No Complaints #89: Couples, Critics and Cobalt

Yes, this is still a Friday afternoon newsletter, despite the fact that the past two editions have gone out on Sunday nights... What can I say, December is a very busy work month for me. I'm also starting to think about what to do for the end of the year, and I would value your thoughts, NC readers - would you rather have a "best of" 2016 mega-list of links, or some kind of summing-up essay, or a Q&A about how I put this together, or something else? Hit reply and let me know!

Note NC reader Naomi kindly alerted me on Twitter to the fact that I put the wrong link in for the hygge conspiracy piece in last week's edition. Sorry, it's here!

Things to read

“What will your field look like twenty-five years from now?

Quite literally littered with the corpses of all those critics who think women writers were at their best in a corset. I’ll be turning forty soon so, with any luck, I’ll still be around to laugh triumphantly as their life’s work molders into the obscurity it deserves.”

Eimear McBride is the best. Related: I read her book The Lesser Bohemians for the podcast earlier this year and I am still thinking about it. Email to Pocket.


“Maybe the biggest thing we should have known was to not trust the polls or data so much in the first place, although it’s hard to remember that when the numbers seem so sure of themselves after a few election cycles of making the right prediction. But we’ve been here before.”

This is a nice clear answer to the "why were all the US election forecasts wrong" question. Email to Pocket.


“By 1900, there were over fifty Societies, swapping species everywhere from Algiers to Tasmania. Think of a rampant colonial power, and chances are that people there were meeting regularly to scheme about how to spread different creatures to their colonies, and bring others back.”

In the 19th century, people were actively trying to spread animal populations to places they don't occur naturally, eg hippos in France. This is mad. Email to Pocket.


“We never think twice about who pays what. We just, I dunno, whoever pays the bill pays the bill, and whoever buys something buys something, but we never consult. I don’t even know how much money Meghan has in her bank account. She never knows how much is in mine. I don’t know why we’ve never combined bank accounts.”

A fascinating series of short interviews about how couples in very different financial situations handle money, income inequality, unpaid household labour, and so on. Plus a bonus interview at the end with a law firm that specialises in financial planning for polyamorous people. Email to Pocket.


“Empathy depends on your ability to overcome your own perspective, appreciate someone else’s, and step into their shoes. Self-control is essentially the same skill, except that those other shoes belong to your future self—a removed and hypothetical entity who might as well be a different person. So think of self-control as a kind of temporal selflessness. It’s Present You taking a hit to help out Future You.”

I can't remember if I've mentioned this in the newsletter before, but I bloody love Ed Yong's science writing for the Atlantic. This piece is a great example of him taking a complicated scientific theory and relating it to the stuff of everyday life, and explaining it so clearly that I feel like I do actually understand the underlying concepts too. He has his own tinyletter, which is a really good way of keeping up with his work. Email to Pocket.


Things to listen to

This week I have been bingeing through The Receipts like it's going out of style - it's a new British comedy/lifestyle podcast that I absolutely adore. Four women from London get together and have the most viscerally honest conversations I've ever heard recorded about love and sex and the times men have cheated on them. The audio quality is improving every episode, and I can't recommend enough that you get stuck into it straight away.

+ My podcast column this week was about diversity in podcasting and how we improve it - have a read and let me know your thoughts.


Things to watch

Things to attend

My podcast, SRSLY, is running a Harry Potter quiz in January. The first date sold out before I could mention it in a newsletter, but we've added another one that will go on sale at midday on Wednesday 14 December. This is the link you need to bookmark if you want to grab a ticket. It's taking place on 4 January at The Book Club in Shoreditch, east London, from 7pm, and I will be hosting it alongside my podcast partner Anna. Warning: the quiz will be really hard (because otherwise where's the fun?) so start revising now.

Compulsory medieval thingamabob

Have I ever told you that you're my best friend?

The guest gif

See ya.

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THE END. See you next time!