No Complaints #22: Pockets, Periscope and the patriarchy

I feel like this is the best summation of what I’m up to at the moment.

Things to read

“Crombie was an expert gazer. Through meaningful looks and other subtleties, he showed that Gilbert wasn’t threatened when Anne could spell ‘chrysanthemum’ and he couldn’t; he appeared deeply concerned when she fell off the ridgepole, and didn’t mock her for braving it; he was kind during the ‘The Lady of Shalott’ escapade, while executing a dashing rescue. In this video, a young Crombie explains that the moment Anne breaks a slate over Gilbert’s head is the moment he starts growing up.”

Anne of Green Gables was everything to every bookish teenage girl I knew (me included). This is an explanation of why we loved Jonathan Crombie, the on-screen incarnation of Anne’s perpetual sparring partner, Gilbert Blythe. Email to Pocket.



“In the Periscope caste system, hearts are more important than followers. When we met earlier this month, Oleander had 2 million hearts. By last Friday, she had more than 5 million. Every new user is encouraged to follow the most-loved scopers, and, as of yet, no celebrity has reached Oleander’s level of cardiac acclaim. (She’s also the only woman in the top ten.)”

Meet Amanda Oleander, Periscope’s first star. Email to Pocket.



“Where are women's pockets? What is the deal with women's clothing and pockets? Occasionally we get pockets. Most of the time we are woefully lacking. And then to add insult to injury we are drawn in with the promise of pockets only to realise, oft times too late, that it was that abomination; the false pocket.”

Why don’t women's clothes have pockets? The patriarchy clearly wants us not to have any of the stuff we need to hand. Email to Pocket.



“The thing that’s forgotten is, people don’t have huge social networks because they’re good at using the internet. Beyonce got to having millions of Twitter followers before she ever even wrote her first tweet. In my particular case, being picked as a suggested user on Twitter changed the trajectory of my online life, but how is having a friend who was an early Twitter employee any different from the Old Boys’ Club? It ain’t.”

What is it like to have a social media following like a celebrity, without actually being famous? Email to Pocket.



“‘Nothing comes to my desk that is perfectly solvable,’ Obama said at one point. ‘Otherwise, someone else would have solved it. So you wind up dealing with probabilities. Any given decision you make you’ll wind up with a 30 to 40 per cent chance that it isn’t going to work. You have to own that and feel comfortable with the way you made the decision. You can’t be paralysed by the fact that it might not work out.’ On top of all of this, after you have made your decision, you need to feign total certainty about it. People being led do not want to think probabilistically.”

This one is for my colleague Stephen, friend of the newsletter and frequent instagrammer of yours truly, to whom I’ve badly quoted this passage more times than is really ok. Email to Pocket.


Things to listen to

I am not a particular fan of the Longform podcast. It involves a bit too much man-talking for me to consider becoming a regular listener. On top of that, I feel like their format doesn’t encourage fandom – it’s a spinoff of the Longform journalism aggregator, and if you interview a different written-word journalist for every episode, there’s inevitably going to be a variation in their talents as spoken-word interviewees.

I’m really selling this to you, aren’t I?

Anyway, even with all that, I can’t recommend this episode highly enough. It features an hour-long talk with Anna Sale, the host of the all-round excellent Death, Sex and Money podcast I recommended in No Complaints #12. Sale is a very gifted interviewer, and it’s fascinating to get an insight into how she gets people to talk about the things they absolutely don't want to talk about. I don’t think she could turn off this instinctive desire to create intimacy even if she wanted to, as demonstrated right at the start of this interview, when the host makes a few off-hand remarks about his baby that were clearly just intended to break the ice. Sale jumps right in with a deceptively low-key question – “how long ago did you wake up?” – that ends up turning the forced banter into a genuinely touching little anecdote. The woman’s a genius. More than that, she emerges from this conversation as a compelling character in her own right – open enough to keep your trust, but always giving you the feeling there’s something she isn’t saying.

+Bonus thing: Podcasts are still having a moment, apparently. Quartz has done graphs about it.


Things to watch

Stealing the clouds.

The Secret Life of the Motorway.

A countertenor sings “Every Breath You Take”.


Compulsory medieval thingamabob

Take that, weird-looking snail.

The guest gif

Charlie Brooker is usually right about things.

THE END. See you next time*!
*Next time will probably be next Friday. If you want to suggest things I should include in the next one of these, please do reply and send me links. If you enjoyed it, why not forward to a friend? If you didn't, keep it to yourself. So far, I've had no complaints.