This is the Brain Pickings midweek pick-me-up: Once a week, I plunge into my fourteen-year archive and choose something worth resurfacing and resavoring as timeless nourishment for heart, mind, and spirit. (If you don’t yet subscribe to the standard Sunday newsletter of new pieces published each week, you can sign up here — it’s free.) If you missed last week’s edition — James Baldwin and Margaret Mead’s extraordinary 1970 conversation about race and the crucial difference between guilt and responsibility — you can catch up right here. And if you find any solace, joy, and value in my labor of love, please consider supporting it with a donation – over these fourteen years, I have spent tens of thousands of hours and tremendous resources on Brain Pickings, and every little bit of support helps keep it – keep me – going. If you already donate: THANK YOU.
FROM THE ARCHIVE | Jacqueline Woodson’s Lovely Letter to Children About Kindness, Presence, and How Books Transform Us
“It is we who are passing when we say time passes,” the Nobel-winning French philosopher Henri Bergson insisted just before Einstein defeated him in the historic debate that revolutionized our understanding of time. “If our heart were large enough to love life in all its detail, we would see that every instant is at once a giver and a plunderer,” his compatriot Gaston Bachelard wrote a decade later in contemplating our paradoxical temporal experience. Still, our most intimate relationship with time unfolds not in physics or philosophy but in storytelling — a miraculous technology of thought and feeling that allows us to both contain time and travel through it, to saturate the moment with absolute presence and to leap from it into other eras, places, and experiences.
That is what National Book Award laureate Jacqueline Woodson, one of our era’s most beloved writers of literature for young people, explores in her beautiful contribution to A Velocity of Being: Letters to a Young Reader (public library) — a labor of love eight years in the making, comprising 121 illustrated letters to children about why we read and how books transform us from some of the most inspiring humans in our world: artists, writers, scientists, musicians, entrepreneurs, and philosophers whose character has been shaped by a life of reading.
Dear Young Reader,
In my memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming, I write about “this perfect moment, called Now.” I am thinking about this as I lie beside my seven-year-old son, reading to him from a book I at first disliked but have grown to appreciate over the evenings of reading. Two floors up, my thirteen-year-old daughter is supposed to be doing homework but may be checking her Instagram or texting a friend or hopefully snuggled beneath her covers with her own book (The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie — “Oh my God, Momm — I love this book SO MUCH!”).
It feels like such a short time ago it was her in the crook of my arm, wide-eyed and listening. I impulsively kiss the top of my son’s mohawked head (he wants us to let him dye it green — maybe we will — after all, you’re only seven once) and he looks up at me, brow furrowed.
“Why are you kissing me in the middle of the sentence?!”
“Because this moment won’t always be here,” I say.
“Mommy — just read… please.”
As the child of a single working mom, I didn’t have this moment. There were four of us and at the end of a long workday, my mother was exhausted. Sometimes, my older sister read out loud to all of us and those are some of my deepest memories. Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates, The House On Pooh Corner, Harriet the Spy. While I never read any of those books to my own children — preferring to read from books where their young brown selves were/are represented on the page — my sister’s stories in my ear put me on a journey toward my own stories. I wanted to see myself in books, wanted to know that I existed… fully… out in the world.
The book I am reading to my son is about a troll who is despised in his small town, loves a girl who may or may not love him back. We’ve just found out the girl is the daughter of Little Red Riding Hood and now the story has my attention — a twist I didn’t see coming.
“I don’t know why the king is so mean,” my son says. “That’s not kindness, right Mommy?”
I refrain from kissing the top of his head again and try not to think that this moment of my youngest child beside me, the two of us inside one story, won’t always be here. This now is what matters, young reader. The moment we’re all living in is what counts — how will this moment, and the stories we’re living inside of change us… forever? The smell of my son’s hair, his laughter, his whispered “Oh man!” and now, him saying softly “That’s not kindness, right Mommy?” This is what reading does. This is what matters most. I smile and turn the page.
* * *
* * *
via WhatsApp University
The rain was pouring down heavily in Colaba And standing in front of a big puddle outside a pub, was old Parsi Uncle, drenched, holding a stick, with a piece of string dangling in the water.
A passer-by stopped and asked, “What are you doing, uncle?”
“Fishing” replied the old man.
Feeling sorry for the old man, the gentleman said, “Come out of the rain and have a drink with me, uncle.”
In the warmth of the pub, as they sip their whiskies, the gentleman cannot resist asking, “So how many have you caught today?”
“You’re the fourth” says the clever old Parsi .😂
THE COBRA EFFECT Hope you know about a term named Cobra Effect?
If not, it’s time that you learn about it.
The Cobra Effect is a term in economics. It refers to a situation when an attempted solution to a problem makes the problem worse.
This name was coined based on an incident in old colonial India.
By some reasons, there were too many venomous cobra snakes in Delhi. People were dying due to snake-bites and it became scary for almost everyone to step out of their houses.
The government of the day had to get into action to stop this menace and it offered a silver coin for every dead cobra. The results were great, a large number of snakes were killed for the reward.
Eventually, however, it led to some serious unwanted consequences. After a short-term dip in cobra population, it started going up.
This was because few people began to breed cobras for the income. When the news reached the government, the reward program was scrapped, causing the cobra breeders to set the now-worthless snakes free. As a result, the cobra population further increased. The solution for the problem made the situation even worse.
The unintended consequence for a well-intention-ed idea led to making the problem worst.
Trying a new solution?
Planning to tackle an existing problem with a new idea?
Well, it’s time to pause and think about how people would respond to the new idea that may sound great on paper!
Specially the solutions that try to affect how people behave.
Every solution has consequences and those consequences may lead to certain situations where rather than solving a current problem, you may end up with more complex problems.
As they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the similar mistakes are happening around us everyday when the decision -makers fail to take a 360 degree view of all the possible outcomes of an action before implementation.
Nearly 2 years ago, city of Philadelphia in USA passed a “soda tax” — a US $1 tax on a typical 2-liter bottle of soft-drink- as a “sin tax” in the national war on obesity. But the natives didn’t cut calories as a result of the tax on sweetened drinks, nor there was a shift towards any healthier option. Instead, most of them just drove outside the city to buy the same colas , from stores where they didn’t have to pay the tax. But the poorest paid more as they could not find it affordable to drive out of the city to buy their drinks. In the end , city suffered loss of revenue due to lower sales whereas the lower section society paid more .
The unintended consequence for a well-intentioned idea led to making the problem worst.
Even big & brilliant companies do the same mistake!
It is not that mistakes happen only with the government run programs, there’re n numbers of examples in great private companies too where the best & brilliant people lose sight of certain negative outcomes due to the initial magic of seemingly great looking ideas .
The Nano Car – a small car that could never it make it big !
The car once touted as the world’s cheapest, Tata Nano, seems to be running into a dead end as sales and production is down to a trickle. The poor demand has resulted in Tata Motors shutting down the plant few months back.
A car considered as a brilliant product, launched in a segment having a billion dollar opportunity. Hope ran high , the company expected all present and potential two-wheeler owners would shift to Nano.
But they forgot to dwell deeper – a car marketed as ‘the cheapest car’ , created huge initial interest. But it never took off.
Later on, Ratan Tata admitted that the reason for failure of this idea was none other than the term which became synonymous with Nano – “The cheapest car”.
Buying a car in India is associated with social status and prestige; if a person owns a car, he is assumed to be successful and settled. But the word ‘cheap’ in its marketing campaigns spoiled everything.
The company also failed to dwell upon the competition from used-cars. Used cars (2nd hand cars) from other companies , which were much better in quality, space
and mileage were available to the same customer -segment at the same or lesser price than Nano .
An intelligent team of people failed to think about the above likely outcomes because it became temporarily blind by the brilliance of such a great idea, by the idea of tapping a billion-dollar opportunity.
Apple turning sour!
In 2017 Apple admitted that it was slowing down the speed of old iPhones as the batteries of those old phones were degrading with the passage of time.To make up on loss of brand image and to saistfy its erstwhile customers, it offered to cut its US $79 battery replacement feed down to US $29 as a way of apologizing.
This lower fee led to more people in 2018 ended up swapping their batteries — instead of upgrading to the latest iPhone models thus affecting new iPhone sales. As iPhone batteries became cheaper and easier to replace, fewer people are shelling out for new iPhones that can now cost up to US $1,449.
On January 2nd this year, Apple revealed that it was expecting a $9 billion loss in revenue due to weak iPhone demand that’s partly caused by more people replacing their batteries, according to a letter issued by CEO Tim Cook addressed to investors.
Slowing down of iPhones sales can be attributed to many external reasons too (better Chines phones, better Apps on Android phones etc ), but strategy of battery-replacement was an internal idea. It would have been handled better if people at top would have thought more about it , if they would have filtered this program from Cobra effect
*What’s in it for you ?
Next time if you or your team has some brilliant idea , get your brilliant guys together in a room and think about the Cobra- effects before implementing that idea.
You can always fine-tune the idea to minimize the negative implications by spending few extra hours/days before rushing to announce it.
Don’t implement while you’re under the awe of the brilliance of a never -tested, nice-looking solution or idea, think about the Cobra-effects first.*
(post by Shri Nilesh S. Vikamsey, Past President, ICAI)
“A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down.”
via Today’s Quote https://ift.tt/2ApWYBh
“Don’t bite off more than you can chew because nobody looks attractive spitting it back out.”
— Carroll Bryant
Never have I ever been to a professional basketball game.
“Don’t bite off more than you can chew because nobody looks attractive spitting it back out.”
— Carroll Bryant
Did you know…
… that today is National Iced Tea Day? With the official start of summer just a few days away, the timing is perfect for National Iced Tea Day. Have it plain, add a little lemon, or sweeten it with sugar. It takes no imagination to decide how to enjoy this great day: Grab an Iced Tea and head out to the hammock strung under a shady tree!
|WORD OF THE DAY|
|Examples of Engram in a sentence
“The grant money was dedicated to more study on how memories are encoded on an engram.”
“You may remember your dreams as an engram, or just a memory trace.”