I spend a lot of time at my computer and whilst I’ll freely admit a lot of it is spent time-wasting; procrastinating, I get a lot of good out of it too. Via Twitter, Facebook, emails and random searches, I end up digesting a lot of worthwhile online literature. Whilst a resolution for 2011 was to read a lot more away from my screen, I figured I may as well put the rest of it to good use, too. Rather than continually posting links to articles and videos on Facebook, I’ve decided to try and make a weekly reading / watching list, based on what I’ve enjoyed in the seven days ensuing and what I would like to share with others.
Here’s what I’ve been digging, week ending January 21st (it gets a bit more fun the further down you read, promise):
It’s impossible to underestimate just how symbolic this week’s events in Tunisia have been. North Africa has suffered at the hands of dictatorial despots since independence and so the first revolution, as described by Mona Eltahawy in the Guardian, should be embraced.
As Christopher Hitchens comments in his weekly column for Slate, though, those within Tunisia should be wary of political Islam. The Ben Ali regime did many, many bad things but was tolerated (supported) by the West, partly because of his western-friendly economic policy and partly because of the fact that he kept political Islam out of government. The next few months are key to the country’s future as a ‘free nation’.
I’m a huge fan of Canadian anti-globalization writer Naomi Klein. After reading the Shock Doctrine, her damning indictment of disaster capitalism, my entire worldview was altered. Few books have had that effect on me. In her speech at TEDWomen, she warns of the dangers we’re facing because of BP’s Faustian pursuit of oil reserves. This is a much watch, full of some real quotable soundbytes like, “we’re putting our foot on the accelerator, when we should be hitting the brake.”
As if that wasn’t enough, this piece by Mark Leftly and Chris Stevenson in The Indy about the recent deal struck between BP and Russian oil giant Rosneft outlines exactly what the deal means for those that count Antarctica as their natural habitat.
One of the pieces that made me think more than usual (that is, some) this week is Do We Have Ahmadinejad All Wrong in The Atlantic, portraying the Iranian President as a progressive but hampered leader, often stifled in the policies he wishes to implement by the Ayatollah and his parliament.
There seems to be no bottom to the can of worms opened all over the Vatican’s face in the past few years. After vehemently denying such charges for what seems like forever, this story of a letter from a senior Vatican figure pretty much confirms their complicity in the child abuse cover ups in Ireland. This is one of the more harrowing stories I’ve read in a while, with particular reference to Elvis impersonating priest Tony Walsh, who raped a child in the toilet, at the child’s grandfather’s funeral. The devil truly is in the detail.
That was all a bit heavy duty. How about some nice numbers? Eric Harvey, Pitchfork staff writer and incessant blogger, has taken the time to compile the sales figures for all of the albums on both P4k’s top 50 albums of 2010 and Rolling Stone’s top 30. It makes for interesting reading. James Blake, #8 in Pitchfork’s for a series of 3 EP, recorded sales figures of only 511/4,091/na. The Fresh and Onlys at #29 with Play It Strange sold only 3,633. The rest have all got reasonably high figures, putting pay to the theory that Pitchfork only carries obscure releases. Or maybe it means that they take the obscure records and make them popular?
I’ve never really been much of a Beatles fan, but The Voices of All Of Our Yesterdays, an essay on the Fab Four by Douglas Adams helps me understand just how I might have loved them had I been born in a different era. It’s an account, on McCartney’s 50th birthday in 1992, of his first encounters with them and how they went onto change his life. It’s written beautifully, in true Adams style. Knocks spots of my first record story, anyway (Ocean Colour Scene, since you asked).
And finally, how about some toilet humour? This one was doing the rounds on Twitter recently: