What’s Been On My Mind This Week

Question Mark

1. So Scotland voted ‘No’ and Salmond resigned. It’s been fascinating to hear and read people’s reactions, particularly online, and now we will have to wait and see what the effects on Great Britain, and Scotland, will be: what does it mean for our sense of identity, what will the promised ‘devo-max’ consist of, are Labour now guaranteed to win the next election, has Gordon Brown really rehabilitated himself? Speaking of identity, there was this interesting article in the New Statesman about whether nations have ‘character’. I also found this piece in the Economist, which looks at why Wales will not seek independence, informative. Also in the Economist was this article on the axes of competition that characterised the divide between Yes and No in Scotland: Balliol versus Brasenose, and Edinburgh versus Glasgow. Finally, there was this piece in the New Statesman that argued that, whatever the result of the vote, we are now a nation divided, not necessarily by our political beliefs, but by inequality. We live in a nation run by the elites, from whom the majority of the population feels estranged. 

2. Hillary Clinton’s return to Iowa this week reignited the never really dormant interest in her possible second presidential run in 2016. Clinton actually admitted that she was ‘thinking about it [running]’ while in Iowa, which, as this article in the Washington Post notes, is almost like an announcement given her past reticence on the matter. This piece in the Economist argues that the mood at the event in Indianola was ‘friendly, but hardly electric’, while this Economist blog looks at the ‘Ready for Hillary’ campaign, who are seeking to erase the memories of the 2008 Clinton campaign (the last time she visited the state).

3. Also in American news, the indictment of an NFL player for injury to a child made the headlines this week. In response, there was this excellent article in the Washington Post which looks at the history of corporal punishment within black American families and its complex relationship with white brutality, religion and trigger-happy policemen.

4. I’ll admit I know very little about Chinese politics, but I did find this leader in the Economist about the current leader of China, Xi Jinping, fascinating. It looks at the sheer amount of his power and asks how he might best use it.

5. There was an interesting feature in the New Statesman that took the form of a debate between two women about the current state of the conversation on feminism. One argued that, for example, the effects of the internet and the ‘big-name’ women currently speaking out on the issues is ‘progress’, while the other argues that too much online conversation becomes an ‘echo’ and highlights the issues she believes contemporary feminism should be focussing on.

6. There was an anonymous response in the New Statesman to the scientist Richard Dawkins’ comments on rape and women who are raped while drunk. It’s worth reading, and also looking at Dawkins’ tweets, if you can bear to.

7. A New York bartender wrote an open letter to a customer who grabbed her ass. She also told people where he worked.

8. Cartoonist Alison Bechdel was awarded a MacArthur ‘genius’ grant for her work. Best known for her graphic memoirs about coming out and her relationship with her mother, Bechdel is one of the best at marrying what she calls the ‘two languages’ of cartoons: the visual and the verbal.

9. Author Jess Richards has written a beautiful essay for the Scottish Book Trust about heartbreak, love, loss, loneliness and landscapes. Do read it here.

10. I’ve been watching the new series of crime drama Scott & Bailey. I’m not sure the writing is quite as good yet in this new series, but I still love the relationship between lead characters Janet and Rachel, and Amelia Bullmore is brilliant as their boss, Gill.

11. This week I’ve been reading The Farm by Tom Rob Smith. Rob Smith is the author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed trilogy that began with Child 44 (which I’m ashamed to say I haven’t yet read) and this is his latest thriller. I don’t often read thrillers for pleasure but I did mostly enjoy this one, though I felt somewhat let down in the latter stages (though I think few share my opinion!).

12. I’ve been listening to the new EP by The Anchoress. Catherine Anne Davies is a Welsh singer and instrumentalist and her new tracks are wonderful. I hope her new full-length album (apparently due for release next year) will be of the same calibre.

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