Web Gems (June 23)

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Today’s web gems: play, pain, and books.

Five ways that play can save the world

Pat Kane tells us,”Play is an essential component of human nature – and one of our better parts. The more we express it, the better we become.” He shares four more ways play can save the world.

Ranking the Pain of Stinging Insects, From ‘Caustic’ to ‘Blinding’

Read about the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, a man’s adventure with stinging insects.

Thoughts on your personal library

Reflection and advice from a book addict on building your personal library. It’s a long, enjoyable read.

Caring

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I always thought I cared about people. Then again, it’s easy to excuse myself: loving people (like me) busy with daily living might lack the necessary apparatus for expressing their care toward others. No matter, I plan to amend the situation somehow.

Back then at the university, there was a guy ready always with a compliment for everyone. He once observed the veins visible on my lean arms and declared them a sign of good health. I knew better having subsisted on biscuits, maybe garri, some rare bread, for weeks. His energy radiated outwards and drew many to him. He shared out of his stuff, he cared. He couldn’t have given out money to all or some other practical things but I think there were guys who bore their hardships more cheerfully because of his words, and his music. Did he care about those young men and women? I think so. Do I now aim for popularity or to reproduce this feat. No, I only want to live like all reasonable men should. I hope.

Caring is deliberate action. It takes effort to reach out beyond oneself to ask after people’s welfare, to want to know what’s happening, how they’re coping, and thriving in life. It takes energy and time, and sometimes money, to look up and around to understand the state or needs of others in order to share in their joys and pains. And then to do something.

I know it is possible to even help other people in many ways without really giving them a part of your humanity. The gift without the giver is gratefully received; the giver could as well as been some shadow in the dark. The crux is love. I have wondered why Paul would say one may give his body to be burned, yet have no love; one may give away all ones wealth for some cause, yet have no love. One may sacrifice himself, die physically for another person yet be without love. It’s becoming clearer. My goodwill or goodness to someone may be out of selfish ambition — for external or internal reward. External, the praise of men; internal, the praise of self, conceit. But shouldn’t one be happy or proud for doing good? I fear I’ll get lost in this thought if I delve in too deeply now.

So my aspiration is simple (even if its execution, as most new habits, becomes difficult):

  • I will take time out to think particularly about people around me.
  • I will take time out to pray specifically for them, one at a time, from time to time.
  • I will deliberately stop, hop off life’s conveyor track, and make meaningful conversation with people from time to time.

So help me God.

A prayer for comfort

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Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

May our God reach through the fog of sorrow and comfort all those who mourn.

God is our refuge, our present help in time of need.

We will not be moved, though the heavens fall and the earth be moved. The LORD is our refuge. We will not be shaken.

The LORD our God is our shield, and our buckler. He upholds us with His swift, sure hand.

Though we are afraid, we shall not be afraid.

He’s the LORD, the one who shields us from the arrows by day, from the destruction wasting at noonday, from the terrors by night.

We are not be afraid. We find our courage, our power, our grace, our refuge, our comfort in Him.

A thousand may fall at our right hand, ten thousand on our left but only with our eyes shall we see… the salvation of our LORD.

The LORD strong and mighty will stretch forth His hand to heal, and to save.

The LORD will do that which is good. The LORD will cause joy and health and peace to be our lot. Only on the name of our God do we rest.

May the LORD chase back the black darkness of misery and death.

May His power be available to bring light and life to our midst, to this nation.

May our hearts rejoice in the goodness we hear. May the evidence of His power, of His goodness abound in all that surrounds us.

May the line of light be drawn, may His mercy prevail in all cases. This we pray, man and woman. May the LORD hear our hearts’ cry and make His goodness our experience, every man, woman, and child.

May the seal of His Spirit be upon us.

May the Blood of His Son speak better things on our behalf.

Web Gems (June 16)

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Programmer gets fired for automating his job

“When he first got his software testing quality assurance job, he spent eight months automating all of the programming tasks. With all of his tasks fully automated by a computer, he was able to literally sit back and do whatever he wanted.” He lived that life for six years until he was fired. Is HR fair to this man?

How smartphones change us

A video shows how using smartphones change us.

Flying cars

“Zee.Aero, however, is just one part of Page’s plan to usher in an age of personalized air travel, free from gridlocked streets and the cramped indignities of modern flight.” Larry Page’s pet project outside running Alphabet, Google’s parent company.

Under the Influence

Classic 1996 single from the Christian group Anointed.

Microsoft’s LinkedIn Ace

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News: Microsoft acquires Linkedin for $26 billion.

Microsoft just landed an ace. Linkedin is not just a social network for pros, it is a massive, crowdsourced HR consultancy (probably the biggest in the world). And more, it has grown into a digital media firm: the most influential business leaders publish well-received content in the space. Microsoft now has the attention of 433 million attentive Linkedin professionals who are consumers, industry advisers, decision makers, and corporate management in a fresh way.

If this ace is invested well, it will at once soften, emotionalize Microsoft’s corporate image and help promote its appeal to users everywhere. I dare say this move will change Microsoft in many pleasant ways its management may not envisage at this time, opening up possibilities in new technology and business markets.

I’d like to see how Google, Microsoft’s competition in the enterprise and consumer productivity space, responds.

Musical expression

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The forms of musical expression in any given culture often reflect the reigning assumptions in that culture about reality generally and the human condition specifically.

-Ken Myers

There’s a lot to think about if you consider the Nigerian music expression against this thought. It reminds me of how people can determine a family’s standard of living by checking out their trash. Please read no direct translation or comparison here.

Ideas, Talk, Talent

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Ideas ruled the world. I thought so, I believed it, and delighted in unveiling and polishing mine where I had them filed. There were many secrets to making money, I was privy to quite a number. If ideas were cash, I was a billionaire at 19. I felt rich even if reality offered no remorse. One day, somehow, even without any pointed effort from me, I would be really rich, own businesses, live the good life because I had those fabulous ideas. I know better now. And I protected my darlings. I was aggrieved if someone came up with anything close — my attention turned to seek the latest newness. Surely, when the time came, just that one distinctly rare (and therefore, precious) idea would fetch money off the market just by my revealing it. Example: I generated 21 ways a campus restaurant could improve its sales, met with the manager, and sprinted through my list (he must have tired at idea #6/7 but endured it all). At the end, he offered his sincere compliments and a plate of their fried rice. Nah, my goodies were more than food. I refused it.

Talk is cheap. I talked when I felt I knew better than my audience, that was in the days before I found myself with more questions than answers. I envied the ones who could talk. I aspired to talk. If I said anything about my ideas or the faintest of it to anyone, it was done. It died. It was to my mind as if I had executed my plans and it got ticked off my to-do. I get people like me gain our most energy from solitude, from reflecting, not from grandstanding. Talk is cheap except you get paid for it. Obviously.

But talent is cheaper than table salt (it’s Mr. Stephen King, again). Ah, that. I sang, acted, danced, rapped, wrote R&B, rap, rock, gospel, even Yoruba. I debated philosophies, designed new businesses, invented skits, discovered new foods (egg fried with honey), made photo-greeting cards off my landscape photography hobby, designed clothes and tried to sew them, wrote poetry, edited magazines and books. Surely, the world would pay handsomely for these goodies. I was over-loaded, it seemed, and there was no way under the sun I wouldn’t do well in life just for my talent. I realized many things in the sun while hawking powdered milk in the open market, dressed adamantly with shirt tucked in.

My conclusion? Ideas, talk, and talent are all cheap. They are nothing without the spirit to execute them. Courage, gumption, humility, daring, faith, discipline are more important than all or any of those. It is why those stuck on and puffed up with those three work for simple folks whose. The ideas still emerge from time to time, but my trust isn’t in them. Anyone near or far could and would have the same or far better ones. Talk is draining most of the time. I now know better to do the work, and only open my mouth only when necessary — not for fear of ‘dream-stealers’, but for the prudence of conserving my resources. And then, I may be able do many things but that is no guarantee for significance. Skill, not talent, is my goal. Mastery is what attracts and produces value, while talent gets its deserved applause.

Ideas, talk, talent. Faith, gumption, humility, daring, discipline, execution.

Cheer like children

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The two teachers struggled to quiet the four-, five-year-olds cheering and chanting the names of every child who matched into the classroom — “Desola-Desola-Desola! Henry-Henry-Henry! Emeka!-Emeka!-Emeka! Amina!-Amina!-Amina!

All of them seemed to be the stars in the class, not one child was singled out. Each child who was cheered joined the throng to welcome others likewise as they went in beaming, smiling, some more shyly than others.

The cheering wasn’t for the best athletes or the richest kids or the tallest or for any other attribute conferring honour or popularity among children or humans. I think the children just found pleasure recognizing, accepting, and loving each other.

I wonder where we grown-ups derail. Where and when did I unlearn expressing love, and appreciating other people without sizing them up? Is it due to a scarcity of resources — economic or emotional?

I want to be like those children. I want to go back to cheering and hailing the people around me whether they be bus-conductors or executive directors. God help me.


P.S. I watched the faces of some parents as they said their see-you-laters and went off to the day’s business. There were some smiles, one or two had tears.