December 15, 2008

A Prescription for Conspiracy

Racketeering in Medicine: The Suppression of Alternatives by James P. Carter, M.D., Dr. P.H. (Hampton Roads Publishing, 1992, ISBN: 1-878901-32-X)

This book was written by: James P. Carter, M.D., Dr. P.H., who has served as the chairman of the national advisory committee of Meharry Medical College’s Kraft-General Foods Nutrition Center and as an editorial advisor to Prevention magazine.

What is in this book: Dr. Carter’s accusations that Organized Medicine, a “wide-ranging mosaic of special-interest groups who wield undue influence for maximizing profit and perpetuating the status quo in medical fields,” has “orchestrated financially-motivated cover-ups” for such nefarious purposes as “controlling the treatment of cancer”(p.xvii). For example, the practice of clinical ecology is ignored “simply because it does not abide by the strict definitions of scientific medicine, which confine diagnoses to that which can be scientifically explained”(p.64). Dr. Carter feels that “scientific proof of effectiveness is not always required—anecdotal evidence has been accepted as valid criteria”(p.7) for some therapies, like bypass surgery, so Organized Medicine is doing humanity a disservice by ignoring the medical breakthroughs that are being made daily in private hospitals, home laboratories, garages, toolsheds, bathroom stalls, and the back of a 1987 Ford Econoline van.

What is not in this book: Whitewashing. Dr. Carter makes no effort to spare us from the ugly truth, lifting the veil of goodwill used to cloak such monstrous abominations the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the American Lung Association. “Could it be that these charities are working on behalf of Organized Med on the higher up, administrative level? Some observers consider the major charities to be thinly-disguised lobbying fronts for Organized Med”(p.212). Dr. Carter also calls out the American Medical Association’s Coordinating Conference on Health Information, “a secretive, covert organization which operated with other similar groups, intertwining itself throughout a network with no public scrutiny”(p.14). And he brings to light the existence of a strike force that was formed “without the approval of congress and without the knowledge or the consent of the public,” although “it is a reasonable assumption that policy decisions were made by senior government officials in various agencies, and those policies were carried out through the covert actions of the strike force”(p.33).

Would you recommend this book to John McEnroe? Possibly, but this book is mostly about racketeering, and not much about racqueteering.

Would you recommend this book to Ecuadorean rapper and singer Girardo? No, Dr. Carter would like to see the corrupt organizations suppressing medical advancements brought to court under the RICO act. He is not interested in seeing the Rico (Suave) act.

What was interesting about this book? This is one of the few books with the courage to publicly defend the Church of Scientology and the good work it has been doing through its Citizens Commission on Human Rights, including its attempts to ban the prescription drug Prozac. Dr. Carter agrees with the statement that Scientologists are “earnest, enterprising, public-spirited and committed people,” and also with the statement that Scientologists “are sincere, dedicated human beings, who are striving hard for the betterment of all”(p.191). “Bravo to them,” says Dr. Carter, “for taking on legal drug merchants”(p.191).

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December 1, 2008

Being Prepared: What Boy Scouts Wish They Knew

Preparing for Adolescence by Dr. James Dobson (Bantam Books, 1980, ISBN 0-553-24231-8)

This book was written by: Dr. James Dobson, chairman of the board of the nonprofit Focus on the Family organization and author of Dare to Discipline, which advocates corporal punishment for raising balanced, well-adjusted children. This book helps guide boys and girls through the challenges they will face at adolescence, after you have beaten them into responsible, well-adjusted children.

What is in this book: Advice from a hip cat who wants “to participate in a rap session”(p.109) with adolescents to let them know that they’re not alone in their troubles. Dr. Dobson establishes his street cred quickly, letting you know that if you use this book to help your children through their adolescence, "Knute Rockne would be proud of you!"(p.4), and showing how you and he feel the same pressures to conform to society's ideas of what it means to be current, like their suggestion that “nobody uses hair oil anymore, and if you use it as you did in the fifties and sixties, there must be something wrong with you”(p.36).
Dr. Dobson then uses his uncanny insights into the pressures faced by modern adolescents to sketch an accurate representation of their first encounter with drugs and peer pressure. It starts “in a car with four other young people,” where everyone starts taking “reds,” and “you are the last one to be handed the bottle”(p.37). If you give in to the taunting of your friends (“Come on, sissy [....] Who would have thought that Jackie-Boy was a big chicken! Come on, Baby Face”[p.37]), then “you’ll find that the next time drugs are offered, it’ll be a little easier to take them [.... and] soon you’ll be seriously hooked on narcotics, all because of the pressure of conformity”(p.38).
“Other harmful behaviors can also be traced to the pressure of conformity,” and Dr. Dobson traces these behaviors back to their source, usually beginning “by a ‘friend’ offering a weed to someone who has never smoked”(p.39). This book will give you the courage to stand up to any “friend” who tries to offer you a weed.

What is not in this book: Advice for children who are not normal, where normal is defined as heterosexual, Jesus-worshipping, and coming from a household with married parents and a stay-at-home mom. Worried that you can’t live up to this ideal? Don’t be. “Homosexuality is an abnormal desire that reflects deep problems, but it doesn’t happen very often, and it’s not likely to happen to you”(p.66).
Dr. Dobson also refuses to be hoodwinked by the mainstream media’s alternate explanations for drug and alcohol abuse. Kids are “tempted to take drugs or smoke or drink for the same reason you are—simply because they’re afraid to be different”(p.39), and anyone who tries to tell you that substance abuse can be caused by other factors like surviving sexual abuse, coping with parents getting divorced, having parents who beat them, dealing with being a closeted homosexual, and undiagnosed mental illnesses like chronic depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder has clearly never been an adolescent.

Would you recommend this book to Jamie Lynn Spears? Maybe back when she was a Nick star, but these days, she’s a woman.

Would you recommend this book to John McCain? No, he should read "Preparing for Obsolescence." ZING!

What was interesting about this book: You will want to keep a bucket of ice water handy or be ready to take a cold shower when you encounter the steamy language he uses to start discussing “The Sex Appetite”(p.58) and how “you will be with a person of the opposite sex who will let you know that he or she will permit you to have this experience”(p.61). While colorful, this language is necessary and completely justified because “your body will begin to develop a brand new appetite when you’re between twelve and fifteen years old”(p.58). Adolescents will find that “every year as you get older, this appetite will become more and more a part of you,” and in the same way that missing breakfast will make you “plenty hungry by two o’clock in the afternoon,” this sex appetite will build within you until “this desire may lead you to marriage”(p.58).
Dr. Dobson also describes what it’s like to have a crush, which “occurs when you begin to think that one particular person is absolutely fantastic, and you fantasize about the possibility of being married to that person”(p.59), and explains that “I deal with so many Christian young people who are torn apart with guilt over masturbation; they want to stop and just can’t”(p.64).
Unfortunately, Dr. Dobson stops short in his discussions of the sex appetite by neglecting to mention issues such as sex anorexia, sex bulimia, and the dangers of death by sex starvation.

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November 15, 2008

Award-Winning Excavations

Something More: Excavating Your Authentic Self by Sarah Ban Breathnach (Warner Books, 1998, ISBN: 0-446-52413-1)

This book was written by: Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of Simple Abundance and a woman who has a healthy, well-balanced attitude about men and her relationships with them. “I have always overwhelmed men,” she writes, “I used to think it was because I was lacking. Now I realize I’m the living embodiment of abundance – too much woman, too much love, too much passion”(p.163).

What is in this book: In this book, “You’re embarking on an archaeological dig to excavate your Authentic Self. Our journey has brought us to the sacred site of your soul. The choice of archaeology as our fantasy is very deliberate, because women are born incurable romantics”(p.20). Finding your authentic self “is not easy; if it were, everybody would be doing it,” but Ms. Ban Breathnach notes that “It’s been my observation that only women of great discernment, women with no time to lose or squander, and women who frequently feel too close to the edge for comfort, are the best candidates. Women very much like you and me”(p.8). At the end of each chapter are a set of questions, exercises for the reader assigned as field work. “As the archaeologist of your Self, it will be necessary for you to do some digging in the verdant field of your past, in order to aid the excavation process” (p.14).

What is not in this book: Advice for dudes. Some of the greatest luminaries in archaeology (Heinrich Schliemann, Howard Carter, Indiana Jones) may have been men, but this is a book for women—a fact you may recognize when Ban Breathnach discusses how the movie Bridges of Madison County was “a perfect example—not of passion, but of the habitual betrayal of our authenticity that leaves us lonely, vulnerable, and aching for anything other than a self-imposed sentence of life imprisonment”(p.147). It becomes even more evident when you read about how “You are sent into the Wilderness for one reason, and one reason only: Woman, find thyself”(p.177). Men shouldn’t read this book, and they certainly shouldn’t enjoy it, because “Men treat you badly when they don’t love you, but they treat you even worse when they don’t want to”(p.180, emphasis the author’s).

Would you recommend this book to Wonder Woman? Not really. I’d rather she spent her time reading books about the due process of law, and maybe brush up on some interrogation techniques in case her lasso of truth ever goes on the fritz. Lynda Carter might want to check this book out, though.

Would you recommend this book to a Sandhog? I... I can’t do it. I’m not going to use this space to make a crude, excavation-related double entendre about women and "heavy equipment." No matter how much I want to. I'm better than that.

What was interesting about this book? Sarah Ban Breathnach is a very spiritual writer. “Before making major decisions, I take my question to the spiritual world for consultation”(p.226). Creating the book itself appears to have been an almost religious experience, as she notes that “I laughed and cried as I wrote this book, just as women laugh and cry when we give birth. And I sense that this will be your experience as well”(p.14). Now that it has been completed, Ms. Ban Breathnach reflects on the process by admitting that “I trust the unseen more than the visible, which is why I have come to rely on the spiritual secret that ‘The Book’ always knows more than I do, thank God”(p.327).

Special Award
For the first time ever, Bitterly Books would like to present the WTF Award for Excellence in Literary Juxtaposition to Sarah Ban Breathnach for the following paragraph (p.78, emphasis the author’s):

One of the more horrific ways to die is through internal hemorrhaging, the uncontrollable bleeding buried in the body’s cavity. What makes this particular exit route even more insidious is that internal hemorrhaging is most often painless to the victim. There are no visible clues signaling the tiny trickle that starts when a small blood vessel begins to leak until it’s become a fatal flood, “a blood-stemmed tide,” as the Irish poet W. B. Yeats so beautifully describes destiny.

In his original poem "The Second Coming," Yeats writes of a "blood-dimmed tide." Because of her bold re-interpretation of the poet's original language and her daring linkage of Irish poetry, destiny, and death by internal bleeding, it is with great pride that Bitterly Books announces Sarah Ban Breathnach as the first ever recipient of the WTF Award for Excellence in Literary Juxtaposition. Ms. Ban Breathnach, you’ve earned it.

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November 1, 2008

Trust Me: This Book Is Useful

Never Be Lied to Again: How to get the truth in 5 minutes or less in any conversation or situation by David J. Lieberman, PhD (St. Martin’s Press, 1998, ISBN: 0-312-18634-7)

This book was written by: Dr. David J. Lieberman, who is “affectionately referred to as a hired gun,”(p.2) and singularly adept at marketing this book to the intensely paranoid. “When you know a person’s true intent, you have the power to control the situation,”(p.1) writes Lieberman, who also says that one of his clients described his techniques as “like having a man inside their camp—an outpost in their head” (p.1).

What is in this book: Ways that people will lie to you, and ways that you can see through their lies to draw the truth from them. You may not have known that “the person who is lying will probably slouch […] he may place physical objects between himself and his accuser”(p.26), and that other common signals to look for include poor posture(p.23), being uncomfortable with silence (p.31), not giving a direct answer (p.32), or an obsession with establishing a contrary position—e.g., “the man who claims to be adamantly against prostitution may be covering up his true feelings, which are the exact opposite”(p.36). Dr. Lieberman also directs readers to look for a lack of eye contact (p.13), mumbling, (p.24) and “take note if he is trying to control his breathing to calm himself”(p.54). This, along with the warning to “look for signs of distraction and an inability to pay attention to what’s going on”(p.55) definitively prove that people who claim to have ADD, social anxiety, or asthma are just filthy liars.

What is not in this book: A blueprint for torture (wink, wink). Dr. Lieberman’s methods to get at the truth include eleven “attack sequences” followed by eleven “silver bullets.” “If terms like arsenal, weapons, and bullets seem warlike, it’s understandable. But they’re thoroughly appropriate considering the situation [….] You need to see the process of detecting deceit for what it really is—a verbal battle”(p.67). In his opening note to readers, Dr. Lieberman cautions that his techniques could be used for ill, but “to live in a world where information is distributed based upon the damage that can be caused by the lowest common denominator is to spiral away from progress and away from hope”(p.xiii). He also warns that some of his techniques, especially the one called Heaven and Hell, “should be used as a last resort. It is with high hope and expectation that this and all of the other processes be practiced with judgment, common sense, and decency”(p.165). Of course, “if you want to influence a person’s behavior, you need to attach pain to the direction you don’t want him to move in”(p.180).

Would you recommend this book to Scarlett O’Hara? Yes, if only so she could dramatically shake her fist at the sky and scream, “As God is my witness, I will never be lied to again!

Would you recommend this book to Maury Povich? No, if the information in this book became common knowledge, his pool of guests would shrink dramatically, so he'd probably try to have all copies of this book destroyed.

What was interesting about this book? Dr. Lieberman’s hypothetical situations for using his techniques in romantic relationships. He addresses the obvious questions of whether your partner really loves you, but also sketches a scene where Pamela discovers that “she has contracted the herpes virus”(p.95). Because she is familiar with the techniques in this book, “she calls both guys up and casually informs them that she just found out that she has herpes. The responses she got led her straight to the culprit”(p.96). He also discusses a situation where “during their first intimate encounter, Randy asks his new girlfriend if she’s ever been tested for AIDS. [….] If she was concerned about her health, as her answer implied, then she would have asked him the same question”(p.44).

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October 15, 2008

Answer: Certainly Nothing Suspicious

What Is the Church Doing? by Henry P. Van Dusen (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1943)

This book was written by: Henry Pitney Van Dusen, who served as trustee of a dozen institutions (including the Rockefeller Foundation, Vassar, Smith, and Princeton), appeared on the cover of TIME Magazine, and committed suicide by overdose of sleeping pills in 1975.

What is in this book: A chronicle of the church’s efforts to stand against the sweeping menace of the Third Reich. 1943 may have been dark times for Christians, but Van Dusen assures us that throughout history, “the Christian Movement has swept in ever wider circles and penetrated with ever deeper influence” (p.137). In fact, “An undeniable adjunct of Christian extension in each of its four most creative periods has been political conquest or penetration [….] almost always political penetration has in some measure prepared a setting for the Church’s evangelistic work”(p.145). The Church's political penetration, which allows its members to stand erect in the face of der Führer, will bring Fascism to its knees. Thanks to the Church's thorough penetration, “the forward movement, when again resumed, will carry the name and power of Christ farther and deeper than at any earlier time” (p.155).

What is not in this book: Pointless divisiveness. Despite the times, Christian churches across the globe are on a course which might lead “to the ultimate reunion of all principal Christian bodies outside the Church of Rome,” (p.96) and this book describes gatherings where the “congregations are truly ecumenical. All Christian denominations, except the Roman Catholic Church, and thirty different nationalities are here represented”(p.113). Even in the face of terror and oppression on a global scale, Christians of “every major Communion (except the Church of Rome) have been coming increasingly to think of their Churches as members of a World Community”(p.55).

Would you recommend this book to the digital underground? No, in spite of what you may have heard to the contrary, the Church is not interested in doin’ the humpty dance, no matter how urgently Humpty Hump repeats his entreaties.

Would you recommend this book to that guy who played “Lowell” on Wings? No, fans who want to keep abreast of what “the Church” is doing should keep an eye on the latest copy of People.

What was interesting about this book? A surprisingly keen insight into the way that the average man on the street thinks when considering what is the Church doing. “Not infrequently it is asked with a shrug of the shoulders and a slightly altered inflection which suggests its own answer, ‘What is the Church doing?’”(p.3). As true today as when it was written.

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October 1, 2008

Surviving Families

Families and How to Survive Them by Robin Skynner and John Cleese (Oxford University Press, 1984, ISBN: 0-19-520466-2)

This book was written by: Psychiatrist Robin Skynner and one of his former patients, John Cleese. They collaborated on the book because most people have “neither the need, the time nor the inclination to bother with therapy itself,”(p.10) but Cleese notes that “even if these ideas are only one-hundredth as intriguing to you as they were to me, I shall still get the royalties”(p.11).

What is in this book: A transcription of the two authors (Skynner and Cleese) discussing behavioral and relationship difficulties experienced by families. The “script” format was the clear choice because the best medium for exploring the delicate nuances present in the full range of human emotion is obviously a 285-page dialogue between two Englishmen.
The authors assert that most family issues stem from the fact that people seek out partners who have similar personalities developed through similar upbringings. “We signal, by our expressions, postures, and ways of moving, certain habitual emotional attitudes we have, which we share with other members of our family. And people from similar families will pick them up and respond to them”(p.22), which will cause problems because “All those people who used to get married – and still do – to escape from their families are in some way taking their families with them, psychologically speaking”(p.16). You may not marry your mother, but you will seek out and marry the sister you never had.
After establishing this premise, they continue on to discuss relationships between family members on every level, breaking down problems and their solutions by using helpful metaphors--such as their explanation of sexual dysfunction as a situation where “the man is like the driver of a car who has taken his hands off the steering wheel and climbed into the back seat – the car being his penis and the steering wheel being his connection with it”(p.289).

What is not in this book: The dead parrot sketch. A heartfelt plea not to beat your children. Cleese writes that when his daughter “was about four, she was getting very, very difficult and I finally lost my temper and I smacked her hard for the first time. And to my absolute amazement I could sense that our relationship immediately got better. I had to smack her again sometimes, but the intervals between the smackings were getting longer and longer. So that after she was six, I hardly ever had to do it”(p.184).

Would you recommend this book to Andrew Dice Clay? Probably not. The subject matter would be unlikely to interest him, and he may take issue with Cleese’s claim that “I have heard several hundred thousand dirty jokes in my life, and only seven of them were funny”(p.236).

Would you recommend this book to that guy who won't stop quoting Monty Python lines (especially the ones from the Knights of Ni)? No. While that guy could definitely benefit from some quality time with a psychiatrist and/or psychotherapist, having him read this book would be like giving an antacid to someone with the Ebola virus.

What was interesting about this book: While Robin Skynner (1922–2000) went on to become physician in charge of the Department of Psychiatry at Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children as well as founder and first chairman of the Institute of Family Therapy before his death, his co-author has found employment as a motivational speaker who notes that the transitional object bringing comfort and support to his infancy “was a stuffed rabbit called Reggie”(p.143).

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September 28, 2008

Celebrity Recommendations

You are in an airport bookstore where you bump into Samuel L. Jackson. He's holding a copy of For Mothers of Difficult Daughters and heading towards the register.
Should you say something?

You are in an elevator at work when a glum-looking Al Gore taps you on the shoulder. "Hey," he says, "I was on my way to an important environmental symposium when I found this book on the end of the world. Do you think it's any good?"
What do you tell him?

You are sent back in time to 1898 clutching your most prized possession, a well-read copy of The Memory Key. You spot a stouthearted young man of fighting age who is looking for something to read.
Do you share your book with him?

Are you kept awake at night by worries that you might find yourself in one of the above situations? It's why Bitterly Books provides celebrity recommendations. With just one click, you'll know which books these people--and the other high-profile individuals who count on you so regularly for your discerning taste in literature--should read and which to steer clear of.

Bitterly Books is currently offering book recommendations for:

Al Gore
Andrew Dice Clay
Angelina Jolie
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Ashton Kutcher
Better Business Bureau Members
Billy Mays
Bob Barker
Boy Scouts
Calista Flockhart
Carrot Top
Chili Cook-Off Judges
Christine McVie
Classical Musicians
Cole Porter
Damaged Individuals in Search of Completion
Daniel Day-Lewis
Davy Jones
Dennis Day
Dick Cheney
Digital Underground
Dilbert Fans
Dina Lohan
Doctor Bunsen Honeydew
Don Roberts
Doomsday Fetishists
Doris Day
Douglas Corrigan
Ed O'Neill
Eric Estrada
Families of the Incarcerated
Federally Protected Witnesses
Fox Mulder
Frances Day
Francis Day
Gandalf (Gray or White)
Graham Day
Gullible Rubes
Hannah Montana's Fans
Hap Day
Heidi Fleiss
Hollywood Studio Executives
Hook-Handed Men
Howie Day
Hulk Hogan
Intelligent Design Proponents
International Whaling Commission Members
Jack Bauer
Jack D. Ripper
Jamie Lynn Spears
Jenna Jameson
Jenny Craig
John McCain
John McEnroe
Kat Von D
Kate Moss
Laraine Day
Larry Flynt
Larry Storch
The Liberal Media
Lil' Kim
Literary Agents
Lou Dobbs
Marty McFly
Marv Albert
Maureen Flannigan
Maury Povich
Mel Gibson
Memory Loss Victims
Michael Nesmith
Micky Dolenz
Middle-Class, White Suburban Youths
Monty Python Fans
Missy Elliott
Norman Schwarzkopf
Pat Robertson
Pathmark Customers
People Diagnosed with Attention Defecit Disorder
People Planning to Be Sent to Prison
Peter Tork
Power Lifters
Professional Wrestlers
R. Kelly
Rand McNally
Richard Gere
Robin Day
Ryan Day
Samuel L. Jackson
Sandra Day O'Connor
Scarlett O'Hara
Schoolteachers Who Care
Serial Killers
Someone with a Speech Impediment
Steven Seagal
Stockwell Day
Stouthearted Young Men of Fighting Age from the Year 1898
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Thomas Haden Church
Tom Cullen
Tom Jones
Tony Hawk
U.S. Attorneys General
Video Game Nerds
War Widows
Warren Buffett
William R. Day
Willy Brandt
Wonder Woman

You're welcome.

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Contact Bitterly Books...

You can contact the mind behind all this by sending an e-mail to Bitterlybooks (no spaces, at)

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September 15, 2008

The Jesus Horoscopes

The Real Meaning of the Zodiac by D. James Kennedy, PhD (TCRM Publishing, 1989, ISBN 1929626142)

This book was written by: Nancy Britt, who compiled and edited sermons on the zodiac given by Dr. D. James Kennedy.

What is in this book: The truth about the night sky. “God has given a story of His salvation from which have come most of the ancient mythologies and ancient traditions”(p.12). It turns out that “the Mazzaroth--the signs of the zodiac—are brought forth each night by God,”(p.137, emphasis in original) specifically to show the Christian gospel.
What God put in the stars is a glorious sky-painting of Jesus Christ as the Lord of Glory”(p.10). For example, the signs of Pisces and Capricorn show how “we have been transformed by Christ into new creatures in order that we might escape the death-dealing clutches of Satan”(p.70).
The book goes on to state that “the theory we are presenting is that God revealed that message to Adam and to his sons and grandsons and that message has gone into all of the civilizations of the world and has been passed down through the centuries”(p.13). This can be proven in the way that “the sphinx actually unlocks the mystery of the zodiac”(p.19). Dr. Kennedy is preaching the zodiac “to show the true origin of pagan mythologies as a distortion of God’s original revelation”(p.151). That’s right. The cave paintings, the Mayan calendar, Angkor Wat? Even the stuff built before Jesus is all about Jesus.

What is not in this book: Confusion and trickery. “The modern corruption of astrology expresses the idea that some mysterious, magical, and supernatural powers emanate from the houses of the zodiac, which affect and control destiny and lives. That is the lie of Satan which will destroy every soul that believes it”(p.10). The truth of the matter is that “the gospel in the stars is just another example of God’s original message being perverted by Satan and sinful men”(p.10), but “it is well that you have nothing to do with modern astrology whatsoever because of its corruption and satanic aspects”(p.13).
In fact, the corruption of astrology is even recognized by heathens, as “one secular physician stated that astrology makes people dependent. It weakens their character; it deprives them of their ability to make intelligent and rational choices”(p.140), but even so, “another company has astrological services located on the campuses of two thousand universities in this country. You see what our students are learning?”(p.139)
If we are to learn the truth about our lord and savior Jesus Christ, “we are to have nothing to do with this pagan corruption”(p.138). Dr. Kennedy’s book is a cleansing bath of lye upon the clogged drains of modern astrology, for “even now, just as they are trying to clean the dirt from the Sistine Chapel to find the original painting, so we can move away some of the incrustations of pagan myths and see the great truth that is behind the signs of the zodiac”(p.70).

Would you recommend this book to Tom Cullen from The Stand? Yes, if he is one of the deluded masses who have been told that the stars have influence over his life. “Astrologers try to justify this by saying that the moon influences the tides and it influences people’s emotions, which is absolutely true”(p.14). M-O-O-N, that spells influence. Laws, yes.

Would you recommend this book to a Hollywood studio executive? Probably not. There no pictures, and it is not the book version of the Jamie Kennedy Experiment.

What is interesting about this book: Its advice to counter cheap pick-up lines by spreading the word of the Lord. When someone asks about your sign, tell them that you were born twice. “This usually elicits the question: ‘Oh! What do you mean?’ That answer gives you a good entry into spiritual matters, and if you can’t be off and running with that, you don’t know much about sharing the Gospel”(p.138).

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September 1, 2008

Stop Being Narrow-Minded About Pregnancy

Big, Beautiful, & Pregnant: Expert Advice and Comforting Wisdom for the Expecting Plus-Size Woman by Cornelia van der Ziel, MD, and Jacqueline Tourville (Malone & Company, 2006, ISBN: 1-56924-319-0)

This book was written by: Cornelia van der Ziel, an obstetrician specializing in plus-sized and high-risk pregnancy, and Jacqueline Tourvile, who "became pregnant just as her weight reached an all-time high"(p.3).

What is in this book: Solidarity, helping plus-size women to stand together and confront the tyranny of the massless. The authors "interviewed numerous plus-sized women"(p.4) and "throughout this book, you will hear from members of this big, beautiful, and pregnant sisterhood"(p.5) "The sisters are here to share a few stories and tips of their own"(p.8). For example, REBECCA, Age 29, shares the pain she felt "ordering what I always did after a bad day at work—two cheeseburgers, two large French fries, and—ironically—two small diet sodas. I ordered two of everything so it looked like I was just picking up dinner to eat at home with my husband. [....] I was not eating out of extreme hunger. I ate this way to feel numb"(p.118). This book is designed to help women "call on the sisterhood,," the "plus-sized women who blazed the pregnancy trail before you”(p.181).

What is not in this book: Denial. It’s a fact that plus-size women encounter societal and physical difficulties during their pregnancy. "It may seem a trivial issue, but small things like being given a hospital gown that obviously doesn’t fit and then feeling obligated to wear it really does matter to your overall birthing experience(p.196). This book encourages you to be honest with yourself and "Congratulate yourself on doing a great job being pregnant"(p.19). One sister celebrated her pregnant body by making a plaster belly cast and writes that "two years later, my belly cast still hangs prominently on our living room wall"(p.183). The book also notes that while plus-size women may spend more time in labor, "when looked at individually, of course, plus-size experiences vary widely"(p.197). Hee hee. Widely.

Would you recommend this book to Arnold Schwarzenegger? You realize that Junior was only a movie, right? He wasn’t actually pregnant.

Would you recommend this book to Kate Moss? Not unless she has some exceptionally fat ovaries that we don’t know about.

What was interesting about this book: "Belly painting is another fun, creative way to celebrate your pregnant body. With your belly as the canvas, let your partner, friends, or your other children transform your belly into anything from a smiling jack-o’-lantern to a multicolored Easter egg, fish tank, or snow globe"(p.185). Alternatively, one could paint a giant eyeball, the death star, or a tribute to the chestburster from Ridley Scott’s life-affirming story of transition and birth, Alien.

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August 15, 2008

Nip Tats, Ear Brands, and Back Piercing

Coping with the Dangers of Tattooing, Body Piercing, and Branding by Beth Wilkinson (Rosen Publishing Group, 1998, ISBN: 0-8239-2717-2)

This book was written by: Beth Wilkinson, who enjoys “paper making, candy making, and getting to know people of all ages.”

What is in this book: A rational examination of everything you need to know before undergoing body modification. This includes a discussion of reasons for getting a tattoo such as being in love (p.94), religious considerations (p.96), body art addiction (p.92), the Holocaust (p.97), and peer pressure (p.91). ”There is a great deal of misinformation about body art,”(p.113) but this book offers rock-solid, indisputable facts. For example, in prison, “after the lights are out, cellmates frequently and sometimes painfully tattoo one another”(p.64).
Although “in modern Western cultures, tattoos have alternately been regarded as signs of chic and high fashion or as disgusting and crude practices by misfits and sailors,”(p.3) this book tracks body modification trends. “Recently, a magazine, written especially for people interested in body modification, issued a special edition dedicated to the art of branding”(p.4).

What is not in this book: Condemnation. Coping with the Dangers of Tattooing, Body Piercing, and Branding wants to provide you with all the information that you will need for a safe, hygienic, body-mutilating experience. “The business should be in a neat and clean studio – not in an apartment, a tent at a circus, a garage, a music festival, or a bike or motorcycle shop”(p.13). Also, “if an artist should insist that you remove more clothing than you feel you need to, he or she may not be the right artist for you”(p.12). It is especially important to remember that “criminals turning state’s evidence often ask that any identifying tattoos be removed”(p.68). Would you really want to be prevented from quitting a gang because you couldn’t bear to undergo the tattoo removal procedure?

Would you recommend this book to Warren Buffett? Yes. Even though “people who work in places from McDonald’s to Manhattan’s Wall Street have eyebrow, lip, tongue, cheek, and bellybutton piercings,”(p.3), he should be fully informed of his risks before accessorizing his “Thug Life” back tattoo with an eyebrow bolt.

Would you recommend this book to Kat Von D? Without reservation. I would also recommend that she get a decent wardrobe, a real job, and a name that doesn't manage to embody the worst aspects of bourgeoisie pretension and hipster irony at the same time.

What was interesting about this book? This book is one of a series on “Coping with” issues including interracial dating, confrontations with the police, teenage motherhood, compulsive eating, gay parents, and migraines and other headaches.

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August 1, 2008

Stepfamilies: How They're Not Supposed to Love

Stepkids: A Survival Guide for Teenagers in Stepfamilies …and for stepparents doubtful of their own survival by Ann Getzoff and Carolyn McClenahan (Walker and Company, 1984, ISBN 0-8027-0757-2)

This book was written by: Ann Getzoff and Carolyn McClenahan, who are licensed marriage, family, and child therapists.

What is in this book: Frequent discussions about sex. Apparently, stepfamilies in 1984 were seething cauldrons of hormones and temptation, and the authors discuss how “a common problem for teenage stepbrothers and stepsisters is sexual attraction” (p.112); “Some stepmothers do behave in a seductive way with their stepsons”(p.127); and they discuss the dangers of “Mr. Hot Pants,” the type of stepfather who “comes on in a very sexy way with his stepdaughter”(p.73), although they acknowledge that “sometimes the girl has provoked the assault by parading around half dressed or acting in other sexy ways around her stepfather”(p.125). What makes these problems worse is that “when a teenager becomes sexually active, she usually doesn’t go backwards and stop having sex”(p.48).

What is not in this book: Instructions on how to build a shelter in the woods, how to start a fire without matches, or how to find water in the desert. Instead, this book addresses how to survive the fact that your stepparents “don’t have the same love feelings for you that your natural parent has”(p.36).

Would you recommend this book to Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork, or Micky Dolenz? No, they have all gone on record stating that they are “not your stepping stone.”

Would you recommend this book to Ashton Kutcher? If I were Ashton, I’d spend less time worrying about my relationship with Rumer, Scout LaRue, and Tallulah Belle, and more time trying not to get Bruce Willis so pissed off that he feeds me my teeth.

What was interesting about this book? The hip lingo employed by the authors to connect with their audience. They discuss the importance of “hanging loose,”(p.9), what to do when your stepmother’s cooking makes you want to “barf”(p.37), and why “leveling”(p.151) with each other is essential. Note that the last term appears to be an effort to keep up with the slang that kids on the street are using these days and not an attempt at furthering a secret, pro-mason agenda. They also use the phrase “intact family”(p.2) to describe the opposite of step-families, presumably to soothe readers from broken families by using a term with no judgmental connotations.

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July 15, 2008

Just ADD Romance

A.D.D. & Romance: Finding Fulfillment in Love, Sex, & Relationships by Jonathan Scott Halverstadt, MS (Taylor Publishing Company, 1998, ISBN 0-87833-209-X)

This book was written by: Jonathan Scott Halverstadt, MS, who states that “before I turned thirty […] I had already written my first book, earned my private pilot’s license, worked as a network announcer for NBC and CBS TV, been a ski instructor, written and produced award-winning advertising campaigns, performed in thousands of radio and TV commercials, been an executive editor of a magazine published in five languages, and had a re-occurring role on General Hospital”(p.2). Yes, he’s that Jonathan Scott Halverstadt, MS.

What is in this book: Sex tips for the short attention span. ADD is more than “the little girl who’s great on the soccer field – but has trouble with her schoolwork, talks constantly in class, and can’t seem to stop herself from sassing her teacher” (p.13). With adult ADD, “you often get someone who doesn’t follow through with commitments, gets bored with their mate, gets stuck in their thinking, and is disorganized, forgetful, routinely late, and argumentative”(p. 41-42). Halverstadt has advice for all aspects of their relationships, including “make love someplace new in the house, or somewhere outside. Of course, you’ll want to use caution so as not to offend or embarrass someone else. But there are plenty of open spaces out there”(p.160).

What is not in this book: A way to diagnose yourself as afflicted with ADD. “In order for there to be an actual diagnosis, you need to be evaluated by a clinician who can make such a diagnosis: a physician (M.D.), a psychiatrist (M.D.), a psychologist (Ph.D.), a licensed marriage and family counselor (L.M.F.C.C.), or a licensed clinical social worker (L.C.S.W.). These are the professionals who have the credentials to diagnose,”(p.43) unlike the author.

Would you recommend this book to a romantic? Yes, if only because of the “Fifty Ways to Keep Your Lover” section at the back of the book, which includes tips like “tell your lover a bedtime story [….] If you’ve got a lot of courage, act out the story as a play at the foot of the bed with you as the only actor,” and “together, volunteer to serve a Thanksgiving day meal at the local homeless shelter”(p.229).

Would you recommend this book to someone with ADD? They will find this book more interesting than a seminar on the fluctuating GDP of Aegean nations but less interesting than that website where you can watch videos of bugs fighting each other, which is funny because some of those bugs seem totally focused while other bugs get distracted much more easily, just like people with ADD, so all those reports about medication ending up back in the ocean via water treatment plants and getting absorbed into fish might end up being beneficial for the environment after all, since it seems like there are creatures at all levels of sentience that can use a little extra help maintaining their focus to be more productive–of course, while they could all use the medication, they might not all be able to read this book.

What was interesting about this book? “People with ADD have been among the most creative people in the history of humankind,”(p.168) “people with ADD can be extremely warm-hearted and empathetic beyond belief,”(p.170) “and “they’ve learned how to quickly figure out what other people are thinking or doing and what they need to do to take care of themselves”(p.171). The author can testify to the presence of these traits firsthand, because he has been diagnosed with ADD.

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July 1, 2008

Book Review: Get Your Belief Off Welfare

Beliefworks: The Art of Living Your Dreams by Ray Dodd (Hampton Roads Publishing, 2006, ISBN 1-57174-472-X)

This book was written by: Ray Dodd, CEO of and, who has written a book about “Magic. Real magic,”(p.xiii) inspired by the ancient teachings of the Toltec and the magic of the waterworks in the neighborhood where he grew up, which “took the power and wildness of water and tamed it, transforming it into something useful”(p.xiv).

What is in this book: Literally, the wisdom of the ancients, as learned by Mr. Dodd during a six-year apprenticeship in South America under Miguel Ruiz. He was introduced to these teachings—and to Ruiz—by “a smooth-talking charismatic Mexican named Luis”(p.xvi). Although “very few” of the things Luis told him “about the Toltec were supported by any archaeological or historical literature,” (p.xvii) and “much of their account is missing from historical or archaeological textbooks”(p.xxi), “many of this book's principles […] come directly from the ancient wisdom tradition of the Toltec”(p.xvi).

What is not in this book: Fuel for the engine of fear. You see, “Lance [Armstrong] was driven. Driven by an engine fueled with fear”(p.28) That’s because “what propels us forward is an inner engine composed of our ideas, concepts, beliefs, and personal agreements,”(p.29), which is also “an engine injected with your ideas, experiences, expectations, beliefs, and personal agreements”(p.120). “The fuel for that engine is either love or fear”(p.29). This book’s philosophy “embraces not-doing and the marriage of opposites”(p.94) to help readers “make decisions using an engine of love”(p.122).

Would you recommend this book to Eric Estrada? It’s complicated. “The Toltec […] had a vivid dreaming practice”(p.61). Eric Estrada is dreamy. I cannot prove that Eric Estrada is not a dream made real through the powers of the Toltec, but such a dream would not need this book.

Would you recommend this book to R. Kelly? I have held a grudge against R. Kelly ever since the “I Believe I Can Fly” incident, but thanks very much for bringing up those painful memories.

What was interesting about this book? Besides the Star Trek reference on page 110 that stretches across all of chapter 10, “The Prime Directive Is Not-Fear”? I would have to say the special, limited time offer that ran near the book’s original publication date. This special, 24-hour opportunity for buyers to receive “over 20 special BONUS gifts” was available for such a limited time that its web page has only been available from earlier-than-September 2006 through the present day.

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June 15, 2008

Book Review: Marriage Secrets of the Catholic Church

Beginning Your Marriage: Ninth Edition by John L. Thomas, SJ, and revised by Joan McGuinness Wagner (ACTA Publications, 2002, ISBN 0-915388-24-3).

This book was written by: John L. Thomas, a Jesuit priest--widely regarded as the most qualified, authoritative profession in the field of marital experience--and it was revised by Joan McGuinness Wagner, former president of the national association of Catholic family life ministries.

What is in this book: An update of the original Beginning Your Marriage, which "was written years ago"(p.7). Pains have been taken to use more modern references and analogies. For example, "If you are truly in love, your love for each other will want to burst out of your relationship, like new wine in old wineskins, and overflow to all around you"(p.118). It also draws from recently released movies like City Slickers to share wisdom like Billy Crystal's character's view on adultery (p.27-28), because if there's anyone who can eloquently express the Catholic Church's feelings about the sanctity of marriage, it's a Hollywood Jew reading a film script.

What is not in this book: An endorsement of anti-Catholic frippery or other such nonsense. Billy Crystal's efforts notwithstanding, "the mockery of marriage made by Hollywood is pervasive"(p.32). It also has stern words for couples who are living together as "the most convenient way of having sex before marriage. They simply can't wait, even though they know that what they are doing is wrong"(p.43).

Would you recommend this book to Angelina Jolie? No, I would recommend she write her own book, Ending Someone Else's Marriage.

Would you recommend this book to Cole Porter? Yes, because I'm dying to work in a joke about "Beginning the Beguine."

What was interesting about this book: The way in which the Catholic viewpoint is consistently worked into all of the issues experienced in marriage. For example, couples are reminded that natural family planning "is natural, highly effective, inexpensive and medically safe"(p.99). And when it comes to tithing to the church, "It has been said, 'Give as if your marriage depends on it.' It does" (p.118).

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June 1, 2008

Book Review: Remember Me?

The Memory Key: Unlock the Secrets to Remembering by Dr. Fiona McPherson (Career Press, 2000, ISBN 1-56414-470-4)

This book was written by: Dr. Fiona McPherson, who "has three degrees, all in psychology"(back cover). The back cover also states that Dr. McPherson suffered from postnatal memory loss which, according to her memory-loss website, "is a facetious rather than clinical diagnosis, although no less real for that." She is also an author of works of fiction, and reviews books at her author's website,

What is in this book: Ways to improve your memory so that you can become more successful and avoid embarassing social situations. Her exercises can help you when "you see a person you know--you remember that she belongs to your tennis club--but you cannot remember her name"(p.31). These exercises can also help you when you need assistance at other times, like when you have to remember the name of your chauffeur, broker, spouse, or child.

What is not in this book: Perfectionism. "Don't aim to remember everything. Focus on remembering what is important"(p.193). Although most memory-improvement strategies work, "very few people want to put an effort into making them work. That's not laziness, that's an appreciation of costs versus benefits"(p.10). This book can also help you realize that "you may be poor at remembering people's names, but perhaps you don't really care"(p.12). This book will help you "get into the habit (develop the skill) of asking yourself: Is this worth remembering? When you're reading the paper--"Do I want to remember this?" When your partner tells you something--"Do I need to remember this?" When you meet a new person--"Do I want to remember this person?""(p.193). Following the instructions laid out in this book will give you a better memory in no time, you uncaring bastard.

Would you recommend this book to stouthearted young men of fighting age from the year 1898? No, such men would do better to remember the Maine.

Would you recommend to someone suffering from memory loss? I'm sorry, what was the question again?

What was interesting about this book: Two things. First, the way that Dr. McPherson describes memory codes(p.77):

The memories in your head dance.
The codes in the spotlight do not therefore have to be sitting together in the theatre. Imagine them instead in a ballroom. The codes waltz around the dance floor. Here two couples are dancing close together, there two couples change partners. The spotlight moves, its very action bringing about changes in the dancers. "Quick," they say, hurrying over to get in the spotlight. In response to the dancers, the spotlight too changes. It thinks, "Oh, look at that arrangement," and it grows larger, more diffuse, to catch it all.

Also of interest are the suggested exercises to improve your memory, like trying to make up a story using items from a list you're trying to memorize. For example (p.70):
Here is a brief story to help memorize a shopping list of ten items (the items are capitalized): "the BREAD is full of JUICE. I will MILK it and wash the PAPER TOWEL off, then FISH for CORN, CHIP it into BEANS and STOCK up on ORANGES."

Although I tried to use this method to bring home some JUICY steaks for dinner, my ASSignment was a failure. I put a LARGE amount of effort into crafting a story, but came home with six pounds of chicken BREASTS.

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May 15, 2008

Book Review: The Miracle Melon of Sir Francis Richard Burton

Miracles in the Storm: Talking to the Other Side with the New Technology of Spiritual Contact by Mark H. Macy (New American Library, 2001, ISBN 0-451-20471-9)

This book was written by Mark H. Macy, who is "a key figure in world Instrumental Transcommunication (ITC)--documenting the results of the most prolific receivers of ITC contacts, funding and organizing annual research seminars on both sides of the Atlantic, and opening the first enhanced ITC bridge in the States" (p.1). ITC is "the use of technology to get information directly from the worlds of spirit in the form of voices, images, and text"(p. ix). Macy and his colleagues have "worked alongside some of the most powerful forces of Light involved with our world, and they confronted various influences of negativity and darkness on both sides of the veil which nearly destroyed their valuable work"(p.1).

What is in this book: A first person account of the author's involvement with ITC research and his time spent with the International Network for Instrumental Transcommunication (INIT). He documents early ITC problems like "an impedance mismatch into that third transistor [....] that can be corrected by introducing a one-hundred-fifty-ohm, half-watt resistor in parallel with a point-double-oh-four-seven microfarad ceramic capacitor"(p. 16). Macy had wanted to publicize INIT's work on "a number of popular programs [in the United States] that handled spiritual subjects rather well, including "The Other Side," "Sightings," and "The Oprah Winfrey Show""(p.111), but "destructive forces generated by doubts, insecurities, fears, envy, resentment, and other negative feelings began to fester within INIT"(p.170). While he found INIT to be "like a luscious melon filled with rich, sweet miracles"(p.193), he was unsure whether those miracles would "be buried under the violence, pornography, and other debris of the times" (p.132).
It proved to be a rough time for Macy, who writes that "I suppose what saved our family was the fact that I could sense negative spirits in my life and in our home during that period. They were busy infesting us all, and I'd drawn them into our home with my chronic fears."(p.182)

What is not in book: Skepticism. "If I was skeptical," says Macy, "I would never have received any [paranormal] phone calls"(p.176). "When you believe something to be true, and you have the intent for it to happen, then that opens the doors to its happening. [...] One of the primary laws in the spirit worlds as well as on Earth is: Our thoughts and intentions create our reality."(p.176) This lack of skepticism did not impede his research because "the facilities that make ITC possible, and the energies that make it posible, are far beyond science. Science doesn't have the capability to really judge the validity of ITC yet"(p.178).

Would you recommend this book to MacGuyver? Are you kidding me? Machinery that contacts the dead? He built that in the second season using toothbrush bristles, chewing gum, a handful of paper clips, and half a pair of pants (the left half). This is nothing new to him.

Would you recommend this book to General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.? Stormin' Norman might have time to read this book since he's retired. Just because he can, that doesn't mean that he should. INIT studies have shown that the entities they contact "not only could read our minds, but could actually help shape them"(p.31). If you want to risk handing his specialized asskicking knowledge over to unknown forces from beyond, don't say I didn't warn you.

What is interesting about this book: Macy and his colleagues were provided with "images of exotic, kind, wise, and playful beings from other worlds [that] were planted on computer hard drives"(p.168) as well as a picture of a temple and a letter stating that "science fiction author Jules Verne had awakened in the temple after his death"(p.168). They also heard from "an African tribesman named Bwele M'Banga [who] sent a self-portrait and reported that his life on Earth had ended in the stomach of an African Lion"(p.169). One of the most active groups of correspondents called themselves the Timestream group, and included the explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton. As noted by author Michael Prescott, the timestream group's accounts of a world dominated by a single winding river mirrors the fictional novels written by Philip Jose Farmer. According to Prescott, Mark Macy does not have a problem with that.

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May 1, 2008

Book Review: Whose Hand Is That?

Lifeprints: Deciphering Your Life Purpose from Your Fingerprints by Richard Unger (Crossing Press, 2007, ISBN: 978-1-58091-185-6)

This book was written by: Richard Unger, founder and director of the prestigious International Institute of Hand Analysis, which has spent more than 20 years internationally analyzing hands from their headquarters in the unlikely location of Marin, California. Mr. Unger also contributes to the institute's three publications, The Hand Analysis Journal, The Graduate Review, and The Hand Analysis Newsletter.

What is in this book: An unmatched descriptive flair. "Like a treasure map torn in two, neither half having the full picture, your soul-psychology map has two components that must be viewed together for its message to become clear." (p.7). This book will help you read that map, which has been encoded in your fingerprints. You have enrolled in "Earth University," "to better understand the shadow aspect of your soul psychology, your weak backhand in the Wimbledon of Life"(p.7). Your fingerprints are the course list.

What is not in this book: A tired retread of old superstitions. Yes, there is some ancient folklore involved, but the book's techniques also employ Science. "Dermatoglyphics and palmistry both derive from comparative hand topography. [...] One employs the scientific method, the other is based on folklore and thousands of years of anecdotal experience. One is high tech, the other, ancient wisdom. [...] they were made for each other"(p.xv).

Would you recommend this book to prisoners? Yes, for two reasons. First, "living a leadership life purpose can occur in any number of ways: [like] a prison philosopher holding court in C block" (p.4). Second, having the lowest ranking prints on your left index finger (or both index fingers and left little finger) mean that "sexual violation will work its way into your life sooner or later, one way or another. Nothing can be done to keep this from happening" (p.195). Prisoners with these types of prints will want to take steps in advance to minimize their discomfort.

Would you recommend this book to the Rand McNally corporation? I don't think that they'd be too wild about it. While your "fingerprints form a topographical map prior to birth, a map that will remain unaltered throughout life,"(p.xv, emphasis from the author) I'm fairly certain that Rand McNally would find little or no profit in marketing said maps. The would probably also balk at trafficking in human skin.

What was interesting about this book? Only a small percentage of the text deals with recognizing different hand types. The remaining pages show what people can expect from the different school/life purpose/life lesson combinations, and are fleshed out with the handprint readings of famous historical figures. For example, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s hand shape "is a cross between that of a philosopher and a Hollywood starlet"(p.202).

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April 15, 2008

Book Review: Six-Figure Salaries Are the New Black

Secrets of Six-Figure Women by Barbara Stanny (HarperBusiness, 2002, ISBN 0-06-093346-1)

This book was written by: Barbara Stanny, a journalist, motivational speaker, and financial educator who is uniquely qualified to tell the world about women who have fought their way up through the glass ceiling to earn six-figure salaries. "Raised in a wealthy family," she writes, "married to a stockbroker, given a trust fund when I turned twenty-one, I never gave money a lot of thought. I always worked hard but never earned much, and it didn't matter" (p.48).

What is in this book: Plenty of lists, like the 8 secrets of six-figure women(p.42), their 4 must-haves (p.78), their 3 big helpers (p.79), and the nine traits of underearning (p. 52). Ms. Stanny has provided these lists along with anecdotes from and discussions with her six-figure friends to show how "underearners unwittingly throw banana peels in their own path in all sorts of ways, like applying for work they're not qualified for,"(p.61) when they actually need to exhibit more audacity, since every six-figure woman she interviewed "came to a point where she had to step outside her comfort zone and do something she wasn't completely sure she could do" (p.79).

What is not in this book: A call for women to sit down and be quiet. While "women don't understand power," (p.237) Stanny feels that "a woman afraid of her power is like an eagle afraid of its wings" (p.235). "I truly believe that when enough women claim their power, collectively we'll have the resources, values, vision, and sensitivity to change the world, to heal the planet" (p. 254).

Would you recommend this book to a professional wrestler? No, I would recommend that a professional wrestler try to convince Ric Flair to write Secrets of the Figure Four Leg Lock, because I would totally read the hell out of that book.

Would you recommend this book to Calista Flockhart? Yes, but she'd probably only read it if she thought it was about the secrets of stick figure women.

What was interesting about this book? Stanny writes that her assistant, "Juliette, doubled her salary soon after she picked up my book" (p. xvi). Happily, I was also able to double my yearly earnings almost immediately after reading this book; I was able to claim the recycling deposit on some cans I found in my living room car.

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April 1, 2008

Book Review: I'll love "Is"

The Isle of Is: A Guide to Awakening by Caroline Cottom and Thom Cronkhite (The Center Within, 2006, ISBN 978-982-98004-1-1)

This book was written by: Thom Cronkhite, who is a "medical intuitive and vibrational energy healer. [....] Apparently born "awakened," he experiences life as constant joy and peace, fully in the present"(p.189). His co-author, Caroline Cottom is the "published author of numerous articles, essays, short stories, and poetry,"(p.190). This book will no doubt be of interest to all of the readers that have been avidly tracking her career since her time spent as former director of the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign and the U.S. Comprehensive Test Ban Coalition made her a household name.

What is in this book: A heaping pile of metaphor, fat stacks of allegory, and dripping puddles of symbolism. This book seeks to take "wisdom that humans have known about for a very long time," (p.9) and to present in the story of a journey that will assist the reader in "uncovering that state of being where peace and joy already exist, throughout time and space" (p.10). The journey involves a boat, a swamp, a mountain, and some talking gnomes.
This book also contains a series of writing exercises. The narrator is given a pen (which "shall be your Wand") and an inkwell (signifying "The Well, which is the silence within") on page 16. The reader is instructed to "take the Wand" or "go to the Well" at various times to answer questions like:

"What is one thing in your life that you can't imagine being grateful for?" (p.35)
"What distractions do I use when I don't wish to feel my feelings. And what feelings am I hoping not to feel?" (p.106)
"What stories, songs, fairytales, or movies did you resonate with as a young person?" (p.127)

Since these tools have been given to the reader metaphorically, the writing exercises can also be done metaphorically, which saves a lot of time. (However, for those keeping score at home, the correct answers in no particular order are: gout, arson/jealousy, and Hudson Hawk.)

What is not in this book? Conceit. "The narrator refers to him or herself as "we" because the word "I" solidifies the ego, whereas the word "we" removes us from the egoic bond"(p.181). It is a bold move that could have alienated the reader and ended up sounding like a schizophrenic quoting Faulkner on a bad day, but has been completely vindicated by passages like "We are wearing the captain's hat, and Is-is sits on our shoulder!" (p.176).

Would you recommend this book to Steven Seagal? Yes, he can use a break from the isle of has-been.

Would you recommend this book to Pathmark customers? No. They already know that to "Go fresh, go local," they should search the aisles, not the isles.

What was interesting about this book? The book comes with an audio version on CD, which is perfect for people who want to awaken themselves so that they can live in a place where they no longer value their material possessions and the crude distractions of popular entertainment.

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March 15, 2008

Book Review: Don't Say Stress

The 14 Day Stress Cure: A New Approach for Dealing with Stress that Can Change Your Life by Mort Orman, MD (Breakthru Publishing, 1991, ISBN 0-942540-06-9)

This book was written by: Morton C. Orman, M.D., an internist who has completed a two-year post-doctoral training program in Contextual Therapy.

What is in this book: Stress management from a biolinguistic perspective. This book talks about stress stemming from "a false understanding of ourselves as human beings, which arises from inaccurate mind-body theories that are no longer accepted by twentieth century thinkers"(p.36). That is because "according to Biolinguistics, human beings do not consist of "a mind and a body,"" and "the basic error of all mind-body thoeries is that they assume a separate "mental" domain inside human beings which doesn't really exist" (p.38). Dr. Orman's book is timely because "while a growing number of scholars, scientists, psychotherapists, and other health professionals have recently embraced this biolinguistic perspective, most stress experts today are completely unaware of its existence" (p.xvii).

What is not in this book: A detailed explanation of biolinguistics, since "an in-depth discussion of biolinguistics is beyond the scope of this book"(p.39). Furthermore, "even though this book is titled The 14 Day Stress Cure, it is not a "quick-fix" remedy for the problem of human stress" (p.xix).

Would you recommend this book to Daniel Day-Lewis, Dennis Day, Doris Day, Frances Day, Francis Day, Graham Day, Hap Day, Howie Day, Laraine Day, Robin Day, Ryan Day, Sandra Day O'Connor, Stockwell Day, and William R. Day? Even if we could warp the very fabric of space and time to bring all 14 of them together in one place, I don't think that they'd be interested in collectively developing their own cure for stress as a counterproposal.

Would you recommend this book to the attorney general of the United States? Yes. It is essential that we stay current with the latest stress-management techniques, so that our stress positions are able to counter them. Otherwise, the terrorists have won.

What was interesting about this book? People who suffer from stress are likely to feel trapped in an endless cycle of torment despite their best stress-management efforts. After all, "Challenging your internal conversations is similar to playing the Space Invaders video game. [...] No matter how many times you destroy these relentless invaders, they keep reappearing"(p.107). Dr. Orman has successfully re-framed the conflict with stress in a way that will soothe the fears of these individuals while using terms that are easy for them to understand. "This book is about winning against stress"(p.v). Also, "when you know how to use the coping method outlined in this book, you not only "win" by getting rid of your stress, but you also "win" by improving your mastery and competence in life as well"(p.xv). Furthermore, "every time you choose this road you become a double winner in your fight against stress"(p.256). So if you can't use the coping method outlined in this book, then you are clearly a loser.

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March 1, 2008

Book Review: Stop Drinking Water

Water Can Undermine Your Health! by Norman W. Walker, Doctor of Science (1974, Norwalk Press, ISBN 8-89019-037-2)

This book was written by: Dr. Norman Walker, Doctor of Science, whose healthy lifestyle has kept him alive to the ages of 113, 118 , 120, and even 130, despite claims to the contrary made by some site that's a big fan of invasive popups. Alleged "evidence" of his death at age 99, citing the U.S. Social Security Death Index and a grave marker, is inconclusive at best.

What is in this book: Things you didn't know about the fluids you put in your mouth, like "what EVIL lurks in a keg of BEER" (p.33) and "the deadly CHLORINE" (p.59). Dr. Walker couches his sound, scientific advice in clear, no-nonsense terms, like his warning that "Sea Water is not, under any circumstances, intended to be used for drinking purposes," (p.41) although you can use it for drinking purposes "in fractional amounts, at the rate of 4 to 8 drops of ocean water to the glass or pint of whatever beverage you plan to drink" (p.41).

What is not in this book: An incitement to cannibalism. While Dr. Walker states that "Malnutrition results from feeding the body food which has been heated or processed to such a degree that the life of the atoms and molecules composing such food is extinct,"(p.vii) and that "dead atoms and dead molecules cannot rejuvenate nor regenerate the cells in the body,"(p.vii) he does not advocate tearing into the living flesh of your enemies. Instead, he suggests eating "live" vegetables, like some kind of sissy.

Would you recommend this book to Jenna Jameson? No. Ms. Jameson does not seem to be overly concerned with the issue of purity.

Would you recommend this book to Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper? No. While I am profoundly convinced that Dr. Walker and General Ripper speak the same language, Dr. Walker advocates the drinking of neither rainwater nor grain alcohol.

What was interesting about this book? Dr. Walker is also the inventor of the Norwalk Juicer. His publisher has written a eulogy for him that has been published in series of 7 posts on the Norwalk Juicing Community Forum.

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February 15, 2008

Book Review: Nothing Happened

The Big Bang Never Happened by Eric J. Lerner (Vintage Books, 1992, ISBN 0-679-74049-X)

This book was written by: Eric J. Lerner, who holds a BA in physics from Columbia University. He is also an avid wikipedia editor, although he is no longer allowed to make changes to his own biography.

What is in this book: Similes, metaphors, and other comparative devices used to associate the present day with the fall of the Roman empire, the dark ages just before the Renaissance, and even Germany's Weimar republic (read: Hitler). This is because "there can be no doubt that the development and advance of global society has halted, that the current dominant society, capitalist society, has reached its ultimate limits," (p.413) held back by the repressive tyranny of the Big Bang Theory. We may take heart, though, because "quietly, without much fanfare, a new revolution is beginning which is likely to overthrow many of the dominant ideas of today's science" (p3). These sentiments are as true today as they were when originally written in 1991.
While Mr. Lerner has “personally contributed to the development of plasma cosmology, this book is overwhelmingly about the work and ideas of others” (p.vii). His book describes the infinitely old universe theory "to explain these new ideas to the general reader, one who is interested in the crucial issues of science but who has no special training in the subject" (p.5).

What is not in this book: Large Italian men in tailored suits and too much cologne who tell you that "You didn't see any Big Bang, capisce?," but it should be noted that Mr. Lerner's offices are in New Jersey.

Would you recommend this book to Dr. Bunsen Honeydew? I can tell you that Dr. Honeydew is much more interested in string theory.

Would you recommend this book to Vice President Dick Cheney? Actually, I'd recommend that the author study Cheney to learn more about using coercion, intimidation, threats, and "disappearances" to convince people that specific events never happened, because all of those methods are more effective than publishing a book.

What was interesting about this book? Edward L. Wright has taken exception to the theories advanced in this book, and published what he perceived to be a list of errors. Mr. Lerner's response escalated the matter into the kind of full-scale catfight showing all the heated passions and colorful language one would expect of two people passive-aggressively posting open letters and never directly addressing one another.

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February 1, 2008

Book Review: Creating (Non-Fatal) Attraction(s)

Creation through Attraction: A Six Step Process to Manifestation Using The Power Of Your Feelings. by Lea Pharoah, D.C. (Lea Pharoah, 1996, ISBN 0-9586538-0-1)

This book was written by: Lea Pharoah, a twice-divorced chiropractor who wrote the manuscript in "an intense period of four weeks" (p.66)

What is in this book: Lea's six-step process for manifesting changes in your life. While it is accompanied by personal stories for inspiriation, it is "not a book to be read as a novel" (p.70). The personal stories are also not to be considered as filler to pad out the length of the work. One can consider the frequent section breaks and large amounts of white space on each page as filler to pad out the length of the book.

What is not in this book: A dismissal of subjects considered as beneath one's concern; nothing is too small to justify being fixed by affirmations and attractions. For example, one can use the following affirmation to attract better carpets:
"I am thrilled with my ability to attract warm floor coverings into my home, for the good of all concerned." (p.60)

Would you recommend this book to fans of Hannah Montana? No, any competent OB/GYN will tell you that high school students already know too much about how mutual attraction can lead to creation. Also, the last thing we need is creepy old perverts finding more successful ways to attract underage girls into their secret torture pens.

Would you recommend this book to man with a stainless steel hook for a hand? This book won't help him grow another hand, if that's what you're asking. However, it does stand a chance of convincing him that losing his hand was something that was supposed to happen to him, and that he just needs to realize that he is better off without it so that good things start happening to him again.

What was interesting about this book? It originally ended on page 91, announcing that the author "had finally achieved the relationship of my dreams, this referring to my second husband, Stevan" (p.92). However, in the eighteen months after the original completion of the manuscript, an additional four pages were written and inserted into the book, numbered 92 through 95. In them the author states that while that dream relationship has ended in divorce, it was because her parents had given her an unhappy childhood, but she has chosen to "move out of the state of being a victim to our circumstances into a new state of control and re-creation of our present and our future"(p.94-95).

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January 15, 2008

Book Review: Malfunction-Free Wardrobes

Wear Your Own Skin! Attitude 'n' Humor from Edd Gibbs Rose by Edd Gibbs Rose (Wisdom Culture Creations, 2003, ISBN 0-9745414-0-0).

This book was written by: Edd Gibbs Rose, who describes his adventures living in and around the greater Salt Lake city area with a "family of eight" (p.11), including "six pivotal, dynamic animal characters based directly on the lives of real domestic pets. [...] All of these fine animals were (or are) so vibrant and talented that even basic descriptions [...] pack poignancy and edge" (p.8). To some extent, this book describes his work towards the "complete integration of his non traditional family into the larger society surrounding them and him" (p.10). Mr. Rose also states that he has not counted himself in the "tiny readership" interested in the works of Aleister Crowley "for close to two decades" (p.91).

What is in this book: Social commentary and observations interwoven with narrative stories, including 52 pages about how animals can help us after September 11. This may seem impractical at first, as cats have difficulty manning anti-aircraft guns, dogs are reluctant to shoot down passenger jets full of civilians, and trained monkeys are terrible at running security screenings, even if they have been handling baggage in our airports for years. However, Mr. Rose feels that "animals, wildlife and domestic, are uniquely qualified to help us open our hearts"(p.9).

What is not in this book: The stern hand of an overbearing editor. While editorial changes are presumed to have been made, the tangents, segues, and offshoots of Edd's wisdom and societal observations have survived intact.

Would you recommend this book to Bob Barker? I see no reason not to, provided that I had a chance to hide my mink bathrobe first.

Would you recommend this book to Larry Flynt? Yes. If he was comfortable wearing his own skin, he might stop obsessively publishing photographs of the skins of others.

What was interesting about this book?
Mr. Rose has squandered an opportunity to speak out against serial killers who kill and wear the skins of their victims. He does use the opportunity to talk about values, since "after September 11th,[...] "wearing one's own skin" now meant "getting real" abut just what real values really are in a freedom-loving country and modern world ultimately validated only by its popular and literate culture(s) and traditions" (p.7). He also stresses the importance of personal improvement, because "When a person builds a foundation in their life for sustained fulfillment based on the fulfillment of important aspirations and personal improvements, happiness will be a likely bi-product [sic]"(p.185).

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January 1, 2008

Book Review: Magic—It's Not Just for Women Anymore

Intuition Magic: Understanding Your Psychic Nature by Linda Keen (Hampton Roads Publishing, 1998, ISBN: 1-57174-112-7)

This book was written by: Linda Keen, who is the founder of the School of Intuitive Development in the Netherlands ("Mens en Intuïtie) who was living in a "household of Irish musicians"(p.24) when she encountered the teachers who would help her "unlock the magical inner power that enables us to sense, enjoy, and learn from the immaterial but infinitely fantastic part of our universe"(p.13).
While Ms. Keen writes that she has "risked... ridicule by discussing my communication with spiritual beings on national radio and television,"(p.13) it should be clarified that spiritual beings are not communicating with her through her appliances, but that she is going to these media outlets to discuss communications that she has experienced in more traditional venues.

What is in this book: Ms. Keen has written this book "as a road map to assist the inward-venturing seeker within this immaterial world of intuition and spirituality"(p.13). Previously, she had been frustrated in her own spiritual quest when she researched Eastern spiritual texts and realized that "as soon as this information had been written down, intellectualized, and translated into Western concepts, it had lost most of its power to teach" (p.15).
The first half of the book follows Linda's journey through school, as she learns how to summon a child "to jump somewhere into your body, wherever it feels the most appropriate," (p.49), and uses "a rose symbol" to "stay clear and safe by serving as a psychic buffer,"(p. 51) dealing with her alcoholic boyfriend at home. The second part is an "intuition magic workshop," where Linda offers practical instructions for those interested in learning, like her steps to rid onself of fears by envisioning them as a series of pictures alongside a rose. "Place one picture at a time inside the rose and allow the whole thing to explode." (p.106)

What is not in this book: Excessive femininity. The word "intuition" and the blossoming rose on the cover may not evoke images of masculinity, but readers will soon be manifesting pink forgiveness clouds (p.116), embracing their spirit guides after inviting them to appear via "large, exquisite rainbow" staircases (p.161), and learning to "finish by bending over" (p.158).

Would you recommend this book to Tom Jones? There's already magic in the way Tom lights my way and satisfies my soul.

Would you recommend this book to Gandalf the Gray, or possibly Gandalf the White? Gandalf is a fictional character.

What was interesting about this book? "Each time the vibration of your spirit is raised through a learning process, the physical body must follow suit and make accommodations for the important inner changes. When you experience an intense period of growth, you may come down with a cold or some other minor illness." (p.123) You can deal with these illnesses by asking them to appear to you in the form of an animal, and speaking with it about the reasons why it has chosen to manifest. "The animal can also give you very practical advice about the physical aspects of treatment, including your need to see a doctor, naturopath, or spiritual healer (p.124).

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