Man of my word, innit. Despite being physically exhausted just looking at this week’s list of bookmarks, I told you I’d cover all your reading needs through the New Year, and I’ve delivered. Let’s get right to it.
Last year I think I shared a whole load of Christmas music with you but, tbh, if you’ve reached the last Sunday before Christmas without hearing Wham! and Mariah Carey without my help, I don’t really want you reading this list. However, you may not know about Kanye West’s Christmas song, so have that. The Marvin Gaye sample is perfect.
With a view to making 2016 the year this blog takes off, please do share it with your friends and family to give them some lovely Christmas cheer and me some lovely Christmas clicks. It’s available as a blog and newsletter.
- About that Christmas cheer thing… this piece about three Syrian women in Raqqa and how they were variously involved with ISIS is very interesting and emphasises their voices and stories. This piece on the Syrian Kurds is, I think, overly optimistic on how far they can extend their successes, but worthwhile. On the other hand, the aftermath of one of the highest-profile victories in the war on ISIS, the battle for Kobane, left it an uninhabitable ruin – this account of a visit is a good reminder of the long-term consequences. I hate video #content and documentaries but this Vice embed with the Kurds as they re-entered Sinjar was decent.
- A lot was made of the UK’s very good missiles being the reason we could make a difference in Syria*, and I don’t know what validity that has or ever had but this RUSI primer on the different military technologies the UK brings to the table is interesting (if you’re a very specific kind of nerd, admittedly). Also on a similar note, the arms manufacturers that make all the bombs being chucked around the Middle East literally can’t build them fast enough.
- Which suggests we should maybe not start chucking bombs at space, but look! That’s the plan!
- Interesting interview with a Belgian counter-terrorist officer
- I like this piece from an actual historian on how sloppy narratives about French Algerians and the legacy of the war are used, mostly in the Anglophone media, to substitute for any sort of analysis
- Yes, pieces about other people’s sobriety are well boring, but this one is good, so.
- Two lovely, personal pieces on love and mental health – one, based on You’re the Worst’s stunning, affecting depression story this season (well good show that, watch it) and one on how bipolar disorder affects relationships
- Super robot brains! Artificial intelligence! Literal immortality! Lot to get your head round in this two-parter on the road to superintelligence, and part of me suspects it’s all bollocks but.
- Less exciting – a critique of lots of the assumptions in space travel and colonization narratives
- This really long essay on The Selfie is incredible and almost makes all the tedious sneering at young people with their snapchats and their instagrams worthwhile if it led to it
- This is an old recording of an old poem so not sure why it’s here but Jeremy Irons reading Eliot’s The Waste Land is beautiful and chilling and just about makes final year English Lit
- As a classic Nice Guy tm , I liked this on the fading appeal of the ‘bad boy’**
- Always a good sign of how hip you are when a hip music outlet does their “best of 2015” list and you don’t even recognise 75% of the artists. Good little source if you want more songs though, mostly leaning hip-hop
- Fascinating on The Knowledge and the cabbie school on Cally Road
- On drunk texting and why we’re so embarrassed by it
- Profile of the lovely and very good Carly Rae Jepsen
- Having played computer games since I was a wee lad, I’ve never really stopped to question the amount of prior assumptions and experience that go into it, but this piece by an older person (50 year old bloke, I think) who decides to start gaming for the first time is really interesting
- The new Star Wars is, in fact, very good so this piece on how Disney are planning to perpetuate the franchise for all eternity in a cynical corporate master plan is Well Exciting.
- Great little look at the furniture in the background of video games.
- Five year anniversary of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, so Noisey did a whole load of articles about it. This one was good. Secret confession time: I didn’t listen to MBDTF till first year of university and didn’t really Get it for another year, so I can’t do the whole “first time I heard Nicki’s verse on Monster it changed my life” act. Shameful.
*basically gave up on ever writing up my thoughts about this tbh