The writing on the web: What the M&G is reading

The Mail & Guardian writers and reporters have picked up some great pieces – long and short and in between – around the internet in the past few days. Our weekly roundup of some favourites.

1. It seems inadequate to call Adam Shatz’s review of Congo: The Epic History of a People by David Van Reybrouck a review, even if that’s what Ça va un peu, in the London Review of Books, is. But what you get out of it is a rollicking ride through the tumultuous history of what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 5 032 words. It’s an outstanding long read that’s well worth the time, whether you are a Congo-watcher or not.

2. The science of human decay by Joseph Stromberg ran on Vox. It takes a look at Freeman Ranch, one of the world’s few (apparently there are five in, you guessed it, the United States) body farms. Located at the Forensic Anthropology Centre at Texas State University, the centre’s mission is to find out what happens to bodies in various states of decomposition. If you ever needed a reason to decide on cremation when you die, watch the video.

3. @benedictkelly recommends this from Wired for all the geeks out there: Wrinkles in spacetime by Adam Rogers. It’s about a famous astrophysicist, simulated black holes, wormholes and the movie Interstellar. Also on Wired, I found a fascinating piece for your, err, entrepreneurial (read: criminal) friends on online drug dealers who are using darkcoin, “bitcoin’s stealthier cousin”.

4. @zoddies loved Zadie Smith’s 10 rules of writing from @brainpicker which ends with equally inspiring links to Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 rules for a great story, David Ogilvy’s 10 no-bullshit tips, Henry Miller’s 11 commandments, Jack Kerouac’s 30 beliefs and techniques, John Steinbeck’s 6 pointers, and Susan Sontag’s synthesised learnings.


5. @nikistarfish liked Of gamers, gates, and disco demolition by Arthur Chu on The Daily Beast, taking on #gamergate, haters in history and the bad old days of disco.

6. On Foreign Policy, @shaundewaal picked up Why is Bahrain outsourcing extremism by Ala’a Shehabi who takes a look into the country’s Isis problem. Also on FP, he found The gangs of Iraq, where Tirana Hassan writes about how pro-government militias are using ISIS as a “pretext to destroy Sunni Arab communities”.

@tanyapampalone is the executive editor of the Mail & Guardian.

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Tanya Pampalone
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