Last blog of 2013!
With a little help from Steven Strogatz at the New York Times, Annalee Newitz at io9 puzzles through the mystery and consistency of Zipf’s law, formulated by a linguist in 1949, which accurately predicts rank and frequency, power and size relations in everything from languages to cities to bodies. She also covers exploding factory farms and shortsighted solutions.
“I am so tired of seeing female characters getting raped, beaten and killed—all for titillation or to move along a male character’s arc,” writes Jessica Valenti at the Nation, swearing off television dramas, and naming the trope of mutilated female characters the “Manic Pixie Dead Girl,” a reference to the Manic Pixie Dream Girl phenomenon. Elsewhere, she implores opponents of Michigan’s new law banning abortion coverage in private health plans not to call the rider a woman would have to purchase “rape insurance.” Calling attention to how 1 in 3 US women will have an abortion in her lifetime, she reminds readers, “It is not just sexual assault survivors who need their abortion covered … we cannot create a hierarchy of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ abortions.”
Still in the spotlight from the freshly released film about her life, The Punk Singer, Kathleen Hanna gives an interview to vita.mn. She cites her conviction that she was nearing death, during years of undiagnosed illness, as the impetus for donating her papers to NYU and agreeing to have a film made about her life. Treated, in remission, with a new lease on life, she observes, “here I am at 45 and I just totally archived myself as if I was dead.” Lady Gunn does a photo shoot and interview with Hanna and retrieves one of her most gruesome tour stories.
The Times of India interviews Arsalan Iftikhar about race relations in the US after Iftikhar successfully used social media to draw the Gap’s attention to racist vandalism on its ad campaign featuring Sikh actor Waris Ahluwahlia. Iftikhar leaves readers with this message: “speak out against racism on social media whenever we see it because we never know when that one story might help empower millions around the world.” On NPR Atlanta, he makes an appearance at the Barbershop and talks about everything from football to the affluent white 16 year old who was sent to therapy after killing four people. “Would a 16-year-old black child not get any jail time for killing four human beings? … This just proves – continues to prove that our American legal system is not colorblind.”
Law scholar Spencer Overton continues his respectful disagreement with Samuel Issacharoff’s approach to voting rights that goes “beyond race,” writing at the Harvard Law Review Forum that, “Contemporary discrimination exists and warrants attention—particularly where fast-growing minority populations threaten the status quo.” He also turned up on MSNBC to talk about the implications of North Carolina’s new voter suppression laws.