Sunday, February 5, 2012


Taking a break from blogging for the next week to “celebrate” the One-Year Cancerversary by escaping from Phoenix to Flagstaff for the week, so don't expect to see much on here until 2/11 or so. But before the break, here's what's likely to be your last link dump for the next few days...

Komen retreats. A victory for women's health, no doubt, but let's keep in mind that the radical right has now equated abortion with women's health, so these battles will continue for a long time (h/t Mary); those of us who support women's health have a long battle to fight:
The initial, disheartening move to end funding, ostensibly due to the latter's being "under investigation" (a bogus congressional investigation spurred by the right wing) was clearly politically motivated, despite weak denials from Komen officials. It's unleashed a hail of criticism and controversy that seems as large, if not even larger, than when Planned Parenthood was under threat of being defunded by the federal government. Whether Americans were suspicious of Komen to begin with or just fed up with the politicization of women's health, this feels like the last straw.

The reality is that between the backlash and the uncomfortable facts that have been bubbling to the surface about Komen's way of conducting business, the story has shifted from the war on Planned Parenthood to the campaign against the truth being waged by "Big Pink."


As heartening as the outpouring and the reversal has been, and as satisfying as it's been on some level to watch Komen's PR strategy implode, the initial decision is still bad news, and it comes after a year of bad policy. One of the primary items on the right-wing agenda since the GOP swept into Congress in 2010 has been to isolate, ostracize, harass and shame Planned Parenthood. They've tried to de-fund it at the federal and state levels and launched a bogus investigation. Planned Parenthood and all abortion providers are part of a never-ending paranoid obsession. Many bloggers have been comparing it to the Salem, Massachusetts hysteria, the kind of witch-hunt that taints everyone by association.

They've already succeeded in making abortion a pariah among medical procedures, the only one not funded by Medicaid, the only one hushed up and shunted aside. Now they're trying to extend that blacklist to Planned Parenthood, and backlash aside, Komen's move shows that this relentless campaign has met with some success.
As Jill Lepore notes:
The people who have urged Komen to stop supporting Planned Parenthood aren’t opposed to breast-cancer screenings; they’re opposed to other services Planned Parenthood provides, which include contraception and abortion. But a campaign to sever the ties between a foundation that’s raising money to find a cure for breast cancer and a health-care provider that advocates for reproductive rights exposes more than a division over contraception and abortion. It exposes a gruesome truth about politics in this country.

In American politics, women’s bodies are not bodies, but parts. People like to talk about some parts more than others. Embryos and fetuses are the most charged subject in American political discourse. Saying the word “cervix” was the beginning of Rick Perry’s end. In politics, breasts are easier to talk about. I first understood this a few years ago, when I was offered, at an otherwise very ordinary restaurant, a cupcake frosted to look like a breast, with a nipple made of piped pink icing. It was called a “breast-cancer cupcake,” and proceeds went to the Race for the Cure.

Dividing women’s bodies into parts, politically, has only adversely affected women’s health. Planned Parenthood started offering cancer screenings in the early nineteen-sixties. At the time, the organization’s medical director, Mary Steichen Calderone, tried to convince the American Cancer Society to help pay for Pap smears, which can catch cervical cancer early, for poor women who came to Planned Parenthood clinics for contraception. The Cancer Society refused, not wanting to be affiliated with an organization that provided birth control at a time when, in many parts of the country, it was not only controversial—as it remains today—but also illegal. (It was only in 1965 that the Supreme Court ruled, in Griswold v. Connecticut, that contraception was protected under a Constitutional right to privacy.) “It was such a pity,” Calderone later said in an interview, “because here were these women going to be seen regularly, once a year or once every two years. They would have been ideal to give Pap smears to.”

The women’s-health movement, which began in the nineteen-seventies, tried to explain that women’s bodies are not parts, but bodies, and that health care for women must, at a minimum, meet the standards of health care for men. This week’s dissolution of a bond between the nation’s largest funder of breast-cancer research and one of the largest providers of women’s health services suggests just how dismally that effort has failed.

By now, this is, obscenely, a story about partisan divisions, as if some parts of women’s bodies are Democratic and other parts are Republican. The current president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, a former deputy chief of staff for Nancy Pelosi, is the daughter of the former Texas governor Ann Richards, a prominent Democrat. Susan G. Komen for the Cure was founded in 1982 by Nancy Goodman Brinker, a Texas Republican who went on to serve in the Bush Administration. Karen Handel, Komen’s senior vice-president for public policy, is a Republican who ran for governor of Georgia in 2010. On Thursday, twenty-two Democratic Senators sent Komen a letter asking the group to reverse its decision, Planned Parenthood reported receiving a flood of donations, and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged to match those donations with up to a quarter of a million dollars of his own money.

Brinker has published a number of books, including “Promise Me: How a Sister’s Love Launched the Global Movement to End Breast Cancer.” She named the foundation after her sister Susan G. Komen, who died of breast cancer at the age of thirty-six.

Two and a half centuries ago, Benjamin Franklin’s sister Mary was thirty-seven, nearly the same age as Susan Komen, when she died of the same disease. When Franklin’s sister Jane wrote to her brother in 1731, she didn’t only tell him about Mary. She also wrote that, although her first child had died before reaching his first birthday, she had given birth again, and her second baby, thank God, was thriving. But she had more “melancholy news”: another sister, Sarah, had died. She was thirty-two, and likely pregnant. She left behind five children, the oldest only eight, the youngest eighteen months. “She was a good woman,” Franklin wrote back. He named his only daughter after her.

Jane went on to have twelve children. She named two of her daughters after her sisters. Her daughter Mary died at nineteen. Her daughter Sarah died at twenty-seven. “She was always appeared to me of a sweet and amiable temper,” Franklin wrote Jane. She left behind four children under the age of seven, including daughters also named Sarah and Mary. For the unending pregnancies and difficult deliveries that felled young women, he had no cure. There was no cure. Not then.
Meanwhile, over at Jezebel, a fairly full accounting of what is some truly staggering hypocrisy of the part of Komen (h/t Ale).

What can those of us concerned with sustainability do when the crazed Teabaggers think we're part of a global hegemonic UN plot to steal their property, their money, and their women?:
“Down the road, this data will be used against you,” warned one speaker at a recent Roanoke County, Va., Board of Supervisors meeting who turned out with dozens of people opposed to the county’s paying $1,200 in dues to a nonprofit that consults on sustainability issues.

Local officials say they would dismiss such notions except that the growing and often heated protests are having an effect.

In Maine, the Tea Party-backed Republican governor canceled a project to ease congestion along the Route 1 corridor after protesters complained it was part of the United Nations plot. Similar opposition helped doom a high-speed train line in Florida. And more than a dozen cities, towns and counties, under new pressure, have cut off financing for a program that offers expertise on how to measure and cut carbon emissions.

“It sounds a little on the weird side, but we’ve found we ignore it at our own peril,” said George Homewood, a vice president of the American Planning Association’s chapter in Virginia.

The protests date to 1992 when the United Nations passed a sweeping, but nonbinding, 100-plus-page resolution called Agenda 21 that was designed to encourage nations to use fewer resources and conserve open land by steering development to already dense areas. They have gained momentum in the past two years because of the emergence of the Tea Party movement, harnessing its suspicion about government power and belief that man-made global warming is a hoax.

In January, the Republican Party adopted its own resolution against what it called “the destructive and insidious nature” of Agenda 21. And Newt Gingrich took aim at it during a Republican debate in November.


Roanoke’s Board of Supervisors voted 3 to 2 to renew its Iclei financing after many residents voiced their support.

“The Tea Party people say they want nonpolluted air and clean water and everything we promote and support, but they also say it’s a communist movement,” said Charlotte Moore, a supervisor who voted yes. “I really don’t understand what they want.”
The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy's Anthony Flint covered some of this material a few months ago. The important question, as I see it, is how we can possibly lead to constructive engagement and potentially find common ground with folks like these. If we can't and sustainability thinking gets labeled as a politicized, collectivist, left-wing enterprise, then we've got no hope in reaching a more sustainable future world.

Jon Chait chimes in with more on Romney:
Why does Romney say this? He wants to inoculate himself from the charge that his program would disproportionately help the rich. (A charge that happens to be true, but never mind that, either.) But disclaiming any intention of helping the rich is dangerous stuff in a Republican primary. So he has to balance it off by disclaiming any intention of helping the poor, either. The rich and poor — both doing great! (Also, Romney will be sure that neither rich nor poor are permitted to sleep under bridges.)

The positive side of this is that Romney is not singling out the poor as parasites, in the classic tradition of Ronald Reagan’s "welfare queen", Phil Gramm’s welfare wagon, or countless others. Romney’s profession of indifference to the poor is a relatively decent sentiment in the context of modern conservatism. On the other hand, the idea that the middle class and not the poor is “hurting the most” is utterly absurd. It’s also worth noting that his budget proposal would require enormous cuts in programs for low-income people.

It may not be true that, at a personal level, Romney doesn’t care about the poor. He probably does. But his platform doesn’t. In that sense, his slip-up was a gaffe in the classic sense of admitting what he actually thinks.
Charles Blow shreds Romney's nonsense, as well:
First, a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities last month pointed out that Romney’s budget proposals would take a chainsaw to that safety net. The report points out that cuts proposed by Romney would be even more draconian than a plan from Representative Paul Ryan: “Governor Romney’s budget proposals would require far deeper cuts in nondefense programs than the House-passed budget resolution authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan: $94 billion to $219 billion deeper in 2016 and $303 billion to $819 billion deeper in 2021.”

What does this mean for specific programs? Let’s take the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, since “food stamps” have been such a talking point in the Republican debates. The report says the Romney plan “would throw 10 million low-income people off the benefit rolls, cut benefits by thousands of dollars a year, or some combination of the two. These cuts would primarily affect very-low-income families with children, seniors and people with disabilities.”

Does that sound like a man trying to “fix” our social safety nets? Absolutely not. Romney is so far up the beanstalk that he can no longer see the ground.

Then let’s take the fact that a report last month by the Tax Policy Center found that his tax plan would increase after-tax income for millionaires by 14.5 percent while increasing the after-tax income of those making less than $20,000 by less than 1 percent and of those making between $30,000 and $40,000 by less than 3 percent.

For a man who’s not worried about the rich, he sure seems to want them to rake in more cash.


Then there is the “ample safety net” nonsense. No one who has ever been on the low end of the income spectrum believes this, not even Republicans. According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in October, even most Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who make less than $30,000 a year, which accounts for about a quarter of all Republicans, say that the government doesn’t do enough to help the poor. Only a man who has never felt the sting of poverty or seen its ravages would say such a thing.

But perhaps the most pernicious part of his statement was the underestimating of the rich and poor and the elasticized expansion of the term “middle income” or middle class. Romney suggests that 95 percent of Americans are in this group. Not true.

According to the Census Bureau, the official poverty rate in 2010 was 15.1 percent.

And that’s the income poor. It doesn’t even count the “asset poor.” A report issued this week by the Corporation for Enterprise Development found that 27 percent of U.S. households live in “asset poverty.” According to the report, “These families do not have the savings or other assets to cover basic expenses (equivalent to what could be purchased with a poverty level income) for three months if a layoff or other emergency leads to loss of income.”

As far as Romney goes, it's not the only stupid thing he's said this week. And yet again, he's wrong.

What should be the relationship between Occupy and the police state?:
It’s backwards to regard the legitimacy enjoyed by the police as something that ought to motivate Occupy activists to avoid conflict with them. This is not to say that provoking fights with the cops should be a goal of protests—this, I agree, is generally a tactical mistake. But it is also a mistake to think conflict can always be avoided, if only protesters are perfectly polite and peaceful and obedient. Attempting to avoid such conflict at all costs leads to a cycle in which whatever protesters are doing is continually redefined as “violence” in order to justify crackdowns, even as activists themselves accept more and more restrictions on their freedom to act. Rather than fretting about the public relations consequences of the police attacks on Occupy, we need to fight back hard against the rhetoric that defines all resistance to power as impermissible violence, whether it’s UC Davis students sitting on the sidewalk or Palestinian kids throwing rocks at armored battalions of Israeli soldiers.

So long as the police—and more importanly, the politicians who control them—can define the limits of permissible protest and lie to the public with impunity, they are free to take whatever repressive measures they wish, all the while blaming everything on the actions of the protesters. The legitimacy of the police is a cause of police violence, and therefore the only way to ultimately reign in the cops is to tear away their veil of public support. It’s worth remembering that when the tide turned in the Egyptian revolution, it wasn’t because the cops stood down in the face of mass protests; it was because they were literally chased off the streets.

Delegitimizing police is one possible good outcome of the Occupy movements. My sense, at least from anecdotal evidence, is that some of the folks who participated in or observed the Occupy protests were genuinely shocked by the authoritarianism and brutality of the cops. Perhaps just as significant are the indications that the media, at least in New York, is starting to get tired of being pushed around by the police department.

The extreme anti-gay climate in the Anoka-Hennepin school district in Minnesota (the very same district where Michele Bachmann made her claim to homophobic fame) is fomenting the flames of bullying and quite possibly leading to a suicide epidemic:
Sam's death lit the fuse of a suicide epidemic that would take the lives of nine local students in under two years, a rate so high that child psychologist Dan Reidenberg, executive director of the Minnesota-based Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, declared the Anoka-Hennepin school district the site of a "suicide cluster," adding that the crisis might hold an element of contagion; suicidal thoughts had become catchy, like a lethal virus. "Here you had a large number of suicides that are really closely connected, all within one school district, in a small amount of time," explains Reidenberg. "Kids started to feel that the normal response to stress was to take your life."

There was another common thread: Four of the nine dead were either gay or perceived as such by other kids, and were reportedly bullied. The tragedies come at a national moment when bullying is on everyone's lips, and a devastating number of gay teens across the country are in the news for killing themselves. Suicide rates among gay and lesbian kids are frighteningly high, with attempt rates four times that of their straight counterparts; studies show that one-third of all gay youth have attempted suicide at some point (versus 13 percent of hetero kids), and that internalized homophobia contributes to suicide risk.

Against this supercharged backdrop, the Anoka-Hennepin school district finds itself in the spotlight not only for the sheer number of suicides but because it is accused of having contributed to the death toll by cultivating an extreme anti-gay climate. "LGBTQ students don't feel safe at school," says Anoka Middle School for the Arts teacher Jefferson Fietek, using the acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning. "They're made to feel ashamed of who they are. They're bullied. And there's no one to stand up for them, because teachers are afraid of being fired."

The Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Center for Lesbian Rights have filed a lawsuit on behalf of five students, alleging the school district's policies on gays are not only discriminatory, but also foster an environment of unchecked anti-gay bullying. The Department of Justice has begun a civil rights investigation as well. The Anoka-Hennepin school district declined to comment on any specific incidences but denies any discrimination, maintaining that its broad anti-bullying policy is meant to protect all students. "We are not a homophobic district, and to be vilified for this is very frustrating," says superintendent Dennis Carlson, who blames right-wingers and gay activists for choosing the area as a battleground, describing the district as the victim in this fracas. "People are using kids as pawns in this political debate," he says. "I find that abhorrent."

Ironically, that's exactly the charge that students, teachers and grieving parents are hurling at the school district. "Samantha got caught up in a political battle that I didn't know about," says Sam Johnson's mother, Michele. "And you know whose fault it is? The people who make their living off of saying they're going to take care of our kids."

Located a half-hour north of Minneapolis, the 13 sprawling towns that make up the Anoka-Hennepin school district – Minnesota's largest, with 39,000 kids – seems an unlikely place for such a battle. It's a soothingly flat, 172-square-mile expanse sliced by the Mississippi River, where woodlands abruptly give way to strip malls and then fall back to ­placid woodlands again, and the landscape is dotted with churches. The district, which spans two counties, is so geographically huge as to be a sort of cross section of America itself, with its small minority population clustered at its southern tip, white suburban sprawl in its center and sparsely populated farmland in the north. It also offers a snapshot of America in economic crisis: In an area where just 20 percent of adults have college educations, the recession hit hard, and foreclosures and unemployment have become the norm.

For years, the area has also bred a deep strain of religious conservatism. At churches like First Baptist Church of Anoka, parishioners believe that homosexuality is a form of mental illness caused by family dysfunction, childhood trauma and exposure to pornography – a perversion curable through intensive therapy. It's a point of view shared by their congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who has called homosexuality a form of "sexual dysfunction" that amounts to "personal enslavement." In 1993, Bachmann, a proponent of school prayer and creationism, co-founded the New Heights charter school in the town of Stillwater, only to flee the board amid an outcry that the school was promoting a religious curriculum. Bachmann also is affiliated with the ultraright Minnesota Family Council, headlining a fundraiser for them last spring alongside Newt Gingrich.

Though Bachmann doesn't live within Anoka-Hennepin's boundaries anymore, she has a dowdier doppelgänger there in the form of anti-gay crusader Barb Anderson. A bespectacled grandmother with lemony-blond hair she curls in severely toward her face, Anderson is a former district Spanish teacher and a longtime researcher for the MFC who's been fighting gay influence in local schools for two decades, ever since she discovered that her nephew's health class was teaching homosexuality as normal. "That really got me on a journey," she said in a radio interview. When the Anoka-Hennepin district's sex-ed curriculum came up for re-evaluation in 1994, Anderson and four like-minded parents managed to get on the review committee. They argued that any form of gay tolerance in school is actually an insidious means of promoting homosexuality – that openly discussing the matter would encourage kids to try it, turning straight kids gay.

"Open your eyes, people," Anderson recently wrote to the local newspaper. "What if a 15-year-old is seduced into homosexual behavior and then contracts AIDS?" Her agenda mimics that of Focus on the Family, the national evangelical Christian organization founded by James Dobson; Family Councils, though technically independent of Focus on the Family, work on the state level to accomplish Focus' core goals, including promoting prayer in public spaces, "defending marriage" by lobbying for anti-gay legislation, and fighting gay tolerance in public schools under the guise of preserving parental authority – reasoning that government-mandated acceptance of gays undermines the traditional values taught in Christian homes.

At the close of the seven-month-long sex-ed review, Anderson and her colleagues wrote a memo to the Anoka-Hennepin school board, concluding, "The majority of parents do not wish to have there [sic] children taught that the gay lifestyle is a normal acceptable alternative." Surprisingly, the six-member board voted to adopt the measure by a four-to-two majority, even borrowing the memo's language to fashion the resulting districtwide policy, which pronounced that within the health curriculum, "homosexuality not be taught/addressed as a normal, valid lifestyle."

The policy became unofficially known as "No Homo Promo" and passed unannounced to parents and unpublished in the policy handbooks; most teachers were told about it by their principals. Teachers say it had a chilling effect and they became concerned about mentioning gays in any context. Discussion of homosexuality gradually disappeared from classes. "If you can't talk about it in any context, which is how teachers interpret district policies, kids internalize that to mean that being gay must be so shameful and wrong," says Anoka High School teacher Mary Jo Merrick-Lockett. "And that has created a climate of fear and repression and harassment."

Suicide is a complex phenomenon; there's never any one pat reason to explain why anyone kills themselves. Michele Johnson acknowledges that her daughter, Sam, likely had many issues that combined to push her over the edge, but feels strongly that bullying was one of those factors. "I'm sure that Samantha's decision to take her life had a lot to do with what was going on in school," Johnson says tearfully. "I'm sure things weren't perfect in other areas, but nothing was as bad as what was going on in that school."

Your reliance upon your GPS is killing your spatial abilities; kill your GPS and read a real map, damn it!:
[S]houldn’t we just accept that GPS is a good substitute for old-fashioned maps? No. Navigational devices can be time-savers, but they can easily become crutches. Break your GPS, and you may find yourself lost.

And there is more: The psychologist Eleanor A. Maguire and her colleagues at University College London found that spatial experience actually changes brain structures. As taxi drivers learned the spatial layout of London, the gray matter in their hippocampal areas — that is, the areas of the brain integrating spatial memories — increased. But if the taxi drivers’ internal GPS grew stronger with use, it stands to reason that the process is reversible after disuse. You may degrade your spatial abilities when not training them, as with someone who learned a musical instrument and stopped playing.

Navigating, keeping track of one’s position and building up a mental map by experience is a very challenging process for our brains, involving memory (remembering landmarks, for instance) as well as complex cognitive processes (like calculating distances, rotating angles, approximating spatial relations). Stop doing these things, and it’ll be harder to pick them back up later.

How to avoid losing our mental maps? The answer, as always, is practice.

Next time you’re in a new place, forget the GPS device. Study a map to get your bearings, then try to focus on your memory of it to find your way around. City maps do not tell you each step, but they provide a wealth of abstract survey knowledge. Fill in these memories with your own navigational experience, and give your brain the chance to live up to its abilities.

Be wary of companies that make billions of dollars off of selling your private data. And be even more concerned about the consequences of what it all means for you — especially since the data aggregators seem to be accountable to no one. You're being used:
Ads that pop up on your screen might seem useful, or at worst, a nuisance. But they are much more than that. The bits and bytes about your life can easily be used against you. Whether you can obtain a job, credit or insurance can be based on your digital doppelgänger — and you may never know why you’ve been turned down.

Material mined online has been used against people battling for child custody or defending themselves in criminal cases. LexisNexis has a product called Accurint for Law Enforcement, which gives government agents information about what people do on social networks. The Internal Revenue Service searches Facebook and MySpace for evidence of tax evaders’ income and whereabouts, and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has been known to scrutinize photos and posts to confirm family relationships or weed out sham marriages. Employers sometimes decide whether to hire people based on their online profiles, with one study indicating that 70 percent of recruiters and human resource professionals in the United States have rejected candidates based on data found online. A company called Spokeo gathers online data for employers, the public and anyone else who wants it. The company even posts ads urging “HR Recruiters — Click Here Now!” and asking women to submit their boyfriends’ e-mail addresses for an analysis of their online photos and activities to learn “Is He Cheating on You?”

Stereotyping is alive and well in data aggregation. Your application for credit could be declined not on the basis of your own finances or credit history, but on the basis of aggregate data — what other people whose likes and dislikes are similar to yours have done. If guitar players or divorcing couples are more likely to renege on their credit-card bills, then the fact that you’ve looked at guitar ads or sent an e-mail to a divorce lawyer might cause a data aggregator to classify you as less credit-worthy. When an Atlanta man returned from his honeymoon, he found that his credit limit had been lowered to $3,800 from $10,800. The switch was not based on anything he had done but on aggregate data. A letter from the company told him, “Other customers who have used their card at establishments where you recently shopped have a poor repayment history with American Express.”

Even though laws allow people to challenge false information in credit reports, there are no laws that require data aggregators to reveal what they know about you. If I’ve Googled “diabetes” for a friend or “date rape drugs” for a mystery I’m writing, data aggregators assume those searches reflect my own health and proclivities. Because no laws regulate what types of data these aggregators can collect, they make their own rules.

In 2007 and 2008, the online advertising company NebuAd contracted with six Internet service providers to install hardware on their networks that monitored users’ Internet activities and transmitted that data to NebuAd’s servers for analysis and use in marketing. For an average of six months, NebuAd copied every e-mail, Web search or purchase that some 400,000 people sent over the Internet. Other companies, like Healthline Networks Inc., have in-house limits on which private information they will collect. Healthline does not use information about people’s searches related to H.I.V., impotence or eating disorders to target ads to people, but it will use information about bipolar disorder, overactive bladder and anxiety, which can be as stigmatizing as the topics on its privacy-protected list.

In the 1970s, a professor of communication studies at Northwestern University named John McKnight popularized the term “redlining” to describe the failure of banks, insurers and other institutions to offer their services to inner city neighborhoods. The term came from the practice of bank officials who drew a red line on a map to indicate where they wouldn’t invest. But use of the term expanded to cover a wide array of racially discriminatory practices, such as not offering home loans to African-Americans, even those who were wealthy or middle class.

Now the map used in redlining is not a geographic map, but the map of your travels across the Web. The term Weblining describes the practice of denying people opportunities based on their digital selves. You might be refused health insurance based on a Google search you did about a medical condition. You might be shown a credit card with a lower credit limit, not because of your credit history, but because of your race, sex or ZIP code or the types of Web sites you visit.

Data aggregation has social implications as well. When young people in poor neighborhoods are bombarded with advertisements for trade schools, will they be more likely than others their age to forgo college? And when women are shown articles about celebrities rather than stock market trends, will they be less likely to develop financial savvy? Advertisers are drawing new redlines, limiting people to the roles society expects them to play.

Data aggregators’ practices conflict with what people say they want. A 2008 Consumer Reports poll of 2,000 people found that 93 percent thought Internet companies should always ask for permission before using personal information, and 72 percent wanted the right to opt out of online tracking. A study by Princeton Survey Research Associates in 2009 using a random sample of 1,000 people found that 69 percent thought that the United States should adopt a law giving people the right to learn everything a Web site knows about them. We need a do-not-track law, similar to the do-not-call one. Now it’s not just about whether my dinner will be interrupted by a telemarketer. It’s about whether my dreams will be dashed by the collection of bits and bytes over which I have no control and for which companies are currently unaccountable.

The greenest home is the home you don't have to build. Kaid Benfield adds more.

Gasland director Josh Fox responds to his recent arrest.

More on the vile attacks on Michael Mann. Fortunately, Penn State is standing up for Mann against the smear campaign.

The orange Oompa Loompa who serves as speaker of the House wants to eliminate all federal funding for transit. It's an “unprecedented assault.

New research suggests that the tropics could sequester more carbon than previously believed.

The poultry industry is a sad place for chickens and for ethical behavior.

There is much sadness of pig farms, as well.

The sad story of Little Albert; academic ethics go awry in yet another story of sadness (h/t Wifey).

An interesting piece on violence at the Wind River Indian Reservation, though as Katelyn notes: “written too much as spectacle, not substance.”

Mark Engler finally gets around to hearing the great This American Life piece on Apple's sketchy supply chain. (And let me plug the great TAL piece from this past weekend; transcript now available.)

The complexity of merging two major airlines: BusinessWeek takes a look at the difficulty of beinging together Continental and United.

Coercive citations and academic publishing (pay-walled).

WayneAndWax on the Megaupload shut-down.

Super Bowl too low-brow for you? Well, class it up by reciting Langston Hughes and Robert Frost.

Delightful! A wonderful series of Leonard Cohen covers.

And finally, your Happy Link of the Day: today featuring a contribution from Kyle, rather than Wifey:

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