Jill Filipovic wrote an opinion column for The Guardian yesterday, arguing against the practice of women taking their husbands' names when they get married. It ended up linked on Jezebel and found its way to my Facebook feed where one particular statistic caught my eye. Filipovic claimed that 50% of Americans think a women should be legally required to take her husband's name.
First, some quick clarification of my biases here. Although I write under a hyphenate, I never have legally changed my name. I've never had a desire to do so. In my private life, I'm just Maggie Koerth and always will be. That said, I personally take issue with the implication at the center of Filipovic's article — that women shouldn't change their names and that to do so makes you a bad feminist. For me, this is one of those personal decisions where I'm like, whatever. Make your own choice. Just because I don't get it doesn't mean you're wrong.
But just like I take objection to being all judgey about personal choices, I also take objection to legally mandating personal choices, and I was kind of blown away by the idea that 50% of my fellow Americans think my last name should be illegal.
So I looked into that statistic. And then I got really annoyed. Read the rest
Remember how the CIA used a phony vaccination campaign in order to collect DNA samples from Osama Bin Laden's family? (If this is news to you, there are lots of places to get the backstory
. Suffice to say, it's morally grotesque. A doctor working with the CIA went around the region near the Bin Laden compound and gave inadequate doses of the vaccine, leaving behind kids whose parents thought they were protected from Hepatitis B, but who were, in fact, not.) This month, Taliban military leaders banned a U.S.-funded polio vaccination campaign from operating in the regions of Pakistan that they control
. Polio is endemic in Pakistan. (Via Emily Willingham) Read the rest
All this week, The Chicago Tribune is posting a multi-part investigative report about the fire-retardant chemicals that turn up in everything from the foam in our couch cushions, to the plastic casings on our television sets. Turns out, research shows these chemicals don't actually prevent fire deaths and injuries. Worse, research does show that these chemicals are dangerous to human health—especially in the quantities to which we are exposed. Dose makes the poison, but we're not talking about small doses here. As the Tribune so succinctly puts it: This isn't something where we measure exposure in parts per million, it's measured in pounds.
The Tribune has also done a very good job of documenting both the existence and history of a pattern of corporate lies and manipulation that has made sure these chemicals remained a mandated part of our lives even as science shows they aren't helping us.
The lies are infuriating, but the history part is particularly fascinating. After all, it's easy to understand why chemical companies would lie and manipulate politics in order to maintain a lucrative market for their products. But why does that market exist, to begin with? Behind the scenes, our continued exposure to these chemicals comes down to two key issues: One poorly designed product safety test that encouraged heavy use of flame-retardants in foam instead of small doses of safer chemicals in fabric, and a 1970s-era attempt to deflect negative press away from cigarettes.
Read the rest
The problem facing cigarette manufacturers decades ago involved tragic deaths and bad publicity, but it had nothing to do with cancer.