Some notes on religions

Hi folks,

This post is about a few things I’ve learnt about religion having read the book Sapiens by Dr. Yuval Noah Harari.

Religion is one of the most powerful concept humans have created and is unique to humans as far as we know.

Based on number of gods, we can classify religions into monotheistic religions and polytheistic ones

Monotheistic religions believe in one god

Polytheism is belief in many gods

Examples of monotheistic religions are Christianity, Islam, Judaism

Examples of polytheistic religions include Taoism and Shenism

Not all religions classify themselves as strictly one or the other. Hinduism for example is a range of philosophies and embraces both monotheism and polytheism.

It appears our ancient hunger-gatherer ancestors may have practised animism.

Animism is the belief that all things – objects, creatures and places all possess a distinct spiritual essence

As humans transitioned from hunter-gathers to farmers (agricultural revolution), their religions changed as well. That is, as humans gained more dominion over plants and other animals, so did their religion change to justify such dominion.

Polytheism has been around for a long time. That is, people prayed to different gods to help them with various things.

It was later that monotheism began to take a foothold.

Nowadays, some of the most popular religions like Islam and Christianity are monotheistic religions. Nevertheless, these so-called monotheistic religions incorporate elements of other types of religions. E.g. In Christianity, there are saints who are seen almost like gods.

There are also some religions that don’t even recognize the existence of any gods. E.g. Budhism. Furthermore, there are religions that don’t even recognize divine beings, but rather take certain concepts are simply the way nature works. Capitalism, communism, etc. can be seen as religions too. The reason is that, they all start with some concept/entity that is supernatural/an inherent part of nature. Then these ideas/concepts/beings dictate how we should relate with one another. That is, they help differentiate right from wrong.

To learn more about these concepts, Yuval Noah Harari goes into a lot of details in his book Sapiens. His subsequent book, Homo Deus, goes into further details on religion, explaining possible religions that may become popular in future. That’s all for now.

Some lessons from book Sapiens

Hi folks,

In this post I share a few insights gained from reading the famous book Sapiens by Dr. Yuval Noah Harari. Sapiens is a very popular book which serves as a brief history of human kind.

It talks about how the species Homo Sapiens started out as insignificant animals minding their own business in a corner of Africa.

Then it goes through the process through which they eventually became the masters of planet earth.

Some major events that happened include the cognitive revolution, the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution, and the scientific revolution.

A key reason humans have become so powerful compared to other living organisms is that we are able to cooperate flexibly and in large numbers. Other creatures like ants can cooperate in large numbers, but they can’t cooperate flexibly. Chimpanzees can cooperate flexibly but not in large numbers. So far, humans are the only specie we know that can cooperate both flexibly and in very large numbers.

Language is a very important tool which allows us to cooperate easily. The development of language is what cognitive revolution is about. We can use language to represent objects in the physical world, but also ideas which we call myths.

Myths are stories which are believed by many people and thus allows them to cooperate together. Without shared myths, we can’t cooperate as flexibly and extensively as we do. Some of the most important myths include money, religion/ideology and politics (kingdoms, nations, political parties, etc)

Agricultural revolution refers to how humans realized they could stay in one place, plant crops and harvest enough to feed themselves and others rather than moving around from place to place. This led to a population explosion and formation of larger human settlements.

Industrial revolution refers to how people realized they could convert energy more effectively from one form to another. Previously humans were the main form of energy conversion. We got energy from plants, and we and our animals converted that energy into motion, carrying things around, etc. With advent of internal combustion engine we were able to convert energy from burning fuel to movement. This changed the way humans operate forever.

Scientific revolution is where we started to pay more attention to objective observations and studying our world in a systematic way with the aim of learning new things that would give us powers to solve problems more effectively. It has given humans unprecedented power, leading to longer life span through improvement in medicine. New materials like plastics, rubber etc for creating myriad products that make life easier. Embracing science has led to some people no longer having as much regard for traditional beliefs as they used to, e.g. religion.

Science and capitalism, the most successful economic system, go hand-in-hand. Science and imperialism also go hand-in-hand.

Imperialism is very complex and has brought a lot of good to mankind and a lot of evil too. Importantly, it has helped unified human societies, forming a global village.

Nowadays, we discover new things all the time as we study science and scientists are fascinated with biotechnology, altering genetic composition of organisms. Cybernetics seems to be a popular trends. This means learning how to fuse machines and humans together, for the betterment of the human. Tools in this area include prosthetic limbs, hearing aid, etc. Creating inorganic lifeforms also appears to be area some scientists are pursuing. The implications of these ventures could be quite drastic and we need to pay close attention to the ethics of these activities as they could alter the human race in ways we can’t imagine.

In the last few decades the world economy has grown very rapidly compared to other times. This is because banks have been creating money faster than ever before for use by governments, businesses, etc. Why? Because we have become more optimistic about the future. We believe it is possible for the economy to grow. That is, one person can become richer without another person necessarily becoming poorer. We believe that scientific and technological progress will create more effective ways to solve problems in future. Entrepreneurs believe they would be able to use these to create better goods and services, making a profit from which they can pay off the loans they take today, with interest.

Humans have intented lots of amazing tools that have gone to change the way we live for the better. Just within the last 2 centuries we invented the light bulb, refrigirators for home use, the internet, smart phones, television, antibiotics and a vast number of other things. Have these made humans happier people? There isn’t much evidence it has for a few reasons. First, happiness is subjective. How happy you are depends on how your expectations match reality. If you expect 6/10 in a test and find out you got 9/10, you would generally be quite happy and vice versa. Second, biologically, it seems we are created to be temporarily happy. Craving for more things is what drives us to find food to eat, find mates for reproduction, etc. A person who is too happy would likely not be interested in pursuing these things and would thus not last long. Third, it appears that how happy or sad a person can be is impacted by their biological make-up. Some people are just generally happy people, content with whatever they have and whatever situation they find themselves. Some others would still be dissatisfied even if you give them the whole world.

In summary, humans are the most powerful creatures in the world. Scientists believe chance mutations in genes over time gave us the ability to create language and other tools that allow us cooperate more flexibly and in larger numbers than any other creature we know. Our dominion over our environment has helped us thrive but poses great danger to our environment and to other living organisms around us. As a result we need to pay more attention to sustainability as we go about our activities. Happiness can be found by developing more mastery over how we think. Material things can’t give lasting happiness. Rather, choosing to be content with what we have, preparing for all eventualities and setting reasonable expectations are more likely to give happiness. In short you need to Know Thyself.

That’s it for now.

A few thoughts on Oracle viewed from a MySQL background

Hi folks,

In this post I talk about a few things you may find interesting about Oracle if you are a software developer with MySQL background getting started with Oracle.

I’ve known about Oracle for a long time. Long ago I remember seeing jobs for Oracle DBAs that required Oracle certification.

It seemed like an interesting software to know how to use but there wasn’t a strong push to learn it.

While developing applications professionally, MySQL was generally the database of choice. Later I ran into Postgres in the course of professional work, but not Oracle.

Eventually I got a back-end developer role in a large enterprise and then I met Oracle properly for the first time.

Here are some thoughts on Oracle, looking at it from the perspective of someone with MySQL background.

You’re likely to run into Oracle in large enterprise where lots of data are handled. Not so much in small to medium-scale enterprises. This is because Oracle has lots of powerful features that are targeted towards large enterprises.

For the most part you can write queries using the same old SQL on both MySQL and Oracle databases. SELECTs, JOINS, subqueries work in the same manner. In Oracle, subqueries are called inline views.

Tools: With mysql you use tools like phpMyAdmin and MySQL Workbench. With Oracle the popular clients I’ve come across are Oracle SQL developer and Toad.

When querying data with Oracle via SELECT statement, you can use multiple servers by using the ‘parallel’ keyword e.g. SELECT /*+ parallel */ FOO FROM SOMEDB.SOMETABLE. MySQL doesn’t have that concept.

The way you apply limits and offsets are different. In MYSQL, you can use something like

SELECT ….. LIMIT 10;

But in Oracle, you write

SELECT … FETCH FIRST 10 ROWS ONLY;

In Oracle, when you want to compare values that could possibly be null, you use the NVL function

e.g.

SELECT FOO FROM table1
JOIN table2 on
NVL(table1.some_col, ‘IsNul’) = NVL(table2.some_col, ‘IsNul’)

In terms of connecting to MySQL from your programming environment, if you use Python, then Oracle provides a very good library called cx_Oracle. It provides similar abstractions like you would get with MySQL connector. So you have your cursor which you can use to run queries, etc.

If you use a Mac and need to work with Oracle locally, you would need to use a virtual machine via tools like VirtualBox. With MySQL, you can install it directly on a Mac.

Furthermore, the COMMIT statement is very important in Oracle. You have to commit transactions to persist changes to the database, e.g. creating a table, deleting rows, etc. Usually in MySQL, you just delete rows and that’s it, the change persists.

So, in general, if you’re comfortable with other databases like MySQL or Postgres, you should feel at home with Oracle. Oracle has some peculiarities, but you should be just fine.

That’s it for now. Till next time, happy software development.

Insights from book Fake fake money, fake teachers, fake assets by Robert Kiyosaki

Hi folks,

In this post I share a few lessons learnt from listening to the book Fake fake money, fake teachers, fake assets by Robert Kiyosaki. It’s available on Audible. I found it very enlightening and inspiring. Here are just a few key points.

 

Real money is not the same thing as currency

Money holds value but currency does not, at least not very well. Money and currency both serve as a medium of exchange. Gold and silver are examples of real money while fiat currency like US dollar is a currency.

 

Fiat money has counterparty risk while gold does not

This means fiat currencies have value due to some person or group of people being perceived as capable of enforcing that value. It means the person or people producing the currency can default at any time. Real money like gold or silver don’t have such risk though. They have intrinsic value.

 

Fake teachers vs real teachers

Fake teachers are teachers who do not have real world experience in what they teach. They are not insiders. They just teach out of textbooks. Real teachers teach from experience. Real teachers encourage students to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes.

 

Schools discourage people from making mistakes

In schools, students are rewarded for doing things correctly and punished with low grades when they make mistakes. They are given grades which show how smart they are compared to others. This creates good employees, but discourages students from taking risks. It turns out that taking calculated risks is very important to be successful in business and life in general. In life we learn by making mistakes. When you learn to ride a bike, you ride, fall off, get back on top of it and try again until you master it. So, to become very successful in business, school is good to have, but you would need to learn a lot outside of traditional school setting.

 

Schools generally favour individual achievement over cooperating

In schools students are generally expected to work on their own. When people cooperate to do things together, it is often called cheating and the students are punished. As a result, if one wants to become an employee or small business owner, lessons from school are often sufficient. But if one want to become a big business owner, one would need a ill-prepared. This is because the leadership skills required to bring together many skilled people to achieve big goals is not something taught in schools.

 

US dollar used to by backed by gold

In 1944, 44 countries came together and agreed that the US dollar should be used as a reserve currency backed by gold. However, in 1971 president Nixon took America off the gold standard. As a result, all the world’s currency became fiat currency.

 

Success and failure go hand in hand – they are two sides of the coin

One will always keep succeeding and failing no matter how successful he/she become. So, never be afraid of failure. Keep trying to succeed.

 

Humans live a dual reality

Humans live a dual reality. Good only has meaning in the context of bad. Genius and Idiot are two sides of the same coin. Something that looks smart in one context could be stupid when looked at from a different context.

 

There isn’t just one right answer

There are often many answers to the same question, depending on how you look at the problem.

 

We are important participants in the money printing process

There has been a lot of money-printing going on in the world economy in the past several decades and we are an important part of it. Whenever we spend money on a credit card, we are in essence printing money into existence. We are printing money which never existed prior to that and which we must pay back eventually to the bank. Whenever, we invest in a house by buying it and letting it out, we are also, in a way, printing money. This is money that comes into our pockets. The same thing happens if we write a best-selling book and recieve royalies from sales. We print money for ourselves. When taking bad debt, we print money for the creditor.

 

You need two things to tell whether something is an asset or liability

People often get confused and misled over whether something is an asset or not. The layman’s definition isn’t very helpful. Here are the two key things to consider when deciding if something is an asset or liability

1. Cash

2. Flow

There is usually cash involved and that cash must flow from one party to another. If the thing makes cash flow towards your pocket, then it’s an asset. If it makes cash flow out of your pocket, it’s a liability. Pure and simple.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, as you labour in life and get rewards in terms of currency, money, etc, if you want that money to hold its value, you need to make sure you store a reasonable portion of your wealth in the form of real money. If you want to become wise, you need to learn from real teachers. If you want to become truly wealthy, you must invest in real assets.

Lessons learnt from reading book My Watch

Hi folks,

In this post, I will talk briefly about a few lessons learnt from reading the book My Watch, by Olusegun Obasanjo. The book is composed of three volumes.

The book talks about history of Owu, Abeokuta and Nigeria, Obasanjo’s early life, career and distinguished service to Nigeria and Africa in general.

The book also expounds on Obasanjo’s philosophies about life, leadership and economics and spirituality among other subjects.

Some lessons I learnt are as follows:

A leader must surround himself with capable advisers

For a leader to be effective, he must surround himself with high quality advisers, not mediocre people.

Nation above tribe

To keep Nigeria united, one must be willing to put love of the country above love for a particular tribe within the country, even if it’s the tribe the person comes from

Solve problems by bringing all relevant parties together

Whenever two groups have a disagreement, to solve the problem you must be able to bring all the relevant parties together and have a heart to heart talk with them until you reach a good conclusion. Don’t just support one side automatically because they are from your tribe, or some other reason.

Good people are everywhere

There are good people all around who can help you achieve your goals in life. You just need to be able to search hard for them sometimes. Never settle for mediocrity due to “lack” of good people around.

When arguing with someone don’t bring up your past glories in a way to bring them down

When arguing with someone, referring to the good you have done for him/her in the past is not in good taste. If you do good for someone, take it that it is God that made it possible for you to do that good for the person.

Strive to excel in all things I do

If you get into any venture, aim to make a great success out of it. Don’t just do it for the sake of doing it. Do it to win.

Learn to get the best out of people regardless of their deficiencies

Nobody is perfect. So when working with people, find out what their strengths and weaknesses. Help them play on their strengths. Also work to manage their weaknesses so that it doesn’t become a big problem for you or your team.

Put God in all endeavours

God has a factor to play in any endeavour. Regardless of the preparation we humans make, there’s always that part God plays in determining whether it succeeds or not. Be prayerful and keep God in all endeavours.

Be prepared

Always prepare for the worst-case scenario in all projects. This way, you won’t be taken by surprise if it happens that way, and if it turns out better than worst case, you can feel good about it.

Be courageous

If you have a clear conscience, you should never be afraid of any man. Have courage and do your best to achieve your goals. When Obasanjo learnt that Abacha was trying to arrest him, Obasanjo was brave and came back into Nigeria even against advice from friends to flee. We only die once in this world and life is a risk. Achieving anything significant requires some risk and he who takes no risks is likely to live a boring unremarkable life.

Biographies are an excellent way to learn about human relationships

Read biographies extensively to learn about human behaviour and relationships.

Corruption and mismanagement are two key problem in Nigeria

Privatisation is an effective means of reducing waste by government and boosting productivity in the economy.

Consequences of corruption and mismanagement

Some of the consequences of corruption and mismanagement are disunity, poverty, chaos, ethnic and religious tension, lack on investment in the country by investors home and abroad, and lack of respect for the country by international peers

Make friends by visiting people

To really make friends, it’s best to visit people. Phone calls, letters, etc. are not as effective as going to see a person live in his/her home.
Keep your word

Be a man of integrity. When you say you will do something, then do it. Don’t back track on your words. When Obasanjo became military head-of-state he promised he would transition to a civilian rule and he did so, despite some of his friends abroad advising otherwise.

Be wary of mass media

Mass media should be believed with a pinch of salt. Before believing something in the news, do a bit of research and see if the information is credible. Generally, media publishers tend to publish information that makes their paper sells even while tarnishing the images of their subject. The media spread a lot of lies about Obasanjo trying to run for a third term even though he never wanted to.

Have a thick skin

There will always be critiques for any successful person on this world. You can’t afford to react to every negative thing people say about you. Most times, you just need to ignore undue criticism. Only respond when it’s absolutely necessary.

That’s all for now.

How to swap keys on a Mac Keyboard

Hi folks,

In this post I will talk about a great app for remapping keys on keyboards. It’s called Kirabaner-Elements.

Recently, I found that one key on my keyboard has become worn out. It would sometimes take multiple presses for the key to register. My initial thought was, well, just go to the Apple Store and have it replaced.

Scheduling an appointment with the neighbourhood Apple store was proving to be a bit of a pain, so I thought to myself: How about swapping the broken key with another key which I rarely use on the keyboard? Surely, it can’t be that difficult.

After a bit of research I found a few things. Apple only provides built-in functionality for remapping modifier keys, not arbitrary keys. It’s a bit of a shame on Apple’s part in my opinion. However, there is an awesome app called Kirabaner-Elements that allows you modify any key.

So, I installed Kirabaner-Elements and gave it a go, and behold it did the job excellently. I now have another previously useless key remapped to my previously broken key. Note that the worn-out key still works. Note that some work is required to train my muscles to use the new key though. Nevertheless, it’s great to be able to swap keys easily. So, if you ever need to remap keys on your keyboard, I highly recommend Kirabaner-Elements. You can download it from their website. Till next time.

Song – L’abe Igi Orombo

Hi folks,

In this post I share a children’s song I used to sing a long time ago when I was a little kid. It’s a folksong from Nigeria titled L’abe igi Orombo. This song is in Yoruba and means “Under the orange tree.” I just remembered this song while practicing on the piano and thought I would record myself singing and playing the song on the piano and share with you. So, first, here are the lyrics of the song in its original form, Yoruba:

L’abe igi orombo

L’abe igi orombo
N’ibe l’agbe nsere wa
Inu wa dun, ara wa ya
L’abe igi orombo

Here is the song translated in English

Under the Orange Tree

Under the orange tree
Where we play our games
We are happy, we are excited
Under the orange tree

Here is my recording of the song:

Finally, here are the notes that go with the song. Note: the song is in the key of Cmajor.

L’a be i gi o rom bo
RH Cmaj (E G C) Cmaj (E G C) Cmaj (G C E) Cmaj (C E G) Cmaj (G C E) Dmin (F A D) Cmaj (E G C)
LH C G C
Ni be l’a gben se re wa
RH Cmaj (E G C) Cmaj (E G C) Cmaj (G C E) Cmaj (C E G) Fmaj (A C F) Cmaj (G C E) Dmin (F A D)
LH C F G
i nu wa dun a ra wa ya
RH Cmaj (E G C) Cmaj (E G C) Cmaj (E G C) Cmaj (C E G) Fmaj (C F A) Fmaj (C F A) Fmaj (C F A) Cmaj (C E G)
LH C C D E (base run) F A
L’a be i gi o rom bo
RH Dmin7 (D F A C) Dmin7 (D F A C) Cmaj (G C E) Cmaj (C E G Cmaj (G C E) Dmin (F A D) Cmaj (E G C)
LH D G C

Enjoy the music.

Till next time.

Think Win-Win

Hi folks,

In this post I talk about what I learnt by reading habit 4 of the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Dr. Stephen Covey.

Habit 4 says “Think Win-Win”

This means that getting into an agreement with another person, it’s important to try to make that agreement mutually beneficial.

This way, you win and the other person wins.

There are 6 types of interactions according to the book.

  • Win-Win
  • Win-Lose
  • Lose-Win
  • Lose-Lose
  • Win
  • Win-Win or No Deal

People with Win-Lose mentality try to win at the expense of other people. They believe that to win, one has to beat someone else.

Such attitudes generally leads to Lose-Lose in the long run because the person they “beat” in one interaction may feel bad about it and cause problems for the victor in future, leading to a loss for everyone involved.

Lose-Win means generally letting other people have their way. People with this mentality can easily be taken advantage of, especially by people with Win-Lose mentality. Lose-Win is not a good paradigm to adopt as a general perspective. People who just want to keep the peace or who want to be liked by others sometimes try to adopt Lose-Win relationships.

Lose-Lose. People with this mentality generally cause problems for everyone in the interaction, including themselves.

Win. With mentality one just cares about winning, regardless of whether other people around win or lose.

Win-Win or No Deal. With this mentality, either both parties win in the interaction or there is no deal. This can be thought of as a higher form of Win-Win because in reality, it’s not always possible to construct win-win relationships.

Note that in reality, not every interaction has to be a Win-Win one. There are times when other types of interactions are more appropriate.

It takes a lot of courage to create win-win relationships because you have to make sure you aren’t cheated in those relationships.

It also takes a lot of empathy to create such relationships because you need to be able to step into the shoes of the other person to understand what they consider a win.

You also need to be flexible to be able to find third alternatives, rather than each person just sticking to their original stand on issues.

That’s all for now. Till next time, happy Win-Win relationships.

How to play praise music on piano – part E

Hi folks,

In this post I touch briefly on Part E on praise music from my post. These are techniques you can master by following HearAndPlay’s Gospel Music 300 course. Part E can be thought as a vamp or rendition of Part A. You play what you feel here. Some songs just consist only of Part E throughout.

Bass run is based on 1 and 4 tone of the key, unlike Part A where we use 1 and 5.

The ascending bass run look like:

A B B C D F G G A

Descending bass run can look like

A G E D D F G G A

On right hand, you can play 1-4 chord pogression

A♭7 add13 (G C F / A)

D♭9 (F B E / D)

A lick you can use on the right hand is to play

B B F, A, F, A. That is, 2 ♭3 6, 1, 6 1.

You repeat this in a rhythmic fashion.

An alternate way of playing part E is to play a 4-part progression.

You start with a slow bass run first on the left, hand then change to a fast bass run.

They are as follows:

E♭ min9 (G B D F / E)

A♭9 add13 (G B C F / A)

D♭ min9 (E A B E / D)

G♭9 add13 (E A B E / G)

E♭ min9 can be thought of as playing a major 7 of the 3rd tone of the E scale on top of E♭ min9. i.e. playing G♭ maj7 / E

When you switch from E♭ min9 to A♭13 add9, all you do on the right hand is to lower the third note of the chord by a half step, i.e. from B to A.

When you want to end a song from Part E, just transition to Part D, i.e. a 6 2 5 1 progression.

How to play praise music on piano – part D

Hi folks,

In this post I touch briefly on Part D on praise music from my post. These are techniques you can master by following HearAndPlay’s Gospel Music 300 course.

Part D is a 6 2 5 1 progression and follows Part C. When you end Part C, you will be on a 5 chord.

So, on the left hand you can walk up to the 6th tone in half steps. i.e. 5 ♭6 6.

13 chords

For the 6 2 5 1 in the key of A, we can use all 13th chords:

F7 add13 (E A D / F)

B add13 (A D G / B)

E add13 (D G C / E)

A add13 (G C F / A)

Another way to play it is:

F7 add13 (E A D / F)

B add13 (A D G / B)

E♭7 ♯9 (G D G / E)

A add13 (G C F / A)

Note that to play the E♭7 chord, on the right hand you just move all the notes down a half step.

If you have a bass player playing base run, you can play tritones on left and the following lick on the right hand:

<F E D♭ D> <F A♭ B B> <A F A>

Chromatically dropping minor chords

On the right hand you can play chromatically dropping minor chords including the 3 minor chord, ♭3 minor chord, 2 minor chord. After these 3, you can wrap up with a 1 diminished chord, and finally a 1 chord: So

3 minor – ♭3 minor – 2 minor – 1 diminished – 1.

E.g. In key of A, you can play

C minor – E G C
B minor – D F B
B minor – D F B

A dim – B D F A
A – C E A

How to transition from part D back to A

You can do a walk up on the left hand from 3 to 5. 3 4 ♭5 5.

On the right hand you can play

B quartal chord / C (B E A / C)

D9 (B E F A / D)

Ddim (B D F A / D)

Amaj / E (C E A / E)

E♭7 ♯9♯5 (G B D G / E) – hold this connector chord for a moment.