good reading [november edition]

okay, i’ve been very sporadically having a couple of spare hours to catch up, and i do a lot of reading, and noting articles i’d like to comment on, but you know what? it’s just not going to happen. so here is some of the stuff that’s caught my eye this month, relatively uncommented-upon and in no particular order:

(11/29: I couldn’t help it. I went back & ordered them in reverse chronological, by my dates — when I was reading it.)

  • 11/6 – 11/29: Katha Pollitt tears up Maureen Dowd. [link from sideshow] But why stop there? Because Maureen Dowd is but the tip of the iceberg on the NYT’s history of writing stupid articles about rich white women who choose to give up careers for the “mommy track”. See pink feminist hellcat for a wrapup that links to a lot of the relevant coverage. Then see Salon’s Broadsheet on some ugly correspondence they’ve gotten about the strawfeminist. (A handy phrase I first saw on Pandagon.)

  • 11/29: ann bartow @ sivacracy links to a “christian underground” site where they get tough about prayer & the persecution of Christians in modern USA. The challenging young woman (very grrrl power) says “I will pray when I want where I want – School Work The Street The Mall – Persecute me at your own peril.” I’m resisting the urge to sarcasm here. Instead I will merely note that, contrary to Christian talking points, Christians and anyone else can pretty much pray at school whenever they like. Like before a test, for instance. These “they took God out of the schools” folks love to conflate the question of whether teachers can lead students in prayer, with whether students can pray for themselves. Pray away. Heck, pray the whole entire school day and to and from school, too. No school can stop an individual’s private silent prayer. That’s wholly distinct from asking for publicly monies to pay teachers to lead you in prayer or employing the power of the state to coerce others to pray.

  • 11/28: feministe takes on the pro-rape — really — commenters at vox populi. [link from badgerbag]

  • 11/28: SJ Mercury (11/28) profiling a new lawsuit against a UC Berkeley website on evolution. The claim? That the scientists provide information about evolution as if it were factually true & as if evolution were not necessarily in conflict with religion. As if!

  • 11/22: John Rendon clarifies the technical difficulties with embedded reporters:


    Indeed, Rendon is already thinking ahead. Last year, he attended a conference on information operations in London, where he offered an assessment on the Pentagon’s efforts to manipulate the media. According to those present, Rendon applauded the practice of embedding journalists with American forces. “He said the embedded idea was great,” says an Air Force colonel who attended the talk. “It worked as they had found in the test. It was the war version of reality television, and for the most part they did not lose control of the story.” But Rendon also cautioned that individual news organizations were often able to “take control of the story,” shaping the news before the Pentagon asserted its spin on the day’s events.

    “We lost control of the context,” Rendon warned. “That has to be fixed for the next war.”

    [link from sideshow who pointed to amygdalagf who quoted Rendon from an article in rolling stone]

  • 11/13: Pretty good breakdown of spousal notification from frogs & ravens [link from sivacracy’s Ann Bartow who also linked to the same redneck mother posting i was reading]

  • 11/13: Very pleased to see Ann Bartow taking note of the gender imbalance at a current Yale conference on public interest IP/tech issues. I was drafting a rant, but she did it so well …. Go, Ann!

  • 11/10: Women get a bigger buzz from cartoons according to New Scientist

  • 11/6: not a baby machine: an excellent rant on the realities of women’s pregnancies and the folly of trying to regulate women based on a mechanistic view of pregnancy.

    Long ago I promised a rant about how a mechanistic view of women’s bodies and reproduction misinforms attempts to legislate control of women. At the time I was writing about a Virginia legislator who wanted to force women to call the cops if they had a miscarriage while not under a doctor’s care. But the rolling shitstorm of pharmacy zealots, other ridiculous bills and Alito’s track record has me thinking about women as baby-machines again. This phrase from the Virginia debacle, carried over from an earlier bill, stuck in my craw:

    If a fetal death occurs in a moving conveyance, a fetal death report shall be filed in the registration district in which the fetus was first removed from such conveyance.

    When I first read it, I thought, fetal death usually occurs in the mother’s body. Why does the conveyance matter? If you lose a pregnancy while rolling down the hall in your office chair or going over your fields in your combine harvester, the state needs to know?

    This requirement, my friends, is a flashing red light signaling ignorance. It’s based on the notion that pregnant women are simple machines that pop out babies. If the pregnancy ends, the machine must surely just spit out the failed product, right? Won’t you smell a fan belt burning or something? You’re up in your hot-air balloon, your pregnancy fails, it’ll be over in a matter of minutes, all nice and neat and ready for the police report?

    No. A woman will not automatically know if her pregnancy is over just because she starts bleeding on the bus. Bleeding might go on for hours before the pregnancy ends. Bleeding might go on for hours before the pregnancy continues. Some women seem to have their period while pregnant. The pregnancy might end with no symptoms at all, making removing the fetus from its death car challenging at best. Sometimes just getting it out of the woman is a nightmare. It depends.