30th of August: On The Floor

Right so I considered not doing this, but I’m nothing if not committed. Think I like this bi-weekly schedule though, so we’ll be sticking to it. Admittedly, I’m not likely to have two consecutive big weekends that keep me away from you all to this extent for a long while but there we are.

Song of the week technically has a name but it’s literally just generic Robert Cray Band song #9 – man is brilliant but he has one set of lyrics and themes.

As ever, you can get all this premium content delivered to your ungrateful computer in the form of a newsletter or on a weekly blog. Your call. Just so long as you pass it on to a pal, innit.

  • A roundtable of experts have some opinions on the state of the war on ISIS
  • Quite grim read on the consequences of son preference across the world
  • On the heart-breaking photo of the father carrying his kid off the lifeboat.1
  • Promise the next link won’t be a grim one. This report from the frontlines of the still-apparently-happening war in Ukraine is really close-to-the-ground.
  • Nice interview with a poet on race, calling-out, and other things.
  • Cutting the budget for ESOL classes is really stupid, and has particularly gendered consequences. Tories are bad IMO.
  • And as a follow-up to that – on calling things “Tory”
  • Using that extremely-dodgy blackface incident on Brazilian telly to look at debates on race there is probably a small silver lining to it
  • Very thoughtful take on discussions of cultural appropriation, which isn’t common
  • Two nice personal essays. The second one, fair warning2, is quite sad and reminded me of some stuff so, you know. On connecting to your dad through cigarettes, quite lovely. And in this, the author visits her grandmother for the last time.
  • Very cute Mallory Ortberg bit on Drake and Serena
  • Remember those Joga Bonito ads with Ronaldinho? They were good. Ignore the bit where he slags off Mad Men.
  • This is literally just an old review of a re-release of Resident Evil 4 but I really love that game and it captures a lot of what’s great about it so.
  • Bit of a cheat here, this is lots of short stories about songs and the romantic incidents they are connected to
  • So this is a very funny collection of tweets by Scottish people (that’s literally the whole thing)
  • Man got stuck in a hole with a dog.

And there we are. Have a lovely fortnight x

1  I thought this was going to be a dire Jonathan Jones piece and I was about to kick off, but it’s actually Patrick Kingsley who is good.

2  have been wondering whether I should start doing more legit content notes on these posts, because it does get quite bleak very quickly. Let me know if that’d be something helpful

23rd of August: Dodge

So I’m not at the computer. I’m not even in London. I’m not convinced my rudimentary bookmarking and listing system works this far away from Zone 1. I’ve done some time travel for you here, but don’t hold your breaths. There are four articles in my list at the moment, none of them outstanding enough to carry a whole post.

What I’m doing is basically brushing you off here. I’m thinking of moving to a biweekly posting schedule, anyway, as it turns out technical unemployment doesn’t led itself to reading lots on the commute, and unless you’re keen to read my X-COM fan-fiction, there is just generally less content to be shared.

Cheekily, though, I’m also away next weekend. My Dad is getting married, and we talked about it, and it’s not so much that I can’t get away from the party to write the list, but he’s using my laptop for music. So unless I feel particularly benevolent and schedule a midweek list to go out on the 30th, there’ll be no reading until September! You will struggle, ladies and gents.

tbh it’s your own fault I’ve been on the same readership numbers since about February – if I was suddenly going Viral maybe I’d feel more inclined to make a bigger effort. where’s the word of mouth?? 

16th of August: Reluctantly

“Gabriel what did  you want to do with the ten hours’ free time you have between shifts this weekend? Because I want some high-quality reading delivered to me on a platter” – the entire Internet, today.

Let’s get to it then. No songs for you because I’ve just put my gym playlist on to get through this and you don’t need to hear Anaconda eight times.

  • Very interesting essay by Lawrence Freedman on how the war in Ukraine fits into debates over strategies of attrition or exhaustion
  • First, an essay on Iran’s foreign policy ambitions. Then, an article that is by turns dispiriting and positive on what the evolution of the oil market (remember peak oil?) will do to Saudi Arabia over the next few decades (spoiler: nothing good). Finally, a nice personal account of how Iranian life has been shaped by international isolation and sanctions.
  • This is really beautiful and really upsetting on African-American resilience.
  • Bizarre but cool essay on cyber-stalking your neighbours
  • Been at least half an hour since I last shared an essay about the future of superhero movies, isn’t it? Here’s a good one
  • It’s slightly wank but I quite liked this look at sommeliers’ beer tastes
  • An interesting history of a bad hat
  • Quite lovely “factual and emotional history of the burrito”
  • Great collection of ‘reasons I didn’t write back’
  • I’ve not regularly played FIFA since I was a kid but I really like this on how it allows men to express their feelings like nothing else.

There we go. Going to and look at a mirror and demand answers about the whole “stick to the Sunday morning schedule” decision. Have a good week x

9th of August

Been reading books, haven’t I? Not even e-books but proper paper ones I got from a charity shop. Also, obscene amounts of Civ V. Consequently, it’s a short one this week. Good stuff though, as ever.

Might just make you listen to the Italian Job song again tbh. Reasonably sure I’ve already shared this one too, but have a bit of Stevie Wonder. Sorry about the three minutes’ silence at the end the only other version I could find was a horrific nightmare.

As ever, the reading list is available in two formats – a weekly email newsletter, and a weekly blog. I’d like to [have] start[ed] strong and [keep] get[ting] stronger so if you enjoy anything you find this week then please pass it on to a friend.

  • Let’s kick it off with the apocalypse, shall we? The latest in “scientists develop better climate models and realise we’re even more fucked than we thought” stories
  • Melissa Gira Grant1 has an interesting piece on Amnesty International’s draft policy on sex workers’ rights
  • Joel Golby on why younger generations are less attached to the Green Belt is good2
  • Touching reflection on dementia
  • Great history of the awful awful New Routemaster
  • This account of a baffling PR stunt featuring will.i.am and a bunch of Lexuses is bizarre and sort of made me miss Madrid for a bit
  • Bit navel-gazey, I guess, but some good thoughts on the evolution of the online media
  • A fella off Twitter has been diagnosed with cancer and is chronicling it in various locations, partly in support of his (and his girlfriend’s) incredible fundraising for Anthony Nolan, which I think crossed the £50k mark last night. This is the start, I think, and it’s funny and sad.
  • Cool look at how Brazilian coffee farmers are adapting to trends in increasingly wanky coffee consumption3
  • You know when a man has a daughter and suddenly goes “oh now I see that women are real humans deserving of consideration and rights”? Shouldn’t take gender-flipping to make it seem absurd, but it does work
  • Speaking of absurd, I’ve only recently discovered this series where the Guardian reviews weird kitchen gadgets, but it’s great.
  • Lovely profile of Rebecca Black
  • “Gabriel you fool why are you getting excited by preview hype you are already considering an expensive home entertainment investment you can’t afford on the strength of the trailers for Battlefront 3.” No but look, look: the Crusader Kings guys are doing a space game and it looks obscene.

There we have it. Enjoy your week x

1whose book on a similar topic is very good, even though I never got round to reviewing it

2Look I think I’m going to stop sharing everything Golby writes in these, because it’s getting creepy, so this one will be the last. From here on out, just take it as read that I think you should seek out his work. I’ll let you know if he suddenly becomes Bad.

3speaking of which did you know Waitrose has loads of coffees on offer that aren’t even that expensive? Morrisons only has like three shelves

2nd of August: Return to Form

This is more like it. Spent two days without a computer, for one of which I was bed-ridden, and all of a sudden, lots to share with you. I should clearly become a more regular visitor to the chicken shop over the road.

Song of the week is mildly embarrassing, but it got stuck in my head about 48 hours ago, and hasn’t left, so I’m inflicting it on you. It’s the song from the end of the Italian Job, guys. At least I’ve given it you lot in context of the film, I’ve just been listening to it on loop on Spotify.

As ever, the reading list is 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.

  • Quite a lot of grim stuff up ahead so even though this, thematically, should come later, I’m going to kick us off here with a smile. Three Chechen girls have been arrested1 for hustling thousands of dollars out of ISIS militants by posing as potential brides.
  • Two high-level Afghan militants have either died or have had their deaths revealed this week – this is interesting on what the ambiguity around Mullah Omar, leader of the Afghan Taliban, meant for dealing with them
  • After a pretty horrific act of settler terrorism in the West Bank, Jonathan Freedland and Max Fisher point out the obvious link between disgusting hate speech, discriminatory policies, and acts of violence
  • Interesting perspective on the nuclear deal and Iran’s post-revolutionary history
  • Back to ISIS. A fascinating, detailed account of ISIS’ takeover and rule, written by a former resident of Mosul. A sort of general overview of what we know, or don’t know, about ISIS. And the really quite upsetting story, in part because I thought they were still alive, of the only survivor of the forty Indian construction workers taken hostage when Mosul fell.
  • Good critique of Obama’s worn-out discourse on Africa, and the baffling story of the Gambian-Americans who tried to come home and overthrow a dictator
  • Strong pieces from the Guardian on the ‘migrant crisis’ at a European and British level.
  • Fascinating, on the small-time drug dealer who became a hero during Hurricane Katrina
  • This collection of thoughts from doctors on how they’d like to be treated at the end of their lives is interesting, if a bit one-note, but it reminded me of this harrowing but wonderful New Yorker piece on a similar note, which I read a while back2
  • Interesting, this. All-round terrible person and mediocre writer Brendan O’Neill has got some opinions on London I kind of mostly agree with, while probably all right person and excellent writer Joel Golby has got some I kind of don’t. I will forgive him for the paragraph about Herbert, though. Also, this is interesting, on what is officially the cheapest city for Londoners to commute from.
  • None of this struck me as even remotely familiar but this reminiscence on working in a call centre is kind of lovely
  • Bit bleak but kind of cool – on the possible end of morning-drinking in Manhattan
  • Absolutely ridiculously long, even for Golby, but this “list of every type of friend you have in your life right now” is very funny3
  • Nice history of Sid Meier’s Pirates

And there we are! Another list over, and now I’m off to work. Have a lovely week all. X


1even this is pretty grim tbh they should have been given medals

2I think I read it possibly the week after knocking the reading list on the head, and I immediately considered reviving it

3stick around for the “gym friend” at least