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”

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”

Don’t skydive for charity

On a recent episode of QI, Stephen Fry made a very interesting point that should have you rethinking doing a skydive for charity.

A study found that over the course of 5 years, 174 people injured themselves doing a skydive for charity. The total cost to the NHS from these injuries was £600,000 or about £3,450 per person. The average amount of money raised per person was just £30 so for each pound raised, it cost the NHS £13.75 (includes money raised by people who didn’t hurt themselves).

To add insult to injury, most of the skydives (70%) were raising money for services provided by the NHS, so as well-meaning as people may be, the skydives actually cost the NHS money instead of raising funds for it.

So, the moral of the story? Don’t do a skydive for charity.

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

Hilary Cottam’s approach to social services is akin to “it takes a village to raise a child”. The more that can participate, the better it is for everyone. Her model sees everyone helping one another to practically and positively change the lives of those most in need.

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. Continue reading “Social services suck, but we can fix them AND save money”

Don’t bet a Brit at Fantasy Football

The guys at my office decided to start a fantasy football league this year and invited me.

Despite knowing little about football and not caring for it at all, I decided to join in as it’s a win-win for me: if I lose, I’m just the Brit that knows nothing about football, but if I win, I’m the stupid Brit that knows nothing about football that beat an American at their own game. Continue reading “Don’t bet a Brit at Fantasy Football”

How to use roundabouts

The apparent difficulty in Americans understanding how to use roundabouts has driven me to provide a quick and dirty overview of their use. Once people figure out how to use them, life on the roads will be quicker and safer.

Roundabouts are one of those things that just seem to baffle Americans for whatever reason. They’re simple to use and far superior to stop signs at junctions: they’re much safer and improve the throughput of traffic.

Having nearly had many fender benders on the small, single-lane roundabout near my house, I felt compelled to give a simple explanation of how to use roundabouts.

In short, give way to traffic on the roundabout. Yield signs are posted at the entrance to the roundabout, which should be treated the same as anywhere else on the roads: yield to approaching traffic. Whenever you approach the roundabout, look left (true for the US, not for the UK and other places where one drives on the left) and if the roundabout is clear, you can proceed. Continue reading “How to use roundabouts”

The sad state of maternity leave in USA

Americans rank last in the world when it comes to paid time off for new mothers with no such federal mandate which ought to sadden people that the sanctity of new life and the health of mother and baby are given such flagrant disregard.

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”

Reflecting back on the last 30 years (I’m 30)

Today I turn 30, so it’s a great time to reflect on what I’ve done, how far I’ve come and what I want to do moving forward

30 years ago today, aside from the first ever episode of the most popular British soap Eastenders airing, I was born.

I absolutely couldn’t care less that I’m 30. I haven’t been dreading this day, nor do I attribute any sort of aging to it, any more so than any other day. However, a “n0” birthday is a milestone that only comes along once a decade so it seems like a perfect time for some reflection.

The last 10 years

Since February 2010 (the last 5 years), quite a number of things have changed in my life. I became a professional engineer, I became a father, I have another child on the way, I started my own business which is now thriving and I moved house 3 times.

In the last 10 years, even more has changed. In February 2005, I was in my second year at university, was single, living with my Mum in the UK and I was working for the NHS. Over the next 5 years, I would meet and fall in love with Marti, graduate from university, become a Christian, move to the States to be with her, get married 60 days later, battle 8 months of being unable to work before getting my green card, a job, my driver’s license, a car and our first apartment in the space of about 4 weeks.

Reflection on who I am

Me in December 2005 - the first time I ever visited Marti
Me in a decidedly emo pose in December 2005 – the first time I ever visited Marti

As I think about the man I am today, where I’ve come from and the boy I used to be, I’ve noticed quite a few specific observations about how I’ve changed in particular and more general observations about how we as humans mature (or don’t).

The first thing is that nothing is given. Not only is nothing guaranteed but you’ll change in ways and do things that you would have never believed, conceived or thought possible. Continue reading “Reflecting back on the last 30 years (I’m 30)”