Sunday, October 13, 2013

Links for the week ending 13 October 2013

Shutdown news:
"When army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi appeared on television in July this year to announce the end of Mursi's presidency and plans for elections, it was widely assumed that Egypt's military leaders were the prime movers behind the country's counter revolution. But dozens of interviews with officials from the army, state security and police, as well as diplomats and politicians, show the Interior Ministry was the key force behind removing Egypt's first democratically elected president." Bombshell reporting from Asma Alsharif and Yasmine Saleh at Reuters. (Via Liz Sly.)

"It isn't that she doesn't have any interests beyond her education campaign; it's just that 'a normal teenager' in Swat isn't defined by Justin Bieber and Twilight. If you really want to get her animated, talk about the one subject that can make almost any Pakistani turn into a bit of a teenager: cricket." Charming, inspirational, and heartbreaking in equal measure, Kamila Shamsie's visit with Malala Yousafzai at The Guardian. (Via Nilanjana Roy.)

"Meem is 9 years old and works as a sewing helper in a garment factory. For a few days this summer, she was also my boss." Raveena Aulakh at The Toronto Star. (Via @pourmecoffee.)

"When the morgue was done with her body, Giorgio and other detectives at the Thirty-fourth Precinct paid for a gravestone and for a proper funeral with bagpipes, as well as for that white dress. ('I said, "We’ll never see her in the dress, but please put it on top of her so she’ll know,"' Giorgio told the Times. 'We are her family …. We are burying our baby.') " Achingly good Amy Davidson piece at The New Yorker about persistence in solving the decades-old puzzle of a child's death.

"The suit alleges that U.N. officials falsely claimed that peacekeepers had been tested for cholera and none had come back positive, and barred Haitian health officials from the camp in late October. The suit also alleges that the U.N. issued a false statement that its septic tanks were up to U.S. EPA standards, and that an official told a reporter that a pipe carrying sewage was carrying only kitchen waste." Anna Schecter at NBC News. (Via Yamiche Alcindor.)

"'Most have never met a funding source they do not like,' says Phillip Rogaway, a computer scientist at the University of California, Davis, who has sworn not to accept NSA funding and is critical of other researchers’ silence. 'And most of us have little sense of social responsibility.'" Ann Finkbeiner at Nature examines mathematicians' lack of interest in the ethical issues involved in doing NSA-supported research.

"I know that these East Germans were asking themselves if they were doing their jobs well when they should have been asking whether they should be doing their jobs at all." Thoughtful personal essay from Quinn Norton at Medium on visiting the Stasi Museum in Berlin.

"Administrators can also upload certain details that students or parents may be comfortable sharing with teachers, but not with unknown technology vendors. InBloom’s data elements, for instance, include family relationships ('foster parent' or 'father’s significant other') and reasons for enrollment changes ('withdrawn due to illness' or 'leaving school as a victim of a serious violent incident')." At the NYT, Natasha Singer reports companies that look to harvest and profit from schoolchildren's personal data.

"'It’s a much bigger, more powerful question to ask, If today we are using management techniques that were also used on slave plantations,' she says, 'how much more careful do we need to be? How much more do we need to think about our responsibility to people?'" Katie Johnson at Forbes talks to Caitlin Rosenthal about her book on the plantation roots of many common business practices. (Hat tip to Rachel Hartman and Sheila Avelin.)

"Another solution may be to eat our way through them. At Piraino's lab in Italy, researchers are looking at how to make jellyfish more palatable: to livestock — and to humans." At NBC News, Nidhi Subbaraman writes about the coming "jellypocalypse," which sounds like a culinary, er, delight. (Via Jim Roberts.)

"This means that my chances of being harmed by a mammogram are far greater than my likelihood of being helped." Christie Aschwanden at The Washington Post.

"But there is a deep principle of quantum mechanics, known as the Unitarity Principle, which states that information about a system, including a quantum wavelike universe, is never lost. This principle guaranteed that the mark of the entanglement of our universe with others is preserved somewhere in today’s sky." Amazing essay about searching for evidence of the multiverse by physics professor Laura Mersini-Houghton.

"It wasn’t just that he called me a whore – he juxtaposed it against my professional being: Are you urban scientist or an urban whore? Completely dismissing me as a scientist, a science communicator (whom he sought for my particular expertise), and someone who could offer something meaningful to his brand." Your WTF of the week by DN Lee, deleted from SciAm blogs but reposted at Isis the Scientist. (Via Anne Jefferson.) "When we consider the demographic projections in this country in relation to our clamor to lead the world in scientific discovery, scholars like Danielle are providing a national service. We can’t win the future of STEM without winning it through black and brown girls and boys." For trenchant commentary, Tressie McMillan Cottom.

"Another day one of the teachers flies up a stone wall twenty feet high. He runs straight at it and then leaps, touches it once with one foot, touches it again with another, and there he is, looking down at us and laughing." From the Travel issue of Granta, writer Catherine Chung describes four weeks at a kung fu school at the legendary Wudang Mountain. (Via Maud Newton.)

"With more time now to read and write and enjoy the company of others, she nevertheless wrote to her brother, 'I Injoy all the Agreable conversation I can come at Properly, but I find Litle, very Litle, Equal to that I have a Right to by Nature but am deprived of by Provedence.'" Jenny McPhee reviews Jill Lepore's new book on Jane Franklin, sister to Benjamin. At Bookslut. (Via Heather Havrilesky.)

"Honesty, in Munro's work, is not the best policy: it is not a policy at all, but an essential element, like air. The characters must get hold of at least some of it, by fair means or foul, or - they feel - they will go under." From 2008 at The Guardian, Margaret Atwood on new Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro.

"I am a celebrity magnet. They keep finding me, lured by something deep within my DNA that makes them want to revolve for one fleeting moment in my orbit." At The Toast, Joyce Millman recounts many and various celebrity encounters. Hilarity ensues. Also there is a stuffed Snoopy. REPRESENT if you're old enough that your most beloved stuffed creature was a stuffed Snoopy.

"Shall I draft my email now? Do I dare to send a pitch?
I shall wear mismatched pajamas, and seek my niche.
Cleolinda Jones with "Thirteen Ways of Pitching to The Toast." (Important background by Mallory Ortberg here.)

"The world's pre-eminent drag queen might not consider drag his greatest passion, but he's still a big believer in its power. 'All things to do with drag are inherently therapeutic because the realization of your own insanity is the beginning of sanity,' he says. 'You have to go into this complete artifice to figure out who you really are.'" From September but just ungated to the open internets, Mac McClelland profiles RuPaul for Rolling Stone.

"She was right. I was angry; I wanted to be gone. It’s important to know when it’s time to turn in your kazoo." Finally, a masterful short piece by Amy Poehler, also at The New Yorker, on a summer job scooping ice cream. (Via Sonia Faleiro.)