No Complaints #52: Anthropology, Artichokes and Aftermaths

Before we get to the good stuff, a moment of your time for some housekeeping. For a few months now, readers have been asking me if the newsletter could have a more permanent and mobile-friendly home online, so they could more easily go back through past issues to find links, and share them to friends who don't subscribe (yet). Finally, I have got round to organising this. Here you go:

The newsletter is, and will remain, free and weekly – don’t have any concerns on that front. But the website is not free to host, so if you plan on making use of it and/or feel generally well-disposed towards me/No Complaints, please do consider chipping in a bit. You can find out all about the ways to do that here. Any questions or suggestions, just reply and let me know.

Things to read

“The heroines of contemporary chick noir, in contrast to their femme-fatale forerunners, are good girls – they floss daily and bake hot cross buns for Easter. Despite international travel and global corporations, their world has collapsed into the narrow confines of a perfectly appointed home, but one under constant threat – not of a foreign enemy, but of the sleeper cell and surveillance camera, not just CCTV, but perpetual selfies as well. These are novels of our moment, the age of Internet dating and the war on terror, an era of random violence and organised invasions of privacy, when anyone might turn out to be someone other, and far less savory, than one bargained for.”

An interesting take on why “chick noir” novels ie Gone Girl, Girl on a Train etc are having a moment. Email to Pocket.


“I often think about the women of my grandmother’s generation and generations before that who were still expected to marry an older man, someone to take care of them and all that, and who therefore more likely than not buried their husbands. These women remained, quiet communities of aftermaths, living beyond the men to whom they had promised ‘forever’. They lived past the husbands they had been taught and expected to depend on, after it had turned out they couldn’t depend on a man to do the most basic thing: keep living. What do we sacrifice each time we allow someone to matter, each time we build a life with someone – what are we consigning ourselves to? George Carlin says that owning a pet is “investing in a small tragedy” but isn’t all of life, then, just investing in a slightly larger one? I think of Jacqueline and Celia in Guildford, two women who have outlived husbands and families, and ended up with each other, in some morbidly arranged romance. We think we can choose whom we end up with – in the parlance of romantic comedies and fairy tales – but really we end up with whomever is left.”

This piece of writing was much-aggregated in the days after David Bowie’s death, so forgive me if it isn’t fresh to you. However, I think its non-Bowie observations are actually the best bit. Email to Pocket.



“The Jerusalem artichoke is neither an artichoke, nor from Jerusalem. Its salient characteristic was described by the 17th-century botanist, John Goodyer, soon after the vegetable arrived in England. ‘In my judgement,’ he wrote, ‘which way soever they be drest and eaten they stirre and cause a filthie loathsome wind within the bodie’. But they are tough, hardy plants and, like potatoes, a useful first crop to plant in rough, heavy ground, where their roots will help to break up the soil.”

We all know that the correct response to the question “would you like an artichoke?” is a highly suspcious “globe or Jerusalem?”, and now we know why . Email to Pocket.



“The spherical dome enclosure promotes restfulness and provides privacy by eliminating surrounding distractions, according to the firm. A study conducted by the pod-making firm MetroNaps found people who took a 20-minute pod naps saw a 30 per cent boost in alertness, making them more productive.”

I don't care how highly evolved we all end up, I'm not sleeping in one of those. Email to Pocket.



“Becoming a mod or comment mod in these smaller subreddits can be as easy as providing several detailed comments and receiving an invitation from an existing moderator. Others actually have forms you have to fill out, just like applying for a job. ‘For /r/anthropology, you have to put examples of quality comments that you’ve made, or give them some kind of background, who you are, why you want to become a moderator, how many hours per week you can dedicate, ’Crocker explained.

Another one for the “reddit is a really strange place, though” dossier. Email to Pocket.

Things to listen to

When I first started listening to Note To Self, I had a bit of trouble working out how it was different from the umpteen other WNYC podcasts hosted by smart women with soothing voices. But this episode proved to be a turning point for me – I do want to know how teenagers use the internet, and I want it explained to me in the form of a very well edited audio-diary episode. After that, I gobbled down all the rest of this podcast inside a week, and I have the following recommendations if you're just starting with it:
  1. This one about the man who collects everybody’s texts from their ex.
  2. This one about how Etsy works.
  3. This one about how to get out of your internet echo chamber.
  4. This one, where a neuroscientist explains how to be organised (a must-listen for any KonMari devotees).

Things to watch

This is one of the most charming things I've ever seen.

The woman who plays Bach on the top of mountains.

Dorm Life, from the start.

Compulsory medieval thingamabob

“I have an eye, you know! It’s up here.”

The guest gif

When my song comes on.
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.