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Wednesday, October 27, 2004
And their number was "Seven." 

It all starts one quiet afternoon at the brew-pub. I'm sitting with my associate Bobby, enjoying a pint of the house ale, when Stephen Covey (author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) suddenly appears on the bar television. I can't quite describe the level of annoyance that the bald business guru brings to a room of gentle drinkers, trying to enjoy themselves while the rest of the populace is at work, but a sudden wail from a man in the far corner, similar to that of a small dog yanked forcefully by the tail, alerts everyone that something is terribly wrong. In a matter of moments all eyes are fixed in distress upon the television.
Soon customers with clenched fists start to share horror stories of managers who force-fed Covey's book to them. And of group leaders who scurried around the office pasting up signs like: "Synergy!" or "Be Proactive!" or "What would Covey do in your situation?" Rage and desperation had finally forced our fellow drinkers to leave their professions and find solace in the thick, rich ales fermented by the pub's microbrewery.
Bobby and I are amazed. Having spent ten years carving out lives as professional grad students, we've been oblivious to the rising tide of worker despair. I remember seeing a Covey infomercial several months back; it seemed harmless enough. Watching employees become automatons spouting Covey's catch phrases at every opportunity was the funniest thing I had seen on television in quite a while. But now, as the man in the corner begins weeping, Bobby and I realize larger issues are at hand.
Covey is no business guru, but rather the result of a world gone awry -- the world of work made worthless. Gone are the large expense accounts. Gone are the smoke breaks and three martini lunches. Gone are the innocent office flirtations. Good lord, who would want to work in an environment like that?
I slam my fist on the table. "We need a book about the Seven Vices of Highly Creative People before the whole country ends up in a straitjacket!" Bobby agrees enthusiastically, grabs a stack of napkins and begins writing. All the years we've spent studying history and literature are finally paying off. It isn't easy. But after six hours and five pitchers we finish the job. The pub closes so we gather the napkins and head for a late-night bar to celebrate. It isn't quite a book, but what the hell. We have better things to do than write another damn self-help book.
And so:
Vice One: Be a Drinker
Vice Two: Begin with a Smoke
Vice Three: Put Gambling First
Vice Four: Think Oysters
Vice Five: Seek Fashion First, Then seek to be Understood
Vice Six: Sex
Vice Seven: Abuse the Card
Go read the complete text at The Seven Vices of Highly Creative People.

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