25th of September: Wrestling With Chrome

Chrome is crashing constantly so compiling this week’s list has been like pulling teeth. Just so you know the effort I go to for you.

I’ve been listening to Runaway a lot recently, more so than I have in ages, and it’s so good. But also, my thumb keeps slipping on Spotify and giving me the other Runaway. Which is also kind of really good too? Which is nice cos normally when you slip and pick the wrong song on Spotify it’s a stupid string quartet cover version.

  • Kind of grimly interesting on how the US government has reformed its approach to the families of hostages
  • Among certain circles, British decolonisation and counterinsurgency is sort of held up as a model of “hearts and minds” COIN. This history of the brutal and sordid war in Malaya sort of punctures that eight billion times.
  • Speaking of sordid! We’re still selling arms to Saudi Arabia and contorting ourselves into knots to justify it. I wish I had been writing my dissertation this year rather than last year this is much juicier than “technically India was doing some mass killings in the 90s”.
  • This refugee housing project in Athens is kind of inspiring and nice.
  • Little reappraisal of the blitz from Richard Overy, probably interesting to me and me alone but oh well it’s my blog
  • So another author came out with a high profile and misguided intervention about appropriation and identity politics that I didn’t bother to engage with because life is so short, like I feel death’s cold hand on my shoulder every time I consider wasting my time with these rants. But anyway there were a couple of measured responses at least – from Nesrine Malik and Jia Tolentino.
  • New book out this week, The Good Immigrant, sounds interesting and valuable. Conveniently, loads of the essays contained in it have been published elsewhere. You’ve probably seen this thing by Riz Ahmed on airport security, it’s good. And this by Kieran Yates on being in between two worlds is really great.
  • Kinda beautiful little story about working as a cleaner I guess?
  • Oh god why am I reading and sharing U.S election stuff again death’s cold hand is tight on my shoulder – anyway. Seen a lot of disingenuous shit about young people being about to hand the election to Trump. This was quite sharp on the bad logic of those calls.
  • This is nuanced and interesting about porn. It’s in The New Yorker! So it’s classy and refined, but it is about porn so IDK careful where you click.
  • On [ugh] athleisure. But actually pretty fascinating on evolving vestimentary norms and class and gender and stuff and also yoga pants.
  • Had never heard of the Lucas Plan, tellingly. Sounds amazing.
  • Honestly this is kind of US-centric from the title on down but it’s a little bit of an amazing tirade against autumn or “fall”. It’s good.
  • ugh Freshers’ content.* But this is actually Emily Reynolds being really good and gentle on taking care of your head when you leave for university and I probably wish I had had it in 2011. Alas I am not followed by many youths so this is not really saving a life. Also this little bit of #content was quite amusing and #relatable and I hate everything.**
  • There’s a bit in here where someone suggests deporting the whole UCL campus to the countryside. Not unrelated to my previous point on Freshers, but I say to that plan: good. Anyway it’s important and eye-opening on cycling infrastructure and how much of an uphill struggle reforms to make London more liveable are. Also it’s about that god-awful road that runs through UCL so some nostalgia value for all my alumni readers.
  • This is lovely. Literally just eighty million words by someone out to drink their first ever coke but it’s so good.
  • Stumbled across this very cool and pretty website, Roads & Kingdoms the other day. Largely travel writing, I think. Worth having a trawl through this it’s all kind of fascinating. I pulled out this one about a ruined palace in Kabul and this one about meal planning in the Antarctic.
  • Sort of bleak account of Real Madrid’s (and I imagine other clubs’) youth academy
  • I liked this by Carl Anka on the value of the player character in the new FIFA being a black guy.
  • Some nerdery here on how Wales played the FIFA rankings to set themselves up for the Euros.
  • Cool tribute to The Blueprint, fifteen years on.
  • This “history” of Use Your Illusion seems to mostly just be quotes from Slash’s autobiography which is disappointing but still.
  • Don’t think I’ve ever read something properly about Kanye and 50 Cent’s rivalry but this is cool.
  • IDK, art. On the one hand the story of this woman who sought out famous photographers to take her picture is bizarre and interesting, but on the other, *fart noises*
  • Is Usher making a comeback? That’d be nice, I miss him.
  • Deep dives on celebrity gossip news are so compelling to me IDK why. On the end of Brangelina [ugh].
  • This article needed about fifty more photos of cool book covers because book covers are great but still quite interesting on re-editions and re-brandings of old-ass classics.
  • There’s probably a more mature response to all these luxury flat owners complaining that the Tate’s viewing platform overlooks their apartment but my main reaction is “lol rekt”. Sorry.

That’s that! Have a lovely Sunday! xx

*I wish some of the lowest parts of my life weren’t tied up with such regularly re-hashable forms of content. Every September, till I die probably? I’ll be compelled to read more shit lists and relive the whole sorry time.

**I was the keen little nerd that set up a Facebook group for Max Rayne house before leaving for university. Don’t know why. I remember developing deep and abiding hatreds of several people in my halls of residence that never really faded and don’t think I ever got anything positive out of the group. Just a little bit of fun anecdote for you there, loyal readers.

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September 11th: Convenient

There’s an actual 9/11 piece in the list this week, which I guess appeared online because of the anniversary so it’s not that much of a weird coincidence. Anyway I’ve been up since 8 (I miss curtains) and just been dreading writing this one up all morning. Have been reading blogs not books on the commute recently, so the list is just ballooning, it’s vile. As such, let’s get right to it.

Think I listened to this song three times on the way home last night, having hardly heard it since I was about 14? It’s possibly tacky but I love it dearly* so have some Stevie.

  • War on the Rocks ending up publishing a sort of debate series on sectarianism in Iraq and Syria and the Assad regime and all sorts that I read in completely the wrong order and in too scattered a fashion to really summarise and process and judge the arguments, but if you’re interested in that kind of thing, there are worse things to spend half an hour going through. It started with this two-part article on how sectarian divides in Syria and Iraq are misunderstood and abused by policymakers, then there was a rebuttal on Syria, and finally a kind of fascinating look at how the Syrian regime has crumbled into militias and warlords.
  • This is a very long piece on the French war on terror, in French, that took me the best part of a morning to read (turns out gyms aren’t conducive to speed-reading) but is also worthwhile. Ignore the annoying hashtag jokes, France is like that sometimes.
  • Have you been complacent about the Korean peninsula as the source of our doom recently? Me too, but their latest nuclear test is a scary thing.
  • Decent write-up of Dilma’s ouster
  • Another scary place! The new Filipino president is kind of terrifying and this story on his drug war is… damn.
  • Speaking of the war on drugs, Fabric, eh? eh? I never went to Fabric and probably would have hated it** but what a bleak story. Whole lot of good stuff got written mourning it to some extent this week. Shortlist and Thump tied it into how London is not for the young anymore. Sadiq’s depressingly ineffectual role, here. And the drug angle, here. Reminder – the police investigation into the club was called Operation Lenor. ugh.
  • Meanwhile, look at these perplexingly sober kids at Reading festival this year.
  • On the misguided criticisms of “””””””milennials””””””” for spending frivolously instead of wisely saving up for ??????.
  • FFS there are four articles on British politics this week I’m ashamed. After Theresa May’s ascent to power, there was a sort of “oh thank god a competent leader” vibe – I’m glad Abi took the time here to question that. A cool Aditya Chakrabortty piece on teaching assistants in Durham organizing in protest against vile contract changes. The rare piece that could do with doubling in length, on how Harlow is processing the recent murder of a Polish man.  Finally, even as I am eternally grateful to have turned 18 a year after the 2010 election*** this is kind of an interesting interview with Nick Clegg.
  • Look I really like the Imperial War Museum because I’m a little ghoul child with the ability to suppress my politics for the sake of convenience and also because there’s a T-34 and a Sherman just parked in it and that’s cool. But this savaging of how much propaganda is baked into the permanent exhibits is accurate and necessary I guess. tanks tho.
  • Over-long, possibly, and IDK what I make of all of the arguments, but an actual unique and thought-out and informed take on the burkini debate by an actual muslim woman is worth reading anyway.
  • Christ there’s something surreal and terrifying about this piece on sexual assault on long-haul flights.
  • Also terrifying – Bridget Minamore being very good on the fear of walking home alone at night and the makeshift weapons and safety rituals women have to create. Side-note, I finally got around to watching Bridget doing some poetry reading and it was actually good which is weird cos poetry. Check it out, it’s funny and sharp.
  • So here’s that 9/11 piece. I think I was old enough to remember 9/11 but it’s basically just been an event that has shaped the world I lived in more than an actual concrete thing I can remember. Reckon that’s why it’s always so compelling reading about the minute-to-minute experience of people who were there in some capacity. This oral history of Air Force One on 9/11 is even more fascinating! It mixes the standard fascinating personal responses people had with the high-level political stuff and man I was reading this on the way to the pub last night and considered waiting outside just to finish it it’s gripping.
  • Interesting study of what made the British intervention in Sierra Leone work.
  • Don’t forget, antibiotic-resistant beasties are gonna fuck us all up! And it’ll be chicken’s fault.
  • This was kind of fun about Tindering across Europe. (remember Tinder?)
  • On the superstitious rituals we have with technology.
  • Putting Deliveroo and Uber in a hundred-year history of scientific management systems is interesting (lmk if you can’t get through the paywall here)
  • Kinda still hope robots will save us all, but why would anything good happen? “the future will kill us all”
  • Bit overblown, bit US-centric, bit overlong, but quite cutting on foodie delusions. And on that note, this compelling profile of an absolutely bizarre restaurant stunt lie thing had me kind of bemused for a good while.
  • Absolutely fuming that Wikipedia isn’t actually skint tbh
  • Lovely profile of lovely Chance the Rapper
  • Having played games on shitty computers most of my life, let me tell you – it isn’t worth it. But this fella’s interesting, taking it to absolute extremes.
  • Michelangelo’s David might just topple over jsyk. Really liked this piece.
  • This week’s good-ass sports-writing is on O Fenomeno. Beautiful.
  • This week’s good-ass food-writing is on hot chicken in Nashville. I don’t even like fried chicken! but wow it’s good.
  • Sweet explanation of the joys of Let’s Plays and watching people play computer games on the internet.
  • Figs are really weird!
  • Don’t know if I’ve shared it before but I think Ed is almost at the end of his “Winning the Lottery with Nicolas Cage” ordeal and it’s worth browsing his archive.
  • Finally, Hussein Kesvani is good on the bleakness of the gym.

*also the missus is on holiday so she won’t see this and ruthlessly mock my taste. was tempted to put up something off the new Carly Rae Jepsen album to take maximum advantage of the freedom.

**all the tributes left me feeling some weird kind of way, like when I read about the British teenage experience or what university is like for people who didn’t dislike it and I just feel a bit like I’ve got my face pressed up against the glass, bemused at other people’s lives. idk. don’t read my footnotes imo

***somehow the knowledge that I would have definitely voted Lib Dem and regretted it feels less embarrassing than it would be to have actually done so and regretted it. slim consolation tbh