Jewish communities have suffered a spate of horrifying anti-Semitic attacks on both sides of the Atlantic. Yet survival has always been the story of the Jewish people. Remembering how previous generations responded to persecution shows how light can still be found amid darkness. Consider the life of Simon Wiesenthal (1908-2005), an Austrian Holocaust survivor who dedicated his life to tracking down Nazi war criminals. Before … Continue reading Wall Street Journal: In a Concentration Camp, Dreams of a Café
Security researcher Ophir Harpaz was browsing a travel website to book a flight when she noticed a little prompt many of us are familiar with. It said: “38 people are looking at this flight.” At first glance, this may seem to be a helpful reminder warning that the flight might sell out. Except it wasn’t so. In a tweet that has since gone viral, Harpaz … Continue reading The Times' Raconteur: What are dark patterns and how are they tricking me?
On a recent visit to the Royal Academy, I noticed a tall, elegantly dressed man who spent quite some time admiring a square object attached to the wall. I wondered whether to tell him that far from being Russian avant-garde art, which was the theme of the exhibition, it was in fact the temperature and humidity control box. Many visitors to Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932 … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: Ironies of Ideology
“Austria comes alive on my divan,” said Berta Zuckerkandl, and this was an understatement. An influential journalist and art critic, Zuckerkandl welcomed everybody from Auguste Rodin and Gustav Klimt to Arthur Schnitzler at her home. There, she promoted their work, found them buyers and introduced them to the luminaries of the day. “Hail to the most marvellous and witty woman in Vienna,” Johann Strauss is … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: Viennese rooms with a point of view
Long before either Ukraine or Russia existed, there was Kiev. For centuries, the city’s residents have been sauntering along the Dnieper River, strolling through the green hills on which the city is built and exchanging news on Krechatyk Street. The city’s architecture attests to its longevity. There’s the Byzantine Saint Sophia Cathedral, which was built in the 11th century, and has scribbles from medieval visitors … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: City where history is still being made
“Street art—you mean vandalism? No, thank you.” That was the response of a friend when I invited him to join me at the Museum of the City of New York for their recent exhibit, “City as Canvas.” His scruple was understandable but a little out-of-date. Graffiti was once something so furtive and illicit that the city of New York spent over three hundred million dollars … Continue reading First Things Magazine: Taking Art Off the Street – Museums are giving street art a home, but at what cost?
When it comes to shopping, convenience is the name of the game. Increasingly, one-click buying, contactless payments and same-day deliveries create a frictionless shopping experience. But is friction necessarily a bad thing? After all, removing friction creates a cognitive and emotional distance from our purchase. In other words, it makes handing over money feel less real. At the same time, we increasingly shop online through … Continue reading The Times' Raconteur: Exploring the dark side of frictionless shopping
What makes a genius? Since at least the 19th century, some have said it is down to genetics, while others have argued that upbringing is decisive. More recently, the idea that genius rests on sheer hard work — the “10,000 hours” thesis popularised by the writer Malcolm Gladwell — has gained currency. The latest contribution to the debate comes from the journalist and travel writer … Continue reading Financial Times: How to create a golden age
Tucked away between office buildings by Euston station is where I found the Camden People’s Theatre. It’s a little place with colourful bunting, a cheerful selection of chairs and flowery plastic tablecloths. It’s the kind of theatre where you can buy a packet of crisps in the interval, rather than wasabi peas. I went to see a talk and two plays that were part of Whose … Continue reading Times Literary Supplement: Whose London is it anyway?
I recently went to a public lecture at LSE hosted by the Forum for European Philosophy. The discussion was entitled “Does philosophy have to be obscure?” It struck me as a bit odd that both possible responses presume that philosophy is indeed obscure. If we understand “obscure” as “unclearly expressed” or “not easily understood”, so many things seem more obscure – Facebook’s terms of agreement, say, or … Continue reading Times Literary Supplement: Does philosophy have to be obscure?