Zero to One by Peter Thiel

Notes on Startups, or how to build a future

It is easier to copy than to make something new. However, fresh creation is always more powerful. Best practices will die out after a while. Technology allows one to work miracles. Try out businesses in formulas and find value in unexpected places. Some of the concepts taught here are based off the course about start-ups in 2012 conducted by the same author.

‘Most people believe in x, but the truth is the opposite of x’. What can x be? There are two types of progress, horizontal or vertical. Horizontal is from going from 1 to n, while vertical is from 0 to 1. China is largely going for horizontal progress by copying. Technology allows for vertical progress. Technology matters more than globalization does. The development has stopped somewhere in the late 1960s and we need to kick start it again. Start-ups tend to produce new technologies. Big organizations are slowed by hierarchy. ‘Question received ideas and re-think business from scratch’.

Behind a popular belief is a contrarian truth. Question what you know about the past. The mid 1990s were bad for the world and the major nations were in recession. Internet changed everything. Netscape and Yahoo went IPO during this period. However, tech investors were too exuberant and this led to a bubble being formed. In 1998, the financial crisis hit. The dot-com mania lasted from Sept 1998 to Mar 2000. Everyone was too optimistic over IT businesses and I started to get wary. Paypal decided to send and receive payments over email. We took a small fee on their transactions and even paid for new joiners. The market crashed right after year 2000. Thankfully, Paypal managed to receive sufficient funding before that. There are 4 key lessons from the crash. They are 1) Make incremental advances; 2) Stay lean and flexible; 3) Improve on the competition; 4) Focus on product, not sales. But the opposite of them might be true as well. 1) Better to risk boldness than triviality; 2) A bad plan is better than no plan; 3) Competitive markets destroy profits; 4) Sales matter as much as product. Learn to think for yourself.

You need to create and then capture value. The airline industry is in a perfect competition industry. Google is an example of a monopoly. Learn to innovate yourself to the top. This shows that differentiation is very important. Monopolies will lie and deny that they are one so as to avoid facing more competition. Non-monopolists like to claim they are very powerful. Do not underestimate the scale of competition. They tend to define themselves as the intersection between smaller markets. Monopolies are bad for the public if there are no technological changes. Some monopolies are good because they offer more to people out there. Monopolies drive innovation because they have the financial resources to innovate further. It is a condition of every successful business.

‘All happy families are alike, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’ Leo Tolstoy (Anna Karenina)

Start a creative monopoly and have products that will benefit others. Competition is an ideology that we all preach. We were brought up that way in schools. I was glad that I didn’t enter law as I would not have been able to create anything new. Karl Marx believed people compete because they are different. To Shakespeare, people bought because they were too similar. Many people like to only focus on their rivals. War is costly, just look at Microsoft vs Google. Be less sensitive to social cues. Don’t lose sight of the big picture. Sometimes, if you can’t beat your opponent, merge with them. When you have to fight, you have to fight and win. Use a clear head to build a monopoly business.

Twitter is valued more highly than New York Times despite the latter being more profitable. This is because the FCFF for Twitter is expected to be higher in the future as compared to NYT. The newspaper is also a sunset industry. LinkedIn and Paypal are companies that will only grow quickly many years into the future and profitability will be low at the beginning. Many people are only concerned with short-term profitability. Most monopolies share the following characteristics: 1) proprietary technology; 2) network effects; 3) economics of scale; 4) branding. PT is great because it makes your business hard to replicate. You should be 10 times better than the next substitute. It is easier to invent something new. Another way is to improve an existing solution. Network effects are when your product is more useful when others use it. You can achieve economies of scale to sell software, as the incremental cost is almost zero. Substance first before branding will work. Start with a very small market and dominate it. Do not be ambitious and try to capture everyone’s attention. Scale up into slightly bigger markets once you have some success. Do not disrupt, like how mobile devices will eventually replace PCs. Disruption is actually facing the competition but using technology to triumph. The last mover will win. He will have the last laugh.

The most successful companies make the core progression – to first dominate a specific niche and then scale to adjacent markets – a part of their founding narrative. – Peter Theil

Does success come from skill or luck? Can you control your future? There are two sides to this. One is that people hoard CCAs and then don’t know what they want to do in life. The other is when people know what they want and they go all out for it. Therefore, there are 4 views, ‘Optimistic-Definite’, ‘Optimistic-Indefinite’,’Pessimistic-Definite’,’Pessimistic-Indefinite’. PI is when you expect a bleak future but don’t know what to do about it. PD is when you know your future is bleak, but you will prepare for it. This is China. OD is when you believe the future will be brighter than the present if you work hard. OI is when you feel finance will eclipse engineering as the way to approach the future. OIs do not plan much. OIs re-arrange already invented stuff. Our future calls for more bankers and lawyers. This does not bode well for ODs. Indefinite finance is when people pass money down the chain and no one actually is value-adding in the process. Modern politicians are concerned with how they are thought at the moment. People like to think short-term. Modern philosophers are mostly optimistic. Rawls and Nozick didn’t have any vision for the future. In general, the above shows that we defer plans for a brighter future. Indefinite-life. The progress for biotech firms is lot slower than software startups because it is much more costly to develop anything. The author is pushing for more people to plan for their futures and follow the OD method. Apple has taught one that through design and careful planning, you can be successful. A business with a good plan tends to be under-rated and under-appreciated. Humans and businesses need to have a definite future. You are not a lottery ticket.

Never underestimate exponential growth. We live in a power law. Venture Capitalists follow a J curve because if they get a hit, the growth will grow exponentially. The solution for VCs would be to focus on single-minded pursuit of a few companies rather than keep diversifying. The advice the author gives is to focus and invest in a particular career or business. Don’t keep diversifying. Think about your power law and do not simply just start a business without thinking about it first.

It does matter what you do. You should focus relentlessly on something you’re good at doing, but before that you must think hard about whether it will be valuable in the future. – Peter Thiel

The biggest secret in venture capital is that the best investment in a successful fund equals or outperforms the entire rest of the fund combined. – Peter Thiel

Conventions are easy, secrets are hard. Mysteries are impossible to understand. How do you find secrets then? Kaczynski believed that the world’s hard problem were already solved, so he targeted institutions and wanted to destroy them so as to reset the tough problems. He was a little crazy. These are also how fundamentalists think. In terms of geography, men has explored most of the Earth already. Incrementalism means we only do what we have to do in order to claim credit. The next is risk aversion. They are scared of being wrong. People are complacent because secret finding is outside your comfort zone. The last is the belief that the world is flat and that someone else would have discovered it first. Hidden injustices are also considered secrets. HP is an example of a fallen company who failed to keep up with innovations. You need to believe in secrets in order to even want to work at them. There are two kinds of secrets, secrets of nature and secrets of people. You should look in a field where there has been less research being conducted in, like nutrition. Usually, it isn’t wise to tell people the secrets you know. Take the hidden paths.

‘A start-up messed up at its foundations cannot be fixed.’ The author cites the US as an example of getting the foundations right with the Bill of Rights, the constitution etc. Founders should shall the same pre-history together. They must complement each other. In business, it is very difficult to grow without a team in place. You need a good structure to manage people. Think about the concepts of ownership, possession and control. Often in big companies, misalignment might be present and you have to watch out for it. A board size of 3 is ideal. A large board doesn’t provide adequate oversight. Only hire full-time employees as they will be the most committed ones. Employees need to be properly compensated. A CEO of a start-up who pays himself too well will not be incentivised to work hard for the company. A humble and frugal CEO deserves more respect. Start-ups can offer part ownership of the company to attract people. However, the proper allocation is important and you do not want to seem unfair. Keep the allocation a secret and do not share this with other employees so as to avoid resentment. Develop a culture of innovation.

Work should be able getting to know your colleagues better and to connect to them on a personal level too. Work should not just be able to make money. The bunch of us at PayPal was known as the PayPal Mafia because we were all very close. You need to make a strong statement in order to hire a talented person. You also need to explain how your culture can fit his personality. You need to promise your new hire that he can do work here which he can find nowhere else. ‘From the outside, everyone in your company should be different in the same way.’ We need new hires to be equally obsessed about the company’s mission. Make everyone responsible for doing one thing. Well-defined roles help to reduce conflict. You are not going to learn from consultants. It is better to be known as a cult.

Distribution of products is the key because it is important even if you build something, you need to market it. Advertising works even if you’re sceptical of it. It works because it plays on human behaviour and psychology. Engineers hate sales people because they think that sales is ‘changing surface appearances without changing the underlying reality.’ All salesmen use persuasion. Sales work when it is hidden. Superior sales distribution can help to create a monopoly too. The customer lifetime value must exceed the customer acquisition cost. Do not attempt to compete with the big boys in marketing ad campaigns when you’re a start-up. One working distribution channel beats all others which have been attempted but failed. A company also needs a good public relation strategy to get the media’ buy-in. Everybody has a product to sell. If you don’t see any salesperson around, you’re the one

It’s better to think of distribution as something essential to the design of your product. If you’ve invented something new but you haven’t invented an effective way to sell it, you have a bad business – no matter how good the product. – Peter Thiel

Computers are very powerful and can replace many human tasks. The correct approach is to think that computers are complements for humans. Use them to empower people. Globalization means substitution. Computers are good at data processing while humans are good at making sense of things. Computers are tools. They also don’t require many resources, just electricity. Paypal used the computer to flag out suspicious transactions and then humans would screen it again to make sure they were truly fraudulent. NSA uses computers mainly while CIA uses humans mainly. Palantir aims to marry the two. LinkedIn was successful because they didn’t try to write software that would replace recruiters. Amazon and Google both use ‘machine learning’ and feed the machine with a lot of information, run the algorithm and then produce the result. Computers are good at finding patterns but find it difficult to compare data between two different sources. Humans should still develop their own plans because computers are not going to replace us anytime soon.

Why did we get a cleantech bubble? Why did it fail? It failed to answer one of the following 7 questions: 1) The Engineering Question; 2) The Timing Question; 3) The monopoly question; 4) The People Question; 5) The Distribution Question; 6) The Durability Question; 7) The Secret Question. Cleantech products do not offer 10x improvements, and maybe only 2x because it is not so efficient. Timing matters a lot too. The cleantech industry was filled with many small competitors thinking they all had the edge. Define your market correctly and not too small such that you will think you have a large share and hence should be the monopoly. Be wary of those executives who dress very well during sales presentations. Cleantech companies failed to predict competition from low-cost China and could do nothing about it. They all had the same secrets. Social entrepreneurs fail because they can do neither the profit part or social part well. Tesla is an example of a successful cleantech company. They also made the brand fashionable. Once too many have the same idea, a bubble will be formed. The challenge is to start thinking small again.

What character traits matter in a founder? Most people fall in the middle of the curve and are at neither extreme. Founders usually display unusual traits at the beginning and at the end too. Richard Branson is an example of a natural entrepreneur that is unusual. They become insiders and then outsiders again very quickly. Lady Gaga isn’t normal. Founders are like scapegoats, they are extreme and contradictory figures. The author highlights examples like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs etc that are very controversial and unusual. We all need founders and sometimes, it is good that they are strange. Don’t overestimate your power as an individual.


Life quotes 201 to 250

201. ‘We have mythic notions of retirement. We think that retirement means leaving friends and family and buying a place down in Florida where it is warm and living happily ever after. But that’s probably not the best idea. We find people who continue to interact with co-workers after retirement and have friends close by are less lonely. Take time to enjoy yourself and share good times with family and friends. Non-lonely people enjoy themselves with other people.’ John Cacioppo

202. ‘Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.’ Albert Einstein, to his son

203. ‘The more cushioned your life is, the more you’re surrounded by lackeys and flatterers, the more horrifying any minor intrusion on that comfort will seem. The more perfect things get for you in general, the more intensely you’ll feel it when something isn’t.’ Josh Marshall

204. ‘A warrior does not give up what he loves, he finds the love in what he does.’ The Peaceful Warrior

205. ‘Everything is awesome. Everything is cool when you’re part of a team. Everything is awesome when we’re living our dream.’ The Lego Movie

206. ‘For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many past worlds, in all periods of time.’ Louis L’Amour

207. ‘Don’t tell me you’re one of those people who becomes their disease. I know so many people like that. It’s disheartening. Like, cancer is in the growth business, right? The taking-people-over business. But surely you haven’t let it succeed prematurely?’ Augustus to Hazel (The Fault in Our Stars by John Green)

208. ‘There are 7 billion living people, and about 98 billion dead people…There are about 14 dead people for every living person.’ Augustus to Hazel (The Fault in Our Stars by John Green)

209. ‘Dad always told me that you can judge people by the way they treat waiters and assistants.’ Hazel to Augustus (The Fault in our Stars by John Green)

210. ‘Omnis cellula e cellula: All cells come from cells. Every cell is born of a previous cell, which was born of a previous cell. Life comes from life. Life begets life begets life begets life begets life.’ Peter van Houten (The Fault in Our Stars by John Green)

211. ‘I don’t care if the New York Times writes an obituary for me. I just want you to write one. You say you’re not special because the world doesn’t know about you, but that’s insult to me. I know about you.’ Hazel to Augustus (The Fault in our Stars by John Green)

212. ‘Yes, I believe in an afterlife. Yes, absolutely. Not like a heaven where you ride unicorns, play harps, and live in a mansion made of clouds. But yes. I believe in Something with a capital S…Always have…I don’t believe we return to haunt or comfort the living or anything, but I think something becomes of us.’ Augustus (The Fault in our Stars by John Green)

213. ‘All salvation is temporary. I bought them a minute. Maybe that’s the minute that buys them an hour, which is the hour that buys them a year. No one’s gonna buy them forever, Hazel Grace, but my life bought them a minute. And that’s not nothing.’ Augustus (The Fault in our Stars by John Green)

214. ‘The marks human leave are too often scars. You build a hideous minimall or start a coup or try to become a rock star and you think, “They’ll remember me now” but (a) they don’t remember you, and (b) all you leave behind are more scars. Your coup becomes a dictatorship. Your minimall becomes a lesion.’ Augustus to Hazel (The Fault in our Stars by John Green)

215. ‘It occurred to me that voracious ambition of humans is never sated by dreams coming true, because there is always the thought that everything might be done better and again.’ Hazel (The Fault in our Stars by John Green)

216. ‘With training, it’s just yourself. But bringing up little people is different, you have two personalities who will not always do what you want them to do. But they’re gorgeous boys. I just hope I’m doing right by them.’ Julia Sng

217. ‘…but I believe humans have souls, and I believe in the conservation of souls. The oblivion fear is something else, fear that I won’t be able to give anything in exchange for my life. If you don’t live a life in service of a greater good, you’ve gotta at least die a death in service of a greater good, you know? And I fear that I won’t get either a life or a death that means anything.’ Augustus (The Fault in Our Stars by John Green)

218. ‘The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.’ Steven Furtick

219. ‘Good judgment, as the aphorism goes, comes from experience – and experience comes from bad judgment.’ Megan McArdle

220. ‘I must say though, of all the times that I worked up enough courage to introduce myself, most of them turned out fine. I made many great friends along the way. Bottom line is, if you want to talk to someone, just do it. Spending time debating about the pros and cons means you will likely end up not doing it at all.’ Random Blogger

221. “Cancer has given me a life and given meaning to what I do with my life. I’d really hope and like to think that I would have that same appreciation of life even if I didn’t have cancer, but this has just made it all the more important.” Kris Hallenga

222. ‘Far above the world, Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do.’ David Bowie (Space Oddity)

223. ‘We all have two lives. The second one starts when we realize that we only have one.’ Tom Hiddleston

224. ‘I would love to believe that when I die I will live again. That some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking. The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there’s little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.’ Carl Sagan

225. ‘Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn’t have it in the beginning.’ Mohandas Gandhi

226. ‘You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.’ Dr Seuss

227.’There is more to sex appeal than just measurements. I don’t need a bedroom to prove my womanliness. I can convey just as much sex appeal, picking apples off a tree or standing in the rain.’ Audrey Hepburn

228. ‘Nobody questions things anymore. Nobody questions things. Everybody’s too fat and happy. Everybody’s got a cell phone that will make pancakes and rub their balls now. Way too fucking prosperous for our own good. Way too fucking prosperous. We’ve been bought off and silenced by toys and gizmos.’ George Carlin

229. ‘Music gives a soul to the Universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.’ Plato

230. ‘Today a young man on acid (drug) realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration. That we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death. Life is only a dream. And we are the imagination of ourselves.’ Bill Hicks

231. ‘‘If your daily life seems poor, DO NOT BLAME IT. BLAME YOURSELF. Tell yourself that you are not POET ENOUGH TO CALL FORTH ITS RICHES.’ Rainer Maria Rilke

232. ‘The world is a thing of utter inordinate complexity and richness and strangeness that is absolutely awesome. The idea that such complexity can arise not only out of such simplicity, but probably absolutely out of nothing is the most fabulous extraordinary idea. And once you get some kind of inkling of how that may have happened, it’s just wonderful. And the opportunity to spend 70 or 80 years of your life in such a Universe is time well spent as far as I’m concerned.’ Douglas Adams

233. ‘Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow mindedness. And many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the Earth all one’s lifetime.’ Mark Twain

234. ‘WE ARE GOING TO DIE. And that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of the Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats. Scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumber the set of actual people. In the teeth of those stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness that are here.’ Richard Dawkins

235. ‘All cruelty springs from weakness.’ Seneca

236. ‘You make your own dream. That’s the Beatles’ story, isn’t it? That’s Yoko’s story. That’s what I’m saying now. Produce your own dream. It’s quite possible to do anything but not to put it on the leaders and the parking meters. Don’t expect Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan or John Lennon or Yoko Ono or Bob Dylan or Jesus Christ to come and do it for you. You have to do it yourself. That’s what the great masters and mistresses have been saying ever since began. They can point the way, leave signposts and little instructions in various books that are now called holy and worshipped for the cover of the book and not for what it says. But the instructions are all there for all to see, have always been and always will be. There’s nothing new under the sun. All the roads lead to Rome. And people cannot provide it for you. I can’t wake you up. You can wake you up. I can’t cure you. You can cure you.’ John Lennon

237. ‘If life is so purposeless, is it worth living? The very meaninglessness of life forces man to create his own meaning. Children, of course, begin life with an untarnished sense of wonder, a capacity to experience total joy at something as simple as the greenness of a leaf; but as they grow older, the awareness of death and decay begins to impinge on their consciousness and subtly erode their joie de vivre, their idealism — and their assumption of immortality. As a child matures, he sees death and pain everywhere about him, and begins to lose faith in the ultimate goodness of man. But, if he’s reasonably strong — and lucky — he can emerge from this twilight of the soul into a rebirth of life’s elan. Both because of and in spite of his awareness of the meaninglessness of life, he can forge a fresh sense of purpose and affirmation. He may not recapture the same pure sense of wonder he was born with, but he can shape something far more enduring and sustaining. The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death — however mutable man may be able to make them — our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.’ Stanley Kubrick

238. ‘I am assured that there are many business men—not merely those in high positions or with fine prospects, but modest subordinates with no hope of ever being much better off—who do enjoy their business functions, who do not shirk them, who do not arrive at the office as late as possible and depart as early as possible, who, in a word, put the whole of their force into their day’s work and are genuinely fatigued at the end thereof.’ Arnold Bennett

239. ‘Now I must point out that the case of the minority, who throw themselves with passion and gusto into their daily business task, is infinitely less deplorable than the case of the majority, who go half-heartedly and feebly through their official day. The former are less in need of advice “how to live.” At any rate during their official day of, say, eight hours they are really alive; their engines are giving the full indicated “h.p.”’ Arnold Bennett

240. ‘The supply of time is truly a daily miracle, an affair genuinely astonishing when one examines it. You wake up in the morning, and lo! your purse is magically filled with twenty-four hours of the unmanufactured tissue of the universe of your life! It is yours. It is the most precious of possessions. No one can take it from you. It is unstealable. And no one receives either more or less than you receive.’ Arnold Bennett

241. ‘The chief beauty about the constant supply of time is that you cannot waste it in advance. The next year, the next day, the next hour are lying ready for you, as perfect, as unspoilt, as if you had never wasted or misapplied a single moment in all your career. Which fact is very gratifying and reassuring. You can turn over a new leaf every hour if you choose.’ Arnold Bennett

242. ‘If my typical man wishes to live fully and completely he must, in his mind, arrange a day within a day. During his free time, he has nothing whatever to do but cultivate his body and his soul and his fellow men. He is not a wage-earner; he is not preoccupied with monetary cares; he is just as good as a man with a private income. This must be his attitude. And his attitude is all important. His success in life depends on it.’ Arnold Bennett

243. ‘But I do suggest that you might, for a commencement, employ an hour and a half every other evening in some important and consecutive cultivation of the mind. You will still be left with three evenings for friends, bridge, tennis, domestic scenes, odd reading, pipes, gardening, pottering, and prize competitions. They must be sacred, quite as sacred as a dramatic rehearsal or a tennis match.’ Arnold Bennett

244. ‘The chances are that you have not discovered happiness. The chances are that you have already come to believe that happiness is unattainable. But men have attained it. And they have attained it by realising that happiness does not spring from the procuring of physical or mental pleasure, but from the development of reason and the adjustment of conduct to principles.’ Arnold Bennett

245. ‘All I urge is that a life in which conduct does not fairly well accord with principles is a silly life; and that conduct can only be made to accord with principles by means of daily examination, reflection, and resolution.’ Arnold Bennett

246. ‘And, having once decided to achieve a certain task, achieve it at all costs of tedium and distaste. The gain in self-confidence of having accomplished a tiresome labour is immense.’ Arnold Bennett

247. ‘Above all, the conduct of the captain and some crew members is unfathomable from the viewpoint of common sense. It was like an act of murder that cannot and should not be tolerated. The crew has told passengers to stay put but they themselves became the first to escape, deserting their passengers. This is utterly unimaginable, legally and ethically.’ Park Geun-hye

248. ‘In the movies there’s this idea that you should just go for your dream. But I don’t believe that. Things happen in stages. The key thing is to force yourself through the work, force the skills to come; that’s the hardest phase.’ Ira Glass

249. ‘Children need to do more than learn new skills. The theory of capabilities suggests they need to be challenged. They need to solve hard problems. They need to develop values.’ Clayton Christensen

250. ‘Encourage children to stretch – to aim for lofty goals. If they don’t succeed, make sure you’re there to help them learn the right lesson: that when you aim to achieve great things, it is inevitable that sometimes you’re not going to make it.’ Clayton Christensen

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

I am Jonah. When I was young, I collected material for a book known as ‘The Day the World Ended’. That was the day went the atomic bomb was dropped. Bokonon is my religion now. I used to be a Christian. Bokonon was only known in San Lorenzo. The religion believes in doing God’s will but without discovering what you are doing. The team is known as a karass. Another you meet with a messed up life can be part of your karass.

Investigations on God’s Will would be futile. There is no need to understand. You can never see what God is doing, so don’t try.

Bokonon is established based on shameless lies. Felix Hoenikker was the father of the atomic bomb and he had 3 children, Angela, Frank and Newt. I wrote to Newt to find out more about Felix so that I can include the information in my book. Felix passed away on Christmas Eve.

Frank disappeared after Felix’s funeral. Felix was playing with a string when the bomb went off. The kids were all very young. Felix worked for the General Forge and Foundry Company in Ilium. The string was from a book that was burnt and which Felix didn’t get to read. Angela was like a mother to Newt and Frank. Their real mother, Emily, passed away. Felix said this when he received his nobel prize. He was a real unpredictable character. Felix was playing with the string in a game known as Cat’s Cradle. He didn’t like playing games. He tried to play with Newt, but with little success. Felix was acting all childish, like a kid. Newt didn’t like his father.

Anything can make me stop and look and wonder, and sometimes learn. I am a very happy man. – Felix Hoenikker

See? See? See? Cat’s cradle. See the cat’s cradle? See where the nice pussycat sleeps? Meow. Meow….Rockabye catsy, in the tree top, when the wind blows, the cray-dull will rock. If the bough breaks, the cray-dull will fall. Down will come cray-dull, catsy, and all. – Felix Hoenikker

Newt dropped out of med-school. Felix wasn’t interested in people at all. Mother died when Newt was born. Felix wondered about weird stuff like whether turtles’ spines buckle or contract. The scientists had to take away his turtles so that he could concentrate on research. Angela was lonely and didn’t have friends. She played the clarinet. Father didn’t know what sin was. Newt was a midget and he liked a girl, whom he was about to marry. The girl was Zinka, a Ukrainian midget and a dancer. She was 42 while Newt was only 23.

I visited Asa Breed at the General Forge. He was Felix’s ex-boss. According to Asa, it was impossible to control Felix.

I met Sandra, a whore, in a bar. We chatted about a lot of stuff. Frank was just a kid who liked to make model airplanes and jerk off.

Felix was supposed to be Sandra’s commencement speaker but he didn’t show up. Asa replaced him and spoke about the wonders of science. Protein was the secret of life.

A bartender came to tell me his experiences during the atomic bomb day. He also made a drink for the son of Asa Breed, when he was finally sick of helping the war.

There were rumours that Asa Breed loved Felix’s wife. Felix’s kids might have been fathered by Asa.

Many people worked at the General Forge, There was once when Felix abandoned his car in traffic and when told by the police where he could pick up his vehicle, he wasn’t interested, Emily got in an accident after picking up the car and hurt her pelvis. This was why she died when Newt was born.

We met Francine Pefko, she was the secretary of Dr Nilsak Horvath. She didn’t know anything about science or what her boss did. Scientists think too much. She didn’t even know what a charlatan was.

I think you’d find that everybody does about the same amount of thinking. Scientists simply think about things in one way, and other people think about things in others –  Dr Asa Breed

We were in the laboratory now. The exhibits could explain themselves and weren’t mystifying. Naomi Faust was Breed’s secretary. The girl pool were people who typed in the basement, they didn’t know anything about science but still served the cause.

Dr Breed was unhappy at how I suggested scientists were not humans. I wanted to interview Dr Breed on Felix. Breed hires people to do pure research and to increase knowledge.

New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on Earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become. – Asa Breed

Felix always worked on his own projects and one of him was to combat mud as the Marines’ didn’t want to combat in mud. Breed explained to me how it worked and what Felix came up with. He spoke about the concept of cannonballs stacked on a courthouse lawn. Felix came up with Ice 9. With a seed of Ice 9, marines could throw it on water bodies and it would freeze. According to Asa, there was no such stuff. He ended the interview with me. However, it turns out that Felix did produce a little of ice 9 before he died. His children divided the Ice-9 among themselves.

The wampeter is the pivot of a karass. It can be anything that orbits around the karass. There are two of them at any point, one waxing in the importance while the other will wan.

Miss Faust showed me Felix’s laboratory. All Felix was interested in was the truth. He didn’t know what God or Love was and did not think they were true.

There were toys on his laboratory and Felix used cheap toys to perform experiments. He had a photograph of cannonballs stacked on courthouse lawns. Felix also had 3 weird kids.

Lyman Enders Knowles was a crazy lift operator. He made it difficult for us to descend and was happy to prove a point. He believed Felix entered a new dimension when he passed away.

I visited Felix’s tomb. There were the words MOTHER on the tomb. The 3 children initiated on the tomb. Later, we found FATHER’s tomb. The tombstone establishment was Avram Breed and sons. I wanted to buy a stone angel but it was not for sale. Marvin Breed was Asa’s brother. The children came to visit their parent’s tombs quite often. Life is sure funny sometimes.

Marvin knew Emily and they went to same high school. Asa was introduced to Emily and soon they were together. She was a very pretty lady. Felix stole her from Asa and married Emily. Felix was uncaring and didn’t take good care of Emily.

I know how harmless and gentle and dreamy Felix Hoenikker (a scientist) was supposed to be, how he’d never hurt a fly, how he didn’t care about money and power and fancy clothes and automobiles and things…how he was so innocent…but how the hell innocent is a man who helps to make a thing like an atomic bomb? – Marvin Breed

I never met a man who was less interested in the living. Sometimes I think that’s the trouble with the world: too many people in high places who are stone-cold dead. – Marvin Breed

I was shoved in the direction of Bokononism. Frank was only interested in model planes. Angela used to play the clarinet in her room and was terribly lonely in nature. Asa’s boy works on stone cutting and is a sculptor in Rome.

I visited Frank at his shop. Jack worked at his store. Frank built a grand landscape in the basement of his store. Frank didn’t have a home. Frank was mighty talented.

I allowed a poet, Sherman Krebbs, to stay with me for free. He left and also made many long distance calls, set my couch on fire and killed my cat. A wrang wrang is someone who steers people into an absurdity. Nihilism was not for me. I felt there was a meaning behind his act.

I felt in love with a girl on a magazine cover. Her name was Mona Aamons Monzano, and was the adopted daughter of the dictator on San Lorenzo. Miguel Monzano was known as ‘Papa’. Franklin was also in the magazine and he was the minister of science and progress. He was 26.

The capital was Bolivar. Frank was the architect of the entire town. Frank was wandering around at sea when he came upon the glorious mountain on San Lorenzo. It was mountain Mount McCabe. He was placed in prison for a while. But after ‘Papa’ knew he was Felix’s son, he started receiving special treatment.

Julian Castle was a sugar millionaire who founded a free hospital. He was a completely unselfish man. His son Philip Castle owned the hotel that I was planned to stay. It was a new hotel. I kept dreaming of Mona and how much I loved her.

I sat beside Horlick Minton and his wife, Claire. Horlick was the American ambassador of San Lorenzo. A duprass was a karass consisting of only two people. I couldn’t make them laugh. They eventually died within a second of each other. I met another couple on the plane. They were H. Lowe Crosby and his wife, Hazel. Crosby once owned a bicycle factory in Chicago. He liked how disciplined the people were on San Lorenzo. He mentioned that in the US, labor laws were strict and he didn’t want to hire workers. Hazel and I were both Hoosiers. Hoosiers usually make their mark in the world. Hazel wanted me to call her Mom. It was a false karass.

Crosby thought that dictatorships were good. He believed that everyone should build bicycles for him. Everyone was a Christian on the island. Papa threatens anyone who commits crime with the hook and there has been no crime. It was helping to reduce crime rates. Minton was fired for pessimism.

Americans are forever searching for love in forms it never takes, in places it can never be. It must have something to do with the vanished frontier. – Claire Minton

It turns out that Americans were hated in many places

There was a book written of San Lorenzo. It was titled ‘The Land, the History, the People’ and was written by Philip Castle. There was a passage about Bokonon.

Bokonon had this theory of dynamic tension in the book. It was a battle between good and evil. Bokonon was an alumnus of a muscle building school that Charles Atlas went to. There was a need to have good vs evil in order to build tension. This would be how good societies would be formed.

Bokonon was a Negro. His real name was Lionel Boyd Johnson. Bokonon later enrolled in a good University. He was caught by the German submarine during the war. Later, he ended up on an island. After the war, he went on a long voyage. He and corporal McCabe were fated to land on San Lorenzo. Bokonon had their own dialect. His lifeboat miraculously came to shore when Johnson became Bokonon.

There were two more Hoosiers on the plane. They were Conners and Hoenikker, both brother and sisters.

I spoke to Angela and Newt on the plane. They had ice 9 in their bottles. Angela wanted her father to be portrayed as a saint. They were in the plane because Frank was getting married to Mona in San Lorenzo. Felix died on a chair, on the same day that the children divided their ice nine.

Angela was married to Harrison Conners, who was the president of Fabri-Tek. After knowing him for just 2 weeks, they got married.

I continued reading the book on San Lorenzo. Nestor was Mona’s father. He was an architect and eventually helped Castle design the hospital.

Mona was adopted by Papa. Claire was a professional indexer. She was ashamed at how Philip Castle indexed his book. He was also in love with Mona. Claire could deduce that Philip was a homosexual man.

The people of San Lorenzo were pathetic when Johnson and McCabe first arrived. Castle Sugar ran the country like an anarchy. God had made the island worthless. Cortes was the first man who conquered the island. No one complained that San Lorenzo was conquered. The island was not worth defending. Castle Sugar withdrew after Johnson and McCabe took over. McCabe overhauled the economy and laws and Johnson designed a religion. Eventually, Zinka broke Newt’s heart.

A pissant was a guy who couldn’t think properly. He was someone who thought he was damn smart. He will make you seem stupid. Crosby also went to Cornell.

Johnson and McCabe failed to run the island properly and people were still miserable. It was an unproductive nation. They divided the income equally among everyone and each only got 6 or 7 dollars. Bokononism was banned on the island. Bokononist mingled by pressing their bottom of their feet together. This was banned too. Bokonon became an outlaw on the island.

We all touched down. The local people looked like villagers. Papa, Mona and Franklin came to meet us. Franklin was Pap’s bodyguard. Mona was extremely pretty. She was the only beautiful girl on the island.

‘Papa’ greeted all of us. Tomorrow was a holiday to celebrate the day of the hundred martyrs to democracy. Frank would be marring Mona tomorrow as well. Papa seemed hurt and later collapsed in pain. Frank was very anxious over his condition. Papa proclaimed that Frank would be the next President of San Lorenzo.

Bokonon was in hiding and it was difficult to find him. Nobody wanted to help him as they would face the hook. The 100 Martyrs to Democracy were people who were sunk by a German submarine during the war.

There was a young man working on a portrait of Mona. He liked to say ‘That happiness is mine.’ He was Philip Castle, the man who wrote the book of the island. Bokonon used to teach Philip and Mona when they were young. Philip was indeed a Bokononist. Crosby felt he was an irritating puissant. It turns out that Philip also owned the hotel they were in.

I was the only guest in the hotel. I caught two men practicing Bokononism. They were practicing the ritual known was boko-maru.

Philip was serving me in the room. He started talking about his father, Julian. Frank suddenly called me and wanted me at his place immediately. In the past, the bubonic plague overwhelmed the island and Julian’s hospital couldn’t cope with it. Later he started laughing at those who died and said that his son could take over the hospital.

I went to Frank’s house. It was incredibly grand. Stanley was his servant and made me feel at ease. Newt was painting a picture. It looked dreadful and I couldn’t interpret it. Newt said it was a cat’s cradle. Julian Castle visited also. Julian agrees with Newt that everything is meaningless. Newt was self-taught and Julian thought that he painted the image of Hell. He thought the painting was meaningless. To Julian, he felt mankind was vile and didn’t know anything. He tore out the painting and flung it in the waterfall.

Boko-maru did work and Julian believed in it. Julian said everyone on the island was a Bokononist. Bokonon threw out the priests and created a new religion. Religion became a source of hope and lies were created to escape reality. Bokonon chose to be outlawed. ‘He asked McCabe to outlaw him and his religion, too, in order to give the religious life of the people more zest, more tang.’ McCabe would organize people to hunt for him. Later, they had to report that Bokonon escaped. It was like a miracle!

Everyone was employed like an ‘actor’ in a play. The both men became insane after a while. McCabe didn’t want to catch Bokonon as without holy war, he would be meaningless too.

Frank didn’t return yet. The painting that Julian threw would be picked up by villagers downstream. Angela started playing on the clarinet. Newt was obsessed with the cat’s cradle. Angela was great at playing and she seemed possessed somewhat. New materials were being added to the book each day.

Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly; Man got to sit and wonder, “Why, why, why?” Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land; Man got to tell himself he understand. – The Books of Bokonon

‘Papa’ was dying. Frank was anxious about something I was something I was about to do. He said a word that meant ‘fate – inevitably destiny’.

‘Papa’ was dying from cancer; Dr Schlichter was ‘Papa’s doctor. This man was also part of my karass

There was a convoy of army trucks heading towards us. They had to protect Frank, the new president of San Lorenzo. Felix had an identical twin named Rudolph. He had a sister named Celia too. Stanley brought me a copy of the books of bokonon. The cosmology was a pack of lies.

There was a blackout on the island. Frank was tinkering with a motor-generator and Mona was with him. Frank and I would talk through the night. Frank brought me to a cave where he would talk about me. He said we both to hit it off. He said we would do something together. Now, Frank offered me a good wage for a job. He wanted me to take the job as President.

Frank said that he would assist me along the way. It was against religion to be the president. Frank said he couldn’t take it because of limitations. He knew he was no good at public speaking.

I refused to take the job. Frank never fulfilled his potential because he liked to screw Jack’s wife in the past. He said my personality suited the job more.

God told me that he had work for me to do. It was a vin-dit and I agreed to be a President. I could marry Mona if I would be the next president. This was written in the Books of Bokonon. I was delighted by that fact.

I finally met Mona. She was incredibly beautiful. She practiced boko-maru with me. It was my first boko-maru. It was a poem. We recited it. She loved me instantly. Mona loved everyone, in fact. She did boko-maru with everyone else and cried when I suggested that she only do it with me. She proclaimed sin-wat. It was a bad thing when a man wanted all love for himself. Bokonon says we have to love everyone exactly the same. I didn’t have a religion then. I knew I had to take up Bokonon in order to have her.

I tried to get ‘Papa’s blessing. The mountain was not sacred anymore. Man, said Frank, was sacred to Bokononists. Nothing else was. We reached the castle on the mountain. I saw the hook and wanted to chop it down. We waited to see Papa. I spoke to a man named Dr Vox Humana. His motto was to make religion live. ‘Papa’ didn’t mind being killed.

Papa was shivering due to the cold and he could hardly speak anymore. Papa said it didn’t matter who was the next President. I was supposed to kill Bokonon. Papa wanted us to teach society science too. It turned out that Papa was a Bokononist too.

The last rites were being recited. Dr Koenigswald volunteered to recite it as he didn’t believe in religions. God make mud. They both recited the verses. Amen.

Papa didn’t die yet. Frank would only help me with technical tasks and not on how to handle people. I wanted Frank to announce to everyone on my new appointment. I wanted electricity to be restored. I realized that Frank wanted to escape human responsibilities.

I also outlawed Bokononism. I wrote a speech for the people. I realized that I had to believe in God now. It took me time but I decided that good and evil had to be separated. Good in the jungle, evil in the palace.

During the event, there was some caricature that was painted of famous people. They would later be targeted by a simulated air strike. Minton would throw his wreath in the sea. Castle wanted to call for a strike of all writers till mankind came to his senses. There would be no new books, plays, histories etc. Julian encouraged us to keep writing. Men would die a horrible death without the consolations of literature.

Did Mona represent the highest form of female spirituality? Or did she seem very cold. I have to remember her as being sublime. The people in this island were only interested in fishing, fornication and Bokononism. Bokonon was against science.

I tried albatross meat and didn’t feel well. Dr Schlicter said Papa took some substance to kill himself. It turns out that he took ice-nine. I had to document this down so that future generations would avoid the same fate. Dr Schlicter was the second man to die from ice 9. Suddenly, he touched the water in the basin and it froze. His body started freezing too. I finally saw what ice 9 could do.

Frank had given Papa the ice 9. Suddenly, Newt threw up. Angela was crying now. We all wanted to throw up. Frank acted like a dog and Newt accused him of giving Ice 9 to Papa. Frank desperately wanted to clean up the place and melt the bodies. He defended his actions.

I bought myself a job, just the way you bought yourself a tomcat husband, just the way Newt bought himself a week on Cape Cod with a Russian midget. – Frank Hoenikker

A pool-pah was a shit-storm. It turns out that US and the Soviet Union also had a little of ice 9. I remembered the fourteenth book of Bokononism. ‘What Can a Thoughtful Man Hope for Mankind on Earth, Given the Experience of the Past Million Years: Nothing.’

We melted the ice 9. The children told me what happened on Christmas Eve. Felix told them to stretch their brains and guess what was ice 9 was.

Any man can call time out, but no man can say how long the time out will be. – Bokonon

Newt mixed the rag with the ice 9 and the mixture reminded him of Mother’s reticule. The dog licked it and he froze stiff and so did Father. The children didn’t feel guilty. They all contributed to the dog’s death. They later placed the dog in the oven.

We lied that Papa was feeling better. Ambassador Minton delivered his speech. He despised the viciousness of mankind in leading to the death of 100 martyrs. We all had to reduce the stupidity of mankind.

Perhaps, when we remember wars, we should take off our clothes and pain ourselves blue and go on all fours all day long and grunt like pigs. That would surely be more appropriate than noble oratory and shows of flags and well-oiled guns. –  Ambassador Minton

I was nauseous again and would miss the air show. However, one plane burst into flames in mid-air. Everyone cried. We managed to save some others from falling. Many people perished when the castle collapsed.

The palace was gone now. I contemplated suicide at that moment. We backed away from the abyss. A stone gave way and fell. Now, ice 9 fell in the sea and tornadoes sprung up around us. We headed down into a manhole. We found a bomb shelter down below. There was a set of books of Bokonon. Mona was with me.

The sixth book was about pain. We could think before death. Our radio remained silent. Everything above ground was torn apart. Mona was not interested in reproduction.

Mona thanked me. Each one of us had to be what we all are. After the 4th day, the weather had stabilized. We waited a while more just to be sure. The Earth was locked in eternal winter. There was no other form of life.

Someday, someday, this crazy world will have to end. And our God will take things back that He to us did lend. And if, on that sad day, you want to scold our God, why not go right ahead and scold Him. He’ll just smile and nod. – Calypso

I knew how the Earth ended up like this. But so what? We walked to the foot of Mount McCabe. There was a bowl where they were thousands of dead people. All of them were facing the centre of the bowl and their fingers were near their mouths. Bokonon left a note in the centre saying that God was through with them.

We suspected that Bokonon was alive somewhere. He advised everyone to kill themselves. Mona laughed and said it solved so many problems. She couldn’t stop laughing. Later she touched her finger to the ground and placed it on her lips. Mona died. Crosby, Hazel, Newt were alive as they took a cab out of the area. I entered the cab.

They brought me to Franklin’s house. Hazel was optimistic about surviving. We would call ourselves the Swiss Family Robinson. We thawed the animals and ate them. Our health improved. Frank left behind an SOS transmitter which we could use. Save our soullllls. The words ‘It might have been’ were the most beautiful.

Hazel started making a flag to plant on Mount McCabe. Frank was playing with an ant farm. Frank said that we could learn from ants and how to co-operate. ‘You tell me, you tell me who told these ants how to make water.’ Frank asked me. I said God taught them. Frank got madder and madder.

Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before. He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way. – Bokonon

I looked for Newt. We drove and looked for paints. He lost his sex urge. Newt told me about the quotes in the books. There was a cruel paradox of Bokononist thought. It was necessary to lie about reality and there was an impossibility of lying about it.

It was a depressing religion. Bokonon wrote a chapter on utopias. Soft pipes, play on. Angela found a neat way to die when she picked up and played the clarinet just before her death. It was then while driving to the mountain, that I saw Bokonon sitting on the side of the road.

His feet were covered with ice 9. He was thinking of the final sentence of the book. This was what he wrote.

If I were a younger man, I would write a history of human stupidity; and I would climb to the top of Mount McCabe and lie down on my back with my history for a pillow; and I would take from the ground some of the blue-white poison that makes statues of men; and I would make a statue of myself, lying on my back, grinning horribly, and thumbing my nose at You Know Who. – Bokonon


The Meaning of Human Existence by Edward O. Wilson

Why did humanity exist? What is the meaning of our personal lives? This book will explore how we originated. It will also give direction on where we are going and why. Maybe poets and scientists will go beyond knowledge and imagination to discover the truth. People think that both humanity and individuals have a meaning. It all started out with sensory and nervous systems of early organisms and eventually developing to intention. Most decisions we make have meaning. We have the capacity to imagine different futures. At this stage, we can dream of having longer lives, having superior athletic ability etc. Why were we given 2 hands and 10 fingers? We are only answerable to ourselves. Self-understanding is the key.

Humanities, can to a great extent, explain our existence. We need to understand the entire biological and cultural evolution. What must science give to humanities? Complex societies have risen from ‘meaning’ and social condition. In the animal kingdom, some species rear the young in a way that ensures reproductive success. This is known as eusociality. There are not many species that practice this. The 19 known species that achieved it dominate the land. In order to practice eusociality, there needs to be someone to protect the nest and that to oversee the raising of additional generations. Early hunter-gatherers faced issues like competition vs co-operation. We needed to understand the intentions of others in order to survive. Our memories have improved and we can interpret many things, even humanities. The human brain has expanded in size over time. Survival and reproduction of the individual is known as inclusive fitness. Multi-level selection is also in play. We have to select within our same group and within other groups. We genuinely feel the need to belong to groups and define our personal identities with them. However, competition has been ever-present in societies. Humans are capable of greater imagination. However, we are bound by history and emotion. There is no pre-destination in life. Independence of thought is the key for survival.

Are we intrinsically good or bad? Or can be corrected so as to fall on the other side? Research show that we are both and are inherently conflicted. We are so because of biological evolution. Humans do have instincts which we can’t ignore. History comprises of the biological and cultural. In natural selection, the traits are prescribed in genes. Natural selection is present in all organisms. Multi-level selection has forged advanced social behavior in men. Research has shown that humans are very good at reading intentions of others. Another trait we have is to belong to groups. It confers a sense of superiority. People like to hang out with others to be similar to themselves. However, this leads to racism and religious bigotry. 3 million years ago, the first Homo sapiens appeared. The early humans were all vegetarians. ‘Individual selection promoted selfishness while group selection promoted virtue’. Hence, we are constantly conflicted.

Science and humanities have both risen from creative though. In the early 1600s, philosophy was the marrying of arts and the sciences. Science could not keep us with the Enlightenment thinkers. Science was in conflict with arts at that time. For a long time, science and humanities went in opposite ways. Enlightenment was stalled for about 200 years. Yes, it is necessary to unite the two again now. Scientists usually avoid words that sound emotional in nature. Their language use must be restrained. The artists uses metaphors, abstractions, distortion etc. We are a very curious species. Humans are anthropocentric, meaning that they we are fascinated about ourselves. We love stories, novels, gossip etc. Science is committed without the presence of religion. Science introduces the concept of continuum. There are many lone planets out in the Universe. Earth is not in the center of Universe. A continuum is the diversity of life in Earth. There are 300,000 species of plants on Earth. There are many other microorganisms that have yet to be discovered. Many types of waves are not visible to humans. We can only detect 20 to 2000 Hz of sound. We have a poor sense of smell. Humans are unconscious to certain kinds of stimuli. Humans are capable and we have tried to understand the unified theory of physics. Our aim is to continue understanding the Universe. Now, modern exploration is lot more challenging. We have to realize the dreams of the Enlightenment.

Earth relates to the Universe as the second segment of the left antenna of an aphid sitting on a flower petal in a garden in Teaneck, New Jersey, for a few hours this afternoon. – Edward O. Wilson

Humanities help to define our human condition. Scientific inventions are only 5 centuries old. Language, religious beliefs, cultures have all arose before that. Many languages are already on their way to extinction. Humanities are not hindered by life cycles. Greater investment on technology needs to be conducted for scientific research to accelerate. However, the humanities will continue to evolve. We have been trying to correct mutant alleles that cause hereditary disease. Genetic variation of our species is increasing. With more robots, what can humans do? We have to preserve our human nature. That is what makes us human.

Instinctive social behavior is very important. There will be co-operation and altruism every society. There are also favorable mutant genes. Natural selection in individuals and groups are in opposition. ‘Selfish members win within groups, but groups of altruists’ best groups of selfish members.’ Inclusive fitness treats the individual group as the unit of selection. However, the effects of inclusive fitness has not been measured. However, it might explain the differences in ant sizes. Males die after insemination. Hamilton created an inequality. ‘It said that a gene prescribing altruism, such as that of the heroic brother, will increase if the benefit in number of offspring to the recipient exceeds the cost in offspring to the altruist.’ However, they need to be closely related. Close kinship is very important. Kin selection is an important part of advanced social behavior. In 2010, I analyzed inclusive fitness and the concept failed to hold. Richard Dawkins was not happy with my work. Social intelligence plus group selection make us who were are.

We are a bizarre species. Our traits are narrow compared to the entire biodiversity. We won the grand lottery of human evolution. Humans are chemosensory poor. A lot of other animals use pheromones to communicate. Many animals have a range above our hearing and we can’t hear them. Many frogs are brightly colored to warn predators off them. However, we are unable to see ultraviolet light. Pheromones are released to only selected targets. It is extremely powerful and accurate. There is a need to make fine discriminations. Guard ants release alarm substances to warn to potential attacks to the nest. Ants are perhaps the most advanced pheromonal creatures. Their receptors are the most accurate. Pheromones can be discharged together to create signals. Some plants also release pheromones. Humans are too big to understand how insects work. Almost 99% of the species are too small to receive our attention. Pheromones would have been too slow for us.

No one dares to approach angry ants. Each one of them will bite and sting. There are no clear leaders among the ants. Ants are universal predators. The driver ant colony is a typical super organism. It looks like an amoeba from far. All the ants are altruistic to one another. The scouts can leave an odor trail for food. All working ants are female. The job of the male is just to reproduce. Some ants eat their dead and the injured ones. When ants rescue another injured one, they are planning to eat it. Older ants will be the first one to attack a predator and form the first line of defense. Ants that are infected by parasites will not encourage others near it. Many ants have achieved a great deal despite having so small brains. Ants really dazzle us with their complexity. Insects work on instinct while humans transmit culture. We revolt against slavery.

It is possible that there is life elsewhere. Microbes were born very early after the creation of the Earth. Some of the other planets are of a good distance from their star to support possible life. Life will always consist of microbes. Some of these microbes can withstand extreme temperatures and PH. Humans should probe Jupiter and Mars to find out more. Liquid organisms might be there. Humans long for adventure. Kepler telescope has the ability to detect light. If we happen to detect life, we would want to read their genetic codes. Some bacteria can travel through space without dying.

By examining organisms on Earth, we can predict the behavior of intelligent extraterrestrial organisms. A lot of organisms didn’t have the required brain power to evolve high intelligence. Humans were indeed very lucky. However, the vast expanse of the Universe suggests that it is possible to find intelligent E.T. The author predicts that they will be land and not aquatic dwellers and will be large in size. They will also be biologically audiovisual. Their heads will be big and distinct. They would have jaws and teeth. There is also a chance that they would have multiple legs. Morality will exist in their community. Humans will not let robots completely take over us.

Humans need to try and preserve biodiversity as much as possible. Biodiversity can be measured by the number of species. There are still many undiscovered microorganisms. We are too slow to detect new species. Many think that taxonomy is outdated. Knowing the species is important as biodiversity is dynamic. Many species go extinct without being discovered. Fungi is important for the production of antibiotics. Habitat loss is the leading agent of destruction. Hawaii is a capital where biodiversity has declined rapidly. Pollution also destroys species and population growth also can damage species. Over-harvesting is also a big threat to biodiversity. Humans need to do a lot more to preserve biodiversity.

How might the mystery of human existence be solved? Humans rely on emotion and logic for survival. Our self-image has been distorted by biases, misconceptions and superstitions. Human behavior was thought to be entirely cultural in nature. Now, scientists believe human behavior has to do with genetics. This is the nature vs nurture concept. We are guided by stimuli and instinct. Some humans have in-born phobia. People develop phobias from bad experiences. Phobias take a long time to be removed. Phobias are an example of prepared learning and remains part of human instinct. In general, humans love to gossip. Humans were also made for music. Research revealed that people enjoy living near savannahs and water bodies.

Rapture can be achieved by music, religion and hallucinogenic drugs. There is an intimate relationship between music and religion. Research reveals that a religious instinct might exist. Religion largely stems from philosophy. Spirituality can bridge the real and supernatural. Deities are almighty and can perform miracles. We like to attribute certain events to God. Religion teaches men to be righteous. Tribalism leads to people doing bad things. Tribalism results when people think their religion is superior to others. Having faith can confer psychological benefits. It provides a sense of identity within the religious community. Seneca felt that religion is regarded by ordinary people as true, by the wise as false and by rulers as useful. Religion has also led to tribalism and the struggles between the Shiites and Sunnis, for instance. It is not okay to question the creation myth of another’s religion. Humans need to escape from demons and tribal gods in order to thrive.

Most humans leave the concept of free will to philosophers. Conscious thought is the key for success. They have made little headway in the analysis of consciousness. Neuroscientists and philosophers are always in conflict. Scientists are currently trying to map activity of every genome in real time. This will have implications for medicine. Consciousness increased during the process of evolution. The free will is closely linked with the self and is difficult to separate from consciousness of the mind. Does free will exist?

We are completely alone in the universe and we are free. Human existence is largely explained by humanities and science. We are innately dysfunctional. Now, our hunter-gatherer existence might hinder us. Now, we tear down our natural environment and affect biodiversity. Sometimes, it’s hard to care for other species or people in other groups. Humans are always internally conflict. Some very religious people are ignorant to how evolution came about. Scientific research will decline over time. Humanities define the soul of humans. Science and the arts are complementary.


Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Women, Work, And the Will to Lead

Women now have more rights than ever and life is much better. However, many of them are still in the sex trade. The vision to bring men and women to equal status is still in the works. Women still don’t hold many of the top positions in government and in the private sector. Our voices are not fully heard. Compensation has not been on par with the men. Revolution has stalled along the way. Once more women are in power, others will be helped as well. We often pull back instead of leaning in. We are often hindered by barriers of society. Attacking the institutional barriers is like a chicken and egg problem. This book is sort of like a female manifesto. It is important to lean in and be ambitious in your pursuits.

Not all women want careers. Not all women want children. Not all women want both. I would never advocate that we should all have the same objectives. Many people are not interested in acquiring power, not because they lack ambition, but because they are living their lives as they desire. Some of the most important contributions to our world are made by caring for one person at a time. We each have to chart our own unique course and define which goals fit our lives, values and dreams. – Sheryl Sandberg

My grandmother was addressed as girlie in the past. She was taken out of school because of work. Her business took off as she was extremely determined and motivated. Later when she had kids, she understood the importance of education. My mum taught me to believe that all careers are open to me and that I should dream. Two generations after my grandma, the playing field seemed to have levelled. Integrating personal and professional aspirations was always difficult. Most of the time, women had to give up their careers in favour of the family. Although women are very capable academically, often, this does not translate in workplace success. Men aspire for the more senior positions in the work place. The leadership ambition gap is still present. I married a guy at 24. However I divorced him at 25. Women in the past liked to prioritize marriage over career. Ambition is still seen as something ‘dirty’. We are all brought up differently. When a female tries to lead, she is often labelled bossy. Men are encouraged to ask more questions. It seems wrong to go for both family and career for women. The US is the only developed country without a paid maternity leave policy.

There is far more to life than climbing a corporate ladder, including raising children, seeking personal fulfillment, contributing to society, and improving the lives of others. And there are many people who are deeply committed to their jobs but do not – and should not have to – aspire to run their organizations. Leadership roles are not the only way to have profound impact. – Sheryl Sandberg

We invited Tim Geithner from Facebook over. Women in that meeting seemed like spectators. Internal barriers can alter your behavior. Women sometimes hold themselves back. Being praised for their achievements doesn’t seem right. Capable people plagued by self-doubt suffer the impostor syndrome. Sometimes, we underestimate ourselves. Men then to overestimate their abilities. Men credit their success to internal factors while females credit theirs to external factors. I was also insecure in high school. I was admitted to Harvard for my personality, not my academic potential. My brother has always been more confident. Sometimes, you need to make an intellectual and an emotional adjustment. Self-belief is very important. A lack of confidence can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. One can learn to fake confidence levels. Force yourself to smile and you will feel cheerful. ‘Fake it until you feel it’ strategy. Opportunities are seized, not offered. Men were offered more because they wanted it more. Usually, taking initiatives help a lot. Learn to take calculated risks. Women have to learn to keep their hands up. Learn to express gratitude for those who have helped you succeed. No one accomplishes anything alone. Keep your hand up!

It’s your ability to learn quickly and contribute quickly that matters. One of the things I tell people these days is that there is no perfect fit when you’re looking for the next big thing to do. You have to take opportunities and make an opportunity fit for you, rather than the other way around. The ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have. – Sheryl Sandberg

There were gender stereotypes on likeability for top professionals. We evaluate people based on stereotypes. This form of biases are holding us back. Successful women are deemed as very aggressive. For females, boasting about your achievements won’t do you much good. Women are expected to play a nurturing role first, before everything else. Intelligence and success are not clear paths to popularity. Being liked is a key factor for success. For women, claiming too much credit for success may not be a smart move to take. Some may pay a penalty for being helpful. Women who negotiate for their own benefits can be seen as more self-serving. I negotiated with Mark Zuckerberg on my salary package. To negotiate well, women need to come across as being nice. Think global, act local. Women also need to present a reason for negotiation. Every negotiation is unique and women must adjust their approach accordingly. Combine niceness with insistence for negotiation of pay. Ignore attacks and do your job. Learning to withstand criticism is very important. Feel the negative emotions and move on quickly. Females can also learn to help one another out.

Lori jumped in to Facebook with me. She ran our recruitment campaign to much success. People do not stay in one job as long as before. My dad was a physician and my mum also liked helping others. My dad decided to be a physician because he experienced a traumatic surgery. Having a meaningful life is important. I wanted to change the world. A long term goal can be to work in a particular field or to travel throughout the world. A vague goal can provide some direction. I flew to India for a mission trip. I headed to Cambridge business school. My first job was a consultant with McKinsey and Company. Later, I worked in the Treasury Department with the government. I was there for 4 years. It took me a year to find a good job at the Valley. I interviewed with Google and got the job. As a result, I joined Google. Board the rocket ship first. Learn to concentrate with results and impact. It was my first business deal and I said too much. I worked a total of 6.5 years at Google. Then it was time to continue. I do not like uncertainty but in life, you have to accept uncertainty and even embrace it. Later I joined Facebook as a COO. Follow your path even if it might take you back a few years. Women in general need to be more risk taking in their careers. In business, risk aversion may not be a good thing. Sometimes, women avoid stretch assignments and new challenges. Women believe that if they do their jobs well, they will get promoted. Taking risks, choosing growth, challenging ourselves are all important elements of managing a career.

We all want a job or role that truly excites and engages us. This search requires both focus and flexibility, so I recommend adopting two concurrent goals: a long-term dream and an eighteen-month plan. – Sheryl Sandberg

If you ask the question ‘Are you my mentor?’; the person probably isn’t yours. Many women have requested me to be their mentor. The search for a mentor is like waiting for a Prince Charming. Mentorship and sponsorship is important for career progression. There needs to be a real connection between the mentor and mentee. I get joy out of mentoring others as well. ‘Excel and you will get a mentor’. Start off with a well-thought-out inquiry instead of asking someone to be a mentor. Preparation is key when looking for a job. Mentoring is a reciprocal arrangement. Both parties actually flourish. If someone invests a lot of time in your development, he probably is a mentor. Both parties should have strong common interests. Senior men can mentor women as well. Be careful if you a senior man and you mentor a female face-to-face at a bar.

Children always speak with authenticity. It isn’t easy to communicate that way. Don’t hide stuff from others. Being honest in the workplace is difficult. In Facebook, it is nonhierarchical. Facebook encourages open communication. People in low power positions tend not to share their views completely. There is a fear of being criticized or drawing attention to ourselves. Opinions are not brutally honest but delicately honest. Speak honestly, but no not hurt others. You need to understand your point of view and the other person’s point of view. Truth should be expressed in simple language. Learn to solicit input from others. I set a rule: no more PowerPoint in my meetings. Feedback is not absolute. Any judgment you pass on others can hurt. Always try and see how you can help other people’s goals. Be open about your weaknesses too. Learn to praise people publicly. Humor can be a good tool for a message delivery. I cried in front of Mark when someone accused me of something. Sharing emotions builds deeper relationships. Emotion drives both men and women. There is no need to put on a fake work persona. Sometimes, your personal decisions outside will affect your professional life. Shedding tears might be a sign of authentic emotion. Continue to speak the truth.

Girls are more likely to choose marriage over careers. There is no need for premature marriage planning. Women leave before they leave. This means the woman stops reaching for opportunities. ‘The more satisfied a person is with her position, the less likely she is to leave.’ The aim is to take on more responsibility and do not scale back before you have a kid. The aim is to return to a challenging job after you have a kid. There is no need to lean in under all circumstances. The birth of a child changes your priorities in fundamental ways. There is no one way to raise a kid. The woman still does majority of the child care. Cost of raising a child has gone up considerably. The perception that the female should raise the child has not changed over time. Women sometimes are encouraged to drop out of the workforce. Women who take time out from the workforce might take a career penalty. Institutions need to do better to support these women. Child care is a huge expense. You should accelerate as much as possible until the birth of a child.

I hated the experience in labor pain. Dave, my husband, was the primary caregiver. We should have prepared more before we had a kid. We were not ready for the change in our lives. Research has shown that the mum does more of the housework than the husband. Mothers are still the designated parents. Learn to chip in. Men must be more empowered at home. Do not keep dictating how the husband should do this and that. Treat him like an equal partner and use the collaborative instead of gatekeeping behavior. Let the partner take responsibility. The majority of successful female business leaders have partners. Your partner can give you support. If men do their bit, women can climb up the corporate ladder. My husband and often have to discuss who will do what. I have a wonderful brother and husband. Children benefit greatly from paternal involvement and have better well-being etc. We need to encourage men to lean in to their families. Facebook offers equal time for maternity and paternity leave. Men taking leave for family care can be viewed negatively. If the woman is more successful than the man, it is perceived that the marriage is threatened. It is normal for females to out-earn the males. Find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who values fairness. Discuss upfront what the commitment of the other party should be. Couples who share domestic responsibilities have more sex. Raising children is a demanding job.

No one can have it all. There will always be trade-offs. It is just a myth. Don’t be like Icarus. Everyone has our limits. Sacrifice and hardship are almost a necessity in this modern age. We all have to deal with different responsibilities. Perfection is the enemy. You can’t do it all. Know where to focus your attention on. Sometimes, all the planning to do can’t prepare you for parenting. Some variables can’t be controlled. ‘Done is better than perfect’. Do not set unattainable standards. Learn to embrace the mess. Exert more control over your careers. If you announce your goals to others, it can create greater accountability. Do not be too insecure. I did not spend 12 hour days in the office anymore. I focused on what truly mattered. Sometimes, people feel that working shorter hours will affect their career prospects. Sometimes, one can be more productive working from home. People are working hours than ever before. If you sacrifice sleep to free up more time for yourself, it doesn’t work. One can’t sleep 4 to 5 hours a night. Learn to take control of the situation. I still struggle with the trade-offs between work and home. Thankfully I have a good husband and a good sister who will chip in sometimes. Nowadays, children receive even more supervision than in the past. Research has shown that children who were cared for by their parents and others had no difference in development abilities. Therefore, there is no problem if mothers go to work. I love my job and the people I work with. I also love the time I spend with my kids. Setting obtainable goals is the key to happiness. Success is about making the right decisions, and then accepting them. Do the best with what you’ve got.

Very few people like the term feminism. Women are worried about sticking out too much. Employees were judged by how well they fit in. I also did not want to be known as a feminist. In 2005, I started to speak out. I invited Gloria Steinem to give a speech. We needed to be more open about gender talk. Now, I didn’t want to blend in and be quiet about it. Some men were receptive to the talk I gave as well. Discussion is important to keep things moving. Women can consider questioning whether there is any gender bias in the workplace. Sometimes, if you claim to be objective, it might be counter intuitive and biases may set in. Another bias is one where we want to work with people who are like us. Men and women were more likely to choose a colleague of the same gender. Research has shown that diverse teams do work better. Don’t be afraid to ask. Learn to avoid unavoidable sacrifice. Flexible time is always a touchy issue and will be unless we keep talking about it. Learn to create a more equal environment. Social gains must be seized. Now, I admit I am a feminist. Do not pretend that gender biases do not exist.

True equality still eludes us. Now, women have the right to work. We need to encourage female leadership. Women need to look out for women too. Often, successful women are unlikeable. Sometimes, other women in power are the problem as they only view that one woman should lead in one company. This is known as queen bee discrimination. Women can also be perpetrators of discrimination. Sometimes, they don’t help people of the same gender. We should expect professional behavior and kindness from everyone, not just females. Men can start seeking out capable females for promotion opportunities. Feminism isn’t supposed to make us feel guilty. Start validating those females who work without a salary. With more women in power, policies will change. Lean in…all the way.


The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

I was a poor child and my parents were touchy on issues. My brother visits me every weekend. He used to be a writer, but now he’s a prostitute in Hollywood. Pencey, my school, was disappointing. There’s weren’t many girls at school. School was terrible to say the least. Selma Thurmer was not a pretentious girl at all and I liked that. I was the fencing team’s manager. I got sacked from school due to poor grades. The school had plenty of crooks although it was expensive in fees. I was a heavy smoker and quite a heavy guy.

‘I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sad goodbye or a bad goodbye, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t, you feel even worse.’ Holden Caulfield

I visited my ex-history teacher, Mr Spencer, in the cold. Spencer managed to get a bargain on a carpet purchase and I (Holden) was impressed. The principal told me that life was a game and that I should play by the rules. I was 16 and had already been to 4 schools. I could sense Mr Spencer was going to lecture me. My results were horrendous and I was failing almost everything. He reprimanded me for failing History without reading the text. Mr Spencer was being sarcastic in his tone as he read my essay out loud. I gave him a bunch of bullshit when he asked me what would I do in his shoes. I left Elkton Hills because it was surrounded by phonies and mean people. . The headmaster was very judging and would only talk to people who were good looking. Spencer was again being depressing and rude. A part of me felt sorry was the state he was in.

I lied to Spencer about needing to leave because I wanted to gym. I’m a huge liar. My roommate was Ossenburger and he liked to preach. Herb Gale (Ackley) was a disgusting guy with a bad personality. He liked to pick up people’s personal belongings and made people repeat what they said twice. I could be very sarcastic and mean towards him as well. Stradlater had a date and couldn’t join them. Ackley hated Stradlater and called him a son of a bitch. Suddenly, Stradlater entered the room. He wanted to borrow my jacket because his was stained. He was handsome and had a good bod. He asked for a favor and I obliged to help. It turns out that I had to write an essay for him. I started tap dancing for no reason. I grabbed him by the neck as I was pissed. It turns out that he was dating Jean Gallagher. I happened to know her dog and that she loved dancing. Her parents were divorced. Instinctively, I wanted to head downstairs and say hi to her. Stradlater wasn’t that nosy but Ackley was. He was a nosy little bastard

The steaks served were horrible and too hard. Mal Brossard and I decided to catch a movie. Ackley joined as well. Ackley was a terribly boring guy who liked to repeat the same stories. I finally started on Stradlater’s composition and eventually finished it. I wrote about my brother, Allie’s, baseball mitt. He passed away from leukemia. He was the nicest and most intelligent person in my family.

‘Finally Ackley came over and asked me who was going to the movies besides me. He always had to know who was going. I swear, if that guy was shipwrecked somewhere, and you rescued him in a goddamn boat, he’d want to know who the guy was that was rowing before he’d even get in.’ Holden Caulfield

Stradlater was back from his date. He didn’t mention about Jane at all. It was no surprise that he had a huge ego and liked how he looked. I tore the essay up after he criticized it. I purposely smoked in his dorm even though I knew it was illegal. The both of them sat in the car during the date. All the athletics bastards stick together. I started fighting with him suddenly. However, he was too strong and overpowering. After he released me, I called him a moron and he hit me again. I lost the fight and I was bleeding from the nose. Still, I was in a mad rage over Stradlater.

Ackley was awake late at night. Ackley realized that Stradlater and I fought. I slept on Ely’s bed that night as he was away for the night. Stradlater was the kind of guy who liked to have sex with girls. I asked Ackley what it took to join a monastery. I felt sad and lonesome and wanted to get out of Pencey immediately. I packed my stuff. Then I was off in the middle of the night. My plan was to stay in a cheap motel in New York for a short while. I was out.

I walked to the station in the cold. I didn’t know anyone around me. In the train, I didn’t want to do anything. A woman, approximately 45 years old, sat beside me. Her son was Ernest Morrow, my classmate in Pencey. I lied about my real name and the fact was that Ernest was a perk in school. Ernest was extremely sensitive. We began smoking on the train. She was a charming lady. I praised Ernest and soon she was glued to her seat. The problem was that Ernie was shy. You stay a rat your whole life.

‘You take somebody’s mother, all they want to hear about is what a hot-shot their son is.’ Holden Caulfield

I wanted to call someone on the phone but didn’t know who to dial. Sally came to mind. She was an old friend of mine. I took a cab to Edmont Hotel and wanted to stay overnight for 2 nights. The hotel was full of perverts and weirdos. A couple were squirting water all over each others’ face and they thought it was cool. I often broke my sex rules. I called Faith Cavendish, she was a friend’s friend. I gave her my real name, Holden Caulfield. Immediately, I suggested that we meet for cocktails. As it was late, it was difficult for us to get a cocktail. Eventually, we didn’t meet because she wasn’t free.

‘I think if you don’t really like a girl, you shouldn’t horse around with her at all, and if you do like her, then you’re supposed to like her face, and if you like her face, you ought to be careful about doing crumby stuff to it, like squirting water all over it.’ Holden Caulfield

I wanted to call my little sister but would’nt want my parents finding out where I was. I was the dumbest guy in the family. The problem with Phoebe was that she was too emotional. There was a club downstairs and I wanted to see what it was like. The band was crappy too. I approached their table and asked them whether any of them would like to dance. The blonde one agreed and soon we were off. It turns out that she was a greater dancer. Apparently she didn’t how I was talking to her. I started to like her. It was very difficult to engage them in an intellectual conversation. The three girls kept looking for movie stars to enter the bar.

‘That’s the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they’re not much to look at, or even if they’re sort of stupid, you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. They drive you crazy. They really can.’ Holden Caulfield

‘There isn’t any night club in the world you can sit in for a long time unless you can at least buy some liquor and get drunk. Or unless you’re with some girl that really knocks you out.’ Holden Caulfield

I called Jane Gallagher on the phone. I knew Stradlater gave her the time in the car. She was knew a funny gal, which I liked. I hated those people who only talked to you when they wanted something off you. Suddenly, she started crying and I had to comfort her. We never necked or horsed around. We held hands in the cinema. Once, she placed her hand at the back of my neck and damn it felt good. I boarded a cab and headed to Ernie’s. It was another night club. Ernie was a guy who could play the piano damn well and I wanted to hear him.

I wanted to know what happened to the ducks in Central Park during winter. The driver was a touchy guy and I dropped the topic. Ernie didn’t play well that day but people went mad. I managed to order alcohol at Ernie’s. I was surrounded by jerks. Lillian Simmons once dated my brother D.B. and she came over to chat with me. She was dating a Navy guy. I left because I hated the crowd.

‘I’m always saying “Glad to have met you” to somebody I’m not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though.’ Holden Caulfield

I walked all the way back to the hotel. I was depressed and wanted to have another drink. The lobby was all empty. One guy wanted to bring a gal over to my room late in the night. I agreed. I am a virgin. Usually, when I want to do it with a gal, the gal will ask me to stop. I will do just that. Most guys won’t stop. I wanted to get some practice in case I was married in future. The prostitute had a green dress underneath. She was very nervous for a prostitute. She pulled the dress over her head. I wasn’t turned on by that, strangely. I wanted to talk to her more than have sex with her. She didn’t really want to chat and wanted to get on with it. Honestly, I was more depressed than sexy. I paid her and then she left. It was all so depressing.

I started talking to myself. I hated the Disciples in the Bible and didn’t feel like praying right now. I didn’t visit church very much. Someone knocked on my door. It was Maurice, the guy who introduced the prostitute to me. The problem was that I only paid Sunny 5 bucks when she wanted 10. Maurice shoved me. Initially, Maurice agreed that the price would be 5 bucks. Now, he was going against his word. Sunny took another 5 bucks from my wallet. The problem was that Maurice was still pissed at me. I insulted Maurice and he hit me. I stayed in the bathroom for about an hour. Now, I felt like committing suicide.

I didn’t sleep for long at all. I smoked another cigarette in my room. I called Sally. Her parents answered the phone. We arranged to meet later that day. I had breakfast and realized that I spent a lot of money in the past 2 weeks. People cared about what suitcases others carried. I started talking to 2 nuns. They gave me 10 bucks for carrying these suitcases. We started talking about books. The thing is that I really enjoyed conversing with them. Thankfully, the nuns didn’t ask whether I was a Catholic before they left.

The nuns were thrifty people and I liked that. A boy on the street started singing ‘If a body catch a body coming through the rye’. I felt much better. I entered a record store and planned to get ‘Little Shirley Beans’ for my sister. I bought tickets to a theatre performance for Sally. Phoebe wasn’t at the park. I tried the Museum of Natural History. She wasn’t in the museum too and I went for my date with Sally. She looked great. I confessed that I liked her.

‘You kept wondering what the hell would happen to all the girls when they got out of school and college, I mean. You figured most of them would probably marry dopey guys. Guys that always talk about how many miles they get to a gallon in their goddamn cars. Guys that get sore and childish as hell if you beat them at golf, or even just some stupid game like ping-pong. Guys that are very mean. Guys that never read books. Guys that are very boring… I don’t understand boring guys.’ Holden Caulfield

‘All that crap they have in cartoons and all, showing guys on street corners looking sore as hell because their dates are late – that’s bunk. If a girl looks swell when she meets you, who gives a damn if she’s late? Nobody.’ Holden Caulfield

‘If you do something too good, then, after a while, if you don’t watch it, you start showing off. And then you’re not as good anymore.’ Holden Caulfield

Sally and her friend George was having some phony conversation which I couldn’t stand. We went ice skating after the theatre. She wanted to look all pretty and stuff. I admitted to her I hated school very much. I hated how everything in New York was, how phony the people were etc. I hated the cliques that people formed with one another. I suggested to her that we head to a Greenwich village. She rejected this crazy proposal and I shouted at her. To comfort her, I promised to get a job after our proposed ‘vacation’. I was convinced that in future when we were all working, things wouldn’t be the same anymore. She blew up after I told her she was depressing. I wasn’t behaving coherently and it was partly my fault for suggesting a ridiculous vacation.

I had a Swiss cheese sandwich and I felt like dancing with Jane. I called Carl Luce. The show I watched was atrocious. The Army was full of bastards.

‘The trouble with girls is, if they like a boy, no matter how big a bastard he is, they’ll say he has an inferiority complex, and if they don’t like him, no matter how nice a guy he is, or how big an inferiority complex he has, they’ll say he’s conceited. Even smart girls do it.’ Holden Caulfield

The Wicked Bar is some swanky hotel in NY. Luce knew a lot about sex. The intellectual guys like him didn’t want to discuss anything intellectual unless they felt like it. He admitted he liked Chinese girls more than Western gals. My questions to him were too personal and he didn’t take too kindly to them. Now, he didn’t want to go after a few drinks at a bar.

Valencia was the singer at the bar but left after her shift was over. I was dead drunk when I left the bar. I dialed Sally up late in the night and she could tell I was drunk. She didn’t want me over at her place. I had a conversation with the piano player in the restroom for a while. He was like Stradlater. Now, I was depressed and all so lonesome. I was seriously upset and walked to the park to visit the ducks. Accidentally, I dropped Phoebe’s record and it shattered. I walked around the park but didn’t see any ducks. It was bitterly cold and my teeth were chattering. I imagined myself dying and the people who would visit me at my funeral. Although I had a few nickels, I threw them into the pond. Now, I decided to go home.

I opened my house door quietly. I got to Phoebe’s room finally. I flipped open her book in her room. I woke her up and she exclaimed ‘Holden!’ I promised her that I could go to her play. My parents weren’t in thankfully. She guessed that I was kicked out from school and made a big hooha. She kept a pillow over her head and refused to budge.

‘It’s funny. You take adults, they look lousy when they’re asleep and have their mouths way open, but kids don’t. Kids look all right. They can even have spit all over their pillow and they still look all right.’ Holden Caulfield

Now, she was ostracizing me after she removed the pillow. Just like how the fencing team did to me when I left their foils on the subway. It was a stinky school with phonies. I explained that to Phoebe. That’s why I wanted out. She lamented that I didn’t like anything. I couldn’t think of anything I liked. I only liked the two nuns and a boy who was bullied and committed suicide.

‘Just because someone’s dead, you don’t stop liking them, for God’s sake – especially if they were about a thousand times nice than the people you know that’re alive and all.’ Holden Caulfield

‘Lawyers are all right, but they don’t appeal to me. They’re all right if they go around saving innocent guys’ lives. But you don’t do that kind of stuff if you’re a lawyer. All you do is make a lot of money and play golf and play bridge and buy cars and drink Martinis and look like a hot-shot. And besides, even if you did go around saving guy’s lives, how would you know if you did it because you really wanted to save guys’ lives, or because you did it because you really wanted to be a terrific lawyer, with everyone slapping you on the back and congratulating you in court when the trial is over, the reporters and everybody, the way it is in the movies? How would you know you weren’t being a phony? The trouble is, you wouldn’t.’ Holden Caulfield

If a body meet a body coming through the rye. I would like to the catcher in the rye, and prevent small kids from running off the cliff.

I called Mr Antolini, my previous teacher. He was one of the best teachers I ever had. He was the one who carried James Castle to the infirmary. Phoebe and I started dancing. Suddenly, I heard the door moving and my parents were back. I realized it was the best time to leave now. She lent me some money since I was out of cash and I cried.

I visited Mr Antolini. He expressed concern over my results in school. I had a real bad headache then. I like it when people digresses in a speech. He explained what kind of fall I was undergoing. It was mainly because the environment couldn’t provide what I was looking for. He wanted to write me something. ‘Your first move will be to apply yourself in school…You’re in love with knowledge…’. I was so sleepy and soon feel asleep although the conversation was interesting. Find the size of your mind. Suddenly he touched my head in the middle of the night, scaring him. I realized all of a sudden that I needed to leave and so I left.

‘I mean is, lots of time you don’t know what interests you most till you start talking about something that doesn’t interest you most. I mean you can’t help it sometimes. You’re supposed to leave somebody alone if he’s at least being interesting and he’s getting all excited about something. I like it when that happens. It’s nice.’ Holden Caulfield

‘The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.’ Wilhelm Stekel

‘You’re going to start getting closer and closer to where you want to go, if you want to, and if you look for it and wait for it – to the kind of information that will be very, very dear to your heart. You’re by no means alone on the score that you have been sickened by human behavior, you’ll be excited and stimulated to know. Men as troubled as you have kept records of their troubles. You’ll learn from them. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It’s a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. It isn’t education. It’s history. It’s poetry.’ Mr Antolini

‘It is not true that only educated and scholarly men are able to contribute something valuable to the world. But such educated men who are brilliant and creative to begin with, tend to leave infinitely more valuable records behind than those who are merely brilliant and creative. They tend to express themselves more clearly and usually have a passion for following their thoughts to the end.’ Mr Antolini

I didn’t where to go and I was depressed again. I contemplated returning to his house, just that I found that he panted me incredibly weird. I thought I had cancer. It was a Monday. While wondering around, I tried locating the two nuns. I decided to just venture to the West and find a new job and start afresh without anyone recognizing me. I wanted to pretend to be a deaf-mute so that no one would have useless conversations with me. After buying a notebook from a stationary shop, I headed to her school to drop her the farewell note. In the school, I rubbed out the words ‘Fuck you’ on the wall. I left the note with one of the teachers in the school. Two boys asked me where the mummies were while I waited for my sister. I passed out when I was in the toilet. Thankfully, it didn’t hurt much. Suddenly, I saw my sister dragging a huge suitcase. She wanted to go with me. She was insistent while I was in shock. She cried as I didn’t want her to follow me. Phoebe refused to head to school. In a twist, now she didn’t want to be in the play anymore. I told her I changed my mind about running away and she just ran across the street without looking at traffic. I didn’t follow her. Deep inside me, I knew she had to follow me and follow me she did. We headed to the zoo. My sister didn’t talk to me at all as she was sore. She rode on the carousel alone while I waited for her. Now, she wasn’t mad at me anymore. It started pouring heavily. Even though I was drenched, I was so damn happy to see my sister enjoying herself.

I did indeed go back to school the next semester. But I won’t be talking about it. D.B, my brother, came to visit. He was alright. The thing is I missed those who I told them about the above story, like Stradlater and Ackley.


The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

The Chronicles of Narnia

There were 4 children (Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy). They were sent to a professor’s house because of the war. The professor had a housekeeper called Mrs Macready and three servants called Ivy, Margaret and Betty. He was old and looked funny. Edmund didn’t want to go to bed. Peter wanted to do whatever he wanted in the room. It was a huge house where they were in. Peter thought the house was surrounded by birds. It was raining outside. Peter wanted to explore the house now. It was full of unexpected places, like a room full of pictures, a suit of armor, a room with a harp, rooms lined with rooms. There was a room with a huge wardrobe and it had a mirror plus a dead bluebottle on the window sill. Lucy was curious and opened the door and saw fur coats. She felt at least two rows of coats and kept going. Later, she felt something hard and rough rubbing against her. It was like branches of trees almost. Later she found herself in the woods with snow under her feet. She met a lamppost and then a very strange person. He was taller than her and carried an umbrella. He had the face of a man, but his lower half resembled a goat. He had a tail. He was carrying brown-paper parcels. He was a Faun.

The Faun introduced himself as Tumnus and was surprised to see humans around. They were in a land called Narnia. Tumnus invited over her for tea. He addressed her as daughter of Eve. He brought her to a cozy cave with a fireplace. They had eggs and sardines and toast. He filled her in on stories of the forests. Tumnus started playing his flute. Lucy, unknowingly, stayed for a few hours. Suddenly, he started crying and wouldn’t stop. He admitted he was the worst Faun in the world. The White Witch controlled him and he worked as a kidnapper. He was supposed to hand Lucy over to her. The white witch would take revenge on him if he failed to hand Lucy over. It was settled that he would bring her back to the lamppost quickly to avoid detection. Lucy managed to enter back into the room via the wardrobe.

When the other kids tried to enter the wardrobe, they couldn’t. It was now just an ordinary wardrobe. It was so queer. Later, Lucy burst into tears. Edmund was spiteful and mean towards her. Later, the kids played hide and seek. Edmund followed Lucy into the wardrobe and then quickly shut the door behind him. He also found himself in the forest. In desperation, he called for Lucy. He saw a sledge being pulled by a reindeer. A fat dwarf was pulling it. Behind the dwarf was a tall lady with a crown on her head. She introduced herself as the queen of Narnia.

The queen was furious that Edmund managed to trepass. She was willing to talk to him. She offered him something to drink. Next, as per Edmund’s request, the queen offered him Turkish delight. The queen wanted to see his brother and two sisters. She wanted to raise a prince to take over the King. She insisted that he had to return to fetch them before she would show him her house. The queen mentioned that the Fauns often say weird stuff. Edmund finally bumped into Lucy on the way back. It turns out that the Queen was the witch as well. The Fauns, Dryads, Naiads and Dwarfs hate her. She has the ability to turn people into stone. Edmund was not feeling well at the moment.

Lucy went back into the house and announced that they could enter the forest. Edmund was being idiotic and superior and pretended he saw nothing. He was being more nasty. Lucy had been crying at the corner. Lucy emphasized on the truth. Peter and Susan were pissed at Edmund for behaving that way. The professor asked Peter and Susan on who they believed more. The professor believed that the separate world held a different time. Often, there would be visitors at the house. All four of them entered the wardrobe.

Why don’t they teach logic these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn’t tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth. – The Professor

Peter and Susan finally believed that they entered the woods too. As it was cold, they put on the coats. Peter was excited about the whole trip. Lucy proposed to go see Mr Tumnus. She managed to locate his cave easily. Apparently, people have visited the cave and messed it up. Mr Tumnus was under arrest by order from the Queen of Narnia for harboring spies and mixing with humans. Lucy mentioned that the Queen was a witch. Lucy wanted to rescue him. Edmund was against this idea. They followed a robin, hoping it would bring them to Mr Tumnus. They suddenly realized they were lost and Edmund was suspicious about where the robin was taking them.

The boys spotted a furry animal in the trees. The stranger popped out from behind the tree. It was a beaver. The children were wondering whether they should follow it. Peter was willing to follow it. The beaver started talking now. The beaver mentioned about Tumnus and the arrest and a guy named Aslan. It promised to bring them for dinner now. They reached on the edge of a valley. There was also a dam and a deep pool of ice. There were icicles and it was a real spectacle. Edmund recognized that the Witch’s house was nearby. It was a treacherous route before they reached the house. Mr Beaver introduced everyone to Mrs Beaver. The beaver brought them fish. The children helped Mrs Beaver to prepare the table. Their cave was more like the inside of a ship. They were going to have potatoes and fish. Mr Beaver was careful to make sure that no one was following them.

Mr Tumnus was taken away by the police. He was taken to the Witch’s house and might have been turned into a statue. Mr Beaver warned them against trying to enter the witch’s house. Aslan was the King and he would deal with the fake queen. Aslan would save Mr Tumnus. Aslan is the great Lion. The children would meet Aslan tomorrow. The witch was always on the lookout for humans. If the four children sit on the thrones respectively, the white witch would be gone. Edmund was missing. He was nowhere to be found. The beaver knew that he went to visit the witch on his own. Edmund didn’t tell the rest who did he meet and his encounter with the witch. Mr Beaver discouraged them from taking any action and to wait for Aslan. They were afraid that Edmund would expose their location and the witch would hunt them down. They all decided to leave the place at once.

Edmund kept thinking about the Turkish delight. He was afraid of Aslan. He wanted to be a Prince. Edmund convinced himself that Aslan was evil when deep down, he knew that the witch was the evil one. It was a difficult journey to her palace. He kept fantasizing about the life he would lead as a king. Deep in his mind, he hated Peter. Finally, he came upon the White Witch’s house. There was an enormous lion inside the house. However, it was not moving at all. Then, he realized he was cast in stone. He did something stupid which was to scribble a moustache on the lion’s upper lip. There were a dozen other statues there. He came upon a wolf which growled at him. The wolf went to inform the Queen about the visitor. The gray wolf was Maugrim. The witch was pissed as he came alone, without his other friends. He told the queen the story and the queen instantly wanted to set off.

Mrs Beaver was still preparing dinner. She wanted to bring the sewing machine with her as well. Mr Beaver locked the door and all the children were outside now. The load was heavy and Lucy was struggling to keep up . Mr Beaver and party wanted to get some sleep. They heard the sound of jingling bells. There was a man on a reindeer. He was very big and he was known as Father Christmas. He gave presents to the children and repaired the dam. He gave Peter a sword and a shield. Susan received a bow and a quiver full of arrows. If she blew into a horn, she would receive instant help. Lucy received a bottle of glass and a dagger. It contained juice which could restore health. Soon, he was out of sight. Everyone enjoyed their sandwiches but knew they had to keep moving.

The queen served Edmund dry bread and didn’t serve any Turkish delights. They took the sledge away. She wanted to use the wolves to kill the Beavers. The wolves found the house empty. Edmund hated it and imagined it was a dream. The witch came upon a fox and his family feasting and stopped them. Father Christmas gave the fox family food. The witch didn’t believe that Father Christmas was here. She turned the foxes into stone. Edmund was shocked by her actions. Suddenly, there was a pitter patter of water and the frost melted. The snow was melting and the sledge couldn’t move anymore. They had to walk now. The trees were green now. Soon, the birds were chirping and singing. It was a beautiful sight to say the least. Everything was coming alive.

The winter was disappearing. The witch was losing her power. They knew the witch was on foot. They were at the top of the hill. Aslan was in the center of a crowd of creatures. He had 2 leopards beside him. Aslan knew their names. Mr Beaver informed him that Edmund left the group. Aslan promised to help look for Edmund. He gave them a feast. He wanted Peter to be the King at a palace. Peter would be the first one. The Naiads and Dryads were scattering about. Peter came upon a wolf. He drew his sword and wanted to strike the wolf. Finally, he managed to kill it. Aslan reminded him to wipe his sword.

The dwarf knew that Aslan was here. The witch wanted the stone table again. She summoned all her forces for the great battle ahead. Edmund fainted after he felt people tying him up. The centaurs, unicorns carried Edmund back to the stone table. Edmund apologized to the others. The Queen wanted to speak to Aslan in a peaceful matter. However, Aslan didn’t allow her to bring her wand. Finally, the witch met Aslan. The children were frightened by her appearance. The queen was the emperor’s hangman previously. She felt that his life was his property. She had control of deep magic and mentioned that she needed blood or else Narnia will perish in fire and water. Aslan had a private discussion with the witch. The witch renounced the claim for Edmund’s blood and fled.

Aslan wanted to encamp at the Fords of Beruna tonight. He predicted that the witch was planning for a siege. He gave instructions on how to battle the witch in the woods and the castle. Aslan mentioned that he might not participate in the battle. Susan and Lucy spied on Aslan and followed him into the woods. Apparently, he appeared to be very tired. The lion allowed them to follow him. He was approaching the stone table. All the witch’s animals were waiting there already. All the animals tied him up while the kids looked from afar. Aslan didn’t show any sign of resistance at all. The Orge shaved him. Aslan looked braver and more patient than ever to Susan. They placed a muzzle over his mouth. The witch drew a knife and wanted to kill him.

And now, who has won? Fool, did you think that by all this you would save the human traitor? Now I will kill you instead of him as our pact was and so the Deep Magic will be appeased. But when you are dead what will prevent me from killing him as well? And who will take him out of my hand then? Understand that you have given me Narnia forever, you have lost your own life and you have not saved his. In that knowledge, despair and die. – The Witch

The witch wanted to crush the humans now. The children were frightened out of their wits. Aslan was dead. The children mourned his death. They removed his muzzle and untied him. There were mice scurrying on the ground and they were nibbling at the knots. The sky was more white now. Suddenly the stone table cracked and there was no Aslan. By a stroke of magic, Aslan stood behind them now. The children kissed him profusely. Aslan felt strong now. Aslan allowed the kids to ride on him. It was extremely scenic ride. He landed amongst the stone statues at the witch’s castle.

It means that though the Witch knew the deep magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward. – Aslan

Aslan breathed into the stone lion and managed to free him. All the statues were coming to life. It was like a zoo now. It was a spectacular sight. There was also a giant. Aslan wanted everyone to look inside the house. Susan found Mr Tumnus. Lucy and Mr Tumnus were finally reunited and they were elated. Giant Rumblebuffin bashed at the gates, trying to break it. The Buffins were a very respected family in Narnia. The witch was fighting with Peter using her stone knife. The reinforcements came to assist Peter’s army.

The witch was soon slain and her troops gave up as well. Peter and Aslan shook hands. Lucy started giving drops of the magic potion to those wounded. Peter did the right thing by breaking the witch’s wand, rendering her less powerful. The next day, Aslan proclaimed that the 4 kids would be kings and queens. Aslan quietly slipped away. He would return to Narnia as and when he liked. The 4 children ruled the country well. They all had names. King Peter the Magnificent, Susan the Gentle, King Edmund the Just, Lucy the Valiant. They came upon the lamppost, which seemed oddly familiar. Finally they felt coats instead of braches. They tumbled out of the wardrobe and into the empty room. The children recounted the entire story and the Professor believed everything they said. He didn’t encourage them to use the same route to enter Nania. It was just the beginning of adventures of Narnia.

Once a King in Narnia, always a King in Narnia. But don’t go trying to use the same route to Narnia twice. Indeed, don’t try to get there at all. It’ll happen when you’re not looking for it. – The Professor

…And don’t mention it to anyone else unless you find that they’ve had adventures of the same sort themselves. What’s that? How will you know? Oh, you’ll know all right. Off things they say- even their looks – will let the secret out. Keep your eyes open. – The Professor