New Post on Substack

I’ve moved CS&W to Substack. Here’s an article I’ve just posted this morning, with some fine weekend reading suggestions and a photo quiz. Almost all content remains free, all the time. Please join me on Substack and get yourself a subscription. Just click this.

New Post on Substack

I’ve just posted “What Now?“, predictions for 2023, an article that would have been here before, on my new home on Substack. Please click right here and subscribe so you won’t miss any new content as Common Sense and Whiskey continues as before, except with a new address. You can get content delivered three ways: by email, on the Substack app or as before, on the web. Come with me!

Come With Me

After a decade at WordPress it’s time to move along. Please come with me. Click through here to see what’s up at my new home.

Never fear though, I’ll maintain this site for now for its use as an archive. Thank you very much everybody for your continued support.


Folks, I have some news: Common Sense and Whiskey is moving to Substack.

CS&W started online in 2011 as accompaniment to my books Common Sense and Whiskey (2011), then Visiting Chernobyl (2013), Out in the Cold (2017) and Out There (2021). It began as a blog on Typepad, then moved here to WordPress, and now it will bloom as a new and improved newsletter on Substack. It’s a natural progression. Substack has most of the WordPress utility with some newer features, plus all the trendy buzz.

I’m going to leave all the content here at in place, at least for now, because it comprises a big hunk of my reporting, for at least the past decade, and will thus serve as a handy archive for when you want to quickly look up Sikkim or Botswana, say, or somewhere else.

I’ll be starting on Substack shortly. Generally I’ll post two or three times a week, like this:

Tuesday, a travel essay.

Friday or Saturday, a weekly survey of what happened in the world this week and whatever else caught my eye.

At random from time to time, I’ll post ‘where in the world’ photo quizzes & links to recommended reading.

Just about all of the content on the new Common Sense and Whiskey on Substack will be free. Substack allows you to subscribe though, so if you like what you’re reading, please consider yourself a patron of a good cause by subscribing at five dollars a month, or at whatever level feels right for you. 

I’ll bump links between here and there (between WordPress and Substack) for a while, but please, if you’re with me, point yourself to and bookmark it. I will continue to offer just about everything for free, but you will always be welcome to contribute if you feel that what you’re getting is worthwhile.

As ever, thank you for being with me for all these years. Common Sense and Whiskey isn’t going away. It’s just getting a change of address. CS&W on Substack is a one year experiment. Please join me there. Set a bookmark here:

See you there soon!

State of Collapse

When the dockyards in Beirut shook in that terrible explosion in August of 2020, I wrote,

“There may not be enough willing partners in the world to make Beirut whole. Could Beirut turn out to be the first human-caused, post-apocalyptic scorched hole in the earth? Might it just be abandoned as beyond repair by those who can – like much of the governing class? What of those left behind?”

Sixteen months later, how’s it going? Monocle reports:

“The value of the Lebanese pound has plummeted from 1,500 to the US dollar to 24,000. Many residents with the option to flee abroad have done so; almost 40 per cent of the country’s doctors have left. The medical system has disintegrated, with basic life-saving medicines scarce. Those left behind have had to live with as little as an hour of mains power a day (pictured) and the rocketing price of petrol, when it’s available, has made transport a luxury reserved for the wealthy. The UN estimates that by January, 80 per cent of the population will be living in abject poverty and facing severe food insecurity.”

Read the rest of the Monocle article. Photo credit: New York Times

Two Questions for You

With all those Russian troops menacing Ukraine’s eastern border, this morning I’ve changed our header banner to a photo from Kyiv. Just a little solidarity with the brave folks who have twice in the past twenty years taken to their streets to drive that looming Russian Red once and for all from their borders. 

The questions: A reader has asked for a CS&W newsletter. I’m not sure the world needs another newsletter but I’d like to get your thoughts. So the first question(s): Would you like to see a monthly Common Sense and Whiskey newsletter in your inbox? What topics should it cover? And would it be worth a dollar or two a month to you? Please leave a comment or if you’d like to engage a little more personally, send a note to billmurraywriter (at)

Second question: The world is about to wrap up two frustrating years in which trying to get out on the road has ranged from downright frightening to impossible. So why not encourage a little armchair travel by giving a travel book as your holiday gift? I have four suggestions: Out There, Out in the Cold, Visiting Chernobyl and Common Sense and Whiskey. These links go to the US Amazon, but all four books are available from your country’s Amazon too.

Thanks for reading CS&W, and happy holidays.