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Worth Your Time

July 29, 2010

Jaclyn Friedman’s My Sluthood, Myself is an amazing personal reflection, combined with political critique about what it means to be a slut:

I’m telling you this because, as scary and dangerous as my sluthood is, it’s built on privilege. My paid work will never be in jeopardy because my sluthood is exposed. My work also means I have a lot of practice with direct sexual communication. I’m old enough to be fluent in my own desires and limits, and also old enough that no one expects me to be virginal anyhow, so the risk of stigma is less. I’m cisgender and able-bodied and relatively mentally heathly for now, which makes these assignations a lot easier to mange on multiple levels, I would imagine. I have extensive self-defense training, which assures me I can stay in control of my own safety even in most situations. As a survivor of sexual violence, I’ve been privileged to have access to good long-term therapy and other resources that helped me heal at a deep level. I’m also white, which means that no one expects my behavior to represent my entire race.

Preachers Who Are Not Believers in Evolutionary Psychology, h/t Chris Blattman

With the help of a grant from a small foundation, administered through Tufts University, we set out to find some closeted nonbelievers who would agree to be intensively – and, of course, confidentially – interviewed. The interviews were all conducted by Linda LaScola, a clinical social worker with years of professional experience as a qualitative researcher and psychotherapist, and, until recently, a regular churchgoer. Like her co-author, philosopher Daniel Dennett, the author of Breaking the Spell (2006), she is an atheist who is nevertheless a sympathetic and fascinated observer of religious practices and attitudes. For this pilot study we managed to identify five brave pastors, all still actively engaged with parishes, who were prepared to trust us with their stories. All five are Protestants, with master’s level seminary education. Three represented liberal denominations (the liberals) and two came from more conservative, evangelical traditions (the literals).

Ghana: Ignorance about Abortion Law Means Death h/t Lovely Lisbee

Unsafe abortions account for more than one in 10 women who die in pregnancy in Ghana, according to new research by the US-based Guttmacher Institute, with ignorance of the law and inadequate facilities partly to blame, say health authorities.

Abortion was declared legal in 1985 for women who have been raped, in cases of incest, or where the pregnancy will cause the mother physical or mental harm, but decades on, only 4 percent of women are aware of the law, according to 2009 government health statistics (based on 2007 data).

The Case for 320,000 Kindergarten Teachers (I wish we could see this kind of data globally…)

Students who had learned much more in kindergarten were more likely to go to college than students with otherwise similar backgrounds. Students who learned more were also less likely to become single parents. As adults, they were more likely to be saving for retirement. Perhaps most striking, they were earning more.

All else equal, they were making about an extra $100 a year at age 27 for every percentile they had moved up the test-score distribution over the course of kindergarten. A student who went from average to the 60th percentile — a typical jump for a 5-year-old with a good teacher — could expect to make about $1,000 more a year at age 27 than a student who remained at the average. Over time, the effect seems to grow, too.

One of the largest microfinance organizations, Unitus, is closing, to the surprise of its employees and donors: Closure of Popular Poverty-Fighting Charity Raises Big Questions

The charity’s decision to wind down its sole program shocked not just employees—who were expecting the charity to continue on in microfinance, although perhaps with a different focus—but also donors to the charity. One supporter of Unitus had been negotiating a large gift to the charity in recent weeks but was ultimately told the money was not needed, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

The unusual announcement has reverberated beyond microfinance and piqued the interest of many nonprofit experts. The questions they are asking: Is this one of the best examples to date of a charity preserving philanthropic capital by calling it quits when the job is done? Or is a more sinister reason lurking behind the positive spin in the charity’s press release?

And finally, this: Wyclef Jean is considering a run for the Haitian presidency. I know next to nothing about his politics or the general political situation in Haiti, but it’s been a perfect excuse for a never-ending Fugees and Wyclef playlist the last two days. Sing along with us:

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