Grubstreet’s best five (lean-back) reads, Fri 6 Feb 2015

My pick of the best five interesting reads from around the world this week:


Whether you’re a Bob Marley fan or not (he would have been 70 today), this piece by his friend Vivien Goldman is a really good read. In it, she asks how a hard-working activist came to represent feel-good partying.

“Me no really say no bad things about no one, cause me have a full heart,” Bob Marley once told me. “That is a sign of being an ignorant and undisciplined human being. Me prefer just to understand the situation and suss it out and say what is right and what is wrong.”

Confident in taking a stand, Bob Marley was not afraid to sing with moral authority. As events echoing the struggles he took part in and sang about take place around the world, I often find myself wondering: what would Bob have made of this if he were alive to celebrate his 70th birthday? What songs might he have written? Except that, usually, he already has.

FULL ARTICLE: Bob Marley at 70: legend and legacy, The Guardian, 6 Feb


economistmegacityWow. This is an interesting interactive. It shows the rise of the megacity since the 1950s. The Economist does interactives so well! Tres cool:

AT THE beginning of February, somewhere in London, a maternity ward welcomed the city’s 8,615,246th inhabitant. The mayor of London reckons that the British capital has now surpassed its previous population peak set in 1939. But if it occasionally feels cramped on the Tube, the task for other city planners around the world looks far more daunting. Nearly 9% of the world’s population will be living in just 41 megacities (those with more than 10m inhabitants) by 2030.

FULL PIECE: Bright lights, big cities, The Economist, 4 Feb


This is a wonderful piece (and great pics) on Harper Lee from July 2014, which the New York magazine re-ran this week to go with the announcement that she is releasing a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird. Such an unusual step for the magazine; such an unusual woman:

For Monroeville, Alabama, population 6,400 and shrinking, the summer of 2010 was momentous. Over a long July weekend, locals reenacted historical vignettes, held a silent auction, cooked a southern feast, and led tours of local landmarks. There was a documentary screening, two lawn parties, and a marathon reading of the novel whose 50th anniversary was the grand occasion. To Kill a Mockingbird, which needs no introduction — because it is the introduction, for most American children, to civil rights, literature, and the justice system — had sold nearly a million copies for each year in print. There were at least 50 other celebrations nationwide, but the epicenter was Monroeville, a place whose only real industry (the lingerie plant having recently shuttered) was Mockingbird-related tourism. It was not only the model for the novel’s fictional Maycomb but the home of its author, Harper Lee. She lived less than a mile from the festival, but she never came.

FULL STORY: The Decline of Harper Lee, New York magazine,3 Feb

An interesting, well reasoned piece from Max du Preez:

Two decades after we became a democracy, South Africans still snipe at each other across racial divides, blindly defending their “own” at the slightest provocation.

To opportunistic politicians, this is grist to the mill – exploiting the baser instincts of fear and resentment is a tried and tested way of covering up political weaknesses and mobilising people.

And yet, on a personal level – in the office environment, the neighbourhoods, factory floors, sports stadia, music festivals and pubs – black and white get on remarkably well.

FULL PIECE: Lack of knowledge about SA polarises its citizens, News24, 3 Feb


This is fun (and practical too):

Parents often have a love/hate relationship with LEGOs. They love the toy for its open-ended play value and ability to exercise their fine motor skills. That said, as LEGO grows in popularity and kids continue to collect more bricks, problems build up right alongside them.

Oftentimes, you’ll hear parents complain that their kids refuse to take apart any of their elaborate sets—so their home becomes a dust-collecting LEGO museum. Other children build sets but then take them apart to build their own creations. This may be seen as ideal but the dismantled sets usually end up in just one large bin. Eventually, children can’t see what kind of bricks that they have. Creative play is stunted and soon the kids are asking you to buy a new set.

FULL STORY: How LEGO freaks stack and store their LEGOs, Quartz, 2 Feb