Don’t Vote 2008

The United States presidential election is coming up on Tuesday, 2008 November 4. One of the things you’ll always hear people saying is that you have to vote because you’re exercising your democratic voice. If you don’t vote, then you’ve stated that you don’t want to have any say in our political system. Implicitly, you’re fine with the current system.

The real truth is the opposite. By voting, you’re legitimizing our elections. But why would you vote for one of two when the candidates are exactly the same? They’re both puppets to the concerns of internationalists and big corporations. Both the democratic and republican parties support the continued expansion of American empire, national socialism (corporatism), and the further creation of phony currency—and phony debt. Both parties call for “change,” but if there was change to be had, it would be happening already, because there is a constant alternation between the two parties. It’s like Coke and Pepsi. Coke and Pepsi pretend to be rivals, but their real concern is to keep out a third contender.

If you’re going to vote, don’t vote for either of these bozos. Pick a third party candidate, or vote for yourself or Mickey Mouse. That’s a protest vote, and you’re supposed to be able to do that in the American political system because you’re supposed to be able to vote for whoever you want. If I was of voting age, I’d vote for Ron Paul because he’s the only candidate who supports a capitalist, prosperous America free of empire and corporatism.

If only one percent of Americans turn out to vote, the legitimacy of the system will crumble. Our “two-party system” is no more than the choice between being killed with a blue grenade or a red grenade. If you pick the “lesser of two evils,” you’re still choosing evil. When you continually choose evil, you become a heartless person. Don’t vote for McCain or Obama. Change starts with you. The agendas of both parties are the same: to drive this country into the ground by wasting our resources as quickly as possible, fighting phony wars in other countries to kill countless civilians, all the while usurping the profits and freedoms of the citizens in the name of safety.

Safety is bogus. The only safe thing for us to do is to get out of the 100 countries we have troops in. We’ve already killed nearly a million civilians in Iraq. You won’t hear this on ABC World News, because ABC World News isn’t news—it’s propaganda. Other countries laugh at our “free speech,” because we have no love of free speech ourselves. Whenever you go into another country and bomb their people and overthrow their government, you can bet you’ll get terrorist attacks coming back on you—but only because you exercised terrorism yourself.

Terrorist attacks are relished by out military and internationalist leaders, because they’re an excuse to further restrict our freedom. We have ID cards and serial numbers. We’re photographed and finger-printed like common criminals—yet if we’re walking about free, the assumption is supposed to be that we are not criminals.

It makes no sense for an under-populated continental nation, rich with natural resources, to be obscenely indebted, and that’s what we’ve gotten from this. The founding fathers are spinning in their graves.

The big goal of Nazism a.k.a national socialism a.k.a corporatism is to merge big business with the government while robbing small businesses blind to make them unprofitable. Everyone is taxed obsessively. Then, the government gives back money and resources through social welfare programs, public schools, hospitals, libraries, etc. This giving back of resources seems nice, and most people accept it, but it’s actually a warm bath about to boil you alive.

The ultimate goal of socialism / pervasive government is to kill everyone. It’s the side of evil, and all evil can do is destroy both good and evil. From the side of evil, that’s the best outcome. The first goal is to replace worship of God with worship of man—the state takes over the religion. This is why most pervasive governments have a book, i.e. Mein Kampf or The Communist Manifesto, much like the Bible. They may also have a charismatic and fictitious leader, i.e. Big Brother from 1984. You worship this guy instead of a higher power.

Once you have people treating man as god, you can assume man can do anything it wants. This allows you to erode the sanctity of human life. This is done through eugenics, abortion, euthanasia, evolutionary theory, etc., and it’s always justified as being in the interests of the greater good. Since you’re all being taxed at 98%, you’re dependent on the government to support you and your children. You can bet that you won’t be receiving your “benefits” if you give birth to a child with down syndrome, instead of killing him like the government wants. Soon, this extends to all children, because we have “too many” people anyway. Environmentalism is often used as a ploy here. Then, we have mock famines and state-issued epidemics to get rid of people. Don’t ever get a flu shot—you know they’ll put the poison in there. People get poorer and poorer, as the state takes more and more.

Even our scientists are agents of the state. They all rely on government grants to fund their research. Do you think the government is going to grant money to research nitrilosides as the cure for cancer? No way, no how. Cancer is too much of a good thing, because it kills lots of people, makes people afraid, and leeches from their resources. Not only do phony treatments like radiation and chemotherapy do more harm than good, but they also cost a lot of money.

The only solution to oppressive government is continuous resistance among the people, and the best way to do that is through personal development. Personally developed people know that empire building, fiat money, wealth distribution, and eugenics is not on the side of good. So they continue to oppose and thwart pervasive government. When you have enough people doing that, you get stuff like due process, jury systems, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It’s all about shackling the government while the people roam free. The government is limited to the very narrow scope of protecting people from being killed or harmed by others, providing courts for criminal and civil disputes judged by public juries, and providing basic emergency services, through apportioned tax funding. No empire, no industry bailouts, no social security, no public schools, no IRS, no CIA, no FBI, no illegal drugs, no FDA, no foreign bases, no postal service, no equal opportunity, no affirmative action, no bankruptcy laws, no nonsense.

When government merges itself with large business (corporatism), those businesses gain advantages over the small businesses, which become more oppressed by government waste and taxation. Soon, all that’s left are big businesses, because they’re the only ones that can survive, thanks to favoritism like closed-bid contracts. Because the free market has been removed, employees’ choices diminish to large companies, and the government leaders declare that we need more regulation to ensure fair and equitable employment for all. But in fact, if you don’t stand in the way of business to begin with, you need less and less regulation because there are more and more small businesses that have to compete with each other. If I apply for a job and they won’t hire Orientals, I can go somewhere else and it’s their loss. We don’t need artificial rules to support an artificial system—we need to get to the root of the problem. That is to remove the socialist system, because it’s crippling everyone.

When you have a huge, plodding military-industrial complex… and companies like Blackwater, Bear Stearns, SLM Corporation, Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, AIG, and NORAD all suckling from the public teat… you know something is wrong. Billions of dollars and public resources go to these companies, when these companies are failures and couldn’t support themselves at all without government contracts and favorable laws. There’s no reason for us to have a military-industrial complex to begin with. Are we trying to rule the world? To kill everyone? This is what the Nazis did, because their name stands for national socialism, which means just this—merging big business with government. It doesn’t work. It never works. It always hurts citizens and tax-payers like you and me, because when you remove the free market, you remove competition, and there is no incentive to improve. There’s no incentive for scientific research when anything you find will be stolen by the state anyway.

When we return to a constitutional national with gold-backed money and none of this garbage, everyone will become richer. Living prosperously under government largess is like trying to swim with an 80-pound weight around your neck. You get a few life preservers, but you’d be better off if you were rid of both the life preservers and the weight. We’d be better off schooling our children at home or through private enterprise. We don’t even have that now—all schooling, even these types, are heavily regulated and controlled by the government. The public school system has proven itself so useless, that more people than ever are willing to pay for it (through mandatory taxes) plus private-schooling their children. But if we weren’t supporting this boondoggle to begin with, everyone would be more prosperous, and most people would be able to support private schooling. There would also be a lot more competition and quality by the free market and government noninterference. You can’t throw money at our school system to fix it. It’s not a problem about money. Scrap it.

It’s the same for our hospitals and doctors. You can’t make the system better by making our doctors government employees. The problem is government interference. People will claim that we’ve let the free market run its course in the medical industry, and it’s proven itself useless. The exact opposite is the case—hospitals are so thoroughly regulated and insured that everything is a liability and nothing can get done. Have you seen how much paperwork a doctor has to fill out just for a strep throat infection? You can bet there are people filling out paperwork in the office for you, too. His malpractice insurance is so high, he has to take on twice the patient load just to stay profitable. New doctors want to enter the workforce, but the government even restricts licensing to keep the pool of doctors small.

Doctors need to be able to enter into private contracts with their patients, free of the risk of frivolous lawsuits. There is no reason that we should need an insurance lottery scheme just to afford basic medical care. The solution is not further socialism—the solution is a return to the capitalist ideals of this country, meaning—get rid of regulation. People are largely capable of regulating themselves.

The same thing happens in restaurants. With more inspections and fines, restaurant owners and staff care less and less, because they’re being treated like cattle. But if you go into a church kitchen or a home kitchen, you won’t find garbage cans on the cutting boards or oil and bacon left out uncovered overnight. Shouldn’t your Grandma’s kitchen be filthy, because she doesn’t have the all-knowing and benevolent government to control her?

We can’t throw money at this country to fix it, even though we can print it by the boxcar. We can’t attack this problem with more empire and corporatism and government sponsorship. The only solution is the dissolution of the government into a base entity, only with the power to protect life and private property. Constitutionally, we should have a weak federal government. The states are in fact 50 nations, and they control both the federal government and the localities as a representative democracy. What we need to do now is to pull and dissolve our troops from all foreign countries, stop printing fake money, dissolve most government largess, laws, companies, and regulations, and sell off the land the government claims to own in the mid-West to pay for the debt we’ve accumulated through years of Nazism.

Will lots of people lose jobs? Yes. Will lots of people have to start making a real contribution to society? Yes. In the short run, this will hurt a lot of people—the people that are more on the receiving end of public funding than on the sending end. But it’s the only way to go, because it will allow us to become prosperous and self-reliant like never before. There’s no reason a house should cost $150,000 to build. Materials and technology are cheaper than ever, but when you have fees, tribute, taxes, permits, licensing, zoning, inflation, and other nonsense at every step of the way, things get bad.

When you get Nazism off our back, we’ll all have the freedom to survive. Sure, some people who get by on social welfare and refuse to work may die of hunger, and you may fear having no state-provided safety net, but in fact that safety net was an illusion. If you can’t fail in a nanny state, you can’t succeed either. This is core to personal development, yet neither Obama or McCain will ever support it, because it steps on too many toes. Dissolving empire steps on too many toes. Yet if we don’t do it now, it will happen itself with a lot more fighting.

Stop voting. Start making things hard for the government. Sign your name badly. Fill out forms by circling everything and checking every box. Don’t sign up for the draft. Stop paying income taxes. Keep stuff off the books. Buy a rifle and some ammo and keep it under your bed. You won’t need it—we just have to make sure that once the U.S. soldiers are policing our streets, they still have some fear in their hearts. Do you think the police all have guns for fun?

Be peaceful but don’t cooperate. We have a revolution on our hands.

Being Extraordinary

2009-12-20 Update: Being extraordinary is not necessarily positive, so be careful with this.

Extraordinary is an interesting word. It sounds like “extra” and “ordinary.” That means to be extraordinary, you have to be stereotypically ordinary, to the extreme. :cool:

Extraordinary people are usually extremely good or extremely bad. While ordinary folks get B’s, C’s, and D’s, extraordinary folks get A’s and F’s. They’re polarized on both ends of the spectrum. Being at the scary edge of the world is a much more interesting place to be than the safe and secure middle.

It’s not good to be extraordinary merely for the purpose of impressing others, because then you’ll do crazy stuff but have no direction. If you’ve set a mission that your heart loves, then you’ll have to do extraordinary stuff to fulfill that mission. If, however, you can meet your goals with ordinary actions, then the goals you’ve set aren’t your goals at all. They belong to other people. Those people could be your parents, your friends, or your perception of society in general, but they aren’t you.

Extraordinary people are not paralyzed by fear of failure. This is why they either fail or succeed. Failing once usually leads to succeeding—completely—the second time, through hard work and lessons learned in the first misadventure. Sometimes you’ll have to replace “second” with “tenth” or “44th,” but if you’re really trying, it doesn’t matter.

Once you stop fearing failure, you can eliminate excuses that justify your failures. Instead of handing control of your life over incidental circumstances, you take personal responsibility for your situation.

Some common circumstances ordinary people blame:

* Their parents.
* Their friends.
* Their environment.
* Being “ugly.”
* Race / ethnicity.
* Lack of talent.
* Lack of money.

There are many others, but this is enough of an overview. All these are excuses to justify ordinariness. They are all represented with disarming, demeaning beliefs and concepts. When you say that happenstance rules your world, you lose the burden of control. You become safely powerless.

Having an office job is an ordinary thing to do, because most people do it and it requires an ordinary amount of effort, relative to the alternative. The alternative is to be your own boss and pave your own path. You’re making a genuine contribution to your neighbors, and being paid with money, which you can use to convince others to contribute goods and services to you. This requires an extraordinary amount of effort and risk. Many times, what you think should earn money will be of no value to anyone else. You’ll keep learning, building, and improving until you are adding value.

The ordinary path seems secure, but it’s actually even riskier, because you’re not operating at peak efficiency. The bulk of your potential lies dormant. If you operate at 1% capacity for too long, change becomes scarier. If you do manage to unlock your potential while sticking with your ‘secure’ wages, you’ll make the same amount of money while producing far more for your employers. That’s bad, because if you received proper compensation for your efforts, you’d be able to plow that back into contributing more.

As my profits from photography increase, I’ll be able to buy better cameras and lenses which will give me more creative freedom. This will make it even easier for me to produce artistic photographs, which will make more money. A camera won’t make art for me—the best it can do is get out of my way while I create art. But a better camera will get out of my way even more. I’m in an upward spiral of creativity and abundance.

In the long run, it’s far safer to be paid what you’re worth, all the time. For a while, you may feel fine leeching as a government employee, but you’ll come to see that you’ve restricted yourself to ordinariness. It’s far better to contribute directly, even if you go into debt, lose your house, and live in the woods for a while. If you never give up, you’ll be extraordinary, and then you’ll rise far higher than your safe job would ever allow. A life of turbulence and adventure is more exciting than a life of safety and sameness.

Reframing the extraordinary

When I stopped eating animals three weeks ago, a lot of my friends were surprised. Apparently, becoming a vegetarian is an extraordinary thing. Many people want to do it. They see that torturing animals in our factory farming system is completely wrong, but they never take action to change it. Change starts with you. Only 1% of Americans are vegetarians.

Other people try to stop eating animals, but they do it for all the wrong reasons. They’re going along with friends, or following a new trend, or expressing their love of animals. They constantly have to control themselves, because when they see a crisp hamburger or juicy steak, they remember everything they’re “missing” by not eating dead flesh. It takes an extraordinary amount of effort to maintain their new practice, because they’ve chosen it for phony reasons. Usually, they’ll become “semi-vegetarians” (i.e. wimps) by eating meat occasionally, or by deciding that chicken and fish are somehow not animals. These are ordinary people.

True vegetarians, on the other hand, don’t have to exercise any self control. When they see a meatball or a collection of pork chops, they don’t feel hungry at all. Even though it’s a disgusting thing, they don’t feel disgust either. To a true vegetarian, a steak is the same as a rock or a pencil or a violin or a doorknob. It’s not something you eat. It doesn’t inspire fear or hunger or doubt or repression. It’s completely ordinary.

To be extraordinary, you have to believe the extraordinary is ordinary.

Not eating animals is completely ordinary to me. I can’t ever think I’m special or extraordinary for being a vegetarian. If my 14-year-old self met my 17-year-old self, he would think I’m extraordinary, but I hold no such opinions about myself. This way, I can continue to rise, instead of stagnating in narcissism.

Fighting ordinariness

In one of my college courses this semester (physics), I completely failed the first test. I thought I was prepared because all my other teachers make the exams far easier than the in-class work, but this one was just as difficult. We had to do six multi-step problems in fifty minutes, which is as fast as my teacher presents them.

Much of the class failed it—I got 43%, while the average was 60%. The tempting thing to do right away is to blame the teacher for not teaching properly, or for making the test too hard. “No one else did well, so it’s fine that I did the same.” If I was so bold, I could even drop out of college or give up on computer science, and I could go through life telling people that it’s not my fault because I had a really bad teacher. People do this often. College is supposed to be really hard and lots of people are supposed to fail. It’s completely ordinary to fail, but what isn’t ordinary is to accept personal responsibility for failure.

So after two days I accepted personal responsibility, worked hard, and got a 93% on the last test. I probably deserved a B, but my teacher went easy on me. I could consider this an extraordinary accomplishment, but the fact is this is the way it’s supposed to be. This is ordinary. My first grade was just way below average; far worse than ordinary.

We’ve had a cat for about a year, but she was a stray that just started loitering in our yard. We never came up with a proper name for her. I called her “cat,” my Mom named her “Vanilla,” and my Dad named her “Asparagus.” Those names are all fairly ordinary. Recently, we came to a consensus on a new moniker for her: “The United Federation of Cats.” She’s already enjoying and responding to her new title. It’s a completely extraordinary name. I bet no one has ever named a cat that, in the thousands of years that cats have existed.

“The United Federation of Cats” doesn’t even make sense, because she’s not a federation. She’s just one cat, and I don’t see how she’s more united than any other cat. Most names are short and arbitrary, but hers is lengthy and declarative. I think most cats wouldn’t even agree that she represents the feline community. It doesn’t matter, because extraordinary things don’t have to make sense.

You can bring the extraordinary into your life by doing unexpected things like this. Go sit in the woods and look around for a couple hours. Go to a store but don’t buy anything. Eat breakfast in the evening and dinner in the morning. Wear crazy clothes. Write stuff like this. Change your name. Do you think I got this crazy “Thripp” name by happenstance? We were the Parrishes, but my Dad was done with that name and picked out Thripp in 1986. A lot of people told him he couldn’t or shouldn’t change his name, but he did it anyway and proved them wrong. That was extraordinary.

Make sure that you don’t do heartless extraordinary things. You can murder a bunch of people, and that’s quite extraordinary, but it’s not what I mean here. It’s evil. Evil can only destroy, while good can only create or convert, and when it converts, it converts evil to good. If you’re not sure if something’s good, it’s evil, because good is always readily apparent. Choose the path with a heart.

Excuses of the ordinary

Instead of saying “I have no motivation,” most people say “I have no time.” You go to a businessman’s office, and he says he doesn’t have “time” to speak with you. What if he just said you weren’t interesting / impressive enough? At first, a lot of people would be shocked by his bluntness, even considering it extraordinary. But shortly, it would become a hallmark trait that, while abnormal as compared to others, is completely normal in terms of him. While others lie about not having time, he tells the truth about not having motivation.

When you have a lack of time, you actually have a lack of motivation, because you have 24 hours per day just like everyone else. Whatever is important to you can certainly fit within those constraints. What isn’t important falls by the wayside.

If you have a hobby you don’t have time for, you either have to drop it, drop something else, or do everything more efficiently to accommodate your new hobby. It’s really quite simple, but most people never apply it and remain ordinary. I don’t even apply it well. It’s harder to do than it is to type.

I did a few pencil-sketch portraits in 2006. They weren’t particularly good, but I enjoyed the hobby for a few weeks. Modeling reality in sketch-form helped me to see interesting compositions in photography. But I’ve dropped sketching now, because photography is so much more empowering for me. I could claim that I don’t sketch because I don’t have time, but I’d be lying to myself and you. I just don’t want to.

On occasion, people see what I’ve done here and ask me to develop websites for them. It would be a lot easier in the short run to tell them I’m too busy, but that would be an ordinary excuse. What I tell them now is that I don’t design websites for other people. It’s the truth—apart from a funny site for my Dad, I only work on my own projects, and I use far more time writing articles like this than developing Th8.us. Often my response is surprising. I’ll hear “can’t you put me on a list?” or “this is only a little bit of work,” but I don’t budge.

If I said I was too busy, I’d have them believing I’ll get to them eventually. I may think I’m “letting them down easy” or that they’ll “figure it out,” but it’s extraordinary to speak the truth right away rather than hiding from honesty. When you lie about being too busy, you set off a whole chain of events that brings you down progressively. Especially if you do it to ten or twenty people. Everyone you meet keeps asking you when you’ll work for them. You have to keep the busyness charade up even though you never really want to work for anyone. You want to write about working instead of actually working. Why not just say it? :wink2:

If you don’t speak the truth, many of the people you meet will only know the fake, “too busy” you, and life in general will become depressing. You might even feel guilty that you’re going to the beach or reading a book, because you’ve told so many people how little time you have. If you have so little time, why do you have time to play games or go for a walk? You should be working on something really great.

When you are honest with yourself all the time, you’ll be honest with others, and they’ll be supportive of you. Instead of using busyness as a ploy to keep doors half-way open for you, slam those doors shut. They were never half-open anyway. No one is waiting for you to become less busy. They’re waiting for you to become less of a liar.

This is a foundation for being extraordinary, and it works in dating, hobbies, friendships, finances, work, life, work-life, projects, school, driving. Anything you can think of.

Even though I don’t drive, I see often enough that when you come to an intersection, people who have the right-of-way wave you on. You look at them, and you can’t see what they’re doing through their dark-tinted windows, and for a few seconds you’re confused. Why are they not moving? It looks like they’re waving, but you don’t want to chance it because as soon as you pull out, they’ll gear up and plow into you. It’s their turn. Why would they forfeit their turn? After a few seconds (or minutes), you become tired of waiting and you cross through the intersection anyway.

Wouldn’t it be easier if people just followed the rules of the road, instead of doing you a “favor” by letting you go first? It would be more honest too, and everything would get done quicker.

Applying the extraordinary

At all my classes at college, I give out a 4-by-6 print of one of my photographs to every student each class day. People enjoy seeing what I’ll come up with next, and it only costs me about fifty cents each day thanks to free shipping + referrals from companies like Shutterfly and Snapfish.

At first, I was afraid of doing this. Even though I hand out prints in the five minutes before class begins, I didn’t think my professors would like it. They’re prefer nothing to be handed out. Most students don’t want pictures of roses and sunsets anyway. They’re too busy studying (notice the “too busy” excuse).

Despite this, I went ahead and started giving out prints full-time about a year ago. I didn’t have many separate classes then, but it was a lot of fun and everyone enjoyed it. The program continues to this day. I’d created plenty of reasons not to do it, but none of them came to pass. The voice that tells me to be ordinary gets quieter and quieter in my head, as my true, extraordinary voice comes out.

Many people tell me how impressed they are that I “have the time” to write these articles. “They’re so lengthy and in-depth! It must take you days to write this.” Sometimes it does, but writing 3000 words feels completely ordinary to me. It doesn’t matter how long it takes or how much I write. If you look at a blank screen with the sole purpose of typing 3000 words, you’ll fail completely. You have to have a topic and a purpose.

When you start doing extraordinary stuff, many people will tell you they could do what you do. If you publish a book, friends will tell you they’ve thought about publishing a book. If you make a million dollars, people will say “I should do that.” This is completely irrelevant. It makes no different what other people can do. No man ever reaches the limits of his potential. The purpose of personal growth is to get you closer to the limits of your potential (what you “can” do), but you’ll never actually get there. The journey is what counts. Just because a billion other people can take a picture of a rose, doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t. Only 100 million of them are doing it, only 10 million of them are doing a good job of it, only 1 million of them are broadcasting their work, and only 1 of them is me.

Extraordinary people live below their means rather than going into debt. Then, you can afford to take risks… but you can’t afford to take risks if you have a $3200 / month mortgage over your head and you make barely more than that. On the other hand, if you’re living in a tent in your parents’ yard, you can take risks.

You can actually take risks either way. Life is just one big risk. Security is an illusion. Let go of security, and then you’ll become extraordinary.

Heartless People

2009-12-20 Update: Be careful not to become too jaded or polarized from reading this.

It’s easy to forget how heartless most people are when you’re not around them.

At the beginning of the semester, my speech teacher asked all the students what their majors were, and what they were going to do with their lives. What did he get?

Boring replies.

No conviction. No one was committed to anything they said. There were a lot of “I don’t know”s. Those are bad, but even worse are the people who have been brave enough to “choose” a path… but they’ve chosen one that inspires no confidence. You know these people. Often, they’ll even say what they really want to do with exciting enthusiasm, but then in the same sentence they’ll say how unrealistic it is. These people think they’re really smart. They think they’re being “grounded” and “down to earth” by choosing a “reasonable” career. No one will tell them anything different.

But really, what are they?

Heartless people.

They’ve sold out. They’re not even twenty, and they’ve already committed themselves to doing what they hate for life. And that’s reasonable? We’re telling the children of the world that selling out is reasonable?

Shame on us.

You can’t have a heart if you’ve already sold yourself out. Sure, you can have compassion, kindness, love, friendship, bravery. But you’ll just have a shadow heart. A sliver of these things. A crumb, when you should have a whole pie.

The way to bring others back to their hearts is not to comfort or support or empathize. It’s not to stick by them. It’s not to bring yourself down to their level.

The way to help others is to follow your heart to the end. When you find someone like this, it’s like meeting Jesus. You’re meeting someone so brilliant and spirited that his heart transfers to you. It’s like a wildfire meeting a blighted forest. His fire becomes your fire.

So how do you overcome heartlessness? Phase heartless friends out of your life, and bring heartfelt friends into your life. That means: get away from negative people.

Once you’ve built up a network of positivity, go back to those negative friends. You’ll find they aren’t so negative after all. Their completely positive now. Were you mistaken?

No, you made them positive. Whenever you embrace your heart, others do the same. When you deny your heart with lies, excuses, and limiting beliefs, others do the same. It doesn’t matter if you’re a hermit. You still hold other people back when you hold yourself back. What you do to my brothers, you do to me.

This is the perfect manifestation of chaos theory and the ripple effect, because it means that we’re all pretty much the same. You have an ethical duty to do the work that does the most good for yourself and others, because if you don’t, you’re bringing down humanity. This isn’t something that can or should ever be mandated or legislated, because no one but you can find your heart. I can push you in the right direction, but only you can drink the water.

You have quite a responsibility. Every minute you waste working for more fake money, you take away from humanity. You think you’re being good and staying out of trouble, but you’re actually being evil.

How good would it be if I decided to stop taking pictures and stop sharing these articles, to instead play the violin or open a shop selling widgets? It wouldn’t be good at all, because that isn’t where my heart is. I’d be doing something I enjoy far less than this, so I’d contribute far less to the lives of others. If I picked a safe path like becoming a computer-science teacher or a government-funded librarian, I’d actually be doing something completely evil. That’s where heartlessness comes from.

One of the greatest ways to have a heart is to choose your career. Your career is what you do that makes money. It is not what you do to make money; it’s what you do that also incidentally happens to make money. Also: it is not what you do, but how you do it. My photography and writing is always focused on the growth and inspiration of others. If I found that I could better inspire others by composing music or giving speeches or returning to pencil sketches, I’d switch in a heartbeat. But I don’t, because my talent + heart makes photography and writing the most effective mediums for me right now.

You can’t choose a career in advance. You have to do it and then see if you like it. This is costly and takes years. To speed up the process, you must choose what you really like now, as that’s the closest thing to your mission that you currently know.

Ask yourself: “What would I do if I had all the money and possessions I need to live? What would I do if I’d found my mission? What would I do if I’d created my religion? What would I do if I had a loving wife and family? What would I do if I’d overcame limiting beliefs and made peace with the world?”

What would I do? I’d write this.

My gut reaction is that I should make my life perfect first, and then write this. Once I eliminate my problems, I’ll have peace.

This is putting the cart before the horse. Problems give you peace. ‘Unhappiness’ gives you a mission, because it’s actually happiness in disguise, telling you what you need to be doing. It’s that little voice (your conscience) that watches out for you. You have to follow your intellect (the voice) instead of your gut (not the voice). You have to be open to hear him. You have to listen real close. God’s not going to help you if you refuse to help yourself. Be thankful for the voice, because no other species has it. We’re special. We have a voice.

The nature of heartlessness

If Yoda from Star Wars has taught us anything, it is that the dark side is much more tempting than the side of light, because it makes progress much more quickly. Siths seem to have much more power than Jedi, because they blaze ahead while Jedi make slow advances. Siths rise to greatness in days instead of years. Strangely enough, however:

The dark side is powerless.

Heartlessness is powerlessness.

Good always triumphs over evil, because evil is a dependent system, whereas good is an independent system. Evil is the derivative of good. You cannot have a pure-evil world; evil can only co-exist with good. If you have evil, you must have good. But you can have good without evil. The phrase necessary evil is the dark side’s Trojan horse. Evil is never necessary.

You can’t have shoplifters without shoppers.

You can’t have thieves without customers.

You can’t have poison without medicine.

You can’t have corruption without honesty.

You can’t have hate without love.

You can’t have evil without good.

You can’t have heartlessness without heart.

You can have heart without heartlessness.

If everyone is wholly corrupt, how can anyone have anyone to take advantage of? You can’t have a society of leeches. Someone has to contribute something, or else there is nothing to leech.

Think of evil as cancer cells, and good as healthy cells. Cancer cells leech; healthy cells contribute. Cancer cells are incredibly powerful because they can reproduce and continue growing indefinitely. They expand exponentially. Cancer represents evil and heartlessness. Healthy cells, which represent light and heart, have no such privileges. But, there is a paradoxical fail-safe that protects the light side.

As cancer gets more and more powerful, it actually ends up committing suicide. Cancer is heartless, but it relies on something heartfelt (the body) to continue living. Once it becomes unstoppably powerful, it overwhelms its host. Both die. It’s like using Explosion in a Pokémon battle.

In a bad world, terminal cancer victims would be completely engulfed by the disease, becoming walking cancer zombies that roam the Earth spreading the disease to millions of others. They’d also be green and glow like Frankenstein. Evil would triumph.

In our world, evil can never triumph.

The best possible outcome for the dark side is the destruction of both good and evil, leaving nothingness. Evil can never win. If you’re evil, the best you can hope for is a stalemate with good, resulting in the death of you both.

The best possible outcome for the light side is peace on Earth with unprecedented abundance, freedom, and growth for all of humanity. Evil is completely removed, but not in it’s destruction, so much as it’s conversion to good. The evil men lay down their swords, stop murdering each other, and commit themselves to empowering rather than imprisoning their countrymen. We and the dead spirits forgive their transgressions, because there’s nothing else that should be done. There is no love in perpetual Hellfire.

Evil cannot be isolated. Pure evil does not exist; it is always tempered by good, be it 50% or .001%. Pure good does exist, alone and 100% independent of evil.

Which side will you choose?

If you pick heartlessness (evil), you’ve actually already given up on life, because the best you can hope for is a stalemate. But if you follow your heart (good), the sky is limitless.

How could this be any simpler?

When you give up your freedom to secure your safety, you’ve chosen evil. When you choose a safe, boring life over a risky, adventurous life, you’ve chosen evil. When you choose accounting over lion-taming, you’ve chosen evil.

Evil exists in everything you fear, everything that leads you into limits, shyness, and seclusion, away from your God-given power.

If you become heartless, you’ll make fast progress. . . toward death.

Your life has no meaning. It would have meaning if it was defined in terms of good, but by defining yourself in terms of evil you’ve obfuscated your heart into a cryptogram that serves no one.

Just because evil cannot triumph does not mean that you should not be concerned. The best endgame for evil is the destruction of good, and that is still really really bad. We want to keep good around.

Knowing that heartlessness depends on the heart gives you unstoppable power on the side of light. You may think power is evil, but it’s completely necessary. Anything that’s necessary is good, not evil. Power is great. It allows you to uphold goodness.

Just think: any heartless person, no matter how far gone, can be saved, because there is a sliver of good in him which can never be destroyed. To destroy that sliver is to destroy him.

If your evil is too strong, it might kill you to return to good. Or at least, critically injure you. But that’s much better than continuing in evilness. If you’re evil, you’re drowning alive.

If you cause a really heartless person to die, not through force but by his free return to heartfeltness, you’ve done something great. Although I’d prefer him to live, you’ve proven that impossible, and so his fate was best.

The way to combat evil is not to fight fire with fire, or murder with murder. In Gandhi’s words, “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” When you fight evil with evil, you become evil. Don’t cooperate with nor support evil.

A good example of disguised evil is pre-emptive and retributive punishment. You cannot rightly punish a man for his plans or his genes or his thoughts. “Hate crimes” and “thought crimes” cannot exist, because hate is irrelevant to a crime. So is “affirmative” action. Abortion is also pre-emptive punishment, because it’s meant to save a child from the horrors he’ll face in the world, being unwanted and unloved and all. All these things are touted by the evil-doers as “good,” but they are squarely in the category of heartless evil.

Don’t support evil.

Your thoughts are important, but for the purpose of justice, they’re only important after you’ve committed a criminal act. Then, in an ideal legal system, a jury of your peers reviews the evidence and decides unanimously if you (a) are guilty; (b) should be punished. You can only be punished if you’re guilty, but not all guilty people should be punished. If you accidentally kill someone, it’s a lot different then purposefully killing someone. The difference can be between no punishment and life in prison (not death, because death stifles your opportunities for personal growth). If you dive in the water to save a drowning child, it doesn’t matter how many “no swimming” signs are around.

Governments are not inherently evil. Our governments are evil. American was not evil, but it has become evil by would-be do-gooders standing idle while evil-doers like Abraham Lincoln, the income tax, and the Federal Reserve system rose to power.

Irresponsible debt is evil. If you mortgage your heart, you can’t expect anything but heartlessness. Most debt is evil, because most debt is irresponsible. Live beneath your means always, buy less than you need, contribute more than you take. Possessions and thoughts don’t matter; actions matter. Don’t put up with people who push you toward debt.

Thwarting the Death-Worshipers

The heartless have a plan right now. They want the best endgame for evil. The only path to that is the extinction of the human race (after a lot of pain and suffering, of course). The population of the Earth must become 0. Then, both good and evil will be gone, permanently. The evil-lovers worship death.

If you’re “neutral,” you’re evil. There’s good and evil, and neutral people are evil because they let evil people reign without matching evil with good. You have to choose between good and evil. This isn’t something you can wuss out on.

“The world is evil” syndrome

The main counter-argument of the dark side is this: nature, including the nature of man, is naturally uncaring and evil. Whenever we do something good, like sharing kindness or love, we’re doing it for ourselves. It’s selfish, because the end result is the betterment of ourselves. The betterment of others is merely a secondary result, making every person evil.

The problem with this theory is it objectively defines the self vs. the other, when such an objective declaration does not exist. When you redefine the world in terms of subjective reality, which is the only congruent system, you’ll find that other people are just projections of you and they represent the struggles and dreams of yourself. When you’re sharing your art or love or generosity with others, you’re being “selfishly evil,” insofaras that you are benefiting yourself. If the world was objective, that would be evil. But it isn’t, so love and compassion are always good and on the side of light, because you are other people, other people are you, you single-handedly represent all of humanity, and every other person on this planet is the exact same person as you.

Suicide is murder and must be illegal. Killing yourself is the same as killing someone else.

The environmentalism ploy

If you’ve read the Georgia Guidestones, the ten commandments of the death-worshipers, the first item on the list is “keep the human population below 500 million.” The way to do that is to kill 93 out of every 100 people. It’s going to take a lot of wars, nuclear attacks, famines, sterilization, abortions, and plagues to do that, and you can bet the illuminati are plotting right now.

If you support population reduction, let me tell you the truth: population reduction starts with you. Show your commitment to the 500 million milestone by taking the lives of yourself and your family right now. I’ll wait here.

Are you done yet? Very good.

Humanity is the calm within the storm. Humanity is the beacon of light that shines through all the smoke, fog, and mirrors that plague the lower forms of life. Humanity triumphs over adversity and heartlessness eternally, not by extinguishing the heartless but by converting them to the side of light and making them our strongest allies.

We’re strong together. It doesn’t matter if we have twenty-billion people; the life of each person is inherently valuable and sacred regardless. This is the path of heart.

Look at dogs for example. Before we came along, that had no mission. The race of the dog was a ship with no rudder, no engine, and no captain. But now, with man as the captain, dogs have love, abundance, and a mission like no other. By partnering with us, they’ve unlocked their true potential. It isn’t all sunshine and roses, because we’re killing dogs all the time, just as we’re killing people. Support the good things while denouncing the killing. Killing isn’t necessary; enough people die on their own.

Humanity is the most perfect and natural form of life on Earth. Don’t let anyone tell you this isn’t our planet. The planet is doing great, life is more diverse than ever, there is no global warming besides natural cycles of the sun, and pollution is minimal due to technological advances. The volcanoes of the Earth put out dozens of times more pollution than all of our actions combined. This is a secure, versatile planet; it can easily handle us. Mother Earth is not a fragile butterfly; she’s a solid rock with a will like no other.

Following your heart, day to day

If you’ve read everything I’ve written and am eagerly looking forward to my next articles, you’re one of a few. You’re reading a lot of other personal development books and blogs now, taking in all the information you can.

Yet you’re doing nothing.

You’re scared to do anything.

It’s much safer to read than to act.

It’s even safer to write than to act.

Right now, I’m just writing. You could say I’m being evil, because I’m encouraging other people to do nothing but read my writing, even if I say I want them to get out and see the world.

There is no personal development in sleeping, or reading, or even writing. Only in action.

You can read all you want, but you have to apply what you’re reading. If you’re merely amassing a list of quotes or a collection of books, you’re doing worse than nothing, because you’ve convinced yourself you’re making progress where really you’re making none. You have no heart.

When you forfeit your power to others, you give up your heart. You say that other people can make better use of your heart than you can. You’re afraid to wield power or personal responsibility, so the best you can is to let others guide you because they must be smarter.

The thing is, you can’t live with two hearts or zero hearts. You can only live with one heart. If we take that heart away or transplant a second heart next to it, it will kill you. Completely. When you become heartless, you’ve given your heart to someone else, and that person will die too because he can’t support two hearts. Heartlessness is the most pure form of evil, because it results in the death of everything.

It isn’t natural to live in fear. Courage is the natural state of man, but we’ve drifted away from it. When you’ve drifted off the path, the only thing to do is to get back on the path. Return to courage. Do something real.

Conclusion

Some people will say I’m naïve and idealistic for defining good and evil so concretely, or for believing in the goodness of man.

To them I say: :silly:

If you want something to pick on, I also believe in true love, real money, joblessness, purposeful happiness, and the sanctity of human life.

Always remember that the people who push atheism or Christianity on you the hardest are the ones plagued with painful doubt themselves. When people become highly angered, they’re never angry at you. They’re angry at themselves for not following their heart. Anger means that you’re either jealous of someone else being true, or unhappy that someone else is imitating you by being heartless.

Whenever I’m angry at other people, I’m actually angry at myself, because other people are me and I am other people. We’re the collective heart. It’s like the Borg, but ten times better. We’re working to consecrate the heart rather than extinguish it.

Live in the light.

Prove Me Wrong

One simple way to get motivated is to have someone else tell you you’ll fail.

Then, you’ll work really hard to do prove that person wrong.

This can be quite effective. Some people build their whole life around it, because it’s such a powerful source of motivation.

One common story you hear among hospital patients is this: “The doctor said I’d never walk again. Look at me now! I sure proved him wrong.”

I think there’s a doctor doing this as his full-time job. He drives between hospitals, goes to each patient’s room, and tells the patient he’ll never walk again. Even if the ailment is just a toe infection or a broken finger. It doesn’t matter who the patient is, the diagnosis is always the same. “You’ll never walk again!”

What better incentive do you have to resume walking, than to be told your situation is hopeless?

If I become terribly injured, but everyone tells me I can walk again with lots of hard work and effort, I might just lose interest and give up. I’ve already been told it’s possible. But if I’m told I’m hopeless and I should just give up on walking, I’d work ten times harder. It’s much more fun to do the impossible, than to do the expected.

There’s a lot of drama in being told you’ll fail. It should be dramatic to be told you’ll succeed, but it just isn’t. Everyone says you’ll succeed. Every day, people tell me how I’m going to “go far” and “do great things.” I’m not even sure what they mean anymore.

Most of my friends and family are going to fail. They’re failing right now.

I talked to one lady last week, and she said she’s going to be a pharmacist. I asked her why. “Because it’s easy.” It’s not that easy; there are lots of technical concerns to being a pharmacist. You have to read illegible handwriting. I’m not even sure what pharmacists do, but I’m sure there’s a good deal of complexity.

I asked her what she’d do if she had a big house and ten million dollars. If the answer was “be a pharmacist,” I could tell her she’d have success. But it wasn’t. She wants to find the cure for cancer.

I already know the cure for cancer. It’s fruit seeds. Millions of people know it. Most people don’t, but the cure is there and it’s been proven through extensive anecdotal evidence. All that’s left is to implement it.

2009-12-20 Update: This whole section is wrong and I shouldn’t have been mean to this lady. However, the cure for cancer is still apricot kernels which makes working as a pharmacist difficult because it requires you to support ineffective and dangerous cancer treatments.

I told her that she’s going to fail, miserably so, and she’s going to waste years of her life with something she doesn’t even want to do. She wants a stable job to support her mother and receive a regular income.

I’d prefer to support my mother with an exciting job.

To do something you love and make money from it requires extraordinary effort. It takes far more effort than doing something you don’t love. Finding a stable job is easy. Creating an exciting job which also pays the bills is hard.

I have an exciting job right now (my photography and writing on this website). It doesn’t pay the bills very well, but I don’t have bills. So once I have bills, I’ll have to take a dull job or put in an extraordinary amount of effort into this exciting job. Who am I trying to prove wrong? Society, for telling me I should take the easy way out. But what is society? It doesn’t exist. There is no hive mind, and normal people don’t care if you fill prescriptions or write poetry for a living. As long as you’re not hurting others and people are willing to pay you for what you do (no thievery or coercion), you’re golden.

You can’t work for free if you’re going to make money. Remember that when you give your time away, you’re saying that other people will use it more effectively than you. When you give money to a bum on the street, you’re saying that he deserves it more than you. To deserve something, you must make good use of it.

Is that true?

I’m writing this for free, meaning that you can use my time better than I can. The difference is that this isn’t just for one person; it’s for hundreds of people. So the answer is a definite “yes.” Other people will use the time it took me to write this far better than I could use it on projects for only myself.

There’s a problem with living to prove others wrong. Most of the time in most of your life, no one is against you. Only when you defy the hardened ideals and limiting beliefs of others, do they rise from apathy. Then, you’ll hear lots of people crying for your failure. But if you can’t get motivated unless others are predicting your failure, then you’ll pass up lots of great things you want to do.

Instead of proving me wrong, why not prove yourself right? I think that’s a far more empowering belief. Eventually, you rise past having to prove anything to anyone at all… I’m not at that level yet. So for now I prove to myself that I can do things. I prove to myself that I can write stuff that makes no sense.

The other problem with proving others wrong, is that the other people lose interest. You succeed in doing what your teacher said you could never do, but then he says it was just a joke or he knew you could do it all along and was just testing you. Your mission isn’t to hold your friends’ interest—it’s to define your life in your own terms rather than by the terms of others.

That means: stop proving things to others. When you want to prove something, you’re looking for approval. If you need friends to approve of you, then that means you don’t approve of yourself. Don’t ask permission to live.

Curing Parkinson’s Disease

I left this reply after seeing Sergey Brin’s blog entry on his genes’ predisposition toward Parkinson’s disease:

My Great Aunt contracted Parkinson’s disease in her fifties; she passed on a couple years ago in her seventies. After twenty years, it got progressively worse to the point that she couldn’t move.

I remember my Grandma often having to call her back over the phone, because she’d inadvertently hit the “talk” button from the shaking.

I think Parkinson’s disease has a connection to arthritis and cancer, because all three involve the body turning against itself; destruction from the inside out rather than from external causes. I found out this year that cancer is a vitamin deficiency; you should eat apple seeds and similar seeds every day, so your body can use vitamin B17 to kill the rogue cells that want to form cancerous growths. I blogged about it here: The Cancer Myth. Cancer is a big problem, so it’s nice to know I’ll never suffer from it, despite all my friends and family that have died in vain…

Might Parkinson’s disease be a vitamin deficiency too, and all this stuff about genes just be a coincidence? There could be a vitamin we don’t get, because we eat all processed foods rather than natural foods. Our modern treatments don’t cure the disease; they just patch the symptoms, buying you some time.

If there is a natural cure, it’s probably something you have to get in your diet every day, just like how you eat iodine every day (in salt) to avoid goiters. It’s likely that you can’t “cure” Parkinson’s disease, just like you can’t “cure” thirst.

Finding that natural cure and prevention is harder, because it requires long-scale testing to be effective. But it should be easy to get started. Research dogs and cats in captivity (i.e. apartments) vs. in the wild; it could be that the ones in the wild don’t get the disease but the ones in captivity do, just like only domesticated dogs get cancer (because they can’t eat grass and weeds which have B17 in them).

The next step is to research people who live close to the Earth and eat straight from nature; perhaps in the jungles of Africa. Do they get Parkinson’s disease? If they don’t, find out what it is they’re eating that prevents it.

Good luck Mr. Sergey, and let me know if you get to the bottom of this.

The cure

Keep in mind that if you find the prevention and cure for Parkinson’s disease, it does nothing on it’s own. A few hundred thousand in this country know that vitamin B17 cures cancer, but the cancer industry is vehemently against the cure because it will put them out of business.

Even the FDA is in on this. The government is behind keeping you in the dark about cancer. I’m actually breaking the law by touting B17 as the cure for cancer right here. If I dared to sell apricot seeds on this blog, I could earn myself five years in federal prison.

B17 isn’t even recognized as a vitamin, and it can’t go through FDA testing because it’s an organic substance. They only want inorganic cancer cures.

Besides, no one will pay the tens of millions of dollars for the colluded, bureaucratic testing process. You can’t recoup the cost selling apricot seeds, unlike the phony cancer treatments we have now, which, incidentally, cost upward of $8000 a month. That’s how much the hospital was paying for my cousin when he died of brain cancer in 2006. And it was all B.S. and he could’ve easily avoided cancer if he’d been eating apples with seeds all along. Heck, he probably could’ve got out of it when he found out about the cancer if he would’ve started on laetrile pills right away.

The people in the American Cancer Society will tell you not to eat seeds, because they’ll poison you. It’s all for shock value, to scare you away from pursuing the truth. Seeds poison you no more than water.

When we find the cure for Parkinson’s disease, there will be a lot of resistance. Not as much as with cancer, because cancer has legendary status and is poised to kill tens of millions over the next 100 years. But still a lot of resistance.

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic affliction. Victims do not get better, unlike with strep throat or any normal ailment, which we can eliminate with antibodies or surgery. You get Parkinson’s disease, you start with pills, progressing to invasive and mechanical treatments. The whole time, you get progressively worse, on the march toward death. At best, the mechanical treatments prolong your death. My neighbor has terrible arthritis dating back twenty years. He’s had two shoulder blades and a hip replaced, and the next hip is scheduled for the spring. And he’s still in terrible pain and his fingers don’t work and his face is contorted. Doesn’t that tell you we’re doing something wrong?

We’re not getting to the source of the problem by applying band-aid patches. That’s what modern treatment for cancer, arthritis, and Parkinson’s disease is. A collection of kludges. If we treated tooth decay like we do cancer, the solution would be this:

1. Don’t brush your teeth. Do you know how much those bristles hurt your gums?
2. Keep eating the same foods. Diet change is linked to death, because many people who die recently changed their diets.
3. As your teeth decay, we’ll drill them out and replace the innards with concrete.
4. Your gums will shrivel and rot, but we’ll apply salves to counteract that.
5. Eventually, all your teeth will rot from the roots and fall out. We’ll go ahead and pull them out. Then you can wear dentures.
6. Eventually, the dentures won’t stay put because your gums will become fully eroded. If you haven’t died yet. Time to start drilling into your jaw bone. We can put in fake teeth with screws.
7. We put in the fake teeth. It’s a very dangerous operation, but it proves successful. Unfortunately, you get a minor infection and die, because your immune system is in shambles from the continued abuse to your mouth.

This is absurd. But it’s what we do right now with Parkinson’s disease. We have pills that stave off Parkinson’s disease temporarily. Once those fail, we bust open your skull and stick an electrode in your brain. “Deep brain stimulation.”

This is witchcraft.

Witchcraft does not work.

Pellagra is caused by a deficiency of niacin (B3). Pellagra is a terrible disease. Your skin starts peeling, you suffer from dysentery, you become light-sensitive, you go insane, and then you die.

Pellagra raged through Europe for hundreds of years. It even hit America hard 100 years ago, because people weren’t eating the foods with niacin or tryptophan, which the body can convert to niacin. Milk, eggs, soybeans, yeast, and meat stop pellagra.

The people with pellagra spent most of their time eating corn, because that was their dominant crop. For two hundred years doctors believed that corn was toxic. Obviously it causes pellagra.

Another hypothesis was that the people who got pellagra were evil and God was punishing them.

These are all valid guesses, but they pale in contrast to the truth. It’s a simple nutritional deficiency.

You could spend millions of dollars now on research for a mechanical cure for pellagra. Perhaps we can use surgery? Perhaps there’s a pill that can cure it? Even better, a pill that you have to take for the rest of your life, so we can keep charging you.

Of course there is. A multi-vitamin. Even better, you can eat the foods that have niacin in them.

What are the theories behind Parkinson’s disease? It’s either your parents (genes) or your food (toxins). But really, it isn’t the foods you’re eating. It’s the foods you’re not eating. That’s the only logical answer.

What are the theories behind cancer? Everything causes cancer. Sunshine, motor oil, radiation, dish soap, cell phones, computers, processed food, lead, lawn mowers, air conditioning, genes… the list goes on.

It doesn’t matter if you have a consensus that pellagra is God’s wrath. It’s still false.

It doesn’t matter if everyone agrees that sunshine causes cancer. Science is neither a popularity contest nor an emotional debate. This may seem cold, but it’s actually the most loving thing I’ve ever said. When you become trapped by dogma, you never get to the truth. People continue to die en masse. Phony solutions persist under the guise of scientific theory. This is happening with cancer, and I bet it’s happening with Parkinson’s disease.

There’s got to be something better than witchcraft. In the future, students of nutrition will have to answer the question: “__________ is to Parkinson’s disease as Vitamin C is to scurvy.” If only we can find out what that blank is.

Photo: Introduction

Introduction

This is from the photo-shoot with Sarah; we bumped into Brice from Reunion. I told them to pretend to be meeting, and Sarah hammed it up for the camera. There was no reason to pretend, because they were in fact meeting for the first time. :xx:

I wanted to make Sarah look angelic, so I brightened around her, reddened her hair, and added contrast to her eyes; it adds a lot to her personality. The last step was to add color and contrast to the brick wall. The college’s buildings make good backgrounds for photos.

Canon Rebel XTi, EF 50mm 1:1.4, 1/640, F2.8, 50mm, ISO100, 2008-10-01T13:23:58-04, 20081001-172358rxt

Location: Daytona State College, 1200 W. International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach, FL  32114

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Please credit me as “Photo by Richard Thripp” or something similar.

You can use the models’ likenesses for anything not defamatory. You are one of my “licencees.”

Becoming a Vegetarian

2009-12-20 Update: Take this article with a grain of salt as I’ve switched back to eating meat once and am now eating fish to help my brain. The Bible says that animals are here for us to eat. However, we must all recognize the cruelty in the factory farming system. Life is a balance of shades of gray. Animals are nowhere near as important as people.

I decided today that I’m becoming a vegetarian, today.

Actually, I decided yesterday, but I’m pegging the day as October 1 because that will be easier to remember when I’m 102. I won’t be able to remember September 30.

I’ve had a suspicion that I shouldn’t be eating meat for a while. Since the start of the year, at least. Occasionally I’d think of my ideal self, and I wouldn’t see him eating animals, but then I’d dismiss that as dumb. How can’t I refuse to eat meat when it’s so packed full of nutrition and cheap to buy?

Quite easily, of course.

I’m pretty sure we’re not supposed to eat meat; it’s a last resort. There are so many plants and vegetables and fruits here, and we have these long arms to reach them, so they must be here for a reason. Also, we’re not designed to eat meat. Dogs and cats and vultures can eat animals raw, but we have to cook them and examine them thoroughly. The meat on a hamburger looks nothing like a cow. If it’s under-cooked, you get sick, because our stomach acids, small intestines, and other digestive processes are against us eating animals. Our acids aren’t acidic enough to digest animals, unless they’re thoroughly ground and cooked.

I don’t care for animals particularly. They’re lives aren’t sacred like human lives. But they are treated pretty badly when we harvest them; have you seen how chickens are stacked together and kept in the darkness while they’re raised? Any suffering like that can’t be good, and is not something I want to contribute to.

If I find myself stuck on an arctic island and my only hope to survive is to start eating seals or penguins, I’ll do that, but I’ll kill them in the most efficient and painless way possible. I can’t think of the last time I was starving to death, much less that I could get out of it by eating meat, so I don’t think this is a big concern.

I have a theory that eating animals makes you tired and unfocused. That’s why you get tired after eating a turkey dinner, or pretty much anything we eat for dinner now. Most people eat 21 meals a week with meat in them, which is quite different from two centuries ago when meat was hard to come by and would be reserved for a weekly feast.

A lot of people seem to stop eating meat by having a going-away party, where they eat several stakes, hamburgers, and other garbage because they’ll be “missing out” the rest of their lives. These are usually the people who quit vegetarianism in two weeks. You don’t quit eating animals reluctantly; you do it because you know how much it’s taking away from your strength and your health. Why would you want to take away even more? Does an alcoholic give up beer by becoming very drunk? Do you smoke 100 cigarettes on your last day of smoking? I don’t think those are any worse for you than this.

I’m not even convinced animals taste so good, so much as it is an acquired taste ingrained from childhood. If you’d grown up eating leafy plants and colorful fruits, wouldn’t a two-patty hamburger seem disgusting? I’m pretty sure that animals taste bad, but they make up for it by packing themselves with unhealthful protein and saturated fat. You can still get this as a vegetarian, by eating cookies or salad dressing or ice cream or white bread all the time. All of which are no better than eating meat.

I can’t say I care for tofu; it tastes like a wannabee meat product. Why do vegetarians start eating tofu burgers and imitation crabs and faux sausages? It’s like saying “I’d really prefer to eat animals, but this will have to do. I’m just sticking with vegetarianism because it’s cool and stylish.” Becoming vegetarian just to imitate a typical meat-eaters diet proves nothing.

I ate a big plate of lettuce and some other dark-green leafy vegetables today. I couldn’t tell what they were. Some of them tasted sweet, others tasted green, some tart. But it was an exciting experience, I can tell you that. I almost wanted to grab my camera and start photographing the folds and patterns on the lettuce. I didn’t, because I was enjoying the taste of lettuce too much. I refuse to continue settling for anything less than exciting food.

Dealing with others

If you switch to vegetarianism, you can be pretty sure that a lot of people will support you, some will come up with limiting or fear-based reasons for you to continue eating meat, and a few won’t care at all and will just label you a nut. Even your friends will fall into the third category. But they’re the ones who will often come around to embracing the green-based diet. If not, stop holding yourself back and find some other friends.

The people who response the most negatively are actually the ones who are jealous of you. They want to stop eating animals too, but they don’t because they think they can’t or shouldn’t for dietary or social reasons (all false). They’re entrenched in limiting beliefs, and it hurts to see someone sail passed the limits.

Arguments against vegetarianism

These are a few arguments against vegetarianism, off the top of my head.

People won’t like you.

I haven’t heard this one directly, but a lot of attitudes about vegetarianism imply this. The idea is: people won’t like you because if you’re going out to dinner or at a party special accommodations (food) will have to be made for you, you won’t be able to connect with people by sharing in eating hot dogs and hamburgers, and people may suspect you have a superiority complex for not eating meat like everyone else.

For the thirty friends and strangers about my diet change so far, I’ve gotten just the opposite. The “worst” responses have been a shocked “why?”, and “if you want to do that, it’s your choice.” But most of the responses have been congratulatory, with a lot of people saying they want to do it too. I don’t know if they’re serious or not–if they want to do it, why don’t the just do it? It may be that most people don’t exercise this sort of willpower.

The people who discourage you from change are often your family, because they may not like to see others around them improving. They want you to stay just the same. But when people say they don’t want you to do something, that often means you should do it. Bounding outside of the social norms is extraordinary stuff. That’s why they’re social norms; because ordinary people follow them. Ordinary people eat garbage.

Becoming a vegetarian isn’t anything extraordinary; it’s hardly even worthy of notice. Millions of Hindus live it every day. Don’t let implicit norms sway you.

You won’t get enough protein.

This is actually false, because we get way to much already. I read that we get twice as much protein as we should, mainly because we eat so much protein-rich meat. That much protein is actually bad, because it stresses your bladder and the urinary system (that’s where the excess protein goes).

There is plenty of protein in dark green vegetables, legumes, eggs, and such. With a good vegetarian diet you’ll get just the right proteins instead of twice as many, and the ones in vegetables are better for you anyway.

You can’t make friends as easily.

This must be because you don’t share common food. Where’s the common ground?

I, for one, think that any friendship built on food is no friendship at all. You’ll make much closer friends by actively breaking rapport and defying expectations, than by settling for superficial commonalities.

If you think you’ll lose friends over food, then your problem isn’t vegetarianism. Your problem is that your entire model of humanity is broken. Fix it, please.

People will beat and bully you.

This is a serious concern if you’re in public school (not college), because public schools are like prisons and there’s a mob mentality. You could also expect to be beaten for carrying a camera on you or wearing mismatched socks… depending on how bad the school you’re in is, of course.

Just hide your vegetarianism. Tell people you know won’t beat you, and do it individually rather than as an announcement in the lunch room. Before you know it, you’ll be done with the nightmare that is public schooling.

You’ll stop growing.

My father brought this up, because I’m 5’10” now and he wants me to grow another inch or two. I was 16 just two months ago, so I could have some more growing to do. My Dad grew an inch at 19.

The bones mainly grow from calcium, but I’m going to continue drinking milk and eating cheese (I’m an octo-ovo vegetarian, meaning I’ll eat animal products but not animals themselves). The only other concern is protein, but I was getting too much of that already, eating hamburgers and fish and such.

I’ll probably grow even faster now.

You won’t be able to eat all the meat in the freezer.

It doesn’t matter. Throw it out. I know it’s not right to waste food, but it’s worse to let your circumstances (the food in your freezer) hold you back.

If you put off vegetarianism because you have to eat what’s in your freezer first, it’ll never happen. Even if you eat up the meat and then become a vegetarian, you’re still stuck. You’ve given up your ideals to worldly concerns. Soon, your grandmother will be convincing you to eat the meat in her fridge because it’s “about to spoil.” People will be forcing meatball-spaghetti on you at the dinner table because it will “go in the garbage” otherwise.

Once you start to eat meat because it’s “going in the garbage,” what have you become? A garbage disposal. Do you want your body to be a garbage can?

You can also think of yourself as a vulture, because you’re eating what other people refuse to eat. What no one else wants. Vultures eat rotten guts and putrid entrails.

Don’t be a vulture, be a man.

Meat-eating is a necessary evil.

This goes along with the protein and dietary arguments. It can’t be true, though. It’s a bastardization of the meaning of evil.

Evil is never necessary, and necessities are never evil. They’re polar opposites. How could something “necessary,” meaning required, be evil? At worst it could be neutral, but it’s probably good, or else it wouldn’t be needed.

How could something bad be required? If something is evil, it can’t be necessary, wanted, required, or good.

Eating animals is neither necessary nor evil. The way it’s done now is evil. We’re not shown how poorly our cattle are raised, because so many people would switch to vegetarianism if they knew.

It disappoints me that vegans spend all their time supporting the “rights” of animals, when we’re supporting the murder of unborn children by the millions (abortion). It’s alright to pick your niche, but campaigning for animals is like worrying about personal development while you’re suffering from a hemorrhagic stroke. Despite what the personal development gurus may tell you, please don’t worry about personal development when you’re bleeding profusely. Try to solve the bigger problem first. You can apply this to all areas of your life. Always go for the big enchilada before the small potatoes. Otherwise, you might never have time for the big stuff.

Vegetarians don’t get cancer

It’s true. You expect me to say that it’s because we have healthier diets overall, but it’s not that at all. You can eat meat all day and still never get cancer.

When you are injured, your body sends trophoblast cells to heal the wound. But sometimes it sends too many, and your body doesn’t have any way to deal with these cells. The healing cells can split very quickly… and they do, crowding out all the others to form a cancerous growth.

But nature has a remedy for this: amygdalin (a.k.a. vitamin B17) is found in the seeds of almost all foods, and it allows the body to break down the protective walls around the cancerous cells, gobbling them up before they become a problem. It also appears in dark green leafy vegetables, grass, and everywhere else. Most people get none of it because they only eat processed foods which have it removed, and that’s why they get cancer.

Vegetarians tend not to get cancer because they tend to eat more Earthly foods, BUT, you can easily avoid cancer by eating foods with vitamin B17 every day. That means you should eat apple, apricot, pumpkin, and watermelon seeds. Citrus seeds don’t do much. In Central Florida we get yellow, plum-shaped loquat fruits a month out of the year, which have big seeds with lots of the cancer-fighting vitamin. My Dad had frozen quite a few of these and I’d been eating them daily, but we’ve run out so I’m back with apple seeds now.

Cancer is a vitamin deficiency like scurvy, meaning that you have to change your diet permanently to avoid it. There is no “cure” so much as there is prevention. People will tell you not to eat seeds because they have cyanide in them, but in fact, the form it’s in does no harm. I ate two apples, complete with seeds, yesterday, and seeds the day before, and the day before that, and more, without ever feeling so much as a stomach ache.

And I will never get cancer, which is quite nice. If you don’t eat seeds, everything is in fact a carcinogen, because anything that causes the body to dispatch healing cells could create cancer. If you get stabbed or shot, cancer might form there. If you bump your head, you’re open for brain cancer. If you smoke, the irritation in your lungs causes too many healing cells to be assigned, which fester as lung cancer. If you stay out in the sun, you get sunburns which result in skin cancer. But when you’re getting the cancer-fighting vitamin, none of these are a concern. Not even radiation. Of course, it’s still bad for you because it damages your cells, just as smoking will merit you emphysema.

There is only one form of cancer with one prevention and cure. The Rise and Fall of Laetrile (laetrile is a purified form of B17) may say otherwise, but the fact is their testing was on people who had already been ravaged by cancer treatment. Their immune systems were spent, and cancer was festering inside them. That’s like saying your brakes don’t work because you can’t go from 60 miles per hour to 0 over a span of 5 feet. It just doesn’t work that way.

If you’ve ever took a dog for a walk, you’ve noticed he eats grass. It’s instinctive. The grass has vitamin B17, and your dog won’t get cancer. But dogs do get cancer, when you lock them up in an apartment all the time and feed them dog food. That’s because they’re being deprived of a weapon against cancer. Animals in the zoo get cancer too, while animals in the wild don’t, all because of this.

I wrote more about this in The Cancer Myth. It’s really nice to know the answer to this, because cancer is a big problem getting even bigger, because people are eating fewer and fewer amygdalin-rich foods.

Are animals equal to humans?

Apparently, if I stop eating eggs and dairy products and the occasional honeycomb, I can’t call myself “vegan” because that means you support equal rights for animals.

I do not. I’ve said it before: I’d kill 1000 cats if it would save my sister’s life. But I wouldn’t kill 1000 cats for food, because other food is readily available and I could barely even get through one cat.

People do kill cats for food. My step-mom is from Vietnam, and she recalls the cats and dogs she lost to hungry thieves. There was no food to go around during the war, so unwatched animals became a family’s meal. Every part was used. It was very efficient, due to the lack of food. But when you get attached to a dog, and then he becomes eaten, efficiency is not much consolation.

Torturing animals isn’t right. It’s not as bad as killing them, but suffering, even that inflicted upon animals, brings us down as people. I suppose that’s a good reason to stop eating animal products too, but I’m happy merely with dropping meat, for now.

Animals just aren’t special like humans. When was the last time you saw a dog dedicate his life to personal development? Never. Dogs are smart and all, but they’ll never hold a candle to us, nor will any other animal.

Animals don’t lack rights because of their dumbness. If that was the case, then we could kill any children under five and any decrepit seniors, because they’re “dumb” next to us. The reason animals lack rights is because they don’t have souls. That sounds religious, but I can feel a connection when I’m around people that I just can’t feel around the squirrels at the park. I don’t need a dogmatic religion to tell me this (organized religions are designed to hold you back). I can do it all with the Richard X. Thripp religion, which isn’t really a religion at all because I don’t even have to think about it. It’s just there. You have your own religion too.

You don’t have to be a Christian to know that people are different from monkeys. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to know that eating animals is wrong. Take a five year old to the slaughterhouse, show him the whole process from cattle to plate, and he’ll tell you right away that it’s wrong. Meaning: eating animals goes against our intrinsic moral code, and we’ve only overcome that through social conditioning and by removing ourselves from the killing process. I don’t think mass subversion of our God-given moral values is something to be proud of.

Being different

I’ve never seen a vegetarianism article like this. Most of them tell us how wonderful animals are and why we’re killing the planet by eating animals rather than grains. I don’t believe in either. My motives for vegetarianism are entirely selfish.

Ironically, selfishness is the most selfless path, because by eating better, I’ll be healthier and live longer, which will give me the strength to reach more people with my photography and insights on life. The profit police try to bleed you dry. Don’t let them. Do good for yourself by eating more healthful, colorful, and interesting foods. It’s the only way you can do more good for others.

Vegetarian bias

The truth is, you can eat just as well with meat as you can without it. But people who have chosen vegetarianism have far more healthful diets. Why is this?

The reason is that the people who choose vegetarianism are the same people who are dedicated to personal growth and improvement in general. While most of the world bathes in fear and stagnation, we choose to bath in the nectar of life.

In less flowery terms, most people who are vegetarians are strong, responsible people. Vegans even more so. These people enjoy websites like mine, because they’re committed to growth throughout life. Personal development can do more good for fearful, irresponsible people, but unfortunately, they’re not likely to accept it at all. More vegetarians will read this article than non-vegetarians, because they’re already interested in this sort of thing. So I focus on raising them and other personally developed people even higher, rather than appealing to the lowest common denominator. This usually involves improving myself, and then writing about it. Real, in-depth stuff that takes thousands of words to cover. My website is no place for shallowness. This is the DEEP zone. Maybe some of the fearfuls will tag along.

Vegetarianism does not make you smart. The reason vegetarians are mostly smart is the reason most people who have high IQ scores are intelligent, most people that drive cars aren’t reckless, most people who are photographers are open-minded and creative, and most musicians enjoy music. You can be a “vegetarian” while eating chocolate and ice cream all day, but then you’re worse off than a normal person.

If someone slips meat into my salad in an attempt to poison me, it’s not the end of the world. I’ll just stop eating it and scold the attacker harshly.

Interestingly, at first I wanted to wait till the first of next year to stop eating meat. “2009-01-01 is more dramatic than 2008-10-01,” I thought. But after some high level thinking, I realized I was being stupid. If becoming a vegetarian is something I should do (and it most certainly is), then I should do it as soon as possible. Waiting helps no one, and only reinforces negative beliefs and practices. What was helpful to me, was to ask myself: would I suggest my action (waiting) to the readers of my website? The answer is most certainly no, so the answer for myself is also no. You can do this yourself. The actions you suggest to your friends are the same actions you should follow yourself. Leading by example is the only way to live.

Don’t think of vegetarianism as a panacea. Don’t become dogmatic. Most of all, keep growing throughout life. If you’re on the wrong path, don’t wait months or years to correct yourself. Do it now.

Digital Sharecropping

Before 1994, the Internet was basically unknown. It was just a tool for professors and researchers to connect with their peers. All websites had to be non-profit.

In 1994, the National Science Foundation took away these restrictions. Anyone could register a domain name and start a website, even to sell stuff. Pepsi.com was one of the first, but at the time it seemed a pointless gimmick.

Flash forward to 2008. In the past five years, power has become consolidated between a few major websites, despite the flat nature of the Internet. Google, Yahoo, Facebook, MySpace, and eBay are the major players. These corporations control billions of dollars in capital, yet with the exception of eBay, provide free services. How does this happen?

MySpace

The way it happens is through advertising. Much like how newspapers make money from the classifieds or how the local Pennysaver is completely free despite rising print costs, websites make money from selling ad-space. With technology like HTTP cookies and click-counting, advertisers can pay only when viewers click their ads, or even only when they make a sale. If you think no one buys anything online, take a look at this.

2007 Christmas online sales

That’s a graph of how much stuff people bought in the 2007 Christmas season. At the peak, for the week ending 2007-12-16, sales totaled nearly 5 billion dollars. Thanks to comscore.com for the stats.

As you can see, people have no aversion to buying things on the web. And unlike with newspapers, websites have far lower overhead. Each visitor costs less than a hundreth of a cent each, while advertisers may be willing to pay in dollars for clicks or sales.

The reason social networks have become so large and wealthy is because most people contribute to them for social benefits, while all the economic benefits go to the operators of the network. Many people may only generate a few dollars in revenue, but with millions of people it adds up. Also, people will join even a hard to use and poorly designed website if all their friends are on it, so the rich get richer.

MySpace has ads all over the place; their home page is one big ad as you can see, and when you log in it gets even worse. People use it anyway because so many people are already using it, not because of it has intrinsic value.

When you’re contributing to MySpace or Facebook or any other network you don’t control, you’re a sharecropper. But what is a sharecropper? This is a good definition.

“A farmer who works a farm owned by someone else. The owner provides the land, seed, and tools exchange for part of the crops and goods produced on the farm.”

Sharecropping on the Internet is even worse, because you don’t even get a portion of the fruits of your labor. You give up not only the means of production, but also all revenue earned and the information itself.

My Dad was banned from YouTube because he’d get into all sorts of political arguments with people there. Not only do they delete all your videos, but every comment you’ve ever made disappears from the site upon your removal. That’s what happens when you’re a sharecropper, and the owners are free to do that because it’s their website. If my Dad didn’t keep backups of everything he writes and posts, he would’ve lost it all.

We’re all sharecroppers for Google. Here’s just a few things they own:

Google's stuff

It’s hard to keep track of all these services, so they have this nice umbrella called the Google Account:

The Google account

Everything runs nicely for a while. You have all your maps, your credit card data (Google Checkout), your calendars, your emails, your search history, your contacts, your pictures, your blog posts, and more on Google’s servers. Then they decide they don’t like you anymore:

No more Google for you

Thanks for being a good sharecropper, we know longer need you. Good-bye. This is the message my Dad got when you tried to log into his YouTube account. Now, YouTube uses Google Accounts, so if he was banned now, his emails might vanish too.

Obviously, Google can’t go around banning all it’s members if they want success, but we’ve given them a lot of power. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to give up my power, even in the name of convenience.

If you think it can’t happen, take a look at this: When Google Owns You. This guy was locked out of his email, documents, photos, and instant messaging, because Google shut down his entire account. He got it back eventually, but the real problem is that we’ve all given up our power.

Though our computers are more powerful than ever, we’ve become increasingly dependent on Other Peoples Computers. We let Google or Yahoo hold our email so we can get to it from anywhere. We put our pictures on Flickr or Snapfish or Picasa Web Albums so our family can see them from anywhere in the world. But they’re not on our computer, so Flickr or Snapfish or Google can take them down at any time.

Should the government force web corporations to share their profits or hand the means of production over to the people? I say no, because that is socialism and it would discourage new innovation. Like it or not, it’s hard to create infrastructures like Google or MySpace, which allow millions of people to share information for free.

you.com not myspace.com/you

The base-level infrastructure will always be the Internet and sites like you.com, not myspace.com/you. Don’t put much effort into your site on MySpace; start your own site.

Breaking the chains requires you to have a computer on all the time and a registered domain name. You also need software on the web server to manage your photos, text, video, or other content. These are good to start with:

Content management software

The best way to get a web server, when you’re starting out, is to rent one. You do this through what is called a web host, which costs about $10 a month. You also register your domain name through a registrar, just like MySpace and Facebook do. You have to pay $10 per year for that.

I use GoDaddy.com as my domain registrar and SYNhosting.com as my host. My whole blog and photo gallery is run by WordPress and other open-source modules, and it’s no more work than using MySpace, besides a large up-front investment of time and effort. I’m not sharecropping, because I can easily switch without losing my domain name if I get tired of either of these companies. If you’re a sharecropper and you switch landlords, forget about keeping the same URL.

Back up stuff

If you can’t do the above, there is an easy, immediate step you can safeguard yourself with. Back up your data. Whenever you write anything on a site you don’t own, copy it to a text or Microsoft Word file on your computer.

Thunderbird

If you use Gmail (owned by Google), use Mozilla Thunderbird to keep a duplicate copy of your email on your computer. Even if Google steals your emails, you’ll still have them on your machine. You can also use Microsoft Outlook Express with your Gmail account, and they even have tutorials on how to do it.

Flash drives

Instead of giving control of your documents over to Google, keep them on a flash drive. You can still get to them anywhere, because you can carry a flash drive with you all the time. Even better, you don’t need Internet access to get to your stuff. Your files are right here, not on some far-off server where they can be stolen or deleted on a whim. Make a backup copy on your computer at home whenever you change stuff, and you’ll be fine.

Moving away from your landlords is hard, but think of it this way: even if you get one-tenth the visitors to your new website and it looks like garbage, it’s still ten times better than continuing as a fruitless sharecropper. You can ever put ads on your site. I made $60 through Google’s AdSense program this month, and while you could say that I’m still sharecropping because I’m beholden to them, if they kick me out I can easily switch to Yahoo’s ad offering or I can sell ad space directly. If you’re on MySpace, you have no such options. There are plenty of ads, sure, but you get nothing for them, even if you become insanely famous.

You can’t be free as a sharecropper.

Personal Development for Photographers

Personal development is universal, so it includes photographers. A lot of photographers are stuck in a lot of ways. They take too many photos, entangle their intuition with technicalities, refuse to rise above spectatorship, or abandon their creativity for the comfort of rigid rules. I did all these for some time, so I want to help others rise above these limitations.

Too many photos

Most photographers live with a scarcity mindset. This means they believe they must be taking photos every moment, in case they miss the ‘perfect’ moment. There is only one ‘perfect’ moment (scarcity), so it’s important not to miss it.

I can tell you this because I used to be one of these people, and I meet fellow photographers who are stuck in the same mindset all the time.

Back when I was in photography class, I met a lady who took 1500 pictures of a wedding in a span of two hours. I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid weddings, but I can tell you now that I would be taking 1500 photos, even if the wedding was all day. I might take 1000, but I can assure you they’d mostly be duplicates. I’d be deleting the worst and keeping the best on the spot, and by the end of the day I’d be down to 200 photos. Good photos.

What was even more unfortunate about this girl was that she made no effort to cull her work. “Culling” means picking out the best. I slaved for hours over my portfolio, narrowing down hundreds of photos to my best 30. Some good photos didn’t make it because they just didn’t fit in with the other ones. I spent more time ordering them by color / concept than choosing, because the order is far more important than the content.

It’s alright if you take 1500 photos for a wedding, even if you keep them. But when you do that, know that you’re going to bore the heck out of people by showing them all, and you’re going to put in many hours weeding out the crud.

If you don’t weed out the weeds, you’ve got nothing. All people will see is a bunch of weeds and they’ll walk away before you get to the good stuff.

The abundance mindset

Ironically it’s the abundance mindset that leads you to taking fewer pictures. Your work becomes much more interesting too, because you’ll produce a few great pieces instead of dozens of mediocre ones. Oftentimes you’ll actually take more photos, but they’ll be focused. Instead of doing 50 shots of every plant in the garden, do 200 of a rose from every possible perspective. Learn from it, pick out the best one (I do mean one), and discard (hide) the rest.

For photographers, the abundance mindset says that you’ll have so many great photo opportunities, it’s alright not to pursue them all. It’s even alright to ignore a beautiful sunset just to focus your camera on the light on the trees. If you’re in the scarcity mindset, you’re dead-set on the sunset because you’re afraid you’ll never see one like it again. But really, what you get is the same dull photo that everyone else has already taken, while you could’ve been using the sunset for something better, like portraits of passersby (the lighting is great), refractions off a leaf, the clouds behind you, or the light and shadows around you.

The abundance mindset lets you focus on one thing while ignoring everything else. If the space shuttle is launching right in front of you, take pictures of all the people taking pictures instead of the shuttle itself. Take a photo of the launch site ten seconds after lift-off. No one is doing that.

Believing in abundance lets you go for a walk in a “boring” neighborhood yet bring home a picture like this:

Basketball Hoop

Whatever you think is ‘boring’ isn’t so boring after all. I hear photographers complain all the time that there is nothing interesting around them, but really they aren’t even trying.

If you’re not willing to look harder for subjects (still life or people) in your current environment, go somewhere else. Go to different places, talk to different people, take different pictures. Go on vacation. Become a nomad. It isn’t that hard, and if you believe it is you’re only limiting yourself.

Hands-off photography

Other photographers believe they should be hands-off. “Just take pictures, don’t interfere with people or nature.” Photograph what you see. Really, what these people are doing is trying to absolve themselves from effort. They’re scared of directing people on how to pose, so they’d prefer just to leave it up to their models.

But the fact is, your models don’t know what to do. As the photographer, it’s YOUR job to tell them what to do. The word “photography” implies mere observation, but it’s so much more than that. As a photographer, you create the scene. Even if you don’t have to tear down buildings or dirty your hands with makeup, you do have to direct people and the environment. Even if you don’t touch anything, you’re still directing the scene through composition. You can get far away and use a telephoto lens, or close-up with a wide-angle lens, and you’ll get two very different photos of the same subject under the same light. You can take photos at eye level, or you can lay in the dirt and point your camera up. You can include things, you can exclude things, you can manipulate light, all without entering Photoshop.

Any wedding actually involves three people: a man, a woman, and a photographer. It’s really a marriage of three. You have to tell the couple how to pose, where to stand, what to wear; perhaps even what day to plan their wedding for or where to hold it. If it’s a Florida summer, retreat indoors. People like sunshine, but cloudy days make for better lighting. These are all going to be important if you want to create good memories, because memories are about emotion, not facts or record-keeping.

Embracing flexibility

I used to have this unstoppable urge to stretch the histogram across the gamut from light to dark in every photo. This means I’d edit contrast fairly aggressively, and then whatever was left over I’d leave up to the computer’s “Auto Contrast” tool. Every picture should touch (0,0,0) (pure black) and (255,255,255) (pure white) in at least one pixel.

This worked fairly well for a while. I did cool stuff like Raindrops and Sky’s Camouflage. Even Two of Us Against the World, which most people think of as soft-toned, is stretched across the whole gamut.

Cherry Tomatoes

This became very limiting, though. When I got to pictures like Cherry Tomatoes (above), it couldn’t look good with the tomatoes going to black, but that’s the only decision that would keep in step with my beliefs. I compromised on that one; the darkest tone is about (110,20,0), with 90% of the colors being in the upper fourth of the luminance scale. This way, I could continue criticizing other photographers (in my mind) whenever I’d see anything with dull contrast.

It turns out, dull contrast is often good. Going back to the basketball hoop photo, if I would’ve done what I used to do, the sky would be right up against pure white. But with subdued colors, it’s much more appealing and interesting (the sky doesn’t go past 230/255).

What this means is: be flexible. No rules are hard and fast, and everything can look good in different occasions. Don’t use rules or formulas to determine that; use your eyes and your innate sense of beauty. Which brings us to…

Stop making sense

Psychologists say women like mental pictures, men like real pictures. This (supposibly) is because men are left-brained while women are right-brained. This means that “visual learners” fall into the left-brained category.

For 90% of photographers this is false. Unless you’re in technical or journalistic photography, you’re going to be dealing with the right-brain (emotions) most of the time. This falls under of the umbrella of artistic photography—most people just call this photography, because it’s what the medium has become associated with.

But even if you’re a photo-journalist, a big portion of your time (if you’re good) will be about emphasizing emotion. If there’s no emotion, create it. You can ‘cheat’ without editing the image. Use a different angle, or convince the people in the scene to act differently, consciously or subconsciously.

The purpose of my photographs is to create emotions within my audience. It doesn’t matter if the pictures are true. It doesn’t matter if I tore up weeds or if I used a medicine dropper to add droplets to a leaf. It doesn’t matter if I completely Photoshopped the colors so they look nothing like the actual scene. It doesn’t even matter if the scene is a physical impossibility.

What matters is creating feelings within my viewers, be it affection, love, awe, repulsion, emptiness, bravery, coziness, timelessness, intrigue, courage, freedom, oneness, or inspiration. While I may not identify it as such, each photo has one main emotion behind it, and sometimes a second one, which either complements the first or contrasts with it in an ironic way. This isn’t something you can purposely manufacture; I never even thought about it this way till I wrote this paragraph. It’s just there.

This means that photography falls on the right side of the brain. Emotions are more important than logic.

Pink and Purple Sunset 3

The sunset above doesn’t exist. The sky had the same colors and appearance, but it was much less brilliant. I emphasized the colors in Photoshop. You might be able to do the same thing with a polarizing filter or settings in-camera, but you’d always be creating something better than reality.

Most people, seeing this photo, either revise their model of reality to include the existence of sunsets like this (90%), or ask me if I manipulated the photo (10%). The last group I tell yes, so they can appreciate this sunset while knowing it isn’t ‘real’ (whatever that means).

If you act ashamed that you edit your photos a lot, your viewers will assume it’s a shameful thing. Don’t do that. I removed trees, houses, and streetlights in the sunset above, not because I wanted to, but because I had to. I’d always prefer just to take a new photo than to spot-edit an old photo, but this one was worth it.

Most of the time I do editing across the whole photo, like contrast, brightness, and color temperature. I’ll do localized dodging and burning (brightening and darkening), but I try to avoid spot editing, not for ethical concerns, but because I’m lazy. Spot editing is hard, and if I have to spot-edit a photo to take out power lines or trees, I may as well start over with a new photo.

Be insanely interesting

This picture makes no sense:

Night of Darkness

People love this when they see it, and even more so when I give out print copies. They’ll try to interpret all kinds of meanings into a solid black image, and just discussing it raises their personal awareness. Obviously it’s a picture of nothing (I left the lens cap on) but because I’ve gone through the effort (and possibly cost) of printing it, titling it (The Night of Eternal and Unrelenting Darkness), and giving it to someone, it must have meaning.

I’m actually having 100 printed out (I get them through thievery so it’s no big deal), one for each of my students in calculus and biology, and I bet it will be my most popular (at least most talked about) photo. The reason is that it’s insanely interesting. Nobody else does stuff like this (much less handing them out). If I posted to Facebook or deviantART or YouTube, it would probably be removed as pointless ‘spam’, merely because such originality scares the deletionists.

To be insanely interesting, you should create something from nothing. If everyone did this, it wouldn’t be interesting. Most people are very uncomfortable with this. They want to create something from something. This is because most people have a subconscious desire to be directed / told what to do. Personal development is all about flipping that on its head.

Being overly technical

What happens to a lot of students when they get into photography school? They start worrying about things like the golden triangle, film speed, the zone system, apertures, focal length, vignetting, the rule of thirds, sharpness, filters, white balance, color temperature, optical distortion, color calibration, sensor size, chromatic and spherical aberration, file formats, resolution, signal-to-noise ratio, refraction, demosaicing. The beautiful photographs on their walls are replaced by crazy formulas like (1 / f) = (n – 1) * ( (1 / R1) – (1 / R2) + ( ( (n – 1) * d) / (n * R1 * R2 ) ). They went to college because they had a talent for artistic photographs, but that talent totally disappears when they get there. They fail miserably. Grades are irrelevant; you’re failing with A’s if you’ve lost your heart.

Why does this happen? Because people naturally want to replace personal responsibility with assignments and directions. Instead of creating beautiful photographs, you create photographs that are beautiful according to other people, because you want to be told what to do. That’s why you went to school to begin with. No one forced you. Plenty of great photographers have never set foot in a school of photography.

I remember when the colors on my computer monitor started drifting, and my edits wouldn’t turn out right in any prints. They’d be close, but not perfect, and I couldn’t get the thing calibrated by eye because my eyes aren’t good enough. I took a whole month off searching for a cheap colorimeter and a dual-head video card to use with my new LCD monitor (which, incidentally, is no good for photo editing; I keep all editing to my bulky CRT). I did find one eventually, but I would’ve been better off working on new photos too, even if I had to go back over and re-edit them. When you get too caught up in technicalities, you produce no art. Technicality is all about perfection, but if you make perfection the goal, you’ll never get anywhere. You have to balance analysis with creativity.

Overly technical people get caught up in the things that ‘should’ look beautiful but simply don’t. Take a look at this rose:

Simplicity

Doesn’t it look nice, sublimely colorful, etc.? If a pink rose is pretty, an even pinker rose must be prettier, right? In fact, following the technical mindset to the extreme, beauty is proportional to color saturation. So this rose must be ten times more beautiful:

Simplicity overkill

Of course, it’s terribly ugly. A flower doesn’t become more beautiful when you dye its petals—in fact, it loses its beauty post-haste. But you’ll see stuff like the above in photographers’ portfolios. Usually, they’re either really new to photography, or they’ve been doing it for a long time but stagnating in technicalities.

The proper response to analytical photography is not analytical photography with intuition and creativity tacked on. It’s creatively intuitive photograph, tempered by technical analysis. That means that yes, it’s alright to purposely put your subject one-third into the frame (I do it all the time), but just don’t become too extreme regarding technicalities. When you break the rules, don’t even think about it. They’re not rules anyway.

Not being technical enough

You do have to be technical to a certain extent. You can’t leave everything up to chance, or put all your faith in your “eye” without learning a certain amount of technical concepts (exposure, f-stops, zooming, composition, shutter speed, grain, etc.). A great photo is no good badly exposed and printed.

Particularly in film photography, there is a lot of technical grunt work you must deal with by hand. You don’t want to use any old developer or fixer, and you should use a timer, a timing chart, measure the temperature of your chemicals, etc., because if you mess things up, you could end up with nothing, especially if any light gets to your negatives before you develop the latent images. Once you’re done with this process, enlarging the images isn’t so dangerous, but light-sensitive paper is still expensive, so a mistake might cost you 70 cents.

I prefer to just stick with digital photography. You have as much control in film photography, but you don’t have an “undo” button, and I can’t get by without that (yet). It’s like writing in pencil vs. writing in pen. Except digital cameras are a bit better than pencils.

Photographers vs. gear collectors

It’s okay to collect cameras, lenses, gadgets, and relics. But only if you’re going to use them to advance your photography hobby. If you’re not, be sure they’re really cheap, because a bunch of lenses do nothing for you if you can’t find the shutter button.

A lot of self-dubbed photographers don’t take pictures so much as they collect picture-taking gadgets. These people think about becoming real photographers occasionally, but then they get stuck in self-doubt.

These are the types of people who will put off photography for years waiting for the technology to get better. Things are getting cheaper all the time; that doesn’t mean you should stay out of digital photography forever. Buy a camera now and take a big ‘loss’ in a few years. It isn’t really a loss anyway, because nothing that lets you work on your art is a loss.

Also, these people will look back at what they did in the past with a cheap camera, wishing they could retro-actively change it to an expensive camera. You can’t go back and do that, and even if you could, you can’t improve by imitating your past work (tell that to Ketchup 2 and Ketchup 3).

Don’t collect gear. Use gear to take photos. Whatever camera you have now is good enough to do something good with. You just need some creativity, not more stuff.

Keep on snapping.

Transcending Limiting Beliefs

It’s a very scary thing when someone openly disproves your limiting beliefs. If you have empowering beliefs, being disproven is a triumph rather than an attack, because you’ve been given the easy opportunity to fine-tune your belief system, which can only lead to improving your self and your model of the world. But if your mind is holding you back, you’re highly afraid of breaking the chains. The three major reasons for this are:

1. If you’re disproven now, whose to say that you won’t be disproven again? If you switch from Catholicism to Protestantism, couldn’t what you really want be Unitarianism? If you disconnect yourself from your heart and intuition, you have no reason to ever change or grow. Depending on where you are in life, that could be much more comfortable than change.

2. Changing your beliefs invalidates your past. If you spend all your life buying groceries at the normal price, and then a spendthrift tips you off that you could easily pay half the price with judicious acquisition and use of coupons, what does that say about all the groceries you’ve already bought? If you accept your new couponing beliefs fully, you’re acknowledging that your previous shopping beliefs cost you thousands upon thousands of dollars. It could be much more comforting to simply block coupons from your reality.

3. Changing beliefs may conflict with your actions. If you don’t want to do what you’re doing, then you must either stop doing it, develop the want, or be a coward by doing what you don’t want. If you’re a lawyer now, and you find you can’t win a case without dishonesty, but you want to be honest, then you have to be a hypocrite, an unsuccessful lawyer, or an unemployed person. But if you continue believing dishonesty is okay, you don’t have to change at all. Only a change in your beliefs requires a change in your actions.

Defending a limiting belief

You can always pick out a person who has caged himself with limiting beliefs, because he reacts defensively when your actions or successes contradict his model of reality. If you’re an astronaut, and you tell a member of the Flat Earth Society that our planet is round, what can he do?

1. Ignore you. Pretend you don’t exist.
2. Call you a liar. You saw that the Earth is flat, but you just like to deceive others.
3. React defensively. The “are you calling me a liar?” response. Or maybe “this is none of your business; I don’t have to tell you anything!” Anyone who says this is subconsciously limiting himself. Accepting that hurts.
4. Accept your belief, but attribute it to confusion, misunderstanding or confirmation bias. You want to believe the Earth is ball-shaped. Subconsciously, you bend the truth to fit this desire.
5. Call you a lunatic. This is a more extreme version of the above. The Earth is flat, but you had a hallucination and saw it as round. Maybe you were on drugs?
6. Become a hypocrite. Acknowledge the photos of the round Earth, but continue to attend Flat Earth Society meetings and give out booklets. Believe in both a flat Earth and a round Earth, but flip between the two as convenient.
7. Extend the system to accommodate the new belief while supporting the old belief, even though they are inherently incompatible. “Backward compatibility,” if you will. The old belief is true in every instance except ____. Same as: the laws of physics apply to everyone except the Apollo crew.

Obviously, all of these are sub-optimal solutions. Fortunately, they give a clear indication of limiting beliefs. You can use this model to identify weak points in yourself and others.

For example, no one can tell me I’m not serious about photography or personal development, or that I don’t enjoy either of them. If someone says “you don’t look like you want to do this,” I’d have a good laugh about it, because it doesn’t shake my belief system at all. But if I really wasn’t enjoying photography, yet I was stuck in a college education + career of it, I might do something different. Instead of coming to terms with not being where I want, I’d deny it. If I did this, I’d probably respond with the “this is none of your business” tirade.

Really, there’s no reason to say “this is none of your business.” There’s no reason to prove the other person wrong either. Unlike a cinder block, words can only hurt you if you let them hurt you. Once you believe your emotions are the domain of others, you give up sovereignty over your life. You become a drone and a slave all at once.

Another example: “bad stuff is happening, so I should be upset” is quite a limiting belief. You’re only upset because you want to be upset. No matter what happens to you, you could remain happy if you consciously chose to, rather than being ruled by your subordinate subconscious.

Once you decouple your emotions from your circumstances, your mind becomes much clearer. While your environment continues to toss you about like the waves of the sea, you’re now floating smoothly above the water, like Jesus. Rather than changing your focus every day as friends and advertisers recommend, you may stay focused on the same project for weeks or months. You won’t multitask at all, and you’ll work much more efficiently because of it. I did this when I was coding the software for my public library, and although my focus has shifted to writing more articles like this rather than opening a public library, it’s only because I’ve identified this as more important. Nobody else can or should do that for me.

Once you separate your mind from your environment, you’ll gain determination like no other. Your friends will be envious. To help you, they’ll try to get you back on the track of limiting beliefs. They’ll tell you that you’re “obsessed.” Perhaps you even have ADD or ADHD. You should just be “normal.” It isn’t normal to start your own business, or to spend hours writing / composing / photography, or to not want a normal job, or to not see the value of college. Perhaps some Ritalin will help you?

I’d prefer determination any day.

Identifying limiting beliefs

“Trying is the first step towards failing.”

Homer Simpson

If “limiting belief” isn’t solid enough for you, reword it as “policy of defeatism.” The dictionary tells me that defeatism is the “acceptance of defeat without struggle.” That’s exactly what a limiting belief is. It makes you give up before you start.

Theoretically, this would be beneficial. If you try something and fail completely, wouldn’t it have been better to not have tried at all?

The problems with this are twofold: you can’t know if you’ll fail until you try, and you gain lots of experience from failure. Failure is good. I failed dozens of times in successfully labeling my photographic prints en masse, before I came up with the current laser printing method. I failed three times in naming this site while encountering logistical difficulties in fulfilling my dream. It was richardxthripp.com, then richardxthripp.richardxthripp.com, then richardxthripp.com/richardxthripp, and now richardxthripp.thripp.com, and rxthripp.com in print. When I started out, Thripp.com wasn’t even available because someone else had taken it. For a long time I thought I’d be at richardxthripp.richardxthripp.com forever, so after developing my laser printing method for labeling my 4×6 prints, I etched that address on the back of thousands of photos. I still haven’t finished giving them all out.

It took me years to conquer library science by coming up with a solid, consistent, effort-free way to assign file names to my photos. The way I do it is inconsistent with everything else I’ve read, because it completely defies logic to name your computer files arbitrarily, rather than with the subjects or people in them. So instead of flowers-and-sunshine-09-20-2008-0022.jpg, I have 20080920-132509rxt.jpg. It works better because I automate it, saving me lots of time. The only way to learn this was from repeated failures with logical taxonomy. What I really needed was illogical taxonomy, but I couldn’t have known that sans failure. I gave up time zones and Western date formatting in the process, two beliefs which seem very rational at first, but are in fact insanely limiting.

What is a limiting belief? Anything that includes “can’t” or “never” is suspect. Absolutes are always to be suspected. If you say that climbing a wall is absolutely impossible, that just means you’ve given up on climbing over it. You can still tunnel under it, walk around it, or buy an airplane and fly over it.

Before you can successfully identify limiting beliefs, you have to do two things: stop envisioning beliefs as fixed points, and stop believing that your beliefs define you. When you disconnect your ego from your beliefs, you can stop defining your persona in worldly terms, and start defining it in universal terms, such as service to humanity, justice, truth, love, etc.

I hear this one a lot: “I can’t do ____ because I don’t have the time.” I used to use it myself. The thing is, you have plenty of time. You have so much time you don’t know what to do with it all. I found plenty of time to write this article, even though I ‘should’ be studying or doing something ‘real.’ If you don’t have the time to do something, that means that thing isn’t important to you. We all have a list of priorities in our head built around a 60-hour day, and the stuff that gets done is (hopefully) at the top of the list. Only the stuff that can all fit in 24 hours. If you start at the bottom of the list, you’ll never get to the important stuff. Do the important stuff first, and you’ll find you have plenty of time—but no time for frivolous action. If you’ve fully optimized your time to the limit, you can move mountains in minutes. I’m nowhere near that, but the optimization process is more fun than the goal.

Limiting vs. empowering beliefs

This is a huge limiting belief millions of investors have:

“If you’re losing money in the stock market, don’t pull out. Your stocks will eventually go back up. If you pull out now, you’ll take a loss, but if you stick with it, you haven’t actually lost anything.”

Isn’t this absurd? It’s a hugely limiting belief. A loss is a loss; there are not two ways about it. If you’re personally developed, your losses become opportunities because you learn (and thus gain) from them, but that doesn’t change the fact that loss was the seed. Don’t gamblers have the same belief?

“I’ve lost my car and $8000 at the casino, but that’s alright. This means my luck is about to turn around and I’ll soon gain everything back.”

Of course, it doesn’t happen. If it does, the gambler thinks he’s on a “winning streak.” He continues gambling, soon losing it all again and far more. Once he starts on his chain of losses, he refuses to believe that he’s lost anything, until he has nothing left to gamble. He’s left with a rude awakening, thousands of lost dollars, and possibly a mountain of debt.

On the surface, “my luck is about to turn around” seems like an empowering belief, not a limiting one. Any belief rooted in success seems empowering, but in fact it has to be real, too. Saying “Tomorrow, I will succeed in writing fifty articles as in-depth and helpful as this one” could motivate me, but it would be short-lived because it’s impossible at my current skill level. It might not even be humanly possible (but be careful with that one). Believing I’ll write one good piece tomorrow is much more enabling.

The downfall of gamblers and investors stems from a shared limiting belief: “what goes down must come up.” Anything or anyone can go down and stay down. When you drop a brick from a tall building, it goes down, but it will never come back up on it’s own accord. When you burn down a man’s house and steal his car, he can return to material prosperity, but that doesn’t mean he “must.” A more true belief is “what goes up must come down.” That’s not a limiting belief, because it does nothing to limit you. The problem is that it is easily interpreted as the false, limiting belief, “any success will eventually be met with equal loss or failure.” You could justify this limiting belief as in “we all die,” but just because you die doesn’t mean you failed at life. If you believe that, change it to the belief that you’ve succeeded and that everyone else who dies has succeeded with you. As long as they loved living, it’s true, even if they didn’t aspire to benefit all humanity.

The profit police and the zero-sum game

Five years ago I had an aversion to advertising and profit in general. Money is evil, making money is tacky, look how annoying advertising is, etc. We get annoying telemarketing calls all the time. Wouldn’t it be better if the government banned all forms of advertising and self-promotion? Then the world would be fair.

I was stuck in the zero-sum mindset, which means that every gain must result in an equal and opposite loss. When you gain possessions, other people lose possessions. When you eat dinner, you’re making other people starve. Talk about a hugely limiting belief!

Teenagers and twenty-somethings are moochers in general. They love Karl Marx and communism, because they haven’t contributed anything to the world, they don’t own property, and they’d like to keep mooching. Communism represents the best system to them, because it gives them wealth where they deserve nothing. Doesn’t something for nothing sound nice?

The problem is that these young folks justify averting personal success. They say that if they succeed, others fail. That’s bogus. When you make money, you’re contributing more to the world than you could even contribute by not making money. Non-profit is B.S., and the motives of any “non-profit” corporation should be questioned. It’s hard for me to even trust a website that doesn’t have advertising or a donations page. How is the owner supporting himself? Is he a thief? He subsidizes his website with thievery, right? How could I spend the time to do all this work to help others, but not expect to make lots of money from it? The only way to help others is to make money.

When any person or organization claims to be “non-profit” and has no visible means of life support, be suspicious. Be very suspicious. The owners are probably laundering drug money.

The profit police are against your success. If you hold disdain for the success of others, in any form, consciously or unconsciously, you’re part of the scoundrels known as the profit police. Kill this limiting belief today. The success of others represents the success of you, because it is the success of humanity in general.

Communism now hides under the guise of environmentalism. We’re killing mother Earth by living here. We don’t deserve this planet. The world would be better off if were were all dead.

Have you noticed that nature is more fertile and magnificent than ever? The air, water, and land is cleaner than it has ever been in history. My Grandma grew up around the steel mills in Pittsburgh. She’d have a layer of soot on her face just from walking to school. Not so anymore. Steel mills have been greatly refined. They put out much less smoke. All the “problems” we’re causing are actually non-problems, because they don’t exist. But even if they were problems, we could use technology and our human ingenuity to solve them.

Global warming is also a myth, designed to take away your cars and freedom. There’s so much oil on this planet, we could go 10,000 more years without exhausting it. We have tonnes of it in Alaska and the mid-west, which our government refuses to use. I remember the Florida summers all the way back to 1995. They were just as hot as 2008. Our carbon emissions are 2% of what Earth’s volcanoes put out. Are we really pompous enough to believe that we can kill the environment? How dare we disrespect nature by openly denying her resilience?

Economic and philosophic capitalism, unbridled by any more than a base-level concern for the environment or the welfare of others, is the most perfect and empowering belief system in the world. If just the United States alone would return to capitalism, we would experience prosperity greater than the rest of the world combined. Can you imagine a country with no empire, no government schools, libraries, hospitals, welfare, no illegal drugs, no income (slave) taxes? We’d still have (privately contracted) public roads and police to keep the peace, but taxes would only need to be 1%. Large businesses could not trample their employees, because small businesses would flourish with the removal of crippling regulation. Private charities could provide social welfare to every person in the world if they so chose. Money would be backed by gold, controlled by Congress and Congress alone. In court, a free-minded jury of 12 of your neighbors and peers would unanimously decide not your guilt, but whether you deserve punishment. They would also unanimously decide your punishment. If they could not reach a unanimous decision, then obviously removing you from the streets is not a priority for them, so you would go free.

Before you can start the revolution in our government, you have to start the revolution in your life. Let go of these limiting beliefs about mankind, the environment, and success in general. Stop profit policing. Embrace the success and profits of others as your own, and encourage them in all their worthy self-promotion. Read my article from 2008 March, The Profit Police and How They Kill Everyone, for further analysis.

The major belief systems

I’m going to categorize every mind in the world into four categories:

1. Rational positivity.
These people make sense. Think John Locke. They believe in the natural goodness of man and the world. When bad things happen, they know they’ll be able to turn things around, and when they’re enjoying unbounded health, they know they’ll get sick eventually. It doesn’t matter that bad things may happen in the future, because the future isn’t now.

2. Rational negativity.
This people still make sense, but they are pessimists. Think Thomas Hobbes. They believe in the natural badness of man and the world. If a rational negativist left his wallet at the post office, he wouldn’t even go back to look for it because he’d assume the first person who found it would take it for himself. Then, he’d attribute the loss of his wallet to the greed inherent in mankind.

3. Irrational positivity.
These people are on crack. They’re overly happy for no apparent reason. This is good occasionally, but not all the time. You can’t spend all your time in state 3; you have to go back to 2 and 1, and possibly even 4 occasionally.

4. Irrational negativity.
These people were on crack. Now they quit and their brains are messed up. The constantly suicidal fit in this group. People who have really been holding themselves back with limiting beliefs fit in this group. The amount of negativity is equal to the magnitude of the limiting beliefs multiplied by the amount of time they’ve been subjecting themselves to them.

People don’t fit neatly into one of these four categories, but most people are not equally split between them either. You can change your category from day to day or minute to minute. But when you do this, your life feels muddled and unfocused. It’s best to stick with one, regardless of choice. Thieves might stick with #2 and then rationalize it with stuff like “it’s alright, because the people I steal from are free to steal from others too.” I prefer rational positivity, because it’s the most human.

The greatest limiting belief of all

The biggest limiting belief ever, alongside profit policing, is:

“Comfort requires permanence.”

We’ve been told by others to not like change. Don’t bother with relationships that won’t last, find a job that you can never be fired from. A lot of religious folks take this to the highest extreme, by completely squandering this life in the name of the eternal afterlife. They don’t actually do anything good for anyone here, because they’re too busy living in the future.

“How can you enjoy living on Earth when everything is going to die and fade away,” Christians ask. The truth is, that’s the only reason to enjoy living here. There would be no opportunity for personal growth if everything is permanent, just as there will be no opportunity for personal growth in heaven if it is as described in the Bible. The Bible explains heaven and the hierarchy of angels / Jesus / God in too human terms. If it’s going to work, it’s going to be totally different from what we know, and there will be no need for a pecking order.

In life, the only thing you can be sure of is change. Instead of suppressing your dislike of change, actively replace it with a love for uncertainty. You don’t have to be “best friends forever” to enjoy a friendship. In fact, 90% of the people I know now, I won’t have any connection with in ten years. My current friends and contacts will move away or change careers, and it will be time for us to form and recognize new relationships. When I graduate from Daytona State College next spring, I’m going to be around college students a lot less because I won’t be in college. I’ll still be taking courses online at Florida State University. Rather than mourning the end of the first phase of college, I’m happily anticipating starting on my Bachelor’s degree with math and computer-related courses. My Dad won’t have to drive me to school every day. Perhaps I’ll even be able to afford a vehicle of my own by then.

When I was fired from my job at the local library, I lost a lot of friends. I haven’t been in touch with my cohorts in a couple months, and I’ve been bumping into friends and patrons less often. It’s no loss for me, because they’re still all my friends. There exists an underlying connectedness between us that transcends the boundaries of spacetime. In fact, meeting up with these people several years down the road will be far more interesting, because we’ll have a ton of growth and new experiences to share all at once. You can never really get a birds-eye view of someone if you’re around him all the time.

Change is good. Uncertainty is good, because it pushes you to progress efficiently. You don’t know how much ground you must cover, so you do as much as you can rather than the minimum required. If you could know that you’ll live forever, you probably wouldn’t make progress in personal growth, because you’d put it off indefinitely.

Reframing limitless beliefs

“I can always be happy” sounds enabling, but it’s actually limiting. All limitless beliefs in the physical realm are limiting, because the physical world is always bounded by limits. It’s inescapable.

Your mind can go anywhere, but your body cannot. But do not despair. The difference between your potential and your present state is so great that you could spend your whole life working yet never reach the limits of your potential. I’ve never fully exhausted my mind, strength, or even my bank account. And if I did, I could always take a break and recover for a while.

Most limitless beliefs are rooted in permanence, which doesn’t exist. Don’t believe that you’ll be dedicated to any particular trade, cause, or lover forever. Don’t believe that you can live without experiencing pain, or sadness, or suffering. If you’re not suffering now, then you’re not suffering, period. Don’t live in the future.

Replacing limiting beliefs

Replacing a limiting belief normally requires a substantial change in action, in addition to a new mindset. Whenever you change your actions, family and friends will discourage you. Family members often discourage you more, because they’re quite attached to your current behavior. They don’t want to see you change, even if it’s for the better. Your improvements remind them that they can be improving, and if they’ve forsaken personal growth, then that is a scary realization.

While you can evaluate beliefs without trying them, it doesn’t work effectively. You can only effectively evaluate a belief by fully committing to it, for a time. In the same manner, you can’t be sure you’ve picked the right career until you are past the point of no return. Then you’ll find that the “point of no return” doesn’t actually exist. You can always return. It just costs you a lot of time and effort. That’s better than sticking with the wrong choice for life, just as it is better to change beliefs rather than to limit yourself forever, even if the initial change is very costly.

I used to believe that writing and photography were unrealistic careers. The best thing for me would be to find a ‘stable’ job I enjoyed moderately, while doing what I really love on the side, after 5 P.M. My passions would become “hobbies.” That’s why I was planning a career in librarianship. It seemed like something that wasn’t going away, and other people would think I was normal.

I started to feel out of sync with this belief around the fall of last year, but I didn’t let it bother me at first. I started researching the history of libraries and library software, and I found there was a lot of interesting concepts from computer science that cross over into library science (taxonomy, schemas, sorting, search algorithms, tries, etc.). That should be enough to keep me interested in the subject, I thought. Of course it wasn’t, because if it was I wouldn’t have to rationalize my choice anyway. I’d know it intuitively.

I didn’t actually change until my environment changed; I was fired. The problem with librarianship isn’t the details of the field, so much as the concept of working for others. Soulless non-innovators can get by fine, because everyone in the chain of command is a non-innovator, by choice or by force. Soulful innovators like myself don’t do well, because we reject the confines of mediocrity, which is frightening. You can’t have people like me bringing high awareness to my coworkers. We might revolt.

By letting go of limiting beliefs about work and purpose in general, I’ve gone much further in three months than I did in three years before. Writing stuff like this is a lot more important than doing stuff like that. Even if this remained an entry in my private journal, it would still be worth it because I’ve learned so much just from writing it.

My family and friends were shocked when I gave up librarianship, especially because at the time, I’d formulated no alternatives. People were also shocked when I started my own website, and when I transitioned away from piano and music toward photography in 2005-2007. When I started exploring personal development three months ago, many people wanted me to just stick with photography, because that’s what they were comfortable with. I could take all these social cues literally by not changing, but in reality, when people are against you changing, you should plow ahead. Any social resistance is a cue to push forward. You may think you’re pleasing others by doing what they say, but they don’t want you to do what they say anyway, because if they did, you wouldn’t be interesting or human.

No one can tell you what you can’t do. Only you can.