Out of touch, some might say

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Since when did ensuring adequate child nutrition and well-being become ‘unnecessary spending’ or a ‘giveaway’?

These views came after the government announcement that free school meals will now be made available to all children under 7. Nick Clegg apparently had to push the Tory led coalition to accepting what one senior tory describe as “an appalling waste of £600million of taxpayers’ money” (out-of-touch, some might say).

For the family orientated press I’d assume this would have been a triumph for common sense. For the financially led papers, a catapult to future economic growth and prosperity. But no, ideology or utter bollocks prevails over all.

The World Bank’s Nutrition Overview, states, “The economic cost of under-nutrition, in terms of lost national productivity and economic growth, are enormous. Countries can lose between 2 to 3 percent of their potential GDP each year.”

Furthermore a Harvard School of Public Health study says, pursuing economic growth top-down without corresponding direct investments in health and health-related programmes “has little effect on child nutrition”; in other words, economic growth has not helped child nutrition – thus having little effect on long-term sustained economic growth. So how are we going to secure economic prosperity 20 years from now?

Some people have asked, how can we afford it? But how can we afford not to do it?

Mathematical Motherlickin Geni-ass

I passed and got 78% on my stats course! Feckin delighted!Image It was provided through University of California Berkeley via edX, a collaboration between some of the world’s leading educational institutes; Harvard, MIT, UTAustin, Stanford and as mentioned Berkeley. They provide the courses, actual modules undertaken at these universities, to a global audience for free. On this particularly course Stat2.1x, I believe nearly 50,000 people started!

My 78% was slightly below the median, that was 80% (slightly more than 50% of the people who finished scored more than me). But hey I ain’t bragging, despite what the title of this post is!

I can’t recommend enough how brilliant this organisation is. If you want to learn to code, investigate the economics of poverty, study Greek mythology, get some foundation knowledge in the areas of biology, quantum mechanics, energy technologies of tomorrow, computer graphics, electronics, AI, haute cuisine and many, many more… deep breath… you can… and it’s all for free, provided by some of the world’s leading educational institutions!

Link is below, you don’t have any excuse.

https://www.edx.org/courses

P.s. much love to Ani Adhikari (@stat2x) the lead lecturer, who engaged, entertain and educated in equal measure. I’ll be joining for Stat2.2x

From those wonderful folks who gave you Pearl Harbour

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In my Challenges of Global Poverty course provided by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo at MIT, the last week briefly covered health; provision, success policy etc. One of the most interesting parts discussed was that people often want a drip or shot, to over-medicate themselves, when in fact a course of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories or even less would do the trick. They have previously been given a shot by some backstreet doctor, as this is all they had access to (think barber surgeons in Victorian Britain). This isn’t only attributable to developing countries but to developed countries and not only in critical healthcare but what could be loosely described as a consumer product.

I draw parallels with a situation discussed in From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor: Front-Line Dispatches from the Advertising War by Jerry Della Femina, the book that inspired Mad Men. In it he describes the introduction of a new antiseptic fluid, like Dettol (it might have been dettol, I need to revisit it). This new Dettol unlike it’s predecessor didn’t sting, but had all the benefits. That’s a good thing, they’re on to a winner, right? No.

It bombed; no one wanted this product! The sting, that brief moment of pain reassures the patient, the user, the consumer that it is working, that everything is going to be alright.

If over many years you have been taught or have experienced one particular situation and formed a solid perception of this ‘reality’, regardless of the authority of whomever is telling you it is wrong, that perception and the resulting behaviour will be extremely difficult to change. This equally applies to anyone of any economic or educational background and multiple contexts as it is only human nature.

Human nature is a bitch to break, but as a child I was known to my Mother as ‘The Destroyer’.