30th of November: Go on then

Very nearly gave up on posting this week, employment being much more time-consuming than I had anticipated. But I’m nothing if not loyal.  Will rush through it though, as it’s already a few hours late.

Song of the week is Luiz Melodia’s “Diz Que Fui Por Ai”, which I get the impression is kind of a classic, but I only heard recently (despite Mum having at least one of his albums knocking about).

  • Another interesting detailed analysis from Daveed Gartenstein-Ross of IS’s campaign in Iraq
  • Drawing some lessons from the Libya intervention
  • Unsettling interview with a BBC reporter left crippled by a shooting in Saudia Arabia
  • Look at the evolution in Angela Merkel’s attitude to Russia
  • Provocative take on Bolivia legalising (and regulating) child labour
  • The Index on Censorship looks at evolving models of Russian propaganda
  • Reactions to the awful, yet unsurprising news from Ferguson from Gary Younge, Roxane Gay, Wail Qasim, and a beautiful piece from Ta-Nehisi Coates on ‘what cannot be said’. Jamelle Bouie deals with the black-on-black crime trope. Cord Jefferson reposted this piece written in response to the last tragic killing of a black teenager.
  • Not many surprises in here but nice explanation of why diet and exercise information is so rubbish
  • This is bizarre and kind of brilliant on nonsense and the Rochester flag… thing
  • Joel Golby (who is quickly becoming my most-linked to writer) good on the working, poor young (IDK what the comma situation is there), and on reaching 25
  • Not sure exactly why I’m so acutely sick of Eminem but this is interesting on how badly he’s matured
  • This is not as good as I had hoped, but I’ve struggled to go “yeah Brazilian food is x, y, z” so it’s not bad
  • Nice piece on the Rosetta mission
  • Yet another article on the future of the music business
  • Rather beautiful writing by how videogames prepared the author to cope with real-life tragedy
  • The French press are reporting on the British press reporting on the former French First Lady publishing a book and it’s delightfully bitter
  • Surprisingly good profile of One Direction
  • Another retrospective of Half-Life 2
  • Lovely piece on the importance of the black protagonist in an Assassin’s Creed expansion
  • A lot of miserable news this week – this video of a bunch of blokes calling their Dads to tell them “I love you” for the first time is a rather adorable pick-me-up to leave you with

23rd of November: Excellence

It’s late and I’m tired – not much preamble this week. Regular reminder that if you’d rather receive this list to your inbox every week instead of having to make the long trek to …click on a link, you can do that (you lazy bastard) by subscribing here.

Song of the week was already going to be this one off Watch the Throne, and then it was discussed in one of the links down below in a really interesting way and that cemented it’s place. Keep an ear out for the most casually matey address you will hear to the 44th President of the United States of America. Delightful.

  • To make up for the absence of IR articles last week, a pair of essays on American grand strategy – similar in intent, I think. The longer, at Foreign Policy, argues for the US to craft a more stable international order while they’re still dominant, and this shorter one simply points out the obvious flaws with the “world police” ideal
  • Really interesting on a controversial photoshoot featuring West Point cadets
  • Interview with Ukrainian soldier fighting in and around Donetsk airport.
  • As tedious as I find the drone debate, this case for a moratorium on drone strikes is well-argued (I’ve only just noticed it’s a year old), while this piece from the first soldier to make a lethal drone strike is an interesting look into the realities drone warfare.
  • Now, to Syria. A cynical discussion of martyrdom. A profile of some British jihadis*. This piece is quite sad, but in the little ceasefires it depicts across Syria, there’s an element of a slightly better future maybe?
  • A part of me really just wishes that ISIS would murder someone who turned out to be a knob because the victims (those whose stories we hear) just seem to be the best of humanity and it’s desperately sad – a couple of tributes to Abdul-Rahman (Peter) Kassig.
  • On a similar note, account of an almost-kidnapping in Yemen.
  • As a sort of exercise in academic accountability, this post from Marc Lynch on what scholars got wrong about the Arab Spring is excellent. Also generally interesting.
  • Two on China – one on how it is assuming its role as a great power, and Daniel Drezner advocating less panic over said rise
  • IDK if this has been a long week or if this was meant to be last week, but a solid rebuttal to the Band Aid vision nonetheless
  • I knew about Brazil’s role in the international court cases on HIV medication but had 0 idea of how ambitious treatment was within the country – this is cool.
  • Gary Younge, excellent as ever, on Obama’s announcement of an amnesty for undocumented immigrants
  • Hadn’t read anything by Ally Fogg in a while – this is good on male violence
  • Again, this feels like it’s done the rounds on Facebook twice since I read it, but whatever, it’s a good summary of how screwed younger generations are
  • Alex Proud says we should all vote. This article from Novara dreams bigger, looking at a 24th Century Post-Capitalist Future.
  • While we’re on the inter-generational warfare, this article (seems to be) by an older bloke experiencing job applications today and being stunned by how. annoying. they are. Welcome to the party, pal. (It’s a good article, tbf, and on point).**
  • Stinging review of Boris Johnson’s biography of Churchill***
  • Speaking of slams, this review of a book on ‘Anonymous’ is generally interesting
  • As British politics chases UKIP down into the gutter, a welcome reminder that this leads us nowhere good
  • There is one line in this generally decent article that is so good it jumped into the list – I straight-up copied it out to text it to my flatmate from the bus
  • Talib Kweli, who I should probably know as more than “bloke off early Kanye songs”, writes a great response to Piers Morgan on [and here, tbh, IDK what to say. I’d rather keep the blog slur-free, but at the same time, the Louis CK bit he quotes is very true, so… IDK I’ma white guilt to the end of the parenthesis here]
  • Giles Coren is brilliantly stinging here on coffee, going further than I would, but in a righteous cause so I’ll allow it
  • Made the jump to an iPhone ‘recently’, and so as part of my ongoing quest to stay down with the kids****, I’ve been trying to get on board with the Emoji. This is a brilliant article on them.
  • Really interesting on how the Shazam app has affected the music business
  • Chelsea Peretti (Brooklyn Nine Nine)is such a bizarre figure, and this review of her stand-up special has me intrigued
  • Far Cry 3 runs on my computer! This discussion of how the series, and other blockbuster games, try and fail to handle racism is a bit old (I think it emerged in response to the whole thing around the cover) but very good
  • Possibly a bit more critical than I would be, but this is a cool look back at Half-Life 2 ten years on
  • OK, here’s that discussion of Murder to Excellence, but first, a process. I’ve been meaning to point you towards Bim Adewunmi’s (great writer and, I believe, currently women’s editor at The Guardian) “Ten Things” on Twitter for a while, but it’s a bit awkward to link – it’s basically a little ritual every Friday for ten minutes and it’s kind of lovely. During said countdown, Bim linked to Rembert Browne’s, of Grantland, new podcast. The first episode features the wonderful Cord Jefferson and it’s a great, funny, little chat to listen to – unlike bloody Serial, I didn’t resent it for replacing my gym playlist. And they talk about Kanye and Jay. Circuitous, but I got there!

God, got a bit chatty there, sorry. Hit the 1,000 word barrier again. Have a lovely week x

*I’m still very unsettled by the idea of lads from Portsmouth being vaporised by American airstrikes, tbh. I mean obviously they made their bed and all, but it’s a sad state of affairs.

**shouldn’t complain, I’m technically gainfully employed now. Also, just saw that said “old bloke” is Ian Jack – the byline didn’t appear when I downloaded the article

***the fucking state of that man. Not only is he not doing anything of value with City Hall in favour of writing a book, it’s a shit book. At least Russell Brand was only taking time off “pissing about” to write his shit book.

****mostly so I can work out how best to be contemptuous of them

16th of November: Noir

I kind of hate myself for that title because I think it might be a pun, but I’m in a shambles anyway because this week’s list has, at a push, one IR-ish article. I also managed to delete the archive of saved links I was keeping which is a little bit heartbreaking.

Song of the week is Albert Hammond Jr. (out of the Strokes), just remembered that he was doing the “removing albums from Spotify” thing well before Taylor, and sought him out on Youtube (cos duh). Anyway this song’s a bit beautiful and “you’re pretty won’t you come play with me” breaks my heart consistently.


Structure this week is shot to bits because I can’t do “IR-Serious Non-IR-frivolity” as usual, so let’s just get straight into it.

  • I like this on the Seumas Milnes of the world – how not to oppose imperialism
  • (straight onto the British politics!) Following the tedious and abortive coup against Miliband, Jonathan Freeland suggests a good campaign message for Labour
  • Lol this government is a joke.
  • Kind of by turns beautiful and heartbreaking (corresponding to each country), this piece on youth prison systems in Spain and the UK is excellent
  • Vaguely surreal profiles of some of the expats staying in Afghanistan when ISAF leaves
  • Was going to share a couple of episodes of #IMOBastani, Aaron off Novara Media’s new project, with you but this one is on UKIP and Mare Nostrum and it is very strong stuff (“because these people have names, right?” is a killer line), and the other two are in the related videos. It’s still a bit rough around the edges but definitely one to watch – do check out episode three too.
  • Another good piece on the mid-term elections*
  • Troubling from Jamelle Bouie on the possibility that the deadlock and fuckery that is American politics might be here to stay for a long while
  • Excellent on abortion rights
  • Clever apps and technology probably isn’t a solution to rape culture
  • Heartbreaking story from the pre-Civil Rights era. As you read it, never forget they were literal children and that everything is the literal worst.
  • Another beautiful Ask Polly column
  • As someone who spends a few minutes each week downloading daft apps to optimise my existence**, I found these pieces on ‘lifehacking’ and Soylent fascinating,
  • The Toast is amazing and this piece on introverts is my favourite
  • Good critique of yet another Band Aid single***
  • Stinging review of Lena Dunham’s memoir
  • Taylor Swift’s music finally disappeared off my Spotify, so I’m going to share a number of articles about the future of streaming
  • Joel Golby at Vice has a couple of funny ones this week – on Mick Hucknall’s sex life (yeah, ew) and on the nightmare that is “Very British Problems” getting a TV show
  • Couple of pieces on Interstellar at Popular Science
  • Rather pretty writing on video-games and Destiny and savegames
  • I am dreading reinstalling Skyrim on the new computer because of the bloody ordeal that modding it will be – this is nice on how much the modding community has impacted the game
  • And, of course, because how on earth was it going to go a whole reading list without the person that I’ve been reading out about all week – Kim Kardashian. I’m actually surprised I didn’t save more pieces about this because there’ve been some good ones but IDK.

And that’s that! Have a lovely week everyone! X

*I think I linked to the same author on the same topic last week but can’t check because of deletions 😦 😦

**today I saw my calendar app was telling me to work on my dissertation, ignored it, and continued playing Far Cry 3. 10 hours.

***though tbh if they get someone good on it, I will listen to it throughout December, because the original is one of the key parts of my Christmas playlist

9th of November: Frozen

Surprisingly, considering it’s reading week, there are a few less links this week. I attribute it to actually getting some work done for once. Could also be the cold starting to freeze my brain. Still, a lot to be getting on with here. Also, it’s gone in italics and I don’t really know why so sorry about that*.
My most played songs this week are, naturally, still from 1989, and I had said I wouldn’t use them so I’m in a bind. This’ll do – beautiful song off a recent B.B. King album.
  • This is some Tom Clancy-esque (except it’s real) stuff on how the naval part of WW3 would have gone down
  • Speaking of which, interesting (and terrifying) detail on how aircraft carrier launches work
  • One of the kidnapped journalists in Syria tells his story
  • Quite interesting on the things Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 gets right about proxy wars
  • A look at how the threat (which I only vaguely half-remember) of China’s monopoly on rare earth extraction failed to materialise
  • Interesting on open-source intelligence
  • This is good on the far-right’s appropriation of the poppy appeal
  • Part of why student politics continues to be a joke – the NUS is a massive one
  • Watched this unfold on Twitter this week and it’s still pretty stunning. A journalist criticised Dapper Laughs and he set his followers on her and then went back to having a legit ITV2 program.
  • Good by Aaron Bastani on the failings of EU migration policy in the Mediterranean
  • This is nice on urban regeneration in Cairo
  • Some Guardian journos reflect on how their social class has changed
  • This article is quite a good expression of some of the discomfort I’ve felt at leftist foreign policy writing recently
  • Rather interesting that this article (FR) on police violence in France uses the UK as a positive comparison. Not sure if that’s just a sign of how bad France is or a certain naivety.
  • Boris Johnson needs to go
  • Nice look at how Europe has influenced the gradual retreat of the death penalty in the USA
  • Behind all the rhetoric, Brazil isn’t really about to go all Castro
  • Following the mid-terms, a critique of the Democrats’ policy of not campaigning as Democrats
  • I mean I’m all in favour of London sawing itself off from the rest of the country and floating away but if giving London more powers is in the provinces’ interest then I guess that’s nice too?
  • Following that “I am a feminist” T-shirt storm in a teacup, this article actually looks at the company that made the shirt, which looks less like a sweatshop and more like development in action
  • I’ve shared this about eight times this week in various places but it’s just so good. The excellent Cord Jefferson writes about his mother, and kindness, and just go read it now**
  • Not only is damselling in games sexist, it’s a bit dull
  • It seems we’re even sexist to robots
  • The science of wormholes
  • Great profile of Mallory Ortberg, of The Toast, which prompted me to do some trawling through their archives – some gems: the wars of the roses reimagined, and a look at the most embarrassing succession crisis in history
  • This is funny from soon-to-be father Stuart Heritage
  • Harsh truths about being single
  • This review of the new Call of Duty touches on something I’ve often wondered about – war games do seem more fun when they take place in recognisable settings
  • Have yet to encounter a Movember twat but this reminded me of seething at them in the past
  • Great piece on the rise of TV recaps
  • Not only was I broadly pleased with this season of Doctor Who, but The Walking Dead has been good so far? Shocking stuff. Todd VanderWerff looks at why (I knew the character stuff from last season would pay off)
  • I went around recommending this a lot when I discovered it couple of years back– dug it up a few nights ago. Simon Amstell’s brilliant, brilliant stand-up set from IDK how many years ago now.
Finally, cos I don’t want to dignify this with a bullet-point, but there’s more head-over-heels with the ridiculously-endearing-atm-Taylor Swift*** stuff. This clip of her lip-syncing to Kendrick Lamar (!) is wonderful, and I don’t know why, I really liked this appearance on a French radio show.
*this happened to my Granddad in an email once and I laughed. 😦
**warning from experience– don’t read it on the bus – it might do you in
***aside from the pulling her stuff from Spotify thing. Not that it affects me as I had it all saved because I’m not an amateur

2nd of November: Record-Breaker

There’s good news, and there’s bad news. The good news is that there is no way you won’t find something in this week’s list that interests you. The bad news is that that’s because there are fifty-odd links today. I’m not sure why I all of a sudden started reading so much, especially as this was the week in which I downloaded an app to shame me into reading more books and frittering away less of my time. Oh well.

This was also the week in which Taylor Swift’s 1989 was released on iTunes, which is such an unwieldy piece of software that I was late to class because of it. Also because I don’t care, admittedly. However, I will not burden you all with a song off it as that’d be too obvious – I’ve already got about a dozen articles about it down the bottom of the list.

Song of the week is, just because I’m listening to it at the moment and having a bit of a nostalgic moment, November Rain. Watching the video while listening is compulsory.

Long, over-indulgent song, in an over-long intro, for an over-long blog? Brilliant.

I wrote a thing this week! Not NATO Council anymore, but I wrote up a talk by Professor Keohane I attended at the LSE.

  • Good look at how ISIS exploits tribal divisons

  • This piece on Obama administration diplomacy re: Iraq has some great little anecdotes

  • Even though I find the media’s fetishization of them a bit odd, this is a great feature (FR) on the female Kurdish militias

  • An overview of external interventions in Libya recently

  • Strong argument (FR) against “political solutions” to terrorism

  • Dan Drezner tries to understand the latest outbreak of US-Israeli (hilarious) pettiness

  • Examination of lone-wolf terrorism

  • Review of a damning book on the conduct of the war in Afghanistan.

  • Dilma won, and the Brazilian right are already trying to get her impeached. A look at why the election was so divisive, and an explanation of why she won. Also, some general interesting observations on the election.

  • Good piece on how the “Churchill” model of leadership haunts British politics

  • Fascinating look at how broadly black identity was defined in the UK. Sort of writing I only really see coming from the States, would love recommendations of UK-centric stuff.

  • Philippe Marlière tackles the myth of British generosity to asylum seekers

  • Speaking of which, a great (slightly old now) feature on the seat Nigel Farage is going to target at the next election

  • Also from the LRB, this is a really interesting history of Islam by Tariq Ali, introduced by a beautiful little autobiographical tale

  • A look at the future for Burkina Faso from Al Jazeera and Africa is a Country, as well as this delightfully pointed letter (FR) from President Hollande to (now-ex) President Compaoré

  • Almost dystopian (Kelsey Atherton compared it to Warhammer 40K when he shared it) but fascinating feature, touching on so many problems, piece on Californian prisoners working as volunteer firefighters.

  • An optimistic piece on Ebola? Surely not.

  • Very interesting interview about rethinking the way we design cities, taking, but of course, Latin America as an example

  • Terrifying piece (FR) on Boko Haram’s latest attack

  • This is a long, moving, intelligent, thoughtful, upsetting essay on dealing with grief – I had to read it in several sittings both because of the length and the subject matter but I highly recommend making the effort

  • Sober reaction to the Virgin Galactic crash Friday

  • Beautiful little piece on Egypt’s revolution

  • What is dehumanisation, and how does it enable atrocities?

  • I had assumed this sort of thing was an algorithm – turns out there are poorly-paid people dealing with ‘reported’ content on social media.

  • Long feature on how Louisiana is fading into the sea and the political, environmental, and cartographical implications of this

  • Two on abuse of women online – one an account, and the other a call to stand up to trolls

  • Very good feature on how China is causing concern in the Asia-Pacific region.

  • This is funny on ‘The Secret Fantasies of Adults’

  • Also funny but kind of not on the pictures used to illustrate overpopulation stories

  • Surreal feature on ‘Uber but for not-quite-escorts’

  • ICYMI, J.K. Rowling wrote a thing about Umbridge. The bit beneath where she explains where the character came from is more interesting TBH. Mostly sharing because it reminded me of “’The ministry has fallen. Scrimgeour is dead. They are coming.”, ie the best quote in the whole series.

  • The Chuckle Brothers are having a moment and it’s amazing
  • This game looks fascinating but horrific – great review

  • Still haven’t played Metal Gear Solid 3 but this is such a great piece anyway

  • Very interesting look at different treatments of sex in RPGs

  • Proof that Gamergate (ugh) is winning – Anita Sarkeesian got invited onto The Colbert Report. Performs very well, too.

  • Right, we’re approaching the Taylor Swift segment. This is technically a Swift piece but I think it’s broaderly [sic] relevant on how we dismiss music without understanding where it’s coming from.

  • Here goes *deep breath*. Jezebel on how dude-heavy reviews of 1989 have been. Reviews from NPR, Vulture, Grantland, The Guardian* . Review from Slate is actually very interesting despite a stupid gimmick. Delightfully keen ‘conversation‘ on 1989. On Swift’s persona. On her use of social media**. This is on Red but it’s interesting. Vox did a cool live-blog (dude-heavy). The Guardian did a roundup of pieces on it, some of which I may not have linked to (doubtful). And… *exhale*

That’s all! Just under the thousand-word-mark. Have a lovely week. x

*though not a fan of the dig at Lana

**which is undeniably skilful but I’m actually finding quite annoying – my Tumblr is now even more adolescent than it was when I just followed my sister on there