24th of January: With Great Resentment

Had to be reminded twice to do this one, but I’m here now.

Song of the week comes with less urgency, I guess, as it’s now been two weeks, but there are a few Bowie tributes in this week’s list, so it fits. It’s the final song off what was his final album and I think it’s beautiful and evocative in its own right, all soaring strings and vocals and bittersweet lyrics, and also, if David Bowie’s discography had to have a final song this is a lovely place to end. I won’t pretend to have been cool enough or not intimidated by the Berlin period, so I’ve never actually tried to listen to his work from A to Z, but yeah, bittersweet nice thought.

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  • This is a very interesting, and quite rare critique, of the CIA’s proxy strategy in Syria. It tends to only be mentioned as a favourable comparison to the failed Pentagon version, but this is compelling
  • As a graduate in European Politics I should have an opinion on this piece beyond just “bants” but it is great banter. Also I think a decent reminder of the stakes in the Europe debate, I guess.
  • So this is very heavy, fair warning. It’s a very honest and detailed sort of diary by a Parisian volunteering with refugees, providing the sort of on-the-ground perspective that’s quite hard to get. Definitely read the sidebar first, as it explains the aims better than I could.
  • People have been manipulating this article to make it say “you can’t be rude to people who stand on the left anymore” which is a lie, but it’s a fascinating look at the changes they’re making to the escalators at Holborn tube station anyway.
  • Had never considered this, but a little experiment on how the medium through which we ‘speak’ to each other online affects perceptions
  • This is a bit surreal! Since a vast chunk of the United States’ political leadership is gathered in the Capitol during the State of the Union, one person has to be the ‘designated survivor’ and stay far away from the event so someone can take over in case of catastrophe (which is how Tom Clancy managed to promote his spy lad to President of the United States by the end of that series, fun fact)
  • Quite interesting on how couples navigate different body clocks
  • Down in the coalmine of clickbait SEO-farming content producing, with an added element of intrigue of how a feminist handled having to churn out sexist trash to live
  • Flirting is very bad and its important to maintain plausible deniability (also Mallory Ortberg remains a treasure)
  • These days, when someone dies, it doesn’t take long for the first “actually they were bad” faction to form online. It’s probably a testament to David Bowie that the vast majority of the reactions were, at least, positive, if not lovely. I liked this story about how living near maybe David Bowie gave the writer the strength to keep going, this is a lovely tribute, and this story about being Bowie’s pen-pal, I’m kind of half-convinced is untrue but I want it to be real so.
  • Running theme here, sorry, but, I remember having shared Cord Jefferson’s absolutely beautiful essay “On Kindness”, written after discovering his mother had fallen ill. She’s sadly passed away, so I’m sharing it again because he was one of my favourite writers and this feels like some sort of gesture?
  • And again! One of Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s fathers passed away last week, and despite literally having no idea who either of them are, I found this tribute lovely.
  • Carrie Fisher interviewed Daisy Ridley and it’s kind of brilliant
  • A miserable visit to Hull, even though the author tried his best to like it.
  • I love it when people go deep on Vines, and the “Back at it Again at Krispy Kreme” one deserves the treatment more than most
  • One of those little stories of modern relationships that are alien to me but quite sweet and interesting I guess.

Et voila! Hoping for less obituaries next month tbh. xx

10th of January: New Year, Same Blog

Yes I know it’s been a while, but I’m back now aren’t I? No review roundup this week, maybe not next week, as I haven’t really read many books apart from one WW2 history series that I kind of want to review as one, or maybe even put it standalone. We’ll see. Quite light on serious stuff this week.

Song of the week is by a 2015 Mercury Prize winner Benjamin Clementine which makes this about as cool and cutting edge as this blog has ever been. The album seems to sort of avoid big choruses for the most part so because this has one I think it’s my favourite.

As ever, this list is available as a fortnightly newsletter or here on fillingthelonghours dot com. Tell your friends.

  • Interesting article placing the Islamic State in the context of other insurgencies which held territory, instead of giving into their mythology.
  • Well worth skimming this one at least – a Syria analyst rounds up their ten most important developments in the country last year. I pay fairly close attention to events there and can’t say I could have told you more than about three of them.
  • Some nice stories in The Guardian from refugees who settled in the UK in the more or less recent past.
  • Sady Doyle has her critics somewhere on the internet, I’m sure, but I find her one of the most convincing and honest defenders of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Between the election seeming like a foregone conclusion and my not even having a vote there, I don’t really care, but this is good anyway.
  • Very touching and honest accounts of how prison affected their relationships with their fathers even after release.
  • Weight loss doesn’t solve everything, I guess, but this is a funny article.
  • Thump goes deep on a photo of Craig Charles getting well into a DJ set over Christmas.
  • A U.S warship is using a 3D printer to repair spare parts while it’s at sea. The future, man.
  • This might be one of those pieces that strikes me as fascinating and a bit terrifyingly intense but is actually normal to other people? IDK. It’s about a ‘friendship affair’ and whatever the relatability of it, it’s well-written I guess.
  • Love how these tips for people starting university drift between legitimate advice and surreal self-parody and god I don’t miss university in the slightest
  • I was actually livid at this piece (from the author of the M&Ms world one) on the Bake-Off – it started off looking like a savaging, but drifted into being pleasant.
  • One woman spent a year refusing to cede her personal space to men and wrote about it – it’s entertaining!
  • Very interesting writing on how technology and evolving social norms have affected attitudes to monogamy and relationships, but written from within the generation affected by these changes and not as “OMG Tinder is ruining the youth”.
  • Christmas is great and all but Christ, wrapping presents is vile.
  • A retrospective of rap in 2015, mostly centred around Drake which probably limits its scope but is entertaining anyway.
  • The resurgence of Age of Empires 2 is such a strange thing to have happened, and this article finally explains what actually went on.
  • I used to kind of love Die Another Day then found out it was possibly the most reviled of the James Bonds, which hurt my childhood a bit. So I like this defence.
  • Read a load of Star Wars thinkpieces over Christmas, as well as seeing the film another time. I don’t know why this is the only one I’ve saved for you but it’s probably good.

There we go. Have a lovely week (even though it’s January). x