Brexit: an autopsy

In June, the UK collectively and narrowly voted to leave the European Union in a referendum which has divided the nation on a scale never seen before. Alexander Betts looks at the causes and effects of the result in an intelligent and considered way that helps us to realise that there’s some ugly demons in all our societies.

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. Continue reading “Brexit: an autopsy”

My 4th of July trip to Kingston, MA and Bath, NH

This past 4th of July, I went to spend some time with my family in Massachusetts and then traveled with them to their cabin in rural New Hampshire to enjoy the peace and quiet.

This 4th of July, me and my family planned a trip to visit with Marti‘s cousin and her kids in Kingston, Massachusetts before heading up to Bath, New Hampshire to their cabin for some time in the mountains.

It was a really nice trip. The weather was a refreshing change (it still got pretty warm during the day, but with much less humidity than Florida, and it cooled off in the evenings) and the terrain and landscape were also a very welcome change coming from the monotonous and flat swamps of Florida.

I happened to spend 4th of July there and so participated in the town’s 4th of July parade, which is kinda cheesy and stale, but it’s something to do for the day. However, despite trying to fit in on the 4th of July, my American family still tried to send me to my grave by sitting me such that my chair fell through the deck and the balcony railings. Fortunately, I stopped just shy of falling over the edge and slept with one eye open for the remainder of my trip. Continue reading “My 4th of July trip to Kingston, MA and Bath, NH”

Fees: the death of your brand’s reputation

We’ve all been there: going through the checkout process buying an airline ticket, or a ticket to a concert and at the last possible second: a booking fee or a caredit card fee or any other number of stupid fees that they can concoct. This is awful for business and I encourage you to build your costs into the fees you charge your customers/clients.

I’ve long had thoughts about fees charged by service providers but a recent experience annoyed me enough to want to write about it.

I booked a trip to Boston to be with family up there over the 4th of July (which always gives me mixed emotions). Owing to the holiday, flights were fairly expensive, so I opted for the cheapest ticket which happened to be with Spirit Airlines.

I was happy with Spirit, having nabbed a reasonably-priced flight over the holiday weekend and everything was going well until it came time to check in.

During the check-in process, Spirit let me know that there is a fee for checking a bag. Okay: that’s to be expected given the current climate in the airline industry and the fact that this is a budget airline. However, what I was not prepared for is that aside from a free, small personal item, they also charge you for your carry-ons. And they’re not cheap. Continue reading “Fees: the death of your brand’s reputation”

Fleeting thoughts on Brexit result

Yesterday, the UK held a referendum on its EU membership in which the electorate decided it should leave the European Union. I personally think it was a mistake fuelled by anti-immigrant sentiment and its inherent fear, especially among older people. I hope the UK comes back stronger in the end, but it’s going to be an uphill battle, especially for the first many years.

Yesterday, the UK held an historic referendum in which it decided whether to remain in the European Union which it joined in 1973 or leave it altogether (Brexit).

Early this morning despite a tight race, the result was declared in favour of leaving the EU. I was very much in favour of remaining in the EU. I’m not very good at coherently collecting my thoughts into a single unified article, so here’s some thoughts I have on the whole matter: Continue reading “Fleeting thoughts on Brexit result”

Orlando

The recent atrocity in Orlando is just another event by which to reflect on how awful guns have been for America and yet, we continue to make their ownership commonplace and cultural. Don’t bother with your thoughts and prayers: try acting for a change.

Obviously the events of Saturday night were horrific and devastating.

But what do we do with all of that? We might be quick to offer “thoughts and prayers” to those involved, or to comment on how tragic, scary and senseless it all is.

However in a week, America will get bored of hearing about it and our drive to do something about it will have all but vanished.

I think people resort to offering “thoughts and prayers” out of a numbness and an acceptance that “this is just what happens here. It’s bound to happen and there’s no way to solve it.” Continue reading “Orlando”

Mechanical music

Using 2000 marbles and a hand-crafted machine, Wintergatan has made an enormous music box that is mesmerising to watch

My wife happened upon this YouTube video today and I was just blown away by how creative it was.

Wintergatan is a Swedish folktronica band that have spent the last two years ago building a giant music box out of wood, metal and LEGO that uses steel marbles to play instruments including a bass guitar, vibraphone and drums.

I have watched this several times, in awe at how each marble is lifted into place and rhythmically fired towards an instrument to hit the right note at the right time. So creative.

Continue reading “Mechanical music”

A broad overview of British politics

Despite our similarities, the political systems of the UK and the US are markedly different in a variety of ways to the point that I thought it was worth pointing out some of those differences.

It takes living in two countries, or a fond fascination with politics, to get to the point of analysing two different political systems. My personal motivation for doing this was to:

  1. Educate myself about a political system different from the one I was used to, especially since my daily life was going to be influenced by this system, and
  2. Enable myself to respond to inquisition about my own system from those around me such as my new family, friends and colleagues.

I moved to the States from the UK in 2006 and since then I’ve lived through 2 (and a half) presidential elections and 2 general elections. In this time, I’ve noticed that even though we’re two Western democracies, we’re vastly different. Continue reading “A broad overview of British politics”

Ichicoro – delectable Korean food in Tampa

Today I had the pleasure of enjoying my third visit to Ichicoro – a fairly new Korean restaurant in an up-and-coming neighborhood in Tampa: Seminole Heights.

It’s quite small inside – there’s maybe only 30 or 40 seats – but it’s intimate, modern and hip.

The menu is quite simple: I think there’s only 8 items on the menu (at least for lunch), of which only 1 is suitable for a vegan, but I’ve been happy to have the same dish all 3 times that I’ve been there. I could quite easily eat it once a week, week after week.

The dish I have is the Veggie Miso Bowl which consists of a miso and tomato broth, corn, seasonal vegetables, shiitake mushrooms, scallions and sesame seeds. I also add nori and their spicy sauce for a little extra. It has such a fresh, unique, delicious flavour that I’ve never experienced anywhere else, which makes me eager to keep returning for more.

I’ll happily keep coming back for the delicious food, cosy atmosphere and nice people.

Wikiwand – a much better way to read Wikipedia

We all use Wikipedia, perhaps many times a day. But the layout and functionality hasn’t changed much in the last 15 years. That’s where Wikiwand comes in, to add a fresh coat of paint and add in some features that make using Wikipedia that much easier.

Where would we be without Wikipedia? How would we settle those instantaneous curiosities without the de facto encyclopedia always available in front of us and in our pockets?

Without a doubt, Wikipedia is a crucial piece to our everyday lives for many of us. But why does it have to be so damn ugly!? Am I right!?

To a certain extent, it makes sense: it needs to meet the needs of billions of people without distracting them or turning them off; it needs to be easy to read to accommodate those with disabilities; and it needs to be lightweight to not be a drain on the resources of the end user or the Foundation.

However, for those looking for a more immersive and beautifully designed layout, look no further than Wikiwand. Continue reading “Wikiwand – a much better way to read Wikipedia”

Get a short URL from YOURLS in Zapier

With the incredible Code by Zapier app, getting a short URL for any URL you have is very easy using the API in YOURLS. I used this strategy to promote new content from my websites on social media using the item’s short URL.

I love automating things. For a few years now I’ve configured my site using Jetpack’s Publicize module in conjunction with Buffer to automatically post new content to my social networks. However, there’s a couple of limitations with that approach:

  1. Publicize seemingly won’t let you use the post’s short URL,
  2. You have little control over when these posts go out on social media.

With my new found love of Zapier, I sought to rectify both of these issues. Continue reading “Get a short URL from YOURLS in Zapier”