26th of July: Soviet Maps, Empty Streets, and Sandwiches

Had forgotten how little fun naming these things was.

Just like in the old days, this list will be available in two formats – a weekly email newsletter, and a weekly blog. I’d like to start strong and get stronger so if you enjoy anything you find this week, or you’ve got fond memories of the halcyon days of like… March, then please pass it on to a friend you love or several people you hate, I’m not fussed where my #numbers come from.

Song of the week is D’Angelo’s Really Love off his last album.

First up, I actually wrote a thing! It’s a slightly rambly piece that stumbles just short of making a point about British defence ambitions but there you go.

Allons-y donc.

  • This piece on Soviet-era maps is fascinating, and contains beautiful reproductions of some of them
  • Sharp critique of Cameron’s speech on ‘extremism’, which actually addressed my own counter-arguments before I had even formulated them
  • UCL have been making headlines recently for their research into the legacies of slavery. This BBC documentary based on the project is excellent 1
  • This poignant essay on what it means to raise a free-spirited black child in a country that seems to punish their existence is heart-breaking
  • So look, I didn’t think I was going to address this one because who knew that taylor swift was actually b a d? but this discussion is actually quite interesting on what the episode can tell us about feminism2
  • Beautiful set of photos of Muslims celebrating Eid. Love the series of selfie ones
  • Nuanced examination of the effects automation could have on fast-food workers in the States, just as their campaign for an increased minimum wage is scoring victories.
  • This is so bizarre and I kind of want to hate the guy, but it’s basically just quite interesting – ‘the man who flies around the world for free’
  • Two superhero-based ones. This Sean Collins look at Hellboy and its approach to the apocalypse is cool, and Austin Walker, here, encapsulates all my thoughts about Batman and the Arkham games and their populations and it’s good.
  • So look this guy is wrong about most of these sandwiches but it’s fairly pleasant writing nonetheless

And that’s that for another week. See you in August x

1: further thoughts. A) It is a nice touch that they interviewed several Caribbean experts instead of just bringing out the English ones again and again B) the effect where they superimpose entries from the archives onto London buildings shouldn’t work but it is so powerful C) Though it is about slavery in the British Empire, not the United States, I couldn’t stop thinking about this wrenching quote from Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between The World And Me:

“Slavery is not an indefinable mass of flesh. It is a particular, specific enslaved woman, whose mind is as active as your own, whose range of feeling is as vast as your own; who prefers the way the light falls in one particular spot in the woods, who enjoys fishing where the water eddies in a nearby stream, who loves her mother in her own complicated way, thinks her sister talks too loud, has a favorite cousin, a favorite season, who excels at dressmaking and knows, inside herself, that she is as intelligent and capable as anyone. “Slavery” is this same woman born in a world that loudly proclaims its love of freedom and inscribes this love in its essential texts, a world in which these same professors hold this woman a slave, hold her mother a slave, her father a slave, her daughter a slave, and when this woman peers back into the generations all she sees is the enslaved. She can hope for more. She can imagine some future for her grandchildren. But when she dies, the world—which is really the only world she can ever know—ends. For this woman, enslavement is not a parable. It is damnation. It is the never-ending night. And the length of that night is most of our history. Never forget that we were enslaved in this country longer than we have been free. Never forget that for 250 years black people were born into chains—whole generations followed by more generations who knew nothing but chains. […] The enslaved were not bricks in your road, and their lives were not chapters in your redemptive history. They were people turned to fuel for the American machine. Enslavement was not destined to end, and it is wrong to claim our present circumstance—no matter how improved—as the redemption for the lives of people who never asked for the posthumous, untouchable glory of dying for their children. Our triumphs can never redeem this. Perhaps our triumphs are not even the point.”

2: I guess feminism at it exists in the tabloids and the media more than the lived experiences and struggles of women

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