June 21, 2013

"I'll find a way to make my poetry build a roof over our heads..."

Business Insider did a piece on a friend from college, Scott Heiferman, who is the founder and CEO of Meetup.com on rightsizing your company. Here is the video of it:


I've also been reading The End of Big: How the Internet Makes David the New Goliath and the listening to the audiobook More or Less: Choosing a Lifestyle of Excessive Generosity which all have gotten me thinking back to these ideas of simplicity, and what it the appropriate size of institutions (business, governmental, religious) - do we sometimes embrace growth for the sake of growth, when keeping things small might make more sense. (I would recommend both books, disclaimer: they are Amazon.com affiliate links).

David Gibson: Pope Francis - "God Redeemed Everyone, Not Just Catholics" While I've never been "anti-pope" there's never been one that I felt like I should pay close attention to; Pope Francis has my attention (in a good way).

7 Homemade Dishwasher Detergents. Haven't tried it, but it seems like an interesting idea.

Lifehacker: Get your bike ready with a 10-point checklist.

Mashable: Traveling Motorcycle Tests Security of Wi-Fi Networks. Note to self: buy motorcycle, tell Amy I need it as part of my master's degree in network security.

Charlie Hopper/McSweeney's: Christian Rock Can Only Ever Be About One Thing. The whole thing is worth reading, but as a United Methodist pastor, this section especially hit me:
"When I’m at the Methodist Church where my sons are going through confirmation, I hear all kinds of music.Some gets me closer to the mystery, mostly when I’m obliged to stand and sing along with old-fashioned hymns—the tenderness of “This Is My Father’s World;” the hushed tension and unexpected chords of “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind;” or the musical invention of the third stanza of “Rejoice the Lord is King” where Charles Wesley (the Dr. Luke/John Rich-ish songmeister of his day) arrives from three centuries ago to stir our blood with unexpected half notes in “Lift up— your— heart—” which release back to an unrelenting major-chord quarter note progression rising, rising: “Lift up your voice, rejoice, again I say, Rejoice!”Oy. Hard to resist.Unless… well, our church has a traditional, red-synthetic-robed choir with sopranos, altos, tenors and basses who often shoo away the mysticism like a stray dog.Sometimes they get at joy. Sometimes they evoke triumph o’er the grave.Still, marketing forces within the church recognize that the choir isn’t for everybody. So they have an 11:00 o’clock rock service now.My eldest son was paired with the nicest guy in the world for a confirmation counselor. This guy plays guitar in the rock combo each Sunday. They sound great.But they play “Christian rock.” 
 Why do I find Christian rock sooooooooo tedious?
I like rock. I like hymns. I’ve opened myself to a sense of spirituality—I’m not an atheist anymore. My son’s counselor plays that guitar like ringing a church bell.But I can hardly endure it.It’s always, always the same story.It’s always the same words even.We thank Jesus, admit sin and guilt, confess amazement at how receptive He is under the awkward circumstances of us having killed Him, and compare Him to a bloody lamb. We ask forgiveness. When we receive forgiveness, we praise Him and The Father.Often we praise not just Him but His Name.(pause while I hope no Methodists are reading this)It all just irritates me. This is not rock: Rawk!—that primordial stew that can combine elements with electricity and create life.Sanctioned phrases and predictable endings are the wrong elements."
He hits the problem with contemporary Christian music so well - no passion, no mystery, no depth. Bumper sticker slogans set to poor imitations of contemporary music doesn't do much to advance art, culture, or add meaning to our lives. I know it works for some people, but I'm with Charlie in confessing that much of the time it doesn't really do much for me. I think it raises the question that sometimes in our efforts to "conform" and become "relevant" we may actually be making ourselves more irrelevant in some people's lives.

Donald Miller: Four Words That Changed My Career.

Related: LaRae Quy: 5 Reasons Why It's Important to Fail.

Dan Dick: The Contentment Decision.

Bill Nye: When Rush Limbaugh Says I'm Not a Scientist, I'm Charmed.

Seth Godin: Tried and False.

Good: Turn an Empty Space into a Pop-up Community Hub. While there are obvious unused spaces in places like Flint and Detroit, I've been noticing the abundance of office space and strip mall spaces in the suburbs and found myself wondering how they might be creatively used.

Planet Money: How a 1911 Methodist song book plays a role in a copyright battle over "Happy Birthday".

Also from Planet Money, a few weeks ago I heard their podcast on a "patent troll" who is trying to claim a patent on all podcasts (the episode is here). In this case, the "inventor" simply documented a way audio theoretically might be shared over the internet back in 1996; he never did anything with this idea and only now is trying to claim royalties from his "invention." What struck me most is the piece at the end where it talks about the Electronic Frontier Foundation challenging this patent and looking for examples of "prior use" - I immediately recalled that in college my friends and I were experimenting with sharing audio over the internet, and actually had a functional implementation in place back in 1994. While bandwidth issues and limits to technology kept us from sharing complete episodes, we had enough of a functional system in place that could be seen as a real precursor to podcasting. (Note: I really can't claim credit for this, this was Scott Heiferman's radio show and idea).

One more thought - if you don't listen to the Planet Money podcast, you really should, they do such a great job of presenting serious economic issues is easy to understand ways.

Roger Grimes: It's Over - All Private Data is Public. Grimes argues that we should no longer assume any of our data (bank, hospital, education, etc.) is private, because security breaches are so rampent that if someone really wants it they can (and probably will) have it. That's a hard reality to face, but I suspect he is right.

I love this song and video from Billy Bragg - "Handyman Blues"... this is a 12-step group I might have to join.


If you like that one and have some time for more Billy Bragg bliss, check out this Tiny Desk Concert from NPR:



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