THURSDAY

1. I went to Taco Bell after work and ran into a friend. Ate two chicken tacos, a bean burrito, and a chicken quesadilla. Then, I had to take a massive shit. I saw God on that one. Then, on the way out of the store, I saw the Taco Bell chick sitting outside on the walk smoking a joint. TRUE SHIT.

2. Mark Halperin was suspended from MSNBC for calling Obama a "dick." I don't need to write a joke on this one.

3. A woman was tapped to head the IMF. This is because you can't rape someone with a vagina.

WEDNESDAY

1. Transformers 3 sucks so bad it makes Green Lantern look good.

2. The invention of the cellphone camera has literally changed the world. Now, you can capture every single bowel movement. How did we ever live without it?

3. GOOD NEWS--Coffee retards Alzheimer's. BAD NEWS--Beer speeds it up!

4. For Jacq:



5. For me:



6. My Gamecocks win the CWS again. Say what you will about SC, but we have some great baseball here.

7. I have to be honest about the TSA's latest embarrassment. A woman with a shit filled diaper definitely shouldn't be on a plane.

8. Large iced coffee and a multigrain bagel at Dunkin' Donuts today. $4.30. Beat that Starbucks.

9. The government wants to raise the debt ceiling, so it can incur more debt to pay for the previous debt. This is the national equivalent of paying off the MasterCard with the Visa.

10. Obama says he doesn't need congressional approval for Libya because he runs this motherfucker!

Q & A

Q: Why do you not take vacation?

A: The short answer is that I am not good at managing free time. Left to myself, I am simply going to goof off and end up with regret over time lost.

This question got lobbed at me when I cashed out my vacation time from work. I do this every year. Paid vacation is a form of compensation, but it is really stupid when you think about it. In order to pay for your vacation, the company actually pays you less. It seems like a bonus, but it isn't. They are simply taking a set of bills out of one pocket and putting it back in the other pocket. There is no free lunch here.

Of course, if I didn't have the option of cashing out the time, I still wouldn't take the vacation except to work extra on some second job. This goes back to my short answer I gave earlier. I am going to waste that time because I already do this on weekends, evenings, holidays, etc. The bulk of this wasted time is online. You are reading the product of this wasted time.

Vacations are meaningful if you have a family, but I don't have a family. If I did, I would want to spend all the time I could with my kids and wife. But for a bachelor, vacations are meaningless. As a single guy, the long weekend with some chick is the holy grail of free time. I have enjoyed a few of these, but I never took a day off of work for these trips. They usually happened on Memorial Day weekend or Labor Day weekend. The truth is if it is a choice between a chick and the job, the job always wins. This has angered a lot of women in my life, but I know the job is what matters. I can always get another woman.

I was born with free time. The challenge is filling the time, and the job does this for me. I'd like to say that writing does it as well, but I'm not paid to write. I write in the same way that people tend a flower garden. It is a personal project, but it doesn't pay the bills. But even when the bills are paid, you can only write so much.

I am on the cusp of a resolution that I have considered doing for a long time. It is the craziest thing I have ever contemplated, and it drives people nuts when I talk about it. But I would like to work everyday for the rest of my life. This would require multiple jobs, a personal business, or something. I don't know how I will pull it off, but I really want to do this. I have wanted to do this ever since Gene Simmons said that he works seven days a week. Nobody does this sort of thing except a handful of people I know. Those people are fucking awesome. One lady I know works three jobs. Total workaholic.

I'm nuts. This is the way I am.

Sour Grapes



An anonymous commenter left the remark "sour grapes" on my post yesterday. I thought it was ironic because I was thinking about that very subject myself just the other day. I thought it would make a good blog post, so here it is.

The term "sour grapes" comes from one of Aesop's fables. Once upon a time, a fox was going through the woods when he saw some grapes hanging overhead. They looked very tasty, so he tried to get them. He would run and jump, but he could not reach them. He tried to climb the tree, but he was not adept at climbing. Defeated, the fox looks at the grapes and says, "They are sour anyway." Then, he went on his way.

The point of the story is that it illustrates how people pretend not to want what they do not have or cannot have. There is some truth to it. But what happens when it is something that you can have? And what if these things are simply unreal?

There is one thing I can say unequivocally. Being rich is better than being poor. Having money is better than not having money. Granted, money creates new problems such as fake friends and envy from peers. But these pale in comparison to some poor mother in Africa who has lost her newborn because she could not afford to travel to see a doctor. The fact is that I am very lucky to be born in the USA, and I never forget this. On every measure relative to the rest of the world, Americans are rich. This is why I champion the free market because it is freedom that creates this prosperity and spreads it around the world.

But there is a downside to money, but this is within the mind of the rich person. Some people deal with it well while others do not. People with sudden wealth have a bad habit of blowing it almost as quickly as they acquired it. Then, there are those without money who aspire to be like those rich fools and dig a pit of debt for themselves. Do I envy these people? Nope. You can call this "sour grapes" and say "shit on the haters." But I don't care to be like these debtors.

These things are what are known as "vanities." This would be the fox who actually got the grapes only to find that they are neither sour nor sweet but fake. In our times, these would be the real people that I have witnessed buy houses they could not afford and end up much worse off. The reason I don't fall into disasters like this is a direct result of my modest living. Is this sour grapes on my part? Well, I could have financed a home myself on my good credit considering that bad credit was no longer a barrier to owning a home. In that respect, it was not sour grapes because the grapes were mine anytime I wanted them.

You are never going to hear me say that dating a supermodel isn't worth it. Supermodels are hot, and if you can avail yourself, please do so. For me to knock on supermodels would be sour grapes indeed. I know they are out of my league, but they are still quite delicious. I can also add the Porsche and the Ferrari to the mix. I can't afford those, but they are also quite sweet.

What would it take to get these sweet things? Basically, you need money. So, how do you get money? Well you can work hard and save for it like I do. But the people that buy these things and get fabulously rich don't work. They might put in some long days, but their rewards are completely out of proportion to the labor. I have to laugh when some slick rock star talks about how the band and he were "hard at work" in the studio. Well, I am hard at work at what I do, but you don't see me with millions.

These folks get rich because of luck. The irony is that because people are famous they are not necessarily rich. Some earn a lot and get screwed out of it. Other people are just in the public eye, but they have yet to get a pay day. This would be bloggers popular enough to give up their day jobs, but they still earn at the median income.

I know that I can make a lot of money. This is because I know how the big money gets made. You simply get rid of all moral scruples and work in financial services. Nerds might make decent money as programmers and engineers. Others become doctors and dentists. Still others wait tables and roll the dice for a career in showbiz. But the easy and quick way is to fuck all those other people out of their money. If you doubt this, how many times have you heard of rock stars surprised that they are broke while their manager is making out like a bandit?

The reason I am not rich is very simple. I have moral standards. I never begrudge doctors and entertainers their wealth because they do not deceive anyone to get what they have. I feel sorry for them when they get screwed out of their earnings by duplicitous people without a conscience. These are the people who were getting rich off of the housing bubble, and they even knew it was going to end badly. But fees get collected on the way up and on the way down. If you are someone who believes it is immoral to allow a sucker to keep his money, you want to get yourself into the financial services sector. And don't worry. Uncle Sam will bail you out if things go against you. Slime looks out for its own.

When I was a kid, I used to look at these hot shot players as something I aspired to be. I wanted to be Gordon Gekko. I thought that guy was awesome. But as I got older and wiser, I realized that being like that has a moral cost. This is Slime World. I know it very well, but I don't live there. I don't envy those people. The fact that the people in Slime World dream of getting out should tell you something.

People who live in Slime World believe that others envy them. They don't. Other people simply hate them for being slime. The other is that they believe they have earned their privileged status, and that others are somehow inferior to them. This inferiority is what we in the normal world call "morality." To live in Slime World requires a certain degree of self-delusion and ignorance. For someone like me who knows better, it requires a pure sense of nihilistic evil. I am not able to be this evil. My intelligence divorced from moral constraint would make me wealthy. This is my "weakness." I can't pull this off.

At the end of the day, I want to feel good about how I earn a living. If this means making an average income and living modestly, I am quite fine with that. I have a good life. If I doubt this, I think of Africa or North Korea. I would love to make more, and I will never turn down a raise. But I made the decision a decade ago that whatever I did, it would be in this real and honest world of the blue collar man. Of all the things I write about here, the blue collar theme is the least popular. This is because most of the people who read my blog are white collar office workers. Blue collar people don't read blogs because they are too busy working during the day to get paid to surf the internet.

This leaves me with the toys criticism I make endlessly. I can afford the toys even if I can't afford a Ferrari. I can buy new stuff. I can finance new stuff to leverage out the fun. Or I can go cheap and buy used stuff. But stuff abounds. I can have the boat, the jet ski, the Harley, and a new car. This is because people in my income bracket have these things. But they struggle to make payments while I would prefer not to do this. The other thing is that I am simply not into the toy thing and neither are they. Buying adult toys is what you are supposed to do. This is the "good life."

To have sour grapes, you have to want things that you can't get. For me, I can either get them, or I simply don't want them. So, what do I want that I can't get? This would be that Ferrari and the gorgeous hot babe. That is it. I'm not terribly interested in anything beyond that. If you ever hear me being critical of those two things, that would definitely be sour grapes.

[SOC]

The cool thing about these pieces is that I never know where I will end up when I start them. I just pour some coffee, sit down, and start typing. I surprise myself with some of things I end up writing. My journal has a bunch of this type of stuff, and I am finding things in there that are springboards to other topics to write about.

Is the c-blog getting stale? I think it is because I keep revisiting the same basic topics concerning personal development, being blue collar, the higher ed bubble, McMansions, etc. Part of this comes from the fact that when I write about deeper topics such as the derivatives market, the nature of sports, politics, and the rest, this stuff is largely ignored. I've also developed an interest in Asian and Eastern philosophies as a sort of balance to my Greco-Roman studies. I'm reading up on Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, martial arts, the code of Bushido, and an entire area of understanding that I have only skimmed over during the past two decades. My head is swimming with all sorts of new thoughts and perspectives.

If you want to know what has been dominating my thoughts lately, it is the economy and the recession. I think this is why those familiar topics resonate so much. People feel as if they are waking from a massive deception, and I feel that I am showing the way out of it. I deal more with the political and economic aspects on Facebook, and I deal with the social and psychological aspects here on the blog. People are trying to rethink their lives in the light of the new reality. This is where the minimalist thing comes into play.

95% of personal development is a load of shit. Now, what does this have to do with economics? As Barabara Ehrenreich pointed out, leading up to the collapse of the bubble, people were steeped in this cult of positive thinking. I think this shit goes hand-in-glove with bubble economics. When the good times are rolling, people believe the bullshit. When the bad times hit, they want some reality.

A couple of years ago, I started reading these blogs on personal development. New terms were emerging like "lifestyle design" and "lifehack." Some of the advice was basic and practical such as how to get stains out of a favorite shirt. Other advice was the standard New Thought that gives the industry the flavor of bullshit. The two guys that emerged with the biggest presence on my radar screen were Tim Ferriss and Leo Babauta. These two guys could not be more different from each other.

Tim Ferriss has useful advice. But you have to use a filter with that guy. I was watching a vid with him one day, and he was talking about ways to drive traffic to your blog. He recommended using Google search times in crafting the titles to your blog posts. This is excellent advice. So, I googled "Tim Ferriss scam artist," and this lead to one of the most popular posts on this blog. I deliberately wrote that piece for no other reason than to test his idea. It worked. I would like to say I have done this with other pieces, but I haven't. The thing about this trick is that it doesn't turn one time readers into devoted readers. You aren't build a tribe like Seth Godin talks about.

Tim Ferriss is a slick marketer, and that is it. He is the king of self-promotion, but this is not a sustainable strategy. You need something more, and this is where Leo Babauta comes into the picture. That guy's success is totally different from Tim's success because it was unplanned, unexpected, and surprising. But if all marketing is telling a story, Leo told a story which is what inspired people. People love true stories. But Leo also had something different. He had good advice. Google "leo babauta scam artist" and see what you get.

It would be very easy for me to go totally negative and just go around trashing people. Or as I like to put it, "If you can't join them, beat them repeatedly." But I'm not wired like that. It goes against the empirical. You have to look at people as they are which means giving credit where it is due but also laying blame. Both Ferriss and Babauta have gotten both praise and scorn from me depending upon their viewpoints on different subjects, styles, etc. I aim to be fair. I also take my own medicine.

I am a fan of Leo. I admit it. I have bought at least three of his books and read all the other stuff he has for free on the internet. He inspired me to change my thinking even more on the issue of copyright. His lifestyle advice is stone simple, but it simply works. I am not perfect, but I find when things go crappy for me now it is because I have gotten away from those simple things. I come back to them, and it is all good again.

Before Babauta, my whole thing was TME--time, money, and energy. I just never had enough of these things. I would try things like seeing if I could get by on less than four hours per sleep nightly. I would multitask constantly with pretty shitty results. It was like having a bunch of plates spinning in the air until they would just crash. Then, there was the Ferriss advice I started reading as some way to make this chaos work. Tim was saying that letting those plates fall and smash might actually be a good thing. It isn't. When you overpromise and underdeliver, you come across as a complete ass. This would be Tim Ferriss. I'm sorry, but that guy is a total bubble machine. What I mean is that he seems imbued with that pre-bubble crash entusiasm and lack of sincerity. It is no coincidence that he got into angel investing and tech investing. If you wonder where the next bubble is, it is wherever Tim Ferriss is at the moment.

The Ferriss/Babauta thing got me thinking about the issue of authenticity which is where my blue collar theme comes from. I work a blue collar job earning a wage, but this is by choice. I have had many opportunities to go work in an office somewhere or do something requiring a suit and tie. During the height of the housing bubble, I had a real estate guy beg me to come work for him. He didn't have enough people to capture the momentum in that market. I declined his offer. I also declined to become a mortgage broker during this time. I've also declined three offers for promotion on my job. I choose this blue collar lifestyle. This is because it feels honest and authentic. I have watched those same real estate people without work, mortgage brokers facing criminal prosecution for shady dealings, and three bosses demoted or fired. It is a world of bullshit, and I don't want to be in it. I like my dirty job, and I like earning my living.

The thing I have learned is that there are limits in life. This doesn't mean that you can't do amazing and wonderful things. But all these things are constrained by what is real. This is the time, money, and energy thing again. I only have 24 hours in a day. I need 6 hours of sleep to function. I can only work so many hours in a week. I only have so much money to spend on activities, so sailing yachts is not ever going to be a hobby for me. You have to be realistic about these things. This is where Leo came into the picture.

Leo's answer to everything is to make it simple. He simply applied to self-development the same principles writers apply to their craft, designers apply to their products, and architects apply to their buildings. They all had a style, and that style was minimalism. With minimalism, you turn liabilities into assets. By learning to limit yourself, the limits of time, money, and energy disappear. You find you have plenty of all three again. This is what happened for me.

The biggest effect of this was on my leisure activities. I am a single guy with virtually no responsibilities. This results in a surplus of time and money. Now, I'm not rich. But my particular situation does allow me certain freedoms that other people don't have. I can go out and party all night. I can take a weekend trip to places on a whim. I can indulge many various hobbies with the full knowledge that my kids are not going to starve because I don't have any money. I have friends who have varities of hobbies from golfing to riding motorcycles to hunting to rock climbing to what have you. They don't even have the time or money that I have to spend on such things. So, I decided to give it some thought and think about the things I wanted to do and spend money on. Then, I flipped somewhere. I started seeing the nonsense in all of this stuff. This is where the triathlete bashing comes from because those folks represent for me the absolute pinnacle of a world of vanity. This is because it is a contrived sport that consumes the maximum of time, money, and energy.

I started to really look at the things people spend their time and money on for the sake of leisure. I found it mindblowing. You have people that own $30,000 boats that spend hardly 20 hours a year on the water. You have people that buy Harley-Davidson motorcycles that they hardly ever ride. I know these people. They buy all this shit on credit and make payments on it all. I would consider it money well spent if it resulted in greater enjoyment and satisfaction in life. But it doesn't. This is because this shit is virtually unused. If you doubt this, peruse the ads on Craigslist and eBay for all this equipment being sold slightly used.

I tell people they should go spend $300 on an XBox or PS3 system. This is because those things are relatively cheap compared to a boat or a motorcycle, and they get used heavily. For me, it would be my computer, my iPod, and my Kindle. I encourage people to do things they enjoy. I am not against the enjoyment. I just think spending money on high priced items you virtually never use is dumb. People scream at spending more for gas which is something they need but don't seem to mind making payments on that Jet Ski that collects dust in the garage.

The reason people buy this shit is for the sake of vanity and status. I regularly make fun of the Friday Parade of Weekend Warriors. These are the people with their gear strapped to the roofs of their cars or on a trailer behind their vehicle. Just the other day, I pointed out a car with a mountain bike and a kayak on the roof rack. I asked my friend if he thought the guy would do both the cycling or the kayaking. Or would he do one while someone stole the boat or the bike he left on the car.

The real reason that guy put his gear up there is to show off. I know this. The pleasure comes from parading it around town. I doubt he did either of those things. This is because South Carolina is a really shitty state for both mountain biking and kayaking. It's like having a snowmobile in Florida. Here, you can do any sporting activity you like so long as it is hunting and fishing.

I deal with this weekend warrior bullshit every Friday when I have to navigate a highway of boats and campers. Then, I have to deal with it on Monday when everyone asks me about my weekend. Now, don't get me wrong. I have a lot of fun in my free time. You just can't brag about it. This is because I spend the time writing on this blog, making smart ass remarks on Facebook, and reading books. We call this "goofing off." It would be way more glamorous to tell about a fishing adventure or rock climbing. But unless something goes wrong, these things are not that exciting which is why people end up with a bunch of expensive shit they don't use.

I have to give some credit to triathletes. They do tend to use the shit they buy. But a triathlete is simply a runner who wanted to buy shit. You don't see runners with their shoes on a roof rack on their car. You can't even tell if people run unless they wear a T-shirt from a race. This lead me to realize that there is an entire world of activities out there that are very fun, low cost, and require little to no equipment. Running is one. Bowling is another. Then, there is chess, billiards, bridge, board games, ultimate frisbee, and on and on. Yet, I hardly meet anyone who does these things. I meet way more golfers than bowlers. Why is this? Marketing.

You can't market bodyweight exercises. The best you can do is market the DVD. But you can market all sorts of exercise equipment. When there is something to buy, the marketing comes into the picture. Activities that require gear get promoted over those that don't. The result is that the non-gear activities are enriching while the gear activities are impoverishing. Essentially, all these weekend warrior types are a bunch of goddamn sheep.

The difference between people in my peer group and myself is that I am not making payments on anything. That's it. I have one friend who does a lot of weekend warrior shit, but he actually does those things. And he does it all on the cheap. He doesn't have any payments either. He's the guy who ends up buying your used stuff off of eBay for a fraction of the cost. If he ever grows tired of an activity, he turns around and sells the stuff to the next guy.

All of these things are related for me. I see all these topics as a comprehensive whole. I see the relationship between the Fed pumping out cheap money and the expensive unused boat in the garage of the McMansion and the bullshit jobs in corporations. These things are counterfeit. They are vanity. They are only made possible by bubble economics. It is not wealth but the illusion of wealth. As you understand these things, you see the divide in the entire economy between the real and the fake. It is the difference between an ugly uncut diamond and some cubic zirconia shit you buy off some TV shopping channel. You have to look beyond the surface and see what it is that you really have.

When people talk about downshifting, you get this idea that it means some sort of diminishment in the way you live. This isn't true. It is simply the difference between drinking a cup of coffee from Starbucks versus the cup of coffee from Dunkin' Donuts. I'm going to tell you that I have had both, and the Dunkin' Donuts coffee is much better. It isn't about being poor. It is about having things and experiences that are real.

People need to hear this message. The world is waking up from a bullshit delusion, and they are screaming at a reality they consider hell in comparison to the delusion. It is like getting that expensive boat repossessed. It is mortifying and humiliating. Your credit is trashed. Your fake status is gone. But you don't have that damn monthly payment anymore, and you didn't use the thing anyway. You find the freedom from it is more satisfying than the slavery to it. But a lot of people have yet to hear the message, and I am laughing at them. I'm not fooled. Other people can be fooled but not me. Debt does not inspire envy but pity.

So, I will end back with Leo Babauta. That guy is totally different from all the other people out there. He is real, and you can do the same things he did. I know because this is what I am doing. I came to this mindset kicking and screaming, but here I am. Less is more. Clear out the clutter and the bullshit. Simplify and enjoy the freedom it brings.

[U.] HAARP

a long time ago in galaxy far far away the u-man was kicking ASS and he kicks ass HERE AND NOW. give up the love for the GREATEST BLOGGER EVER. u-man is in the house!!!

the government can control the weather, your bowels, and your MIND. open your eyes to the TRUTH.

jesse ventura drops the k-bomb on your BRAINS. fucking HAARP bitches:



we got the J-man hitting it from the back with double penetration. alex jones with TRUTH about fluoride and HAARP:



tired of being broke? can't get laid? got some CHEESE? bring some crackers because randy gage has got the cheddar:



success BITCHES!! dream it and skeme it!!! SHIT WORKS.

the u-man has hit it hard today. you need to go clean yourself up. SHIT ON THE HATERS. nothing but a bunch of loser punk ass BITCHES. u-man OUT.

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects

1. RYAN DUNN

This guys drinks, drives like a nut, and destroys himself and his passenger in a total glorious nihilistic ball of flame and wreckage. In a thousand years, no one will care. Well, no one will care in a month except the ones who knew him. Everything dies including you and me. See you, Ryan. You made me laugh many times. Thanks for the reminder that we are all mortal.

2. CLOONEY KEEPING THE FAITH

George Clooney busted up with his hot Italian girlfriend. That relationship lasted two years which is about average for Clooney. All I can say is that I am proud of the guy for staying a bachelor and kicking bitches to the curb.

3. HACKERS

LulzSec will achieve one goal. They will almost certainly give the government all the excuses it needs to regulate the internet.

Living Without Ambition




Once upon a time, there were two guys. One guy was called "Renaissance Man." The other guy was "Zen Master." Both were interested in living fulfilling and happy lives, but they had different ideas and strategies about what constituted the good life.

Renaissance Man was very ambitious. He kept a notebook, and he made lists of all the things he wanted to accomplish. He held nothing back in this endeavor. Once he was done, he had an impressive list of projects to tackle, and he was enthusiastic about it all. So, he began trying to achieve these ambitions. He put together To Do lists, and he motivated himself with posters and audio recordings and books from motivational speakers. But as Renaissance Man did more, he became frustrated. He accomplished some things, but these accomplishments were dwarved by his ambitions. He struggled to get more out of himself and to be more productive. He envisioned his future self enjoying the culmination of his ambitions. But the more he tried, the more he ran headlong into the fact that he didn't have enough time, money, and energy to pull it off. Despite being ambitious, he was a failure.

Zen Master was not ambitious. He fixed a few bad habits and spent his days pursuing modest goals. He needed no motivation because he enjoyed his activities. He found he had the time, money, and energy to fulfill his desires. This was because he had lessened his desires to the minimum. He wanted few things, and he was able to get what he wanted.

Now, the question we must ask is this. Who was successful? Is it the one who failed to attain ambitious goals? Or is it the one who achieves modest goals?

Success is defined as achieving a desired outcome. There is no normative standard for success. It is always relative to those desires which are different for each person. It does not matter if the desired outcome is ambitious or humble. Success is the attainment of the outcome. This simple definition indicates a strategy. The easiest way to become successful is to have modest desires. This is the kernel of the minimalist philosophy. You will find this in traditions from Epicurus to the Stoics to practitioners of Buddhism.

Failure is defined as not achieving a desired outcome. The one thing all failures have in common is ambition. This would be the actor waiting tables in Hollywood in the dashed hope of being the next Brad Pitt. Being ambitious does not make a person successful. In fact, the moment ambition is born that person is a failure until the outcome has been achieved. The ambitious person lives almost entirely in the future. Until that future comes, life is frustration and grief.

Some people will argue that ambition has been the fuel for great things. We think of Charles Lindbergh crossing the Atlantic or the moon landing as the fruits of ambitious undertaking. But Columbus discovered the New World by accident. Penicillin was the result of one man's poor housekeeping in the lab. The fact is that many accomplishments come by accident as much as by ambition. Impotence was cured in the failure to remedy male pattern baldness. Potato chips were invented by a smart ass trying to piss off a customer.

So, should we proceed along the path of deliberation or the path of chaos? It doesn't really matter since both yield desirable outcomes. With the chaos method, the desire is ex post facto. We draw the target around where the arrow has landed. The irony is that ambition and deliberation could cost us an even more desirable outcome than the one desired.

Some would say that we should live without goals, but this is not possible. Everything we do implies a goal. If you take a shower, the goal is to get clean. If you eat food, the goal is to alleviate hunger. We see from this simple logic that all human action is goal oriented.

An ambition is distinct from a goal because it is an earnest desire to achieve something. This desire is above and higher than a mere desire. My goal might be to make myself breakfast. My ambition may be to open a restaurant that serves breakfast. One is hardly worth mentioning while the other is a big deal. A goal is immediately served by reality while an ambition is created in the mind long before it finds itself in the world. Unfortunately, most ambition remains at this mental stage. As such, an ambition is an unfufilled desire. This is why ambitious people are called "dreamers."

The other irony of ambition is that when the ambition is reached it is never satisfying. This is what the writer of Ecclessiastes referred to when he said, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." The author of that work attained what he desired, but it left him empty. Things are never as good as we dreamed them. Why is this?

All ambition is fundamentally a desire that is contrary to reality. Ambition is frustration and disappointment both along the way and in the completion. The joy and thrill of ambition comes from the dreaming. If you doubt this, consider the man who prefers spending his days with pornography as opposed to his flesh-and-blood girlfriend. The fantasy is preferable to the reality. Ambition is simply a fantasy.

The person with great dreams and plans is akin to the porn addict. The pleasure comes more from the dreaming and the planning than the doing. This is why aficionados of self-development achieve so little. It is more fun to plan things than to do those things. Dreams are more pleasurable than reality. The entire industry is like one gigantic dream factory providing many emotional highs about the possibilities that await. But as Oscar Wilde pointed out, there are only two tragedies in life. One is not getting what you want. The other is getting it.

Success is simply a desire made real, and the best strategy for success is to limit those desires. This runs counter to the self-development industry with its endless manufacturing of ambition. It is the rejection of ambition in favor of simplicity. This is the heart of the minimalist philosophy. Material excess is a form of ambition. Multitasking is another form of ambition. Ambition is the divorce of goals and reality. The antidote is to live without ambition.

This idea is anathema to a world of self-development that preaches to us that we should fulfill our destinies. We should reach for the stars and never settle for second best and blah blah blah. But I test these things by the empirical standard. Does these people actually accomplish these things? I'm sure some do, but I don't see it among the devotees. I think this approach is misguided and harmful.

All we do or ever will do is limited by reality. For instance, multitasking is the belief that we can multiply time, but the evidence is in on this practice. Multitasking doesn't work. It takes longer to do multiple things at the same time with less satisfactory results. Speaking from personal experience, I've never pulled this off beyond yammering on my cellphone behind the wheel of my car. I've also had enough close calls to now eschew the practice. Now that I pay full attention to the road, I notice all the other people talking or texting behind the wheel. Their driving is extremely poor.

Once you accept the limits of reality, you must by necessity turn to simplicity. The ironic thing is that as you strip away all these desires you feel a certain elation. This is relief. You never noticed it before, but all those desires were weighing you down. You let them go more and more. You decide to cross Everest off your bucket list. You realize that learning seven languages may impress your friends, but you have done just fine in life knowing just one. The Renaissance Man stops being the Renaissance Man and becomes the Zen Master. He empties his cup.

This process of emptying brings peace and serenity. You no longer desire what could be. You desire what is. This is harmony. It does not mean that you cease working, living, or doing important things. But you accept all possibilities with the same attitude. You focus less on the end and more on the process. You let things develop as they must as a consequence of the process. You live in the moment. You live in reality but in a fuller and deeper way.

The main criticism of Zen is that it is based upon a contradiction. You cannot live without all desire since this would be a desire. But Zen is less contradictory than paradoxical. For instance, is it your ambition to win the lottery? For some, it is, and they are sorely disappointed many times. For others more numerate, the answer is no. They do not waste their time on such pipe dreams. Yet, if they were gifted a ticket and won the lottery, would they turn down the winnings? I doubt it. So, do they desire to win the lottery or not? This is the paradox of Zen. The answer is yes and no.

This struck home to me when a coworker of mine said very wise words to me. He said, "There is no such thing as a smooth day at work." This struck me as very profound. The reason is because most of my frustrations on the job come from the ambition of having a smooth day. But this never happens. Every day is a series of problems that must be solved. This is the essence of work. The expectation of a smooth day was unrealistic and brought me grief. So, I let this ambition go. The result is now a smooth day at work. That is the paradox. By giving up the desire, I fulfilled the desire.

We all experience these paradoxes. By living as a pauper, you become rich. By becoming less ambitious, you become more successful. By eliminating the unnecessary, life becomes fuller. By enduring the pain of exercise, you feel better. By having fewer goals, you achieve more. We live Zen more than we realize.

Can you live a life with zero goals and desire? The answer to that is no. This is negation. By focusing on negation, you end up in the very misery you wish to escape. The fundamental thing here is harmony. Harmony is having desire that matches reality. It is not wishing for what should be but accepting what is. The irony is that reality sometimes exceeds what we could have expected.

The way to live without ambition is to reject dreams and go with possibilities. Ambition seeks control, but this control is an illusion. Living with possibilities is being open to different outcomes including the bad and the fabulous. When you live in this way, you experience the opposite of ambition. Where ambition makes life seem frustrating, possibilities make life exciting. Where ambition leads us to outcomes that never live up to expectations, possibilities lead us to outcomes that exceed our dreams. And setbacks aren't so tragic but simply part of the learning curve.

It is difficult for people to let go of ambition and go with possibility. Their minds cannot grasp it. It is too paradoxical and mind blowing. But it does work. We live in times when people have followed the conventional wisdom about ambition. Where has it gotten them? Why are so many with so much so unhappy? And why do we envy people with simple lives? Why has minimalism become so appealing?

To make this practical, living without ambition is very simple. Focus on the process. Don't make it your goal to achieve X, Y, and Z. Just make it your goal to work each day and see what happens. Don't waste time in daydreaming. Just do the work. Lose yourself in the doing. Then, stop and compare this new way of living with the old ambitious way. Do not compare what you could be with what you are. Simply compare your actual ambitious self with this new unambitious self. See if Renaissance Man or Zen Master is better. See who actually achieves more. I can only say that for me going the Zen route has done much more for me.

PRICKS--Keith Olbermann



For those familiar with my series on Heroes, Villains, and Pricks, this bit of info will be a repeat. For those new to this series, a prick is someone who is almost a hero but disgraces himself in such a way that he falls short of the mark. A prick is someone not quite bad enough to be a villain but not good enough to be a hero either. Keith Olbermann is a prick.

As I write this, Keith Olbermann is starting his new gig on backwater cable network Current TV which is Al Gore's project. KO is a difficult person to work with. This is is why he got fired from MSNBC. He might try and claim principle and whatnot, but the guy was fired from ESPN as well. This has nothing to do with his politics but his asshole personality. He is the type of guy you want to take out back and kick the shit out of him. Keith has made a career out of this sort of thing.

The redeeming aspect of Keith Olbermann is the fact that he does have courage. He doesn't have brains or tact, but he does have the balls to say what he thinks and do things his way. As stupid as he is, the world needs people like Olbermann. They are the ones who tell it like it is when no one else will.

Of course, Keith is a leftard and a partisan. He did a good job excoriating Bush, but he just hasn't been there on Obama. He has also said some really dumb shit along the way. Like I said, the guy is a prick. But for a prick, I am glad he is on the air.

Leo Babauta and Others on Living Without Goals

Today, I live mostly without goals. Now and then I start coming up with a goal, but I’m letting them go. Living without goals hasn’t ever been an actual goal of mine … it’s just something I’m learning that I enjoy more, that is incredibly freeing, that works with the lifestyle of following my passion that I’ve developed.


The Best Goal is No Goal

Thus, begins an epic debate.

Leo Babauta has decided to live without goals. For someone who has made goals such a big part of changing your habits to using time better in work like Zen to Done, this is a change for Leo, and I admire him for it. Unfortunately, this has created disagreement from others.

David Damron writes:

This was extremely tough for me to grasp. I have led my life focused on goals and have been able to achieve much by doing so. In fact, my latest project Destination X is all about achieving a goal thus there is a concentration of focus on a goal. So, when Leo brought this topic up at WDS, I was again having inner struggles as I admire Leo for what he has accomplished, but I am unable to agree with him on such a hard and fast approach he has taken in his life.


David Damron isn't buying it. But Leo Babauta responds in a brilliant piece that I think is better than his original piece:

. . .without goals, a lot of people wouldn’t do anything — which I don’t believe is true. Freed of goals, I highly doubt that most of us would just sit around doing nothing. That would bore us — interesting, talented people want to do something. So we would — we’d get excited and create. Sure, there would be a few people who sit around doing nothing — but those people are setting goals for themselves and are sitting around not achieving those goals, and feeling guilty about it.

That’s the thing: even with goals, some people aren’t going to achieve anything, because they haven’t figured out how to motivate themselves. Goals don’t do that for you — they just make you feel guilty that you haven’t gotten them done. And even without goals, people who are motivated are people who will get excited and do stuff. They’ll accomplish something great, no matter what.


Now, here's my take on things. The reason Leo lives without goals now is because he is living the life that he always wanted. He has "arrived." He has his family. He is free from bad habits and debt. He is in awesome shape. He has reached a state of contentment. Others want to live the same way, so this way of living would be a goal for them much as it was for Leo when he didn't live this way and struggled with being a smoking, fat, stressed out, and debt burdened loser. But once these things were achieved, what was left to do?

What Leo has done is cut to something deeply philosophical. Unfortunately, it falls to the deep thinking blogger (yours truly) to unpack all of this and explain why there is such a debate on this issue of goals. For Leo, it is about being free to follow his passions, but this is not exactly precise. You can follow your passions and still have goals. In fact, someone will be clever and say that Leo really does have goals and always will. Arguing differently would amount to explaining the sound of one hand clapping. The issue is not goals. Leo messed up by using the wrong word.

The word Leo should have used is "ambition." Everywhere that I read him using goals as a term, I find that ambition fits way better. Much of the debate would be over with just by switching to that one term. A goal is simply a destination or a direction. It could be as vague as "heading West" to as precise as arriving at a specified address. In this context, we all have goals including Leo. When he sits down to craft a post for his blog, he has given himself a goal. Not living with goals in this sense is a logical impossibility. A "task" might be an even better term to use.

Ambition is different. Ambition is a desire. The thing you pick up from Leo is how influential Asian culture is on what he does and how he lives. Leo will make pains to point out that he is not exactly a Zen monk, and the title of his blog "Zen Habits" is almost accidental along with the Taoist symbol he uses. But his philosophy of life is deeply Asian. This philosophy is in conflict with the Western mindset that comes heavily from Aristotle.

Aristotle is very goal centered. He mentions again and again in his writings the concept of the telos or "the end." A telos is a purpose or a goal, and Aristotle's writings return to this concept again and again. Everything in our lives has a telos resulting in the ultimate telos of happiness. Now, you are probably wondering what the hell telos has to do with personal development bloggers, but Leo and David are simply recreating debates that are thousands of years old. Personal development is simply today's version of philosophy.

I think in terms of philosophy as a strategy for living, so I will try and explain the East/West clash of Leo and David as best I can. With Leo, the influence is Buddhist especially Zen Buddhism which stresses the absence of desire. Ambition is essentially a desire, but the desire causes us grief and pain. When you live with ambition, every day is a failure because you aren't where you want to be. Ambition is living in the future instead of the present. Because of this, your enthusiasm becomes diminished. You measure each day by that future self that has arrived at the ambition. And what happens when you do make it? You pick another ambition to pursue. You realize that ambition is a relentless taskmaster, and it sucks the enjoyment out of life.

David Damron argues, "I believe that we can achieve far greater things by establishing a plan of action towards a desired goal." David is directly from that Aristotelian school. Aristotle said that you could not judge a man's happiness until after that man was dead. This is because we cannot say that he fulfilled his end or telos until he was actually done living. The best you can say is that he was on his way to fulfilling his end. This matters because it is how we determine if someone has been a success or not. Based on Platoon and Wall Street, we would say that Charlie Sheen was on the path to becoming a serious actor. But where is he now?

Leo addresses this telos thinking brilliantly here:


A few years ago, I did a post talking about your life’s purpose: The Key to Dying Happy.

It’s still a good method, but I don’t do it anymore. That doesn’t mean the things I set out as my purpose aren’t important to me anymore — I just go about doing them differently. Let’s take a quick look at how I do that. From the post:

Leo’s Mission

He was an amazing dad.

He made his wife happy.

He was a good, compassionate person.

He made the lives of others better (especially those in need).

He was a great writer.

He was happy.

Here’s the remarkable thing — you could say those things about me right now. I mean, whether I’m a great writer or whether I make the lives of others better — those are debatable, sure. But I definitely try: I’m happy, and I do my best every day to be a good father, husband, writer and compassionate person.

So I’m not so focused on the end of my life — but on right now. Instead of setting these goals for the end of my life (which I did several years ago), I get excited about all these things, right now, and do them every day because I’m excited about them. I love being a dad, a husband, a writer, a friend. I absolutely get up excited about these things every day, and am grateful I have the chance to do them.


Leo has had a profound epiphany. Life is about the doing and not what you have done or what you are going to do. The Aristotelian influence is so heavy in the culture and among the self-development people that life is lived almost purely in future terms. The reason Leo is so popular and so different from all those other gurus is because he is slowly rejecting this Aristotelian foundation for all of this crap. Even Aristotle admitted that the feeling of happiness is experienced as a byproduct of living your life.

The predominant mantra of the personal development world is to set goals and pursue them. You have to have passion, desire, motivation, etc. Then, comes the rah-rah cheerleading that is already fading by the time you are fishing for your car keys in the parking lot. The fact that so many people fail with this strategy and keep coming back for more is evidence that this strategy is flawed.

Leo gives living proof to his strategy which runs counter to this crap. His way is almost virtually the opposite of what we learn here in society. He began with a small desire to quit smoking, and he tackled it with humility. He won. Then, he moved on to the next thing. Now, he is exactly where he wants to be. If we determine success as the completion of our desires, Leo is a success. He is rewriting the rules for success.

The conventional wisdom is that a life without ambition will make you a bum. Leo deals with this masterfully:

Goals take credit for our accomplishments, like a bad boss does in the company’s annual report. But we all know who did the work to get those accomplishments — the workers. The boss just acted as a taskmaster but mostly got in the way with a lot of pressure and asking for time-consuming reports.

Goals are the same: we give them a lot of credit for our accomplishments, but they didn’t do the work.


Our achievements are the product of work. That's it. In companies, you have these insane managers that waste all day in meetings, sending emails, having action item lists, crafting mission statements, and on and on. I know because I have lived with it my entire working life. None of it amounts to anything. When I go to work, I have one item on my task list--DO WORK. That's it. I just show up and work. Amazingly, shit gets done. Leo says the same thing applies to your life.

I've been on both sides of this debate, so I know it intimately. When I used to be very critical of Leo, I was heavy on the Aristotle thing. You want to know a secret? That Renaissance Man shit didn't do a thing for me. It was ambition, bravado, and stupidity. I was trying to be Chuck Norris when I should have been more like Bruce Lee.

I can't tell people the right path to take since I find that every philosophy or life strategy has its pluses and minuses. I can only judge them by the empirical results. The Renaissance Path as I call this Aristotelian thinking fails because it is ambitious. When I was on that path, it was the same trinity of frustration--time, money, and energy. I never had enough of these three resources to accomplish my ambitions. If you want to know what this looks like, just check out Tim Ferriss who is all about creating hacks to solve these problems of time, money, and energy. His advice is less solution and more self-delusion. This is why he comes across as a con artist. Delusion is the only way to deal with the failure because everyday is failure on this path.

I realized I had changed on this issue when I was having a convo with my brother, and he talked about the goals he had for his business. This struck me as odd. I had never thought about it before, but it seemed to me a really dumb way to think. This is because no matter what, my brother was going to do the same thing everyday regardless if he achieved his goals or not. He was going to work. Victory or defeat are meaningless when you see the enemy over the hill amassing their army. You are simply going to fight. Stopping to write down your goal of how many enemies you want to kill that day is absurd. Do you stop at that number? Or do you just fight until there is no one left to kill?

I've learned that the best thing to do is not to focus on the telos but on the process. The telos takes care of itself. Just do the work. Live in the moment. Be engrossed in what is happening right now. And do not judge. Things may work or may not work. Most successes come at the end of a string of failures. When you have no ambition, this is no big deal. With ambition, each failure brings massive anguish.

In my life, I have been stripping away at the vanities of materialism, pride, status, and now, ambition. These things are not real and often lead to self-delusion. I find myself taking this simpler and humbler path that Leo is on. And it works. My life is better now than it was before. As the Unknown Blogger would put it, "Shit works."

I will write more on this topic, but I can say that I am on Leo's side on this one. Ambition is not the same as work. Goals do not bring happiness. Doing brings happiness. Leo seems to be doing fine without ambition, and I can say that I am doing fine, too.

Joshua Becker on Minimalism

We live in a world that idolizes celebrities. They are photographed for magazines, interviewed on the radio, and recorded for television. Their lives are held up as the golden standard and are envied by many. People who live minimalist lives are not championed by the media in the same way. They don‘t fit into the consumerist culture that is promoted by corporations and politicians. Yet, they live a life that is attractive and inviting. While most people are chasing after success, glamour, and fame, minimalism calls out to us with a smaller, quieter, calmer voice. It invites us to slow down, consume less, but enjoy more. And when we meet someone living a simplified life, we often recognize that we have been chasing after the wrong things all along.

What is Minimalism?

This article is so good that I had to share it. I could quote from it in various places, and each one would be good. But the gist of the piece is the fundamentally countercultural nature of the minimalist lifestyle. To be a minimalist is to be different from the herd. Being a minimalist is having a different set of values than the ones that dominate our current society.

The problem with society is that it values the counterfeit. I have always had certain values in my life such that I have eschewed the credit card and the acquisitive lifestyle. I just find it refreshing that people are learning what I have always known. Expensive stuff bought on a credit card is not true wealth. It seems that everyone is desperate to live the lives they see on television, but television is make believe.

I also enjoyed this bit:

A minimalist life is completely achievable. My family stands as living proof. We were just your typical family of four living in the suburbs accumulating as much stuff as our income and credit cards would allow. Then, we found minimalism. We have embraced an intentional lifestyle of living with less and will never go back to the way life was before. And we stand as living proof that minimalism is completely achievable (and unique) to anyone who seeks it.


The minimalist lifestyle is enviable, but I have to laugh when people claim that they can't do it. That makes no sense to me. I could understand someone saying they can't become a bodybuilder because they don't have the time or the discipline. I can understand someone saying they can't live in a mansion because they are too poor to afford one. But minimalism is just getting rid of stuff and simplifying. How hard is it to stop buying stuff? How hard is it to get rid of stuff that doesn't matter anyway?

What makes minimalism difficult for people to embrace is the mental programming they are living with. They can't let this shit go. They are programmed to live in a certain way that makes no sense, but they are going to stick with it. It doesn't faze me because I don't really care how other people live or spend the money they don't have. I care when people in politics say that I need to bail them out. Fuck that.

The problem is that people are fed one version of the good life which involves the accumulation of stuff while not considering that the good life is not about owning stuff but doing stuff. Speaking from personal experience, I live very simply in terms of the material, but I am always doing something in the way of work, activity, etc. I do not feel that my life is diminished because I choose not to own a bunch of shit. I feel free to do more things because I don't have all this stuff weighing me down.

[SOC]

I just got through writing an epic entry in the journal. It was like lancing a boil. I can be brutally honest in that thing where I can't be that way here. Starting that journal is turning out to be a good decision.

99% of the issues I have concern the people in my life. It isn't that my life is perfect, but I just don't have money or substance abuse problems. When you don't have problems, you have to import them from elsewhere.

I am essentially a shit magnet. Shitty people have to come into my life. This is because being a good person attracts moochers. So, you have to stop being good. And the thing I have learned about women is that the ones who want a relationship are the moochers while the ones who buy you drinks and pay for the room are just looking for sex.

It is a wasteland if you are looking for meaningful human connection. I have watched and heard stories of women who hooked a man for money and then took that money to go spend on another man. It is not so bad if you are the man getting paid. It really sucks when you are the man paying. This strikes me as utterly cold and evil.

If a woman is with a man for his money, I think it is perfectly fine if that man cheats on her. She is simply another whore that he chose to buy instead of rent. This is Shannon Tweed. Sorry, but there it is. I do feel for someone like Sandra Bullock who deserves way better than Jesse James. But I've watched enough of Family Jewels to tell you that Shannon Tweed is all about the cash. She loves to spend. Gene loves to make it, so there you go.

The problem with Gene Simmons, Tiger Woods, and other philanderers is their lack of integrity. Why get married? Yes, I know Gene is not married, but he is as close to married as a guy can get. Here in SC, they are common law married. But if you are a womanizer, be honest about it and live accordingly. Don't get married.

The reason these guys get married is because they really do want something deeper and meaningful. They just can't stop this other thing. I can tell that Gene really loves Shannon while these bimbos he screws are essentially enhanced masturbation. I don't think Shannon is worth it, but that's just me.

I am just glad to be free at this point. The only argument against bachelorhood is some vague reference to dying alone someday. But if she dies first, then you die alone. The only surefire way to not die alone is to get married and then shoot yourself.

It is better to be single and happy than married and miserable. Most married people are miserable. Marriage is a crock of shit.

[U.] Plum Island

bitches and whores!! U-MAN IS DOWN TO FUCK!! don't dread it. SPREAD IT!! pull that skirt up and let the u-man hit it one good time. U-MAN IS IN THE HOUSE. give up the love, bitches!

biological weapons. mutant animals. mutant HUMANS. watch the TRUTH about PLUM ISLAND:




time to talk shit about the c-man who is a BITCH!! he is a broke ass fucker with a blog. THAT'S IT. complete LOSER!! why listen to him? LISTEN TO RANDY GAGE:



prosperity FOOLS!! shit WORKS!!

u-man is up out this motherfucker. ALWAYS STACKING CHEESE. got cheddar? didn't think so. SHIT ON THE HATERS!! suck this U-DICK!! peace out.

Quotable Quotes

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
ARISTOTLE

My son is now an ‘entrepreneur’. That’s what you’re called when you don’t have a job.
TED TURNER

There is not enough love and goodness in the world to permit giving any of it away to imaginary beings.
FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE

All I ask for is an opportunity to prove that money doesn't buy happiness.
ANONYMOUS

Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.
HENRY DAVID THOREAU

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects

1. LEO BABAUTA'S HABITS COURSE

Leo Babauta has "disgraced" himself by offering a $497 habit course to participants in changing lifestyles and habits. This has led to criticism.

I don't get paid by anyone to endorse anything here. I do this gig for free. As such, I don't think I have the bias that such payments would bring since it wouldn't make sense to bite the hand that feeds me. But I try to be evenhanded in my criticism whether it is a guy like Tim Ferriss or Leo Babauta.

The Habit Course is basically a $500 deal for personal life coaching. The time invested in this costs somebody something. One of the steps that Leo recommends for people is to be public about the commitment to change a habit. For him, this meant starting a personal blog that became Zen Habits. Most people aren't going to do this because they either can't blog, code HTML, write, or want to open themselves up to the entire wide world. As such, this course is on par with hiring a personal trainer who does the same thing. The personal trainer gives the foot up the ass to make the change.

People will say that this personal coaching isn't worth the $500 price tag. The advice is already free on sites like Zen Habits. You can buy a book for $10 that will do the same thing. I tend to agree. The price of the course seems like a waste. But people do find value in the course where I don't. The customer is always right. I feel confident that the people who sign up for the course are already familiar with the advice. It isn't a lack of knowledge but a simple lack of self-discipline. Plus, you get $300 worth of books and a money back guarantee. It sounds like I am selling this program, but I'm not. These are fair terms since no effort is being made to flim-flam anyone. If you find no value in the product, you can get your money back. You can't get any more fair than this.

I think what rankles the critics is Leo's deliberate profit making with this venture. As a capitalist, this doesn't faze me. As long as he is not defrauding his customers, I don't care. And as someone who has read his advice, there is no fraud here like you will find with people peddling herbal remedies or the Law of Attraction. Leo strikes me as a very generous guy since his website is free and works under an uncopyright rule. He carries no advertising on his sites even though such advertising is certain to be lucrative considering he gets a million visits each month. But this would indicate a lack of integrity on his part. This is where people are upset.

Leo runs the risk of guilt by association. Leo offers real solutions. He embodies what he teaches. He is a genuine and sincere and nice guy. Trust me, I am a no-bullshit guy, and I don't get any whiff of bullshit from Babauta. I cannot say the same for Tim Ferriss or Steve Pavlina. The Habit Course reminds people so much of that huckster crap that it is understandable why people might feel betrayed on this. Is this something Leo should address? Yes.

The reason Babauta became so popular with his self-improvement advice was because it was simple, and it works. In his way, Leo was the anti-establishment hero. Now, with the Habits Course, Leo is becoming the establishment. He risks alienating the fans by straying from his principles and associating with the crap element. At some point, people will look to this Habit Course as the moment when Babauta jumped the shark.

The answer for Babauta is pretty simple. GET A FUCKING JOB. A real job doing real work allows you the freedom to live with integrity. I understand the need for Babauta to monetize his project. People have to eat. Websites don't pay for themselves. Blogging and producing content eats time that could be spent on paying projects or with friends and family. The answer to this dilemma is simple. Put out a tip jar. This isn't advertising. It doesn't cut you off from non-paying customers. It doesn't compromise your integrity. And it only takes a fraction of your readership making donations to keep a site going. I suspect Leo went along with this Habit Course project because he got talked into doing it by all these other people connected to the project. But I might be wrong on this.

Babauta hasn't compromised my principles with this project, but he may be compromising his own principles. He's the socialist not me. I think I have been fair with this piece.




2. WEINER'S RESIGNATION

I can think of may reasons why I think Anthony Weiner made the correction decision to resign. His dick isn't one of them. It has more to do with his politics and his voting record than his extracurricular activities. I don't really care about the sex lives of politicians until they start sticking their noses in the sex lives of others. This would be that piece of shit Eliot Spitzer who went after prostitution really hard as a prosecutor while paying to shag the very fuckable Ashley Dupre. As far as I know, Weiner never was as hypocritical as this. Moral hypocrisy tends to be a Republican thing.



My advice to anyone in the spotlight is to do the Charlie Sheen thing and embrace being a scoundrel. I do this. As long as you are never on that moral pedestal in the first place, there is nowhere for you to fall.

3. GENE SIMMONS AND SHANNON TWEED

From the looks of it, Shannon Tweed is done with Gene Simmons. They are not married but have been a couple for 28 years. But it is obvious that Gene has cheated on Shannon many times. It is also obvious that Shannon was with Gene for the money as she is a big time shopaholic. Married or not, their relationship is exactly what most couples are like that I see. The husband has multiple affairs while the wife has one or two affairs of her own and maxes out the credit card. Marriage is essentially a very unhealthy business relationship. The only good thing to come out of these unions are the kids. But as Gene and Shannon show, you don't need to be married to have kids and raise them.

As I have said before, love and marriage are a fucking farce. People that marry are fools. People that remarry are even bigger fools. The good thing I can say about Gene and Shannon is that they were open eyed enough to never do the nuptials in the first place. This will be less money for the lawyers when they go their separate ways.



4. HEF GETS JILTED

I don't know what to say about the collapse of Hugh Hefner's wedding plans. Undoubtedly, it was a rare burst of common sense from a woman who realized that some things just aren't worth the money. As for Hef, he should know better. For him, there should be more to life than sex.

5. OBAMA'S ILLEGAL WAR

The only hard news item I can comment on is the fact that Obama has no congressional approval for warfare in Libya and doesn't seem to think he needs any. This fucker needs to be impeached, but it won't happen. Congress gave that war power to the POTUS a long time ago. It's almost like Shannon Tweed letting Gene fuck all those whores while turning a blind eye to it all.

Duff McDuffee on Minimalism vs. Frugalism

Minimalism is primarily an aesthetic, hence why minimalists generally like Macs and iPhones due to their simple and elegant beauty. Minimalists’ decisions about how simple to be often seem arbitrary because they are based on aesthetic concerns, not practical ones — but minimalists often confuse the two. For instance, many people rave about how usable the iPhone is, but in fact it is a mixed bag — what it is, is beautiful. But Apple makes many design decisions to choose beauty over usability, which is why iTunes is so confusing and hard to use for example. Living with less than 100 things is another example — what constitutes a “thing” is arbitrary, “100″ is arbitrary (but a nice round number), digital “things” not counting as things is arbitrary, etc. It’s more about a feeling that is generated from the aesthetic in a specific person who likes that aesthetic than about saving money, conserving resources, not being owned by one’s stuff, focusing on what’s most important, etc. which are also concerns but are subject to the overall aesthetic. So when Leo Baubata says “stop buying the unnecessary,” what he really means is “don’t buy ugly things or too many things such that your minimalist aesthetic is ruined.” For what is truly unnecessary to the minimalist is that which ruins the simple aesthetic.

Minimalism vs. Frugalism

Beyond Growth is a great website because it firmly works in the mode of Tyler Durden's line that self-improvement is masturbation. I enjoy the criticism found there even if I don't always agree with it. In this particular piece, I think Duff raises good points but glosses over others. I will now cut to what I think is relevant.

I agree with Duff when he says that minimalism is more about aesthetics than frugality. Minimalists will argue that it is about buying quality. Then, there is the issue of clutter. Clutter and hoarding are actually frugal activities unless you are paying extra for the storage space. Here are some points to consider.

1. Minimalism as an extension of the Apple cult.

Most minimalists are Apple fan boys. They are heavily devoted to the products and to the company, and it is mostly for aesthetic reasons. I am not an Apple fan boy, so I can agree with the author. I have some Apple products such as an iPod shuffle and an iPod touch. Both have infuriated me at different times because I could not get them to do the things I wanted them to do. And the iTunes software really sucks. It is not elegant at all. But I deal with it because it beats the alternative.

My computer is a cobbled together machine from second hand parts that runs Windows XP. The bulk of what I do is on the internet, so as long as I have Google and Facebook, I'm doing well. The reason I don't own an Apple computer is simple. Those things are too damn expensive, and I don't need to buy that shit when the bulk of what I do is on the internet. I am all for simplicity since I use Chrome for my browser, and I like the way Google designs their layouts in a simple straightforward manner. All I need is an inexpensive PC. The truth is that Apple is a luxury brand. I will have more on this topic in a future post.

2. Aesthetics matter.

I think looking good matters. I like living in a sparse minimalist apartment. Not having a bunch of clutter is very pleasing to the eye. When I write or do some sort of design, I aim for simplicity. Simplicity can be achieved by anyone regardless of budget. You can be simple regardless of whether you shop at thrift stores and Walmart like I do, or you shop at IKEA and the Apple store. The difference is not simplicity but elegance. If you want elegance, you are going to pay more. I'm not into the elegance thing which is why I call my own brand of minimalism "blue collar simplicity." If you want to know the difference, I will choose a denim jacket from Carhartt over a fleece jacket from The North Face.

Aesthetics goes against the frugalist ethic when you pay more for those luxury brands. I am fine with paying more for quality, but I think it is dumb to pay more simply because of a brand when you are not getting additional quality. This is buying the Lexus which is simply a Toyota with better branding. Minimalists that buy those luxury brands will argue that they are buying fewer things which are higher quality. But I know better. I agree with Duff's term in the comments section about "reverse peacocks."

3. It isn't just the money.

Frugality is about saving money. That's it. As such, frugal people can be hoarders and often are. Free and cheap stuff is plentiful. Why waste it? I see this on just about every episode of Hoarders. The reason these people accumulate their clutter is because they don't want to waste the things. Some hoarders are shopaholics, but others are simply people who accumulate free and cheap stuff being unwilling to throw the things away because they may serve some use someday. But this is pointless and absurd. Someday never comes. The result is wasted space, wasted money on storage space, and wasted time maintaining the storage of the clutter.

Minimalism isn't just about saving money but also about saving time, eliminating stress, and developing more focus in a multitasking world overloaded with information. The reason I turned to it was in response to my nagging issues with time, money, and energy. My desires exceeded my resources, and this meant making choices which created its own problems, Minimalism was the answer to these things. Frugalism only answers the money issue.

I like Duff's piece and the comments. He has started a debate which I think is healthy, and this is a piece you will want to read and consider.

Q & A

Q: Are you a loner?

A: Yes.

How did I get here? Looking over the Wikipedia entry on loners, this jumped out at me:

Some individuals refuse to interact with others because of perceived or actual superiority in terms of ethics or intellect. They relate only to individuals they consider worthy of their time and attention. Therefore, this type of loner will have very few intimate relationships.


This is me. I can relate to a wide number of people on a basic level. I am not shy. But to clear the next hurdle, people need to be intelligent and virtuous. I don't meet many with these qualities. I find that most people are ignorant pieces of shit.

People might conclude that I have impossible standards. But this is not the case. When I tell the stories of family, friends, and girlfriends, I relate exactly what they have done, and it blows people's minds. You can't make shit like this up. A great example would be my cousin who I have much love for, but he has drug and alcohol problems. I have spent many hours with this guy, and my live and let live libertarian approach to life makes me very non-judgmental. I told him I didn't care what he did as long as he didn't hurt me. The guy has stolen my money, my credit card, and even my car to go score drugs and alcohol. At some point, you have to cut it off.

The conclusion people have drawn when I relate these stories is that my standards have actually been ridiculously low. I totally agree. So, I ratchet those standards up, and here I am. I am a loner. This is the price I have to pay to keep people from stealing my shit, borrowing my shit and not returning it, asking me for money, bothering me while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, cheating on me, or basically filching my time with their incessant whining about their problems but not having the reciprocal courtesy to listen to anything I say which is usually the answer to their problems.

I am a loner. The result is that I now have zero drama in my life. After 40 years, I am now boring. I am no longer a good topic for gossip because I don't do anything and nothing happens to me. People ask me what I am going to do on my weekends, and the answer is reading books. I enjoy my life now, but it doesn't make for interesting conversation anymore.

There is nothing wrong with me. The problem is a society that prizes stupidity and drama. Evenings and weekends are spent riding motorcycles, drinking, cheating on spouses and significant others, and being utter fools. You have people that haven't read a book since high school. Am I better than these people? Yes!

I'm not into drinking. I have never done drugs. I used to party, but I am tired of paying the price for it. So, I lead a quiet life. Part of this comes from my turn to minimalism. The other part is just fatigue from dealing with the bullshit. I don't hang out at the bar. I hang out at the bookstore, the library, and the coffee shop. Even though there are people there, these places are not hot beds of social interaction.

When I get bored, I either work, write, or read a book. When other people get bored, they stir up shit. This is why I am a loner. I have lowered my tolerance for bullshit.

TUESDAY

1. I watched the CNN debate last night from NH. Ron Paul hammered his usual message. Bachmann looked hot. Gingrich looked like he was going to explode and beshit himself. Romney reeked of utter hypocrisy. Pawlenty blew his Obomneycare moment. Gary Johnson was banned from the debate for not having higher poll ratings. Except for Paul, no one seems to be the GOP rock star.

2. I also watched the CNN piece entitled "WikiWars" that really paints Assange as some total villain. People forget that the Pentagon was allowed to vet the documents but declined. The military could give a shit about civilians. Then, there was that general that was allowed to try and explain the Collateral Murder video and put the Pentagon spin on it. The whole damn thing was just sickening to watch. CNN licks the ass of power.

3. Leo Babauta confesses to being a socialist. He needs to rethink this. I'd call him out on it, but it seems various minimalist bloggers don't have the balls to allow comments on their sites. I asked minimalist blogger Mike Donghia about this in an email, and this was his reply:

Hi Charlie,

Good to hear from you, man! Glad you liked the post.

Here's my take on comments, but I can only speak for myself -- not Leo and Everett:

When I used to do comments, I felt like there was an expectation that I responded to each one. I felt like it was only polite. Well, that started to become a big time commitment and took me away from other things I really cared about. Namely, spending time with my fiance and close friends.

I'm the type of person that likes to do things right, or not at all. So, I did away with them all together.

While I do not get as much contact with my readers (which I miss), I am still pretty accessible by email and through twitter. Comments were my most time consuming communication channel -- so it's definitely lightened the load.

I guess the main thing is that blogging started to become more of a burden than a joy. When someone really connects with a post (or has a beef with it) they write a post in response (I do the same thing) -- and I read all the posts that track back to my blog. It is certainly less communication, but it tends to be more thoughtful than just leaving a comment. I guess in a way, that is a minimalist approach to blogging and maybe Leo and Everett have similar rationales.

That's just my take on things. You might not agree, but I'd certainly love to hear what you think. Is there a better solution that you can think of?

--Mike


OK, I am going to lay it out here. I work a job. I post anywhere from once a day to three times a day. I am also a Facebook machine. My reading load is quite vast, and I write a good bit on stuff that never sees the light of day. Yet, I have never had any time problem with dealing with comments. Some may say that I have no life. Others may argue that I don't get that many comments. Now, Mike is unemployed. He doesn't have a job. Yet, he has the time to blog, but he doesn't have the time to deal with comments. Let's just say it like it is. The guy doesn't have the balls to deal with the comments. They sting his ass, and he spends all his time trying to censor them or debate them.

Here's the deal. If you can't stand the heat of reader comments, you need to get your ass out of the kitchen of blogging. The most minimalist thing a minimalist blogger can do is stop blogging. Trust me, the world will survive just fine without another blogger. If you want a nice quiet peaceful stress free existence, then don't be a blogger. A blogger who can't take criticism is like a lifeguard who doesn't like to get wet. Some things just go with the job.

Meat and Potatoes Rock and Roll



I remember reading a story about Gene Simmons auditioning Eddie Van Halen as the new guitarist for KISS. EVH is one of the greatest guitarists ever, but Gene decided against him. He said that KISS was a "meat and potatoes" band. Gene would go on to help Eddie with Eddie's own band recognizing the guy's immense talent. But Gene knew that Eddie Van Halen was not a good fit for KISS.

KISS began with a band called Wicked Lester. I've listened to some of that early stuff, and you can hear a certain KISS sound in there. The song "She" is the best example of this. Both Wicked Lester and KISS recorded the song. The difference is striking. The Wicked Lester version is gentler, has more flourishes, more instruments, and is in the style of bands during that era. The KISS version is harder but simpler.



Wicked Lester sounds more like the Doobie Brothers than KISS. It is music geared more to the critics than to the masses. The guys realized they weren't going anywhere, so they got a look straight from the comic books and changed their sound. They simplified the project. The music got simpler and heavier. Their look became iconic. It worked. These guys were never going to be confused for Jethro Tull.



Another band that is similar in the meat and potatoes vein of rock and roll is AC/DC. Like KISS, they have an iconic look with the schoolboy outfit, and the music just rocks. As Keith Richards pointed out, all AC/DC songs are the same song, but it is the best damn rock song you ever heard.

AC/DC will never be confused with King Crimson. Their music is simple and basic. They know what they do, and they do it very well. This seems like an easy approach, but it isn't. As the Eddie Van Halen story shows, meat and potatoes rock and roll requires deliberation and restraint. The impulse is to do it bigger and better. This music requires you to ignore that impulse.

Learning to ignore this impulse to complicate the simple is a skill. KISS eventually bowed to this impulse, and their music and career went downhill for a couple of decades. AC/DC never changed. They stuck with what worked. They never made a Dark Side of the Moon. They just kept rocking despite line up changes and the death of their original lead singer.

There are many strategies you can choose in the creative realm. Bands that are not meat and potatoes do well, too. Simplicity is also a strategy that works. Focusing on what you do well and eliminating the rest can be a winning approach. It will not win you critical praise or a lot of respect from other musicians. Because it is simple people assume that it is easy. But it isn't easy. Turning down Eddie Van Halen takes discipline, and discipline is never easy.

The tool is restraint. It is a recognition of the limits and living within those limits. It is discovering that after exploring and indulging all the options you find yourself back at the basics. It is finding the balance between the new and the tried-and-true. If there is one rule to follow, it is to make sure that it rocks. I don't ever see that as being a mistake.



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