A Digested Week: Greta Thunberg Presents a Masterclass in the Art of Protest | Emma Brooks


In a headline to drown out the already dreary January spirits, The New York Times presents a study on the effects of drinking with the troubling summary that even a little alcohol can be bad for your health. This finding, in contrast to previous scientific studies—which has many of us caught on edge—confirms, in fact, that moderate red wine intake may not be good for the heart. says Dr Tim Naimi, director of the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria. “Alcohol is bad for health, starting at very low levels,” he says.

This information falls into the category of something very negative, a person instinctively, knows to be true, and then will fight to the death to deny. It’s also fatally unambiguous, following in the tradition of public health agencies issuing unit guidance weekly on the grounds that it’s irresistibly easy to skew. For example, storing unused units from a dry week for a Saturday night in a big way is frowned upon by Al-Naimi’s research. In his and other recent studies, you can’t average units over a week without triggering a “heavy drinking” red flag. A list of dismal cancer warnings and the phrase “DNA damage” follow sharply.

All of which, in heated discussions on social media Monday, was received as somewhat unsportsmanlike by the scientific community. Don’t we go through some version of these shifts every few years about the effects of coffee or dairy or cold cuts during pregnancy? Does Naimi even live in the world? Should it poison our minds and bodies? How dare he bring his fact-based rumors to our missteps and self-justifications are a bit of a stretch.


Three new productions are generating more internet rage: the recently published Roald Dahl biopic, Tarr, and the new Scooby-Doo movie, Velma. Two of them — Dahl’s biopic, by Matthew Dennison, and Tarr, Todd Field’s film starring Cate Blanchett — spark a frenzy over whether one can enjoy good art by the bad. The third, Filma, which launched last week on HBO, has critics hammering Mindy Kaling for her malicious portrayal of Indian women.

A very bad movie. It’s not funny, or even coherent. The tone is self-satisfied. The jokes are so dishonest that they cash in on the fanaticism they claim is disingenuous. Kaling, who provides the voice of Velma and executive produced the show, is prolific and often rambunctious in her features. The question, asked by Buzzfeed on Wednesday, is soon echoing across other platforms — “Why are you making fun of Indian girls?” – looked, however, oddly wide from the mark.

To state the obvious, irony as a tone is just as legitimate as any other if the author is in full control of the effect. In Dahl’s biography, he comes across as a mixed bag rather than as a hero or villain, but his relative villainy, well documented, is only problematic in his books when the action curdles. (I’m going to die on the hill where Dahl doesn’t know how to make ends.) All the criticism of Tarr’s politics – in the first place, is that there are so few female leaders in the world, which makes creating an abuser unfair. – is a matter of discussion in light of the film’s brilliance. It doesn’t have to be fair, it just has to be right.


Madonna, above all blame, announced her most successful world tour this week, causing a tussle among Madge’s fans. Aside from signing for a season at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, nothing could be more exciting than the prospect of doing Madonna’s greatest hits live, something she always swore she would never do. In New York, mid-level tickets – halfway back and up side at Madison Square Garden – which were $500 (£405) on the day of the announcement were, by midweek, already going to StubHub for $1,100. And while I could not bring myself to spend anything of that sort of money, I felt fleeting grief at the loss of enthusiasm of so many distinguished friends who, moments after the announcement, were ignoring the immobility of middle age and the meddling of young children to book tickets at venues in three American cities, For a seamless group experience.


Carried away first by German police in the deserted village of Lützerath this week, Greta Thunberg demonstrated the heavyweight method of protest, which has recently fallen out of fashion thanks to members of Extinction Rebellion blocking major roads at rush hour. Thunberg, a politician keener than this, joined thousands of other activists who protested the expansion of a coal mine in a way that would not cause inconvenience to others, with instant photos that flew around the world. The three officers who transported her also knew their role, and stuck to it. Despite the worldwide fame of the 20-year-old human cargo in their hands, Thunberg was held for several hours while undergoing the same identity check as everyone else. Upon her release, with the self-possession of, if she looked so fine at twenty, one remembers what she looked like at fifteen, Thunberg quietly returned to the site to lead a sit-down.


I bought 10 caterpillars for Christmas as part of the “Little Insect World” kit which included a butterfly cage and feeder. Now we have, at different stages of the life cycle and my eight year old son named it: Cake, Sweetie, Gary, Ella, Tom, Gloria, Baby Tim, Bey and Hart, and Hartie. Six of them have hatched, two of them appear to have died, and there is a bird with a hole in its wing, Baby Tim. After a lengthy ethical discussion on Friday morning, we decided to stick with Baby Tim when we free the rest of the butterflies in the afternoon. On the one hand, Tim will never taste freedom. On the other hand, he will have a longer life, feeding on pieces of banana in the safety of our living room, while others are likely to die of cold after a cheerful afternoon in the wilderness. It’s time for a big weekend drink.

‘Yeah, not too far’: Settling with Jeremy Hunt, Rishi Sunak and fellow Conservative MP Sarah Breitcliffe. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/PA
The Queen consort speaks to a child at school with a laptop.
Queen: “I told you not to make MailOnline your homepage.” Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA

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