Friday Reading S08E08

Friday Reading is a weekly series of recommended reads from the Guardian’s Martin Belam, covering journalism, media and technology, and other interesting nerdy things. It is also available as an email newsletter. Sign up here.

The week where the phrase “It’s ……….Rebekah Vardy’s account” became a meme and changed the internet for ever. Unless you were one of the angry men frantically posting on Twitter “I’VE NEVER HEARD OF THEM. THIS ISN’T NEWS”. Bless you. Find a way to have joy in your life. Or at least learn how to Google mate.

“Covering misconduct allegations as a high school journalist” – Avani Kalra

How eight nonprofit newsrooms majorly increased their major gifts.

“The noise on the exchange floor must have been deafening. The selectors, usually expected to handle 60-70 calls an hour, were trying to connect hundreds. Junking the usual decorum of the switch room, the two women established crisis footing, directing panic in the team into fevered efficiency.”

“Whispering wires: The Holborn Telephone Exchange Crisis” – Portals of London

A recreation of a lost Doctor Who episode was aired on YouTube this week by the BBC. I’ve reviewed it for the Guardian.


Brexit party MEPs vote against plans to tackle Russian propaganda. ?

“The belief that a rape prosecution is more damaging to the perpetrator than the crime itself to the victim is one that we can’t seem to shake.”

“I reported my friend for raping me. It was no surprise when the case was dropped” – Anonymous

“These three young Tories have suffered abuse and are sharing it, yes, but unlike minorities, the abuse that young Conservatives receive isn’t systematic. It’s not organised. It’s not institutional. They do not have to fear their education or career prospects being harmed, they do not have to fear being targeted by their own party’s policies which disproportionately harm minorities.”

“Dear young Tories, you are not oppressed” – Aleesha Khaliq, gal-dem

A prominent gamer has been banned from competing by US company Blizzard for calling for the liberation of Hong Kong after a live-stream.

This made me cry and I couldn’t finish reading it, but you might:

“One thing Diana did find out after his death, in vague detail, was that James had attempted suicide the previous year, while he was in those tower block halls. Diana has no idea how much of this the university knew. She didn’t employ legal help. As a pilates instructor from Northampton with two other sons to support, she couldn’t afford to, so when the inquest into her son’s death came up, it was, unlike Natasha’s, a read-only. The coroner would read from reports, and no witnesses would attend. ‘No one was going to answer the questions I wanted answered,’ she said. They read out the verdict of suicide, and the Thomson family – like the vast majority of the families involved in these cases – went home to grieve.”

“How More Than 12 Students at One University Ended Up Dead By Suicide” – Hannah Ewens, Vice

In a similar vein, but directly from a parents’ point of view: “The grief over my daughter’s suicide never ends, but I can help other junior doctors”


Absolute dream job here if I was in the market for one: Digital Marketing Executive at Big Finish

Nicola is hiring some freelance writers for her team at Yahoo UK. Preferably with a great eye for a social story and London-based so they can work from office two days a week. Contact: nicola dot oakley at for details.

I went to see the movie about the clown guy because I thought I should get in on the first weekend of release in the UK before someone shoots up a school in the US in Joker cosplay and it has to be withdrawn. Next day I was thinking I bet it didn’t pass the Bechdel Test, and then I thought about it some more, and now I don’t actually think I can recall a single scene in that movie where two women are even both conscious and in the picture at the same time, let alone have dialogue.

Talking of the angry clown guy movie…

“The only thing that’s off the table, culturally, at this juncture –and not even entirely – is shamelessly punching down for the sheer joy of hurting people.”

If you can’t make jokes without hurting people, maybe you’re no good at it.

Vice have done a piece about the rise of the AMSR video and it is 1,200 words long and very serious and doesn’t appear to even mention once that the main market for this is almost certainly men, ummmm, entertaining themselves.

From the alternative branching universe files – what the English language might look like if it had stuck to Germanic roots and not received its considerable number of loanwords from other languages, particularly Latin, Greek and French: “Uncleftish Beholding” by Poul Anderson.

“A team led by Carnegie’s Scott S. Sheppard has found 20 new moons orbiting Saturn. This brings the ringed planet’s total number of moons to 82, surpassing Jupiter, which has 79.”

It is just greedy. They are tiny and at some point are gonna get reclassified as ‘moonlets’, ‘dwarf moons’ or ‘exorocks’ or some nonsense, surely?

Wait, what? “Spiders Can Fly Hundreds of Miles Using Electricity”

Lose absolutely hours of your life trying to draw a perfect circle. My best is 96.6%

Then lose more hours in hypnotic awe at this live real-time 3D map of trains moving around Tokyo.

A deeper look at the PlayStation 5 from Wired. It comes out “Holidays 2020”.

Twitter account recommendation of the week: @geocitiesgifbot – just GIFs that used to be on Geocities (in 1862 probably)

“With two albums and two film projects on the way, the Mael Brothers are proving that five decades into their careers the best may still be ahead of them”

“Five decades into their career Sparks are still flying” – Jeremy Allen, Huck

“The problem is artists will never be able to quit their 9-to-5 jobs if they were to rely solely on streaming payouts. If that’s the future, we all need to start swapping our press kits for professional resumes.”

“The rise and rise of Bandcamp” – Kieran Devlin, DJ Mag

@beesesteeses was asking people on Twitter to guess how many solo studio albums Ringo Starr had made, which made me vaguely recall that someone had made track-listings of what post-1970s Beatles albums might have looked like if, White Album style, they were just an amalgam of John, Paul and George’s best solo song-writing, added to the collaborations they did with Ringo (like “It Don’t Come Easy” which was written and produced by George mostly). This was a good list – and @Billy_Bell99 made Spotify lists of his attempt. But best of all I got pointed to this great read:

“Everyday Chemistry: The Story Behind The Greatest Beatles’ Albums That Never Existed”, which tells the story of how on 9 September 2009, a man calling himself James Richards claims he travelled to another dimension. There, the ketchup was purple and the Beatles were still together…

A ghost tour operator claims to have been forced out of a ‘haunted’ village by the parish church vicar who says the events have no place in his churchyard.

I make electronic music about the paranormal. I’ll be supporting Agent Side Grinder in Dalston in October. You could come and watch me if you wanted. It will look a bit like this. But with me standing in front of it, pressing buttons and looking worried. Tickets here.