Seth Banks writes:
For the unfamiliar, Everpix is a freemium photo hosting service that has six employees and 6,800 paying users. Everpix recently announced that they’re shutting down in grand fashion, after running out of money. The final straw? Their inability to pay an estimated $35,000 monthly hosting bill from Amazon AWS.
Contrast that with Snapchat–the 20-plus employee, zero-revenue, temporary selfie app that secured a huge $60M round of funding in June, got swanky new office digs in Venice, and supposedly is in line to get even more money!
Why is a service that people actually pay for closing, while a zero-income company benefits from over-funding?
Well-known start-up blogger Andrew Chen had a few things to say about the Everpix postmortem, with this gem in particular catching my eye: Focusing on monetization too early can lead to a white flag, since it’ll mean the entrepreneur is thinking small rather than focusing on winning the market.
Those of you not living in start-up bizarro world are probably scratching your head at that one, but it explains the situation perfectly.
See, most venture capitalists swing for the fences, all the time. They don’t care about base hits, doubles, and (sometimes) home runs. They want the grand slam, the big idea, The Next Facebook.
Small profitable companies, particularly the ones that don’t show pump-and-dump potential, get shunned by VCs. They even use patronizing phrases to describe such operations, like “lifestyle businesses.”
Jeffrey Collins writes:
Supporters of a 14-year-old black boy executed in 1944 for killing two white girls are asking a South Carolina judge to take the unheard-of move of granting him a new trial in hopes he will be cleared of the charges.
George Stinney was convicted on a shaky confession in a segregated society that wanted revenge for the beating deaths of two girls, ages 11 and 7, according to the lawsuit filed last month on Stinney’s behalf in Clarendon County….
The request for a new trial is largely symbolic, but Stinney’s supporters say they would prefer exoneration to a pardon.
Stinney’s case intersects some long-running disputes in the American legal system — the death penalty and race. At 14, he’s the youngest person executed in the United States in past 100 years. He was electrocuted just 84 days after the girls were killed in March 1944.
The request for a new trial includes sworn statements from two of Stinney’s siblings who say he was with them the entire day the girls were killed. Notes from Stinney’s confession and most other information deputies and prosecutors used to convict Stinney in a one-day trial have disappeared along with any transcript of the proceedings. Only a few pages of cryptic, hand-written notes remain, according to the motion.
“Why was George Stinney electrocuted? The state can’t produce any paperwork to justify why he was,” said George Frierson, a local school board member who grew up in Stinney’s hometown hearing stories about the case and decided six years ago to start studying it and pushing for exoneration….
The girls were last seen looking for wildflowers in the tiny, racially-divided mill town of Alcolu about 50 miles southeast of Columbia. Stinney’s sister, who was 7 at the time, said in her new affidavit that she and her brother were letting their cow graze when the girls asked them where they could find flowers called maypops. The sister, Amie Ruffner, said her brother told them he didn’t know and the girls left.
“It was strange to see them in our area, because white people stayed on their side of Alcolu and we knew our place,” Ruffner wrote.
The girls never came home and hundreds of people searched for them through the night. They were found the next morning in a water-filled ditch, their heads beaten with a hard object, likely a railroad spike.
Deputies got a tip the girls had been seen talking to Stinney. They came to Stinney’s home and took him away. His family wouldn’t see the boy again until after his trial. Newspaper accounts suggested a lynch mob was nearly formed to attack the teen in jail.
Stinney’s dad worked for the major mill in town and lived in a company house. He was ordered to leave after his son was arrested, said Stinney’s brother Charles Stinney, who was 12 when his older brother was arrested. Charles Stinney’s statement explains why the family didn’t speak to authorities at the time.
“George’s conviction and execution was something my family believed could happen to any of us in the family. Therefore, we made a decision for the safety of the family to leave it be,” Charles Stinney wrote in his sworn statement.
Charles Stinney said he remembered the events vividly because “for my family, Friday, March 24, 1944, and the events that followed were our personal 9/11.”
Both statements were made in 2009. Lawyer Steve McKenzie said he planned to file the request for a new trial then, but heard from a man in Tennessee who claimed his grandfather was with George Stinney the day of the killings. McKenzie thought the information from someone not related to Stinney would be especially powerful, but the person suddenly stopped cooperating after stringing the lawyers along for years.
Bellah Zulu writes:
The Church Mission Society, (CMS) Africa adopted a unique model called Business as Mission (BAM) to transform communities across Africa through business with an intention to “make Jesus known, encountered and followed.”
“This is an old and yet important concept of transforming and empowering communities,” said CMS Africa Executive Director, the Revd Dennis Tongoi in an interview with ACNS. “We have empowered a lot of rural communities in key areas such as solar lighting and bio-gas.”
Business as Mission (BAM) is a movement of “kingdom minded business people whose emphasis is on transforming communities through business with an intention to make Jesus known, encountered and followed,” said the Executive Director.
The Revd Tongoi said that BAM recognises that business is a calling and that business people are full time ministers’ not just Mission supporters, and the market place is a prime’s mission field.
In September this year, using the same concept, CMS-Africa attended a dedication of a Biogas unit set up in Githunguri, a settlement in Kenya’s Central Province. Greenspan Bio-Technologies, a wholly owned subsidiary of CMS-Africa, developed the Biogas unit.
CMS Africa Communications Officer Joshua Watila reports that before the advent of biogas, there was excess cow manure produced by the many dairy cows in the area, which had become a nuisance to the local communities.
“Biogas production is now utilising all the available cow manure in a household with the production unit,” said Mr. Watila. Mr. Tongoi added, “At least people have now stopped cutting trees and are using manure as a source of energy.”
CMS-Africa has also been developing the “quadruple bottom line business model” which aims to start and develop business for the benefit of the whole communities especially the poor in Africa.
It has four major components including financial, spiritual, social and the environment which aim to incorporate profitable business, biblical subjects, fair trade and stewardship of the environment as God’s gift to mankind.
Miles Kimball and Noah Smith write:
We believe that the idea of “math people” is the most self-destructive idea in America today. The truth is, you probably are a math person, and by thinking otherwise, you are possibly hamstringing your own career. Worse, you may be helping to perpetuate a pernicious myth that is harming underprivileged children—the myth of inborn genetic math ability.
Is math ability genetic? Sure, to some degree. Terence Tao, UCLA’s famous virtuoso mathematician, publishes dozens of papers in top journals every year, and is sought out by researchers around the world to help with the hardest parts of their theories. Essentially none of us could ever be as good at math as Terence Tao, no matter how hard we tried or how well we were taught. But here’s the thing: We don’t have to! For high school math, inborn talent is just much less important than hard work, preparation, and self-confidence.
How do we know this? First of all, both of us have taught math for many years—as professors, teaching assistants, and private tutors. Again and again, we have seen the following pattern repeat itself:
- Different kids with different levels of preparation come into a math class. Some of these kids have parents who have drilled them on math from a young age, while others never had that kind of parental input.
- On the first few tests, the well-prepared kids get perfect scores, while the unprepared kids get only what they could figure out by winging it—maybe 80 or 85%, a solid B.
- The unprepared kids, not realizing that the top scorers were well-prepared, assume that genetic ability was what determined the performance differences. Deciding that they “just aren’t math people,” they don’t try hard in future classes, and fall further behind.
- The well-prepared kids, not realizing that the B students were simply unprepared, assume that they are “math people,” and work hard in the future, cementing their advantage.
- Thus, people’s belief that math ability can’t change becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The idea that math ability is mostly genetic is one dark facet of a larger fallacy that intelligence is mostly genetic. Academic psychology journals are well stocked with papers studying the world view that lies behind the kind of self-fulfilling prophecy we just described. For example, Purdue University psychologist Patricia Linehan writes:
A body of research on conceptions of ability has shown two orientations toward ability. Students with an Incremental orientation believe ability (intelligence) to be malleable, a quality that increases with effort. Students with an Entity orientation believe ability to be nonmalleable, a fixed quality of self that does not increase with effort.
The “entity orientation” that says “You are smart or not, end of story,” leads to bad outcomes—a result that has been confirmed by many other studies. (The relevance for math is shown by researchers at Oklahoma City who recently found that belief in inborn math ability may be responsible for much of the gender gap in mathematics.)
Psychologists Lisa Blackwell, Kali Trzesniewski, and Carol Dweck presented these alternatives to determine people’s beliefs about intelligence:
You have a certain amount of intelligence, and you really can’t do much to change it.
You can always greatly change how intelligent you are.
They found that students who agreed that “You can always greatly change how intelligent you are” got higher grades. But as Richard Nisbett recounts in his book Intelligence and How to Get It, they did something even more remarkable:
Dweck and her colleagues then tried to convince a group of poor minority junior high school students that intelligence is highly malleable and can be developed by hard work…that learning changes the brain by forming new…connections and that students are in charge of this change process.
The results? Convincing students that they could make themselves smarter by hard work led them to work harder and get higher grades. The intervention had the biggest effect for students who started out believing intelligence was genetic. (A control group, who were taught how memory works, showed no such gains.)
But improving grades was not the most dramatic effect, “Dweck reported that some of her tough junior high school boys were reduced to tears by the news that their intelligence was substantially under their control.” It is no picnic going through life believing you were born dumb—and are doomed to stay that way.
For almost everyone, believing that you were born dumb—and are doomed to stay that way—is believing a lie. IQ itself can improve with hard work.
Ruben Navarrette, Jr. writes:
Yet I have a new respect for the DREAMers. As I watch them, I realize they’re doing a much better job than most U.S.-born Hispanics — especially Mexican-Americans — of not being blinded by loyalty and instead cutting through the nonsense that permeates our political system. They’re trying to hold President Obama and Democrats accountable for the left’s duplicitous approach to the immigration issue. It’s not easy, but the DREAMers are giving liberals a well-deserved spanking.
Here is the left’s game plan on immigration: Democrats will purposely light up Republicans by asking for the moon and stars, such as full citizenship for about 11 million illegal immigrants who are likely to become reliable Democratic voters. Republicans naturally withhold their support and a few of them will probably implode by saying crazy and racist things, thereby repelling Hispanics and sending them into the waiting arms of Democrats. Immigration reform will die, which will please Democrats because they don’t have to get crossways with blue-collar workers and organized labor — a powerful constituency that is afraid to compete for jobs with newly legalized immigrants who tend to be hungrier and work harder.
The beauty of this strategy is that Democrats get to keep the support of Hispanic voters by fooling them into thinking they’re pushing for immigration reform without having to anger working-class voters who might desert the Democratic Party if it became known as the party of “amnesty.” It’s a double win for Democrats.
The plan is elementary, but it’s proven effective. It worked in 2006 and 2007, when Democrats used it to derail immigration reform in Congress.
So we can expect to see this strategy again in the next few months now that Obama has rebooted the debate by announcing his intention to pursue immigration reform as his next domestic policy initiative.
Many U.S. Hispanics — who in 2012 rewarded Obama for deporting a record number of undocumented immigrants (most of them Hispanic) by giving him 71 percent of their votes — fall for this ploy every time.
Not the DREAMers. Recently, a group of them protested outside the White House, demanding that Obama stop his deportation surge. While Hispanic activist groups, which are usually run by U.S.-born Hispanics and white liberals, and nonprofit reform advocates who feed at troughs filled with foundation money continue to advance the narrative that Republicans are the only snag to achieving immigration reform, the DREAMers figured out which end of Pennsylvania Avenue is responsible for removing illegal immigrants. Hint: It’s not the one where you find Congress.
Bravo. DREAMers are fed up with lies, and sick of political games. They’re tired of being spun and manipulated. They want results, real leadership and an immigration system worthy of a great country. As should we all.
This is a main stage talk I gave at Elmbrook Church in Wisconsin in October.
MP3 (20 minutes) download here.
Slide deck (pdf file, 16 slides) download here.
Crux of message:
Most American churches don’t know what to do with businesspeople.
Many businesspeople feel like ATM machines… people say words – pushing buttons – hoping that an unknown combination releases funds. This behavior objectifies businesspeople.
Partners Worldwide got started because of this limited view of Christian businesspeople.
The biblical foundation of business is that (a) work is good and existed before the fall, and (b) all work is a holy calling because we are mandated by Scripture to work as for the Lord, no matter our work.
In light of this biblical view, every Christian businessperson is already engaged in life-long, full-time Christian ministry precisely in each one’s ordinary Monday thru Friday, daily work.
The world needs people who can bring together facilities, equipment, people, materials and processes to produce goods and services for society – this is how to properly see a Christian businessperson, as a person bringing these unique skills to a world that needs them.
It is the goal of Partners Worldwide to honor God’s call to business by walking along side others seeking to grow their businesses and create jobs in high unemployment communities around the world.
Christian business owners and professionals: You are already engaged in life-long, full-time Christian ministry precisely in your Monday through Friday, daily work. In partnership with other Christian business owners and professionals, you can make a difference in the lives of people around the globe and in your own backyard.
LuAnn Franklin writes:
“Poverty exists in every community, not just in East Chicago, Gary and Hammond,” said Micah Pollak, a professor at the IUN school of business and economics, who presented information about poverty trends in Lake and Porter counties.
Valparaiso and Merrillville have had “significant increases in poverty,” Pollak said. Poverty rates in Schererville have increased more than 240 percent since 1980.
“There is a strong correlation between unemployment and poverty,” he said. “One of the best ways to reduce poverty is jobs.”
Increasing the number of people who graduate from high school and go on to college or other postsecondary education is another vital step, Pollak said.
“We have to do this as a region,” he said.
Surekha Rao, a professor in the IUN school of business and economics, shared research she continues to do on poverty and how that information needs to be included in indexes of economic growth. The goal should be to eliminate poverty, she said.
“There is a big gap in the income levels. Poverty is increasing at an alarming rate. Over 16 percent of the population in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties live in poverty. How can we ignore those numbers?” Rao said.
The gap between those who earn a good living and those who don’t is increasing in Lake County, she said.
“Porter County is doing the best in our region and poverty is at a much lower level there. There is still a gap that needs to be looked at,” Rao said. “LaPorte County shows the widest gap in income levels and has the highest rate of poverty in the three-county area.”
Shaila Dewan writes:
Even those with established storefronts have turned to Grameen. Guadalupe Perez, 51, took a loan when business fell off during the recession. She and her husband were having trouble paying rent on the party decoration store they had started with their life savings. “It opened up a way for me to keep my business,” she said through an interpreter, standing near a display of ribbons and wine glasses that she had embellished with glittery designs. “I wanted to hear what the rules were for Grameen because I was afraid of going to a bank. It was a loan that I could pay little by little; I felt it was a good choice for me.”
Ms. Perez has used subsequent loans to expand the size of her store and now plans to invest in enough tablecloths to decorate two parties at the same time. But the loans have not increased her enthusiasm for entrepreneurship. Asked whether, had she the chance to do it over, she would go into business for herself, her answer was short and simple: no.
Ms. Perez said she and her husband worked every day and earned $500 to $600 a week, or about $29,000 a year — a “very low” income by federal standards for New York. They are not able to save.
Good data on the benefits of microcredit are scarce, and the few randomized studies have not demonstrated that it substantially improves prosperity in developing countries. In the United States, data collected by the Field program of the Aspen Institute show that microloans yield significant increases in income and create jobs. Joyce Klein, the program’s director, said the surveys had limitations but more rigorous studies that included randomized control groups would be prohibitively expensive.
Grameen says that its loan recipients have increased their incomes by an average of $2,500 during each six-month loan cycle, and that one in five hires an additional worker. But Katherine Rosenberg, a senior vice president at Grameen, acknowledged that pinning down income data is the group’s biggest challenge, because borrowers tend to think in terms of whether they have enough to cover their next bill, not how much they make over all. Ms. Rosenberg said many clients may not earn more but instead work less, dropping one of several low-wage jobs or taking advantage of the flexibility of self-employment to spend more time with their children.
Donald Melanson writes:
Coursera, a California-based venture that has enrolled five million students in its free online courses, announced on Thursday a partnership with the United States government to create “learning hubs” around the world where students can go to get Internet access to free courses supplemented by weekly in-person class discussions with local teachers or facilitators.
The learning hubs represent a new stage in the evolution of “massive open online courses,” or MOOCs, and address two issues: the lack of reliable Internet access in some countries, and the growing conviction that students do better if they can discuss course materials, and meet at least occasionally with a teacher or facilitator.
Christina Hoff Sommers writes:
1. Bring Back Recess
Schools everywhere have cut back on breaks. Recess, in many schools, may soon be a thing of the past. According to a research summary by Science Daily, since the 1970s, schoolchildren have lost close to 50% of their unstructured outdoor playtime. Thirty-nine percent of first-graders today get 20 minutes of recess each day — or less. (By contrast, children in Japan get 10 minutes of play each hour.)
Prolonged confinement in classrooms diminishes children’s concentration and leads to squirming and restlessness. And boys appear to be more seriously affected by recess deprivation than girls. “Parents should be aware,” warn two university researchers, “that classroom organization may be responsible for their sons’ inattention and fidgeting and that breaks may be a better remedy than Ritalin.”
2. Turn Boys Into Readers
…. Every teacher should have an up-to-date knowledge of reading materials that will appeal to disengaged boys.
Every boy should have weekly support from a male reading role model.
Parents need access to information on how successful schools are in supporting boys’ literacy.
Boys will read when they find material they like. Guysread.com is the place to go for lists of books that have proved irresistible to boys.
3. Work With the Young Male Imagination
In his delightful Boy Writers: Reclaiming their Voices, celebrated author and writing instructor Ralph Fletcher advises teachers to consider their assignments from the point of view of boys. Too many writing teachers, he says, take the “confessional poet” as the classroom ideal. Personal narratives full of emotion and self-disclosure are prized; stories describing video games, skateboard competitions or a monster devouring a city are not.
Peg Tyre’s The Trouble With Boys illustrates the point. She tells the story of a third-grader in Southern California named Justin who loved Star Wars, pirates, wars and weapons. An alarmed teacher summoned his parents to school to discuss a picture the 8-year-old had drawn of a sword fight — which included several decapitated heads. The teacher expressed “concern” about Justin’s “values.” The father, astonished by the teacher’s repugnance for a typical boy drawing, wondered if his son could ever win the approval of someone who had so little sympathy for the child’s imagination.
Teachers have to come to terms with the young male spirit. As Fletcher urges, if we want boys to flourish, we are going to have to encourage their distinctive reading, writing, drawing and even joke-telling propensities. Along with personal “reflection journals,” Fletcher suggests teachers permit fantasy, horror, spoofs, humor, war, conflict and, yes, even lurid sword fights.
If boys are constantly subject to disapproval for their interests and enthusiasms, they are likely to become disengaged and lag further behind. Our schools need to work with, not against, the kinetic imaginations of boys to move them toward becoming educated young men.
Roberto A. Ferdman writes:
To monetize its fast-growing audience—and in doing so justify its nearly $4 billion valuation—the company has to get all those window shoppers to buy. But it’s a tough sell; it’s easy enough to help funnel users clicking through pictures of, say, Anthropologie products to Anthropologie’s website. But Pinterest is notoriously gun-shy with its customers, er, users, and has been slow to adopt blatant ads or sponsored content.
Thus far, the solution has instead been to focus on less disruptive revenue builders. Pinterest’s “rich pins,” for example, allow businesses to post pictures with real-time pricing, availability and information on where to buy certain products, without bombarding users with ads. The company’s other major revenue play is in analytics; companies can now track the number of people posting, sharing and clicking on their content with Pinterest’s new tool, Pinterest Web Analytics. Instagram, on the other hand, has resorted to more traditional ads; the company recently announced that new sponsored photos and videos will soon start appearing on users’ photo streams.
Still, investors likely have other plans. What’s driving the high price tag for Pinterest is probably potential ad sales tied to its growing user base.
Check it out (Perpetual Help Home is a member of CCDA, an affiliate of Partners Worldwide, and featured at PovertyCure):
The Center for Peace is a multifaceted social enterprise that is operated out of Perpetual Help Home. The Center for Peace work training program is designed for the women learn entrepreneurship, business, computer & office skills, helping them to become more marketable when searching for employment. The many functions of the Center are designed to enrich & impact our community as well as the lives of the women who live at the home.
The Center has five Restorative Justice Outreach Ministries supported by the volunteer efforts of the women of Perpetual Help Home to give back to the community.
The Center provides training to churches, businesses, and organizations:
- Wholistic Community Development Training
- Tools for Success
- Acceleration Program
- 40-hour Basic Mediation Training
- Conflict Resolution Training
For a few months I’ve been thinking about the 7th chapter of the book of Hebrews, the chapter that compares Jesus and Melchizedek. I listen to it on The Bible Experience. Cuba Gooding, Jr. reads that chapter (my wife and I, at least, think it’s him). Over and over, throughout my day, the phrase comes to me: “…the power of an indestructible life.” That’s one way to describe Jesus.
Below is the 7th chapter in full. The image above of Melchizedek blessing Abram is by artist Derek G. Perkins.
This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.
Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also are descended from Abraham. This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater. In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.
If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also. He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared:
“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.”
The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.
And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:
“The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind:
‘You are a priest forever.’”
Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.
Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely[c] those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.
Danielle Silva writes:
A pistol-packing pastor helped foil a stick-up when he pulled his handgun on a man trying to rob an Indiana discount store Friday night, police said.
Pastor Carl Sanders, who has a permit to carry a firearm, managed to hold the suspect at the Dollar General Store in Evansville on the until police arrived.
Evansville Police said Jermaine Dewayne Marshall, 25, walked into the store and, with a bandanna over his face and an unknown object wrapped in plastic in his hand, demanded money from a worker at the register. The employee refused.
Read the whole thing at Indiana pastor pulls gun on man, stops robbery – U.S. News.