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May 13, 2012 / Mathew Lyons

Elsewhere on the internet…

I have been meaning for sometime to start collating articles and posts I link to on Twitter each week – not least with the excellent weekly breakfast round-ups provided on the wonderful Two Nerdy History Girls‘ website in mind as an inspiration. But time and tide being what they are, it has taken until now for me to act on the idea. And even now, I should confess, the task being rather more onerous than I expected, what follows is really a sample of the last three weeks’ links rather than a compendium of one. 

Still, no matter: there are lots of great pieces here, some less serious than others, and I will do my best in future to make these posts more regular. They are presented, I should add, in no order whatsoever.

Middlemarch retold as a Facebook wall. And why not?

An unbeatably beautiful and fascinating scroll drawing of Elizabeth I’s funeral procession.

An insightful and thought-provoking post on faith and family among the late-Tudor West Country gentry – and the difficulties inherent in trying to make clear, unclouded judgements about such long-dead subtle passions.

A marvellous post on the favourite foods at Samuel Pepy‘s house.

I was brought up on Bob Dylan – my parents had both Bringing It All Back Home and Blood On The Tracks and a handful of singles – and, no doubt as a consequence, I’ve always had a romantic fascination for the Greenwich Village scene of the late Fifties and early Sixties. Last year I read Dave Van Ronk’s wonderful memoir – co-written with Elijah Wald – The Mayor of MacDougal Street, since which I have become a firm fan of the man. I will probably blog about him sometime, but in the meantime here are the superb lyrics to his wonderful song, The Last Call.

Charles Moore continues his interesting and surprising political journey towards some kind of progressive, democratic end.

The smallest statue in London. It’s very small. And very cute.

I’m a great admirer of The Atlantic writer Ta-Nehisi Coates – his memoir The Beautiful Struggle, about growing up in the Baltimore projects, is a wonderful, profound and illuminating book – and his blog is always worth reading. This post delicately unpicks the complex, subtle realities behind notions of white – and class – privilege.

Can Google be trusted? No.

A great letter from Bill Hicks to a priest who complained to Channel Four about the blasphemous content of his act.

An absorbing interview with wonderful travel writer Trish Nicholson.

Stephen King in splenetic form demanding that the rich, such as himself, should have to pay more tax.

The very first appearances of some truly great comic strips.

Alex Massie, discussing the coalition government’s policies for growth, channels Waiting For Godot to brilliant effect. It’s worthy of Alan Coren, which is extremely high praise in my book.

Sarah Levene’s blog devoted the intersection of faith, insanity and terrorism in a historical context is a brilliant read.

A lovely post from Graeme Archer on sleep, sleeplessness, depression and contentment.

Are e-books fated to go the way of the CD-ROM?

A wonderful, moving piece about how Tori Amos inspired WCW wrestler Mick Foley to champion the cause of victims of domestic violence.

A delightful post from the always fascinating @daintyballerina on May Day customs in Tudor England. It contains one of my favourite quotes from John Stow, which will shortly be appearing in a post of my own.

The profound and moving story of a Methodist pastor who now finds herself an atheist – and the impact of that change on her family, friends and neighbours.

The Chadwyck-Healey catalogue getting testy.

Lynne Truss on journalism and the monstrous virtues of the sub-editor. (I have been, and sometimes still am, a sub-editor.)

Hopi Sen on why Ken Livingstone lost the London mayoral election. Sen writes about politics from the inside and he is always worth reading for his insight into political strategy as much as his grasp of policy. He’s also rather witty. I tend to think he downplays Livingstone’s personal flaws in this post – most obviously the anti-Jewish racism and the hypocritical tax arrangements – but his analysis is otherwise matchless.

The Economist reviews the argument against PhDs.

Artist Laurie Rosenwald charmingly chews over her decision to live in Sweden.

How did parents get children to sit still in long-exposure Victorian photographs? Turn themselves into furniture, that’s how.

Nick Cohen on the future of the free press – and the most disgraceful abuse of media power yet to be revealed.

The great WC Fields juggling – taken from The Old Fashioned Way. It’s a reminder that, as well as being a brilliant verbal comedian, Fields’ command of physical comedy was – and remains – matchless. And this is a great piece from Emma Simmonds on Fields’ compellingly strange masterpiece Never Give A Sucker An Even Break.

I post links to a lot of political articles and comment on Twitter, some of which stales quickly once the immediate moment is past. But Matthew Norman’s blistering dissection of David Cameron’s character is certainly an exception.

There are always plenty of intriguing and interesting posts on the Two Nerdy History Girls website. I particularly enjoyed this one featuring a gloriously outsized soup turreen.

Feminism, anti-racism and Islam: how the left is censoring radical critiques of reactionary practices.

Paracelsus, otherwise known as Philippus Theophrastus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim. Or not, as the case may be.

Jonny Geller’s agent’s manifesto, arguing that too often author’s are treated as little more than an irrelevant nuisance by publishers.

A delightful demolition of self-appointed language vigilante, Simon Heffer.

Nancy Bilyeau, author of The Crown, on the excessive use of torture in Tudor England.

How bookshops should fight back against the tax-dodging Amazon.

The forthcoming exhibition dedicated to Prince Henry, the eldest son of James I, whose young death from typhoid aged 18, surely changed the course of English history – and not for the better.

The sublime Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman is duly and rightly praised.

A brilliant, must-read article from Kenan Malik on immigration, assimilation and multiculturalism.

A wonderful analysis of Hemingway’s astonishingly artful uses of simplicity and repetition.

A depressing but important piece from Norman Geras on anti-semitism and the left.

A superb piece by Susan Bordo in The Chronicle of Higher Education on the complex relationship both readers and writers of historical fiction have to develop with the underlying history.

Thoughtful review of Nick Cohen’s You Can’t Read This Book: Censorship in an Age of Freedom by Michael Weiss in The New Criterion.

Stephen Brown reviews David Schiff’s The Ellington Century in the TLS. I’m a great Ellington fan and this sounds a fascinating book; but also – perhaps – something of a missed opportunity.

Fantasy writer Jim Chines practical exploration of the plausibility of both male and female genre cover-art poses.

The ongoing debate in the scientific and economic faculties about viable social model for vampire economies. That’s not a metaphor. Actual vampires. Proof, if it were needed, that scientists like their humour bone dry.

Kirsty Rolfe’s brilliant flowchart for her students on the citation of Shakespearean criticism.

Hilary Mantel’s top five Tudor reads. A fascinating list, which has added a couple more books to my to-read pile. It’s not something I had thought about before, but following an exchange on Twitter with Paul Lay of History Today, I may be compelled to compile my own list sometime too. Here, too, is Mantel discussing her extraordinary reinvention of Thomas Cromwell.

An instructive and insightful piece from Jane Rusbridge, author of The Devil’s Music and the forthcoming Rook, describing the work of a fiction editor from an author’s perspective.

A close study of one of John White’s maps of the eastern seaboard of the United States may reveal what happened to Ralegh’s famous “lost colony” in Roanoke. I will blog about this properly at some point, but this is a fantastic story which could help solve one of the great mysteries of European colonisation.

Jonathan Freedland on the strategic incoherence of Labour attacks on the coalition government.

Molly McArdle on Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I don’t know the book at all, but Molly’s description of her reaction to it is deeply touching.

A superbly detailed history of The Jerusalem Tavern in Clerkenwell, one of the best pubs in London – and not uncoincidentally, one of the smallest.

Really interesting post from artist John Coulthart on the inspirations of Maurice Sendak, who died this week. It is largely based on Sendak’s own words. Relatedly, I also linked to this delightfully illustrated letter from Sendak and a wonderful review of Sendak’s book of essays, Caldecott and Co.

One of the great lost videos of the eighties, surely. Scots pop singer and ardent nationalist, Jesse Rae – that’s him dressed in his stage gear as a medieval Scots clan warrior – who, if I remember correctly, hated the English so much he refused to travel south of the border.

David Hasselhoff raps with Pingu over a Eurodisco beat. Hard to improve on, I know. And impossible to follow.

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