Sunday, October 26, 2014

A declaration of surrender

I am giving up the weekly round-up for the foreseeable future — taking a concentrated look at the utter depressing-ness of the world every weekend has finally gotten to me. I will continue to point out links on Twitter, and maybe I'll even be better about posting links myself rather than lazily retweeting other people's links. (Maybe.) If you're not a Twitter user — and, really, why should you be, social media is jumping the shark with tremendous vigor and noise — you can simply bookmark the Phantom's List profile page and scroll through the links posted there whenever the need strikes you. No need to sign in or have an account or anything like that.

But by now you already know where to find women writers on almost any topic for yourself, amirite? Spread the knowledge around!

As always (forever and ever, amen), thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

No links today!

I'm down for the count with a nasty — though totally non-newsworthy — virus. Have a good week, and stay healthy!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Links for the week ending 5 October 2014

"The local high school now allows students to arrive early and shower there. Parents often keep their children home from school if they have not bathed, worried that they could lose custody if the authorities deem the students too dirty, a rumor that county officials have tried to dismiss." Life in one drought-stricken California county after the taps have run dry. By Jennifer Medina for the NYT.

"'What happens to that water, knowing that that aquifer is going to be sold to other parties as well?' Nirenberg asked. 'If the water’s not there in 30 years, what are we doing? We’re just building a pipeline to nowhere.'" Neena Satija for The Texas Tribune on San Antonio's proposed deal to buy water via pipeline.

"Stories circulate on Rikers about inmates who plead guilty to crimes they didn’t commit just to put an end to their ordeal, but Browder was determined to get his day in court. He had no idea how rare trials actually are. In 2011, in the Bronx, only a hundred and sixty-five felony cases went to trial; in three thousand nine hundred and ninety-one cases, the defendant pleaded guilty." Shattering story at The New Yorker by Jennifer Gonnerman about the destroyed life of a Bronx teen falsely accused of theft.

"'I don’t think people realize how many people lost their jobs or hours during that time because they couldn’t get in and out of their houses,' Jones said." Durrie Bouscaren reporting from Ferguson for St. Louis Public Radio.

"More than 3,000 people have registered to vote in Ferguson, Mo., since the death of Michael Brown — a surge in interest that may mean the city of 21,000 people is ready for a change. Yamiche Alcindor for USA Today.

"His comments came as fresh clashes erupted between pro-democracy protesters and armed thugs on Saturday, with student leaders also accusing the government and the police of allowing triad gangs to attack them." Tania Branigan and dude David Batty for the Guardian on the protests in Hong Kong.

"Hong Kong has flourished too as a result of the economic interdependence, and it still provides China a unique bridge to the global economy. But its relative strength vis-a-vis Beijing has eroded substantially as the mainland economy has soared even faster and other Chinese cities, such as Shanghai, have started to offer many of the financial services once available only in Hong Kong." Good background piece by Julie Makinen at the LAT.

"IS is demonstrating that controlling wheat brings power. As its fighters swept through Iraq’s north in June, they seized control of silos and grain stockpiles. The offensive coincided with the wheat and barley harvests and, crucially, the delivery of crops to government silos and private traders." Maggie Fick for Reuters. (Via Torie Rose DeGhett's This Week In War.)

"Reports of the death toll varied from 27 to 47 but they agreed that the dead were mostly children." Anne Barnard and dude Mohammad Ghannam at the NYT on the bombing of an elementary school in Homs, Syria, because dear god.

"A largely home grown organisation, most of its fighters are Syrians who have not been indoctrinated with the radicalism of those practising international jihad. Their main focus is domestic. Ruth Sherlock at The Telegraph on why U.S. bombing of "Khorasan" may backfire.

"But Erdogan’s comments suggest Turkey is in no hurry to join the military effort against the Islamic State, despite intensifying U.S. pressure to do so. The previous mandate, sought in the wake of the downing of a Turkish jet by a Syrian government missile, did not result in military action." Liz Sly at The Washington Post.

"But that same Qatari network has also played a major role in destabilizing nearly every trouble spot in the region and in accelerating the growth of radical and jihadi factions. The results have ranged from bad to catastrophic in the countries that are the beneficiaries of Qatari aid: Libya is mired in a war between proxy-funded militias, Syria's opposition has been overwhelmed by infighting and overtaken by extremists, and Hamas's intransigence has arguably helped prolong the Gaza Strip's humanitarian plight. " Elizabeth Dickinson at Foreign Policy with "The Case Against Qatar." (Via Deborah Amos.)

"But the generality of Resolution 1373 allowed it to be abused and invoked by states seeking to limit civil liberties and basic human rights in the name of combatting terrorism and protecting national security." Dude Kent Roach and Carmen Cheung with an op-ed at The Globe and Mail criticizing a recent UN Security Council resolution in response to the Islamic State. (Hat tip to Rachel Hartman.)

"A federal judge Thursday rejected an Obama administration bid to shut the public out of next week’s hearing showcasing medical testimony in one Guantánamo captive’s challenge of the prison’s forced-feeding policy." Carol Rosenberg at the Miami Herald.

Many families hung signs amid the rubble, bearing their names and phone numbers, and sometimes the number of rooms or people who had lived there. This was done partly with an eye to future compensation, but also a poignant marker: this was my home." Harriet Sherwood at the Guardian on photographic portraits of Gazans posing with the one thing they saved from their destroyed homes.

"The epidemic has exposed a disconnect between the aspirations of global health officials and the reality of infectious disease control. Officials hold faraway strategy sessions about fighting emerging diseases and bioterrorism even as front-line doctors and nurses don't have enough latex gloves, protective gowns, rehydrating fluid or workers to carry bodies to the morgue." From today at The Washington Post by Lena Sun and dudes Brady Dennis, Lenny Bernstein, and Joel Achenbach.

"The patient's sister said that Duncan told a nurse that he had come from Liberia. This vital information 'was not fully communicated throughout the full team,' said Mark C. Lester, executive vice president of the health-care system that includes Texas Health Presbyterian. 'As a result, the full import of that information wasn't factored into the clinical decision-making.' Ebola was not suspected." Julia Belluz for Vox.

"As 9-year-old Mercy Kennedy sobbed along with neighbors mourning news of her mother's death, not a person would touch the little girl to comfort her." From Krista Larson at the AP, a wrenching report from the Liberian neighborhood where the Dallas patient originated.

"I listened to Isabela’s heart and told her that it sounded full of love. She shyly said she missed her papa and that she loved him very much. She had not seen him, the mother said, in two years. 'We are going to find him,' the little girl said in Spanish, and 'then we will be safe.' Marsha Griffin, a physician who works at a clinic less than a mile from the Mexican border. At The Texas Observer. (Via Melissa del Bosque.)

"The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Thursday allowed Texas to begin enforcing tough new abortion restrictions that will effectively close all but eight abortion facilities in the nation’s second-largest state. Unless the Supreme Court steps in, the law is poised to have the most devastating impact on abortion access of any such restriction across the country." Irin Carmon at MSNBC.

"California has enacted a historic law that forces the state's colleges to adopt a policy of unambiguous, affirmative consent by students engaged in sexual activity." Olivia Crellin at Vice.

"Incidentally, you’re also telling a new mobile development company with no Internet footprint or track record to speak of (a) who you’re sleeping with, (b) when you did it, and (c) how drunk or sober you were at the time." On second thought, maybe an app for "affirmative consent" is not such a great idea? Caitlin Dewey for The Washington Post.

"The American Heart Association keeps telling us about our hearts and we keep not listening, possibly because we are so fearful of cancer that we have no fear to spare, as we lie on our beds dutifully palpating ourselves for the lumps that we pray not to find." Martha Weinman Lear at the NYT on women and the Hollywood Heart Attack.

"The truth seemed so uncomplicated. Janelle Luk, a reproductive endocrinologist at Neway Fertility (one of several fertility centers affiliated with EggBanxx), for instance, breezily described egg freezing as 'part of technology that exists to help us all, just like the iPad, just like Skype.'" Robin Marantz Henig at Slate on what sounds like Tupperware parties, except for fertility procedures of questionable utility.

"'I want people to know,' said Dushku, 'that we’re not pretending to be feminists.' She spoke about Mormon women’s willingness to disagree without dividing: Wasn’t that radical in itself?" Wonderful Alexa Mills piece at the Boston Globe about the founding mothers of Mormon feminism, including Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. (Via Nicole Cliffe at The Toast.)

"There are no frequent-customer award cards, because officials fear the data stored on the cards could be mined by marketers and fall into the wrong hands, outing secret agents." This would make the funniest Get Smart episode ever. Emily Wax-Thibodeaux on the CIA Starbucks. (Via Kate Sheppard.)

"I breathed as quietly as I could, staring into the middling dark that was the limit of my mother’s power, amazed that someone could stop her from speaking, could tell her that her desire to serve her God was sinful." Vivid and moving personal essay by Laura Cok at The Toast.

"Which is better in the long run? Is it even possible to quantify their relative good? Intention builds bridges; accident coats them with rust. Intention drops bombs; accident turns the rubble green. Intention sows spinach; accident raises lamb’s quarters instead." Martha Bayne at Belt Magazine.

"There’s no way to be in good faith on this island anymore. You have to crush so many things with your mind vise just to get through the day. Which seems to me another aspect of the ad outside of my window: willful intoxication. Or to put it more snappily: 'You don’t have to be high to live here, but it helps.' Zadie Smith on Manhattan at the NYRB.

"'We were positively encouraged to create for ourselves minds we would want to live with. I had teachers articulate that to me: "You have to live with your mind your whole life." You build your mind, so make it into something you want to live with. Nobody has ever said anything more valuable to me.'" Finally, making a rare exception for this byline by dude Wyatt Mason at the NYT, interviewing my personal nominee for greatest living American writer, Marilynne Robinson.

No list next weekend, though I'll probably be on Twitter sporadically. The list will return on the 19th. In the meantime, thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Links for the week ending 28 September 2014

"If the survivors’ accounts are correct, it would make Sunday the most disastrous day for the Iraqi army since several divisions collapsed in the wake of the Islamic State’s capture of the northern city of Mosul amid its cross-country sweep in June." Loveday Morris at The Washington Post.

"It is not clear whether the incomplete border crackdown has halted the flow of fighters flocking to Isis and other armed opposition groups. But it has certainly made things much more difficult for civilians trying to flee the relentless violence in Syria. Constanze Letsch at the Guardian.

"“The way the wars of our time are fought, as punishing, sustained attacks on neighbourhoods, towns, cities, means assaults on families and childhood,” Doucet says. “Most places I cover young children are everywhere, in Gaza they are pouring out of every crevice.”" At the Guardian, Maggie Brown talks to the BBC's Middle East correspondent Lyse Doucet.

"Children are killed often enough in Gaza that there is an established protocol to mark their absence at schools. Usually, says Marzouk, students make a sign with the name of the dead student and place it on the desk where they used to sit, which is left empty." Laura Dean at Global Post. (Via Louisa Loveluck.)

"It is not focused on the kind of 'culture war' issues that might characterize a sectarian conflict, but rather seeks to achieve several genuinely popular reforms sidelined by the transitional government. That it was accomplished at the point of a gun speaks as much to the failures of the transitional framework as to Houthi ideology." Know a lot more than you did about what's happening in Yemen, courtesy of Stacey Philbrick Yadav at The Washington Post. (Via Michelle Shephard.)

Know a lot more about conflict around the world courtesy of Torie Rose DeGhett's This Week In War.

"As the Editors Guild of India complained in a letter published Tuesday, much of the bureaucracy has gone silent, and journalists have found themselves scrambling to get even basic information from the prime minister’s office, which has yet to appoint a contact person for the news media." Ellen Barry at the NYT on India under Modi.

"Whalen’s case is the only prosecution I could find involving a pregnancy in the first trimester, the early stage at which at least 88 percent of abortions in the United States take place. But it may not be the last. What Whalen did in trying to help her daughter — order pills online — is probably an increasingly common response to the rising wave of abortion restrictions that has rolled across the states in the last four years. " Emily Bazelon at the NYT on the Pennsylvania woman sentenced to jail time for obtaining abortion pills over the internet for her pregnant teenage daughter.

"But the footage shows definitively that Crawford wasn't brandishing the toy gun when he was shot — and that he dropped it, ran, and came back before he died." Dara Lind and dude German Lopez at Vox.

" 'At one point I asked one of the cops, when did people stop being human to you. He said "when they got locked up." Not when they committed a crime, not when they were convicted of a crime. When they got locked up.'" Emanuele Berry reporting from Ferguson for St. Louis Public Radio.

"'Nobody’s been surprised,' at Gonzalez's case, he said. 'What they’re really surprised is he got to the front door because we’re all security experts. We know there are a lot of veterans who are extremely ill and are severely injured and feel lost.'" Katie Zezima at The Washington Post.

"Where is the President, senator, or governor who feels not just disappointment but a desperate failure to connect when encountering young (or old) people who want to know why more isn’t being done about climate change? Which ones, looking at the pictures of the crowds in Manhattan on Sunday, will feel lonely?" Amy Davidson at The New Yorker.

"According to new research by scientists at two British universities, China’s CO2 emissions in 2013 reached 7.2 tons per capita—topping, for the first time, the EU’s per capita emissions of 6.8 tons. Meanwhile, Americans were responsible for 16.4 tons of CO2 per capita. And India lagged far behind, at 1.9 tons per capita." Christina Larson at Business Week. (Via Kate Sheppard.)

"It will ban commercial fishing and deep sea mining in about 490,000 square miles around remote tropical atolls and islands in the south-central Pacific Ocean, a White House fact sheet said." Suzanne Goldenberg at the Guardian on President Obama's enlarging of what will be the world's biggest marine reserve.

"If the surgery had been for a Medicare patient, the assistant would have been permitted to bill only 16 percent of the primary surgeon’s fee. With current Medicare rates, that would have been about $800, less than 1 percent of what Dr. Mu was paid." First, do no harm… except to the national pocketbook, which is there to be plundered, amirite? Elisabeth Rosenthal for the NYT.

"Many geriatric experts say that if the wasteful medical spending on this stage of life could be redirected, it could pay for all the social supports and services actually needed by today’s fragile elders and their families. Instead, public money has been shuffled in the same system, benefiting health care businesses but not necessarily patients." Nina Bernstein at the NYT. Seriously, burn the health care system to the ground.

"Many of the people living with HIV/AIDS in the South are desperately poor. Many live in rural areas miles from a clinic — and they don’t have access to a car. Others have no running water, or even homes. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released last year found that more than 40 percent of those infected have an annual household income of $10,000 or less." Teresa Wiltz for The Washington Post.

"Should that child get in trouble, the principal may rely on discipline software to dole out her punishment. Some software advertises that it can save time by automating discipline consequences." Adriene Hill on data mining children at school. From two weeks ago at Marketplace. (Via Audrey Watters.)

"Students’ labor – students’ test results, students’ content, students’ data – feeds the measurements used to reward or punish teachers. Students’ labor feeds the algorithms – algorithms that further this larger narrative about teacher inadequacies, sure, and that serve to financially benefit technology, testing, and textbook companies, the makers of today’s 'teaching machines.'" Audrey Watters' excellent review of Dana Goldstein's new book. At Hack Education.

"In the 2012-2013 school year, there were 1,258,182 homeless students, according to newly released data from the National Center for Homeless Education." Bryce Covert at ThinkProgress.

"Some borrowers say their cars were disabled when they were only a few days behind on their payments, leaving them stranded in dangerous neighborhoods. Others said their cars were shut down while idling at stoplights." Dude Michael Corkery and Jessica Silver-Greenberg at the NYT.

"One Midwestern rabbi in the Conservative movement, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is raising money from Jewish donors, said he was rejected for a position at a temple after he told the board that 'there’s not just one Jewish point of view' on Israel. Another rabbi’s board put a note in her file saying she cannot speak about Israel." Laurie Goodstein at the NYT on censorship in the American Jewish community.

"Social networks are like languages — they are only worthwhile when they are broadly adopted. This makes an incredibly compelling case for user tracking and advertising, since success as a broad network makes the most sense by giving network access away and then selling the people to companies. This is a hard model to escape." Quinn Norton at Medium.

"The question of how to interview her in a way that doesn't ignore interesting characteristics of her work and doesn't pretend we're in a post-racial landscape where none of this exists but also doesn't treat her as solely Shonda Rhimes The Black Female Showrunner is related to the question of how to receive female characters of color and acknowledge that their race is part of their identity without thinking of them as primarily in terms of what kind of Black Female Character they are or how they fit into the picture of diversity." Linda Holmes at NPR reflecting on the racist NYT essay by Alessandra Stanley and her own experience interviewing Shonda Rhimes. (Via Jody T.)

"If a passenger reaches out to her in any way — say he invites her to dinner — she’s expected to respond with a thank you and give him a business card with her company email address on it. Once somebody sent her a bra with a note saying it would make her look more sexy. She was instructed to send a thank you. Because it might have come from a corporate VIP." Heather Poole on sexual harassment in the not-so-friendly skies. At Mashable. (Via Jim Roberts.)

"While they lived in different suburbs of Morgantown, they were living together virtually in the digital realm. They spent their waking lives posting, texting, tweeting, retweeting—having whole conversations in 140 characters, emoting in emoticons. As Skylar tweeted on April 4, 2012: twitter seems to like, swallow me, at times." Holly Millea at Elle with a longread about teens, Twitter, and murder in West Virginia. (Via Rebecca Traister.)

"When you quiz me on genocide highlights — Were those smallpox blankets real? I’ve always wondered about that — to sate your hunger for facts, I do not owe you a free education of the kind that my university students pay for, and I am not so flattered by your interest in my people that I might unfurl a lecture on 500 years of colonization for your edification." Elissa Washuta at BuzzFeed. (Via Sarah McCarry.)

"Now, I am all of five feet tall and pudgy. With my penchant for pastels and bright complementary colors, I look more like a giant Easter egg than like whatever it was my aunt and uncle were picturing when they read the word 'butch.'" Caroline Narby at The Toast with "On My Butchness."

"The words 'introvert' and 'extrovert' are just shorthands for larger experiences, a quick way for someone else to know what you’re about without having to get into specifics ('I’ve been out for four nights in a row and I usually need to be home to recharge every other night unless I’m going out with particular people and that’s why I can’t concentrate'). But if you break past the labels and listicles, everyone understands that sometimes enough is enough, that sometimes you just don’t have enough lightning bolts." Jaya Saxena at Medium.

"And when Al pointed that out, it finally hit me that even if I did miss out on the greatest love you can possibly know as a human being, I was actually just fine with the amount I already had." Great essay from Kate Harding at DAME on being okay with not having it all.

"I really just wanted her to be happy. I thought summer should be fun, and I didn't like the parts of it — cutting fucking green beans! — that weren't fun. And she was an adult. She could actually choose what she wanted. She could choose fun, and it seemed like maybe she didn't know that, so I was telling her." Sarah Miller at Cafe with "To Cook or Not to Cook?" (Hat tip to Els Kushner.)

"Food is one art form where texture and flavour are paramount; nobody expects their sandwich to have a driving beat or comprehensible narrative. As an eater, you expect to savour the contrasting flavours and interplay of textures. A particularly good meal may be evocative of some emotion or significant moment in your life." Rachel Hartman at her blog on Yes. Because I am signing up to be the first subscriber to her Journal of Crackpot Musicology.

"People have asked if anyone around me could tell I was having a stroke. 'Weren’t you acting weird?' they’d ask, and my husband’s mouth would turn into a thin line, and my friends who joined us for New Year’s would lower their eyes. I was acting weird, yes. But it was New Year’s Eve." Christine Hyung-Oak Lee at BuzzFeed on the stroke that felled her when she was 33, and the long road back. (Via Roxane Gay.)

"I can’t remember when I read, or was told, that he considered it a good thing to spend a short time every day thinking about death, thus getting used to its inevitability and coming to understand that something inevitable is natural and can’t be too bad, but it was in my early teens, and it struck me as a sensible idea." Finally, as the antithesis of that horrifying Nina Bernstein story, here is 96-year-old Diana Athill at the Guardian with, "It's silly to be frightened of being dead." (Via Nilanjana Roy.)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Links for the week ending 21 September 2014

"This was the decision, then, and a large part of me felt relief, not so much for the outcome, but more for the fact that I wasn’t responsible. I could continue being the kind of person who supports the radical movement without having to deal with the consequences. I hated myself a little bit, and I slept again." Lovely personal essay from Morven Crumlish at the Guardian about voting in the Scottish independence referendum.

"Health workers, who have, according to the Ministry of Health, accounted for 8 percent of all Ebola cases and 6 percent of all Ebola-related deaths in Liberia, are scared to come in to the clinics." Just one of many alarming statistics from Sara Jerving's piece at The Nation about the making of Liberia's Ebola disaster. (Via @fpinterrupted.)

"This now truly is a type of epidemic that the world has never seen before. " It won't help you sleep at night, but Maryn McKenna's take on the Ebola epidemic is worth reading nonetheless. At Wired.

"While the combatants scrambled on the battlefield, the chairman of a United Nations investigatory panel on human rights said in Geneva that he 'had run out of words to depict the gravity of the crimes committed inside Syria.'" Anne Barnard and Hwaida Saad for the NYT.

"But on the front lines of Thuluyah, Sunni tribesmen, the police and the Iraqi army fight side-by-side. In recent weeks they have been joined by Shiite militias that are notorious for revenge killings against the Sunni sect." Loveday Morris reporting from Iraq for The Washington Post.

"Some of the men shared idle banter with the police officers, speaking laconically of this year's grape harvest in neighbouring districts. The police officers let them pass; if they had looked more carefully they may have spotted the guns and ammunition hidden under the shipments of grapes." May Jeong reporting from Afghanistan for the Guardian. (Via Margherita Stancati.)

"But in the 10 years since the previous ban lapsed, even gun control advocates acknowledge a larger truth: The law that barred the sale of assault weapons from 1994 to 2004 made little difference." Lois Beckett at ProPublica.

"'In local elections in St. Louis County in general, the typical turnout as measured as percentage of registered voters is between 10 and 15 percent,' said Jones. 'Sometimes if there is a hotly contested issue, they might get into the low 20s, but that is the exception, not the rule.'" Emanuele Berry reports for St. Louis Public Radio on grassroots drives to register voters in Ferguson.

"Speaking to Reuters in a group interview, the heads of police of Dallas, Chicago, Austin, Houston, Elk Grove, California, Boston, and Toronto, Canada said that every police shooting since Ferguson has been followed by protests." Fiona Ortiz for Reuters. (Via Alice Speri.)

"Because there has never been a time in history when we’ve successfully eliminated the abuses that take place in these facilities, no matter how many investigations and reports and waves of reform there have been, I don’t believe they can be eliminated." At The Awl, Sarah Mayeux interviews Nell Bernstein on "The Case for Abolishing Juvenile Prisons."

"The story of Alameda’s mandatory pregnancy tests is really the story of how U.S. prisons have grappled with an influx of young women over the past four decades: with supreme incompetence and intermittent malice." From earlier this month, Susie Cagle at RH Reality Check.

"NPR investigated these tools, also known as spyware, and spoke with domestic violence counselors and survivors around the country. We found that cyberstalking is now a standard part of domestic abuse in the U.S." Aarti Shahani at NPR. (Via Sarah Jeong.)

"There’s not much difference to me between the adjunct crisis in higher education and the labor conversations that fast food and other low wage workers are having. It’s just that we like to see ourselves as different. We like to see our destinies as different. But they’re the same thing." Carla Murphy interviews Tressie McMillan Cottom at Colorlines.

"Working minimum wage for eight hours per day would earn a worker $1,386 per month, less than half of the current median average rent in Brooklyn." Olga Khazan at The Atlantic. (Via Amanda Watson.)

"On November 4, North Dakotans will vote on Measure 1, a human life amendment that says, 'The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.'" At Cosmopolitan, Robin Marty on the abortion amendment even North Dakotans haven't heard of. (Via Garance Francke-Ruta.)

"As we all stood on the steps with our hands in the air so a group photo could be taken, passing white affluent students, who’d largely previously treated our group like an obstacle to be avoided, began to take notice. Immediately out came the I-Phones to post Tweets and Vines." At The Toast, Rose Espinoza "On Being Brown and Alive" at the University of Michigan.

"And there is a translation process that happens there, where this set of ideas of was mostly being used by teachers of color with children of color. Now a multi-racial group of teachers is using these strategies. When someone from your community says to you, 'Look, there are no excuses,' that is very different from when someone from outside your community is telling you 'no excuses.' Although these are very old ideas, what they mean in practice today is has changed." Miriam Zoila Pérez interviews Dana Goldstein at Colorlines.

"The myth of the monochrome Middle Ages, in which the medieval is originary, pure, and white, transcends geographical and temporal boundaries. It is attached, through supposed biological descent, to white bodies, wherever and whenever they go, even into the apparently non-corporeal digital realms of fan-forums, television and video-games." From last month, Helen Young at the medieval studies blog In The Middle. (Via Rachel Hartman.)

"Basement Floor C resembled a boiler room, yet I felt that I had entered a commune of unicorns." So many great lines in this excellent profile of ballerina Misty Copeland, by Rivka Galchen at The New Yorker.

"Expertly employing the tips on how to take control of an interview, he looked this reporter straight in the eye and, with the utmost politeness, expertly skirted all the hard questions about specific parts of the program. Then he shook hands firmly, said thank you and loped out of the room, ready for the big leagues." Sarah Lyall on the NBA's training program for rookies. At some odd corner of the NYT.

"If you send your children to school this week with cheese and crackers for lunch, you may not be providing the healthiest or most well-rounded of meals, but you will be continuing a longtime classic of basic sustenance for travelers." From last week, a short history of cheese and crackers, by Abigail Carroll for The Boston Globe.

"What we found is that the people who were taking acetaminophen reported less hurt feelings than people who were taking placebo, and they showed less pain related activity to social exclusion, just as a function of taking acetaminophen. We see this crossover effect in some ways, that this agent, which known to reduce physical pain, also seems to affect social pain." Naomi Eisenberger at Edge. (Via Nilanjana Roy.)

"Even a relatively light-on-ideas speculative novel for young people (Divergent, say) is about a thousand miles ahead of half the 'adult' stuff on the bestseller lists—get-saved or get-rich Life Full of Purpose snake oil, dumb, pompous narcolepsy-inducing would-be Literary Fiction, warmed-over Dean Koontz etc., etc., etc. I mean this not just in terms of entertainment—although, that too—but in terms of providing useful, interesting moral and philosophical questions for the reader to think about, and test against his own ideas." Maria Bustillos at The Awl.

"'O, I see my mistake, you cannot know our customs, as you were never here before. We shut our men indoors.'" 1905 pioneering misandrist SF by Rokheya Shekhawat Hossein, digitized at UPENN. (Via Nicole Cliffe at The Toast.)

"On my way down Franklin Street, I pass the bar where X. and I were hanging out the evening before he raped me. It’s still there, on the same street as the place where I’m going to report being raped." Brave piece at The Toast by Katie Rose Guest Pryal.

"Sexual assault is a pernicious and formidable barrier to women in science, partly because we have consistently gifted to it our silence. I have given it 18 years of my silence and I will not give it one day more." Also brave: Hope Jahren at the NYT. (Hat tip to Jenevieve.)

" Dear god, Dirtbag Teddy Roosevelt. Mallory Ortberg strikes again at The Toast.

"As Twitter expanded and my own little slice of it grew as well, I called it my front porch and defended its quirks and downsides. But now the magic has turned, in ways that have felt irrevocable." Thoughtful piece by Erin Kissane at her website, and one that will resonate for all of you who participated this week in a short Twitter requiem for an even earlier social media era. (Oh, days of blogger yore!)

"That is the helpful thing with codes; they make their users citizens of two countries, one public, the other a private place where the code is spoken and understood by an exclusive bonded few." Finally, petition to make the event of a new published piece by Carrie Frye a national holiday. Who's with me? At Gawker. (Via Nicole Cliffe at The Toast.)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Links for the week ending 14 September 2014

"These old men, their eyes clouded by cataracts and their ears hacked by machete blades, sit on dirty straw mats at a church and gather the names of the dead from broken survivors. They write each name carefully in Arabic with faded blue ink on lined paper, neatly folded and stored in the pocket of one man's tattered kaftan. The list is four pages long." Incredible writing and reporting from the AP's Krista Larson in the Central African Republic.

"The only government forces with the resources to react, it seems, are the police. A body may wait for days before a lab worker or ambulance shows up, but when neighbors protest the wait by blocking traffic in the streets, police in riot gear respond within the hour." Jina Moore for BuzzFeed, continuing to report from the front lines of the Ebola catastrophe in Liberia.

"But after hours upon hours of scrolling through the documents, it became clear that the ISIS laptop contains more than the typical propaganda and instruction manuals used by jihadists. The documents also suggest that the laptop's owner was teaching himself about the use of biological weaponry, in preparation for a potential attack that would have shocked the world." Dude Harald Doornbos and Jenan Moussa for Foreign Policy.

"But the aftermath is far from what the Americans envisioned. Smoke now rises from those Sunni villages, where some houses have been torched by Shi'ite militia. Others are abandoned, the walls daubed with sectarian slogans." Isabel Coles for Reuters. (Via Torie Rose DeGhett.)

"In common with their fear of the Islamic State, however, the region’s leaders also share a deep mistrust of the Obama administration, rooted in the past three years of increasing disengagement from the Middle East as the United States has sought to distance itself from the turmoil engendered by the Arab Spring revolts." Liz Sly for The Washington Post.

"Essentially, the administration is arguing that the 2001 AUMF authorizes the president to go to war against any organization that ever temporarily worked with al-Qaeda, even if the group in question didn't actually exist in 2001, and even if any subsequent collaboration has turned to enmity by the time the US takes military action." Amanda Taub at Vox.

"A law like this one also makes it easier to deport people legally living in the U.K. on tenuous grounds, and opens up the possibility of McCarthy-style witch hunts against people of Middle Eastern or African descent." Atossa Araxia Abrahamian at Medium.

"Some people told the Council of what they called routine mistreatment by the police and indifference from city officials. Debora Young of Ferguson said that when she called the police last year to report that her car was stolen, 'they came and locked me up.'" Julie Bosman for the NYT.

Elsewhere in Missouri Goddam: "In other words, the Wielands are asking the federal government to enforce their parental guidelines on their daughters. It may sound outlandish, but plenty of people thought Hobby Lobby and related cases were outlandish when they were filed, too." Irin Carmon at MSNBC. And "Backers say the law is needed to protect gun rights, and to prevent frivolous arrests of people carrying firearms. Rep. Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville, recommended that all Missourians be armed. 'We live in a world that's evil, that wants to harm each and every one,' he said." Jo Mannies for St. Louis Public Radio. (Via Sarah Goodyear.)

"With more information, Watts decided that focusing on access to guns, not types of guns, was a smarter approach. She came to the same conclusion that other gun control groups had reached even before the Sandy Hook shootings: 'Ultimately,' she said, 'what's going to save the most lives are background checks.'" Lois Beckett at ProPublica on the death of a push to ban assault weapons.

"This year’s high school seniors, born in 1998 or 1997 or maybe 1996, have lived their entire lives in the aftermath of that burst bubble in a world with few illusions about what their mere presence in school might protect them from. The kids just starting kindergarten, I suspect, will have even fewer." Rachel Maddux at Matter on growing up in the era of the active shooter.

"Holtzclaw’s 'mistake' — the slip-up that prosecutors said landed him in orange jail scrubs in an unremarkable fluorescent-lit courtroom on Wednesday — was believing J.L. was similar to his other alleged victims: all black middle-aged women, but women of a lower social status and with reason to fear the authorities." Jessica Testa at BuzzFeed.

"In a state where hundreds of roadless communities are scattered across hundreds of thousands of miles, and where the storied rates of violence against women can hit 100 percent in some villages, silence is the norm, and violence is almost expected." Sara Bernard at The Atlantic on Alaskan rape culture.

"The arrangement is so common there's a slang term for it—'cuerpomátic,' or 'cuerpomático' (an apparent wordplay on Credomatic, a Central American credit-card processing firm), which means to use one's body — or cuerpo — as a source of currency." Deborah Bonello and Erin Siegal McIntyre for Fusion on high rates of sexual assault against migrant girls and women. (Via Sheera Frenkel.)

"From that moment, Jackie knew that she was entirely on her own, that she had no home, no money and no family who would help her – and that this was the terrible price she'd pay for being a lesbian." Hard-hitting and heartbreaking, Alex Morris' longread at Rolling Stone on the kids for whom it's not getting better: LGBTQ teens from religious families.

"The only thing that binds the bacha posh girls together is their families’ need for a son in a society that undervalues daughters and demands sons at almost any cost. They disguised their girls as boys because the family needed another income through a child who worked and girls aren’t allowed to, because the road to school was dangerous and a boy’s disguise provided some safety, or because the family lacked sons and needed to present as a complete family to the village." Jenny Nordberg at The Atlantic on "The Afghan Girls Who Live as Boys."

"'But what I hear in the street is, "He’s a liar. We elected him, and he’s given us nothing but deportations,"' he said. 'There’s going to be a lot of activists—the next generation of leaders of the Latino community—who are never going to forget that Democrats found them inconvenient.'" Molly Ball at The Atlantic on the deep disillusionment of immigration reformers.

"There has been little public outrage over the case involving McDonald, who is 6 feet 3 and 290 pounds. McDonald was arrested at his San Jose, Calif., home Aug. 31, and the police said there were visible injuries on his pregnant wife." Karen Crouse at the NYT on the only way that Ray Rice is an outlier in professional sports.

"The air bag explosion sent a two-inch piece of shrapnel flying. When highway troopers found Ms. Griffin, then 26, with blood gushing from a gash in her neck, they were baffled by the extent of her injuries." Oh hey great. Hiroko Tabuchi for the NYT on the slim but existent possibility that your car's air bag will explode.

"If your goal is to be happy, the next time you’re not happy, you’ll feel like you failed. Emotional life doesn’t work that way. There are inevitably things that are going to make us unhappy, and that’s not pathology or failure when you feel that way." Olga Khazan interviews Julie Norem at The Atlantic on "defensive pessimism" FTW.

"The multiverse ennui can’t last forever." Defensive pessimism in action? Natalie Wochover at Quanta Magazine on the possible failure of supersymmetry theory, and the search for a new model.

" His experiment, which other scientists say is unprecedented in scale, seeks to gain insight into a question that has long bedeviled biologists: If we could start the world over again, would life evolve the same way?" Emily Singer, also at Quanta Magazine.

"I picked up stones and put them down again, and still not knowing how to talk to men, I informed him that as a kid, I’d named rocks, invented complicated societies and biographies for them. It had seemed as plausible as giving life to a doll, and more readily available." Erica Watson at Vela, with "The Postcard Days."

"Paternalism has fallen out of favor in medicine, just as the approach to fathering that depends on absolute authority no longer dominates parenting. But how we should care for other people remains a question." Spoiler: doctors' children have a complicated relationship with medical care. Eula Biss at Guernica.

"Dancer Bettijane Sills remembered a lobby the size of Grand Central Station, with elevators that could move cattle. One of the middle floors was inaccessible from the elevator, and the dancers surmised it to be the location of the hotel’s listening equipment." Portrait of a vanished era: Rachel Marcy at The Appendix with a history of the New York City Ballet's 1962 tour of the Soviet Union. (Via Nicole Cliffe's daily links at The Toast.)

"Feminists control everything. This just proves that we need a by-men-for-men Patty Cake community. We need to insulate ourselves against feminist lies…about Patty Cake." Finally, Jaya Saxena at The Toast with "I'm A Gamer."

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Links for the week ending 7 September 2014

"The children, now young adults, journeyed with her back to the school, sometimes for the first time since the tragedy. In silence, with their eyes shut, they remembered." Almost unbearable photo essay by Diana Markosian on the tenth anniversary of the Beslan school siege and massacre. Text by Katya Cengel. At Time. (Via Torie Rose DeGhett's This Week In War.)

"Natalia Semeniuk, 14, had to flee her summer camp for orphans in the Donetsk Oblast town of Komsomolske along with other children on Aug. 28, when the shelling shattered all windows in the classroom." Oksana Grytsenko at Kyiv Post.

"In the seventeen years between 1992 and 2009, the Russian population declined by almost seven million people, or nearly 5 percent—a rate of loss unheard of in Europe since World War II. Moreover, much of this appears to be caused by rising mortality." Grim and beautifully written, Masha Gessen at the NYRB with "The Dying Russians." (Via Betsy Phillips.)

"When Adeba Shaker arrived at a house in Raabia, Iraq, after being kidnapped by Islamic State militants last month, one of her captors received a phone call." Benedetta Argentieri for Reuters on the escape of a 14-year-old Yazidi girl, and the plight of the women and girls still held captive. (Link via This Week In War again.)

"'At the moment they feel the law won’t protect them, because the other victims weren’t protected, so why would they be?'" Nuanced piece on the horrifying child-rape scandal in the South Yorkshire town of Rotherham. By Homa Khaleeli at The Guardian.

"The law gives police incredibly wide latitude to use force against civilians if they feel they're under threat. In theory, it's the job of police departments to come up with policies that hold cops to a higher standard for using force." Dara Lind at Vox about the wide variability in training procedures for police in the use of force.

"The young Abu Khieder men who have been arrested, and their families, deny that they did anything illegal. They insist that those arrested had attended protests peacefully or were bystanders." Anne Marie O'Connor at The Washington Post on the Israeli arrests of up to 30 members of a single Palestinian-American family whose crime may be in being related to the Palestinian teen burned alive by Jews in a revenge killing earlier this summer.

"The federal officials said the probe will look not only at Ferguson but also at other police departments in St. Louis County. Some, like Ferguson, are predominantly white departments serving majority-African-American communities, and at least one department invited the Justice Department to look at its practices." Sari Horowitz, Carol D. Leonnig and Kimberley Kindy for The Washington Post.

"It’s hard to imagine how a small, low-income city like Ferguson can scrounge up anything close to $40 million should they end up settling the suit. The sum dwarfs the city’s total revenues for the fiscal year." Aviva Shen at ThinkProgress on how police misconduct drains public coffers — and rarely results in any penalty to the individuals or departments involved.

"Daniel Holtzclaw, the 27-year-old Oklahoma City police officer charged with sexually assaulting eight black women, is also a defendant in a wrongful death suit filed earlier this year." Aura Bogado at Colorlines.

"Not terribly long ago in a country that many people misremember, if they knew it at all, a black person was killed in public every four days for often the most mundane of infractions, or rather accusation of infractions – for taking a hog, making boastful remarks, for stealing 75 cents." Isabel Wilkerson, whose The Warmth of Other Suns would be on my shortlist for required reading, at The Guardian on police violence as a phenomenon best understood in the context of a culture that encouraged lynching.

"I know what I first felt when I saw each one, aside from sick: the urge—a gut instinct, a child’s fantasy, really—to leap into the picture, save everyone, and stop everything." Jill Lepore at The New Yorker.

"What’s interesting is that 76 percent of teachers are still women today. That’s because teaching remains the most common first step out of the working class and into the middle class. So we’re always having new generations of women who are, say, the first in their families to graduate from college." Dana Goldstein talks to Rebecca Traister at The New Republic about feminism and teaching.

"'I know that it’s difficult, because abortion is not accessible to them. But this is not our work. I think this is a problem the U.S. has to solve itself. There are so many resources, so much money available there for abortion rights groups, I think they should be able to work on this. Starting on paper, with changing the laws.'" Emily Bazelon at the NYT on the Dutch woman spearheading the "Dawn of the Post-Clinic Abortion." (Via Jenna Wortham.)

"In a similar study done in a laboratory, Ms. Correll asked participants how much they would pay job applicants if they were employers. Mothers were offered on average $11,000 less than childless women and $13,000 less than fathers." Claire Cain Miller at the NYT.

"In the final evolution of the meme, the soundbite falls away and ventriloquism robs these individuals of the ownership of their own words." Lauren Jackson on "Memes and Misogynoir" at The Awl.

"All I know is that crowds and intentions can turn on a dime and sometimes, like when they are erasing people who look like you or they call you by the wrong name, you can choose to not turn with them." Tressie McMillan Cottom at her blog, on an incident in the life of Black Twitter.

"What else will a curated feed optimize for? It will almost certainly look more like television since there is a reason television looks like television: that’s what advertisers like." Zeynep Tufekci at Medium on the prospect of an algorithmically arranged (as opposed to chronologically arranged) feed at Twitter. (I gotta say, for the purposes of this project, I will be stuck knowing more of what I already know rather than stumbling upon new-to-me voices and perspectives, should Twitter go that route.)

"Astronomers have mapped the cosmic watershed in which our Milky Way Galaxy is a droplet." Camille M. Carlisle for Sky and Telescope.

"Physarum is a gelatinous yellow decomposer which, though it’s single-celled, can grow to up to several square meters. Also, it’s smarter than you." Elizabeth Cutrone taking the Gal Science slot this week at The Toast.

"It did not have to be that way. If diagnostic facilities like those at Kenema had been more widely available, the virus could have been caught as it emerged." Also proving the point that slime mold is smarter than us, Pardis Sabeti on the loss of her colleagues in Sierra Leone. At the NYT.

"No one has ever conducted a physical search for 52 Blue. An entrepreneur named Dietmar Petutschnig is currently prowling the South Pacific in a small sailboat, but his hunt for the whale seems more metaphorical, a kind of personal branding." An excerpt at Slate last week from Leslie Jamison's new longread for The Atavist.

"Although they were quiet children, they seemed excited to see me, and, without saying very much at all they invited me to their camp. I followed them because those were the days I followed people without asking too many questions." Lovely short piece by Jami Attenberg at The Hairpin.

"One December evening, I used one of my most embarrassing moments as the basis for an essay for a 17-year-old Chinese girl who had never desired something she could not afford." Eunice Park at Vice on making a living — and losing a self — by ghostwriting college application essays for wealthy Chinese students. (Via David Hull.)

"They never put their needs first, unless it indirectly serves someone else — a manicure, some highlights. They make sure everyone around them is 100 percent satisfied. Like grocery-store managers. Like customer service reps. Like masseuses who also give free happy endings." Just reminding you-all that Heather Havrilesky's Ask Polly column is at The Cut now.

"I had often imagined what it would be like to be in the middle of an epidemic, a theme I had encountered in action movies and Edgar Allan Poe. But in reality it was different: Life changed gradually, until one day you suddenly realized that the effects of the sickness were everywhere." Finally, a rare personal essay from the NYT's Ellen Barry.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Links for the week ending 31 August 2014

"Lesley McSpadden waits for the crowds and the cameras to leave before she turns back to her son's casket to kiss it goodbye." Yamiche Alcindor reporting from Michael Brown's funeral. For USA Today.

"Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown. Here’s why he probably won’t go to jail." Amanda Taub at Vox. (Via Ta-Nehisi Coates.)

"But that has it precisely backward. What we’ve actually seen is the latest outbreak of white rage. Sure, it is cloaked in the niceties of law and order, but it is rage nonetheless." Carol Anderson at The Washington Post.

"'Mommy, am I going to be killed when I go to school?' Jade Bugett asked." Jessica Bock at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"Women of color bear a relationship to reproduction that is fraught with trauma and state control, a perpetual tightrope that stretches beyond the simple paradigm of 'pro-choice' organizing." Hannah Giorgis at The Frisky. (Via @prisonculture.)

"But these forces operate in tandem—the tear gas and the tickets; the weaponry and the warrants—compromising a wide range of fundamental rights that seem, in Ferguson and beyond, to have gone up in smoke." Sarah Stillman on Ferguson at The New Yorker, and, while I linked to her piece on probation companies earlier this year, there's no harm in reading it again: "'When you inject a profit motive into the criminal-justice system, you’re opening it up to corruption and abuse,' he later told me, adding, 'You are asking the poorest of the poor to fund the court system, and that’s what’s causing all of these abuses, in my opinion.'" (Via Beth Schwartzapfel and Jelani Cobb.)

"For many desperate families searching for missing relatives, Martinez is one of the few law enforcement officials they’ll ever meet who will genuinely listen." In the last of a four-part series by the Texas Observer's Melissa del Bosque and a multimedia team at the Guardian, a moving profile of the Brooks County sheriff at the epicenter of an immigration crisis.

"The truth is this: even today, in America, white privilege works better than most medicine when it comes to staying healthy. Racial health disparities may be a more subtle killer than gun violence or murder, but they're arguably a more violent one. They infect every part of the body and they strike at literally every stage of life, from cradle to grave." Julia Belluz and dude Steven Hoffman at Vox.

"The long history of associating immigrants and disease in America and the problematic impact that has on attitudes toward immigrants should make us sensitive to the impact of “othering” African immigrants to the United States in the midst of the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa." Laura Seay and Kim Yi Dionne at The Washington Post. (Via @bechamilton.)

"The Islamic State, he said, is likely earning some $2 million a day from crude sales, paid in cash or bartered goods as the oil crosses into the Kurdistan region of Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Jordan." Indira A.R. Laskshmanan for Bloomberg. (Via Yeganeh June Torbati.)

"All dozen or so Christians interviewed by National Geographic adamantly shared the demand for a safe zone, akin to the two no-fly zones the West established in 1992 to protect Kurds in the north and Shiite Muslims in the south from the forces of former leader Saddam Hussein." At National Geographic, Rania Abouzeid does a deep dive into the perilous choices left to Iraq's remaining Assyrian Christians.

"As for me, I still believe you can only fight terrorists with what they're seeking to destroy, namely, your soul." Mariane Pearl at The Berkshire Eagle. (Via Lyse Doucet.)

"Mike was 33 years old. He’d been in and out of institutions for half his life, since he first got sick when he was 17. His diagnosis had changed over the years — it was schizophrenia, then bipolar disorder, then schizoaffective disorder — and his medications were in constant flux." The first of Jenna Russell's three-part profile of a man struggling with chronic mental illness. At The Boston Globe.

"Up front, aggressive usually wins, but over time, persistent politeness will change the situation, and often even the aggressive people calm down." There are some misfires here, but also a lot of wisdom in this essay by Quinn Norton at Medium, "How To Be Polite For Geeks."

"It’s that the thing that you want to hear during the hardest points in your life is not always that things will be OK, which they mostly turn out to be. What you need to hear is yes, life is hard and strange for everyone. That your pain is valid. That you are seen. That the messiness of humanity is a feature, not a flaw. That we are all improvising here." Margaret Eby pens a tribute to advice columnists. At Brooklyn Magazine.

" Our standards are pretty low. Can you carry on a conversation? Is your kid maybe not a complete asshole? COME SIT NEXT TO ME, YOU ARE MY BUDDY." Speaking of advice columnists! Heather Havrilesky's Ask Polly column moves to The Cut, continues to be awesome. Here on the subject of making friends in one's post-education adulthood.

"When an organism thought to be extinct is rediscovered—either in living form or in the fossil record after a gap of millions of years—it is known as a Lazarus taxon. In this sense, glass sponge reefs are a kind of Lazarus ecosystem." Sarah DeWeerdt at Nautilus on the mind-blowing phenomenon that is "zombie sponge reefs."

"These images were generated using a cat stencil and entangled photons." Schrödinger's cat, for reals. By Penny Sarchet for New Scientist. (Via @pourmecoffee.)

"The Lost Ladybug Project, a citizen science program that tracks ladybug populations around the country, has noted for years that populations of many lady beetle species have been shrinking or moving around—the result of an unknown number of variables." Cat Ferguson at The Awl last week.

"'The people who read the Mail are middle-aged women, and they look like me. They know what he’s saying. For all the very right-wing, slightly unpleasant populism that the Mail trades in, its readership is actually people who know an unacceptable insult when they see it. They’ve got gray hair. He’s talking about them.'" Rebecca Mead's profile of Mary Beard this week in The New Yorker. (Hat tip to Paige Morgan.)

Finally, if you haven't seen this already, or even if you have: Mallory Ortberg reads "Male Novelist Jokes" out loud, and you get reaction shots of Roxane Gay in the background. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Links for the week ending 24 August 2014

"And while we were still reeling, while we were yet aghast, either time stood still as Ferguson Police teleported back to 1963 or time sped forward and we were all dumped into a near-future dystopia or, likeliest still, today is no different than the day of Mike Brown’s murder. Today is moving at the same predictable clip as every day that came before it." Gorgeous, heartbroken writing from Stacia L. Brown, at her website.

"'You wake up with your face itching,' Moore said. When they start to smell it in the house, they turn off the air conditioning, because 'it comes right through.'" Durrie Bouscaren for St. Louis Public Radio on one family's experience of Ferguson during nights of protests and police violence.

"In Ferguson, Sherry Taylor, 52, who lives near the protest site on West Florissant Avenue, said having sleep interrupted for days by violence outside her door was the least of her worries. She said police had shot her in the back with a rubber bullet while she was in her own yard, and she has suffered the effects of tear gas." Michele Munz and Lisa Brown at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"Ferguson is both what you think it is and so much more." Yamiche Alcindor for USA Today.

"The argument that many in the concerned community are making is that Bob McCulloch, when comes to a choice between protecting the reputation/careers of white police officers and searching for the truth in a case of a 'police-officer-on-African-American-crime,' will choose protecting officers at the expense of fairness, decency and truth." Lizz Brown at The St. Louis American.

"Though police brutality has become the center of this story, one black officer said race issues truly were the underlying reason for these demonstrations. Growing up in the St. Louis area, he said he learned quickly about the importance of the phrase 'yes sir' because police stopped him frequently on the street and asked for his identification." Amanda Wills at Mashable.

"Now, let’s join Michael Brown’s family in rejecting the perfect victim frame. Whether he was a squeaky clean, college-bound, 'gentle giant' or a teenager who may have done stupid things, his life still matters." Jamilah King at Colorlines.

"Violence is the effect, not the cause of the concentrated poverty that locks that many poor people up together with no conceivable way out and no productive way to channel their rage at having an existence that is adjacent to the American dream. This kind of social mendacity about the way that racism traumatizes black people individually and collectively is a festering sore, an undiagnosed cancer, a raging infection threatening to overtake every organ in our body politic." Brittney Cooper at Salon.

"'I tell people I grew up in an apartheid town,' he said. 'The only two places I remember being able to go were the public library and the St. Louis Zoo. Everything else was determined by where you lived and your skin color.'" Jeannette Cooperman with a brief history of segregation in the St. Louis metropolitan area. At Al Jazeera.

"The largest focal point of support is at the Dellwood Recreation Center, where the United Way, St. Louis County government, the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis and others have set up their base at the drop-in center. They’re providing food, children’s activities and an array of resources and services." At St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Margaret Gillerman lists some of the places where the people of Ferguson can turn for help — and the rest of us can make donations.

"The rhetorical value of 'Iraq or Missouri?' is undercut when it becomes possible to show two pictures, taken seven years apart, of the exact same armored vehicle and ask the question literally." Elif Batuman at The New Yorker.

"The federal government argues that giving local police tanks and other leftover war equipment is a great way to avoid the waste of throwing away expensive gear that taxpayers have already paid for. But critics counter that militarizing police forces escalates conflicts and creates needless violence." Liz Goodwin at Yahoo News.

"More surprisingly, HPD rarely believes even its own officers when they claim to have witnessed unjustified violence against citizens. In the same period, Houston cops reported other officers for excessive force 118 times. Internal Affairs dismissed all but 11." From last year, an investigation on police brutality in Houston by Emily DePrang at the Texas Observer. (Via Melissa del Bosque.)

"Ferguson will not be a freer, better, or more just place when the protesters are allowed to gather without cops in riot gear down the block. It will be the same constitutional nightmare it has evidently been for years. We need to expand our vision of what is a constitutional violation to include what happens when the cameras roll out of town. Because even when the world stops watching, Ferguson and all the Fergusons across the country will need a lot of constitutional protection." Dahlia Lithwick and Daria Roithmayr at Slate. (Via E.J. Graff.)

"What the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption considers to be corruption is not what the United States Supreme Court considers to be corruption. And much of what the commission urged, by way of legislative reform, is, in the eyes of the Court, unconstitutional." Jill Lepore at The New Yorker.

"The Obama administration is promising to change the way travelers can ask to be removed from its no-fly list of suspected terrorists banned from air travel." Eileen Sullivan for the AP. (Via Torie Rose DeGhett at This Week In War.)

"In fact, until recently, ISIS had a very different list of demands for Mr. Foley: The group pressed the United States to provide a multimillion-dollar ransom for his release, according to a representative of his family and a former hostage held alongside him." Rukmini Callimachi for the NYT.

"He wonders if he shouldn’t have married, if he shouldn’t have brought a two-year-old son into this world. 'Why leave people behind when you’re gone? I see these people,' he said, pointing to the screens. 'They’ve left behind families. Honestly, there isn’t an Iraqi family that hasn’t been affected by violence in some way.'" Rania Abouzeid reports from a Baghdad morgue. At The New Yorker.

"The new authorization is one of several alternatives under active internal discussion as the administration grapples with whether and how to try to militarily defeat the Islamic State, which controls a wide swath of territory between Damascus and Baghdad." Hey, why not? We have such a great track record to date, right? Karen DeYoung at The Washington Post.

"Ebola relies on our weakness for compassion and comfort to survive, and as it successfully moves from one grief-stricken host to the next, it erodes another invisible bond between Liberians: trust." Dear god, in a heartbreaking month, this might just be the most heartbreaking piece of all. Jina Moore reporting for BuzzFeed.

"Brown’s death allows America to do what it does best – to plumb the depths of its soul in search of meaning. That she seldom learns the lessons that her poorest citizens teach her is another matter altogether, but for those wanting to learn, Ferguson’s critics offer many instructions on how to report with grace and dignity about people no one is supposed to care about." Thoughtful opinion piece by Sisonke Msimang at South Africa's Daily Maverick, contrasting the American coverage of Michael Brown's death to South African coverage of the recent brutal hate-crime killing of a woman named Gift Makau. (Via Mukelwa Hlatshwayo.)

"Now he's in police detention. No one even knows what crime he's accused of committing, apart from challenging the unspoken orders with his act of remembering an event that is supposed to be forgotten." Louisa Lim on one of the soldiers of Tiananmen. At NPR. (Via Anna Limontas-Salisbury.)

"However, we cannot close the malnutrition gap without addressing the social norms and economic rationales that deprive girls and younger siblings of the resources they need." Seema Jayachandran and Rohini Pande at the NYT on their research showing massive inequality within Indian families.

"All of the Indian professors on campus were upper caste as well, and all, except one, refused to advise me on projects and blacklisted my work. I stopped getting invited to South Asian events. These are some of the structural manifestations of caste in the diaspora. Once you’re out, you’re... out." Fascinating essay at Elle India on coming out as a Dalit in the Indian diaspora. By Thenmozhi Soundararajan. (Via Sonia Faleiro.)

"'You’re waiting on your job to control your life,' she said, with the scheduling software used by her employer dictating everything from 'how much sleep Gavin will get to what groceries I’ll be able to buy this month.'" In a more just world, this would have been the story I led with today. Jodi Kantor at the NYT on how scheduling software relentlessly destroys the lives of service workers — and their families.

"'There are many youngsters who only three days after they've been deported are killed, shot by a firearm,' said Hector Hernandez, who runs the morgue in San Pedro Sula. 'They return just to die.'" Cindy Carcamo for the LAT on the murders of children deported back to Honduras. (Via Suzy Khimm.)

"Scientists cannot yet begin to draw simple conclusions about drilling's effects on animals, plants and habitats because 'basic data is missing' on issues such as fracking fluid chemistry, and because of limited access to well sites, said Sara Souther, the study's lead author." Lisa Song for Inside Climate News.

"Whether harassment or discrimination takes place at a field site in Costa Rica or in a conference room, the problem will not be solved with new rules archived on unread websites. The responsibility for pushing back should not rest solely with the victims. Solutions require a change of culture that can happen only from within." Christie Aschwanden at the NYT.

"“It’s a gauntlet. Our very first one, when we opened it up, there were so many structures in there we could not figure out how a sperm would be able to swim from one end to the other,” Mesnick says." Marah Hardt at SciAm bringing the comic relief this week in re: whale vaginas. (Hat tip to Jill Heather.)

"In this phase of human civilization the interaction of the vast networks we’ve built is just about where everything happens. Understanding how networks function isn’t esoteric specialist knowledge anymore than being able to read is." Quinn Norton at Medium.

"The comments have failed us. It is time to acknowledge that comments sections are, most of the time, a disservice to both the writer and the reader." Margaret Eby at Brooklyn Magazine.

"What happens to #Ferguson affects what happens to Ferguson." Zeynep Tufekci at Medium.

"I am affected. This is my truth, so I share it with you. And my dear sweet friends, those of you who have always supported my words, and images and work here, I honestly hope that you're affected too." Karen Walrond at Chookooloonks. (Via Els Kushner.)

"Why so trigger-happy, officers? Are these cops evil people? Violent sociopaths? Racists? Sadists? I suppose some are; all those traits exist in the general population and it’s possible that the nature of police work attracts an undue share of them. But I think a simpler explanation is that cops shoot so much because that’s what they’re trained to do." Damn, this is great. Susan Schorn at McSweeneys. (Hat tip to Rachel Hartman.)

"It’s a song about a movement nearly out of patience by a woman who never had very much to begin with, and who had little hope for the American future: 'Oh but this whole country is full of lies,' she sang. 'You’re all gonna die and die like flies.'" Claudia Roth Pierrpont at The New Yorker with a long profile of Nina Simone.

"Michelle spent many evenings—hundreds, in fact—standing shoulder-to-shoulder with witnesses in a cramped room that afforded a view of the death chamber, where she watched as men, and two women, were injected with a three-drug cocktail that stopped their hearts. All told, she had seen 278 inmates put to death." Finally, a masterful profile by Pamela Colloff for Texas Monthly: "The Witness."

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Links for the week ending 10 August 2014

Beginning the list again with Torie Rose DeGhett's "This Week In War," because it has been that kind of week.

The situation in Iraq is moving fast. Once again, I recommend following Loveday Morris at The Washington Post.

"'How does this end? It doesn’t,' he said." Nancy Youssef on mission creep and the choices the U.S. faces against the Islamic State (ISIS). At McClatchy.

"A few blocks from Dr. Zeyada’s apartment, Younis al-Bakr, 9, sat curled on a sofa, chewing on his fist like a much younger boy. His family said he had not spoken a word since he witnessed the shelling that killed four of his cousins on the Gaza City beach on July 17. Younis and three more cousins survived the attack, suffering shrapnel wounds along with less visible ones." Anne Barnard at the NYT on widespread trauma in Gaza.

"Khuzaa survivors say efforts to flee were blocked by Israeli tanks and that Israeli soldiers shot at them as they waved white flags. Emergency responders say the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) shot at ambulances trying to enter the area." Kristen Chick at the Christian Science Monitor. (Via Rabia Mehmoud.)

"The whole point of an international organization like the UN, on the other hand, is to be inclusive—an antidote to nationalistic displays of hatred and violence. The UN won’t throw bombs back. It aims at solutions beyond revenge. " Atossa Araxia Abrahamian at Dissent on the particularly bitter ironies of missile attacks on civilians sheltered by the UN.

"Maisa Arshid, an attorney for dozens of the detainees, said that the crackdown on Palestinian citizens is only getting worse, with 20 to 30 Palestinians getting picked up every week in the Nazareth area alone. 'All of them are accused of participating in illegal demonstrations,' Arshid told Al Jazeera, adding that 'part of these demos were permitted by the police themselves'." Mya Guarnieri at Al Jazeera on Israel's crackdown against internal dissent. (Via Sarah Schulman.)

"Even as the war appears to draw to a close, the battle over casualty statistics rages on. No other number is as contentious as the ratio of civilians to combatants killed, widely viewed, including in Israel, as a measure of whether the commanders in the field acted proportionately to the threat posed by militants — or, in the eyes of Israel’s critics, committed war crimes." From a few days ago, Judi Rudoren at the NYT on the accounting of death in the Gaza war.

"Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, the highest-ranking U.S. military officer killed in a war zone in four decades, died not at the hand of a sworn enemy but from a burst of gunfire by a soldier in an allied army who had been largely paid, trained and equipped with American and NATO support." Pamela Constable at The Washington Post.

"But, of course journalism suffers. The very essence of reporting—striking up conversations with strangers, hanging around—is a logistical nightmare. We don’t go to restaurants anymore. Some have given up walking. Others have put up higher walls. Kabul as an archipelago of refuge and safety is long over." May Jeong at The New Quarterly on being a woman and a foreign reporter in Afghanistan.

"Within weeks, gang members began to target Exelina. They demanded money, and threatened to kidnap and kill her children. At first, the monthly extortion was $200. Every month Elsy and Salvador sent money to pay off the gang. 'She would call me in tears, saying she didn't want to live there anymore,' Elsy says. 'But I would tell her, "Be patient. Wait for your immigration papers to come through."'" The first of a four-part series by Melissa del Bosque on the deaths of desperate immigrants trying to sneak around Border Patrol checkpoints in Brooks County, Texas. A joint project of The Texas Observer and the Guardian.

"'My family blamed me for my uncle's deportation,' his sworn statement read. 'They told me if I had not been detained he would not have offered to sponsor me and immigration would not have found him. If I go back to Honduras I have nowhere to live. My family will not accept me.'" Susan Carroll at the Houston Chronicle. (Via Lise Olsen.)

"When beginning Chicago Survivors four years ago, Johnson and her team surveyed a single block in a neighborhood just south of Hyde Park, the University of Chicago’s leafy home base. Of 22 single-family homes, 12 had lost an immediate family member to violence. Eight of those households had lost more than one." Carla Murphy at Colorlines.

"We didn’t know it at the time, but we were watching an experiment that tested the validity of the American dream for Boston’s poorest children. The kids we taught at camp and tutored during the school year were growing up in a tough place at a time of widening income disparities. We debated in our dorm rooms at night: How much can we do — or should we do — to try to change their lives?" First of a six-part series from Farah Stockman at The Boston Globe, tracking down the people who participated in a summer camp for Mission Hill children run by Harvard students in the early 1990s.

"In other words, prior to taking Anderson’s urban sociology class, when she is already at least one year into her study, Goffman is unable to discern as class difference the differences among black lower middle class, working class, and poor people. That blackness made that difference illegible as class is one problem that should raise questions about what else Goffman is unable to hear, see, and make sense of; her oscillation between tutor and ethnographer is another." Christina Sharpe at The New Inquiry critiquing a widely praised book by a young white sociologist about young black men in West Philadelphia.

"A new study suggests that highlighting racism in the criminal justice system is not the answer, and in fact pushes white voters in the opposite direction. Even when whites believe the current laws are too harsh, they're less likely to support changing the law if they're reminded that the current prison population is disproportionately black." Dara Lind at Vox.

"Let me repeat: My receipt was not good enough. I have never heard of needing to have a salesperson verify a purchase when a receipt has been proffered but I shouldn’t be surprised. The rules are always different when shopping/driving/walking/existing while black." You probably saw this already, but just in case: Roxane Gay on being profiled while shopping at Best Buy, plus bonus harassment from online conservative mobs afterwards.

"They’d ask me cutting and incisive questions about American political situations (they found the government shutdown as ridiculous as I did), they religiously followed the situation in Egypt with the Muslim brotherhood, mourned Mandela, and trash talked other football teams in anticipation of the World Cup. They also knew what chocolate was (and I suspect the guys in the video did too, but were in on the joke with the producers)." Anthropologist Erin Kane talks back to that video of cacao farmers trying chocolate for the first time. At Quartz. (Hat tip to Jill Heather.)

"Miller is 29, and gets her health care through the university. Her on-campus doctor was barred from even prescribing the IUD, she said, because of Notre Dame’s adherence to Catholic teaching against contraception. The doctor sent her off-campus for the prescription, but even then, Notre Dame’s insurance wouldn’t cover it." Irin Carmon on "the next Hobby Lobby." At MSNBC.

"To automate the process, the team decided to build a robot body out of the most basic components: layers of paper, a thin piece of plastic with a circuit etched onto it, and Shrinky Dinks — children’s toys that contract when heated." Carolyn Y. Johnson at The Boston Globe, reporting on a new study proposing a design for "origami robots." What I wanna know is: do you get to color in the robot, first?

"The crows present a puzzling question to biologists, which gets to the heart of what it means to be a species: Given that hooded and carrion crows can mate and swap genes, how do the two groups maintain their individual identities? It’s as if you mixed red and yellow paint in a bucket but the two colors stubbornly refused to make orange." Emily Singer at Quanta Magazine on the surprisingly difficult question of how species are distinguished from one another.

"My name is Khadija al-Saadi. I am a 23-year-old Libyan woman. I live in Libya's capital, Tripoli. I study in the humanities faculty of the Tripoli university, and I work in my spare time in a couple of local NGOs trying to improve living conditions in the city. I exist, and this is my story." At Gawker, the now-adult daughter of a man who was tortured after being rendered back to Libya by the CIA and British intelligence writes eloquently of her family's experience, and demands that the U.S. and U.K. governments allow a full accounting of their actions. (Via Nicole Cliffe at The Toast.)

'You never hear, "She passed on her own, natural causes, old age," no, no, no,' she continues, ticking off on her fingers. "She's either raped and killed, she's jumped and killed, stalked and killed – or just killed.' Which is why, amid all the death and sorrow, CeCe, whose jagged life experience embodies the archetypal trans woman's in so many ways, has become an LGBT folk hero for her story of survival – and for the price she paid for fighting back." From Sabrina Rubin Erdely at Rolling Stone, a masterful profile of CeCe McDonald.

"Interviewing Cacioppo for my magazine article a few months ago, I naturally took many of his observations personally. One especially fraught time for lonely people, he told me, is when they are in a social setting and feel subject to ostracism or ridicule; it’s then that their brains go haywire, sensing social danger even where none might exist. 'We’re screwed,' I thought at the time." Finally, from two weeks ago, a piece from Robin Marantz Henig about loneliness. At The Archipelago at Medium.

No list next weekend. In the meantime, and as always, thanks for reading!