Thursday, January 8, 2015

#JeSuisCharlie: Why I Won’t Let the Muslims Off the Hook

January 8, 2015
by: Kaveh Mousavi

Today a tragic event happened in France – there was a shooting at the headquarters of a humor magazine Charlie Hebdo and 12 people including the famed editor of the magazine, and while we don’t know who exactly was responsible for the attacks, (most probably the Yemeni Al-Qaeda), we know that it was motivated by the cartoons ridiculing Prophet Muhammad and that the perpetrators were Muslim extremists.

The reactions were swift. Some rushed to react in a bigoted manner towards the Muslim minority in the west, discussing this topic in a semi-racial and generalized manner. I’m sure my article here will be considered in the same vein. I don’t care – the other repulsive reaction came from those who said that the coverage of of the situation was “racist” or were quick to rush to the defense of Islam as a religion or garbage sites like Salon which mentions the event only once and only to take shots at Richard Dawkins.

Islamophobes and Islamophiles are both beyond my hope – I don’t have the mental energy to deal with any of them. But those of you who might be interested in discussing a difficult subject with more nuance – go ahead and read.

And let me assure you that I would be writing the exact same article if I were a Muslim.

While we must fear people like Marine LePen gaining propaganda fuel from this event, and we must fear people reacting in a racial manner to Muslims and possible discrimination, the Muslim community needs to understand that the problem towards apostasy and blasphemy is rooted deep within their own community.

Muslim reformists should not deceive themselves into thinking that this extremism is only a tiny minority of “fake” Muslims that is being exaggerated by the hostile colonialists media. While extremists such as these shooters indeed are a minority (though not that tiny) within the Muslim community, they are not the disease, they are merely the symptom of a greater disease that is much more prevalent. And Muslims reformists, in alliance with secularists, have a duty to cure this disease, albeit slowly. The first step is admitting – stop shifting the blame and accept that the demon lies within and not without.

This disease, in particular, is the Muslim attitude towards blasphemy, and the attitude towards apostasy.

This website collects a series of polls regarding these issues, and as you might have guessed, the results are not pretty.

Policy Exchange: One third of British Muslims believe anyone who leaves Islam should be killed
http://www.civitas.org.uk/pdf/ShariaLawOrOneLawForAll.pdf

NOP Research: 78% of British Muslims support punishing the publishers of Muhammad cartoons;
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/08/14/opinion/main1893879.shtml&date=2011-04-06
http://www.webcitation.org/5xkMGAEvY

Pew Research (2010): 84% of Egyptian Muslims support the death penalty for leaving Islam

86% of Jordanian Muslims support the death penalty for leaving Islam

30% of Indonesian Muslims support the death penalty for leaving Islam

76% of Pakistanis support death the penalty for leaving Islam

51% of Nigerian Muslims support the death penalty for leaving Islam
http://pewglobal.org/2010/12/02/muslims-around-the-world-divided-on-hamas-and-hezbollah/

Die Presse (2013): 1 in 5 Muslims in Austria believe that anyone wanting to leave Islam should be killed.
http://muslimstatistics.wordpress.com/2013/12/03/survey-on-islam-in-austria-18-of-muslims-support-death-sentence-for-apostasy-21-9-oppose-democracy/

The majority of Muslim countries condemned these attacks. Iran did – but wasn’t Iran the same country which issued a fatwa against Salman Rushdie, and didn’t many Muslims pour into streets in support of that fatwa? Wasn’t Iran the same country which executed someone for insulting the Prophet Jonas and right now has someone else waiting to be executed for insulting the Prophet on the Facebook? Didn’t Mohammad cartoons receive violent riots in many countries? All those Muslim countries condemning the murders today have anti-blasphemy laws.

More importantly, don’t Muslims constantly vilify and marginalize apostates and blasphemers within their own communities? This ranges from moderate Muslims like Nasr Hamed Abu Zeid who had to flee his country and the Sheikh of Al-Azhar nullified his marriage because of his blasphemy (Al-Azhar another body which condemned the attack today), to ex-Muslims who live in fear of death and they all face discrimination and bigotry in all Muslim communities.

These are not indications of a tiny minority. Whether in countries where these hateful attitudes are a majority, and whether in those countries where the opinion is in a minority, the numbers are not small and insignificant. There’s something wrong with the Muslim community.

So, of course from time to time these attitudes bubble into violent actions like those which happened in Australia by an Iranian Sunni convert or the today’s attack on the French magazine, but Muslims cannot just wash their own hands off of this. The disease is the hateful discriminatory attitude towards blasphemy. The disease is the assumption that just because YOU believe your prophet is sacred others should treat him as sacred as well.

Muslims need to learn that people will inevitably disagree with them. That some people will blaspheme, some people will be too critical of their faith, some people will ridicule their faith, and some people will leave it. They should accept and tolerate this. They should live with it.

Abortion clinic bombers are a minority. School shooters are a minority. Serial rapists are a minority. But whenever these people surface, we need to ask what cultural situations led them to be created. Progressives usually do this, but exempt Muslims from a similar examination. Which is an unfortunate lack of coherence on their part.

I am certain that Muslims will move towards a better and more tolerant attitude. But until they do, it is my moral duty to mention the problem.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

More than 40 bodies retrieved in AirAsia search


AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
30 DEC 2014 AT 04:58 ET      
           
Family members of passengers onboard AirAsia flight QZ8501 react after watching television reports showing an body floating in the Java Sea, while waiting at a crisis-centre set up at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, on December 30, 2014 (AFP)
Family members of passengers onboard AirAsia flight QZ8501 react after watching television reports showing an body floating in the Java Sea, while waiting at a crisis-centre set up at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, on December 30, 2014 (AFP)
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UPDATE:

An Indonesian warship recovered more than 40 bodies from the sea Tuesday in the search for the AirAsia jet, a navy spokesman told AFP.

“Based on the navy radio, it has been reported that the warship Bung Tomo has retrieved 40 bodies and the number is growing. They are very busy now,” Manahan Simorangkir said.

Relatives of passengers on AirAsia flight QZ8501 began crying hysterically and fainting Tuesday as Indonesian television footage showed a body floating in the sea during aerial searches for the plane.

At least two distraught family members were carried out on stretchers from the room where they had been waiting for news in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city — the take-off point for the aircraft that disappeared during a storm on Sunday.

“My heart will be totally crushed if it’s true. I will lose a son,” 60-year-old Dwijanto, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told AFP.

More than 48 hours after the Airbus A320-200 lost contact carrying 162 people to Singapore, aerial searchers spotted items in the Java Sea which officials said were from the plane. Soon after they began recovering dozens of bodies.

As the first body was shown floating in the water on rolling television news, relatives burst into tears and hugged one another amid cries for more ambulances, said an AFP reporter at the scene.

One man covered his face and had to be held up by two other men before he fainted and was taken out by stretcher. Another woman was screaming and crying as she was supported by the mayor of Surabaya.

A female AirAsia officer shouted at the television media for showing footage of a floating body, while about 200 journalists were barred from the room holding the families, the windows of which were boarded up.

“Is it possible for you not to show a picture of the dead? Please do not show a picture of a dead body,” said the officer. “That’s crazy.”

Munif, a 50-year-old whose younger brother Siti Rahmah was on the plane, said he had been trying hard to keep the other families calm.

“But the atmosphere was very different after the footage of a dead body was shown. Families became hysterical,” he said.

“Because everyone was wailing and yelling, I couldn’t deal with it so I decided to leave the room.”

In Malaysia, families of those on the MH370 flight that went missing without a trace in March hoped those lost in the latest tragedy could at least have a proper burial.

“The families can now have a closure and have a peace of mind which I am dying for,” said Selamat Omar, whose 29-year-old son was on the Malaysia Airlines plane.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Today's Senryu

Fight the
Power
Until Heard

How to Get More Likes, Shares on Facebook

BY SAMANTHA MURPHY KELLY
JUN 19, 2012

If you're looking to get better engagement out of your Facebook posts, add more pictures and start speaking in the first person.

Social media data expert Dan Zarrella — who tracked and analyzed more than 1.3 million posts from the 10,000 most-Liked Facebook pages — has released details about which posts get the most likes, shares and comments on Facebook, from post type and length to the best time of day to add updates.

Photos bring in the highest number of engagement across the board, followed by text and video, according to Zarrella. News links bring in the least numbers of likes, shares and comments.

Meanwhile, posts with a high number of self-referential words such as "I" and "me" get more likes — a tactic that doesn't work well on Twitter.


"Overall, the best strategy for Facebook, as well as all kinds of social media marketing, is to create a lot of interesting content and share it," Zarrella told Mashable. "On Facebook, visual content does especially well. It's also important to be passionate, not neutral."

This means that both positive and negative posts tend to do well with engagement.

Timing is also key. Updates posted later in the day (Eastern Time) bring in more shares and Likes, but they tend to peak around 8 p.m. Shares trickle off around the end of the work day (6 p.m.).

"Publish when others aren't, such as later in the day and on the weekends," Zarrella advised.

For example, Facebook posts that go up on Saturdays and Sundays tend to get more Likes than those during the week. Similar to Twitter engagement, Facebook posts do better earlier in the week than later: Thursday is the least active day for Likes.

People also tend to be active throughout the week in the early hours of the day (5 a.m. ET) and during lunchtime (12 p.m. ET).



Saturday, December 20, 2014

New Stonehenge Discovery Hailed As 'Most Important In 60 Years'

Macrina Cooper-White

The Huffington Post 12/19/14 05:12 PM ET

Archaeologists studying Stonehenge and its environs say they've unearthed the remnants of an untouched, ancient encampment that dates back 6,000 years--a find that could rewrite British prehistory.

“This is the most important discovery at Stonehenge in over 60 years,” Professor Tim Darvill, a Bournemouth University archaeologist and a Stonehenge expert who was not involved in the new discovery, told the Telegraph. And as he told The Huffington Post in an email, the discovery overturns previous theories that "Stonehenge was built in a landscape that was not heavily used before about 3000 B.C."

But if scientists are buzzing about the discovery, they're also bummed about a new government plan calling for the construction of a new tunnel underneath Stonehenge.

The discovery was made during a dig at Blick Mead, a site about 1.5 miles from Stonehenge. Researchers found charcoal dating back to 4,000 B.C. and evidence of "possible structures," according to a statement released by the university. They also unearthed burnt flint and tools, as well as the remains of aurochs--ancient cattle that served as food for ancient hunter-gatherers.

The researchers plan further analysis on the artifacts but say they're worried the tunnel construction could damage the site and get in the way of their work.

"Blick Mead could explain what archaeologists have been searching for for centuries--an answer to the story of Stonehenge’s past," David Jaques, the University of Buckingham archaeologist who discovered the encampment, told The Guardian. "But our only chance to find out about the earliest chapter of Britain’s history could be wrecked if the tunnel goes ahead.”

Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument consisting of a ring of standing stones, is located eight miles north of Salisbury, England in Wiltshire. It has been listed as a World Heritage Site since 1986.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

NASA's Kepler Spacecraft Finds 1st Alien Planet of New Mission

SPACE.com
Mike Wall 7 hours ago

NASA's Kepler space telescope is discovering alien planets again.

The prolific spacecraft has spotted its first new alien planet since being hobbled by a malfunction in May 2013, researchers announced today (Dec. 18). The newly discovered world, called HIP 116454b, is a "super Earth" about 2.5 times larger than our home planet. It lies 180 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Pisces — close enough to be studied by other instruments, scientists said.

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"Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Kepler has been reborn and is continuing to make discoveries," study lead author Andrew Vanderburg, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), said in a statement. "Even better, the planet it found is ripe for follow-up studies." [Gallery: A World of Kepler Planets]

Kepler launched in March 2009, on a 3.5-year mission to determine how frequently Earth-like planets occur around the Milky Way galaxy. The spacecraft has been incredibly successful to date, finding nearly 1,000 confirmed planets — more than half of all known alien worlds — along with about 3,200 other "candidates," the vast majority of which should turn out to be the real deal.

The spacecraft finds planets by the "transit method," watching for the telltale dimming caused when a world cross the face of, or transits, its parent star from Kepler's perspective. Such work requires incredibly precise pointing — an ability the spacecraft lost in May 2013, when the second of its four orientation-maintaining reaction wheels failed.

But the Kepler team didn't give up on the spacecraft. They devised a way to increase Kepler's stability by using the subtle pressure of sunlight, then proposed a new mission called K2, which would continue Kepler's exoplanet hunt in a limited fashion and also study other cosmic objects and phenomena, such as active galaxies and supernova explosions.

NASA greenlit K2 for two years in May of this year, but Kepler first detected HIP 116454b even earlier. Vanderburg and his colleagues — who developed special software to analyze data gathered by the spacecraft in its compromised state — noticed a single transit of the planet in Kepler observations from a nine-day test run in February.

The astronomers then confirmed the discovery using the HARPS-North spectrograph on the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo in the Canary Islands, off the west coast of Africa.

HIP 116454b is about 20,000 miles (32,000 kilometers) wide and is 12 times more massive than Earth, scientists said. The planet's density suggests that it is either primarily covered by water or is a "mini Neptune" with a large, thick atmosphere.

HIP 116454b lies just 8.4 million miles (13.5 million km) from its host star, an "orange dwarf" slightly smaller and cooler than the sun, and completes one orbit every 9.1 days. The close-orbiting planet is too hot to host life as we know it, researchers said.

The planet's relative proximity to Earth means it will likely attract further attention in the future.

"HIP 116454b will be a top target for telescopes on the ground and in space," said study co-author John Johnson, of Harvard University and the CfA.

The new study has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.

While HIP 116454b is the first planet spotted by Kepler in its current state, it isn't the first world to be confirmed in the wake of the May 2013 glitch. Many other discoveries have rolled in since then, as researchers work to validate the trove of planet candidates Kepler detected during its prime mission.

Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on Space.com.

Social Media Will Invade Your Inbox and Reimagine Work - See more at: http://millennialceo.com/innovation/social-media-invade-inbox-reimagine-work/#.dpuf

December 15, 2014

Social media is getting bigger and bigger and in the coming years, it will become even more encompassing. And believe it or not, social media will do your business even more good than it is already achieving, For those hoping to keep social media separate from your traditional email and business productivity tools, let me tell you this – those days of separation are numbered.

Over the last year, Google made the first move by incorporating an entire section in your inbox dedicated to your social media channels.

Now with the launch of IBM Verse and other similar next generation inbox tools, the lines separating our social, personal, and professional relationships are going to be more blurred, yet more organized than ever before. In the future, our productivity will be driven by our behavior, but it will also be data driven and seamless. Our inbox will know how we like to work and it will use that knowledge to help us be more productive. For small businesses, this means next generation social CRM, business productivity, and a new lease on work-life, or dare we say, better work-life balance.

Staying organized will have a whole new meaning

How will your new inbox keep you organized? Robust analytics included with tools like IBM Verse enables it to learn your behavior and adjust itself to how and where you work. Naturally, your inbox will sort your mails based on priority, which will help you stay organized. Google’s inbox app, on the other hand, will integrate a social media-style interface to the email feed, so that important information or images will be featured in your feed in such a way that you will be able to view them without a click, creating a very user-friendly experience and mirroring the experience that you are currently seeing in your social media channels.

Keeping track of important things will be easier

Using new innovation, your Google inbox will also display up-to-date information in the fashion of a Google Now card integrated in your email. Google Now will allow you to quickly sort through your email and pull important emails from all the random, unimportant emails residing in your inbox. Not only this, your inbox may feature a list of to-do items based on tasks you complete more often, or people you interact with on a regular basis.

Your inbox will set reminders for you and more

Your email will set reminders for you, but the new technology will take those reminders a step further. Let’s say, you have an important event to attend and you create a reminder for it. Your email will automatically feed more information into that reminder, like the contact numbers and a map of the location. This way your reminders will be automatically updated, and give you all of the information that you need at a glance.

Inbox will become the social CRM tool for small businesses

Inbox will gradually turn into the next generation social CRM for small businesses. Today’s social CRM are able to carry out an impressive list of tasks, which includes tracking mentions of your brand, bridging the gap between social conversations and internal communications, and charting data visualization, to name a few. With social media becoming a part of your inbox, the latter will perform the many functions of social CRMs.

With social media stepping into your inbox, you will find it becoming more interactive than ever. It’s interesting to watch us come full circle: communication is slowly going to come back to where it started from, albeit in a reimagined way.

Do you think the introduction of social media into your inbox will have you using email more effectively again?

This post was brought to you by IBM for Midsize Business and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit IBM’s Midsize Insider. Dedicated to providing businesses with expertise, solutions and tools that are specific to small and midsized companies, the Midsize Business program provides businesses with the materials and knowledge they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

- See more at: http://millennialceo.com/innovation/social-media-invade-inbox-reimagine-work/#.dpuf

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How to Avoid Work: A 1949 Guide to Doing What You Love

by Maria Popova

“Life really begins when you have discovered that you can do anything you want.”

“There is an ugliness in being paid for work one does not like,” Anaïs Nin wrote in her diary in 1941. Indeed, finding a sense of purpose and doing what makes the heart sing is one of the greatest human aspirations — and yet too many people remain caught in the hamster wheel of unfulfilling work. In 1949, career counselor William J. Reilly penned How To Avoid Work (public library) — a short guide to finding your purpose and doing what you love. Despite the occasional vintage self-helpism of the tone, the book is remarkable for many reasons — written at the dawn of the American corporate era and the golden age of the housewife, it not only encouraged people of all ages to pursue their passions over conventional, safe occupations, but it also spoke to both men and women with equal regard.

Reilly begins by exploring the mythologies of work and play, something Lewis Hyde has written of beautifully, with an uncomfortable but wonderfully apt metaphor:

Most [people] have the ridiculous notion that anything they do which produces an income is work — and that anything they do outside ‘working’ hours is play. There is no logic to that.

[…]

Your life is too short and too valuable to fritter away in work.

If you don’t get out now, you may end up like the frog that is placed in a pot of fresh water on the stove. As the temperature is gradually increased, the frog feels restless and uncomfortable, but not uncomfortable enough to jump out. Without being aware that a chance is taking place, he is gradually lulled into unconsciousness.

Much the same thing happens when you take a person and put him in a job which he does not like. He gets irritable in his groove. His duties soon become a monotonous routine that slowly dulls his senses. As I walk into offices, through factories and stores, I often find myself looking into the expressionless faces of people going through mechanical motions. They are people whose minds are stunned and slowly dying.

To illustrate the idea that “life really begins when you have discovered that you can do anything you want,” Reilly quotes Amelia Earhart, a woman of strong and refreshing liberal for their time opinions:

I flew the Atlantic because I wanted to. If that be what they call ‘a woman’s reason,’ make the most of it. It isn’t, I think, a reason to be apologized for by man or woman. . . .

Whether you are flying the Atlantic or selling sausages or building a skyscraper or driving a truck, your greatest power comes from the fact that you want tremendously to do that very thing, and do it well.

He admonishes against the toxic “should”-culture we live in, arguably all the more pronounced today:

Actually, there is only one way in this world to achieve true happiness, and that is to express yourself with all your skill and enthusiasm in a career that appeals to you more than any other. In such a career, you feel a sense of purpose, a sense of achievement. You feel you are making a contribution. It is not work.

[…]

To my mind, the world would be a much pleasanter and more civilized place to live in, if everyone resolved to pursue whatever is closest to his heart’s desire. We would be more creative and our productivity would be vastly increased.

Altogether too much emphasis, I think, is being placed on what we ought to do, rather than what we want to do.

When a young art student recently asked author Neil Gaiman what to make of people advising her against doing what she loves, his brilliant answer paralleled what Reilly so passionately argued some sixty-three years ago:

The greatest satisfaction you can obtain from life is your pleasure in producing, in your own individual way, something of value to your fellowmen. That is creative living!

When we consider that each of us has only one life to live, isn’t it rather tragic to find men and women, with brains capable of comprehending the stars and the planets, talking about the weather; men and women, with hands capable of creating works of art, using those hands only for routine tasks; men and women, capable of independent thought, using their minds as a bowling-alley for popular ideas; men and women, capable of greatness, wallowing in mediocrity; men and women, capable of self-expression, slowly dying a mental death while they babble the confused monotone of the mob?

For you, life can be a succession of glorious adventures. Or it can be a monotonous bore.

Take your choice!

Echoing Alan Watts’s litmus test of what you would do if money were no object, Reilly suggests:

No matter what your age or condition or experience, the sooner you find out what you really want to do and do it the better, for that’s the only way anyone can avoid work.

[…]

Try this approach. Suppose you were financially independent and were perfectly free to do anything you wanted, what would you do, if anything?

If your inclinations are at all definite, the answer to this simple question provides at least a general definition of the field which you would enjoy most.

He outlines a general division of labor for any field:

In every business, art, trade or profession, there are four major jobs to be done:

Creative — inventing, discovering, or developing new ideas
Administrative — making plans and policies for the conduct and supervision of the entire business or project
Executive — directing the work of others in actually carrying out plans and policies in one or more departments or sections
Line — performing some individual routine task involving no responsibility for the work of others
If you have creative ability, you know it without anyone telling you. Your creative talents have demanded expression in your early youth. If there is any doubt in your mind as to whether you have the ability to invent or to discover or to develop new ideas, you probably do not have this ability.

[…]

If you are a thoughtful person, slow to act, who enjoys analyzing, interpreting, and patiently summarizing the results of the activities of others; if you’re the kind of person who likes to pry into every single phase of an operation and to vie a business as a whole; if you get a big kick out of cautiously defining long-range plans and policies; if you’re strong on logic, you have the most important earmarks of an able administrator.

But if you like plenty of action, if you love to organize and direct other people as they carry out plans and policies, and if you’re perfectly content to confine your activities to one department of a business, you’d probably make a first-rate executive.

Reilly stresses the importance of the human factor:

Often, success or failure turns on this question of human relations. … Any time you do not enjoy the human relations involved in any job, sooner or later that job’s bound to be work, not fun.

In the third chapter, he turns to the three most common excuses preventing us from pursuing what we want to do:

Whenever a person is not doing what he says he wants to do, he always has what sounds like a good excuse. And it’s always one or more of three:

‘I haven’t the time.’
‘I haven’t the money.’
‘My folks don’t want me to.’
He then goes on to examine — and debunk — each of the three excuses, showing that “each of them melts away as an imaginary obstacle when we shine the light of intelligence upon it.” As an enormous believer in making time, rather than finding time, for what matters, I find his meditation on time, reminiscent of Montaigne’s on death and the art of living, particularly important:

Without Time nothing is possible. Everything requires Time. Time is the only permanent and absolute ruler in the universe. But she is a scrupulously fair ruler. She treats every living person exactly alike every day. No matter how much of the world’s goods you have managed to accumulate, you cannot successfully plead for a single moment more than the pauper receives without ever asking for it. Time is the one great leveler. Everyone has the same amount to spend every day.

The next time you feel that you ‘haven’t the time’ to do what you really want to do, it may be worth-while for you to remember that you have as much time as anyone else — twenty-four hours a day. How you spend that twenty-four hours is really up to you.

Indeed, to Reilly success is very much a product of deliberate time investment and discipline — something great writers can attest to. To illustrate “the remarkable achievements possible for anyone who will consistently devote even as little as one hour a day to one single purpose,” Reilly cites an anecdote in which a friend of Thomas Edison’s marveled at the great inventor’s extreme productivity and the stringency of his 18-hour-workdays dedication to success. Edison retorts:

You do something all day long, don’t you? Everyone does. If you get up at seven o’clock and go to bed at eleven, you have put in sixteen good hours, and it is certain that you have been doing something all that time. The only difference is that you do a great many things and I do one. If you took the time in question and applied it in one direction, you would succeed. Success is sure to follows such application. The trouble lies in the fact that people do not have one thing to stick to, letting all else go.

Reilly observes:

But a person cannot apply himself to anything incessantly without growing weary unless he loves it — unless it’s not work. And that’s the real explanation of Edison’s full use of his time.

If you were to spend an hour alone with the loud tick of a clock, or better yet, if you could spend an hour completely alone with an hour-glass, watching the sands of Time quickly slip through that vessel, and realize that 100 years from now you and I will both be gone, then you would begin to appreciate that TIME is the ONLY thing you really DO HAVE and that you alone can do anything you wish with the Time that is yours.

He then moves on to the second excuse, money, noting — as I myself can gratefully attest to — that purpose should come before making a living financially, but can be followed by it:

Money never comes first in self-expression of any kind. Study the biographies of those who have built great fortunes, and you will learn that money came to them after they had produced or discovered something.

[…]

In a world marked by constant change, where the rich of today are often the poor of tomorrow, due to circumstances beyond their control, the only security is your ability to produce something of value for your fellow man, and your only guarantee of happiness is your joy in producing it.

True happiness lies in the pursuit of your goal, achievement in your chosen field. This must always remain primary. Whenever money becomes primary, you are on treacherous ground.

Lastly, he zooms in on the third excuse, what your parents — or, in a broader sense, the cohort of “others” — think you should be doing, articulating something Paul Graham captured beautifully decades later in talking about the dangers of prestige and adding an admonition about knowing when to and when not to take advice. Reilly writes:

‘What our friends and associates think’ influences us more than we realize. We like to live the life and stay in the role which others expect of us.

[…]

Each of us is somewhat like an electric light bulb, deriving its power from some central force. Just as the bulb accumulates dust and soot from the air around it until it is darkened, then blackened, so our individuality becomes dulled at first and then entirely blotted out from the accumulation of advice and interference which is superimposed upon us by family and friends. If you examine their advice, you will find that they are continually offering counsel based on their own experience in connection with a situation that is quite different from the one you are facing.

[…]

You will neither venture anything nor achieve anything if you permit yourself to be unduly influenced by others. . . . Remember this. Only one sound mind is needed to create an idea.

[…]

There is no one more colorless than the self-conscious, vacillating person who is neither hot nor cold, wet nor dry, because he is always wondering what others will think of him and is always trying to please everybody.

In a chapter titled “If You’re Under 35,” Reilly makes a case for cultivating creativity as a “way of operating,” to borrow John Cleese’s phrase:

If you’re under 35 years of age, your primary and immediate objective in your chosen field is to build a salable background. How much money you make during this period is not nearly so important as whether you are gaining salable education and experience.

[…]

You can’t build a salable background in any field by just taking on a job and following directions and being punctual and faithful and a hard-working employee.

That’s a lot of horsefeathers.

You’ve got to do something unusual to get favorable attention. And one of the simplest ways for anyone to gain recognition and advancement in any job is to develop a reputation for being a person who has ‘good ideas.’

He then turns to the notion of creativity as problem-solving and the question of how to produce ideas:

Whether you get ideas or not, depends entirely on your attitude towards problems.

No matter where you go, you find that men and women divide themselves into two main groups:

Those who, when confronted with a problem, immediately run to the boss with it.
Those who look upon a problem as something to be solved and who go ahead and solve it.
Those in the second group get a lot of good ideas; those in the first group do not.

[…]

No matter where you work, you’ll get a lot of good ideas if you’ll:

Start with the little everyday problems. When something goes wrong on the job, see if you can figure out what to do about it.
Get into the habit of going to the boss with your suggested solution to a problem, instead of just dumping the problem into his lap.
If your solution is no good, find out what’s wrong with it, so you can do better the next time.
He ends the section with a note on what I call combinatorial creativity, the notion that groundbreaking ideas are simply powerful new combinations of existing ideas. Reilly writes:

Anyone who gets enough practice solving the little problems, will, sooner, or later, be able to solve the big ones. Big ideas are usually a lot of little ideas rolled into one.

Though cultural shifts in the six decades since its publication have rendered How To Avoid Work somewhat less relevant as a practical guide to career success, it remains a timeless and ever-timely reminder of the broader essence of creative satisfaction and the life of purpose, a vocational counterpart to the wonderful The Meaning of Life: Reflections in Words and Pictures on Why We Are Here.

 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

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