No Complaints #47: Skewiff, Serena and Solnit

If you feel like there's a distinct lack of "best of 2015" type things in here, do not fear - there will be a special pre-Christmas newsletter next week with all that stuff in it. You have been warned.

Things to read

“As I stand to get up, the force of his pushing arm is such that he sort of tumbles a little, leaning skewiff into the seat I just vacated. I turn to him. I look down at him, and say, 'you know, you don’t always get to take up all the space you might want in the world'. He looks at me, embarrassed because people are listening, but also confused, because maybe he has never even thought that he might not immediately be gifted the space he desires. I narrow my eyes and say, 'women have been putting up with it forever'.”

I too like to play chicken with men who think they should never have to yield an inch of pavement to any of their fellow humans, and I can confirm: it is bloody brilliant. Email to Pocket.


“I felt black and oddly moved when the 'diverse' emoji rocked up, forcing me to examine the politics of choosing between skin tone 4 and skin tone 5 to represent myself. I felt bewildered and black when some people got upset Serena Williams was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year, over a racehorse. And by the way, was there something in Serena’s continued smiling domination of her sport, even when she wasn’t smiling?”

My favourite retrospective piece of this year so far. Email to Pocket.



“'You get the same kind of thing in other high-energy sales pitches,' he wrote to me in an email. 'I guess the purest form of this style is the carnival barker.' It’s less intense on YouTube, of course, where the audience chooses to click on a video—the speaker isn’t trying to grab the attention of people who just happen to be walking by, chewing on their cotton candy.”

A professor of linguistics explains why all the big YouTubers sound the same. Email to Pocket.



“To make this as crude and simple as possible, a generation of publications and channels that were built and configured around the maintenance of large and exclusive audiences now find themselves borrowing much less coherent audiences from platforms that mediate their every action. The first and most apparent effects resulting from this change were in their styles of coverage: their stories, videos, and beats changed to better suit the new places in which they’re consumed. These changes were apparent in viral news and curiosity gap headlines; in strange patterns of coverage and new styles of bizarre colloquial feed writing and video. It was a story told largely in terms of publications and their traffic.”

A long, thinky read about the death of access-based journalism in the age of Twitter and Instagram, very much worth the time it takes (I found the observation about anonymous political sources particularly interesting). Email to Pocket.



“You read enough books in which people like you are disposable, or are dirt, or are silent, absent, or worthless, and it makes an impact on you. Because art makes the world, because it matters, because it makes us. Or breaks us.”

Rebecca Solnit sorts out the whole canon of western literary men's writing in one handy piece. Related: I've decided she is the only person who can get away with the "it is a truth universally acknowledged" intro.  Email to Pocket.


Things to listen to

This week in Women Make Podcasts Too, I got to know Fangirl Happy Hour, a very happy podcast about books and films and TV and everything else I like. Ana and Renay and their rotating cast of various experts and correspondents talk about all manner of things, but what I like most so far is how they're introducing me to new things I know I will like. I recommend this episode about the campaign to diversify Agent Carter, this one about Captain America, this one about Paul Rudd in Ant-Man, and this one about the Inception fandom.


Things to watch

The worst Mariah Carey, of all possible worlds.

"Lego! They're all made of fucking lego."

When Samuel Pepys slowly inflated with murderous feeling.

Compulsory medieval thingamabob

"You're beautiful, like dragons in the sky..."

The guest gif

Well, that's my Christmas Party Strategy rumbled.

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.