My favourite album: The 2nd Law

Whenever I’m asked for my favourite anything, I always seize up because a favourite anything is so binary. It’s less clear cut for me and I can always convince myself that there are many favorites for different occasions and situations.

This is equally true for my favourite album. It’s so hard to select a single album which reigns supreme above all others. There are certainly a lot of good albums out there.

However, I think that all considered, my favourite album ever is The 2nd Law by Muse. Muse have probably been my favourite band ever since Origin of Symmetry came out. Their songwriting, production, creativity and especially their talent (as evidenced by their live performances) have rightly made them one of the biggest rock bands of the 21st century. Continue reading “My favourite album: The 2nd Law”

John Oliver – a perfect blend of journalism and comedy

John Oliver is something special. He jumped into the limelight last year with his own show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver after a brief 8-week stint guest hosting The Daily Show.

Last Week Tonight is an HBO show and as such, I’ve never seen a full episode. However, they put the main segment of each show on their YouTube channel which I look forward to watching each week. The main segment is a 15-20 minute piece looking at a topic that John wants to shine a light on. Sometimes the topics are current and other times they’re longstanding issues.

John does an excellent job of making us care about things that we’re either unaware of or that we’ve just had a tendency to accept as a society. He and his team of journalists research the topics in great depth and show just how much of a mockery they have become, both from a social and a political standpoint. He publicly highlights and humiliates politicians that pander to big business and lambasts companies that conduct themselves unethically, all while threading through a wave of comedy.

I think watching a few clips will do a much better job of highlighting the kind of show this is, why it’s such a hit and maybe cause you to take action on a few things yourself.

Sugar

Continue reading “John Oliver – a perfect blend of journalism and comedy”

Take your email privacy back

Your email archive tells a lot about you, which is why Andy Chen’s team created a new, better system from the ground up: ProtonMail

Don’t know much about Internet privacy? Think your email is private and secure?

Andy Chen’s brief TED talk explains how email works, why it’s not as secure as you think and discusses his team’s alternative: ProtonMail. Continue reading “Take your email privacy back”

Paper people

Harry Baker may well have changed my mind about poetry. I never thought it resonated with me, but his poems were really enjoyable to listen to.

I’ve never considered myself a poetry lover, but this TED talk by Harry Baker, the world poetry champion, may have changed my mind.

All three of these poems are fantastic, particularly the one about prime numbers and the one about the paper people. Thoroughly enjoyable! Continue reading “Paper people”

The mathematics of love

Hannah Fry’s talk on using mathematics to increase your ability to find a suitable mate is both educational and entertaining

One of the more engaging and humourous TED talks to come across my podcast library lately was Hannah Fry’s “The mathematics of love”.

In this talk, she uses mathematical theories to dispel some common myths around finding love and maintaining a happy, healthy relationship and gives scientifically-proven methods for increasing your chances at finding a suitable mate.

If you have ever marginally considered yourself a geek or a nerd, then this talk will entertain you and perhaps even teach you a thing or two. Continue reading “The mathematics of love”

Ricardo Semler’s take on corporate democracy

Ricardo Semler’s style of management revolutionised his company, an approach that he is translating into daily life and even education

Ricardo Semler, the former CEO of a large Brazilian company took a dramatic new approach to employment, education and living that rewards wisdom and improves work-life balance.

For example, at his company, employees do not report their vacation days and if they meet their quotas, they’re encouraged to go to the beach instead of working the rest of the week.

Dollar Shave Club epitomises the power of marketing

Dollar Shave Club made a name for themselves with their now infamous online ads, proving that marketing is probably more powerful than we’d like to admit.

Ever since I first saw Dollar Shave Club’s first ad, I was in love. Their marketing is genius. I was so in love with their ad that they really got my attention and made me wonder what their service was about, building on the introduction that they gave in the video.

Had I just seen the name “Dollar Shave Club” online, I almost certainly would have ignored it and passed on it, but DSC’s branding genius used the power of humour and social media to deliver their message.

The video above has been viewed over 18 million times and their follow-up, about their “One Wipe Charlies” has been seen nearly 3 million times and is equally representative of how powerful their brand is. Continue reading “Dollar Shave Club epitomises the power of marketing”

Stop using stop signs as default traffic control at intersections

America could benefit greatly from refraining from installing those devilish red octagons at every intersection and using yield signs instead

Stop signs. If you live in the USA, these are a very common sight. You can find them pretty much anywhere two roads cross paths. In the rest of the world, this isn’t quite the case.

They do the job, supposedly. They create a set of rules where there is no question who has the right of way at a junction. When you arrive at a stop sign, you must bring your vehicle to a complete stop and only proceed when it is safe to do so.

The trouble is that they are extremely burdensome and inefficient. They have become the default method of controlling traffic at intersections, but they’re overbearing. Continue reading “Stop using stop signs as default traffic control at intersections”

Why Brits make fun of themselves

An aspect of British humour that Americans really don’t seem to grasp is the process of making fun of yourself and others

Me and my wife have been married for 8 years now, but while she may be a bit more familiar with British English, as it’s something I expose her to every day, she has a lesser grasp on the cultural and societal differences in England, given that she’s only spent a few weeks in the UK (compared to me having lived here for 9 years).

One thing that she couldn’t quite grasp lately caught my attention. Me and my brother were having a friendly spar on Facebook where we tease each other and take the piss out of one another. Marti didn’t see it that way, thinking I was just being nasty. It’s a disconnect that I’ve noticed for a long time, especially when I consider how this bonding ritual is now all-but-absent from my life.

andy-clements Continue reading “Why Brits make fun of themselves”

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?”