Sunday, January 26, 2014

Links for the week ending 26 January 2014

"The attacks sparked renewed calls for Sissi’s candidacy, as well as an outpouring of rage against the Muslim Brotherhood, which backed Morsi and has been locked in a campaign of protest against the new government." Abigail Hauslohner for The Washington Post on this week's Cairo bombings. I suspect a lot is being said between the lines in this piece.

"The Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad has funded and co-operated with al-Qaeda in a complex double game even as the terrorists fight Damascus, according to new allegations by Western intelligence agencies, rebels and al-Qaeda defectors." Ruth Sherlock and dude Richard Spencer for The Daily Telegraph. Not a lot of named sources in this piece, but worth taking into consideration anyway. (Via Loveday Morris.)

"There is a tendency to infantilize the military men in charge by talking about them as though they were innocents." From Carol Berger at The New Yorker, a clear-eyed and informed look at the brutal realities behind the under-reported violence in the world's youngest nation, South Sudan.

"At the end of the last match, he threw himself across the court to save a shanked pass, winning the game for him and his team. Danny stood up, wiped the sand from his new shorts, and flashed his crooked smile. 'Beer?' he asked." A wrenching, difficult read from Asra Q. Nomani at the Washingtonian on her quest to solve and resolve the murder of her friend, journalist Daniel Pearl. (Via Nilanjana Roy.)

"'We have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the telephone records program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation,' said the report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post." At The Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima on a report by the executive branch's Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board which disagrees with assertions made by President Obama.

"'We’re all thinking the atmosphere is not going to be super easygoing when we get there,' said Julia Mancuso, a three-time Olympic medalist in skiing who is competing in Sochi." By Sarah Lyall for the NYT, and here's to hoping that the event is not a blast for anyone involved.

"Coke reflects a growing view among American business leaders and mainstream economists who see global warming as a force that contributes to lower gross domestic products, higher food and commodity costs, broken supply chains and increased financial risk." Coral Davenport for the NYT.

"The world's richest countries are increasingly outsourcing their carbon pollution to China and other rising economies, according to a draft UN report." Suzanne Goldenberg for The Guardian, and I get a little grumpy with framing that suggests consumers in the West have had some sort of say in the matter of where our goods get produced (I mean, we like low prices, but we also like living-wage jobs and stuff; our opinions do not seem to count for much on the latter), but the point is still a useful one.

"While stop-and-frisk is only legally allowed for the purpose of uncovering weapons, it has been linked to far more low-level summonses and pot busts than guns." Kristen Gwynne for Alternet on the prevalence of stop-and-frisk techniques that have more in common with sexual assault.

"Petchesky's tenure—meaning she can't be terminated without just cause—renders her one of the most protected workers in the nation. Newfield's course load could be eliminated for any reason, even after classes begin." A tale of two professors, by Nona Willis Aronowitz at NBC News. (Via Laila Lalami.)

"We’re talking about a piece aimed at golf readers. So we’re talking about a mostly white, mostly older, mostly male audience that wound up reading a story that reinforced several negative stereotypes about trans people." From Christina Kahrl, an in-house condemnation of the Grantland story that resulted in the suicide of its subject. (Via Mallory Ortberg.)

"McDonnell, 59, is the first governor ever to face criminal charges in Virginia, a state that has prided itself on a history of clean and ethical politics, and the charges will probably accelerate a push for the legislature to tighten state ethics laws." At The Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman, Carol D. Leonnig, and Sari Horowitz on the fall of a Republican star in Virginia

"Dart is a former prosecutor. He wants criminals punished. But he says he had no idea when he took the job of sheriff that he would also become the state's mental health provider." At NPR by Laura Sullivan, a hard-hitting look at how Cook County's prison system copes with up to one-third of its inmates suffering from mental illness. (Via Prison Culture.)

"When he went to prison, Paul had been working at the family restaurant on and off. He had made several attempts at getting clean. While he was at the Billerica House of Correction, his brain began bleeding into itself." From earlier this month at The Rumpus, an extraordinarily moving reflection on the experience of jury duty for a prison-based medical malpractice trial, by Jacqui Morton. (Via Cassie Rodenberg.)

"Georgia’s prison system is still the state’s single biggest provider of mental health care, but Grady is number two, logging more than 68,000 visits in 2013. The police drop off so many mental-health patients there every day, 'you’d almost think they were another ambulance service,' said hospital spokesperson Denise Simpson. " Suzy Khimm for MSNBC on how Republican governors' refusal to participate in Medicaid expansions is causing an ineffective safety net for the mentally ill to fray even further.

"Among black men who had internalized strong anti-black biases, those who experienced high levels of racial discrimination had on average 140 fewer base pairs of telomeres than those who reported low levels of racial discrimination. The combination of high levels of external racial discrimination and internalized anti-black attitudes was a toxic mix." From Julianne Hing at Colorlines, a report on a new study showing how the effects of racism are inscribed on the body — to devastating effects on health and longevity.

"Ms. Cumberbatch said her ancestors were slaves in Barbados." By Kate Taylor for the NYT, a short piece on the connection between a newly appointed NYC commissioner of citywide administrative services and the star of "Sherlock."

"Biracial people are largely invisible as a group; we get tossed into whatever category we resemble most. We’re expected to choose black or white (or Indian, or Chinese, or whatever traits dominate). But lots of us don’t want to quietly 'Circle One.' Some things aren’t black or white. Like human beings." The Toast was on fire this week, and this piece by Steph Georgopulos is one of the stand-outs.

"Don’t fool yourself into thinking that your four weeks does anybody but you and your tour operators any good. Definitely don’t go work with the kiddies for one day. That’s using a community like a museum, or a zoo." Against voluntourism: advice for would be do-gooders by Stephanie Lai, also at The Toast.

"It was at one of these geriatric wonderlands that I met 92-year old Nina who has travelled to every country except Antarctica, has a PhD from NYU, and is so beloved at one particular Red Lobster in New Jersey that they dedicated a booth to her." Kate Gavino at The Toast will convince you to take your volunteering instincts to your local nursing home.

"Google, Facebook and Apple aren’t facing millions in unpaid parking fines, however, because the MTA hasn’t been writing the tickets. Since the shuttles began using public bus stops, they’ve simply flouted the law without consequences." Excellent piece by Julia Carrie Wong at Salon on how San Francisco's "Google Bus" exemplifies a model of law enforcement in which persons get penalized harshly for slight infractions but corporations get passes for systematic law-breaking.

"Then, unexpectedly, Ashley died. Less than a year later, last Thursday, her father received a promotional mailer from OfficeMax addressed to 'Mike Seay/Daughter Killed in Car Crash/Or Current Business.'" Amy Merrick at The New Yorker.

"Most of my stories about China start off like this. All of them are strange, peripatetic tales starring teenagers." At Fashionista, Meredith Hattam writes evocatively about her time working as a foreign model in China. (Via Heather Havrilesky.)

"One of her patents is for a bioherbicide, which MacAlpine developed using molecular compounds found in garlic mustard plants and Tim Hortons coffee grounds." Is this Ontario teenager on track to become the most Canadian scientist ever? You decide. By Jennifer Yang for the Toronto Star. (Via @pourmecoffee.)

"Now, every prayer is a mystery, even if it’s not written in a code that takes two decades to crack. Even the very impulse to pray is mysterious." You've probably already read about MetaFilter and the dying grandmother's coded index cards, but this take on it by Casey N. Cep at The New Yorker is quite lovely. (Via Ruth Graham.)

"This box contained Fairchild corporate newsletters and annual reports for shareholders that depicted Navajo women bent over microscopes soldering together integrated circuits. I had no idea that indigenous people in the U.S. had played such an important role in the early history of computing devices." Lisa Nakamura at Computer History Museum on how she stumbled upon the history of Navajo women's pioneering role in the manufacture of semiconductors in the United States. (Via Sarah McCarry.)

Some of you have asked me if I have any recommendations for podcasts by women. I don't, but Emily Threlkeld at The Toast does.

"I told them the one thing that might finally sever the bond between us. It’s not that I didn’t want my parents in my life but I did not know how to be broken and be the daughter they thought they knew." Roxanne Gay at Autostraddle on the ways in which she used queer identity.

"3. Your Uncle Fred is masquerading as a beloved Russian novelist in a dining car containing half of the most important members of your gentleman’s club as well as your publisher, who currently has on his person a compromising letter that could end your literary career. What tie will you wear?" Dear god, Mallory Ortberg at The Toast with "Choose Your Own P.G. Wodehouse Adventure."

"'There are two kinds of people: the giver and the taker,' he said, as 'Tosca' soared and crashed in the background. 'The taker eats better, but the giver sleeps better.'" Finally, from Katie Johnston at The Boston Globe, this wonderful profile of a local butcher on his 50th year in the business. (Via Carolyn Y. Johnson.)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Links for the week ending 19 January 2014

"The most glaring omission in Obama's announcement was any recommendation on where Americans' phone records should be kept if they are no longer housed by the government. A presidential review board recommended moving the data to the phone providers or a third party, but both options present obstacles." Julie Pace for the AP on Friday's presidential press conference announcing surveillance reforms.

"On a Guantanamo media tour last week with two other journalists, I took a shot and asked for an interview with a prisoner. The answer was an emphatic no. The military cited the Geneva Conventions to explain why. Article 13 of the third convention, adopted in 1949, says prisoners of war must be protected from 'insults and public curiosity.'" Liz Goodwin reports from Guantanamo for Yahoo News.

"Every two hundred yards is another shanty town -- tents, kids not in school, tiny stoves meant for wood but now burning plastic bags. The refugees know this will kill them. They do it anyway. They have no choice." At Medium, Molly Crabapple visits with Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

"'We just want to eat and drink, and we have no money,' he said. 'What have we done to be part of this?' he added, breaking into sobs. 'It is nothing to do with us.'" Liz Sly and dude Ahmed Ramadan at the Washington Post on the reports of starvation deaths among Palestinian refugees on the edge of Damascus.

"He sums up his opinion of the Environmental Protection department’s enforcement efforts quickly. 'If I were to give you one word, it would be "disgraceful,"' Spadaro says. 'They are not an aggressive agency. They don’t do their job of protecting the public.'" Excellent background piece on West Virginia water contamination by Sarah Goodyear at Next City.

"Cece will suffer the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction and incarceration for years to come. This is what I call the ‘invisible shackles of the carceral state.’" At Prison Culture, a repudiation of the word "free" as applied to Cece McDonald and millions of other formerly incarcerated people.

"'It’s not romantic, but it doesn’t matter,' she said. 'I just want people to realize it’s about the alone time with your husband. I understand they are in there for a reason. Obviously they did something wrong. But they are human, too. So are we.'" Kim Severson at the NYT reporting on Mississippi's decision to end the practice of conjugal visits for prison inmates.

"J.P. gently chides his mother for her tendency to assume the worst, and says her worried texts make her sometimes seem like a lunatic. But Norden, who laughs at herself too, can't help it. She never thought the worst could happen to her sons, and it did." Moving piece by Alana Semuels for the Los Angeles Times on the after-effects of terror on one Massachusetts family.

"'I have the benefit of resources here,' Schellenger said. 'They're a few miles down the road, and you might as well be on the other side of the world.'" Short and to the point, Kristen Graham for the Philadelphia Inquirer contrasts the fortunes of an excellent suburban high school with those of schools in Philadelphia itself.

"The effect of '16 and Pregnant' could account for about one-third of the decline during an 18-month period through 2010, the study found. The measured impact on fertility was greatest for black teenagers, who tend to be more likely to have children than their white and Asian counterparts." Annie Lowrey writes for the NYT on the surprising reduction in teen pregnancy rates attributable to a series on MTV.

"'After we got our 10th daughter, we really expected to have a son,' she says. 'But again, a girl came - the 11th. My husband took her and, without my consent, he took her to the midwife, Mrs Song.'" At the South China Morning Post magazine, Korean adoptee Agnès Dherbeys talks to Korean birth parents. (Via Leta Hong Fincher.)

"But babies are medieval. They are from another time, which hasn't changed and moved on with the West. Everything else has been tinkered with until is it as convenient as possible - except babies." Esther Walker at the Australian publication Women's Agenda, writing about "What no one tells you about motherhood." (Via Emily Gould, who wondered if this was an accurate picture of new motherhood. Those of you who've been around since the mommyblogging days of yore can join me in the resounding chorus of YES.)

"As with smoking, there are many corporations that benefit from sleeplessness, he said. While we’re sleeping, we can’t be shopping or working. And what would happen to sales of coffee, energy drinks, and sleeping pills if we all suddenly started getting adequate sleep?" Karen Weintraub at The Boston Globe on a new public health campaign aimed at convincing Americans to get more sleep. (I'm sure the medieval babies, above, will be consulted on this campaign.)

I honestly could not choose between the several great pieces posted this week to Carolyn Y. Johnson's consistently fascinating Science In Mind blog, at Discrimination at Airbnb? A new drug that could erase traumatic memories? Crowdsourced radiation monitoring of Fukushima's effects on the West Coast? Ancient fish fossils revealing the development of limbs from fins? Yes, please.

"To sum up: glass has no minerals, it has no order, it can deform like a liquid on very long timescales, it breaks on short ones. My office window was less solid than it appeared." I think this, by vulcanologist Lynne Elkins, is my favorite of all the Gal Science pieces The Toast has thus far published.

"'He was very focused on the job. He didn’t need to look at the instructions as he worked,' she said. 'When he was finished, you could see he was very happy and proud of himself, and so were we. He almost did a happy dance.'" Delightful story by Laurie Monsebraaten for the Toronto Star. (Via @pourmecoffee.)

"What Doctor Who and Sherlock offer us right now is a chance to see what modern fan fiction would look like if it was written by well-paid, well-respected middle-aged men with a big fat budget. That sort of fanfiction is usually referred to simply as 'fiction'." Wonderfully on-point critique by Laurie Penny at the New Statesman.

"Sometimes I told myself these were my woods, my old running grounds, and so I was obliged to clean them. I also enjoyed the element of absurdity. Picking up condoms, without pay, was funny. (Condoms themselves are funny.)" By far the most original thing I've read all week: Elizabeth Royte at Medium on the adventures of volunteer litter-cleaners in the secluded sex-cruising nooks of a New York City park. (Via Sarah Zhang.)

"Lisa Adams is not a press release, and is not optimized so that a journalist can swoop in, spend a few hours and understand the conversation and the community of sharing, education and support that has grown around her and other cancer patients, families, and other ordinary people." Everyone and their mother had an opinion piece this week about Bill and Emma Keller's ethics-free attacks on Lisa Bonchek Adams. At Medium, Zeynep Tufekci covers all the major points with her usual incisive intelligence.

"The fact that there has been no improvement in thirty-five years can only really mean two things:
1) Those who have promised to bring about change were insincere.
2) Those who have promised to bring about change were not very smart.
You choose.
" Director Lexi Alexander is not pulling any punches talking about how Hollywood treats women, and the result is a must-read.

"Religion. Politics. The Oxford comma. These things should not be discussed in polite company, particularly by people who have strong feelings about them." Callie Leuck at Tin House, giving a fuck about an Oxford comma.

"One would like it to be true; it’s a very nice idea, that there is such a thing as an incorruptible person for whom everything will — everything must — come right in the end." Maria Bustillos at Aeon on royalty, fairy tales, and the literary landscapes of an American childhood. (Which reminds me — who's read through to the [inexcusably out-of-print] very end of Joan Aiken's Wolves of Willoughby Chase series and wants to talk about Aiken and royalty? Ping me!)

" She’s the kind of asshole whose horrible words make you want to be around her more, not less; I wish to master this kind of witchcraft, as I have very little hope of ever becoming genuinely kind in this lifetime." Mallory Ortberg at The Toast on Freaks and Geeks.

"Because as a shy, late bloomer, with a nervous eye twitch, I was not the most cunning linguist when it came to slang for oral sex." Best sentence of the week, by Kate Greathead at The Hairpin.

"Medium cups of coffee ($1.09 each) have been spilled; harsh words have been exchanged. And still — proud, defiant and stuck in their ways — they file in each morning, staging a de facto sit-in amid the McNuggets." Finally, from Sarah Maslin Nir and Jiha Ham at the NYT, the story of the war between a McDonald's in Queens and the gorgeously stubborn elderly Koreans who choose to use it as their daily hangout.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Links for the week ending 12 January 2014

"And because doctors could still detect a fetal heartbeat, state law says Marlise Munoz’s body -- against her own and her family’s wishes -- must be maintained as an unwilling incubator." Columnist Jacquielynn Floyd at The Dallas Morning News.

"The agency, in response to political and other pressures, is examining whether there are feasible ways for third parties such as phone companies to hold the data while allowing the agency to exploit the records, the officials said." This week in People Unclear on the Concept. By Ellen Nakashima at The Washington Post.

"She said the detectives made threatening comments about her husband and children, and hinted that her immigration status could come into play." By Sarah Maslin Nir at the NYT, a witness to a 20-year-old murder recants on the testimony that sent a man to prison for life. The last line of the story is everything.

"'What you take for granted and what I hope you will never have to know is that we humans actually speak ourselves into being. You are your voice and your voice is you. You must speak to remind yourself to be.'" Short, devastating essay at Prison Culture about an imprisoned friend of the author. (Via Liliana Segura.)

"In Egypt, the legal system is strict until it’s not; every rule, it seems, can be broken. At first, the guards said Fahmy could not be seen. But then they were unusually accommodating, not checking IDs or searching bags." At McClatchy, Nancy A. Youssef writes about her brief visit with Mohamed Fahmy, the acting Egypt bureau chief for Al Jazeera English, who was arrested and has been held incommunicado by Egyptian authorities since late December.

" After a tumultuous year at the war-on-terror detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — where the U.S. military’s motto is 'Safe, Humane, Legal, Transparent' — operations are cloaked in secrecy." National treasure Carol Rosenberg at the Miami Herald.

"In a statement released Thursday by Safe Horizon, a victim assistance organization in New York that represents her, Richard welcomed the indictment and said: 'I would like to tell other domestic workers who are suffering as I did — you have rights and do not let anyone exploit you.'" Karen DeYoung for The Washington Post catching the point that matters in a diplomatic row between the U.S. and India.

"But a series of stunning reversals in recent days has made clear that the militant group may be more vulnerable than it seemed, in part because its frequent kidnappings and attacks on fellow rebels have won it few allies." Loveday Morris at The Washington Post on how a coalition of Syrian rebel groups have turned on Al Qaeda fighters.

"Militants affiliated with al-Qaeda have taken advantage of the turmoil to raise their flag over areas from which they had been driven out by American troops, including the powerfully symbolic city of Fallujah, where U.S. forces fought their bloodiest battle since the Vietnam War." Meanwhile, the same Al Qaeda group is retaking territory in neighboring Iraq, reports Liz Sly for The Washington Post.

"The west's drive to reduce its carbon footprint cheaply is fuelling a dirty war in Honduras, where US-backed security forces are implicated in the murder, disappearance and intimidation of peasant farmers involved in land disputes with local palm oil magnates." Nina Lakhani for the Guardian.

"It is safe to say that there is nothing I can do about my relapsing infections. What I have will kill me when I run out of antibiotics that can kill it. I can only hope to outrun evolution until I die of something else." Journalist Quinn Norton at Medium, on the inevitable march of drug-resistant bacteria — inside her own body.

"The British gov­ernment, like many others, is no longer even pretending to care about how or if the next generation gets to thrive. It is demonstrably content to sacrifice its young. That quality is not just spiteful; it is a recipe for social and cultural self-annihilation." Laurie Penny at the New Statesman.

"That includes a controversial type of subsidy in which Nissan gets a rebate on part of the taxes the state withholds from workers’ paychecks—in effect, as Good Jobs First puts it, this means workers are 'paying taxes to the boss.'" One of the more startling revelations in an article by Sarah Jaffe for In These Times about permatemp labor.

"The Electronic Frontier Foundation—and the tech companies that benefit from its ratings—are undoubtedly committed to fighting government First Amendment abuses. But when they focus their efforts on stemming the spread of anti-harassment laws from outdated media, like landline telephones, to modern means like Twitter, their efforts act like a thumb on the scale, favoring some democratic values at the expense of others." Long essay by Amanda Hess at Pacific Standard on the harassment of women on the internet. I'm still waiting to read an essay about how the NSA has a moral responsibility to use all that data they collect about all of us to identify and hold accountable people who use the internet to terrorize others…

"As a graduate student at UNC-Greensboro, Willingham researched the reading levels of 183 UNC-Chapel Hill athletes who played football or basketball from 2004 to 2012. She found that 60% read between fourth- and eighth-grade levels. Between 8% and 10% read below a third-grade level." Sarah Ganim at CNN. Also don't miss her follow-up on the — you guessed it — death threats, harassment, and public repudiation the researcher has received since the original piece was released.

"But explorers are not neutral. They are the shock troops of empire. The lands explorers traverse are later conquered by armies, their sacred objects melted down for gold. Glass Explorers continue the corporation's conquest of reality." Molly Crabapple at Rhizome on an hour with Google Glass.

"'Girls have been socialized into believing they need to be helpers,' she said. So her message to girls is 'Hey, you can create apps to use in emergencies to help people. You can do all sorts of cool things. Computer science has wonderful potential to help people.'" Eleanor Barkhorn at The Atlantic.

"(The person dressed as a hamburger did not indicate whether he was a Christie supporter.)" From Alana Semuels at the LA Times, a report from Gov. Chris Christie's apology to the town of Fort Lee, NJ.

"When you decide you need to watch every single episode of every single Star Trek franchise, and when you decide to write about it on a blog or in a forum, you’re still doing humanities. You’re doing humanities if you write Harry Potter fanfiction to reinterpret the world of Hogwarts as a place where gay romances can flourish, or where characters of color aren’t relegated to supporting roles." Nice essay by Natalia Cecire on her blog making the case for not just the relevance but the urgency of the study of the humanities.

"Of course, if you are a girl reading Oedipus Rex, there is no role for you to play as hero. So if you have a naturally fictional imagination, you might say, That’s not a story into which I can walk. But I didn’t have a fictional imagination, so I didn’t run into that particular difficulty." Another of the Paris Review's interviews from long-ago issues: Helen Vendler interviewed by Henri Cole in 1996. (Via Nilanjana Roy.)

"I mean to live and die by my own mind. If that is cowardly, then I am a coward." A 1943 letter from Zora Neale Hurston to Countee Cullen, reprinted at the website of the PBS series American Masters.

"I think I speak for all girls and women between the ages of 13 and 19 when I say that grown-up male journalists are probably not the best choice to assign stories about teen-girl culture to (keeping in mind those aforementioned exceptions)." Hazel Cills at Rookie.

"Weiner does not take credit for changes at the Book Review, but she does take satisfaction in them. 'Maybe they are doing focus groups, and lots of people are, like, "Could you please not write all the time about whatever Presidential biography you are reviewing for the second time?" ' she says. 'I would love to believe that I had something to do with it, but I have no idea. They are certainly not writing me thank-you notes.'" Rebecca Mead (the only woman in the week's "Contributors" list except for poet Jennifer Grotz) at The New Yorker with a long and perhaps predictably ambivalent profile of popular novelist Jennifer Weiner.

"When I tendered my two dollars, however, the young girl behind the counter turned away, consulted in a whisper with her colleagues, then returned to me and decisively shook her head. 'It’s free,' she said. 'You don’t have to pay anymore.'" Finally, this may be the ultimate example of nonfiction white hipster chick-lit, but if so, it is the genre at its finest. Sadie Stein at The Paris Review living out the secret romantic dream we never realized we harbored: free donuts for life.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Links for the week ending 5 January 2014

"In a conflict in which some 6,000 people continue to die every month and a third or more of the population have been forced to leave their homes, the problem of basic security has almost completely supplanted the aspirations of a once-peaceful protest movement trying to take on an autocratic, militarized, and sectarian regime." Sarah Birke on al-Qaeda's influence on the Syrian war, at the NYRB.

"Using the name so generically and broadly is a deliberate decision not to understand who our enemies are, or to care—if they don’t like us, they are Al Qaeda, and we can stop listening." At The New Yorker, Amy Davidson's spot-on commentary about the Benghazi story and the slow creep of the label "Al Qaeda."

"The Obama administration sent three ethnic Uighur Muslim captives from Guantánamo to Slovakia, the Defense Department said Tuesday, ending one of the saddest and longest-running chapters of unlawful detention at the U.S. prison camps in Cuba." Carol Rosenberg at The Miami Herald.

"The Obama campaign’s tactics illuminate something that is often missed in our discussions of data-mining and marketing—the fact that governments and politicians are major clients of marketing agencies and data brokers." Alice E. Marwick at the NYRB, and how nice to see a list of sources in which women are equally represented!

"But Educational Credit said Ms. Schaffer was spending too much on food by dining out. According to Ms. Schaffer, that was a reference to the $12 she spent at McDonald’s." Natalie Kitroeff at the NYT on the agency that disputes bankruptcy filings for people carrying federally backed student loans.

"His clients pay $45 for a three-hour tour and explore some of Detroit's most famously blighted structures: the Packard Automotive Plant, the train station and the East Grand Boulevard Methodist Church, which features peeling paint and vast balconies." Alana Semuels at the LAT on Detroit's thriving ruin-porn tourism industry.

"When the conservatives are less offensive than feminists, we have a problem. Feminists are supposed to be on our side, and we can’t trust them either." Interview with Mikki Kendall by Kathleen Jercich at In These Times. (Via Nicole Cliffe at The Toast.)

"How do you casually mention you're keeping an eye out for signs that your friend who died is doing great in the afterlife?" Sweetly moving little essay by Jennifer Bendery at The Huffington Post.

"However much the public had tried to situate Tonya and Nancy as enemies, they remained united, if only in their representation of the sport’s old guard, and of the last gasp of a period during which skaters could just possibly be seen as women and not as girls." Sarah Marshall at The Believer lengthily re-examining the old scandal of Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. (Also via Nicole Cliffe at The Toast.)

"But it’s not so clear cut. It turns out that neither the researchers nor their reviewers actually watched the programs in their study. Instead, the 60 participants evaluated summaries of the shows written by anonymous contributors to" Entertaining takedown of "The Hannah Montana Hypothesis" by Jessica Seigel as part of the best-of-2013 roundup at Nautilus.

"This is what I’ve always thought it meant to be a writer. Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them." At The Rumpus, an interview with Edwige Danticat by Kima Jones in which the questions are just as brilliant as the answers.

"That Mitchison's life and works should have been so unfairly relegated to secret history drove home my feeling of books as points of divergence to alternate timelines; that having read The Hobbit rather than Travel Light at that fragile, formative moment of being a child in Lebanon standing at a crossroads of languages, religions and literary traditions nudged me into a different life." Amal El-Mohtar at NPR with a wonderful essay on the immensely formative nature of one's childhood reading. (Via Rachel Hartman.)

"But then I remember that it’s really none of my business, and that being a woman today still means learning how to rehabilitate junk patriarchal traditions in the manner of your choosing, and that the 'Is This Feminist' question almost always says less about the person in question than it does about the person writing from behind the screen." Jia Tolentino at The Hairpin.

"There’s a book inside of you. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry." Mallory Ortberg at The Toast.

"Undertaking a hoax must be similar to embarking on any other creative project: In the beginning perfection seems possible, a destination you might reach by keeping to a direct, straight line." Finally, in case you missed it the first time (as I did), Carrie Frye at The Awl (where this reader, for one, sorely misses her editorial presence) with a piece from last February: "How To Give Birth To A Rabbit."