Archive for the 'Equally good stuff' Category

How to beat your flock into submission

October.31. 2014

Despots throughout history have understood the power of God to establish their legitimacy.

It’s uncanny, almost without exception, every ancient ruler was clued in onto this secret.

From the Egyptian pharaohs to ancient Chinese emperors to the later Aztec civilization, every despot worth his salt had claimed a direct connection to God, some even to the point of calling themselves “Sons of God.”

God is a handy tool.

Because if you have God on your side (or better still if you are God himself) no one will dare to question your authority.

It’s either obey me or suffer eternal damnation. (Yes, I know I’m simplifying things here. For ancient rulers, it was more about a mandate from heaven than any punishment in the afterlife.)

But as with every good racket, others soon began to discover the secret and of course, they too wanted in on the action.

And that’s how the phenomenon of “religious leaders” was born.

But these “religious leaders” were really political leaders operating under the cover of religion. What they wanted was political domination, not spiritual authority.

And they were smart; they took the idea one step further.

If God is so potent a tool, why not just dispense with the political angle altogether and go straight to God?

This was how one of the most bizarre episodes in religious history occurred, the Spanish inquisition. During those dark ages, the so-called leaders of the church assumed even greater power than their political leaders, the kings and emperors.

But those were the bad old days, you say, these days, we’re too smart and educated to be conned and subjugated like that. We can see through any would-be religious imposter.

But you would be wrong.

Everywhere in the world, it seems, religious fundamentalism is on the rise, dominated by a small number of clergymen, operating under the same self-righteous sense of infallibility and tolerating no dissent from anyone.

And seemingly smart and educated people all over the world are being hoodwinked by their propaganda, some to the point of giving up their lives.

Anyone who wants to study the methods of religious powermongers would have to study David Koresh, perhaps the greatest religious imposter who ever lived. (And yes, he too claimed to be God.)

I used to think that Koresh ruled over his flock through the sheer force of his charm and charisma, but after watching some TV documentaries, I’ve began to understand that his real weapon was fear. He instilled the fear of eternal damnation into his flock and from then, it was anything goes for him.

Truly, God as a tool to control and manipulate people is second to none.

It is more powerful than any army, more powerful than any ideology, more powerful than all the weapons in the arsenals of all the nations on earth.

Because you’re dealing with people’s souls and fears, mostly the fear of eternal damnation.

Because if a leader claims to have God on his side, any dissent against him automatically becomes a dissent against God, and who would dare risk the wrath of God by doing that.

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The easy way to achieving your heart’s desires

June.22. 2014

There’s an energy out there, and it’s completely free and available to anyone who wants it.

Harness it and it will give you anything you want.

And the truly amazing thing is, this energy never runs dry, the more you use of it, the more you have of it.

What is this miracle energy?

Here’re a few clues.

Think of something you love doing.

Like perhaps playing the guitar. The guitar is your passion. You can’t stop playing it. Every spare chance you have, you’re holding it in your hands, playing it.

Under those circumstance, you’re soon a pretty awesome player, there’s no way you won’t be good with all that practice.

Or perhaps you’ve started a business, perhaps a food outlet.

You pour your heart into your business.

First thing in the morning you’re working on it, last thing at night, you’re working on it. The passion you have in what you’re doing is manifested in your offerings – the best food in town.

People have palettes, they can tell when something tastes good and when it doesn’t, they can tell when a dish has been cooked with love and passion, and when it’s quickly thrown together from some cheap recipe.

Soon word gets around and you’re thriving – you’ve accomplished your goal of succeeding in your business.

Or perhaps you love gardening and you spend all your time tending to your plants – watering them, feeding them, making sure they get your constant attention.

Under these conditions, your plants grow and thrive. There’s no way they will not thrive with all the love and care you lavish upon them.

People compliment you on your ‘green thumb; but you know better, it has nothing to do with a green thumb, it’s the love and energy you pour into your plants.

I can give more examples but I guess by now you’ve gotten my point.

To understand better how this energy works, turn the examples around.

So perhaps you don’t really enjoy playing the guitar, you’re only doing it because your parents think you should play an instrument. So everyday, you put it the requisite amount of time and you can’t wait for it to be over and done with, so you can go back to your other more ‘enjoyable’ pursuits.

Do you think you will become a good player under those circumstances?

The same is true of running a business and tending to your plants. (I can attest to the latter. Every plant I’ve had inevitably dies due to lack of attention. Luckily, I have a good excuse – I don’t have a ‘green thumb.’)

There’s an easy way and a hard way to achieving your dreams.

I prefer the easy way.

And nothing is easier than finding this limitless source of energy and harnessing it to achieve your heart’s desires.

Another commentary

January.4. 2014

I stopped using Google Chrome a few years ago. Somehow a browser that keeps on nagging me to log into my Google account scared the bejesus out of me.

Who are they kidding?

Provide a better web-surfing experience for me? Or enable them to track my every move online so they can sell more ads?

(As an aside, apparently, Google was among six tech companies who sent a letter to Congress recently, calling for enhanced privacy protections. Nice! If anyone knows “privacy protection,” it’s Google!)

Back to the subject at hand.

Since then, I’ve stopped using Gmail and opened a few other email accounts on some other sites.

Now they’re forcing youtube commenters to open a Google+ account.

I guess the word “over-reach” does not mean anything to them.

Or the fact that the internet is full of options and all of them just one click away.

True, youtube is a special resource and one that I’m reluctant to give up at this time – yes, I admit, they do have the upper hand there.

But perhaps the word “Yahoo” might ring a bell.

There was a time when Yahoo was riding high, when it was impossible to get your site listed with them. But now, you might say “Ya-Who?”

Back to the geniuses at Google.

A business plan that forces users to sign up for useless sites is clearly a sign of desperation, one that I have written about before.

But why?

Why aren’t they satisfied with what they have?

And leave the social media junkies to FB?

And focus on what they have – the greatest search engine in the whole worldwide web, the best video site (for now) and a (formerly) great email service.

As one Mr. Gekko might say:

“Greed is not good. It dissipates your energy. You end up chasing one bandwagon after another, and pretty soon, you’re just another has-been with no special niche.”

I think Mr. Yang might concur with that assessment.

Mohu and Roku

December.19. 2013

Two innocent sounding words that should strike fear into the hearts of greedy cable operators across the country.

Yes, the writing’s on the wall.

Cable TV is going the way of the old telephone landline.

And not a moment too soon.

For years, America’s been chaffing under the yoke of the cable slave masters who would exact their pound of flesh every month from their captive audiences.

$28 a month just for basic TV?

That’s the definition of greed and that’s what they were charging before I cut the cord and bought the twins, Mohu and Roku.

And liberation has never tasted so sweet.

Slave masters all throughout history have never understood one thing.

Nothing lasts forever. The more you would squeeze your unwilling captives, the faster your end will come.

Because as one of my good friends would say.

“People can count.”

Winners are losers

June.1. 2013

Winning is good, we all want to win. But winning sometimes does have their unintended consequences – you end up losing.

I suppose the experts in this area are Lance Armstrong, or Bernie Madoff.

But the phenomenon occurs in life too.

You’ve probably noticed people in your life who always want to win in any argument. And they usually do, but who wants to be around with them after that?

I had a friend in school. He was the poster child of winning, if ever there was one. He always had to be Number One. Even when I played duets with him, he would insist he take the first part and I take the second.

I let him win, I played second part, but soon after that I stopped playing with him. Who wants to play second fiddle all the time?

And then there was Khadafy or Qaddafi who ended up in the sewer. One minute, omnipotent ruler, the next, hunted down like a rat in a sewer.

Yes, he won big and he lost big.

So is winning bad?

Not really.

The problem with winning is that it usually involves some loser or losers somewhere.

And there’s nothing worse than having some unhappy loser out there.

I see some analogies between winning and stealing.

When you win, you usually do it at the expense of someone else.

You’re stealing someone else’s victory.

And that someone else will want to get even with you. It could be as simple as just avoiding you after that, or hunting you down in a sewer, or spilling the beans about your doping.

So the solution is simple.

When you win, make sure others win with you. Make it a win-win situation.

Never win at the expense of someone else.

This makes winning harder, because it’s a lot easier to steal from others.

But it’s worth it.

And it’s possible.

Look at guys like Bill Gates, who won big and the world won with them.

Or any of the other innovators or businessmen who came up with a great product or service and made life better for all of us and in the end became super winners themselves too.

And sometimes, it’s good to let other people win too, especially if you’ve already won.

That was Lance Armstrong’s mistake. He got greedy.

How many Tour de France trophies does one man need?

Or for that matter, how much money does one man need?

Since Qaddafi is no longer around, I guess the next best person to answer this question is Bernie Madoff.

Harvesting nature’s abundance in the city

July.24. 2012

This is a follow-up to an earlier article.

The most basic act of harvesting nature’s abundance is transferring it from nature’s domain to your personal domain

For instance, catching a fish and bringing it home.

As long as the fish is in the river, it doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to nature. Only when you catch it and bring it home is it yours.

The same is true of every act of harvesting nature’s abundance.

But you say, you don’t live in a jungle, you live in an urban jungle instead. Where is nature’s abundance in your part of town?

Think about it first, what is most abundant in a city?

Yes, you’re right. It’s people.

And what’s in their pockets?

Money.

Think of all that money walking around you. (We’re assuming you live in a normal city.) That’s nature’s abundance for you.

Unfortunately, just like in the real jungle, that money doesn’t belong to you. You’ll have to find a way to transfer it from those people to you.

And unfortunately, just like in the real jungle, nature doesn’t give up its abundance easily in the city too. Those people will not part with their money easily.

There’s only one way to get them to give you their money.

You’ll have to give them something they want. You’ll have to give them something of value so they will give you their money in exchange.

There’re other ways, of course. For example, you can force them to hand it to you or you can appeal to their conscience and hold up a “will work for food” sign.

But generally, the socially acceptable way is to give people something they want so they will give up their money for that something.

There’re as many ways of doing this as there are human needs and wants.

For example, a basic human need is food. Open a food stand and if you’re good cook, you’ll be harvesting all that money walking around you in no time.

It doesn’t have to be a basic need. Many people want to learn to play guitar. If you’re a guitar player, post a few signs for lessons, and you’ll be making money from teaching guitar in no time too.

All this may be stating the obvious, but that’s all there is to harvesting nature’s abundance in the city.

And yet, people complain about the lack of economic opportunities.

They say they can’t find work.

They protest in the streets about unemployment.

They go on the dole.

When all around them is money walking around.

It’s like the guy in the jungle who complains he doesn’t have food – because he doesn’t want to go out and catch all that food walking or swimming around them.

I go out sometime and see people operating their small taco stands. They don’t complain about lack of jobs or economic opportunities.

Or the guy who teaches guitar in his garage and then gigs at night. He doesn’t complain about lack of jobs either.

The point I’m trying to make is, there’re no lack of opportunities. Nature is abundant wherever you are. You could be living in a desert and there’re still opportunities there.

The problem of harvesting nature’s abundance is not how to go about doing it, but how best to go about it so you reap maximum returns for your time and efforts.

That’s the subject for my next article.