What’s Been On My Mind This Week

Question Mark1. President Obama is taking a battering in the news at the moment, criticised for his foreign policies, his stance on immigration, his overly cautious responses to many crises, both at home and abroad. The Lexington column in the Economist this week was interesting in its examination of the President’s tone and use of language.

2. The November mid-term elections are a matter of weeks away. Most are agreed that the Republicans will win the House. There was a good examination in the New York Times as to why the Democrats are doomed to lose.

3. The problems in Detroit continue to go from bad to worse. A short article in the Economist this week alerted me to the water problems the city’s inhabitants currently face, and then I came across this detailed feature from last month’s National Geographic.

4. Still looking at North America, I also read this piece in the New Yorker about an epidemic of overdoses on Staten Island.

5. The referendum on Scottish independence is about ten days away and, for the first time, polls show the Yes campaign to be in the lead. Angus Roxburgh wrote in the New Statesman about why he will be voting for independence.

6. I know I’ve written about this before, but it’s a topic that continually rears its head: how childless women are perceived by society. This week there was an interesting article on the subject in the New Statesman, and there was also one in the New York Times which argued that being a parent harms a woman’s career, but helps a man’s.

7. Talking of careers, gender and education, there was a fascinating ‘Long Read‘ in Intelligent Life magazine this week about a Pakistani teenager who started a school.

8. There has been a lot about sugar, fat, diet and obesity in the news lately. This week, there was an article in the New Statesman about some of the real reasons behind obesity – usually far more complex than diet alone – and the rising costs faced by the NHS in the face of the obesity epidemic in this country.

9. I’ve read a lot of books this week, but I’m only going to mention one. Fair Fight by Anna Freeman is a brilliant debut historical novel, reminiscent of those written by some of the best practitioners of the genre (Sarah Waters, Emma Donoghue). It’s the story of a female pugilist, Ruth, in 18th century Bristol, and what happens when her life collides with that of Charlotte Dryer, the wife of Ruth’s wealthy patron.

10. This week I’ve been listening to the new album by British band Dry the River. Titled Alarms in the Heart, it’s their second album and it’s just brilliant. I will admit that, on first listen, I wasn’t completely convinced, despite enjoying their debut record. But I’ve been listening to Alarms in the Heart pretty much on repeat all week and it just gets better and better. Reminiscent of another of my favourite groups, The National, particularly on – for me – the standout track, ‘Vessel’, this sophomore album demonstrates how they’ve developed and matured since their debut release. Lyrically, the band retains their religious/biblical influences, and their music is still folk/rock based. The difference is there are no low points on this second album; each track feels more carefully crafted, more mature and therefore more worth of repeated listening.

 

 

 

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