Author Archives: Duncan Black

May 16

12 Reasons Why Investment Writing is NOTHING LIKE Game of Thrones

If you’ve even glanced at a financial-news site during the past month, you’ll be well aware that Game of Thrones, HBO’s turbo-sadistic version of Downton Abbey, is back on our screens – every episode generates a startling amount of internet coverage. And that’s not all: these stories are flanked by sidebar and footer links with […]

March 13

The Invention of Mother’s Day

This Sunday is Mother’s Day in the UK (not in the US, but we’ll get to that). And for punctuation pedants, this holiday comes with a built-in struggle to deploy a possessive apostrophe correctly. Mother’s Day? (Hmm, sounds right.) Mothers’ Day? (Also sounds right.) Mothers Day? (Definitely not.) So which is it? Does anyone care? […]

November 05

Guys and Dolls

Remember, remember, the Fifth of November / Gunpowder, treason and plot… Yes, it’s time for that most peculiar of British rituals: Guy Fawkes’ Night. Should you find yourself having to explain this celebration to someone from outside the UK – while they look at you as if you’re bonkers – here’s a handy primer. The […]

October 03

“One of these days, I’m gonna get organiz-ized…”

So said Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver, during an excruciating attempt to sustain an onscreen conversation. But discomfort surrounding the word ‘organized’ isn’t limited to an awkward date with social activist Travis Bickle. In fact, it’s an example of a long-running misconception about British versus American English. A common complaint of wannabe pedants is that […]

August 29

Essential Reading for the Corporate Warrior

In corporate language, everyone loves a war metaphor. There’s nothing like a heroic narrative, comparing physically unthreatening office work with historical military campaigns, whether those of generals like Hannibal of Carthage, Alexander the Great or George ‘Blood & Guts’ Patton. But the idea of the ‘warrior philosopher’ appeals even more – those who’ve not only […]

May 22

Frankenstein’s Lab: Hard-time currencies

Economics abhors a vacuum. As exemplified by the Prohibition-era US of the 1920s, the forbidding of goods creates a sellers’ market – and most goods are prohibited in prison. According to a 2014 report by the US National Research Council, the country accounts for a quarter of the world’s prisoners. Unsurprisingly, a large proportion of […]

February 01

First World Problems

Like a lot of people, I thought that the first world was an economic classification. First being the most developed, therefore richest, and so on down the scale to the third world. Nope – it turns out that compiling the guest list for a world party is more complicated than that. There’s a surprising absence of official agreement about the […]