Sunday, January 27, 2013

Links for the week ending 27 January 2013

You know how some weeks the internets are just bursting with really fun things to read? Yeah. This was not one of those weeks. But there was some powerful reporting and writing going on out there, for sure. With all due respect to everyone's New York Times article limits, not to mention limits for knowing too much about sheer human evil, Emily Bazelon's "The Price of a Stolen Childhood" is the most powerful — and distressing — piece I've read in quite awhile.

I don't know that anything on earth can make you feel better after reading the article above, but this is sort of heartening: from Jessica Roy at Betabeat, a story about a class-action lawsuit filed against a revenge-porn website.

"And there is the illusion that being community-minded means protecting the strongest, rather than the most vulnerable members of a community." Amy Davidson at The New Yorker.

Lots of writing about and because of the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade this week. Kate Sheppard for Mother Jones reports from "Inside Mississippi's Last Abortion Clinic." At Flyover Feminism, Betsy Phillips makes a fascinating point in "Just Go to Atlanta: The Southern Anti-Abortion Solution" about how anti-abortion strategy in the South "contains within it this strange safety-valve" that also brings "a fun-house mirror of intersectionality" into play. Finally, at The Crunk Feminist Collective, Shanelle Matthews tells the story of her abortion ten years later: "We've created a culture in which we've attached a certain set of feelings to a specific set of circumstances. I was ashamed and grieving out of obligation when all I really felt was relief."

"'I know countless women whose careers have been stunted by combat exclusion in all the branches.'" Jane Sutton reports for Reuters on reactions from women in all branches of the U.S. military on the lifting of the ban on women in "front-line combat" positions.

"He ate spaghetti and powdered milk, read the Quran and planned a war." The AP's Rukmini Callimachi reports from Diabaly, Mali, where Islamist rebels took control of residents' homes for more than a week before French bombing raids dislodged them.

Medicinal, as so many NYRB pieces are, but you will be much better informed about recent twists and turns in Egypt's increasingly thwarted revolution after reading Yasmine El Rashidi's essay about Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. For a quick recap on the violent events in Egypt this weekend, Abigail Hauslohner reports for the Washington Post.

"'Whenever I tell my sister I want to die, she tells me I can after I make 500,000 won for my funeral expenses,' said Kong, wiping tears from her eyes." Christine Kim reports on South Korea's impoverished, isolated elderly, and also on people's propensity to be just totally horrible to one another.

You know how I'm always linking to articles about deportations of undocumented immigrants, for, like, parking violations and shit? Yeah. From the Boston Globe, Maria Sacchetti with the story of how the rules are a little different for at least one white guy who's an undocumented immigrant: "Another free pass for Ivan the incorrigible." (Via Ta-Nehisi Coates.)

Filed under "Things That Will Give You Reason To Look Up The History of The Informal Usage of The Word 'Apoplexy'": from Elizabeth Shakman Hurd at Boston Review, the tale of a lawsuit against the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom for — you guessed it — religious discrimination. (Via E.J. Graff.)

DNLee blogging at SciAm about the obstacles heaped in the path of poor kids she worked with in the St. Louis public schools that killed any interest — let alone opportunity — they had to develop an interest in STEM careers. The story about the teen mom whose successful poster presentation and notebook for the county science fair got thrown away by the honors bio teacher is guaranteed to induce apoplexy.

After you read that one, you will not have it in you to be quite as outraged by Jennifer Senior's New York Magazine essay on the evils that high school may wreak on the development of young humans.

All right! That was all the depressing things I can handle for the week. Next up, this lovely and sympathetic essay from Leah Reich at The Bygone Bureau on the two and a half years she spent writing an advice column for teenager videogamers.

"Procedure required that an arrest warrant be issued against the dinosaur itself, so the action became known as United States of America v. One Tyrannosaurus Bataar Skeleton." Paige Williams in The New Yorker, and just like that we're all cheered up again, right?

But if you need a little extra cheering up, Mallory Ortberg offers this helpful self-diagnostic test at The Gloss: "What Your Favorite Book In Sixth Grade Says About You."

Finally, in honor of her recent nomination for a Man Booker International Prize, Marilynne Robinson's 2008 interview in The Paris Review. You could mine this interview for months and still keep finding little gems to think about. And also this! "I tried that work ethic thing a couple of times — I can't say I exhausted its possibilities — but if there's not something on my mind that I really want to write about, I tend to write something that I hate. And that depresses me. I don't want to look at it. I don't want to live through the time it takes for it to go up the chimney." Amen.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Links for the week ending 20 January 2013

"Furthermore, the study demonstrates that there is no way to add fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses to state constitutions or to the United States Constitution without removing all pregnant women from the community of constitutional persons." Good morning! There is SO MUCH to read this week! You should let that first sentence sink in for a minute, and then read the rest of this piece at RH Reality Check by Lynn Paltrow and Jeanne Flavin about their new study in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law about how fetal personhood laws have lead to arrests of pregnant women and also to their being forced to submit to unwanted medical interventions, including surgery.

Mary Wisniewski at Reuters reports on the Pew poll that finds, forty years after Roe v. Wade, that attitudes towards abortion have not changed much in the past 20 years. Meanwhile, Jill Lepore at The New Yorker with a historical perspective on Alan Guttmacher (editorial aside: best last name ever?) and Roe v. Wade that will thoroughly depress you: "Guttmacher's two key ideas — that contraception would replace abortion and that public health would trump politics — seem, in retrospect, regrettably naïve."

Also, since poor women are disproportionately likely to have unwanted pregnancies (and to be subject to forcible government action during pregnancy), it's worth reading Susan Heavey's story for Reuters on the latest report from The Working Poor Project: "The number of U.S. families struggling with poverty despite parents being employed continued to grow in 2011 as more people returned to work but mostly at lower-paying service jobs."

You could make tear-water tea while reading this report from Lauren Tara LaCapra for Reuters: "Goldman agonized over pay cuts as profits suffered." The average Goldman employee's pay dropped by more than $250,000 from 2006 to 2011, the poor dears!

Not bad news! "Shell's plans in Arctic at risk as Obama advisers call for halt to oil exploration." By Suzanne Goldenberg for the Guardian.

This, on the other hand… "
The case isn't the first in which the EPA initially linked a hydraulic fracturing operation to water contamination and then softened its position after the industry protested." Ramit Plushnick-Masti for the AP reports on how the EPA abandoned Texas homeowners whose wells suddenly started producing drinking water that was "bubbling like champagne."

Oh, look! It's suppression of inquiry! Liz Goodwin at Yahoo! News reports on the prospects for President Obama's plan to restore federal funding for research on gun violence. "After the defunding, 'for the most part the research went away, so it had its desired effect.'" Also, Emily Badger at The Atlantic Cities proposes "9 Questions About Gun Violence That We May Now Be Able to Answer" via funded research.

At Colorlines, Julianne Hing examines the likely negative consequences for students of color if schools increase police presence and similar security measures: "'When police officers are integrated into schools they become assigned to a lot of issues that come up that might otherwise be defined at mental health issues or social welfare issues. But suddenly they're redefined as criminal justice issues, and we're looking at, "Is this an arrestable offense?" rather than, "What does the child need?"'"

Two long pieces from Stanford's Jennifer Granick: Towards Learning from Losing Aaron Swartz, Parts 1, and 2. On the history and immensely problematic nature of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

"That's not a dream palace — that is what our treaties guaranteed." Leanne Simpson at DividedNoMore on the cultural context of fish broth as part of the hunger strike of Chief Spence in support of Idle No More. (Via Rachel Hartman, and thank you!)

Shatha Yaish writes for AFP on the short-lived protest village of Bab al-Shams, and how effectively it used non-violence to draw attention to burgeoning Israeli settlement-building activity.

Very long piece from Mother Jones' Mac McClelland on the spouses and children of struggling military veterans, asking, "Is PTSD Contagious?"

While the attack on the director of the Bolshoi Ballet is making news, it's worth reading this distressing but ultimately hopeful piece from last week by Raveena Aulakh at the Toronto Star on how Bangladesh — one of the world's poorest nations — has managed to massively reduce the number of acid attacks.

From Joanna Blythman at the Guardian, a blistering editorial about the "ghastly irony when the Andean peasant's staple grain becomes too expensive at home because it has acquired hero product status among affluent foreigners preoccupied with personal health, animal welfare and reducing their carbon 'foodprint'."

Fabulous essay by Ruth Graham at The Boston Globe on the history of boardinghouses and the crucial steppingstone they provided towards modern urban life.

This may be the only truly heartening story relating to football you'll read all year. Sarah Goodyear at The Atlantic Cities on how a local Indianapolis nonprofit is repurposing five miles of Super Bowl banners and 13 acres of dome vinyl to make merchandise like wallets and messenger bags.

I am old enough to be nostalgic for pinball games, but not old enough to have known that they were illegal in many American cities for many years. Do not miss Laura June at The Verge with a really wonderful history of the American arcade.

"What I won't do, however, is write about this astronomer as a woman." The redoubtable Ann Finkbeiner at The Last Word On Nothing is sick of writing about gender bias in science.

I'll admit that this is not as fun as Zoë Heller's 2012 evisceration, but Laila Lalami's sympathetic and personal reading of Salman Rushdie's memoir is useful and illuminating all the same. At The Nation.

I couldn't bring myself to read the transphobic hate speech that was published earlier this month. But I did read this extraordinarily compelling and eloquent speech that film director Lana Wachowski delivered to the Human Right's Campaign annual gala last October. Via Hilary Poole, and thanks for pointing me to it.

Finally, via Arikia Millikan, this achingly lovely comic from Yumi Sakugawa at Sadie Magazine: "I Think I Am In Friend-Love With You."

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Links for the week ending 13 January 2013

After the announcement of John Brennan as the nominee for director of the CIA, Amy Davidson at The New Yorker asks, "What does John Brennan consider to be a 'legal framework' within which the American government can decide whom to torture or to assassinate?"

"Then the Defense Department spent nearly $500,000 to construct a war court website decorated with 'Fairness, Transparency, Justice' on each and every page that posts documents — after the intelligence agencies get up to 15 days to scrub them." More through-the-looking glass work on government censorship and secrecy from the Miami Herald's stalwart reporter covering the Guantánamo beat, Carol Rosenberg.

At The Washington Post, Dahlia Lithwick reviews Sonia Sotomayor's new autobiography: "Sotomayor’s life has been a series of high windows, casual glimpses into worlds of which she knew nothing — from television lawyers to high school forensics classes to college applications to law firm interviews to federal judgeships — followed always by a decision to jump through, to learn, to emulate."

Tara Bahrampour at The Washington Post on a new report showing that the United States spends more money on enforcing immigration laws than on all other federal criminal law enforcement agencies combined. That money buys us enforcement actions like this one, against the mother and brother of undocumented DREAM activist Erika Andiola. By Julianne Hing at Colorlines.

The Grandma Brigade has always existed, but now it is more powerful than you could ever imagine. Lois Beckett at ProPublica with a look at Minnesota campaign volunteers who compile and update information for voter databases: "76-year-old Fran Merriman, a former high school American history and government teacher, tracks the public records of voters moving in and out of the area — something that's a lot of fun, she quips, for a 'nosy old lady.'"

"'The money he makes isn't even sufficient to pay the rent.'" From Jacqueline Charles at the Miami Herald, three years after the Haitian earthquake, a "miracle baby" and her family struggle to make it in Miami.

Powerful personal essay at The New York Times by Sohaila Abdulali: "We need to shelve all the gibberish about honor and virtrue and did-she-lead-him-on and could-he-help-himself. We need to put responsibility where it lies: on men who violate women, and on all of us who let them get away with it while we point accusing fingers at their victims."

"Feminists talk often about 'rape culture' and how it generates impunity around sexual violence, but a chorus of strangers telling you you made up your rape or were asking for it is its own testimony." Irin Carmon at Salon on "Rape in the age of social media."

What I read from Dissent this week: Melissa Gira Grant's "Girl Geeks and Boy Kings," on Katherine Losse's memoir about the early days of Facebook.

"I am compelled to invent stories for an eight year old niece who points to the many people on my News Feed and says, 'Tell me stories about your friends'." From bilingual Indian literary journal Pratilipi, a surprising meander of an essay about Facebook and freedom by Sumana Roy, "Freedom Posts." (Via Nilanjana Roy.)

"Because every writer needs to know her audience, I investigated my bots." The the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Caitlin Donohue records her excellent "adventures in being fake popular on Twitter." (You guys would love me more if I paid $26 for 2500 Twitter followers, too, yes?)

"McCormick said she was particularly dismayed when a district staff member told her that the test's margin of error is greater than the gains her students are expected to make." An entire Seattle high school refuses to take flawed assessment exams purchased by the former superintendent of schools, who was on the board of the company that sells the exam! By Linda Shaw for The Seattle Times. (Via Audrey Watters.)

I often link to Quinn Norton's journalism, but this heartbreaking eulogy for Aaron Swartz is of a different order altogether. Here's Maria Bustillos' 2011 piece for The Awl about the federal indictment of Swartz for downloading five million articles from JSTOR, if you need a little background.

"There's an enormous continuum of experience for queer people right now. I have students who are in the most profoundly oppressed group you can possibly imagine. And then I know men who are so entitled that they have in fact more advantage than straight people because they can access two male incomes." Fascinating, wide-ranging interview by Ella Boureau at Full Stop with Sarah Schulman about her new book about Israel, Palestine, and the complex relationship of queer politics to anticolonialism.

"Among Israel's 7.9 million people, only 14-15% now describe themselves as secular Jews, whereas about 50% identify themselves as traditional, religious or ultra-Orthodox." Depressing article by Harriet Sherwood for the Guardian on Israel's slow transformation from secularism and socialism to religion and capitalism.

America, fuck yeah. "Americans die younger than others in rich nations." By Liz Szabo for USA Today.

"Before you get to see Beyoncé, you must first agree to live forever in her archive, too." Another Amy Wallace celebrity profile at GQ, and those are always worth reading.

"I really like to be left alone, honestly, and indie bookstores are often 'here is a cat and a twenty-minute lecture about how the author you are looking for is not as good as this other author.'" Funny bit between Nicole Cliffe and Edith Zimmerman about ethical considerations and the Hairpin's Amazon Associates links. (Attention, Rachel Hartman: there is a conversation about Geddy Lee in comments.)

I'm still playing on Team Rankin/Bass. Ilana Teitelbaum at the Los Angeles Review of Books with a splendidly cranky review that asserts, "finding the moments in The Hobbit film that are actually adapted from Tolkien's book can start to resemble a Where's Waldo exercise."

"Texts from Don Quixote" is excellent ("please do not stab my tea kettle"), but, wow, "The Apology" is Mallory Ortberg at The Awl.

Finally, in the self-help aisle with one of the widest-ranging intellectuals working today: Kathryn Schulz at New York Magazine with more quotable sentences than I can count, let alone quote. "The Self in Self-Help."

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Links for the week ending 6 January 2013

"'I wasn't so successful in marriage myself, so this is my contribution to the institution.'" Let's start the new year off cheerfully with Kelley Bouchard's account of the first few hours of Maine's legalization of same-sex marriage. For the Portland Press Herald.

It looks to me like the war against secret money funding American elections has moved to the states. From Alison Frankel at Reuters, "NY pension fund's bold tactic to force campaign spending disclosure." At ProPublica, Kim Barker reports on accusations by the California Fair Political Practices Commission that dark money group Americans for Responsible Leadership engaged in "campaign money laundering."

Naomi Wolf at the Guardian on new documents revealing how the violent crackdown on Occupy was coordinated by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, local police, campus police — and big corporate banks.

Also at the Guardian, Amy Goodman on the continued diminution of civil liberties under laws signed by President Obama in the new year.

"Only three residents remained, in a place that was once home to thousands." On what remains of Aleppo, and Syria, by Rania Abouzeid in The New Yorker.

At The Political Notebook, Torie Rose DeGhett compiles a very comprehensive list of background reading on what we just lost with the Congressional failure to renew the Violence Against Women Act.

The new issue of Dissent looks to have some great stuff in it. So far I've only had a chance to read Akiba Solomon's "The Personal Is Political: That's the Challenge: Roe v. Wade and a Black Nationalist Womanist Writer."

Via @CoryEllen, Avital Norman Nathman at RH Reality Check with an article on reality TV's portrayals of teen motherhood compared to what the teen clients at The Care Center in Holyoke, Massachusetts, have to say about their experiences.

Nuanced and layered blog post about reality TV, nontraditional family structures, the limits of respectability politics, and lots more from crunktastic at The Crunk Feminist Collective.

"Single Women and the Sitcom" from Elaine Blair at The New York Review of Books: "Now that we don't really have to live with our marriages, or enter them in the first place, the choice of whom, if anyone, to settle down with is not a great subject but a middling one — about sitcom-sized, it turns out."

"Nobody told me because nobody knew to tell me. Nobody told me because nobody told them." On the importance of learning to think critically about the entertainment you're consuming, at the Tumblr "not language but a map."

"[A]s what it means to work becomes both more and increasingly desperate, 2013 might be the perfect time to ask what work is, what it means, and what it might mean to live without it." Nina Power at the Guardian.

At the Paris Review, Jiayang Fan on her first American meal in New York City.

Via @jillheather, Deborah Blum's re-evaluates the personality of the would-be poisoner after a round-up of the year in attempted murder by poisoning: "the everyday poisoner is vindictive. Sneaky. But not necessarily that smart." At Wired.

Maggie Koerth-Baker at Boing-Boing explains "How space radiation hurts astronauts" using an excellent analogy that I hope my children never, never glimpse: "If you drop a big tower made of Legos down the stairs…"

Finally, three entries from The Awl's forehead-slappingly good series called "The Year in Advice." (You could read the whole thing. You won't be sorry.) First, Carrie Frye: "sometimes not only you, but every other single person you might look to, has absolutely no idea what to do. No one." Second, Maria Bustillos: "There's only one thing that is worth trying to understand, and it is this." And third, Lili Loofbourow: "My advice to self has always been don't look too closely for cause and effect, because the real triggers are buried in all the noise. The noise is life, pretty much, and even if you shut everything out, a headache will find you in the silence."