A regular spot to share some ideas about what’s good and what’s not on the interwebthingy. But, you know, it’s your life, so feel free to agree, disagree or ignore what follows.
What caught my attention last week
Rugby in Rugby
Robert Kitson and Tom Jenkins at the Guardian have a long piece with gorgeous photos about rugby in England. Being the Guardian it has a decent go at contemplating the splits between the Hooray Henrys drinking champers out of Range Rovers at Twickenham, and the northerners who struggle to play the game they love.
Consider it your homework for next week.
A Better Game
Oliver Roeder at fivethirtyeight.com goes to the data to find what are the best board games for people of different ages.
Some of the most beloved childhood games — think Candy Land, Snakes and Ladders, Monopoly — just aren’t very good. The data emphatically says so. But where there’s data, there’s also hope.
We seem stuck with some pretty bad games. For whatever reason, these board game chestnuts fly off the shelves apace. As of this writing, the first page of Amazon’s top sellers includes Monopoly, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Candy Land Disney Princess Edition, Clue and Sorry. But there’s a wide world beyond these stalwarts. We’re in the midst of a golden age of board games! Trust the data — better games await. Your kids will thank you.
An excellent article apart from that final “Your kids will thank you” thing. Because they won’t. They’re kids. And when was the last time you thanked your parents, anyway?
Meanwhile, Nicholas Shakespeare at the Telegraph reviews Robert Gildea’s new book Fighters in the Shadows about the French Resistance. Fair to say that Gildea and Shakespeare aren’t buying de Gaulle’s version of 25 August 1944:
Paris liberated! Liberated by its own efforts, liberated by its people with the help of the armies of France, with the help of all of France.
Resisting tyranny and oppression always presents moral and political as well as practical dilemmas. What responsibility do you take for the predictable reprisals? What are you struggling for as well as against? How do you tremble on the tightrope of staying alive to resist? So you have to be smart about how you do it, but do it you must if you are to retain your dignity.
As an aside, Clive James had a cracking take down of that moral and intellectual fraud Jean-Paul Sartre’s claim to resistance heroism in Cultural Amnesia (slightly adapted here):
In its later life, Sartre’s [1944 existentialist] play No Exit is too much praised for having been an act of political daring when it was written. Its original production was officially allowed by the German Occupation authorities, some of whom came to see it. They allowed it because they knew its appeal to liberty was camped in the air, and they came to see it because they knew they were in safe company.
The gem in Shakespeare’s article is about the role of women in the real Resistance:
Asked by a German court in Lyon in May 1942 why she had taken up arms, Marguerite Gonnet replied: “Quite simply, colonel, because the men had dropped them.”
Take that Jean-Paul.
What I’m Trying To Ignore Next Week
Any British media trying to provoke us with ‘chokers’ and ‘cheaters’ labels.