Category Archives: Rhonda Byrne

Hot Air

Sugar Pills

So, if I were to offer the scientific medical community advice — which they haven’t asked for, but here it is in any case — I would tell them to get cracking on researching how much our minds affect our health.

No, I’m not suddenly turning into one of these Rhonda Byrne types who tell the gullible that all the things that happen to them in their lives are the result of their own thoughts. Y’know, all that “Secret” and “Law of Attraction” bushwa. I do still have a functioning frontal lobe.

Brain

Mine Works

Nevertheless, real thinking researchers have known for years that much of illness is psychogenic — that is, imagined. That doesn’t make the pain or disability any less. If you feel agony, you feel agony no matter if your coconut is contriving it or not.

Take, for instance, a couple of examples from Carl Sagan’s indispensable book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science As a Candle in the Dark:

  • Some aboriginal tribes in the New World thought the Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca and his gang were medicine men, so they laid their treasures at the to-be-conquerers’ feet and begged to be healed. Lo and behold, people started telling each other they’d magically become well. When Cabeza de Vaca’s men became overwhelmed by these supplicants, he told them he was leaving and, suddenly, people became sick again and even died.

Stamp

  • The apparition of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes drew many thousands of people there to be cured. A number of cancer patients who’d experienced spontaneous remission after visiting the site testified their newfound health was of divine origin. (Statistics show that in any grouping of cancer patients, there will be a percentage of those whose cancer simply goes into hiding, as it were.)

Lourdes

Our Lady Of Lourdes

Sagan writes, “As Cabeza de Vaca’s experience suggests, the mind can cause certain diseases, even fatal ones.” And, one would assume, the mind can be convinced the body is healed as well. He goes on to cite the phenomenon of deathly sick old people in traditional Chinese communities where the Harvest Moon Festival is celebrated who “stave off death for a week or two to perform their ceremonial responsibilities.” The same thing happens, statistically, to old Jewish men around Passover and grandparents whose scions are graduating from college or having birthdays.

One reason, I suspect, the medical establishment doesn’t pursue these phenomena with greater vigor is there probably isn’t a pill that can be patented and sold as a result of such research. Medicine in the United States, I might remind you, is a for-profit business.

I bring this up because something similar has happened to me. I’ve been experiencing excruciating hip pain for the last few years. I’ve even been walking with a cane on occasion. Studying at the University of Google and speaking with others who’ve gone through the same thing, I learned that my symptoms indicated a need for a hip replacement. Knowing this, I started making plans to fit the surgery and rehab into my schedule. So, knowing that I will be finished writing the Charlotte Zietlow book soon (a descriptor that can mean anything from a few weeks to several eons), I went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago and said, “Let’s get going.”

Hip

Ouch

Step one was a complete X-ray regimen. The technician spun me around like a top, zapping me with Roentgens from every possible angle. I posed so much I felt like Caitlyn Jenner, sans the lipstick.

The next day the doc’s nurse gave me a call. It turns out I do indeed have severe hip arthritis, so much so that the cartilage is significantly thickened and the actual bone material making up the ball of my femur is overgrown. Okay, I said, what’s next? Nothing, she replied. The radiologist and my doc agree there is absolutely no deterioration or necrosis of the bone substance in my hip. Such conditions are de rigueur for a hip replacement.

The nurse told me the course from now on would be to manage the pain, for which she gave me a number of suggestions.

To be honest, I was thrilled at the news. I had no wish to go through general anesthetic again. I’ve had major surgery a few times in my life and each time, it took weeks for my bean to recover from the drugs and gasses used to send me off to nap time.

Now, here’s the weird part. Over the next few days, my hip started feeling better than it has in a good year or more. See, every time I moved, I’d been afraid I was turning my right hip’s ball and socket joint into bone meal. I honestly thought I’d hear a snap, crackle, or pop one day when I’d lift myself up off the recliner, my hip shattering like peanut brittle. I became so tense and apprehensive that the right side of my body as well as my entire lower back were becoming as taut as a drumhead.

Yet, as soon as I realized my hip joint wasn’t about to disintegrate, it was as though I’d taken a magic pill that, if not curing me, at least made me feel remarkably better.

All because I got some good news.

The Pencil Today:

HotAirLogoFinal Tuesday

THE QUOTE

“The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point then the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.” — George Bernard Shaw

Shaw

UH, GEE, THANKS

Every year, someone who cares about you will give you a Christmas/Hannukah gift that you’ll never use. A gift, in fact, that you’d be embarrassed for the firemen to discover should your house go up in flames.

Surly Amy on Skepchick offered invaluable advice yesterday on what to do with a specific genre of such unwanted largesse.

From Skepchick

Go Ahead, She Won’t Bite

 

A reader wrote in to S.A. asking what to do with all the old pseudoscience, self-help, and pop metaphysics books she’s collected through the years. She has the courage and moral fortitude to admit she once bought into the “ideas” presented therein but now is a devoted skeptic. So, what should she do with those old books?

The usual answer would be to donate or sell them but the reader won’t do that because she doesn’t want to spread these virus-laden items around.

Surly Amy canvassed creative skeptics and was able to offer some fab alternatives:

  • Make an iPad holder
  • Make a “book” shelf
  • Create book art
  • Fashion paper flowers out of pages and book covers

From Skepchick

Voila: A “Book” Shelf!

Go to MadArtLab for more ideas on upcycling books and other fun projects.

Now you know what to do with those copies of Deepak Chopra’s big seller “Super Brain,” Michael Singer’s mega-seller “The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself,” or Rhonda Byrne’s old reliable “The Secret” that a well-meaning (albeit tragically misguided) soul might give you next week.

THE JOY OF GORGING

Speaking of X-mas, here’s my tried and true Italian holiday cookies recipe. Make these and you’ll be the toast of the block.

They’re great for dipping and late night snacking. And they’re guaranteed to add inches to your waistline.

I mean, what else are cookies for?

Now then:

Big Mike’s Italian Holiday Cookies

  • 5 cups flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ½ sticks butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 heaping tsps baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • Half a bag of unsweetened jumbo baking chocolate chips

◗ Mix flour, powder, and salt together. Put aside. In second bowl, cream butter and sugar. In third bowl, fork whip eggs and add vanilla and lemon extracts — mix well.

◗ Pour egg mixture into creamed mixture. Stir well.

◗ Add flour mixture gradually to creamed mixture, combining as much as possible with wooden spoon. Then work dough with your hands. Completed dough should have the consistency of clay.

◗ Refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat and set oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough into 1-inch diameter balls. Place balls on ungreased, non-stick cookie sheets. Press thumb into center of balls to make lens-like discs. Place large, semi-sweet chocolate baking chip, pointy end down, into center of each disc. Bake for 12-17 minutes, until golden brown.

Eat and gain weight. Worry about your waistline next year.

WOMEN YOU SHOULD KNOW

Recognize these names?

Women

If not, why not?

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Like its politicians and its war, society has the teenagers it deserves.” — Joseph Priestley

WANTING TO REBEL IN THE WORST WAY

Let’s look at something from the viewpoint of a dopey kid who’s burning up with the desire to piss people off.

It’s an easy task for me because that’s precisely the kind of dopey kid I was. That urge to thumb my nose at grownups and society at large was so overpowering that I got myself busted. It wasn’t until a couple of tough guy detectives pounded on the back door of my family’s home and slapped the cuffs on me when I was 17 that I realized the whole F.U. I was shouting at the world might not be a strategic success.

Believe me, having my belt and shoelaces confiscated, sitting in a cell where the toilet has no seat because inmates can kill themselves with it (I still don’t know how they can do it), and being offered the traditional bologna sandwich and a glass of water for dinner profoundly changes one’s attitude toward senseless rebellion.

Anyway, a couple of Bloomington teenagers presumably faced that same reality check this week. The two high school students, a boy and a girl, were hauled in on suspicion of drawing a swastika and writing the word Hitler on a poster at the Jewish studies program office in Goodbody Hall.

Apparently, the kids were hanging around the IU campus, bored, and decided to liven up the decor. The IU police say crude drawings of female parts were also found around Goodbody, drawn with the same type of black marker that the anti-semitic stuff was scrawled in.

I could have been that boy (if I had a girlfriend at that age). So I ask myself, Why would I have done it?

When I was 15, 16, and 17, the Vietnam War was just winding down, Watergate was just gearing up, and the country was just emerging from the chaos of assassinations and race rioting. I concluded this was a sick nation, that I was one of the select few souls perceptive enough to grasp that elementary fact.

Sick Nation

My parents were the two stupidest people to walk the face of this Earth. How they survived the mere act of getting to work in the morning baffled me. My teachers were idiots — all they were concerned about was the length of my hair. The cops were fascists. Politicians were crooked. Corporations were run by greedy pigs who’d sell out their grandmothers for a profit. And even the music on the radio was execrable — I mean, honestly, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree”? And what about “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia”?

For pity’s sake, can you blame me for wanting to overthrow the world?

The Last Straw

I was too much of a dope to understand that I could have channeled my rage in some constructive way. I hadn’t the slightest idea what I could have done to, say, force the executives of Ford Motor Company to mend their ways, or convince the Illinois governor not to slurp at the public trough.

The only thing I could think of was to roar.

Yeah, I was dopey, but I didn’t really mean anybody any harm. I wasn’t about to take a gun (which I had access to, thanks to some of my associates in small-time crime) and go out blasting for the lark of it.

Hell, I could hardly muster the bile to punch a guy in the face, although that talent was considered requisite in my neighborhood.

So what was I to do to inform the citizens of this holy land that I considered them consummate boobs?

I fell back on the old reliables: busting windows, splattering paint on walls, petty theft, flashing the finger at passing squad cars (all the while making sure they wouldn’t see me doing it), and other teen boy annoyances.

“Yeah, This’ll Show ‘Em!”

Those two Bloomington kids might well be harboring some of the same grievances I did. Hell, cops are still dousing protesters with pepper spray these days. Corporations are still run by greedy pigs. Pointless wars are still being fought. And Illinois governors are still going to prison.

Work Hard, Study, Mind Your Elders And You, Too, Can Grow Up To Be Governor

The two kids may not know exactly who Otto Kerner was or Rod Blagojevich is, but rest assured they know pols still are adept at digging their hands in our pockets when we aren’t looking. It’s a safe bet to assume, as well, that the two Bloomington teens feel their parents are spectacularly uninformed and incapable of tying their own shoelaces.

And maybe — just maybe — they needed the world to know just how contemptible they think it is.

So, pretend you’re a kid with a half-formed sense of morality. What’s the worst thing you can draw on a wall that illustrates how despicable you think the adult nation is?

A good starting point might be a penis or a vagina, no? That’ll shake ’em up. They’ll realize what idiots they are when they catch sight of that, huh?

Okay, now that we’ve made our point clear on that score, how about politics? Let’s see now, who was the most evil politician of all time?

Duh! Adolf Hitler!

“This Is What I Think Of You.”

Man, nothin’s gonna show these pigs what we think of ’em better than writing the name of history’s most evil man on a poster and drawing a swastika.

You think you’re gonna pull me into your bullshit world, man? Take that! Hitler. Hah!

You may counter that I’m being too forgiving here. Perhaps these two kids have had their brains turned to mush by the rantings of neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Perhaps one or both of the kids really hates Jews.

I doubt it. My guess is that neither of the kids knows exactly what a Jew is.

They most likely only know that writing Hitler’s name on a wall pisses people off, big time. And it’s a sure-fire way to make the announcement that we are not you.

I hope the kids had an epiphany when they had their belts and shoelaces taken away.

BIRTHERS NEVER DIE

Can you believe it? Birthers are still around and still making bleating noises.

Birthers.

Jerome Corsi is one of them. You’ve heard of him. Several of his books have made the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list.

Corsi

Which is ironic because they’re as far from nonfiction as the number one bestseller called “Heaven Is for Real” by that Nebraska preacher named Burpo about his kid’s fever dream fantasy that he died and came back from paradise.

Corsi, of course, is the fabulist who popularized the Swiftboat canard against 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, and has since thrown his lot in with the likes of Orly Taitz, who is to sanity what the hot dog station at the Circle K is to gourmet cooking.

Taitz

Corsi earned a doctorate in political science from Harvard, which proves only that even Ivy League institutions make mistakes.

Taitz, meanwhile, roams the streets freely, always one step ahead of the men with butterfly nets.

Corsi’s latest flight of psychotic fancy is called “Where’s the Birth Certificate: The Case that Barack Obama Is not Eligible to Be President,” published last year even as Barack Obama produced his long-form birth certificate.

Per Corsi’s peculiar logic, that is not the birth certificate.

Whatever the hell ever that means.

Anyway, New Jersey Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco, a Republican (duh!) from Morris, has jumped on the Manchurian Candidate bandwagon. The state legislator says Corsi, who gave an SRO speech at the Morristown Masonic Lodge that Bucco attended Tuesday, piques his interest.

Corsi, according to Bucco, raised “interesting points I wasn’t aware of, and it made me believe this thing isn’t going away.”

Bucco, by the way, is an alternate spelling of the Italian word for hole. As in the things in both his and Corsi’s heads. Taitz’s cranium is a sieve.

Osso Bucco — Literally, Bone With A Hole

Bucco is the deputy Republican leader in the New Jersey House. Corsi’s speech was sponsored by a gaggle of Tea Party groups as well the Morris County Republican Party.

So this is fairly mainstream stuff. Within my lifetime, the cranks of this holy land have become respectable — which says absolutely nothing about them but everything about us.

See, there’ve always been those who fixate on marginalia. There were guys I used to see at City Hall, for instance, who rode their rusty three-speed bikes to every single City Council Zoning Committee meeting, convinced they were the average citizen’s bulwark against corruption. You know the type — they loiter in the county building halls and mumble hello to passing county board members and whoever is foolish enough to acknowledge them immediately becomes the object of the loiterer’s mantra-like anecdote for the next few weeks: “I was talking to so-and-so at the county building and she says….”

Or how about the insomniacs who listened to all-night syndicated talk radio shows? They knew that the government was sitting on alien visitation evidence in Roswell.

Proof!

They reside at the flange of the sanity’s bell curve.

For most of our history, the ramblings of these folks have been the aural equivalent of the croak of a toad in a wetland ten miles from the nearest outpost of civilization.

Now, though, that toad croak must be breathlessly covered by TV, radio, and newspaper reporters across the nation.

How did that happen?

Is it the inevitable result of me-generation huffing and puffing from the 70s?

You know, everybody’s opinion counts? Feelings are paramount? Facts are fascist? If you believe it, it’s true?

Self-help authors made millions pontificating in this manner. Remember Robert Bly and John Bradshaw? Later practitioners included Marianne Williamson and, more recently, Rhonda Byrne, she of “The Secret.”

Believe And It Will Be So

They all preached that you create your own reality.

And no matter how much the Right derides the touchy-feely, post-hippie, 70’s generation, most of them grew up in that era. If they didn’t care for est training and I-am-woman-hear-me-roar, they surely dug the patronizing message that whatever you think or believe is valid.

Well, guess what folks — it ain’t.

No matter how passionately you feel, the world is not flat. The Apollo moon landings were not staged. Alien bodies were not hidden in a hangar at Area 51. And Barack Obama was born in Hawai’i.

 

 

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