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.