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Written by Kevin Pringle, partner
12 December 2020
With attention fixed on the UK’s relationship with Europe this weekend, Read on the Street takes a broadly international focus, looking above and beyond our present situation.
Whatever happens to the future of this planet depends on decisions taken now, and the only thing we know for sure is that that law of unintended consequences will never be repealed. History is littered with examples of things that nobody actually wanted: they happened because that’s where a sequence of bad decisions and the chain of events ended up.
In 1914, the German Kaiser didn’t want to be exiled and his empire dismantled. Russia’s Tsar didn’t want his family to be murdered and the country transformed into a Soviet state. But that’s where their decisions for war took them.
Far less dramatically, nobody in any position of authority wants no trade deal between the UK and EU, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen, or almost happen.
Quality decision making matters – at all times, in all circumstances, and everywhere in the world.
1. The year of imaginative travel
Covid-19 and 2020 got me hooked on travel documentaries. Through the window of my laptop screen, I have travelled to Lisbon, New York, Singapore, Cape Town and countless other bucket-list destinations.
Indeed, research conducted by the University of Central Lancashire reveals that nearly a third of the respondents tried webcam-travel for the first time during lockdown, with 83% reporting increased feelings of positivity after the experience.
This makes sense. During a time when our freedom of movement continues to be curtailed due to the pandemic, imaginative travel offers a feeling of control over our movement – a refuge against the challenges and frustrations associated with lockdown, if you will.
Read in The Conversation.
2. Reading as an act of resistance
Bookshops have always attracted me as a space offering protection and shelter from everyday convention. But for many readers, bookshops mean much more than that – even a space to nurture quiet resistance.
This insightful read from the FT takes us from Hong Kong through Tel Aviv to Johannesburg, to show how even in the toughest circumstances such as lockdown restrictions and limited free speech, booksellers continue to provide readers with a much-need platform for self-expression.
Read in Financial Times.
3. Museums’ new muse
If you had to collect a single artefact representative of this Covid-19 pandemic, what would it be? Personal protective equipment, makeshift ventilators, recordings of Zoom calls or discarded masks; the list is long.
Around the world, museums have sought to find new ways to communicate and curate. In Texas, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum acquired a hair-raising essay written by an eighty-one-year-old man onwhat it felt like to catch the coronavirus on a carnival cruise ship, in January, and nearly die. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights has asked visitors to identify “acts of kindness” that have lifted their spirits and to record them in online videos.
Read in New Yorker.
4. Co-existing with nature
Eerie photos of deserted cities during lockdown have frequently appeared in the media this year. French photographer Jonathan Jimenez beautifully seized the moment by taking pictures of abandoned spaces reclaimed by nature, in a project that won the 2020 Earth Photo competition. These images of a ghastly world offer hope that is also a warning: whatever happens, life finds a way (and it may not be us!)
View on BBC.
5. Europe’s runaway IPOs
This week has been chock-a-block with big, juicy US IPOs: first Doordash, and then Airbnb. But why does Europe not attract these big fish in the same way? Yes, it is common for European tech companies to IPO close to home, but the most valuable overwhelmingly flock to the States. John Detrixhe examines why.
Read in Quartz.
6. After globalisation
Michael O’Sullivan has been one of our closest watched economists this year, having joined us in the summer to discuss his book The Levelling. Now, this short Ted Talk neatly sums up his argument that Covid-19 has closed the door on an era of globalisation, and describes what policy models are on offer.
Watch on Ted.
Many countries and companies would love to mine the Moon, and it could happen as soon as this decade. This fascinating piece explains how such a moonshot could pose problems here on Earth, if we don’t start thinking now about how to manage it.
Read in The Conversation.