Friday High Five: David Sedaris, hatchet jobs and a Scientology spymaster

We share five of our favourite links, articles and issues from around the internet this week.

George Monbiot on climate change and Australia’s heatwave

‘Climate change denial is almost a national pastime in Australia,’ wrote George Monbiot in the Guardian this week. ‘Australians now burn, on average, slightly more carbon per capita than the citizens of the United States, and more than twice as much as the people of the United Kingdom. Taking meaningful action on climate change would require a serious reassessment of the way life is lived there.’

He concludes that Tony Abbott has ‘nothing to offer’ Australian politics unless he changes his views on and approach to climate change - and that the current heatwave is evidence that Australia is in desperate need of cultural change and ‘a politics capable of responding to an existential threat’.

Cyclone Narelle, photographed off the coast of WA.

Cyclone Narelle, photographed off the coast of WA.

Hatchet Job of the Year 2012 shortlist

The Hatchet Job of the Year award, rewarding the best annual roasting of a book in print, was launched amid much controversy last year. While some welcomed any activity that would raise the profile of criticism, or greeted it as a bit of fun, others were concerned that the award would encourage negative reviews.

The shortlist for 2012 has just been announced, with eight reviews competing for the honour, including Zoe Heller on Salman Rushdie, Ron Charles on Martin Amis, and Suzanne Moore on Naomi Wolf.

Zoe Heller's take-down of Salman Rushdie is one of eight contenders for the second Hatchet Job of the Year Award.

Zoe Heller's take-down of Salman Rushdie is one of eight contenders for the second Hatchet Job of the Year Award.

David Sedaris reads 50 Shades of Grey

Most of us are getting pretty sick of the whole 50 Shades phenomenon by now … but this video of David Sedaris reading aloud from the book on a Dutch television show is pretty funny. ‘Is that what’s in this book?’ he says disbelievingly as he finishes.

David Sedaris reads 50 Shades of Grey

Scientology and Me: A journalist confronts former spymaster Mark Rathbun

In the mid-1980s, investigative journalist Joel Sappell embarked on a five-year investigation into Scientology for an LA TImes series. His dog was poisoned, his colleague’s home was leafleted with funeral home brochures, he was falsely accused of a mysterious assault, and his wife was harassed. Decades later, he meets with former Scientology spymaster Mark Rathbun - now defected - to talk about his former employer and get the inside story of his own harassment.

The Church of Scientology in Los Angeles.

The Church of Scientology in Los Angeles.

Why are romantic comedies in free fall?

Romantic comedies, once a box-office staple, are in decline. The failure of movies like the Reese Witherspoon vehicle This Means War and the James L. Brooks (Broadcast News, As Good as it Gets) rom-com How Do You Know (also starring Reese) have been cited by Vulture as evidence. Of course, this could well be evidence that most rom-coms these days are terrible, as much as than the genre being out of fashion … Includes interviews with directors, agents, producers and screenwriters on the state of the industry.

Failed Reese Witherspoon vehicle *This Means War*. Victim of a dying genre or just a very bad film?

Failed Reese Witherspoon vehicle This Means War. Victim of a dying genre or just a very bad film?

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