Ballaké Sissoko and Vincent Segal's Chamber Music is one of my favourite records this year.
I am secretly always waiting for chances to use this song and the climate conference in Durban (for the record: this won't get any results except a mildly worded letter of intent that has no consequences whatsoever) seems like an obvious choice. The best case scenario already sounds pretty terrible ("warming of as little as 1.5C could cause dangerous rises in sea levels and a higher risk of extreme weather") and some smaller Island nations are literally fighting for their survival.
Exactly 20 years to the day after European leaders signed the treaty that led to the creation of the European Union and the euro currency, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany persuaded every current member of the union except Britain to endorse a new agreement calling for tighter regional oversight of government spending.
NY Times: German Vision Prevails as Leaders Agree on Fiscal Pact, December 9, 2011
Here's the statement issued (apparently, the European Council prefers the term euro area to eurozone), and a WSJ piece that points out that the problem isn't necessarily public debt but in some cases private debt.
This is a fascinating article on an Ugandan computer scientist who founded an University in in Kampala. "Young homegrown scientists there are now nearing completion of their Ph.D.’s. And faculty members are carrying out cutting-edge experiments. They are seeking to endow cellphones with the “intelligence,” embedded in tiny software programs animated by mathematical algorithms, to identify diseases in crops or malaria in a person’s bloodstream."
Following the re-election of DRC's president Joseph Kabila, an outbreak of violent protests in Kinshasa.
The Guardian follows the protests after the parliamentary elections in Russia (which resulted in losses for the ruling party - but United Russia still won almost 50 percent of the vote).
The Economist analyses the success of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in the first elections after the revolution.
Whatever the outcome, Egypt looks set to join a broader regional trend that has seen a more pragmatic, tolerant form of Islamism rise to dominate the political scene, by way of the ballot box rather than the gun barrel. As Islamist parties come to the fore, from Iraq to Morocco, it is worth bearing in mind the words of Safwat Abdel-Ghani, the leader of an Egyptian Salafist group that once preached terrorism in the name of jihad, on the death of Osama bin Laden: “Al-Qaeda has not been destroyed by the ‘war on terror’ but by popular revolutions that made it unnecessary.”
The Economist: Everywhere on the rise, December 10, 2011
openDemocracy calls for a more complex analysis in the debate about "religion, gender and migration".
I enthusiastically posted a quote from Hillary Clinton's speech this week but I kind of want to frame the last paragraph of this Autostraddle article and hang it on my wall.
My favourite thing about end-of-the-year-best-of-lists is the level of consumer-involvement: it's a good way to let off steam without actually hurting anyone. What, you say, my favourite record of the year is nowhere on this list! Ridiculous! I shun you and your cultural ignorance (as you might have guessed, said record in my case would be Wild Flag's debut album... don't say you didn't see that coming)! Here's TIME's list of any- and everything (I mostly agree with television - Parks and Recreation!) but their film choices are... debatable, to say the least) and NPR providing samples of their music of the year (with loads of choices that are really good and completely new to me).
The New York Times created a gallery of villain-archetypes starring some of this year's most remarkable actors and actresses (among them, Ryan Gosling, Viola Davis, Mia Wasikowska and Kirsten Dunst).
Rudy Rucker on The death of Philip K. Dick and the birth of cyberpunk, Karin L. Kross on "the Gibsonesque" or the "Gibsonian" ("the jury remains out") - a collection of Gibson's essays (Distrust That Particular Flavor) will be published in January.
Alan Moore, author of V for Vendetta and Watchmen, comments on Frank Miller's (300, Sin City) rant about his opposition to Occupy Wall Street. "I thought the Sin City stuff was unreconstructed misogyny, 300 appeared to be wildly ahistoric, homophobic and just completely misguided. I think that there has probably been a rather unpleasant sensibility apparent in Frank Miller’s work for quite a long time."
Carrie Brownstein on Portland:
Really, any new resident has that sense where you go to a place and you want to shut the door behind you. People discover Portland in a certain way and resent what it becomes later. Everyone has this insecurity about Portland like, ‘when does it arrive?’ and that comes with growing pains ... Portland is a very curated city. Because of growth slowly, deliberately taking shape, people here have been able to make it what they want it to be. It’s almost like a “Greatest Hits” city. It’s a little weird, but I love it.
The Atlantic Cities: Why I Love My City: Carrie Brownstein on Portland, December 7, 2011
Also, in random internet things: here's a video from what seems to be the late '90s, celebrating the beauty of one Agent Mulder. My favourite part is Buffy Summers, but basically this is really cool for playing celebrity bingo.