Sunday, August 25, 2013

Links for the week ending 25 August 2013

Just a few links this week, as I've been on vacation and only caught a handful of stories.

"While the exact cause of the deaths remained unclear, there was widespread agreement, as one European expert noted, that 'something terrible has happened.'" On what appeared to be a chemical warfare attack on civilians in a suburb of Damascus, by Loveday Morris and Karen DeYoung at The Washington Post.

"The world’s most influential Islamist movement is in danger of collapse in the land of its birth — its leaders imprisoned, its supporters slain and its activists branded as terrorists in what many are describing as the worst crisis to confront Egypt’s 85-year-old Muslim Brotherhood." By Liz Sly and Mary Beth Sheridan at The Washington Post.

"But the public’s rejection of Morsi is rooted in the wildly high hopes that ordinary Egyptians had for the Arab Spring — and their bitterness at how democracy failed to deliver jobs or social justice." More on the Brotherhood's fall from grace, also at the Post by Sheridan and Abigail Hauslohner.

The title says it all: "What You Need to Know on New Details of NSA Spying" by Jennifer Valentino-DeVries and Siobhan Gorman at The Wall Street Journal.

"To one side, Manning’s release of classified material into the public purview is a declaration of the people’s right to know, and an angry comment on how the world is run behind closed doors. To the other, it represents a force threatening to undermine the system that holds America together." Quinn Norton at Medium musing at length on the "two Americas" revealed by the leaks of a networked age.

"Federal agents have launched a criminal investigation of instructors who claim they can teach job applicants how to pass lie detector tests as part of the Obama administration’s unprecedented crackdown on security violators and leakers." By Marisa Taylor and dude Cleve Wootson for McClatchy.

"Her method, authorities and victims say, was cruel and effective: convincing families that their babies were dead or dying, or afflicted with incurable diseases or congenital deformities." By Barbara Deming at the LA Times, a wrenching story about an OB in rural China who preyed on her patients to obtain infants for trafficking. (Via Angilee Shah.)

"Every single one of us, native and non-native alike, have been fed a series of lies, half-truths and fantasies intended to create a cohesive national identity." On the persistence of racism and national narratives in Canadian media coverage of Native issues, by âpihtawikosisân. (Hat tip to Jill Heather.)

"'Regardless of what they did — and I believe they are in fact guilty — I have a choice: I can either try to help another human escape from darkness or I can look away and do nothing. And I chose to help.'" At the Miami Herald, Carol Rosenberg talks to the anonymous man who lost his father in the 9/11 attacks and yet donated 70 classic books, some in Arabic translations, for the Guantánamo library.

"Those stopped under schedule 7 have no automatic right to legal advice and it is a criminal offence to refuse to co-operate with questioning, which critics say is a curtailment of the right to silence." Rowena Mason at The Guardian on the reaction in the UK to the government's seizure and questioning of journalist Glenn Greenwald's partner while the latter was transiting through Heathrow last week.

"In a well-intended effort to save lives, the emphasis on early detection is essentially looking under the lamp post: Putting many patients who don’t have life-threatening diseases through traumatic treatments while distracting doctors from the bigger challenge of developing ways to identify and treat the really dangerous fast-growing cancers." Virginia Postrel with an essay at Bloomberg about redefining cancer to only include disease that will kill if left untreated.

"Tips for Improving Street Harassment," a comic by Mallory Ortberg and dude Matt Lubchansky. At The Toast.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Links for the week ending 18 August 2013

"The leader of the secret court that is supposed to provide critical oversight of the government’s vast spying programs said that its ability to do so is limited and that it must trust the government to report when it improperly spies on Americans." Carol D. Leonnig with a companion piece to dude Barton Gellman's latest surveillance bombshell at The Washington Post.

"What, fundamentally, are SWAT teams for?" At The New Yorker, a brief follow-up by Sarah Stillman on one of the issues raised by her piece last week on civil forfeiture. (Hat tip to Jody T.)

"'To say that black people in general are somehow more suspicious-looking, or criminal in appearance, than white people is not a race-neutral explanation for racial disparities in NYPD stops: it is itself a racially biased explanation. This explanation is especially troubling because it echoes the stereotype that black men are more likely to engage in criminal conduct than others.'" Kristen Gwynne at Alternet covers Judge Shira Scheindlin's historic ruling finding that the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy violates the Fourth Amendment.

Egypt goes up in flames. At the Wall Street Journal, Maria Abi-Babib and Leila Elmergawi report on the violence of the government's brutal attack on supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood — and the retaliatory attacks by Islamists against Egypt's Coptic Christians.

'If I see you again, I’ll shoot you in the leg,' a police officer told my colleagues, Sharaf al-Hourani and Mansour Mohamed, and me. Security forces on the roof of a nearby building watched us through binoculars. Two helicopters circled overhead. Everything The Washington Post's Abigail Hauslohner has filed from Cairo this week is a must-read.

"'The aid that we give to Egypt is coming back to the U.S. and keeping 30 of my people working,' Baron told me. Specifically, he said, 30 of his 57 employees are working on parts for the M1A1 Abrams tanks that we give to Egypt." From earlier this month, NPR's Julia Simon reports on the closed circle of money-transfers that ensures that the United States will keep sending military hardware like tanks and fighter jets to Egypt.

"But at a time when the Islamic State is undergoing a revival in Iraq, killing more people there than at any time since 2008 and staging a spectacular jailbreak last month that freed hundreds of militants, the push into Syria signifies the transformation of the group into a regional entity." Liz Sly at The Washington Post reporting on how Iraq's Al-Qaeda organization has successfully pushed into northern Syria.

"The first time I dictated a post that mentioned 'Gitmo,' the military’s nickname for Guantánamo, it wrote 'Got Milk.'" The Miami Herald's Carol Rosenberg is one of the few people whose possession of Google Glass seems to me like an excellent thing.

"Since May, when Mr. Obama said at the White House that sexual offenders in the military ought to be 'prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged,' lawyers in dozens of assault cases have argued that Mr. Obama’s words as commander in chief amounted to 'unlawful command influence,' tainting trials and creating unfair circumstances for clients as a result." Jennifer Steinhauer reports for the NYT on This Week In Creative Ways To Avoid Punishing Rapists In The Military.

"Until last week, Norfolk, Virginia police classified sexual assault claims to be 'unfounded' — or not valid — by default." By Rebecca Leber at ThinkProgress. (Hat tip to Jill Heather.)

"Two things happened to me the same month: I was beaten up in front of parliament for the first time and I realised that in all my interactions, including professional ones, I no longer felt I was perceived as a journalist first: I am now a person with a pink triangle." At the Guardian, journalist Masha Gessen explains why she and her family are fleeing Russia.

"I pointed out that he and his boyfriend had been photographed in Afisha’s kaming aut issue and used their full names. That was four months before the law passed, he explained. Since then, 'everyone’s gone savage here.'" Julia Ioffe at the New Republic with "Gay Life in Russia: Eight Horrific Stories."

"That's because, as the group drove through the mountains, they saw black effigies hanging outside service stations." From The Race Card Project at NPR, Michele Norris tells the story of a teenager's journey to The March on Washington in August, 1963.

"A 2007 federal court order required New York to provide inmates with "serious" mental illness more treatment while in solitary. And a follow-up law enacted in 2011 all but bans such inmates from being put there altogether. But something odd has happened: Since protections were first added, the number of inmates diagnosed with severe mental illness has dropped." Christie Thompson reports for ProPublica about the suicide of an inmate in solitary confinement.

"With this in mind, is it fair for Anthony to be denied life-saving treatment because he is a black male and therefore the target of discriminatory discipline policies and a structurally racist criminal justice system?" Rania Khalek on the shocking case of an Atlanta hospital denying a place on the transplant list to a 15-year-old black boy for "non-compliance," a denial since reversed after public outcry.

"By law, Branco should have been notified of the delinquent 26 cents before coverage was terminated, and that didn’t happen, Resnick said. They should have been given an option to pay." On the other hand, what's shocking when you can be denied a transplant over 26¢? By Karin Price Mueller at (Hat tip to Jill Heather.)

"Instead of expressing frustration about their struggles, Silva found, they were adopting an entirely new definition of adulthood in which success was measured not by marriage and homeownership, but by defining and conquering emotional problems, mental illness, family chaos, and addiction." At The Boston Globe, Ruth Graham interviews author Jennifer Silva on her new book on the surprising coping strategies of working-class young adults in an era of inadequate job opportunities and enormous student debt.

"Some opponents of the practice argue that admissions should simply be based on concrete, meritocratic standards. However, as the study reveals, what is considered meritocratic to some may simply be based on what benefits the group with whom they most identify." Rebecca Klein at HuffPo on a study that found that white people changed their mind about the importance of academic achievement on college admissions when they were told that a disproportionate number of Asian-American applicants would be admitted on that basis.

"Richard Beasley had believed that no one would come looking for the divorced, unsettled, middle-aged men he was targeting. But he should have known better." I am more than a bit dubious about the whole end of men thing, but this story in The Atlantic by Hanna Rosin about a serial killer preying on vulnerable older white men is striking nonetheless for what it reveals about changing blue-collar life.

"Boys, on average, spend two fewer hours doing household chores per week than girls do (they play two hours more). And if they live in households where children are compensated for doing chores, boys make and save more money." Soraya Chemaly at Salon on the "wage gap" that starts in early childhood.

"From accusations of plagiarism and erasure to the current controversy surrounding disgraced male feminist Hugo Schwyzer (in which he openly admitted to using his relationships with white feminist bloggers to harass and silence women of color), the feud between female bloggers of color and their high-profile white counterparts has enough drama and intrigue to fill the first seasons of a reality show. And while the takedowns make for great entertainment, the pain behind them is palpable." At Salon, Jamie Nesbitt Golden writes about #solidarityisforwhitewomen.

"Our equity does not lie in a 'colourless' (which really means 'white') society. It doesn’t lie in a few people achieving a great deal, in the hopes that their success will trickle down. It lies in the same solutions that will work to address all oppression." Jessie-Lane Metz at The Toast, "On Oprah and Transcending Race."

"Running in the '90 years and over' category of the women’s 100 metres, Mitsu Morita of Yatsushiro City, Kumamoto Prefecture smashed the previous Japanese record of 50.9 seconds by completing the race in an incredible 23.8 seconds!!" By Cara Glegg at RocketNews24. Now we all have somebody we can want to be when we grow up. (Via @pourmecoffee.)

"The olinguito is the first mammalian carnivore species to be newly identified in the Americas in 35 years, according to Kristofer Helgen, curator of mammals at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. New mammal! Ladies, start your gif-engines! (Hat tip to Jill Heather.)

I have loved pretty much every one of Mallory Ortberg's Texts From series, but this one is sublime.
A narrow Fellow in the Grass
Occasionally rides –-

do you mean Harris?
the caretaker?

"Lane, and to an extent her mother, were affronted by taxes, the New Deal, and what they saw as Americans’ growing reliance on Washington. Eventually, as Lane became increasingly antigovernment, she would pursue her politics more openly, writing a strident political treatise and playing an important if little-known role inspiring the movement that eventually coalesced into the Libertarian Party" Do not miss Christine Woodside's fascinating essay at The Boston Globe on the Libertarian roots of Little House on the Prairie.

Need a book or two to finish out the month? Vela magazine presents The Unlisted List — more creative nonfiction by women than you could work your way through in a decade. Or a lifetime.

"As ambulances and police cars came screaming up the hill, past the demolition derby of wrecked cars to where Georgia and Patterson sobbed in the grand arched entryway to their palace, it was just another day at the Inmans', home to the poorest rich kids in the world." Finally, for anyone who consoled their own childhood miseries with a well-thumbed copy of Little Gloria… Happy At Last, here is Sabrina Rubin Erdely's masterful longread about the traumas and abuse visited upon the last living heirs to the Duke fortune.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Links for the week ending 11 August 2013

Fair warning: people who have cheerful stories to tell all appear to be on vacation this month. So abandon hope, all ye who click here. To start: "'Where are we?' Boatright remembers thinking. 'Is this some kind of foreign country, where they’re selling people’s kids off?' Holding her sixteen-month-old on her hip, she broke down in tears." Sarah Stillman's enraging, must-read reporting for The New Yorker about "civil forfeiture" — extortion schemes run by law enforcement — in the United States.

"For a while, the residents of Manitoba Colony thought demons were raping the town’s women." This may be the most horrifying thing you read all year. By Jean Friedman-Rudovsky at VICE. (Hat tip to Jill Heather.)

"It is a sound you hear with your whole body, not just your ears. Limbs and muscles and heart and mind tense as the fast, angry projectile rushes along its arc, a path you can almost picture in your mind’s eye as you hold your breath and wonder where it will fall. It crashes, you exhale, then feel almost guilty for being glad that it exploded somewhere else, perhaps on someone else." Rania Abouzeid reports for The New Yorker from a Syrian family's basement refuge during nightly aerial bombardment.

"Mr Bagash has a question for the person who ordered the drone strike: 'What did my daughter ever do to them? She was only eight years old.' And then a bleak observation. 'They think we're rats. We're not. We're human beings.'" Yalda Hakim at the BBC on American drone attacks in Yemen. (Via Tori Rose DeGhett.)

"…the complete opposite of a generous, confident Ramadan visit of a year ago." From last week, Carol Rosenberg reports on Ramadan at Guantánamo for the Miami Herald.

More "Sketches from the Trial of Bradley Manning," from Molly Crabapple, this time at Paris Review.

"'It’s crazy pants – you can quote me,' said Will McCants, a former State Department adviser on counterterrorism who this month joins the Brookings Saban Center as the director of its project on U.S. relations with the Islamic world." Hannah Allam at McClatchy reports on experts and analysts responding to the temporary closure of nearly two dozen U.S. embassies because of an unspecified terror threat. (Via Loveday Morris.) Her follow-up piece with dude Adam Baron is also worth a read: "Instead, the organization, no longer dependent on the leadership of a single personality, is growing, with authority now spread among leaders not just in Yemen but also in Iraq, Somalia, Syria and Egypt’s Sinai. The branches that operate in those regions aren’t affiliates, the experts say, they’re al Qaida."

"'I’m taking a break from email,' said Levison. 'If you knew what I know about email, you might not use it either.'" From that bastion of the liberal media, Forbes, Kashmir Hill reports on the closure of the encrypted email service used by Edward Snowden. (Via Kim Zetter.) Also Amy Davidson at The New Yorker comments on the same case: "Every time the Administration says not to worry—that surveillance does not 'target' Americans—the word seems to mean less and less, to the point where one expects it to argue that an American does not count as its target—with the legal protections that word implies—unless he is wearing a dartboard with a bull’s eye around his neck."

"The resulting photo-op—Obama looking forlornly into the distance, Putin slouched and sullen—said it all: they looked like the aging couple at the neighboring table, intently working on their food and eavesdropping on your conversation because they had nothing to support one of their own." Julia Ioffe on the geopolitical implications of President Obama's decision to cancel a September summit with Vladimir Putin.

"For five years, Vokes had inspected TransCanada projects across North America and, too often for his liking, found they were poorly constructed and didn’t meet engineering codes. He’d tried to get his superiors to address the problems, to no avail, and was fired last year. In East Texas, he found that TransCanada hadn’t changed its way—even on what may be the most controversial pipeline ever proposed for North America. At the Texas Observer, Priscilla Mosqueda reports on the findings of a whistleblower and landowners near the Keystone XL pipeline.

"Two young children in Pennsylvania were banned from talking about fracking for the rest of their lives under a gag order imposed under a settlement reached by their parents with a leading oil and gas company." Suzanne Goldenberg at the Guardian with… seriously, I can't even.

"From the start of Floyd v. City of New York, the mayor’s office has attempted to discredit the assigned judge, Shira Scheindlin, claiming that she regularly rules against the police, since she has decided for against them [sic] in other stop-and-frisk cases." Former New York State Supreme Court Justice Emily Jane Goodman comments for The Nation on a smear campaign against the judge deciding the stop-and-frisk case against the NYPD — and on the importance of empathy in the courts.

"With so much instability in Mexico, Los Zetas were increasingly looking for opportunities to launder illicit earnings through legitimate U.S. businesses. They extorted the vulnerable while rubbing shoulders with the wealthy and politically connected on both sides of the border, looking for enablers to facilitate their laundering of the endless flow of dirty money generated by the insatiable U.S. drug market. People like Tyler Graham." More knock-out reporting from the Texas Observer this week, this one by Melissa del Bosque and Jazmine Ulloa.

"This lack of awareness, coupled with numerous Obamacare regulations — especially the requirement that most Americans have health insurance or pay federal fines — is expected to create prime opportunities for illegal scammers and legal products that consumers mistakenly confuse for legitimate health insurance." Kate Pickert at Time on some of the less savory consequences of the Affordable Care Act. (Via Kayla Webley.)

"While there is some evidence that the recent Department of Labor requirement to reveal 401(k) plan fees to participants—something that was not even enacted till last year—has brought expenses down, knowledge does not leave consumers in the driver’s seat. If you discover your company plan is sub-par — the fund choices are poor, or the expenses are too high — all you can do is complain to your human resources department and hope they decide to change plans." Helaine Olen at Salon/Alter Net asks whether 401(k) plans have benefitted anyone in American society besides the financial services industry. (Hat tip to Jody T.)

"'We had no idea what we were takeing. Here your stuff back we hope that you guys can continue to make a difference in peoples live. God bless,' the note read (complete with misspellings)." Your small inoculation against despair from the week. From Christina Sterbenz at Business Insider. (Via Kristen Gwynne.)

"A literate person backed into a corner with something he desperately wanted to prove; that’s what it took to entrench the notion that women’s libido made them into witches, that any woman with a sex drive could be worthy of death. That’s the chaos of history. Catherine Nicholas at The Toast on the foundational text of witch-persecution, the Malleus Maleficarum.

"Perhaps, a more analogous comparison is a witch hunt, suggests anthropologist Gabriella Coleman. 'For me what comes to most to mind as an interesting parallel is the extraordinary and very public demonization of women as witches during [sic],' she said. 'They were burned in very public ritual acts.'" Rebecca Greenfield asks "Are Internet Trolls the Modern Incarnation of Witch Hunters?" in an interesting (if under-proofed) short piece at The Atlantic. (Via Emily Bazelon.)

"The women, like Fernandez, say the former chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee used his significant power and credentials to access military sexual assault survivors, who they say are less likely to complain." From Kyung Lah at CNN, a report on how San Diego's mayor targeted women for sexual harassment. (Via Irin Carmon.)

"After about half an hour of holding the sweet boy’s hand, I suddenly, urgently, needed to let go. I wriggled my fingers free, only to have him clutch them again." At Aeon, Virginia Hughes writes about a study tracking the development of Romanian orphans. (Yes, it is just as depressing as that précis suggests.) (Hat tip to Jody T.)

Roxanne Gay interviews her mother at The Hairpin:
Did you ever regret your decision to stay home?

No. As they say, for women, the choices are often cruel—but in truth, I’ve never felt I sacrificed.


Because the result is good. I did what I wanted to do.

Did you feel independent?

Absolutely. I was. I felt it.
In a perfect world, there would be ten articles like this for every one article about the work/parenting balance for women in the 1%. (As for the 1% article, you guys, don't you think there should have been more inquiry about, you know, cupcakes?)

"Democracy had been saved, and Lamarr—sex pot, shoplifter, crazed aging star—was in no small part responsible." Also at The Hairpin, Helen Anne Petersen on the agony and the ecstasy of Hollywood glamor queen Hedy Lamarr.

"Despite being packaged like a story, sports have no author to blame for plot threads left hanging loose, because that shit is actually happening." Finally, at The Toast, an amazing work of cartoon philosophy by Molly Brooks. On sports.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Links for the week ending 4 August 2013

I was really not feeling the internets this week, so you'll have to pardon the list for being thinner and more depressing than usual. Bradley Manning was found not guilty of aiding the enemy, but still faces a sentence of up to 136 years in prison after being found guilty of stealing government property and violating the Espionage Act. Journalist Alexa O'Brien has the breakdown of the verdict in chart form here. Kim Zetter writes up the verdict at Wired. At the Guardian, Molly Crabapple describes and illustrates the scene from the courtroom.

"The former high-ranking National Security Agency analyst now sells iPhones. The top intelligence officer at the CIA lives in a motor home outside Yellowstone National Park and spends his days fly-fishing for trout. The FBI translator fled Washington for the West Coast." Emily Wax at The Washington Post on the fate of less well-known government whistleblowers.

"Last month, the White House told ProPublica it was still 'looking into' the apparent massacre. Now it says it has concluded its investigation – but won’t make it public." Chilling short Cora Currier piece at ProPublica about the fate of an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the mass graves of surrendering Taliban forces. Note the bit about the end about how the lead investigator was sent to prison…

"The defendants’ opinions and experiences are classified—especially their memories of rendition. Connell added, 'The government can only classify information it owns or controls. By classifying the ‘observations and experiences’ of the military commission defendants, the government is claiming something new and horrifying: the power to own and control the minds of the people it has tortured.'" Molly Crabapple again, this time at Vice, with a long piece about Guantánamo.

"I realized that between heroic resistance to and fatalistic acceptance of oppression, there was ample space for coping strategies and creative improvisation. Much of human life was and is carried on in this fertile middle ground." Lest we labor under the impression that our historical moment is without precedent, Natalie Zemon Davis writes at the NYRB blog about how her career was shaped by the restrictions placed on her after she spoke out about the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1952.

"Many of the FBI’s records list only arrests and not the outcomes of those cases, such as convictions. Consumer groups say that missing information often results in job applicants who are wrongfully rejected." While "Ban the Box" may be gaining traction at the state level, a growing number of employers screen applicants via the FBI's highly flawed criminal databases. By Ylan Q. Mui at The Washington Post.

"Her informal poll shows that upwards of 80% plan to emigrate to a gay-friendly country — they don’t see a future for themselves in their homeland. For as long as they can remember, the crackdown on gays in Russia has been getting worse." Katie Zavadski reporting for Buzzfeed on a new — and illegal — online support group for LGBT Russian teens.

"The stadium, built to hold 60,000, was about half full. So many people tried to leave during Mr. Mugabe’s speech that the police formed a human chain to hold in the crowd and locked the exits to the stadium." Lydia Polgreen reporting for the NYT from the lead-up to last week's elections in Zimbabwe (and its unsurprising conclusion).

"Perhaps the only topic touchier than whether people should abandon their homes is why the problem even exists. West has heard of global warming, but he's not entirely sure it's responsible for the rising water. 'Nobody knows, I don't think. Everybody speculates,' he says. Local authorities rarely, if ever, speak the words 'climate change.'" Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones on ever-rising costs along the Atlantic shoreline, and the perverse climate-denial incentives that guarantee those costs will continue to rise.

"An emerging scientific consensus held that genetic engineering would be required to defeat citrus greening. 'People are either going to drink transgenic orange juice or they’re going to drink apple juice,' one University of Florida scientist told Mr. Kress." In case you are not depressed enough by all the previous links! Amy Harmon gets the full multimedia treatment at the NYT on the controversies surrounding genetically modified organisms — and the coming orange apocalypse.

"Klawock was more accepting — maybe because James' grandfather was so influential. Maybe because it is a rough town where a lot worse things than Apert syndrome can happen to people." Moving story by Kim Murphy for the LA Times about a young boy with severe facial deformities and the Tlingit village in Alaska that sees him as just another member of the community.

"'It’s about . . . masturbation — which is not appropriate for my child to learn at 11,' said Kelly-Ann McMullan-Preiss, 39, of Belle Harbor, who refused to let her son read the book. 'It was like ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ for kids.'" This week in People Who Have Rocks For Brains, Clare Trapasso reports for the NY Daily News about the banning of Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which, coincidentally, my kid just finished reading this week. Spoiler: what upset him were the tragic alcohol-related deaths of so many characters, not the mention of the existence of masturbation.

"In addition to being among the relatively few social spider species, S. sarasinorum also display a curious trait called suicidal maternal care. It’s as cheerful as it sounds: After a few weeks of mothering, female spiders allow themselves to be cannibalized by their offspring." This week in Science Keeps You From Sleeping At Night, Nadia Drake reports from Wired on a study that shows individual spiders may have distinct personalities.

"'It takes you from hand-crafted, artisan skeeviness to big-box commodity creepiness, and enables government-level total awareness for about $500 of off-the-shelf hardware,' O’Connor says." Adrienne Jefferies at The Verge presents "The top 10 new reasons to be afraid of hackers" from the Black Hat and Def Con conferences.

On the other hand, who needs hackers when you can just rely on basic human error? "Now, add this possible breach of privacy to the list: You or your doctor type in an e-mail address incorrectly. That could mean a stranger finds out your test result or learns that a specialist just uploaded a new file from your recent patient visit—just by opening his or her inbox." By Carolyn Y. Johnson at

"Some books require a box of tissues nearby; this one needs a browser window open to Google, or at least a pen to scribble 'Citation needed!' in the margins." Lauren O'Neal reviews a book on hormonal birth control for The New Inquiry, and, in the process, provides a clinic on how to read pop-science critically.

"Let’s assume that all burqas are bad, that this idea of making a niqab ‘cool’ is outrageous and dangerous, that it will stall our evolution into a truly liberal society, that all our daughters will be so inspired by Burka Avenger that they will forever stay covered in black cloth. You know, just like the time every Superman fan grew up into an adult who at the slightest sign of trouble ran into a telephone booth, pulled up a chaddi over his pants and tied a towel around his neck." Funny, thoughtful musings on Pakistani TV's newest animated superhero by Mahvesh Murad at The Ladies Finger.

The Slate pitch to end all Slate pitches: "Boggle Is Better Than Scrabble." By Julia Turner at, of course, Slate.

"nothing is so horrible that you can’t figure out a way to use it to your advantage. We put in all the caveats about easier said than done" Emily Gould and Nicole Cliffe chat at The Toast about King Kong Theory by Virginie Despentes.

If you have not been made depressed or angry enough by the list this week, any one of these links will probably do the trick. At The Hairpin, Emma Carmichael asks the eternal question, "Who Has a Woman Problem?"

This profile of the, well, first family of American letters is pretty great even if you (like me) have never voluntarily read a Stephen King novel and never plan to (because, seriously, isn't the real world already scary enough?). By Susan Dominus at the NYT.

"Imagine 'Jaws,' if it were released in 2014." Finally, at the NYT, Heather Havrilesky updates the classic to delightful effect.