Adonis Diaries

Archive for June 22nd, 2020

Are you being pressured to create your Island?

I did create my Island;

Circumstances forced me in that direction.

You are no longer free to have your island;

You have got to wriggle among the living men;

Trying to move; not necessarily forward.


You are wearing a cheap wrist watch with compass,

Always pointing north

Where prosperity is waiting for fresh hungry slaves.


There are no longer fields of wheat to plough and saw;

For solitude in the clear and clean wide space of dirt and sun;

To find shelter under the shadows of trees;

To listen to birds’ singing and the rush of insects and reptiles.


Only rice growers are still working in the fields;

Splashing about knee deep, in damp and humid climate.


You are no longer free to raise livestock

In the open air, buffeted by the wind and the drizzling rain.


I did create my island;

A room, my study room, barely any space left for any more books and papers.

Constantly battling to safeguard my study room from rental prospectors;

Lucky me they never liked it enough;

But it didn’t matter for the relatives:

They have always excuses to ask me to vacate my little corner.


There are never incentives and baits to attract me;

Imaginations have mostly lacked about.


I did create my island.

There was this window of opportunity to re-accumulate cards;

Credit, debit, driving license, ID,

Insurance (health, life, car accident, fire risks);

Cards required by government, municipality, local officials,

Syndicates, associations, and universities vying for the little you saved.


For too long every slave wanted to tame me, frustrate me, vilify me,

Trample my dignity, harass me, and mock me.


I did create my island.

Every slave, claiming to toil for self-sufficiency and independence,

Wanted me to slave like the rest for stipends;

To own a TV, a car, an audio-visual system, like all the others;

To buy toys, gifts, flowers, a concert ticket to socialize as regular guys do.


They want me to relive the delusions of youth,

Purchasing more highly performing gizmos;

To increase profit in expensive audio-visual design businesses;

Equipments quickly becoming obsolete before recouping the investment.

Select vegetarians and environmentally friendly clients.


They want me to emulate the prematurely aged married couples,

The decrepit singles huffing after faked dreams.

They want me to work in fast changing jobs;

Jobs no longer performing and contracted out overseas;

Workaholics clutching on steady boring jobs.


Engineers for vacuuming carpets, dusting off chairs and sofas;

Engineers for waxing floors, for cleaning rooms, for sanitation tasks.

Engineers for maintaining water coolers, air conditioners,

For rearranging furniture, re-designing cubicles…


For the fresh recruits, the newly promoted with a view

To a smog city, dirty rivers, and cloudy sun.


I don’t like driving no more:

Accidents occur close to destinations.

I don’t mind dying no more.

I refuse to die in a car, a train, a ship, or an airplane.

I refuse to die in a mining tunnel or an elevator.


I would very much love to end buried under the rubles of an earthquake,

Incinerated in the lava of volcanoes,

Swallowed whole by tidal waves.


Mass burials are far more solemn and less costly;

A mass burial is an equalizer, a reminder of the power of nature

And its equity; a fitting end.


Earth to earth; where are you man? Who are you man?

Mass wedding is also so far more solemn and less costly;

At least you got a proof that your wife has sense of humor.


I do need to sell my old car but there are no takers;

In a snob society were high school graduates expect new upscale cars;

Elevated 4-wheel for the girls and two-seater for boys,

To compensate their hard sloppy study years,

To corroborate the unlimited ego of sleazy parents;

Parents mourning their young kid, a week later,

From a lethal car accident of no fault of their “gorgeous” slightly tipsy kid.


Middle aged women patronizing every “charity” eating fiesta;

For breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The same old faces, same photographers, same magazines

Exhibiting our national pride.


Ladies complaining of the hard task of changing dresses three times a day

To honor their husbands as the most elegant and expensive ladies around.

One of those ladies was honest enough; she claimed that the economy is

Turning over on account of their beauty business demands.


I did create my island.

It doesn’t cost much;

A few borrowed books, recycled papers,

A functional word processing computer,

A USB that I called UBS for too long;

Recalling acronyms was never my forte:

I never joined an army or its strategic branches;

I never worked for a multinational or its strategic arms and legs.


It doesn’t cost much to be free;

A free internet access in a private library,

Walks in nature, working the garden, and growing salad ingredients.

Creating your island is not an easy process;


It does not cost much to be free;

The only exhausting expense is not financial;

I have none to exhaust me anyway.


It is fielding the neighbors’ innuendoes, sarcasms, mumblings, and calumnies;

I avoid like the devil to meeting one.

They flee their homes on the good excuse of going to work

They are busy bodies going nowhere.

Neighbors who flee homes early to read leisurely the dailies;

In their comfortable offices and drinking countless cups of Turkish coffee.

Sweating for nothing; returning home disheveled,

As if out of a battle for the survival of the fittest.


I created my island;

I did it;

It feels good to me.

Can you remember engaging in a great Conversation? It was about what?

Note 1: Re-edit “How a great conversation is like a game of catch? August 16, 2016″

Note 2: An acquaintance of mine during university years considered me inconsequential and Not that serious in relationships. And she was correct at the time. At the end of a semester for graduation we met at a coffee shop around campus. I asked about her thesis and I listened intently without interruption. With my newly trained experimental mind I asked pertinent questions and she replied clearly and confidently. It was kind of an exercise for presenting her work to the jury.

At the end of the long “conversation” she said: “Man, if we had this conversation long time ago I would have been your best friend”.

Any person who work on a subject matter that interest him and do his due diligence in research will answer your questions confidently, clearly and with excitement.

Sort that she appreciate your attempt at sharing with her toil and achievement.

As a radio host, Celeste Headlee has engaged in her fair share of discussions, and she’s thought a lot about how to bring out the best in a conversational counterpart.

ideas.ted. TED. Jul 19, 2016

A good conversation is like a game of catch.

When you play catch, you have to do an equal number of catches and throws, right?

It’s not possible to play catch with somebody and throw more than you catch, for the most part.

Because then you’d just be throwing baseballs at them, which is not nice. This is the exact same ratio as a healthy conversation — you’re going to catch as much as you throw.

you’re going to talk 50% and listen 50% of the time — and we don’t generally have that balance in our conversations. (Supposedly we were actually listening?)

Here’s the best way to start a conversation that you’re worried might end in an argument:

There’s a great study out of Harvard in which researchers discovered that talking about yourself actually activates the same pleasure centers in your brain as sex and cocaine.

That means it’s very pleasurable to us to talk about ourselves and what we like. You could walk away from a conversation like that and feel fantastic about it.

But remember — talking about yourself makes you feel fantastic. So you may have just walked away from a conversation in which you talked about yourself — that was awesome! — and the other person is walking away going, “Good god, that person would not stop talking about themselves.”

It’s a totally different perception, so you’ve got to remember you’re playing catch — find the balance.

How do you go beyond small talk to have a meaningful conversation with somebody?

Not every single conversation that you have is going to be in-depth and serious. And that’s okay! You should relax. Eventually, while you’re sitting there talking small talk, something’s going to pique your interest, or something’s going to catch their interest, or they’re going to say, “Wait, what did you just say?” Or, “Why is it that way?”

And someone’s going to ask a question, and it’s going to lead you further into deeper subject matter. So it will happen, if there’s something there to talk about. Otherwise, be on your way — let it go.

What about that awkward silence when you don’t know what to say next?

By the time that you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. So by the time you’ve reached an awkward silence, something’s already gone wrong. But it’s not too late!

Very often, an awkward silence comes because either you weren’t listening or they weren’t listening, and therefore, you guys have kind of meandered off-topic to where you’re at the opposite ends of a football field.

The way to fix that is to say, “You know what, I’m sorry, I got totally distracted. Where did we start? Can you help me out here? I was just following a train of thought about Cheetos, and I got totally lost.”

What should you do when it is very clear from body language that the other person is not listening?

End it. Again with the game of catch.

That’s the equivalent of me taking a ball and throwing it over my shoulder instead of to you. Why would you want to keep playing? You have to have an equal partner in a conversation. Otherwise, walk away.

You make the case that all experiences are not equal. Are you saying that empathy is not useful in a conversation? What should people do instead?

People always push back on this topic. Now, I’m not a psychiatrist or a psychologist, but I believe that most of us are motivated by empathy. You’re with your friend, and you want to say, “Oh, I do understand you, because I’ve been through something similar.”

But the truth is, you haven’t — you haven’t been through something the same.

You maybe have gone through something kind of similar, but the fact of the matter is that you’re a different person from your friend — so even if it was the exact same experience, even if you both almost went down on the Titanic, the way you experienced that is completely different. And these situations are most likely totally different.

So although it feels to you like you’re reaching out and giving empathy, what’s happening is that you’re talking about yourself again.

So you shouldn’t say, “I know how you feel”?

That’s the worst. You don’t know how they feel. They’re confiding in you, and all they want you to do is listen to them and say, “Wow, that sounds awful. There’s no way for me to understand what you’re going through, but you tell me what you need.”

What do you think is stopping people from having better, more meaningful conversations?

The elephant in the room is obviously polarization, and this is true not just in the United States, but I think Brexit and the migrant crisis in Europe tell us that it’s happening all over the world.

Oftentimes we’ll enter into a conversation, and somebody will say, “I’m voting for Trump in the fall.” Conversation over.

You immediately say, “Nothing this person says is something I want to listen to, they have nothing to teach me,” and you end the conversation. And if the conversation does continue, you’re not actually listening to them.

That’s what is often ending conversations now.

We have stopped talking to people that we disagree with.

We basically want to be able to curate and edit our conversations the same way that we curate and edit our social media. If we’re talking to somebody that we don’t want to hear from, we want to unfollow them like we do on Twitter.

The problem with that is that everybody knows something that you don’t.

And so if you are stopping all of those conversations and only speaking with people who have similar experiences and opinions, you’re not going to grow, ever, and you won’t change your mind or your opinion.

They used to tell us, don’t talk about religion and politics. The problem today is that everything is religion and politics. (If you are disconnected from politics, others will decide for you, and you cannot blame but yourself)

So what’s the best approach to start a conversation that you know might end up in an argument?

First of all, a lot of conversations end in arguments these days. But when I’m sitting down with somebody, especially somebody with whom I absolutely don’t agree, I sit down and I think through, “Okay, what if they’re right?”

Let’s think about what would change, and how my mind would change, if they are right and I am wrong.

And as they start to tell me things, as long as they’re not completely made-up facts, I ask myself what it would mean if they’re right. And then I ask them too. I say, “Okay, let’s say you’re right. What does that mean?” And try to get inside what they’re thinking.

For instance, a lot of people ask me how to talk to Donald Trump supporters. It is a great question.

But here’s the thing: there’s an anger there among people — not just people who support Trump, but people who support Bernie Sanders, or the people who voted for Britain to leave the EU.

There is an anger there, and it could be fascinating and engaging and compelling to figure out where that is coming from. That’s not always going to be the case, and there are going to be conversations you have to walk away from.

But if you’re going to have an argument with someone, the best way to do it is with an open mind, assuming that that person can teach you something, and that you’re not there to teach them.

What should you say if you unintentionally offend someone during a conversation?

You say, “I’m really sorry, I did not in any way, shape, or form intend to offend you. I may be inarticulate, but let me try to explain what I thought I was saying, and then you tell me what you think I’m saying, and maybe we can understand one another.” That’s it, that’s all that you say. Be honest.

Is there a quick way to help a friend to stop obsessing about a negative topic?

It’s difficult to address specific situations, since context is so important. In broad strokes, though, people often repeat themselves when they feel as though they haven’t been heard. For example, when we tell our kids something important and they don’t acknowledge that they’ve heard, we’ll keep repeating it until they say, “Okay! I got it, Mom!”

The same things happen often in the workplace.

So, try telling your friend that you think you understand what he or she is saying: “Let me tell you what I’m hearing and you tell me if I’m getting it wrong.”

Then you can offer to brainstorm to find solutions. If he or she’s not open to that, then be honest. Say, “You’re telling me the same things over and over. I can tell you’re very upset, but we can also move forward from here.”

How can you turn a one-way conversation into a dialogue?

You can’t, really. There’s a couple of reasons for a one-way conversation. Sometimes it’s that the person is shy, and in that case, that’s totally fixable, you can draw somebody out, usually by finding out what they like, or self-deprecation is good.

I usually tell a joke or a story about something I’ve done that was really stupid — and I have a wealth of those examples. But if somebody isn’t in the mood to talk, you can’t fix that.

And here’s the thing that people are always surprised that I say: it is totally okay to Not have a conversation.

Having a real conversation takes energy, and it takes focus, and sometimes you just don’t have that kind of energy to give. That’s totally fine — don’t have the conversation, enjoy the silence.

So if you’re feeling like you really want to have a conversation and the other person isn’t matching that energy, you just need to let them have their time, and find somebody else who is ready.

What about when people really don’t seem to want to listen, but just want to talk about themselves and their experiences?

I’ve found that it’s good to very kindly address this head-on. Say, “It’s so great to hear all that. Can I tell you a little about what I’ve been doing?” Or any version of that.

Don’t assume that person is just trying to dominate the conversation. Give them the benefit of the doubt, because we all talk about ourselves too much.

If you try to improve the conversation and they are resistant, then just accept that your conversations with that person will be brief and unsatisfying. Just like a game of catch, you need two participants who are willing to take turns.

How do you get others to open up as much as you are opening up?

You can’t, really. For instance, when you’re opening up, is it mostly because you’re telling them about your experiences? Are you talking a lot about yourself, and not giving them an opening to talk about themselves?

Are you in any way, shape or form shutting down the conversation? In other words, does that person say, “Oh, you know, I had something similar happen to me the other day, it was really, really interesting,” and you say, “Oh, no, no, no, it wasn’t like that,” and then you go back to what it was you were talking about.

There are a million reasons why the person that you’re talking to may not be opening up. But often, it’s because you’ve shut the door in one way or another. The fact of the matter is it’s probably not them, it’s probably you.

So what if a conversation has run its course? How do you gracefully exit a conversation?

You gracefully exit by saying, “I need to go; it’s been so great to talk to you, and I’ll see you in a couple days.” Or you say, “You know what? I have too much on my mind, I’m really sorry, it’s been great to talk to you, and I’ll see you again in a couple weeks, but I’m going to head back.”

Or — what happens to me, because I have adult ADD all the time — “I can’t keep my mind on this conversation, I am so sorry, it has nothing to do with you, but I’m going to go sit in my office and try to gather my thoughts.” Don’t lie. No white lies! Just be honest, and gracious and nice, not condescending, and just end the conversation.

This is an edited version of a conversation took place at TEDSummit 2017 (see below). Moderated by TED’s Janet Lee, it includes questions from Facebook and from commenters on Celeste’s TED Talk, 10 ways to have a better conversation.

Chinese family in Peking a few year before Mao died

Depuis 5 ans, ma famille (femme et 2 enfants) partage un pavillon de 3 maisons disposées en en fer de cheval autour d’une cour. Nous vivons dans notre maison avec mes beaux-parents, mon beau-frere, ma belle soeur dans 3 pièces, une par menage. C’est un luxe d’habiter cette ruelle (houtong) au centre de la ville. J’ai eu de la chance d’avoir pu quitter mon immeuble de la périphérie de Pékin.

A 5:30 am, je transvase les pots de chambres de la nuit dans un grand seau que je vide au bout de la ruelle dans les WC publics. Un quart d’heure pres, et je me trouverais attendant en queue.

Je me hâte pour aller chercher le lait au point de vente du quartier, une petite guérite ouverte une heure seulement. Je remplis mes deux quarts en verre. Ca coute 3 yuans par mois pour un quart de litre quotidien. Un yuan valait 2.70 francs.

La ration de sucre est un kilo par mois par famille.

Pas de viande dans les jardins d’enfants

Le matin, je n’ai pas le temps d’attendre que le poêle chauffe pour cuire mon petit déjeuner”. Je caresse la tête de mes filles engourdies de sommeil. J’enfourche mon vélo pour une distance de 15 km a mon travail.

Sur le chemin de l’institut, je prend mon casse-croute du matin, bol de bouillon de riz et deux petits pains dans une ancienne petite maison de the’. Vite servi dans un endroit chauffé’ et le tout pour 3 maos (27 centimes de franc)

J’aime bien cette course a velo car la solitude est rare et synonyme de liberté’. Je peux rêver a ma guise a des projets fous et sans lendemain. L’ivresse de ne pas être contrôlé’.

C’est sans remords que nous réservons la douzaine d’oeufs par mois et par famille pour les enfants. Pour dégoter des oeufs supplémentaires, j’ en achète au chemin de travail: par des des codes gestuelles, je m’approche d’une maison, paie et reçoit des oeufs. La plupart du temps j’en achète des oeufs les dimanches.

On ne livre a domicile la ration familiale de charbon que la première semaine de chaque mois. Sinon, on doit aller au depot a des heures d’ouverture inconciliable avec mes horaires et je dois me charger du transport en empruntant une charrette et puis la ramener a l’autre bout du quartier.

Ce n’est pas l’effort qui me rebutte, c’est la bêtise qui m’enrage.Quel pays serait la Chine sans ce gaspillage insensé’ de force humaine?

For most of its “revolutionary period” China had no serious currency. The people valued the “tickets for rations“. National tickets, tickets that can be used everywhere in China, especially for cereals (rice, wheat flour and corn flour..) were 5 times more important than province tickets and 20 times the tickets of districts.

There were many categories of tickets: for cereals, for meat (poultry), for vegetables, for coal, for industrial products (stoves, watches, furnitures…).

A person had to carry a bag of different tickets when he had to go “shopping” at various designated outlets.

Note 1: From the book of Claudie et Jacques Broyelle ” Apocalypse Mao”, 1980

Note 2: It is beyond comprehension the millions of Chinese who died out of famine, malnutrition and cruelty through Mao dictatorship since 1949. No less than 100 millions died from One Man ideas to institute his ideology.




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