Photo: Tom Magliery

This week from the blogosphere:  a glimpse of Alabama after tornadoes, a new database to make sure our cosmetics are safe, and what a Forbes blogger realized when she met Gloria Steinem.

  • Among this week’s crush of news was the story of the tornadoes across the South, the most destructive in recorded history. New Orleans blogger Renee Claire has first-hand reporting from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, including some dramatic footage and useful suggestions about where we can give to help out.
  • Wondering how to sort through warnings about chemicals in our skin care products and cosmetics? Try the Environmental Working Group’s national Skin Deep database, via our sister site Our Bodies, Our Blog. Click on the first link, writes the blog’s Rachel Walden, “You can browse by cosmetic category or search for the name of your favorite product to find out about possible hazards in terms of cancer risk, reproductive toxicities, and allergies. Information is also provided on companies’ animal testing policies. The directions and ingredients listed on each product label is listed, and links are provided to other similar product types and products from the same manufacturer.” OBOS  also gives links to the database’s testing protocols.
  • At WVFC, we know Janet Golden as an incisive writer and half of our celebrated Team Librarian pair of humorists.  So we were both unsurprised and thrilled to find Janet’s wise commentary at History News Network, giving historical perspective on recent efforts in Maine to scale back child labor laws. With droll irony, she frames the trend on Maine as a modest proposal: “Maine could really be a model if it would just eliminate all restrictions on work.  As one woman told investigators in 1919: ‘Once, before the child-labor law got so bad, little bits of kids, five to six years old, would get out and make more than the older ones.’ Imagine how great it would be if our five and six year olds could be doing their part and perhaps inspire their older siblings to buckle down. And aren’t we always complaining about kids needing to exercise and lose a few pounds?  What’s better than getting up in the morning and walking to work and earning so little that you just don’t have money for junk food, or sometimes, any food?”
  • Forbes.com isn’t where you usually look for a three-part series on “Why I Returned to the Women’s Movement.” At She Negotiates, Victoria Pynchon begins by narrating the recent premiere of D.A. Pennebaker’s film Jane, about Jane Fonda, at a fundraiser for the Women’s Media Center to describe her initial dismissal of feminism in the early Ms. Magazine days: “I didn’t want to be a woman lawyer. I wanted to be a lawyer.”  By part III, of course, the outside world has taught her the usefulness of such distinctions, and the community it engenders.
  • “What? Erykah Badu is 40?” That joyful yelp followed our discovery of this pointer on Racialicious to the revolutionary (if diminutive) singer’s spectacular and sexy VIBE Magazine cover. Badu, who turned 40 this year, compares the cover photo —in which she is naked except for a spectacular tattoo — to “traditional performance art like Yoko Ono, or Nina Simone. Research some of those women. They all seem to live by the same theme: Well-behaved women rarely make history. Even looking at people like Harriet Tubman and those types of women. When you have strong convictions about something you know what you already gonna do.” She also talks about the video below, in which her nudity is blurred but its message is not:
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