Sleep is your superpower

We’ve long heard that not getting enough sleep is not good for you, but you might be hard-pressed to say why. You might be able to conjure up something about not performing very well cognitively the following day, but the reality is far more grave.

It is not a stretch to say that sleep is central to everything regarding our long-term health. After listening to a recent TED talk by Matt Walker, a sleep scientist, it became very apparent just how much we’re jeopardising our health by missing out on sleep.

We need to rethink addictions

For the last century, the world, led by the US and the UK, have treated addictions as criminal acts that need to be punished. But it’s time to stop and consider whether that makes sense and whether that’s right and appropriate.

If you watch the TED talk below, you’ll come to find out that a much more powerful way to overcome addictions is to engage addicts and give them purpose.

From Just In Time, to Just In Case

Margarent Heffernan gave a great TED talk about how companies and individuals have trended towards automation and efficiency, which to a large extent is a good thing. However, this can unravel quickly when the unexpected happens.

Margaret talks about how forward-thinking companies and agencies are now moving more towards a “just in case” model of management instead of “just in time” where everything is so planned out, that everything is exactly where it needs to be at just the right time. The theory behind “just in case” is that the unexpected will happen and when it does, the consequences can be devastating, unless you’re prepared to handle perfectly plausible situations even if they would be unexpected.

Elon Musk’s visions for the future

I see and read a lot about Elon Musk, between his appearances in the news and the technology and engineering articles that I tend to gravitate towards, but I don’t recall having ever seen an interview with him.

My love of Wait But Why has given me a very thorough run-down of Elon’s projects over the last few years between Tesla, Hyperloop, SpaceX and more recently Neuralink, and it has always been clear from the sheer scale of his vision that he’s a brilliant mind that is thinking decades ahead of us. However, reading about him and his projects doesn’t make you appreciate his genius quite like seeing him talk about them.

Elon recently did an interview at TED2017 and for 40 minutes, he and Chris Anderson talked about all of the projects that Elon is juggling. What is most captivating is the way in which Elon thinks about the future and rationally asserts how things are going to change in the future.

Why institutional trust has vanished and distributed trust is soaring

I love a good TED talk. Every now and then, one resonates so well with me that I feel compelled to post it here to share it with other.

Rachel Botsman’s recent talk was one such talk. She discussed how trust has moved through three distinct phases in history: local trust, where our trust was knowing those in the village, institutional trust, where we relied upon banks, companies and governments to determine who and what could be trusted to the recently emerging distributed trust, where our behaviour, reputation and globally accepted practices and technologies dictate what we can trust today.

Brexit: an autopsy

It’s been about 6 weeks since Britons went to the polls and narrowly decided that they wanted to leave the European Union. I had some thoughts on the matter the day after the result, but perhaps the best autopsy on the result that I have seen thus far has been from Alexander Betts in a TED talk he gave just days after the result.

Alexander is a social scientist and works specifically in the field of migration and refugees. No matter which side of the fence you are on, it’s hard to deny the validity of Alexander’s arguments.

A common sense approach to prosecutions

You’d be hard pushed to deny that there’s an issue with America’s justice system. Prisons are overloaded with young, petty, minority offenders and it’s costing us a lot of money. John Oliver has made a few videos now highlighting various issues within the system:

Wait But Why – inside the minds of procrastinators

I’ve been reading Wait But Why for a while now ever since stumbling upon Tim’s excruciatingly-long dissertation on how cars came to run on fossil fuels and despite the best efforts of the oil industry, electric cars can and will prevail.

What is Wait But Why I hear you ask? It’s a website by a guy called Tim Urban who is an extreme procrastinator, like I can be. When something intrigues him, he researches it until he’s read all there is to read about that subject. Then he digests and regurgitates that information for us to consume.

When did the news stop becoming the news?

A couple of years ago, the building that I work in installed televisions at the elevator landings. I’ve no idea why, but I guess they figure that people want to be constantly bombarded with news and media and the 15 seconds that we spend waiting for the lift is a perfect opportunity to cram in some utterly important information.

I never watch or consume American news. I very quickly grew tired of the talking heads, strongly biased views, selective withholding of stories and hype that became so overwhelming. Instead, both because I consider them to be (far) more neutral, reasonable and factual, and because I had an interest in continuing to follow British news after moving to the States, I rely heavily on the BBC for my news.

The thing that irks me the most about American news is that it’s just not news. To me, news is a factual, neutral reporting of events that are of importance to society. What most of us now know as news has devolved into highly-pointed delivery of largely irrelevant stories which have been spun into hyper-dramatic segments that don’t particularly focus on what happened and what its implications are, but rather create situations, possibilities, hypotheticals and outright lies that draw in the drama-hungry American audience.

It’s time for paid maternity/paternity leave in America

I’ve written many posts on this subject (e.g. The sad state of maternity leave in the States) because I’m very passionate about it, but I just saw another great TED talk which drives the point home some more.

Maternity/paternity leave is not something that we should be thankful for. It’s a fundamental need for new parents to bond with their children and recover from birth. It promotes the wellbeing of mother and child, reduces post-natal depression and gives mothers the support they need to make it through the early days of raising a child and be able to choose whether or not to have another child without being forced to stop at 1 because they had such a horrendous experience or because it cost them so much to do the only thing they could to spend a little time with their newborn child: take unpaid leave.

As highlighted in the talk, there are 9 countries in the world that have no national requirement for paid maternity leave. The first 8 have a combined population of 8 million and include countries like Papua New Guinea, Suriname and the Marshall Islands. The 9th is the United States with a population of 320 million. How the United States can continue to claim that it would be such a burden on employers or the state is beyond me. Literally everyone else has done it: stop hiding behind this bullshit America and give new mothers the paid leave they need.