Salman Rushdie: "We Should Drop Nintendos on Iran"

We should think about terrorism not as a battle between Islam and the West but as a battle within Islam, says author Salman Rushdie. And video games might just be the way to resolve this conflict. "I often think that the best way to liberate Iran is just to drop Nintendo consoles from the air. And Big Macs," he tells us.


In his Big Think interview, the literary giant tells us about how video games influenced his newest novel "Luka and the Fire of Life." As he proves in this and previous novels, fantasy can be a vehicle for writing about truth. That is after all the whole premise of fiction. "We don’t need to know that Anna Karenina really existed; we need to know who she is and what moves her and what her story tells us about our own lives," he says. "Once you accept that stories are not true, then you understand that a flying carpet and Madam Bovary are untrue in the same way, and as a result both of them are ways of arriving at the truth by the road of untruth and so then they can both do it the same way."

Rushdie says there is a double standard for immigrant writers. Western writers have always given themselves the freedom to write about any topic: "If John Updike wants to write a novel set in Africa he does. If Saul Bellow wants to write a novel set in Africa he feels free to do so, whereas sometimes if the reverse happens, if a third-world writer wishes to set a novel in Illinois, he might be asked what he thinks he is doing." This, he believes, is a hangover of a kind of cultural colonialism.

Looking back on his career, Rushdie says his first successful novel, "Midnight's Children," was one of the high points. Many of his friends, like Martin Amis and Ian McEwan, had already found success, but he struggled for a decade as an advertising copywriter, working on novels on the side. "There is nothing like the first moment when you realize that you’re going to be able to have the life that you want to have," he says. Three decades later, Rushdie no longer has to fret about finding success, but one of the problems of growing older is that you start losing people, he says. And when a loved one dies, you also lose a version of yourself. "You lose yourself as that person saw you and responded to you." One friend, Christopher Hitchens, is currently battling cancer but has done so in the public eye. Rushdie says his friend's insistence on being himself in the face of death is "heroic."  

Finally, Rushdie, known to be quite the ladies man, offers some dating tips. The fact that he survived a death fatwa is not his key to success, he tells us. Women like men who do interesting things, he says. "We’re lucky as men that women are able to look beyond the physical towards something else."

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

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Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

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You can use these to get ahead, no matter your age.

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Employees don't quit their job, they quit their boss

According to TwoFold CEO Alison McMahon, a leader who doesn't care (or can't pretend to care) about his or her employees isn't much of a leader at all.

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Why do people quit their jobs? Surely, there are a ton of factors: money, hours, location, lack of interest, etc. For Alison McMahon, an HR specialist and the CEO of TwoFold, the biggest reason employees jump ship is that they're tired of working for lousy bosses.

By and large, she says, people are willing to put up with certain negatives as long as they enjoy who they're working for. When that's just not the case, there's no reason to stick around:

Nine times out of ten, when an employee says they're leaving for more money, it's simply not true. It's just too uncomfortable to tell the truth.

Whether that's true is certainly debatable, though it's not a stretch to say that an inconsiderate and/or incompetent boss isn't much of a leader. If you run an organization or company, your values and actions need to guide and inspire your team. When you fail to do that, you set the table for poor productivity and turnover.

McMahon offers a few suggestions for those who want to hone their leadership abilities, though it seems that these things are more innate qualities than acquired skills. For example, actually caring about your workers or not depending wholly on HR thinking they can do your job for you.

It's the nature of promotions that, inevitably, a good employee without leadership skills will get thrust into a supervisory position. McMahon says this is a chronic problem that many organizations need to avoid, or at least make the time to properly evaluate and assist with the transition.

But since they often don't, they end up with uninspired workers. And uninspired workers who don't have a reason to stay won't stick around for long.

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Radical theory says our universe sits on an inflating bubble in an extra dimension

Cosmologists propose a groundbreaking model of the universe using string theory.

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