The Bluestocking vol 248
To the memory hole, Mr. Solzhenitsyn!
I also went on the Irish Times’s politics podcast to discuss religion and politics: interesting to have that conversation in the context of a much more religious country than the UK, where the Catholic Church was such a force until very recently.
I’m The Driver Now (The Atlantic)
If anything, my friends’ apocalyptic warnings lowballed the experience. As I drove around my home in Hither Green, South London, every day seemed to be a slow-motion remake of that car-chase sequence through Shanghai in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Garbage trucks appeared out of nowhere, bikers swerved across my path, and pedestrians wandered into the road, eyes locked on their phone. All that was missing was some builders unloading a sheet of plate glass, perhaps, or a roadside vendor spilling a cartload of oranges. During one lesson, on a busy two-lane highway, a Canada goose and six fluffy chicks strolled out ahead of me just as I was wrestling with third gear. I swerved to avoid them, imagining the double shame of driving home with a huge learner sign on the top of the car and a smear of blood and feathers across the front grille. Then, in my back mirror, a miracle happened: The traffic stopped in both directions, and everyone waited for the goslings to waddle slowly across the road. It was like the Christmas Truce.
Faintly baffled that this is the headline which did best in the A/B testing, but there you go: a piece by me about learning to drive in my 30s.
Royals, Obamas and the End of the $100M Vanity Deal (The Ankler)
As for Archewell, it has yet to establish itself as a real player in Hollywood, in part because it has yet to define what it is setting out to do. Sources say this stems from Markle, someone who always carefully curated her brand through Instagram posts and her erstwhile blog The Tig — a Goop-like aspirational toolkit touting Henri Bendel doggie bowls, and sustainable crew socks “that plant trees” — but who now finds herself trying to define what her post-Royal, post-working-actress brand actually is.
“She’s terrified of making a decision because she’s so concerned about her image, and so they can’t pull the trigger on anything,” says a source who has spoken with Archewell about its content strategy. “She wants to be seen as this world leader but they don’t have any strong ideas.”
A source close to Markle disputes this characterization saying, “I would say ‘thoughtful’ and ‘cautious’ may be better words than ‘fear.’ Leading by her truth is always her North Star.”
A deep dive into the huge deals secured by the Obamas and the Markle-Windsors from Netflix and Spotify, and what has come out of them. Also has good reflections on the problem facing Meghan and Harry in defining their post-royal brand: Meghan’s Zoom name is still “Duchess of Sussex,” which I find hilarious. I wonder what the Queen’s is?
“We estimate that these laws prevented [at most] 57 children’s car crash fatalities in 2017, but prevented 8,000 births that year.” The natalist case for scrapping mandatory child car seats over the age of two.
“The letter said ‘the intellectual freedom of cis white intellectuals has never been under threat en masse”’ (To the memory hole, Mr. Solzhenitsyn!), and characterized the Harper’s signers as a group of writers that has ‘never faced serious consequences—only momentary discomfort.’ A week ago, one of Harper’s signers, Salman Rushdie, experienced some of that momentary discomfort when he was nearly eviscerated on a sun-dappled Friday morning at the Chautauqua Institute.” Caitlin Flanagan reflects on the Harpers letter (The Atlantic).
American medicine is so politicized. Thank god for the NHS.
“LeRoy was not a real person as we understand it today. LeRoy was an avatar, and Laura Albert still stands by her creation.” An interview with the creator of 2000s literary hoax JT Leroy (Return).
“I’m allowing you to tag along, so why don’t you give your mouth a rest okey, Doll?” How four of Harrison Ford’s leading men now seem predatory in retrospect. You might be a bit sceptical that we’re over-reading into individual scenes, but put them all together and the zeitgeist feels pretty clear (Pop Culture).
Emily Maitlis gave an interesting insight into political journalism in her Edinburgh lecture, observing something I’ve also talked about: that “balance” is a problem when 99% of economists think Brexit will make us poorer, but all BBC debates has to have one pro and one anti Brexit economist. (It was Sin #6 in my lecture on the deadly sins of political journalism.)
See you next time!