A brief history of fossil fuels, climate, cars, batteries and Tesla

This extremely in-depth article (it’s more like a short book) from Wait But Why is a fascinating and in-depth look at what energy is, where it comes from, how cars were invented, how far they have (or have not) come in the past century and the company that is trying to change the world.

Seriously, set aide an hour of your time and get ready to learn a thing or two about energy, the world, cars and the future. You won’t regret it.

The sad state of maternity leave in USA

With my love of John Oliver made well-known, his recent piece on maternity leave which he chose to air on Mother’s Day made me love him even more.

I was sickened to learn about maternity leave in the States when my wife became pregnant. Legally, a company doesn’t have to give you a single paid day off after you force a human being out of your vagina. The only law currently protecting mothers is the FMLA act which affords individuals up to 12 weeks unpaid leave for certain medical events (including birth) during which time your job is protected assuming you and your company meet all of the prerequisite conditions.

Continue reading The sad state of maternity leave in USA

Greece: pay your debts

Is anyone else sick of Greece, Greeks and their attitude right now?

After years of overspending, cooking the books and tax evasion, Greece’s party is coming to an end. Trouble is, they got rather accustomed to the party lifestyle and paying for it all on a credit card.

Now, it’s all caught up with them and the monthly credit card statement has arrived, only to their shock, instead owing a few grand, they owe in excess of €300B.

Like the rest of us who have overindulged at one point in our life, it’s time to figure out how to pay off the credit card. Continue reading Greece: pay your debts

What I think of Harry and his shaving products

The team over at Harry’s recently approached me and asked if I’d like to review some of their shaving gear. Free stuff? Well of course Harry, send it on over!

They kindly sent me a “Truman set” to try out. Being a new dad, shaving is fairly low on my list of priorities, so this review has taken the better part of a month to write, simply because I haven’t had the chance to use the razors all that much! This point is important to my review because this meant that I often had a good amount of stubble or growth on my face when I used the razor.

First of all, the presentation of their gear is top notch. Everything is done with class and you feel like you’ve bought some really premium products, even though you’re not paying outrageous prices. The Truman set is only $15 and they imply that it will last up to three months (depending on your preference on when you like to replace your blades), so you’re looking at about $5/mo. Incidentally, Dollar Shave Club’s mid-tier products run at $6/mo, so it’s even a little cheaper than the guys that pride themselves on cheap blades for all. Continue reading What I think of Harry and his shaving products

The irony of “love wins”

I kind of love how the gay community took to using the term “Love wins” to celebrate their victory in the Supreme Court a couple of weeks ago allowing them to marry in the United States in the same way that heterosexual couples can get married.

The gay community was using the term to express that the act, existence and expression has won out as a result of the decision and that millions of people can now love equally in the eyes of the United States government.

For a long time, “love wins” has been used by Christians to indicate how the teachings of Jesus (of love, not hate) reign supreme and should govern their actions. In fact, if you’ll notice, it’s part of my tagline on this very website. I believe that Christians ought to be known by their acts of love, rather than their bible bashing, vindication or bullhorn ministry. Continue reading The irony of “love wins”

Free yourself from the Sodastream monopoly

We’ve owned a SodaStream for a few years because my wife loves soda water. We don’t actually drink any soda but she just likes to use it to carbonate water. It touts itself as a cheaper alternative to buying fizzy drinks at the store but after a few CO2 refills it quickly becomes apparent that it’s not saving you quite the amount of money that you had hoped for.

Let’s take a look at the numbers. A Sodastream refill contains 14.5oz of CO2 which is apparently enough to carbonate 60l of water and it costs $15.That’s 25¢/l of water. This compares with $1 for a 2l bottle of seltzer water (50¢/l) at the store. A 50% savings isn’t bad, but when you factor in the need to go to a special store to get the CO2 refill or to have it shipped to you, the hassle and the cost quickly gets eaten up and becomes moderate at best. Continue reading Free yourself from the Sodastream monopoly

Replacements for swear words

Gosh darn it. What the heck is going on in this effing place?

One of my pet peeves is people who use friendly replacements for swear words. As in replacing “God damn it” with “gosh darn it”.

The reason it bothers me so is that it’s a religious response intended to make these swear words more acceptable. However, the fact is, everyone knows that when you say “what the heck”, you really mean “what the hell”, so you just look like a hypocrite by trying to create a phrase equivalent to the original without actually saying it, thus alleviating you from the repercussions of saying it.

What a fucking joke. Stop being such a pussy and say what you mean. Stop giving a damn about what people will think of you and if the original phrase isn’t appropriate for the audience in front of you (e.g. kids or church) then perhaps you should reconsider whether your replacement phrase is appropriate as well, because we all know what you want to say, so just spit it out.

Why we’re asking people to not bring gifts to our kids’ birthdays

In a couple of weeks, Ellie will celebrate her 2nd birthday. As part of the invitation we have specifically requested that birthday party attendees do not bring gifts. Here’s a few thoughts on why we chose to do that:

  • Today, gift-giving is very much an expectation when attending a child’s birthday party. As such, the gifts tend to be purchased out of duty rather than out of love, so the birthday boy/girl ends up with whatever seemed like fun for a reasonable price from the toy aisle at Target rather than a carefully considered gift given out of love and consideration.
  • Most of what children play with today is not compatible with how we are raising Ellie. In the absence of screens, branding and media, the best kind of toys for her are the kind of thing that you have to hunt down specifically as they’re no longer toys that most kids play with, so this avoids her opening presents that we then have to explain that she can’t have.
  • Simply put and perhaps most importantly, Ellie has plenty. She has lots of toys and doesn’t need more “stuff” in her life. Children fare much better falling in love with a couple of excellent toys than having myriad toys that they rarely play with. I realise that this isn’t an option for some people, but we’d much rather that people just come and spend some time with Ellie and create a memory with her; granted she probably won’t remember her birthday in the long-term (she will be raving about it in the short term), but she’ll have photos to look back on and see who was with her.

Is it any wonder America is overweight?

Convenience, cars, cholesterol and carbohydrates are so pervasive in American society that it really is no wonder that America is so overweight.

Urban sprawl is rampant and forces people to live such distances from their place of employment that jumping in the car is the only viable option.

However, to see just how little health is engineered or considered in all areas of American society, we need only to look at a recent safety tip we were given at work, where we were advised to “avoid using the stairs to prevent falling down them”. While we’re at it, we should probably avoid walking so that we don’t trip and we ought not to exercise in case it raises our pulse rate and elevates our risk of cardiac arrest.

Come on America, you’re better than that. Grow up and take responsibility for your own actions. Take your health into your own hands and own it. Live a little and maybe even live dangerously by taking the stairs.

Why is a flat rate tax such a bad idea?

Tiered tax rates are very commonplace in most developed societies. However, I’ve never really understood why and I don’t know why flat rate taxes get laughed at whenever they’re proposed.

I get that those who earn more have more of a capacity to pay tax, but does that mean they should? I’m not so convinced. That idea is thrown around in the name of the fairness, but what could be more fair than everyone paying the same amount of tax for every dollar they earn?

After all, high-earners would still be paying much more because they’re earning much more. To me, a flat rate tax would simplify things and level the playing field. You just pay a set number of cents of every dollar you earn to the taxman: I really don’t understand why this is so lambasted when viewing it from a purely intellectual point of view (rather than getting angry that it might mean that you personally might be paying more tax).

Seems to me that it’s just a political tool to appeal to the masses while still pulling in as much tax revenue as is needed.