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.")

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Links for the week ending 16 February 2014

"The gun industry, ALEC, the gun manufacturers, the NRA—they're using this fear to fuel the massive number of firearms. The gun industry is making tons and tons of money off the fear of this nation." From earlier this month, Ta-Nehisi Coates interviews Jordan Davis' mother, Lucia McBath. (Via Colorlines.)

"Black parenting is, in part, about managing daily precarity and about the pain of borrowed time. But it’s also more importantly, I think, about love: the fierce & abiding kind born out of the knowledge that tomorrow is not promised." At her blog, Prison Culture reflects after the mistrial rendered against Michael Dunn for the murder of Jordan Davis.

"Even though the kids at Troy Buchanan don’t appear to be traumatized by the drill, many of them have adopted a verbal tic: 'When it happens, I’ll know what to do.' Or, 'When it comes, I won’t be frozen in my tracks.' They seem to have internalized the idea that a school shooting is inevitable—it’s not a question of 'if,' but 'when.'" Nona Willis Aronowitz at NBC News on students participating in an "active shooter" drill in Missouri. (Via Audrey Watters.)

"Jaylianna started screaming almost as soon as she got in. 'She was screaming in the tub like she was hurting. I said: "Oh my gosh, it’s burning her alive," Elswick said. 'She screamed and all around her face and her hair where the water runs down was just big red, thick red marks.'" Suzanne Goldenberg for the Guardian on the consequences of the West Virginia water contamination.

"No one I spoke to — not the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, not academics, not even the refugees — denies that the standard of living here is exceptionally high. When I later listed the amenities to a refugee expert, she replied, 'I’ve never heard of such a thing.'" Mac McClelland at the NYT on a refugee camp set up by the Turkish government for Syrians fleeing across the border.

"Several thousand Haitians still live in (now tattered) tents provided as part of the relief effort." For everyone who still remembers McClelland's searing reportage from Haitian refugee camps after the earthquake, this post from Vijaya Ramachandran at the Center for Global Development is a sobering update. (Via Brian Concannon.)

"Hundreds of Eritrean refugees have been enslaved in torture camps in Sudan and Egypt in the past 10 years, enduring weeks or months of violence and rape and extorted by traffickers often in collusion with state security forces." Harriet Sherwood for the Guardian on a new Human Rights Watch report.

"Five war-on-terror captives locked up inside Guantánamo prison have designed a self-sufficient agricultural business west of Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. They envision a community of 200 families, 100 farmhouses, 10 cows, 500 chickens, 50 sheep, a honey bee subsidiary and computer system powered by windmills." Carol Rosenberg at The Miami Herald.

"The CIA drones watching him cannot strike because he’s a U.S. citizen. The Pentagon drones that could are barred from the country where he’s hiding, and the Justice Department has not yet finished building a case against him." Kimberly Dozier for the AP on a case in which the U.S. is not easily able to, you know, execute an American citizen without trial.

"In Sadr City, an impoverished Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad, local council head Kamil Khanjar said growing frustration among youth could drive them to take up arms. Car bombs strike at least every 10 days and unemployment is about 25 percent, he said." Loveday Morris at The Washington Post on the escalating, horrifying levels of violence in Iraq.

"Video footage appeared to show the flash and boom of mortar rounds slamming into the ground just metres from the vehicles of an aid convoy. The bombardment destroyed two trucks and killed five civilians who had left their homes to receive food and medical supplies." Ruth Sherlock at The Telegraph on the bombardment of an aid convoy that Geneva peace talks had negotiated for the besieged Syrian city of Homs.

"Now, however, the news that The Hindus has been withdrawn is all over the news and sites where you can download pirated versions of the book are circulating freely. Clearly, it isn’t quite so easy to bury a book, even if it is written by an academic and isn’t a thumping bestseller." Deepanjana Pal at Firstpost on the ironic consequences of Penguin India's decision to withdraw and pulp a book by American academic Wendy Doniger, whose From Jerusalem to Benares is one of the most illuminating books I've ever read. (Via Nilanjana Roy.) For more on Doniger's chief self-appointed opponent, here is Ellen Barry at the NYT.

"Christian Kalin of Henley & Partners, which describes itself as ‘the global leader in residence and citizenship planning’, agrees that the market will grow but sees states becoming more closed, more unequal, and more concerned with restricting people’s movement. ‘Why do we have borders? It’s to keep people where they are,’ he said. ‘It’s like in the Middle Ages, but more sophisticated.’" Atossa Araxia Abrahamian at the London Review of Books on Malta's plan to go into the citizenship business.

"'She was in the grip of something beyond her control, but I would get angry and I would feel shame,' Ms. Hale said. 'My friends would be bragging to me about their kids’ getting accepted to college, and what was I supposed to say? "She only put one needle in her arm today"?'" From Deborah Sontag at the NYT, a wrenching account of one mother's attempts to come to terms with her daughter's death from a heroin overdose. (Via Jim Roberts.)

"Matt Soulier, a juvenile forensic psychiatrist at UC Davis’ MIND Institute, said he sometimes finds himself wishing his patients would break the law. Once they’re in the juvenile justice system, he said, they have much better access to mental health treatments." Jocelyn Wiener and dude Phillip Reese for The Sacramento Bee on California's steep increase in children's mental health hospitalizations.

"One of the first speakers of the morning opened with a booming, Southern, 'Shabbat Shalom, y’all.' An imam spoke eloquently of civil rights. An astute 11-year-old friend observed that when so many religious leaders can agree so much about moral truths, 'The speeches can be much shorter.'" So many great little observations here in Dahlia Lithwick's report for Slate on North Carolina's "Moral Monday" progressive-religious coalition protests in front of the state house. (Via Jody T.)

"To be more specific, we widely accept second-rate care for women when there is a Christian excuse." Jill Filipovic at Al Jazeera America on the acute dangers that Catholic hospitals present to women. (Hat tip to Jill Heather.)

"All of which made the implication from Armstrong that the saving of her life was an extravagant option, an oversize burden on the company bottom line, feel like a cruel violation, no less brutal for the ludicrousness of his contention." If you haven't seen it already, the essay by novelist Deanna Fei, mother of one of the "distressed babies" in AOL CEO Tim Armstrong's infamous benefit-cutting speech. At Slate. Amy Davidson's commentary on the article for The New Yorker is also worth your time.

"You didn’t ask directly about gender, but I’ll answer anyway: I stuck with men for a more personal reason, which is that my experience as a child was with a female alcoholic and the subject was just too painful for me." Interview by Michele Filgate with Olivia Laing on the latter's new book about alcoholic American writers, at BuzzFeed. (Via @_Xtin_)

"This was the post-war cuckoo: a clandestine bird of deception and quiet murder. The enemy within. Knight, naturalist and counter-subversion specialist, was, of course, desperate to own one. An essay at Aeon from last year by Helen Macdonald about a spy, a cuckoo, and the ways in which "our understanding of animals is deeply influenced by the cultures in which we live." (Also via @_Xtin_.)

"Reading Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, you get the feeling at times like you're viewing the whole world from high above, where suddenly the connections between countries and actions, both past and present, are drawn clear as the lines indicating plays on Sportscenter." Mary Mann at Bookslut on one of the great books of the twentieth century.

"Kolbert’s tone, crystalline, reserved, sits like a pane of glass in a darkened window. It could be that dwelling in geologic time, as you must do to write about extinction, is good for perspective but bad for action; the arc of the actual universe is so long it bends toward fatalism." If there's a better book reviewer than Kathryn Schulz working out there, I have yet to hear about her. At Vulture, on Elizabeth Kolbert's new book on extinctions.

"'I told my mom, the way you married my sisters, when they were eleven, twelve, fifteen, please don’t do the same to me.'" Longread by Meera Subramanian at VQR on the people in the trenches working to address India's violent gender inequalities.

"My name is a burden. My name is a burden. My name is a burden. I am a burden." I missed this the first time around, and it should not be missed: from January at The Toast, by Tasbeeh Herwes.

"Sobriety could be a form of radical resistance to a world that wants us to be too drunk or too high to really feel the pain. What might we call for if we weren’t numbed?" By Jen Manion at the Advocate, a short, sharp, perfect essay on sobriety as queer practice. (Via Virginia C. McGuire.)

"All screwball comedies are, to some degree, female revenge movies, in that one of the genre’s characteristic plots pits a hyperarticulate, slightly hysterical protagonist (not always a woman, sometimes Cary Grant) against a ponderous, unsophisticated male character whose ego is pummeled, punctured, and deflated as a primary source of humor." There is a lot of great stuff here in n+1's "Vengeance Is Hers" series, but I particularly loved Namara Smith's essay about The Lady Eve"

"But Rowling’s announcement has forced us all to take a revising eye to her books—so drastic the change she suggested—and I might as well shake my version out and see if it still fits." For all of you who participated in the great Harry Potter threads of yore, with love: Molly McArdle at The Toast asking, "Where Do Books Go After They End?"

"It is deeply bothersome to us to see women printing money if they don't have enough gold to back it up. It is disturbing to see women acquiring any sort of beauty-value that their bodies and faces can't trade on." Finally, this very smart essay by The Hairpin's endlessly versatile Jia Tolentino on the beauty standard and the gold standard.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Links for the week ending 9 February 2014

"Thousands of Muslims left Bangui in a massive convoy Friday that was jeered by crowds of Christians. One Muslim who fell off a truck was quickly was quickly killed by the mob. Muslim women who could not get on the trucks tried to hand their children to strangers aboard the vehicles. Krista Larson, West Africa correspondent for the AP, on pogroms in the Central African Republic. On Twitter, Larson links to this background piece by Lousia Lombard at African Arguments.

"Al-Qaeda formally dissociated itself from its onetime affiliate in Iraq and Syria on Monday, culminating months of feuding and exposing the dwindling influence of the group’s leadership over an emerging new generation of radicals." Liz Sly at The Washington Post.

"That incident, and other strikes that have followed, helped fuel anger here over civilian casualties from the U.S. drone campaign and what critics say is an even less-scrutinized problem: the targeting of suspects who are within the reach of the law." Abigail Hauslohner writing about Yemen for The Washington Post, which — you've probably noticed by now! — has a lot of very impressive women on its staff. (Ezra who?)

"'Well, imagine if your cat came to you and started talking,' Kotler explained. 'First of all, it’s a cat, and it’s talking. Second, all these years, the government fed it, gave it water, petted it, and now it’s talking and demanding something. It’s a shock. We have to get used to it.'" Dear god, the quotes in this story by Julia Ioffe at The New Republic on Vladimir Putin's Russia!

"I became a worse person. When criminals exploit a brutal animalistic rule of life in the country, we all become worse, much worse. We become ready for horrible things." Translation of a heartfelt plea to the citizens of Ukraine by Tatiana Chornovil, at Voices of Ukraine. (Via Jim Roberts.)

"In 2006, a senior U.S. official said, the NSA was collecting “closer to 100” percent of Americans’ phone records from a number of U.S. companies under a then-classified program, but as of last summer that share had plummeted to less than 30 percent." Ellen Nakashima for The Washington Post.

"The company documents show that, while Hayes was studying atrazine, Syngenta was studying him, as he had long suspected. Syngenta’s public-relations team had drafted a list of four goals. The first was “discredit Hayes.”" Rachel Aviv's long profile of scientist Tyrone Hayes neatly encapsulates pretty much everything that is wrong with the way we mistake corporate muscle for scientific authority now. (Via Jody T.)

"The report compared what children may be feeling today to the distress suffered by American and Russian children over the threat of the nuclear bomb in the 1950s during the Cold War era, saying that climate change could have the same destructive impact." An op-ed by Marlene Cimons at LiveScience on the mental illness and emotional distress that arrive hand-in-hand with climate change. (Via Allan Margolin.)

"You heard that right. The arms crawl in opposite directions, until they tear away from the body and their insides spill out. And unlike most starfish, the arms don’t regenerate. Stars that came in with symptoms died within 24 hours." ([We pause for a collective intake of breath from all the L'Engle fans.] At PBS News Hour, a transcript of Katie Campbell's report about the massive die-off of starfish along the West Coast.

"It can take millions of gallons of fresh water to frack a single well, and much of the drilling is tightly concentrated in areas where water is in chronically short supply, or where there have been multi-year droughts." Suzanne Goldenberg for The Guardian.

"Researchers in Atlanta interviewed more than 8,000 inner-city residents and found that about two-thirds said they had been violently attacked and that half knew someone who had been murdered. At least 1 in 3 of those interviewed experienced symptoms consistent with PTSD at some point in their lives – and that’s a 'conservative estimate,' said Dr. Kerry Ressler, the lead investigator on the project." Lois Beckett writing for ProPublica's series on gun violence.

"Robert Akerlof was born in the summer of 1981. The next semester, Yellen taught a class on applied international economics, according to university records. By the next spring, she was back to teaching two courses and published two more papers that year. Yellen earned tenure just after Robert’s first birthday." Ylan Q. Mui at The Washington Post on Fed chief Janet Yellen's hard road to the top of her profession. (Via Heidi Moore.)

"But having teammates who refuse to wear the T-shirt is only half of the problem with wrapping an identity around desire. Here’s the other: desire is not a fixed or reliable compass. It varies, usually not in a willed way." Great E.J. Graff essay at The Nation making a compelling case for defending and defining gay identity as a choice rather than solely relying on the "born this way" narrative.

"What 'I Forgot to Remember' is, however, is unnervingly honest, straightforward to a degree that makes every other memoir I’ve read seem evasive, self-conscious and preening. It is utterly free of signs that Meck wants her reader to think of the book in a particular way or to view her as a certain type of person." Intriguing review by Laura Miller at Salon of a book about the aftermath of total amnesia.

"Over the three years that I've being following Qatar Airways, I have met Swedish girls my own age who are terrified to talk about their work, even anonymously. Swedish girls who have grown up with freedom of the press, employment laws and freedom of speech but who wouldn't even dare reply to an email from a journalist to say 'no, thank you'." From Swedish newspaper Expressen, Johanna Karlsson documents the Orwellian ordeal of working for Qatar Airways. (Hat tip to Jill Heather.)

"And once you reach this pinnacle of saving virtue, how long would it take you to reach your goal of $2.2mn for retirement? Only a mere 110 years. " At The Guardian, Heidi Moore is very funny on the disconnect between retirement advice and, you know, math.

"Shanghai and three cities in Zhejiang Province, the hardest hit by the current outbreak of H7N9, have now temporarily shut their live markets. Officials from one of these cities, Hangzhou, say they want to make the closure permanent, and switch to frozen, centrally slaughtered poultry." Deborah MacKenzie at New Scientist informing us that apparently we are all going to die of bird flu because Chinese consumers prefer live poultry markets to industrial slaughterhouses. (Via Maryn McKenna.)

"People have quite informed gut reactions, but still seem to lack solid evidence to show the technique does or doesn’t hold up. It’s exciting and nerve wracking, but even those with doubts don’t seem ready to dismiss it outright. This is how science works: people turn to the experiments to smash or solidify their doubts. Many are scurrying to recreate those in their laboratories, which should bring some clarity to the situation." Carolyn Y. Johnson at with a follow-up to her story about creating stem cells in an acid bath.

"So ISEE-3 will pass by us, ready to talk with us, but in the 30 years since it departed Earth we've lost the ability to speak its language." The most melancholy space-exploration news you'll read this week, from Emily Lakdawalla for The Planetary Society. (Via Cam Larios.)

"The letter contained no information regarding the availability of complimentary lollipops." Merrill Markoe mines for comedy gold at Time on "concierge" physician practices.

"But the thing is I’ve read many of these articles that claim to show that there are race-based genetic differences or that racial differences in health can be explained genetically and there’s so many flaws in them. Just simple flaws, like not defining what the scientist means by race." Whip-smart interview with UPENN professor Dorothy Roberts by Brown undergraduate Sophia Seawell for Bluestockings Magazine. Kids these days! (Via Cory Ellen.)

"In China, your freedom is always limited, but this limitation applies to almost everyone. If someone does injustice to you, though, you have to find a way to avenge yourself—even by illegal measures. In a sense, injustice is more personal." Emily Parker interviews novelist Yiyun Li at Guernica.

"The letter was from a 14 year old Harlemite named Gwendolyn Smith who bravely wrote to the NAACP in 1940 to tell them about her rape at the hands of a white doctor." Prison Culture transcribes and reprints this letter, saying, "This Too is Black History." The last line is the worst heartbreak of all.

"Because of my familiarity with what many of the different therapeutic and palliative care options entailed—medically, ethically, personally—it was clear to me that what we were dealing with was choosing an end-of-life care plan for our son." Phoebe Day Danziger at Slate. (Via Jody T.)

"I’ve never watched a Woody Allen movie. My parents refused to rent them after he began a 'relationship' with Soon-Yi Previn and their explanation stuck with me through adulthood." As far as I'm concerned, that marked the moment at which we learned that we should pull out the groggers whenever Woody Allen's name is mentioned, so here's to Jessica Valenti's parents. (At The Nation.)

"In order to even tell their stories, they have to learn a new language, putting vague, undefined feelings into unfamiliar words. The whole drama plays out in a grown-up context, which means the grown-up always has the upper hand. Neutrality never even has a chance." By Natalie Shure at The Atlantic. (Via Nicole Cliffe at The Toast.)

"But of course, if we speak to our pets in baby talk or simplified language, then it’s only logical to assume that when we anthropomorphize our pets, they’d speak back to us the same way. So doge and its predecessor LOLcat tell us nothing at all about dogs or cats but everything in terms of how we’re talking to pets and to each other on the internet. Linguist Gretchen McCulloch explains Doge to you at The Toast. (Category: "Magic.")

"Could you own more never-opened jams? You could own more never-opened jams." Mallory Ortberg takes on her parents' refrigerator, at The Toast. If you don't scroll down through the comments until you reach the part where her entire extended family (including her GRANDMOTHER) chimes in, I do not even understand why you are on the internet.

"I believe in waking up in the middle of the night and packing our bags and leaving our worst selves for our better ones." Finally, at The Believer, a long but extraordinarily nuanced and rewarding essay from Leslie Jamison that will stick with you long after you have finished reading it. (Hat tip to Jill Heather.)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Links for the week ending 2 February 2014

"The cheating came to light during an inquiry into illegal drug possession, when investigators discovered that test answers were being sent in text messages to the missile launch officers’ cellphones." Helene Cooper for the NYT on, uh, good times at the nation's nuclear missile-launch sites.

You see somebody on the sidewalk and, slipping on your high-tech spectacles, select the app. Snap a photo of a passerby, then wait a minute as the image is sent up to the company’s database and a match is hunted down. The results load in front of your left eye, a selection of personal details that might include someone’s name, occupation, Facebook and/or Twitter profile, and, conveniently, whether there’s a corresponding entry in the national sex-offender registry." By Betsy Morais at The New Yorker on a new unofficial app for Google Glass.

"The revelation that the NSA was surveilling the communications of leaders during the Copenhagen talks is unlikely to help build the trust of negotiators from other nations in the future." Kate Sheppard and dude Ryan Grim at The Huffington Post on new Snowden documents showing that climate change talks were targeted by NSA spying. Because preventing terrorism, right?

"But the man who’d been the first democratically elected president in the country’s history was confined in a soundproof glass booth, and authorities made major efforts to ensure that whatever he said during his brief appearance went largely unheard." Amina Ismail reports at McClatchy on the beginning of court proceedings against former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi.

"'That they are dead makes this only more important, what we are doing now,' said Nabil, Kuany’s co-worker and friend. 'Israel tells us that we must either leave here or go to prison, what kind of country asks a person to choose between prison and death?'" Sheera Frenkel at BuzzFeed on the death of a refugee from South Sudan.

"If only 5% of India's more than a billion people are gay, which is probably an underestimate, it would be more than 50 million people, a population as large as that of Rajasthan or Karnataka or France or England." At The Times of India, Judge Leila Seth, mother of Vikram Seth, writes about the recent judgment of India's Supreme Court that re-criminalized homosexuality. (Via Nilanjana Roy.)

"But what does seem clear is that she is being subjected to a double standard. Behavior that would be unremarkable in a man—leaving your kids for prolonged periods in the capable hands of your spouse, as Barack Obama did, as did zillions of other fathers who campaigned for public office—is somehow suspect, even unnatural, in a mother." Excellent essay by Liza Mundy at Politico on the recent attacks on Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis's path to career success. (Via Rebecca Traister.)

"The News found that the death rate from all forms of violence in 2010, the most recent year for which comparable data are available on other communities, is higher in Detroit than in any other major U.S. city: 15.7 per 100,000 children." Karen Bouffard for The Detroit News. (Via Lizzie O'Leary.)

"Yet the idea was undeniably appealing. To record the stories of the men and women who had put their lives on the line for the cause of independence, some of whom had committed horrific acts of violence in the process, that was something no one else had done." Truly fascinating longread by Beth McMurtrie at The Chronicle of Higher Education on Boston College's ill-starred oral history archive project on the Troubles in Northern Ireland — and the wide-ranging consequences of its failure. (Link via a very smart commenter at The Toast, which, besides all its other charms, maintains one of the very last worthwhile comment sections on the internets.)

"She had to start to move through the blood and bone and deconstructed human tissue she had seen on the pavement near a store called Sugar Heaven -- no one could process that in 24 hours -- but she was stuck inside a freeze-frame of shock because people kept putting her back in the picture. Her trauma was different." From Bonnie D. Ford at ESPN, a profile of one young, self-effacing Boston University student whose role in the aftermath of the marathon bombing was captured in an iconic photograph.

"'As they were coming in, I said, "Good morning. Praise the Lord. How are you? I need you, gentlemen and ladies, to do a couple things. Housekeeping rules." They said, "What’s that, Sister Laura?" I said, "I need you to take off your hats because it’s disrespect. I need you to turn your phones on vibrate or silent. I need you to keep your guns in your pockets." And they did. They did.'" Another portrait, by Alexa Mills at The Boston Globe, of the Rev. Laura Ahart, a pastor at Boston's Nashua Street Jail. (Via Farah Stockman.)

"The failure of the farmers' agenda is a familiar tale of Washington gridlock, with familiar players: the small group of conservative obstructionists who seemingly control the House, and the policy consequences of a Republican Party at war with itself. But in this case, the people Republicans have antagonized are among their most loyal constituents." Molly Ball at The Atlantic.

"I’ve carried that key chain ever since, the only thing I have left from his long-dismantled life. My totem says nothing about my belief in astrology, although you might be forgiven for making that assumption." Also at The Atlantic, a teaser essay from Jennifer Ouellete's new book, Me, Myself & Why: Searching for the Science of Self.

"A team of Boston and Japanese researchers stunned the scientific world Wednesday by revealing a remarkably simple and unexpected way to create stem cells able to give rise to any tissue in the body." Carolyn Y. Johnson at

Via Jill Heather, this excellent short guide to novel flu viruses by Dr. Judy Stone at SciAm blogs.

"Around a year ago, the Department of Defense released directive 3000.09: 'Autonomy in Weapons Systems.' The 15-page document defines an autonomous weapon — what Gubrud would call a killer robot — as a weapon that 'once activated, can select and engage targets without further intervention by a human operator.'" Adrienne Jeffries at The Verge on the prospects for killer robots.

Sometimes human beings use their creative powers for good instead of evil. Behold: the peanut butter and jellyfish. Spotted by Jia Tolentino at The Hairpin, where they appreciate the accurate measurement of "peanutbutterocity (see fig 2b)."

"But history is not a toy. It’s not a private amusement. And those of us who engage with the past know how important it is and how enjoyable it can be to learn about it and from it. These accounts piss me off because they undermine an enterprise I value. Excellent call-to-arms against enterprises like @HistoryInPics, by Sarah Werner, at her blog.

"Reading a book like Cuisine and Empire enriches the process by which you understand the world, both as you consider the grand sweep of history and assess your own troubled emotions regarding Hormel canned chili. All people are located within a dense web of spatial, financial, and cultural skeins that will dictate what they eat and how they prepare it." Book review and personal essay in one, this excellent piece by Lydia Kiesling at The Millions is required reading if you're interested in food, history, and culture.

"According to this way of thinking, labor is not something one does for compensation, but an act of self-love. If profit doesn’t happen to follow, it is because the worker’s passion and determination were insufficient. Its real achievement is making workers believe their labor serves the self and not the marketplace." Stinging critique of "Do what you love" by Miya Tokumitsu at Jacobin.

"I still don’t see how a satisfying explanation alters the fact of the felt lack or deprivation and the subsequent depleted behaviour in the world. You are still and always will be deprived of that notional love and safety you were supposed to have in order to be a balanced person. Anyway, don’t we all know by now that we’re none of us sufficiently or properly loved, one way or another? So why am I or is she or he in such a state about it?" Jenny Diski at the LRB with the best statement of perplexity I have ever read.

"Your smile widens, your ears ring, your heart swells with the praise. You’re only going to hear more of that from their mouths today. You don’t know it, yet, but you’re only going to hear more of that from their mouths forever." Very sweet remembrance of "Your Third Grade Chinese New Year" by Charlene Cheung at The Toast.

"In feminism, if we want to create loving community, we have to talk, not assume." A Storify of Latoya Peterson's responses to the latest instance of White Women Behaving Badly on the Internet.

Not a Storify, but. Two tweets from education reporter Dana Goldstein on Pete Seeger.

"What makes me leery about Goldberg’s piece is that it is in many ways disingenuously framed as if all of this discussion isn’t also about massive amounts of cultural capital. Reading Goldberg’s piece, I’m struck by the fact that all of this is also about people on all sides fighting for bits of influence which translate into cold, hard cash in the form of future assignments and writing gigs." Very smart piece by Yasmin Nair at her blog on what's behind the hashtag feminism wars. (Via @prisonculture.)

"She isn't willing to give her real name, at least not publicly; she's afraid of the professional repercussions. This is a theme that will come up again and again over the course of our interview, and every subsequent conversation: weighing the toll of harassment against the cost of confronting it." Rachel Edidin at Kotaku on harassment in the video game industry. (Via Anita Sarkeesian.)

"The sexual preferences of the desperate are complicated." Oh my god, this cartoon from Shing Yin Khor at The Toast about trying to turn a stuffed animal into an emergency vibrator.

Finally. I hear there's some sort of sporting event taking place today? Here is some reading for it. Amy Davidson makes it into the print version of The New Yorker with this piece on Seattle Seahawks quarterback Richard Sherman. And, from Marin Cogan at ESPN, a compelling longread about the Super Bowl Halftime Nipplegate.