Economic Armageddon or Business as Usual? Scottish Small Businesses Talk Independence

This article was initially published in SME Insider.

Kat Heathcote is not a nationalist. In fact, she’s not even Scottish – she’s a Labour-voting Welsh woman whose publishing business exports mainly to Singapore. But in Thursday’s referendum, she’s voting yes.

Directly, it doesn’t affect my business,” she says, “[but] a country that has 60% of Europe’s oil and 20% of the world’s fish stocks should be a wealthy and successful country.”

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Interview with Oggi Tomic, BAFTA-winning director of Finding Family

Here I am interviewing Oggi Tomic, whose film Finding Family, co-directed with Chris Leslie, won two BAFTAs and has had enormous international success. More importantly, he’s one of the loveliest people in the film industry (if not the world), with an incredible personal story.

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Gustav Metzger’s LIFT OFF! (Review)

What's On Cambridge

Pioneer of a mid-20th Century movement that centred around Auto-Creative and Auto-Destructive art, Gustav Metzger sought to find a way of integrating art with scientific and technological advances – or even to remove the artist from the process of creation altogether. Now, his site-specific sculpture-experiments have been recreated in an intriguing retrospective at Kettle’s Yard.

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The Polar Museum & Delivery by design: Stamps in Antarctica (Review)

What's On Cambridge

Recently redesigned and peppered with fascinating temporary exhibits, the Scott Polar Research Institute captures the high drama of polar exploration with an emotive urgency that makes it one of Cambridge’s most powerful cultural gems.

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Buddha’s Word: The Life of Books in Tibet and Beyond (Review)

What's On Cambridge

Li Ka Shing Gallery | Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Centuries before the Gutenberg Press revolutionised the spread of Christian and secular thought across Europe, the words of another great religious leader were being expertly printed all across South-East Asia.

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Want to Make the World a Better Place? Become a Banker

If you’ve ventured outdoors just about anywhere in Britain over the past few weeks, the chances are you’ve seen some familiar signs of the season. Hollow-eyed undergrads bulk-buying Red Bull. Cafés full of teenage girls clutching gel pens like talismans. Parks crowded with library refugees, huddled together among blankets and books. It’s that time of year again: the exams are here.

In the coming months, 350,000 UK graduates will take their first, intrepid steps into the job market. Compared with the past six years, things are looking up for the Class of 2014; many graduate jobs, killed off by the economic downturn, have been resuscitated, along with a record number of paid internships. Perhaps for the first time since the crash, bright young grads choosing a career path can afford to feel optimistic about their prospects.

But how to choose this path? For those primarily interested in money or prestige, this might be a comparatively easy question; a plethora of high-profile career-fair-botherers from the legal, accounting, financial and management consultancy sectors offer attractive packages for graduates. But for the growing number of young idealists that want to make the world a better place – or at least not to make it any worse – it’s a trickier one to answer.

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Sexual Overload: Is it Screwing with Our Heads?

In 2006, three psychologists made a startling discovery. Just being in the presence of money, or even visual cues that remind us of money, makes people more selfish and unwilling to co-operate. Even though such behaviour offered participants no actual financial gain, the connotations of capitalism and its attendant self-interest was enough to significantly alter their short-term attitudes and behaviour.

Other studies have shown similar patterns. A team at Duke University found that exposure to the Apple brand caused people to exhibit more creativity in a task than participants shown logos less closely associated with creativity. Chen-Bo Zhong and Katie Liljenquist explored the way in which the metaphorical concept of cleansing our sins to absolve ourselves can be triggered with visual cues, finding that participants were drawn towards physical cleansing products after experiencing a sense of moral shame and felt diminished guilt or obligation to others after undergoing a physical cleanse.

Merely referencing an ideology, a pattern of behaviour or an accepted metaphor embedded in language can have an astonishing effect on preferences and behaviours. And sexual language is no exception.  Continue reading →

The Kindness Contract: Has Rejecting Religion Made Us Better People?

Ariane Sherine’s article in Tuesday’s Guardian, Why I Ditched God for Good was a clear, open call to action: whether you’re an atheist or a believer of any faith, what matters most is that you are kind.

So far, so uncontroversial. But, with such a provocative title, it is perhaps unsurprising that her message was rapidly quagmired in religious debate. 819 comments were posted in the article’s first six hours online, the most incendiary of which questioned the motivations of kindness in a godless world. Continue reading →