Sunday, October 6, 2013

Links for the week ending 6 October 2013

"Every state in the Deep South, with the exception of Arkansas, has rejected the expansion. Opponents of the expansion say they are against it on exclusively economic grounds, and that the demographics of the South — with its large share of poor blacks — make it easy to say race is an issue when it is not." From Sabrina Tavernise and dude Robert Gebeloff at the NYT, a look at the demographic make-up of the millions of impoverished Americans who will not qualify for coverage under the ACA, thanks to political maneuvering at the state level. (Via Gwen Ifill.)

Oh, hey. Did you hear about this government shutdown thing? Pick your angle. Hungry women, children, and infants. Students forced out of higher education. No mortgage loans. Economic distress for the communities that rely on national park tourism. The CDC won't be tracking the start of flu season. Federal employees going without paychecks. Conferences and hearings scrambling to cover for furloughed experts. The imminent closing of the Antarctic research station. And finally, this wonderful meta-story on the coverage of the shutdown by Megan Garber at The Atlantic: "PandaCam, the Star of the Shutdown."

"As terrified civilians hid in toilet stalls, behind mannequins, in ventilation shafts and underneath food court tables, the assailants began a high-stakes game of 20 Questions to separate Muslims from those they consider infidels." The AP's standout Africa correspondent Rukmini Callimachi reports on what the Westgate attack in Nairobi reveals about al-Qaida's shifting tactics.

"Ask them why they are venturing out, and Damascenes and newcomers offer similar answers: They do not necessarily feel safer; they are simply used to danger and sick of distorting their lives to avoid it." At the NYT, Anne Barnard talks to people in Damascus. (Via Rania Abouzeid.)

Two stories from BuzzFeed calling into question the accuracy of some reporting on the Syrian war. From Sheera Frenkel, "The Sex Jihad That Never Happened." From Rosie Gray, a look at the murky background of Mint Press News, a putatively progressive news outlet that reported that Syrian rebels used chemical weapons.

"Pudgy-cheeked and bubbling with enthusiasm, 37-year-old Rizvi has been hard at work since she organized the martyrs' conference I attended, setting up MWM units around Rawalpindi where women are taught about campaigning." Amie Ferris-Rotman writes for Foreign Policy about the surprising reach of Shiite women's political organizing in Pakistan.

"Worse still are the implications on a larger scale: when corporations seek to profit from prisons, it creates a powerful financial incentive, not just to push for policies that fuel mass incarceration but to cut corners in the services they’ve been hired to provide. Liliana Segura at The Nation on the big business of private prisons.

"If conscience clauses—as expressed in statutes that allow large entities to impose their religious preferences upon smaller ones—are the vehicle by which we are going to end-run the most fundamental aspects of the social welfare state, lets at least start from the basic principle that all of us have a conscience, and take it from there." Thoughtful Dahlia Lithwick piece at Slate about the privileging of institutional "conscience."(Via Emily Bazelon.)

" Federal wiretap law exempts interception of communication if it is necessary in a service provider’s “ordinary course of business,” which Google said included scanning e-mail. That argument did not fly with Judge Koh." A wiretapping case against Google can go forward, reports Claire Cain Miller at the NYT. (Via Cora Currier.)

"Instead, Judge Joyce Karlin sentenced Du to time served, plus 300 hours of community service and five years’ probation. It was one of the most lenient sentences handed down for a gun-related crime in Los Angeles County that year." From last week at the LARB, Rachel Monroe reviews Brenda Stevenson's new book, The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins: Justice, Gender, and the Origins of the LA Riots. (Via Ruth Graham.)

"I never witnessed him with his gun, but I remember when he told me how he was 'dealing with busing.' He was so gleeful that the kids looked scared. I left his house that day feeling sick. I don’t think I really believed that racism was 'that big of a deal' before that day. It had seemed abstract, harmless, and deep in the past." At Belt Magazine, an essay by Amanda Shaffer called, "Busing: A White Girl's Tale." This may be the only time in the history of this project that I recommend you read the comments. (Via Stephen Burt.)

"It should prompt us to ask why we want students to have access—or not—to computers. Whose goals do computers meet? Apple’s? Pearson’s? The Department of Education’s? Or students’?" This week in Entirely Awesome, badass ed-tech journalist Audrey Watters makes her debut in The Atlantic with an essay about the "hacking" of iPads by students in Los Angeles public schools.

"This is the way a functional community protects itself. When some of its members are under threat, whoever happens to be nearby rises to the occasion and begins to repair the damage immediately. It’s like the way white blood cells respond to an attack on the immune system." At The Atlantic Cities, Sarah Goodyear examines a single case of random violence in a New York City park to show what went right in its aftermath.

"The challenge of designing after disasters – or with disasters in mind – is to balance both, to build safe places where people might actually be willing to live." Also from The Atlantic Cities, Emily Badger looks at the award winners in a contest to design disaster-resistant homes.

"But California is going in the opposite direction, with two bills that could lead to the one of the biggest expansions of access to abortion in the United States since the FDA approved mifepristone, aka the abortion pill, in 2000." By Nina Martin for ProPublica. (Via Cora Currier.)

"She couldn’t keep up her oxygen levels. They sat my husband and I down and said, 'We have one more thing we can do.' They wanted to put her on an ECMO, a heart and lung bypass machine, to let her heart and lungs rest. They said, 'Your child is most likely not going to survive.'" Maryn McKenna at DoubleXScience talks to two mothers whose newborns contracted whooping cough.

"Other women chimed in to say that their teachers were the ones who teased them the most. In one physics class, the teacher announced that the boys would be graded on the 'boy curve,' while the one girl would be graded on the 'girl curve'; when asked why, the teacher explained that he couldn’t reasonably expect a girl to compete in physics on equal terms with boys. " Fascinating longread at the NYT: nearly 40 years after walking away from her own dream to pursue a career in physics, Eileen Pollack looks at the barriers that still exist to keep women out of science.

"Two and a half years ago, biology researchers at MIT were discussing their work with an outside advisory committee. What could help you in your job, they were asked. One simple answer came from the women in the room: child care." In related news, Carolyn Y. Johnson reports for The Boston Globe on MIT's new onsite childcare initiative. (Trigger warning for evidence that David H. Koch occasionally does something defensible with his money.)

"Here’s another way to look at it: 52 of my 136 articles quote no women at all. Zero. And although 63 percent of the articles I wrote mentioned at least one woman — even those articles mentioned more men. Yikes." Journalist Adrienne LaFrance writes an essay at Medium about examining unintentional gender bias in her own reporting. (Via Christie Thompson.)

"The laws were passed, seduction laws and age of consent laws, but it was harder for black women to use those laws, because they all rest on a requirement of prior chastity; the white women’s club members and people who supported these laws often bought into not only the myth of the black male rapist but also the idea that black women didn’t have moral virtue to defend." Sara Mayeux interviews Estelle Freedman at The Hairpin about the historical basis — and racist overtones — of the movement against sexual violence.

"Danish women are less likely to be financially dependent on men and therefore feel less pressure to 'settle' or change their behavior by, in Roosh’s words, 'adopting a pleasing figure or style that’s more likely to attract men.' Imagine that." At Dissent, Katie J.M. Baker delightfully dissects the disappointment of a pick-up artist in Denmark.

"ONCE UPON a time in Western culture, what made you queer wasn’t the sex of the person you desired; it was, rather, the sex you appeared to be." At Newsweek, E.J. Graff makes a compelling case for why the next goal of the gay rights movement should be a less stringent policing of gender expression for everyone.

"I began to notice that the punk crows would also sometimes leave little crushed-up bits of peanut behind after they ate — these, Noisy could eat. It seemed like Noisy had some kind of disability, and that it had found caretakers among these dirty, funny-looking punk crows." Analee Newitz at io9 finds evidence that the crows on her balcony have formed their own social safety net.

"Something by Chekhov or Alice Munro will help you navigate new social territory better than a potboiler by Danielle Steel." New study finds that, ahem, literary fiction makes you more empathetic. By Pam Belluck at the NYT. Next up will undoubtedly be a study assessing the validity of their distinction between literary and popular fiction, nu? (Via Sonia Faleiro.)

"The best latkes south of the Mason-Dixon Line; latkes that straightened your tongue out so that you said 'latkes' RIGHT; latkes that made you want to hop on a plane and personally visit the ruins of the shtetl that had made their existence possible. Now, they’re not exactly a go-to, like macaroni and cheese, or my grandma’s mustards. In fact, you could probably only get them on request, and the request will earn you a strange look and a chuckle. But when you can get them, they are perfect and unquestionably authentic, because my grandmother’s Jewish employer taught her to make them." Wonderful essay by Shafiqah Hudson on racism and cultural transmission through surprising paths.

"'The young people should rock bands,' she said, banging her fist on the table so emphatically her coffee spilled a little. They laughed a little then, because she was so full of life, just as her cup was full of coffee." You guys, whenever your will to live is slipping, remember that someday The Portable Mallory Ortberg will exist, and isn't that worth living for?

For those of you with more short-term will-to-live issues, Allie Brosh's book will be out later this month. And here's a new Hyperbole and a Half post, to celebrate.

"For reasons I can't explain -- I was still struggling to understand my first iPhone -- I blurted out, 'Hey, are you Siri?'" CNN reporter Jessica Ravitz stumbles upon the closely guarded real identity of the voice for the original iteration of Siri, and the result is the best thing I read all week. (Via Lois Beckett.)