What the hell are we alive for?

The heat of life

What are we really living for? Some people say it is for love, for ideals, for money, for a better life, for all the beautiful things worth pursuing. Like many people, I pursue what I believe to be meaningful. But what is meaning?

Before we figure out what the meaning is, what is the perceptual experience? We use our eyes, ears, skin, nose and tongue to sense information about our environment, which is then translated into electrical signals and sent to the brain, which then makes judgments about the environment based on the perceived signals and makes physiological adjustments accordingly. For example, when you see rich and attractive food, your brain sends corresponding instructions to make you desire and act to obtain food. When you eat the food that your body needs, your brain will release dopamine, which can make you feel excited and happy, in order to reward you…

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Boko Haram Claims Responsibility For Kankara Students’ Abduction

Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the abduction of over 300 students from the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, Katsina State, last Friday, December 11.

HumAngle reports that in a 4 minutes 28 seconds audio released on Monday night December 14, the leader of the deadly terror group, Abubakar Shekau, said contrary to claims made in some quarters, it is yet to make any demands.

“What happened in Katsina was done to promote Islam and discourage un-Islamic practices as Western education is not the type of education permitted by Allah and his Holy Prophet.

They are also not teaching what Allah and his Holy Prophet commanded. They are rather destroying Islam. It may be subtle, but Allah the Lord of the skies and earth knows whatever is hidden. May Allah promote Islam. May we die as Muslims.”

In a nutshell, we are behind what happened in Katsina,” HumAngle quotes him as saying.

A top commander of the sect also dismissed claims it has made any demands.

According to the commander;

“The only time we spoke with the parents was to warn them to tell the military to desist from making any attempts to forcefully rescue the boys,”

Listen to the audio below

5 Ways to Ruin a Virtual One-On-One

virtual one one one

As leaders, we know that one-on-one communication with our team is critical. When we can’t just look out and survey the cubicle-farm to see how people are doing, the little time we get to spend with each employee becomes more precious. That’s why conducting these meetings is perhaps the most important skill a long-distance leader can have.

In many ways they are just like doing person to person chats in the office with a couple of important differences. Ignore those, and you can fail in your goal to stay informed, build relationships and keep a good big-picture view of how team members are doing.

We want to do these well. If, on the other hand, you want to ruin a perfectly good management interaction, try doing these five, counterproductive things during your one-on-ones:

Start by giving them “your list.”

When you only have quality time with people on a regularly scheduled basis, you likely keep a running list of things to talk about. That’s great. But when the leader starts the conversation with, “Here’s what I want to talk about, what do YOU want to talk about?” you’ve told them what’s important to you and unless there is something really critical on their list, you likely won’t hear about it. Always ask team members what they want or need to discuss before giving them your agenda or they may not be forthcoming.

Do it “between the cracks” in your schedule.

When we’re in the office, we make time for these important conversations. We call people into our office or an empty space and give them our full attention. It’s obvious to the other person how important this event is. When we are working with remote employees, we often give the impression that there are other things we could be doing. We are more likely to cancel remote appointments than in-person ones. Sometimes we hold these calls while driving (or, back in the good old days) in airport lounges between flights. We often sound distracted, and even when we’re taking notes, can sound like we’re multitasking. Make sure the other person knows this time is important to you.

Don’t use webcams unless absolutely necessary.

Working remotely, you have limited face-to-face time as it is. These conversations tend to be important, so you want them to be as “rich” as possible. When you avoid using your camera you miss out on the body language, facial, and other non-verbal cues that can help you really communicate and ensure buy-in and understanding.

Don’t share screens or use collaborative tools.

When you are talking about performance metrics, or sharing team data, you probably have a dashboard, spreadsheet, or some other documentation. We’ve all been on phone calls where someone is trying to walk us through a document and we either aren’t looking at it, or can’t follow along but don’t want to say something. Your people are no different. By sharing the information on your meeting screen, you increase the odds of both parties working from the same information and being engaged. Or maybe that’s too much trouble and you’d like to keep guessing whether they know what you’re talking about or not?

Stick only to business.

Time is precious, yes. Getting work done without interruption is preferable to wasting time. But maintaining social relationships, understanding what’s going on at home for your folks and making the work more pleasant are all important things. Sticking only to business can heighten an employees’ sense of isolation, frustration, and generally keep you blind to potential problems or stress.

American Election Is Over: Let’s Look At Root Of Racism

Was Planned Parenthood Started To ‘Control’ The Black Population?

August 14, 2015 Amita Kelly

Amita Kelly 2016 square

A Planned Parenthood location in New York City. The organization is a presidential-campaign target. Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Ben Carson had alleged in an interview with Fox News that Planned Parenthood puts most of its clinics in black neighborhoods to “control the population” and that its founder, Margaret Sanger, “was not particularly enamored with black people.”

Planned Parenthood has been a target on the campaign trail after a series of sting videos was released alleging the organization illegally profits from selling aborted fetal tissue. Carson, a famed neurosurgeon turned Republican presidential candidate, has been a vocal opponent of the group. He was also in the news this week after reports surfaced that he once used aborted fetal tissue for research.

Here’s a closer look at Carson’s comments:

What Carson said

On Fox News Wednesday, Carson was asked about Democrats’ criticism that Republicans who want to defund Planned Parenthood are waging a “war on women.” He responded:

“Maybe I am not objective when it comes to Planned Parenthood, but, you know, I know who Margaret Sanger is, and I know that she believed in eugenics, and that she was not particularly enamored with black people.

“And one of the reasons you find most of their clinics in black neighborhoods is so that you can find a way to control that population. I think people should go back and read about Margaret Sanger who founded this place — a woman Hillary Clinton by the way says that she admires. Look and see what many people in Nazi Germany thought about her.” Article continues after sponsor message

It’s not the first time Planned Parenthood has faced criticism about its founder and the placement of its clinics — former presidential candidate Herman Cain made a similar statement in 2011.

What Planned Parenthood said

In response, Planned Parenthood said Carson was not only “wrong on the facts, he’s flat-out insulting.” Alencia Johnson, assistant director of constituency communications, told NPR:

“Does he think that black women are somehow less capable of making the deeply personal decision about whether to end a pregnancy than other women? … It’s a shame that a doctor, who should understand the barriers black women face accessing high-quality preventive and reproductive health care services, would pander so clearly to anti-abortion extremists on the right.”

Did Margaret Sanger believe in eugenics?

Yes, but not in the way Carson implied.

Eugenics was a discipline, championed by prominent scientists but now widely debunked, that promoted “good” breeding and aimed to prevent “poor” breeding. The idea was that the human race could be bettered through encouraging people with traits like intelligence, hard work, cleanliness (thought to be genetic) to reproduce. Eugenics was taken to its horrifying extreme during the Holocaust, through forced sterilizations and breeding experiments.

In the United States, eugenics intersected with the birth control movement in the 1920s, and Sanger reportedly spoke at eugenics conferences. She also talked about birth control being used to facilitate “the process of weeding out the unfit [and] of preventing the birth of defectives.”

Historians seem to disagree on just how involved in the eugenics movement she was. Some contend her involvement was for political reasons — to win support for birth control.

In reading her papers, it is clear Sanger had bought into the movement. She once wrote that “consequences of breeding from stock lacking human vitality always will give us social problems and perpetuate institutions of charity and crime.”

“That Sanger was enamored and supported some eugenicists’ ideas is certainly true,” said Susan Reverby, a health care historian and professor at Wellesley College. But, Reverby added, Sanger’s main argument was not eugenics — it was that “Sanger thought people should have the children they wanted.”

It was a radical idea for the time.

Sanger wrote about this mission herself in 1921: “The almost universal demand for practical education in Birth Control is one of the most hopeful signs that the masses themselves today possess the divine spark of regeneration.”

Was Sanger “not particularly enamored with black people”?

Sanger’s birth control movement did have support in black neighborhoods, beginning in the ’20s when there were leagues in Harlem started by African-Americans. Sanger also worked closely with NAACP founder W.E.B. DuBois on a “Negro Project,” which she viewed as a way to get safe contraception to African-Americans.

In 1946, Sanger wrote about the importance of giving “Negro” parents a choice in how many children they would have.

“The Negro race has reached a place in its history when every possible effort should be made to have every Negro child count as a valuable contribution to the future of America,” she wrote. “Negro parents, like all parents, must create the next generation from strength, not from weakness; from health, not from despair.”

Her attitude toward African-Americans can certainly be viewed as paternalistic, but there is no evidence she subscribed to the more racist ideas of the time or that she coerced black women into using birth control. In fact, for her time, as the Washington Post noted, “she would likely be considered to have advanced views on race relations.”

Are most of Planned Parenthood’s clinics in black neighborhoods?

In 2014, the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research center, surveyed all known abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood clinics, in the U.S. (nearly 2,000) and found that 60 percent are in majority-white neighborhoods.

Planned Parenthood has not released numbers on the neighborhoods of its specific clinics, but responding to a request for demographic information, the organization said that in 2013, 14 percent of its patients nationwide were black. That’s nearly equal to the proportion of the African-American population in the U.S.

However, Carson is tapping into a more subtle sentiment — the targeting of African-Americans in health care systems. There have been documented cases of that happening, including the now-infamous Tuskegee study. Starting in the 1930s, the Tuskegee Institute enrolled black sharecroppers in experiments and allowed them to suffer from syphilis untreated, though they were told they were getting treatment.

And, Wellesley’s Reverby said, that was sometimes the case for birth control clinics historically, too. They may have been available in communities where more general health care was not, raising some ethical questions.

“One of the issues is … what happens when you can find birth control clinics but you can’t find primary care? It’s just a question of what the state’s willing to provide for,” Reverby said. “Was there overuse of birth control and sterilization in poor communities in some states? Absolutely. It’s a complicated story.”

Did Sanger have a connection to Nazi Germany?

Not that NPR found. Sanger herself wrote in 1939 that she had joined the Anti-Nazi Committee “and gave money, my name and any influence I had with writers and others, to combat Hitler’s rise to power in Germany.”

She also said books of hers had been destroyed and that she had intellectual friends who were sent to concentration camps or put to death. Sanger did not have a connection to the Nazis, but a loose association comes through her involvement in the eugenics movement.

American and German eugenicists closely collaborated, and the Nazis reportedly borrowed much of their 1933 so-called sterilization law from American models. That law allowed the government to forcibly sterilize people with alleged genetic disorders.

In her book, the Pivot of Civilization, Margaret Sanger referred to the black as feeble and unfit and should not be allowed to procreate (have children).

6 ways struggling managers can reset

The Enterprisers Project
You think you have a remote management problem? Perhaps you need a more agile leadership model: These six processes work well whether you’re remote or not

Bob Kantor (Lead Contributor) | December 14, 2020 / enterprisersproject.com

Here’s a dirty little secret about remote work: Managing teams remotely is not much different than managing on-site.

The reason it may seem different is that the negative impact of poor management is more apparent when teams are working remotely. So, when my clients ask me to help them solve their remote management problems, I give them the same advice and guidance I always have – and it still works.

[ How do your team meetings stack up? Read also:  Zoom tips: 6 ways to make meetings better. ]

A practical leadership solution: SLLC

The following simple model, which I call the Simple Leadership Lifecycle (SLLC), identifies six core leadership processes and corresponding suggestions to improve your management and your team’s results. You can apply it annually, quarterly, monthly, weekly, daily, or even meeting by meeting to ensure you achieve your desired outcomes. This leadership lifecycle is designed to be iterative, much like agile development.

This lifecycle is designed to be iterative, much like agile development. By working through it repeatedly, you will progress in rapid, incremental steps, which minimizes your risks and maximizes your outcomes. Think of it as a leadership scrum model.

These six simple processes work well regardless of physical proximity and can end your remote management problems for good.

1. Clarify your strategic intent

It’s not enough to be right – you also need to be helpful.

People will not follow just because you may be right. They will follow your lead if, and only if, they feel it will help them and the organization.

Clarify your strategic intent, even for a one-on-one conversation. Maybe you want to strengthen a relationship or get agreement on an immediate decision, or maybe it’s more important to improve team alignment than to finalize a project delivery date.

Also, clarify what’s most important to you and for you to do. This takes time and analysis every day, sometimes multiple times throughout the day. You may get requests from bosses, peers, subordinates, spouses, kids, friends, clients, and vendors every day – if you simply throw all those requests into a to-do list, you will be overwhelmed in no time and will constantly struggle to achieve strategic results.

2. Prioritize

It’s not enough to do things right – you also need to do the right things.

You will be more effective if you manage your focus and energy. There is always too much to do. Choose what’s most important based on your strategic intent.

What are the three most important things you need to achieve or address today? Dedicate quality time to those as early in the day as possible. One approach is to keep a short list of important goals with no more than 20 items on it. Rank the items every day, so you know which are your top three. Then spend 30 to 120 minutes of focused effort to move them forward.

After you’ve invested effort in the most important things, you can spend the rest of your day on other things. But do what matters most first.

3. Delegate

It’s not enough to get stuff done – you also need to grow your people.

Sure, you can probably do it faster yourself. But teaching others helps them grow and increases your team’s ability to deliver better results. Sure, you can probably do it faster yourself. But teaching others helps them grow and increases your team’s ability to deliver better results.

Before starting any task, ask yourself: Who else can do this? Can you ask a direct report to do it, or can you teach them so they can do it next time? If a direct report isn’t realistic, how about a peer, a colleague in another department, a service provider, or independent contractor? 

Of course, just because something could be done by someone else doesn’t mean it should be. Don’t automatically delegate every “to-do” that comes your way. Filter out tasks that will become less and less important to do over time. Something that appears important today may be much less so next week.

4. Create accountability

It’s not enough to delegate work – you also need to ensure that it gets done.

Too many managers delegate much less than they should because their teams don’t deliver the results they expect. Here are three steps to increase your team’s accountability:

  • Be clear on what you expect and when you expect it. And don’t simply assume you are clear: Test for shared understanding before the work begins and check in regularly. The less experience your team member brings to the task, the more often you should check in.
  • Establish compelling consequences to maximize motivation. Positive consequences might include new skills, enhanced respect from colleagues, attendance at high-profile meetings and events, etc.
  • Set ongoing checkpoints based on empirical evidence. Don’t ask how things are going and accept “fine” as an answer – ask for details.

Don’t ask how things are going and accept “fine” as an answer – ask for details.

5. Manage performance

It’s not enough to provide feedback – you also need to ensure that behavior changes.

Many IT managers struggle with conversations about improving team member performance. But these don’t need to be difficult.

When poor performance continues for too long, you may find yourself spending too much time correcting problems and taking on work you should not be doing. This happens when you haven’t established a strong foundation upon which to measure and correct performance. By implementing the four fixes above, you can transform performance management into a simple, comfortable, and continuous improvement process.

6. Communicate

It’s not enough to be clear – you also need to be understood.

Effective communication requires you to confirm mutual understanding. How much effort do you waste each day due to ineffective communication? Poor communication leads to duplicated efforts, wasted time and energy, missed deadlines, and more.

Stop thinking of communication as the messages you send to people. Instead, think about engaging with people.

Always confirm a shared understanding following any communication. Don’t simply ask if you were clear or if the other person understood you. Instead, ask questions like “What actions do you think you’ll take as a result of this conversation?” or “What do you think about this issue?”

NY Nurse First American to Receive COVID-19 Vaccine

Sandra Lindsay, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, is inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., on Dec. 14, 2020. (Mark Lennihan/Pool via Reuters)

Sandra Lindsay, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, is inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., on Dec. 14, 2020. (Mark Lennihan/Pool via Reuters) AMERICA

By Zachary Stieber December 14, 2020 / theepochtimes.com

Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York, on Dec. 14 was the first American to receive a new COVID-19 vaccine.

“It didn’t feel any different from taking any other vaccine,” she said.

“I would like to thank all the front-line workers, all my colleagues who’ve been willing to fight this pandemic, all over the world. I feel hopeful today, relieved. I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history.”

Lindsay said she wanted to instill public confidence in the safety of the vaccine.

Lindsay’s vaccination was shown during a press conference held by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat. Dr. Michelle Chester of Northwell Health administered the shot.

“Everything worked perfectly,” she said.

Northwell Health planned to vaccinate at least two other workers on Dec. 14.

Epoch Times Photo
Nurse Annabelle Jimenez, left, congratulates nurse Sandra Lindsay after she is inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, in the Queens borough of New York, on Dec. 14, 2020. (Mark Lennihan/Pool/AP Photo)

“This is what everybody has been waiting for,” Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health, said at the briefing.

Cuomo said scientists estimate at least 75 percent of Americans need to get the vaccine in order for it to be effective; he called on every American to “do their part.”

“It’s going to take months before the vaccine hits critical mass. So, this is the light at the end of the tunnel but it’s a long tunnel and we need people to continue to be, do the right thing and the smart thing all through the holiday season,” he added.

President Donald Trump, whose administration focused on speeding up the development of both COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics, celebrated the moment. “First Vaccine Administered. Congratulations USA! Congratulations WORLD!” he wrote in a tweet.

COVID-19 is a disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

In Ohio, health professionals administered vaccines to five people simultaneously at 10:47 a.m. Those in the room applauded after the injections were given.

Approximately 2.9 million doses were set to be delivered to states by the end of Dec. 16, marking the first tranche of 40 million injections projected to be given this month.

The vaccine is administered across two doses spaced three weeks apart.

The Food and Drug Administration on Dec. 11 approved emergency use of the vaccine, which is made by Pfizer and BioNTech.

Drug regulators are meeting this week to consider approval of a different vaccine made by Moderna

Increase Psychological Safety In A Virtual Team

By Lolly Daskal

Most of us are working from home these days. We may have started off thinking of it as a temporary measure, but now it’s clear that many of us won’t be returning to the office in the foreseeable future—if ever. Now that we have a base of experience, it’s time to think about how we can create virtual teams that are truly effective and will serve us well in the long haul.

Here are some starting points:

Model the right kind of behavior. Leadership is especially crucial in a virtual teams, but research shows that leaders consistently fail to recognize how their actions influence others. Model the attitudes and behaviors you want to see. To signal that virtual working is the new standard, make sure you keep yourself organized and equipped with everything you need, including good Wi-Fi.

Create informal meet-ups. Set up virtual meeting rooms where people can connect for quick meetings and communicate informally. And make sure you show your presence by hanging out there from time to time to connect with your team. Pop in, listen to what people are saying and contribute to the conversation where you can.

Develop a communication hub. Set up a channel in your messaging app or chat function where people can talk about what’s happening in the world and in their lives, post memes and videos, and compare notes on podcasts or movies. Think of it as a virtual water cooler.

Be respectful of people’s time. Just because your people are working from home, don’t make a habit of expecting them to check in at the crack of dawn or stay up late for team meetings. Especially in unsettled times, people need to be able to rely on their home routine, whether that means an early-morning walk or helping their kids with homework. People aren’t at their best when they’re pulled from those routines.

Measure your success. As you implement changes to accommodate remote teamwork, measure the results against what you had before. If it’s a change that affects clients or employees, set up an anonymous survey or another channel to solicit candid feedback—and listen to the responses. Tracking results and monitoring feedback can help make ensure that your virtual workplace is serving your team well

Keep people safe. Psychological safety matters in the workplace, with remote teamwork it requires more attention than ever. People are comfortable working in an environment when they feel safe making mistakes, speaking up, and generating innovative and creative ideas. Above all else, make sure your people feel that same sense of safety in their virtual workplace.

Taking the time to create a remote environment where teams can work effectively, stay connected with their colleagues, and know they’re safe pays off in engagement, morale, collaboration, and productivity.

Lead from within: You need to be able to motivate talent and inspire people wherever they are. Then when they succeed, they strengthen your team and your organization even more.

Another love

Darkling Petrichor

The other time I ran to Micheal’s , it was more of a granny’s-gossip bar than couple’s date. Is this how cafes age? And still bear with people like me, and others that just eats and forgets every cushion colour, every cutlery, or the way they place those ikebana in each corner totally over? The bartender continued humming that gloomy old songs, when I saw his greyed streaks from behind those thick rimmed glasses, staring , far off from divans, through those windows, across the eventful traffic, down the next foot to a guy waving to her girl , he would return, or maybe he won’t. This neon makes it so difficult to make out, expressions of ageing people. Maybe one day the bartender if not me would see him back, old, on that foot, they would cross the traffic, hands cupped together, push those glasses open, not much glancing…

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