Journal 106

Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest

This week — the history of memes, in search of the comic genius Tom Lehrer, a deep look at the NHS, and a trove of documents shedding light on ISIS’s bureaucracy. 
If you only read one thing — The New York Review of Books on Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is worth the time.


Homo Orbánicus | The New York Review of Books | Politics

A look at how Viktor Orbán has created an autocracy in Hungary, a “Führer democracy” at the heart of Europe. Orbán was re-elected with a large majority a few days after this article was published.

Looking For Tom Lehrer, Comedy’s Mysterious Genius | Buzzfeed | Culture

This piece goes in search of a genius who went to Harvard aged 15, wrote comic songs that were a huge hit and with which he toured the world, then almost entirely vanished from the stage. Talking to People magazine in 1982, as ever he had the best words to describe some of what had changed — “Things I once thought were funny are scary now…I often feel like a resident of Pompeii who has been asked for some humorous comments on lava.”

NHS SOS | The London Review of Books | Society

A sobering but essential read on the NHS. The story dives deep on the successive policies Whitehall and Westminster have implemented to effect change, interspersed with the experiences of individual patients and staff in the system.

The ISIS Files: When Terrorists Run City Hall | The New York Times | Politics

The result of over a year of research, translating and anlysing caches of documents that lay bare the inner workings of ISIS’s bureaucracy.

The story of the internet, as told by Know Your Meme | The Verge | Culture

Tales from the front line of meme documentation. As the Editor of Know Your Meme puts it, the internet is “kind of the anti-Bible. You learn everything terrible about human beings.”