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The Joy of Piracy

One benefit of the online, inter-connected world we live in is that it’s no longer necessary to purchase music or software. Although I have my favorite music and the latest video games and photography software, I haven’t purchased a single intangible item in years. Hardware, yes, software, no.

The Pirate Bay is the source for almost any music or software you are looking for. Get uTorrent and start downloading torrent trackers. While you’re receiving files, you’re also sending pieces of those files to other people, helping provide freedom to everyone.

If it isn’t on BitTorrent, it’s probably on RapidShare. Find your booty.

I have a brand new copy of Adobe Photoshop CS5 on my computer, Sibelius 6 for composing, a Nintendo Wii hooked to a hard drive with 50 games, a Nintendo DS with even more games and my favorite music, and I didn’t pay a dime for any of it. Anyone who pays a dime for any of this stuff is a chump, plain and simple.

The beautiful thing about piracy is that it’s a victimless crime which hurts no one. The people who pirate software would not buy it anyway, and the people who buy it are too principled (read: stupid) to engage in the bliss that is piracy. Even content creators benefit, because piracy breeds not only more piracy, but also more purchases from stupid principled people. It’s a win-win situation.

Now go and pirate something today! George Washington would be proud.

Making Up for Lost Time

Wasted time can never be reclaimed, because you never have the opportunity to repeat the past. Therefore, you must make sure you are working toward your goals and making the best use of each and every day.

If you find you have wasted months or years of your life as I have, nothing good can come from dwelling on it, as this only wastes more time. The only thing we can do is learn from the past and not repeat the same mistakes in the future.

Average people waste most of their lives. Watching T.V., surfing the Internet, playing video games, reading fiction, pointless conversations, Facebook, day-dreaming, over-sleeping—eliminate this from the average person’s life and you will see their productivity triple. People who seem like super-humans are actually ordinary—they just don’t waste their time on garbage which takes up 12 hours of an ordinary person’s day. Even replacing television with doing nothing is a step up. Just call it meditation and you are instantly a monk or philosopher.

Anything important can be measured—save a few intangibles like intelligence. Schools and colleges measure your academic worth through exams and graded assignments. Employers measure your worth as a slave with performance reviews. And you can measure your productivity by recording how you use every hour of your time. Though this is something I’ve never done, I imagine it would greatly boost my creative output. There’s no point doing it now—I already know I’m nowhere near optimal efficiency—but in a few months small optimizations will become important.

Even recreation is essential. It should not be the result of procrastination, but a bona fide item on your schedule. “Multi-tasking” produces crap, not results. When you are working, whether your job is writing, painting, building, or cooking, don’t do anything else. Don’t work through lunch, ignore incoming emails and phone calls, don’t read pointless blogs, and don’t look outside. When you’re eating lunch, don’t do any of these other things, and the same for talking on the phone or taking a break. If you give your undivided attention to each item on your schedule, you will see massive performance gains.

Cutting off relationships with people who drag down your productivity is a positive step. Block that friend or coworker who forwards you 50 emails a day. Clear out your friends list on Facebook and Twitter: only keep people you know in real life and have seen recently. Banish energy vampires from your life. Surround yourself with positive people or no one at all.

Above all, never lose faith in yourself. You can do great things, even if you only have months left to live.

True Love is Conditional

Anyone who practices unconditional love must apply it to everything. It is not possible to love one person or thing unconditionally and love others conditionally (or not at all), just as it is impossible to have an inclusive society that excludes some group of people. Therefore, anyone who loves unconditionally also loves murder, lies, adultery, rape, child molestation, genocide, witchcraft, idolatry, hypocrisy, death, darkness, and evil in general. Conversely, anyone who loves conditionally can choose to hate evil and exclude it from their life.

Anything unconditional is devoid of substance and meaning. Do students learn anything from a class if their teacher accepts any answers? If you are unconditionally guaranteed food, shelter, and luxuries, does hard work or personal growth have any reward? Parents who love their children unconditionally provide just that, and their children are always spoiled brats who have no reverence or humility.

To understand the lunacy of unconditional love, consider its alternative: unconditional hate. Would it make any sense to hate someone no matter how much love and kindness he or she demonstrated toward you? Does it make any more sense to love someone unconditionally who continually murders your family and friends?

Does God love liars, killers, homosexuals, and gluttons unconditionally? No—he condemns them to death or eternal hellfire (depending on your religion). Does the State love criminals unconditionally? No—it imprisons and executes thousands of them. Unconditional love is unbounded, undefined, limitless, and expects no reciprocation. Unconditional love is insanity, and, like an infinite number, no examples of it exist in life.

Why then is unconditional love such a staple of romance novels and philosophical discussions? Doubtlessly, it stems from Romanticism, a period from 1789 to 1850 which emphasized feeling over truth and intuition over reason. A bunch of morons wrote a slew of poems about unconditional, unobtainable love for married or deceased women, and now children and college students of all ages have to waste precious time analyzing and praising the morons and their moronic poems.

People who practice unconditional love, in reality, hate themselves and the human species. They are child murderers, devil-worshipers, back-stabbers, and animal rights activists. True love is conditional.

Manifesting Money

Most people assume manifesting money requires hard work and providing value, but since money is just worthless paper, the quickest way is to print it.

So you should immediately become CEO of Goldman Sachs and start printing credit default swaps. Sell them to the Federal Reserve at face value, then buy gold in sacks and flee to Mexico.

Carbon Taxes

Proposed in the United Nations and the U.S. Congress is a tax on all carbon dioxide emissions. Whenever we light our wood-burning stove to heat our house, carbon atoms in the wood are being oxidized to release heat and carbon dioxide. Whenever we breathe in and out, we convert oxygen into carbon dioxide. A carbon tax is no more than a slave tax—a yoke around the necks of industry which will kill a billion people in the third world. Gasoline and power bills will easily go up 10%, and the cumulative effects will be even worse at the supermarket and the office stores.

The Carbon Tax Center postulates that “a permanent and increasing U.S. carbon tax is essential.” The theory is that burning carbon causes the Earth to become warmer, and that any influence we have on the Earth’s environment must be negative. Therefore, the ultimate solution is human extinction. We all know the Earth would be completely perfect without our presence. Short of that mass suicide, modern feudalism to our elitist overlords for our carbon sins will do (carbon is one of the four major organic molecules along with hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen). The mindset is we are a cancer upon the planet, and every time a baby is born mother Earth weeps. Environmentalism is an excuse to take away our sovereignty, our property, and our wombs as gifts to the state, in the name of saving the Earth. This is why popular media promotes euthanasia, abortion rights, and one-child per family policies. Human life is cheap because we don’t belong here anyway. We evolved from monkeys as an evolutionary mistake, because monkeys were never supposed to be this smart.

The science anthropogenic climate change rests on is shaky. Emails leaked from the Climactic Research Unit in the University of East Anglia reveal that the Earth’s temperature has been declining since 2000. Scientists there have to come up with tricks to “hide the decline” in temperature—also known as fudging the numbers or cheating, to support the global warming agenda. Then the U.N. takes the C.R.U.’s reports and cites them as the excuse to enslave humanity. During the Medieval Warming Period, It was far warmer than it is now. The sun goes through warming and cooling cycles and right now we are in a cooling cycle. There is nothing you can do about that. More carbon dioxide does not cause global warming; global warming causes elevated carbon dioxide levels. Besides, the warming of the planet by 1 or 2 degrees F would be better for farmers. The Earth is too cold. Sea levels may rise one or two inches. Not 50 feet. The Great Lakes are not preparing to drain into the Gulf of Mexico, nor will San Francisco be 50 feet underwater by the 50th presidential election.

Our carbon output amounts to about 0.28% of the planet’s. Volcanos go off all the time. Florida is supposed to be on fire half the year. Polar bears are not dying and penguins are swimming better than ever. If you want to talk about damaging the environment, talk about the 200,000 troops we have bombing Afghanistan, killing citizens for no reason other than bloodlust. We fight wars with no enemies against people who have no weapons besides the weapons we give them, and then at home we talk of instituting crippling taxes and killing off the elderly. The only terrorists in this country are the elitsts on Wall Street, the Federal Reserve, the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, and several others, who continue to ram fascism down our throats.

The Constitution is dying and our freedoms are disappearing. The police dress in black and engage us as enemy combatants. As the artificial dollar bubble bursts, property taxes, mandatory car insurance, vehicle registrations, garbage pick up, sewage and water services, and power and phone services skyrocket. The people are being trodden over. Motorcycle cops are mere tax collectors, and we never question them, lest we be tased or clubbed.

We are headed for national socialism. With carbon taxes, even more of our money will go to the state and we will have to count on the state to take care of all our problems. It won’t happen. Healthcare is going to get even worse. You better pray you don’t get sick. They want to kill us with fluoride in the water, mercury in the vaccines, and barium in the chemical trails they continually spray on us (with no remorse for mother Earth). Some 2000 nuclear weapons test detonations in the past 70 years have done far worse for the environment than smokestacks or gas-guzzling SUVs.

Wake up and watch the Alex Jones channel. Start eating apricot kernels to avoid cancer. The green movement is death-worship, and we must thwart the death-worshipers before they kill us all. Population control starts with you.

Carbon taxes are the secular version of the Catholic indulgences of the 1400s. Carbon taxes will be used to set up a global government with Pope Benedict’s blessing, and there will be no escape. Buy your shotguns now.

Stop Abortion, Eugenics

I know they don’t teach you real history in history class. I know you haven’t read anything about the past 200 years of mankind and you have no historical knowledge. You don’t even know your own country. I don’t either, but if there’s something I want to know I don’t assume the status quo is correct. I look it up.

Eugenics was big in the 1920s in the U.S.A., and most states had laws allowing the government to sterilize people unfit to be parents. This isn’t just the insane—it’s people who have parents and family who are alcoholics and drug-users. Men and women who were mentally stable and led admirable lives were forcibly sterilized—60,000 of them. They could never have children or lead a fulfilling life (a fulfilling life involves raising a family). Not only that—the sterilization procedures were dangerous and frequently caused infections or death.

Do you want forced sterilization to come back? When you support abortion, you’re leading to it. The government is taking more and more power. Obama’s healthcare bills have “end of life” procedures to kill off sick old people. We don’t have the “resources” to take care of them. If the government would stop pushing us around and ruining us financially, we’d have plenty of resources.

Elitists like David Rockefeller and Bill Gates support abortion because it kills more of us. They support eugenics, “euthanasia” the sick and the old, forced sterilization, and forced abortion because they want the Earth’s population to be 500 million. Of course, they, their families, and their friends shouldn’t be subjugated. Just everyone else.

As a man I have no right to comment on rape? As an adult, how do you have the right to comment on teenagers? How do you have the right to say anything? The truth is, we all have the right to comment on whatever we want. There is no “right” to abortion, no more than there is a right to stab your neighbors eyes out.

Read this:

This post is my reply to a commentator on my abortion article, but I won’t repost his comment because it’s crap.

Negative Feedback, Speaking Your Mind

You are always going to get negative feedback. As you get more and more positive feedback, you get more and more negative feedback.

For example: this month I reduced my freelance photography rate from $50 per event to $20 per hour, with a minimum of $20 plus a $10 travel fee. Editing and a CD are free, but I provide no prints. I’ve done almost no freelance photography and I don’t even care about it, but I offer it because people ask about it all the time. The people who say I’m too expensive are actually MORE vocal now. Out of the ten who have asked this month, two have said I charge way too much. I have good equipment, 5 years experience, and a gallery of portraits, so I’m charging very little, but some people still complain. If I charged $5 there would be people saying “it will only take a few minutes!” There will ALWAYS be negative feedback.

Sometimes negative feedback is valid. More often negative feedback is bogus and positive feedback is legitimate. If you are evil this will be flipped: positive feedback (“good job gassing those Jews!”) is bogus and negative feedback (“murderer!”) is legitimate. You should ignore bogus feedback and cut off the source. In your email inbox, bogus feedback makes you want to click “Delete.” Constructive criticism makes you want to click “Archive” because everyone ignores constructive criticism. Accurate negative feedback makes you want to click “Archive” quickly because you are uneasy. If you keep mulling over a comment, it has truth.

A couple years ago I believed you should always speak your mind. Now I know you have to be cautious if you want to be part of normal institutions, i.e. public school, the university, or a bureaucratic place of employment.

For example: here are my observations about the word “nigger”:

* For a long time it was used derisively against blacks and mulattos. Even President Harding was called a nigger.

* Now it is often used by blacks when talking to their black buddies in “the ‘hood.”

* Black rappers say nigger in their song lyrics all the time and their CDs are sold at Wal-Mart.

* If a white man calls a black man a nigger, there are now Draconian penalties—a tenured professor could be fired.

* Calling a white man a honkey, a cracker, or white trash is not very bad.

* If a black man calls anyone a nigger there will likely be no penalty.

* This is racist. Two wrongs never make a right—you cannot mitigate historical oppression by flipping it. When the oppressed become the oppressors they are still unjustified.

* “Nigger” should be universally offensive, but when a white man is called a nigger he brushes it off.

* Professors are afraid of their white students saying the word, even when discussing historical racism. Instead we have to say “the N-word.”

These can be objectively proven. Therefore, they are not beliefs. They are observations. However I would not dare make these statements at my job or school because there could be painful sanctions, even in history class! Most professors would not find them offensive, but white professors would strike me down, lest they themselves be labeled “racist.” It’s a sad system.

I love this website because I can say whatever I want. I own the domain name, I own the DNS name servers, and I control the server and software. I’m renting the server, but my web host has a traditional policy of non-interference. When you post on someone else’s site or you speak on someone else’s property, you are subject to their rules. You can be moderated. I am accountable only to the U.S. government, my local government, and defamation lawsuits, so I don’t have to watch what I say.

Granted, my main source of income is Google AdSense and they could cut me off, but there are always other income streams. I have a lot of freedom.

If you can’t speak your mind at your job, your school, or your social clubs, you can always opt out. Quit, leave, find your own space. How much personal autonomy are you willing to sacrifice? We all must sacrifice some amount of freedom for convenience or safety. For example, if you enjoy eating or injecting cocaine, you have no legal options in the United States. Your two legitimate options are: a.) don’t use cocaine, b.) move to Colombia and grow some Coca leaves. Moving to Colombia is very inconvenient, so most people choose option a.

Speaking your mind always has a price. Ask yourself: is this price worthwhile? Are you willing to pay it? You might get fired. Can you pay your mortgage? There are many reasons to speak your mind, but there are also many reasons to NOT speak your mind. There are shades of gray. Weigh your options. The decision is yours alone.

Are you a specialist or a dilettante?

In life you can choose to grow your skills horizontally or vertically. Vertical growth involves specializing in a field while ignoring others. Horizontal growth involves gaining cursory experience in a wide range of fields while remaining an amateur in them all.

We live in a society of hyper-specialization. Some astronomers study planets, others study gas giants. My college offers hundreds of majors for very specific subjects, and it gets even more specialized at the baccalaureate level. Man’s knowledge is so vast that it is a necessity to choose a narrow direction. Conversely, there are connections you will miss if you overlook history, classical literature, music, theoretical science, religion, or other fields. Don’t dabble in a dozen different trades, but if you’ve been a cooper, branch out—start a blog about barrel making.

I had a great Spanish tutor in high school (I was home-schooled by my father), but I never put forth effort and I’ve forgotten my Spanish books and everything he taught me. Because my mother is Chinese, friends suggest I learn Chinese. Employers want fluent Spanish-speakers because we have a lot of Mexicans in Florida. I’ve never learned a second language. I know English and I know it well. You could say I’m an English specialist, because I’ve written hundreds of posts on this blog, I always spell words right, and most of the time I use proper grammar. My language growth has definitely been vertical.

Students taking foreign language courses in high school often lack English skills. They are fluent in chat speak, not real words. They use “literally” in place of “figuratively,” for example: “I literally died laughing.” Apostrophes are to be used in contractions (“it isn’t so”), for possession (“Richard’s camera”), and to clarify (“12 students got A’s on the test”), yet half of America’s teenagers are dumbfounded. They resort to inserting apostrophes into their papers willy-nilly. These students should not be taking another language. If you want to learn a whole bunch of languages, it’s best to become an expert in your country’s language first. Start out with a solid base of vertical growth before expanding horizontally.

Music is another field where specialization should precede dabbling. When you become very good at the piano, it is much easier to pick up the guitar, the harpsichord, or even random string instruments. You understand sheet music, keys, chords, scales, rhythm, and tone. These skills carry over to other instruments. However, if you try learning six instruments at once as a newbie, you will fail, unless you want to play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on them all.

On this blog I am a dilettante. While I am focusing on releasing new art photos, I’ve spent many hours in fields I have little experience with. I’ve written novelettes about technology, personal development, photography advice, and what I call “photography ramblings.” Even these fields are vague: for technology I’ve written about memory card readers, programming languages, computer monitors, flash drives, printers, and other items. Many of my posts cover a whole bunch of disconnected topics in a haphazard way. Not many people read them. Last month, a commenter said I “try to make too many points and [I] go into too many directions which are hard to follow.”

I pay a high price for my dabbling. While I have the advantage of having my activities under one roof (this site) rather than multiple sites, I’d be better off focusing on a narrow range of specific topics. I talked with Melody Anglin, who was hoping to find technical articles on my site because my Twitter tweets are often about computer problems or cameras. Instead she found articles like Transcending Limiting Beliefs, philosophical articles written from a position of little experience which she described as “not useful.” Unfortunately she’s right.

Old habits die hard. Even in this essay I’m all over the place. Focus! Specialize! Creativity is nothing without discipline.

Four years ago I stopped playing the piano, instead spending hours each day taking photos of mundane objects. My parents and grandparents were disappointed because they’d invested so much in my music. My Grandma used to talk of me going to Stetson University to be a concert pianist—abandoning music for photography made no sense. At 14 I gave up something I was fairly good at for something I had no talent for but which gave immediate rewards. Like many other teenagers I found piano boring and unrewarding while I could instantly share photos on deviantART and have them seen by dozens of people.

My shift worked out well. I’m playing the piano again and I’ve become good at photography. However my decision last year to write about personal development has not been so good. I’ve written posts that have value, I’ve defined myself, and I’ve gained writing experience, but I could be making good money from this site if I applied myself to marketing and technical writing instead of airy-fairy posts about beliefs and goals.

There’s a quote by Steve Jobs that I like: “you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” You may have to dabble in a half-dozen careers before finding your calling. Many times you will pick a path and hit a brick wall, and you will do this again and again. The true danger is not lifelong amateurism—the true danger is never picking a path. Never taking that first step. If you want to be a composer, you have to compose music. If you want to be a writer, you must start publishing your writing, in a blog, the newspaper, a book—whatever. Just set goals and get something done. Most of us make inefficient use of our time. If you are committed you can always make progress.

But if you are a habitual dabbler, just call yourself a Renaissance man and be done with it. :grin:

Brian Clark of Copyblogger Lashes Out at Me

Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger, lashed out at me today.

Ali Hale wrote a guest post called Are Vampire Words Sucking the Life Out of Your Writing? on the popular blog, where she says you should always use concrete terms like “always” and “never.” You should competely remove “vampire words” like “quite,” “fairly,” “sometimes,” and “often” from your writing.

Of course this is bogus in many situations, especially writing advertising and press releases which is Copyblogger’s bread and butter. I commented that this doesn’t apply on scholarly essays: anything to do with academia, school essays, formal stuff. Brian said Copyblogger doesn’t care about scholarly essays. I said it applies to advertising also. Brian completely ignored this, latching on to the scholarly essays seed. He told me I could take my “esteemed input” elsewhere, which is meant to be sarcastic and patronizing.

I replied. He toned down his comment and didn’t approve mine. I’m sure he feels he is the “winner” now. Copyblogger is a great blog which I read often. It’s in the top 100 on Technorati and it is 100 times more famous than mine. I never expected such cowardice from its founder.

Here are the ORIGINAL comments.

Thripp 2009-09-01T16:56Z:

This is fine for informal blogging but it won’t work for scholarly research. You can’t make unverified claims there without qualifying them. Unless you’re 100% sure you must use “may,” “almost,” “generally,” etc.

The same holds true for high school and college essays.

Most of us aren’t writing those, but you have to use a separate mode for blogging than you do for formal writing.

Clark 2009-09-01T17:15Z:

Richard, no such qualification for scholarly writing is necessary, because that’s not what this blog is about. ;)

Thripp 2009-09-01T17:33Z:

@Brian Clark: No, it says “Writing” not “Blogging” in the title. Many of us have to write essays for college still, or for our jobs, where making claims that are false will not fly. A large portion of copywriting is for sales or advertising. There are laws about truth in advertising—you can’t make statements that are clearly false. This post is bad advice for a lot of writers.

“7 Reasons Why List Posts Will Always Work” and “Why You Can’t Make Money Blogging” are completely falsifiable. I could easily find a list post that has received no traffic or a blog that makes thousands of dollars per month. It would be completely unacceptable to market a cell phone with the headline “The Cell Phone that Always Works.” If you want to talk about writing copy, you have to talk about advertising and press releases.

This post requires a codicil stating that it only applies to blogging and informal writing.

Clark 2009-09-01T21:21Z:

Richard, with all due respect, what part of “Copyblogger” or “Copywriting tips for online marketing success” indicates we tackle so-called “scholarly writing?” Do you honestly mean to tell me you don’t look at the context of the publication you’re reading for semantic cues?

And please don’t show up here and tell me “what I have to do.” I’ve been doing just fine without your esteemed input.

Thripp 2009-09-01T21:35Z:

@Brian Clark: If you would have read my comment instead of just making assumptions, you would’ve seen that most of it was about press releases and advertising (”writing copy”). Obviously, a major part of this blog is about writing advertising, and advertising cannot make false claims. You read the my first sentence and my last sentence. Please read the whole comment before responding.

You don’t want me to tell you what to do? Did you want me to prefix it with “please” or “I think”? You encourage boldness in most of your articles. Why do you expect your commentators to be timid sycophants?

AFTER I released the last one, he removed the last sentence from his last comment and he did not approve mine. He’s in damage control mode. He realizes what he said, though not egregious, will hurt his reputation, so he wants to cover it up.

Unfortunately for him, I save everything.

If my comments didn’t have merit he wouldn’t have replied to them. And if they didn’t have merit he CERTAINLY wouldn’t have gone all emotional on me. You can tell with his last comment, he read about five words of my comment before letting off some steam. Most of my comment was about press releases and advertising, but he skipped right over that.

I’ve made comments that were a lot worse than his, and I regret them, but nobody knows Richard X. Thripp. Brian Clark is world famous. The more fame you have, the more gracious you should be.

A piece of advice to Brian: get one of your staffers to read your comments before you post them!


Your success is tied directly to your merit. If your business is profitable with many customers, you’ve done good work. If your business hasn’t gotten off the ground and you’ve been working hard for a year, you’ve done bad work. If you are rich, you deserve wealth because you’ve provided services of value to your community. If you are poor, you got into your situation by providing no value, or never charging for it. If you provided value for free, it wasn’t useful. If it was, you would have received unsolicited donations.

If you are famous, you are an attractive, interesting person. If you are unknown, you are neither. If you’re a good author, you can get a publisher to pick up your book. If you are a bad author, you cannot. If you are good at playing the piano, you should be able to go into any Target or Wal-Mart and attract a crowd by bashing the keys. If you do not attract a crowd, you are a bad piano player. Or you aren’t bashing hard enough. :grin:

These paragraphs may seem laughable, but they are practical. They are true 90% of the time, but half the people who read them will not like them. Most of us have created a different model of reality—one based on chance, privilege, and divine right. All of these advantages belong to our competitors, and all of these reality models are used to explain our lack of success. They have no other purpose other than to vindicate us from the vagaries of reality!

Is this practical? Hell no!

90% of the time, success is tied directly to merit. 10% of the time, there are hidden or special factors to consider. The exceptions usually involve rich or famous people promoting unworthy people or products. However, if they do this too often, they become untrustworthy. They will fall from grace themselves. While most people might say that success is tied to merit only half the time, in truth the two are almost always correlated. People with government contracts still have to put out good products.

When I started writing about personal development over a year ago, I wanted to help people change their lives for the better while becoming a better person myself. I wanted to make an impact on the world. I wanted to give new perspectives on time and money, limiting vs. empowering beliefs, working for yourself vs. working for others, negativity, intrinsic value, happiness, and other topics. I wrote articles about many things—they’re each several pages long and still seem fairly good to me.

I haven’t made an impact. Most of my articles are skimmed by few people and read by fewer. I make less impact with 60 posts than a popular blogger makes with one. I can count on my hands the number of times I’ve received a piece of critical feedback. No one ever says anything about whatever I write, even when I give out print copies, which I make a habit of. If I get a meaningful comment, it is the rule, not the exception. There is a grandiosity gap. The goals I set do not line up with the practicality of reality. Pretending that I’m changing the world is laughable. I haven’t even started. I haven’t made a quantum leap. I’ve worked hard, but I’m still on the launchpad.

How many goals have you set yet never reached? How many of them have stayed on the launchpad? How many projects do you work on each day that are still going nowhere? Are you being practical?

If something doesn’t work, ditch it. Don’t be trapped by dogma.

The posts I’ve written aren’t working. They appeal to the mind but they do not appeal to the heart. They don’t touch anyone. I may be writing in the wrong field—I have no life experience and am hardly empathetic. However, I am sticking with this field because I want more of both (life experience and empathy). Examining my circumstances practically, I see that I need to write shorter articles tackling lower level, practical concepts, rather than grazing high level, theoretical concepts which I hardly understand myself. I must adapt or die.

In the past two months, I’ve done a lot of programming on Tweet This, a WordPress plugin that integrates your blog with Twitter. Before I started, I considered working on Bookley, an open source library management system I designed over the spring. I never wrote code to let you search the catalog. It has no support for different library branches. You can’t set closed days and have due dates automatically forward. There are no alert emails for hold requests. It could use a lot of work.

A couple years ago, I would’ve considered Bookley my main project and Tweet This my side project. I’d add a few features to Tweet This while putting the bulk of my effort into a white elephant. Today, I chose Tweet This. It is purely a matter of practicality. No one uses Bookley and it is likely that no one ever will. Hundreds of people use Tweet This every day. If well-designed, Bookley is the type of software that would win an award. Tweet This will get no academic recognition, but it will always be used widely. It is the practical choice, and that’s where my effort belongs.

In 1942, the comedy team Abbott & Costello were at their peak, and their movies brought in $10 million at the theaters, even as America was going into a war. Movies like Hold That Ghost, Pardon My Sarong, and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein would bring in more money than first-rate productions, even though Abbott & Costello were B-actors. A practical studio would have put all their money behind the team. The props and sets would be stunning and realistic instead of laughable. The movies would be in technicolor rather than black and white. Instead, Universal Pictures would paint the studio every time an Abbott & Costello picture was released. They would take the profits from the team’s movies and use them to fund sacred cows like Hamlet and Phantom of the Opera. Movies designed to win awards rather than sell tickets. Movies that interested no one received lavish funding and the best color film stock.

The same thing happened to The Three Stooges. Their short films are more popular than the features of their time, yet they were given second-class treatment for most of their careers. Is this practical? Of course not. More money would not have made them any funnier—in fact, it may have detracted from their appeal. However, we cannot consider this because it was not something the studios considered. A&C and the Stooges were simply considered second-rate actors. They did receive the proper recognition for their work, but from the public, not the studio executives. If the executives were any good, they would’ve let the Stooges lead the show rather than putting them on the back burner.

The practical choice is always present and often obvious. We only miss it when we are trapped by dogma. We overlook it when our model of reality is inaccurate. We choose hard solutions when practical solutions are readily available. We try to shock and awe when it would be better to get the job done quietly.

The practical choice is often the most obvious and readily available solution. You don’t have to look hard for it. Don’t make life too complicated.

The practical choice can change based on your situation. When you’re looking for a jar of peanut butter at the grocery store, the practical choice may be the store brand if you are poor, or a brand name if you are rich. Consider your needs and priorities. But don’t spend fifteen minutes selecting a jar of peanut butter. Be practical.

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