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First Google AdSense check

$112.23 Google AdSense check

Just got this check from Google for $112.23. I wasn’t sure if this Google ad program was real till now; perhaps they’d just take my money and ban me when I reached the $100 threshold? :xx:

I started this blog way back at the end of last year, just for my photography. I didn’t do much for a long time, often just spending lots of time fiddling with the layout and code, but in the past two months I’ve made lots of progress. I feel I can do a lot of good here, if not for others, for my own mind.

While DaytonaState.org makes the most, the balance is switching to this blog. I think it’s because I’m writing in-depth, thought-provoking articles like Digital Sharecropping, Personal Development for Photographers, and Transcending Limiting Beliefs. Not lists or tables or mash-ups or charts. No fluff. Writing that takes will work and has a real purpose. I didn’t really start doing this till two months ago, when I added personal development as my main subject alongside photography.

While $112.23 is no more than pennies an hour for all the work I’ve put in here, it’s much better than any job because I would do this for free. Most people can’t say that about their jobs.

Even though I made far more as a criminal, it’s much better to profit as an asset rather than a leech. Friends have been quick in offering to click ads for me or get others to do the same, but I’ll have none of it.

My hosting bill is paid up till 2009 March, and it has totaled $70. I also registered Thripp.com till 2018, costing $73, and thripp.net/org/us/biz/info are mine. I’m in this for the long haul. Expenses don’t really count, because I’d be paying them either way.

This month has been the best yet; I’ve taken in $61; half of what I made in the eight months before combined. Curiously days have bounced between $0 and $4 rather than being constant like last month, but it doesn’t matter.

Some people hate ads. If I was one of them, I would’ve made nothing. If this is a business, I’m lucky because most businesses lose a lot of money to start.

You can’t expect to make money if you don’t even try. Blogs are much like newspapers, which pay their printing bills and more with advertising. Now, the bills are time, effort, and less importantly, web hosting. And the message is free, rather than being a token fee of thirty-five or fifty cents.

However, if you give away the message and turn your back on advertising and turn down donations (read: don’t ask for), you can’t turn your passion into anything more than a hobby.

Unrelated: the URL for this post has 666 in it because that’s the post ID. It’s just a counter. I think it’s cool to have it at the end of URLs. I’ve actually made only 530 posts and pages, but the other numbers have been lost to test posts and drafts. Think of it just as an arbitrary number to uniquely identify each of my articles.

Also: this post is evil. :evil:

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.

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.

The Perks of Having a Job

2009-12-20 Update: Having a job is not so bad after all. I apologize to those I’ve misled and encourage you to keep your job if you enjoy it or to support your family.

I know a lot of people like to tear down gainful employment in general, but there really are some good benefits to be had.

1. Guaranteed payment for your work.

If you own a restaurant, and it’s losing money, can you get out of paying your employees? No—you still must pay them for the work they’ve done. While you can let them go, you can’t refuse to pay for the work they’ve already done, even if you’re going into debt yourself. In this relationship, employees are in a much safer position.

2. Trading time for money.

In a job, it doesn’t matter if you spend eight hours cleaning a mop bucket or finding the cure for cancer. You get the same wages either way. Your pay has nothing to do with the value of your contributions.

You can use this to your advantage by wasting time and reducing the value of your contribution. This way, you can become a leech rather than an asset. It feels fun, because you know assets aren’t valued anyway. This brings us to…

3. Innovation is discouraged.

As a cashier, you don’t have to invent a new method of barcode entry or re-organize the checkout lanes to flow more smoothly. You just have to do a repetitive job reasonably well, and then you can reasonably expect to continue being employed. Though you can be let go at any time, you can reasonably expect to find a similar job elsewhere. Sounds pretty reasonable, right?

If you do find a way to make the checkout process twice as fast, you can bet your fellow employees are going to be quite unhappy that you’re out-doing them. Even if they can easily pick up on the same skills you’ve developed, an across-the-board increase in efficiency will put some people out of jobs. Then, they’ll have the onerous task of securing jobs elsewhere, losing their beloved friends, and perhaps even starting over with lower wages.

Innovation cuts jobs. For example, in my Grandma’s time, people would go to the local cobbler to have their shoes repaired, often with nails and glue. Now, most people throw out shoes and replace them, because it’s cheaper and more efficient than having them repaired. The shoe-making process has been refined. Only rich people have their shoes repaired, and that’s only because they have shoes that are very expensive to replace.

If you’re interested in maintaining the current jobs, you have to be against innovation, because innovation will invalidate many current jobs. For the typical employee, innovation, renewal, and obsolescence are scary words. Don’t expect your revolutionary ideas to be accepted in an office setting.

The benefit here is that once you know innovation is unwelcome, the burden to innovate is removed from your shoulders. If you feel the inclination to do something new, you can easily remind yourself that you’d just be causing trouble.

4. No need to think.

While the unemployed enjoy the process of uncertainty, refinement, and discovery, with a job, you don’t have to think much about anything. You can easily lose yourself in your work, because your work is all predictable and planned. Instead of deciding the best course of action for the company, you’re told what to do by your boss. There’s no need to question it, because if you do exactly what he says yet something goes wrong, you can blame him for it and your boss’ boss will agree.

When you become the boss, you might be worried that you’ll start having to think. Fortunately, the chain of command is there to rescue you. You still don’t have to think, because you have plenty of bosses to tell you what to do. But you can look at yourself in the mirror and smile, because you know there are a few people who call you “boss.”

The bigger the corporation, the bigger the chain of command. You can work for decades through dozens of promotions without really becoming the boss of anything. Even though your title may read “Creative Director,” your position can actually be fulfilled by an android, or a computer program with enough “if” branches.

5. A policy for every occasion.

You’ll never be forced to make a truly original decision, because there’s a policy in the manual to cover everything you do. If not, perhaps two policies can be combined, or, in super-rare instances, a new policy can be created.

Of course, you must never dare go to the policy manual yourself. It must be filtered through at least five other people, and you must go to them first and then wait three days for a response. If you fix the hole in the roof without waiting three days for the policy on roof repair, you must be “disciplined.” Perhaps your master will go easy on you and opt for “verbal admonishment.”

If you read the policy manual, and you find that the computing security policy requires that all employees use unguessable passwords, but you know everyone is using their last name, don’t dare report it. When you report it, you’ll find that the true purpose of all these policies is to make everything a policy violation. Then, sanctions can be invoked against trouble-makers, while everyone else is ignored.

The policies are whatever they say they are. You’re just here to follow orders. It’s a cozy place to be.

6. Don’t fix a problem—get someone else to do it.

When I was working in a Volusia County library, I recall encountering a cryptic error message on the cash register. It was bad news, because there were patrons lined up to pay fines, and we didn’t have a working register to ring them up. While the librarian was asking her boss for advice over the phone, I downloaded the manual for the cash register and found that “EEEEEEEE” means to replace the receipt paper.

Delighted, the librarian told her boss how I found the solution. After listening for a moment, she looked at me and said: “We’re not allowed to look at the manual.”

When you work at a “normal” job, you can expect complete idiocy from the bureaucrats in that company. It’s even more idiotic if the company is part of the government (like the library system), because there’s no reason for the government to generate a profit. Public libraries get millions in tax dollars every year, and they repeatedly squander it through idiotic policies and pointless red tape.

If you have a job in one of these companies, it’s nice because the people above you love helpless people. They’ll pat you on the back when you go to them to fix a problem you could’ve easily fixed yourself.

7. A regimented life.

If you work 9-to-5, you can’t stay up till 4 A.M. every night. Instead, you settle into an unchanging rhythm, enforced by the rigors of your job. Feel more productive at 8 P.M.? Too bad; you can’t work then. You have to work when you’re scheduled to work.

Soon, your whole life becomes anchored to your job. Want to eat dinner at 4:30? Too bad; you work till 5. The weekend is a treasured time, but somehow you end up spending it talking about your job. Perhaps you even go out with friends from work. Either way, you keep spending time on your job, the same job where you’re stifled and bossed around.

Your lunch break is often mandated by company policy. It might even be scheduled from 12 to 1 or 1 to 2. When I work, sometimes I skip lunch entirely, but if I had a job, I’d have to eat lunch (or eat nothing) when they told me to.

The benefit here, once again, is that you don’t have to make decisions, because the decisions have already been made for you. Employment is the perfect refuge for people who don’t enjoy holding authority over their lives.

8. Detachment and mediocrity.

Since you’re not doing anything truly valuable or integral to the company, you don’t have to care too much for its success. You’ve seen people care too much about the company’s success before. They started to innovate, which eventually got them fired. You know the dangers of caring too much. You’re expected to be a mediocre person, who does a mediocre job in a mediocre way. Mediocrity is okay, because the company doesn’t need you. Sure, there are a few important, bright minds behind the scenes in every corporation, but they contribute enough that everyone else can be dead weight.

Instead of walking quickly, walk slowly. Instead of eating lunch in 32 minutes, use up the whole hour. Your job isn’t something exciting enough that you should be running back to it. It’s just a way to earn money: the only way you have.

Because your job doesn’t matter, you become detached from it. You spend the best hours of your day on busywork.

9. Friendship, dating, and social proof.

The people at your job are easy to make friends with, because they’re mediocre, soulless non-innovators just like yourself. You can easily get along with them by talking about the weather or current events. Don’t dare get into anything deep like religion, abortion, or financial politics. You know that friendships are based on superficiality. If you get into anything deep, you’re poised to destroy the friendship.

If you’re looking for a “compatible” partner, look no further than the office. The same mediocre, soulless non-innovators that are your friends can become your dates!

Plus, whenever you’re around strangers, you can connect with them by telling them you have a job. They have jobs too. They’re just like you! You can all be one big happy family of mediocre, soulless non-innovators.

10. Save for retirement.

When you have a job, our benevolent government deducts money from your paychecks. That money goes to fight wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (coming soon: Iran and Russia). Once you’ve become old and decrepit from decades of unfulfilling busywork, the state will return the money it owes you, so you can live in comfort tending to small plants in your garden, waiting for death.

Need your money now? No you don’t. Obviously, the government knows how to save your money better than you. You know nothing. You’re a dummy. A mediocre, soulless non-innovator. Remember?

The employee mentality

With a “normal” job, you never really have to think, because you can leave the thinking to other people your whole life. You’re already doing that at your job; why not apply the same principles to other areas of your life?

Need spiritual fulfillment? Join a religion. As long as you pray (and pay) regularly, you’ll be fine. Nevermind that you could create your own religion for yourself that would be ten times more empowering.

Need entertainment? You should, after having a job for a while. Go to the movies, or pay for cable television. Then, you can watch the same garbage everyone else is watching and pretend to feel smart.

Need more money? Go to college and pretend to learn something. Then you can become the boss at your job. Don’t be scared—the chain of command will protect you from any real decision-making.

Have a problem? Pretend it isn’t there. Perhaps it will go away, or you’ll die before you have to confront it.

Why are you an employee? Can’t you become a freelance photographer, or start your own business selling widgets, or record a great music CD and collect royalties on it? If you can’t think of anything better, start a website condemning jobs, and make money off that. Plenty of people are supporting themselves without sacrificing their morals or their hearts. Employment is neither a rite of passage nor a badge of honor.

Why do you have a job? So you can die before you have to confront life?

Photo: Lilac Dreams

Lilac Dreams

Lilac (purple) flowers at the Daytona State College campus. These aren’t lilacs, but I like the name so I’m using it to refer to the color.

A friend volunteered to let me borrow his lens: a Sigma EF 105mm 1:2.8. I have it till next week, so I’ve been taking pictures of stuff with the different perspective it offers. Everything’s so close; I can’t get any sort of landscapes with this. But it’s interesting to focus on the details, and I can get closer to flowers than I can with the kit lens.

While I take good care of my camera and lenses, one of the worries in borrowing a lens–or anything for that matter–is that it will break in your possession, or you’ll break it by accident. Breaking your own stuff isn’t so bad as breaking someone else’s stuff, because then you (generally) feel obligated to replace it. What happens more often is the lender will say you broke it when you didn’t. Or if anything goes wrong with it in a period of one month after you return it, the lender blames it on you. I’m not sure why this happens, but it seems to be a common human trait.

I believe it’s rooted in fear. We want a scapegoat for everything. People may even subconsciously lend items they know are about to break, just so they can blame the borrower when the inevitable happens. Obviously, this is something that you and me must work on overcoming. Most people are reasonable and down-to-Earth already; I don’t consider borrowing a lens from a friend high-risk. But, I don’t borrow by contract if it’s reasonable to buy the item instead. Contracts are bad because they’re generally with people you don’t know; it’s much better to lend an item to a friend on honor than to a stranger with the threat of law.

Borrowing is actually condemned in the Bible, and it’s not something people used to do commonly. You should borrow if you’re sure you’ll be able to produce a lot of value for the world from the loan. Unfortunately, this is very rare. Maybe one in ten-thousand loans comply with this stipulation. Borrowing (paying a mortgage) on a house is good, but too often people buy a house they can’t support. You should live beneath your means, because that’s the only way you can leverage your remaining wealth to contribute to the lives of others, effectively increasing your means. Living beneath your means does not include credit-card debt.

Editing on this photo involved adding contrast and vignetting. That bug on the left is interesting. I didn’t notice him till just now. He gets to stay, though.

Canon Rebel XTi, Sigma EF 105mm 1:2.8, 1/640, F5, 105mm, ISO100, 2008-09-03T13:03:40-04, 20080903-170340rxt

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. Credit me as Richard X. Thripp and link here.

Money and Love

What I made online, 2008-08

Just wanted to give you a little hint for how my websites did last month. My goal is $1 per day, and while I didn’t hit that every day last month, the overall total was $56.41, or $1.80 per day.

I can see I’m making a bigger impact on the world. In July, I made $20, so my income basically tripled last month. You can’t get that kind of raise with a regular job.

$53.73 was from Google AdSense; $2.68 was from this blog’s Amazon Associates commissions.

Of the $53.73, $1.54 came from Brilliant Photography and Personal Development by Richard X. Thripp. Th8.us made $2.30, DaytonaState.org made $42.63, and the Thripp.com users made me $7.26. Our hosting / domains bill is $15 per month, so I’m more than covered.

DaytonaState.org is targeted. A lot of people come from Google looking for information on enrolling in colleges, so the information appeals to them. On the other hand, Thripp.com is black-listed by Google, so this blog and others appear low in the search results. I haven’t done much marketing either, instead focusing on writing and producing new works of art, so that explains the low turnout. But in the long run, the richardxthripp.thripp.com is where the action is going to be.

If I was still working at the library, I would have made ten times more. But last month, I did no work. Even though I exhausted far more time and energy here, the energy comes back twofold. This simply isn’t a job at all to me.

When you’re doing something you love, it doesn’t matter how much time you “spend” or how much money you make. (You’re not really spending time; you’re saving it.) You’ll do it anyway, because it’s what you do. If you’re looking for something to love, photography is a good place to start, even as a freelancer. I wouldn’t do it myself; I’d prefer writing articles for free and making money indirectly. But every person enjoys different methods.

Also: when you love playing with LEGOs or battling in World of Warcraft, it still doesn’t matter, but the problem is you’re not helping anyone else. You think you’re doing what you love, but you just haven’t found what you truly love. When you combine ambition with a purpose that really makes an impact on people around you, you’ll find something you love far more than child’s play. It’s still play, but it’s play taken to the next level. You character has just reached level 100. He’s replaced hit points with love points.

A Free Nation Has Free Money

The purpose of any good government is to protect the lives and property of the people. Property is money. Money must be solid. It must be free, in that it is independent of the nefarious deeds of plutocrats. It doesn’t matter how much free speech or free love you have. If you have no money, you have no property, and all your “freedoms” are worthless.

The Federal Reserve, masquerading as part of our government, bails out corporations that have gotten themselves far into debt. In theory, this protects the jobs of the people, because the corporation keeps going. How does the Federal Reserve do this? They print lots more money, backed by nothing, and give it to the corporation, making up for billions of accumulated debts. How do corporations like General Motors and Bear Stearns lose so much money? By becoming unprofitable, bureaucratic failures. Companies that should go out of business are propped up by the government. Every time they do this, our currency gets closer to worthless. An invisible tax is placed on the money in your bank, because its value declines progressively.

When you prop up failures, you bring down everyone else. Small businesses that are rightfully profitable get no help, while losers are supported by the public debt. The rich get richer, the poor (us) get poorer, and the middle class disappears as we turn into Soviet Russia.

We continue creating more and more money out of thin air to fund wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Georgia, Yemen, and more, all for the continual war on “terror.” We have troops in 100 countries, spread all over the world. This is all funded by the continual whoring of our dollar. We give China I.O.U.’s in exchange for billions of dollars in goods. What’s going to happen is that we won’t be able to pay them back, and then they’ll use their U.S. money to buy out our country from under us while our currency and bank accounts become completely useless.

This shouldn’t happen. A $20 bill is a piece of paper, just like a $20 bill from 1900. Only then, the bill was worth the equivalent of $1000 of my dollars. What happened? Our money is fake now. It has no link to gold. Private bankers, as part of the private company that controls our money (the Federal Reserve), can print any amount of money on a whim, devaluing our labor. Not just future labor. All the liquid wealth you’ve accumulated in your bank account shrinks at once. All your hard work over many years is taken away at once. And like saps, we all accept it.

What is the root cause of the financial failure of our businesses? A foreign policy which involves us bombing everything that moves, and terrible taxes which kill all good business. An example: owning a restaurant is one of the worst businesses to be in, because every department of the government gets a piece of you. 80% of your money goes toward government inspections and regulation fees. It’s hard to even cover your expenses, no matter how efficient you are.

When you have a feather-bedded, socialist government, the only businesses that can make it have to government-backed. They pay all these terrible fees, but are subsidized by tax dollars. Without government exemptions, the ordinary businessman can’t afford to start his own corporation. Have you seen what the taxes on a sole proprietorship are like these days?

Instead, we’re all relegated to serfdom working for companies like Wal-Mart. I must admit, Wal-Mart is about the most efficient and prudent company around. But they’re still part of our socialist government. The root cause is our fiat currency, our continual warring, and our meddling with the free market. It’s not a “free” market now. It isn’t a free market when you’re taxed at a rate of 90%. Even if you work under the table, you pay huge taxes. Sales tax is one. The rest is in prices that are three times higher than they should be, because every merchant along the way has to cover his tax burden by raising his prices. The United States is the Roman Empire, Part 2.

People are working harder than ever. It’s only because our wasteful government has completely failed us, just as Great Britain had failed our fore-fathers before their noble revolution. 40 years ago, a man could do good honest work and support his wife, several kids, a car, and a mortgage with money to spare. What happens now? Couples have to take out life-time mortgages and both work 50 hours a week in career jobs, leaving their kids to be raised by strangers. Still, they can barely pay the bills. Are they slacking off? Not in the slightest. The currency traders and international bankers get richer and richer while we slave away as pawns of the state.

Students have to work full-time while attending college just to make ends meet. My family can’t even keep a cool house or travel freely, because of the terrible cost of fuel. This isn’t because we as a people are running out of fuel or pillaging the environment. It’s because our money is becoming worthless. There’s plenty of gas to be had at $3.60 per gallon: there are no shortages. Considering gas was 85¢ a gallon in 2002, my money has lost three-fourths it’s value. Your four years of labor from the 90′s is worth one year of labor in 2008. How does that make you feel?

Our technology and collective intellect keeps getting better, but we keep having to work harder and smarter for ever-smaller gains. If innovation had stood still since the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, we’d be working for two cents a day by now. It’s only the unwavering American spirit of growth and progress that has secured what little we have now. War, fear, fake money, and martial law isn’t American. This is supposed to be the home of the brave, remember?

A free nation starts with a currency backed by gold, and a market backed by the success of its marketeers. Not the government. The government cannot fight wars nor grant rights. Only God can. The government can only protect or usurp your rights. By usurping your labor, the U.S. government is usurping your rights and your livelihood. It has to stop. It will stop when our government falls and our money is worse less than toilet paper. Only then will people see the truth, but all will be lost and we’ll have to start anew. I’m already getting ready.

For now, stay below the radar. We’re losing our freedoms by the minute. The police are not on your side. Don’t get stuck with a heavy mortgage, keep your mouth shut if the IRS calls you, and don’t pay taxes that you don’t have to pay. Don’t join the army, and if you’re turning eighteen, stay off their list. Don’t vote for Obama or McCain because they’re both identical. A vote for Mickey Mouse is better. Don’t keep too much worthless money lying around. Go back to bartering if you have to. And most of all, foster a spirit of peaceful, nonviolent resistance to government oppression, just as Gandhi wanted.

College is for Dummies

2009-12-20 Update: There is value in higher education but there is a lot of baggage that goes along with it. Consider both sides before quitting college or going to college.

A college education is thought to be a requirement for success in modern America. We swallow, hook, line, and sinker, that higher education is an unassailable good. But what if it isn’t?

• Revisionist history. You get to learn that our founding fathers were unchristian, that the American Indians were peaceful savages, and that the Earth would be better off without humans. Then you’re tested on this, and you’ll “fail” if you don’t give the right answers.

You got enough of this in high school; do you have to subject yourself to four more years of it?

• All the great entrepreneurs skipped college, or dropped out as soon as their idea went big. (Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, the creators of Google and Facebook, etc.) If the college experience is so inherently valuable, why would anyone leave as soon as they started making lots of money?

• A continuation of high school . . . The modern Associate of Arts degree is nothing more than a repeat of what you were supposed to be taught in high school. You aren’t gaining any “specialized” skills for your place in the workforce, nor any “life experience” that you wouldn’t be better off acquiring on your own.

• The whole idea of going to college to get a job, to “appeal” to your employers, is all that higher education stands.

• Algebra. Who ever thought that you should mix letters with numbers in math? In the computer science degree I’m working on, I have to go through five courses of this nonsense (algebra, precalculus algebra, trigonometry, calculus 1, calculus 2). All of it completely unuseful to the math problems that will pop up in my life, or any math problems that will appear in computer programming (none of the major programming languages use algebra anyway; it’s too complicated and esoteric). The only reason to learn algebra, is if you’re going to become an algebra teacher.

• No intrinsic value. Today’s college education has no value on its own. Any value it has is assigned by our society or mainstream employers, for the sake of continuing the college charade.

• It’s a job. But unlike a normal job where you’re paid to work, you work for free and you pay them. Then, you get “graded” on your “performance”? Is this for men or for mice?

• Most of the people who are going back to college, are going because they can’t find a profitable venue on their own, have given up hope, and accepted their place in this juvenille system. You’re going to be surrounded by weak people with broken spirits in most college class rooms. Are those the traits you want to rub off on you?

• Start life in debt. Who pays their student loans anyway? Even if you’re not in debt, you’ve wasted years of your life.

• An imaginary safety net. There is no safety. Safety is an illusion. When you can’t find a job and nobody wants your college degree, tell me how safe you are.

• Go to college to be home-schooled. For every hour in class, you’ll need to do two or even three hours of writing and studying on your own to get the actual work done. But when you learn on your own, you must learn what is proscribed, not what could be interesting or valuable to you.

In English, you’ll have to read garbage like Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas… nevermind all the fascinating, historic, non-fictional works you could be learning from. And then you’ll have to write essays proclaiming that everything is sexist / racist / ageist.

Toe the party line. You’re required to use gender neutral language and other newspeak. You have to agree that global warming is real, that we need socialized healthcare, that we need to murder our young and old (abortion and euthanasia). You will be tested on this stuff, and don’t you dare step out of line if you value your grades.

An exercise in Marxism. The purpose of the public schooling system is to indoctrinate our children in the principles of communism, under the veil of community, democracy, socialism. It’s the same thing.

Wake up. College is a monumental waste of time and energy. You’re being jerked around like a cuckold.

The Profit Police and How They Kill Everyone

Silhouette of a man holding a hammer -- Photography by Richard X. Thripp

The profit police are as old as eternity, but insidious as the devil. They threaten to steal our happiness, to sour us with envy, hatred, and guilt. Their orthodoxy is codified in institutional policies all over the world. They kill everyone. They are us.

Profit is not just money. Profit is also prestige, notoriety, and mere exposure. The profit police take keeping up with the Joneses to the extreme. They tell us that promoting our names or starting a business is selfish, greedy, and wrong. They are responsible for the professionalization of jobs that have no business being bureaucratized. They create sad terms like vanity press, as though not having a book approved by a committee makes the author an egotistical lunatic. Their influence starts with us, at the micro level.

The Junior Anti-Profit League is alive and well on the forums of the Internet. Well-meaning adults persist with policies of “no advertising, no self-promotion, no links to your website, no ‘commercialism.’” They cry foul at affiliate links, for no reason further than to stifle the success of their users (my photography articles are proudly littered with them). Brilliant computer-programmers publish free software with the clause, “no commercial use,” as if every dollar earned with the help of their applications comes straight from their wallets. As if profit is bad. As if the very act of seeking prosperity—called the American Dream by many—is the bane of humanity. Run the phrase, “free for non-commercial use” through Google, and you get 264,000 web pages, all of people afraid of something.

What are they afraid of? The success of others. Why are they afraid of it? Because they perceive that it diminishes themselves. We all do this. Charles Wheelan, financial blogger, elaborates:

“There’s a very interesting strain of economic research showing that our sense of well-being is determined more by our relative wealth than by our absolute wealth.

In other words, we care less about how much money we have than we do about how much money we have relative to everyone else. In a fascinating survey, Cornell economist Robert Frank found that a majority of Americans would prefer to earn $100,000 while everyone else earns $85,000, rather than earning $110,000 while everyone else earns $200,000.

Think about it: People would prefer to have less stuff, as long as they have more stuff than the neighbors.”

This scales down to the minute level. I am guilty of it myself. When I opened my website, I set my Google AdSense advertising up to filter ads for other photographers. I stopped doing this after a week, realizing how silly it is. But the fact is that fear of the success of others is a subconscious human response. It’s also irrational. Another’s persons success is not my loss, no matter how it may seem.

I’ve had my own encounter with The Profit Police as of yesterday. If you’ve read The Thievery of richardxthripp, you know of my rush to secure my name on the popular blogging, photography, and social networking websites after richardxthripp.blogspot.com was claimed by spammers. One of the sites I registered for was 43 Things, a destination for sharing your life’s goals with the world. I’ve admired their community for a while, so I added to the discussion to help others with two things I’ve done, and to drive visitors to my website:

I added to the goal, have a blog:

“I’ve done this now. Set up my blog for my photography: Brilliant Photography by Richard X. Thripp. Started three months ago, but it’s an ongoing project. I’m using WordPress as my blogging software; it’s worth it to have your own domain name so you aren’t tied to any third party.”

And, sharing my knowledge on playing the piano:

“Playing the piano is a great hobby for reflection, mental and finger dexterity, appreciating music, and enjoying with others. I’ve been playing since ten; here’s a performance from January.

What I don’t buy, is that you have to start when you’re young. Plenty of adults learn to type quickly (with our newfound reliance on computers), yet that takes dexterity, skill, and practice, like piano. And also—you can look at your fingers while playing. You may come to memorize a song just from working on it a lot, and then begin watching your fingers so you don’t miss the keys; don’t fight it.”

Don’t bother looking for my entries; they’ve been vaporized now, along with my page. I’m alive in the Google cache for now: have a blog, play the piano (2008-07-31 Update: now removed). Little did I read that they have a policy against my kind of writing:

“43 Things is for personal use only. If you sell or promote products, services or yourself through your 43 Things page, we will suspend your account.”

So promoting yourself is not personal use? Sure, if you own a social network you can enact whatever rules they want, but that doesn’t mean you should. This is the cowardly, suicidal behavior that profit policing drives us to. It is cowardly because it sweeps under the rug the work of others, as if the publisher deserves no credit for his insights. It is suicidal because it destroys discussions and useful information at the fear of others’ gain, reducing morale and alienating users.

I used to release my stock photographs with a license that said “no commercial use.” It took me months to finally give it up. The question: What if someone gets rich from using the resources I provide? They’d be earning money off my hard work! The answer: So what? This is not a Reversi game, where every acquisition by your opponent is an equal blow to you. 200 A’s do not necessitate 200 F’s. Life is not a zero-sum game. It’s time we stopped playing it as one.

Recommended reading:
How Jealousy and Envy Destroy Happiness by Steve Olson
Life ain’t a zero-sum game.
Why Income Inequality Matters by Charles Wheelan

A Postscript on the Scholarship

If you’ve read last week’s article, $1500 Daytona Beach College Scholarship Revoked, you know what recently happened to me. I’ve decided to do nothing about it.

I went to Charlene Solomon’s office and apologized for my rudeness on the phone (“What? You can’t take my scholarship. You already sent the letter. Who do you think you are?”), the opposite of what many of my friends suggested, which was to escalate to the higher nodes of the Daytona Beach College bureaucracy. I will apply again in the fall of 2008, and perhaps I will win an award for keeps. Fighting a battle would not produce changes but instead make enemies and cost time, which is not what I’m in college for.

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