Friday, April 03, 2015

Prior dispatches-of-note from the SHAMscape...


Family ties? Interesting buzz building over Hawaiian Congressperson and rising Dem star Tulsi Gabbard, and not just because she's easy on the eyes. Gabbard is believed to be the first person of Hindu faith elected to Congress, but more important for our purposes are her clear lifelong ties to a little-known Hare Krishna sect led by the charismatic Chris Butler. (For the sake of convenience as well as a desire to avoid throwing my Blogger spellchecker into digital arrest, I am using Butler's given Anglo name; the link will take you to his religious name, should you care to give it a try.) The sect itself is Krishna fare heavily seasoned with airier New Age concepts as well as pseudo-scientific nonsense reminiscent of the pabulum Deepak Chopra feeds his followers. Overall, not the sort of belief system you want driving someone's actions in Congress, I'd think. (And then there's the question of excessive political access granted to folks with weird/scary agendas. Gabbard is also a vice-chair of the DNC.) Of course, you don't need to leave the contiguous 48 to find culty influences in politics. As you may know, many Hollywood A-list Scientologists count Beltway insiders among their circle of friends, and lesser-known Christian groups with a distinct cultish aromaThe Family International (which curried much of its political favor under its previous name, Children of God) and James Dobson's Focus on the Familyare said to have the ear (if not other organs) of such GOP luminaries and POTUS contenders as Rick Sanctimonious (oh wait, I misspelled that) and Ted Cruz. Notwithstanding their "Yes, Jesus loves me!" PR, not a few Christian-right sects are dogged by persistent allegations of misogyny, homophobia, physical/sexual/emotional abuse and other delightful expressions of tolerance and brotherhood.

The Rapist's Creed? Today John Assaraf, another Secret-eer, tweeted as follows:

In reply I tweeted the title I chose for this item, and I concede it's a bit of a cheap shot. A bit. But let's face it, there are myriad settings in lifein personal relationships, at work, in business, in the armed forces, and so onwhere following Assaraf's "axiom" could have catastrophic results. For you and for who-knows-how-many people whose fates depend on your actions. Are there times when such advice could be useful? Of course. Just as there are myriad settings where the results could be catastrophic, there are myriad settings where the world is just waiting for someone, maybe you, to be bold, to forge ahead, to defy convention, possibly even to defy the direct orders of a supervisor or spouse. But as is true with so much of self-help, we almost never know which approach was right until later. Or the bold approach could be right for Sally and wrong for Sue, or vice versa. And if advice is only good half the time (or less) and/or in hindsight...how useful is it as a general prescription for success? (See under "never give up your dreams!") 
If the Earth is flat, don't book a 'round-the-world cruise... This is a small bit of news (or commentary) with a BIG point: Dave Ramsey is one of the nation's foremost finance gurus, and though I don't venture very far into the finance-writing realma world unto itselfthe point this trade article makes is valid throughout the SHAMscape: If a guru's assumptions are off, his advice will almost always be fatally flawed. I don't care how big a fan you are/were of Oprah or the New Age, if the law of attraction is a steaming pile of bat guano, you cannot implement it for good effect in your daily life. If that giant Genie-in-the-Universe isn't just waiting on tenterhooks to hear your next wish, you can't expect him (her?) to execute accordingly. Which is one main reason (among many) why The Secret was and remains such a boondoggle.

Tony has mastered the game. Tony Robbins, he of the estimated $480 million net worth (up a cool $390 mill since I wrote SHAM), wants everyone to Master the Game of money, as per the title of his latest bestseller. Robbins also has a significant ongoing business relationship with Advisors Excel (AE), an insurance wholesaler/marketing powerhouse that stands to derive great benefit from several key financial strategies Tony romances in the book. Robbins himself acknowledges that he has "partnered" with AE, so I suppose he can't be accused of having a secret agenda. But readers who think that Tony's book is a mere work of journalism, wherein he presents a disinterested, totally objective survey of the financial marketplace, may wish to reconsider. Especially since he doesn't really get around to discussing AE until page 431, by which time all of the seeds of his program have been planted and repeatedly fertilized.

And Dr. Phil boors on. Fresh from being cleared of (civil) improprieties arising from his having injected himself into the Natalee Holloway disappearance, Dr. Phil is taking flak for injecting himself into the ongoing saga of Bobbi Kristina Brown. McGraw interviewed and (many would say) baited an obviously wasted Nick Gordon, then used the exploitative video of same on his show.

Is there a nice way to waterboard your daughter's prom date? There are already various tomes on how to read people...ranging from decoding body language to listening for subtle aural cues to learning to quickly compose questions that jog people out of their pat responses and comfort zones. But now those ultimate extractors of truth, our friends from the CIA, are weighing in with what some frame as the ultimate guidebook on the gleaning of useful intel in daily life. Quoth the Guardian, "Using techniques developed in real-life counterterrorism and criminal investigations, in Get the Truth they present a step-by-step guide that empowers readers to elicit the truth from otherswhether that's in the boardroom, the classroom, or our own homes." Can a book from Putin on the creative use of polonium be far behind? 

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