Cathedral thinking

21 July 2023|

The weather was great when I was last home and we enjoyed a couple of lovely family barbecues. You won’t know this, of course, but my dad considers himself quite the expert at the barbecue — as all dads do! That’s why he’s incredibly fussy about allowing his steaks a decent amount of time to marinade. Anything short of four hours and he’ll complain that the taste will be ruined. On the other hand, if my brother is in charge,

Russia, China and their no limits friendship

14 July 2023|

If, like me, you follow coverage of the war in Ukraine closely but aren’t an expert on Sino-Russian relations or a historian, you probably think Russia and China are best friends. After all, the bromance between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping has ‘no limits’, or so we are led to believe. I’ve grown to accept this narrative, although with a nagging feeling at the back of my mind that this isn’t as accurate a description as the narrative intends. So,

Life’s milestones

7 July 2023|

The past seven months have been busy for me on a personal level. My partner and I finally got married at the end of last year, and having just completed the purchase of our first home we are imminently expecting our first child. Within this frenzy, I celebrated my 37th birthday, which naturally was overshadowed by the above developments, although I did manage to blow out a few candles with the help of my two-year-old niece. Indeed, this year my

Feathers on the ocean breeze

30 June 2023|

I'm on the brink of a move to the US, prompting some reflections amidst the packing. I've made a number of moves before — the first as a child from the North of England to Ireland, the place I now firmly call home. Relocations can be motivated by lifestyle preferences, career objectives, family life and, very sadly for some, by the search for safety from conflict or persecution. Moving satisfies those needs, but there is also something lost in the

Of cats and dogs

23 June 2023|

In Stephen Leacock’s short story 'Q: a psychic pstory of the psupernatural', a character called Annerly reports that an acquaintance he refers to as ‘Q’ experienced the following manifestation of his dog: “Well, then, the projection, or phanogram, of the dog passed in front of them so plainly that Miss M swore that she could have believed that it was the dog himself. Opposite the house the phantasm stopped for a moment and wagged its tail. Then it passed on,

The mystery of magnitude

16 June 2023|

How wealthy is Elon Musk? ‘Very’ would usually suffice, but to be more precise his net worth is somewhere around an eyewatering $200 billion. We can all agree that this is a lot, and probably don’t feel we need to waste an unnecessary amount of time trying to grasp its true magnitude. But put it this way: someone earning the median UK salary of roughly £33,000 would have to work for nearly 4.4 million years, without spending a single penny,

More leisure, please

9 June 2023|

I have not worked a five-day week since April. Yes, really! Between a few days of annual leave and the alarming number of public holidays that we had last month, it’s been a while. But could this amount of leisure soon be the new normal? Writing in 1930, John Maynard Keynes famously hypothesised that we could be working 15-hour weeks one hundred years hence. I think he may have got the timing wrong, but we are certainly moving in that

Awe inspiring

2 June 2023|

On a recent trip to Northern Ireland, my fellow Fathomites Ingrid and Ellen and I went on a hike to the Giant’s Causeway. It is a unique formation of rocks, tall hexagons of stone towering over the water at the very top of Northern Ireland, with beautiful green hills surrounding it giving the landscape a dramatic look. It is no wonder that the place has been a source for folklore – legend has it that the Irish giant Fionn Mac

The death of competition

26 May 2023|

In a capitalist system, is competition in the market always doomed to suffer a slow death? This sort of question takes on fresh urgency during economically challenging times, when ordinary people tend to struggle while giant corporations sail on regardless. I have attempted to strike a balance in my answer, but no matter how hard I try to weigh up the pros and cons with an even hand there is one ineluctable fact — namely, the concentration of production into

The vibes are sus

19 May 2023|

Banking crisis. Inflation. War. There are reasons to be gloomy. When it comes to the economy, however, the killjoys seem to hold too much sway right now. Yes, the COVID recession was severe. But it was also incredibly short, and the recovery has been much swifter than many expected. Since then, inflation has been high, but aggressive hiking cycles have (so far) been absorbed remarkably well. Meanwhile, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent impact on energy markets has had