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Jeanna Kadlec | Longreads | 13th April 2021
Dissection of how pop culture communicates power, as shown by Disney's use of queer stereotypes to separate villains from heroes. The antagonist is the character who will not assimilate into the happily ever after. "In Pocahontas, Disney pulls off the magic trick of telling a story about colonisation and genocide where the only thing that’s actually punished is the 'wrong' kind of masculinity" (2,999 words)
Jeff VanderMeer | Orion | 7th April 2021
As a sickly child, this novelist was dragged around the world by warring parents engaged in a "ten year divorce". Bedridden in Cuzco, Peru, he had a sudden vision of two hummingbirds at the window, a pair of "iridescent flames, feathered in red and gold and black and emerald, hovering there". Rare, direct writing about craft and a writer's perpetual attempt to verify an unreliable memory (3,108 words)
Mikel McCavana | 99% Invisible | 6th April 2021
Unveiling the "bootleg bible of jazz", an anthology of sheet music for "hundreds of common jazz tunes" compiled by two students at Berklee and known to all jazz musicians since the 1970s as The Real Book. It was photocopied and passed from hand to hand because it was illegal, a "totally unlicensed publication", created "without permission from music publishers or songwriters" (2,270 words)
Elsewhere, the way that Australia has handled the pandemic is much admired — a draconian quarantine system and swift local lockdown measures have meant many aspects of life in person can resume. But for some Australian expats stuck abroad, this regime has effectively locked them out of their own country. This is the moving personal story of one couple trapped in the Covid bureaucracy (17m 40s)
by Chris Bail | Courtesy of Five Books
A sociologist who runs a ‘polarisation lab’ takes issue with some of the common social media narratives we now take for granted. Echo chambers, foreign interference, microtargeting, all-knowing algorithms: little of it is backed up by any evidence. “Our focus upon Silicon Valley obscures a much more unsettling truth: the root source of political tribalism on social media lies deep inside ourselves” (132 pages)
"The correct lesson to learn from surprises is that the world is surprising"
— Morgan Housel
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