3 Day Quote Challenge – 1

Mrs T, she of the keen mind and boundless energy,  nominated me for the 3 day quote challenge, the key requirements being:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you. (Thanks Mrs T).
  2. Post a quote each day, for 3 consecutive days and say why it appeals to you.
  3. Nominate 3 different bloggers each day! 🙂

PS. As I am no longer as personally connected to tons of bloggers as I used to be, I’ve opted to fulfil items 1 & 2 only.

Image source; 

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.

My first encounter with this quote from Jim Elliot’s diary is lost to the blurred edges of memory but if I were to hazard a guess it would have had to be at one of the myriad youth camps and Sunday schools I was dragged along to in my teens. Jim Elliot’s story is a fascinating  if morbid one, of martyrdom, forgiveness and building an enduring legacy, things which matter in the long run.

The Longform Wrap #3

A few of the more interesting pieces I stumbled on on the web during March… Enjoy

1. On Spock – Gukira: Leonard Nimoy died, and amidst the outpouring of grief and the eulogies, I found I related most with this piece by Gukira who said it better than I ever could

I do not have a single Spock moment—an image or narrative that stays with me. Unlike those who know how to write about TV and movies, I cannot recall a single episode, at least not by name. When I was younger, when I first encountered Spock in Nairobi, in reruns from the 80s, I encountered him as gesture: as the arched eyebrow, as the grip that caused others to faint, as the Vulcan mind meld.

2. Marissa Mayer has completed Step One – Stephen Levy (Medium): On the Marissa Mayer effect at Yahoo;

She found Yahoo, despite its persistently huge audience, a sclerotic artifact of the desktop era, overly dependent on fading display ads, short of engineering talent and absolutely nowhere in mobile. And now the company is back on track. There are hundreds of new engineers, and an energized culture. Last year it reaped over a billion dollars of revenue in mobile ads — a business that didn’t exist at Yahoo when Mayer arrived. It bought Tumblr, which has 460 million users and is growing faster than Instagram. Yahoo has also built a system that allows app developers — the royalty of the new mobile age — to popularize and monetize their products. Meanwhile, Yahoo apps have won Apple Design Awards for two years running, and the company boasts over 500 million mobile users.

3.Valentine (Why There Would Be No Quiet Revolution Without My Husband) – Susan Cain (LinkedIn): From the Author of Quiet, a moving tribute in our post modern world of how much difference a supportive partner can still make.

I, in contrast, had written a poem. OK, a few poems. They were mostly about my love life, and they were clearly insignificant compared to Ken’s work in the world. Still, one evening I gathered my courage and handed him a sheaf of them, biting my nails as I anticipated his response. It came the next day, in an e-mail with big, 48 point letters: “Holy Shit. Keep writing. Drop Everything. Write. WRITE WOMAN, WRITE.” He wasn’t kidding about the “drop everything” part. This was not the bland encouragement of the experienced guy with a big book being kind to the young girlfriend and her poems. He wanted me to sacrifice for the craft of writing – and he, as my supportive partner, was prepared to do the same. He meant every word of that e-mail. I would find out just how deeply he meant it in the years to come.

4. As migrants we leave home in search of a future, but we lose the past – Gary Younge (The Guardian): Another emotive piece on the immigrant life (other pertinent reads – Finding a home in the apocalypse; Always Returning).

Migration involves loss. Even when you’re privileged, as I am, and move of your own free will, as I did, you feel it. Migrants, almost by definition, move with the future in mind. But their journeys inevitably involve excising part of their past. It’s not workers who emigrate but people. And whenever they move they leave part of themselves behind. Efforts to reclaim that which has been lost result in something more than nostalgia but, if you’re lucky, less than exile. And the losses keep coming. Funerals, christenings, graduations and weddings missed – milestones you couldn’t make because your life is elsewhere.

5: DC Talk and the influence of faith fortifying songs – Trevin Wax (The Gospel Coalition): Fascinating trip down memory lane to growing up in CCM in the 90’s and the pervasive influence of DC Talk which continues to this day in the solo career of TobyMac and the ‘takeovers’; Kevin Max as frontman for Audio Adrenaline and Michael Tait for the Newsboys, other iconic CCM players from that time.

1990’s CCM, for all the faults of its corny creativity (many of which are even more glaring and obvious as time goes by), was successful in one key sense. It gave me and my generation a different narrative. It was a sub-culture, yes, but no matter much some may sneer, it was a culture, and cultures are formative. Twenty years later, it’s the element of “fortifying faith” in so many dcTalk songs that has stuck with me. And for that, I’m grateful.

Bits, Bobs and Writing Elsewhere…

Firmly mired in the middle of my February read, Ted Thompson’s debut novel The Land of Steady Habits, no thanks to a gruelling schedule at work with criminal deadlines, although I did manage to complete a profile of Selma star David Oyelowo for the church newsletter I occasionally write in. What intrigued me about that in the first place was how open he has been about his faith through out his career from theatre to Hollywood. Fascinating read, if I say so myself. Other than that most of my February reading was web based longform, a few of the more interesting ones being highlighted below:

1. Biblical Reasons to Doubt the Creation Days were 24-hour periods – Justin Taylor (The Gospel Coalition): Interesting read, particularly coming from someone firmly ensconced in the camp of biblical inerrancy, key quote:

Contrary to what is often implied or claimed by young-earth creationists, the Bible nowhere directly teaches the age of the earth. Rather, it is a deduction from a combination of beliefs, such as (1) Genesis 1:1 is not the actual act of creation but rather a summary of or title over Genesis 1:2-2:3; (2) the creation week of Genesis 1:2-2:3 is referring to the act of creation itself; (3) each “day” (Heb. yom) of the creation week is referring to an 24-hour period of time (reinforced by the statement in Exodus 20:11); (4) an old-earth geology would necessarily entail macroevolution, hominids, and animal death before the Fall—each of which contradicts what Scripture tells us; and (5) the approximate age of the earth can be reconstructed backward from the genealogical time-markers in Genesis.

2. Ten Years of Google Maps, from Slashdot to Ground Truth – Liz Gannes (<Re/code>): Google Maps, ubiquitous as it now is, is only Ten Years old. Liz Gannes charts its origin story from birth to the pervasive product it now is. And the quest for innovation is not sated yet, by any means.

The early history of Google Maps ends there. Most of the seminal Google Maps team members have moved on, but to a person they recall working on Maps as the most fulfilling and successful project of their careers. They still take it personally when they hear of bugs in the product or complaints about misguided redesigns.

Today, Geo is one of Google’s main product divisions. Ground Truth remains an ongoing project, and Google developed tools to keep its maps updated through direct user contributions. The division continues to be acquisitive, buying Zagat and Waze and Skybox in recent years. Street View has mapped the Grand Canyon and the canals of Venice. And Google’s maps have laid the groundwork for its most ambitious project yet — self-driving cars.

3. Why I’m Still A Catholic – Nicole Callahan (Salon): Reflecting on remaining Catholic in spite of disagreements with doctrine and how defining herself as Catholic somehow feels like a crucial part of her heritage.

Despite my disagreements, my weaknesses, my failures as a member of the Catholic Church, I can’t do anything but remain in it, though I’ve long since abandoned any pretense of being a great Catholic. Like all American Catholics, I flout and complain about and struggle to comprehend Church teaching; I emphasize the things I find easy to agree with, and minimize those that bother me. But while I am a bad Catholic, and I know it, I am also a practicing one. I have figured out that I’m just the kind who stays.

Though I can understand all the reasons why other people lapse and leave, I can’t seem to manage unbelief. Nor can I turn my back on the church that still gives me a home, a place to belong, when I so often feel that I don’t truly belong anywhere else. This might make my faith sound like a “crutch.” It very well might be. At times I feel that I cannot function, cannot stay on my feet, without it.

4. What does your selfie say about you – The Next Web:

Selfies also allow us to exert a greater level of control over how others perceive us online, and this is a major appeal. Thanks to front facing camera phones, we can take countless photos of ourselves until we have an image that depicts us exactly the way we want – an image that we’re happy to share with the online world. Interestingly, recent research suggests that this “selective self presentation” may actually enhance our self-esteem and boost our confidence.

5. An Ode to the Aux Cord – Eric Hulting (Medium):

Few things exemplify that [instant gratification] more than the AUX cord. Literally any song that exists on your phone or the internet is within your reach once you get in your car. It’s cathartic, spiritual even, to have that level of free will over what you listen to. Last road trip I took, I listened to something like 100 different songs from like 50 different albums

2015 Reading #1

In addition to completing Moon Walking with Einstein, The Pioneer Detectives and significantly denting my copy of The Best American Essays 2014, my 2015 reading has consisted of loads of longform, which I am curating via Pocket. Below are a few of the more interesting pieces that caught my eye this month:

1. Learning to Drive – Adam Gopnik (The New Yorker): What we learn when we learn to drive?

… Driving a car more like walking on a sidewalk, [is] full of recognitions and hand waving and early avoidance, tamping down the sudden shocks that the combustion engine is heir to…

I saw that driving was in another way civilization itself: self-organizing, self-controlling, a pattern of agreement and coalition made at high speed and, on the whole, successfully. “Just signal and slide over,” Arturo would urge me on the highway, and, as I signalled, other cars—other drivers—actually let me slide over!

2. Writing Your Way To Happiness – Tara Parker-Pope (The New York Times) : The benefits of expressive writing?

Like Siri, I have numerous explanations for why I don’t find time for exercise. But once I started writing down my thoughts, I began to discover that by shifting priorities, I am able to make time for exercise.

“When you get to that confrontation of truth with what matters to you, it creates the greatest opportunity for change”.

3. Selma was a Spiritual Endeavour for Me -Alissa Wilkinson and Morgan Lee (Christianity Today): David Oyelowo on playing Dr King in Oscar nominated (best picture) Selma:

.. every film I do can be edifying, can be something that points toward I believe to be true: I’m not one to shy away from darkness in movies, as long as there is light. As long as the light overwhelms the darkness, then you’ll find me in the midst of that story. That’s what I aspire to do because I know it to be true in my own life. I don’t think I’ve done a film that doesn’t demonstrate that—the darkness being overwhelmed by the light.

4. The Secret Life of Passwords – Ian Urbina (The New York Times) : Keepsake passwords;

…ritualize a daily encounter with personal memories that often have no place else to be recalled. We engage with them more frequently and more actively than we do, say, with the framed photo on our desk. “You lose that ritual,” [Miah said,] “you lose an intimacy with yourself.”

5. The Little Bug That Could – Michael Frankel (Medium): On travelling across the continental US in a Volkswagen Beetle to welcome a grandchild;

The Bug and I rolled into the Tampa Bay area still under waves of thunder­storms, alternating downpours with steamy sunshine. You could almost see the recently dropped rain rising off the pavement as steam. The grand tour of the union was coming to an end. We covered seventeen states in 6,000 miles. The top was down for 5,300 of those miles — a new personal-all-time-best. I consumed seventy-five cups of coffee on the road, almost all of them McDonald’s secret, piping-hot recipe. I averaged eighty miles per cup. The longest dry run between McDonald’s restaurants was 258 miles from Fallon to Eli, Nevada on Route 50. Along with the coffee, I ate six dozen granola bars and countless pretzels.

Links 04.10.2014

A few of the interesting bits and bobs I’ve stumbled on over the last few days

  1. Hope for a cleaner, cheaper, oil less future just became a wee stronger. Nigeria beware?
  2. @forakin on why we should all blog. For a more in depth analysis, Andrew Sullivan’s seminal piece from 2008 offers a longer read.
  3. The £11bn conundrum. The scale of the problem or an opportunity?
  4. Khoi on the design of the iPhone 6. Unimpressed is the word
  5. Education as a tool for disrupting and challenge paradigms – the NY Times weighs in.
  6. Ebola contained.. Phew –
  7. Elon Musk, on Mars
  8. On lightning, and being struck by it.
  9. On Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the Modern Novel.
  10. Pay and gender gaps, closing?

The Friday Read: Gas is all around…

vamizi-island-private-villa-suluwillo-aerial

In the week that saw a cloud of gas leak from Total’s North Sea Elgin-Franklin field, the scramble for gas offshore Mozambique continues apace as Anadarko and Cove announce further finds, adding to the significant plays booked by ENI in 2011. The BBC’s Antonia Quirke ponders the impact exploiting these resources will have on this hitherto pristine corner of the world:

There is a sense on Vamizi of anxious anticipation. Some hope that the Mozambique government will run the project well and money will filter down to the islands which are particularly poor. Many people have feared the worst from the start. An islander tells me that when they heard that gas had been found to both the north and south, they watched all night as the illuminated exploration vessels searched and searched ever closer to their shores.

We stood on the sand, he said, and prayed it would not be found right here, thanking Allah when the vessels moved on.

The vast majority of African countries have not managed natural resources very well. Oil in Nigeria’s Niger Delta and Equatorial Guinea, and diamonds in Sierra Leone and the DR Congo are perhaps the most obvious examples of natural resources fuelling fat cat dictatorships, internal strife and burgeoning insurgencies – arguably with the connivance of the West. Tullow in Ghana and Uganda appear to be setting about it the right way; one can only hope that Mozambique uses this as a unique opportunity to build an industry from the ground up, learning to avoid the pitfalls that have befallen others who have gone before.

Listen to the podcast here.

Image from the Imagine Africa website.

The Friday Read: The True Cost of Parenting

Joshua Gans on The True Cost of Parenting, and why $180,000 may not necessarily be as outlandish as it sounds especially when the opportunity cost of stay at home parenting is factored in:

Parents know their children, have their interests at heart, are on call all the time and mean you don’t have to worry about child care.  This is precisely the utilitarian services that the high priced nannies are being valued for. Once you include stay-at-home parents, you’ll find that we are all paying much more for nannies than we think.

The original article on the $180k nanny here.

The Friday Read: Are Emotions Prophetic?

Are emotions prophetic? The short answer is No, but Jonah Lehrer at The Frontal Cortex offers a good summary of the long answer [pdf]:

Every feeling is like a summary of data, a quick encapsulation of all the information processing that we don’t have access to. (As Pham puts it, emotions are like a “privileged window” into the subterranean mind.) When it comes to making predictions about complex events, this extra information is often essential. It represents the difference between an informed guess and random chance.

Thin-slicing for dummies? I suppose the unasked question is how our prejudices, worldview and the socio-cultural context bias us in one direction or the other when we emotionally thin-slice… It just might be a good time for me to re-read Gladwell’s Blink too.

The Friday Read: Mixed Matches

A few days late but an interesting read nonetheless. Denise Morris explores inter-racial dating and marriage from a biblical worldview over at Boundless.org. Parts One, Two and Three explore her experiences in growing up as a child from a mixed marriage, the pseudo-biblical objections people may have and offers a useful summation:

Will choosing to date someone outside of your race make your life more difficult? Hopefully not, but it could. If it does, remember that the father of lies still has a grip on humanity. He will until the day Christ returns to put him in his place. Are the potential difficulties of an interracial relationship worth it? Of course they are if it’s the person God has prepared for you. Most importantly, all of us are precious in his sight — red, yellow, black and white — and every shade in between.

Even though in many ways my various reservations are being pared down to the bare essentials, I still suspect that going inter racial is (yet) a bridge too far – the rationale being the significant cultural differences (which are not insurmountable) and the perception that they are often marriages of convenience rather than for love. It’s only 2012 though, 2015 might see me singing from a different song sheet..

The line about red, yellow, black and white reminded me of a song [YouTube] from children’s church back in the day.