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.)