Quick ways to make the world a happier and simpler place

I don’t know if anyone else finds the problems of the world depressingly intractable? Well, this made me wonder  if there were any quick, easy to implement ways to make the world a better place. And there are, because I have thought of some. I’m sure that a better list might be constructed, but this is at least a start:


Whilst tidying up in preparation for Christmas I discovered our iron and, a little later, the ironing board. As I moved them out of the way, I wondered how much time this year I have wasted moving them out of whatever way they happen to be in at the time. I have possibly also used them, in conjunction, a couple of times this year. Even more of a waste of time. Some people, I am told, iron regularly. It seems that the social convention which suggests that piecewise differentiable clothes are a good thing is responsible for millions of hours of wasted time. And this isn’t fun wasted time, like watching football. It causes misery. All that needs be done is for everyone to agree that creased clothes are Cool and ironing can immediately become a thing of the past, making millions of people happier.


This one, clearly, would improve the lives of all. Although many people might not quite understand why at the moment.


Confusibles: How many people have had the conversation ‘This curry is hot’ ‘Do you mean temperature hot or chilli-hot’ ‘Well, both, but at the moment there is too much temperature for me to eat it comfortably, so mind that you don’t burn your tongue’. All a waste of time. Come on: in the 21st century we could presumably remove ambiguity from the language?

Conversation snippets: How many times does the phase ‘how are you doing’ have a rather complicated answer? A simple ‘hiya’ is often better, but sometimes leads to a complex decision regarding choice of answer. It would doubtless be easier if the ‘hiya’ greeting were extended with ‘hiyb, hiyd, hide’ etc. The unknown greeting ‘hiyx’ would be met with another unknown greeting ‘hiyz’. A matrix of standard responses could be created to determine how to proceed from a greeting combination.

For example,

‘hiya’ might mean ‘hello, I am open for conversation and am in the market for smalltalk’

‘hiyb’ might mean ‘hello, I am open for conversation but not smalltalk’

‘hiyc’ might mean ‘hello, would you like to walk and talk?’

‘hiyd’ might mean ‘hello, I intend to talk AT you, so you’d better make any excuse for an exit’

through to

‘hiyq’, which might mean ‘hello. Shall we converse entirely in poetic verse?’


Bank holidays, it seems to me, cause, on average, misery. Many families plan extended trips and visits and events around bank holidays which are, on the face of it, one additional day of weekend. So, they get stressed out planning a trip whilst at work. Squeeze the family into the car, drive for miles and miles, sit in traffic jams for hours and hours and then get together with other pre-stressed families for tense times and argument.

Banks no longer need holidays. So, bank holidays could be grouped into a more significant block of mid-year holiday time when a proper holiday could be had. Perhaps coupled with a driving ban and some great TV everyone might have a nice time.


Traditional education is, essentially, a transaction between two parties: a learner and another party (who may be the TV, a teacher, the internet or a book, or even the learner themselves, for example). It seems to me that the mode of this transaction is something that nearly everyone seems to have a strong opinion on. If people said to themselves: I understand that this transaction is complex, requires empathy and skill to manage then that would be good. If people want to solve a complex mathematical problem they often ask a mathematician. If people want to solve a complex mathematics-education problem then they should ask an expert in mathematics education.

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