Bats, Bjork and Baggage

No Complaints #154

I installed one of those gmail plugins this week that lets you schedule when you want your outgoing emails to actually send, and let me tell you, I now feel like I’m a lot closer to living the dream articulated by this iconic article. “Do not die of emails,” it says. Words to live by.

Things to read

“The gender-swapped comedy satisfies a couple of-the-moment entertainment industry imperatives: It allows Hollywood to reanimate lucrative old properties (“Ocean’s Eleven” was, of course, itself a remake), while recasting them with diverse casts and woke politics. That’s resulted in a boom in comedic parts for women, but they come with baggage. These reboots require women to relive men’s stories instead of fashioning their own. And they’re subtly expected to fix these old films, to neutralize their sexism and infuse them with feminism, to rebuild them into good movies with good politics, too. They have to do everything the men did, except backwards and with ideals.”

In order to get half-decent parts in Hollywood, women are literally having to step into men’s shoes. Email to Pocket.

“Earlier this year, members of the House of Lords spoke in favour of a bill that seeks to remove bats’ legal protection in churches unless there is a ‘significant’ adverse impact on rare bat populations. The Bishop of Norwich blamed barn conversions for driving bats into churches, with more than half of 12,000 listed churches housing roosts of bats. Worshippers had ‘come to the end of their tether,’ warned the bishop, because of bat droppings despoiling brasses, fabrics and fittings. For much of the 1990s and early 2000s, the Movement Against Bats in Churches – founded by a vicar’s wife – campaigned to eliminate the blight of bats. Is there another animal in Britain that has a dedicated protest movement against it?”

The strange demonisation of a rare bat. Email to Pocket.

“When you’re paralysed with fear of failure, or you don’t even know how to begin a massive, complicated undertaking, it’s damn hard to get shit done. It has nothing to do with desire, motivation, or moral upstandingness. Procastinators can will themselves to work for hours; they can sit in front of a blank word document, doing nothing else, and torture themselves; they can pile on the guilt again and again — none of it makes initiating the task any easier. In fact, their desire to get the damn thing done may worsen their stress and make starting the task harder.”

I’m relieved to know that laziness does not exist. Email to Pocket.

“Discarded ideas brainstormed by the commission include a field of massive stone spikes, set at random angles like thorns, to convey terror and inhospitability, and a generational game of telephone, breaking the 10,000 years into 300 generations and tasking every third generation with adapting their great-grandparents’ message into new, contemporary language, so that it might not be irredeemably alien to their own great-grandchildren. Also dismissed: seeding a 10,000-year folklore, a mythic “false trail” that would use superstition rather than scientific knowledge to urge people to shun the site. It would be overseen by an “atomic priesthood” in the know, the keepers of the radioactive truth. (The proven ineffectiveness of warnings at the pharaohs’ graves made this one even easier to dismiss.)”

What is the message we should be sending to other inhabitants of the universe? It’s surprisingly difficult to decide. Email to Pocket.

“Björk can make you feel like you have entered a world that is lush and green and full of feminine authority to a point where the real world seems disappointingly colourless and misogynist. Tonight we are living in a lush, refreshed land where people have learnt from the mistakes of patriarchy, but personally she is still struggling with the memories of a bitter divorce. The costumes, stage production and of course the music are wonderful, but it is the vulnerability of her words that really allows us to connect. ‘It's about figuring out what is your utopian thing that you are hoping for, and what is the real,’ she said on Later. . . ‘Then in five years’ time, if you can make half of your utopian dreams come true, that's pretty good going.’”

This is a concert I wish I was at. Email to Pocket.

Things to listen to

A couple of relatively new podcast releases I’m trying out at the moment: The RFK Tapes, an audio documentary about the 1968 assassination of Robert F Kennedy, and Zigzag, a new show about capitalism and journalism which I’m really hoping is going to be like Startup except better because it involves Manoush Zomorodi instead of Matt Lieber.

+More podcast stuff: Today I sent out the first longer review of a single podcast episode to paying subscribers; check that out here and sign up if you want more reflective, essay-style writing about audio.

Things to watch

Pandemics are political.

This is the kind of football content the world needs more of.

I really want to know what my dog is thinking.

Compulsory medieval thingamabob

When your friends say they want to do a magic trick on you.

The guest gif

I miss Baby Donald.