A late Friday snippet break
It's a busy Friday, but there's always time for a few snarky snippets.
Big thoughts on education
The Buddha of the Internet – that would be Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale – has some bold visions for the future of education. The following is from a four-page article in the Feb/Mar 2009 edition of what has to be the quintessential hustledork publication, Think Big. I'm leaving the Brit-English spelling intact.
One of Joe's mantras is that the more education you have, the better you will be prepared for life's challenges. And this doesn't necessarily mean institutionalised education, for although Joe went to Kent State University in Ohio and has received two doctorates, he considers himself self-taught.
"The education and wisdom has [sic] come from the dedication to growing, stretching, and awakening," Joe says. "I put myself on more of a self-study course than any school system would ever have done."
Yet he believes the type of education he has dedicated himself to should be taught in schools, particularly in the current global financial climate. What better way to educate children to be successful than by empowering them at an early age in institutions that are traditionally conservative.
"The number one thing to do in schools is to introduce success literature," Joe iterates. "They need to teach empowerment on thinking big, co-creating their own reality even if it's at kindergarten level. Some of this goes into quantum physics, but for the most part just introducing success literature and that whole body of work that has evolved from the 1800s, from Emerson to Hill and W. Clement Stone and my own work hopefully, that would get people thinking differently.
"People are ready for this," he continues. "We are stretching because we are open to something new. We're saying what we have been doing for centuries isn't working and I think there's an opening because of that. I think the current chaos has created this window of opportunity where we can say, "hey, look, we've tried everything else, what about meditating in school, or reading success literature; have we tried 'consciousness creates reality' programs in school.
"We have all these tools now to assist this shift. Movies like The Secret, Opus, Leap, Try It On Everything, and The Awakeners, all of these are the visual tools that people need today because they are lazy and for the most part don't want to read. Now they can just slide in a DVD and get reprogrammed and realise that if they think big and take action they can get results."
Joe just happens to be in all of those "movies" that he mentioned.
Setting aside what could be either a completely inadvertent or totally disingenuous misrepresentation of Joe's "doctorates," let's get to some of the real issues here. Imagine, if you will, classrooms full of kids being compelled to read The Attractor Factor. My first thought was that maybe they'd better skip over that chapter about the shocking true story of "Jonathan." My second thought was that Joe's placement of his own work in the same category as that of Emerson was...hmmm...I'm looking for a word here...maybe a tad presumptuous.
And imagine your boys and girls having to watch The Secret in class, or that Try It On Everything tapping moviemercial. (Advance warning for parents of kids exposed to this movie: If you catch Johnny compulsively tapping his wrist and chest and forehead while talking out loud to himself, this doesn't necessarily mean it's time to put him on medication, but I'd keep a close watch on the kid anyway.)
Picture your kids being spoon-fed the New-Wagers' seriously dumbed-down, magicked-up version of quantum physics (speaking of which, I noticed Joe didn't mention What The Bleep Do We Know? when he was naming "movies," but maybe that's just because he wasn't in that one). And visualize your children being aggressively but lovingly "encouraged" to participate in group meditations.
Are you excited yet?
Hey, I'm all for educational reform and updating our school systems so that they better prepare kids for the real world. But the emphasis is on "real." If selfish-help stuff...um...I mean, "success literature"...were to be taught in schools as Joe seems to be suggesting, I would hope that the lot of it would be elective rather than part of the required curriculum. I think parents should at least have a choice about whether their kids are exposed to junk science and McSpirituality from self-serving hucksters.
Anyway, the above was just a small part of the article. At the very end there's a bit on Joe's satori experiences that led to his "discovery" of the fourth stage of permanent Awakening "where the ego dissolves." This is the state in which Joe claims he now lives. He says, "I believe that the hell I went through in childhood to get to this lifestyle happened because I was going to be the guy to map out the four stages of Awakening." There's nothing like a sense of destiny to go with your hubris.
"The silliest ever known among men..."
Speaking of "success literature," my friend Christopher Locke at Mystic Bourgeoisie sent me an email with a link that a reader had sent to him. The link is to a piece called "The Fallacy of Success," written in the early 1900s by G.K. Chesterton. Who knew the hustledorks had such a lineage!" Chris wrote. The piece begins:
There has appeared in our time a particular class of books and articles which I sincerely and solemnly think may be called the silliest ever known among men. They are much more wild than the wildest romances of chivalry and much more dull than the dullest religious tract. Moreover, the romances of chivalry were at least about chivalry; the religious tracts are about religion. But these things are about nothing; they are about what is called Success. On every bookstall, in every magazine, you may find works telling people how to succeed. They are books showing men how to succeed in everything; they are written by men who cannot even succeed in writing books. To begin with, of course, there is no such thing as Success. Or, if you like to put it so, there is nothing that is not successful. That a thing is successful merely means that it is; a millionaire is successful in being a millionaire and a donkey in being a donkey...
I Meta-Secret the other day...
In August of 2008, I blogged about the New-Wage moviemercial, The Meta-Secret, which apparently has yet to be released. Since that blog post, The Meta-Secret official web site has up and moved. It's now here.
I have to say that the trailer is a classic in the making. Here we have not mere hustledork cinema, but really, really cheesy hustledork cinema. And I have a feeling we're going to be seeing more of this kind of stuff as more New-Wage moviemercials try to incorporate actual plots as well as talking-head segments.
In all fairness, however, I must once again ask my traditional question: Is this actually a parody, and is the joke really on me?
Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, Crap Is From Gray
Simmering on the back burner of my Whirled for several weeks was a little tidbit about John "Mars and Venus" Gray's entry into the field of nutrition. This really isn't the newest of news, but it's worth a nod on this blog, and I've not really done that till now. What prompted me to finally bring it to the front burner was an email I received yesterday from an alert reader who directed me to a delightful blog called Small Bites, written by nutrition expert Andy Bellatti. Andy, who is going for his masters degree (at a real university, I might add), wrote about Gray in a recent post, defiantly referring to him as "Mr." Gray, and even linking to an article that discusses Gray's questionable doctorate. Here's a snippet from Andy's post:
Although Mr. Gray claims the "effortless weight loss" (15 pounds a week, he claims!) is due to the magic ingredients in his shake, it's clear that the "magic" is simple caloric deprivation.
How can you NOT lose weight if your only solid meal of the day is a salad and your other two meals each consist of one scoop of powder and eight ounces of water?
Despite all the fantastic claims, the small print at the bottom of his website reads "John Gray's Mars & Venus LLC does NOT guarantee weight loss."
Hmmmm... interesting how he never mentions that in his breathless infomercials where he mentions how "life changing" his shakes have been!
Now we come to my favorite part -- the head-scratching nutrition-related statements.
The weight loss cleanse prohibits the intake of any dairy, yet the shakes -- which are a significant part of the cleanse -- contain whey protein!
Newsflash, Mr. Gray, whey protein is a dairy protein!
It seems that these days, anyone who has a proven track record of churning out a bestseller or two on one trendy topic feels at liberty to expand the brand and become the go-to guy or gal on just about any other trendy topic. John Gray is a prime example of this phenomenon; after tackling dating, sex, marriage and child rearing, he has branched out into nutrition and health. He has an entire web site devoted to health the Gray way, on which he markets a line of shakes and nutritional supplements, and promotes his "wellness retreats." On these retreats you will not only learn new communication techniques, but "Dr." Gray will lead you through "a gentle and powerful cleanse by utilizing the Mars Venus Wellness Solution." Severe caloric deprivation and internal cleansing in the presence of one of the great egos of the New Wage: what a romantic way for a couple to spend a few days together! If you're having problems with regularity, it might be just the ticket. Crap in, crap out, as the saying goes...
By the way, I've previously tackled Mr. Gray on my own blog, reproducing an old ad parody I created many years ago. The parody was lifted from my BLP (book-like product), Cosmic Relief, which I once tried to get Houston's oldest and most famous metaphysical book store to carry. The person I approached was the co-owner of the store, who happened to be Gray's late mother, Virginia Gray. For some odd reason, she chose not to carry my book. In case you don't know it, here's the story.
As my alert correspondent of yesterday pointed out, the above-mentioned Andy Bellatti has also devoted blog space to the infamous serial scammer Kevin Trudeau on several occasions. In an April 2008 post Andy shed some light on why True-dough emphasizes the importance of home-cooked meals over prepackaged meals. It's all due to the love that goes into homemade food. Here's the science behind it, according to Kevin:
The energy a person adds to food by preparing it himself actually causes the electrons in the food to spin in different directions, causing a much healthier product for the body.
Well, as I noted in my reply to my correspondent, Trudeau of all people is an expert on spin.
"I think I might have found Hustledork Central..."
That was the subject line of a recent email I received from the aforementioned Christopher Locke. And after reviewing this link he sent, which takes you to a site called MyInternetMarketingExpert.net, I think Chris may be right. He added that a Google search for MyInternetMarketingExpert yielded over nine million results, but noted that these two were the kickers:
The brains behind all of this Internet amazingness is one Philippe Matthews, aka "Rev. SHOCK," who describes himself as the "Spiritual Director of The SHOCKphilosophy Institute of Advanced Manifestation and Moderator of The SHOCKforum." SHOCK is an acronym for Seeking Higher Omnipotent Conscious Knowledge, and the SHOCK Institute is described as "A Virtual University Dedicated to Teaching The Advanced Laws of The Universe." It sure looks to me like one-stop shopping (or SHOCKing) for all of your hustledork-drivel needs!
Finally, for those who like their guru-skewering and pop culture commentary seasoned with a hearty dose of wildly irreverent wordplay, I direct you to the blog of Xanadu Xero, who hails from "Hell Lay, Callowpornia, United States." Xero describes herself as "a middle-aged, bottle blond, faux negro Beverly Hills JAP, activist manque, menopausal mutant, college drop-out, alloyed Yippie, vice enthusiast and Yale mom." Check out her blog at http://www.xanaduxero.blogspot.com/
That's it for now; I have to get back to work. Wait, the work day's over; it's almost time for dinner. Anyway, before I go I want to remind you to cast your votes for the 2009 Scammy Awards, as recently announced by Dr. John Curtis of Americans Against Self-Help Fraud. As you may recall, I wrote about it here a couple of days ago, but this is the official survey form. (C'mon, people, I'm giving you lots of good material here!)