Read the Blessed Pages

To be honest, I am not sure if anybody reads this (to be brutally honest, I am pretty sure that nobody does). Still, somehow I though that I should post something actually useful here — and another round of my musings on some random issue is hardly likely to be characterized as “helpful” by anybody, I guess.

Since this is a blog by a journalist about journalism for (probably) journalists, I decided to post here a bunch of links to some great stories that I’ve read this week. And since I’ve already used the word “great” once, I’ll try to restrain myself from using it from now forth, but keep in mind that each of these articles could be perfectly described with that word.

George Clooney, South Sudan and How World’s West Newest National Imploded by Alex Perry in Newsweek

A thoughtful journalistic analysis of what’s been happening in Sudan during the last decades and what part international humanitarian organizations played in creating the mess that the country is in now. It turns out, a big part. It turns out, as much as humanitarians honestly want to help people, the collateral damage of their actions can be devastating. It also turns out that the UN’s behaviour in situations for which the organization was initially created can seem suspiciously useless and ignorant — but we knew that much already. And yes, you would be amazed by the importance of George Clooney for the recent history of Sudan.

Mr. Clooney even appeared on the cover of Newsweek — although he probably didn't know the whole story at that point
Mr. Clooney even appeared on the cover of Newsweek — although he probably didn’t know the whole story at that point

Love and Ruin by James Verini in The Atavist

A story of an American couple that for the last 60 years has been trying to preserve Afghanistan’s cultural past and transform its horrific present. Mostly in vain — but at least they tried, and they did it gloriously. And it’s also a beautiful love story — both in terms of love between a man and a woman and love between a man and a country.  And it’s also a spectacular insight into the dramatic history of Afghanistan in the 20th century. And they also have a soundtrack!

The Target by Marie Brenner in Vanity Fair

A profile of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl and human rights activist who has just received the Nobel peace prize (thus becoming its youngest recipient ever). This story was written in April 2013, soon after Yousafzai was attacked and shot three times by a member of a Taliban-affiliated islamist group. And it’s not only a comprehensive story that tells us how it happened that a 14-year-old girl became one of the most prominent activists for female education in the world. Journalism itself and possible implications of reporters’ decisions are also discussed here — and you can’t help but thinking what you would do if you had to make the same choice as reporters mentioned in the profile.

The Best Monster by Vanessa Veselka in Matter

Well, this is weird — but, at the same time, awesome. Basically, Zak Smith is a successful contemporary artist (and a good one, judging from the illustrations in the story, at least), who is at the same time an alt-porn actor and a fan of Dungeons and Dragons tabletop game, which he plays regularly with his fellow porn stars, one of whom has a rare Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (and she’s still a porn actress). I mean, don’t you want to know more after reading this sentence? I’m sure you do. And Veselka has a lot more — and even if “The Best Monster” is still a story about life’s curiosities, it’s a compelling one.

"She's Trouble, She's Trouble, She's Trouble", one of Zak Smith's paintings
“She’s Trouble, She’s Trouble, She’s Trouble”, one of Zak Smith’s paintings

Drones and Everything After by Benjamin Wallace-Wells in New York Magazine

How do drones change our life — and our perception of reality? To some extent, it appears. Wallace-Wells examines the evergrowing world of drones (I haven’t even known there were SO many) and tells a lot of great stories of their inventors, owners and users. It looks like a personal drone will soon be something as common as a cell phone — and one can only wonder what happens next.

(And another impressive story about a new technology — a sort of profile of GoPro cameras in the New Yorker.)

The Last Amazon by Jill Lepore in the New Yorker

How early comic books were connected with the fight for women’s rights in America? Lepore explore this intriguing connection by telling an incredible life story of William Marston, a psychologist and, so to speak, a feminist who created the idea of Wonder Woman, the first female superhero. Toward the end of the story it becomes clear that the fight for women’s rights is still far from over, and we still need Wonder Woman.

What if the print newspaper had been invented after the web? by Mathew Ingram in Gigaom

Not a proper story, but a short blog post — and a very entertaining one. What if we try to imagine that a newspaper is not an old, but a new technology? That’s what people behind a project called Neuze did — and got some amazing results: it turns out even in a digital era a newspaper still has a lot of advantages comparing to news website — especially if you can provide it with some good and contemporary marketing. It’s all a joke, of course, but a telling one.

An old media concept presented as new: an advertising for Neuze
An old media concept presented as new: an advertising for Neuze

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