Sunday, May 25, 2014

Links for the week ending 25 May 2014

Oh, look, another entitled white dude with parental fundage and a gun massacred people. Ain't it great that the powers-that-be collect data on every move we make online — but white dudes who rant about hating and/or killing women (or racial/ethnic/religious minorities, for that matter) on YouTube are not treated with the same controlling dystopian force that meets a teenage black kid trying to get to school in the morning? What is even the point of linking to news stories about it? There is nothing here you don't already know twenty times over. But, here, if you never saw this essay the first time, it's worth a read: I am not a puzzle box," by Felicity Shoulders. (Via @saltypepper.) And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Alas, Ta-Nehisi Coates is a dude, and thus beyond the purview of this here project. But! Tressie McMillan Cottom — who, like Coates, is one of the few truly essential public intellectuals at work in America today — is at her blog this week riffing on Coates' piece and writing about why more equal access to education is not going to undo the effects of structural racism: "No matter what black college grads do, they are more sensitive than non-blacks to every negative macro labor market trend. They are more likely to be unemployed, underemployed, and hold low quality jobs even when they have STEM degrees."

"You might never have heard of petcoke before, but it’s a term that some people in the industrial Midwest have become all too familiar with in the last couple of years. It’s short for petroleum coke, and it’s a dusty byproduct of the tar-sands oil refining process." While we're thinking about structural racism in general and Chicago neighborhoods in particular, Sarah Goodyear's article at Citylab seems all too relevant.

"While the jail initially said there had been no health concerns, multiple inmates say they suffered problems ranging from minor rashes to respiratory infections and fainting spells. Prisoners also described a policy implemented after the spill, which could land someone in solitary confinement for asking to see a nurse too many times." Christie Thompson at ThinkProgress on how incarcerated West Virginia prisoners during the recent chemical spill that contaminated Charleston's water supply. (Hat tip to Sheila Avelin.)

"The European Union is pressing the Obama administration to expand U.S. fracking, offshore oil drilling and natural gas exploration under the terms of a secret negotiation text obtained by The Huffington Post." Dude Zach Carter and Kate Sheppard reporting on why you can expect more and worse resource-extraction pollution in your neighborhood.

"Now—three months after a violent uprising in which Ukrainians were united perhaps by only one thing: revulsion at the tyranny of the corrupt oligarchy that has dominated the country since independence— the billionaire is also the strong frontrunner in presidential elections scheduled for this Sunday, May 25." Excellent profile of Petro Poroshenko by Sarah A. Topol at Politico.

"'You have taken away my right to make sure that my grandchildren know that this tragedy must never repeat itself.'" At The New Yorker, Natalia Antelava on the suppression of observance of the seventieth anniversary of the mass deportations of Crimean Tatars.

"Egypt’s scorching summer heat and dwindling natural-gas supplies are expected to trigger nationwide blackouts at about the same time that Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, the popular former defense minister who led the coup against Morsi in July, is widely anticipated to assume the presidency after elections this weekend." Erin Cunningham at The Washington Post.

"Virtually every one said he had to pay recruitment fees of up to a year’s wages to get his job and had never been reimbursed. N.Y.U.’s list of labor values said that contractors are supposed to pay back all such fees. " Ariel Kaminer and dude Sean O'Driscoll at the NYT on NYU's deal with the devil to build its new campus in Abu Dhabi.

"'The government of Nigeria is not serious,' he said. 'Had it been their children, they would have gone to get these girls.'" Alexis Okeowo reporting for The New Yorker.

"One year she managed to make offerings at the spot where her son, Wang Nan, died on the sidewalk beside the Avenue of Heavenly Peace. The next year she was forbidden to leave her home. To this day, a closed-circuit camera is trained upon that spot, awaiting her return." Chilling account at The Washington Post by Louisa Lim about the risks of telling stories about 1989 in China. Her book comes out next month; I'll be looking for it.

"Such attitudes are leading to a new gender wealth gap in the market-reform era. Evidence is found in legal setbacks to married women's property rights, a sharply widening gender income gap, report of an 'epidemic of domestic violence', as well as the orchestrated state media campaign to stigmatise single, educated women in their late 20s as 'leftover' women." Leta Hong Fincher at The Guardian on the complex interplay between growing gender inequality and the real estate boom in China.

"The Justice Department has indicted five members of the Chinese military on charges of hacking into computers and stealing valuable trade secrets from leading steel, nuclear plant and solar power firms, marking the first time that the United States has leveled such criminal charges against a foreign country." Ellen Nakashima and dude William Wan at The Washington Post.

"But China also uses panda loans (as well as the trade deals themselves) to exert political pressure on countries. " Oh, dear. Maybe you wanna plan that trip to the National Zoo soon, suggests Dara Lind at Vox. (Via Sarah Kliff.)

"So the Bryans delivered their girls in the District. It was a two-hour drive from home, friends and family, but it’s a place that offers the surest way for Lily Mae and Mia Lynn to have two mothers in the eyes of the law." Carol Morello at The Washington Post on why lesbian couples are choosing to give birth in Washington, D.C. And, no, it's not so that their newborns can go visit the pandas. (Via Katie Zezima.)

"Our repeated attempts since 2010 to seek funding through federal grant mechanisms have been rejected." Harvard researchers Michelle Holmes and Wendy Chen making an op-ed pitch for funding their study asking whether aspirin might be an effective weapon against breast cancer. Is this the future of scientific research? Oy.

"Here, Nyhan decided to apply it in an unrelated context: Could recalling a time when you felt good about yourself make you more broad-minded about highly politicized issues, like the Iraq surge or global warming?" Maria Konnikova at The New Yorker on the futility of reality-based arguments. (Via Kate Sheppard.)

"Though the bill is currently known as the 'Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act,' it’s becoming clear that if some House Republicans had their way, they would like to call it the 'Hungry, Healthy-Free Kids Act.' The new object, at least in the House, is to ensure that less food, and less healthy food, finds its way to fewer kids." The previously cited article notwithstanding, it sure is satisfying to see Dahlia Lithwick and Amy Woolard refusing to pull punches at Slate.

"Government officials had estimated as many 60,000 unaccompanied kids—the majority of them from Central America—would be apprehended at the border this year, but now officials predict it will be 70,000 or more." Melissa del Bosque for the Texas Observer with a short piece that sketches the outlines of tremendous human suffering, particularly when you read in an earlier article that "U.S. asylum law doesn’t recognize poverty and violence as credible claims for asylum."

"It is a war that the island’s holiday industry wants to remember and forget simultaneously. Since the conflict ended, Sri Lankans themselves have established a macabre domestic tourist trail in silence." From the previous week, Kim Wall at Vice on the rapid transformation of former Tamil strongholds into sites for triumphal Sinhalese tourism. (Via Louisa Loveluck.)

"You’ll smell the molasses as you walk through the exhibit anchored by a 35-foot tall sphinx made of what the artist has called “blood sugar” and sculpted into the shape of a naked mammy. You’ll also see white people. Lots of white people." Fascinating piece by Jamilah King at Colorlines on the racial politics of art and museum-going in the United States. (Via Julianne Hing.)

"This is the catalogue author’s one and only piece of presented evidenced which he claims indicates a female scribe and possible female illuminator." By Whitney Burkhalter at The Toast, the best piece on controversies involving sexism and medieval art that you will read all week.

"'Why should the individual who has been wronged bear the burden to police the system and then spend years of her life, emotional and financial capital trying to enforce the laws of the land? I am convinced that equality will never be realized as long as the victim has to police the system, be the whistleblower and then spend an average of ten years navigating a complicated legal system at great personal and financial cost.'" Rebecca Greenfield at The Hairpin with the money quote from her mom on the latter's years spent pursuing a gender discrimination case.

"Rather, what troubles him is the potential exploitation of face recognition to identify ordinary and unwitting citizens as they go about their lives in public. Online, we are all tracked. But to Dr. Atick, the street remains a haven, and he frets that he may have abetted a technology that could upend the social order." At the NYT from last Sunday, Natasha Singer on the terrifying promise of facial recognition technology.

"This is because all computers are reliably this bad: the ones in hospitals and governments and banks, the ones in your phone, the ones that control light switches and smart meters and air traffic control systems. Industrial computers that maintain infrastructure and manufacturing are even worse." If you appreciate the chance to laugh all the way to the apocalypse, this piece by Quinn Norton at Medium is for you.

"I want to encourage the building of technologies that see students’ lives and learning not as a resource to be extracted but as something they themselves can control and cultivate." Notes from a talk on education technology by Audrey Watters. At her blog.

"O.K., well, let’s—no, Paula, go right ahead. You just root around in your bag and shout, 'I’m coming!' when it rings? O.K., well, Paula, that’s interesting, but it’s not a solution." Sarah Miller killing it at The New Yorker with "Turning Your Cell Phone Off For Folks Born Before 1950."

"Our youngest had his 13th birthday the other day and I got a wonderful text from my dad saying, 'All I remember about turning 13 is being allowed to smoke in the bomb shelter.'" Tracey Thorn at the New Statesman. I hope the musical icons of today's teens write half so well in thirty years as my icons do. (See also: Kristin Hersh.)

"The sexually fluid and gender fluid don’t necessarily stand up with the rest of the TV-friendly, marriage-campaigning queers and say, 'I’ve always been this way.' I understand that descriptors like that align with how many people have experienced their gender and sexuality, but I have always experienced these parts of me as mutable things that I had some degree of choice in expressing." Great piece by Jade Sylvan at The Toast.

"'Well what did you study?' she booms, her voice a constant invite to a party you didn’t know you even wanted to attend. And just like that, she has the resident’s full attention once more." At Colorlines, Carla Murphy profiles young labor organizer Michelle Crentsil, who amazes the reader more with each successive paragraph.

"Pietro was a humble man who lived in an enchanting region famed throughout the land for its delicious and abundant hazelnuts. Times were hard and chocolatey delights were not for the common people. Still, he dreamed of a magic formula that would enable everyone to enjoy his sweet treats." Dany Mitzman at the BBC on the "modern fairy tale" — and the reality — of the history of Nutella. Is it lunchtime yet? (Hat tip to Els Kushner.)

"I will be there on opening night to see The Fault in Our Stars movie, largely because I am the parent to a pre-teen girl who wants to see it. But when you write your articles about him and YA lit, do a better job. Do it in a way that doesn't diminish the accomplishments of all the other authors working hard out there to reach teen audiences." On-point rant by Karen Jensen at Teen Librarian's Toolbox. (Hat tip to Els Kushner, another badass teen librarian!)

"The story’s first-person narrator, Breq, speaks a language that doesn't make gender distinctions, and, consequently, refers to all characters by the same default pronoun, rendered she in English." Linguist Gretchen McCulloch with an illuminating analysis of this year's winner of the Nebula Award — and how it reflects the real world. At Slate. (Hat tip to Rachel Hartman.)

"In the drugstore I run into ninety-year-old Vera, a Trotskyist from way back who lives in a fourth-floor walk-up in my neighborhood, and whose voice is always pitched at the level of soapbox urgency." Finally, from last year, but they retweeted it this week, don't ask me why — the inimitable Vivian Gornick at The Paris Review.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Links for the week ending 18 May 2014

"These glaciers already contribute significantly to sea level rise, releasing almost as much ice into the ocean annually as the entire Greenland Ice Sheet. They contain enough ice to raise global sea level by 4 feet (1.2 meters) and are melting faster than most scientists had expected. Rignot said these findings will require an upward revision to current predictions of sea level rise." That's from a news release by Carol Rasmussen from the NASA Earth Science News Team. Have a nice day.

"But the unfortunate fact about uncertainty is that the error bars always go in both directions. While it is possible that the problem could turn out to be less serious than the consensus forecast, it is equally likely to turn out to be more serious." In case you're not already gibbering in terror, here's Elizabeth Kolbert at The New Yorker to take you the rest of the way there.

"Four years into a mean, hot drought that shows no sign of relenting, a new Dust Bowl is indeed engulfing the same region that was the geographic heart of the original." Laura Parker reports from the Oklahoma panhandle for National Geographic. (Via @pourmecoffee.)

"No one involved in the brewing court battle over who owns San Antonio’s wastewater is calling it 'potty water,' as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram did in a recent story about the Wichita Falls plan. " Neena Satija for the Texas Tribune reports that the future of drinking water is already here.

"The United States Fish and Wildlife Service says homeowners use up to 10 times more chemicals per acre than farmers do. Some of these chemicals rub off on children or pets, but most are washed with rainwater into our streams, lakes and rivers or are absorbed into our groundwater." Yes, I am subtweeting my neighbors with this piece from last week in the NYT by Diane Lewis.

"There will be only dryness or downpour, no more metronomic rains like the one that kept me awake the other night. Like the economy, the climate is expected to change in ways that only advance inequality: The wet regions of the world will get wetter; the dry regions of the world will get drier." Casey N. Cep at Pacific Standard.

"Although it will vary by region, these characteristics fomented by climate change, don’t bode well for West Nile outbreaks. And although it may be possible to disregard the slow changes happening within our climate, it’s less easy to ignore the effects of a disease ravaging a family." Brittany Patterson at The Atlantic last week on West Nile virus. (Via Maryn McKenna.)

"Ameer has been following the most recent news reports anxiously and closely, as has every literate citizen of Saudi Arabia, but this latest suggestion, that MERS-CoV might somehow be tainting the kingdom's camels, had caused him to recoil. He was not willing to believe it. He was about to do a defiant thing." Great story at National Geographic by Cynthia Gorney on MERS and camels and people in Saudi Arabia.

"One woman, Umm Ahmed, told how a driver for one charity demanded $7 to take refugees' names to receive boxes of food and soap distributed by a nearby mosque." Diaa Hadid reports for the AP on corruption seeping into the distribution of aid for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

"A bullet smashed through the window next to my head, hissed through the hair of my driver but miraculously left both of us unharmed. Since then I have probably become the only woman in the world to convert their United Nude shoe bag into a gunshot trauma kit which I’ve since carried with me at all times." Dispatch from Iona Craig, the last accredited Western journalist in Yemen — as she leaves the country maybe forever. At Index on Censorship. (Via Erin Cunningham.)

"This seemed to confirm what opponents of the A.K.P. already believed—that the government would take measures to help businesses develop Turkey, even at the expense of Turkish citizens." At The New Yorker, Jenna Krajeski on the mine disaster at Soma.

"Most of the coverage of the group has been about 'the amount of people who died, and here’s what the politicians think of it,' says Saratu, a young Nigerian who prefers to go by only her first name, who began the project in February. 'No one is listening to the voices of the people affected.'" At BuzzFeed, Jina Moore on the testimony of Nigerians afflicted by Boko Haram violence.

"Mr. Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party won a historic mandate in the country’s general election on Friday, emerging with 282 of 543 parliamentary seats, more than enough to form a government without having to broker a post-election coalition." Ellen Barry at the NYT on the final results in India's elections, which spell the end of the Gandhi political dynasty, and the beginning of the next chapter in India's history. (Via Lydia Polgreen.)

"Grace, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, doesn't smoke – at 15, she's too young to buy a pack of cigarettes, anyway – but she might as well have had a regular habit. At her job on a tobacco farm last summer, she handled tobacco plants for up to 12 hours a day, steadily absorbing nicotine through her skin." Human Rights Watch's Margaret Wurth at The Guardian on the health risks to child laborers on American tobacco fields.

"The Boston FBI agent who fatally shot a Chechen friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev in Florida last year had a brief and troubled past at the Oakland Police Department in California. In four years, Officer #8313 took the Fifth at a police corruption trial and was the subject of two police brutality lawsuits and four internal affairs investigations." Maria Sacchetti at The Boston Globe. (Via Sarah Jeong.)

"There is little choice for an Afghan Muslim man who is not fluent in English, sitting in an NYPD office and being questioned about his family back home, his religion, and his leisurely activities." Commentary on the NYPD's recruitment of informers among Muslim immigrants, by Rozina Ali at her tumblr. (Via Anne Barnard.)

"More than one in every four black boys identified as having disabilities was suspended in the 2011-2012 school year, according to the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (PDF)." Just one of the many eye-opening statistics in Julianne Hing's excellent reportage on race, disability, and the school-to-prison pipeline. At Colorlines.

"Students shed streams of data about their academic progress, work habits, learning styles and personal interests as they navigate educational websites. All that data has potential commercial value: It could be used to target ads to the kids and their families, or to build profiles on them that might be of interest to employers, military recruiters or college admissions officers." The future is now, and it is fucking terrifying. Er, I mean, here is an interesting article about data mining in schools, by Stephanie Simon for Politico. (Via Audrey Watters.)

"While social media giants like Twitter and Facebook have been instrumental in facilitating social movements across the world, their democratic utility does not guarantee their democratic ethos. They are instead predictably and abidingly corporate; the primary freedom they go to bat for is market freedom." Clear, incisive piece by Meagan Day at Full Stop reviewing Astra Taylor's new book. (Via Dayna Tortorici.)

Do you all read "5 Useful Articles" by dude Parker Higgins and Sarah Jeong? You should. You'll be smarter (and funnier) about the latest techno/legal disasters because of it.

"Student news and opinion blog the Lion covered the grassroots action as the list of alleged assailants—all of whom, the anonymous scribbler claimed, had already been found responsible for sexual misconduct through the university’s judicial process but were allowed to remain at school—spread from bathrooms to classrooms to printed fliers." Amanda Hess at Slate on what happened at Columbia University when the student publication that had been covering sexual assault issues found one of the accused on its own staff. (Via Kayla Webley.)

"Bias in mammalian test subjects was evident in eight of 10 scientific disciplines in an analysis of published research conducted by Irving Zucker, a professor of psychology and integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley. The most lopsided was neuroscience, where single-sex studies of male animals outnumbered those of females by 5.5 to 1." Roni Carin Rabin at the NYT on a new directive aimed at reducing the gender bias in basic science research.

"Unbeknownst to her, however, Colorado’s marijuana law need not explicitly state exceptions to legalized adult marijuana use for such exceptions to exist. The complicated, incentive-based relationship between federal and state child abuse laws obscures parents’ protections under legalization." Kristen Gwynne at RH Reality Check on holes in marijuana legalization that have resulted in prosecutions against mothers and pregnant women.

"I stood there, shaking, gaping at my jeans and T-shirt. What about my clothes said I wasn’t 13? What about me kept telling the rest of the world I wasn’t a child?" Lovely essay by Ashley C. Ford about that stage in which she had not yet grown into her maturing body. At BuzzFeed. (Via Shani O. Hilton.)

"When it comes to kids and recreational reading, here are the questions I have. Look at those readers from 30 years ago. Look at them now. Do they have better jobs? Are they earning more money? Did they go on to higher education? Are they happy? In other words, does reading for pleasure mean anything other than.... someone likes to read for pleasure?" Liz Burns at her blog skewering this week's edition of Kids These Days Don't Read. (Hat tip and fist-bump to Jody T. — god knows we have asked each other that last question frequently enough over the years!)

"Was my two-year-old ready for this? I figured probably not, but watching myself edit the book for her level turned out to be a strange pastime. I wasn’t just editing out the hatred but was also failing to explain why the kids were moving to a new school at all. It was as if I was afraid that mentioning race to her would cause her to say embarrassing things at daycare the next day, something I wanted desperately to avoid. " At Fuse #8, Betsy Bird on the perils, pitfalls, and absolute necessity of finding diverse books for children.

Wait, did something happen at the NYT this week? I kid, I kid. "She got fired with less dignity than Judith Miller, who practically started the Iraq War." Kate Aurthur at BuzzFeed. (Via Miriam Elder.)

"Observing the sharp contrast between this kinder, gentler transition and the cold glee with which Abramson was tossed on her ass today made me hope that eventually we will learn that she was stealing from the company cash register. Because that’s pretty much the only crime I can think of that would merit as swift and brutal an exit for a woman who—good or bad at her job, or, more likely, like most bosses in the world, some combination of the two—represented an undeniably historic first in journalism and at The New York Times." Rebecca Traister at The New Republic.

"To their surprise, she turned up at the noisy Manhattan bar, leaned in close, answered every one of their questions, and told dishy anecdotes about how she’s dealt with men who projected their own biases onto her work. 'It was awe-inspiring, the way she took that time out of her life to powwow with us, without ever seeming ceremonial about it,' one female staffer in attendance told me." Amanda Hess again at Slate. (Via @rsp1661.)

Sarah Miller at The Hairpin writing as David Brooks on Jill Abramson, which wins the internets this week, unless you are also counting "How To Fall Asleep: A Step-By-Step Guide," by Mallory Ortberg at The Toast.

"The Great Society did not just seek to redistribute wealth. Johnson also set out to shift power in America — from states to Washington, from the legislative branch to the executive, from corporations to federal regulators, from big-city political machines to community groups." Finally, at The Washington Post, Karen Tumulty's evocative essay on the fiftieth anniversary of The Great Society. (Via @pourmecoffee.)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Links for the week ending 11 May 2014

"The once graceful historic district has been bombarded into grim lacework by the government. Its streets have been mined, and in some places burned, by fleeing fighters. Its last residents are leaving, except for six Christian families, who survived the siege alongside mainly Sunni fighters and civilians," writes Anne Barnard in the NYT from Homs, Syria.

"Traveling in the front seat of an armored Humvee, the general brushed off questions about a thick black plume of smoke to the south. It would turn out to be a suicide bombing at an army checkpoint that killed two soldiers. The general’s own house in Ramadi had been blown up a week earlier." Loveday Morris reports for The Washington Post from Anbar province in Iraq.

"The flaws in the idea were apparent to planners — the city’s poor would be forced to commute great distances to their jobs, and private developers would be reluctant to build there — but those who were present kept their reservations to themselves, and the belt was added." Ellen Barry reports for the NYT on the ongoing elections in the world's largest democracy, India.

"The 'Bring Back Our Girls' hashtag—retweeted nearly two million times so far by Twitter users including the Vatican, the first lady and celebrities including singers Mary J. Blige and Chris Brown—wasn't created by Ms. Mosley but by Nigerian Ibrahim Musa Abdullahi, a 35-year-old attorney in the capital Abuja who adapted a chant he heard on television there." Elizabeth Williamson, Natalie Andrews, and dude Michael M. Phillips for the Wall Street Journal on a textbook case of hashtag appropriation. (Via Kayla Webley.)

"It was Nigerians who took their good for nothing President to task and challenged him to address the plight of the missing girls. It is in their hands to seek justice for these girls and to ensure that the Nigerian government is held accountable. Your emphasis on U.S. action does more harm to the people you are supposedly trying to help and it only expands and sustain U.S. military might." At, Jumoke Balogun argues that hashtag activism in support of American intervention is the last thing Nigerians need. (Via Jamilah King.)

"Progressives are often perplexed at why blue-collar guys blame their economic frustrations on people of color and not Wall Street or corporate titans. This is a learned response. In the South, especially, ever since Reconstruction threatened to create a biracial democracy responsive to the working classes, economic elites have stoked racial tensions in order to avoid redistributive policies." At Salon, an excerpt from Sheryll Cashin's new book about affirmative action and white, working-class anger. (Via Nikole Hannah-Jones.)

"Like Aziga and Ssenyonga, 52 percent of heterosexual men charged have been black, even though blacks make up only 6 percent of HIV-positive men in Canada. According to Tim McCaskell, of AIDS Action Now, 'The trope of the sexually predatory diseased black immigrant helped marshal racism to harden public opinion behind HIV criminalization.'" At Slate, Sarah Schulman on Canadian law criminalizing nondisclosure of HIV status — and the racism that fuels it.

"The Northwest Territories was fully open for exploration and development, but now, 70 percent of oil and gas contracts went to Inuvialuit businesses—a marked difference from the Alberta Tar Sands region, where First Nations have no ownership stake and also bear the brunt of the industry’s destructive and toxic effects (First Nations communities in the Tar Sands regions exhibit especially high levels of rare cancers and autoimmune diseases)." At n+1 from the end of last month, Audrea Lim reports from the front lines of Canada's "Arctic energy frontier."

"Oil field deaths reached 545 during America's drilling and fracking frenzy from 2008 to 2012, with Texas' 216 reported fatalities leading the nation." Lise Olsen reports for the Houston Chronicle.

"Epidemiologically, MERS is probably like an iceberg, with the severe cases making up the visible tip. But as none of the affected countries have been testing broadly to see how many people have been infected, it’s impossible at this point to even guess at how much lower the real death rate might be." Helen Branswell at Slate (big points to Slate for finding the best woman for the job) telling you what you need to know about the newest worrisome virus on the block. (Via Jody T.)

"The biggest declines happened for conditions that are more likely to be deadly if not caught early — for example, infections from complications of diabetes, heart attacks and cancer." Sabrina Tavernise for the NYT on a new studying showing that death rates in Massachusetts dropped following the institution of mandatory universal health coverage.

"Ever since 1988, the Brazilian constitution has promised free public healthcare to every citizen. '"Health is a private right and a duty of the state,"' said Alexandre Chiavegatto Filho, a health policy professor at the University of Sao Paulo, quoting the statute. 'People do love that phrase. It would be crazy and impossible for any government to change that.'" Olga Khazan at The Atlantic with a fascinating look at how Brazil's immense inequality provides far more relevant lessons for American health care goals than the universal healthcare systems of Europe.

"Latino apprehension about healthcare goes deeper than issues of access. It also partially derives from a long history of preferring non-Western medicine, a cultural uneasiness with the American style of healthcare, and a tradition of privacy and individual pride that makes many Latinos believe we have no need to ask for help." Also at The Atlantic, Amanda Machado explores why Latinos in the U.S. "are the racial and ethnic group least likely to visit the doctor."

"At carbon dioxide levels that are projected for the year 2050, wheat lost more than 9 percent of its zinc content, 5 percent of iron and 6 percent of its protein." Maggie Fox at NBC News on one consequence of climate change: people will have to eat more calories to obtain the same amount of nutrients from common foods. Right, but let's go on blaming school bake sales for obesity, okay?

"The very top of "Big Green" is as white and male as a Tea Party meet-up. It doesn't look like change. It doesn't even look like America. So is it any wonder environmental groups are having trouble connecting with the public on climate change?" Suzanne Goldenberg at The Guardian.

"In the hands of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who writes for five justices, these benedictions are now free and unfettered 'prayer opportunities.' And 'prayer opportunities' are, like 'job creators' and 'freedoms,' what make America great." Dahlia Lithwick at Slate on this week's Supreme Court ruling ensuring that those of us who don't belong to the majority religions in our communities have more opportunities to feel excluded at public functions. Yay!

"Division services like Fair Outcomes and Spliddit offer a mathematical lens through which users can view their own motivations. Will they choose to emphasize envy-freeness or social welfare? If even an envy-free division feels unacceptable to them, are they motivated by vindictiveness?" At Nautilus, Erica Klarreich explains how math can help "set you free — from envy."

"With clumsy and inexact language, or language that chooses to be accurate only at designated moments, the media further clouds what is already the all-too-obscure world of what makes a family and how we get one and, now more than ever, how we keep it stitched together." Jennifer Gilmore at Dame Magazine with a hell of a piece about a celebrity custody battle, journalistic carelessness, and, ultimately, personal heartbreak. (Via Kera Bolonik.)

"She does everything that she didn’t do before. I guess she feels like she has to make up for it. I’m not going to say I’m over it, but I forgave her a long time ago. Now my siblings are the ones who will never let her forget what happened." At Rookie, four teenagers talk about foster care, abuse, and resilience. (Via Suzy Khimm.)

"'I had faith the authorities were going to do something about it,' she says. 'But they got back to me and said there was nothing they could do. The police contacted me at one point and said, "That person who you told us about, he sounds like he’s just concerned. I don’t think you have anything to worry about from him."'" Katie Van Syckle at Cosmopolitan on sexual violence and online harassment at Dartmouth. Tell me, college administrators, why exactly our young people should pay a quarter of a million dollars to run the risk of these kinds of experiences? (Via Maryn McKenna.)

"Her mom, friends, teachers, and coaches rallied around her, told her how much they loved her: 'All that shit that you just wish somebody would have said without there being an explicit reason to.'" From last week, Sandra Allen at BuzzFeed reflects on the homophobic hate crime hoax a troubled high school student staged against herself ten years ago. (Hat tip to Els Kushner.)

"Well, that's the kind of little detail you just know to include when you're a former full-time professional TV critic like I am. I'm in the zone, too. THIS IS WHY I WRITE, I tell myself. FOR THIS FEELING RIGHT HERE. I AM FEELING IT TODAY! HIGH-FIVE!" Heather Havrilesky at The Awl tells you how to be a real writer. For the record, 3:30 p.m. is the point at which I started laughing so hard that I strained something. (Like a real writer would!)

"We have no dominion over what the world will do to us, all of us. What the earth will make of our tinkering and abuse can be modeled by computers but is, in the end, beyond our reckoning, our science. Nature is not simply done to. Nature responds." Extraordinary piece by Eva Saulitis from the March/April issue of Orion, on facing her own death on the banks of a salmon stream. (Via Janine DeBaise.)

"In the immediate aftermath of this failed exchange, I did the only thing I could do: take to my room and fester. I had to figure out what had gone wrong. Soon I had decided the whole project of coming out had been bankrupt – that I had been misled by identity politics into a contraction of the political field to the microuniverse of the bourgeois family. The whole thing had been so petit bourgeois (I thought to myself, petit bourgeoisely) – an embarrassing political miscalculation." Finally, this amazing, wrenching, hilarious piece by Jordana Rosenberg at Avidly: "Gender Trouble on Mother's Day." (Hat tip to Sheila Avelin for this gem.)