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.

16th of November: Noir

I kind of hate myself for that title because I think it might be a pun, but I’m in a shambles anyway because this week’s list has, at a push, one IR-ish article. I also managed to delete the archive of saved links I was keeping which is a little bit heartbreaking.

Song of the week is Albert Hammond Jr. (out of the Strokes), just remembered that he was doing the “removing albums from Spotify” thing well before Taylor, and sought him out on Youtube (cos duh). Anyway this song’s a bit beautiful and “you’re pretty won’t you come play with me” breaks my heart consistently.


Structure this week is shot to bits because I can’t do “IR-Serious Non-IR-frivolity” as usual, so let’s just get straight into it.

  • I like this on the Seumas Milnes of the world – how not to oppose imperialism
  • (straight onto the British politics!) Following the tedious and abortive coup against Miliband, Jonathan Freeland suggests a good campaign message for Labour
  • Lol this government is a joke.
  • Kind of by turns beautiful and heartbreaking (corresponding to each country), this piece on youth prison systems in Spain and the UK is excellent
  • Vaguely surreal profiles of some of the expats staying in Afghanistan when ISAF leaves
  • Was going to share a couple of episodes of #IMOBastani, Aaron off Novara Media’s new project, with you but this one is on UKIP and Mare Nostrum and it is very strong stuff (“because these people have names, right?” is a killer line), and the other two are in the related videos. It’s still a bit rough around the edges but definitely one to watch – do check out episode three too.
  • Another good piece on the mid-term elections*
  • Troubling from Jamelle Bouie on the possibility that the deadlock and fuckery that is American politics might be here to stay for a long while
  • Excellent on abortion rights
  • Clever apps and technology probably isn’t a solution to rape culture
  • Heartbreaking story from the pre-Civil Rights era. As you read it, never forget they were literal children and that everything is the literal worst.
  • Another beautiful Ask Polly column
  • As someone who spends a few minutes each week downloading daft apps to optimise my existence**, I found these pieces on ‘lifehacking’ and Soylent fascinating,
  • The Toast is amazing and this piece on introverts is my favourite
  • Good critique of yet another Band Aid single***
  • Stinging review of Lena Dunham’s memoir
  • Taylor Swift’s music finally disappeared off my Spotify, so I’m going to share a number of articles about the future of streaming
  • Joel Golby at Vice has a couple of funny ones this week – on Mick Hucknall’s sex life (yeah, ew) and on the nightmare that is “Very British Problems” getting a TV show
  • Couple of pieces on Interstellar at Popular Science
  • Rather pretty writing on video-games and Destiny and savegames
  • I am dreading reinstalling Skyrim on the new computer because of the bloody ordeal that modding it will be – this is nice on how much the modding community has impacted the game
  • And, of course, because how on earth was it going to go a whole reading list without the person that I’ve been reading out about all week – Kim Kardashian. I’m actually surprised I didn’t save more pieces about this because there’ve been some good ones but IDK.

And that’s that! Have a lovely week everyone! X

*I think I linked to the same author on the same topic last week but can’t check because of deletions 😦 😦

**today I saw my calendar app was telling me to work on my dissertation, ignored it, and continued playing Far Cry 3. 10 hours.

***though tbh if they get someone good on it, I will listen to it throughout December, because the original is one of the key parts of my Christmas playlist