"The campaign has come at a time when a record number of Americans have tangled with the criminal justice system. About one in three Americans has some kind of criminal record, including arrests that did not lead to convictions, according to the Department of Justice. And NELP estimates that one in four Americans–65 million people–has a record that would show up on routine background check." Suzy Khimm at MSNBC on laws that keep employers from asking about job applicants' criminal records on an initial application.
Point: "Yet, by not specifically addressing this audience, by silencing whiteness and choosing to center again and again on black young men, Obama gave whiteness a pass. He gave it power by masking it, and making it silent." And counterpoint: "Though the president could and should do more at the level of policy, by taking a stand on behalf of the fundamental humanity and value of black men to this society, he in fact did something important, namely reconvening our ongoing conversation on race, in far more humane terms." Aura Bogado at Colorlines and Brittney Cooper at Salon on President Obama's response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin's killer.
" I do not consent to being confronted with racism in the hopes that white folks can maybe start to exorcise their own internalized issues. Allies need to do this work on their own." Long, thoughtful essay at The Toast by Jessie-Lane Metz: "Ally-phobia: On the Trayvon Martin Ruling, White Feminism, and the Worst of Best Intentions."
"I suspect, however, like as it is happening in many academic fields, the NSA is sorely tempted by all the data at its fingertips and is adjusting its methods to the data rather than to its research questions. That’s called looking for your keys under the light." Zeynep Tufekci at Medium on how big data may be imperiling more than just our privacy.
"By November, faculty and their spouses or domestic partners covered by university health care must complete an online wellness profile and physical exam. They’re also required to complete a more invasive biometric screening, including a “full lipid profile” and glucose, body mass index and waist circumference measurements." Colleen Flaherty at Inside Higher Ed reports on Penn State's new health insurance rules that will charge an extra $100 to faculty who do not comply with stringent annual health screening requirements.
"In an e-mail to supporters on Tuesday, Warren lashed out at her colleagues for putting forth a 'so-called compromise' bill that she said amounted to little more than a 'teaser rate for our student loan system' that would make '$184 billion in profits over the next 10 years.'" Tracy Jan at The Boston Globe on the (dim) prospects for meaningful student loan reform.
"'It is a pleasure to be a model for all of you who are younger than I am,' she said to cheers. 'And if you have not yet chosen to be a model, let’s do so today. Everybody’s watching you – everybody’s watching you. So let’s do something that will make people a better people.'" From Sarah Goodyear at The Atlantic, a brief profile of 75-year-old activist Bettie Kollock-Wallace, who brought bike lanes to her neighborhood, one of New York City's poorest.
"It's not anyone's business, but as I said, I am a virgin, and I don't plan to have sex until I am an adult. But none of those facts make me feel any less passionate about fighting for a woman's right to choose and the separation of church and state in my home state of Texas." Fourteen-year-old Tuesday Cain speaks up at xojane after vicious reactions — in person and online — to her protest sign at the Texas Capitol.
"They are expressing more subtle, more complex, and more varied messages of self. What they need isn’t therapy; what they need is to know that it’s OK to be gender non-conforming. Excellent essay by Alice Dreger at Pacific Standard making a case for not rushing to medicalize gender non-conformists. (Via E.J. Graff.)
"It’s possible that Luke has never heard the term 'Asian fetish' or 'sexual harassment,' and can’t look them up himself. I also suppose, even though he lived for seven years in China, that he doesn’t have any other female, Chinese friends he could have asked about this." Phoenix Tso at The Toast on first getting harassed while reading on the Boston Common, and then getting mansplained by some brainless dude on FB.
"Men tend to make these assumptions, but like most female baseball fans I know, I actually have a specialized knowledge of the game that my male counterparts may not. For example, I know what sections of the ballpark are the safest to sit in, where I am least likely to be harassed by men, or to overhear sexist, homophobic or racist remarks from the male voices around me…" Fabulously titled essay on being a sports fan while female, by Stacey May Fowles at The Walrus.
"The researchers' data show that middle-aged men who grew up with a sister are 17 percent more likely to say their spouses did more housework than they did compared with men who had only brothers." Stephanie Mencimer at Mother Jones on the reason why my son gets to learn how to clean bathrooms this week. (Stop whining, kid. It's science.)
"What is it that Will and Kate are actually passing along to their newborn son? Can we really call it power?" Fun essay using the birth of the future British monarch to explore the different kinds of power, by Melanie Tannenbaum at Scientific American.
"The scientists were able to make the mouse recall something that had never occurred—having its foot painfully zapped when in the familiar red chamber—and react in fear exactly like it would have in response to a real memory." From Carolyn Y. Johnson at The Boston Globe, this week's installment in "Things Scientists Do That Are Almost Certainly Not Going to End Well."
"Should you send the lady a dick pic?" Very funny public service guide for men by Erin Gloria Ryan at Jezebel.
"So why is the show so often portrayed as a set of empty, static cartoons, an embarrassment to womankind? It’s a classic misunderstanding, I think, stemming from an unexamined hierarchy: the assumption that anything stylized (or formulaic, or pleasurable, or funny, or feminine, or explicit about sex rather than about violence, or made collaboratively) must be inferior." I confess that I prefer reading other people's commentary about TV shows to actually watching the TV shows, and this Emily Nussbaum essay on "Sex and the City" in The New Yorker illustrates exactly why.
"I learned smells from books, which made me think they were fictional. I believed that Wilbur’s barn smelled of hay, manure, the perspiration of tired horses, and the sweet breath of patient cows, and that the salty brown smell of frying ham made Almanzo even hungrier. But when real people said That stinks, or I can smell the sea from here, or I can’t stand the smell of cilantro, I thought they were faking." At The Millions, Rebecca Steinitz (who must be the only person who's ever had dinner at my house without noticing that I have, shall we say, a heavy hand with the oregano) on being anosmic.
"The rape joke is that you asked why he did it. The rape joke is he said he didn’t know, like what else would a rape joke say?
" Powerful poem by Patricia Lockwood at The Awl, "Rape Joke."
" Finally, from Susan Elizabeth Shepard, a personal essay about working a strip club in a North Dakota boom town.