Read on the street 8 February 2020
Those of you who pay any attention to my Instagram account (@malcolmrobertson if you must know) will have seen evidence of my enduring love affair with the Scottish islands.
The big skies, the colour of the sea, the light, the complete, perfect silence – it's the purest form of intoxication, and there is no greater feeling of calm than when that last boat leaves and you are left there, bound into that community and its way of life, in some cases forever.
Our reading list this week meanders from hippies and mac n’ cheese to maths, training shoes and artificial mountains, but ends on the Scottish islands, with the heart-warming story of Mounzer Darsani, the first Syrian barber in the UK, and his fellow refugees, who now live and work on the small island of Bute on Scotland’s west coast.
Have a great weekend.
How the counterculture went corporate
What is counterculture in 2020? It's probably not yoga and vegetarianism. These days you’d have to be living under a rock to escape wellness culture. Ever wondered how we got here? Well, guess what, it all started in California. Actually, it started more than 5000 years ago when the first yogis started writing up the sutras, but that's another story...
Read in 1843.
When we think of mountains, our minds most likely conjure up images of Mount Everest, the Matterhorn, or perhaps even our own Ben Nevis. We almost certainly do not consider Brown's Dump in Pennsylvania. Artificial mountains can be found all over the world, but with many of them relics of heavy industry they can present significant issues for those who live near them. Learn more in this fascinating piece.
Read in The New Yorker.
Using math to understand inequity
Inequality in society is being understood with increasing clarity. Leaving aside greater transparency, there is a more scientific reason: complex statistical modelling. Thanks to complex modelling, we have discovered new reasons to experiment and theorise in ways that we did not think of before big-brained computers were available. These analyses have helped us understand that existing in a small group might be a disadvantage, but more importantly they are helping us understand why that is the case.
Read in Oxford University Press' Blog.
Influencers in the wild
We have all seen the glamourous, first person perspective, but how do influencers look from afar? This article provides an invaluable insight into this world, but it also teaches us how the content of such influencers is shaping social media and social photography etiquette around the world.
Listen to the Talking Politics Podcast.
The history of mac 'n' cheese
Life, liberty and the pursuit of mac ’n’ cheese as good as your granny made it – that’s the American dream, right? Well, yes and no. This Economist article traces the history of the humble bowl of macaroni cheese back to founding father Thomas Jefferson who almost certainly imported it from France and even served it at state dinners. Donald Trump; eat your heart out.
Read in 1843.
Living in the arctic
What can living out of your car in one of Europe’s most northern, isolated towns teach you? Or relaxing with a dip in the Arctic and working as a polar bear guard? A lot, of course. Wellness and paying greater attention to our natural world are inextricably linked, which is as good a message as any for the weekend ahead.
Read in Vice.
The issue with supershoes
New technology and better shoes are helping athletes break records, but they may also be undermining competitive sport. For years, categories in sports (weight, sex, league, and so on) have helped maintain integrity and fairness, keeping success based purely on hard work, talent and dedication. Are these new trainers providing more of an edge than they should?
The Syrian refugees who went to Bute
Back in 2015, around 100 Syrian refugees relocated to the Isle of Bute. Since then, they have helped shaped the island community, but the island has also shaped them. Many started new businesses, and some have succeeded, but it has not been easy. Despite being a small community, tensions between the Syrians have been persistent; imagine for a moment what would happen if you took 100 random people from this country and put them on an island in the Pacific. Nonetheless, the community remains grateful for an opportunity that seemed unthinkable at the dawn of the Syrian civil war.
Read in 1843.
Written by Malcolm Robertson, Founding Partner