Longest ever break, that – we just skipped, I think, two weeks? I very nearly missed today, not through lack of internet so much as wanting to play more Far Cry 2. Couldn’t even write it at 4 in the morning like I used to as I was up at the crack of dawn to trek (quick and empty bus almost directly from home) to queue up (there was no queue) at the Brazilian embassy all day (I was out in 15 minutes). So that was exciting – certainly the most significant election I’ve ever voted in.
Anyway, I have now settled into the flat, but not into the rhythms of actually studying. My Pocket queue has gotten absurd, as whenever I do read it’s for tedious university stuff, so we’ll see how much there is to share every week, but for now, I’ll stay with the same system. Meanwhile, there’s a veritable glut of links to be getting on with this week, so I’ll get straight (says he, 165 words in) to it!
Weekly-ish reminder that if you’d rather receive this direct to your inbox instead of hassling ALL THE WAY to click the link yourselves, you can subscribe here
Song of the week is hardly a secret, but I’ve listened to it about seven times in the past 24 hours. We watched Bridget Jones again this week* and then it came on at a house party and jumped into my gym playlist – it’s Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman”.
First up, a couple of my NATO Council pieces dropped out of the system while I was away. This was supposed to come before the piece on India’s submarines (as evidenced by the transitional bits all over it), on Brazil’s own programme, while this, when I wrote it, was a reasonably topical look at France finally deciding to suspend the sale of the Mistral-class warships to Russia.
- Naturally, it’s an ISIS-heavy list. The problem is, I’ve read so much on ISIS these past weeks that it’s all blurred into one. If it’s made it into the list, I think it’s good, and there are some that have stuck in my mind, like this overall look at Middle-East politics by Andrew Bacevich or this meditation on how hysteria has developed over ISIS, or this anatomy of mission creep. Otherwise, it’s just one, two, three, four, five pieces on ISIS that are all worth reading if you’re interested but broadly indistinct.
- Lovely, bittersweet piece on how Odessa and its residents have been affected by the past year’s events in Ukraine
- On a similar topic, I’ve not liked much leftist writing on Ukraine, as most of it seems about as sophisticated as the rant I got off the hippie who drove me to Madrid, but even though I don’t agree 100%, this is a really good critique of the West’s role in the crisis (without degenerating into The Nation-esque apologetics)
- Also, good rebuttal of abusing recent events to fit them into a ‘clash of civilizations’ framework
- A few good pieces on today’s presidential election in Brazil – one impressed by Marina Silva, one less so (Pt.), and a profile of Dilma Rousseff.
- Sad profile of some of the campaigning mothers who have lost children to police violence in Brazil
- In more positive news, this recognition of a quilombo community’s right to its land in Rio is a very interesting and encouraging sign – more context on the quilombos’ campaign here
- Again, a bit late but this is quite good on what would have happened to the respective militaries had Scotland left the union – does nothing to dispel my belief that we could have reannexed them if necessary
- Encouraging reminder that sometimes international climate efforts work – the ozone got better
- Corrective to the idea of China as a “lonely diva”
- A reflection on R2P
- You can always count on Jay Ulfeldler for some well-sourced optimism – this on the “end” of the era of democratisation is good
- Examination of what happened when Britain de facto secretly decriminalised cannabis (nothing good)
- Mostly obvious stuff but some quite interesting bits and pieces from an informal experiment replicating Tinder
- Powerful column on street harrassment**
- 100% here for writers taking Kim Kardashian seriously
- Two plane articles. One which will make you never want to fly EasyJet again because you know how the other half live. One, long, horrifying, dripping with tension, which will make you never want to fly again because you know that, basically, humans weren’t meant to fly.
- Good response to a column on the “death of masculinity” in television (I didn’t read the original because I don’t like to waste free clicks on paywalled sites on hatereads, but this response stands alone).
- Oliver Burkeman turns his guns on empathy
- This is lovely on being a Sikh woman in business
- As if #gamergate (ugh) wasn’t already enough of a nasty, sad, pathetic “movement”, it’s chief British supporters are the terrible Milo Yiannopoulos, and James bloody Delingpole, who is once again shown to be a troll by the devious trick of comparing his articles with each other. All it needs is for Toby Young to lend his support and it’d be a collection of the worst humans.
- Finally, I loved this two-part examination of alliances in The Lord of the Rings films and its attempt to draw real-world lessons from the Battle of Helm’s Deep***.
- * Which reminds me – I watched it with a friend who loathes the series, while I really like it, but I was wondering – are they explicitly, textually anti-feminist? Not the character of Bridget herself, which is where most criticism pointlessly goes, but the intention – I mostly noticed the negative portrayal of the ambitious lawyer lady, as well as the straw-feminist that is her sweary mate. IDK. Still love the films.**though it is a baffling haircut
***One minor quibble though – I’m pretty sure the elven reinforcements in The Two Towers come from Lothlorien not Rivendell, which mildly undercuts her point about overcoming isolationism. *adjusts spectacles*