Sunday, July 20, 2014

Links for the week ending 20 July 2014

"Asked what he would miss most about his brother, Ramzi looked at the ground. 'Kul,' he whispered in Arabic. 'Everything.'" Anne Barnard is in Gaza and reporting for the NYT along with Jodi Rudoren in Jerusalem.

"In the wreckage of the home on Friday morning, Salem Entez, 29, Mohamed Salem's father, approached the Guardian with a plastic bag, which he opened to reveal pieces of flesh he was collecting for burial. 'This is my son,' he said." Dude Peter Beaumont and Harriet Sherwood for the Guardian. Also, from this morning, the same team reported, "All morning, terrified people ran from their homes, some barefoot and nearly all empty-handed. Others crowded on the backs of trucks or rode on the bonnets of cars in a desperate attempt to flee. Sky News reported that some had described a 'massacre' in Shujai'iya." In addition, Harriet Sherwood reports on the Israeli military's use of anti-personnel ammunition in Gaza.

"They described hours of terror, as tank shells slammed into homes, with no electricity and no way to escape. They called ambulances, but there was no way for the vehicles to get in under the constant fire. So in the end, thousands of desperate residents fled on foot at first light, walking two hours or more into Gaza City." Sara Hussein reports for AFP.

"There were strong indications that those responsible may have errantly downed what they had thought was a military aircraft only to discover, to their shock, that they had struck a civilian airliner. Everyone aboard was killed, their corpses littered among wreckage that smoldered late into the summer night." Sabrina Tavernise is reporting from Ukraine for the NYT along with some dudes.

"Scientists have, for the first time, linked hundreds of earthquakes across a broad swath of Oklahoma to a handful of wastewater wells used by the fracking industry." From two weeks ago, but still news you can use, from Suzanne Goldenberg at the Guardian.

"This begged a larger question: How many of those 70,000 American plants offshored in recent decades, those millions of American jobs lost, had been the result not of a ruthless commitment to the bottom line, but of a colossal failure of due diligence?" Esther Kaplan with a longread at the Virginia Quarterly Review. (Hat tip to Jill Heather.)

"That means a rep could get all the way to the second-to-last day of the pay period only to have a customer cancel four products. Suddenly the rep is below her goal, losing $800 to $1,000 off her paycheck." Adrienne Jeffries at The Verge with "Here's why your Comcast rep is yelling at you." (Via David Hull.)

"Waller reminded him that Parks was a 'sanctuary,' a 'safe haven' for the community. If the school didn’t meet its targets, Waller explained, the students would be separated and sent to different schools, outside Pittsburgh. Lewis said he felt that 'it was my sole obligation to never let that happen.'" Rachel Aviv at The New Yorker with the tragedy of Atlanta's school-testing cheating scandal.

"This is a story about what happened when I tried to use big data to help repair my local public schools. I failed. And the reasons why I failed have everything to do with why the American system of standardized testing will never succeed." Meredith Broussard at The Atlantic. (Via Audrey Watters.)

"All of the highways out of the Valley have checkpoints like the one in Sarita. When the checkpoint means they can't drive to San Antonio, some women go through with pregnancies they don't want. Others turn to Cytotec. Still others find out about unlicensed providers who perform cheap abortions out of their homes. Jill Filopovic at Cosmopolitan, and this is why our feminism had better be intersectional or it is complete bullshit. (Via Cory Ellen.)

"It’s a microcosm of the ways that beauty is about more than who we are just “naturally attracted to”. It’s a kind of oppression with far-reaching consequences for black women that leave us with almost negligible wealth, criminal justice battle stories, mass media accounts of our undesirability, poor health, and impoverished golden years." Tressie Cottom McMillan at her blog on a casting call for a new NWA video.

"Summer was the worst. Holiday weekends were full of needless shootings — arguments, stray bullets, kids finding their parents’ guns. Compiling weekend reports took me 10 hours every Sunday. It was a slog, but it was necessary. This is exactly why I went to journalism school. It’s rare that you get to effect change on such a big stage." Jennifer Mascia at RawStory with the behind-the-scenes story of the Gun Report, which tracked news reports of gun violence over a year and a half.

"But underneath all her work is the question posed in Ursula K LeGuin's well-known story The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas: if you know that the beautiful manner of living you yourself enjoy is built on a foundation of misery deliberately imposed on innocents, can you in conscience do nothing? Her own answer was always no." Margaret Atwood at the Guardian on the late Nadine Gordimer. (Via Jody T.)

"I can’t situate my thoughts in the topography of a big book the same way when I'm able to see the text only through a keyhole, as it were, unable to feel with my hands whether I'm a third or a tenth of the way through; I feel as if I’m on the surface of the text, rather than in it. That hard, glossy surface!" Maria Bustillos at The Awl with a meditation on the latest way to Disrupt Reading.

"I’m reminded here of viruses, which, as Wikipedia points out, can only replicate inside the living cells of other organisms. Facebook benefits when this relationship remains invisible. When we make the mistake that I made—when we forget that Facebook is using our friendships as hosts, and not the other way around—our forgetting is very convenient for Facebook." Jessica Ferris from two weeks ago at Medium.

"But Ebola, far away and ripe for the imagination, has grown legendary—and, like most legends, the truth is not quite as awesome as the tale. But before we wake ourselves up from this nightmare, let’s bask in the mechanics of this notorious killer." Leigh Cowart at Hazlitt (Random House Canada). (Hat tip to Jill Heather.)

"A powerful new technology could be used to manipulate nature by 'editing' the genes of organisms in the wild, enabling researchers to block mosquitoes’ ability to spread malaria, for example, or to make weeds more vulnerable to pesticides, Harvard scientists said Thursday." Carolyn Y. Johnson at The Boston Globe, where the zombie movie plots practically write themselves.

"But he positively bounded toward the Popemobile at the end, like a child who has unexpectedly been offered his favorite peanut-butter sandwich. Refusing assistance, he climbed on energetically, as if to say, Let’s go!" Wow, Matter (Medium) brings in Alma Guillermoprieto (usually at the NYRB) for this nuanced and moving profile of Pope Francis.

"It was there, in 1974, that some co-workers, prodding to know how tall she really was, kicked off their pumps and climbed on desks and chairs and dangled a tape measure down. They sent the figure to Guinness, in London, which replied that she was taller than any woman they had on record but the measurement needed to be verified by a medical professional. Sandy got in her car — which was hard-earned, and into which she barely fit — and drove to her family physician, where the figure was confirmed." Another moving profile, by Sandra Allen at BuzzFeed about another Sandra Allen, who just happened to be the tallest woman in the world.

"I wish that every woman whose actions and worth are parsed and restricted, congratulated and condemned in this country might just once get to wheel around—on the committee that doesn’t believe their medically corroborated story of assault, or on the protesters who tell them that termination is a sin they will regret, or on the boss who tells them he doesn’t believe in their sexual choices, or on the mid-fifties man who congratulates them, or himself, on finding them appealing deep into their dotage—and go black in the eyes and say, 'I don’t fucking care if you like it.'" Deeply, deeply satisfying piece from Rebecca Traister at TNR. (Via Betsy Phillips.)

"Gleaners meet, then carpool to a designated farm, and over a few hours, harvest the seasonal crop — strawberries and peas in spring, corn in August, and root vegetables in winter. After enough boxes of produce are harvested to fill a van, the day’s pickings are driven directly to local food pantries and shelters." Perhaps for some reason you need to fortify your faith in humanity this week? This might help. Kathy Shiels Tully writes for the Boston Globe about a revival of gleaning.

"As it turned out, Brill, his wife, and I were early, so I had a chance to ask how a middle-aged research associate at a giant pharmaceutical company with a degree in history became the Rube Goldberg of rice." Sheer delight: Nicola Twilley (from Edible Geography) at The New Yorker. (Via Paige Morgan.)

It has been a rough week out there. Here is your reward: Caity Weaver at Gawker with "My 14-Hour Search for the End of TGI Friday's Endless Appetizers."

"When I was growing up, my father kept a pronunciation dictionary of the English language by his seat at the table. Finally, this gorgeous essay by Mattie Wechsler on language, the autism spectrum, and her father. (Grateful hat tip to Els Kushner.)