Semana Santa here, which has meant much disruption, watching the first season of Rick and Morty (surprisingly good) and House of Cards (surprisingly “meh”), lots of video-games, and luckily for you, not much commuting – so not much reading. Nevertheless, some great Easter reading for you to enjoy in a chocolate-egg induced coma this afternoon.
First off, song of the week. I loved the live version of this off the Shine a Light live album, but this is a really nice cover of the Stones’ “You Got The Silver” by Susan Tedeschi.
IR and Security Stuff
- Couple of interesting pieces on the less-noticed dimensions of Russian power at the moment. One on their very skilled diplomatic corps, and one on Putin’s use of ‘soft power’
- Meanwhile, in the endless void of US foreign policy talk, a succinct outline by Stephen Walt of why Realists are currently the doves in US politics, and a dismissal from Michael Cohen of the “America in retreat” trope
- On which note, a provocative proposal at War on the Rocks for a more forward-thinking policy on Korea – aiming towards reunification and not just disarmament
Assorted Serious Stuff
- This is a recent, interesting piece on Primeiro Comando da Capital, the scarily powerful gang from Sao Paulo. This Vanity Fair one is older – long – but very worth reading; the history of the P.C.C is like something out of The Wire.
- Following the piece on abortion in Brazil last week, this is an interesting investigation into the economic and cultural factors that explain 82 percent of babies being born by Caesarean there
- Simon Jenkins is a bit of a broken record, but he’s pretty interesting on issues of architectural heritage, so his criticism of what he calls “UNESCO’s ruin fetishism” and how it might affect Syria is intriguing
- Coincidentally the first of two pieces by The Independent’s Archie Bland, this one on a period of panic a few years back about London’s “knife crime epidemic”
- By now you’ll have seen this powerful piece on violence against women at the Guardian – so in order to contribute something, here is the ever-thoughtful Musa Okwonga’s reaction to it
- An interesting post by Jay Ulfedler on the difficulties of predicting future outbreaks of mass atrocities, specifically in Rwanda, even twenty years later.
- Ending a bit of a dour run of pieces this week with this mildly uplifting account of a less-acknowledged benefit war has brought to society (beyond the jet engine)*
- Interesting, tongue-in-cheek post by Charlie Satow assessing Random Control Trials in development and their drawbacks. Also he’s fundraising for charity work he’s doing this summer if you’re still inclined to support him after reading this post
Assorted Culture Stuff
- Second Archie Bland piece here – fun on Angus Steakhouses**
- New topic! Never linked to a comic-based thing, but this is very good, and despite being about the portrayal of sexuality in comics, has a lot to say about it in other mediums
- Interesting long piece on Eminem, who I no longer have much time for, and how far/whether he fits into the history of “black” music being appropriated by a white industry
- Another long one, this a very nicely-written essay on game inventories and their mechanics, intercut with a story of a teenage hike
- Moving piece on motherhood sparked by the game Creatures, which I had entirely forgotten
- The return of Game of Thrones and its weddings inevitably means another cycle of tedious spoiler debates and thinkpieces***. Don’t fully agree with this one, but it’s funny.
- Finally, a mildly amusing Radio 1 parody song featuring none other than Sophie Turner, Sansa Stark. Well, the host is a knob, but she sings very well and dances amusingly, so.
It’s what you’ve all been waiting for, isn’t it? Who gets the Kanye West eye-roll this week?
I almost considered giving this one a pass because I’m pretty sure I’ve snarked about General (Armchair Regiment, First Class) Sunny Hundal being daft before but the notion of NATO forces “getting involved” in Ukraine is just too hilarious (and terrifying). It’s bad, and he should feel the full force of this Kanye West eye roll.
*admittedly it’s basically Tilly’s “war made the state and the state made war” thing, but…
**also sounds wildly inferior to Buffalo Grill, one of Ferney’s few restaurants, so the host of many a meal, if only because no free salad.
***my take, for the record; I appreciate that if you’re on Facebook or Twitter or anywhere on the Internet the morning after an episode of Game of Thrones, you’ll get spoiled, and that’s kind of on you. But I don’t buy the “spoilers are fine because of this study that showed you enjoy it more” thing and people need to stop quoting that dull study