18th of December: One Week til Christmas

Need to rush out into central and do emergency Christmas shopping, lads, so let’s get cracking.

Song of the week is something off Childish Gambino’s new album, picked largely at random cos I don’t know what all the different songs are yet.*

  • Always feel kind of funny doing these narrative critiques and media sniping bits when there’s real horrors going on in the world, but I think it’s fairly necessary to puncture the establishment stories when they’re constantly being used to justify more horror and death.** This first one takes a general look at the Syrian war, and the misinformation and deceit surrounding it. This second, is more particularly on Aleppo. God knows, at this point, what truth is actually coming out of there, but guess there’s some value in having deeply partisan sources on both sides at least.***
  • Good analysis of Kalingrad as a place and society, not just a missile silo.
  • Strong response to the football child abuse scandal.
  • Think Kriss gets to something about “2016” here – it isn’t “the worst” in an anomalous way, it’s just that everything is always getting worse. I also don’t know how much you’ll enjoy this one, on the bizarre game theory thread, if you weren’t on Twitter as it unfolded and people obsessed over it. But it’s great.
  • On a similar note, think this is a very good point on the “fake news” thing – it’s creating a narrative that does nothing but help the far right.
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates writing a 10k+ word retrospective of the Obama years is a real “clear your morning, make a coffee and get comfortable” event. Luckily it came out just as work entered the beginning of the Christmas lull. It’s also well worth reading the responses – the two that were up when I read pointed out significant blind spots or errors in Coates’ narrative.
  • We all got really happy at the possibility of paying €1k a year to retain EU citizenship (because we inhabit the worst timeline), so of course the slugs in Brussels had to pour cold water over that slim hope.
  • This piece on beginning to recover from grief while staying in a Bangkok sex hotel with your mum is lovely but definitely could have gone on twice as long?
  • Important attack on the stupidity of Labour chasing anti-immigration votes down into the gutter.****
  • I liked this on battles for memoria historica in Spain.
  • Absolutely lovely feature on One Hundred Years of Solitude and Garcia Marquez.
  • Thought this was a kind of lovely, not uncritical, defence of Tolkien. It’s very very long but.*****
  • In the wake of the cool stunt where the author proved it was cheaper to get a coach to Paris for the morning-after pill than it was to buy one here, she made the arguments explicit.
  • I’m glad The Walking Dead is getting political flak because I just find it a bit dull and depressing (the worst thing always happens), so I’m quite glad to be able to dress that up in politics. This article is a bit odd – it seems to essentially just be based on one fella’s work. Still seems largely correct.
  • Only three or four days left, depending how late you’re working this week, to sample the full range of high-street Christmas offerings. I liked this New Statesman round-up. Think I might treat myself this week to one of the top-flight ones even though they’re like £9.
  • Always nice to see cities (here, Madrid) taking steps to curb car use. Especially considering Madrid is so small you can walk across the centre in less than an hour?
  • Turns out all the free games on old Windows machines were thinly disguised ruses to get people used to the new input methods required on the new computers.
  • This is compelling and beautiful, and it’s about Burnout Paradise. A+.
  • Another one of them “men can only find true connection with each other when it’s mediated via a playstation” ones. Good tho.

alright, go away. Think I’m due to write another one on like the 29th? Which I might bin off, tbh. So I’ll probably see you in the New Year. Have a lovely Christmas xoxo

*think the critical consensus on this was one was very divided so I’ve had to form my own opinion, which I hate doing. It’s good imo.

**I’ve found it on Twitter, in particular. Confronted with such glib ghoulish idiocy from the “do something (mostly war)” crowd, I find it hard not to respond (“respond” I’m a locked account with about eight non-bot followers) in kind, which is probably deeply morally off.

***I mean I saw articles from The Daily Beast circulating far more widely than the “Cubans in Syria/Dismember Syria” outlet ever deserves.

****it’s going to happen though, because the worst thing always happens, and there’ll be a cross-party consensus that something must Be Done about immigration.

*****not that I even really need much defending to be done of Tolkien. Of course I’d probably be held in contempt by the author and all associated for my attachment to the films over anything else.

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4th of December: Peek behind the curtain

Apparently this isn’t even that much effort for me. “you just write some stuff and bash it out” I’m told. Rude.

Regardless, here we are. Short one again. I don’t even read books on the train so I don’t know where the time is going. Fallout Shelter and tweets I guess. Also my increasingly sharp ability to bin articles about American politics three paragraphs in. Which means I think we’re Trump-free this week?

“Gabriel in last month’s blog you made your song of the week the song like, four tracks above this on Frank Ocean’s album why are you so musically limited”. go away Self Control has at least three separately beautiful bits.

 

Let’s go.

  • Thought this was quite interesting on how airstrikes in Mosul are co-ordinated and called in. Reminds me of off-map abilities in computer games TBH. Sort of interesting (*horrifying) watching Aleppo and Mosul happen at the same time and be reported on so differently. Partly because Iraq does seem to be going about things more carefully, but also partly because Buzzfeed aren’t embedding with the S.A.A. anyway. Lots of bad stuff imo.
  • I thought I shared this before? I haven’t apparently but that’s odd. I think I thought it was really good, but it’s long so I’m not going to re-read it to check if the reason I didn’t previously include it was like, nine paragraphs in it descends into Nazi apologia or something. if so, soz*. Anyway it’s about that photo of the falling man on 9/11.
  • Good to remember, as we descend into ever-worse politics based around pandering to the construct of the white working class, that most of the past five years’ (and more obviously) bad politics have had a particularly heavy impact on women of colour.
  • I enjoyed this tale of divorce court and offshore courts a lot, partly because *whisper* it’s a little bit of what I do for a living, but also because it’s written up like a bit of a thriller. It’s gripping enough to sort of forestall the realisation that it’s just some gross rich people battling over the ill-gotten gains, which ruins it a bit.
  • This is Trump-adjacent, I guess, but it’s mostly on how queer communities built institutions and networks and all that to survive.
  • This report on how London drug gangs extend into the provinces is so bleak and grim.
  • Just an article about shirtless men and masculinity I guess? some bums included so maybe don’t click at work.
  • All that bad reporting on that study that made some men sterile the other week at least provoked this actually good article on obstacles to male birth control.**
  • This is quite cute on old iTunes’ star system. Reading it gave me a sudden flash of my old “5*” playlist (and I think, 3 and 4 *s ones, which… what’s the point of that?)
  • Tbh not sure I can be bothered encrypting such thrilling conversations as Wednesday’s standout “do we have milk shall I get some” but this is a little guide to the encrypted messaging app Signal if you’re into that kind of life.
  • Sam Diss has been on a roll at Shortlist recently (not that I’ve ever managed to find the hard copies) – first, a sort of sensitive and funny article with interviews about balding***, and second, this excellent response to a survey about lunchtime pints; Sam (with the consent of his editor) went out for more and more pints at lunch every day of the week to see how he coped. The dream.
  • Unexpectedly short but still decent little Pearl Harbour story.
  • What is the day after thanksgiving? IDC. Still some nice little descriptions of good fridge leftover-raiding.

And that’s your lot. Shoo.

*wanted to link to the good stephen merchant bit about soz but YouTube is an eternal disappointment

**turns out pharmaceutical companies are slugs! Who knew!

***though I hate one of the interviewees a *lot*. See if you can guess which one! (little bit of audience engagement for you there)