Committee Recommends: Week 3

Corona talk still features here and there; but you’ll find no mention of death rates, R scales, vaccines, immunity. Just touching, human stories. There is light at the end of this tunnel - however long it may seem.

Our ‘Recommends’ series is a round-up of news articles, long reads and internet miscellany to keep you informed and entertained.

Illustration © Hokyoung Kim

Illustration © Hokyoung Kim

Hello all and happy 3rd week. We hope you are as happy and as healthy as you can be, or, at the very least, are staying somewhat sane.

Our newsfeeds these days are overwhelming. Everywhere we look we see Corona. Social distancing, self-isolation, furlough, quarantine, confinement. These words have become an essential part of our everyday lexicon. We used to find refuge in our apps. But not anymore. Twitter. Tiktok. Even Tinder. There’s no escape.

So here we go. We’re pleased to present ‘Committee Recommends’: a series in which we will post a round-up of news articles, longform articles and Insta accounts to keep you entertained (or at least occupied) while lockdown continues. Corona talk still features here and there; but you’ll find no mention of death rates, R scales, vaccines, immunity. Just touching, human stories. There is light at the end of this tunnel – however long it may seem.

Long Reads

Be honest. What’s your screen-time been this week. 3 hours a day? 5? 7? Research has shown the longer we spend scrolling, the worse our attention-span becomes. So since you’re here, why not have a read of one of these rather than clicking back on to Facebook. This week, the Media Soc committee has picked out some of their favourite longform articles from the New Yorker, FT and NYT.

Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

 “…as the decade ends, tens of millions of Americans, including many children, find themselves carrying spies in their pockets during the day and leaving them beside their beds at night…”

“If I go round to theirs, who’s going to know?” We’ve all got a friend who’s said something of the sort lately. But the truth is this: lockdown or no lockdown, no smart-phone owner goes by unnoticed. In this gripping NYT exposé, Stuart Thomspon and Charlie Warzel explore how location data companies use our everyday movements to create detailed audience profiles used in targeted advertising.

Diary of a London Lockdown

“The outside world gets murkier, further away, smudged. I’m sure I must be missing my old life but I can’t particularly remember it.”

This series of short diary entries written by broadcast journalist Poppy Sebag-Montefiore avoids the statistics and scaremongering of Covid-19. Instead, Sebag-Montefiore writes beautifully about her personal experiences of balancing motherhood with the stresses and strains of life under lockdown.

I Don’t Want to Be the Strong Female Lead

“Even the spirited Antigone, the brave Joan of Arc and the unfettered Thelma and Louise meet tragic ends in large part because they are spirited, brave and unfettered.”

In this raw and honest piece, filmmaker Brit Marling explores the fate of the ‘Strong Female Lead’. In doing so, she highlights the everyday sexism and just downright misogyny which penetrates every corner of society, not just the film industry. 

The London bus drivers on the coronavirus front line 

“Remarkable stoicism and bravery shine through the drivers’ accounts.”

Every Thursday, we clap for the NHS. But what about those other keyworkers on the front-line of the pandemic? In this touching article, Robert Wright looks at the work of Seamus Murphy, who has photographed and interviewed London bus drivers. Admire the photos and read about their experiences.

Don’t have an FT subscription? Oxford students can get one free here on Weblearn.

In the News

Since the beginning of lockdown Britain has been rooted in stasis. News bulletins are overwhelmed with wall-to-wall coronavirus coverage and comment sections occupied by little else than new antidotes to corona-induced boredom. We’re actually wishing for the days when all we read about was Brexit. These are – admittedly – a bit random, but here goes: a few non-Corona news stories from around the world.

The rise and fall of Venezuela’s ‘low-budget action movie’ coup

Amidst all this, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that the conflicts and crises that existed in our pre-pandemic world continue to rage. One such conflict has taken a near farcical turn. This article, written by the Latin America correspondent for The Times, Stephen Gibbs, reports on a botched landing force that descended upon the small Caribbean settlement of Macuto with the alleged intention of capturing disputed president Nicholàs Maduro. 

US Women’s equal pay claim dismissed by court

Last year, 28 players on the women’s national soccer team filed a lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation (USSF) for $66m in damages under the Equal Pay Act. A huge blow came last week, when a federal judge dismissed their claim. Molly Levinson, the players’ spokeswoman, explained that the issue is particularly about earning the same pay for a win. “Equal pay means paying women players the same rate for winning a game as men get paid,” she said. The women players have now filed an appeal against the court’s decision.

The Hunt for Moby Dick Moves Online

Yes, in the trove of Covid-related articles, it seems far-fetched to speak of fully-grown adults reading bedtime stories to other fully-grown adults. But every year, the Whaling Museum in New Bedford hosts a Moby-Dick marathon reading. Usually, speakers take turns reading the novel aloud in front of a sleepy audience – it takes 25 hours. This year’s edition involves 46 volunteers reading their chapters from home, each video being posted on the museum’s YouTube channel. If you need a dose of whales and tall ships, you know where to look.

Interested in the media? Why not write for us. Drop Emily a line on [email protected] to chat about submissions.