6th of March: Greggs and Pokemon

Mother’s Day! You should be talking to your mum, not reading this, but since you’re here, I’ve got a big selection of great stuff for you to read, as ever.

I know technically I should have posted a review last week and there’s a case to be made for just delaying the schedule a week and doing reviews today but there’s already a big pile of links for you here and I make these decisions mostly at random if I’m honest.

Song of the week is largely just plucked at random off Rihanna’s new album cos it’s really good and I still haven’t really clocked the individual songs yet.

As ever (did you know I don’t copy-paste this paragraph – I write it out every week. Since I make that effort, seems like you could too), tell your friends if you find anything you like or that they might like. The list is available as a fortnightly newsletter or every other Sunday on fillingthelonghours.

  • First up, I rescued a piece from my drafts! I wrote about the European Parliament’s call for an embargo on Saudi Arabia.
  • Big chunk on Syria. This, on how Russia is the decisive player in the war, strikes me as very accurate, and it’s encouraging it’s in quite an Establishment outlet like Politico. One of the reason third-party involvement can make civil wars drag on for years is the cycle of escalation and counter-escalation. If there’s a general throwing up of hands in Washington, that holds out a real possibility of some sort of peace-ish. And speaking of which, this is a helpful analysis of the recent ceasefire deal and the challenges it faces. One of those untold stories of suffering imposed by the rebels, in a siege of two Shia villages. I wrote about this topic a bit in my review of The Least of All Possible Evils, but this is very interesting on how the U.S. military decides how many civilian casualties are acceptable in their airstrikes on Syria. Also (from Iraq), a terrifying report on what is left of Ramadi after IS were cleared out (bombs, mostly).
  • More from Yemen, and how the war has affected life in Aden
  • Sharp critique of how Obama has handled the closure of Guantanamo
  • Gary Younge is excellent on how journalism misses big stories because it’s only after “man bites dog” stories
  • Bit over-long, this, but James Meek is always interesting on austerity – this time, tying it in with popular myths
  • Guess this is autobiographical, but it’s like a short story about an aid worker in Afghanistan
  • This is US-centric but still really interesting on how single women have the potential to be a decisive political actor. It addresses difference of class, race, and sexuality, which is quite rare in this sort of piece. It’s good!
  • Bit of a #hottake from Vox here – it doesn’t matter much that Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t practice what he preaches on climate change.
  • Couple of transport-based pieces! (Hardly Syria, I know). A nice piece on Megabus, and an interesting one on living just before the era of driverless cars.
  • Read this yesterday morning and spent the day craving Gregg’s. It’s actually very interesting on their business model, expansion, and success, but mostly it’ll make you want a steak bake.
  • I didn’t know anything about anything mentioned in this report from Arlit, Niger, where 8% of the world’s uranium is mined. So that’s intriguing. Also intriguing, this look at what it’s like being one of the USAF officers responsible for manning their ICBMs.
  • Speaking of long trips into the desert, this drifts close to the line of wank, but is ultimately good – the author visited the “no man’s land” where that guy tried to make his daughter a princess of last year.
  • Sometimes Sam Kriss pieces just drift into horrific short stories and it’s great. This is on Twitter.
  • Excellent on the Kesha clusterfuck.
  • Teddybless is one of the most endearing people on Twitter – this is lovely on getting through depression a step at a time.
  • Kanye-Alert. Another one on the recent fascination with whether Kanye has mental health issues. Tracing an ideal of black utopia through Tupac to Kanye. On faith and The Life of Pablo. And this weird lad who worked for Kanye when he was 19 is interesting enough.
  • This piece is dangerous – much like the Greggs one, it might give you cravings. A retrospective of Pokemon Red and Blue made me seriously consider digging up an emulator.
  • As ever, I feel this weird sadness reading about how the student experience has changed. This one, linking it into Fresh Meat, only makes that more acute – I watched the first episode the night before moving into halls, and it sort of set my expectations for university (none of them met). The notion that it is really more about a previous generation’s university experience feels quite accurate.
  • From Winterfell to the Nazis, why does the frozen North hold such fascination?
  • Very interesting on translating T.V. comedy (Seinfeld in this instance)
  • Good, sweary rant against the notion of “complete” in games
  • If this video of 106-year old Virginia McLaurin visiting the Oval Office and the First Couple doesn’t do anything to your emotions you might be a rock. Also a nice profile of her written afterwards.

And there we go. See you next Sunday! Have a good week x

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