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Monday, September 20, 2010

Of Golden Rules... again

In Greek mythology, was it King Midas who said, "He who has the gold, rules?"

King Midas was a very kind man who ruled his kingdom fairly, but he was not one to think very deeply about what he said. One day, while walking in his garden, he saw an elderly satyr asleep in the flowers. Taking pity on the old fellow, King Midas let him go without punishment. When the god Dionysus heard about it, he rewarded King Midas by granting him one wish. The king thought for only a second and then said I wish for everything I touch to turn to gold." And so it was.

King Midas' gift gave him "The golden touch," and, as you can see, it turned out to be a curse.

The beautiful flowers in his garden turned toward the sun for light, but when Midas approached and touched them, they stood rigid and gold. The king grew hungry and thin, for each time he tried to eat, he found that his meal had turned to gold. His lovely daughter, at his loving touch, turned hard and fast to gold. His water, his bed, his clothes, his friends, and eventually the whole palace was gold.

While he was the wealthiest man on earth, he was also the loneliest and saddest, not to mention hungriest. 

King Midas saw that soon his whole kingdom would turn to gold unless he did something right away. He asked Dionysus to turn everything back to the way it had been and take back his golden touch. Because the king was ashamed and very sad, Dionysus took pity on him and granted his request. Instantly, King Midas was poorer that he had been, but richer, he felt, in the things that really count.

Nope. He didn't say that. He did however, give us "the Midas touch." The moral of the story: Be "richer in all the things that really count."

It all comes down to living "rich"... metaphorically... kind of like The Golden Rule, which I have used in one blog form or another four times before now.  (Go to 'Search Blog' and type in golden rules--they make wonderful pegs to some stories.)

Then there are the Anti-Golden Rules: "He who has the gold, rules" -- "Don't get mad, get even" -- "Revenge is the best medicine," -- "An enemy of my enemy is my friend."  Jimmy Hoffa once told friends, "I do unto others what they do unto me... only worse." Charles Dickens' sleazeball character, Martin Chuzzlewit said, "Do other men for they would do you."

Sadly, we all know a few people like that. Anti-Golden Rules are tough... I see those people as angry... revengeful... brooding... people always at war with their fellow man. No "Happy-go-lucky" here. Advice: Do not try to tell these people a joke.

Golden Rules are simpler expressions of hope... and practicality. There are many formal expressions in mottoes, by scholars and humanists, in religious tenants, etc., but the Golden Rule is not religious. It is a moral, non secular expression of faith in humanity. It can be so simple:  Google's credo is "Do no evil." In a new book, SEND: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do It Better. Authors David Shipley and Will Schwalbe say "Send e-mail you would like to receive." Louie Armstrong says "If you don't treat me right, shame on you." Remember: "Pick not thy nose lest someone else picketh it for you." (I just made that one up.)

Sir Isaac Newton (the one boinked by an apple) said in his book, Principia, "The golden rule is founded on the same law of Action and Reaction"... as are many of the principles of our world.

The golden rule is not a religion... it's a way of life... the easier way.  Pass it on.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What's your dream job?

A recent poll asked, "What is your dream job?"

OK, got your answer? Well, three of four fellow Americans chose to be: a movie star (33%), a professional athlete (29%), a rock star (13%). That leaves only 25% of us who want to be fire fighters or nurses. And who is going to pick up the garbage?  Few said role model or a great father/mother/spouse or successful entrepreneur. How did you do?

So at least now we know what we want to be... rich and famous.

Before we judge ourselves too harshly, let's accept the realization that there are many ways to be rich and/or famous. And there are plenty of role models. In today's world, you can be famous in the blink of a tweet or a YouTube video that goes viral. Sure, maybe that only lasts 15 minutes, but then you could get on with your real life. That fame, of course, often doesn't lead to riches, but hey, one out of two ain't bad.

You could, for example, set a world's record. Oh yeah! You can do it.

Some guy from India grew the worlds longest ear hair... 5.25 inches. See? How difficult was that?

A Swiss guy just cycled 40 miles... backward... playing a delightful selection from Bach... on his violin... in a tunnel. Again, a no-brainer.

An inventive high schooler just set a world record for kicking himself in the head. Did it 58 times in a minute. Now that took brains, both literally and figuratively. But it is fame. Check it out on YouTube.

Sure, you can't cook a three-minute egg in two-minutes... some things just take longer.

An Australian author just completed his first book, a novel without a plot. On a manual typewriter (Note to young people: a manual typewriter is kind of like 26 or more pencils tied together in a clunky,  metal frame... without a cord or battery. It's kind of like prehistoric cave paintings in a time before computers) he wrote the numbers one to one million, spelling out each word. The first word of his book, which took 16 years to complete, read: "One" The last line read: "nine hundred ninety nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety eight, nine hundred and ninety nine thousand nine hundred and ninety nine, (get ready... here comes the climax!) one million." Even more amazing, his 19,890 page 'novel' was all one sentence... with a hell of a lot of commas. And all this time, I thought the butler did it.
An American diarist left behind a 37.5 million word diary chronicling every 5 minutes of his life from 1972 to 1997 when he died. (The butler probably did kill him.) He kept a written record of absolutely everything that has happened to him, day and night. He wrote four hours each day believing that discontinuing his diary would be like turning off his life. He recorded his body temperature, blood pressure and medications. He described his urination and defecation... and slept for only two hours at a time so he could describe his dreams.

A South Korea lady from a small mountain-side village finally got her driver's license... after 960 tries! The 60-year-old diminutive woman began her quest for a license in April, 2005, and took the test once a day, five days a week those first few years, riding a series of buses for several hours in both directions every time she went to the testing center in a larger city. Fear not. She is a good driver... she could easily pass the driving portion but, because of her lack of formal learning, she had a bugger of a time with the 40 question multiple-choice written test. So she eventually memorized all the questions and only the correct answers. Bingo! She proudly never give up."

Of all the 'famous' in this blog, she is my heroine. And perhaps, she is the only one whose fame brought her riches. Automaker Hyndai presented her with a new car and now features her in South Korean TV commercials.

She does leave the only worthwhile lasting impression... NEVER GIVE UP!