noshing of Sacred Cows: a tirade, of sorts

I cannot for the life of me, even when i begin to have some thoughts of, and i cannot call it acceptance, but maybe respect or leniency (i guess) for the religious folks out there—those blind, well, maybe myopic is more respectful and giving of a word—devotees.

It’s difficult to be able to latch onto Christian, especially Catholic, folks and their clan’s beliefs. The cauldron’d and served gospel poison has fully decimated and truly usurped any power, has rendered any supposed good moot. The preached and proselytized edict soup is nothing more than snake oil. These sacred cows must be slaughtered.

Why, i would like to know, are the Dieties, the Divine monoliths of said people, only responsible for the good that occurs in someone’s life?—within someone’s family?—or, within their job, say a promotion?

Why, when their is a rape of their six-year-old sibling, or when a twenty-something year-old relative is stricken with cancer, or when someone stubs their toe, is their Higher Power not attributed with the affliction or mishap?

Or, more importantly still, such events or milestones are always spun off in such an incredulously tragic, downright humorous way that it is appalling: they’re in a better place or it happened for a reason—one that we, all human beings, believers and non-devotees, alike, are too unknowledgeable to understand. Or, that’s just the replied rationale.

Oh, yes, an eight-year-old boy who survives the desecration and pillaging of his innocence, is then forced to live tragically tarnished for decades hence—this is fair, i suppose. Switch him with an innocent civilian woman in a remote “warzone” maimed by a mine, or let’s barter with a female college student who is drugged and gang raped: the former is a casualty of war, one crafted by mankind; the latter, she is to blame for it, her attire or persona—not God—and, we are told they both should be thankful to be alive!? It is mind boggling, headshaking-inducing.

The only alternative to being thankful for such a gift is—you guessed it—to be ungrateful, to throw away such a gift, to commit suicide. But then, herein lies the rub: they will be condemned for eternity if they do such. Ah, such benevolence, such mercy practiced; such a warm, welcoming thing some of these religions are.

I cannot with that—cannot, will not, accept that these Dieties—which are all-knowing, all-powerful, and are touted as the most-benevolent of entities—could subject their subjects, their worshipers, their lambs (their creators, if i will allow my chutzpah to brandish its chest), to such atrocious acts of physical and mental means; to leave indelible, noxious marks on their bodies, in their minds, and on their souls.

It’s such a disheartening stream of events and consequences—one that, as a rational and history-minded person, i cannot fathom, will not accept as gospel (ha).

Through our long-standing human history, many thoughts have been had, untold stories of creation myths have been passed along amongst billions of humans throughout the various minor and major civilizations. The leading, primary religious bodies and sects that have ruled the past millennium or so, have been able to misconstrue, to skew, to inculcate, and then further ingratiate themselves into the less secular realms of the world as time progressed—with their ruling powers having deteriorated, they’ve utilized more wiles, learned to be more socially dextrous and maneuverable, becoming solely a more silent kingmaker rather than the duality of figurehead king and its maker.

A people that have first-hand experience with being hoodwinked as such are those of the African Diaspora, the peoples of infinite shades and tones, who have pollenated the world’s continents, islands and various lands, through various slave trades, missionary subterfuge, (in)voluntary emigration and immigration. To me, the situation has the stench of Stockholm syndrome: through the mental rape and hostage via religion, the original hostages passed on their assumed love for their captures to their children; the progeny continue to defend and herald the gospel, forgetting—really, glossing over—the soiled history of their predecessors, never truly open to accepting what really occurred. There’s been an adoption of stranger’s values, and a throwing-in-the-dumpster or leaving-on-the-church-steps of their own, a rejection. It’s unfortunate.

Everything is relative, of course, and this includes the truth, as well as history. The powerful’s side is always different from the subordinate’s; and this is a shining example.

entrepreneurs … must read this book: Rework

Rework by Jason Fried (37signals) & David Heinemeier Hansson

Counter-intuitivism has never been this appealing or enlightening.

Urging someone to listen to uncommon advice and tips would normally be considered crazy talk, but in Rework, the approach and delivered goods are well worth the look on the naysayers’ faces when you’re successful from heeding said advice.

Jason Fried, co-founder of 37Signals, the company that brought us online productivity and project management software, Basecamp and other business tools, along with David Heinmeier Hansson, have crafted a book filled with unorthodox advice with the sole purpose of increasing productivity, while derailing inactivity and wasted energy.

From burgeoning entrepreneurs and weathered corporate managers alike, to non-profit organizers and indy record label execs, this book works for all types of folks as a new approach to obtaining the same goal: success, and its myriad of definitions each individual and collective holds true.

The worst interruptions of all are meetings. Here’s why:

  • They’re usually about words and abstract concepts, not real things.
  • They usually convey an abysmally small amount
    of information per minute.
  • They drift off- subject easier than a Chicago cab
    in a snowstorm.
  • They require thorough preparation that most
    people don’t have time for.
  • They frequently have agendas so vague that nobody is really sure of the goal.
  • They often include at least one moron who inevitably gets his turn to waste everyone’s time with nonsense.
  • Meetings procreate. One meeting leads to another meeting leads to another . . .

Rework is about re-thought: seeing things in a new light. It may work totally for one person. Or somewhat for another. Regardless of which occurs for you, discussion will be had.

A quick, smooth read, mainly because of the illustrations strewn throughout and the straight-to-the point language, the ideas planted at lunchtime or before bed, will sprout buds before your next meeting.

And, if the authors’ goal is met, it will be your last.

Besides the above snippet, please check out the 19-page PDF of excerpts and illustrations below (it’s embedded into the page).

You can also right-click then save as, if it loads slowly.

Thanks for reading. I hope this book is beneficial to you as it was for me.

I’m out.

Peace.

[gview file="http://mental-ephemera.com/Rework-by-Jason-Fried-and-David-Heinemeier-Hansson-Excerpts.pdf"]

(BlackBerry app review) Wicked Blogging App

If you’re anything like me, you live on your phone. I text, BBM, read and reply to emails, Tweet and Facebook, pay bills, and order stuff and books online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Up until a few days ago, i essentially did everything but blog.

I’m a WordPress advocate—well, more like fanatic—and was dismayed by the lackluster official WordPress for BlackBerry app. It was limited. I’ve noticed a trend in “official” apps for services or software being subpar, but that’s another post, entirely.

Anyway, i decided to give the 2-day trial for Wicked Blogging App a spin. It’s a pretty snazzy offering from Screaming Toaster. It took literally 10 seconds to create a Screaming Toaster account and less than a minute to connect to my self-hosted blog (WordPress.com blogs are supported, too).

Note: If you have a self-hosted blog, make sure XML-RPC protocol is enabled under Settings –> Writing or you’ll receive an error when attempting to login to your blog.

I only have a dozen or so blog posts at the moment, so downloading my posts didn’t take long on a typical AT&T Edge connection. Wi-fi was even faster, probably about 10 or so seconds. Posts can be filtered by categories, tags and author. You can even view and reply to recent comments.

All posts are written in HTML mode, so if you need to bold or italicize, or to add a link, you’ll need to be familiar with writing out the respective HTML codes. Before publishing, you can specify the author, tags and categories as you would normally.

There’s an HTML and a web viewer to preview posts. They work well enough to ensure formatting is correct before publishing. Speaking of publishing, make sure to use “Save Draft” if you’re still working on your post and not “Save.” I used the latter, not realizing that “Save” means “Publish.” I had to scramble to a computer to return the post to draft mode because the app doesn’t allow you to unpublish a post, and the BlackBerry browser is too slow. Editing an already published post’s content is the same as editing an unpublished one.

What about pictures? Gotta have pictures! Fortunately, you can attach a photo stored on your phone or snap one. I didn’t have much luck, however, with attaching one, even though the image was drastically smaller than the 200kb limit. I’ll have to play around with it some more.

Another oddity, which caused me to freak out, is the implementation and giddy enthusiasm of the geolocation feature. Geolocation takes your GPS coordinates and puts it as a link into your post. This can be turned off, but it’s easily dismissed if you’re in a rush to publish (or “save”). For all of my digital diligence and the way i embrace technology, i’ve yet to become a fan of people knowing my location at all times. I flirted with Foursquare for a few months, but only checked in at my usual haunts regularly. All of the GPS features for my apps are turned off, including the hidden BlackBerry one, which i only turn on when i need to use Google Maps, but then it i turn it right back off.

All in all, i’m happy with Wicked Blogging App and believe it’s worth the $30/year price. Purchasing a license was quick, seamless and secure. I’ve now written and published two posts solely using the app, both without any harrowing incident.

I agree with the 4-star rating in BlackBerry App World and encourage you to give it a try.

Enjoy, mobile BlackBerry bloggers!

choices to be made: Kindle 3 or Nook Color?

I’ll come right out the gate with what you want to know: i decided on a Nook Color.

I’m sure my friend @Pat_B_Sure is saying, “Ha! I told you so” right about now, but that’s only because he thinks he’s won the war in our Nook vs Kindle disputes. Well, in a way, sure; but ultimately, i’ve won. The consumer is always right! (Pat works for Barnes & Noble, by the way.)

After chiding (jokingly) the original Nook for its slow book-loading and page-turning, especially when compared to the Kindle, something happened: the Nook Color was released.

While at the mall, i toyed with it for about 10-15 minutes and even in this short timeframe i was able to do a few things: i became accustomed to the surprising weight of the device (it’s slightly heavier than i imagined, but still less than the Kindle DX); i lurked around the menus, checking every twist, turn and corner to see where they lead me, which wasn’t too tricky or unintuitive; and i asked the sales rep some questions regarding battery life, storage space and WiFi, to which all received satisfactory answers.

I’m sure i could have Googled reviews and specs, but i truly wasn’t too interested in the device before i happened to walk into B. Dalton (B&N subsidiary). I was salivating over the Kindle 3; and for good reasons.

NY Times: Kindle version

For one, the price ($139) was almost perfect; if it had dropped to $99 on Black Friday, this post would be a lot different, i’m sure of it lol. Two, Amazon’s seamless One-Click purchasing and deliverance to all of my Kindle App-holding devices—several computers between home and work and a BlackBerry. And lastly, the naive belief that i didn’t want color or touch in my e-reading device, that i was going to solely read books or i’d be content with reading color magazines in black and white (the chutzpah!).

Speaking of magazines, the Nook Color’s inclusion of the latter two didn’t entirely woo me, however. A week or so before i was able to try out the Color, i had a reversal of desire—all of a sudden the iPad was appealing. And not for any superficial, material reason, but for a business and scholarly one. I revisited a very-long-in-the-tooth desire to start and publish my own magazine or journal. Being that the iPad is one wave of the publishing future, i believed the iPad would help with that dream. So, with the arrival of the Nook Color, i was able (or hoping) to transfer that dream to its touchscreen cousin.

Highlighting Example of the Nook Color

After our introduction, all i could think about was the Nook Color. I even Tweeted about it. I scoured the web for all things Nook Color, from positive reviews to disappointing warnings, and protective cases to software on par with Amazon’s offering. I was looking for things to deter me from buying the Kindle 3. I immediately downloaded the Nook app for my BlackBerry, Macbook and PC. I wanted to see if the software allowed me to create a similar setup i had with Amazon’s Kindle apps, most importantly, the ability to sync reading locations between all devices. It did; but in some ways i was disappointed and in some ways i was elated.

One such elation wasn’t with the Nook ebook app, but with it’s sister software, NookStudy. It’s pretty snazzy even after nascent tests. I’m writing a more in-depth review soon, but i will say that it’s already a solid, yet could be improved application for students, professors or avid readers, alike. I’m excited over it’s potential—very excited.

NookStudy Highlighting in a Textbook

A disappointment with Barnes & Noble is their Nookbook bookstore: it’s all right, nothing spectacular. The breadth of titles isn’t as robust as Amazon’s, but the pricing of ebooks is similar.

Another discouraging facet of the B&N eReader is that not all the ebooks work on all devices. Several titles, both full books and samples, aren’t “available” on the BlackBerry version of the app, but work on the Mac or PC. It’s ridiculous. The books are only comprised of text and formatting (XML). Not like i’m trying to view magazines on the BlackBerry. I’ve yet to run into “unavailable” books with Amazon’s Kindle apps for any device (including the Android which I used months ago when i had a G1).

On a good note, from cursory tests, the formatting of B&N versions of the same ebook is more polished than that of Amazon’s offering. I tested out free, public domain titles, probably a dozen or so.

A blackeye for Amazon is a knockout for me: the ability to export notes and bookmarks. B&N’s eReader app and NookStudy allow you to export your notes and bookmarks; Amazon’s Kindle app, does not, and only allows for syncing across devices. Get your act together, Amazon. Yesterday.

I have yet to purchase any of the ebook devices because of price, mainly. If the Kindle 3 had color, i’d scoop it up at the $139 price point. And, if the Nook Color was $199 instead of $249, i’d buy it tomorrow. From what i’m hearing, because of strong sales, the Color will not drop price any time soon, unfortunately.

So, for now, i am content with using the free software available to read and annotate titles on the MacBook and BlackBerry (well, i can only bookmark, no highlighting or notes on the BB). I don’t feel, with my lack of disposable income, the $249 is right to get a Nook Color, especially since i would then have to purchase a $30 protective case/sleeve, easily pushing the total cost to $300 with tax, which would be better spent on an Android-based tablet for around the same price. But that’s for another post.

Soon, though, soon the Nook Color will be mine.

darling Nikki (Giovanni): your transparency should be lauded

When encountering an artist’s work for the first time, especially one who’s lauded doubly for her writing ability and Civil Rights activism (and the coupling of both), it’s dismaying when the work is underwhelming.

With Sacred Cows…And Other Edibles, that surely is not the case. In fact, i don’t believe the work of Nikki Giovanni, or at least this collection of poetic and autobiographical prose, is given its deserved attention today.

Even in an age where privacy is becoming a rarity, replaced by involuntary openness, Giovanni’s candor is refreshing; she was frank and self-echoing decades before it was fashionable.

I want to commend and bring attention to her transparency. Being forthright and open to an audience, whether in business, government or personal relationships, is an appealing combination these days. It seems everyone desires candor, and that want serves as the perfect proverbial carrot.

Giovanni’s openness, however, exists not as motivation, but as sustenance and sweetness unknown. Once experienced, the reader will want to indulge, to continue as witness to unbridled truth of self—a rare innocence that exists not with malice, but with intentions of purity.

There is an ease in the way she illustrates life’s experiences: from the tiresome rearing of a teenager to the concession of battling a cancerous cigarette habit, her writing is direct yet eloquent. Switching styles from poetic historical and political polemic and didactic to fractional introspective prose, the transparency and eloquence of self-worth is tangible throughout each. The gamut is run; the gauntlet thrown down. Readers and writers alike will find something that speaks to them.

I encourage women and men, Blacks, Whites and all assorted ethnicities and (non-) religious folks to read Giovanni. There’s a collective human history spoken of and reviewed by a Black women’s mind and voice; one from which all can (and I believe, will) benefit.

(This post is also on my Lunch.com profile.)