Sunday, October 20, 2013

Links for the week ending 20 October 2013

"Women sit on the shoulder, selling tea to travelers from a row of samovars. Above them, pillars of steam vanish into the sky, just as they did in 1746, the year construction on the road began." Ellen Barry with more jaw-droppingly gorgeous writing in this NYT multimedia piece about rural Russia. (Via Erin Cunningham.)

"'I was accidentally raising cockroaches and then I realized they were the easiest and most profitable,' he said." Barbara Demick in another multimedia piece at the LA Times, on cockroach farming. (Trigger warning for COCKROACH FARMING.) (Via Alana Semuels.)

"The United States is loosening controls over military exports, in a shift that former U.S. officials and human rights advocates say could increase the flow of American-made military parts to the world’s conflicts and make it harder to enforce arms sanctions." Cora Currier at ProPublica.

"The report threatens to definitively refute former C.I.A. personnel who have defended the program’s integrity. But so far, to the consternation of several members of the Intelligence Committee, the Obama Administration, like Bush’s before it, is keeping the damning details from public view." Jane Mayer at The New Yorker on Congressional leaders' battle to disclose a $40 million report on C.I.A. torture practices.

"The women compared politicians’ behavior to kindergarteners or toddlers." In the aftermath of the government shutdown, Molly Ball reports from a focus group of Tennessee women.

Two from Reuters health reporter Kate Kelland. "And there is evidence in tests conducted on sewage samples in some of the country's major cities that the polio virus is starting to spread beyond these isolated pockets and could soon spark fresh polio outbreaks in more densely populated areas." Polio spreading in Pakistan.

And a story for football season: "The difference between the two groups was so marked that a computer program learned to distinguish between ex-football players and healthy volunteers at close to 90 percent accuracy, based just on their frontal lobe activation patterns."

"Pulmicort, a steroid inhaler, generally retails for over $175 in the United States, while pharmacists in Britain buy the identical product for about $20 and dispense it free of charge to asthma patients. Albuterol, one of the oldest asthma medicines, typically costs $50 to $100 per inhaler in the United States, but it was less than $15 a decade ago, before it was repatented." Elisabeth Rosenthal at the NYT. I do not know how pharmaceutical executives sleep at night. (Via Kathryn Schulz.)

"We do know, however, that there was no nurse in the building that day, a nurse who, if she or he became aware of Laporshia’s condition, would have known to listen to her lungs with a stethoscope and take appropriate action based upon what she or he heard." Eileen M. DiFranco at the Philadelphia Public School Notebook on the school funding crisis that was a factor in the death of 12-year-old Laporshia Massey. (Hat tip to Sheila Avelin.)

"A majority of students in public schools throughout the American South and West are low-income for the first time in at least four decades, according to a new study that details a demographic shift with broad implications for the country." Lyndsey Layton at The Washington Post. (Via Mac McClelland.)

"When Hinshaw compared the rollout of these school policies with incidences of A.D.H.D., he found that when a state passed laws punishing or rewarding schools for their standardized-test scores, A.D.H.D. diagnoses in that state would increase not long afterward. Nationwide, the rates of A.D.H.D. diagnosis increased by 22 percent in the first four years after No Child Left Behind was implemented." Maggie Koerth-Baker at the NYT.

"What does it mean if we decide student data 'the new oil'? What does it mean if we view students (and their data) as a resource to be mined and extracted? What's gained? What's lost? What's depleted? Who profits? Who benefits?" Audrey Watters' recent talk at Columbia University (which, I gotta say, is a sentence that delights me to type and probably delights all of you all who've been hanging around since the mommyblogging days of yore just as much).

"Lisak's research shows almost two-thirds of college rapists rape more than once, which explains why repeat rapists account for 9 out of every 10 rapes on college campuses. Yet only 10 to 25 percent of students found responsible for sexual assault at college are expelled, according to the Center for Public Integrity." Kayla Webley at Marie Claire on the failures of American universities to be forthright — let alone do anything — about the immense problem of rape on campus.

"But we are failing to let men know that when they drink their decision-making skills into oblivion, they can do terrible things." Ann Friedman at NYMag answering that I-can't-even piece at Slate.

"Daisy Coleman is a high school student in Missouri and an advocate for victims of sexual assault." She tells her own story at xoJane.

"The campaigns against both kinds of bad women both share one purpose, then. Both aim to manipulate women into sacrificing their interests in order to preserve the stability of a society that first Communism and then economic liberalization shattered—and to do their part to make sure that the growth on which party rule depends continues." Moira Weigel at The New Inquiry on "leftover women" and "BMW women" in China.

"Reiteration of good intentions, but declaration of unusually brave and unbridled honesty forthcoming about the certain failure of Wendy Davis, a woman political person who mainly focuses on woman political things, like abortions and abortions." Writing an article about Wendy Davis' gubernatorial campaign? Andrea Grimes at RH Reality Check has you covered. (Via Melissa del Bosque.)

"Because there are so many uninsured Texans, so few of whom are eligible for Medicaid, and because the state decided not to expand Medicaid coverage, the Kaiser report estimates that 27 percent of uninsured adults in Texas will not have coverage options available to them under the Affordable Care Act. That includes 91 percent of uninsured adults whose incomes are below the poverty line." Becca Aaronson at The Texas Tribune.

"Dr. Lehman hopes eventually to set up a more efficient breast clinic, where women waiting to be seen would sort themselves into 'more and less worrisome groups' by matching their symptoms to images on a laminated card. The images would include photographs of bulging tumors in the breast so that someone like Ms. Namata could move to a high-priority group." Not pinkwashing: this article at the NYT by Denise Grady that focuses on a 48-year-old Ugandan woman's experience with advanced breast cancer. (Via Annie Lowrey.)

"Yet he received a text stating 'Message from the UK Border Agency. You are required to leave the UK as you no longer have right to remain.'" Your WTF of the week, on private government contractors sending threatening text messages to immigrants in the UK. From Felicity Morse at The Independent.

"Juárez seemed like 'a hell on Earth but also a heaven,' she says. 'It was the first place that opened its arms to my husband and me and allowed us to be together, to make a life for ourselves without worrying about one of us being taken away. The Spanish word I feel for Juárez means something like "love" in English, but also something more. The word is cariño.'" Moving piece by Debbie Nathan at The Austin Chronicle on "The Real Housewives of Ciudad Juárez." (Via Jordan Smith.)

"Those are not puppy-dog, crushed-out eyes staring up at you. These are eyes hungry for a professional break. These people are not trying to sleep with you. They are trying to get hired by you." Laura Helmuth at Slate sums up and draws some valuable conclusions from the sexual harassment scandal at Scientific American.

"Decapitation, But Not Cannibalism, Might Transmit Memories". Best headline of the week, if not the decade. From Sarah Zhang at Nautilus. (Non-trigger warning: she's talking about flatworms.)

"The skull was found in Dmanisi, Georgia, near four others from roughly the same time period that incorporate a broad spectrum of bone structure, bolstering the argument that scholars may have underestimated the natural diversity that existed within a single species of early humans. " Carolyn Y. Johnson at

"For the first hundred years of cinema, when images were captured on celluloid and processed photochemically, disregard for black skin and its subtle shadings was inscribed in the technology itself, from how film-stock emulsions and light meters were calibrated, to the models used as standards for adjusting color and tone." Fascinating piece by Ann Hornaday at The Washington Post on how the shift to digital filmmaking undergirds a new wave of nuanced and diverse portrayal of African-Americans at the movies. (Via Laura Helmuth.)

"Having spent eighteen years behind bars—twelve of them on death row— for a crime he did not commit , Anthony Graves could be forgiven for making a few impulse buys with the $1.45 million he was awarded in 2011 by the Texas Legislature for his wrongful incarceration." From Pamela Colloff at Texas Monthly, one man's gratitude to the law school professor who helped set him free.

"And yet discourse after discourse finds a way to rank us, divide us, and create measurements of status linked to race. What use are these artificial layers of status and privilege, when there are seven billion of us in the exact same condition? Scared, fragile, and — above all — temporary?" Finally, there's a lot I'd argue with in this book review by Maria Bustillos at the LARB (particularly in the case of the Phoenix Tso piece; I'd argue that a stranger with whom you have not already made friendly eye contact who interrupts your reading for any reason — except maybe to inform you that you are about to be attacked by wolves? — deserves a "fuck you" even if he is not being a racist fuck). But it is absolutely worth your time to read and maybe argue with yourself.