People are either foxes, who know many things, or hedgehogs, who know one big thing. That 2,700 year-old idea comes from the Greek poet Archilochus.
He’s wrong. People are foxes and hedgehogs, especially on the weekend when our foxes emerge and when the Ramsay Writes blog isn’t about one thing, but a lot of them. Or rather, it sets up the fox in you to explore many different ideas, or burrow deep into one or two.
So here’s this weekend’s menu for the animals that drive you.
1. Keeping up with the billionaires. Last week, Forbes published its 35th annual list of billionaires. There are 2,775 of them, 660 more than in 2019, and among the newbies is Kim Kardashian. 86% of them grew richer — by $5 trillion — in the year of the pandemic than they were before. Eight of the ten richest, led by Jeff Bezos with $177 billion, are American.
Among Canadian billionaires are the Thomson Family (publishing) with $41.8 billion and ranked 33rd richest in the world, all the way down to Peter Gilgan, founder of Mattamy Homes, with $3.7 billion and ranked 807th richest person in the world.
2. Are you into pseudocide? The act of faking your own death now has its own podcast series. So if you want to know who fakes their own death and how they do it, log on to the 9-part series, Pseudocide (on Spotify).
3. 50 times architects really outdid themselves. You will know very few of these places which aren’t on most lists of the world’s most beautiful buildings. But my, they are, from image #2, the Russian Ministry of Agriculture in Kazan, to #7, the Zhongshuge Bookstore in Chengdu, to a Vancouver museum I’d never heard of, let alone seen, #46, the Museum of Coastal Geomorphology.
4. Make that 51 times. Last week, Lincoln Center announced it was advancing the construction for the New York Philharmonic’s new $550 million home, David Geffen Hall. Instead of Geffen opening in 2024, it will open a year and a half ahead of schedule, part of the program to kickstart the renewal of New York City. This is good news to the concert hall’s designers, Canada’s
Diamond Schmitt Architects, whose sneak preview of the new hall you can see in this New York Times piece.
5. Click and shoot, or quick draw? These images look like finely-tuned photos. They’re actually hyper-real drawings done with a ballpoint pen by Lagos artist, Oscar Ukonu.
6. Why are the French failing French exams in Quebec? Because of “the province’s notoriously difficult language requirements to gain permanent residency.” It seems some people who immigrate from France to Quebec, and for whom French is naturally their proud first language, fail to qualify as permanent residents here because their French isn’t up to scratch.
Last week The Guardian called out this irony, noting that Quebec has “at times taken provocative steps to preserve French as its official language. In October 2019, the government proposed banning the popular greeting “Bonjour-hi”.
7. What 29-room Newfoundland hotel is one of the top 3 in the world? Last year, the Fogo Island Inn was voted one of the world’s top 3 hotels, ahead of the Ritz-Carlton in Bali, Raffles in Istanbul and 97 others of the Top 100. This year’s competition is coming up, and if you’d like to exercise your patriotic duty as a Canadian to support our few precious gems on the world stage, I urge you to vote with your flag here.
8. The magnificent Morgan Housel. You may not know his name, but his blogs provide crystal-clarity into everything from investing to hot-dog eating. His latest, on the big lessons of the last year, is equal to all the rest, which you should think of bookmarking.
9. Serious dancing on the New York subway. To send you back out to your weekend, watch this.
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