Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Secret Debunked

bent on helping people refrain from drinking the kool-aid, i offer more critical thinking on "the secret," which says that through the "law of attraction" you can get a spot on Oprah, win the lottery and have or be anything that you truly believe.

that's a mighty powerful secret. i heard on the radio this morning about a man, imprisoned for 16 years, who was freed recently after DNA evidence proved he was innocent. i wondered, how does the "law of attraction" apply there?

did he attract a 16 year prison sentence to his life? or did something horrendous happen to an innocent man?

here's what they're saying in creator's rhonda byrne's australia, where she's known as a commercial producer.
here's what newsweek has to say:

But that's not what "The Secret" is saying. Its explicit claim is that you can manipulate objective physical reality—the numbers in a lottery drawing, the actions of other people who may not even know you exist—through your thoughts and feelings. In the words of "author and personal empowerment advocate" Lisa Nichols: "When you think of the things you want, and you focus on them with all of your intention, then the law of attraction will give you exactly what you want, every time." Every time! Byrne emphasizes that this is a law inherent in "the universe," an inexhaustible storehouse of goodies from which you can command whatever you desire from the comfort of your own living room by following three simple steps: Ask, Believe, Receive.


here are a few other things to think about.
bad things always happens to good people. think about the bad things in your life. did you attract that? in some cases perhaps, but sometimes the world just works that way. there are other "universal laws" at work, not just the "law of attraction."

what about the child who is abused by his parent? is he or she "attracting" that punishment? or doesn't the "law of attraction" work on children?

if you believe in karma, what about it? what if you owe a karmic debt?

what about slavery? did African slaves attract their fate? or didn't the "law of attraction" work that long ago? does the "law of attraction" just work on middle class people with middle class desires?

what about the bad person who always is lucky or "successful?"

does the universe really want everyone to win the lottery because if people really believe this, that's what they'd wish for.

what about the child born with any number of physical ailments? did he or she attract that somehow? can they wish it away?

if i wish and believe harm on another person, will the "law of attraction" work? after all, i'm focusing my thoughts.

the effect of "the secret" could be a bunch of selfish people on a mission to get what they want -- houses, cars, money.

is there an altruistic component to "the secret?" wouldn't the "universe" want that? no, there is not and apparently no. anyone, good intentions or bad, can get what they want if they believe. that's mostly what makes "the secret" hooey.

sure, think good thoughts. but it's more important to do good things for other people. that's not a secret.

salon's take

200 Thread Count Sheets

now i understand the sheets.

Monday, February 26, 2007

H.M. and Memories

"Once they find out about me, it helps them to help other people." Henry M. on NPR

that from H.M., a man who has lost his short-term memory due to a lifesaving operation that stopped him from having seizures. this has helped neuroscientists figure out that memory takes up more space in the brain than previously thought.
Henry's current status:

As for Henry's current status, he lives in a nursing home in Hartford and still travels occasionally to MIT for memory testing. He enjoys doing crossword puzzles and watching detective shows on television. His life is peaceful, if not completely happy. He worries often that he has done something wrong, and it is not possible for him to make any real friends since he cannot remember a person from ten minutes to the next. At times, he seems to have a sense of humor about his condition, as in the following anecdote taken from his biography, Memory's Ghost: The Strange Tale of Mr. M. and the Nature of Memory, by Philip Hilts:

When walking down the corridor at M.I.T. with Henry, Dr. Suzanne Corkin made the usual kind of small talk. "Do you know where you are, Henry?"

Henry grinned. "Why, of course. I'm at M.I.T.!"

Dr. Corkin was a bit surprised. "How do you know that?"

Henry laughed. He pointed to a student nearby with a large M.I.T. emblazoned on his sweatshirt. "Got ya that time!" Henry said.

Mainly, though, he leads a life of quiet confusion, never knowing exactly how old he is (he guesses maybe thirty and is always surprised by his reflection in the mirror) and reliving his grief over the death of his mother every time he hears about it. Though he does not recall his operation, he knows that there is something wrong with his memory and has adopted a philosophical stance on his problems: "It does get me upset, but I always say to myself, what is to be is to be. That's the way I always figure it now."


memory studies at dana.org
montreal neurological institute
american academy of neurology

Mysteries of the Mind

the top 10 mysteries of the mind at livescience.com.
oh heck, there are all sorts of mysteries at livescience.
will california ever fall in the ocean? answer

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Secret About the Secret

backstabbing, lying, but hey, at least Rhonda Byrne, maker of the Secret DVD followed her intentions -- to get rich. that's the story in today's NYT. the Secret teaches thoughts are things and that you can think your way into parking spots and restaurant tables and millions of dollars. it was, after all, "the science of getting rich" that prompted rhonda to think of "the law of attraction." or was it someone elses idea she stole? (read the story)

it is interesting to note that during the interview with the NYT, rhonda wore a

"glittering silver circle affixed with false-eyelash glue to the center of her forehead."
she's rich now, loaded. she can do foolish things like that. but good things happen to bad people.

of course, the video doesn't say anything about thinking your way into the soup kitchen, or starting a community foundation or helping out people who don't have as much as you. it's all about how to get things for you, how to get richer, more successful, more things, a parking spot. that's just icky. so many drank the kool-aid. when did people stop thinking critically and how can we get more people to do so?

it's a money making venture. a bunch of hoo ha. and oprah lifted the secret by hosting the "secret teachers" on her show. One of them even included in her visionary collage words about herself being on oprah. well, what person who has something to sell doesn't want to be on oprah. we'll probably get barak obama for a president, thanks to her backing. and thankfully, that will be a good thing. go barak!

but if oprah does her homework (she may read the NYT story because she says she reads it), she may lash out the way she did with james frey. her show has sort of become like QVC. i still love oprah. i think her producers need to be more discerning. there are so many people who are clamoring to be on her show. they need to tighten up their criteria, do more background work.

from the NYT. how sick is this?:

Last Sunday evening the Hickses relaxed in their $1.4 million luxury bus
parked outside the Rancho Cordova Marriott near Sacramento, where they had just
finished a six-hour workshop on the law of attraction in the hotel ballroom.
Three hundred people had paid $195 each to hear Ms. Hicks, a former secretary,
summon otherworldly spirits she says speak through her. The spirits, who
collectively use the name Abraham, answered participants’ questions.
“I don’t
have a lover yet,” one woman said.
Abraham, whose speaking voice is rounder,
quicker and more computerlike than Ms. Hicks’s natural voice, replied by
repeating the woman’s phrase roughly 20 times and then explained it contained
its own negativity, which was leaving the woman paddling upstream on the river
of life.
The audience applauded.




here's some of the hush, hush bickering going on behind the scenes:
The Hickses spend most of the year traveling the country, leading workshops based on the teachings they say Abraham has given them. They record the workshops and have 10,000 subscribers, who pay up to $50 a month for CDs and DVDs of Abraham’s wisdom.

When Ms. Byrne asked Ms. Hicks to appear in “The Secret,” as the most prominent interpreter of the law of attraction, she agreed to give the Hickses approval over much of the movie, according to a contract. But when the couple saw the first cut, they were livid. Ms. Hicks’s voice, chaneling Abraham, was used as narration throughout the film, but her face was never shown.

After negotiation, Ms. Hicks’s image was edited into the film and it was released, ultimately netting the Hickses $500,000 from sales, Ms. Hicks said. But the couple were unhappy with the distribution. They said they understood it would be shown first on Australian television, but instead it was being sold as an Internet download and later as a DVD.

Cynthia Black, the president of Beyond Words Publishing, a New Age imprint, who is both a longtime friend of the Hickses and the publisher of Ms. Byrne’s book version of “The Secret,” tried to broker a peace. She enlisted the help of Jack Canfield, the author of “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” one of the “transformational experts” who appears in “The Secret” (and whose nephew Zach Canfield says he used the law of attraction to score a date with the hip-hop singer Lady Sovereign). But Mr. Canfield was also unable to bring the parties together.

The Hickses consulted their lawyer, and Ms. Byrne in turn demanded changes to the contract, both sides said. No agreement could be reached. Ms. Byrne moved forward with a second version of “The Secret” without the Hickses. Advised by their lawyer to sue, the Hickses said they declined because litigation would take energy from their own pursuit of the law of attraction. “We don’t sue,” said Mr. Hicks, a former circus acrobat and Amway distributor.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Skinny on Oprah

according to Bob Greene, her fitness guru.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Mummified Man Watches TV

a sign of a sad and lonely world.

Dalai Lama's Presidential Pick

Who is the Dalia Lama supporting in the 2008 race? ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich. The Dalai Lama's listed as a "friend" on Kucinich's myspace. the Tibetan peace monk has a myspace, too. he has 2,665 friends.

barak obama has a lot of friends at his myspace -- 42,706, more that hillary clinton -- 23,378 friends.

Monday, February 12, 2007

John Frusciante Rolling Stone


john is teased on the front cover of the rolling stone issue -- "the new guitar gods" -- as "the visionary."

yeah, we know.

but inside is a Q&A with John but it doesn't get into his work outside the chili peppers. i don't get it. how can you talk about john without talking about his solo work or his collaborations with other musicians?

for those of you missing the hair, here it is! here's a short accompanying video.

invisible-movement has the grammy acceptance speech

Chili Peppers at the Grammys


Woo Hoo! could've been a better choice of song, something more upbeat. and could've done without the snow. and was that chad on the drums for the dixie chicks?
chad's got to be one of the top five drummers in the world. flea his usual fleaness.
loved john frusciante's speaking part. he seemed truly excited and nervous. it's nice to see them loving their jobs so much. of course, they picked up best rock album for stadium arcadium. they picked up three other awards.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Secret

update: if you didn't think The Secret was a bit scammy, take a look at my spammy in the comments.

did you catch The Secret on oprah?

i liked the concept, thoughts are things and what you think is what you get. of course, the host of people who were guests on the show and "teachers" were pitching The Secret DVD and book. it was sort of like an infomercial -- when you learn "the secret" everything is better, your sex life, your financial status and your career!

i thought about buying the $30 DVD but did my research. here's how you know something is bogus -- when it's tied to money. what are they selling? i checked out the web sites of the people behind the show and each site tells you how to get rich! how to be successful! every single one of them is a self help person selling their wares.

also, the woman who started "the secret" is a reality show maven. in australia, where she's from, she's produced such reality show goodness as Australians Behaving Badly, Marry Me. her company also produced Worlds Greatest Commercials.

how about a DVD on how to serve others, you know, how to work in a soup kitchen or volunteer? that would be a silly DVD to make cause no one would buy it. but people are definitely interested in buying a DVD that tells them how to be wealthy and powerful and successful.

the universe makes everything abundant, they say. there isn't a shortage of anything, especially not money, they contend. money and wealth are the focus. if you aren't "successful" then you don't have money and you don't know "the secret" and too bad for you.

i believe that thoughts are energy. no doubt. but there are other laws in the universe, too. the laws of karma. and there are plenty more thoughts running around than just your own thoughts. in that case, there is an abundance of negative energy everywhere (given the state of the world), so how do your own thoughts scientifically penetrate all that negative energy? what other people do affects us, sorry to say.

save your money. these people aren't any better than you and they certainly don't know more than you.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Do Not Feed The Homeless Take 2

first it was vegas and it's rally against the homeless, now it's orlando. what is wrong with people? i think all social ills boil down to one thing: some group always thinks they're better than another. i suppose it's primitive means of survival. there's little empathy and not much enlightenment going on these days. from the AP:

Orlando, population 200,000, works hard to conjure the image of a true-life Pleasantville: a safe, welcoming place where visitors can soak up year-round sunshine and devour choreographed experiences at palm-ringed theme parks. But its spotless sidewalks, sparkling lakes and twinkling skyline belie a real city with real maladies — most notably, a surging homeless population that authorities are struggling to control.

After a law that banned panhandling was struck down by the courts, the city tried to discourage aggressive beggars by obliging them to carry ID cards, and later by confining them to 3-by-15-foot "panhandling zones" painted in blue on sidewalks downtown.

Despite these laws, the number of people living on the streets of the Orlando metro area swelled, from roughly 5,000 in 1999 to an estimated 8,500 today, dwarfing the city's shelter capacity for 2,000 people.

So in July, the city commission tried a "supply-side" approach: It passed an ordinance regulating the feeding of large groups of people in Orlando's downtown parks.

Those who wished to feed more than 25 hungry individuals at parks within a 2-mile radius of City Hall could do so, but only if they obtained a "Large Group Feeding Permit" from the parks department — and no one would be granted more than two feeding permits a year.

No exceptions.