Not a good look.

I remember as a kid in Edmonton walking home and looking at families in their windows and seeing them having dinner or playing together, and thinking: “Why can’t our family be like theirs?” Well, of course, I had no idea what their lives were really like. I was comparing their appearance to our reality – and coming up short, as we all do.

This was a big week for that old bugbear between appearance and reality:

  • The BBC told its reporters to look a bit more sweaty and dirty in order to appear more authentic to viewers.
  • Imposter Syndrome, “the crippling idea that people like us could not possibly triumph given what we know of ourselves,” got a new workbook.
  • Where do you call home? The citizen intelligence agency Bellingcat uses geolocating to find where Isabel dos Santos, once Africa’s richest woman, is really hiding out.


1. Worst job ever. So say many people who saw this ad for an executive assistant to a high-profile art family in New York. The New York Times ripped it, and them, apart.

2. The end of the English Major. When I was in university, the most popular major was English Lit. Now, it’s one of the least (next to Latin). This great New Yorker piece charts the decline of the humanities in American colleges. As Nathan Heller writes, “assigning “Middlemarch” in this climate is like trying to land a 747 on a small rural airstrip.”

3. Speaking Irish. The  first languages of Scotland, Wales, and Ireland are variations of Gaelic and Celtic. Each country is working to revive their dying language. So it was wondrous to behold Irish actor Paul Mescal carry on an entire interview at the BAFTAS in his home language of Irish.

Speaking of  Irish, an American man started speaking in an ‘uncontrollable Irish accent’ following news that he had prostate cancer. The British Medical Journal reported last month that ‘foreign accent syndrome’ is a real medical condition.

4. Pictures of famous photographers’ partners. This is a bit like 20 Feet From Stardom. But not as strange as pictures of dogs in bags, which is the only way to take them on the New York Subway. Then again, you can put people in boxes, which is like making the movie poster before the movie.

5. The deadliest biotoxins. From the least toxic (water), to the most (botulinum, which causes botulism). So stay away from magic mushrooms, fire salamanders, South African scorpions, paralytic shellfish, Brazilian wandering spiders, and almost all pufferfish.

6. “Something was badly wrong.” From Politico, how Washington realized Russia was going to invade Ukraine. “We didn’t want to speed up the Russian clock, incentivize Putin, or give him a pretext to make a decision he had not made.”

7. Pretty Pictures. First, the International Garden Photographer of 2023. Next, the Eurasian Blue Tit raises the roof, then raises kids. Finally, six amazing food tricks and shocking secrets of food commercials.

8. When Eleanor Roosevelt Disappeared. In August 1943, President Roosevelt’s wife Eleanor disappeared for 10 days. She ended up in the Solomon Islands, one of the most dangerous war zones in the world. There and across the Pacific, she gave countless speeches and met 400,000 soldiers.

9. Electric Snowmobiles. Bombardier, who built the world’s first snowmobile in 1935 is going to be selling electric ones soon. This is manna for those of us who prefer our winter walks not to be pierced with the roar of an engine, but it could leave snowmobilers without one of the very reasons to use them: the roar of their engines. What’s next: silent electric buzz-saws?

10. Wade Davis on psychedelics. I’m hosting the first live RamsayTalk in many months on April 19th when anthropologist and big thinker Wade Davis speaks about psychedelic journeys. Tickets here.

11. Three musical items: Canadian Bruce Liu who stunned the music world by winning  the Chopin Piano Competition in 2021, plays a honky-tonk version of Beethoven’s bagatelle Für Elise.

Next, Naatu Naatu, the Oscar-nominated song from the Indian action drama, RRR.

Finally, Jane Fonda, 85, was paid ‘a lot of money’ to appear on the arm of a 90-year-old date at the Vienna Ball. She said she needed the money to pay her bills and support her grandchildren. After the ball was over, she spoke out against the Ball’s sponsor, OMV, an Austrian oil and gas company.




Hearing Ben Macintyre in the morning, then bicycling in the hills of Greece in the afternoon, then enjoying an opera buffa dinner in a local taverna fills me with……..unspeakable anticipation.

This Fall, Jean and I are taking 14 friends to a fantastic author’s festival in Greece and we want you to join us.

Last October I took in an unforgettable literary festival on the west coast of Greece. It was small and certainly unknown to North Americans.

This year will be Year 3 of the Kardamyli Festival with authors like Ben Macintyre, Anjana Ahuja, Emma Smith, Rory Stewart, and Andrea Wulf. If it’s anything like Year 2, it will be wondrous. The authors spoke in the morning, we all went bicycling in the hills above the village in the afternoon and then enjoyed opera buffa dinners in local tavernas in the evenings.

I went with The Slow Cyclist, headed by Oli Broom, and we’ll do the same this October. Here’s the itinerary for our 8 night trip.

Oh, and a word about bicycling. We’re biking in the hills of Greece. We’re not worried about being in shape, or our aging hips and heaving hearts because we’re using electric bicycles, which make every uphill a valley, and every valley exalted.

To book your spot or for more information, contact Oli Broom at

For more information on this and other RamsayTravels adventures, click here. And, please also forward to your like-spirited friends.

Share this post

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Subscribe to my Free Weekly Omnium-Gatherum Blog:

  • Every Saturday the Omnium-Gatherum blog is delivered straight to your InBox
  • Full archive
  • Posting comments and joining the community
  • First to hear about other Ramsay events and activities

Get posts directly to your inbox

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Sign Up for Updates!

Get news from Ramsay Inc. in your inbox.

Email Lists
Email Lists(Required)