25th of January: Fascists, Weightlifters and A-10s

Not an enormous amount of reading done this week what with life and work and non-weekly reading list-creating tasks getting in the way. Still, some good stuff in here.

If you’d prefer you can subscribe to a weekly newsletter containing this newsletter here.

Song of the week is one off Alicia Keys’ second album I rediscovered recently.

  • Interesting on the dynamics of jihadi recruiting in Belgium
  • Remember this book got a good write-up in the Guardian when it came out last year despite sounding like dangerous trash – this is a better review
  • On the dangers of counter-terrorism policy cracking down too hard
  • Very interesting profile of a recently-captured LRA leader who was kidnapped as a child
  • Scary developing alliance between corporate power and Narendra Modi’s nationalist right
  • Long essay, basically, on how bad Boris is
  • In other pleasant news, the Front National is doing well among the youth so that’s nice
  • On the other hand, increasingly serious talk of forgiving Greek debt
  • Think I’ve shared most of these in the past, but Dan Hancox collected his writing on gentrification into one place, including this sad piece about a charity that helps deal with the various bureaucracies of the public housing system
  • Two long articles about the absurdity of USAF policy towards the A-10, if long reads about fighter jets are your thing
  • Good critique of American Sniper, the most recent “topic which I get is important but can’t care less about”
  • Stuart Heritage tries to go optimistic for a week
  • IDK about the science of this piece but it is worth it just for the photos of old people pumping iron
  • Related. I love this article so much despite ‘spornosexual’ being the single worst term – so good on gym culture and masculinity
  • Quite nice piece looking forward to 2015 in gaming
  • Great on David Oyelowo and black British actors ‘doing’ America
  • This is good on the debate around casting an able-bodied actor in The Theory of Everything
  • Very interesting on Rap Genius
  • Top-five annoying things that happened this week – the “feud” between Chris Bryant and James Blunt – this is a good response.

And that’s that! Have a lovely week x

20% women bylines, so it’s actually getting worse.

18th of January: Hypothermia

Let’s get straight into it.

Song of the week is by Yamore, a singer I found off the Africa Stop Ebola single and features Cesaria Evora and between their two lovely voices it’s just beautiful.


If you’d like to receive this directly to your inbox every Sunday, you can subscribe here.

  • While with any luck, the debate over Charlie Hebdo is going away now, as it was getting deathly dull, I’ve got a few pieces left on it. These two contextualise the magazine/the attack/the response in French history/society without descending into “no but you don’t understand France is different”* and one quite good one on media coverage of the attacks
  • Quite thoughtful response to the “why do you care about Paris and not Baga” thing that’s irritatingly rattling about, and an attempt to understand the point of Boko Haram’s horrific tactics
  • Interesting theological discussion of Islam
  • Report from the Turkish border town that’s like a staging point to Syria
  • IDK why this even needs to be said, really, but this is good why on invading North Korea would be a bad. idea.
  • Very good profile of Tony Blair, though the title is annoying me more and more every time I see it.
  •  Bus strike was days ago and it didn’t even really inconvenience me but this is a good explanation of why it was needed
  • Aditya Chakrabotty very good on London families being evicted for no real reason, and Aaron Bastani on how housing in this city is making everybody miserable.
  • Musa Okwonga discusses Game of Thrones as a metaphor for climate change (although these ASOIAF nerds disagree (wrongly))


  • Interesting on the tensions of photojournalism (without being entirely about the notorious vulture photo)
  • Couple of brilliant short stories. One from a “Mars Widow”, and one dystopian pulp fiction murder mystery. Please give these a read.
  • This was a weird one to read on the bus. Very funny piece (bit explicit) on IUDs
  • Last week I shared the ‘36 questions to make you fall in love’ thing with you – this week, the Guardian sent some of my favourite writers to do the experiment and it’s pretty great
  • Speaking of dates, this profile of Chris “Captain America” Evans is utterly bizarre and wonderful
  • You’ll have seen this by now but just in case – the Harry Potter series if Hermione was the main character

And that’s that. Bye.

*which tbf it is

24% women bylines

11th of January: Resolutions and Initiatives

And we’re back! While I didn’t manage to clear the ‘longread’ backlog on Pocket (the New Yorker really did me in when they opened their archives), I got most of the way through my queue over the holiday, and have come to share the best of that with you.

As ever, if you’d rather receive this as a newsletter, please subscribe here.

Song of the week is one off Stevie Wonder’s most recent (I mean, from 2005) album. It never reaches the heights of his older stuff but I like it a lot.


  • Surprisingly, and not surprisingly, given the deluge of thinkpieces and bold stances that have rattled around the internet this week, I haven’t actually got an enormous amount of Charlie L’Hebdo pieces. Nick Cohen put in a couple of good submissions for The Worst, though. This one is beautifully written and refuses the binary simplicity of some responses, while Hugo Rifkind wrote the best piece on the cartoons themselves I’ve read.
  • Quite unnerving account of Libya’s continuing descent into horror
  • Exciting behind-the-scenes of how Obama’s big international agreements were negotiated
  • Larry Elliott pours cold water on optimism about the global economy
  • This is pretty old, but it’s a very interesting feature on the origins of ISIS in American jails in Iraq. A criticism of John Kerry’s tactic of mocking them. And two pieces from Daveed Gartenstein-Ross on ISIS having peaked/starting to decline, in the Atlantic and, sorry, the Spectator*
  • Fascinating discussion of nuclear deterrence
  • Powerful on responses to and lessons from the suicide of a young trans girl
  • Very long piece on the failings of Britain’s war in Afghanistan
  • I think this is old but I really really like it – Heather McRobie looks at elitism in foreign policy reporting and “who gets to speak” – touches on so many things I’ve wondered about recently
  • Some ‘lessons’ from the Ebola crisis
  • A look at how Brazil 2014 measures up against past World Cups
  • Utterly terrifying but compelling account of a bloke who got knocked off his fishing boat in the Atlantic
  • Good article on the equally terrifying phenomenon of migrant ‘ghost boats’ and the failings of European asylum policy
  • Veers a bit close to bashing Russia for the sake of it but this struck me as an interesting proposal for a lasting peace between Ukraine and Russia
  • Krugman good again on how news from the French economy is interpreted
  • Not only do I really want to make the recipe in this article I want all recipes ever to be prefaced with long, beautiful writing about home, food, and identity. Wonderful.
  • Joel Golby does some depressing maths about CEO pay.
  • Little musical interlude here. I hadn’t seen Beyoncé’s video for 7/11 yet and while the song is mediocre at best the video is so relentlessly endearing and fun I don’t mind.


  • Very old (ten years, anyway) piece on lad’s mags – interesting both because it seems to be written at the outset of a phenomenon that has declined by now and for what his arguments about masculinity.
  • Mallory Ortberg is a treasure – a taxonomy of the ‘haters of the sea’ and a selection of Bible verses where “”Thou shalt not” is replaced by can u not”.
  • Also old, but I love this collection of writing on Kanye’s The College Dropout. Track-by-track delight.
  • Great interview with Stewart Lee
  • Very interesting on how Hunger Games challenges gender roles and romance
  • Interesting and lovely and a bit creepy on how to make yourself fall in love
  • On the other side of the spectrum, a bartender recounts awkward Tinder dates he’s witnessed, and delightfully, @gspels (on Twitter) spent about a week pretending to be a ghost on Tinder and sharing the responses she got – this article collects some I had missed
  • Interesting article on how Marvel Studios redefined itself in 2014
  • The excellent Bim Adewunmi gave up Twitter for a week and tells us about the struggle
  • Reasonably interesting long article on one of the blokes behind all the clickbaity viral stuff the internet is drowning in. More interesting is I’m pretty sure I used to listen to his Harry Potter podcast back in the day.
  • Delightfully cynical on how Taylor Swift uses and performs female friendship
  • Great critique of the depiction of sex work in GTA and people’s responses to it
  • A writer from Bojack Horseman discusses how easy it is to slip into writing male characters as the default
  • Finally, science and some climbers debunk a Hollywood trope.

And that’s it! Sort of. I meant to post separately about 2015 resolutions for the blog and myself but put it off too long so now I’m folding it into the first post of the year which has a certain logic. Feel free to wander off at this point, have a lovely week. x

38% women bylines (see below)

*the last one is noticeably worse, so clearly the magazine rubs off on its writers




Continue reading