Ben Sixsmith

In praise of the pickle

Have you taken the pickle pill? Pickles and the liquid in which they often come are proliferating across western cuisine. They have been praised for their health qualities, with gut-pleasing, sodium-rich pickle juice becoming a post-workout favourite in Britain and America. It’s even being incorporated into cocktails and beer. ‘Putting a pickle in cheap beer

Confessions of an English teacher abroad

The English teacher abroad is a generally peripatetic animal. He moves somewhere for a year or two and then gets bored, runs out of money or fathers an illegitimate child before moving along. Meet him and he has a thousand stories about Mexican border guards, Thai prostitutes and Russian oligarchs. Enjoy the conversation. He won’t

Why tech bros love fighting

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the maaaiiin event of the eeevening. In the red corner, fighting out of Boca Chica, Texas, Eeeeelon ‘the Execuuutioner’ MUUUSK! And his opponent, in the blue corner, fighting out of Palo Alto, California, Maaaark ‘The Madman’ ZUCKERBEEERG!  Sadly, we might never get the fight between Elon Musk of Twitter and

How do you screw up a movie about Hunter Biden?

Hunter Biden is a great cinematic character: the loser son of an elite career politician who bounces between semi-powerful jobs on the strengths of his contacts and his name while inhaling mountains of drugs and banging prostitutes. How can you make a bad film about that? Well, somehow the creators of My Son Hunter have

The New York subway shooter’s private hell

A common theme among America’s spree killers is a fondness for rambling online. Isla Vista shooter Elliot Rodger griped about his inability to get a girlfriend. Troy Sesler made videos about anime that grew increasingly dark before he flipped out and killed his family. Randy Stair made numerous sketches and vlogs detailing his fondness for

The Ukraine war is not a video game

In a typically baffling column in the New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman has said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine might represent ‘our first truly world war’ because, among other reasons, ‘virtually everyone on the planet can… observe the fighting at a granular level.’ This is primarily absurd because it implies that being able to

Are Bored Apes racist?

A plague of apes has spread across social media. Wherever you look, blank simian faces stare back at you. Their features? Sickening. Their prices? Equally so. The apes have brought in more than $1 billion (£750 million) in sales. Eminem, Mark Cuban and Shaquille O’Neal are just some of the famous names who own an

Jimmy Carr’s anti-vaxxer joke isn’t funny

Jimmy Carr was once the smug face of shock comedy. As a stand-up comedian, and a host of various comedy shows, he used to joke with his trademark poker face about looks, disabilities and sexual violence. The Welsh, the Scots and obese women and children were also targets. When controversy inevitably came, Carr stood his ground. He caused

Party politics has no place in the Maxwell trial

The trial of Ghislaine Maxwell has kicked off in New York and rich and powerful men across America and Europe are doubtless biting their nails and whispering to their lawyers. Ms. Maxwell is on trial on charges of sex trafficking of a minor and sex trafficking conspiracy, but others are being caught in the crossfire.

Hillary Clinton’s new thriller is a paranoid fever dream

You already know that State of Terror, Hillary Clinton’s new novel, written in collaboration with the best-selling author Louise Penny, is going to be awful. You want to why. If the novel is a corpse then let this critic be the coroner. To be fair, State of Terror offers as much literary competence as you

The faith of Tyson Fury

As soon as he had beaten Deontay Wilder last weekend, Tyson Fury gave thanks “to my Lord and savior Jesus Christ”. He said that he was going to pray for his fallen opponent. He has said that when he was recovering from depression and mental illness he “couldn’t do it on [his] own” and got down

If Trump denies the Dunns justice, he is betraying Britain

Donald Trump has consistently supported Britain’s departure from the European Union. ‘Countries want their own identity,’ the president has said, ‘and the UK wanted its own identity.’ Indeed, Trump has been such a forceful advocate of the Leave position that he has announced that he should be called ‘MR BREXIT’. Trump has assured Britons that

Gabby Petito and the pitfalls of online sleuthing

The tragic case of Gabrielle Petito attracted international interest for various reasons: the mystery of her disappearance, the double mystery of her boyfriend disappearing and, perhaps most significantly, the fact that the pair had been traveling together and documenting their journey on social media. People had an almost proprietorial interest in the case. Somehow, it

The truth about Facebook’s ‘metaverse’

Do you ever catch yourself thinking, ‘You know, I need to spend less time in the real world and more on the internet’? If so, Mark Zuckerberg has good news for you! The Facebook founder is promoting the development of the ‘metaverse’ – a virtual reality world, or virtual reality worlds, that would allow us

The strange veneration of Simone Biles’s Olympic exit

An opinion columnist should have some self-awareness in life. When your job is to sit behind a laptop droning on about politics, for example, one should be very careful before casting aspersions on the mental and physical performance of one of the most decorated Olympians of all time. Simone Biles, who transcended poverty and abuse

The two faces of Polish rebellion

The narrowness of President Andrzej Duda’s victory in this weekend’s Polish presidential elections, where he defeated Rafał Trzaskowski, the Mayor of Warsaw, by less than 2 per cent, was God’s gift to opinion commentators. What with Brexit, Trump et cetera we can write 800-1200 words about a nation being ‘divided’ and ‘polarised’ in our sleep.

America’s riots could be contagious

It’s kind of amazing. For weeks we have been arguing about the minute details of viral transmission. Can you be outside? How often can you be outside? Can you be with other people? How many? And how much distance should you keep from each other? Then masses of people gather in cities across the world

Poland is having its own ‘Dominic Cummings moment’

Kazik Staszewski, a grizzled 57-year-old, does not look like the kind of singer who would top the charts. Nor does his recent accordion-heavy song ‘Your Pain Is Better Than Mine’ sound like the kind of song that sells. Nonetheless, the song took Poland by storm, topping the Radio Three charts and racking up millions of

Russia and Poland’s war of words over the second world war

An extraordinary row between Russia and Poland over the second world war is refusing to die down and threatens to overshadow commemorations for the 75th anniversary of Auschwitz’s liberation. Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has suggested Poland is partly to blame for the war’s outbreak. Poland’s president Andrzej Duda has hit back, accusing Putin of an