Why the illusion of rarity and perfection became the symbol of love and romance

The Diamond Loupe, Ivory Coast Diamond Mining

Love is a rare thing, a diamond is a rare thing — it’s the perfect match. But what if diamonds were in fact not rare at all? Would this make love less special? After all, the perfect diamond is a promise of the perfect relationship.

According to Jaya Saxena in her excellent book Crystal Clear: Reflections on Extraordinary Talismans for Everyday Life (2020) only about 20 per cent of mined diamonds are of gemstone quality. The vast majority of them have visible “flaws” or discolorations and altered to create a sellable end product.

Up until the 18th Century, India was…


The vital importance of touch in life

Rod Long (Unsplash)

Do you think what I’m askings too much?
I just want something to hold on to
And a little of that human touch
Just a little of that human touch

Bruce Springsteen, Human Touch

The ongoing pandemic has heightened the disparities between rich and poor through the widening chasm of inequality that has been laid bare across the globe. …


Memento mori: remember that you must die

(Photo credit to Luke Southern, Unsplash)

There is only one guarantee in life — that one day it will come to an end. The ongoing pandemic has recently brought death far more prominently into the public consciousness as our mortality is often contemplated in a time of such uncertainty. However, the fact remains, death isn’t a topic that readily and frequently enters wider discourse under normal circumstances.

As Bethan Bell of the BBC details, the norm is to keep thoughts of death hidden away through a deliberate suppression of outward displays of grief in a bid to conform to social etiquette. Death is only acknowledged when…


A parting gift of violence from Donald Trump

Tumblr fan art

“This American carnage stops right here and stops right now."

Donald Trump, January 2017

It seems that chaos appears with a sense of irony.

Rebellion. Insurrection. Lawlessness.

These are not words that one would normally associate with America.

As the scenes unfolded at Capitol Hill the entire fabric of a nation unraveled on live television. The saddest aspect of today's events was their inevitability. There is zero doubt that this violence was incited by Trump.

Lies and misinformation created the false hope that today Trump may have miraculously overturned his election defeat, that Mike Pence held a magic wand and…


How the Spanish Flu became the worst pandemic ever witnessed

The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 is said to have infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide — about one-third of the planet’s population — and led to the death of up to 50 million people. It is still the deadliest pandemic in history.

Although the Spanish Flu did not originate in Spain widespread news coverage of the pandemic was broadcast from Spain due to its neutrality in the First World War. …


The laughably petulant actions of a spoilt brat that has lost their favourite toy continue, but Trump has done more than just disgrace himself. The repercussions of his non-existent humility and childish irresponsibility have brought the legitimacy of the democratic process into question once again.

The ongoing, groundless accusations of corruption have discredited the entire democratic model and tainted it with suspicion and mistrust. …


How COVID19 may save the species

Most people had never heard of pangolins before 2020, how a year changes things. Although their link to the spread of Covid-19 is still tenuous the fact remains that pangolins have been propelled to the forefront of our public interest in the most unusual way.

Pangolins look like otherworldly creatures from some bygone era and even among fellow mammals they appear completely out of place. Their bodies are almost completely covered by protective keratin scales making them resemble something that would look perfectly suited to prehistoric times. …


The mystery of the great footballer who defied the Nazis

Matthias Sindelar (Google Images)

To say that Matthias Sindelar is not universally well known would be an understatement. He played for FK Austria Vienna and the Austrian national team throughout the 1920s and 1930s.

His obscurity is even more perplexing given the fact that he was compared to Pele and many other football legends of the era. He was even once known at the time as “The Mozart of football” or Der Papierene (“The Paper Man”) for his speed and ability to seemingly float on the pitch.

Yet in a country not renowned for…


Monopoly and POW’s in the Second World War

Monopoly is not something immediately associated with the Second World War. However, this hugely popular household board game proved to be an invaluable tool in ensuring the freedom of imprisoned Allied pilots. It seems that ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ took on a literal meaning years ago.

Allied soldiers imprisoned in German POW camps were allowed to receive gifts under the Geneva Convention and, in particular, boardgames soared in popularity as they were permitted, along with packages from aid agencies that continued to operate in times of war. …


Scholars and researchers agree on the year that was worse than any other

Photo by Cherry Laithang on Unsplash

2020 has already been immortalised. It is a year that nobody will forget. However, when speaking of the worst year recorded in human history there are many to choose from:

The year 1349 saw the Black Death kill half the population of Europe.

In 1520 smallpox ravaged the Americas and killed between 60 and 90 per cent of the continents’ original inhabitants.

In 1918 the Spanish Flu led to the deaths of over 50 million people.

The rise of Hitler in 1933 is often claimed to be the turning point in modern history.

However, historians are unanimous in their choice…

Saamir Ansari

Londoner, would love to escape to Walden Pond permanently

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