This one seems to have slipped away of late for various reasons, but mostly because I’ve not been reading as much online as I was in January. This week, I have, and so I thought I would share some of the best bits with you. Of course, lots of it has been Japan-centric, as presumably with most people this week. I am not going to provide a list of tsunami articles and pics though, as it probably wouldn’t be in the best taste. Instead, this week’s heavily parenthesized version is plucked from altogether more eclectic news sources, garnished with some free music, too.
Let’s kick off with the launch of The Blizzard. Growing up, I used to devour football and music magazines. Shoot and 442 for footy; Select, Q, Mojo and Uncut for tunes. The publishing landscape has changed so much of late, though, and every time I have picked up a football magazine over the past five years I’ve been disappointed. The decline of the industry has been blamed solely on the consumer, but the publishers should harness some of the blame, too, even if their hands are often forced.
Magazines are too often filled with shite and not enough effort is devoted to in depth analysis. Whilst I can understand the necessity of advertising, it confused me for a long time why there was no football magazine devoted to the ‘thinking man’. The best coverage was reserved for the broadsheets and more recently, the internet. Blogs like Zonal Marking, The Equaliser and In Bed With Maradona have grown in prominence and have become an essential read.
Through the advent of Twitter, these guys have been getting the recognition they deserved. ZM’s Michael Cox is now a regular guest on the Guardian’s Football Weekly podcast and has columns in their print edition and on many mainstream websites. It seems the social networking tool has also been a huge factor in the development of just the magazine we have been crying out for, The Blizzard.
Edited by tactical guru Jonathan Wilson, “The Blizzard is a quarterly publication -part book, part magazine.” Its editorial team is a Who’s Who of the football Twitterati, featuring everyone from Marcotti to Horncastle, Brassell to Honigstein. The pilot issue (zero) is available to download for a ‘pay what you like’ fee and is superb. The articles are lengthy, but worth spending the time over. Here’s hoping they gather enough steam to keep this thing going.
Staying with football briefly, there was an excellent piece on the aforementioned In Bed With Maradona website this week about a Swedish footballer, Anton Hysen, who came out to the media recently. It’s scandalous that there is still such a homophobic shadow over the sport, to the extent that footballers are forced to remain in the closet. The tragic example of Justin Fashanu is cited in the article, who’s own brother even disowned him when he announced his sexuality.
I get too excited by bizarre historical overlaps and the Rebbe of Sinn Fein article that appeared in the Jewish Daily Forward (of course) fascinated me. It’s the story of Chaim Herzog, a Jewish Rabbi, who became inextricably linked with the Republican movement in Ireland in the 20th Century. Despite the anti-Semitic protestations of Sinn Fein founder Arthur Griffith, he stood by the party, even to the point of becoming fluent in Irish.
A superb feature ran in Slate this week about hugging, or rather, disdain for it. I Don’t Need A Hug bemoans the acceptance of hugging as a way of greeting people in the States and it’s something I can relate to. The article states that hugging should be reserved for those whose arms you actually want to be in and I have to agree: hugging everybody belittles and demeans the sentiment that it should convey. It got me thinking, and there have certainly times when I’ve awkwardly been drawn into a hug by someone I don’t even know. It’s time for a revolution, folks.
Over on Project Syndicate, a great resource for anyone interested in, eh, anything, former World Bank head and Chief Economist to the Clinton administration Joseph Stiglitz writes intriguingly about the Mauritius Miracle. Now, I am always a bit skeptical when I read of miraculous financial turnarounds in countries considering the reports are often inaccurate (Chile in the late 70s, Soviet Blog post fall of Communism and I guess because of the artificial wealth it was built upon, The Celtic Tiger of Ireland), but Stiglitz’s is an opinion I trust and value. His brilliant book Globalization and Its Miscontents is one of the first books I read on the topic and is a polemic indictment of the IMF, World Bank and US Foreign Policy written from the inside. Based on his depiction of the social policy and living conditions in Mauritius, we in the West could learn a lot from the tiny island nation.
For aesthetic value, The Atlantic’s feature on the Origins of Bathroom Signs is well worth checking out. For scary stats and figures, have a look at Scientific American’s Creationism Controversy: State by State map.
I’ve been delighted by the amount of free music available online recently. More and more musicians have been streaming full albums upon their release, obviously hoping to attract a purchase. NPR have been leading lights on this front for a long time and they are currently streaming the new Mountain Goats album, All Eternals Deck in its entirety. You can also hear full lengths from The Joy Formidable and The Dodos on the site now. The Strokes are streaming their new album on their website, but the best two streams are reserved for two fine Scottish acts.
Withered Hand’s name has been everywhere this week, with his struggles to gain a visa for the USA in order to play SxSW. I’ve been loving his album, Good News, for a long time now and since he’s releasing it in the US this month, he’s streaming it it for free on his Bandcamp. FOUND, too, are an Edinburgh based act I’ve been a fan of for years. They’ve released their new album Factory Craft on Chemical Underground and it’s been great to see them getting some recognition in the national press. You can stream the album on their Bandcamp, but don’t forget to buy it, too.