The Unfortunate Genius


Wheel of Fortune

How many geniuses do you know? How many of them are successful?

I am in the midst of reading a book written by Malcolm Gladwell titled “Outliers”. It tries to reshape our understanding of success and successful people. I am still halfway through the book and I can say Gladwell is enlightening and thought provoking. His inventive theories are logical and delightful.

What do you think Bill Gates and the Beatles have in common?

In a nutshell, the answer is practice. The saying “practice makes perfect” is revised and well defined. In order to be good at anything you have to do it almost 10,000 hours. It is the 10,000 hour rule. Mozart practiced over 10,000 hours before producing his masterwork of a concerto that contains his own original pieces at the age of 21. Before the Beatles hit stardom they were performing at strip-clubs in Germany. They used to perform for 8 consecutive hours, 7 days a week, for a whole year. I am not such a math wiz but looking at the calculations they got to practice 2,950 times in one year. It took them 10 years to be famous. So around 29,500 hours in 10 years. They exceeded the 10,000 hour rule and voila they became famous.

Talent does definitely play a role too in success. I am not going to argue that.

So the formula so far is practice + talent.

The third and last piece of the formula to success is Luck. How lucky are you?

Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and other successful individuals were lucky as lucky can be. You would think that some invisible force is disregardful to all of us 7 billion people on earth and focusing on gearing these lucky people toward good and better opportunity.

Let us examine this simple anecdote of Bill Gates life. His family was well to do. They enrolled him in a private school. That school club raised money and decided to get the most up to date computer of that time. He got the chance at a very young age to practice programming and work on the computer for hours on end. By the time he was at university he exceeded 10,000 hours of practice. Mind you that was in the 60’s when computers where expensive and not that very available. Thus he had the upper hand and practice. He had talent. And to top it all, he had a series of fortunate events.

On the other end of the spectrum we have the smartest man in the world, Chris Langan. His IQ is the highest recorded. Langan’s IQ is 195 compared to Albert Einsteins IQ of 150 . Yet this poor man is jinxed. He grew up in poverty. His stepfather used to beat him up. When he went to college his mother forgot to fill out the scholarship renewal forms so he was expelled. The universities he went to were disregardful to his genius nature. He dropped out. He lives in Montana and has worked in construction and as a bouncer at clubs throughout his life. This is the smartest person in the world… Now that is food for thought. He taught himself and has come up with a theory on the universe called “Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe”. I tired reading through it but to no avail… The sad thing about his theory is that it will never be published or peer reviewed because at the end of the day it is written by someone who does not have credential and a degree.

Finally, to sum things up; the formula to success is practice+ a dash of talent + a tub full of opportunity and luck.

For all the people out there dreaming of success I wish you Good luck.

Rasha Nasser Khalil

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Love … at a Glance


She loves him … but… he loves another.

Typical, is the word that first comes to your mind. It’s always the case. When will women learn that no good can come from a man?

He has a heart of stone, that is to say, if he has one in the first place. She, on the other hand, is so loving and caring. He rationalizes each step she takes, and she feels every action he makes. She gives him her undivided attention and surrenders her love. What does he do instead?

Words start flying out easily when describing the harshness of men. His cold-blooded nature, his indifference, and hard-heartedness are some of his general attributes.

But when it comes to women, we find ourselves very careful with our choice of words. No matter how cruel we tend to be with our description, we still manage to throw in a couple of motherly and angelic words.  Even when she is remote, she is concerned. Even when she is harsh, she conveys compassion.

This is how it has always been, and most probably will remain for centuries to come. Unfortunately none of us will be alive by then to confirm or challenge those accusations. The earlier we accept them, the earlier women can formulate ways to protect themselves from the one they love.

Women have always been the victim and like I stated before:

She loves him no more, but without a doubt he has been wrongfully accused that he loves another.

Raghid Khalil

A Glimpse from the Past


Michelle Meiklejohn- freedigitaphotos.net

Raising Generations:

The way parents raise their kids can vary drastically, but they all seem to have one thing in common.; they want what’s best for their kids. So far this is beautiful. Parents across the globe seem to agree on the end result, but the implementation seems to be different. When I was growing up, discipline played a big role in the community. Kids my age didn’t feel any different. We all got the same treatment, and if we didn’t, at least we knew what to expect and what should be done to avoid the torture that could be inflicted on us by our parents. It was very simple, you get bad grades you get punished, you cause trouble you get punished, you decide to drop out of school, well that wasn’t much of an option because the punishment bar gets risen before you even think about dropping out. It is very similar to what happens these days, except for one tiny thing, “the punishment”; maybe if I use the term “timeout” some people might understand what I’m talking about.

The equation is quite fascinating. If I wanted my kids to succeed in life I made sure they got there. A good example is the “baby boomers”; we have now reached a point whereby parents have become so soft that there will never be another baby boomers generation. To some, this is a great relief, but to others this is a disaster. When I discuss the baby boomers I am not merely referring to the mass births of babies right after World War II through the 1960s; I am referring to the way they were brought up and what they have brought back to society, in terms of knowledge, education and wealth.

People from my generation and older have been exposed to different behaviors among each other, maybe eccentric but it led to some results. Before I proceed with this, let’s put some guidelines. When we discuss punishment, we’re talking about beating, but not to the extent of causing damage, which is also tricky in a way because we have physical damage, mental damage and societal damage. Let’s break them down:

Physical damage: The most obvious form of damage. You get marks all over your body, black eye or broken bones etc.. Well deal with it time is a healer.

Mental damage: In my opinion mental damage is not really caused by parents, because in their mind whatever punishment they’re inflicting is for your own good. Since they care about you they wouldn’t do anything with the intention of hurting you. Mind you, this is the norm, we’re not talking about the abnormal cases where parents get drunk and go rampage around the house. Mental damage in my opinion comes from schools and their therapists these days. One way or another they teach the kids that their parents could be a possible danger or threat to them; it gets funnier cause by the end of the school day they send the kids back home to this horrific image they have implanted in their brains. Kids now feel they are on a mission to spy on their parents and maybe put them to the test, and parents on the other hand have to make sure that their kids won’t play a prank on them because it could be extremely embarrassing and costly; and by prank I mean, jokingly tell someone at school that they were beaten by their parents. It does happen.

Societal Damage: This one is hilarious in my opinion. If a man lacked affection while growing up, he would make sure his kids will be deprived of it as well, under the pretext that this is the acceptable thing to do and everything else is wrong. It gets even worse because kids are known not to keep any secrets, so this wealth of social knowledge of what’s right and what’s wrong gets spread among all the kids, and before you know it the kids grow up to be distant and isolated, constantly on the lookout for suspicious parental behavior.

So by reviewing those three damaging factors, you are taking power from the parents and handing it over to the kids, who now can  be in control of almost anything that is not of monetary value. Your only bargaining chip as a parent would be “As long as you live under my roof, you abide by my rules”.

From an initial stance, one might like this idea. It seems intriguing…but let’s look at the bigger picture. Let us draw a long-term scenario. On the long run, it’s creating a rift between the children and their parents. Parents would be waiting for the minute their children turn 18 so that they can move out. Sure it might seem great, but don’t blame your kids if they never want to be part of your life, don’t blame them if they are too busy taking care of themselves that they couldn’t make it to your funeral; in short, the minute they step outside that door, start blaming yourself cause they will.

– You weren’t there to hold them when they needed you, whether girls or boys, you were too worried about the judgmental society that you risk losing your children.

– You couldn’t punish them old school, simply because you were afraid of being punished yourself by society.

– You risk watching them go on drugs, and start drinking at a young age, just because you couldn’t properly teach them what the limits are.

As a kid, I had two choices, either burn my hand with fire, or get slapped on my hand before the action. Of course at the time I didn’t understand why I was being slapped, but now I know why my hands are not deformed.

Parents need to regain this control; the foundation is the most important thing in any matter. To lay a good foundation, there needs to be proper understanding of your kids. To understand your kids, you need to have more interaction with them, guiding them between what’s right and what’s wrong. They might act tough, they might act knowledgeable. In short they’re not, they’re kids, they’re teenagers, and they are not fully adults.

As a parent I would rather regret one incident with my kids than watch them regret their entire life.

Raghid Khalil

Human Rights or Human Writes


Grant Cochrane-freedigitalphotos

As I was reading about human rights I came across this sentence:

the human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity. It is a prerequisite for the realization of other human rights.

—United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights”

I think this right to water alone abolishes all the other rights to humans, mainly the right to life which says

“Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.”

—Article 6.1 of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

If the access of water is a human right then what is man to do when the water starts to run out? I can see a few scenarios but eventually there can only be one ultimate scenario that in a way or another is inevitable.

Water Runs Out:

We are currently experiencing what is called “water crisis”. Millions of people, adults and kids, are dying every year of diseases primarily because they don’t have clean water to drink. Where is their right to life? Or do you mean to say they have chosen to be terminally ill and die? Where is their right to water? Or is it unspecified kind of water, thus saying they already have access to it? As long as no one has turned to those affected by this crisis, it may keep passing on unnoticed, and there will come a day where those affected people will revolt and wage a war or attack other nations therefore violating the “right to life” giving the defender all the right to annihilate the offender under the pretext of defense.

How does it end? It doesn’t. The water crisis will still be there.

Desalination:

In theory, it sounds like a great process, but how would it be different than the current oil concept?  Countries that have oil but not export any, will import as much as they can hoping that when oil runs out from the world they will have enough oil for a century to come, or until they come up with a new source. The same thing will happen with water. But let’s not forget, there are other factors that come into play here. Not every country is bordering a sea or an ocean, meaning some countries might not be able to build desalination plants and would be at the mercy of those that can. Keep in mind, there is also transportation; we now have to worry not only about desalination but also transportation of water. You can only imagine what the costs will be. Just like we monitor the price of a barrel of oil, we will start monitoring the price of a barrel of water. It gets even better, whoever controls the major hubs, and by hubs I mean desalination plants will be the ones to control the world or even earn the title of a superpower, because now they can control your “right to life” simply by controlling your “right to water”.  Countries bordering the seas, will have stronger military presence, those that are not will try to conquer weaker ones with water access thus taking away both rights given to you by the human rights.

How does it end? It doesn’t, it creates a regional war and eventually a world war.

People might wonder if there is a solution to all this? Of course there is.

Raghid Khalil

The New Seven Wonders of the World


Many of you have seen some form of notification either by email, or on the news about the new 7 wonders of the world. We are just a few days away from selecting the seven new ones. Believe it or not your vote counts.

Here’s a percentage perspective on the matter.

A country as tiny as Lebanon, who has 4 million in populations ( the 2008 consensus is 4,242,000 ) can only hope to have its Jeita Grotto selected among the winners. Why? Well let’s do the math. Assuming that 100% percent of the Lebanese people vote for this truly amazing wonder, and only 15% of the Canadians vote for the “bay of Fundy” which looks no better than the “Raouche Rock” that also happens to be in Lebanon. In that case the “bay of fundy” will advance into the list with  no real merit, but simply because of the percentage in respect to the high population which is at around 30 million (the 2011 consensus put the population of Canada at 34,636,000 ) .

If India dedicates only 1% of its 1.2 billion people ( the 2011 consensus marked the Indian population at 1 ,210,193,422)  to vote for “Sundarbans”; their 1% (12 million) voters are still three times larger than the entire Lebanese population. Where is the fairness in this?

To add salt to injury, there is another giant market anxiously waiting to vote for “Yushan”, in case you haven’t guessed it yet, it’s China  who is still holding the title in population size. (2010 consensus ranked them as number 1 with a population of 1,339,724,852).

Solution:

I suggest to have what we call a curve, or matching votes; meaning every vote from Lebanon counts as 7.5 Canadian vote , 302.5 Indian or 334.9 Chinese  votes. Look at the numbers, does anyone doubt that “Sundarbans”  from India and Bengladesh won’t make it to the list, or Yushan for that matter?

For the theorists:

Some might argue that each person gets to nominate 7 locations, which could tilt the odds. Still that doesn’t make sense, because you still have all the Indians unanimously selecting “Saundarbans” and spreading their remaining 6 votes across the 28 other nominees, and of course  their main opponent China with a population of more than one billion doing the same.

Dead Sea ?

To top it all, you have three countries Jordan, Palestine and Israel whether at peace or war, voting for one dying sea, the “Dead Sea”. Why? Simply because each one is claiming it to be their own wonder. I can’t see what wonder it has, eventually with the global warming we will have several “Dying Seas”, just be patient and every country will have one.

Uniqueness:

How about nominating a wonder that is unique to one country!

Look at the Amazon for instance. It extends over seven countries (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela). It is  magnificent, there is no doubt about it, but when people decide to have an amazonian experience, which country will they choose as their destination? Is it well maintained across all seven countries? Is it easily accessible? Those are the things that matter to me. I believe in a one to many “relationship” only in the case of a country having several wonders on its territory, but not when one wonder extends over several different countries.

There isn’t much decisions to be made here, I am sure each country has its own wonders. What we are looking for is objectivity. Do the right thing, Vote Jeitta. I am not trying to show favoritism here, I am simply trying to shed some light on a hidden jewel. The Jeita Grotto, is truly a wonder. It has survived wars over the years and still has managed to fascinate millions of people. What is even more fascinating about it is that just like the “Pyramids” it still holds a few secrets that keep on getting discovered even as we are voting.

To all the people out there, one thing you need to know about the Lebanese people; they are caring and more importantly they love to share. This is their legacy. If Jeita doesn’t make it among the top seven wonders, it will be another disappointment to the world but not the Lebanese. They have it, they have seen it and they have enjoyed its mysteries. Now it’s your turn.

Follow this link to  Vote:

http://www.new7wonders.com/archives/wonder/jeita-grotto

Pictures From top to Bottom (Jeita Grotto, Bay of Fundy, Raouche Rock, Sundarbans, Yushan, Dead Sea, Amazon and Jeitta Grotto).

Images can be found at  this link:

http://www.new7wonders.com/28-finalists

Raghid Khalil