Maddie Oatman

Maddie Oatman

Research Editor

Maddie worked as a travel guide in Argentina and a teacher at several educational nonprofits in San Francisco before joining Mother Jones. She’s also written for Outside, the Bay Citizen, and the Rumpus. A proud Boulder native, she makes time for mountain climbing, stargazing, and telemark skiing.

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A Gay Cadet's Sense of Honor

| Tue Aug. 10, 2010 1:53 PM EDT

Katherine Miller, a junior at the US Military Academy at West Point, outed herself yesterday while also filing her resignation. In her letter to West Point administration, Miller writes that the current military policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) had caused her to undermine her own integrity:

Specifically, I have created a heterosexual dating history to recite to fellow cadets when they inquire. I have endured sexual harassment for fear of being accused as a lesbian by rejecting or reporting these events. I have been coerced into ignoring derogatory comments towards homosexuals for fear of being alienated for my viewpoint. In short, I have lied to my classmates and compromised my integrity and my identity by adhering to existing military policy.

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"12th and Delaware" Shows Where Abortion War is Really Waged

| Tue Aug. 3, 2010 4:30 PM EDT

The new documentary 12th and Delaware, which premiered last night on HBO, presents a fly-on-the wall view inside two organizations in Fort Pierce, Florida, that cater to pregnant women. Though across the street from one another, in political terms the offices might as well be on separate planets; the Woman's World clinic offers abortions, and the anti-abortion Pregnancy Care Center goes to great lengths to goad women out of them.

Directors Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing, who also created Jesus Camp, plant their film right in the middle of an issue that may be on the minds of politicians everywhere, but is not always an easy topic to broach in conversation."It's just a headache," Grady admits, referring to the film's subject matter. Even though 12th and Delaware cozies up to controversy, "in our opinion it's been hard to get media coverage for the film," remarks Grady, who explains that they had trouble getting traction in the TV review world.

Gangstagrass, and Other Hip Hop Hybrids

| Mon Aug. 2, 2010 6:00 AM EDT

You've heard songs from hip hop artists who sample other musical genres: From the unfortunate evolution of rap metal (think Papa Roach) to Danger Mouse's controversial and crafty mashup of Jay-Z and The Beatles, the practice of intertwining multiple musical roots is widespread in hip hop. You may have also heard bands who reappropriate rap tracks and perform them in their own genres, like The Gourds' popular country version of Snoop Dog's "Gin and Juice." Then there's the surprising collage of hip hop and bluegrass music: Gangstagrass, an experiment that proves, at least to me, that hillbillies and emcees can get along swimmingly.

Behind Every Mountain Man, Three Harmonizing Women

| Mon Jul. 19, 2010 7:00 AM EDT

The women of Mountain Man, a group consisting of three lucid voices and the occasional accompaniment of a guitar, playfully write that they derive inspiration from "train engines, mothers, kale, Wild West" and several tree varieties.

While the flora references leave a bit to be explained, the train-engine influence is easy to detect: Beginning with a chord that grows and then softens, "How'm I Doin," a cover off their new album Made the Harbor, emulates a passing locomotive. The mood created by this song transports me to a bygone era full of the windswept prairies, lone wooden houses, and the bleak and beautiful mining towns of the Old West. Other highlights, like "Animal Tracks," "Honeybee," and "Sewee Sewee" present narratives set in woods and tall grasses. The natural world, with its bees and loons and cold creeks, is woven into nearly every song. We'll follow animal tracks, a voice beckons, to a tree in the woods / and a hole in the leaves we'll see / the bright baby eyes of a chickadee.

15 Minutes with Rogue Cellist Ben Sollee

| Mon Jun. 28, 2010 7:00 AM EDT

Onstage at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Ben Sollee paints an unassuming portrait. He's small in stature, with the baby face of a teenager—despite being in his twenties and married, with a son. He sits on a low stool with only his cello as a companion. But as soon as he starts singing, his voice, silky with a touch of smokiness, fills the field where we sit and slides up the sheer peaks behind us, quieting the chatter of the crowd until all eyes are upon him.

A Kentucky native—his father a guitarist and grandfather a fiddler—Sollee was raised amid the musical traditions and culture of Appalachia. He studied classical cello and then teamed up with three musicians, including the legendary banjo player Bela Fleck, to form The Sparrow Quartet in 2005. Two years later, NPR's Morning Edition named him one of the "Top 10 Great Unknown Artists of the Year."

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