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

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