Richard Jackson

About Richard Jackson

Richard Jackson moved to Australia from Northern Ireland. He likes it here but detests that parking meters often don't supply change.

Long Reads: Anti-Semitism, plastic surgery, AA and pigeons in NYC

A mixed bag, as Rich Jackson kicks off this week’s #LongReads with anti-Semitism in Europe, covers plastic surgery in South Korea and the flaws in AA…plus PB’s weekly pick: pigeons in Brooklyn.


Is it time for the Jews to leave Europe? – Jeffrey Goldberg (The Atlantic)

The author poses this question in light of rising anti-Semitism across Europe, using examples of rising attacks; the popularisation of the quenelle in France, a backward Nazi salute gesture created by “comedian” Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, who is of French Cameroonian descent, which shows the growing anti-semitic stain; and then fatally, when the Charlie Hebdo killers entered a Jewish supermarket on 9 January while on the run from police and killed four people. So, facing increasing anti-Semitism, should the Jewish people leave for Israel or America? Is this the same as what their ancestors faced in pre-war Nazi Germany? The author takes a broad look across different European countries, interviewing a vast swathe of people from different backgrounds and areas of influence: members of the general public; religious leaders; academics; political leaders, including British Prime Minister David Cameron and Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s extreme right-wing – “and once openly anti-Semitic” – National Front Party, who unfortunately, in my eyes, are doing very well in the polls. I agree with French Socialist Prime Minister, Michael Valls, also interviewed, who speaking in reference to French Jews said, “If 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France. The French Republic will be judged a failure.” So would it be with Europe.


The world capital of plastic surgery – Patricia Marx (The New Yorker)

The writer heads to South Korea, the world capital of plastic surgery, where it is estimated that between one fifth and one third of women have been under the knife. Marx discovers the surgery trend, and dissects what economic and societal factors drive such a huge proportion of the population to go under the knife. What is interesting is that they have an aversion to the sexual side of plastic surgery, they avoid breast enhancement and instead favour eye and nose surgeries. Such is its ubiquitous nature, a typical gift for high-school graduation is a blepharoplasty, a surgery to makes the eyes look bigger, which is the most popular procedure.


The irrationality of Alcoholics Annonymous – Gabrielle Glaser (The Atlantic)

The entire article discusses that we just assume AA works because we are constantly told that it does – and that’s not even just because most legal systems use it as the principle method to help reform addicts – but because, when you think about it, that’s the only method the public know of, thanks to its omnipresence as a plot device on TV and in movies. The article poses the question, “Why do we assume a celebrity failed the program, rather than the program failed them?” The methods that AA use aren’t scientific; they don’t record people’s names or how often they return – that would contravene the anonymous part – so we have no method of measuring success and instead really on assurances; they eschew qualified counsellors, favouring former addicts instead; and put an emphasis on religion that many people don’t follow or believe. Fortunately new research has better quantified and measured treatments that work, including naltrexone, a pill that essentially just switches off your desire for alcohol, which the author tried. Now if only someone could create a similar thing for Nutella; who in God’s name creates a chocolate breakfast spread? Madness.


Editor’s Pick from

The Pigeon Kings of Brooklyn – Ram Devineni, Ashok Sinha and Martina Sönksen

OK, I’m going sideways again and it’s a “short watch” (around eight minutes) instead of a long read – deal with it already. I know a lot of you hate these “rats of the air,” but this vid piece about pigeons and two different men of the NY borough of Brooklyn and their relationships with these flying flocks is, as with most of the stuff, damn fine.

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