7th of December: First Week of Wham!

This cold is made only marginally more acceptable by Christmas playlists being allowed now. Just. Which I guess is my festive thought of the week for you. And, keeping to the theme, how about a few weeks of Christmas songs of the week? I’ll attempt to not just alternate Mariah Carey and Wham for a month (no promises).

I was very annoyed not to find this album annoying, what with the ukuleles and general Zooey Deschanellery, but there you go. Deschanel’s duo, She and Him, released Christmas music. It’s quite peaceful and pretty.

  • So this (FR) article on ISIS recruits wanting to come home is a bit darkly funny, but also interesting on the challenges of managing returning jihadis. Meanwhile, a look at whether the group has peaked
  • Analysis of China’s highly advanced radars and what they mean for US military strategy
  • Following the shambles 2010 Review and ahead of the 2015 one, this article on why British Defence Reviews fail is good
  • Book launch interview* with Philippe Marlière (FR) that goes into the shortcomings of the Hollande presidency. Bonus – watch his facial expression when the woman asks what he would do were he President.
  • Why £15billion in road investment is a bad use of money
  • Scary article on Golden Dawn, and a possibly even scarier article on how Britain sided with Nazi collaborators against the communist partisans after the liberation of Greece**. Also, a big connection between the two articles, so thanks Empire.
  • On gentrification and street art in Peckham
  • Sad feature on a murder in Missouri situated at the overlap of various oppressive dynamics
  • Rather wonderful piece on restaurant kitchens (Lucas, this is for you) and a quite nice essay on working in a fast-food place during college
  • Clive Martin is good on this generation’s struggle to grow up
  • IDK if you want to build a desk, I don’t, but this guide was still very funnily written
  • Great article on the problems with MarsOne, the organisation looking for volunteers to send up to Mars, and an interesting summary of the debate over manned v unmanned spaceflight
  • So this article on using Skyrim in a university course is interesting, but I do feel like it gives the game a bit too much credit – the plot they’re analysing is paper-thin
  • Beautiful, painful writing on family and videogames
  • Finally, I just realised this is actually Christmassy so fits, but even for those who don’t watch Mad Men (maybe), I feel like the scene where Don and Joan go drinking is just such a pure aesthetic joy that you’ll get something out of it. IDK, it’s my blog and I want it here.

Have a lovely week, everyone x

* Meant to link to this weeks ago, but IDK what happened, think the bookmark got eaten.

**  You sort of think you have a handle on the cynicism of imperial states and then you read something like this and wow.

13th of July: They Think It’s All Over

And, mercifully, it almost is. It’s been a wonderful Cup but I’m ready for the footballing humiliation to end and the irritating coverage of Brazil to go away. That means it’s the last of the Brazilian choices. To suit the mood, the beautiful “Tive Razao” by Seu Jorge. Come for the effortlessly cool video, avoid weeping over the Brazil team’s goal difference in the last two games, and stay for Jorge’s gorgeous voice.

With that, off we go. One thing: I forgot how publishing works when it’s not just me alone in my room pressing “post”, so the next NATO Council piece will actually be up this week, maybe.

  • Somewhat reassuring look at how the USA will retain the capacity to deter Chinese expansion until domestic factors make China less of a threat
  • Then again, with the continuing absurdity that is the F-35 program, maybe the optimism is misplaced…
  • Analysis of the different possible motivations and strategies behind IS(IS?)’s violence
  • Great piece for the IR nerds by Adam Elkus on the “state of the state”. His “ISIS as Jay Gatsby” analogy is my favourite thing
  • Consideration of the pro-Russian narrative in Ukraine on Kiev’s atrocities
  • Bit glib, but within this comic there’s a really interesting story of the AU peacekeeping mission in Sudan
  • Charlie’s blog is really hitting its stride – I’m actually starting to get the hang of the complexity economics thing he keeps going on about
  • I snark enough about reporting on Brazil here, so only fair to highlight – this is a good piece on the World Cup serving as an introduction to Brazil for the world and vice versa*, this is a sweet piece on kids who won tickets to the final (Charlie Bucket eat your heart out), and this is both snark on crappy reporting and a nice look at Brazilian’s reaction to the Mineiraço
  • 😦 **
  • While it is all a bit obvious, this is a useful reminder that everything is fucked in case you’re also struggling to find a job and hating everything – it’s not all your fault***
  • Brilliant little Civil War story
  • Occasionally I think I might stop dodging the draft and go and do my Brazilian military service. This piece, on Royal Marine Commando training, was a nice deterrent. It’s also interesting to note how sophisticated it all seems compared to the “Curahee” episode of Band of Brothers
  • The Emmy nominations were this week, and I saw a lot of “OMG why didn’t X get a nod” stuff circulating. This is a good Voxplainer on the process behind the awards that goes some way to explaining all the anomalies, like Jon Hamm not winning all the awards ever.
  • I like Mindy Kaling a lot, The Mindy Project a lot less, but it’s great that it exists as a show if it inspires these sorts of conversations. Article itself is a bit flabby – it’s one of those Buzzfeed “roundtables” that gets too rambly. A lot of interesting stuff about second-generation immigrant alienation, among other things.
  • This is stunning – behind-the-scenes footage of the VFX work on Game of Thrones work
  • Looks like this could be an interesting series on Lana del Rey. Could also be tossy and dull of course, because it’s the New Inquiry, so one to watch
  • Super exciting news about a republication of The Sun Also Rises, along with a lovely collection of all the covers through the years

Finally, it’s back. I’m trying to be a more positive, professional voice here, but I made the mistake of reading this and ugh. I should have known better – king of the smug interventionists John Rentoul linked to it on Twitter, and the title itself is a warning as to just how smug it’ll get, but god. In response to all the sneering, let’s just take a whistle-stop tour through all the problems with it; massive public opposition to further intervention in the Middle East is dismissed as “cheap campaign promises”; the Iraqi government’s agency in refusing to sign the Status of Forces Agreement is dismissed in favour of scoring cheap shots at Obama; “an attempted détente” with Iran is pitched as a bad thing; the excellent Daniel Drezner is smeared as “one of the administration’s “realist” apologists”…. I mean I could go on, this is just me scrolling through and letting the irritation take me. There is only one thing left to say:

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Enjoy the final tonight, and have a lovely week, guys xx

 

*of course if the introduction happens via shitty sensationalising and “oooh how exotic” reporting then….

**unless if you’re spending most of your day playing Skyrim and Crusader Kings… then it’s kind of your fault

***this is a link, in case it isn’t clear