On Monday, 13th August I received a notice that my book, “Grand Deception” got banned on Amazon (a-gain). At the time I was in Monaco. Two days later I made the planned 800 kilometer drive to Croatia to rejoin my children who were spending their summer vacation at their grandparents’ house. At breakfast next morning I had a chat with my parents about this and that and mentioned that my book was again banned. Later that day I saw some drawings my boys had made, among them this one: Continue reading
Words can be very powerful – especially the words we tell ourselves. I recently made a startling discovery about this.
One of the things I told myself through life was that I couldn’t draw. I can doodle – make geometric shapes on paper, circles, squares, etc… But I couldn’t draw – this I knew about myself.
One day however, I was unable to tell myself this.
That day my son asked me to draw him something. Hmm… I’m his dad. I can’t tell him that his dad can’t draw. I’m supposed to be the strongest, smartest, most capable man in the world. Tellinig him that I couldn’t draw was out of the question. Continue reading
In 1893 Mahatma Gandhi went to South Africa, expecting to stay there for just a few months. He ended up staying 21 years as he took up the struggle to restore the dignity and rights to a subdued, disarmed, and enslaved Indian community.
During those years, his chief political opponent was General Jan Christian Smuts who, as the Colonial secretary and later the Secretary of the Interior was responsible for implementing some of the repressive laws against the Indians.
When Gandhi finally left South Africa in 1914, Smuts wrote, “The saint has left our shores, I hope forever.”
Years later, an exasperated Winston Churchill asked Smuts – who had meanwhile served two terms as South Africa’s prime minister – why he had not killed Gandhi while he had the chance. Smuts replied, “How could I do this to a man who made sandals for me with his own hands when I imprisoned him.”
In later years, remembering Gandhi Smuts wrote: “… I have worn these sandals for so many summers since then, even though I may feel that I am not worthy to stand in the shoes of so great a man.”
I posted this story a few years ago in my blog, “The Jubilee.” It was related by Niloufer Bhagwat in her article, “The Political Relevance and Global Impact of Mahatma Gandhi.“ I believe it bears relevant lessons to today’s social and political struggles.
In the Western world, the idea of “working hard” is usually treated as a virtue in its own right. Any time I thought to question this “virtue” I’d invariably find myself on the defensive, as though my questioning of hard work was an affirmation of its opposite, laziness.
Whatever worthy objectives you want to achieve in life, the chances are, you have to work hard to attain them. Many objectives justify such hard work, like wanting to set the world record in some athletic discipline or to become a virtuoso musician or dancer. The same could be said about wanting to write a book, circumnavigate the globe, or any number of such feats. But people inclined to such endeavors do not need to be taught the value of hard work, so its cultural affirmation as a virtue would be superfluous and silly. Continue reading
Nature has … some sort of arithmetical-geometrical coordinate system, because nature has all kinds of models. What we experience of nature is in models, and all of nature’s models are so beautiful. – R. Buckminster Fuller
Nature’s survival strategies that bear the most similarities to activities of market speculators are those of predators. To live, predators must hunt and this activity includes elements of speculation. Like trading, predation requires knowledge, skills, judgment and decision-making. It also entails risk and uncertainty. A predator can’t be sure where her next meal is coming from. Each hunt is an investment of resources; it involves the risk of injury and loss of energy expended in failed hunts, which tend to be more frequent than successful ones. To survive and procreate, predators must consistently generate a positive return on this investment. Too much of a losing streak could turn out to be fatal. In his book, “The Serengeti Lion: A Study of Predator-Prey Relations” George B. Schaller painstakingly documented the details of hundreds of hunts by large cats in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. We have all seen wildlife television programs showing lions and cheetahs hunting, but Schaller’s work offers a much richer account of the life of predatory cats including their hunting behavior.
The anatomy of a hunt Continue reading
Before I became a parent I used to wake up around 6 AM every morning, made myself some coffee and spent at least an hour or two reading – not news or fiction but a book about something interesting and of consequence on psychology, history, economics, philosophy… This practice almost invariably charged up my batteries with ideas, energy and enthusiasm and each day started with excitement about what I could accomplish that day. I’ve recently come across an article that distinguished this kind of reading from the more casual kind (newspapers, magazines, e-mail stack…) calling it “deep reading,” which explained, sort of, why I so enjoyed this routine. Continue reading