Reflections on November 2016

by Jack Layton President-elect Donald J Trump. It’s been quite the month. Looking back on history, there is a comforting gap of temporal difference where we can safely wonder ‘how could this have happened?’. That comfort has been stripped away. But the question remains, ‘how could this have happened?’. It’s a question that’s been reverberating around my particular echo chamber all month. It’s been answered … Continue reading Reflections on November 2016

The Fabric of Urban Life

image by Christian Jonas, via Flickr (licence CC 2.0) by Jack Layton It is now cliché to open an article on cities with the obligatory reference to the fact that over 50% of the world’s population now live in cities (54% in 2015 according to the World Bank, for the UK 83%). But I raise this not to draw attention to global pressures on resources and … Continue reading The Fabric of Urban Life

Climate Change: an inconvenient idea

by Jack Layton I love climate change. More specifically, I love climate change as an idea. It is one of the greatest achievements of humankind. Not the fact that we’ve accidentally interrupted our planet’s biological and atmospheric systems, more that we were able to discover it.   Climate is inherently complex, standing in for average atmospheric conditions over long periods of time. Climate change takes … Continue reading Climate Change: an inconvenient idea

Jack’s movie review: Captain Fantastic

by Jack Layton Captain Fantastic opens with Ben (Viggo Mortensen) and his six children leading a life of intellectual and physical freedom in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest. We soon learn that the Mother has committed suicide whilst in hospital, and the family then decides to re-enter conventional society, meet with the in-laws, and come to terms with the Mother’s death. The central conflict … Continue reading Jack’s movie review: Captain Fantastic

Book review: The Lonely City by Olivia Laing

by Jack Layton Reading a book about loneliness in the city is a curious phenomenon. For me, reading is often a solitary activity; perched in a park or café, headphones in. Firmly in the city, but experiencing it on my own. However, the very practice of reading is a form of communication between reader and writer. With The Lonely City, it was clear that Laing … Continue reading Book review: The Lonely City by Olivia Laing

A Tale of Two Countries

by Jack Layton I’m writing this monthly piece at 7pm on Monday 27 th June, already this (long) weekend we’ve had enough news stories to happily keep a full time professional journalist occupied for a month. Let’s briefly recap where we’re at: – UK has voted to leave the European Union, 52% to 48% – David Cameron has resigned as Prime Minister (with new Conservative party leader to … Continue reading A Tale of Two Countries

Living in a visual culture

by Jack Layton In September of last year Instagram passed its 400 million user mark[i], racing past twitter for daily users. Whilst within Twitter, it’s well known that tweets with videos or embedded photos do far better than those that are singularly text based. The way we communicate is becoming more visual. This can be seen in any number of trends from the social media … Continue reading Living in a visual culture

The EU Referendum: The challenge of democracy

image: freeimages.com/Pascal Thauvin by Jack Layton The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter – Winston Churchill   On 23rd June Britain will go to the ballot box to decide whether or not we should leave the European Union. A moment of direct democracy worthy of the legacy that harks back to the public forums of ancient Greece. Come 24th … Continue reading The EU Referendum: The challenge of democracy

Political change, is there victory in failure?

image used with kind permission from Leyla Williams by Jack Layton On 25th January 2016, 150 students from University College London declared that they were going on rent strike. It was a bold statement of direct action sending a clear message to UCL management that the current state of student housing was not acceptable. The accommodation was too expensive and in poor condition. It was … Continue reading Political change, is there victory in failure?