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FRSA. Philosophy teacher. Writer. Worcestershire via Oxford and Baltimore.
Photo by Chronis Yan on Unsplash

It’s not too early to plan a post-Covid escape and few places combine chic and sun as well as Marrakech. Here are thirteen tips from my own time exploring Morocco’s Red City.

1. For a friendly mid-price riad in a quiet part of the city, stay at Riad Haraka. It’s hidden away in a warren of residential alleys in the northern medina. We paid around $50/night for bed and breakfast. It may feel a little spooky after dark in the surrounding streets but that’s part of the charm.


Number four in a series about wine by a recovering teetotaler (#1 Syrah/Shiraz; #2 Chardonnay; #3 Riesling).

“Black pine” grapes. Source: Wikipedia.

Pinot noir means “black pine,” referring to the tightly clustered nature of the grapes. Pinot noir grows well in cooler climates such as Burgundy; if you drink a red “burgundy” it’s probably from pinot noir or a pinot noir blend.

Pinot grapes produce lightly coloured, low tannin wines. Expect them to be lower in alcohol. Pinot noir is a difficult grape to get right, so if a bottle makes its way to market, chances are that it’s decent.

Describing Burgundy the region, Thomson…


Not being from wine country, the first vineyards I remember seeing were on the steep banks of the Rhine in Germany as a kid. It would be years until I enjoyed a teutonic wine but it was worth the wait. Grüner Veltliner — common in Austria and frequently grown with Riesling — also takes me back to one of my favourite places in the world: the green slopes of the Vienna woods. So, as a Germano-Austrophile, these central European white wines appeal to me.

Source: Pixabay

Riesling has been called a “terroir magnifier” (there must be a great German word for that)…


I teach philosophy to teenagers. Our journey through philosophical history goes something like this: Aristotle — Boethius — Aquinas — Descartes — Hume — Kant — Russell — Singer. There are others, of course, but you get the picture: it’s very European and very male.

On a basic level, this is fine. You cannot do justice to philosophy and not teach western philosophy and you cannot teach western philosophy without discussing these giants in the field. Recent events have encouraged us to widen our scope, however. Here are ten black philosophers I will be including in next year’s course. There…


There are many “Top 100 Film” lists, each with their own biases. There are lists based on popularity, lists based on critic reviews, lists based on filmmaker opinion, lists that are Hollywood-centric, lists that prefer international cinema, and so on.

This master list aggregates a selection of eight lists to produce a list of the top 100 films of all time. The advantage to such an aggregated list is that it balances out old vs. new and avoids being subject to the idiosyncrasies found in some lists. …


I take refuge in the Buddha

But which Buddha?

Down the road from where I live, an old Victorian hotel has been converted into a temple of the Amida Buddhist order. Here, the chant Namo Amida Bu (“I call out to Amida Buddha”) calls upon the mercy of Amitābha/Amida, the celestial Buddha of compassion.

Amida Buddha in the Pure Land. Source: Amida Mandala.

For those not familiar with Mahayanan iconography, Amida is often shown with the colour red (he is the Buddha of the setting sun). …


Back in 2013, Fox News’s Megyn Kelly asserted with confidence that “Jesus was white.” In response, black author Leonce Gaiter followed this belief to its logical conclusion:

Megyn Kelly said that Jesus was white. The son of God, she said, was a white man. It logically follows … that God his father was white as well.

That’s it in a nutshell — the mother lode of the white supremacy that governed this nation for most of its history, the mother lode of the white supremacy that still keeps the steeled toe of its jackboot on our throats. A white God…


Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

My attitude to Facebook is like my attitude to most things: when it’s good, it’s good, when it’s bad, it’s bad. Simple really. I’m liking the “Memories” feature at the moment and it still remains a great way to stay in touch with distant friends and family.

The thing is, when it’s bad, it’s evil. Everyone can see what it’s done to the Uncle Bobs of the world, such nice guys in person but who on Facebook spew out vomit storms of fake news and “I’m not racist but…” memes.

And then there’s stuff like the Cambridge Analytica scandal and…


To me, Chardonnay used to simply be “the wine my sister likes.” I have now joined the “chardy” train myself. This is what I have discovered.

Photo by Manuel Venturini on Unsplash

Chardonnay is too popular to be cool – so don’t offer it to your hipster mates – and suffers from a saturation of poor wines. It is for this reason that I combine the sins of wine bibbing with that of filthy lucre and buy EXPENSIVE (or at least expensive in a normal person’s sense, i.e. more than £15 but not so much that actually drinking it seems like a waste).

Chardonnay grapes have…


Animism is the belief that gods and spirits — and the anima (“breath”) that they exude— inhabit things both living and inert. Eurocentric anthropologists originally used the term negatively, believing animism to be a stage in the evolution of religion from primitive belief to more “advanced” monotheism. This view should be rejected.

I am definitely an animist. I don’t mean that as some kind of poetic characterization of my love for nature. No, I definitely believe nature — rock, animal, and tree — is animated by more than just the material sum of its parts.

My lad and Mr Oak. Worcestershire, England. Source: Ronan McLaverty-Head.

Take these hills and trees…

Ronan McLaverty-Head

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