a specifically feminine nature." Emily Gould at The Rumpus on the reissue of two of MacLane's books.

For our post-VIDA-count hangover, a comprehensive essay by Kira Cochrane in The Guardian on the legacy of Britain's 1970s-era feminist publishing companies, asking, "Forty years since it first started, are female writers taken as seriously in the literary world as their male counterparts and given an equal shot at longevity?"(Via Genderlog India.)

Also, this is pretty cool: Erin Kissane talks to Irene Ros and Nathan Matias about their work on the Open Gender Tracker, "an open source deployable service, funded by a Knight Foundation Prototype grant, which calculates the diversity breakdown of your content through various metrics such as the author's gender." (Which, as someone who often feels I'm spending half my life googling people with gender-indeterminate names, I can testify that such metrics are not always clear-cut!)

"But the programs have difficulty imparting to their students a central truth of most authors' lives: Nobody cares about your work. When it comes to books, the supply is much larger than the demand." Laura Miller dropping truth at Salon. (Via Amanda Katz.)

"Books are meant to be read. This is what I say to myself whenever I, with some level of despair, glance at my many bookshelves." Michele Filgate delightfully making Miller's point for her in a meditation on an art exhibit called "The Library of Unborrowed Books."

Again Laura Miller at Salon, practicing what she preaches with a
very fun book review of Marlene Zuk's new book, Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us About Sex, Diet and How We Live. (Via Elif Batuman, who asked, "Did Paleolithic Man have it all?")

I think The Billfold is publishing some of the best young writers around, so I highly recommend this profile of editor Logan Sachon by Molly Minturn for The University of Virginia Magazine. (Via Maria Bustillos.) For a sample of Sachon's own work, here's this week's Important Feminist Question: "Can Single People With No Responsibilities Whatsoever Have It All?"

I often cut articles if I can't find a single perfect sentence to excerpt from it, but in this case there is only no quote because it's all, well, a thing of beauty and a joy forever. Carrie Frye at The Awl with, "How To Be A Monster: Life Lessons From Lord Byron." (Via Maria Bustillos.)

Finally. "When in doubt, add a hashtag, my grandmother used to sing cheerily in the kitchen over a bubbling pot of hashed tags. She's dead now, but she used to be so alive. 'It's the hashtags,' she'd announce feistily whenever a reporter knocked on her willow cabin to inquire about the source of her longevity.'" Mallory Ortberg at Gawker. (For those of you long-suffering souls who follow my personal account, you will be glad to know that I vow to herewith repent of my hashtag-abusing ways. Yes! We are all about Changing Lives here at Phantom's List!)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Links for the week ending 10 March 2013

Some weeks the internets publish more fun articles than I can keep track of, let alone read. And some weeks it… doesn't. (Sorry, folks. Read any good books lately?) But there are things to read, even when they aren't so much with the fun. Like for example!

At Salon, Natasha Lennard takes the occasion of Rand Paul's filibuster to consider what we talk about when we talk about drones. For sheer literate fury on the subject of drones, executive power, and the questions raised by Rand Paul, it's hard to top the incomparable Amy Davidson at The New Yorker with two pieces this week.

"Once your life is inside a federal investigation, there is no space outside of it. The only private thing is your thoughts, and even they don't feel safe anymore. Every word you speak or write can be used, manipulated, or played like a card against your future and the future of those you love." Journalist Quinn Norton is at The Atlantic this week with a harrowing personal account of the stresses and betrayals of the Aaron Swartz investigation.

Those of you who've been around since my mommy-blogging days will understand why this profile of Aaron Swartz by Larissa MacFarquhar at The New Yorker made me leap from my seat to go make my children eat some vegetables and complete some boring and pointless homework…(Via Lydia Polgreen.)

"Now Palestinians who try to use the Israeli buses will be requested to use the Palestinian bus instead." Anna Lekas Miller at The Daily Beast on new and more explicit apartheid-type measures governing public transportation in Israel. (Via Kristen Gwynne.)

"There are only three tribes in Kenya. The haves. The wanna-haves. The have-them-removed." The results of Kenya's election this week are still being sorted out, but this striking piece by Shailja Patel at The New Inquiry makes excellent background reading. (Via Aaron Bady.)

"Simply put, organizations know that their programs are more likely to be funded if their beneficiaries are victims of sexual violence." Laura Heaton at Foreign Policy asks troubling questions about how the framing of violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo may have led to a "perverse incentive structure" encouraging inflated tallies of rape in order to secure foreign aid. (Via Lydia Polgreen.)

"'I have two conflicting narratives in my head. One is about these powerful, determined Afghan women who will mop the floor with the Taliban and go on working to restore the rights of women in their country. The other is about the same powerful, determined women who, whether the Taliban come to power or not, may be shut down or sent home or shot.'" Ann Jones at The Nation about her Afghan NGO colleagues' future as American and international troops depart.

"'The Democratic machinery that controls nominations is a lot more likely to give a woman a shot when the race is unwinnable.'" Irin Carmon at Salon on why there are no political superstars likely to follow in Hillary Clinton's footsteps any time soon.

"One health insurance company recently bought data on more than three million people's consumer purchases in order to flag health-related actions, like purchasing plus-sized clothing." Lois Beckett at ProPublica runs down "Everything We Know About What Data Brokers Know About You."

"'What we're trying to do is give everyone in the world the best personalized newspaper,' Mark Zuckerberg said, before showcasing the social network's revamped main product: an organized, sortable feed of every type of content from your friends and favorite content producers." Adrienne Jeffries at The Verge with the latest evidence that you should probably go read a book or something.

"The average state spends almost a billion dollars running its prisons," but the public expenditures on prisons "get vanishingly little media attention," writes Beth Schwartzapfel at Columbia Journalism Review. Don't worry — I'm sure your friends and favorite content producers have the topic covered. (Via Christie Thompson.)

"Slevin said he never saw a judge during his time in confinement." Elizabeth Chuck at NBC News on the ordeal of a man who just received $15.5 million for having been held for nearly two years in solitary confinement by a county jail in New Mexico. (Via Karen Gregory.)

"Like most laughably cruel tricks of the justice system, you probably wouldn't know that you could be arrested for carrying condoms until it happened to you." Molly Crabapple at VICE reporting on the insanity that is New York City's practice of arresting people on suspicion of prostitution if a search reveals that they are carrying even a single condom. I know I have spent too many years hanging out with epidemiologists, but even so, you have to be fucking kidding me, right? Because condoms are a lot cheaper than looking for miracle cures.

Speaking of which, Sarah Boseley at the Guardian puts into context the functional cure of an HIV-positive Mississippi infant (whose mother had not received standard preventative prenatal care). (Via Irin Carmon.)

While we're at it of issues of prevention versus miracle cures, this is my nomination for Most Depressing Story of the Week (a category which, yes, included the amped-up climate change hockey stick news): Maryn McKenna at Wired covering the CDC's Tuesday press conference on the nationwide spread of very drug-resistant bacteria in hospitals, rehab units, and nursing homes. "The underlying risk here is that effectively untreatable CRE [a category that includes E. coli] will spread out from hospitals and into the wider world, where it will become vastly more common and much harder to detect."

At Scientific American, blogger Dr. Judy Stone writes trenchantly about the "cultural issues driving the emergence of resistance, especially in the U.S." (Via Maryn McKenna.)

"In the spirit of the Bechdel test, a metric that cartoonist and author Alison Bechdel created to measure gender bias in film, I'd like to propose a Finkebeiner [sic] test for stories about women in science." Christie Aschwanden at Double X Science. (Via Deborah Blum.)

"As areas get built up, they'll affect people more, just like any other natural process that people manage to accelerate." At SciAm blogs, Dana Hunter explains the science behind the nightmarish death last week of a Florida man whose bedroom was swallowed by a sinkhole without warning. (Via Anne Jefferson.)

"These manmade moons made the ultimate promise to the people below them: that they would never again be in the dark." Wonderful piece by Megan Garber at The Atlantic about the strange prehistory of streetlights. (Via Ta-Nehisi Coates.)

I haven't been on my own bike in approximately a gazillion years, but, because I have fond memories of a short bike/camping trip from Cambridge (MA) to Portland (ME) back in my marginally more wild youth, here is Edith Zimmerman's interview at The Hairpin with Megan Bernard, who spent 12 days biking from Eugene to San Francisco.

"Parker let the discomfort show on her face as she imitated Armstrong's uneven drumming. She nodded subtly to assure perplexed members of the deaf audience that she was doing this on purpose." Here is a sort of SXSW-related story that will not make you want to swear off the internets forever! At Texas Monthly, Kathryn Jepsen profiles Austin's Barbie Parker, who founded a company that provides ASL interpretation with a twist at musical performances.

"Suddenly you are borne into the sky on words and stories, those human wings, up there with a thousand ice bats and a kindhearted monster and a stoner cow and a solid column of volcanic smoke, seamed with brilliant flame." Kathryn Schulz reviews Anne Carson's new book at Vulture.

At Jezebel, Elisabeth Rappe contrasts the sexism of the new Oz movie with the Oz books, whose protagonists are almost all girls, thanks to L Frank Baum's personal ties to the suffragette and women's rights movement. (Via Rachel Hartman.)

At Bitch Media, Lisa Hix writes about Brooklyn filmmaker Samantha Knowles, whose documentary "Why Do You Have Black Dolls?" sets out to answer the question posed to her by a childhood friend. Fascinating cultural history; the full article was originally published at Collectors Weekly. (Via Cory Ellen.)

Vela magazine, which focuses on travel writing, has a "Women We Read This Week" post on their blog, if you're looking for something more to flesh out this week's thin buffet.

"I got real quiet, and I listened, while he told me about the nuns at his elementary school. This is a school in the northern region of Argentina, which is subtropical jungle. And my family has lived in or near for thousands of years." From a February speech at Swarthmore, Aura Bogado makes deeply personal connections between colonialism, debt, and climate change.

Finally, VIDA released its gender-parity count for 2012 this week. It's pretty dismal. But, well, you know. I found plenty to read by women this year anyway. I hope you did, too.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Links for the week ending 3 March 2013

Moving and distressing in equal measure, Sara Naomi Lewkowicz's powerful photographs and accompanying essay about witnessing domestic violence got linked by just about everyone I follow on Twitter this week, and with good reason. At Time. (Thanks to Jill Heather for calling it specifically to my attention.)

"'It seemed like everyone gets raped and assaulted and no one does anything about it; it's like a big rape cult.'" Sabrina Rubin Erdely's February piece about sexual assault in the military, "The Rape of Petty Officer Blumer," is now online at Rolling Stone. It is also a very difficult read, but a necessary one.

"I hoped that the public would be as alarmed as me about the conduct of the aerial weapons team crew members. I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan are targets that needed to be neutralized, but rather people who were struggling to live in the pressure-cooker environment of what we call asymmetric warfare." Journalist Alexa O'Brien compiled a rush transcript of Pfc. Bradley Manning's full statement to the court during Thursday's hearing. Posted at Salon. (Via Natasha Lennard.)

At Mother Jones, Julia Whitty chronicles the United States Navy's march towards "'the petroleum off-ramp'" using biofuels and greater fuel efficiency — despite fierce opposition from Congress.

At the Miami Herald, Kathie Klarreich expresses outrage at the United Nations' decision to reject compensation for Haiti's cholera victims, despite being itself responsible for the outbreak. (Via Jacqueline Charles.)

"Scud missiles are so inaccurate that it is hard to imagine that their use in residential areas is intended to do anything other than kill civilians." At The Washington Post, Liz Sly reports on the use of ballistic missiles against residential neighborhoods in the devastated Syrian city of Aleppo. (Via Jim Roberts.)

"As a writer, whether I'm publishing about something as serious as politics, as urgent as climate change, or as seemingly trivial as pop culture, my focus remains looking at race. That's because far too often, it literally marks the difference between life and death." Aura Bogado at The Nation with a deeply personal reflection one year after Trayvon Martin's murder. (Via Christie Thompson.)

"Perhaps rather than ask why people are so angry at The Onion, we should ask why some white men are so invested in the right to slur black children." T.F. Charlton at Bitch Media: "Let Me Explain Why The Onion's Quvenzhané Wallis Tweet Was so Hurtful." (Via Tressie McMillan Cottom.)

This week in Universities Behaving Badly: A student at UNC-Chapel Hill has been charged by a student-run judicial system with an "honor code violation" for speaking out about her sexual assault by an ex-boyfriend, also a student at the university, sparking outrage on campus and beyond. By Jane Stancill for the News Observer. (Via Kate Zambreno.)

Two excerpts from Sarah Carr's new book, Hope Against Hope. At The Atlantic, on the impossibilities facing talented students from New Orleans' O. Perry Walker High School as they try to understand the impenetrable and expensive bureaucracy surrounding the college application process. At Next City, an excerpt about the unbearable toll that gun violence takes on O. Perry Walker High School. (First link via Tressie McMillan Cottom; second link via Sarah Goodyear.)

Thirteen percent pay cut. Benefit give-backs. Longer work days. No seniority. No requirement to employ school librarians or counselors. Unlimited class sizes. Most shocking: "The district would no longer be required to provide copy machines, or 'a sufficient number of instructional materials and textbooks.'" The proposed new contract for Philadelphia public school teachers is an obscenity and a national disgrace. Kristen Graham covers it for

"I became increasingly frustrated with the lack of — and in some cases the low quality of — media coverage, not just of unions specifically, but of work and class and the relationship between a worker and a boss." Another really wonderful interview at The Billfold, where Logan Sachon talks to labor organizer turned labor journalist Josh Eidelson.

"'Do we have frogs with eyes on their butts in the lab?' Levin said. 'We most certainly do.'" Carolyn Y. Johnson at, reporting on experiments transplanting tadpole eyes at Tufts University. (Via Amanda Katz.)

"'People with acne had pit bulls on their skin. Healthy people had poodles.'" Eryn Brown at The Los Angeles Times reporting on recent research on the microbiome of human skin.

"When we thought he was on graduate school field trips to California, he was actually in Chad, recording sessions of a pirate radio program." Hend Amry at Voices of Africa remembering a childhood spent as Libyan dissidents in exile. (Via Jenan Moussa.)

Former teenage ACT UP activist Garance Franke-Ruta at The Atlantic on "The Plague Years, in Film and Memory," an affecting essay about how difficult it is to speak about the trauma and power of those years. (Thanks to Els Kushner for sending it my way.)

"I am no longer illegal. In fact, I haven't been for over a decade. I hate the word illegal when applied to human beings. Yet, it's a word that defines me. My incapability to bear children is illegal. It was brought upon me by the State." Wrenching, powerful essay by Flavia Dzodan at Tiger Beatdown about the infertility she suffers as a result of a miscarriage improperly treated while she was being deported by The Netherlands. (Via Sarah McCarry.)

"'I'm tired of people making it out to be a freak show,' she said. 'I'm just a 51-year-old woman who — oh, yeah, had a sex change, big deal. I love the game. You can go to college at any age. Why wouldn't I come out and play basketball.?'" Ellen Huet at the San Francisco Chronicle profiling brave and badass Mission College freshman Gabrielle Ludwig. (Via Nanette Asimov).

At The Awl, Maria Bustillos has a great, informed appreciation of "The Before And After Of 'Monty Python's Flying Circus.'"

"Tina Fey is sitting on top of Maslow's hierarchy with her legs crossed." Nicole Cliffe being both hilarious and vertiginous about seeing Tina Fey speak in New York.

"If you're of the generation raised on technology-enabled perfect pitch, does your brain get rewired to expect it?" Great, depressing piece by Lessley Anderson at The Verge on the ubiquity of Auto-Tune. (Via @PocketHits.)

"Florida suggests you shut up, get into the swamp, get on your knees, pull out a snake, and murder it. Because there are too many snakes." This Florida Gothic piece by Amanda Petrusich at BuzzFeed, on Florida's Python Challenge, is incredibly good. If we're dividing up into Team Orchid and Team Python, I've just joined Team Python — that good. (Via Shani O. Hilton.)

Finally. At the Kenyon Review, Amy Boesky wins the internets for the week with an intense essay about having been both Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield: a graduate student specializing in British literature by day, and one of the most prolific ghostwriters for the Sweet Valley High series by night: "The Ghost Writes Back." (Again thanks to Jill Heather for pointing this out to me, and Els for pointing it out about 30 seconds later!)