How our attitude to meat will change in the 21st century

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Knowing how much Americans love kings and the French, Herbert Hoover looked to Henri IV for inspiration in his 1928 campaign to become president. A chicken for every pot was his promise. And though the electorate would soon revile him as one of the worst presidents in American history, he did go on to be president.

When Henri wanted to signal a change from the religious conflicts that had plagued his predecessors, he promised that every peasant would have meat for their Sunday dinner. His relatively peaceful two-decade reign and policies that benefited the everyday person made him one of France’s most loved kings. Bridging the 16th and 17th centuries, Henri bribed nobles instead of battling them, bringing peace to his war-wracked kingdom. The early revolutionaries of 1789 saw Henri as a model king for their desired constitutional monarchy. …


Why talking about the war on coronavirus is causing harm

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Photo by Tai's Captures on Unsplash

Metaphor is not merely a tool reserved for poets. It soaks our language from our everyday conversation to the most high-flying rhetoric. We understand the world through metaphors. It helps lend physicality and understanding to abstract concepts. George Lakoff, in Metaphors We Live By, even says that our entire conceptual model of reality is metaphorical. Metaphors are powerful. We need to use them to come to a better understanding of our world.

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted many commentators, journalists and politicians to liken it to a war. It is a battle against an invisible enemy. It requires sacrifice and bravery to overcome. It is an easy and, at first sight, apt metaphor to employ. The response to coronavirus requires a collective effort and will, a coming together of the whole community in a single-minded focus, and a suspension of normality that does resemble nations during wartime. It creates heroes and famous battles that inspire stiff upper lips and helps us shoulder the burden of onerous measures. …


The pencil can be mightier than the pen

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Photo by Miles Burke on Unsplash

Writing tools exist in a hierarchy of prestige. Their place in executive offices, at high-profile public signings and as gifts that mark the stages of life make the fountain pen king. Below it come ballpoints and rollerballs, gel pens and biros. The pencil, humble and basic, looks down only on crayons — if those can even be called writing tools. The pencil is the first writing tool we use and the first abandoned. We graduate from tracing specimen letters and rubbing out our first wobbly attempts in trails of graphite early. Our scrawls, early efforts at cursive, are replaced by more masterful strokes drawn in ink. We go from the grey of our first pencils to the blue ink of the schoolroom before we are urged to match the seriousness of the adult world in sombre black. This progression has us leave behind an evocative and tactile tool. …


The story behind Luckin Coffee’s $310m fraud

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Photo by Jakub Dziubak on Unsplash

The world’s attention is fixed on coronavirus. That’s why you might have missed the news that a Chinese start-up admitted to an over $300m fraud. It’s a good time to bury bad news, but not so for Luckin Coffee. The markets took notice and hammered China’s largest coffee shop chain. Its share price has plummeted, from over $50 in mid-January to less than $5 today. That 95% drop wasn’t the end though. Its chairman was forced to default on a $500m loan and shareholders have organised and are suing the company. It is a fall from grace for a darling of the Chinese start-up scene akin to that of WeWork’s. …


And why it should be slow

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Photo by Mike Tinnion on Unsplash

Simple questions sometimes have simple answers. But it is rare. A child’s questioning can reveal complex gears at work beneath a seemingly simple surface. Simple questions often have many answers too. Answers vary not just based on who you ask, but when you ask someone and where.

The earliest writers lived in Sumer. They spoke a long-dead language. We can still hear their voices though. What they were saying, at first, was not particularly interesting. If asked why they wrote they would probably have said that writing is permanent. Across gaps of space and time, hundreds of miles, thousands of years, we can still read their land deeds and inventories. There’s are stories built of lists and legal contracts. …


Food delivery couriers for rival firms are seen everywhere on the UK’s streets

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Photo by Robert Anasch on Unsplash

The list of food wars in the UK is long and slightly mind boggling. You had the Ice Cream Wars, where Glaswegian drug-slinging ice cream van drivers fought a turf war across the Scottish city. There were the Cod Wars fought between Icelandic and UK fishermen. One person was killed, another injured and countless fish lost their lives in this conflict. There was the Bean War, when a shop ended up selling a tin of beans for minus 2 pence in a race to cut prices and attract shoppers.

Another food war is heating up in the United Kingdom. This time it isn’t centred on one type or meal. Instead, it is fought over who gets to deliver Britons their food. It is a three-way fight, with a native British start-up, an old dotcom style business, and a massive foreign invader. The stakes? Cornering a market that is already worth over £10bn already. …


And does it matter there aren’t that many?

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Smartphones make our lives easier. The whole world is shown to us and mediate through the shiny screens that nearly all of us carry around. Ordering a taxi, discovering new music, staying in touch with friends or colleagues, and booking your next holiday is done quickly with a few taps. And a lot of money has been made making life easier.

The companies behind these technologies have become massive. They have grown from small start-up teams with only a good idea to private firms worth over $1bn. These are the unicorns. …


The biggest IPO in history is coming. What will it be worth?

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Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

At the beginning of 2019, total global wealth was $317trn. Add up all the money, all the property, anything of any value whatsoever in the world and it would come out to $317trn. That’s the going rate for one (1) planet Earth, slightly used.

By the end of this year, Saudi Aramco, the state oil company of Saudi Arabia, will trade publicly. Not all of it, as many as 5% of all its shares will be able to be bought and sold on the Riyadh stock exchange. Valuations for the company are all over the place. These differences of opinions come out hundreds of billions of dollars. …


Founders get to eat their cake and keep it, even after their companies go public. And that’s causing long-term damage to investors.

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Photo by Yang Jing on Unsplash

It is a theme of recent high-profile, tech IPOs that founders keep control of their company through the use of share classes even after they go public. The list of companies that have floated with privileged voting power for their founders is long. Facebook, Snap and Lyft all went public with their founders still retaining control. Is this practice fair?

A multiple share class structure splits shares into different classes. A Class A share, for example, might have the voting power of 10 ordinary, or Class B, shares.

Though the financial benefit for owning a share remains the same, voting power is not. Though, in a futile attempt at better branding, it is often only Class A shares that regular folk can buy. …


With an IPO planned will Airbnb suffer the same poor fate as recent tech company debuts?

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Tech IPOs have been taking a battering. Recently, WeWork delayed their public offering because everyone found out that their business is just a very efficient way of turning two dollars into one. Not something the markets want to go for in other words.

The list of big tech firms that have fallen below their IPO price is long. Slack, Lyft and Uber are some of the biggest names that appear on it.

Has Wall Street finally caught on to the pump and dump schemes of Silicon Valley venture capitalists? They hype up a company as the next big thing. Force feed them massive amount of cash, let them light it on fire and then grow, grow, grow. Profits, they promise, will come. …

About

Fergus McKeown

Obsessed with the colliding worlds of culture and technology.

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