Monday, February 27, 2006

Mark Twain, misquotes and leadership culture

Leadership training is a growing business. It's as if our complex economy, which has consistently moved away from managing the human in favour of managing money alone, felt guilty about this fundamental tendency and wanted to prove that the pursuit of gain is about the respect of human beings. I can't help feeling that there's a strong measure of hypocrisy in it, but perhaps that's a natural consequence of assuming a role of detached social observer.

Looking at the "field of leadership" (an interesting metaphor!) can be both amusing and frustrating. Those who teach it have, of course, to exemplify it in some way. The easiest way is to appear to be more knowledgeable than others and to be closer to a mythical community of the wise. Offering "inspriing quotes" is part of the process. The following is an example of where this can lead, something that is particularly painful to serious lovers of the arts, who will always prefer the artist's effort to highlight the complexity of reality to the moralist's campaign to simplify it.

Leadership gurus like to use the following misattributed quote:

"The miracle power that elevates the few is to be found in their industry, application, and perseverance, under the promptings of a brave determined spirit." - Mark Twain

In all fairness to Mark Twain, who was known for his sense of irony and his contempt for pretension, the text is not his. It is part of a quote from an unknown source which the young Samuel Clemens (Twain) copied into a notebook. He gave it the title “How to take life”. Twain probably used these words for his own inspiration as a young writer trying to make his mark (not as a team leader!). They reflected the dominant individualist values of the ambitious classes in the U.S. in the 19th century.

It’s interesting to read what immediately precedes the oft-quoted sentence:

“Now and then a man stands aside from the crowd, labors earnestly, steadfastly, confidently, and straightway becomes famous for wisdom, intellect, skill, greatness of some sort. The world wonders, admires, idolizes, and it only illustrates what others may do if they take hold of life with a purpose.”

If this is about leadership, it is about a particularly romantic and probably now outdated U.S. brand of it in which the enterprising individual seeks to become an icon or, as the quote indicate, an idol (it is no coincidence that the TV show is called “American Idol” or that individuals such business-media figures as Donald Trump can still successfully transform themselves into idol-icons even after showy public demonstrations of their fundamental moral and even practical flaws: e.g. personal scandals and bankruptcy). The aim of the individual targeted in the quote is to stand above the others. Admiration and idolization are more important than substance and far more important than shared effort and the good of the community. The elevation “of the few” mentioned by the author whose words Twain copied describes the process of creating an elite – a caste of captains of culture and industry – who will acquire the “right” to dictate to others. As the author says, the individual “stands aside from the crowd” and proves himself without reference to it. Ultimately, by becoming an idol, he may control the destiny of the many.

I would submit (as many leadership experts actually do) that leadership is about interaction, not about isolated glory. The mature Mark Twain – and probably the young one as well, if he had had any reason to think about it -- would have agreed with me! In the field of intercultural communication, when we analyse U.S. culture we identify among its core values two that are highlighted in this quote: control and self-reliance (these are two of the seven core U.S. values developed in Cultural Detective, a method for training people to deal with other cultures). These values may be very positive of course – particularly when they are balanced with social goals – but they may also be sources of perverse action, as can be seen in some aspects of the relations the U.S. has with the rest of the world. This is particularly true, and very visible today, in foreign policy. And these are the values that helped define “the ugly American” back in the 1950s.

Control is a positive value when it leads to creation and innovation by seeking to make things easier and more rational (innovation, invention), particularly when its goal is productivity not just for oneself, but for the many. This is what’s behind the much admired “American ingenuity”. But control quickly becomes negative when it denies significant features of the reality it seeks to control, and is utterly deleterious when it leads to wanting to control everything, to the point of feeling anguish and stress when confronted with elements of reality that are – and should always remain -- beyond its control. It may be symptomatic that our culture is having a harder and harder time recognizing that there actually might be things that should be left beyond our desire to control. Some call this area of denied reality the sacred; others call it simply “the environment”.

Real leaders, of course, do not seek to control; their mission is to build that network with others that will make it possible to control their own well-defined challenges and point out the complex way towards harmonizing the particular efforts of control that each person is making in pursuing his or her own set of tasks. The key to this is not pulling the elaborate set of strings that force people to obey, but rather vision (seeing the whole, comprehensively and holistically) accompanied by communication (helping others to see their role in the whole).

Self-reliance is a positive virtue when it is seen and practised as autonomy, the ability to act without systematic dependence on others and particularly on the appointed elite. But it can become dangerous when it develops into pure competitiveness, the pursuit of isolated personal goals and the refusal of collaboration, communication and communion with others. U.S. culture often fails to distinguish between the two because it has turned the value itself into an icon.

What all cultures need to remember is that there is no positive value that cannot, under social pressure or through the effect of human ambition, transform into a frighteningly negative one. Real leaders remain acutely aware of these dangers.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Productivity and U.S. values

Today's news contains an interesting article about feelings in the U.S. concerning personal productivity. Reading the comments reveals, in a general way, a lot about U.S. values. At the same time the implicit link with other events -- in particular the image of the U.S. in the world (see a Newsweek article published today) -- casts a melancholic light on history itself as the feeling that things are degenerating on many fronts is starting to make this début de siècle feel more and more like a fin de siècle.

Here's one of the interesting quotes from the article on productivity:

“We never concentrate on one task anymore. You take a little chip out of it, and then you’re on to the next thing,” Challenger said on Wednesday. “It’s harder to feel like you’re accomplishing something.”

Information technology -- which has driven the U.S. economy over the past 30 years -- has put a new and unexpected kind of cultural pressure on the U.S. Americans. Ironically, multi-tasking comes naturally and is easily dealt with in polychronic cultures, but has a disturbing effect on the monochronic culture that invented and promoted the technology.

A second quote reminds us of some of the basics in the U.S. value system:

“We think we’re faster, smarter, better with all this technology at our side and in the end, we still feel rushed and our feeling of productivity is down,” said Maria Woytek, marketing communications manager for Day-Timers, a unit of ACCO Brands Corp.

"Faster" reminds us of the importance of speed, which is pretty straightforward. When we analyze "smarter" in this context it has little to do with increased intellectual ability. It refers to the fact that, thanks to technology, we have accumulated more information, linking with notions of ownership and capitalism. It reflects the naive belief that more in quantity necessarily converts to more in quality. "Better" of course reminds us of the deep-seated need to feel at the forefront of history, as the pionneers and leaders who are showing others the way, the "city on the hill".

Ronald Downey, the psychologist interviewed for this article aptly states that technology
“... just increases the expectations that people have for your production” and the consultant Don Grimme adds,

“The irony is the very expectation of getting more done is getting in the way of getting more done,” he said. “People are stressed out.”

Speed used to be seen as manageable in U.S. culture. But the acceleration has been so great and the returns so consistently diminishing that the "speed culture" of the U.S. is entering into a real crisis. Much of it is probably economic and linked to globalisation: to maintain the traditional lifestyle of conspicuous consumption more output is required and therefore more work is required. The convergent effects of feminism and overseas competition for jobs has begun to take its toll. One of the effects of feminism was to put the majority of child-bearing age women to work, presumably by their choice as a gauge of equality, but it also created the conditions in which normal household revenue had to include two salaries, which wasn't the case before the 1970s. So what was first a choice became a necessity, a condition which inevitably produces stress as the awareness of a margin of maneuver disappears.

There is one positive finding, reasonably consistent with the bases of U.S. culture:

Companies that are flexible with workers’ time and give workers the most control over their tasks tend to fare better against the sea of rising expectations, experts said.

I say "reasonably consistent" because freedom of action is a fundamental U.S. value and therefore flexibility fits in nicely and naturally with work practices. On the other hand the importance of control -- especially in capitalistic economic settings -- has made it difficult to transfer power to lower levels even if responsibility is easily transferred (the mismatch between power and responsibility is a phenomenon that deserved to be studied). Shareholders increasingly control management and management, though judged on overall performance (particular in terms of pure financial results) is tempted on the one hand to micro-manage, thereby restricting flexibility (though theoretically respecting it) and to transfer concern to the purely financial side of operations, to the detriment of production and productivity. These contradicatory tendencies may turn out to be destructive in the end, especially as finance has become the principle obsession of management to the point of "cheating" both honestly (boosting value through acquisitions) and dishonestly (hiding economic reality, Enron-style) in order to shore of share prices.

The end of the article is somewhat depressing:

Finally, there’s a trend among companies to measure job performance like never before... There’s a sense that no matter how much I do, it’s never enough.”

It's a fitting conclusion that the concern with measurement and quantification -- considered to be the keys to rational organisation -- should have the effect of augmenting stress. This leaves a definite feeling that we have entered a crisis of civilization where the actions associated with basic values have begun to lose their stable meaning and deep doubt is starting to take root.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Contextual richness, mystery and informality in learning

Earlier this week I posted a note on the Learning Circuits Blog about a powerful new communication environment and operating system (called Croquet) that may finally constitute the breakthrough we've all been waiting for to make e-learning collaborative, multimedia and contextually rich. For intercultural questions (coaching, learning, building awareness, developing perception, honing communication skills) contextual richness is the key to everything. I'm the first to admit that everything we've tried up to now has been pretty flat and lacking in mystery. This is partly because we've been dragging the culture of academe along with us in most of what we do, especially when technology is involved.

As a proponent of informal learning, I not only believe that we need to create occasions and reflexes for informal learning, but also that we need to build informality into our more formal learning experiences. One of the motivating dimensions of informality is precisely mystery. When we learn formally we slot ourselves into a pre-designed pattern where someone has taken the responsibility for deciding what we will learn. In informal learning, nothing is predictable and much of what happens can be called social "Eureka" events. Unlike the classic Eureka event, where an individual finally discovers a solution (and knows that he can take credit for it), the social Eureka event is midwived by a colleague or friend, but without any elaborate planning or preparation (apart from acquiring and deploying complex competencies over time).

Anything that is unpredictable and contains a real payoff also contains mystery and excitement. Without this affective dimension planned or programmed learning never produces significant long-term results. Now the advantage I see in an environment such as Croquet, in particular for all things intercultural, is that the environment is flexible and complex enough to represent, rather than simply to "account for" the culture being "studied". Study begins to resemble exploration rather than retention of canned knowledge. What we learn takes place within a context and the context can be used in dynamic ways to reinforce the learning, while at the same time creating the kinds of webs of association are brains are structured to crave for. Nobody ever seems to have noticed that because our brains can be aptly described as both infinitely complex networks and dynamic energy fields functioning according to holistic principles, the one thing they are NOT structured to crave for is the storing of isolated bits of knowledge. And yet traditional learning and teaching has always worked on the model of the presentation of systematised knowledge, delivered in the form of a series of utterances based on facts that are linked either by logic or rhetoric (and it's never clear which of the two is at work!).

The quick conclusion is that if we have a dynamic environment with a rich context that allows for free interaction and improvisation, we may be moving towards new ways of thinking about learning. Richness provokes an attitude of exploration and an activity of discovery. Mystery incites learners to investigate and interpret, integrating complex clues and associations along the way. And informality increases the possibilities of exchange, often of unformulated knowledge, which is often richer and more complex than the formulated knowledge presented as "curriculum".

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The question of identity in learning and the link with culture

On the Learning Circuits Blog, Clark Aldrich posted an article on the importance of honesty in training design. He then suggested some practical methods for homing in on the truth. Let's call his approach "objective". It is valuable but I think limited by a cultural bias in favor of facts and procedures accompanied by a certain "benign neglect" of affective reality. To build a more accurate and complete picture of training needs, I believe Clark's suggestions should be completed by an approach that takes subjectivity into account.

The basis of such an approach should not be limited to questions of appreciation and reactions to training methods and content, nor should it focus on the now traditional distinctions of "learning styles". I propose using a more fundamental cultural concept: identity. This means how individuals engaged in learning something feel about who they are and the image they project in social and professional contexts. These feelings are elaborated largely at the unconscious level. For that reason, polling people about the effects of learning will produce only a very partial picture of what has occurred. As in all cultural questions, it's less what you know than how you spontaneously interact with others in real situations that define competency.

Going beyond Clark's suggestion, let me relate the initial experience that led me to define an approach that focuses on the subjective and this question of identity. This was my very first complete project building a multimedia learning module.

In 1986, I was put in charge of developing an interactive video program for helicopter maintenance. As project manager my first task was to begin working with the training team to understand the nature of the problem to be addressed. The subject was the most complex and delicate chapter of a five week course for certification in helicopter maintenance: "flight control rigging". The trainer I was working with started off by explaining to me what the team usually taught, step by step. As the whole thing was a foreign language to me (with terms like "clinometer", "collective pitch", "geometrical precession"), after a very short time I stopped him in his tracks and looked for another angle of approach. I simply asked "who are the learners?" After the usual superficial description (work experience, educational background, social class, etc.) I asked, "and who will they be after the training, on the Monday following the final Friday of the final week of the course course?" The trainer had to think long and hard, straining his imagination to encompass events he had never really thought about. I refined the questioning. "Why did they enrol in the course? What did they feel about themselves and who they were when they made the decision?" He began reviewing the hundreds cases he and the other trainers knew but had never tried to analyse. He was quickly able to propose a typology of learner profiles that turned out to be extremely varied and that helped to define the challenge that lay ahead of us: addressing their common and particular needs.

I then continued by asking "how will they feel about themselves when apply for a job with their new qualification and confront a prospective employer?" As the trainer's imagination was already activited, possible answers began to appear, with a vision of the likely behaviour of the newly certified mechanics. But it didn't stop there: "how will they talk and think about themselves at a cocktail party or a dinner with friends? What will have changed in their idea of themselves?" By asking these questions, we could begin focusing on the unconscious side of professional identity, including, "in what voice do I authorize myself to speak to others?" The answers given by the trainer were far from complete case studies, but they gave me enough to go on to make some fundamental design decisions.

The trainer had never considered any of these questions because his job started on the morning of the first Monday of the five week course and ended on the afternoon of the last Friday. That's all he's was paid for (in addition, he had his Wednesday afternoon off for golf!). Asking these questions and listening to the trainer's replies enabled me to work with him productively on building the contents that addressed the issue of how the learner's identity could be constructed. One of the key decisions I made was to include a character played by a mime, representing both a learner (he was discovering a new world) and a mechanic (he quickly transformed knowledge into physical gesture). Moulding a learner's identity requires providing models of both learning and practice to work from. Another technique that proved useful was to oblige the trainer to draw what he saw as visually useful for each new learning point in the course, rather than to explain it in purely linear verbal terms. After that we could talk about questions of learner perception and relationships between ideas, principles, objects. This was fundamental for a project built around video, but I submit that it is equally useful for any document that aims at teaching or training.

The initial tests of the product with actual learners proved to be very positive. As shortly after the completion of the project I left the company (which, though part of the powerful Thomson group, itself had serious problems at the time) I'm not sure about the long term effects of this project on the learners, but I can say it was perhaps the greatest learning experience I've ever had!

What this crisis should teach us

Before things get even worse (which seems to be the case as I'm writing this), we need to remind ourselves that this isn't a clash of civilizations, as predicted by Samuel Huntington, but a problem within what has become the common or globalized culture of western civilization.

Newsweek ran an interesting article yesterday about how Japan is ceasing to be Japanese. This actually throws some indirect light on the cartoon conflict because it highlights the strength and degree of the undermining effects of global culture. If Japan can't resist, who can?

Though the trend dates back at least to the end of World War II, our globalizing world has radically changed. I have little doubt that ten years ago the cartoon crisis would either not have existed at all - thanks to an attitude of passive submission on the part of the Muslim minority -- or would have produced merely local incidents in Denmark. Why has it taken on the dimension it has today? I would suggest a number of contributing causes:

  1. The emergence of a US driven "global" culture that has moved beyond the phase of co-existence with other cultures and has begun to show signs of seeking to replace them (see the Japan article: I call this the Halloween phenomenon, driven by "innocent" commercial interests but carrying a powerful cultural payload).
  2. The need for the U.S. economy - totally organized around the military-industrial complex Eisenhower warned us about upon leaving office in 1960 - to have an identifiable global enemy in order to justify its budgets and increase its margin of manoeuvre. (see the remarks of Bush, the presidential candidate in 2000, wistfully regretting the clear-cut dichotomy of the Cold War),
  3. The disastrous (and culturally insensitive) invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and the consequent political and military bridling of Pakistan, three Muslim countries.
  4. The failure of most European countries to integrate their growing Muslim populations, half a century after decolonisation and at a time when birth rates for the "indigenous" (white) population are constantly falling.
  5. Europe's culturally motivated dilatory tactics to keep Turkey from joining the union.
  6. A gradually increasing crassness of U.S. culture, provoked and justified by commercial interests and highly visible in all exported media.
  7. Talk of having God on our side when going to war against Muslim nations (this wasn't a problem during the Cold War, because the enemy was godless communists, so there could be no theological rivalry in the contest).
  8. The double standard on nuclear policy concerning Iran, a line promoted by both the U.S. and Europe: in particular because India, Israel and Pakistan have never been singled out in the same way.
  9. The new ethos and rhetoric of the "war on terror" (the Pentagon now calls it "the long war"), which insists that everyone's duty is to attack sources of terror (e.g. suspect Musims, even when they happen to be Brazilians on their way to work in the London tube).
  10. A psychological threshold shared variously by Arab and Muslim cultures that determines when collective action should be taken.
  11. The more universal laws of mob psychology (e.g. the French or Bolshevik revolutions).
  12. The confused, directionless and mostly bungled "attempts" to settle the Palestinian situation (I sensed we were in trouble when we moved from "peace process" to the "roadmap" metaphor: what better way of saying "we're lost!").

This ethos of the "long war on terror" plays a very important role, because:
  • It confirms the feeling of Muslims in western society that they will always be considered a potential enemy,
  • It motivates the occasional newspaper editor and cartoonist to "feel good" about lashing out at everyone's favorite enemy. Isn't that the way cultural as well as moral values work: they enable us to feel good about doing what society or our moral teachers recommend? "Do the right thing".
The result of all this is that Muslim are under pressure to 1) accept a permanent status of outsider, without even the promise of evolution felt by the first post-colonial generation, 2) accept to be associated with the enemy in the "long war" that produces such good feelings in the "long warriors" (a category that includes publishers and cartoonists*).

Justifying this by invoking freedom of the press or freedom of expression can only be seen (and felt) as hypocritical, since the press is not a simple platform of personal expression but a powerful organ of cultural and political orientation.

As interculturalists it seems to me we should be dealing not merely with abstract ideas about cultures and societies but with people's real feelings. As westerners we take comfort in "pure knowledge", which as suppliers of a brain-based service we see as a commodity. If we can't take the time to explore what external factors influence people's feelings, but only content ourselves with reciting the litany of "dimensions" and behavioural trends, God help us (and inch'Allah)! On the other hand, our clients rarely ask us to solve the world's problems, so why not just continue on our merry old way and at least feel comfortable in our own culture among all the other "long warriors"?


What does it mean to publish cartoons? Is it simply a form of expression or a power play to model contemporary culture? Some people claim that the sole issue is honouring everyone's right to say what they think (an axiom in cultures that value explicitness, directness and outspokenness). They argue that a cartoon isn't an action, but an idea. Let's see what action is in fact involved. I count the following:

* Commissioning the cartoons
* Drawing by the author-artists
* Paying for the cartoons
* Publishing
* Distributing to a wide population.

I'm surprised that such a complex and public process can be characterized as "personal expression" and defended on the basis of the "freedom of expression". Once again (I've already made this point), we seem to have a cultural and historical problem that stems from having lost the distinction between public and private. A similar phenomenon can be found in the debate around the 2nd amendment in the U.S.: "the right to bear arms". It was framed as a means of defining collective responsibility not as an individual right (in a society that had no standing army and a fear of colonial invasion, citizens were encouraged to be ready to organize into a local militia). And yet this historical reality is utterly forgotten, not because the information isn't available, but because we have lost all awareness of the vital (but difficult to define) distinction between public and private.

Monday, February 06, 2006

The case of the Danish cartoons

It has been suggested that what this crisis is all about is "the perception of freedom of the press and freedom of information" It seems to me, however, to be a more general problem of how cultures differentiate between the rules (etiquette) of public and private expression and the status given to respect for deeply held personal convictions, especially those values that are clearly linked to the sense of personal and cultural identity.

In a culture (e.g. US and apparently Denmark) where "speaking up" (assertiveness) is seen as a core value, there appears to be a growing obsession with the principle of possessing – and affirming -- the right to say whatever's on your mind and exercising that right with a double objective: to prove the unlimited scope of your freedom and to attract attention, often with a commercial goal or simply to obtain some sort of competitive advantage (recognition, reputation, public image, etc.). This leads to the equally principled denial of any form of self-restraint in the name of another complementary core value, "healthy competition".

Because in such cultures outspokenness and competition are seen as overriding principles, it's easy to forget that all civilization have carefully codified tacit protocols of respect that govern everyday "public" social relations. In the intimate private sphere, the nature of freedom of expression changes and one can vent one's prejudices or provocative opinions freely. I would submit that our obsession with individual rights has partially broken down or at least obscured the natural frontier between public and private. This may be potentially as dangerous as losing the distinction between ego and id (and the two phenomena may well be related).

This may also explain why Political Correctness has become such a major issue in the U.S. If society loses track of the implicit and tacit rules of politeness and restraint in public expression and accepts provocation as a positive norm and an object of universal admiration, it has to invent artificial principles to compensate for this loss. PC does this in the most artificial and hypocritical way by imposing set rather than mutually understood rules.

In other words, I don't think we can reduce the question of modes of public communication to the purely political or judicial issue of "freedom of expression". What the Danish (and now European) issue raises is the deeper question of confidence in our institutions. To what degree are public institutions and the associated voices (the press, the state, authors, publishers and public speakers) responsible, not so much for the content of what they transmit or protect (with their laws) but for the psychological effects they provoke? Publishing is a complex communication activity engaging multiple responsibilities and creating an impression of complex complicity. What one man on a soapbox says - and his freedom to say it - should be seen as very different from what public institutions (protected by the law) disseminate in the guise of information.


In a Newsweek interview the Danish publisher responsible for the cartoons that have unleashed global violence makes an interesting remark:

"This is a clash of cultures and, in its essence, a debate about how much the receiving society should be willing to compromise its own standards in order to integrate foreigners. On the other hand, how much does the immigrant have to give up in order to be integrated?"

I presume the "standard" he's referring to is that of free speech, or rather the free commercial press, which isn't really the same thing since the Muslims wouldn't go to such extremes in the way of protest simply because certain individuals are anti-Muslim. I think confusing the two is part of
the issue, just as Bush's pronouncement in September 2001 that the attacks on New York and Washington were an "attack on freedom" was a misleading, tendentious and ultimately bellicose "interpretation" which drove us further from understanding the nature of the tragedy.

What strikes me in the publisher's account is that there are some serious cultural "idées reçues". Isn't it a bit odd to suggest that recognizing another culture and respecting its sensibility is a "compromise"? And should we be thinking in terms of the necessity of "giving up" aspects of one's culture to be integrated into another culture? It sounds to me like a one-way street even though it's
framed in terms of a trade-off (i.e. a commercial transaction, which should in itself provide a major hint concerning the cultural asymmetry at work here).

The "positive" side of this incident (and sadly the one that will ultimately justify the violence) is that it will likely produce a new code of conscious and explicit self-restraint: in other words, a new article of "PC". In future, no newspaper editor will take the risk of offending on this issue.

Supposing everything calms down and this turns out to be the final result, should we consider it a good thing? I sincerely doubt it. It turns a living tacit relationship into explicit PC. It's interesting that no one protested when Oriana Fallacci or Michel Houellebecq - both using the leverage of their
international fame - wrote anti-Muslim texts that were somewhere between provocative and racist. Why? Because they were just expressing their individual opinions in words. Even printed on a page, words are nothing but wind. Part of the reason for the reaction to the cartoons can be traced to the iconoclast tradition of Islam, which gives special importance to images. But I suspect the deeper reason is that a newspaper cartoon is "editorial" and therefore represents the public face of an approved institution (an organ of the respectable and respected press) rather than simply the utterance of an isolated individual expressing his point of view. What the editor tells us bears this out: the cartoons were commissioned and were not simply the spontaneous "opinion" of individual authors.

The question I ask myself is, why can't we in the post-modern (and post-Christian) Occident see that this is where the issue lies?

Here is the end of the interview:

So where do you draw the line between censorship and freedom of speech?
My newspaper has its limits. In a pluralistic society where you do have freedom of speech, my limits should not be the limits of others. We do have laws against racism and blasphemy.

Didn't your newspaper commit blasphemy by depicting Muhammad?

Danish prosecutors determined around a month ago that the cartoons were not blasphemous.

Will Jyllands-Posten apologize?

For what?

Now isn't this a nice illustration of how explicit low context cultures work? The law determines all questions of relationship. Discussion over. Once you know that you are within the law, nothing else matters.