25th of May: A Change of Kanye

Song of the week is from Julian Casablancas’ under-rated solo album Phrazes of the Young. I remember the first time I heard it, sprawled on sofa, high off the thrill of two bottles of Heineken and being with a girl I wouldn’t realise didn’t feel the same way for about an hour longer. Oh to be 17. Anyway, come for the bittersweet reminiscing, ignore the daft lyrics, and stay for the transcendent solo*.

With that, let’s head off at a rather brisk pace as there are like thirty links this week. ugh, sorry. this is the best reading of two flights and two days of class so.

  • First off, couple of interesting pieces on China-US-Russia relations here. One, from Foreign Affairs, predicting a complicated threesome. However, this good voxplainer from Zack Beauchamp reminds us why the China-Russia alliance we’re all afraid of isn’t imminent.
  • I avoid domestic politics as best I can, but this from Lenin’s Tomb, is good on how poorly Labour are doing considering how well they should be, and this is important on how Ukip represent a xenophobia that isn’t as fringe an attitude as we like to think in Britain
  • On a similar note, first Ta-Nehisi Coates piece of the week on how the ‘outrageous’ racists like Donald Sterling help respectable racism continue its far more damaging work
  • There was another backlash against trigger warnings this week. Laurie Penny and Zoe Stavri in defence of them – Zoe delightfully irritable as ever, and an interesting piece looking at why people get so affronted by the request
  • If I had read this any other week, this would be the stand-out piece of the list so please read it. Especially if you’re a reasonably privileged straight chap like me, it is a super illuminating, moving piece on what it is like to receive homophobic abuse in the street and just like. Go.
  • Not keen on the interventionist tendency Samantha Power is associated with, but I do like her as UN ambassador. This speech on the Syria-ICC res. getting vetoed is killer.
  • Don’t think I’ve ever intentionally read the Figaro but this is actually a very fair piece (in French) on the disconnect between France’s military budget and the role it wants to play in the world. A lot of it is applicable to the UK.
  • #Kony2012 was awful, guys. Good piece questioning the logic of US involvement in the search for Kony.
  • Great article placing Boko Haram in the context of hundreds of years of Nigerian history
  • This is the fifth article in a series of five (links to previous parts in the header) over at War on the Rocks about a group of US aid workers (ish) in Iraq in April 2004 as shit hit the fan in a big way. It’s a bit over-written, a bit too much dramatic irony (LITTLE DID HE KNOW WHAT WAS COMING NEXT) but very interesting all the same.
  • Really cool article on the Fermi Paradox which I’m going to pretend I knew about before reading it.
  • Powerful as fuck writing on the 9/11 memorial museum. Understated, personal, surreal. Go. And this still isn’t the stand-out of the week.
  • Thought I posted this last week – really good, optimistic article on how online communities can curb online abuse
  • Interesting feature on the history of the five-a-day guideline
  • Cool piece on how Napoleon is viewed in contemporary France. Wish I remembered Quatrième history better but I didn’t listen for the whole of the 19th Century I think.
  • Lots of emailing for dissertation and job apps has shown me the wisdom of this piece suggesting an end to email sign-offs.
  • This site is a lifesaver, letting you know which episodes of TV series you can skip and I hope they expand to all the other programs I feel like I missed out on. Skipping half of the episodes released has given me a great opinion of Agents of SHIELD
  • This blog can be grim sometimes. Have a Buzzfeed list of adorable pictures of Barack Obama with kids
  • Two interesting takes on superhero films and blockbusters and stuff – one critical, one not entering into a neat dichotomy
  • I’ve got a lot of amorphous thoughts on before-last week’s Louie and the “fat girl” speech and I probably won’t write them down. But though I don’t agree all the way, this is an interesting criticism
  • Funny account of a craft beer festival in London that sounds the worst
  • For Mad Men fans, writers, and TV people – great, long, interview with Matt Weiner. Added bonus for people in my class in high school – he makes The Wasteland references, thus validating all the long hours spent on it.
  • In light of that bizarre Far Cry 4 cover released recently, this got reposted about the failings of Far Cry 3 despite its stated good intentions.
  • Another really cool EVE: Online story
  • Great feature on John Green and the Fault in our Stars film

Normally, here, I’ll do a snarky diss of some awful piece that has annoyed me during the week. But this week I bring to you a piece of writing so big and exciting that The Atlantic was almost running teasers for it like it was a fucking Batman film.

I refer, of course, to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ incredible “The Case for Reparations”, available here. It bears reading and re-reading (because I’ve forgotten half of it), if only because I think the cycle of thinkpieces is only beginning (it doesn’t seem to have crossed the Atlantic (lol) very much yet). Moving, well-researched, illuminating history that should be, but isn’t, common knowledge, it’s just great, and the stand-out of the week. I award it a full “smiling** Kanye”***

courtesy of kanyedaily.tumblr.com

Oh, I forgot – I wrote a thing too. Review of Victoria Coren’s book, if you’re interested. Have a great week, guys – summer is almost here and I’m coming home in less than three weeks x

*yeah I’m running with this sentence structure from now on

**feedback in the comments: do we like smiling-Kanye better than disappointed-Kanye? I enjoy being a dick but there’s something quite affirming about being nice on occasion.

***who got married this weekend which I feel like surprisingly little attention was paid to because I forgot it was happening. Congrats though (I secretly hope Kanye is a reader. That’d be amazing)

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