Category: Reposts

62 Tips to Get Unstuck in 2013

I’m amped to do everything in my power to help you kickstart 2013 strong so you install superb habits of the mind, body and behavior.

Today is all about 62 quick, actionable and unforgettable tips that will move you to break free of old patterns, stop being the victim and leap into high gear to get your giant goals done.

62 Fast Tips to Get UnStuck
By Robin Sharma
Author of the #1 Bestseller “The Leader Who Had No Title”

  1. Believe in your vision and gifts when no one else believes in your vision and gifts.

  2. Start your day with 20 minutes of exercise.

  3. Make excellence your way of being (versus a once in a while event).

  4. Be on time (bonus points: be early).

  5. Be a celebrator of other’s talents versus a critic.

  6. Stop watching TV. (Bonus points: sell your tv and invest the cash in learning and self-education).

  7. Finish what you start.

  8. Remember that your diet affects your moods so eat like an athlete.

  9. Spend an hour a day without stimulation (no phone+no FaceBook+no noise).

  10. Release the energy vampires from your life. They are destroying your performance.

  11. Write in a journal every morning. And record gratitude every night.

  12. Do work that scares you (if you’re not uncomfortable often, you’re not growing very much).

  13. Make the choice to let go of your past. It’s dusty history. And polluting your future.

  14. Commit to being “Mozart-Level Good” at your work.

  15. Smile more (and tell your face).

  16. Do a collage filled with images of your ideal life. Look at it once a day for focus and inspiration.

  17. Plan your week on a schedule (clarity is the DNA of mastery).

  18. Stop gossiping (average people love gossip; exceptional people adore ideas).

  19. Read “As You Think”.

  20. Read “The Go-Getter”.

  21. Don’t just parent your kids–develop them.

  22. Remember that victims are frightened by change. And leaders grow inspired by it.

  23. Start taking daily supplements to stay in peak health.

  24. Clean out any form of “victimspeak” in your vocabulary and start running the language of leadership and possibility.

  25. Do a nature walk at least once a week. It’ll renew you (you can’t inspire others if you’re depleted yourself).

  26. Take on projects no one else will take on. Set goals no one else will do.

  27. Do something that makes you feel uncomfortable at least once every 7 days.

  28. Say “sorry” when you know you should say “sorry”.

  29. Say “please” and “thank you” a lot.

  30. Remember that to double your income, triple your investment in learning, coaching and self-education.

  31. Dream big but start now.

  32. Achieve 5 little goals each day (“The Daily 5 Concept” I shared in “The Leader Who Had No Title” that has transformed the lives of so many). In 12 months this habit will produce 1850 little goals–which will amount to a massive transformation.

  33. Write handwritten thank you notes to your customers, teammates and family members.

  34. Be slow to criticize and fast to praise.

  35. Read Walter Isaacson’s amazing biography on Steve Jobs.

  36. Give your customers 10X the value they pay for (“The 10X Value Obsession”).

  37. Use the first 90 minutes of your work day only on value-creating activities (versus checking email or surfing the Net).

  38. Breathe.

  39. Keep your promises.

  40. Remember that ordinary people talk about their goals. Leaders get them done. With speed.

  41. Watch the inspirational documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”.

  42. Know that a problem only becomes a problem when you choose to see it as a problem.

  43. Brain tattoo the fact that all work is a chance to change the world.

  44. Watch the amazing movie “The Intouchables”.

  45. Remember that every person you meet has a story to tell, a lesson to teach and a dream to do.

  46. Risk being rejected. All of the great ones do.

  47. Spend more time in art galleries. Art inspires, stimulates creativity and pushes boundaries.

  48. Read a book a week, invest in a course every month and attend a workshop every quarter.

  49. Remember that you empower what you complain about.

  50. Get to know yourself. The main reason we procrastinate on our goals is not because of external conditions; we procrastinate due to our internal beliefs. And the thing is they are stuck so deep that we don’t even know they exist. But once you do, everything changes.

  51. Read “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”.

  52. Know your values. And then have the guts to live them–no matter what the crowd thinks and how the herd lives.

  53. Become the fittest person you know.

  54. Become the strongest person you know.

  55. Become the kindest person you know.

  56. Know your “Big 5″–the 5 goals you absolutely must achieve by December 31 to make this year your best yet (I teach my entire goal-achieving process, my advanced techniques on unleashing confidence and how to go from being stuck to living a life you adore in my online program “Your Absolute Best Year Yet”).

  57. Know that potential unexpressed turns to pain.

  58. Build a strong family foundation while you grow your ideal career.

  59. Stop being selfish.

  60. Give your life to a project bigger than yourself.

  61. Be thankful for your talents.

  62. Stand for iconic. Go for legendary. And make history.

This is YOUR time. Now’s YOUR moment. Let’s do this! 🙂

Your fan,


Dear young women and men of Delhi,

Thank you for the courage and the honour you have brought to Rajpath, the most dishonorable street in our city. You changed Delhi yesterday, and you are changing it today. Your presence, of all twelve thousand of you, yesterday, on Rajpath, that street that climbs down from the presidential palace on Raisina Hill to India Gate, getting soiled by the excreta of the tanks and missiles on Republic Day each year, was for me a kind of purificatory ritual. It made a claim to the central vista of ‘Lutyen’s Delhi’ as a space for democratic assertion in contravention of the completely draconian, elitist and undemocratic prohibitory orders that make the heart of this republic, a zone of the death, not the life and sustenance, of democracy.

From now onwards, consider the heart of Delhi to be a space that belongs, first of all, to its citizens. Yesterday, when thousands of you gathered peacefully, intending to march up Raisina Hill to the president’s palace, you were charged with batons, tear gas and subjected to jets from water cannons. The violence began, not when protestors threw stones, but when the police started attacking people. Stones were thrown in retaliation. The television cameras that recorded what happened show us the exact chronology. The police were clearly under orders not to let people up Raisina Hill. Why? What is so sacred about Raisina Hill? Why can a group of unarmed, peaceful young people not walk to the gates of the president’s palace? So, lets be clear. Violence began when the state acted. Of course, the protest got hijacked by hooligans. But of course it had to be. When hooligans in uniform are let loose on an unarmed crowed, there can be no possibility of averting the possibility that hooligans out of uniform will respond in kind.

But do not let this stop you, or distract you. Do not be scared away from the heart of the city by this violence. Prevent the hijackers from taking over your anger and twisting it to their purposes. But most importantly, never, ever be scared again. You have all given us the gift of a fearlessness. This city is no longer what it used to be, and it is so because of you. Rajpath is yours. This city is yours. its days and nights are yours. Do not let anyone take this back from you. Keep the city. Keep the city safe, make it safe. Make it yours and mine again.

Thank you for doing this in the name of an anonymous 23 year old woman. She is someone like you, like millions of others who wants to lay claim to this city, by day and by night. You demonstrated that the presence of women and men, out on the streets, in public, is the only guarantee by which everyone can feel safe in this city, or in an city for that matter. It is not by making pubs close early that this city will be made safe. It is by ensuring that as many women can be out and about in any place in the city, at any time of day and night, in buses, on the metro, in public spaces, in work spaces, cinemas, theaters, at home, and even in pubs, that this city will be safe for all of its citizens. By being together, in public, as free and equal men and women, in the place where prohibitory orders and Section 144 forbid you from being, you made sure that this city belonged to the 23 old woman who was asked by the men who raped her (Sharma, Sharma, Thakur, Gupta and Singh) what she was doing out and about at nine at night. You were together, as young women and men, safe, secure in each others company, drawn together by friendship and solidarity, and by your friendship and solidarity with the 23 year old woman who is fighting so bravely for her life. She could have been one of you. Any one of you could have been her, or her injured and brave friend.The young men amongst you demonstrated that you were not there to assert your control over women. The young women amongst you demonstrated that you could hold your own with young men, and feel the opposite of being threatened and insecure.  Our city, so ashamed of its reputation for misogyny, can only be grateful for this organic, spontaneous and public demonstration of the solidarity between the bodies of young women and men.

You made me proud of Delhi again, just as much as the men named Sharma, Sharma, Thakur, Gupta and Singh had made me ashamed a few days ago by the way in which they brutally raped and nearly killed that anonymous young woman, and assaulted her companion.They cannot be called beasts, because no animals behave as terribly as these men did. They make us ashamed to be human, and make me ashamed to be a man. I am ashamed by them just as much as I was ashamed by the bystanders on a busy street who pulled down the windows of their cars to gape at a nearly naked and clearly injured woman and man, or just stood around, staring, but could not find enough humanity within themselves to come up and offer help,  or comfort, or even cover the two young people on a cold December night.

But yesterday, you, the twelve thousand mostly young men and women who came to Rajpath to express your anger showed the world that Delhi has a different face as well.  Thank you for restoring humanity to this city.Today, the several more than yesterday’s twelve thousand have been joined by a fringe consisting of the storm troopers of some political parties, especially the BJP, and the agent-provocateurs of the Congress, neither of whom have any hesitation in fielding people with accusations of rape against them for elections. Here, in this fringe, you will find the ABVP, the Bajrang Dal, the NSUI, the Ramdev Wallas, the hooligans of the unfortunately named Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena,  the anti-corruption brigade, all manner of busy-bodies, goondas and do-gooders, and some goondas who are do gooders. Do not let them distract you. Overwhelm them with your numbers, make your protests decentralized, and impossible for them or the police to direct and control. Do not, under any circumstances let them speak for you, or tell you what to do, or dictate the agenda. Take back the protest by making it go viral all over the city.

Do not forget that when Sushma Swaraj, the BJP leader made the disgusting comment ‘ uski zindagi maut se badtar ho chuki hai’ (‘her life is now worse than death’), in Parliament, she was actually endorsing the Patriarchal value system that produces rape. It is your responsibility, and the responsibility of all of us, to ensure that Sushma Swaraj’s political career dies it’s deserved and timely death just for that one remark. Let us make sure that she can never be elected to any office again, that she can never insult and humiliate the young women of this country with her patronizing platitudes. She, and other politicians like Mamata Bannerjee, who have questioned rape victims testimonies in recent times, do not deserve our confidence, they deserve an eternal political exile. Just as brutal rapists only deserve an eternity of imprisonment and confinement in solitude in order to reflect on the violence that they have committed.

Remember, the rapist’s intention is not sexual pleasure (because the ONLY way in which pleasure can be had is through the reciprocity of desire, through love, through erotic engagement, not through taking away someone’s agency by force and without consent). Rape is not about sex, it is about humiliation, its intention is precisely to make the raped person think that now that they have been subjected to sexual violence, their life will no longer be worth living. The rapist and Sushma Swaraj are in perfect agreement about the worth of the life of a rape victim.The reason why some men rape women or others who are in their power is because they believe that some lives are more important, worth more, than others. That is the key to patriarchy.

Dear young women and men of Delhi, I am writing this to you so that in the middle of all your anger you can find a space to reflect on the force that patriarchy has over all our lives, and I hope that you will find the means, burnished by your anger to dethrone it from its underserved position of power in this city. I want yours to be the generation that changed Delhi forever. And i know you can make that happen, and that is why I am writing to you.

Let us think about patriarchy together. Patriarchy is what makes you ashamed, not delighted when you have a period, because your traditions teach you that a menstruating body is a polluting body. Patriarchy is what tells you that there are things you cannot or should not do because of the way your body or your desires are shaped. Patriarchy is the secret to your nightmares, the reason for your deepest, most personal fears and anxieties. It seeks control of your body, your mind, your speech, your behavior, even the ways in which you raise and lower your eyes. Behind this lies a clear identification between property and the sexual body that patriarchy tries to perpetuate at any cost. When anyone says that a raped person, say a woman, is defiled, what they mean is that the violence done to her sexually is identical to the violation of their personhood, which ‘properly’ understood, is the property of someone who can legitimately ‘husband’ her body and being. Any woman, according to this view, either is, or will eventually become some man’s property. If she is ‘defiled’ she will become ‘broken goods’, the legitimate claimant to the property which her body constitutes will no longer have any interest in ‘husbanding’ her. That is why they say that her life, laid fallow and waste by rape, will no longer be worth living.

That is why courts in India are so reluctant to admit marital rape. They are bewildered by the reality of marital rape because they cannot understand how someone can ‘violate’ their own property. To understand clearly this you have to think about kinds of injury other than rape.

How is it that violent attacks, or injuries that are non-sexual in nature, do not lead anyone to say that their ‘life is now worse than death’. Imagine an injured soldier, a war veteran whose legs have been blown off, being told by a mainstream politician his ‘life is now worse than death’, and you will immediately see how ridiculous the identification between the destiny of your sexual being and the worth of life is. The injured soldier is feted, decorated, celebrated. The rape survivor is made to feel something quite different. An episode of rape is horrible, but it is not necessarily always more physically painful than a blown off limb. The only reason why women are disciplined and made to fall in line with the threat of rape dangling over them (either by their rapists, or by their would be ‘protectors’) is because rape is seen as a crime against property. And the property in question is inevitably patriarchy’s right over the woman’s body, over the body of any person that patriarchy deems to be without agency. The woman who is raped is made to feel ashamed because she was not vigilant enough to safeguard the orifices of her body from being accessed by an inappropriate other, or a stranger against her will (not that her will counts, necessarily). Had it been an ‘appropriate’ other, say a husband, or a boy-friend, she could be made to feel equally ashamed for the revulsion she might feel in submitting to his sexual will, on occasion, or at any time at all, against her own wishes and desires.

The reason why Sushma Swaraj and others like her hyper-ventilate in this way is because they are the architects of the patriarchal order that produces rape. If Thakur, Sharma, Sharma, Singh and Gupta have committed the rape that needs to be condemned by everyone, than Swaraj needs to be held accountable for perpetuating the value system that leads Thakur, Sharma, Sharma, Singh and Gupta to think that rape is the natural and normal thing for them to do. After all a vast number of men in India, routinely rape their wives. And Sushma Swaraj throws Karwa Chaut parties to celebrate the thrall which patriarchy allows husbands to hold over their wives. No young self respecting woman in Delhi should ever take anything that someone like Sushma Swaraj ever says seriously.

Dear young men and women of Delhi, When you see your legitimate protest contaminated by the BJP cadre, ask them about how they are going to deal with their misogynist leadership. How are they going to deal with those who justified the rape and murder of Muslim women in Gujarat? Ask them about how they intend to deal with the fact that even in the recent Gujarat elections, one of the victorious MLAs (the sitting MLA for Dhari) Mansukh Bhuva, has  a charge of leading and participating in the gang-rape of the wife of a panchayat member of Amreli districtby seven people.

Investigation in this case is currently in progress, and while the MLA has said that the charges are false and politically motivated, does it not indicate that a party like the BJP is actually not committed in any way to taking the rights of women seriously when it gives a ticket to a man who stands accused of gang rape. Should it not have waited for this man’s innocence to be proven before blessing him with an election ticket? Ask Sushma Swaraj, ask Narendra Modi, dreaming of Raisina Hill and Lutyens Delhi, what they have to say about Mansukh Bhuva.

Even as I write this, some people are expressing their concern at the way in which your protest is getting out of hand. They are saying that you should not be indulging in violence. On Facebook, I see young Kashmiri men and women ask whether or not the authorities in Delhi will now begin to say that you have been paid to throw stones at the buses of the Delhi police by the Pakistani ISI (after all, that is what was said when young people in Kashmir throw stones at the forces of law and order after the administrations insensitivity in rape cases forced young people to take to the streets, so it is quite natural that they should ask this question when you throw stones in Delhi.)

Learning from your peers in the frontiers of this unfortunate union (governed in part by an unwieldy, creaking but sort-of-working constitution and in part by the precise and lethally efficient Armed Forces Special Powers Act), to throw stones at the force that needs stones thrown at them is not something I feel you need necessarily to be ashamed of. A Tehelka investigation (‘The Rapes Will Go On’) by G. Vishnu and Abhishek Bhalla pointed out in April 2012, that several police officers in positions of responsibility in this city and in the National Capital Region (Gurgaon, Noida, Ghaziabad and Faridabad) think that when women get attacked it is their fault. While writing this, I checked with one of the correspondents who had filed this story. He told me what I had suspected. The Delhi police did order a departmental enquiry, and the concerned officer was ‘transferred’. Not suspended, demoted, punished or reprimanded. No disciplinary action of any consequence was taken. The Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Noida police were even more ‘sensitive’ to the morale of men in uniform. They did nothing at all. A force that does not punish those amongst its ranks guilty of making such statements, and thereby perpetuates a naked sexism, deserves all the stones that get thrown at it in retaliation for its egregious use of batons, tear gas and water cannons against a peaceful gathering.

But throwing stones at policemen is one thing, and having your protest hijacked by the storm troopers of political parties like the BJP and the Congress is quite another. I think you need to think carefully about how you can prevent your anger from being abused by political opportunists of all stripes for their own ends. Do not lose your resolve. Do not let lumpen political mercenaries ride the wave in the the upsurge that is your anger.

Many of you carried banners that asked men to think, with which I whole heartedly agree (and I am writing this in order to do this thinking with you, and as the mark of my gratitude to you) and some of you asked for capital punishment for the rapists, a demand that i cannot agree to, but am willing to argue with you about, in friendship and in solidarity. The rapists should in my view, spend their entire lives in prison, in isolation, considering what made them do what they did. Hanging, (which one of the accused has even demanded for himself) is the easiest way out for them. It will be the least severe punishment that we can imagine for these horrible and violent men. Moreover, if would-be rapists think they might be hanged, they will go the extra mile to kill their victims, in order to destroy the possibility that someone may testify against them. Under no circumstances has the death penalty ever been known to reduce any crime. It is not the death penalty that will stop rape. To stop rape we have to think about the attitudes that make rape imaginable, that normalize rape. But we can debate this question in depth at another time (and I will be thinking with you a little bit about what these attitudes might be and where they come from later in this piece). Right now I want to think about what your presence on Raisina Hill means to me.

The water cannons that dowsed all of you on today and yesterday’s cold december mornings were cleansing – not you, but this filthy, disgusting state, that can guarantee only the insecurity of its citizens. Remember, that this is not the only rape and murder that has shocked our conscience in recent years. Remember, Manorama, a woman in Manipur who was allegedly raped and then murdered by soldiers of the 17th Assam Rifles Regiment. This happened in 2004, a full eight years ago. Eight years have passed and the rapists and murderers of Manorama have not even been produced in court. They have not been produced in court because they are not civilians like Sharma, Sharma, Thakur, Gupta and Singh. They are men in uniform, not bus drivers, fruit juice vendors, cleaners and gym instructors. An enquiry was ordered and conducted, and its contents still remain secret.

Here is a link on NDTV’s youtube channel to a report on the Guwahati high court’s decision on August 2010 to open the Upendra Commission of enquiry report.

But immediately afterwards, the defense authorities, petitioned the Supreme Court with a‘Special Leave Petition’ against further proceedings in this case. Here was the state, and the army, doing the opposite of what needed to be done to speed up the course of justice in a matter that had to do with rape and murder. In the summer of this year, eight years after Manorama was raped and murdered, the Supreme Court permitted the special leave petition to be heard, and the proceedings in the Imphal bench of the Guwahati High Court, and the opening of the Upendra Commission enquiry had to be suspended. This enquiry into her rape and murder remains, as far as I know, suspended and wrapped within secrecy. Manorama’s family are exactly where they were eight years ago, as far from justice as it is possible for anyone to be. I do not know what progress there has been on the hearing of the Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court. There seems to be little information available on the matter apart from stray reports that the Supreme Court was hearing the SLP. I would be curious to know what the apex court decided. Whatever be the outcome, we can say this much for certain –  the Manorama case did not get ‘fast track treatment’.

So when Sushma Swaraj demands ‘fast track courts’ to treat cases of rape and sexual violence, ask her why she is so disinterested in making sure that ‘fast track courts’ can track Manorama’s rape and murder. Is it because the fact that when rape and murder are deployed as instruments of national security policy in order to contain insurgency, different standards are automatically assumed to apply? Is it because the BJP thinks that rape is ok as long as it is done in the interests of national security (as in Manipur and Kashmir)  and in order to uphold the honour of Hindutva (as in Gujarat)?

Remember the Kunan-Pushpora rapes in Kashmir, which occurred on February 23, 1991, twenty one years ago? You probably don’t, because Sushma Swaraj, nor any other prominent politician for that matter, has never thought it necessary to demand ‘fast track courts’ to try the guilty rapists of Kunan Poshpora. At least fifty three women were raped on that night by soldiers of the Fourth Rajputana Rifles. No police investigation was conducted, despite a complaint by the villagers. A district magistrate and a sitting chief justice of the Jammu and Kashmir high court conducted their own enquiries and found that the soldiers of the 4th Rajputana Rifles had ‘acted like beasts that night’. But no cognizance of their reports was taken by the civil or military authorities in Jammu and Kashmir, or at the centre.

The charges were dismissed as ‘baseless’. Three months after that incident, the Press Council of India was invited by the Army to conduct an enquiry, and the Press Council of India found that the charges were baseless. Not a single soldier of the Indian army has ever been booked for Kunan Poshpora for all of these twenty one years. Now imagine that the Delhi police and administration invite the Press Council of India, or let us say, the Metereological Survey of India to determine whether or not the unnamed 23 year paramedic was raped on a Delhi bus. How can a mass rape by soldiers be investigated and judged by a body designed to look into complaints regarding the running of newspapers and media organizations? This is what ‘justice’ in cases of rape has by and large meant in the outlying territories where the writ of the Indian Union runs. Now, we are facing a situation that alarms us in the very heart of the republic. Perhaps it is time we learnt that we cannot have different standards at play in Delhi and Kunan Poshpora. And that if that is how they do play out, then it is time to admit that those who run this country run large parts of it as if they were colonies. If you, the young women and men of Delhi can begin to understand this, as a result of what you have been experiencing today and yesterday, then all the tear gas and water cannon jets that you faced may well have been worth the while.

Granted, public memory is short, but how short? Remember the rape and murder of Nilofer Jaan and Aasiya Jaan in Shopian, Kashmir, as recently as May 2009, which saw a cover up and reversal of forensic findings at the highest level, with the connivance of the highest levels of the security forces, bureaucracy and the political establishment, so that two raped, killed women could be shown to have ‘drowned in ankle deep water’ in an apparent ‘accident’. You can read the entire contents of a carefully written ‘citizens’ report on the Shopian Rape and Murder case here

Remember how the enquiry report on Nilofer and Aasiya Jan’s rape and death was tampered with so that suspicions about the women’s ‘character’ could be inserted to make it appear that any evidence of sexual abuse could be wished away as the natural consequences of the ‘waywardness’ of young women? Remember, that Omar Abdullah, Rahul Gandhi’s dear friend, who sanctioned and endorsed these lies, continues to be in office, presiding over the violent occupation of Kashmir. Remember that the denial of rape and murder is a key element in his strategy of governance. Remember all of this when politicians and the media praise you for your idealism, and condemn you for throwing stones. Remember that when your peers in Kashmir or Manipur throw stones out of the same anger that motivates you today, their stone throwing is met not with water cannons and tear gas but with bullets and condemnation, but their ‘idealism’ never finds praise in the salons and studios of New Delhi. Remember now that here, now, this winter of 2012, is the time for you, in the streets of Delhi to find a kinship with your friends, your peers, in Srinagar and Imphal. Remember that the safety and freedom of a young woman is always more important than the safety and security of the abstraction that you have been taught to think of as a nation. Remember that a raped woman is deserving of your friendship, your solidarity, you courage and love, wherever she may be, in Delhi, Srinagar or Imphal.

For the last few days, I have been wondering how I can even begin to think about the rape and assault that the brave twenty three year old paramedic (who is now fighting to live, and to live well in a Delhi hospital) and her friend had to undergo. You have asked all men to think. I am a man. I am not a celibate man who can wish away his sexuality. And so I am trying to think this through with you. I hope that all men in Delhi join me in this exercise.

As a man, I have looked at myself in the mirror, each of the past days, and thought about whether, ever, under any circumstances, in any condition of sobriety or intoxication, I have ever entertained even the thought of compelling a woman, a man, a boy or a girl – a lover, a friend, an acquaintance, a colleague, a neighbor, a relative, a stranger to act against her  (or his) consent. I think every man should look at himself and think hard. All of us men have to think because only men rape. Only men entertain the thought of rape. They (we) rape mostly women, and girls, but they (we) also rape other men, and boys, and those of indeterminate gender.

They (we) rape, not because rape has anything to do, as I have said already, with sexual relations, but because rape has to do with the assertion of power, of the compelling power that can make one body do what another body wants against its will. And just as only upper caste men and women can insult and commit violence on to those they consider lower than themselves in a specifically ‘castiest’ way, so too only men can rape, because they (we) think of themselves as occupying the summit of a sexual pyramid.

This pyramid, which we could call patriarchy, is built out of the sexual equivalent of slavery. The protocols of slavery indicate that some bodies be seen as being bereft of agency. Sometimes these bodies are marked by racial difference, at other times by gender, or by other markers. What is understood is that these agency-less bodies (howsoever their agency-lessness is constituted) can be transacted at will by other bodies that are deemed worthy of agency.

Wherever and whenever a certain kind of body (a woman’s body, a child’s body, a prisoner or captive’s body, a slave’s body, a ‘junior’s’ of ‘freshet’s’ body in the ritual of ragging or hazing on campus, a gay man’s body, the body of a caste or race ‘other’) can be thought of automatically as an object that one can bend or break or punish at will, just because of what it is, there and then lie the foundations of rape. The reason why an upper caste landlord can demand his ‘right’ over a lower caste woman’s body and simultaneously insist that she is ‘untouchable’ has to do with how he understands the difference between his body and hers. He rapes her to punish her husband for trying to assert his rights as a tiller over the land he thinks he owns. Or he rapes her because the thinks he can, and because she is there. Thakur, Singh, Sharma, Sharma and Gupta, the men who raped the unnamed paramedic, did not do anything that has not been done before. Men like them did it in cities and in villages, in fields, warehouses, plantations and factories, under trees, beside wells and rivers, in thickets and in clearings, in public and in private, in ruins and bedrooms, even in temples and kitchens, for thousands of years. They did it, not only to strangers and captives, but to their wives and their sisters and their daughters too.

This understanding has nothing biological about it. It is hard-coded into the cultural protocols that teach a man, even as a young boy, which kind of body has agency, and which kind of body is there for the taking.

Our dominant traditions denigrate a character like Ravana who would not touch the abducted Sita without her consent. At the same time it valorizes the Rama who exiles the same Sita when his advisers suggest that the population is not convinced of her ‘purity’ because she had spent such a long time in the home of her abductor, the same Ravana. Here, Rama is the one who underlies the code of rape. He cannot understand that a man can actually not rape a woman within his ‘power’. His decision to abandon Sita is based on the idea that she cannot not have been in sexual contact with Ravana. Ergo, either she willingly had sex with her captor, or if she did not, she must have been raped. In either case, being thus defiled, and broken, she is no longer fit to be his ‘property’. In other words, just as Sushma Swaraj said, her life, either is, or must be made, worse than death.

The assumption that women are automatically available for sex at the appropriate ‘clean’ time is hard-coded into the Hindu tradition. Rama as an upholder of that tradition, cannot act outside its dictates in the way in which women’s agency is viewed.  Remember that the Brhadarankya Upanishad says – “..surely a woman who has changed her clothes at the end of her menstrual period is the most auspicious of women. When she has changed her clothes at the end of her menstrual period, therefore one should approach that splendid woman and invite her to have sex. Should she refuse to consent, he should bribe her, if she still still refuses, he should beat her with a stick or with his fists and overpower her, saying – ‘I take away the splendour from you with my virility and splendor’

(Bradaranyaka Upanishad, Chapter 6.4.6 –  see especially pages 88 and 89 of the Patrick Olivelle translation of the Upanishads published by the Oxford University Press, 1996)

When one thinks this passage through, it is not difficult to understand why rape should be such an endemic practice within our society.  Marital rape is the original, scripturally sanctioned template on which all rape is founded.  The fear of death penalty can never be a deterrent when you have scriptural and cultural sanction for the codes of property and agency that underlie the control that some bodies are armed with over and above others.  In our society, this includes the sanction for the control that men have over women, adults have over children, and that dominant castes have over others. This normalization of domination and control is the key to the phenomenon of rape and humiliation. In such a situation, carrying placards that demand death penalty for rapists is the easiest thing to do. The difficult, challenging and interesting thing to do, the real thing to do, is to try and understand what are the cultural factors that actually go into the making of a rapists mind. Thakur, Sharma, Sharma, Singh and Gupta were not eccentric, abnormal characters. They were normal young men. One of them even functioned as an occasional priest in a neighborhood temple. Think carefully of the traditions that he would have imbibed that would have helped, not hindered him in doing what he did.

On the very day after Thakur, Singh, Sharma, Sharma and Gupta did what they felt like doing. We had reports of a Mohammad Rashid who raped a six year old in Turkman Gate in Delhi. Afather was found to have raped his daughter in Kerala for over a year. All of these men had found ways of telling themselves that whatever they were doing could be done. A few days ago, a garment trader in Metiabruz, Kolkata, cut off his sister’s head because he suspected her of having an affair with someone he did not approve of and walked with her decapitated head, sword in hand, to the police station, in defense of his family’s honour. There are people who have praised him for his commitment to his family’s honor. None of these men were deranged, or otherwise criminally inclined. They were all, all honorable men. We need to figure out what gives them this idea of honor. We need to understand and confront the ways in which men read codes of tradition and honor and translate them into the grossest forms of misogyny and the generalized hatred of women.

Dear young women and men of Delhi, if you want rape to end, you will have to confront those traditions. Confronting those traditions, confronting the known history of patriarchy is not the same thing as demanding capital punishment. In fact, they can be the opposites of each other. By demanding ‘death’ for the rapist, you are tacitly entering into a compact with those who see rape not necessarily as a crime against a free agent, but also as a property crime, as an assault on honor and dignity. My understanding is, and my appeal to all of you is –  stop treating rape as a matter of honor and dishonor altogether, and expose and boycott those who would insist it is a matter of honor and dishonour. Treat it as ordinary, disgusting, evil violence, as the naked expression of power, and you will see that the expression of power is never challenged by the demand for death. It is easy for those who think of women as property to demand death for those who violate their property rights over women. That is why many men who will demand death penalty for rapists will happily go home and rape their wives. (Because in their understanding they cannot ‘rape’ their wives, only strangers can rape ‘their’ wives.)If you want to end rape, to end the forced sexual subjugation of one human being by another. You will have to look elsewhere than the gallows for comfort.

Rape and sexual assault, and other kinds of violence centered on the enjoyment of humiliation are different from other kinds of violence. You could be in the company of violent men, as a man, in a bus, and they would not necessarily slap you around just for the heck of it (unless you ‘looked’ racially different, or were different because of the way you expressed your sexual orientation). But imagine or remember what it is to be a woman on that bus, or to be the ‘wrong’ kind of male – queer, child, racially other, submissive because you are held captive – and things can suddenly go wrong. This is what happened on that bus that the 23 year old paramedic and her friend had boarded. This is what happened when Sharma, Sharma, Singh, Gupta and Thakur and their unnamed juvenile accomplice, decided to assert their position as bipedal upper primates on top of their imagined sexual pyramid. Let us not forget that the matter spiraled when one of the assaulters taunted the woman and her friend for being together at night in Delhi. In their eyes, she had broken the code of sexual slavery, by being a person who had acted as a free agent, as someone who could choose to enjoy her claim to the city, its entertainments, with a companion who happened to be male.

Of course she need not have acted as this free agent for this horrible event to happen. She could have been at home, confined within narrow domestic walls where most rapes in Delhi, and India occur. (I have yet to hear of policemen and politicians advocate the abolition of marriage in the same breath as the closure of pubs, although more rapes happen within marriage than do at or around pubs, clearly neither marriage nor pubs are in themselves the causes of rape, but it is always curious that one should be asked to be banned, though sometimes judges do ask rapists to marry their victims, though no one has yet asked a woman who was attacked or molested at a pub to return to the place where she was assaulted). In this instance, were we to go by the law of statistical averages, the brave 23 year old paramedic was not, but could easily have been the sister, niece, daughter, daughter-in-law or wife of one of the accused. Because the majority of those who get raped in our society are sisters, daughters, daughters-in-law, nieces and wives – and they are raped by brothers, fathers, uncles, fathers-in-law and husbands. Or she could have been a worker raped by her boss, or her colleague. She could have been a student raped by a teacher, a patient raped by a doctor or a warden in a hospital or clinic, an undertrial raped by a policeman, an insurgent or suspect raped by a soldier. She could have been dressed in clothes that she felt helped her enjoy and assert her sexuality, or she could have been dressed in work clothes, she could have been dressed in a burqa, a sari, salwar kameez or in a nun’s habit. She could have been a three year old infant, a teenager, a young woman, a post menopausal woman, even a grandmother.

Anybody at all, other than a man in a position of real or imagined power, can be raped by a man in  a position of real or imagined power. We might as well call this the first and most important law of rape.

This means that you can be raped in order to punish you for having broken the code of sexual slavery (patriarchy) – which is what happens when you are ‘accused’ of being up and about in the night in the city with a man who is not related to you. Or, on the other hand, you can be raped, in order to enforce it, maintain it, irrigate it,  generally show the world – how it works, who’s on top – which is what happens when rapes happen within the four walls of homes, work places, institutions and prisons.

Where does this sense of impunity that seems to govern the actions of so many men come from? It cannot come from biology alone. Because, thankfully, not all men, not even all men in positions of real or imagined power, are rapists. Rapists choose to access a cultural code of permission. There is something in the cultural baggage or vocabulary available to us all that normalizes sexual violence, even renders it trivial, as a bit of horseplay at worst, or the hallowed order sanctified by tradition, at best.

Dear young men and women of Delhi. There are things you can do to stop rape.

  • Shame any man who casually passes misogynist, sexist, remarks.  Shame all those cowards who try to humiliate anyone because of the way their bodies or desires are. Shame them in public.
  • Young women, do not retreat from public space. Take back the night. Insist on being out and about. Insist on the conditions that enable your safety. Ask why there are no women bus drivers, women cab drivers. Ask what the Delhi police is doing to punish misogynist officers and constables.
  • Young women, please understand that when you hear songs that are violent and misogynist, you can choose to boycott the radio stations and recording companies that put them out. Leave a party or a celebration that plays a Honey Singh song. If you are young man who is a friend of a young woman at any such gathering, leave the celebration with your friend. Call the radio stations, phone in and demand that they stop playing misogynist songs.
  • Demand more public transport. Demand a thousand more buses that ply all night. Demand a metro system that stays open late into the night. Demand street lighting. Ask why the car lobby in Delhi can systematically stymie the expansion of public transport in Delhi. If there are not more public buses and metro trains, understand that those who run this city are responsible for rape and assault.
  • Take your traditions seriously, and recognize that every religion teaches the subjugation and humiliation of women. Ask men and women of religion what they are going to do to recognize the misogyny in their traditions, to confront and challenge them. Insist that under no conditions can any woman pollute anything around her. insist that women are not property. Not of their fathers, brothers, boy-friends or husbands. Not of the state. Not of God. Understand that people can never be property and must never be viewed as such.Combat and confront anyone who says they can be.
  • Shame and expose those politicians and police or army officers who try to cover up cases of sexual assault and rape in Kashmir and the North East and elsewhere. Do not create a hierarchy of more and less important victims.
  • Young men, decide now, and for all time, that you will treat the women you encounter first of all as friends, as equals, as people who have as much right to your city as you. Learn to respect a woman’s right to pleasure. To her right to say yes and no. Do not think that ‘no’ means ‘yes’.
  • Young men, if you confront a situation in which any man harasses another woman, or any other person, make sure that you will stand up and protest, call attention to what is going on,  and make sure that this stops.
  • Young men, and young women, do not reduce the matter of confronting rape and molestation to one of asking the attacker whether or not he has ‘sisters and daughters’ at home. Rapists prey on their sisters and daughters just as easily as they do on strangers.
  • Young men and young women, do not ever let anyone tell you that under any circumstances, that your life is not worth living.

I hope you change Delhi forever. I hope that the rest of the country follows your example.

I remain hopeful because of what you did yesterday and today. Do not disappoint me, do not disappoint yourselves. Make your protest viral. Take it everywhere, to workplaces, schools, streets, parks, the metro, to dark and unlit streets, to lit streets and corners. Take over the city. Make it a city that belongs to you and me and the brave 23 year old paramedic still fighting for her life.

 ~By : 

by Heidi Grant Halvorson 

The road to hell may or may not be paved with good intentions, but the road to failure surely is. Take a good look at the people you work with, and you’ll find lots of Good Starters — individuals who want to succeed, and have promising ideas for how to make that happen. They begin each new pursuit with enthusiasm, or at the very least, a commitment to getting the job done.

And then something happens. Somewhere along the way, they lose steam. They get bogged down with other projects. They start procrastinating and miss deadlines. Their projects take forever to finish, if they get finished at all.

Does all this sound familiar? Maybe a little too familiar? If you are guilty of being a Good Starter, but a lousy finisher — at work or in your personal life — you have a very common problem. After all, David Allen’s Getting Things Done wouldn’t be a huge bestseller if people could easily figure out how to get things done on their own.

More than anything else, becoming a Great Finisher is about staying motivated from a project’s beginning to its end. Recent research has uncovered the reason why that can be so difficult, and a simple and effective strategy you can use to keep motivation high.

In their studies, University of Chicago psychologists Minjung Koo and Ayelet Fishbach examined how people pursuing goals were affected by focusing on either how far they had already come (to-date thinking) or what was left to be accomplished (to-go thinking). People routinely use both kinds of thinking to motivate themselves. A marathon runner may choose to think about the miles already traveled or the ones that lie ahead. A dieter who wants to lose 30 pounds may try to fight temptation by reminding themselves of the 20 pounds already lost, or the 10 left to go.

Intuitively, both approaches have their appeal. But too much to-date thinking, focusing on what you’ve accomplished so far, will actually undermine your motivation to finish rather than sustain it.

Koo and Fishbach’s studies consistently show that when we are pursuing a goal and consider how far we’ve already come, we feel a premature sense of accomplishment and begin to slack off. For instance, in one study, college students studying for an exam in an important course were significantly more motivated to study after being told that they had 52% of the material left to cover, compared to being told that they had already completed 48%.

When we focus on progress made, we’re also more likely to try to achieve a sense of "balance" by making progress on other important goals. This is classic Good Starter behavior — lots of pots on the stove, but nothing is ever ready to eat.

If, instead, we focus on how far we have left to go (to-go thinking), motivation is not only sustained, it’s heightened. Fundamentally, this has to do with the way our brains are wired. To-go thinking helps us tune in to the presence of a discrepancy between where we are now and where we want to be. When the human brain detects a discrepancy, it reacts by throwing resources at it: attention, effort, deeper processing of information, and willpower.

In fact, it’s the discrepancy that signals that an action is needed — to-date thinking masks that signal. You might feel good about the ground you’ve covered, but you probably won’t cover much more.

Great Finishers force themselves to stay focused on the goal, and never congratulate themselves on a job half-done. Great managers create Great Finishers by reminding their employees to keep their eyes on the prize, and are careful to avoid giving effusive praise or rewards for hitting milestones "along the way." Encouragement is important, but to keep your team motivated, save the accolades for a job well — and completely — done.

Bodhitree–A lost Band

XLRI is one of the oldest business schools in India and is regarded as amongst the top 5 business schools of the country. Its PMIR(Personnel Management & Industrial Relations) programme is regarded as the best ‘HR Course’ in Asia-Pacific B schools. Today I am talking about a music band of XLRI, bodhiTree. Yes, bodhiTree is the name of the band. Its songs like GMD, Sabka Katega, XL ki Kudiya are very famous in Indian colleges. It was formed on the second day of new session, June 12 2004 by 7 Xlers. They named their band as BodhiTree because they played under old bodhiTree in XLRI campus.

We just sort of gravitated towards each other, spending value-added nights jamming into the wee hours of the morning. We had a one piece each of bassist, guitarist and vocalist, but the only one who showed up when we called for drummers was this petite girl with plaits called Poornima. She’d never played rock live before, but she had the rhythm in her blood. And that was it.. before we knew it, we were taking to the stage as a band. BodhiTree, XLRI

BodhiTree Team

  • Poornima Dore – Drums
  • Jishnu Dasgupta – Bass/ Vocals
  • Bharat Rajagopalan – Guitar
  • Abhishek Narain – Guitar/ Vocals
  • Satadru Bagchi – Vocals
  • Shambhavi Kumar – Vocals
  • Dhananjay Mishra – Vocals

BodhiTree Songs and Videos ::


Sab Ka Katega

XL ki Kudiyan

Xl meri Jaan

Make Good Things Happen

This guest post was written by Diggy, author of Upgrade Reality.

When wild animals are first captured and put into zoo cages they try everything to get out of that cage.  They bite it, run into it with their full weight, and claw at the cage.  They persist for weeks and months and they take any chance they can to free themselves.

But after a few years of captivity these wild animals lose their fierce desire to be free.  You could leave the cage door unlocked so the animals could escape if they wanted to, but they won’t.  They won’t even try, because they’ve become comfortable and given up the instinct that they could ever be free again.

Are you like these wild animals in a cage?  Have you lost your initiative to succeed and make good things happen in your life?

You may think your past is indicative of your future, and that you’ve been cast in an imprisoning mold.  You may believe that just because you haven’t yet been successful in X, Y or Z that you will never be successful in that venture and you may as well accept your fate.

The mindset of your past being indicative of your future is a trap – an extremely easy and unnecessary trap.

Your Wake-Up Call

“Everything you can imagine is real.”  -Pablo Picasso

Your reality can be whatever you want it to be.  The limits to what you can achieve are an illusion.  These achievement limits are mostly not set by others, but by you yourself.

Often things are not as difficult as they seem:

For years athletes couldn’t run one mile in under four minutes.  Once Roger Bannister ran a mile under four minutes, proving that the human heart could hold up when running that fast, others quickly followed.  And once Olympic champion, Vasily Alexeev broke the weight lifting barrier of 500 pounds, other weight-lifters broke his record knowing it was possible.  Yet before he could do it himself, Alexeev’s trainers changed his limiting belief by rigging 501.5 pounds of weights to look like 499.

This is also true for how you have lived your life from the day you were born until this very moment.  You wake up each morning and do as you have been doing for years.  You’ve got a belief system setting limits for yourself as to what you can and deserve to achieve.

People will jump at the chance to tell you what you can and cannot do.  Most people love to break down your dreams and get you to do what they think is best for you.  Sometimes your closest friends and family will crush your dreams without even realizing it.

But remember that your dreams are yours.  They are what your heart knows and feels, and it doesn’t matter what others think of them.  (Read The Alchemist.)

Take a close look at the following quotes and see how some of the most influential and talented people made incredibly strong statements that turned out to be totally false:

  • “Everything that can be invented has already been invented.”
    – Director of the U.S. Patent Office, 1899
  • “A rocket will never be able to leave the earth’s atmosphere.”
    – The New York Times, 1936
  • “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”
    – IBM Chairman 1943
  • “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?”
    – H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927”
Upgrade Your Reality

Again, as Pablo Picasso once said, “Everything you can imagine is real.”

Therefore, you can upgrade your current reality to a vision of what you want.  The way you perceive your reality to be is the way that your reality becomes.  Let me explain:

You don’t need to be unhappy about the condition of your social life, your finances, your fitness or anything else that you’ve accepted as your reality just because ‘it’s always been like that.’

There are countless examples of people who have come from nothing and built up some of the biggest companies in the world.  (Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Oprah).

I know many of you reading this article will agree with me that change is possible and have areas in your life that you want to change.  But I also know that many of you who conceptually agree with this will not take action and persist long enough to see the change you want.

Hard Work + Persistence = Guaranteed Success

You should not accept a frustrating, unhappy lifestyle.  As long as there is the slightest possibility of improvement through hard work and taking action, that’s exactly what you should do.

With smart work, faith, commitment and persistence, you will become successful!  Whether it takes you a month or ten years, as long as you never give up and execute a strategy, you will succeed.

Don’t expect a quick fix though.  Don’t expect to put in a little bit of effort for a small period of time and see your dreams come true.

Transformation can take years.  Many successful people have failed multiple times before they get the big results.  But even though your situation won’t change drastically overnight it can change noticeably in a short time frame.  You can see a gradual improvement within days or weeks if you were to start today.

The biggest obstacle to overcome in seeking improvement is the problem of, “Where do I start?”

Even if you are motivated enough to research a solution or method for changing your situation, you’ll likely find many conflicting opinions and advice from all sorts of sources and gurus.

The most sure-fire way of finding your strategy to success is to use a proven method.

Find someone (or multiple people) who have already accomplished goals aligned with yours, and research their methods.  Don’t try to re-invent the wheel.  Just copy the masters and tweak their methods for you own circumstances.  This eliminates the guess-work and trial and error that you would encounter if you were to blaze your own trail.  (Read The Success Principles.)

You Must Believe You Deserve It

Achieving success is only one part of the equation.  Keeping the success you achieved is an entirely different thing.

You need to feel and believe that you are deserving of the success achieved.  Otherwise your subconscious will sabotage your process and put you back in a lesser situation that you feel you deserve.

It may sound crazy, but it’s a fact of life.  Take the following quote as an example:

“A shockingly large number of lottery winners end up in financial ruined.  National statistics show that about one-third of lottery winners ultimately file for bankruptcy.” -Milwaukee Magazine

“The reality is nearly 70 percent of all lottery winners will squander away their winnings in a few years,” the Connecticut financial advisers said in a news release.  “In the process, they will see family and friendships destroyed and the financial security they hoped for disappear.”

Even though people who win the lottery have suddenly received more money than they ever dreamed of, most of them will feel like it’s too good to be true.  Their mindset limits a financial transformation.  In their hearts they are still the same low-wage earning workers that they were before winning, which is why they end up losing all their money.  They feel stuck in their old situation, because that is what they feel they deserve.

You may think the lottery example does not apply to you.  Just wait until I win the lottery!  The main point is that if you spend months or years working towards a final goal and achieve success, you need to feel like you deserve it completely.

Be The Change you Want To See

You deserve to wake up in the morning and be happy.  You should feel good about yourself and excited about the life you’re living.  You should do work you love, be in the relationship that you’ve always wanted to be in and be healthy enough to enjoy it all.

  • Start today.
  • Be the change that you want to see.
  • Make sure you feel it in every fiber of your being.
  • Work hard, follow a proven strategy for success and never give up.
  • Don’t just think about goals, take action and make good things happen!


Windows 8 Preview: 23 Potential Features You Should Know About

Robert Strohmeyer – MaximumPC — Still a year or more from final release, the next version of Windows has been making its fair share of appearances on leak sites in recent months. Codenamed Windows Next, the OS release we’ve come to know as Windows 8 will look much like its recent predecessors on the surface, but looks to be getting a serious revamp from the kernel up.

The rumors are coming in fast but, as with any unreleased software, it’s hard to be certain which of the rumored features will make it into the final product, which will wind up on the cutting room floor, and which never existed in the first place. We’ve taken a look at all the rumors, all the leaked screenshots, and a few screens we’re pretty sure were flat-out faked, and we’re ready to make a few prognostications about what to expect in Windows 8. We’ll approach this category-by-category.

Storage Features

In part because of its massive installed base in the business world, Microsoft has been slow to move on storage trends over the years. While power users have grown accustomed to relying on third-party tools for handling disc images and drive maintenance tasks, the company has been sitting on a new file system for years.

ISO Mounting

While other desktop OSes (Mac OS X, Linux) include the ability to handle disc images as a matter of basic functionality, Windows has lagged lamentably in this area. As recently as Windows Vista, users needed third-party tools to burn a disc image to a CD. And while Windows 7 can now write a disc image, it can’t mount and read one. According to a variety of rumor forums, however, this feature will finally come baked into Windows 8.

ISO mounting won’t mean much to the average user, but power users and system administrators will be able to use it to standardize installations across multiple systems, preserve reliable system images for posterity, and quickly deploy virtual machines. Given the gradual pace of change in recent Windows versions’ support for disc images, this feature seems very likely to see the light of day in the final release.

Probability of actually appearing in Windows 8: 70%

Tweaked Disk Cleanup

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To help users manage disk space, Microsoft appears to have revamped the Disk Cleanup utility for Windows 8. Unlike the relatively simplistic tool in Windows 7, the enhanced utility showing up in Windows 8 pre-release builds includes options that let you sort files by size and type. This should make it much easier to reclaim disk space quickly by targeting temporary files and quickly spotting the biggest space hogs on your hard drive.

Probability: 70%

Portable Workspaces

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In a move that usurps the role of third-party portable workspace utilities, Microsoft looks to be integrating a new feature called Portable Workspaces into Windows 8. Based on screenshots and videos leaked from an April build of Windows 8, Portable Workspaces will let users create a portable image of their system on any USB drive with at least 16GB of available capacity (16GB drives with 15.7GB of available space don’t appear to work).

From what we’ve seen, it appears Portable Workspaces will create a streamlined clone of your desktop, user settings, and essential apps, so you can plug your USB drive into any PC and boot quickly into a familiar Windows experience. The leaked demos look surprisingly good, and we’d be surprised if this feature doesn’t make it into the final product.

Probability: 70%

History Vault

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Image credit: WinRumors

While Windows XP SP2 introduced a useful file-versioning feature called Shadow Copy, relatively few end users ever realized this feature existed. Even now, in Windows 7, it remains obscure and mostly inaccessible to ordinary users. A leaked Windows 8 feature called History Vault appears poised to bring Shadow Copy into the light of day.

Early screenshots of History Vault look eerily similar to Apple’s Time Machine feature in OS X. We’re not knocking the knock-off. If History Vault’s timed, incremental backups of changed files prove half as usable as Time Machine, it might finally make backup a part of everyday life for users in the real world.

Probability: 70%


Since 2003, Microsoft has been working on a new Windows file system capable of detecting and using relationships between various chunks of data on a PC. WinFS (the "FS" stands for Future Storage) incorporates features of SQL relational database servers to intelligently find connections between files and surface them to applications. A common example of this might be a version of Windows Explorer capable of automatically discovering photos of a specific person and displaying them in chronological order.

WinFS was expected to launch as part of Windows Vista in 2006, but never made the final cut due to technical difficulties. Microsoft has made no announcements about the filesystem’s chances of appearing in Windows 8, and we’ve yet to see credible evidence that it’s coming. If WinFS does actually surface in the next Windows, we’ll be surprised and delighted.

Probability: 20%

Connected Features

Windows 8 seems likely to be the most deeply Net-connected version of Windows yet, with a barrel of new features aimed at making web browsing more central to the user experience, syncing user data to the cloud, and protecting users from malicious code.

Internet Explorer 10

Despite constant revamping over the past decade (and the fact that IE comes preinstalled on every Windows PC, Microsoft’s share of the browser market continues to decline in the face of growth for Google Chrome and Opera. So even though IE9 is barely out of diapers, development of IE10 continues at what looks to be a pretty brisk pace. Will it be ready in time for Windows 8? You betcha.

Probability: 90%

Immersive Browser

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Image credit: Within Windows

The most interesting browser enhancements we’ve run across for Windows 8 is a feature Microsoft calls Immersive Browser. Apparently based on the mobile browser in Windows Phone 7, Immersive Browser will presumably use the IE rendering engine within a simplified full-screen interface that will make the most of tablet displays. To get more web onto the screen, Microsoft reduced the number of menu options to Forward, Back, Address, Reload, and Favorite.

Some leaked screens also reveal a tiled interface similar to the Metro UI in Windows Phone 7, which would display web links as tiles across the immersive browser screen for quick navigation. This feature looks like it would be more useful in a tablet than on a PC, but it may work for both. Given all the other tablet-friendly features we’re seeing in the leaked code, we suspect Immersive Browser is a lock for the gold release.

Probability: 90%

SmartScreen Download Filter

Internet Explorer 9 includes a reputation-based phishing filter called SmartScreen, which checks files, links, and sites against a reputation database before loading them in the browser. Early Windows 8 builds appear to be pulling this feature deeper into the operating system to give users the ability to check files against SmartScreen before allowing them to launch. These options have been spotted under the View tab in the Folder menu as user-selectable features. We have little doubt that they’ll make it to the retail product.

Probability: 90%

Cloud Storage

Despite curmudgeonly resistance from a certain segment of self-described power users, the cloud is now an integral part of mainstream computing. Microsoft has been pushing hard to catch up with third-party services like Dropbox and SugarSync with its LiveMesh syncing service, which lets users sync folders on their PC to a Windows Live account.

Leaked screenshots from Windows 8 alpha builds show code that apparently integrates cloud syncing directly into the operating system itself. It’s unclear whether this will simply allow users to link their LiveMesh/SkyDrive account to Windows 8, or if this kind of functionality will be extended to third-party cloud storage services as well.

Probability: 80%

Push Notifications

Digging through DLL files in the alpha code, inquisitive minds have uncovered signs of push-notification support in Windows 8. This comes as little surprise, given the operating system’s other tablet-friendly features. While we have no clear evidence about how push notifications will work in the next Windows, it seems probable that they’ll be able to do things like trigger a noise or flash a light when an email comes in, or announce a request for a video chat. We’re looking forward to seeing more of this in the beta.

Probability: 70%

User Account Features

So far, we’ve spotted few changes to the way Windows 8 will manage user accounts, but two interesting features have popped up on the rumor forums.

Guest Mode

Guest accounts have long proven tricky for desktop operating systems. While the idea of letting just anyone log onto a PC and use it temporarily sounds nice in theory, that convenience comes with its fair share of security concerns. The Windows 7 beta included a decent stab at a Guest Mode feature that did this pretty well, but it didn’t make the final cut. Turns out it’s harder than you might think to create a temporary user account with enough system access to be useful, without opening up the machine to deep security threats that put the primary user’s files at risk. Will Guest Mode reappear in Windows 8? We have no idea at this point, but we suspect Microsoft hasn’t stopped working on the feature and we think there’s a better than 50/50 chance that it’ll ship.

Probability: 60%

Facial Recognition

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There’s nothing especially new about the idea of facial recognition. It helped HAL track Davein 2001: A Space Odyssey, and a number of PC manufacturers have shipped systems touting this feature over the past few years. In practice, however, the ability of consumer PCs to accurately spot faces has proved, well, spotty.

Back in April,—which has been a leading force in uncovering Windows 8 features from inside the code—leaked news of a Windows 8 API called "Detect human presence," which likely integrates face recognition into the OS. If legit, this feature would be consistent with other leaked information out of Redmond, which suggests Microsoft has been counting on the pervasive presence of webcams to power such a feature.

The big question here is not whether Microsoft is working on facial recognition. We know that they are. Our lingering skepticism centers primarily around the quality of the user experience and Microsoft’s ability to make facial recognition work well enough that people will actually want to use it. If the feature’s accuracy is less than 95%, it’ll earn Windows 8 more jeers than cheers from people who can’t easily log into their PCs. So we won’t blame Microsoft if this one doesn’t appear on launch day.

Probability: 50%

System Reset

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Ever want to nuke your OS back to bedrock and get a fresh start with your PC? Screens leaked by a Chinese Windows site show the presence of a feature called System Reset that appears to do just this. The menu description for the feature reads, "Remove all programs you’ve installed and restore default Windows settings. You can choose to keep user accounts and personal files."

For those who like to occasionally reinstall windows as a way of reducing bloat, this could be a real boon. And for system administrators, it could be a huge timesaver in managing loaner systems. Whether System Reset would pose any potential security risks in administrative scenarios remains to be seen, but the feature sounds almost as plausible as it does cool.

Probability: 60%

Interface Tweaks

So far, the screenshots we’ve seen of Windows 8 don’t appear substantially different from those of Windows 7. It may be that Microsoft just hasn’t applied all of the interface changes it’s toying with, but so far we don’t see too many changes worth getting excited or irritated about. Here are two tweaks worth talking about.

Ribbons everywhere

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Image credit: Within Windows

One of the most noticeable interface tweaks in Windows 8 pre-release builds is the proliferation of ribbon menus throughout Windows Explorer. Already present in included apps such as Paint and Word Pad, the ribbon interface adds a host of new buttons to the Windows Explorer menu. From the screens we’ve seen, it looks like the new interface will put more of the classic menu options within one-click accessibility, eliminating the need to click Edit, Select all, for instance (or learn the hotkeys, for that matter).

Probability: 80%

Aero Autocolor

Of less impact to usability, but potentially more interesting to everyday users, is a leaked feature called Aero Autocolor. This simple menu option in the Window Color and Appearance control panel empowers Windows to automatically change the desktop color scheme to match the dominant color in your wallpaper. So if you have green rolling hills as your background, Windows would auto-select a hue from the wallpaper and apply it to window borders. Will this be preferable to window transparency? We can’t say.

Probability: 70%

Content Integration

Computers and phones have long since morphed beyond the basic functions for which they were originally invented and become, among other things, entertainment devices. So how will Microsoft respond to this trend?

Windows App Store

The most prevalent content-related rumor in the Windows 8 universe is that Microsoft is working on an app store. This is hardly a shock. Microsoft has already attempted to copy Apple’s retail store model, and nearly every major platform now supports an app market of some kind. Sometimes imitation is the sincerest form of flattery; other times it’s just good business. We think a Windows app store just makes sense, and could potentially prove more successful than the Mac App Store, given Microsoft’s massive installed base. Our biggest question on this one is whether Microsoft’s entry into the arena could spark antitrust inquiries into the practice of first-party app markets, thereby posing problems not just for Windows 8 but for Android and iOS as well.

Probability: 80%

PDF Support

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Image credit: Within Windows

At long last, Microsoft seems to be building PDF support directly into Windows with an app called Modern Reader. Presumably, Modern Reader will read a whole lot more than just PDFs, just as Preview does on the Mac. We’re filing this one under D for "duh, it’s about time."

Probability: 90%

Tablet Optimized

For more than a decade, Microsoft has labored unsuccessfully to get people to buy Windows tablets. First there was the Tablet PC, then the Project Origami UMPC tablets (which, surprisingly, still exist), and more recently the HP Slate, which we’re pretty sure only a few people-all of whom were relatives of HP or Microsoft employees-bought. To counter this consistent flatline of interest and to capitalize on the current touch tablet craze, Microsoft is making a few moves to optimize Windows 8 for the slate.

System On Chip Support

How do we know Microsoft is making Windows 8 for tablets? Because Ballmer basically told us so. In his keynote address at CES in January, big Stevie B. demonstrated a "future version of Windows with the current interface" running on an ARM processor, and spent a long time talking about the massive role the diminutive System On Chip (SOC) architecture will play in the company’s future. Intel’s Renee James confirmed this earlier this week when he stated that Microsoft will release multiple versions of Windows 8 for both x86 and ARM, including four distinct builds for the latter. What this means is clear: Windows 8 will be designed to run on low-power chips from ARM, Qualcomm, AMD, Intel, and Texas Instruments. What form this functionality takes is not clear yet, however.

Probability: 90%

Touch Interface

Taking SOC support as a given, the next Windows would be doomed on tablets without some serious improvements to the touch interface. Unsurprisingly, the Windows 8 rumor forums are awash in chatter about touch-friendly improvements throughout the upcoming OS, many of which appear to have been adapted directly from Windows Phone 7.

Probability: 80%

Pattern Login

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In what clearly looks like a major concession to the tablet form factor, early builds of Windows 8 include the option of a pattern login screen similar to that of the Android OS. In YouTube videos showing the feature (most of which now appear to have been removed at Microsoft’s request, which likely corroborates their legitimacy), the pattern screen consists of a 16-block grid, which would allow for more complex security patterns than Android’s 9-block grid. As far as we’re concerned, this pattern login screen is a done deal for Windows 8, and lends an air of near certainty to reports of more comprehensive touch interface enhancements.

Probability: 90%

Other Tweaks

While a great many unknowns remain in the months leading up to Windows 8’s debut, there are a few more forthcoming features that we do have some good information about.

Modern Windows Task Manager

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Power users will get quicker access to the Windows Resource Monitor and Task Manager through a single control panel redubbed Modern Windows Task Manager. There’s little in the way of new functionality here, but the merged control panels will make quicker work out of spotting resource hogs and shutting them down with one click.

Probability of actually appearing in Windows 8: 90%

Hybrid Boot

To speed up boot times, Microsoft seems to have worked up a new method of shutting down and starting up known as Hybrid Boot. This approach reportedly works more like hibernation than actual shutdown, leaving lots of data cached for ready retrieval when the system is fully powered up again. Leaked screens also show an option to revert the system to conventional shutdown mode for users who’d rather conserve power. Also, it looks like Hybrid Boot will not alter the way Windows restart works.

Probability of actually appearing in Windows 8: 80%

Genuine Center

We know you’ve all been waiting for this one, so we won’t hold out on you any longer: Yes, Windows 8 will have the long-awaited Genuine Center feature that will finally lay to rest all your worries about the possibility that your copy of Windows 8 might not be the real deal.

OK, so we’re being sarcastic, but you had to know this was coming. Microsoft’s war on software piracy has long masqueraded as a user service, and the Genuine Center looks like little more than a continuation of that trend. In this menu, you’ll be able to enter or change your license key and view the status of your license’s genuineness. Microsoft to users: You’re welcome.

Probability of actually appearing in Windows 8: 100%

Windows 8 Preview: 23 Potential Features You Should Know AboutMaximum PC brings you the latest in PC news, reviews, and how-tos.

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Lessons Life Taught Us

Everyday Life Lessons

Sometimes thinking about your life and sorting out what you have learned is just as important as tackling a new venture.  That’s what our new sister site,Everyday Life Lessons, is all about.  It’s an online community where people share, rank and discuss life’s greatest lessons.

The site challenges you to reflect on your past, dig deep within yourself and answer one simple question:

What has life taught you?

Think about all the things you would love to tell yourself if you could travel back in time to give your younger self some advice about life.

Here’s a sample of 111 life lessons that were recently submitted to the site:

  1. Spend more time with those who make you smile and less time with those who you feel pressured to impress.
  2. Never tell someone their dreams are impossible. You’ll feel like a fool when they prove you wrong.
  3. No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.
  4. Pursuing happiness by acquiring material things (fancy cars, expensive jewelry, designer clothing) is like jogging to the grocery store on your treadmill: it won’t get you anywhere.
  5. Laugh at stupid jokes. Apologize. Tell someone how much they mean to you. It’s the small moments that make life grand.
  6. At 79, I regret the things I didn’t do far more than the things I did.
  7. Life is way more enjoyable when you stop trying to be cool and simply focus on being yourself.
  8. Start by asking yourself whether each of your relationships drags you down or lifts you up. Surrounding yourself with positive, loving people is half the battle of living a happy, successful life.
  9. When the ‘want’ gets stronger, the ‘how’ gets easier.
  10. Too often we judge people on too little information. Instead of judging someone for what they do or where they are in their life, figure out why they do what they do and how they got to where they are.
  11. If you want to feel rich, just count all the great things you have that money can’t buy.
  12. I have taken noticed that the deeper I know about myself, the clearer I understand others.
  13. You can’t change who you are. You can only change what you know and how you apply this knowledge.
  14. I don’t need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends I can be certain of.
  15. People who are meant to be together will find their way back to each other. They may take detours, but they’re never lost.
  16. The older I get, and the more I learn, the more I realize I know so little. At 72, life still teaches me new lessons every day.
  17. You can press forward long after you can’t. It’s just a matter of wanting it bad enough.
  18. Complaining is like slapping yourself for slapping yourself. It doesn’t solve the problem, it just hurts you more.
  19. Embrace change. As uncomfortable as it is sometimes, change allows us to stretch and grow. New things feel awkward and scary at first, but those feelings go away, and you are left with something bigger and bolder in your life.
  20. Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow emotionally and intellectually. They force us to stretch ourselves and our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first. And when we don’t feel comfortable, we don’t feel ready.  (Read The Road Less Traveled.)
  21. No matter how bad your heart has been broken the world doesn’t stop for your grief. The sun comes right back up the next day.
  22. Supporting, guiding, and making contributions to other people is one of life’s greatest rewards. In order to get, you have to give.
  23. Learn to adjust the sails of your life to unpredictable winds, while keeping your focus clear on your destination. And keep sailing until you get there.
  24. As you strive to achieve your goals and dreams you can count on there being some fairly substantial disappointments along the way. Don’t get discouraged, the road to your dreams may not be an easy one. Think of these disappointments as challenges – tests of persistence and courage – that life throws at you during your journey. They are necessary and are meant to help you grow as a person.
  25. Spend less than you earn, go without until you have the money in hand.
  26. Freedom is the greatest gift. Self-sufficiency is the greatest freedom.
  27. Even when you feel like you have nothing, someone else likely has far less. Find them and help them. You’ll see why.
  28. Marriages evolve and change. The feelings you had for the man or woman you married will mutate and evolve several times over the life of a marriage. Hopefully you will evolve in the same direction or at least embrace and accept the changes in the other person. It takes work, and sometimes it takes counseling. Don’t gloss over those changes or you may wake up next to a stranger one day.
  29. Negativity breeds more negativity. When you focus only on the negative, obviously that’s all you will see. You will not seek out positivity, and even when positivity comes into your life, you’ll look for the negative side of things.
  30. If you want something in your life you’ve never had, you’ll have to do something you’ve never done.
  31. As a child, I always thought the expression “it’s better to give than to receive” was trite and silly. As an adult, I recognize the expression’s value. Having the capacity to give means you possess a mindset of abundance. Having the will to give means you want to make a difference in the world. Having the desire to give means you care.
  32. It’s not so much what you say that counts, it’ how you make people feel.
  33. Figure out what you want. Set real goals and make a logical plan to achieve them. It’s like the old saying, “A goal that is never written down is nothing more than a New Year’s resolution.” And we all know what happens to New Year’s resolutions.
  34. Being open-minded is the key to more knowledge. If you want to know more about the world you have to keep an open mind. You have to give people and things a chance.
  35. If you want love, give love. If you want friends, be friendly. If you want money, provide value. It really is this simple.
  36. If something won’t be significant to you 3 days/3 months/3 years from now, don’t waste all your time worrying about it now.
  37. Manage aging, but why fight it? You can spend a fortune on face creams, plastic surgery, hair growth formulas, and Botox, but eventually you realize you are fighting an uphill battle. Groom yourself nicely. Stay fit. Have unsightly things removed. But accept the beauty of aging. A striking mature man or woman is much more attractive than someone who looks overly taunt, tanned or top-heavy.
  38. Never regret. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience.
  39. Being busy and being productive are two different things.
  40. Life is unbelievably brief. When you’re young, you might feel like there’s a huge mass of time ahead of you. But trust me, it passes much faster than you think. You get gray hairs before you feel like a real adult. And then you have kids, and suddenly they’re leaving for college. Stop long enough to appreciate it all.
  41. Mistakes teach you important lessons. Every time you make one, you’re one step closer to your goal. The only mistake that can truly hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you’re too scared to make a mistake.
  42. Your health is your life, keep up with it. Get an annual physical check-up.
  43. Change is the only permanent thing in life.
  44. Having a thousand credentials on the wall will not make you a decent human being. But genuinely helping one person everyday will.
  45. You must create and look for opportunities. Opportunities rarely ever come knocking on the door of someone who’s not seeking them. You have to create and seek opportunities for yourself. You have to take the initiative to get the ball rolling and the doors opening.
  46. Keep your brain active. Don’t get into a mental rut. Do new things, learn new things, explore new ideas in all areas of your life. Keep challenging yourself and your mind. Be curious and interested in the world around you.
  47. Someone always has it worse. At times you may be having a bad day, but stop yourself and think about it; there are plenty of other people who have it worse off than you do.
  48. In work and business, when they need you more than you need them, you have succeeded.
  49. Trying to be somebody you’re not is not sexy. Be you. That’s when you’re beautiful.
  50. Truly ‘rich’ people need ‘less’ to be happy.
  51. Your ability to select a suitable spouse will greatly influence your financial and emotional well-being. Three common sense guidelines: 1. Pick someone who’s a joy to be around and who makes you happy. 2. Know the person well. 3. Ensure compatibility beyond physical attraction because beauty and youth are fleeting, while the mind and heart endure.
  52. No matter how much progress you make there will always be the people who insist that whatever you’re trying to do is impossible. Or they may incessantly suggest that the idea or dream as a whole is utterly ridiculous because nobody really cares. When you come across these people, don’t try to reason with them. Instead, forget that they exist. They will only waste your time and energy.
  53. We are all weird. And life is weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we call it love.
  54. Saying “no” to right people gives you the time and resources required to say “yes” to right opportunities.
  55. Living a life of honesty creates peace of mind, and peace of mind is priceless. Period. Don’t be dishonest and don’t put up with people who are.
  56. If you catch yourself working hard and loving every minute of it, don’t stop. You’re on to something big. Because hard work ain’t hard when you concentrate on your passions.
  57. Bulls**t might help you get you to the top, but it won’t keep you there. The truth always rises to the top and buries the bulls**t eventually.
  58. After 40 years of teaching at a local college I’ve come to realize that a teacher is nothing but a clever student.
  59. Sooner or later, you just want to be around the people who make you smile.
  60. Forgiving yourself is far more important (and difficult) than getting others to forgive you.
  61. Simplicity is often a major factor of success. But the process of simplifying things is rarely easy.
  62. There are few joys in life that equal a good conversation, a good read, a good walk, a good hug, a good smile, or a good friend.
  63. Laughter is the best medicine for stress. Laugh at yourself often. Find the humor in whatever situation you’re in.
  64. Everything that happens in life is neither good nor bad. It just depends on your perspective.
  65. When you spend time worrying, you’re simply using your imagination to create things you don’t want.
  66. Maturity is more about education and life experience than it is about age. I know plenty of mature 30-somethings and immature 50-somethings.
  67. When passion and skill work together, we’re often left with a masterpiece.
  68. You’re not alone. Everyone has problems. Some people are just better at hiding them than others.
  69. True friendship and true love do sustain the tests of distance and time.
  70. It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary. I believe this to be true and have experienced this with my own family. When I think of the times where we laughed the most or had the most fun – it was when we were doing simple, everyday things like swimming in a pool, combing a beach for shells, playing a board game or sharing a delicious meal.
  71. Get up 30 minutes earlier so you don’t have to rush around like a mad man. That 30 minutes will help you avoid speeding tickets, tardiness, and other unnecessary headaches.  (Read Getting Things Done.)
  72. It is okay to be angry. It is never okay to be cruel.
  73. Arguments are natural. An argument between two close friends doesn’t show a lack of love or respect, it’s simply a disagreement. In fact, quite often, the only reason we get frustrated with people and argue with them is because we care about them. Which is why we need to remember not to get too carried away.
  74. Money and stuff are not all that important. Yes, you want enough to be comfortable and do the things you want to do. But accumulating for the sake of accumulating is boring and empty. Trust me, it gets old fast. So feed your soul, not your ego.
  75. Hang out with younger people. Stay connected with what the generation behind you is doing and thinking. Establish friendships with them. You will benefit and learn from each other. Don’t act superior, because younger people may know a whole lot more than you do.
  76. There is nothing to hold you back except yourself. There is only one question to ask yourself here: “What would you do if you were not afraid?” Think about it.
  77. No matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be. Either you succeed or you learn something. Win-Win.
  78. Either you’re going to take action and seize new opportunities or someone else will. You can’t change anything or make any sort of progress by sitting back and thinking about it.
  79. Your years spent at school, reading and learning will seem short compared to a lifetime of minimum wage jobs. Get a good education, concentrate on areas that interest you and pursue your dreams.
  80. Keep six months of your salary in an emergency savings account just in case you lose your job or have an emergency that prevents you from working for a prolonged period of time. And keep a few extra hundred dollars on hand for unexpected expenses, such as car and home repair.
  81. A hero is someone who makes a positive difference in someone else’s life – even if it’s only one other person’s life.
  82. You’re never too old to follow your dreams, whatever they may be. I didn’t start my first business until I was 46 (something I always wanted to do). Now at 53, my business is more successful than I ever could have dreamed.
  83. Let your kids fail. Your kids will be okay, even if you think they are headed for the juvenile hall right now. Don’t come to their rescue all the time. Don’t manage every detail of their lives or over-schedule them with karate or viola lessons. Give them some boundaries, and then relax.
  84. Be vulnerable. Allow yourself to feel, to be open and authentic. Tear down any emotional brick walls you have built around yourself and feel every exquisite emotion, both good and bad. This is real life. This is how you welcome new opportunities.
  85. There’s no such thing as ‘risk free.’ Everything you do or don’t do in life has an inherent risk.
  86. Take a step back to gain some perspective. Usually when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. In the grand scheme of things, this one problem means almost nothing.
  87. Every mistake you make is progress. Mistakes teach you important lessons. Every time you make one, you’re one step closer to your goal. The only mistake that can truly hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you’re too scared to make a mistake.
  88. The greatest “adventure” is the ability to INQUIRE, TO ASK QUESTIONS. Sometimes in the process of inquiry, the search is more significant than the answers. Answers come from other people, from the universe of knowledge and history, and from the intuition and deep wisdom inside yourself.
  89. If it were easy everyone would do it. This is why get rich quick schemes will never be true. If it was so quick and easy then everyone would be millionaires. Making money and accomplishing tasks is hard work, but well worth it.
  90. If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right.
  91. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.
  92. Count your blessings every day. I know, this is a refrigerator magnet line, but practice it daily anyway. There is so much good, so much beauty, so much love in your life. What more do you really need? You have so much right now, you just need to pause long enough to appreciate it.
  93. It’s not about getting a chance, it’s about taking a chance. You’ll rarely be 100% sure it will work. But you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work. Sometimes you just have to go for it!
  94. The one with nothing to hide is always the one left standing tall.
  95. There is only one way to learn, and that is through action. Trying to learn without doing is like trying to lose weight by watching someone else exercise. It’s just not going to work.
  96. Change happens for a reason. Roll with it. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
  97. Experience life before you settle down. Whatever it is you want to do or experience, do as much of it as you can before you have children. Especially travel. Live in a hostel in Costa Rica for a month or drive across the country from coast to coast if you have to. But go have some really great, amazing, mind-blowing experiences.
  98. Life gives and takes away. During difficult times, be committed to resolving problems, but also lighten up and ride the waves of impermanence. What is a monster problem today will be a forgotten thought in the future.
  99. When two people cooperate instead of competing against each other their teamwork accomplishes far more than either of them could have achieved on their own.
  100. Between what happened and what will happen is your choice. So choose to be positive in everyday tasks.
  101. The best feeling in the world is getting paid to do what you love to do.
  102. Good looks attracts the eyes. Personality attracts the heart.
  103. If you’re smiling right now, you’re doing something right.
  104. If you live your life consumed by the past, you waste the great moments you still have left to live.
  105. Treat every small interaction with another person as an opportunity to make a positive impact in both your lives.
  106. There’s a big difference between knowing and doing. Knowledge is useless without action.
  107. Time is of the essence. You are born and you will die. Don’t waste the time in between. Use a time management system to control events, rather than have events controlling you.
  108. The French have an aphorism that you don’t appreciate something until you don’t have it anymore. In 40 years from now what is it that you will regret not having accomplished, appreciated or attempted? Do it, appreciate it, attempt it NOW!
  109. If it’s out of your control, why fret about it? Concentrating on things you can control is how you make good things happen.
  110. Never send a text message, email or photo to someone that’s unfit for the eyes of the entire world. In this digital age you never know what might slip into the public eye.
  111. The acquisition of knowledge doesn’t mean you’re growing. Growing happens when what you know changes how you live.

Operation Geronimo

IN the moonless night, two Black Hawk helicopters skimmed close to mountainsides and headed low towards the garrison city of Abbottabad. On board, two dozen US commandos sat tense, their bodies bristling with grenades and ammunition, night-vision goggles pulled over their eyes.

As the white-walled three-storey building came into their sights, it would have appeared just as they had seen in photographs and at the mock-up on which they had practised their mission two or three times a day for the past few weeks. They gripped their weapons, and muttered some final prayers, ready to abseil down ropes into the compound.

Down below, Aslam Khan, a businessman who lives in the next door house, was rudely awoken. It was 1am. He was disoriented by the noise and the power cut that had hit the area. "At first I thought it was a tractor ploughing a field," he said. "Then my son told me it was a helicopter."

Moments later came a blast from his neighbours’ courtyard that shattered his windows. "My daughter was very afraid and I took my family and we ran out of the house," he said.

He was not the only one to be woken. About 2.5km away, near the Jalal Baba park, Sohaib Athar, 33, was jolted awake by the whirr of helicopters. An IT consultant, he instantly reached for his phone and typed a post on Twitter. "Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1am (a rare event)," it said.

He had recently moved from Lahore, fed up with its frequent terrorist bombings, to what he thought was a safe, sleepy area. "Go away helicopter – before I take out my giant swatter," he added, followed by: "A huge window-shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt (cantonment). I hope it’s not the start of something nasty."

For the next half hour, Athar tweeted everything he heard, without the faintest clue his musings were the first public record of the final moments of Osama bin Laden.

Another Pakistani to be rudely awoken was the country’s army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani. On hearing reports that a helicopter had crashed within 1.6km of a major military facility, he had scrambled F16 jets. By the time they arrived at the scene, the helicopters were heading into Afghanistan.

Back in bed, Kayani was woken again at 5am by a phone call from Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, who until recently he had considered a friend. Kayani was told the terrorist had been found on his patch, and dispatched.

In the US capital, Americans watching Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice reality TV show were bemused to see a news flash at about 10.30pm eastern time announcing that President Barack Obama was to address the nation.

Word started to spread that something big was up and 57 million Americans tuned in to the President’s speech an hour later.

Standing at a podium on a red carpet in front of the East Room, Obama announced: "I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qa’ida, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children."

After nine years, seven months and 19 days, the world’s most expensive manhunt had been brought to an end with a 38-minute operation.

The operation sounded simple. But as the week went on Washington’s version of events would change repeatedly. Almost a week later, it is possible to get close to a definitive account of how the world’s most wanted man was found in an army garrison city of a US ally and how he met his end.


On paper it didn’t seem so difficult to find bin Laden. The FBI’s "most wanted" poster described him as "between 6 foot 4 (193cm) and 6 foot 6 (198cm), olive complexioned, left-handed and walks with a cane". He had one of the world’s most recognisable faces, and he put out regular videos.

Yet for years the trail had gone cold. CIA agents had taken to calling him "Elvis".

By 2005, many inside the CIA had concluded the bin Laden hunt had reached a dead-end. But a couple of things had caught the agency’s attention.

First, all the other senior al-Qa’ida leaders picked up had been living in Pakistani cities. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11, was caught in Rawalpindi in 2003 and Ramzi Binalshibh, a co-conspirator, was found in Karachi the year before.

Second, those scrutinising bin Laden’s videos did not think his face showed the strain of someone covering rough terrain and living in constant fear of airstrikes.

There was one more clue. The last senior al-Qa’ida figure arrested was Abu Faraj al-Libbi, in May 2005. Libbi was picked up while waiting at a shop in the Pakistani town of Mardan, a drop point for a "designated courier" of bin Laden’s, according to his Guantanamo "detainee assessment" recently released by WikiLeaks.

The CIA realised that if they could track his human pigeons, perhaps they could find him.

The problem was they didn’t know who these couriers were. A few names had surfaced from the interrogations of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay in 2002 and 2003. One was Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. However, in 2004, Hassan Ghul, an al-Qa’ida operative at the camp, said Kuwaiti was close to bin Laden, Mohammed and Libbi. Ghul added that Kuwaiti had not been seen for some time, which suggested to his interrogators that he could be in hiding with bin Laden.

Mohammed had been captured in March 2003, but accounts vary as to the part he played in revealing Kuwaiti as bin Laden’s courier.

Some suggest Mohammed admitted having known him, but said Kuwaiti was retired and of little significance. Then, when subjected to extreme interrogation – including being waterboarded 183 times – Mohammed stuck to his story that Kuwaiti was an unimportant figure.

Libbi said he had never heard of Kuwaiti, suggesting someone else, Maulawi Jan, a figure never traced by the CIA, was bin Laden’s courier. According to this account, it was the combination of these two very senior al-Qa’ida figures so obviously steering them away from Kuwaiti that alerted the CIA to his importance.

Others, primarily Republicans keen to suggest that the Bush administration’s notorious torture sessions bore fruit, tell a different story. Michael Mukasey, who was attorney-general from 2007-09, insisted the breakthrough came from Mohammed: "KSM (Khalid Shaikh Mohammed) broke like a dam under the pressure of harsh interrogation techniques that included waterboarding. He loosed a torrent of information – including eventually the nickname of a trusted courier of bin Laden."

Either way, the Americans had a name, or at least a nickname, al-Kuwaiti, to work with.

When Leon Panetta was appointed director of the CIA by Obama in February 2009, he decided not to share his agency’s intelligence with its Pakistani opposite number, ISI, believing it had previously tipped off targets when the US was about to swoop.

He took advantage of a massive new US aid package to Pakistan as a cover to send in more agents, some of whom were Pakistani-Americans. Current estimates by intelligence officials suggest about 1000 are in Pakistan (of whom 300 were working below ISI’s radar).

At the same time, they also turned to one of their greatest investigative tools: Task Force Orange, a highly secretive US special operations unit that was set up in 1980 in the wake of the failed US commando raid to rescue the US embassy hostages held in Iran. It specialises in scoping and tracking down "high-value targets" such as bin Laden.

Task Force Orange works closely on the ground in "fusion cells" with the National Security Agency. The NSA began intercepting telephone calls and email messages between Kuwaiti’s family and anyone inside Pakistan. It set up equipment that could intercept mobile phones by infiltrating the wireless network and acting as a bogus base station. Then, last northern summer, they got a key break. Although bin Laden did not use a mobile telephone, both the couriers shot dead in last Monday’s raid and members of their families did. They were cautious, however. US officials were stunned to find that the men travelled at least 90 minutes away from bin Laden’s hiding place before even putting the batteries back in their mobile phones.

They took their avoidance of snoopers seriously, but not seriously enough. Last summer, Kuwaiti received a call from an old friend who was under surveillance. He asked where the courier had been, what had been going on in his life. "I’m back with the people I was with before," Kuwaiti said. There was a pause on the line as the friend pondered the import of those words. "May God facilitate," he replied.

This intelligence was combined with other advances. Last July, Pakistani agents working for the CIA spotted Kuwaiti driving his white Suzuki four-wheel-drive near Peshawar and wrote down the registration number. They began tracking him throughout central Pakistan. An al-Qa’ida trainee called Ahmed Siddiqui was picked up. He told his US interrogators that bin Laden was hiding in a compound in Abbottabad. After a few weeks of surveillance, Kuwaiti, blissfully unaware he was being tailed, drove down the long dirt track to a compound surrounded by white walls topped with barbed wire, 65km from the Pakistani capital.


To the Americans, House No 3, Street No 8-A, Garga Road, Thanda Chowa, Hashmi Colony, Abbottabad, stuck out. Set amid fields of cabbage patches, the 0.4ha compound was triangular and surrounded by 3.6m walls topped with barbed wire. Inside stood a small guesthouse and a three-storey house with eight bedrooms. The windows were of opaque glass and the upper balcony had an incongruous 2m wall.

Pakistanis often live in fortress-like compounds, particularly Pathans who have frequent feuds with other tribes. Neighbours assumed the two Pathan brothers, Arshad and Tariq Khan, who had built the house and moved into it in 2005, were smugglers. In fact, these were the names adopted by Kuwaiti and his brother.

Property deeds showed the land was sold to Arshad Khan in 2005 by two local men; Qasi Mehfusal Haq, who runs a clinic on Abbottabad’s main street, and businessman Raza Imtiaz Ahmad. Sitting in his basement clinic last week, Haq said he had bought the land in 2004 at the bargain price of 1.4m rupees. He often visited the plot to inspect it and was approached several times by Arshad Khan, who had bought the neighbouring plot, and who urged Haq to sell his own.

The doctor had little contact with him after the sale, but saw Khan a few times at the market, and once when he came for medicine. "He was a humble and polite man," he said. "I didn’t see any guests go into the house in one and a half years. They didn’t have any security guards, either."

Abed, a builder who was constructing a house next door to the compound, said he saw Tariq take three boys to school every day.

Newspapers and milk were delivered at the compound as well as two goats a week. Two water buffalo and chickens were kept inside. Its self-sufficiency is underlined by its not being connected to the common water mains.

Unbeknown to the locals, there were nine children inside, the children and grandchildren of bin Laden, according to the survivors of last week’s raid. One of the rooms was a classroom where they were home-schooled. It contained textbooks and a whiteboard with writing in Arabic.


Once the Americans had spotted the compound in August last year, they quickly began monitoring it with spy satellites.

"We put 24/7 eyes on it," said an intelligence source. Pakistani CIA agents began renting a nearby house, with windows made up of two-way mirrors, while Task Force Orange focused on providing the intelligence that would be required to ensure that any eventual operation went as smoothly as possible.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, one of the most sophisticated non-violent weapons in America’s armoury, swung into action. Using satellite images, information from sources and transcripts of intercepted phone calls, it produced imagery analysis that described in detail the compound’s dimensions, features and even the "pattern of life" behaviour of its inhabitants.

Yet the spies were unable to capture an image of the al-Qa’ida leader. Panetta told the PBS television network: "We noticed an individual who was pacing in the courtyard who at least had some of the appearances (of bin Laden), but we were never able to verify that, in fact, it was him."

The watchers began referring to this man as "The Pacer". His routine suggested that as much as he never left the compound he was practically a prisoner within it.

The White House asked the NGA to estimate his height. They came back at between 5ft 8in (172cm) and 6ft 8in (203cm). It was a broad range, caused by the extreme vertical angle of the satellite picture, but consistent with bin Laden. Panetta told Obama it was the best "window of opportunity" they had had since Tora Bora.

In September, Obama summoned a secret meeting of his key staff, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Defence Secretary Robert Gates. Those present were told the hunt for bin Laden was, in all likelihood, over. "It was electric," said an official. "For so long we’d been trying to get a handle on this guy. All of a sudden, it was like, wow, there he is."


Panetta called Vice-Admiral William McRaven, commander of the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command, to CIA headquarters in February and asked him to prepare some options. The President then held a series of five meetings with his top national security advisers in March and last month to decide what to do. It was an unenviable choice.

Obama was presented with four options: to launch a heliborne assault; to wait and continue monitoring until they were more certain bin Laden was really there; a special forces raid with the Pakistanis; or to bomb the building with a drone attack or a cruise missile from an aircraft carrier. While he weighed up his choices, a B2 bomber was put on standby with a 907kg bomb in case the man thought to be bin Laden decided to pack his bags and leave.

McRaven was told to choose a team for a possible "boots-on-the-ground" raid, a course of action that rapidly became known as "the McRaven option".

A former navy SEAL, he chose the elite SEAL Team Six, otherwise known as Devgru, despite the failure of its last operation to rescue the British hostage Linda Norgrove from Afghanistan last October, which ended in her death by one of the team’s grenades.

The team started rehearsing, first in the US, then at Bagram, the US base in Afghanistan, on a hastily built mock-up of the compound based on NGA analysis of the site, not knowing who the high-value target was. A "fight-your-way-out" option was built into the plan, with two Chinook helicopters following the two main helicopters as back-up in case of trouble.

On April 26, Panetta – who estimated the likelihood as 60-80 per cent – held his last meeting with 15 team leaders from the CIA counter-terrorism centre. He went round the table. They had a rough show of hands and were divided over whether to go ahead with the raid.

The timing was getting critical. Panetta was getting worried because already 100 people knew of the plans for the raid including 16 members of congress, and he feared the news would leak.

On the morning of Friday, April 29, while the world was watching the royal wedding at Westminster Abbey, Obama called McRaven to say: "It’s a go."

Panetta gave him a longer but no less emphatic briefing. The CIA boss said: "My instructions to Admiral McRaven were: ‘Admiral, go in and get bin Laden – and if he’s not there, get the hell out’." When the SEALs were told their objective, they cheered.


Saturday night was chosen for one of the oldest of reasons: it was moonless. But the SEALs were left kicking their heels at Bagram. It was too cloudy in Abbottabad.

In Washington on May 1, Obama played golf at Andrews Air Force Base. Instead of his usual 18 holes, he played only nine. When he returned at about 3.30pm he was told that conditions in Abbottabad were perfect and the SEALs were lifting off from Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan.

Still wearing his golf shoes and windcheater, Obama joined staff in the basement Situation Room and they stared at screens beaming back footage from helmet cameras and the helicopters.

In the helicopters speeding low over the mountains towards the target, the SEALs would have sat silently. "It is very, very quiet before a mission," said Greg Daniels, 40, (not his real name), a SEAL who served until recently in Afghanistan.

"Not a lot of machismo. A block of silence. It’s all goes back to the Samurai: if I throw a knife at you and tell you to catch it, every ounce of your being will be focused on catching that knife. That’s how it is in the helicopter."

As the Black Hawks swooped down over the compound, one set of commandos was supposed to fast-rope down on to the roof of the main building. Almost immediately they ran into trouble. One of the helicopters stalled over the compound’s walls and crashed.

Those watching the soundless feed on a big screen back in the White House gasped. Obama looked "stone-faced", one aide said. Vice-President Joe Biden fingered his rosary beads. No one was hurt, however, and the commandos managed to scramble out.

The 24 SEALs leading the assault split into two. One group headed for the smaller guesthouse where they were fired upon by Arshad Khan, the courier, with an AK-47 assault rifle, from behind the door. The troops returned fire, killing him and his wife.

The second group had headed for the main house. They were shocked when the first door they opened left them facing a brick wall. Was the place booby-trapped? Entering the ground floor, they were confronted by Khan’s brother, who had his hands behind his back. Fearful that he would produce a weapon or detonate a bomb, he was shot dead. Later he was found to be unarmed but a pistol was lying nearby.

As the troops ran up through the house, a man charged at them on the stairs. The man, named as bin Laden’s son, Khaled, 22, was quickly dispatched.

Then a first glimpse of the mother lode. On the top floor, where bin Laden’s quarters were, a man poked his head around a door or over a balcony. A shot from a SEAL whizzed past his head. He retreated into the room, which officials later said was considered a hostile act. Perhaps he was trying to find a weapon or a bomb.

According to his wife, who was speaking to Pakistani interrogators over the weekend, the couple had just turned off the lights and gone to bed when they heard the first shots.

As the SEALs stormed their way in, bin Laden’s wife rushed towards them and was shot in the leg, leading to initial reports that she had been used by the al-Qa’ida leader as a human shield. A girl, who later told Pakistani police she was bin Laden’s 12-year-old daughter Safia, was also injured.

Bin Laden was felled instantly by a "stop" shot to the chest, followed by a "kill" shot to the head, the bullet entering in or around his

left eye. According to Daniels, the SEALs would not have paused once bin Laden had been shot, but continued their search of the property.

"I guarantee you that the guy who pulled the trigger, he didn’t stop even for a second," he said. "It’s a fluid movement through the building. The site has to be clear and, when it is, then you have to move back through the rooms to collect the intel (intelligence) and the package (in this case bin Laden’s body)."

Back in the White House, there was confusion for up to 25 minutes over what was happening. Much of the time was spent in silence. Then a radio crackled into life. "Visual on Geronimo" came the message with the codename for bin Laden.

The world’s most wanted terrorist was caught wearing his pyjamas and unarmed, though there were a rifle and pistol in his bedroom.

According to Panetta, bin Laden made "some threatening moves that . . . represented a clear threat to our guys. And that’s the reason they fired".

Whatever he did, the next message from the SEALs will enter books of quotations: "Geronimo EKIA (enemy killed in action)". The silence at the White House continued. Then the President spoke. "We got him," he said.

The Sunday Times has been told by Pentagon sources that the operation was always meant to be a kill raid. "There wasn’t even a code for capturing him," the source said.

Saxby Chambliss, chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, who was briefed on the raid, said later: "I hope they went in with the idea of killing him, not capturing him. We needed to take this guy out. And I know that’s what the executive order said."

At Abbottabad, there was no time for discussion. The fire fight, such as it was, had lasted less than seven minutes. But the troops were aware that they were working against the clock. It would be only a matter of time before the Pakistani military arrived.

With the troops were "techies" – many from Task Force Orange – to help collect a "treasure trove" of intelligence. The SEALs are also trained to pick up equipment.

"The rules are simple: if you can write on it or if it’s electronic, it goes out the door," Daniels explained. Ten computer hard-drives, about 100 USB cards, DVDs and various notebooks were quickly gathered up.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani military had scrambled F16 fighter jets. The soldiers herded several women and children to the side of the compound, cuffing their hands with plastic ties, then blew up the damaged helicopter.

An early check was conducted to determine whether the victim was indeed bin Laden. A soldier who was about 183cm tall lay down next to the body. It was considerably taller.

"We donated a $US60 million helicopter to this operation. Could we not afford to buy a tape measure?" Obama joked later.

By then the SEALs were in the air, having taken bin Laden’s body with them.

The operation had taken 38 minutes. Before the bemused Pakistanis could engage, the SEALs were back into Afghan airspace.

Back in Bagram, a DNA check against "multiple relatives" was carried out by transmitting material electronically to Washington. According to John Brennan, Obama’s counter-terrorism adviser, the DNA evidence provided a match with "99.9 per cent confidence". Sewn into bin Laden’s pyjamas they discovered E500 ($670) and two phone numbers.

The body was then flown to the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier, waiting south of Karachi.

Before the raid, one of the discussions had been what to do with bin Laden’s corpse. US officials were anxious to avoid him being buried anywhere that could become a shrine for would-be terrorists. By 11am, US time, last Monday, bin Laden’s body had been wrapped in a white sheet, placed in a bag weighed down with stones and dispatched into the depths of the North Arabian Sea, after the reading of some religious verses.


The Pakistani police were first to arrive after the Americans left, followed by the military and then ISI to find four bodies in pools of blood and a group of terrified women and children. Toys were scattered thorough the main house.

A 12-year-old girl was cradling the head of her mother, who was injured but conscious. "I am Saudi. Osama bin Laden is my father," she said. Later, the mother, a Yemeni, said she was bin Laden’s fifth wife, Amal, and told the Pakistanis she had not been out of the house in five years. She added bin Laden had been living in Pakistan’s for longer than initially thought. Before moving to Abbottabad near the end of 2005, he had spent nearly 2 1/2 years in Chak Shah Mohammad Khan, a village in the nearby district of Haripur.

This only adds to the problem of Pakistan’s relationship with the US.

In Washington, which has given Pakistan $US18 billion since 9/11, there was fury at the idea their allies may have been protecting their greatest enemy. "They are either incompetent or complicit," Panetta told congress members. "Neither is a good place to be."

The Cause, Stopping the Pain, and "Electric People"

(c)1997 William J. Beaty

"Static electric" sparks can be irritating and their cause sometimes seems mysterious. Most people have encountered painful car-door sparks, as well as those wintertime sparks from doorknobs and large metal objects. What causes these? What can be done to stop them?

As children, most of us learn the trick of scuffing our shoes across the carpet in order to charge our bodies. Then we go to search for victims to "zap" with our electric fingers. Sparks from rug-scuffing are familiar. If you scuff your feet on the carpet, you expect to be zapped by the next doorknob you touch. But why do our bodies sometimes become charged from simply walking around?


Actually, no friction or rug-scuffing is required in order to electrically charge your body. The need for friction is a widespread misconception. While it’s true that the friction can increase the charge-separation process, friction isn’t the cause. Whenever two different insulating surfaces touch together, opposite charges within the two surfaces become separated. Simply walking across certain rugs or plastic flooring will cause your shoe soles to touch the dissimilar material of the rug. This is enough to separate the negatives from the positives and create imbalanced electric charges on the bottoms of your shoes.

"Static" electricity ( more correctly called "net electric charge" ) appears whenever the normal quantities of positive and negative electricity in a substance are not perfectly equal. Remember that everything is made of atoms, and atoms in turn are made of positive and negative electric charges. In other words, your body is just a collection of positive and negative electrical particles. Normally the positives cancel out the negatives, and everything behaves electrically "neutral." No mysterious sparking. But if you ever end up with more negative than positive, or with more positive than negative, then you have a charge-imbalance on your body. You will get zapped the next time you touch a large metal object.

Exactly how can this imbalance occur? Whenever we walk, the soles of our shoes steal some negative charge from the floor. We leave behind electrified positive footprints, and our bodies aquire an overall imbalance of negatives. (Or sometimes vice versa with the negative and positive, since polarity is determined by the type of shoe soles and the type of rug.) After many footsteps, our bodies attain a high level of electric charge and a high voltage. Body-voltage can easily rise to several thousand volts, and the next time you touch someone else… ZAP!, the imbalanced charge gets shared between you and the other person. The spark is painful because it’s extremely hot. It drills into your skin like a white-hot needle, creating a microscopic burned area.


The simplest cure: before touching a doorknob, a car door, etc., first touch it with a metal car key. The fiercely hot spark will blast the tip of the metal key rather than blasting your sensitive fingertip, and it will painlessly discharge your body’s charge. (Grip your keys firmly so no spark appears between the keys and your skin.) Once you’ve been discharged, you can safely grab the doorknob. However, if you walk around some more, or if you sit upon a plastic car seat, you’ll again need to use the keys discharge yourself.

To prevent sparks entirely, we must somehow stop the charge separation process. This can be done by:

  • Changing your shoe soles to another type (try leather)
  • Raising the humidity in the room
  • Spraying carpets, floors, and chairs with an antistatic coating
  • Installing a balanced-polarity ionizer fan (try the $50 static eliminator # MI9957, from C&H Sales)
  • Wearing metal-coated shoe soles (try alum. foil, but it’s slippery)
  • Wearing a grounded wire connected to a wrist strap

As with the car keys, the problem can also be prevented by discharging your excess body-charge in some way that doesn’t cause pain. This can be done by:

  • Grabbing the metal car door as you climb out of the car.
  • Holding your car keys, a coin, or a metal pen, touch it to grounded metal objects.
  • Knocking your knuckles against doorknobs (fewer nerve endings, less pain.)
  • Wearing a metal thimble, touch it to grounded objects.
  • Installing conductive carpeting, then wearing an ankle-strap w/shoe plate.

The sparking problem is usually found in low-humidity locations, such as in air-conditioned office buildings. High humidity prevents the charge-separation which causes sparks. Raising the humidity in the environment stops the sparking. High humidity makes the surfaces of shoes and rugs slightly conductive, so the separated charges can instantly flow back together. Usually all of the "static electricity" will vanish when the RH is above 60%. If you live in a single house or apartment, use a room humidifier. Or just boil away a few quarts of water on your kitchen stove.

Or, if we spray the floor with antistatic liquid, this can do the same thing as raising the humidity. Antistatic liquids aren’t magical, they simply make surfaces slightly conductive so the charge-separation cannot occur. Make your own antistatic spray by mixing a teaspoon of liquid fabric-softener into a quart of water.

Electronics manufacturers use balanced-polarity air ionizers to eliminate sparks. These make the air itself into a conductor, but also they’re expensive ($300 is typical.) NOTE: C&H IS SELLING ONE OF THESE STATIC ELIMINATORS FOR $50, # MI9957 (3/2004.) ANOTHER NOTE: there’s a wearable ionizer advertized by NPA, but no price given.

Manufacturers also sell conductive shoe-straps and ankle cuffs which connect your body electrically to the floor. These are meant to be used with special conductive carpets, and they won’t work well (or work at all) if the floor surface is made of wood, plastic, cloth, or other good insulator.

Shoe soles create the charge imbalance, so you can reduce the sparks by avoiding particular types of shoe soles. For example, rubber soles usually cause significant charge separation, while thin leather soles cause far less. Damp salty leather is best. Or wear sandals made from old tire treads (the black rubber is conductive.) Or wear no shoes at all, only wear thin socks or go barefoot.

You might consider coating your shoe soles with heavy adhesive aluminum foil. The foil halts the sparking because contact with metals can only generate a tiny amount of imbalanced charge. Unfortunately the foil makes your shoes dangerously slippery, and it leaves black scuff marks on plastic floors.

Simple solution: whenever sparking is possible, carry a metal object such as a pen or a set of keys. Hold them firmly and use them to touch any large metal objects. If the spark is blasting the end of your car keys, then it isn’t burning a hole in your finger. And right after the spark has occurred, you can grab that metal without a problem.

For car-door sparks: if you touch the metal shell of the car as you climb from your seat, there will be no high-voltage buildup and no painful spark. This is good news for the passengers in your car who might not be carrying any keys or coins.

Another solution: always knock your knuckles against doorknobs before grabbing the knob. This won’t stop the spark, but the spark is less painful when it bores into your knuckle rather than into your delicate fingertips. If you whack your knuckles hard, you barely feel the spark at all. After all, you’re EXPECTING the small pain of your knuckle impact, and you are controlling the impact, so the pain of the spark isn’t uncontrolled and unexpected. For some reason, unexpected sparks hurt far more than the ones you produce intentionally.

If you REALLY hate sparks, you might consider wearing a metal sewing thimble upon one finger at all times. Touch the thimble to the doorknob (or to other metal objects) and you’ll feel no huge "zap." The spark will still occur, but the pain is gone. Note that the metal of the thimble MUST touch your skin, otherwise you won’t stop the spark. If you want to experiment with thimbles in the ends of gloves or mittens, put the thimbles INSIDE the fingers of the gloves.

If you keep getting zapped at work, or if you keep crashing your computer, consider wearing a wrist strap with a wire connected to an electrical "ground." These are inexpensive on, typically less than $10, just search for keyword "electrostatic" and you’ll find some. While you wear a grounded wrist-strap, your body cannot charge up at all.


The cause of car-door sparking is well known: contact-electrification between insulating surfaces, followed by separation of those surfaces. But what does this mean? Well, *YOU* are one surface, and THE CAR SEAT is the other. When you sit on a plastic car seat in dry weather, the contact between your clothes and the seat’s surface causes the electrical charges within atoms of the material to transfer between the surfaces. This is our old friend "frictional" or "contact" charging. One surface ends up with more negative charges than positive, and has a negative charge-imbalance. The other surface has fewer negatives than positives, so it has a positive imbalance. This is nearly same thing as rubbing a balloon upon your hair: both surfaces become electrically charged. But rather than rubbing just your hair, instead you’re rubbing your entire back, but, and legs upon the car seat surface.

However, nothing happens as long as you remain seated. Just keep yourself in one place and you won’t get zapped.. As long as the surfaces remain near each other, the positives and negatives cancel out, and no overall "electricity" appears and no sparks are possible. But when you open the car door and step outside, you take just one polarity of charge along with you, while the car seat has the opposite polarity. At the same time, the charged-up car seat causes the whole car to become charged (by a process called "Faraday’s Icepail Effect.") As you step out of the car, the voltage between your body and the car becomes huge, up to 10,000 or even 20,000 volts. Your shoes are probably insulating, so the charge has no opportunity to leak into the earth. You reach out to close the car door and ZAP!, the opposite polarities rejoin by leaping through the air while giving you a tiny, deep burn on your fingertip!

How to prevent this? One possibility: change the surface materials. Identify and avoid the specific clothing which makes the problem worse. These materials are usually wool sweaters and pants, certain manmade fabrics, plastic raincoats, etc. Or, replace your cheap plastic car seatcovers with cloth (stains easily!) or with leather (expensive dead animals.) Another method: mix up some anti-static solution and spray your car seats. This solution remains slightly damp for weeks, which halts the contact-charging process. The formula: a teaspoon of fabric softener mixed in one quart of water. This tends to work well at first, but after days it wears off and needs a re-coating. Another sillier method: always drive barefooted, so the charge will leak away when you step outside the car. Not good in winter! You could cover your car seats with a conductor such as aluminum foil, which screws up the contact-charging effect. Have a tailor make some custom clothing out of black conductive carbon cloth? Or you could eliminate the problem by eliminating your clothes. Skin is fairly conductive, so it doesn’t create charge-separation when held against plastic. Driving while nude might cure the sparking problem (unless you are a very hairy person!)

A less frivilous method: the car-keys trick I mentioned earlier. Develop the habit of holding your car keys as you leave the car, then grip the keys firmly and touch the metal car door with the tip of the key. The spark will still jump, but it will not be painful, since it blasts a little hole in the tip of the key instead of in your finger. Or simply grasp the car door as you climb out, and this will drain off the charge-imbalance faster than it can build up on your body.

DANGER: GASOLINE FIRES. What happens when you climb out of your car at the gas station? Usually you’ll zap yourself on the car door, or on the gas pump handle, or on the metal door that covers your gas cap, and usually nothing bad happens. However, suppose your passengers climb out of the car just as you’re unscrewing the cap, or just as you jam the gas pump nozzle into your tank? The whole car becomes momentarily charged. ZAP! Or, suppose you turn on the gas pump and then climb back into your car. When you climb out again, you body is highly charged from the car seat. The very first thing you do is to reach into the cloud of gasoline vapors to grab the metal handle of the gas pump. ZAP! FOOSH! This obviously is a very rare event. However, it does occur sometimes, especially in the winter. See the PEI site on static hazards.

A research paper: The Control of Body Voltage Getting Out of a Car, from JCI

Safety issues:
List of gasoline fires caused by static sparks.
Sparks and gasoline.

MYSTERIES: Electric People

The source of some human-body sparking is a mystery. There are reports of rare people, "Electric Humans," who develop high voltage on their bodies and suffer the continuous problem of "static" sparks. Their sparking occurs regardless of footwear, clothing, humidity, or even motion! Electric people are forever getting zapped when they touch others, or when they touch large metal objects. For the rest of us, "static electric" sparks can only occur after we walk across certain carpets when humidity is low, or when we wiggle around while sitting upon certain chairs. And for the rest of us, the problem vanishes when the humidity is high, or when we go barefoot or avoid wool or nylon sweaters/pants, avoid plastic seats, etc. But the bodies of "Electric Humans" instead seem to become electrified all the time, all by themselves, without involving the friction or the contact/separation of differing surfaces.

R.A. Ford mentions two cases in chapter 13 of his book HOMEMADE LIGHTNING (1991 Tab Books). In one case from 1837 a woman could repeatedly jump sparks 1-1/2" long to a metal object while she stood still on a thick carpet, or she could continuously create 1/16" sparks much faster (once per second.) Another case took place in 1920, when prison inmates in upstate New York suffering from Botulin food poisoning were found to be "electrified." They were able to attract paper, create sparks, etc., even when partially submerged in a bathtub. (Obviously the bathtub must not have been attached to grounded pipes, otherwise the excess charge would have vanished instantly.)

In modern times an Electric Human would have additional problems besides irritating sparks. Computers, stereo equipment, digital watches, etc., are easily damaged by high voltage and spark discharges. All sorts of electronic appliances would not survive very long under the electrostatic barrage. An electric human would be advized to buy mechanical watches, and to avoid buying any appliance which contains a microprocessor.

Unfortunately, scientific skepticism is currently at an all time high, so if a person with this sparking problem was to seek help, they would probably be ridiculed and their sanity questioned! Scientists don’t believe in "electric people." Reputable scientists "know" that Electric Humans are mere superstition and cannot exist. Therefor anyone claiming to have this problem is irrational, perhaps deranged! At least the internet is there, giving opportunity for ‘charged humans’ to tell their stories (for example, at: REPORT YOUR UNUSUAL PHENOMENA)

An organization in the UK:

Mr. Hilary Evans
Co-ordinator of Street Lamp Interferance Data Exchange (SLIDE)
59 Tranquil Vale, London SE3 OBS

What could cause the "Electric Human" problem? First, shoe sole material and clothing material needs to be eliminated as a possible cause. Maybe you aren’t an "electric human" at all. Maybe you simply have electric shoes! If sparks are ALWAYS a problem, regardless of wearing various conductive clothing (cotton) or various shoe soles (leather, metal foil, etc.), then perhaps the problem isn’t from "frictional" charging, and it’s something mysterious.

In order to create a static electric imbalance on our bodies other than through "contact" or "frictional" methods, we would have to be sending out ELECTRICALLY CHARGED AIR (and so our bodies would take on an opposite charge.) Perhaps the skin does this somehow. Or maybe the membranes of our lungs can somehow emit air which is electrically non-neutral. If a person were to constantly be breathing out negative ions (charged air molecules), then, unless their body was electrically grounded to the earth, they would rapidly accumulate a positive charge-imbalance on their body, an imbalance which is equal and opposite to the charged air being breathed out.

NOTE! In private communications M. Foster mentioned that if you blast a hair dryer through a PVC pipe after first wetting the inner surface of the pipe, the pipe becomes highly electrified. The cause is unknown, but it might involve the bursting of microbubbles (which are known to launch negative water droplets into the air.) This might indicate a mechanism whereby human bodies can becomes mysteriously electrified WITHOUT scuffing any shoe soles on carpet. If the wetted PVC pipe is replaced by human lungs, and if the hair dryer is replaced by the act of breathing, we have an analogy for the infamous "electric human."

Are you an unexplainable human oddity? Here’s a possible way to test it: first see if you can create sparks without moving around and rubbing against things. First, put on some thick shoes, hold a metal object in your hand, then sit on a non-conductive chair that’s within reach of grounded metal. For grounded metal, plumbing, radiators, and the screw on an electric outlet all are examples. The best "insulating chair" would be a plastic-resin lawn chair, or perhaps an upside-down plastic waste basket. If the chair has metal legs and metal bolts on the seat, then it is *not* a good insulator.

Next, turn off the room lights, sit down, take your small metal object, and slowly touch it to grounded metal. Watch closely. Was there a spark? If so, then your body is no longer charged. As long as you don’t rub your back or butt against anything, YOUR BODY SHOULD NOT CHARGE BACK UP BY ITSELF. Sit there for a couple of minutes without moving. Don’t lean back in the chair, since you don’t want your back to touch/peel from the plastic chair back. Now, touch the metal object in your hand slowly to the grounded metal again. Watch carefully. There should be no spark. If there WAS a spark, then something very weird is going on. Wait another minute or two and try again. If you can keep on creating sparks in this way, then you are an "electric people." Hey, if this works, drop me an email note at Maybe we can write this up and force the mainstream research community to take this phenomenon seriously. At the very least, please add your report to:


Another way to test yourself. Get a flourescent tube and find a darkened room. Connect the pins on one end of the tube to a ground connection such as a metal faucet. Turn off the room lights. Hold the tube in your hand and touch your fingers to the OTHER pins, to the ungrounded ones on the other end of the tube. See any flashes? Wait for a few minutes and try touching the pins again. A true "electric human" should be able to make the tube flash repeatedly by touching the pins. A normal human can do it too, but only if he/she is scuffing maniacally on a rug while the humidity is low.

Another, more exotic possibility: maybe it’s not static. Maybe it’s something else, Torsion Fields for example. The Russians believe that Torsion Fields explain telepathy, psychokinesis, hands-on healing, and many other "paranormal" phenomena. If the human aura exists, then Torsion Physics might explain it, and the "electric human" effect might come about because of a super-strong torsion effect which surrounds a particular person.

Possible cures: buy some conductive ankle-straps that lead to adhesive conductor foot-pads attached to your shoe soles, then walk only on conductive mats which are electrically grounded via a wire. These products are used in the electronics manufacturing industry and are available through "ESD" abatement companies (perhaps search for "ESD", "static", or "wrist strap" on the WWW.) ESD stands for "Electro-Static Discharge."

Simple but crude cure: wear a thimble on your finger, then constantly touch grounded metal objects during your travels. The painful "zap" will be eliminated, since it doesn’t blow a pinhole in your flesh when the spark jumps. An un-tried high-tech cure: buy an "ionizing blower" from an ESD-abatement company. Expect to pay $200 or $300. (Don’t mistake these for "negative ion generators", you instead want a "balanced polarity" blower intended for stopping ESD in electronics manufacturing.) These blowers send out large quantities of both + and – polarities of charged air. This adds neutralised yet movable charges to the air which make the air itself become conductive. The air then silently discharges any charged objects in the room (including any "Electric Humans".)


Not everyone loves their job. Some hate the hours, their commute, their coworkers, or simply the fact they have to leave their home. But given the choice between the jobs listed below and their own, we’re betting that most people would choose the one they’ve got. In no particular order, we’ve highlighted 25 of the most dirty, difficult, and hazardous jobs that some people do every day.

  1. Coal Mining: One of the most dangerous careers in the world, coal mining is a dirty job. Underground mines are cold, noisy, dark, and damp, sometimes with water on the mine floor. Breathing in coal dust can lead to a lung disorder called "black lung," and on top of all that, accidents can occur, where miners are subject to explosions or getting trapped underground.
  2. US President: It’s not hard to understand why the President of the United States has one of the most difficult jobs in the world. Aside from a constantly hectic schedule, the President is responsible for making wise decisions about war, peace, politics, and the fate of not just the United States, but often, other nations and even the world.
  3. Alaskan Crab Fishing: Alaskan crab fishers have the most dangerous job in the world. The commercial fishing industry is difficult in general, but Alaska crab fishers have a particularly deadly and dirty profession. Hauling nets and cages that weigh several hundred pounds is one thing. Doing it in freezing rain, while on icy decks in unsteady water is completely insane. But Alaskan crab fishers do it, and some live to tell the tale.
  4. Mercenaries: You can certainly make good money as a mercenary, and often, it’s a great job for convicted felons, but this job is not an easy one. This is a position that is extremely hazardous, and typically takes you to some of the most dangerous places in the world, interacting and often fighting with some of the most dangerous people in the world. Typically, it requires lots of time away from home, uncomfortable conditions, and the constant threat of death.
  5. Freelancing: Freelancers don’t have it easy. They deal with feast/famine inconsistencies, being distracted at home, not being able to call in sick, and on top of that, they still have to figure out how to balance work and social life.
  6. Calcutta Sewer Cleaner: Not every sewer worker has it this bad, but Calcutta sewer cleaners have it pretty raunchy. Not only are they required to clean human waste, they put their lives at risk doing so. With no safety gear and exposure to sewage waste without protective gear, these cleaners are exposed to gases and chemicals. And human waste.
  7. UN Negotiator: Want to know what it’s like to never be able to make everyone happy? Be a UN Negotiator. These UN workers get involved in conflicts and wars that can’t be resolved by other parties. Their job is to find compromises among all sides. That’s right, they have to fix what previously could not be fixed.
  8. Logging: Logging is not as bad as it used to be, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy by any means. This is a dangerous and labor intensive job, with all of their time spent outdoors, even in bad weather and remote areas that require a very long commute. The work itself is strenuous, and hazards include falling branches, trees, slippery ground, moving machinery, snakes, and extreme cold.
  9. Prison Warden: If you think your work is stressful, just think for a moment about the life of a prison warden. This person is responsible for managing an entire prison, and works with convicted criminals day in and day out. It’s a demanding job suitable only for those with nerves of steel.
  10. Mountain Rescue: Did you know that most mountain rescue workers perform their service on a volunteer basis? That’s right, mountain rescuers brave the cold, altitude, and the danger of death for others, for free.
  11. Public School Teacher: Teachers are unsung heroes. Although unlike other difficult jobs we’ve listed, you are not likely to lose your life to your teaching job, you might lose your sanity. Disrespectful students, endless assignments, taking work home, and school politics are among the top complaints from teachers. But at the same time, teachers often report that it’s the most rewarding job they’ve ever had.
  12. Ironworker: Ironworkers suffer an above-average nonfatal injury rate, and must use extensive safety equipment to prevent accidents. Most work outside year round, carrying heavy materials in extremely cold or extremely hot weather. And on top of that, this work is typically completed at a significant height, such as on different levels of skyscrapers.
  13. Portapotty Cleaner: Many people hesitate to even step foot in a portapotty, much less clean one up. These cleaners start out by vacuuming all of the waste out of the receptacle. We could end there, but then, they get to work on stray toilet paper and other items, and wash down soiled surfaces with a high pressure hose.
  14. Mortician: Death is a difficult subject to face, even on an occasional basis. But morticians look death in the face every day. They complete the grisly job of preparing the deceased for burial or cremation, which involves cleaning, embalming, grooming, and dressing them. Additionally, morticians work long, irregular hours, providing support to grieving families even into the evenings and weekends.
  15. Models: At first glance, one might think that models have it easy, living a life of glitz, glamour, and luxury, all while looking beautiful. But the reality is that most work long, odd hours under intense pressure, and get paid peanuts for doing so. Most models take on other jobs to make ends meet, typically as waitstaff.
  16. Ice Road Trucking: You may already be familiar with this job from the TV series Ice Road Truckers, in which truckers carry extra heavy loads of mining equipment over ice roads, which are otherwise known as lakes. These roads are seasonal, and due to the lack of transportation in northern Canada, typically the only way supplies get to the mining operations they serve. Ice road truckers are paid handsomely for their work, but they complete their job knowing that at any moment, ice roads can collapse, and drivers may experience life threatening weather conditions.
  17. Roadkill Remover: This job was featured as one of the pilots on Dirty Jobs, so you should know it’s pretty heinous. It doesn’t require a lot of explanation-the task is pretty obvious. Roadkill removers spend their days picking up and disposing of the battered remains of everything from family pets to unfortunate wildlife.
  18. Guard at Buckingham Palace: Imagine being a living tourist attraction, then imagine having to stand still for hours on end with no bathroom breaks, while being ridiculed and poked fun at, and you might have an idea of what it’s like to be a guard at Buckingham Palace. But guards are proud to protect the Queen, even at the expense of a little pride.
  19. Animal Cruelty Investigator: Animal lovers are typically the best people for the job when it comes to investigating animal cruelty, but loving animals is what makes this job so difficult. As an investigator, it’s your duty to get to the bottom of terrible animal situations, including abuse, death, animals that can’t be saved, and brutal people.
  20. Crime Scene Cleaners: We all know that crime scenes are not pretty, but crime scene cleaners have an intimate knowledge of that fact. They clean up after meth labs, dead bodies, suicide scenes, and even hoarders’ houses. In addition to proper handling of biohazardous materials, crime scene cleaners are exposed to difficult situations that require a strong stomach and well-checked emotions.
  21. Oil Drilling: Offshore oil rigs bring in the resources we need to fuel our modern lives, and those that work on these rigs face a difficult job. Workers stay on rigs for weeks or months at a time, with long hours in remote locations. On top of that, offshore rigs often have extreme weather and dangerous hazards.
  22. Hot-Zone Superintendent: Your job may be stressful, but chances are, your stress is nothing compared to those who work in labs that contain lethal airborne pathogens with no known cure. Superintendents perform maintenance work for these labs, and although the work is not dirty, it is certainly hazardous.
  23. Porn Theater Janitor: Porn theaters are, no doubt, pretty seedy places. Regular theater janitors might wonder if the substance they’re scrubbing away at is gross or not, but porn theater janitors don’t have to wonder.
  24. Child Protective Investigator: Like animal cruelty investigators, those in child protective services may be placed in situations where it’s hard to face the reality of what you’re seeing. In addition to being a part of difficult scenes involving children, investigators also have to deal with belligerent parents, red tape, and more.
  25. BP Media Officer: Who doesn’t hate BP after the Gulf Coast oil spill? Although the leak was repaired months ago, this worker still has an extremely difficult PR repair job to do.