31st of August: Final Stretch

In the UK at least, summer seems to have collapsed in on itself. Which can only mean I’m that much closer to moving into a flat and restarting some semblance of a life again, so with any luck, these posts will get a lot more streamlined. Until then, I’m still pinging across London multiple times a day, several days of week, with all the scope for consuming enormous amounts of reading. Without any further ado, then, let’s get stuck in.

Song of the week was my favourite revelation of last week’s VMAs – Usher and Nicki Minaj have done a song together, and it sounds like something that could have come off Confessions, which was lovely as I’ve kind of lost touch with Usher since then. NB: Going to be a Nicki-heavy week*. EDIT: There’s a real video! Excitement!

 

First up, NATO Council of Canada article this week involves neither Canada or NATO, but it is on procurement, so I just about stayed on-topic – I looked at Brazil’s military modernization programme.

Also, weekly reminder – I’m still sending this out in newsletter form every Sunday, hoping that it’ll eventually hit critical mass – you can subscribe here.

  • Lots on the Islamic State this week** A thought-provoking John Schindler essay (/polemic) on what he sees as the generational struggle against militant Islamists. IDK. Worth reading, possibly overblown.
  • A couple of good pieces looking more closely at IS – this one on the Britons going to join it, and this on its rise, relationship with Al-Qaeda, and future
  • Boris Johnson is a cretin.
  • Interesting discussion of why we respond so much more to IS’ violence than, for example, gang violence in Latin America, given their apparent similarities
  • Clear pushback on the emerging idea that we should side with Assad against IS
  • Great essay on the vacuum of power (but not a “why won’t Obama lead”) in the Middle East
  • Kind of terrifying article embedded with the Shia militias on the frontlines in Iraq
  • Important reminder from a while back that bombing Syria last year would have done fuck-all, and diplomacy has eliminated their chemical weapons
  • Investigation of the possible legal justifications for American airstrikes against IS in Syria
  • Another good Stephen Saideman piece on reforming NATO
  • First of the week’s New Yorker backlog clearout – long feature on Putin and the new anti-Americanism in Russia
  • Lot of talk of Obama’s foreign policy falling apart this week. A reminder that the low-hanging fruit is gone.
  • Hopi Sen continues his hot-streak in his first appearance this week, on the “Stop the World” coalition – I remember wanting to argue with something in this but not finding anything.
  • Second New Yorker is a feature on the Sri Lankan civil war. Hard reading, but nothing that’ll surprise anyone who watched the Channel 4 documentary (go watch that if you haven’t)
  • This profile of an abortion doctor in Mississippi is a great look at a wonderful man, that doesn’t lose sight of the fucked up conditions he is forced into
  • Couple of good pieces on the dangers of condescending reporting on the Ebola outbreaks in West Africa. This one, at the Atlantic, is heartbreaking (that ending – chills). This one, at the Monkey Cage (I know), more scholarly
  • Hugh Muir is excellent on the continuing horrors coming out of Rotherham and the shameless attempts to blame them on PC gone mad.
  • Thoughtful essay on admitting your white privilege
  • History of race riots in the USA, and growing more positively out of similar fuckery in the UK, a history of the Notting Hill Carnival
  • Harsh piece on war reporting today
  • Rather weirdly beautiful piece of writing on war through the eyes of the C-130 transport plane
  • Obviously this is a great blog on what all the horrid images shared on Twitter do to us, but I’m mostly sharing it because despite having consigned Thinking Fast and Slow to the “two-thirds read” pile***, I recognised the quote!
  • Fascinating account of the botched rescue of the Iranian embassy hostages
  • I may have linked to this before, but you should all be checking out Willard Foxton’s WW1 History Tumblr – based on a collection of contemporary magazines, he also shares little anecdotes or histories. Really interesting little tidbits every day.
  • Hopi Sen, again, on the need for a Spotify for news – I feel this.Even if money wasn’t a concern, the hassle is maddening – the Financial Times is pretty egregious in this regard.
  • Told you Nicki was going to feature heavily. These two posts that I found really helpful provide context to the brilliant Anaconda video– plenty overlap, but this one is a snappy Tumblr, and this one is a bit boilerplate feminist. Meanwhile, this by Emily Reynolds is just quite funny.
  • Now that Playboy have de-perved their website (mostly), can respectably link to them. This, on the whitewashing of hip-hop, is great.
  • Suspect time-lapse videos are going to be everywhere soon (Dad showed me the new Instagram app), but until then, this one of the Panama canal is quite incredible
  • IDK if I’m horrified or enticed by Arby’s Meat Mountain but this is a brilliant article
  • I defer to no man**** in my love for About a Boy/Bridget Jones Hugh, but this is funny.
  • As the start of the academic year approaches, this might be helpful to some of you.
  • Finally, Fuck this tortoise.

A long one, but there you go. Lots to be getting on with – see you in September! x

*I have some thoughts on Super Bass, which for some reason, I hadn’t heard before, and I have a platform so: 1) the aesthetic of this video is terrifyingly frenzied. Just that blinking in the first verse is disquieting 2) first time I heard it, I was immediately reminded of the soundtrack to Thomas Was Alone and this felt like a really good insight. Look!

**I’ve noticed that about half of these articles are still referring to ISIS. There are sound political reasons for this (not legitimising them as a state, chiefly) but I go with IS largely out of laziness and Twitter character limits.

***started it up again last night after writing this

****admittedly I probably don’t need to

10th August: Binary Mood

I don’t know if this is just one of those confirmation bias things but I feel like the past few weeks have just been a bleak, bleak time to be human. The last awful headline barely has time to be fade before another horror arrives on the news. So I’m rejigging the structure a bit this week. The first half is pretty grim but, I hope, interesting as ever. Meanwhile, I’ve shoved anything mildly optimistic/light-hearted into the second half, regardless of topic. If you’ve read enough dire reports on the state of the world today, scroll straight down.

Song of the week  – Guns N’ Roses’ “Coma”. Had forgotten about it as I’m no longer 16 ( 😦 ) The last two or three minutes of this song are properly incredible – rest is good two but from the solo onwards it’s something else.

 

After some hiccups in the posting schedule, my latest-ish piece at NATO Council is up (hoping for a couple more to appear soon) – this one was on the United Kingdom procuring the F-35. It’s also the last of the little miniseries I was writing (in my mind) on British defence matters so that’s cool. Been playing with a concluding post to go up here, may arrive this week.

With that, let’s get the nastiness out of the way first

The Bad

  • So IS(IS/L) have been all over the headlines (and all up in US bombsights now) this weekend. This essay in the London Review of Books is properly depressing stuff – they look increasingly likely to be here to stay
  • I’m sure you’re all dying to know – the official stance here is cautiously in favour of the operations against IS announced this weekend. Then again what the fuck do I know I was pleased when UNSC1973 got passed and look at Libya now. Regardless this is a well-argued proposal at Foreign Policy for a proper disengagement by the USA from the Middle East.
  • I’ve spent the past few days sneering, sniping and generally being unpleasant about the various irritants who make up the British liberal interventionist segment of the media. So it’s only fair that I share with you this thoughtful, honest meditation by Hopi Sen, shining light among them, on the current state of Western foreign policy
  • Properly arming the Kiev government would be a bad idea right now
  • Vladimir Putin seems a bit of a tragic figure, aside from all the nastiness. But what if sanctions do force him out of power?
  • Bringing research and scholarship to bear on the ongoing problem of creating a lasting ceasefire in Gaza
  • The fact that the Ebola serum has only been used on two white Americans while Africans die by the hundred looks bad – but it’s more complicated than that
  • This is a powerful, upsetting read about a young reporter’s first night in Kiev. Dispiriting but important. TW for sexual assault.

Ugh. All-round unpleasant.

But look.

  • First up, Daniel Woodburn presents a more optimistic look at ISIS’ prospects*
  • Intriguing proposal to end the violence in Ukraine from Dan Drezner
  • Slight, but fascinatingly futuristic idea for humanitarian relief
  • Realistic proposals for positive change in the DRC? :O
  • A reminder that there are no nuclear weapons in South America – that’s nice. Interesting look at why that is.
  • Hesitated on where to put this, as it’s bittersweet, but a lovely profile of one of the women involved in the Supreme Court case against the Defence of Marriage Act.
  • The New Statesman has a tendency to publish pretty irritating stuff on feminism**, but this brilliant (long) essay on trans people and radical feminism kind of makes up for it
  • Was only vaguely aware of this – amid the commemorations of the soldiers, Paul Mason argues the First World War was brought to an end by workers’ movements
  • CityMetric is an interesting project. This is cool on the definition of a city, and this is encouraging on the urban revolution.
  • Speaking of cities: very fun account by Clive Martin of a pub crawl through the worst of gentrifying London dickery. Surprisingly even-handed. While most of my trips into Central London make me pray for the day all its wanky boutiques, pop-ups, craft beer and fancy coffee houses disappear from the face of the Earth, this sort of piece makes me wonder if I shouldn’t give it a chance while I’m still here.
  • Great interview with the wonderful Christina Hendricks
  • Been reading a lot of The Debrief this week (you should too) – enjoyed this on the mad reactions to J-Law’s breakup, and not just because her dating that annoying kid out of About a Boy was annoying
  • Liked this by Daisy Buchanan – just eight years to go till I hit my peak, apparently
  • Really want to play Far Cry 3 again after reading this great piece
  • I identify deeply with this Buzzfeed.
  • My hero.

Also, I wanted to do a Kanye-eyeroll here but can’t be arsed, but can we just take a moment to note that on Thursday morning Dan Hodges wrote a weasel wordy, incoherent, ignorant column decrying the paralysis and cowardice of the non-interventionism that dominates Western policy and literally like twelve hours later, Obama was authorising airstrikes on ISIS (just in time to spare us a tedious Nick Cohen column on the topic, I hope). Beautiful.

Long’un this week. Whoops. We’re done. Enjoy the week as best you can guys. This too shall pass, maybe? IDK.

As ever, if receiving this thing to your email inbox late Saturday night instead of seeking it out yourselves during Sunday appeals to you, I’ve started a newsletter which you can subscribe to ->here<-

*optimistic for us, not them, obv.

**which I’m loathe to really criticise because I’m a bloke but.

3rd of August: “Commuter” Edition

I’ve decided I don’t like coming into London during the week. As befits my status as “a bit of a waste of space” ™, recently I’ve been coming in to the centre, wearing shorts and sunglasses, and overlapping with various segments of commuters on the train, all besuited and miserable, and god. Nothing quite like it to remind you you’ve done nothing with your week.

Nothing but read a bunch of stuff! The advantage of “commuting”, of course, is I read a bunch of stuff – which is good for you, as you don’t even need to do the commuting bit (unless you do anyway, in which case, sorry)

Song of the week isn’t exactly a song so much as an indulgence. Despite realising their audience is apparently mostly 14, and despite their hawking their songs to every awful thing from the Olympics to Twilight, I still have a lot of time for Muse, if only out of loyalty to high-school me. This week’s song is the three-part ‘symphony’ off the end of The Resistance, ‘Exogenesis’. It’s ridiculous, self-indulgent, and just a bit beautiful. It’s also twelve minutes long: luckily, there are a lot of links this week.

  • Two posts on the international response to Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine. One arguing for a more assertive policy, and one praising the restrained one so far. You choose*
  • Interesting article examining different scenarios for China’s rise to challenge the narrative of its inevitable hegemony
  • What are NATO and the EU’s rapid response forces good for? Also wrote an article about this, which I submitted about three hours before reading – annoying.
  • Mean Girls reference and slamming right-wing orthodoxies? Sold. On Mitt Romney, the ‘fetch’ of presidential candidates
  • Damning piece on the aftermath of the Libyan intervention
  • The Early Warning Project present their assessments for risks of state-led mass killing in 2014 – interesting for my dissertation, but also for you
  • Adam Elkus has some problems (to say the least) with US policy in ‘AfPak’
  • Bitterly funny.
  • Quite nice interview with someone who I assume is famous in the States on travel, food, and …war
  • I don’t know how the hell to summarise this piece without sounding mad. One of their pictures might help:

    taken from The Atlantic

  • Reassuring blog by Tom Chivers on the Ebola outbreak.
  • There was a lot of money sloshing around for contractors after the Afghan and Iraq war – this piece looks at someone who made a lot of money from them, perhaps not too ethically.
  • Charlie’s got more thoughts on development – interesting ones
  • Lovely piece from Roxane Gay
  • Dorian Lynskey has an excellent feature on the egregious example of cultural appropriation that is the ‘festival headdress’
  • Mythologised history is fun, but it’s nice to know the truth about les taxis de la Marne
  • Speaking of mythologised history, this (multi-part, not sure which link I’ve given you) “degenerates” into mid-century Swiss army fan-fiction (as if that’s a bad thing), but is interesting on the German plans for an invasion of Switzerland in WW2
  • Ally Fogg is not unhappy that men’s appearances are getting more scrutiny than in the past
  • This sounds appalling to me, because strangers, but quite an interesting concept – like blablacar but for food
  • This is nice, somewhat encouraging, stuff by Bim Adewunmi
  • The pieces from the New Yorker archive are starting to come through. This week, celebrity profiles! First up, this is cool on George Clooney
  • Didn’t mean for this to happen, honest, but GQ’s interview with Kanye West is great, and it was right next to this very interesting (quite old, pre-Red) profile of Taylor Swift** in my bookmarks. I’mma let you finish indeed.
  • Got endless time for writing about Confessions
  • This is inexplicably funny.

Weekly reminder that if you’d prefer, the Reading List is available in newsletter form here, and with that, I bid you bubye. Enjoy the weather or something. x

*currently writing something on Parliament’s report on the issue, so watch this space

**god this has been a week for “guilty” pleasures, hasn’t it? Muse and Taylor Swift (who even my teenaged sister (ie, Swift’s target audience) rolls her eyes at me for liking).

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:

tumblr_mshgsbUsd61qfkqupo1_500

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

on Reforms to the British Military

on Reforms to the British Military

The second half of my piece on NATO Council of Canada went up. In my head the second half was more substantial than this. 

Still, very proud of the whole thing and, again honoured and grateful to have been given the opportunity and the platform to ramble on like that. I assume the world’s militaries, governments, newspapers and just general organisations will be scrambling to hire me now.

 

 

Right?

on Threats to the United Kingdom

on Threats to the United Kingdom

Given my frequent scorn here and in Twitter for the state of foreign policy discourse in the UK, figured it was time I at least tried to contribute. I’m very grateful to have been given the chance to contribute to NATO Council Canada and hopefully you’ll all go read this so they ask me back. Quite proud of how this, and the second part turned out.

Either way, planning to return to this topic over the summer in more depth, starting with a proper look at the 2010 Strategic Defence Review.

18th of May: the Vigilante Edition

Remembered the magic of scheduled posting, so this one is coming to you from Thursday evening, so as to avoid next week’s post being double-length.

 

Song of the week is ‘Devil In A New Dress’ off My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – come for Rick Ross’ mad boasting skills, do your best to avoid the misogyny dripping from several lyrics, and stay for the beautiful interaction between the guitars and the samples in the backing track. Above all, remind yourself how good that album is. With that, off we go.

  • First up, interesting blog from Laura Seay (or @texasinafrica) on how Nigerian communities have developed new structures to provide security where state control is weak
  • Not sure if this piece at the National Interest is encouraging or worrying, but it takes a look at how a revived rivalry with Russia might play out compared to the Cold War
  • This is a good critique of the interventionists in British politics and how no condemnation of a nasty group (in this case, Boko Haram) short of a massive bombing campaign is enough to please them
  • Outline of the implications of the ICC’s investigation into British war crimes in Iraq
  • Probably the wrong word, but this examination of what challenges the US Army is likely to face in future conflicts is really cool. Not keen on Brazil getting dragged into it as an example but.
  • Had kind of gone off Laurie Penny recently, but here are three really good pieces by her. One on whether the Internet is sexist, one on how daft and embarrassing Boris is, and one, for all you people who are actually taking exams seriously this year, on how to pass them.
  • Optimistic blog on Brazilians and the World Cup. I’ve found a lot of the tone of the reporting on Brazil from outside very irritating recently, and I can only assume it’ll get worse, so this was nice.
  • Dispiriting column from Sarah Kendzior on the false promise of social mobility. Mostly US-focused, but lots of it is relevant elsewhere
  • This was one of those pieces I bookmark and then lose in the folders, but it’s interesting and a bit out there, on Uber, the app shaking up the taxi industry in big ways
  • I’m kind of OK with Community bowing out, so it’s a good time to appreciate what we had, and this is a great review of the last season with really interesting analysis of the imagery
  • I back this piece defending the Jurassic Park sequel 100%, mostly because Jurassic Park scared me into the kitchen as a kid, while I almost wore out our recording of The Lost World.
  • In case you missed it, the first glimpse of the new Batsuit+mobile is out. Big news. Seems to be a pleasingly Dark Knight Returns vibe to it. Not keen on what appear to be veins on the suit though.
Image

image nicked off badassdigest.com

  • Finally, this is mildly NSFW, but a very funny piece of “Liberal Dude Erotica” (it cuts to black before anything happens so it’s not too NSFW)

And with that, we’re done. No Kanye-eyeroll this week, as it’s my birthday and I want to be positive.*

Have a good week, enjoy your reading.

*this is obviously a lie because who do you think I am? I just didn’t see anything that really annoyed me this week, somehow. The John Pilger shocker in the Guardian almost made it, though.

Mearsheimer and the Rise of China

The National Interest posted a new chapter from John Mearsheimer’s The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, which I am yet to read, on whether China can rise peacefully. It’s up in full, for free, and well worth the read – it can be found here.

It’s worthwhile both for what Mearsheimer anticipates will happen over the next few decades in the Pacific, and for a succinct summary of the tenets of offensive realism. Of course, the problem with reading a succinct summary is that it can feel like important arguments are rushed and assumptions aren’t justified, which does mean The Tragedy of Great Power Politics has jumped its way up my reading list. Still, I’d like to give you my own brief summary of the argument and highlight a couple of interesting points, as well as a few questions that the article left me with.*

Long post after the jump (sorry)

February 23rd: Responsibility to Keep it Brief

I almost wish, as a society, we valued different things. That way, two consecutive weeks in which no reading was done and few classes were attended, but ridiculous amounts of TV were consumed would maybe be considered more of an achievement than an embarrassment. Regardless, less reading=less links=shorter, more manageable blogposts, so it’s to your benefit I guess.

Last week there was unusually little IR/foreign policy stuff, so a bumper edition this week. It’s also going to be structurally brilliant.

First off, two articles on The Bridge, another good security studies/defence stuff website. The first one is an interesting defence of the Responsibility to Protect (see what I did with the title?). By drawing the debate away from the extremes of airstrikes and no-fly zones, the author provides a strong justification for its continuing relevance – even when the appetite for military intervention seems generally limited, early warning mechanisms that appeal for more limited interventions before things get too bad can still be useful. It’s well worth reading, as is the rebuttal, published a few days later on the same site. The rebuttal is good at pointing out a few flaws, gaps and oversights in the original article, but less good at making its own case, so it’s only worth reading as a means of being made to pay attention to the flaws in the first article.

Like I said – structurally brilliant. Much like a university lecturer or someone equally talented, I’ve just alid out a theoretical debate for you, and now, bang. Case study. I’m pretty sure I’ve linked to Peter Munson before* but his pieces at War on the Rocks are great – this one on Syria places it in the context of the Just War debate (which admittedly, isn’t quite the same as the R2P one but is closely descended enough that my course outline holds together). It’s both a sanguine and level-headed consideration of the limited prospects for success of any US intervention in Syria, and a (possibly quite irritable) plea for a less self-righteous tone to the arguments for intervention. Every time I read a great piece on Syria I feel less inclined to write one myself because it really has all been said.

As a transition to the more ill-themed segment of the article, this review from War on the Rocks isn’t really what I thought it would be, but it’s quite nice anyway. Since reading a piece about the US withdrawal from Afghanistan last year I’ve been fascinated by the logistical side of armies, so I was hoping this would be an article about that, but I guess I’d have to read the actual book.

Next, and I think this is the first time I’ve linked to anything Novara, so I’d just like to take a moment to strongly recommend their radio show/podcast** – it’s kind of depressing, because the presenters usually have a really compelling, radical, plausible take on politics that makes you feel both very smug and superior when reading mainstream op-eds and very depressed when you consider the state of the future. Reading it back, this doesn’t sound like the best recommendation, but check it out. This week’s article is just a brief outline of the arguments in favour of campaigning for a Universal Basic Income (UBI) . This is a really interesting proposal that I feel has a certain amount of momentum – this article makes arguments for it both in and of itself and also as part of a broader anti-capitalist campaign. Quick and interesting, check it.

Possibly of limited interest to people who aren’t me, but I’ve been following Mauricio Savarese on Twitter for a while and his posts on Brazil are always interesting – this one is on the skewed portrayal of Brazilian politics in the media – he’s written previously on how badly the international media reports on Brazil, but this one is more general. It seems even-handed to me, but part of why I like the piece so much is that it is really fucking hard for me, having lived abroad for the best part of twenty years, to form any sort of opinion on Brazilian politics***. This at least illuminates part of the problem. Of course, if he’s right that Brazilian political parties tend to paint their opponents as radically different to themselves despite having almost identical politics, I wonder if that doesn’t just bring Brazil closer to “developed world” (lol) politics. Anyway.

Bit more frivolous, but this is a good article about Tinder, its founders, and some quite nice anecdotes about outcomes. I was kind of hoping the author would write more about the bug that seems to afflict people whose names begin with G and end in –abriel that seems to hide all the matches we- they are getting, but…****

Finally, something very relevant to this blog, which is definitely not neutral but pretty poor at expressing definitive opinions, this post on Charlie’s blog***** is really good on ambivalence.

A bit longer than last week, but hopefully still within reasonable limits. Enjoy the end of February x

*just checked – I haven’t. My bad. This piece, again on Syria, is brilliant.

**if nothing else, I feel like this blog could have been written by a Republican in recent weeks and I feel like recommending a radical left-wing media outlet regains me some left-wing credit

***and I have to vote this year!

****good God. I was making a crap joke, but I just found a Yahoo answers page that is filled with this level of almost so-sad-it’s-almost-adorable delusion.