Life’s been a little busy recently, but I’ve been sneaking some time to read things here and there. Here’s some of the stuff I’ve really enjoyed recently.
I’m a huge fan of Ta-Nehisi Coates. He’s a great writer, and an insightful mind. So I was excited to start reading the run of Black Panther that he’s writing. It’s a fun read. I haven’t read much by way of comic books, although I’ve enjoyed to varying extents adaptations like Watchmen and Deadpool. So I don’t have a lot of context for Black Panther. Based on what I’ve read so far, there’s definitely potential. Worth checking out if you like TNC, or comics, or both.
Cleverman is a new TV show by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, with a really exciting premise.
I’m still only halfway through the second episode, but it’s quite good. I don’t know if it’ll be brilliant, and sure, it could be a little tighter in the narrative arcs, but it crackles with energy. I’m keen to see the rest of it; you might enjoy it too.
In 1830, the pressing question of democracy wasn’t a hanging chad or different types of voting. It wasn’t even whether women should be allowed to vote, or all men. It was simply whether in a population of about fourteen million, Britain’s House of Commons should be reformed to enable 650,000 people to vote, rather than 400,000.
That was the broader, social question – it reflected discontent on the continent, shifting social classes and movements within Britain, and a country still adjusting after the Catholic Emancipation.
Antonia Fraser’s excellent book focuses in on a closer question- can the Whigs pass the bill through Parliament? The radicals outside Parliament are broadly supportive, but restless. Inside the Parliament, the Tories will stop the bill in the House of Lords if they can.
Fraser writes a little like a political reporter. There’s some light discussion of context and procedure. But for the most part the story follows the back and forth of Parliamentary process over the two years. Which if you find that kind of thing interesting, is fascinating. Negotiations between the King and Cabinet over creating more peers (one alternative to force the House of Lords into submission), an attempted amendment that almost scuppered the Bill, the confusion of an election called after the Bill was rejected – it’s all in there.
At times there’s a little of that common journalistic flaw, false equivalence. Because she doesn’t venture outside Parliament, Fraser can’t give a sense of the social context, and because of that it’s hard to evaluate the Tory fears that the country will be overrun if the Reform Bill is passed.
For all that, it’s an excellent read. If you find Parliamentary procedure and political debate interesting, this one’s worth it.