Saturday, March 31, 2007

Stupidity Sells!

I like people who like talking words, and from the looks of things it appears that's the whole wide world, isn't it?

And I guess you could say... you and I could be included in this bunch too!

But Matthew Stibbe - over at Bad Language and Articulate Marketing - passed this tidbit of information on to me the other day... which got me thinking... and I rather enjoyed it.

According to an Oxford University Press expert, 90% of the top 100 most popular words used in internet copy online was one syllable.

Top Ten Words for Copy

1 Time
2. Person
3. Year
4. Way
5. Day
6. Thing
7. Man
8. World
9. Life
10. Hand

Mark would like this piece of good news too, because as you may or may not have noticed, he's usually only conversant in chat rooms or on the telephone... and reading and writing puts him seriously at a loss for words - or at a loss for time - one or the other.

Hell, just the idea of completing a sentence - usually delivered in a staccato, rapid-fire, either-you-get-it-or-you-don't manner - doesn't sit too well with him... so why would forming a complete thought... with little more than one or two sentences... cause him to lose any sleep?

So the news of this one-syllable word business only validates what he's been trying to tell me from day one - namely, that stupidity sells!

Which of course caused me to Google it today - once again.

Now, innocently enough, I had originally started this search yesterday... since stupidity turns out to be a synonym for foolishness (see the previous post)... and I'm prone to engage in foolish behavior a LOT... but here I was led to a whole treasure trove of useful links, like these...

The Encyclopedia of Stupidity, by Dutch library historian, Matthijs van Boxsel
Understanding Stupidity
Definitive Supidity
What is Man? - By our friend Mark Twain
The Darwin Awards
Digital Philosophy - Think Mark would dig this?
Annals of Improbable Research - Read this and tell me, "Is this guy not stupid?"
Stupidity Tracker
Stupidity Awards

... And all I've finally got to say is, yes, after reading most of this stuff, "Man, I am damn proud to be stupid! I never knew I'd find such good company with so many stupid-asses in my whole life! Talk about liberating - and fun!"

Albert Einstein said...

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

... But then I wonder if old Albert considered he just might be stupid too. (At least I learned he had a sense of humor.)

Goodness knows, a hundred years from now, we might all consider it a good thing to be stupid. After all, how many of us wouldn't admit that we're a whole lot more stupid about most things compared to how smart we were about just a few things?

Figuratively speaking, that is.

Does the use of big words, even ordinary words, make us collectors of such nonsense, or what?

And for what unspoken ulterior motive does our collecting of words serve for us anyway?

Are we smarter if we're richer? Happier if we're richer? Or stupider if we're not either one?

For which I mean to say... in words... and the size of our vocabulary... as it relates to these attributes.

Hell, does anyone think we're maybe poorly served... by even knowing so many words?

And can stupidity sell?

What compels poor stupid people like me to look up English language words like balderdash and piffle for instance?

Mark would laughingly say, "Because you're sick in the head, Lark... probably!"

To which I'd add, "Why don't you just say it, Marko, you think I'm stupid, right?"

And he'd, more than likely, keep on keepin' on... laughing himself silly!

Because words - and constantly collecting a bunch of 'em - really does seem stupid to Mark.

Take a look at what someone said to me recently about what drives a person to want to write:

"Several different regions of the brain govern the act of writing. The physical movement of the hand is controlled by the cerebral cortex which comprises part of the outer layer of the brain. The drive to write, on the other hand, is controlled by the limbic system, a ring-shaped cluster of cells deeply buried in the cortex which governs emotion, affiliated instincts and inspiration and is said to regulate the human being's need for communication. Words and ideas are cognized and understood by the temporal lobes behind the ears, and these temporal lobes are connected to the limbic system. Ideas are organized and edited in the frontal lobe of the brain. Temporal lobe lesions cause temporal lobe epilepsy; however it is also known to run in families. Hypergraphia is not a frequent manifestation of temporal lobe epilepsy."

"As of current, hypergraphia is understood to be triggered by changes in brainwave activity in the temporal lobe."

"It is also associated with manic and bipolar disorder. Manic and depressive episodes have been reported to intensify hypergraphia symptoms. Additionally schizophrenics and people with frontotemporal dementia also experience a compulsive drive to write."

So I guess this proves it - not only am I stupid, but I'm deranged as well!

God knows Mark wouldn't bother to even read this drivel - he'd all-of-a-sudden be too busy... or something - and he'd probably get mad if I forced him...

... Which leads me to what I really wanted to write about.

Patricia Ritsema van Eck...

... At Thin Electrons has been soliciting thoughts from her members about the reformatting of her site to something with a little more interaction using Web 2.0 standards; and, in particular, she asked her members for their favorite resources to be included on the new site too.

So... I'd already gotten cold feet about posting in her forum about the availability of a free download of our little comic strip... thinking... "What a stupid thing for somebody to want to download in the first place"... which of course it is.

But she seems so nice - I know for a fact she ain't dumb either - and I wanted to comment in her blog about a favorite niche she wants to target more in the future, generally identified as happiness.

Now you know how I am - more than a little bit wordy - and as I'd never had the courage to come right out and say hello in her blog, I felt more-than-a-little creepy about being the first to comment on this... her latest post.

So Patricia... forgive me... if I just post the wordiness right here...

Hi Patricia!

Thought you'd enjoy hearing about this Dutch guy, Matthijs van Boxsel, as I guess he's a library historian who's written and compiled a thing called... get this... "The Encyclopedia of Stupidity".

And it's received rave reviews too!

Anyway, I had some thoughts about Thin Electrons, and some great resource ideas for you too. But I'm embarrassed to place such a long comment in your blog... especially since this is my first time.

So would you mind looking at it over at my blog first?

Just click on "See the Blog" at our site, Mark and Lark dot com, and scroll down.

Thanks for allowing me this space to comment!


[P.S. - That's a great viral marketing tip you gifted us with the other day. Mark and I consider it one of the best actionable ideas we've seen yet!]

... And to continue... directly from her blog...

May I suggest laughter (jokesters & merry pranksters), like in a "Just Kidding!" section, as a nice way to point towards happiness?

And "Yummy Eye Candy" (featured artists, etc.)?

How about "Show-and-Tell" ("how to", "what for", etc.), organized with sub-categories?

Remember, like in grade school?

And did you ever have to present - or share - a "Current Event" (political/human affairs) in front of a "Civics" class?

How about an "Angels" (help-mates, heroes) and "Demons" (anti-heroes) section... or a "Controllers" and "De-Controllers" section for those wanting to pitch something?

Or sections called "The Road Less Traveled", "On the Bandwagon!"... "Life in The Slow Lane" and "Life in the Fast Lane"?

And different word cloud sections organized by groups suggested by the members, like "Interesting Fluff - The Stuff of Us"... or "Great Big Cloudbursts" and "Little Puffs of Smoke?"

Your instincts are indeed correct about the Web 2.0 format... but I don't see you as writing solely in the "Happy Warriors" section... divided up maybe as...

... Rich Bitches | Sons-of-Bitches | Rags-to-Riches | Let's Talk About Me-Me-Me... only talking about making money. Instead, I see you as a person who genuinely wants to promote all kinds of happiness!

Since you're already a very good marketer - and others can certainly learn from you - your members will be more than glad to promote the site... especially if it also helps promote themselves!

The new interactive format will allow others, besides yourself, to share ways making money can contribute to happiness... and what's not to make one happy seeing others so happy at your reformatted Thin Electrons site?

Heck, let the members vote on their favorite stuff that makes them the happiest!

Personally, my own site would have me as a features page editor of sorts... and my column might be called "My Stupid Opinions".

And naturally, other commentators would be allowed to post under "So what's Your Stupid Opinion?"

I really think happiness can sell - as well you should too. In fact, if I could bottle it right now, I would... just for you!

Best regards,


[P.S. - Oh yea, here's some of my favorite resources:

Power 150: Top Marketing Blogs

The One-Sentence Persuasion Course: 27 Words to Make the World Do Your Bidding... and... The No-Nonsense Guide to Enlightenment

Zag: The #1 Discipline for High Performance Brands

Creating Pleasurable Interfaces: Getting From Tasks to Experiences.

Hope you and your members find them useful!]

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Foolish Words | Thoughts Become Things | Piece of Mind

Universal Law is the type of law we mean when we refer to the Law of Attraction.

It derives from the world of primitive human psychology, and, as such, is immutable with the law of nature – itself, in harmony with all other universal laws.

First, despite the fact that modern man has misinterpreted the extant definitions for these words; and, second, because he too-often equates the contemporary meaning with mere self-gratification or conscious greed, the words themselves have become synonymous with divisiveness and crass consumerism.

I look with askance... at all that I see around me... and find myself amused by this witches' brew of wonderment.

What could possibly be the mainspring - the motivating force - of our many discussions... thinking and speaking these words?

Unfortunately for some, and happily for others, these are buzzwords marketers love to exposit and turn to their own delight - so intent are they to spread the love... so as to help their desperate customers... finally get it too.

But for a pittance of a price... hey... we can all learn to be foolish!

Today's brainwashed consumers, hardly recognizable as human anymore... since taking on the characteristics... of mythical zombies, desperately want to believe this must be the elusive magic formula - the secret - granting them endless time to go shopping... whenever and wherever they want.

Standing apart from you and me, those so possessed of it already live in separate realities. In the conspicuous indulgence of their worldly pleasures - like shooting stars blazing past our dreamscape - they leave those who pretend to adore them basking in the afterglow.

And their lessers - those unfortunates who haven't yet acquired this attractiveness - are fated to pay the enlightened ones' American Express card bills... and service their vanities... and fight their wars.

I submit that resistance to understanding universal laws - like of attraction - can be instructive.

So foolish are we when we do get a grasp of these words... that I wonder if it is at all worth it - these thoughts becoming things, I mean.

Which leads me to want to break it down a bit... to see if we can learn to profit... otherwise... just for fun!

Thoughts become things
Like attracts like

And the joker in me says, "Thoughts become actions - all a part of everyday busy-ness."

Or, he laughingly inquires, "Guess who's laughing all the way to the bank?"

The greater the focus and intention the more likely a positive outcome can be affected – assuming, of course, we include desire, and have clearly articulated the result expected as being a positive one.

It is not a law – or a code – which derives from an authoritarian construct.

It can be said to manifest, however, a utilitarian principle... though not always in universal application.

For this type of law to serve a beneficent purpose... requires faith – in principle and deliberate action – naturally not pointing to the religious kind, which is authoritarian.

Faith becomes manifest when one understands it is not beholden to reason. We take the leap of it... and we can be blinded by it... but for our exuberant enjoyment of its experience... we cannot tell its truth...

... Because truth is scientific, and it is entirely beholden to logic and reason.

As a belief can be said to be held... faith cannot be held. We hold to a belief, like when we see the sky we hold it to be real; and when we hold fast to the water in the ocean, grasping at its fluidity to prevent us from drowning, we can still drown clinging to the belief our incessant kicking and dog paddling will save us. But by simply floating... we have faith that the natural inherent properties of water will sustain us without undue dread – all this irrespective of other factors, quotients and variables, etcetera.

And faith is not contingent upon belief... or, in and of itself, is it an authoritarian construct. But nor is it founded – or grounded – in science or principle.

The law of attraction, however, because it’s a universal law, has existed before the time man constructed symbols – or words – for it.

Man is funny in his ways; and with his creation of language, he selfishly has insisted on naming this phenomenon – because it’s in his foolish nature to want to talk about everything... as this brings him social unity and pleasure from watching Oprah on TV, for example.

How we do enjoy our entertainment - and our attachment to foolish words! For us it’s a shared reality we choose to believe will provide us with pleasure – though truth has little to do with it in the main. Truth we attempt to realize from such activities is impossible to obtain... but for all the damn noise!

Because ultimately truth is not contingent upon belief either, or anything derived thereof, since belief is borne from fear.

Now a law itself does not depend upon scientific principle, which we understand is subject to strict scrutiny by way of the scientific method.

But principle itself is scientific – though science, admittedly, does not always demand strict proof.

So what is a principle? And what is a universal law?

Theoretically, principle, because it’s derived from the study of physics (scientific, based on mostly a priori knowledge), or the study of ethical and moral considerations (branches of philosophy and psychology, based mostly on empirical knowledge), is, for all intents and purposes, the most vexing to define.

And naming things is always entertaining to man, though not always pleasurable either. To name things causes man to selfishly demand of his knowledge some reason – a purpose... with clarity... and a communicable definition of things - so his self-directed use of logic... can make him feel satisfied... and his consternation will be assuaged.

But because principle is foundational in nature... founded on observable phenomena... subject to scrutiny grounded in logic and reason... and supported by a preponderance of evidence... or we can say it serves its greatest purpose for the largest number of agents (or people) served by it...

... For these reasons... a principle really is scientific... supported as it is by our scrutiny of the evidence... and by use of the scientific method, no less!

A universal law is one which does not require belief to be reality-based, it is true; nor does it demand scientific scrutiny to be provable. Only by faith can its truth be realized, to effect change by constructive action... for the purpose of achieving an intentional outcome.

And it’s true in our world... and throughout the cosmos too – that by aligning focused thought... from the conscious mind... with purposeful action... we experience it... then know the truth of it – especially if we gain noticeable pleasure and/or things to prove it.

All this causes movement or change... as it activates our economy... dependent upon events to happen or come about.

Focused Thought + Purposeful Action = Attraction is theoretically, though not a law, the most powerful force to be found in the universe!

And, paradoxically, not mystically or in fact, we call this the law of attraction. Mysticism has little to do with it... and factual evidence does not support its truth... except that our conscious intention... faithfully harnesses its power... to action... and result.

And, for reasons of economy – let conscience be your guide – you are right to explain it... in your own inestimable way!

Never ever buy into it – unless you really intend to use it; otherwise, you’ll go broke or remain unhappy... probably both... just thinking about such things - like still another collection... of more foolish words.

It’s akin to making a bad investment... made worse because one simply chooses not to ethically capitalize on it in a timely manner.

And, as some of us know, this is just not good for our piece of mind - or your economy!


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

After Words: Retracing the Patterns of Language

After reading Language Garden, by Susanne Antonetta, in a past issue of Orion Magazine, I was reminded of one of my early heroes... whose books and articles I had read intensely before I became an adult, in those years from about 1968 to 1975.

Language Garden posits this: An orangutan with attitude meets a writer with a weakness for Shakespeare. And a writer wonders, if we give animals language, do we free them, or imprison them?

The same magazine features archived articles by Jane Goodall, famous for her work with primates, and I knew much research had been done over many years exploring their capacities and abilities to think and communicate like human beings, so I had become transfixed by this question put forth by Ms. Antonetta.

So what if one were to put forth this same question about human beings? How can children be taught ways to adopt language in ways which might improve our species, by their parents improving the methodologies by which they better communicate its meaning to them?

Furthermore, to address the central issue raised in the article, does language actually harm us more than it helps us, or does it follow that perhaps we might need to rethink how it is we indoctrinate our children - with language - to this world?

Adults themselves are already fearful, for instance, of putting their foots in their mouths; and cognitive dissonance - the uncomfortable tension that arises from holding two conflicting thoughts at the same time - in and of itself creates a type of fear.

So fear emanating from unscripted emotion... can only be perpetuated by scary thoughts - themselves borne from our words for them... in language.

An interesting article in Live Science suggests we may already possess the ability to read minds, much like clairvoyants. But what language symbols would we ascribe to whatever it is we read, if indeed this faculty actually exists?

Man had created language in order to attach signs and symbols to bits and scraps of observable phenomena commonly experienced by us the living - presumably so we could communicate in coherent ways - as signs and symbols had seemingly become necessary to his survival... and with them he'd hoped their usefulness might cause him to better adapt - or conform - within the environment he'd found himself.

Heck, our ancestors only wanted the ability to talk to each other! What could be harmful in that?

Our defenseless children needed protection and guidance. And we adults needed protection from fear - the reassurance that by our relative safety in numbers we could ensure our survival... in such a harsh bewildering environment... so full of life's mystery and wonder.

And people today are not so different from people in the Stone Age. We still need to draw from our natural world the same resources other living things need to survive - be it air, water, food or shelter, etcetera. And competition forced all living things into certain collaborative arrangements within this environment, so we could feel safe from our would-be protectors - or our predators - much like today.

[Oh how I love games of irony and wordplay! :)]

Alan Watts understood this conundrum better than most. Which is why I'd decided to select him as one of my mentors. His words resonated more truth than I could read or hear about elsewhere at that time - and I had a voracious appetite...

... For words... and their truthfulness. And for my selfish pursuit of pleasure.

Even after revisiting recently much of what I'd come to appreciate about his teachings - and learning anew so much more about the man in the process - I'm empathetic still.

Which just means I can still relate to his takes on the significance of what he taught me - about language arts - even after learning more about his heroic journey to discover meaning in this life... knowing full well what he'd learned and shared with many others beforehand.

The man was not this scholarly old gentleman - a real life guru, as I had supposed, after all; he was youthful in his spirit. In fact, he was just as flawed as I am. As you are... as we all are.

He was an iconoclast, to be sure. And an autodidactic personality. But he was also a hedonist with an extraordinarily inventive passion for breaking the bonds of conformity... within society's self-imposed boundaries.

It was said he could suck all the oxygen out of any room he entered, and he could go through a bottle of vodka, by himself, in a day. And I imagined he could command attention alright, almost at will, simply by virtue of his presence.

But he also enjoyed casual walks outside his rural compound in northern California, or cavorting in a converted old ferry tethered beside San Francisco Bay... and his time spent in quiet contemplation - contentedly alone with himself. He loved good food... gardens... and nature... women... and architecture... the finer things of what we call living.

And he made me laugh, because he just didn't buy into any convention - especially with his repetitive allusions to boxes and wigglies!

In 1973 he was found dead at his beloved nature retreat, at the commandeered round house called Mandala, having apparently died in his stupor - or his sleep - ravaged from exhaustion... by all his pleasurable [sic] pursuits... at the ripe old age of 58.

Off the top of my head, the books I remember having read by Watts were, if I remember correctly, in this order...

"The Way of Zen" (1957)

"The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing who You Are" (1966)

"Behold the Spirit: A Study in the Necessity of Mystical Religion" (1948)

... But I'm sure I read a whole lot more. What I really remember is I had to read each of these more than once - to make sure I would absorb and hold onto the words they contained.

But then this was a violation of what I'd learned to be true, so I let it all go, just as he had schooled me... like in this essay from The New Alchemy.

In the end though I was mindful that - like these words - they were still... only words.

I but retained what he had learned from D.T.Suzuki, something called the "science of 'no-mind'" - the essence of which is "of no matter" anyway.

Watts was not so judgmental about himself or the world that he needed to subjugate his animal desire for pleasure - wherever it could be found. On the contrary, his intrepid investigation into many of life's curiosities proved he was possessed of a playful spirit... endowed with a noble and towering intellect. A notorious womanizer, the notion that he had to be or act in a certain way - at any given time - would have been to deprive himself of nothing but his freedom... for the cosmic wanderlust... he so craved.

In the mid-60s a term was coined called a "self-destruct trip" - for me, one of those memes which informs undesirable behavior. It'd be a pity today if we were to discard Watts' lessons because of his own obvious self-destruct trip through life...

... Because the example of his personal journey - and what he left behind - can still serve as a wake-up call for us all.

This is the ultimate value I place before the altar of Alan Watts - the theory of everything... can be reconciled... to all that is provable... to be good... in the end.

After words you read and hear are done, here's some more to soak in - before surrendering to their wisdom... as we trust you will.

"I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is."

"I find it a little difficult to say what the subject matter of this seminar is going to be, because it's too fundamental to give it a title. I'm going to talk about what there is. Now the first thing that we have to do is to get our perspectives with some background about the basic ideas that, as Westerners living today in the United States, influence our everyday common sense, our fundamental notions about what life is about. And there are historical origins for this which influence us more strongly than most people realize. Ideas of the world which are built into the very nature of the language we use, and of our ideas of logic, and of what makes sense altogether."

"Some believe all that parents, tutors, and kindred believe. They take their principles by inheritance, and defend them as they would their estates, because they are born heirs to them."

"We are all basically scams and if you haven’t found that — you are very unconscious. I know all sorts of people who are full of outward love, but of course it always turns up that they need money. And where it comes to money, the virtue flies out of a window."

"It is said that playing-cards were devised by the ancients to hide a secret where those not "in the know" would never think of looking for it. For heresy-hunters are serious-minded people who would never think of looking for religion in a game. It is curious to think how men have gambled, fought and slain one another over these unknown symbols, and it is interesting to wonder whether the most accomplished 'poker face' would fall a little on discovering that he was playing for lucre with emblems just as holy as the cross, the chalice and the crown of thorns. Probably not, for men have done things just as terrible in the name of symbols whose holiness they recognized. However, it is no less strange that the puritanic mind should see in diamonds, spades, hearts and clubs the signs of vice, to be avoided at all times and more especially on Sundays."

"The subject of this seminar is "Self and Other," and this is therefore to be an exploration into the subject that interests me most, which is the problem of personal identity, man's relationship to the universe, and all the things that are connected with that. It is for our culture at this time in history an extremely urgent problem, because of our technological power. In known history, nobody has had such capacity for altering the universe than the people of the United States of America, and nobody has gone about it in such an aggressive way."

"The most strongly enforced of all known taboos is the taboo against knowing who or what you really are behind the mask of your apparently separate, independent, and isolated ego."

"Faith is a state of openness or trust. To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don't grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float. And the attitude of faith is the very opposite of clinging to belief, of holding on. In other words, a person who is fanatic in matters of religion, and clings to certain ideas about the nature of God and the universe, becomes a person who has no faith at all. Instead they are holding tight. But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be."

"Inability to accept the mystic experience is more than an intellectual handicap. Lack of awareness of the basic unity of organism and environment is a serious and dangerous hallucination. For in a civilization equipped with immense technological power, the sense of alienation between man and nature leads to the use of technology in a hostile spirit---to the "conquest" of nature instead of intelligent co-operation with nature."

"I find that the sensation of myself as an ego inside a bag of skin is really a hallucination. What we really are is, first of all, the whole of our body. And although our bodies are bounded with skin, and we can differentiate between outside and inside, they cannot exist except in a certain kind of natural environment. Obviously a body requires air, and the air must be within a certain temperature range. The body also requires certain kinds of nutrition. So in order to occur the body must be on a mild and nutritive planet with just enough oxygen in the atmosphere spinning regularly around in a harmonious and rhythmical way near a certain kind of warm star."

"That arrangement is just as essential to the existence of my body as my heart, my lungs, and my brain. So to describe myself in a scientific way, I must also describe my surroundings, which is a clumsy way [of] getting around to the realization that you are the entire universe. However we do not normally feel that way because we have constructed in thought an abstract idea of our self."

"Can any melting or burning imaginable get rid of these ever-rising mountains of ruin – especially when the things we make and build are beginning to look more and more like rubbish even before they are thrown away?"

"It would be, of course, much better, if this occasion were celebrated with no talk at all, and if I addressed you in the manner of the ancient teachers of Zen, I should hit the microphone with my fan and leave. But I somehow have the feeling that since you have contributed to the support of the Zen Center, in expectation of learning something, a few words should be said, even though I warn you, that by explaining these things to you, I shall subject you to a very serious hoax."

It's time to retreat! To pleasure or to wanderlust...

... But let's do talk soon!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Trackbacks are Useful

This morning I'm reading about a new blog post from James D. Brausch, entitled Words that Sell, so being a new subscriber I clicked right on over from the email message to his blog.

Here again I read about a piece of copywriting software called Glyphius 2007 - which purportedly is one of the most powerful tools available for online publishers out there.

James tells me there's even a physical book out about this thing Glyphius; and, in it, is some test results for sentences and paragraphs which have produced the best results for business copywriters and marketers.

So this is the deal: James will send the first person who leaves a trackback link to his blog from their own a copy of this book.

But first I have to find out what the heck this trackback is - and is supposed to do!

And Mark is still out of town and I'm on my own. Guess what? I just Googled it as "what is a trackback?"... and I arrived here.

Pretty cool for a confirmed technophobe, huh?

I'll keep you posted about this little experiment - and let you know more about Glyphius 2007 - or if doing business with this whiz-bang gadget is really worth it.

Words That Sell

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Word Matters | Economy Matters

So the other day I was in Richard Dawkins' forum - after-words of being in Amazon to check out the reviews for his latest book, The God Delusion.

Personally, I suffer through enough delusions to buy into another authoritarian construct which only keeps me chained to more illusions; but, nevertheless, I thought it might be fun to investigate what all the fuss was about (currently the #13 NY Times best seller).

Not long ago I'd finished reading The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power, by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad, which recalled some of Dave Lakhani's experiences growing up as a member of a cult known as the Bible Believers - or the Branhamites.

In The Guru Papers I found some compelling words to describe the experiences of its authors... forever seeking fulfillment... or following the teachings of one New Age guru or Eastern thought leader after another.

As has been noted previously in this web log, authoritarianism speaks to any and all kinds of mind control and manipulation, and contemporary versions of it persist in our society in all sorts of disguises and permutations - much of the time when you don't even realize it.

A construct (think of it like a social construction) is anything which you yourself didn't invent - and if you did invent it - or build it - more than likely you borrowed heavily from others.

And a utility can be described as a useful article or device, or something useful. It forms the root for another ism known as utilitarianism, which postulates an ethical theory that says all moral, political or social actions should be be directed toward achieving the greatest good for the greatest number of people - something I grew up believing was also supposed to be true in a democracy nowadays... in conflict, as it often is, with capitalism too.

utility = the necessary criterion of action

useful = that which is good, or worthwhile

Whether they be delusions or illusions... all beliefs... we hold to be true... can be examined under the bright light... of an illuminated mind... for accuracy.

And the stuff of our examinations is often just a compendium of silly old words!

So... while in Richard Dawkins' forum I noticed a recommended article by A.C. Grayling called Pursue pleasure: it's the natural way to do good in the world, and, naturally, since I definitely want to believe this to be true, I decided I would comment.

But then my comment got too wordy - much too writerly and not readerly enough - and I didn't want to step beyond the bounds of good taste, or of etiquette, since this was a forum of philosophers, for Chrissakes; nor did I want to be identified as a troll either.

So I decided, rather than throw it out, I'd duplicate it here and change it into an imaginary conversation between Mark and me.

And I say imaginary, not only because Mark and his family are on Spring Break down in Galveston, because, if you don't know Mark yet, he'd simply just refuse to join me in such far out talk in the first place!

So here it is - strictly for your amusement, of course!


Read the article, beforehand, here

Between Mark and Lark, Who Leaves Whom... Dumbstruck?

I will try to stay on topic within this worthy discussion but I’ve got some problems I need you to help me address, okay Mark?

“You’re kidding me... but... well okay, sure. Go for it!”

You see a box full of people and gadgetry (one of my banks) has allowed me to live in my very own toybox (a home).

Other boxes full of people and gadgetry (utility and media providers) have me connected to more toyboxes (whiz-bang devices and appliances) inside.

And still another toybox, this one on wheels (my car), tethers me to suburbia (a whole slew of toyboxes), where I’m surrounded by an embarrassment of still more riches.

My goodness, but I’m surrounded by lots of pleasure – and all manner of stuff.

It could be said I’ve got toys and stuff running out both ears!

Same with you, right Mark?

“Hey, man, everything’s cool here!” he tosses off, as he checks in with a chat room client.

But herewith are my rhetorical questions – as I need a few answers to my problems.

Why can’t we reconcile...

... The good life...
... With living a life of goodness...
... And a life of principle too...

... If we support the view of Aristotle who “praised friendship, the quest for knowledge, and the appreciation of beauty...”

... And the Renaissance thinkers, who “argued that man is a part of nature, and that it is natural to please the five senses – colours and tastes, scents and sensations, music, and the lover’s touch...”

... Or in the view of A.C. Grayling (author of “Against All Gods” and “What is Good?”), “why there is nothing wrong with the pleasures and possessions of the good life; they are what people naturally seek and even need (provided they are not enjoyed at the expense of someone else, and so long as the business of acquiring them does not become an obsessive end in itself)?"

“I could use a bite to eat,” reports Mark, unaware I’ve just posed a question.

Principle does not need to be attached to religion - or even morals, does it? If it be a part of an authoritarian construct, then yes, it can be very harmful, but neither does principle have to be so rigidly burdensome to remain pleasurable.

And ethical considerations should never be so easily dismissed in our story – for it 's the story of all of us.

All this stuff we pleasure ourselves with has a price, which seen strictly from an ethical viewpoint, by all rights, should be called into question too.

By stuff, I mean to say, resources – whether it's knowledge-based or material-based - what is derived from human capital, especially as it pertains to the emergence of our knowledge-based economy; or what is derived from material taken from the environment, what can be called our natural capital.

The Knowledge Economy

Natural Capitalism

All this junk is just stuff!

If we subscribe to just a few utilitarian examples, it would seem all this stuff must be harmful to someone – or something – somewhere along the supply line...

... Wouldn’t you admit – at least, guess – this is true?

“I’m sorry, did you need a real answer – or just my opinion?” replies the Markster, as he continues to surf the net.

And does this accumulation of pleasure and other worldly stuff finally conflict with what is of the greatest value in our basic economy?

“I’m ready for a beer. Need one?” And he cheerfully heads over to the fridge...

... While Lark keeps prattling on.

By this I mean an economy which is the “careful and thrifty management of our households”, to include the management of our less-than-exhaustible resources, “as of income, materials or labor.”

If we choose to stay the course with purely principled scientific analyzes of these questions we must admit all other questions must derive from merely unprincipled – or unscientific – thoughts... then actions... as these things can only be principled if they are also scientifically deduced.

When what can be deemed scientific is kept apart from what is not scientific... only then can we begin to know what is meant by real principle... alongside universal law... and a new kind of more enlightened thinking – which guides our changed behavior – can emerge.

Science does not pretend to show strict proof; nor does principle aspire to be law which is necessarily authoritarian, even though it can be said to be universal. But as they both relate to the collection of empirical evidence based on the experiences of many it’s safe to say we are capable to decide if our conclusions will serve a universal utilitarian purpose supported by scientific methodology.

If this non-authoritarian construct serves the greater utilitarian good of us – and of our collective resources – it can be measured by how best it suits our overall economy.

And laws written for us should reflect on all these things – otherwise they will do more harm than good in their enactment and application. Then should a law be written as the authoritarian instrument it becomes... so it can have the principled effect of being good.

I submit that only by doing all these things can we finally differentiate between what is good and what is bad.

By taking introspective note of my emotional responses to each of my individual thoughts – and before my actions will lead me where I need not to be going – I can learn to disregard, or discard, what makes me feel bad – and replace these things with only what makes me feel good.

Maybe we can call this a gut check! You might just call it simply, and naturally, “pleasure is good.”

Wouldn't you?

“Uh... say what? Oh yea... I’m down with this stuff, go ahead on!”

But is our perception and value of this pleasure all that good if it upsets the balance of nature, is less-than-utilitarian, inconsiderate of our economy, or randomly applied – ill-suited for our best harmonious purposes?

“Do you mean to say we shouldn’t drink another beer?”

No one can stop Lark when he gets on a roll... and he doesn’t realize he’s wasting his breath.

To my way of thinking this is inconsistent with what is pleasurable or good!

So I’ll take my leave from you now... and leave you with even more rhetorical questions.

What about this stuff of my dreams – which never seems to jibe with the economic reality of all this damn stuff I see when I’m awake?

“Dude, you’ve got to get your mind out of the gutter!”

So much STUFF is always in my head – to ignore it or to meditate it away does not make it really go away – and, if I choose to manage it well enough to suit my own pleasurable purposes, I fear I’m just not being altogether good anymore.

And I’m afraid if I didn’t think I loved it so, it should make me go stark raving mad!

“Love what – madness?”

Why do I feel sometimes boxed in by pent-up emotions – in an intolerant or ignore-ant world – outside my toybox?

“Well, you know, you might need to go party in the sandbox with the kids – and step outside your own skin sometimes, Lark.”

And Lark does step out of himself, answering with another question. “Mark, have you followed a single word I’ve been saying?”

“Hey, Lark, I need to take a piss. Be right back.” He'd already walked away.

Why am I such a bad person – after all I’ve accomplished – trying to be so good? I feel this every time I eat most food, for instance, or even when I walk past a panhandler. And I feel it even when playing with my toys.

“You’re not so bad. A little weird, but not bad. Would you go with funny?”

Surely this exercise cannot be said to be considerate of your own utilitarian principles, in defiance of some of my own authoritarian constructs, or even in the best interests of all our economies!


Man... I’m such an insufferable fool... and so out of touch with the time!

Why should anyone care about my problems... about...?

... Oh, I am sorry... forgive me for my afflictions, and now your word fatigue, okay?

“Sure – no prob! But I’m okay with 'em... or whatever it is you're worn out about... aren't you?"

Of course, I...

"Lark, let’s go score some tacos, alright? And pick us up some more beer! Ya comin'?"

The Secret Teleseminar

Last night I had the pleasure of listening in on a teleseminar discussion of what is no longer, nor ever really was, the real secret.

Needless to say, it could have gone on for two more hours - perhaps I would have personally gotten more out of it.

However much I applaud the speakers who sponsored this event I do hope this can be turned into a serial, because much benefit can be derived from many more people participating and contributing to its final construction.

Here are a few words I supplied in advance.


Kevin Hogan | Dave Lakhani | Blair Warren | Pastor Bob Beverley

I believe the real secret to living a more enlightened, purposeful and meaningful life can be easily learned... first, by fashioning the simplest actual words... we choose to co-opt as our own... and, secondly, by constructing our slightly-more-complex conscious thoughts with these words.

To construct proper true thoughts requires clarity and definition for these words; and personally I've found that having a dictionary and an encyclopedia at hand is really helpful – even for those simple words of which “I only thought I knew” their specific, contextual meanings for my purpose.

Only once this foundation has been properly built from ordinary words and simple sentences can we begin to re-introduce new distinctions and subtleties with more sophisticated words back into our conscious thoughts - without causing undue harm or by leading us astray from our more principled, and simpler, original grounding.

And, by principled, I mean scientific – because what is universally true can be understood only by use of the scientific method.

It's not good to have a “miasma of words” in, or a “word cloud” hanging over, our heads... to cloud our judgments... if we're not instantly and consciously aware of each word component’s relevant meaning in organized sentence structures; since it’s these “language pieces”...


...which constantly and directly impact our “conjuring” of relevant thoughts... hence informing our daily actions.

This “healing” can take place only when we learn to separate opinion from fact – using our own clearly understood words – then ingesting these words into transformed thoughts... as unthinkingly... as we are wont... to breathe the air.

In a culture conditioned by sound bytes, convenience, and instant gratification - against the drumbeat of competing thoughts at cross-purposes with one another - it’s easy to see why many of us seek comfort from those who can plausibly explain away our miseries.

Through their confident, smiling deliveries, sounding of a cacophony of nonsensical psycho-babble, I’m often less-than-charmed.

So I'm not a fan of these charlatans who've been crawling out of the woodwork all my life who really do nothing to advance the discussion in these areas – whose claptrap includes talk about the Law Of Attraction and other forms of regurgitated New Age gobbledygook!

Aside from buying in to most authoritarian constructs, which is harmful, it is the ignoring of utilitarian principles which is even more disturbing.

And the mere fact these success-mongers are usually just selling the same old hot air doesn’t necessarily endear them to me either.

When I listen to mimicry from one not advancing new substance from his/her perspective into the dialog - which is inconsistent with even the Golden Rule - I tend to smell burnt toast, and temporarily go deaf, all over again!

Because motivation and reward, at least as far as I’m concerned, always takes center stage of my attention, I’m likely to dismiss those motives which bring less than co-equal reward to all parties... as risk is only good if it’s borne from a complete absence of suspicion, fear or doubt. Belief can be believed if one wants – but only if it is principled – that is, if it is scientifically established as a universal truth as well.

And I also don’t believe one must “get over on someone” or conquer the world in order to achieve mastery or success in this life.

Chinese Proverbs:

"If you believe everything you read in books, don't read books; and if you rely completely on teachers, then don't have a teacher."

“Harming others means you first harm yourself.”

Here's an example from the founder of the New Thought movement which better illustrates my points regarding consistent everyday word usage in bringing about more successful thought exchanges.

The first link takes you to a PDF compiled from his many notes after his death. The last link above takes you directly to P.P. Quimby's own words which drive these points home best for me.

An early devotee of Anton Mesmer, one can detect his training as an early practitioner of mesmerism. But also as one who eventually rejected its teachings, you can plainly see this man's devotion to the betterment of the human condition... by his explorations in helping to define and clarify the meanings of common words used by everyday 19th century people.

This was the basis of his healing technique – he simply sought to guide his patients with a methodology by which they themselves could undo... what would simply be regarded as error.

Tell us if you don’t agree if the simpler language used in this instructional dialog – from more than 150 years ago – might not be helpful to us today... if we were but to define each word employed beforehand... so all can easily understand their particular usages and meanings.

As the dialog is more easily processed... it’s being framed and presented via genuine interactive conversation... between healer and patient.

By these examples, if we can learn to act as facilitators or collaborators – and less like teachers or experts – we will eliminate many of the communication barriers which tend to inhibit meaningful dialog.

Though I don't profess to be a church-goer, or even a New Thought convert, I've always been cognizant of the fact that most doctrinaire religions begin as cults, and then become mass movements, before splintering into several subgroups over time.

I believe that by employing economic values to words and actions we can learn to preserve our powers to leverage our economic activities better – so we can focus our energies on those things which do us the most good in the world.

Finally, if this be the case, tell this appreciative listener if the four of you can agree with this statement:

"Words which unite us empower us; and words which divide us, weaken us."

These words are meant strictly for your amusement...

... So... thanks – I hope they help contribute to our discussion!

Best regards,


[P.S. – Quimby had a useful take on what is scientific, and what is not, which you may find illuminating - all this before we knew about such a thing as a string-net liquid, or even a string theory!:)]

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Nocebo Effect

This is the title for one of Mark Joyner's posts in Atomic Mind Bombs... and where I enjoyed writing a comment.

In it, Mark asks his readers to choose between the intention and the action - then tidy it all up by considering the Law of Unintended Outcomes - if one must really choose to make a considered choice at all... in light of The Nocebo Effect: Placebo's Evil Twin.

For you own amusement... why not check out the entire thread?

Here's just one comment inside...

Hi Mark!

Perhaps you intended for the question left the reader to point his answer to some response devoid of relevant meaning - at least insofar as it might pertain to the substance of this question's preceding sentences.

Or some relevant information was unintentionally omitted.

Either way, scientific experiments employing placebos or nocebos are too often used by medical researchers to help skew data results which have been deliberately massaged to reach their intended conclusions - all the while, simultaneously obfuscating the fact that the research results of other pertinent data has been purposefully withheld.

When the complete test results are finally revealed by a disgruntled former employee's call-in to a whistleblower hotline - after-the-fact of a harmful drug's release to 1000s of unsuspecting victims - criminal charges are likely to be filed, and if found guilty, the conspirators and their paymasters will all be rounded up like rabid dogs and sent to an Abu Ghraib-style prison in a southern red state.

Here they will be handed a rag and a mop for latrine duty and be forced to listen to very loud rap or head-banger music day-in-and-day-out.

Since these convicted felons will no doubt be seen as well-connected to the drug trade by the prison insiders they will soon become welcome companions to those who control the prison media. Their financial assets should then be confiscated, and the funds funneled to hire multitudes of broke, out-of-work detectives, working on a per diem and commission-only basis, to shake down the assorted lawyers and politicos who defended them - not to unintentionally forget the "untouchable" big shot drug dealers who initially funded the bogus scientific research in the first place.

These respected members of elite society, should they be convicted for their crimes in a kangaroo-style military court - as they most certainly will - may then cry foul and demand appeals of their harsh sentences. But, alas, after being denied bail, they too will be remanded to the custody of their jailers - themselves high on prescription drugs for clinical depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, or some other new disease.

Forced to wallow in their own delusional thoughts while awaiting their individual trials, their "hail-fellow-well-met" former colleagues will proceed to scrupulously bleed them dry.

When these scumbags are successfully separated from their ill-gotten gains, like the others before them, their dirty money will in turn be funneled to pay psy-op crazies - like those trained to perform lawful assassinations, steal elections, and who know their way around poison pills, truth serums, shock treatments, and other fun stuff.

Their mission: Surreptitiously administer nocebos to the highest-ranking government operatives inside the White House and members of the press corps - wherever they dine together or can be found lurking in the hallways with newspaper editors, marauding television moguls and their Congressional cronies.

The really dirty work can be subcontracted out to internet marketers, publicists, admen and other assorted grifters and con artists - those specially trained to make these criminals and their cohorts feel self-satisfied as they blissfully run around on their daily shopping sprees.

These actions are necessary to cover up the fact that, deep down, these bastards, sick as they are, have actually been sickened further by their dastardly doctors and psychoanalysts with - you guessed it - the nocebo effect!

After they've been totally fleeced of most or all their ill-gotten gains too, the psy-op guys will then move in and successfully implicate them in various Enron-style sting operations for which they purport to know nothing. After being bankrupted, they will be forced to throw themselves on the mercy of other sick lawyers - the ones with poor language skills, worn leisure suits and less-than-perfect smiles.

The blowback one may find apparent here is that this comment will probably be seen as subversive and otherwise nonsensical - thus totally ignored.

This will have unfortunate consequences for those who don't take action at once to stop these crimes of ignore-ance.

To do nothing is to rot in hell - unless of course this entire exercise is meant for amusement purposes only - mired though we may still be in our paralyzing groupthink.

If this be the case, then your post has served quite a useful purpose – we can call it...

Mission: Accomplished!

Best regards,



Okay, I know it's been said enough, that we work and play in a so-called attention economy.

Like you maybe, I can buy into this.

We also live in a reputation economy as well - since, presumably, it's said we get more attention according to our reputation.

And I can buy into that too - especially since most of us never seem to get enough!

Given that those engaged in eCommerce - like more than a few of us bloggers, for instance - are part of this new media revolution we've heard so much chatter about - and we've heard it said...

... "You are the media"...

... I was naturally led to a desire to step back and examine where we've been... so I could better understand...

"Where do we go from here?"

This series of documentaries is from Adam Curtis, in conjunction with the BBC, and if you haven't taken the time to check them out, I recommend them wholeheartedly.

Block off an hour at a sitting so you can savor each episode - they're that good!

You might want to turn to this BBC overview first.

"The Century of the Self"

Part I: Happiness Machines

Part II: The Engineering of Consent

Part III: There is a Policeman Inside All our Heads - He Must be Destroyed

Part IV: Eight People Sipping Wine in Keppering

But, in order to capture the full flavor of the messages contained in this series, perhaps you may want to fast forward a little more, to another three-part co-production, by the same creators, called...

"The Power of Nightmares"

Your homework now nearly complete, herewith is a video, by Austin's own Alex Jones, called...


If these don't get your attention, then what does this say about our reputation - or our economy?

What does all this chatter say about you and me?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Law of Attraction Guru and Big-Time Marketer Ask:

“If you had 30 seconds to ask me any question about the Law of Attraction or my Success Principles, what would your single, most important question be?”

Dear Law of Attraction Guru and Big-Time Marketer,

I’ve got more than 30 seconds, if you do - and I won't charge you one thin dime for my time!

What do you have to say about the blowback I've witnessed on the internet lately concerning the unconscionable and blatant selling of secrets by certain of those so willing to prey on the confused and miserable amongst us?

Does this kind of predation really spell S-U-C-C-E-S-S in your book?

No disrespect is intended here - I earnestly just want your answer!

What I'd really like to hear is a simple response to what I maintain is the egregious misuse of simple words by so-called experts out to make a buck.

Is this at all ethical? Or is it ethical in a capitalist system to continue to fleece the flock so long as the sheeple keep allowing it?

When you and your peers get together do you do a happy dance, or high five each other, in the same way that airport pickpockets or cabals of oligarchs with politicians safely in the bag often do... before doing lunch at some swanky restaurant to compare notes on your ongoing respective marketing campaigns?

Do you ever wonder... when these lurid dishonest practices will ever end?

As for me, I've had direct experience from birth with success-driven family members, including myself; and I can tell you emphatically that authoritarianism is run amok and utilitarianism too often ignored in America for any semblance of the meaning behind The Golden Rule* to have any lasting real impact on these success mongers of today.

Change is indeed the order of the day, gentlemen – just not the kind some of us insist on peddling!

If you’re at all interested in co-opting some or all of my words in your revised message, I can help separate you from the wolf pack, and assist your heartfelt efforts to truly change hearts and minds for the betterment of humanity.

After all, a LIFE – and an opportunity to influence lasting remedial changes for a sustainable bright future – is a terrible thing to waste!

Contact me in confidence - I'm the attractor factor you just may need to save you from yourself.


Mark and Lark

[P.S. – *This simple admonition may be the only lasting contribution worth remembering from our Judeo-Christian heritage. If this be important why not ask ourselves if what we say and do strictly abides by this golden rule – and rebuild our personal and societal foundations from there – while there’s still time?]

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

My Favorite Guru was a Yogi

"If you don't know where you're going, you'll end up someplace else."

Timeless words of wisdom from my favorite guru, former NY Yankee and Hall of Fame catcher, Yogi Berra.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Secret

Mark gets viscerally bent out of shape when he even sees or hears these words - usually an adjective followed by secret. He's got young kids at home so I can't get him to cuss; but he sure as hell doesn't mind laughing or throwing out some viciously sarcastic comment, or impatiently pining for an immediate change of direction... whenever he's in the presence... of this discouraging and revolting word... whether within earshot... but especially at the sight of it... especially online!

Last night's teleseminar with Stu McLaren, the super (I'm sick of this overused 70s word too!) affiliate marketing manager, and Ray Edwards, the big time copywriter, revealed this filthy word to be right down there with the worst of them - particularly amongst those words which have been thoroughly tested with copy used in the vulturous internet marketing niche - all this according to the Ray Man himself, who represents he's also a fanatical tester.

First, here's the 5 best tested words (converted best, and made more money) employed by copywriters in this niche:


Next, he revealed the 5 worst tested words (converted worst, and made less money) employed by copywriters in this niche:

you A big - but pleasant - surprise

I found myself cheering these revelations! So happy was I to hear this information that I was moved to actually chime in at the end of the call, during a Q & A session.

Both of these guys, it needs to be said, are people for whom I have an enormous regard - probably because both come across as so damn transparent and, well... just likable.

They present themselves as experienced professionals with integrity - and unafraid of new ideas.

Stu was promoting an upcoming seminar here in Dallas on this teleseminar; and Ray had just released a high-value-quotient copywriting course for which I had seriously held an interest - and he would be one of its speakers too.

So I asked Ray to comment on these 3 words...


... which I suggested might be included in an expanded worst words list... because I thought these words to ultimately be divisive words, as opposed to being unifying words... and I was researching ways to put in place a structure for my persuasion (sales) efforts ahead.

I also intimated that beyond mere words which turned me off - and I couldn't agree more with his findings - words and perceptions which turned me on in a sales letter, for instance, were those which (who?) at least hinted...

... we actually are all just perennial students... and one might best connect to others simply because one demonstrates an extraordinary knowledge of a particular subject... and one exudes a certain genuine enthusiasm to engage others... who, in turn, might wish to share in this same enthusiasm for similar knowledge too.

Ray answered, in effect, that certain framing issues (my words, not his) were rather standardized (my words again) but that generally context (Ray's word) and circumstance (mine) were the guiding lights for what better would serve one's purposes in the end (you guessed it - my words again!).

For which I, naturally, thanked him for his plausible answers.

So can this discussion provide us a clue for what is meant by the attractor factor - since I always seem to be drawn to other writers and marketers - like you maybe?

And could this portend a possible meaning of the secret too?

Ya know... I can't truthfully tell ya.

What I DO know is we're all gluttons for knowledge about how to make more money...

... some of us ethically...

... but just don't **** with me and try to sell me your latest-and-greatest version of the secret either, okay?

You don't wanna get on my worst side... as I'm wont to be a little irrational sometimes - and just might ****in' explode!

There... that'll learn ya!

It's one law of attraction principle proven - and guaranteed - to teach you a damn lesson...

... lest your filthy ill-gotten gains come right back to haunt ya... my secret friend!


For more rants along these familiar lines check out Blair Warren's blog... or just scroll down for something else that'll keep your juices flowin'!