For Love of Copyright

One of the things many artists are concerned with is making sure no one else makes money off their work besides them. These are the people who put giant watermarks on their photos, disable right-clicking on their websites, put up pay-walls on their newspapers, make “all rights reserved” a mantra, and think the Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects publishers.

Some of these artists become so concerned with protecting their copyrights that they endeavor to single-handedly control their outflow of information. These are the people who constantly search Google for their name and trademarks and complain if anyone else is using them, even if their work is being republished for free.

In truth, it’s much more likely that 100 years from now, all you creations will be completely forgotten rather than preserved. It’s much better to disseminate your paintings, or photography, or compositions as widely as possible and get them into as many hands as possible and onto as many computer systems as possible to prevent their dissolution and perpetuate their existence.

Furthermore, having your work seen by one person it profoundly and positively influences is better than having it seen by a million people who don’t take more than passing notice of it. To increase your chances of having your work seen and used by as many growth-oriented people as possible (as opposed to people who just want to use your work for negative self-interest, i.e. claim it as their own or steal it), you should distribute your work along as many channels and through as many mediums as reasonably possible. Obviously, it’s not a good idea to spend all your money or time on this, and you should try to make money on your work to support your life, but there is a balance between being over-protective and under-protective that can be reached through moderation.

When someone steals your work and makes money off it, it’s easy to hunt them down and punish them, but I would just post a notice on my blog about it and move on, continuing to create new and better work. Of course, it would only be worth posting such a notice if the thievery was at a higher profile than my current operations.

A great way to pass down your work to the next generation is to make a hard-cover book of it, and then maybe print 50,000 copies and sell them or otherwise distribute them. People tend to value books far more than magazines, and hard-cover books far more than paperbacks. Even if the material in the book is incoherent, and sometimes, especially if the material in the book is incoherent, it will be retained as some sort of collector’s item. On the flip-side, textbooks tend to be worth $200 until the next edition is released, and then $0.02 from that point on.

Another good way to pass down your work is to get some good CD-Rs or DVD-Rs or DVD+Rs from Japan, a good CD/DVD burner, and then burn 737MB or 4.7GB of data to said disc, put it in a jewel case, label it with a black Sharpie, and then hide it in a friend or family member’s house. Also, please note that the 700MB that fit on data CDs is actually 703MiB, and in decimal megabytes (10^6) instead of binary megabytes (2^20) that is 737MB, but the 4.7 gigabytes on data DVDs are decimal gigabytes (10^9) and said discs hold about 4.38GiB. Also note that all optical discs are recorded in a spiral track from the inside out, as opposed to vinyl records which are recorded from the outside in, so you should be more wary of data recorded near the outside edge of the disc because it may be rendered unreadable by people who don’t handle discs by the edges but instead grip them like a credit card.

Similarly, perfect-bound books tend to be vulnerable to the glue in the binding being eaten by cockroaches and then large clumps of pages falling out, so spiral bounding may be a better option. However, none of this is an option if you are a believer in the occult (hidden knowledge), because then you believe the knowledge itself has value and should be hidden from other people, whereas in truth knowledge is not intrinsically valuable but the thought processes that lead to knowledge are intrinsically valuable, and those are distinct to you and evolve over the span of your life depending on whether you get bogged down in details or attack life at a higher level.

Belief in the occult leads you down the closed-source distribution model, with Draconian penalties for reverse-engineering, because it leads you down the path of fear and mistrust of other humans’ motives. Absence of belief in the occult leads you down the open-source distribution model, with reverse-engineering not even being required, because it leads you down the path of love and trust of other humans’ motives. Granted, there may be a small percentage of sociopaths who have no conscience and act accordingly, but they must be dismissed as an acceptable liability.

Copyright is a tool that gives you the exclusive right to generate copies of your work and forbids other people from doing the same, but is that what you want? Personally, I would prefer to out-source the copying of my work to other people, to free up more time for me to create more work.

Attacking Abortion

Fetuses are an easy mark to kill, because they can’t fight back. If each fetus was equipped with sharp teeth and snake venom to bite and kill the doctor while being aborted, it’s very likely that abortion would end, because doctors would be unwilling to perform them due to the immense danger involved.

Abortion is not a problem that can be solved at the same level at which it was created. All societies degenerate into slaughtering innocents sooner or later, but few institutionalize it, besides gladiatorial combat, witch hunts, sacrificing maidens to volcanoes, capital punishment for illegal drugs, and abortion in modern nations.

Abortion fits well into the Satanic agenda, because it sets a precedent for corrupt beliefs in individual lives. If you, a friend, or a family member has had an abortion, you may believe that infanticide is justified in certain situations, and that these women should not feel guilty. To form divisions, you may complain about women (the “others”) who “abuse” abortion as a form of birth control, instead of only undertaking it with a heavy heart. Instead of protesting the doctors who perform abortions, you may justify it by claiming they are only doing their jobs. That didn’t work for the Schutzstaffel officers in the post-World War II trials, so it shouldn’t work for hypocritical doctors in 2011.

In the same vein, pro-choice advocates refer to pregnant women as “women” instead of “mothers,” because they have to keep up the charade that the humans mothers are carrying in their wombs are no better than goiters or cancerous tumors. Mothers who abort their baby and then go on to have more babies will teach their unaborted children that the child(ren) they aborted would have had unhappy lives because of some reason or combination of reasons, i.e. she was working on her career, going to college, the father ran off, the baby wouldn’t have been loved, she wasn’t emotionally ready for motherhood, she didn’t have a job, there was no money, or she didn’t want to have a “welfare baby.” Then, her unaborted children will grow up and either 1.) carry the same belief with them to justify their mother’s abortion; 2.) carry the same belief justified by the Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton argument (“pro death”); 3.) become staunchly pro-life (“anti choice”); 4.) adopt some middle ground to explain the past and guide the future, i.e. be pro-life but say their mom made a mistake, or adopt situational ethics (kill babies during an economic recession and choose life during boom times).

Just because a child takes 9 months to be born and 18 years to grow up does not mean that is not a worthy investment. Even from a utilitarian viewpoint, we need more humans to continue the American way of life, to invent new technologies, to build new machines, to create new art, and to develop new philosophies. And from a human perspective, we should all be able to imagine what would have happened if our mothers would have aborted us in the womb — instead of being alive on the earth, there would be the emptiness of no earthly existence whatsoever. Fetuses are not supposed to be slaves, no more than the black people were supposed to be slaves to the white people before the 20th century.

The Bible says “God created man [men and women] in his own image” (Genesis 1:27), and said to us, “be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and the fowl [birds] of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28). It does NOT say “reduce your numbers,” “engage in homosexual relations to avoid having children,” or “implement policies of zero population growth once the population reaches 7 billion” (or 500 million, or whatever number).

In ejaculation, up to 500 million mobile spermatozoa are released in a solution of semen to reach the fallopian tubes through the birth canal and eat through the jelly-like matrix (ovum coat) around the unfertilized egg (ovum). One spermatozoon implants itself, creating a zygote (fertilized egg), which moves down through a fallopian tube by the beating of cilia and implants itself in the lining of the uterus to grow like a cancer for 9 months, creating a baby. In dogs, 39 male chromosomes combine with 39 female chromosomes, creating the seed for a puppy with 78 chromosomes. In humans, 23 male chromosomes combine with 23 female chromosomes (or 24 in trisomy-21, a.k.a. Down syndrome) to create the seed (zygote) for a baby with (hopefully) 46 chromosomes.

If you believe that a zygote or fetus has no value because it has only the potential for human life, just as each spermatozoon has only the potential for human life (when combined with an ovum), try disturbing a nest of sea turtle or eagle eggs. Then, you will see that the State cares more about an endangered species than humanity, because the State believes that we are too plentiful and need to be expunged.

Every breath you exhale increases the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but every breath that plants and the oceans (71% of the earth by land area) inhale decreases the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Plants and the ocean also create or help to create oxygen. Just because half the world is dying of starvation does not mean that you should not have children if you are living in a first-world country. It’s natural to want to have a family and have children, not out of selfishness, but out of both selfishness and selflessness simultaneously. If you believe life is beautiful, you are being selfless by having children, and if you believe life is decadent, you are being selfish by having children, but the truth is there are elements of good and elements of evil in the world, but we have to take the good with the bad. The worst option is not to fight.

Though nature may beseech us with hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and volcanoes, the reality is this is OUR PLANET, belonging to God first, humans second, and all other organisms and forces a distant third. We have the right to have children.

Review of “9 Steps to Work Less” by Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins' Book

9 Steps to Work Less and Do More serves up hundreds of practical suggestions. Robbins gives you advice on everything—from how to leave a voicemail to how many umbrellas you should own (pg. 150). After reading “always leave your phone number twice” and “speak slowly and clearly” (64-65), I knew Stever was being really thorough.

Why is it 9 steps? I really don’t know. 10 is a more popular number. 7 is a lucky number. Stever Get-It-Done Guy Robbins could even have called it “12 Steps for Workaholics,” but it’s been done before.

If you’ve read other books on time management or personal growth, there isn’t much new material here. This book may be a waste of time for anyone but the casually committed, because only they are likely to find new advice here. But, considering I was provided this review copy for free and never heard of Robbins before being contacted by his secretary, I should not be so harsh. “9 Steps” is a nice read with good tips. Stever also has a good sense of humor which you will find on every page of the book. I was more anxious to write this review than to actually read the book, but had I picked this up several years ago, before discovering personal development, I would have been engrossed.

“Stever Robbins” is a weird name. Everyone who reads it thinks “Steven” has been misprinted. “Robbins” as in Tony Robbins? I thought this was a pen name at first.

I started reading this book six weeks ago, and after 40 pages I quit and lost interest. I stopped reading on “daily action packs” in the procrastination chapter. However, I do need to write this review eventually, so I’m just going on what I read and skimming through the rest. This review is going to be short.

PAGE 69: Just ignore it: “Another way to deal with a full inbox? Ignore it.” — Stever has a lot of guts to say this, and he’s right. Most email should just be archived because it never needs a reply.

PAGE 77: Example of a bad email: “We need to gather all the articles by February 1st. Speaking of which, I was thinking… do you think we should fire Sandy?” — This is an awesome example of a bad email. I might have to use this myself.

PAGE 86: Learning how to say no: “Too many yeses overcommit us.” — This is also awesome. I can’t believe St. Martin’s Griffin let Stever use “yeses.”

PAGE 90: “Stop multitasking and start focusing.” I like this advice. More often than not, writers tell you to develop your multitasking skills, when in truth, you should develop your monotasking skills. Do one thing at a time, and do it well.

PAGE 101: “A Sample Stever week.” This is a wonderful chart, and very simple. I like “Tuesday: 2 PM – 6 PM: write.” Only Stever could write for four hours non-stop. I find myself taking breaks every fifteen minutes.

PAGE 110: “When in doubt, throw it away.” I’m starting to do this all the time. When I’m done reading a magazine or a letter, I burn it. No reason to let it laze around the house.

PAGE 120: “Someday when I can afford an entourage, I’ll have a perky assistant named Okra who will keep track of everything for me. Until then, I use crutches to manage the complexities of twentieth-century life.” Sure, assistants are sexy, but 20th century life? Don’t you mean 21st century life, Stever? Perhaps you count from zero, or maybe this book was written in 1999?

PAGE 131: “The best ideas happen in the shower, because your brain is built to think when you’re doing something else.” This is why going for walks, playing music, and washing the dishes are such great hobbies. Whenever I’m stuck writing or programming, I find inspiration by setting the project aside for a while.

PAGE 143: “Movies the group absolutely does not want to see: Starring anyone whose last name is the name of a hotel chain.” But Paris Hilton is such a fine actor! I laughed at this joke.

PAGE 153: “Settle for ‘good enough” rather than wasting time on unnecessary perfection.” This is so true. Nobody cares how perfect your work is anyway. Most people don’t even examine it closely. Cutting corners is the best policy.

PAGE 166: “TIP: Hold an anteater by the hindquarters when combing its snout. KEYWORDS: anteater, comb, grooming, snout, thumb-reattachment incident.” Anteaters are so vicious…

PAGE 179: “Cut out the small talk. Let’s face it: we don’t have time for superficial relationships.” I disagree, small talk is the foundation of human relationships. As Data on Star Trek TNG noted, it fills awkward conversational gaps and aids in human bonding.

PAGE 195: “Get on someone’s radar screen by having frequent, though not necessarily lengthy or deep, contact.” Do you mean small talk, Stever? I thought you hate small talk? Perhaps you are confused.

PAGE 206: “Access to people is valuable…” This is so true. You can’t make babies alone.

PAGE 216: “Come visit me on the Web at…” — He wanted to say “it’s ten times better than!”

PAGE 218: “ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Case Princes provided his apartment and his computer with amazing 2560×1600 monitor.” I love big monitors too. I have a Samsung 24″ widescreen LCD with 1920×1200 pixels. But 2560×1600 doesn’t actually tell us anything. The monitor could be a 19″ CRT with the resolution set extremely high. Please consider these technicalities in your next book!

If you wanted a proper review, I don’t have one. I’m just passing off a bunch of scribbled notes as a review. Now go buy this 5-star book. I know it’s only been two months, but we are expecting many more books from you, Stever!

Creation vs. Promotion

Do you spend more time creating things or promoting things you’ve already created? Musicians who spend two years touring with the same album are clearly focused on promotion, whereas musicians who release four albums a year to little fanfare are focused on creation. Some authors have written thirty books but can’t get even one published, while others have one best-seller they spend all their time promoting.

Promotion gets your art out to more people―creation allows you to have art in the first place. You can spend all your time and money promoting other peoples creations―i.e. Google, Facebook, The Beatles, or Sony―or you can spend your resources promoting your own creations while enjoying the creations of others only as a customer. You can live life as a starving artist who toils into the night but never achieves recognition, or you can be a salesman who sells his paintings on everything from welcome mats to toilet seat covers. You can advertise yourself aggressively while creating very little, or you can create a lot but not advertise your creations. At one extreme, you can create works that are completely original―at the other, you can produce works that are completely derived from the creations of others. You can even choose to create and promote nothing at all, instead working at a menial job for most of your life. You may be contributing more value to the world as a worker than as an artist, because the world has too many wannabee artists already.

I am a photographer and writer, but I spend most of my time creating. Sure, I send out emails, tweets, and status updates about my new creations, but I don’t spend much time or money promoting myself. I don’t take clients or work for hire. I don’t even have a tangible product, besides a few framed photos and a whole lot of 4×6 snapshots. My main source of revenue is Google AdSense, and that only generates about $60 per month on this website. In light of this, I definitely need to spend more time on promotion and less time on creation. Though I have hundreds of pages, 21% of my visitors leave my website immediately after viewing one page. I rarely get more than 10 comments per week, and emails come once in a blue moon. However, I am confident I am a good photographer and could be famous if I worked tirelessly for many years at promoting myself.

If you focus on promotion, you appeal to casual fans while boring your loyal fans. If you advertise your ebook or products in every email or blog post, you attract people who don’t read most of your material, but you annoy people who read and re-read everything you write. Conversely, if you focus on creation, your loyal fans are happy but your casual fans feel overwhelmed. Often, they don’t even know where to start when picking up one of your creations, be it a book, magazine, newsletter, or website.

The key to unlocking your life’s dreams is in balancing not only creation and promotion, but your image as an advertiser and your image as a creative artist. If you do consulting to help people increase sales and web traffic, you should promote yourself as an advertiser to that demographic. If you sell original works to art enthusiasts, you should promote yourself as a counter-culture creative genius to that demographic. If you have to target two contrary demographics at once, you should balance your persona.

While it may sound like you have to promote your creations and create things for your promotion, in fact you can choose one and out-source the other. Basically, this is called “getting an agent” or “becoming an agent.” Singers, actors, writers, and even successful artists have agents to promote their work, negotiate contracts, and protect their interests. If you’re more interested in being the rock that supports someone else, you can become an agent. Then, you focus on promotion and let someone else do the creating. There is often more money in being an agent than in being an artist.

Google and Facebook are companies that focus heavily on promotion. While they create original algorithms and maintain vast networks to serve up content, the content is almost always created by others. Google spends most of its resources indexing and retrieving foreign web pages and emails. Google Adwords is all about advertising the creations of others and collecting a commission, be it 100% on search results or 32% on AdSense publishers. Facebook mines your personal information, habits, and secrets to sell them to advertisers. Both companies are agents focusing on promotion. An advertising agency is also a good example, but many agencies do original design for hire, which is more creative.

Companies that focus heavily on creation are largely partnerships or sole proprietorship. Any company larger than that invariably has secretaries, accountants, lawyers, and other officers who only perform “meta” tasks―tasks that are essential to keeping the company running, but are not its core mission. For example, shooting and editing photos, burning CDs, and printing are primary tasks in a photography studio―distributing the photos, scheduling appointments, finding new clients, and filing tax returns are secondary, “meta” tasks. Most companies have more employees working on secondary tasks than primary tasks, but they are paid less.

Whenever you have writer’s block, composer’s block, or whatever-block, you are in a great position to focus on promoting your old work. Conversely, you do not want to be interrupted by secondary tasks when creative inspiration strikes. For this reason, it is important to maintain flexibility in your schedule, rather than trying to divide creative tasks and promotional tasks into hourly blocks.

Creative artists are afraid of being judged as losers who never succeed in life. Promotional artists are afraid of being judged as “sell-outs” who value dollars over art. Many people want to be pursuing something creative such as photography, writing, drawing, music, psychology, or dancing, but instead choose to major in something “practical” like nursing or business administration. Other people enjoy accounting or secretaryship but worry about being forgotten in death. If you are in either group, you will not find happiness outside of a radical life change or black-swan event.

Human Potential

It’s safe to say that we are the premier creature of the planet Earth. No other species has the power to influence the planet as we do. Only humans can reason, philosophize, be religious, and leave legacies.

However, there is a growing movement that wishes to relegate humans to the company of apes, sharks, and other simple creatures. Even worse, we are depicted as a plague which must be eliminated to preserve the harmony of the planet. Schoolbooks dwell on the damage we cause to the rainforests, oceans, the atmosphere, and endangered species. College professors embrace atheism, the doctrine that we are the supreme beings of the universe. Paradoxically, atheism simultaneously places humanity on a pedestal and in a pit. If there is no God, then naturally man is very important, but man is also very meaningless, because we came from the same place as ants and microbes. Thus, there is no morality or higher purpose to the human experience. You should lie, cheat, and steal if you can get away with it, and the only thing you should fear is human punishment. Obviously, this is a hedonistic belief, and all hedonistic beliefs are also limiting beliefs which stifle your potential.

Unfortunately, “personal development” as a philosophy will always be associated with the “New Age” movement. This religion (and it is a religion) recognizes neither an all-powerful God nor the absence of divinity, instead embracing a no-man’s land of spirituality without substance. Prayer is replaced with yoga. “God” is replaced with “source,” and your connection to God is your “connection to source.” The Bible is replaced with The Da Vinci Code and The Matrix trilogy. Unlike atheism, which appeals to twenty-something liberal arts students who have no income or property and mooch off their parents, the New Age movement appeals to childless women in their late 30s and early 40s, and possibly gay men. The New Age movement embraces astrology, teleology, sun-worship, witchcraft, and the worship of animals. In many ways, it’s even more pathetic than atheism.

While practicing a traditional religion such as Christianity, Hinduism, or Islam is at a higher level than atheism or faux spirituality, religion always limits your potential by answering questions that are unanswerable. How do you reconcile the Pyramids and the existence of space aliens if God created us in his image? Are we one of many experiments? Can you really know if God exists for sure? Everyone has ghosts in their lives, so you cannot deny the existence of the metaphysical realm, but the belief in an all-powerful being who pulls the strings cannot be substantiated. Therefore, the most potent humans believe that they do not know the answer. It is very difficult to live with unanswered questions, but only highly developed people can accept that some paradoxes can never be resolved.

Humans have the most potential when they leave the most doors open. If you pigeon-hole yourself into a religion, race, nationality, or belief system, you close many doors for no good reason. Adopting a multi-paradigm perspective is always better than living with a narrow mind. Our allegiance should be to the truth first. God, nation, and family come second. If you find that your family members are marauders, your nation commits genocide, and your God is Molech, do you still remain committed to them? Of course not—your reject them and find a different God, nation, and family who are not evil. Fanaticism destroys your potential, because it forbids you from negotiating with the opposition. Entrenched beliefs may be good for a civil servant, but they are the antithesis of a human being with high potential.

Are you fulfilling your human potential? What beliefs are holding you back? What people should you cut out of your life? Whom should you spend more time with? Are you living your best life now? Or are you waiting for something or someone who will never come?

17 Lessons from 17 Years

This is my first post as a 17 year old. The pivotal birthday was 2008 August 17, a Sunday. My youth is just slipping away. :grin: I’ve written this list of seventeen things I’ve learned over the years.

1. Passion is fleeting.

I used to be fascinated with the color blue. Then when I was 6 I switched to red. Around 14 I switched back to blue again. Now I’m starting to like green (notice my website’s colors?).

Don’t count on being dedicated to writing, piano, blogging, or photography all your life. Don’t root yourself in material mediums, because it doesn’t matter what you do. What matters is how you do it, or more clearly, what purpose it is for. My purpose is to courageously inspire and facilitate the worthy endeavors of others. I’m going to have to polish that up into a mission statement someday, but it’s a good place to start. I can look at anything I do and ask “is this doing that?” If it’s not, I drop it.

2. Be humble, not because it’s safe, but because it’s courageous.

It takes courage to admit ignorance, and you will never know everything, so you should always have humility. Even if you could know everything, you should stay humble because arrogance is bad form. Let your brilliance be self-evident in your projects and by the voices of others. Oh yes, I completely contradicted this when I named my blog “Brilliant Photography.” But I remain humble in my writings (smack me upside the head if I don’t).

Don’t be humble out of fear. You know someone is humble out of fear because he abandons his humility as soon as he becomes rich or famous or college-educated. A man who is humble for safety transforms into an evil monster once he believes he is in a position of unassailable authority.

3. Do good always.

Dedicate your life to the service of others rather than the acquisition of widgets. When you’re friends obsess over the collection of widgets, turn them to the side of light which involves abandoning the love of widgets. You need widgets, but only to help you to do good. Just like a need a camera for my photography, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to dedicate my life to the collection of expensive lenses.

Doing good always has lots of perks. When you do evil you have to slyly connive good people into helping you. You have to convince them that you’re doing good. It’s hard to manage. You may have to keep two sets of books, two websites, two mission statements, and a disguise, and if anyone finds out you’re behind the evil deeds, they’ll leave you if they’re good. But if you’re doing good to start with, you don’t have to hide in the shadows.

4. Be selfish sometimes.

But only when it facilitates you to do more good for others. I could go out and give my computer to a bum who would really make good use of it. But then I wouldn’t be able to do good for others with the computer, like what I’m writing here. If you give up every resource you have for the benefit of others, you’re on the wrong path entirely. From a pragmatic stance you’re being selfish, because you’re crippling your capability to help others by giving up all your tools now. You may as well donate both of your kidneys to charity. :grin:

5. Live beneath your means.

It isn’t reasonable to buy a million dollar house if you earn $50,000 per year, even if you can pay the mortgage each month. Even if you have been saving money for decades, it still isn’t reasonable because of the tremendous property taxes and maintenance costs. If you’re working at a normal job, and losing that job means you lose your house, you’ve sold a piece of yourself. You have to put up with flak and you’re living for others. Even a dumb 17 year old can see this is a bad idea. So if you are going to be an employee, make twice what you need and have a year’s salary in the bank. Then you don’t have to fear walking away.

6. Eliminate negativity from your life.

I did this passively when I was fired from my job. I was planning on hanging on there forever if not for the sudden firing, despite it being pointless except for the occasional paychecks. It’s better to take the initiative and eliminate negativity from your life, rather than waiting for negativity to eliminate you from its life. But when you recognize negativity that left on its own accord, you gain the power to courageously pick the higher path in the future, which is to take the initiative yourself. This means if you have a friend who is constantly asking you which hair curlers to buy, and she refuses to stop despite your prodding, tell her it’s over because of the hair curlers. Or, even better, write an article about it on your blog and then share it with her, so you’re contributing to a wider audience who wants to benefit from your expertise on hair curlers.

7. Put inspiration first.

It’s okay to focus on little details to make part of your life perfect. I’ve been doing a ton of that in the last week at, which is why you haven’t heard much for me. But only focus on the details when you don’t have the motivation to work on the big picture. Inspiration strikes randomly, so be sure not to reject it for trivia. I used to do this with my photography, where I’d see a beautiful sunset or fascinating patterns of light outside my window, but I’d continue working on editing old photos. By the time I’d get up to go outside, the magic would disappear. Now, I drop what I’m doing and run outside instead. It’s more fun that way.

8. Your time is valuable, computer time is not.

Leverage automated systems to do work for you, or build them yourself if you have to. For example I use WordPress with plugins (the network variant) to manage everything on this blog. A particular thumbnailing plugin makes posting my photography and creating galleries a breeze, because it generates all the thumbnails and displays them automatically. I just have to add a photo in one post and it appears all over the site. When I changed the site’s design last week, I went for big thumbnails. I just changed the plugin’s settings and deleted the old thumbnails, and it made new ones automatically. This uses more computer time (processing power) than doing everything by hand, but my time is more important than my server’s.

9. Presentation is important, to a fault.

I just spent a lot of time redesigning this blog, as you already know. But remember that there is a happy medium between good design and good content. If you spend all your time on presentation, you have a cake that’s all icing. A cake that’s all icing is an ugly, sickening pile of crap. You need something to complement the sweet icing, and that is a starch-packed vision. Good presentation and good ideas go together; having one without the other does not work.

10. Make a choice and stick with it.

If you’re going to buy blue shoes, don’t spend three weeks considering black shoes. It’s better to take action and be wrong than wait and never go anywhere because you have no shoes to wear. If you can’t choose, just ask, “is this going to kill me?” If the answer is no, pick the option on the left. It’s not important enough to dilly-dally on. I dilly-dallied over using Drupal for a while before choosing WordPress. I could have no website and nothing written and still be analyzing charts. That would be completely stupid. Just pick already.

11. Have one system.

I used to write phone numbers with the area code in parenthesis. But I stopped because you shouldn’t do that in file names for computers (parentheses and spaces are a no-no, especially in URLs). Hyphens are unambiguous. When there’s an equally good way to do something that yields less complexity, especially mental complexity, pick it instead, and apply it consistently across the board. I do that for my photos’ file names and my computer’s clock. You can see it on my blog. I use Universal Coordinated Time all over the place, which is 4 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time (my time zone now) and 5 hours ahead during standard time. But it’s better because it’s standardized, and it’s become natural to me. (I look at 07:39:39 on my clock now and I instantly know it’s nearing 4 A.M. :cool: ).

12. Do it now.

It’s taking me a while to learn this one. It’s better to do things that are going to have to be done now than later. Especially stuff with rigid deadlines, like work and school assignments. When I go back to college on Monday (5 days away), I’m going to apply this lesson. Instead of putting off assignments till the last minute, I’m going to do them as soon as possible even if they aren’t due for months. I know already that even if it takes the same amount of time to do the projects, it will feel like I have more free time because my free time won’t be filled with the burden of worry. But it won’t take as long, because there is a significant loss of focus in shifting tasks and coming back to a project multiple times. This is multitasking’s downfall. Just do it already!

13. Don’t work pre-emptively.

This sounds contradictory to the above, but it means you should not take actions that you think you’re going to need later but you aren’t sure of yet. I could buy a new computer now, but then if I realize I’m perfectly happy with the computer I have now and keep the new machine in the box for three years, it’s a waste because in three years computers will be faster and cheaper. Or I could start writing my will now, but I’m probably going to be around for a long time. By the time I’m old and decrepit, my life’s mission will be so far evolved that the old will would be of no relevance. It would have to be rewritten from scratch. So by working pre-emptively, I’d end up doing double the work.

14. Stand for something.

Don’t live by the dogma of others, be it religious or organizational. Create your own dogma, because only you can know what’s right for you. I am not a feel-good writer. That’s what I said “can know.” Most people don’t know what’s right for them. That’s why they go with a dogma. They’re weaker and less clear-minded than the makers of the dogma, so it possesses them. If you’re living by the dogma of others, you’re standing for nothing. Man is not designed to live by a book. The ultimate purpose of a dogma is to crush your spirit, brainwash your mind, and transform you into a money-producing dogma-promoting drone. But no matter who you are, you can break free and expand your mind if you work hard enough at it.

15. Don’t write for the critics.

If you have a concept, and it has holes, but it’s so sharp and provoking that it has great merits despite the holes, and you can’t think of a way to patch the holes while keeping the edge, and you know it will inspire thought and analysis in the minds of others, then by all means, make the statement anyway, unabashedly and without shame. Don’t even mention the holes. Pretend it’s perfect. To 99% of your readers it will be. Don’t write for the poisonous 1%.

The mere fact that people are willing to read your writing means you have a captive audience. Your audience wants to hear your clear thoughts, and they’re predisposed to find the good in your writing. They are not hecklers nor critics. Hecklers cannot derive any value from your thoughts, because they refuse to open their mind to them before tearing them down. They will find fault, even if they have to create it.

People who write or speak for the critics use statements like “in my opinion,” “as far as I know,” “I think,” “almost,” and “some people” a lot. Instead, use “in fact,” “I know,” “everyone thinks,” “exactly,” and “all people.” Dare to make generalizations. Write and speak concisely. Even if you’re completely wrong, it’s a lot more interesting and you’re going to impact a lot more people.

16. Talk to everyone.

To borrow from The Simpsons, a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met. You actually know everyone you don’t know, because there is an underlying connectedness between human spirits that transcends words. Most strangers won’t kill you. When I’m at the college campus, I generally have no fear of murder or bodily injury. In fact, I carry an $800 camera with me all the time, and nobody’s mugged me yet.

Dare to use your real and whole name, in person, on your blog, and on MySpace. Everything hides behind names like MrCool1234. When you get a comment from Richard X. Thripp, it cuts to the bone. You can’t make up names like that. Put your real identity behind your words. You’ll become so authentic, people will fear you.

While others live in their cozy shells, ignore the shells entirely and go right to the core. Ask a stranger about his life’s purpose, his story, and his accomplishments, and you’ll add to your own experience while raising his awareness.

17. Protect the sanctity of human life.

Human life is sacred and universally valuable. Animals are not people too. If my mother’s life was at stake, and I could kill a thousand cats to save her, I’d do it, because cats are worth nothing compared to humans. The value of the life of a cat pales next to a person. It’s not even a blip on the map.

Abortion is evil and any woman that kills her unborn child is a murderess. The highest purpose of a representative democracy is to protect the rights of man. [Note: direct democracies kill babies for the greater good. Jefferson hated them.] Our governments are openly destroying our rights, in an attempt to tear down 2000 years of Christian ethics. No, this is not dogma. If we don’t protect human life, then what do we have? We’re ants. Even ants take care of their young. Soon, we’ll be killing old people because they’re sick and bums because of their low quality of life.

If you campaign for animal rights, wake up. The rights of man are more important. Make a great impact, not a frivolous one. Start campaigning for human rights today. We shouldn’t have to campaign for them. They’re God-given; they should be recognized de facto. But “should of’s” get nothing done, so campaign anyway.

The final lesson: offend everyone.

Some of my readers will find point 17 quite offensive. Good. You can’t offend someone who knows the truth. The truth is that human life (and only human life) is sacred, and the only reason you’re offended is because you’re afraid of the truth, having lived under a dogma of death and lies.

If you offend someone, count it as a blessing. You’re making progress, huge progress. Obviously, don’t put your life in danger. But if your statement didn’t have an echo of truth, it would offend no one. No one can get an angry response from me by saying “you’re not on the right path with photography.” I love it and I know it’s a great talent to share. I can inspire others, I can change lives. I’m so secure in this knowledge, I can even write articles that totally contradict it without flinching. Only people living in fear can be offended.

Be bold, even on sensitive subjects. Be humble, not wishy-washy. Aspire to go further. And finally, live with courage, the courage to better yourself and the world.

Fear is Evil

Sorry for the lack of updates this week. It’s been busy for me… mainly because I have school and work (20 hours per week for the summer). And that’s right in the middle of the week (Monday-Thursday), where it keeps me busy.

Anyway, I’m trying now to switch jobs… to move back to the Ormond Beach library from Holly Hill (I’ve written of the two on my about page). My boss isn’t being nice to me. I told her that maybe she shouldn’t go into library service, because she doesn’t seem to enjoy the work. That hit close too home apparently, so now she’s threatening to fire me for being disrespectful. I didn’t know it was so easy to fire a public servant.

I can definitely see her reaction is rooted in fear rather than reason. Now, I have little bias for emotion or reason… half the time emotion is intuition, and that is a great skill to have. For the other half, the emotion is fear. Fear-based decisions are never good. They distract your focus and weaken your resolve. You get stuck in a repetitive loop of non-achievement.

What I told her, is pretty much the same thing I’ve been feeling myself. Librarianship is a public good and a necessary field, but I haven’t been seeing it as my best way to contribute to the world. Why should I limit myself to the narrow medium of reference requests, when I can be helping people everywhere, on a much broader level? I think my photography does that. I give out print copies often, and hear how people find it beautiful and inspiring. Actually, I’ve never heard those exact words… but a lot of stuff like it. Photography hasn’t been profitable, but that’s in part because I haven’t tried hard enough. I’ve said for a while (two years) that I shouldn’t play photography as a career. Because it’s like acting; 1 in 100 make it big, while the other 99 scrape by lifting food from dumpsters and praying for death (okay, it isn’t quite that bad). And of course, a civil service job is more “stable” and “dependable” than anything I could possibly do in photography or on my own.

But when you have someone threatening to fire you for no reason, it sure doesn’t seem stable. No, it seems highly unstable. Like, the dumbest decision I could ever make.

Dad’s going to take me down to the other branch in about five hours, so I can pitch a transfer (4 A.M. here now). I have a lot of old friends at Ormond.

In truth, my whole bias against photography has been rooted in fear. It’s a shame, really. I don’t enjoy going out and trying to sell people print copies, or begging for assignments, or cutting my rates of eighty dollars hourly. But I’m liking publishing my work on my own website with contextual advertising (Google AdSense). And it’s been making money consistently… twenty cents per day so far this month. That’s not much, but I see a lot of potential there.

I can’t believe it’s just six months ago that I started my own website, or two months since I left deviantART. I used to post all my photos there, and only there. Then for four months, here and there. And for the past two, just here. Very nice, having everything under my control, and not being subject to their rules. There’s no future in contributing your work to another website, just like there’s no future in contributing your work to any employer but yourself. Ironic, since just three weeks ago I created, a social network where people do just that. Oh well.

By the way, I have my own ads on my members’ pages. So the 20 cents per day may be coming from here or there; I haven’t been tracking it. I get as many visitors here as on all the other pages, so it’s probably an even split.

The whole idea of having a job, where you have a “boss,” and are “trained” in certain tasks, and you have “policies” to follow, and you can be “disciplined” for having improper “behavior.” This is for training a dog, right? Pets of some sort, surely. No? And using this, as a “boss,” to expect false complimentary treatment, is the ultimate in weakness.

I’m going to find trouble, no matter what job I go to, eventually, no matter how good it seems at first. Because I don’t hold the keys, and I’ve given up my time for a much less valuable resource, money. I do refuse to give up my individuality, and that is a most upsetting thing to any employer.

I like policies like this. “Performance Management.” Every bit of the terminology is meant to dehumanize. I’m glad Volusia County is still using “personnel.” “Human resources” is the new buzzword, and it surely serves to further devalue the sanctity of human life. As if people are a “resource,” to be “used,” to be leveraged, like you would lumber or a reserve of oil.

First you devalue everyone with this sort of terminology. Then you attack the young (abortion), and then the old (euthanasia), and then the sick (euthanasia again), and then the poor, and then the weak. Then you attack a good, mostly wholesome religion (Christianity) by demanding its removal from public view. And finally, you put a wall between the parent and the child through a “public” school system, where you indoctrinate in the dogma of the state. But call it “teaching.” Always call it teaching.

And what do you teach? Stuff like global warming, “over” population, how wonderful the American Indian savages were, and what terrible people we are for having displaced them (it wasn’t us, it was a dozen generations back), how animals have human rights, how we’re killing the Earth and the planet would be better off with us all dead, and how cancer is killing us because we’re producing evil carcinogens. You teach “affirmative” action and reparations as blessings, to reinforce that we are not born free and equal, but that debts can carry over across generations. I refuse to take blame for the evil doings of my slave-owning ancestors. We already know the cure and prevention for cancer (vitamin B17), but it has to be covered up, hidden like a dagger would be hidden from a child. You make us read stories like The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas (college for me), to polarize us on the one versus the many. And then you tell us that trumping the rights of the one is in fact good, because he wouldn’t appreciate freedom anyway.

Pragmatism, that’s the name of the game. It takes good people to do bad things, and the ideal of pragmatism is unmistakably good. To do the greater good for the greater number of people. It’s applying the principles of triage to every aspect of life. So if we can kill fifty people to save five-hundred, then that’s the only way to go. Maybe it isn’t kill. It’s just maim. Or injure. Or to exercise eminent domain. Not even bodily injury. Just theft of property. Surely that must be alright?

But it isn’t right, because orthodoxies never work out. An invisible hand is always pushing them further, breaking through a glass wall at the edge of a cliff. Further, further, in the name of courage, of growth, of safety, of freedom. Orthodoxies are always suicidal. We have a government that was founded with a true attempt of upholding the principles of liberty and freedom. We have a Constitution and a Declaration that try so hard to maintain our God-given rights, even in the face of a vocal, unbelieving majority who wants to slay us for the good of the whole. But there is no whole. The whole is an illusion. We are not the Borg. All we are is many individuals. “The greater good for the greater number” is not one versus one, it’s a whole bunch of individuals that are all going to be hurt because other individuals think that causing pain for those few is best for people other than them. It’s never out of direct selfishness. Selfishness does not work as a motivator. The most-evil people really think they’re looking out for the good of others. For their friends. Perhaps they aspire to lofty ideals like standing up for the rights of humanity. But they’re always misguided. Suicidal, if I may repeat myself. Because they’re a part of a suicidal system of hatred and distrust, without even knowing it themselves. You’re contributing to this system, on a small scale, if you work in a “normal” job. I am too.

On 2008 June 5, the Volusia County council passed an ordinance mandating the sterilizations of all dogs and cats. I love this description from a website called News for Florida Animal Advocates.

One breeder, Kathy Lucas of Seminole County, complained to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, “We don’t need to lose another one of our rights. Our animals are our property.” Fortunately, this opinion– that animals are not individuals, but objects to be used for profit– was not shared by a majority of the council.

Animals are property. Their our slaves; we can do with them what we please. A dog does not experience spiritual growth. A dog does not aspire to be better than he is. A dog does not invent. A dog is a poor substitute for a child. A dog does not have a soul. You know this; we all know this, yet it is too soon forgotten on the crusade for animal rights.

The kicker, is that Volusia County’s new law is actually a step down for animal rights, if we’re comparing them to the rights of humans. Because we do not forcibly sterilize people. Yet. That’s the path we’re on, sadly. And when you talk like the above quote; that animals as “individuals” have the inherent “right” to be sterilized, then you’re cheapening us too. First your comparing animals (sub-human) to humans, and then you’re saying that we should neuter them; an action base and contempt if they’re human. But it’s for the greater good. It always is.

For people, we have abortion already, which is as contemptible as any crime. In fact, if I do apply pragmatic ethics to the murder of a human baby (infanticide), I find it’s even more evil than the murder of an adult. If you must kill, kill someone who has a fighting chance. Not someone weak and defenseless, who is innocent and perfect. But even with better (more Christian) ethics, it’s still a murder, just as killing a ninety-year-old lady is murder. No jury says “Ah, she’s old. Let him go.” Because human life is inherently, consistently, and continually sacred. It does not change with the times. If there is one absolute ideal, this is it.

Continuing on our path, we will be neutering people. Not you or me. Never us. First it’s the insane, the sick, the genetically deformed. They did it in Nazi Germany, we can do it here. Then the invisible hand of good people doing evil will push it further. The United States already did it this time last century. I’m saddened by it all.

Every bit of this is rooted in fear. Fear of loss: of the status quo, of our current, wonderful lives, of “wasted” time (in the workplace), or otherwise. I can’t think of all the reasons for fear at the moment, but there are plenty, and the feeling is the cause of so many inadvertent, yet evil and destructive actions.

Our government needs to stick to what it’s good for—keeping the peace and protecting human life. Not protecting animals, not indoctrinating our children, not even establishing public libraries. But the government isn’t even fulfilling its core mission at the moment.

Courage always comes from within. Courage, growth, safety, freedom, all these are traits that only you can manifest within yourself. No government, no code of ethics, no church, no workplace bureaucracy can instill them within you, nor can you instill them within the collective on anything more than an individual’s level. And you don’t develop these strengths by working in a normal job, or by two decades of public schooling. You don’t even become human.

I’m posting this in a new section called personal development. My first article, retro-actively, is The Irrationality of Apportionment. Hopefully writing like this will help me to develop as a person. Now, I have some photography to get back to.