Monday, January 29, 2007

One More Note on "The Secret"

One of the dramatized stories in "The Secret" tells of a boy who desperately wants a particular bike. Not just a bike - a specific brand. He cuts photographs out of magazines, watches jealously as other kids ride by on the same bike he wants. With the power of positive thinking, and apparently some meditation (he's seen looking at the cut-out advertisement in a park-like setting), the universe realigns. One day the bike he's so greedily been pursuing appears magically at his front door, delivered by a grandfatherly-looking man.

Greedy little boys will be rewarded if they just keep a postive attitude?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Secret

I recently had the chance to view "The Secret," the DVD that's becoming a marketing phenomenon. It purports to reveal an ancient secret that has, until now, been shared with a select few - the wealthy and successful elite around the world. The video includes instruction and commentary from authors, "visonaries," professional philosophers and metaphysics experts...all presented with an air of mystery and intrigue, including brief re-enactments of ancient heroes rescuing "the secret" from oblivion (though we never actually are told what any of these historical re-enactments represent).

"The Secret," as it turns out, really much of a secret. It simply presents, in an entertaining format, some basic human truths that have been understood for eons - but for which most people lack the focus to follow effectively: "Do Unto Others as you would have them Do Unto You," "What comes around goes around," and so on. The program discusses having the right attitude (i.e. if you are negative, negative things will happen to you).

I've found that most popular self-help books are just creative reworkings of these same basic principles. Each book, or video in this case, packages the same message for varying audiences.

It all comes down to setting goals, focusing on your goals, and maintaining a positive attitude.

It's not a secret. It's a challenge.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Taj Mahal

I was trying to explain to someone today the experience of standing before the Taj Mahal during my visit to India this past summer. The Taj Mahal is such an icon of world history and simulataneously a symbol of a country, a belief, of architecture, of peace...of an almost endless array of interpretions that it almost seems unreal.

Standing there in the vast courtyard, facing the actual structures that comprise the Taj Mahal, after a exhaustive trip throuugh crowded roads, Indian countryside, and a throng of venders descending upon our little American group, it wasn't difficult to feel grateful for the experience. As I walked up to the complex, I placed a hand on the cold marble base upon with the Taj Mahal was built. As beautiful as it looks in the traditional photographs of which we're all familiar, the true beauty lies in the intricate detail - carvings and inlaid designs that are invisible from a distance, but are nevertheless the elements that in in total are the Taj Mahal.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Me Syndrome

Quite a while back, I wrote here about a series of ads promoting the treatment of something called "Restless Leg Syndrome," or RLS - which also happens to be my initials. Recently, I happened to come across a couple of brochures on the disease, with tips and advice that make me feel just a bit uneasy. Here are a few examples:

"People with RLS describe their symptoms differently. For some it's a creepy-crawly, tugging, pulling, twitching, or itching sensation..."

....not the first time I've heard that.

"Primary RLS is characterized by unpleasant feelings in your legs."

Fine, I'll keep my hands to myself.

"Nearly half of RLS sufferers have a family history of the condtion."

If I make you so miserable, just tell me to leave!

"Only your doctor can diagnose RLS."

I prefer to use my own doctor, thank you.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Search Results Update

Yesterday, I looked at the stats for this page to see what search terms most commonly brought people here.

Currently, the lead search term is "Johnny Gosch," the missing child case from the early 80's that turned up in the news late last summer when photos turned up, purportedly of the boy tied and gagged shortly after the abduction. After several weeks, the photos were vaguely discredited (i.e. no solid evidence) and the story disappeared from the newspapers. I suspect it's turning up again after the Shawn Hornbeck case brought that unsettled case to mind.

Another search term that still turns up on a regular basis is "Wickshire School," the long-closed elementary school I attended in New York. Somebody out there keeps searching for information on that school, and returns to my page. As yet, I haven't seen any comments from fellow classmates...

There's also quite a few searches for "rich boy" or "rich boy's real name," which I am guessing relates to some pop-culture reference I'm not familiar with. Anyone know what it means? [Edit: he's a rap/hip hop artist]

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Shawn Hornbeck

Whenever I hear about cases like the Shawn Hornbeck case (that's the boy who was kidnapped four years ago and just recently was returned to his family along with a recently abducted 13 year old), I can't help but wonder about other missing kids like him who are still out there, somewhere, surviving as the world moves on around them, unaware of their situation.

It's almost as if we should have another flag next to those "MIA" flags created to keep alive the memory of soldiers missing in action. Maybe, for missing kids, Shawn Hornbeck is that flag.

Friday, January 19, 2007

MMPG, Part 2

I continue to play the "massive multi-player game" World of Warcraft , which now has over eight million players, wandering through vast worlds of fantastic creatures, heroic quests, magical powers and epic battles. In short, these games are the gaming equivelant of the epic movie - an incredible visual experience in which one is involved and impacts the action, as opposed to simply watching immobile and apart from the action. In "WoW," we're not watching characters interact on screen with other characters - we're the characters, interacting with other people's characters. As the technology continues to advance, and possible character interactions become more complex, the similarities to the cinimatic world will expand.

Gaming is already a huge industry, bringing in more revenue than motion pictures. Games like this are just early examples of the future of entertainment - fully immersive, fantastic environments - experiences unlike anything that currently exists. This won't replace filmed entertainment - no more than televsion or motion pictures destroyed reading - this will eventually become another vast form of entertainment.

If you think people live their lives precariously through their favorite televsion show, just wait until they can live in that program, as well.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Massive Multi-Player Gaming - Part One

About a month ago, I decided to experiment a bit with massive multi-player gaming. For quite a while, I've been fascinated with this online phenomenan, which enables people around the world to interact in rich virtual worlds. Some games, like Worlds of Warcraft, consist of millions of gamers, and have spawned entire independent industries created to serve them. These industries will buy and sell the virtual items used in these games (i.e. online 'currency,' weaponry, armor) for real-world money. For example, an online player will pay $20 to recieve, within the game 500 gold coins...which he can use to advance more quickly within the game. The companies who offer these items sometimes have legions of low paid offshore (for example, Chinese) workers who spend their work hours trolling the games and accumulating items for sale to the highest bidder. Some call it cheating; others call it entreprenuership. Either way, it's people spending real money on something that doesn't actually exist for the benefit of dominating a non-exist world with imaginary characters that in turn represent real people you may never meet. This begins to sound like contemplating the origins of the universe...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

My Space Personalities

One of the annoying aspects if MySpace is the tendency for a large number of people to create alternative personalities that have no relationship whatsoever to their real-life personalities. Language and attitude are transformed into something wholly artificial - and obviously's an extension of kids immitating gangsta style - with LA origins in weapons, gangs and drug abuse - suburban kids imitating ignorance and a heightened form of arrogance - pretending to flip off the very lifestyle from which they will continue to benefit.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Return of my Blog

Here we go again...

Under intense pressure from my reading public (translation: under a suggestion from my nephew), I have decided to resume writing my blog.

Stay tuned....