The culture of tipping

I’ve been here in the States for 9 years now, but the culture of tipping is so backwards. It’s the employer’s responsibility to pay their staff, not the customer’s.

As a Brit, the culture of “tipping” was something rather foreign to me when I moved to the States. In the UK, it’s not very common to tip anyone. Your waitress might get a few quid if she’s done a particularly decent job, but it’s by no means required or expected and would be quite small in comparison to what is the norm in the States. And you’d certainly never rarely tip your barman, barista or taxi driver.

It’s taken me a few years to get used to and accept the culture of tipping, but that doesn’t mean that I agree with it.

Now, waiters and waitresses (and other workers highly reliant on tips): don’t lynch me yet.

I recognise that a large portion of your salary comes from tips. I am by no means saying that you’re not worthy of a decent income. I’m merely saying that I don’t agree that the majority of your income should come from tips. Continue reading “The culture of tipping”

The state of Christianity illustrated by the treatment of Rob Bell

Rob Bell has been a hero of mine for many years, so it saddens me to see how Christians have vilified him for exploring his own faith and asking questions about the tenets of Christianity

I’ve never much understood the vilification of Rob Bell. One of Christianity’s “superstars” of the new millennium, he was quickly tossed aside after questioning the idea of Hell and whether what we’ve come to be taught is actually true.

The sad truth is that, most ironically, the bulk of this vilification is from those who call themselves Christians; you know, the religion that models itself on the life and teachings of Christ, namely love. Continue reading “The state of Christianity illustrated by the treatment of Rob Bell”

“What a beautiful boy! Sorry… girl!”

It has always baffled me how people get so offended when they incorrectly identify the sex of a baby.

Until puberty, the two sexes are quite similar and boys can easily look like girls and vice versa. The only main distinction that we have as the children grow is the way they style their hair and the way they dress because of our cultural norms.

With babies not having (much) hair to style and short of wearing pink or blue all day every day, it is quite conceivable to mix up boys and girls.

So parents, chill out: it is not offensive, nor a slight on your child’s appearance – just a biological fact that there is not much to distinguish them until puberty hits and their bodies start morphing into the adults that they will become. Just a simply-stated correction will suffice.

The lunacy of trying to end encryption in the UK

David Cameron’s proposals to make end-to-end encryption illegal in the UK is both insane and worrying for the British people and economy

Yesterday, David Cameron gave a speech aimed at improving national security in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks last week in Paris.

In doing so, he indicated that he intends to put a stop of end-to-end encryption, at least for messaging services.

This is lunacy.

Encryption is the technology that ensures that my information is kept secure and can only be read by the intended recipient. This includes my bank details when looking at my bank account, credit card details when shopping online, social security numbers, driver’s license details and any number of less-sensitive but not-publicly-appropriate data. Continue reading “The lunacy of trying to end encryption in the UK”

Slower traffic keep right

If there’s one thing that quite irritates me on the road, it’s people not keeping right (or left in the UK) when they’re not overtaking.

In the vast majority of states, it is the law to keep right unless you are overtaking and this is far from the norm on the roadways as many of you are probably already aware.

It makes the roads so much slower than they need to be. By keeping slower traffic right and faster traffic left, traffic moves much smoother and causes less road rage in people being held up by those not obeying the law. Continue reading “Slower traffic keep right”

Travelling with young children

Everyone hates dealing with screaming children on a plane, so don’t make matters worse by venting your frustration to the parents

I was once the guy that rolled my eyes whenever I saw a young child waiting at the gate for the same flight that I was in. I also let out a further moan when I found out said child was sitting within 20 seats of me.

More recently, I knew I was going to be on the other end of the stick for our Christmas trip to England as I would be subjecting 240 people to the unpredictable nature of my 18-month daughter for 9 hours.

I fully expected karma to bite me in the arse and sure enough it did. Being that flights to Europe from the States take off in the evening, fly overnight and arrive in the morning, this was the worst possible scenario for us, since Ellie had been up all day (with her usual naps), but then was boarding the plane when she’d usually be going to bed. Between taking off, 2-3 hours of drinks and dinner, unfamiliar surroundings and bassinets/seats that were too small for Ellie, she was not going to sleep, and so, we were the ones with the unhappy and occasionally very vocal infant. Continue reading “Travelling with young children”

Giving gifts in 2014

Me and my family are scaling back on gifts, given the frenzy that Christmas has become and the fact that we already have everything we need or want

I think I’ve finally got there. I’m Scrooge.

Maybe not. I think I’m just equally as disillusioned as everyone else is about gift-giving these days.

Christmas has lost the magic and wonder that it once had and it’s instead been replaced with high expectations from your children and peers of what they expect Santa to deliver on Christmas morning (don’t you remember when you had no idea what Santa would bring?).

This has obviously been going on for a long time, and some people my age may have been the same way when they were young as kids are today. And the parents don’t help matters, giving in to the onward march of capitalism into every avenue of their lives.

I have been ever more skeptical of capitalism after watching the creep of “Black Friday” move into Thanksgiving Day to the point where families are now not having dinner together, because they’re out fighting over a TV at Walmart. Continue reading “Giving gifts in 2014”

Who’s my doctor?

People are unsurprisingly distrustful of their own doctors because of their conflicts of interest. Who’s My Doctor aims to end that disconnect by inviting doctors to openly disclose their financial sources and philosophies on healthcare practice.

It’s inherently hard to trust doctors in America. In the land of the free, healthcare is privatised and opened up to the free market, which brings with it the ugliness of capitalism. I’m by no means anti-capitalist: it does a lot of good and has even enabled me to start and run my own business. However, my health is one of the few things that I do not want subject to the many faces of capitalism.

In case you weren’t aware, I hail from the wonderful rolling hills of England. I am proud to be British, but don’t shove it in other people’s faces (a la “America is the best country in the world”). The British way is still very ingrained in British culture and the way we do things, regardless of the influence that America has had on our society.

One of the vastly different ways that things are done in the UK is healthcare. Established in 1948, The National Health Service (NHS) brought freely accessible healthcare to all, regardless of one’s ability to pay. Funded by taxes, the NHS is still almost universally where all Britons’ healthcare is conducted, unless you happen to be quite rich and decide to opt for private healthcare. Continue reading “Who’s my doctor?”

Olympic-sized swimming pools

Since when did an Olympic-sized swimming pool become a standard unit of measure? Whenever journalists are talking about large volumes, they will invariably resort to referring to how many Olympic-sized swimming pools said volume would fill, as if that’s some sort of frame of reference for us, you know, after you bought an Olympic-sized swimming pool of rice, because it was on sale…

Add to this list of peculiar measures:

  • Football fields
  • Double-decker buses
  • Wembley Stadiums
  • Central Parks

What other “units of measurement” irk you that you’d be happy to see banished?