At certain points in life, many of us find ourselves in positions where we “have to” do things we don’t entirely want to do. When faced with such circumstances, we engage in procrastination as a passive aggressive response to being in this less than desirable position. Have you ever thought deeply about procrastination? I’d venture to guess that if you have thought deeply about this human tendency, you’ve become borderline amused by how silly it is. Let’s unpack that last statement… So you find yourself having to do something you don’t want to do. You know that the sooner you get doing, the sooner you can cross that annoying item off your to-do list. Moreover, you also know that the more you procrastinate, the more stress you will eventually feel as the due date for said task approaches. All that considered, you somehow still keep putting off the task until you’re under the proverbial gun, with a side order of intense stress. Yep… I’m with you… this pattern of behavior doesn’t make much logical sense. Let’s delve a bit deeper to understand why many of us tend to get caught up in this vicious cycle. Continue reading How to avoid procrastination
Welcome to Malaria in plain english volume II. Yep, you guessed it, this is the second installment of the “Malaria in plain english” series. It is highly recommended that you start with ”Malaria in plain english Volume I” if you haven’t already read it… it is a nice segue to this article, and will give you a generally decent historical understanding of the disease.
In this installment of the malaria in plain english series, we’ll discuss some of the important scientific concepts that are central to understanding how this lethal disease works. In line with the usual conversational tone that most of the articles on our blog are written in, we will convey most of this information as answers to frequently asked questions that everyday folks like us tend to have about malaria. Continue reading Malaria in plain english Vol II
Even as a young boy growing up in Nigeria, I have always been relatively fearless except when it came to two things: pissing my mother off, or suffering a bite from an anopheles mosquito. It is probably patently obvious to most people who have a close knit bond with a loving maternal figure why I avoided pissing my mom off… after all, hell hath no fury like a good mother scorned. However, the other major fear of my youth might be confusing to especially those of us who grew up in the western developed world. Let me explain myself… Continue reading Malaria in plain english Vol I
Michelangelo, Sir Isaac Newton, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Leo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, Michael Faraday, Martha Graham, Marie Curie, James Marshall Hendrix, Michael Jeffrey Jordan, Floyd Mayweather Jr, and John Clayton Mayer. The brilliant works of these luminaries often transcend culture, race, and time, leaving many of us rapt in awe. How did Martha Graham so thoroughly master dance to the point where she could create her own genre? During his illustrious career, how did Floyd Mayweather Jr seemingly sense impending punches and skillfully slip out of the way well before his opponents could land them? How does John Mayer effortlessly slide around the guitar, belting melodies from every corner of the instrument almost as if it were part of his body? How did Michelangelo manage to capture the very essence of life in the divinely sculpted statue of King David. Are these amazing shows of brilliance a result of some God given talent, or just plain old fashioned hard work? Short answer – extreme skill is almost always a combination of talent and a special type of hard work. For the more detailed answer, keep reading. Continue reading Is genius a product of talent or effort?
The question of life’s purpose is one that most serious minded human beings above the age of 28 have probably asked themselves multiple times. Why was I born? What am I supposed to do with my life? Who made the universe and the marvelous structure behind it? Is there a God? If there is a God, does HE or SHE give a damn about me? What happens to my consciousness when I die? These questions are timeless, yet there seems to be no consensus on an answer. Perhaps we are all here to get married, start families, be good workers, and live happily ever after. Perhaps striving to be fundamentally good angelic people who never lie, cheat, or hurt anyone is the point of it all. Or perhaps more cynically, our purpose is to simply play our minuscule part on the grand scheme of evolution before we die off and get replaced by more competent versions of ourselves (our children). Maybe there is no purpose to it all and this game of life is just one giant cosmic joke which serves as comic relief to the creator who observes our relatively insignificant squabbles and emotional dramas from a cold distance. To be honest, I don’t think anyone unequivocally knows what the purpose of life is but having devoted a lot of thought and research to this topic, I am going to state my case on what I think an essential part of it is. At this point, I’m wondering if you’ll agree with me or freak out but I guess that’s the whole point of having my fingers fly around the keyboard as I type this. OK I’ll stop all the “meta chatter” now… let’s get to work. Continue reading Why the “bleep” are we here?
At certain points in our adult lives, many of us go through personal transformations that can change us to the very core of our being. Although the end results of such transformations can be wonderful and awe inspiring to behold, the actual process of transformation can be very uncomfortable. The discomfort that often comes with profound personal change is probably a big reason why many of us avoid it even when it becomes evident that it is necessary for further growth. Continue reading The 5 stages of personal transformation
We all want power. If you don’t believe me, take a closer look around you and if you’re honest, you will spot a litany of people (including yourself) angling for power. Most people balk when asked to consider their own innate hunger for power partly because we have been raised to think a desire for power is bad, and partly because almost none of us fully understand all the subtle backhanded ways in which we vie for power. Remember that one time you withheld sex from your spouse because he didn’t do something you wanted?… or that time your two year old son threw a tantrum over a toy he couldn’t have?… or that time your co-worker tried to take credit for the work you did? Yep… you guessed it. All of these are examples in which people of all ages, shapes, gender, and sizes, are angling for power in subtle and manipulative ways. Like it or not, the innately human desire for power is here to stay. It is probably better to accept it as part of human nature rather than waste valuable time complaining about it. Continue reading Power… stop giving yours away. Own it.
The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. – Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)
Those words by the great master of relativity still ring true till this very day. Many if not all of our academic institutions run on logic and reason, emphasizing that way of thinking almost to the exclusion of all others. To be fair, logical reasoning has helped us accomplish a great deal. A lot of the infrastructure (such as the transportation and communication systems) that we have built and refined over many decades were implemented using a heavy dose of logical reasoning. As we saw the benefits that our logical reasoning powers brought to our world, we came to see logic as far superior to intuition. Almost to the point now where most of us either don’t know what intuition is, or scoff at it as “new age bollocks”. Continue reading The magic of intuition
It is fundamentally true that we humans are social animals. None of us get through life without having to interact with other people. Although the advent of the internet and other creature comforts in our modern world have somewhat lessened the importance of social intelligence, it is still in each of our best interests to at least develop the rudiments of this basic life skill to get by in this world. Continue reading The 7 deadly realities
If you are older than 20, and haven’t spent your entire life isolated on some island in the middle of nowhere, chances are that you have first hand experience with toxic people. You know… the types that seem to drain your energy and zest for life when you’re around them for too long. These types of people are all around us in many forms… co-workers, bosses, girlfriends, boyfriends, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, cousins, TV personalities and so on. Although all toxic people seem to share some common characteristics, my journey through life has taught me that toxic people can fall into certain broad but distinct categories. Below are some examples of the categories of toxic people. Please feel free to mention any other types that I might have left out in the comments section if the mood takes you. Continue reading How to deal with toxic people
For the remainder of this article, I will use IVF and in vitro fertilization interchangeably.
One of our prime directives as human beings is to “go forth and multiply”. This natural urge is built into the vast majority of us and is probably the main reason why many of us like sex so much. Our urge to procreate is a good thing because the human race would have died out eons ago without it. Anyhow, even though we humans are wired to procreate, we aren’t always successful at it for a variety of reasons. Among these reasons are: a loss of feminine fertility with increasing age, low sperm count, etc. As we’ve seen many times throughout the history of mankind, we aren’t very good at accepting our limitations and are thus prone to fighting like hell to overcome them. In the struggle to overcome the limitation of poor fertility, we discovered what is known as “in vitro fertilization” which is the central theme of this article.
So… what the heck does “in vitro fertilization” mean? Well “in vitro” is latin for “in glass” and back in the day, laboratory utensils and equipment were made of glass. So in vitro fertilization is the technical term for a procedure that allows for the fertilization of a human egg in a laboratory dish rather than in the female reproductive tract. Having read that, you might be thinking whoa! Really? I’m here to tell you yes… really. The next logical question that is probably bouncing around in your head is – so how does all this medical/scientific voodoo work? Fair question… grab a snack and a glass of wine (if you’re old enough) and let’s see if we can make sense of this in vitro fertilization thing. Continue reading In vitro fertilization (IVF) in plain english
Of all the types of mental anguish that we humans work so hard to avoid, few are bigger or more persistent than the fear of death. The thought that you and I will someday cease to exist is simultaneously humbling and terrifying. The thought of death is humbling because we realize that while our loved ones may mourn us for a short period after we pass on, life will eventually go on just fine with or without either of us. The thought of death is also petrifying because it could come without warning and there is no playbook that tells any of us how the end will come before it does. Life can end peacefully in one’s sleep after a long well lived life full of love, accomplishments, and relative comfort, or it can end violently right after the pain of a serious car accident, a gunshot wound to the chest, or multiple rounds of chemotherapy and the devastating effect it can have on the body’s biochemistry. Regardless of how death comes to each of us, one thing is for sure… it will eventually visit each and every last one of us. Continue reading Death – The Ultimate Equalizer
Many of us are constantly bombarded with messages from our environment that encourage us to exercise regularly in order to stay physically fit. Truth be told, it is in each of our best interests to stay physically fit because doing so increases the chances of maintaining high quality health well into old age. So if exercise is so good for us, why then do so few of us actually do it? Well I think the reason for this particular example of a misalignment between what is good for us and what we actually do is threefold. First, many of us don’t exercise because we don’t have the time to. For example, there are many amazing single moms and dads out there that just can’t find the time to go to the gym for an hour each day in the midst of their busy schedules. Second, many of us don’t exercise because to be honest, exercise can be painful if done effectively and we humans hate pain. Third, some of us avoid exercise because it can lead to injury if done improperly which in turn can significantly hinder other parts of our lives. This last one is especially true when you’re in your 30’s and beyond because the injuries get much more serious and debilitating at that stage of life. Continue reading Practical tips to avoid athletic injury
The human body in its structure and function is a marvel of engineering. It’s dexterity and adaptability are more or less unrivaled throughout the annals of time. In order for the human body to keep running smoothly, there are a number of vital signs that must be maintained and tightly regulated from moment to moment. A good example of one of these vital signs is your body temperature. Believe it or not, there are processes within your body that constantly work to ensure that its temperature remains between 97.8oF (36.5oC) and 99oF (37.2oC) regardless of how high or low the ambient temperature around you is. Among the other vital signs that must be tightly regulated to ensure that you and I keep functioning properly is the amount of sugar we each have in our bloodstream and that my friends is a major theme of this article.
As mentioned in a previous article related to this topic, glucose (commonly known as sugar) is released into your bloodstream each time you eat. This is a good thing because glucose is a rich source of fuel for the cells that make up our bodies. That being said, glucose molecules have to find a way to get into the interior of our cells in order to actually serve as fuel. A hormone called insulin plays a critically important role in granting glucose molecules access to a cell’s interior. Having read that last sentence, you might be wondering if you have to take insulin after every meal. The answer to that question is a resounding yes and nature in her infinite wisdom, automated that process for a lot of us. So even though you don’t have to think about it, your body secretes insulin after each meal to help with the absorption of sugar/glucose provided your blood sugar system is in good shape. Thank goodness for mother nature because a lot of us would probably forget to take insulin after each meal and suffer the consequences (degenerating eyesight, kidney malfunction, etc). Speaking of which, how does the body automatically produce insulin when needed? Continue reading Diabetes type II in plain english
We humans depend heavily on our physical senses (sight, hearing, touch, etc) in order to get by in this physical world. Without the power afforded to us by our physical senses, we’d all probably be involved in too many accidents which result in serious life threatening injuries on far too regular a basis. Can you imagine life without the ability to see or hear anything? In ancient times, a person with neither the ability to see nor hear would have made easy lunch for the neighborhood sabertooth tiger or wolf. In modern times, a person who can neither see nor hear would in all likelihood be killed or seriously injured by some sort of moving vehicle if they ever ventured outside the home without another person to help them. Now that last point might be reduced in severity as we move into the future where most of our moving vehicles will get fitted with proximity sensors and automatic brakes, but for now, that is the reality. Continue reading Are our senses designed to fool us?
Most of us humans are social creatures who tend to form groups and cliques with others who share similar interests. Perhaps this tendency is wired into our DNA at birth, or perhaps it is due to the fact that most of us are born into families populated with people who look like we do. As we grow up in our respective families, we subconsciously absorb our parents’ values (good and bad) because at that stage of our lives, most of us are still too young to independently make up our own minds. In the first few years of our lives, many of us grow up seeing everyone in our biological family as part of “us”, and everyone outside the biological family as “them”. As such, we can be drawn into an “us-them” mindset from near the very beginning. Perhaps this subtle mental shift in the way we perceive the world becomes even more pronounced when we make the transition to the more socially diverse setting of early school. All of a sudden, there are all sorts of people who neither think the way we were raised to think, nor share the same values that we do. When we are confronted with this reality, most of us usually react in one of two ways. Some of us become intrigued by the fact that there are actually people who aren’t like us and become eager to learn from them. For others, the ingrained fear of the unknown kicks in, prompting a bit of defensiveness. Continue reading The silliness of racial bigotry
My first memory of diabetes was at about the age of ten while attending a wedding with my family in my native Nigeria. The grown ups at the time were busy enjoying the wedding festivities while me and my cousins spent the entire day running all over the place engaged in a bunch of games, the names of which I can no longer remember. Our intense play sessions got broken up by the adults a bunch of times that day but the play interruption that I can still clearly remember was when we stopped to eat lunch. Like the rest of the children, I got ushered to one of the many tables in the “crockpot” restaurant at the Sheraton in Lagos and started work on the plate of Jollof rice, chicken, and fried plantains placed in front of me by one of the servers. As I attacked my rice dish, I noticed out of the corner of my eye as my aunt Stella pulled out a syringe from her purse. I was puzzled as to why she had a syringe in her purse in the first place… even doubly confusing was why she would need to bring it to a wedding. I sat there completely bemused as she nonchalantly injected herself, completely emptying the contents of the syringe into her bloodstream before she began her meal. In my youthful innocence, I blurted out “Why did you bring that to a wedding Aunt Stella”. She looked over in my direction and said in her usual elegant voice “Agwu agwu (one of my nicknames)… it‘s because I need it for my diabetes”. My super short 10 year old attention span at the time got the better of me before I could follow up with clarifying questions. I wouldn’t really understand what Aunt Stella was doing and why she was doing it until almost two decades later when I developed an interest in the biochemistry of the human body. Continue reading Type I Diabetes in plain english
Almost all of us have been embittered by some event or the other in our lives… in truth, very few of us if any make it out of this world without the emotional scars to show for it. Although life is a wonderfully precious gift, it can also be a very difficult experience if we are to be completely honest. We’ve all had painful experiences that have made us sad, angry, depressed, ashamed, frustrated, and so on. As we all probably know (perhaps a bit too well), there isn’t anything especially pleasant about any of the above emotions. Worse still, these emotions can linger for extended periods of time, eventually altering the very fabric of who we are in a negative way unless we are careful. You may have seen several examples in your own life of people who started out as really sweet souls until they were subjected to constant bullying or years of abuse which forced them to undergo the plutonic metamorphosis from sweet soul to an individual with the cold heart of a well seasoned assassin. Continue reading The importance of gratitude
The remarkable human knee is one of the most complex and important joints in the human body. It is built to simultaneously embody the attributes of strength and flexibility and is put to near constant use to facilitate the performance of a myriad of actions. Your knee has to be sturdy enough to support the impact of your upper body weight while walking or running, yet flexible enough for you to fold yourself into the lotus position for a meditation session for example. The knee joint is mostly made up of components like bone, muscle, ligaments, tendons, cartilage… and each of the component parts of the knee serves a distinct function. The bones of the knee joint provide support, the surrounding muscles furnish the human with the ability to control his/her movements, the ligaments and tendons within the knee joint provide stability, and the cartilage provides cushioning to absorb the shock from the constant pounding associated with daily movement and exercise. When healthy, the components of the knee work together so that we can walk, run, jump, and change direction instinctively. As a matter of fact, the knee works so well when healthy, that many of us do not fully appreciate its importance until something goes awry. I can say that with confidence because I for one certainly didn’t appreciate the benefit of having two perfectly functional knees until I injured one of them. Continue reading Anatomy of the human knee
Since the dawn of human consciousness, the need to survive has remained perhaps the most fundamental of all human instincts. To put this another way, we humans are naturally impelled to do whatever it takes to survive regardless of the personal or environmental cost. To improve our chances of survival, we’ve become the ultimate opportunists; capitalizing on our ability to bend the utility of the resources around us to meet our needs. As an example, our ancestors converted sharp stones into cutting tools such as primitive spears and knives, eventually using those same tools to kill animals for food. At some point in our progression as a species, it occurred to us that the skin from the animals we killed for “lunch” could be used as clothing to keep us from freezing to death. This sort of flexible and practical use of the resources around us remains an integral part of human behavior till this very day. As a matter of fact, it is a major reason why we are still sitting pretty as the kings and queens of this beautiful third rock from the sun. Continue reading The most important resource we have is…
None of us really had a say in whether or not our parents fell in love or how many siblings they ended up giving us. As a result, some of us get stuck with one or two really annoying siblings that we have to deal with for the remainder of our natural lives. It doesn’t require much mental effort to imagine how difficult it must be to live with an irritating sibling absent the power to permanently distance yourself from his or her antics. While it can be an unfortunate reality that none of us get to choose our biological families, we each have total and utter control over who we allow into our inner circle of friends. To some, the idea of carefully selecting your group of close friends may seem a little cocky but if you live long enough, experience will teach you that it is something you must absolutely do. Truth be told… If you allow too many negative people into your life, they’ll eventually harm or destroy you in some way or another. The world is already difficult enough so please take the time to carefully select the highest quality friends that you can find as they will continue to help you grow and prosper throughout your life’s journey. Continue reading The very best of friends are…
Brief philosophical take on the origins of money…
For us humans, the need to survive continues to persist at the summit of all our needs. To effectively survive in our world, we require things of value such as food, clothing, and shelter. Although there are some notable exceptions that could/can do it all (such as Leonardo Da Vinci), most people – like the individual cells of the human body – are specialized. Since many of us are specialized in our area of expertise, it is so often the case that we must frequently depend on each other to survive. In this way, our human race is reminiscent of a giant human body with each human representing a single cell. Think about it for a second… your brain cells depend on your heart cells to force the beating heart to send them the rich supply of blood they need to function properly because they (your brain cells) cannot do it themselves. In much the same way that our brain cells depend on our heart cells for adequate blood supply to function, we frequently depend on the expertise and resources of the people around us to survive.
In order to gain access to the expertise of those around us, we very often must give them something they value in return. Ages ago, humans would trade goods and services for other goods and services in what was known as the “trade by barter” system. The problem with this system is that there was no standard unit of trade. I mean who is to say whether or not giving you seven loaves of freshly baked bread is fair payment for one of your goats? The other problem with this system must have been the difficulty of physically carrying around the wares that people were willing to exchange for other valuable things they desired. To circumvent all of this annoyance and inconvenience, we eventually created currency in the form of coins made from precious metals such as gold and silver and used them as a medium of exchange. As time elapsed, our currency morphed from metallic coins into many different forms… from elaborately printed paper notes, to the current digital form that magically appears in many of our online bank account interfaces on the 1st and 15th of every month. Continue reading Maintaining a healthy cash flow in life
The relationship between man and machine has been a very fruitful one for our species mainly because it has empowered us to transcend many of our limitations. I remember coming across a Scientific American study a while ago that nicely illustrated how well humans have been empowered by our technology. The study measured the efficiency of locomotion for various animal species on the planet. In that study, the condor was found to be most efficient… using the least amount of energy to travel one kilometer. Comparatively, we humans came in with a rather abysmal showing somewhere way down the list… not exactly the most flattering result for the supposed crown of creation. However, when some brilliant person at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for humans on bicycles, we blew the condor away, climbing to the very top of the “efficiency of locomotion” charts. Thinking deeper, we start to realize that in an analogous way, our technology has served as a metaphorical bicycle for our limited physical and mental abilities. For example, the advent of the internal combustion engine and the automobile has reduced what would have been a multiple month long journey 100 years ago to one of just mere hours as I type this. Also, the next time you open up a spreadsheet on your computer to do some quick calculations at work, think about how much longer that would have taken if you had to use a slide rule or an abacus. It is likely that the same task would have required a ton more effort and probably taken 10 to 100 times longer if you had to do it in say the 1930’s when computers didn’t exist. These kinds of miraculous time savings have allowed us to be more productive while simultaneously conserving more mental cycles to devote to things at the higher echelons of mental function. Continue reading Speculations on the impending era of artificial intelligence
Most of us know for a fact that the daytime sky is usually blue on a sunny day but few of us stop to ask why. We know the sun isn’t blue so why does the sky turn that color when the sun rises? Why isn’t the daytime sky orange, or yellow? Well, if we were to venture a collective guess, we could reason that the “blueness” of the daytime sky is probably due to the risen sun. This guess makes sense because when the sun completely sets, the sky turns black except for maybe the moon and little specks of light, which are actually other stars from distant solar systems.
According to our current level of scientific understanding, we humans perceive the daytime sky as blue in color for two primary reasons. The first reason is because of the way our atmosphere interacts with light from the sun. The second reason is because of the way the human eye detects color. Let’s look at these two points from a deeper perspective to see if we can really grok why the daytime sky is so often colored blue. Continue reading Why is the daytime sky blue?
Many of us have been to at least one concert where an amazing guitarist dazzled us. How can his hands move so fast? How can she play so beautifully without even looking at the instrument? How did he know that melody would harmonize so well with the rest of the band? We ask these questions completely awestruck… struggling to understand how a very normal looking human being can be so proficient at something that seems so alien as their fingers fly all over the guitar fretboard at warp speed. After taking in such a musical spectacle, many of us become inspired to learn how to play the guitar. We may even go as far as to order a guitar and perhaps a few books to begin our journey to guitar virtuoso. We happily receive the guitar and the books when they finally arrive at our doorsteps, filled with excitement at the prospect of eventually mastering the guitar. After a month or two of practice, reality sets in… you realize that you suck at it. You realize that making the guitar sound as melodically beautiful as that amazing lady on stage did a couple of months ago isn’t as easy as it looks. As if all that wasn’t enough, your fingers hurt like crazy and might even bleed because you haven’t yet built up the calluses to endure the constant stress that playing places on the tips of your fingers. Some of us give up because we figure we just don’t have the magical talent that good guitarists must have. What is going on here? Where does the truth lie? Are people who can play the guitar just born with supernatural abilities, or are their otherworldly skills developed through relentless and tenacious application to their craft? Can “regular” folks ever improve on their guitar playing, or are each of us permanently confined to musical mediocrity for the rest of our lives? Well ladies and gentlemen, if I may, let me invite you to follow me on this literary journey in search of the truth. Continue reading 9 tips to guitar mastery
Let’s face it, the common cold ranks pretty high in the pantheon of annoying illnesses. It is nowhere near as aggressive or life threatening as pancreatic cancer for instance, but it creates just enough discomfort to significantly hinder your productivity and quality of life in the short term. As we probably all know from experience, constantly sneezing, getting the chills, feeling tired, and dealing with sinus pressure due to a cold or flu can make life pretty miserable for any of us. Thanks to modern science and medicine, we now have over the counter medications at our disposal to alleviate most of the uncomfortable symptoms of the common cold. There is a very important point to make here about over the counter cold/flu medications, and it goes something like this: the truth is that over the counter cold/flu medications merely alleviate the symptoms associated with the common cold and do not deal with the underlying cause. In plain english, while DayQuil or Sudafed might get you to stop sneezing and coughing all over the place for 4ish hours at a time while you fight off a cold, neither of them really do anything to correct the root cause that brought about the cold in the first place. I remember how “duped” I felt when I first learned this fact – “oh… no wonder the sinus pressure and sneezing bouts always return with a vengeance ~3.5 hours after my last dose” – I thought to myself. Regardless though, we should be thankful that we live in a time where we have remedies to quell the annoying symptoms of a cold. Can you imagine having to constantly deal with flu like symptoms all day every day for 10 straight days with no periods of relief while you try to be productive? Continue reading The nuisance also known as the common cold, and how to avoid it
The merriam-webster dictionary defines knowledge as: “the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association”. The same dictionary also defines power as: “the ability to act or produce an effect”.
Whether we human beings want to admit it or not, all of us are power hungry to varying extents. The preceding statement might not be politically correct, but it is the blatant truth. The natural desire for power is nothing to be ashamed of because it is a very fundamental part of human nature. If we look closely, we find that our thirst for power is readily apparent at almost every level of human development. For example “terrible twos” cry, scream, and throw tantrums in a bid to bend the actions of their parents to their will. Little girls love the absolute control they have over their dolls and dollhouses. Teenage boys love the measure of control they wield over the video games or musical instruments they might have mastered. Company CEOs love the control they have over the vision and employees of their respective companies. The general theme with power is as follows – those who have it will in many cases do whatever it takes to keep it, while those who do not yet have power will either try all sorts of things to get it for themselves, or spend an eternity complaining about their lack of power. This has always been and will continue to be the way of the world simply because something very fundamental to our base nature cannot stand the feeling of powerlessness. As a result of this dynamic, the subject of gaining power has sustained a remarkably high level of interest in our collective human consciousness. We humans always want to know the answer to the following simple question… How do I get more power? Continue reading Knowledge is power… wait, is that really true?
Youth is a truly remarkable gift that most of us do not fully appreciate until we’ve moved past it. The vigor and vitality that comes with youth has allowed some of our fellow humans to achieve amazing physical and intellectual feats. Think of Sir Isaac Newton developing Calculus at age 26, Albert Einstein propounding his general theory of relativity by age 35, or a 23 year old Usain Bolt running a ridiculously fast 100m dash (in 9.58 seconds) at the 2009 track and field world championships. Also among the myriad of amazing “perks” that come with youth is having a quick metabolism. Ever notice how children can generally eat pretty much anything without putting on much weight if at all? Or how young boys in their teens and early twenties seem to get ravenously hungry every 2 hours? Well, the reason behind this dynamic is because young people need plenty of food to fuel growth, as well as to maintain normal bodily function. After the age of about 20 (when most of us stop growing in height), the average person only needs a fraction of that food intake to maintain normal bodily function. In addition to needing less food, the quality of the food you eat as you grow older should be relatively high if you are to maintain good health. In the ideal case, each person would adjust their diet to one rich in fruits, green vegetables, nuts, beans and seeds as they enter their 30s and 40s. Continue reading How to lose weight effectively
For the purposes of this article, you can loosely assume that alcohol = ethanol
Alcoholic drinks are one of the many perks of living in the modern world, and they can act as stress reducers if consumed in just the right quantity. Since we human beings generally have a tough time limiting ourselves to a moderate dose of things that feel or taste good, some of us will inevitably have a bit too much to drink at some point in our lives. I’m assuming that most of us know what a hangover feels like, but for the ultra disciplined amongst us (who have so far managed to resist drinking too many alcoholic drinks in one sitting), here’s a brief description. A hangover is the general “yucky” feeling a person experiences after a long night of far too much drinking. A hangover generally means being very tired, dehydrated, having a pretty persistent headache, having trouble focusing on or remembering anything, and just generally feeling like shit as your body struggles to recover from the abusive amount of alcoholic beverages you fed it the night before. From all we’ve learnt so far, I think it is fair to say that alcohol can either be a friend that helps you relax after a hard day, or it can be an enemy that will eventually poison you (to death in some cases) if you consume too much of it too quickly. The way the laws of nature keep repeating themselves time and time again is truly uncanny, and alcohol intake follows one of those general rules which advocates for everything in moderation. Continue reading How alcohol affects the human body
Being allowed in this space is like being let into my brother’s room to try on all his shirts and see all his guy stuff… too much fun… and in many ways, sacred. So here it goes…
To break: “to separate or cause to separate into pieces as a result of a blow, shock, or strain”.
Have you ever broken? I remember being young enough to think that everything would be fine. And I could have everything just as I knew it should be. I remember planning with certainty and knowing what should be, and ought to be, right. Now, not so much. I have been broken. First by the sheer realization… that people had to work for money, and that money is the currency of life. I was broken yet again by death. A death that came suddenly and insanely. From nowhere, it came in a manner that knocked the breath out of me and still does on the 10th of December every year. That death still has the capacity to make we wonder “Why?… How?… Am I dreaming?… Did she really exist?” It’s a long story, but we’ll leave that for another blog visit. Continue reading Being broken
All of us who work at a job or provide some sort of service for a living have at one point in time or another been required to give a public speech or presentation to our peers and/or bosses. Perhaps it was an academic presentation we had to give at school, a progress report on a project at work, or a training session in which we were tasked with passing on our knowledge on a particular subject matter to others. No matter what your field of expertise is, chances are that you will be called upon at some point in your career to communicate effectively to other human beings. Further, it is likely that the people with whom you will need to effectively communicate your ideas won’t have accumulated the same level of knowledge that you have in your field of specialization. This usually means that you will need to communicate your ideas in a way that is eminently understandable for relative novices. In other words, you will have to distill your years of knowledge down into “plain english” for your audience to get the most benefit. This is what the best public speakers instinctively know, and are able to pull off time and time again. If you look closely at the very best presentations or keynote speeches, you will often find that you need only a rudimentary understanding of the subject matter to actually gain some very valuable insight from them and this is neither a coincidence nor an accident. On the contrary, you can be sure that whenever you’ve witnessed one of these sorts of presentations, a ton of work has gone into crafting them. For the remainder of this article, we will refer to such presentations as Powerfully Effective Presentations or “PEPs” for short. Continue reading How to give a great public speech
oxygenated blood is the same as oxygen rich blood is the same as blood that is high in oxygen saturation
deoxygenated blood is the same as oxygen poor blood is the same as blood that is low in oxygen saturation
The human body needs a steady supply of nutrients and gases to survive and thrive. To keep our bodies functioning properly, we all have to regularly breathe in oxygen and consume good nutrition. Thankfully, we have a few “difficult to ignore” natural signals that clearly indicate to us when we need to eat (hunger), breathe (the pain of suffocation), or drink (thirst). Without these signals, the human race would have probably gone extinct ages ago. Can you imagine a world in which none of us ever felt any hunger? We’d probably all eventually starve to death being too preoccupied with seeking out sexual encounters around every corner to remember to eat. Alright, so it is unlikely that any of us in our right state of mind would intentionally neglect eating, breathing, or drinking so it may seem that we’ve got that bit completely covered. However, it isn’t enough to just consume food and breathe in oxygen. These important life sustaining substances have to somehow get transported to all the cells, tissues, and organs in your body. When you eat for instance, the food ends up in your stomach and gets digested there for the most part, but the resulting nutrients from your digested food must somehow be distributed to the rest of your body. Continue reading The hardest working muscle in the human body
Most well adjusted human beings will agree that war is fundamentally destructive to any civilized society. Some wars (like the american civil war) were necessary to extinguish evil in its purest form, while some wars (like Saddam Hussein’s irrational campaign against Kuwait) serve as unfortunate examples of a senseless loss of too many lives at the whim of an idiotic egomaniac with too much power. Regardless of its root cause, war often forces a fundamental change in the world at large as its reverberations are felt far beyond the borders of the countries in which it is fought. A good example of this is how the destruction caused by the atom bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki forced the world to realize that the threat of nuclear war had to be minimized because its potential for destruction was so great. Wars take a heavy toll on the infrastructure of the countries in which they are fought, and perhaps an even heavier toll on the psyche of the people that are touched by its many battles. Although war can bring many hardships and difficulties, it can also serve many fundamentally important purposes. It is strange to think of it that way, but if you are able to take a sufficiently removed emotional distance, you will see that war also has its “upside”. For example, war can indirectly serve as a very effective way to check population growth, ensuring that the surviving factions of humanity don’t eventually all starve to death as a result of having too many mouths to feed. War can also serve as a very powerful means of re-setting counterproductive ways of thinking that have spread through a given society or group of people. For example, the american civil war served as a big “reset button” that ultimately and forcefully altered the mindset amongst 19th century tobacco and cotton plantation owners in Northern America. Although it remains amongst the bloodiest and most gory of all wars fought by man, the american civil war served the essential purpose of permanently altering the mindset that promoted the evil of slavery. Continue reading The holiest of all wars
Full disclosure: I am Nigerian.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria is a land blessed with a lot of natural and human resources alike. This geographical marvel of a country is situated on the western coast of the african continent – the birthplace of man. The climate is tropical with two major seasons: the wet season (from about June to September) and the dry season (from about October to May). Over 300 ethnic groups and 3 major traditional languages – Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa – exist in the 36 states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Although each Nigerian has his or her own traditional language (I personally speak Igbo), the “lingua franca” in Nigeria is the english language because we were colonized by the British a few centuries ago. After years of struggle, we eventually gained our independence from British colonial rule on the 1st day of October 1960. Since then, we have grown to become the 8th most populous country in the world with 176 million citizens, while consistently placing amongst the top 20 crude oil producing countries in the world. In addition to the plentiful deposits of “black gold” (crude oil) that we have in our country, there is also a rich agricultural sector in Nigeria which produces tons of nutritious organic food for its populace and beyond. As a marker of our continued growth as a country, the Nigerian economy as of 2016 is the largest economy in the entire african continent. Continue reading Nigeria: West Africa’s sleeping giant
Because water starts to expand when you chill it to within a certain temperature range. If you want to know why this strange fact is true, keep reading.
More detailed answer…
Through our early years, we all learned at one point or another that heat makes things expand and cooling things generally makes them contract or shrink. As we all grew up, most of our practical experiences verified and validated this seemingly unassailable law of nature. Whenever a body part became swollen as a result of an injury or a bug bite, applying a bag of ice to the affected area would consistently reduce the swelling… a form of contraction. If ever we placed an empty plastic bottle in a refrigerator or freezer, it would shrink and crumple in on itself… also a form of contraction. We have all also witnessed the opposite end of this assertion every time we’ve watched the evaporation that occurs off of a pot of boiling soup. As the soup is heated, some of it expands as it transforms into gas and seemingly disappears before our very eyes. This phenomenon of heat induced expansion as well as contraction under conditions of extreme cold generally holds true in the physical world. As with most rules of nature however, there is an exception to this general law. To put it plainly, not everything contracts when it is cooled. As a matter of fact, one of the most plentifully present fluids and primary source of life on our planet disobeys this law within a particular temperature range. That’s right… water actually expands when it is cooled to a certain temperature. This rather strange behavior of water is technically referred to as the “anomalous expansion of water” (anomalous is just a fancy word for abnormal or strange). To understand this phenomenon completely, we’ll have to start by dipping our “intellectual toes” into the vast labyrinths of physics and chemistry. Continue reading Why do plastic water bottles burst if left in a freezer for too long?
History is littered with great civilizations that have each permanently changed the course of human culture in mostly positive ways. The following civilizations come to mind as prime examples that have had a profound impact on the world: Florence during the 15th century Italian renaissance, the scientific movement in England from the 17th to the 19th century, the east coast of the United States of America during the industrial revolution, and silicon valley California during the computer technology industry boom. Each of these special civilizations have contributed beautiful marvels of scientific and artistic achievement to the world that have left their indelible mark on the human race. These awe inspiring discoveries and creations often fundamentally alter the way we think and/or conduct a certain aspect of our lives. Each one of these great civilizations was spurred on by a handful of exceptionally brilliant and charismatic people. In the Italian renaissance, it was Michelangelo Buonarroti and Leonardo Da Vinci. During the scientific movement in England, it was the likes of Sir Isaac Newton and Michael Faraday. During the industrial revolution in the United States of America, it was Nikola Tesla, Thomas Alva Edison, John D. Rockefeller, and Henry Ford that dragged our collective consciousness forward and into the future. Andy Grove, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg have all played key roles in making computerized technology a lot more accessible to the lot of us during this current computer industry boom that we find ourselves in. The question that one cannot help but ponder when considering human accomplishment on this scale is the following: what part of our human psychology acts as the catalyst for the significant contributions that these great people and their respective civilizations have made to our society as a whole? Continue reading The beauty of human emotion
An ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear or rupture is a very serious injury that commonly occurs during sports like soccer and basketball in which rapid changes in the speed of human movement, and abrupt changes in direction are common. A ruptured ACL won’t heal on its own because of the relative lack of direct blood supply to this important ligament in the human body. As a result, an ACL rupture almost always requires reconstructive surgery to facilitate complete healing and a return to full athletic activity. Surgery is always serious business, and detail oriented preparation for it will ease the distress that can come with it. For this reason I recommend reading this article more than once before you go anywhere near your surgeon’s knife. I am fairly confident that you will gain some bit of wisdom from this article that will make surgery and its aftermath easier for you. The information in this article could also be easily applied to help others who are about to go through ACL reconstruction. For example, a doting mother could read this article and use the information contained in it to help her son or daughter get through ACL reconstruction with as little extra fuss as possible. The surgery is already painful enough… so it is advisable to do all in your power to alleviate as many potential added difficulties as possible. How do I know that these suggestions will be of use to you or someone you know who is preparing for ACL surgery? Well because I wish someone had told me all this before I went under the knife for my own ACL reconstruction surgery in early 2012. Continue reading How to prepare for ACL surgery
If you’ve ever looked up human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) in technical journals or textbooks, you have probably seen them defined as pluripotent cells derived from the inner cell mass of a 5 – 8 day old preimplantation blastocyst. In plain english, this means that human embryonic stem cells are immensely powerful and versatile cells that are carefully isolated from the interior of a fertilized egg, 5 to 8 days after fertilization and before said fertilized egg has had a chance to attach itself to the thickened walls of the uterus. The last part of the statement above is a bit misleading because it’s not like scientists are on constant standby ready to accost people and take their fertilized eggs from them after sexual intercourse. Rather, most human embryonic stem cells are derived from eggs that were fertilized using IVF (in vitro fertilization) techniques. First off, you are probably wondering what the heck “in vitro” means. Well “in vitro” is latin for “in glass” and back in the day, laboratory utensils and equipment were made of glass so in vitro fertilization of a human egg simply means the human egg was fertilized in a laboratory dish rather than in the fallopian tubes of a woman. And yes, you read that correctly… modern science has endowed us with the power to fertilize a human egg right in a laboratory dish provided that the right temperature and chemical conditions are present. These IVF derived embryos are then grown in a laboratory as they go through the multiple cellular divisions that would usually result in the formation of a full human being if it occurred in the womb. After 5 – 8 days of development, the fertilized egg takes the form depicted in the figure below due to multiple cell divisions and physical cell movements. At this stage, the fertilized egg or embryo is called a blastocyst and the tiny clump of cells within its fluid filled cavity is called the ICM or inner cell mass. This tiny clump of cells that we call the inner cell mass will eventually give rise to a full blown human being if normal development is allowed to occur in the womb. The inner cell mass is the source of the super versatile and powerful embryonic stem cells that you have probably heard about in popular scientific culture. Continue reading Stem cells, artificial organs, and the potential for a healthier future
So… what exactly is an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament)? Well, anterior means front, cruciate means to cross in a diagonal kind of way, and ligaments are tough fibrous bands of tissue that connect the bones in our human joints. So in plain english the ACL is a ligament in the knee which connects the thigh bone to the shin bone… it is situated close to the front of your knee and runs across the PCL (another ligament) in a diagonal kind of way. Make sense? If it still doesn’t, don’t worry… the figures in this article should elucidate further. The ACL is arguably the most important ligament in the knee joint. Its major functions are to resist excessive twisting or rotation of the knee, and to prevent the tibia (shin bone) from sliding too far forward underneath the femur (thigh bone) when one comes to an abrupt stop. This ligament is so important that without it, the average person’s knee would constantly “give out on them” while they perform seemingly mundane tasks. This super important knee ligament may be injured or torn due to a direct forceful blow to the front or side of the knee. ACL tears are common in sports such as football (soccer), and basketball where rapid acceleration, deceleration, and changes of direction are common. Continue reading An ACL tear, and surgical repair
Since the invention of language, people have frequently used the qualities of inanimate objects to describe some of the most desirable human traits. “As good as gold”, “as solid as a rock’, “as tough as nails”, and in the words of famed ESPN SportsCenter™ anchor – Stuart Scott (may the good Lord rest his soul) – “as cool as the other side of the pillow”. These are a few examples of the general trend which uses the characteristics of inanimate objects as metaphors for desirable characteristics that we humans would like to embody. While all the above stated character traits are very desirable, it doesn’t take long to realize that attempting to embody the characteristics of any single one of the objects mentioned above is insufficient to live a fully balanced life as a human being. It is true that it is good to be as physically tough as nails if you are a martial artist who finds him or herself in a caged octagon opposite another person whose sole purpose in life for the next 25 minutes is to cause you as much pain as possible. However, that same physical toughness won’t really help you when it is time to have your first awkward conversation about sexual intercourse with your 13 year old son or daughter. Always being as “good as gold” could actually get you killed in the ghettos of Southside Queens, or fired in the corporate world… one must know when to be “bad” in order to survive in such tough environments. The above logic and rationale therefore begs the following question: is there any single inanimate thing or object that possess all the characteristics one can embody to aid growth in almost every area of life? I have pondered this question for many years and have picked the minds of some of the most philosophically brilliant people I know in search of an answer. As fate would have it, the best answer I could find to this riddle came from spending a Saturday afternoon watching video clips of Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on YouTube. Allow me to share what I have settled on as a solution to this riddle after many years of thought, intellectual discourse with others who have gained my respect, and a Saturday afternoon spent watching video clips of icons in the martial arts. Continue reading Be formless, shapeless… be like water
As a young boy growing up in Nigeria, football (or soccer as it is called in the United States) was a religion unto itself. Yes, all of us in my small group of friends endured long church sermons every Sunday but that was just because our respective parents forced us to attend them. While the priest or pastor talked about the virtues of being a devout christian for hours on end we were secretly plotting the dribbling moves we planned to execute on the dirt road which we had converted into an imaginary football stadium by my childhood home. We played barefeet using a deflated makeshift game ball and with a passionate intensity that was out of all proportion to the actual importance of the games. Our games were fiercely competitive and we loved it that way. We played each game like life itself depended on it… as if armageddon would ensue if our team lost and we had to wait another turn to play again. Although we were all pretty much soccer mad, one of the members of my childhood posse wasn’t allowed to physically play the sport. His mother expressly forbade him from playing football for reasons unbeknownst to us. For the sake of respecting his privacy, we’ll refer to this friend of mine using “Ade” as a pseudonym. Ade’s mother would frequently let him hang out with the rest of us under the strict condition that he was never allowed to actually play football or any other sport. Continue reading Sickle Cell Anemia: When red blood cells look like sickles
Many ancient warrior cultures such as the Spartans and Aztecs worshipped strength as the ultimate virtue that any human could aspire to. The surface reason for this is readily apparent because unlike in our modern times, physical combat was the accepted method for settling disputes back then. It follows therefore, that the more physically strong or battle hardened you were in those times, the more successful your life became because your strength furnished you with the ability to fend off rivals who threatened your eminence or position in life. Being a strong individual or empire in those days also gave you the resources required to snatch the property and possessions of other people and/or city states in order to fulfil the primal desire to expand reach and power. As important as it was to show strength in those ancient times, it was perhaps even more important to avoid a show of weakness as that could literally mean certain death. For example, a show of weakness in battle could mean the difference between leaving the battlefield with your life and limbs intact, or taking a lethal bronze sword through the jaw as your lack of confidence would arm your opponent with the requisite boldness to strike with deadly intentions. All of this might sound very barbaric to those of us living in the modern world today but society was much more blatantly ruthless and machiavellian back then. The fact that our world and the people that inhabit it have now become much more refined, begs the following question: is the need for strength now a thing of bygone eras? In the much more physically and socially forgiving environments that we all now live in, is the need for strength still just as important? Continue reading In search of the ultimate virtue…
My first real look at Steve Jobs the person was during the Stanford University commencement address he gave in 2005 while I was still a graduate student there. That day I saw a very different man from the annoyingly brash young entrepreneur that was the protagonist of many emotionally messy stories in silicon valley folklore. He seemed to have become considerably tempered by wisdom and mellowed by the passage of time. The well delivered speech he gave that day was replete with unadulterated truth and nuggets of wisdom. He spoke about triumph, love, and loss with a raw purity that could have only been forged from equally raw real life experiences. Oddly, he simultaneously possessed a surprising level of humility as well as the confidence of a man who founded and served as the CEO of the most valuable technology company in the entire world. It was natural to wonder about the nature of the various experiences that had so thoroughly transformed the man from an acid dropping college dropout into one of the most powerful men in the world. Continue reading Life’s Lessons from Steve Jobs
We humans are social creatures who very often rely on one another to survive. We as a species have quickly learned that we are much stronger in groups than as isolated entities which in turn has prompted us to adopt a “herd mentality” as our modus operandi. This has been true since the dawn of time when we once relied on one another to yell out audible warning signals indicating the presence of an onrushing predator so that others in our tribe could scamper away in time to preserve their lives. Being part of a community also allows us to benefit from the talents and abilities of others that we may not inherently possess. As an example from ancient times, the physically strong men in a given tribe would protect the women from dangerous animals and men from rival tribes in return for the women keeping a home and rearing their children. We have carried this practical exchange of valuable goods and services into our modern world as well. As a contemporary example, I didn’t create the MacBook Pro that I am using to type this article, but I am able to enjoy its benefits thanks to the bevy of intelligent Engineers and Designers at Apple headquarters, in return for a stack of cash. As we’ve gained more control over our environment, what started as a practical reliance on our fellow man has slowly morphed into a mixture of practical and emotional dependence on each other. We no longer need to worry too much about fundamental things like avoiding the neighborhood sabretooth tiger, and have started to obsessively worry about how much we are liked by the people around us. Many of us have become heavily emotionally dependent on our social interactions with people close to us… in some cases, overtly so. The degree to which each person depends on an emotional interaction with another person is roughly governed by where they emotionally place on the introvert – extrovert spectrum. Continue reading A Loner’s manifesto: Blessed are the introverted
The frenetic pace of life in our ultra busy modern world leaves a lot of us overworked and overstressed as we race alongside each other in the never ending financial rat race. Most of us go right from the college “frying pan” into the working world “fire”, joining the struggle for economic and social status that ends up consuming a lion share of our lives. For most of us, the dream is to eventually escape from the rat race and live comfortably with a spouse/partner assuming one has been blessed with a relationship that stands up well to father time. So many of us practically give our lives to the working world in the hope that we will one day have saved up enough money to live out the rest of our days in a reasonable state of comfort. On the surface, this sounds like an OK trade… give a sizeable chunk of time and energy to a good company of your choice, and you won’t have to worry about living expenses when you decide it is time to retire. Continue reading 10 Strategies for Maintaining your health
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that presents itself right at the event of a child’s conception if said child has an excess amount of a particular portion of the genetic code embedded in its genetic makeup. Down syndrome occurs in about 0.13% of all live births and can manifest as physical growth defects, general mental slowness, and excessively impulsive behavior as the afflicted child matures. This genetic defect may also result in the loss of a pregnancy before birth as certain key developmental stages during pregnancy are perhaps significantly altered or hindered. Interestingly, this defect is more common with mothers that are of a relatively advanced age. Studies have shown that the frequency of down syndrome related pregnancies actually increases to ~1% in mothers that are 35 years of age or older. In our modern world where most women spend their 20s building careers, a lot of families now routinely have children while the childbearing mother is in her 30s and beyond. Thankfully, advances in modern medicine have yielded minimally invasive screening and diagnostic techniques that can tell a family with a high degree of certainty whether or not the current pregnancy is associated with a child afflicted by down syndrome. Continue reading Clever genetic tests, and mitigating the effects of Down Syndrome.