Sunday, April 28, 2013

Links for the week ending 28 April 2013

National treasure Carol Rosenberg at the Miami Herald has been covering Guantánamo for a long time now. Read any one of her stories on the growing number of hunger strikers, some of whom are being force-fed, or check the chart that tracks it by day.

"But without running water, a curfew from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., and some homes lacking electricity, they don’t know when they’ll be able to return to their homes to live." For the Waco Tribune, Kirsten Crow reports on families displaced by the explosion of a fertilizer factory in West, Texas. Jessica Luther of Austinist reports, "In a town of 2800, roughly 8% of the entire population was either injured or killed with 14 people dying (10 of them first responders) and nearly 200 injured." (Second link via Aaron Bady.)

"'The most disturbing thing for me in treating these patients is that they were awake after it happened and looked down and saw these terrible wounds,'" Abby Goodnough reports for The New York Times on the long road to recovery for the most severely injured victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. (Via Jennifer Steinhauer.)

"Death is always unexpected in America and death by a terrorist attack more so than in any other place." At Guernica, Pakistani columnist Rafia Zakaria writes about why terror attacks on the United States command worldwide attention even from places long accustomed to violence. (Via Marian Wang.)

"That economy of disaster, built of paper and tape and shoe leather, now seems of another era." A thoughtful essay by Amanda Katz at The Boston Globe on how the experience of disaster has changed in the nearly 12 years since the twin towers collapsed.

"'When you have level upon level of surveillance of highly vulnerable populations, kids grow up with very strange notions of a free society and a Democratic process,' he says. 'There's a paranoia that's justified, and for many of them, it's the beginning of the American nightmare.'" Jamilah King at The Prospect reporting on the way that the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy has warped the city's culture. (Via Christie Thompson.)

"In several men’s prisons across California, colored signs hang above cell doors: blue for black inmates, white for white, red, green or pink for Hispanic, yellow for everyone else. From earlier this month, Christie Thompson at ProPublica on prisons that color-code — and punish — prisoners by race and ethnicity.

"If you’re a white middle or high school student, and you don’t have a disability, your odds of being suspended from school are one in fourteen. If you’re a black middle or high school student without a disability, your odds are one in four." Chloe Angyal at The Nation on a new study showing the ubiquity of discriminatory punishments in our schools as well as our streets. (Via Audrey Watters.)

"Had American unions secured tangible benefits for the public at large, it’s possible that they would still be a force to reckon with. Instead, the dramatic difference between the job security and livable wages of union members and non-unionized employees is now a significant obstacle to uniting workers in the struggle against punitive austerity measures.. Illuminating essay by Megan Erickson on the recent failure of NYC school bus drivers strike, and the history of how teachers' unions turned their backs on social justice issues that had historically rallied communities to them. (Via Dana Goldstein.)

"'A lot of them are just barely making it," he said. "Transportation is a challenge. Eating is a challenge. For them, coming up with $140 for an assessment, it's basically telling them, "Forget about ever getting this part of your life complete."'" For-profit behemoth Pearson takes over the GED Testing Service, doubles the price of the exam, and eliminates a paper-and-pencil version. Heather Hollingsworth for the AP reports on how states are lining up to abandon the GED exam in consequence. (Via Audrey Watters.)

"When I take a state test, I am not myself. I feel as if I need to do everything the way the state thinks it should be." Incredibly awesome New York 13-year-old makes up her own standardized test to protest standardized tests. By Valerie Strauss for The Washington Post. (Via Janine DeBaise.)

In some states the base salary of restaurant waitstaff remains at the level set by the federal government in 1991: $2.13 per hour. Jeanna Smialek for Bloomberg on new legislation that would raise base salary for tipped employees. (Via Cora Currier.)

The Billfold continues its amazing series of interviews with "A Conversation With a Single Mom Living on $40,000 a Year." Warning: this one is going to make you want to throw things, preferably in the direction of the woman's ex-husband.

"It was time to witness that $5 hot dog being slaughtered for myself." Mac McClelland reports for Modern Farmer on humane slaughtering practices at one of the most progressive small ranches in the country, and asks, "Is It Good Enough?"

Meanwhile, at Grist, cartoonist/reporter Susie Cagle has a multipart series this week about "ag-gag" state laws forbidding undercover investigations of animal welfare and health issues at all stages of meat production.

"'I think if evangelicals weren't driving a lot of the adoption business, there would be no international adoption, period.'" Disturbing longread on adoptions of Liberian children by American evangelical families wedded to an obedience-first model of parenting, by Kathryn Joyce at Mother Jones. Here is also a response to the book by Alisa Harris at Patrol magazine, "No, Kathryn Joyce is Not Attacking Good Christian Parents." (First link via Nicole Cliffe; second link via Ruth Graham.)

"'This is probably the most profound change we've had in drug policy ever.'" Carla K. Johnson for the AP reports on how the Affordable Care Act will put drug addiction treatment within reach for millions of people with drug and alcohol problems — and may overwhelm existing services in the process. (Via Christie Thompson.)

""NPR likes to brag about its 'driveway moments,' when a story is so good you sit in the driveway listening rather than going into the house. Me, I had a 'drive the car into the bushes' moment while listening to the Mantel interview." At VIDA, Lorraine Berry asks around and collects awful questions lobbed at women writers in interviews. But, wow, this conversation between Martha Bayne and Zoe Zolbrod at The Rumpus about Bayne's failed interview with Terry Gross takes the whole question of interviews — and writing personal narratives — to a much more profound level.

Oy gevalt. Peggy Orenstein at The Atlantic on the sexualization of that hoary old board game, Candy Land. (If they find a way to sexualize Sorry, please, don't tell me.) (Via Anne Jefferson.)

"In the entrance hall of a fairly ordinary house in ancient Pompeii, buried beneath layers of later paint, are the faint traces of an intriguing sketch of two men fighting on horseback." So begins Mary Beard's wonderful piece for the NYRB about what little can be actually known about the historical figure of Spartacus.

Randa Jarrar at The Rumpus: "'Have you been to Boston?' my friend J. says. 'Every corner of that place is historically a war zone.'"

Finally, at Aeon, Mary H K Choi: "I love my mom and it's a secret. I love her so much it kills me, and you bet I'd sooner die than tell her. (Via Nicole Cliffe.)"

Sunday, April 21, 2013

No links for the week ending 21 April 2013

My apologies, faithful readers. I was not up to the task of recapping the news this week. The list will be back next week.

Many thanks to all of you who said kind things about my piece about the marathon up at ye olde homestead.

Here's to a new week with rather less news in it.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Links for the week ending 14 April 2013

"The Asahi Shimbun, one of the biggest newspapers in Japan, called the Fukushima plant 'a toxic water production facility' in an editorial this week." Mari Saito for Reuters on the ongoing crisis concerning leaks of ever-growing amounts radioactive water. You know. Just another little indicator that perhaps humans should first figure out how to stop being inveterate fuck-ups, and then try again with nuclear power. (Via Jim Roberts.)

"Whatever one feels about the drone program, one would think that it shouldn't result in bodies that have to be sorted into a category that basically means 'miscellaneous' or even just 'some guys who struck us as kind of shady.'" As usual, no one does outrage quite so well as Amy Davidson at The New Yorker.

At NPR, Marie McGrory on the striking pictures of Afghan photojournalist Farzana Wahidy. (Via Erin Cunningham.)

There's plenty to quarrel with in this Caroline Stauffer story for Reuters about conflicts surrounding the Brazilian government's eviction of 7,000 settlers as part of restitution to the Xavante Indians who were forced off their traditional land by the government in 1966. But it's a fascinating story nonetheless.

"The ad rests on the image of a black man screaming, 'Get your free government phone today!' from a car." From Jamilah King at Colorlines, a deconstruction of a race-based attack by Republicans of a Reagan-era program to subsidize phone service for rural, elderly, and very poor people.

"On Monday nights when shaggy-haired young men with restless video-game thumbs hustle off the bus at the recruit depot in San Diego, one of the first Marines they see is a woman." Such a great lede in Gretel C. Kovach's story at The San Diego Union-Tribune about the Marine Corps' efforts to comply with new directives to address gender discrimination and sexual assault. (Via Anne-Marie Slaughter.)

"Businesses are encouraged to keep fixed costs, such as labor and rent, as low as possible. That has paid off: The amount of profit companies make per employee has risen 34% since 2004." Alana Semuels for the Los Angeles Times on how efficiency and precarity grind down workers in every industry, from the factory floor to Manhattan trading firms. (Via Atossa Abrahamian.)

This week in Health Care and the Free Market: "The same year that naloxone became so critical to saving lives, one pharmaceutical company secured a monopoly on its production and jacked up the prices by 1,100%." By Tessie Castillo at AlterNet. (Via Kristen Gwynne.)

"He said the physician told him that Nevada had no place for him. 'Pick a state,' he said the doctor told him. 'How about sunny California? They have excellent health care and more benefits than you could ever get in Nevada.'" Sensitive but hard-hitting reporting by Cynthia Hubert for the Sacramento Bee about Nevada dumping mentally ill patients on neighboring states via Greyhound bus. An amazing piece. (Via Marian Wang.)

"Paper unicorns pop up in surprising nooks around the lab, bearing Technicolor testament to the demanding hours the scientists have spent underground." Fun profile of the lab team running the Large Underground Xenon experiment to search for dark matter in an old South Dakota gold mine. By Amina Khan for the Los Angeles Times.(Via Eryn Brown.)

Excellent bird flu explainer by epidemiologist Tara C. Smith at Slate.

"This spring, greening is being blamed for an unprecedented 'fruit drop,' in which eighteen million boxes of oranges and grapefruit fell prematurely." At The New Yorker, Michelle Nijhuis writes about the apocalypse facing Florida's citrus groves.

"'We think it might be a very general phenomenon,' McFall-Ngai says. Our microscopic passengers, that is, might be helping to steer the spaceship." On the circadian rhythms of luminous squid, and what they might tell us more generally about life. By Elizabeth Preston at Inkfish. (Via @zoobiquity.)

At The Awl, "The Great Nobel Prize Cash-In Begins With A Big Bang," by Alexis Coe, on the decision of DNA co-discoverer Francis Crick's heir to sell his Nobel Prize and other effects at auction to private bidders. Don't worry, folks! This stuff will be up for public display again just as soon as the heirs of the magnate who acquires it all go bankrupt in their turn.

This is just so damn fabulous. Grandma Got STEM, a blog collecting histories of women in science, technology, engineering, and math. There are a lot of people out there with awesome grandmas.

Also fabulous: the "Let's Talk About Names" series being co-hosted by Are Women Human? and Flyover Feminism. I arrived via Kristin Rawls' piece, and promptly fell down the rabbit hole following earlier links.

"Eden Foods, which did not respond to a request for comment, says in its filing that the company believes of birth control that 'these procedures almost always involve immoral and unnatural practices.'" Irin Carmon reports for Salon on how an organic food staple brand of co-ops and Whole Foods belies its conservative legal activism. I hear the sweet sounds of a spontaneous boycott, don't you?

"The cover that the publisher designs has a naked cartoon torso against a pink background with a camera covering the genitalia. I tell them it's usually my eye behind the camera, not my vagina." Deborah Copaken Kogan takes no prisoners in "My So-Called 'Post-Feminist' Life in Arts and Letters." At The Nation.

Jennifer Weiner's commentary on Kogan's piece is also well worth reading. (Via VIDA.)

Though it's also worth remembering that there's more to art than prestige. Another knock-out piece by Molly Crabapple, this week in Jacobin, on her journey to making political, activism-driven art.

"Surfer, rock climber, musician, yogi — all were common self-identifiers in a community of waitresses and bartenders." At The Billfold, Mary Mann writes about her post-college life in San Diego's tourist economy (and makes me all not-nostalgic for my post-college life in Maine's short-season tourist industry, where the underpaid bubble always bursts by Columbus Day).

"But they're adults. They came here to get fucked up — and your relationship to them is temporary at best. It's your job to be polite, to make conversation, and to make sure they don't kill themselves, or anyone else." Wonderful prose piece from Martha Bayne about bar life, the sometimes dicey ethics of bartending, and the rage of grief.

"When I told friends I was going to be a bridesmaid in my ex's wedding, however, the look given to me was a look often reserved for telling someone their face is on fire." Sweet and funny essay by Anna Pulley at Salon. (Via Marian Wang.)

"They can still recall the pebbles that became their toys and the hard wooden bunks where they slept with dozens of other children, most of whom would die." Breathtaking profile by Emily Langer and Ellen Belcher of two Italian sisters believed to be some of the youngest survivors with memories of Auschwitz. (Via Jim Roberts.)

Finishing up in two different directions this week. Filed under, "Things that will make you glad you exist at this moment in human history," a new book called Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology, reviewed at the LARB by Jillian Steinhauer. (Via Niljana Roy.)

Filed under, "Things that will make your heart hurt," Susan Faludi's masterful account of the life and early death of feminist revolutionary Shulamith Firestone. At The New Yorker.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Links for the week ending 7 April 2013

Oh hai bird flu! Helen Branswell is your non-alarmist source for All Things Pandemic, as usual. Laurie Garrett is your alarmist source, also as usual. And Maryn McKenna at Wired has a handy guide, in case you have trouble telling alarmist and non-alarmist strains apart.

"'If we treated the patients receiving the most expensive drugs, we'd be out of business in six months to a year.'" Sarah Kliff at the Washington Post with a short profile of doctors who have TOTALLY FORGOTTEN THAT MEDICINE IS ABOUT HELPING PATIENTS, NOT FINANCIAL BUSINESS MODELS. (Oh, whoops. Is that not how the article is framed? I'm sure that was just an oversight on the part of the Post, right?) (Via Suzy Khimm.)

This, on the other hand, is EXACTLY how you do it when you're leading with what actually matters. Sarah Stillman at The New Yorker with a report from Mexico's drug war agonies: "What We Want Is the Head of the Friar." (Via Cora Currier.)

"'This is a religious banner, not a country's flag.'" Another report from Rania Abouzeid, this week at The New Yorker, on the struggle to determine whether Islamists will take control of the Syrian revolution.

Also from Syria, an article at The Atlantic by advocate Lauren Wolfe, director of Women Under Siege, on the systematic use of rape as a weapon in the conflict. (Another cranky editorial aside after attempting to look at the reporting data myself: if your site for the reporting and tracking of rape requires visitors to accept cookies, how are you not needlessly compromising the safety of the people who view this data from the conflict zones???)

Speaking of needless tracking! Kim Zetter at Wired reports from a U.S. district court in Arizona about the federal government's defense of the use of a "stingray" device, which spoofs a cellphone tower and allows the government to collect data about all mobile phones and air cards in the vicinity.

Meanwhile, back in Arkansas, Susan White reports for InsideClimate News about how Exxon is strictly limiting all access to the site of a recent major oil pipeline spill, including no-fly zones and the threatened arrest of a reporter who attempted to speak with an EPA spokesman at the site. (Via Kate Sheppard.)

"The message is clear: whether or not a protest is peaceful and legal is entirely up to the police and judiciary to decide, so if you want to play it safe, stay at home and sign a petition." Laurie Penny at The Guardian explaining why recent austerity measures in the UK have not been met by public protests.

At The New Yorker's new science and technology blog! Maria Bustillos explains how austerity — and its associated global banking shenanigans — appears to have begotten a boom in Bitcoin, a virtual currency that is "mined" using computer power to solve mathematical problems.

In a 2010 interview, Chaz Ebert said that she may be in denial, "but hope is a strategy." So let us strategize for a few minutes. At Foreign Policy, Heather Hurlbut looks at the surprising success of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty in the face of the National Rifle Association's full-bore opposition and concludes that U.N. conventions are an effective "'tool for civil society to beat their governments on the head.'" (Ebert link via Irin Carmon.)

Also this week in hope: Cara Maresca for MSNBC on Connecticut's new gun control law. And Lynn Bartels at The Denver Post on the courage of Colorado lawmakers who introduced gun-control laws: "'If making Colorado safer from gun violence costs me my political career, it's an amazingly small price to pay.'" (First link via Natasha Lennard; second link via Lois Beckett.)

Sort of semi-hopeful? Julia Whitty at Mother Jones explains how the introduction of an invasive European crab species may actually help restore some balance to Cape Cod's degraded salt marshes.

From Melissa Dribben at the Philadelphia Inquirer, a quiet piece that lets its quotes speak for themselves: on white resistance to one small sign that "the language of bigotry is no longer acceptable." (Via Marian Wang.)

"On the job he found out that the district, while ostensibly integrated, was still running separate school buses for black and white students." Julianne Hing looks at the history and culture that underlies — and limits — the Department of Justice's consent decree to end the school-to-prison pipeline in Meridian, Mississippi.

"But on the road to the revolution let us not forget that folks still got to live." Tressie McMillan Cottom writes an excellent piece about how "Don't Go To Graduate School" warnings come from a particular position of racial and class privilege, and don't recognize how expensive credentialing procedures are still a rational choice for people who know they won't get a chance otherwise.

"I define the feminist moment as that moment when that bias registers in your mind as unacceptable, and very importantly, something in you resists." Fascinating interview with feminist blogger and author Rita Banerji at Women's Web. (Via Genderlog India.)

"It might sound like a compliment, but it still counts as sexism." Melanie Tannenbaum at SciAm reruns an essential piece about the steep social costs of "benevolent sexism." (Via Rachel Hartman.)

"'I stand before you as a writer without any ground of being out of which to write: really blown about from country to country, culture to culture till I feel — till I am — nothing.'" An obituary at The Guardian by Janet Watts for the writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. (No beef stroganoff in evidence.)

"She wanted to learn everything. 'How to open the dome! How to fill the instrument with liquid nitrogen! Develop the plates! Reduce the data! Coding!'" From last month, Ann Finkbeiner at Nature displays her eponymous test in action in this profile of pioneering astronomer Andrea Ghez.

"Earlier in the day when he dripped gastric acid on a superworm, it seemed like a friendly thing to do." Mary Roach at Boing Boing, you guys. (That's all I have to say, right? MARY ROACH.)

"In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Edward Korman called Sebelius's decision 'arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable.'" Jessica Dye for Reuters on the ruling that makes emergency contraception pills available without prescription without restrictions on age. (Via Debra Sherman.)

"Unwanted pregnancy feels like womanhood at its most hateful and cowlike — the broodmare inside the bombshell." Molly Crabapple with a powerful piece about abortion at VICE.

"In 2002, the rate of antenatal mothers testing positive — a figure often used by epidemiologists to extrapolate infection rates in general populations — was 8 percent. Anything over 1 percent is considered a generalised epidemic." Nida Najar at Caravan with the story of the one-man battle to reduce HIV infection rates in Nagaland. (Via Ruthie Baron.)

"'Here we are at the end of everything. I have a beard, you have a wig! HAHAHAHAHAHA!'" Joyful essay by Carrie Frye at The Awl about the best of Surrealist friends, Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo. (Via Nicole Cliffe.)

Finally, Leslie Jamison wins the internets this week with an essay in the Oxford American, "Fog Count," which I could describe as a profile of ultramarathoner Charlie Engle, currently in prison for mortgage fraud, or as a meditation on the way we live now: "because a powerful rhetoric insists that we can only be delivered from our old scars by tolerating new ones." (Via Nicole Cliffe, who was clearly batting 1.000 this week.)