Monday, July 17, 2006

This Week's Recommended Reading #15

From Ash:

I think that the best thing I've got going right now isn't reading, but listening to an i-tunes / UC Berkeley podcast of an introductory European history class, and cramming some French (FrenchPodClass and Learnfrenchbypodcast) for a trip to Montreal, but there were still more than enough articles to write about.

Best Places to Live

Money Magazine just released its annual list of "best places to live" – No. 1 was Fort Collins, Colorado, and No. 2 was Naperville, Illinois. I have a minor obsession with Naperville (check out our page about it in the Factbook), so I was fascinated to see this. The way the info is set up is very much a website, not a particular article, so there may be a number of lists to interest you, breaking down cities by cost of living, educational attainment of residents, etc.

Legal News

According to the AP, the Federal government is seeking the ability to compel universities and colleges to set up systems and databases that would allow the government to track college students' performance – from their courseloads to their financial aid.

The Legal Intelligencer reports that a Pennsylvania court has found that someone can be criminally prosecuted in that state if he knows he has HIV, but fails to tell that to a sexual partner.

And if that doesn't put a chill in the air of singles-bars, this one should:

The New York Law Journal reported that, in NY, a man who held himself out to be a child's father – but later was determined not actually to be the biological father – was still required to give the child financial support.

In New Hampshire, AP reported that a state medical board could not discipline a doctor who allegedly told a patient that she was so fat she could only attract black men, and she should therefore kill herself to end her suffering. Yes, can you believe this was a doctor? Hypocratic oath, anyone? Despite this, the judge held that such comments, as racist and offensive as they were, were protected under free speech, and that the current board's regulations were too broad and vague to be upheld.

Children with ADHD and Autism

I know there's a controversy about whether or not mercury in vaccines is due to the rising prevalence of autism, but I don't know much more than that. That's why I was taken aback by this incendiary editorial by Robert F. Kennedy. Whoa. Insisting that mercury is indeed to blame, he left no punches pulled, let me tell you.

The BBC reported on a new study on autism's prevalence in the UK. An estimated one out of 100 British children suffer from some form of the disease – although they weren't sure if this was an increase in those with the disease, or better diagnosis. What they were sure of is that the British health system isn't doing enough for these kids.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported on a new study on girls with ADHD. Part of the boys crisis reports is that boys have ADHD more, and suffer from it more severely. This study apparently challenges that diagnosis, saying that girls may not be diagnosed with the disease, because of milder symptoms at presentment, but those who have it seem to suffer just as much as the boys.

Women and Shar'ira Law

While Somalian militia are starting to kill people who are socializing and dancing in mixed company (CNN), don't miss these recent articles in the New York Times that really illustrate the possibilities and difficulties of changing Islamic laws relating to women and sex.

On the one hand, the Times first filed this report on how Pakistan is considering revising its laws about rape, in order to better protect women. Currently, the law requires that a woman provides four male witnesses to a rape: if she cannot, then she can be charged as an adultress.

Then, yesterday, the paper ran this article – as part of its effort to become a member of the European Union, Turkey has outlawed and is more aggressively prosecuting so-called "honor killings" – when a family member will kill a female relative for disgracing the family somehow (often for being in love with an unapproved of boy, but it could be as small as wanting to wear jeans). The result: families are now torturing girls, until the girls commit "honor suicides" – sparing the families of a possible homicide charge.

Sexism in Science

Okay, I guess this isn't much compared to those issues, but two interesting pieces caught my eye this week, relating to women working in the field of science. First, the Washington Post featured a transgender scientist who has written about his experiences as a female scientist, and now as a male. He makes some painful observations, such as his colleagues seem to take him more seriously as a man. But there's a part of me (and maybe you) that wonders if this isn't such a rare case, because of the transgender element, that means his experiences aren't representative.

Well, his experiences are absolutely dead on if this article in the Boston Globe is any indication. The Globe tells the tale of a brilliant scientist who was being wooed to move to MIT, but a Nobel-winning male scientist fought against her hiring. And this is apparently in the context of university faculty saying that the university is not doing enough to end sexism in its ranks.

Son, I've Got Something To Tell You . . . .

This one's for fans of This American Life.

Patricia Wen of The Boston Globe reports on how, in 2004, a mother chooses to finally tell her son -- on his birthday -- that he's adopted. Since then, he's gone through all the predictable "Who am I?" responses, but here's the thing . . . .

His mother was 99 years old, and her son was turning 70 on that day. She's now 101. He's 72, and still dealing with who he is, has hired private investigators to try to find his biological mother – who, if she is alive, will be 92 . . . .

Other Random Items I just Couldn't Ignore

The Chicago Sun-Times tells the tale of a guy who started trading stuff on Craigslist – he started with a red paper clip, and ended up with a rent-free year in a house.

AP reported that the residents of a small town in Ohio collect donations for city expenses like street lamps through an unusual collection method: an organization places an outhouse on an unsuspecting neighbor's front lawn. You have to donate to the group to get it removed – but then you get to pick the next home it gets sent to. Hmm... interesting. I think it's sort of illegal though, so I wouldn't try this in your town before calling a lawyer or two.

Meanwhile, in Malaysia, another AP reporter filed this story of a man caught for secretly being a bigamist. Local leaders made him give up his second wife, and ordered him to give his first wife a buffalo and a pig for his misdeeds.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

please be careful listening to iPod because it can contribute to hearing loss. Your hearing is too precious to lose.

I am discovering how much I missed between ages two to age twenty eight with a beyond hearing loss and now have a cochlear implant.

I was fortunate to have friends and family faciliate the communication barriers and helped me so much!

2:31 PM  
Blogger Ashley Merryman said...

Thanks for the warning. I actually don't have an iPod, but for now, the headset I do have, I'm very careful to limit the volume and time I use it for.

3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is not 'Hypocratic' but 'Hippocratic'.. Editing!!

8:33 AM  
Blogger Ashley Merryman said...

Oops, my bad. You know, I knew that was wrong when I typed it, but I forgot to go back. :-)

9:01 AM  
Anonymous Obadiah Greenberg said...

Glad you're enjoying UC Berkeley podcasts! History 5 is our most popular. To your readers, check out Berkeley's course podcast feeds page for this course and many more.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Ashley Merryman said...

Oh, I am enjoying them, very much. Thanks for the link: had I known what it was, I would have posted it myself.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Digital Art Photography for Dummies said...

All of this is so horrible. I teach sociolinguistics at National University in California, and we address those issues. I've been teaching for 22 years in one way or another and things sure have gone downhill for women in much of the Islamic world. It's hard to open up and communicate in my classes about these issues. Really hard!

3:53 PM  
Anonymous Nancy H said...

I'd be careful about jumping to conclusions on that MIT story. I know someone(female) who works in that lab and she says that the feminist group is blowing it way out of proportion. The woman in question does research in an area very similar to the head of the lab's and he declined to collaborate with her for academic competition reasons. He's comfortable with his methods and doesn't want to change direction to accomodate her. He would have said the same thing to a man in the same research field.

7:27 PM  
Blogger Ashley Merryman said...

Hmmm. Interesting -- I'd love to hear more from your friend. Is it that she feels that sexism isn't an issue on campus that other women are saying it is -- or is that she just doesn't feel it applies in this instance?

9:59 PM  
Anonymous Ohio Medical Board said...

Yes, I'd like to hear more from your friend as well.

10:42 AM  

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