Author: Theo Zenou

From Roosevelt to Trump: The Presidential Smile

Sometimes the little things are really the biggest. It may come off as a paradox, but nowhere is this truer than in that palace of power, the White House. When it comes to American Presidents, kinks and quirks can reveal more about the kind of leaders they are than heavy biographies and dusty archives. Scrutinising a President’s demeanour and bearing — with a keen eye and a perceptive mind — helps shine a glaring light on the virtues or failings of his character. As the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, once remarked, “Character is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike.” And what better marker of character is there than a smile? Smiling is a deceivingly simple act, perhaps even ubiquitous, yet it’s a highly expressive display of emotion. It’s immediately recognisable as a universal form of non-verbal communication, no matter the status or background of the recipient. So much so we don’t think when we see someone smile… we just feel. A smile is as much interpreted by the unconscious as it is produced …

Political Animals: The Limits of Labels and Why We Must Overcome Them

Labels suck. Conservative, liberal, progressive, libertarian, green. These words have come to mean nothing about the folk that embody them. In our era of career politicians, it would be like saying a quarterback drafted by the Oakland Raiders is irresistibly  —  unequivocally  —  a “Raider” in his style of play. He’s not; he’s just a guy throwing a ball whilst wearing their black jersey. Career parliamentarians and mercenary ministers, of any party, will seldom follow a direction other than that of the prevailing wind or party line. Politics is no longer a calling… it’s a profession of nearly interchangeable briefs. Like a private corporation, the political system favours short-term gain and thrives on pigeon-holed “expertise.” It’s dictated by self-preservation instead of accountability, pettiness rather than vision, surrender over character. None of this should  —  nor will  —  come as Breaking News. It’s implicit, common sense knowledge. The corporate takeover of the body politic, analogous to the 21st century, does not extend simply to omnipotent lobbies and entrenched monopoly interests; it contaminates our very perception of …