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Showing posts from November, 2016

Demonetisation in India

On the 8th of November, apropos of seemingly nothing, Indian PM Narendra Modi went on television and gave a live address, announcing that 500 and 1000 rupee notes would no longer be legal tender in India. This decision, he said, would be effective as of less than four hours later.
Needless to say, this isn't how this kind of transition is usually made. The UK is currently phasing out the old five pound note, over a period of eight months. Old Australian notes get withdrawn from circulation, but are all still legal tender. So it's pretty remarkable in its own right that the rupee 'demonetisation' is happening so suddenly. But that actually underplays the significance of Modi's move, which would be much less disruptive in the UK than it is in India. I've been half-following this story for the two and a half weeks since it started, and found it very difficult to understand why this was happening or what its consequences were. Yesterday I went to this panel in an …

The power of crayons: children's art, war, and politics

I have an article out this week in Lighthouse, an Oxford student magazine. You should grab a copy of the magazine, if you can; it's not available online yet. You can read my piece here. It's part of a symposium on the arts in international relations, and reflects on what children's art from zones of war and crisis can tell us about those disasters and about ourselves.

Did Trump matter?

At long last, you say, another blog piece about the aftermath of the election! I have consciously been dialling back the amount of coverage, particularly opinion pieces, that I consume, but I've still read way too much and become submerged in the internecine arguments everyone's been having for the last two weeks. I'm not going to reiterate stuff that I and probably you have read in a dozen other places, so this is going to be relatively short, but I have three thoughts.

Election night

A retrospective diary.


Tuesday, 9.20pm. I'm going to London, to watch with a friend I haven't seen for a while. Standing in the rain at the bus stop, I consider tweeting about whether the wretched weather is an omen. Not a good enough joke, I decide. It rains all the time. It has to be a good joke, because I don't believe it: she's going to win. We all know this.

Some other jokes are good enough. The bus diverts, and the driver's phone reads directions to him from Google Maps. Omen! The tube is delayed at a station, and the announcement admits to not knowing why. Omen! The joke is that it's ridiculous; as ridiculous as counting Halloween masks or yard signs. In a few hours people will be saying that Bill Mitchell - mask-counter-in-chief - has had a good night.

I get here about midnight, and Indiana and Kentucky have just been called for Trump. Not very exciting. None of us really know what's happening, because CNN doesn't really try to explain, but we know…