Flu d’état

The great national debate that was ‘Brexit’ ended up lifting a giant rock that had been resting on our society, and to this day nobody can quite believe the kind of ugly pond life (a.k.a. “the Establishment”) that was revealed, scuttling evilly around underneath it. What ‘Brexit’ began, the rolling Coronavirus fiasco has continued. While…

Tulips !

Amsterdam, September 1637 (Ruyters): The latest Dutch tulip harvest is in, and experts confidently predict another bumper year for tulip growers and tulip investors alike. Billionaire hedge farmer Jon Paulsen is rumoured to have added hyacinths to his multi-strategy offering and has just launched a fund denominated in daffodils. Visionary entrepreneur…

Ghost Stories

M.R. James’ Casting the Runes also casts a long shadow. A short story written by one of the finest practitioners of the ghost story in English, it deals with a scientist (named Dunning in the original), investigating an occultist, Julian Karswell. Karswell’s book, The Truth of Alchemy, has been scathingly reviewed by one of Dunning’s colleagues,…

UNIDOS HACIA EL FUTURO

By the mid 1970s, film director William Friedkin was on a roll. 1971’s The French Connection bagged him an Oscar and widespread critical acclaim; 1973’s The Exorcist became the highest grossing Warner Bros film of all time. How did Friedkin follow up on all this monstrous success ? He decided to adapt Georges Arnaud’s novel The Wages of Fear (Le…

Winning the wrong game

“An investment operation is one which, upon thorough analysis, promises safety of principal and an adequate return. Operations not meeting these requirements are speculative.” Thus did Benjamin Graham, the godfather of value investing, distinguish between the ‘business’ of investing and the ‘game’ of speculation. We don’t think Graham…

Into the Twilight Zone

“Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive..” Boris Johnson’s honeymoon period as the ‘surprise’ Brexit prime minister lasted for roughly three months. It began, with hindsight ominously enough, on Friday 13th December 2019, and lasted until Imperial College released its infamous forecast on 16th March 2020, of 250,000 Britons dying of Covid-19,…

The Quick and the Dead

Charles Zelmanovits was murdered in Piteå, Sweden in 1976. Johan Asplund was murdered in Sundsvall in 1980. Marinus and Jannie Stegehuis, a Dutch couple on a camping holiday, were murdered in Appojaure, Sweden in 1984. Yenon Levi, a tourist from Israel, was murdered in Rörshyttan, Sweden in 1988. Therese Johannesen was murdered in Drammen, Norway…

Hearts of glass

In his 1992 book The End of History and the Last Man, Francis Fukuyama argued that the fall of the Berlin Wall just a few years beforehand marked the definitive end point of any rivals to ‘enlightened’ Western liberal democracy. Eight years later, Robert Shiller in his analysis of 2000 era stock markets, Irrational Exuberance, cited widespread investor…

When satire dies

“If this is the best of possible worlds, what then are the others ?” Voltaire, Candide. 2020 to date has been no laughing matter. For roughly 52% of the audience of alleged comedian Marcus Brigstocke, the years 2016 to 2020 have hardly been a laugh riot either. Unfunny woke comedian Brigstocke, long a fixture of the BBC “comedy” schedule,…

Ever Get The Feeling You’ve Been Cheated ?

“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” Philip K. Dick. In his book Sapiens, the historian Yuval Noah Harari posits the provocative theory that a crucial factor behind mankind’s evolutionary advantage over our ancient predecessors and biological competitors has been our capacity for, and appreciation…