Social services suck, but we can fix them AND save money

This TED talk from an entrepreneurial front-line social worker in the UK gives a very considered and honest discussion of how the modern welfare state was created (in 1940s Britain) and how it simply isn’t a model for today.

Rather than just bash the system, as we all love to do, Hilary Cottam has come up with a radical new approach to social services in which resources are spent directly on helping people rather than on a system which manages said people. In fact, by spending far less, she’s been able to make significant positive changes in the lives of many people in South London who are all now helping one another.

Privilege is invisible to those who have it

In a recent TED talk by Michael Kimmel he talks about how he came to see the world from the point of view of minorities such as women or black people. In a discussion with some of his peers he came to the conclusion that

Privilege is invisible to those who have it

He was talking about how as a white middle-class man, he was about as privileged as he could be, but he didn’t see the world that way because he saw how opportunities were being provided to women and racial minorities all around him. The experience of women and black people was different however, who still saw the world around them as it oppressed them.

Take your email privacy back

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.

Paper people

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!

The mathematics of love

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.

Ricardo Semler’s take on corporate democracy

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.

Stop using stop signs as default traffic control at intersections

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.

Who’s my doctor?

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.

Stop this culture of image obsession, for our children’s sake

As the father of a young daughter, this talk by Meaghan Ramsey spoke to me at a deep level. It is one of my biggest goals to make sure that Ellie finds her identity in God, and not in the world. I hope that she is a confident, amazing woman when she grows up and that she throws off the shackles of our image-obsessed society.

I am so disheartened by how so many women have bought into this practice and grade themselves for their appearance and find their value in that. There’s so much more to it. It’s so cliché to say so, and it’s very hard to hear when you’ve staunchly convinced yourself otherwise, but beauty really is on the inside. Looks fade and bodies sag, but intelligence, humour, personality, verve and perspective only get better with age, and I can say with confidence, that as each year passes, my wife only gets more and more attractive to me.

So, let’s make sure that our children acknowledge that they’re all unique and all have something valuable to offer the world, instead of allowing them to start seeking the approval of others for their appearance.

A hilarious review of the meaning and usage of “awesome”

Jill Shargaa fights back against the overuse of the word awesome, noting that it’s

fear mingled with admiration or reverence; a feeling produced by something majestic, sublime, etc.

Jill contests that the sandwich you had for lunch is probably not awesome, but gives 10 great examples of what could be considered awesome, like “the wheel” and “bees”.