Crikey long reads

Josh Taylor, journalist

“The grand tapestry of Pepe” by P.J. Vogt and Alex Goldman for Reply All

“How did a cartoon frog become the icon for the alt-right and Donald Trump?”

Sophie Benjamin, engagement editor

“George Christensen on poverty, priesthood and a flirtation with One Nation” by Joshua Robertson in The Guardian

“Twice, like his political ally Tony Abbott before him, Christensen seriously contemplated becoming a priest.

“At 21, he was accepted into a seminary in Melbourne but withdrew after a couple of weeks.

“‘It’s probably going to be controversial [but] one thing I can say is that there were some blokes you immediately identified as gay and I think there is that element that do go there but then there are other people in there who you were quite sure they weren’t gay,’ he observes.”

Cass Knowlton, editor

“In ‘Hitler’, an ascent from ‘dunderhead’ to demagogue” by Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times

“Mr. Ullrich sets out to strip away the mythology that Hitler created around himself in ‘Mein Kampf,’ and he also tries to look at this ‘mysterious, calamitous figure’ not as a monster or madman, but as a human being with ‘undeniable talents and obviously deep-seated psychological complexes.’

“‘In a sense,’ he says in an introduction, ‘Hitler will be “normalized” — although this will not make him seem more “normal.” If anything, he will emerge as even more horrific.'”

Sally Whyte, journalist

“The greatest love of all: what this grand final means to a lifelong Doggies fan” by Lachlan Kanoniuk in Junkee

“I remember being tall enough to just reach the metal pole on the boundary fence while being perched on the wonky plank seating down at Melville Oval. “See the red, white and blue team?” Dad instructed. “That’s the Bulldogs. We go for them, alright?”. Easy. I was a switched on little fella. Sometime later, back at home, we were watching AFL on the telly. “See the blue and white? That’s the Cats. We go for them, alright?” Surely this was a stitch-up. We go for Bulldogs, mate. Despite a sustained effort to explain the differentiations between the Western Border Football League and the elite level Australian Football League, Dad conceded as I stood my ground. A mutation in the family genus was born. A Bulldog for life.”

Myriam Robin, media reporter

“No, NASA didn’t change your astrological sign” by Phil Plait in Slate

“The thing is, there are more than 12 constellations the Sun can pass through. Some are smaller, or have fainter stars, so they get ignored. The biggest is Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer, which is a huge constellation taking up quite a bit of celestial real estate, and in fact the Sun spends more time in Ophiuchus than Scorpius! Scorpius has brighter stars, and an obvious scorpionlike shape, so it gets better press.

“So no, NASA didn’t add in Ophiuchus, or change the zodiac, or anything like that. It’s been around this whole time, but it’s been ignored by astrologers.”

Dan Wood, subeditor

“Researchers confront an epidemic of loneliness” by Katie Hafner in The New York Times

“Researchers have found mounting evidence linking loneliness to physical illness and to functional and cognitive decline. As a predictor of early death, loneliness eclipses obesity.

“‘The profound effects of loneliness on health and independence are a critical public health problem,’ said Dr. Carla M. Perissinotto, a geriatrician at the University of California, San Francisco. ‘It is no longer medically or ethically acceptable to ignore older adults who feel lonely and marginalized.’”

Sophie Benjamin, engagement editor

“Covering Syria through hunger and fear” by Karam Al-Masri and Rana Moussaoui in Correspondent

“My life since the beginning of the bombing in Aleppo has become about trying to stay alive. It is like I live in the jungle and I’m trying to survive until tomorrow. When the planes come, I try to shelter in a more secure building. When there is artillery fire, I go to the lower floors. I’m constantly fleeing. Before the siege, I relied on fast food places, but now everything is closed. I don’t know how to cook, and there are days when I only eat one meal, and others when I have none at all. Before the siege, I spent the day outside looking for stories to film. But since the siege, I’m hungry and weaker and I stay at home more.”

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.