Sunday, February 23, 2014

Links for the week ending 23 February 2014

"The camp covers an area of about 3.5 square miles of flat, beige, arid land. It's a massive temporary metropolis a little more than 7 miles from the Syrian border that, by the numbers, is now Jordan's fourth-largest city." More about refugee camps, this time at Marie Claire from Rania Abouzeid, who talks to women who have started businesses in the camp. (Via Kayla Webley.)

"Orazulike said he got a panicked email from a colleague who said he was hiding from a mob of 40 people who struck around 1 a.m. Thursday, going from house to house saying their mission was 'to cleanse' the area of gays." Michelle Faul for the AP on a pogrom against gay men in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. (Via Teju Cole.)

"They say he is a conscript serving under their Interior Ministry, and he only has summer trousers to wear. They urge me to feel how thin the material is and explain how it's different from what others are wearing – padded thick trousers better suited for the winter." Events in Ukraine are changing too rapidly for me to keep up, but this color piece by Kyiv Post deputy chief editor Katya Gorchinskaya on police troops is worth a read. (Via Jim Roberts.) Or there's this from Julia Ioffe at TNR.

Here is a short explainer, also at TNR, about the genesis of protests in Venezuela, by Emilana Duarte from Caracas Chronicles.

"Sometimes 'unprecedented' means momentous; sometimes it means that nobody knows basic rules, like whether the judge or the prison-camp commander gets to decide what the defendants wear." Amy Davidson reflects at The New Yorker on how Americans' appetite for long, media-circus trials fails to encompass the secretive proceedings at Guantánamo.

"And he had worn an Osama bin Laden T-shirt, outraging one mosque member who called it 'completely irrational behavior.' That was enough to get Vitkovic, an immigrant from the former Czechoslovakia, locked up in the secretive immigration system for the past seven years without ever being charged with a crime." Maria Sacchetti for The Boston Globe. (Via Liz Goodwin.)

"It will instead turn a mismanaged city rife with dissent into a mismanaged city rife with new potential for abuse." Susie Cagle and Sarah Jeong explain surveillance in Oakland, CA. At Medium.

"The disparity was even stronger among black women, who spent 80 minutes a week more getting to and from work than white women from the city's working poor." Short piece by Emily Badger at The Atlantic Cities on the intertwined legacies of segregation and transportation systems.

"No one in history who has changed things did it by being realistic. My dad always said revolutions never come from people in the status quo; they come from those on the outside." By Kari Lydersen at In These Times, an interview with Amara Enyia, the badass who is mounting a challenge to the re-election of Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel.

"But, under the current agreement, bank representatives have the right to come to customers' homes and places of employment." Do you have a Capital One card? You should probably check out this Yamiche Alcindor story in USA Today.

"It is unclear where the fentanyl is coming from. It is typically only distributed in hospitals." Katie Zezima for the AP with your regular reminder that it's always a good idea to ask who's making money from the latest trends in substance abuse.

"The fear is that many young adults can no longer save for a down payment or qualify for a mortgage, impeding the housing market and the overall economy, which relies heavily on the housing sector for growth, regulators and mortgage industry experts said." Dina ElBoghdady for The Washington Post.

"Noble handed out almost $137 million in 2012 alone -- all of it so-called dark money from unnamed donors -- from his perch atop the Center to Protect Patient Rights, a group run out of an Arizona post office box." A profile of disgraced Koch brothers' operative Sean Noble by Kim Barker and dude Theodoric Meyer at Pro Publica. (Oh, sure, the details of dark money deals will make your eyes cross, but Tina Fey is going to play Barker in an upcoming movie based on Barker's book. Now you're interested, right?)

"'Can’t you think of anything bad about the French healthcare system?' I asked during one of our daily phone calls. My mom told me about a recent uproar in the hospital: It seems a brusque nurse rushed into the room and forgot to say good morning." At Reuters, Anya Schiffrin writes about her father's choice to have his final illness treated in France. (Via Latoya Peterson.)

"Focusing on regenerative medicine’s thus-far-minuscule impact on patient care, however, misses what scientists have already wrought: a shift in our understanding of cells so radical that it has rewritten the rules of biology in less than a generation." Carolyn Y. Johnson at The Boston Globe.

"A prehistoric forest, an eerie landscape including the trunks of hundreds of oaks that died more than 4,500 years ago, has been revealed by the ferocious storms which stripped thousands of tons of sand from beaches in Cardigan Bay." Creepiest short science piece of the week, by Maev Kennedy at The Guardian.

"A whale of an asteroid has gone missing." Silver medal for lede of the week, by Aviva Rutkin at New Scientist.

"One warm spring night in 2011, a young man named Travis Hughes stood on the back deck of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house at Marshall University, in West Virginia, and was struck by what seemed to him—under the influence of powerful inebriants, not least among them the clear ether of youth itself—to be an excellent idea: he would shove a bottle rocket up his ass and blast it into the sweet night air." Lede of the week. At The Atlantic, where Caitlin Flanagan proves once again that her troubling gender politics are no barrier to drop-dead excellent writing. (Via Sheila A.)

"Getting there involved the sometimes conflicting advice of a half-dozen volunteers, a van trip and then a bus trip and then another bus trip and possibly another van trip — they began to blur into one another, all the advice and the trips and the credential-checking — and finally we were decanted at the venue’s media center, where the world’s sports reporters gather indoors to watch on screens what is going on outside." Sarah Lyall's NYT dispatches from Sochi are priceless.

"I didn’t feel lonely because people didn’t know where everyone was that easily. There was no Facebook, there was no texting or cell phones. No one knew where anybody was." At The Hairpin, Lauren Vespoli interviews her mom about the experience of training for the 1980 summer Olympics — the one the United States boycotted.

"Let's not get distracted by the technology, and realize that technology is showing us what's happening in kids' lives, and use that as an opportunity to make a difference in their lives, as opposed to thinking that if we make the technology go away we can solve problems." danah boyd has a new book out about teens and social networks; here's an interview with her at Fast Company by Evie Nagy. (Via Meghna Chakrabarti.)

"She arrived carrying two large bags or satchels. One of them contained two paper bags, one for each of us, full of stale graham bread to feed the elephants with. They like it even better than peanuts and we were uncomfortably popular with them." Via Maud Newton, The New Yorker's reposting of an archive piece by Alice Quinn collecting several letters from Elizabeth Bishop from One Art. (Note to people who know me well: I will still be your friend even if you don't read them. I think.)

A more timely release from The New Yorker's archives: excerpts from the diaries of Mavis Gallant, who died this week. (Via Jessa Crispin.)

The title here says it all: "A Compleat To-Do List for the 34-to-56-Year-Old American Woman, as Determined by Ad Placement on Lifetime Television's Premiere of 'Flowers in the Attic.'" By Autumn Whitefield-Madrano. (Via Atossa Abrahamian.)

"Bamford has long joked that if she had plastic surgery, she would elect to remove the part of her brain that cared what other people think. (And get suction cups as hands.)" Katie Liesener at The Toast "Talking To and About the Great Maria Bamford."

"The Soccer Mom was screaming, shrieking, hollering as though her entire body had burst into flames, like she was a vampire and sunlight was splitting her apart, holes like moon craters blossoming in her head." Sad, beautiful piece by Vanessa Willoughby at The Toast.

"Blondin (born Jean François Gravelet in 1824) had the kind of crazed courage that I have never met in real life, but which I imagine might exist in stunt men, free-climbers and people who argue with my grandmother." Again with The Toast: Katherine Rundell on tightrope walking.

"I want to start very near the beginning of the tradition of Western literature, and its first recorded example of a man telling a woman to ‘shut up’; telling her that her voice was not to be heard in public." Mary Beard throwing down knowledge at the LRB.

"And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight.
and i said fuck you you’re not the boss of me
you’re not the archduke of sleds
Finally, the peerless Mallory Ortberg with "The Teenage Wasteland." (The silver medal in Mallory Ortberg Piece of The Week goes to "Doctors Diagnose Everyone With Seasonal Affective Disorder.")