Data preservation, brogressives, women’s grief

A Letter

A fascinating long piece about Henry Molaison—a patient who’s amnesia led to dramatic advances in our understanding of memory and the brain. Henry’s story, told by the granddaughter of the surgeon who may have caused his amnesia, delves into the ethics of medical research and experimentation as well as data preservation. “My grandfather had cut a hole into Henry’s memory, and now one of the many people who profited from that act was cutting another irreparable hole, this one into our memory of Henry.”

It’s not only black communities that are targeted for voter suppression—Native Americans are also disenfranchised. “According to court documents, Custer—who is married to a descendent of Colonel George Custer—dismissed the idea of setting up a satellite office because she felt there wouldn’t be enough staff available, adding that it would take too long to set up Internet. She proposed that Natives could simply pack buses full of voters to the town of Forsyth. What Custer didn’t mention is that Forsyth is more than a 100-mile round trip for most people on the Northern Cheyenne Nation to a town that is 95 percent white and sometimes culturally hostile to Natives.”

Three professors at the University of Texas at Austin file suit to overturn the controversial campus carry law. “We just find that it's impossible to do our jobs with this policy in place. We all teach subject matter that is quite sensitive, and we all use very participatory, you know, pedagogically sound methods of trying to teach students how to state their views on controversial subjects, challenge one another and stand up for what they believe in. And the thing is our classrooms have to be laboratories for experimenting with those kinds of challenging materials and challenging stances that people take.”

The NAACP calls for a ban on privately managed charter schools. “Charter schools have contributed to the increased segregation rather than diverse integration of our public school system.” Among the arguments against charter schools is that they divert public resources away from failing schools, leaving those students (literally) behind. In her exceptional piece on school segregation in New York, Nikole Hannah-Jones remarked that, “By allowing such vast disparities between public schools—racially, socioeconomically and academically—this city has made integration the hardest choice.”

The Daily News admits that stop and frisk was not the crime preventative they claimed it was, amid a dramatic drop in crime after a federal judge ruled the practice unconstitutional. “We predicted a rising body count from an increase in murders. We are delighted to say that we were wrong.” But not, you know, sorry.

The Can You Not PAC aims to discourage straight white men from running for office, asking them to instead support women, people of color, and LGBTQ candidates. “‘We challenge brogressives and others to reject any notion that they are uniquely qualified or positioned to seek political office in districts that don't need them,’ Can You Not’s website explains. ‘As well-represented white dudes, we feel it is our obligation to know when to shut up and Not.’”

On Ghazala Khan: “But even when they were not supposed to, American women had ways of making their ideas public, including through their choices about where to go, who to go with, and what to wear. Even when they could not speak, they could stand in a place that proclaimed their unity or divergence. Throughout U.S. history, women have often expressed public grief through other means than the simply verbal—standing in one place or another, wearing certain clothing or colors—offering incisive political insight without uttering a single word. Women’s grief has been a long-standing and influential agent in American politics.”

Charlie Warzel digs into the history of Twitter’s decade-long failure to deal with abuse. Notably, he reports that early product thinking inherited from Blogger was baked in to Twitter’s approach from the beginning, despite the divergent product design between the two platforms. “Unlike Facebook and Instagram, which have always banned content and have never positioned themselves as platforms for free speech, Twitter has made an ideology out of protecting its most objectionable users. That ethos also made it a beacon for the internet’s most vitriolic personalities, who take particular delight in abusing those who use Twitter for their jobs.” There’s a lesson here about how a disconnect between the business values of a company and the product design can cause real harm to real people. Sadly, it’s a lesson that apparently no one at Twitter leadership has learned.

Elsewhere, Melissa Gira Grant notes that discussions about harassment are often centered around a mythical “everywoman” and so miss the intersections of race, class, and sexuality. “Some advocates fought against this everywoman trope, insisting on centering black women, poor women, lesbian and bisexual women, any woman not considered ‘innocent’ or deserving of help. But in the battle to gain legal recognition and resources, the ‘everywoman’ story won out among policymakers, the press, and the public.”

Sarah Kendzior asks, why does everyone hate Hillary Clinton? “People hate Hillary Clinton because people hate Hillary Clinton. This instinctive, matter-of-fact hatred is known in America as Clinton Derangement Syndrome. When possessed, the victim sees Hillary Clinton as a woman of unimaginable power. Her most amazing trick is the ability to eliminate men from American history.”

Meanwhile, in the Jackpot, the temperature in Fairbanks, Alaska hits 85 °F, breaking the record for highest temperature there ever. Even worse than the Northeast heat wave is the one in the Middle East, with temperatures reaching 126 °F in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, and 129 °F in Basra, Iraq. And Eric Holthaus reports that Louisiana is expected to get 10–20 inches of rainfall today, on top of 8–10 inches that have fallen since Wednesday: “This heavy rainfall is being fueled in part by the very warm Gulf of Mexico waters, leading to an atmosphere over New Orleans that contains among the most water vapor that’s ever been measured there, in the top 5 of all August readings. Since a warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapor, this rainfall event was made more likely by global warming.”

A small sliver of hope: these adorable foxes in California’s Channel Islands have been taken off the endangered species list, having made a remarkably fast recovery.