Alchemy, Astrology, and Other Nutty Ideas

26 10 2008

I wrote a rant recently, wherein I described a flier for some mail-order scam entitled, “Mastering Alchemy”. In a desperate attempt at self-preservation, my brain instinctively shut down and prevented me from seeing much more than that. One of my readers asked that I confront this stupidity in the interest of sacrificing my own mental well-being for the benefit of making others laugh. So be it.

Let it not be said that I failed to take precautions. Fortified by a magnificent buckwheat ale from Belgium, I commenced my research into the subject.

For those of you hazy on the details, here is the Wikipedia entry on Alchemy. Alchemy has the same relation to chemistry that astrology has to astronomy: not a whole lot. Alchemists in the Medieval period in Europe were trying to turn lead into gold, create life from unliving matter, and master the secrets of the universe- primarily through the “Far Side” scientific method (2 scientists standing in front of a chalkboard. Step one is a column of equations, and so is step three. Step two, however, says “then a miracle occurs”).

All of these goals of alchemy were noble enough. We do the same things now with nuclear physics, inorganic chemistry, and particle physics. The primary difference lies in the methodology. Alchemy relied upon communion with mythical creatures, learning the ancient secrets of leprechauns, and not infrequently massive doses of snake oil.

That last is the only connection I can find between historical alchemy and the scam being perpetrated under the name, “Mastering Alchemy”.

It turns out that the flier I saw was just part of a marketing scheme aimed squarely at the further reaches of the aluminum-foil deflector beanie crowd. Casual review of the web site for this garbage (please do not click on this link) elicits a great deal of pain (despite the analgesic effects of beer) from the notion that someone is making money from this lunacy. That means there are enough stupid people in this country to make this scam profitable. That’s enough to drive me to drink.

Here is an actual quote from the web site:

“Alchemy is accomplished by changing the frequency of thought,
altering the harmonics of matter and applying the elements of
Love to create the desired result.

Excuse me for a moment. I feel my gorge rising, and I think I’ll burn this keyboard after writing such drivel.

As scams go, this one is pretty small-time. The only good I can find in the idea of this con being successful is the fact that it is competing directly with some of the other great scams in history. I imagine that the target demographic for this nonsense is the same one eagerly sought out by evangelical christians, scientologists, and Obama supporters.

OK. That last wasn’t fair. Obama supporters have an actual living creature upon which to focus their adoration. Other than that, however, all three groups have a lot in common: They have a profound reluctance to accept contrary opinion, facts, and evidence; they all routinely accept whatever nonsense spills forth from their leaders; and they all tend to form insular micro-societies. I will grant that evangelicals and scientologists tend to go overboard in this regard in comparison to Obama supporters, so perhaps that isn’t a fair comparison either.

To allay fears that I am using this blog to promote McCainiacism, you may rest assured that I will do no such thing. When given a choice between a giant douche and a turd sandwich, I prefer to create my own choices. I refuse to promote or vote for either of the douchebags currently running for office. As I type these words, my wife is at the door telling some Obama campaign workers that we aren’t willing to drink their Kool-Aid.

Back to the so-called alchemists. Here is some more from the website:

  • Simultaneous Time
  • Balancing the Masculine and Feminine Aspects
  • Merging with the Soul
  • Merlin’s Crystal Ball
  • Activating the Higher Dimensional Chakra Systems
  • The Soul’s Purpose: Alignment with the Will of God
  • The Sanctuary of the Pink Diamond within the Heart
  • Creating with the Rays of Creation
  • Integrating Three of the Five Sacred Geometric Platonic Energy Fields
  • Creating a “Personal Power Field ”- an Energy Field of Light
  • Merging the Two Still Points into the Heart
  • Building the “Light Body” with the Blueprint of the Soul
  • Resurrection: Freeing the Soul to Go Home
  • Dissolving the Veils of Forgetfulness and Ignorance

Ugh! I feel dirty for putting that on my screen.

OK. At a casual glance, it seems that this bozo is grabbing bits and pieces of tripe from several different self-improvement scams and marketing it under the “Alchemy” banner. The only people who might fall for this are the same types that fall for any other religion/cult: nutjobs.

Here’s a better advertisement, more in line with “truth in advertising” laws:

Hi there! Are you bored? Angry? Disaffected? Unhappy? Are you the child of a rich white family? Do you believe in UFOs? Do you feel that something is missing from your life?

If so, please come and join our group. We will give you something to believe in for the low, low price of your dignity, self-respect, and all of the money in your trust fund. If you have no money, we will accept sexual favors and unpaid labor.”

That’s a lot more honest, and has the benefit of being usable by all religions with only minor editing.

Finally, I’m going to let you all in on a secret: Even as I type this, my wife is practicing alchemy in the kitchen. She’s taking flour, fruit, nuts, and sugar and turning them into cake. Last night, she took some meat, vegetables, spices, and water and turned it into a delicious soup.

That’s a religion I can believe in.

Current status: Drunk

Current music: Excalibur by Pain

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TANSTAAFL

22 10 2008

I just read a very interesting article at Wenchiepoo’s Warehouse of Wisdom. I don’t necessarily agree with everything she writes, but she makes some really good points.

The main point (in my opinion)- There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. You can’t get something for nothing. Everything has a price. That price may not be monetary, but there is always a personal cost for everything you get. Anything described as “free” merely has the costs hidden or deferred. Anyone offering you something for free is trying to conceal the inevitable cost. Remember the sacking of Troy and beware of Greeks bearing gifts.

 

Current status: Bemused

Current music: Bard Dance by Enya





(Out of) Focus Groups

17 10 2008

If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend reading a short story by Heinlein called, “Year of the Jackpot“. There’s a point to mentioning this: I seem to be encountering an increasing number of utter lunatics these days. Did I desecrate a shrine, or something?

First, there were a couple of people earnestly promoting a symposium entitled, “The Ancient Ones of Lemuria”. Although it causes me physical pain to write something this stupid, I will give a brief description of what Lemuria is: an ancient civilization, supposedly the Pacific counterpart to Atlantis. A couple of minutes on your search-engine of choice will get you far more information on the subject. Fair warning, the stupid on most of the links regarding lemuria is particularly toxic and may result in bleeding piles, cranial explosions, a mild case of rigor mortis, and possibly rabies.

I find it hard to believe that anyone takes this slok seriously, but there is apparently a whole industry devoted to taking advantage of people stupid enough to do so. Therefore, there must be enough gullible morons to make the support industries profitable. This is a depressing thought.

On the same shopping expedition where I encountered the Lemuria Loons, I saw a flier for a mail-order training program on the secrets of Mastering Alchemy. I can’t relate much more about the flier, because my brain instinctively shut itself off to prevent damage from being exposed to such lethal levels of stupidity. Perhaps you’ve heard Lewis Black tell his joke about “If it weren’t for my horse, I wouldn’t have spent that year in college.” After saying those words, he cautions the audience not to think about them, lest they suffer a brain aneurysm and blood would start shooting from their noses. This is an equivalent degree of ultra-stupid which I generally deem to be “Weapons-Grade Stupidity”.

At home after these traumatic experiences, I read a depressing article which said the Creation “Museum” was drawing record crowds. Sadly, nowhere in the article did it say the crowds were engaged in mocking the owners and their customers. The record number of visitors was made up of actual “museum” attendees, who took time away from their busy schedules of burning heretics at the stake and rooting out homosexual tendencies in everyone but themselves to look with awe at the paintings of Jebus riding a dinosaur and similar atrocities against rational thought. Sometimes I weep for the future of our Republic.

Lastly, I took this past Monday off, and spent the day doing nothing much at all. I did pop onto the web for a while and almost immediately encountered a pronouncement that Tuesday would see the arrival of a two-thousand mile wide UFO to usher in a new era of love and enlightenment. The person spreading this bit of good news was named, “Blossom Goodchild”, so you can tell she would be a reliable source for this information. After all, if extraterrestrial sentients did exist, they would obviously pick someone named Blossom Goodchild as their intermediary. Wouldn’t you?

There are always going to be whackjobs among us. This is inevitable, and can be an enjoyable source of comic relief from the regularity of what can be grudgingly referred to as reality. What is particularly disturbing is the sheer number of apparently-sentient humans that always turn up in support of these wingnuts. Is there something in the air or water that is producing nutjobs in boxcar lots? These people are never individuals. There are always groups of lunatics demanding that the Government stop concealing evidence of extraterrestrials among us, exhorting us to follow this or that collection of metaphysical drivel, or complaining that the CIA is telepathically projecting top secret conversations with the Gnomes of Zurich into their brains.

The real pity about these out-of-focus groups is that the Universe is really a pretty wonderful place. There is a lot of new stuff to learn, interesting things to do, and cool stuff to see practically everywhere you look. Instead of looking at the marvels that surround us, these people are compelled to invent “miracles” which are almost always far less interesting than the real world. Worse still, they often get mightily wroth when you fail to believe as they do.

Another major problem with the fruit-loop contingent among us is their sheer toxicity to rational thought. People of average intellect can sometimes be persuaded by the intensity of the lunatics’ belief or their appealing earnestness, but those who have a passing grasp of theoretical physics (for example) are likely to suffer painful brain collapse on encountering stupidity in its raw form. The best defense against the risk of permanent brain damage from encountering these refugees from reality is scornful laughter. The angrier they get, the funnier it is, and the harder you should laugh. Never try to use logic or rational arguments against people who believe this sort of thing- they’re naturally immune. Howls of derisive laughter is the only effective antitoxin for the mental poisons for which these people are carriers.

“… that laughter is the Gods’ best gift,

so to the Gods our laughter lift.

Aye, though their wrath the Heavens split,

they grant us Scorn, to laugh at it.”

Current status: Shocked

Current music: Hoedown by Copeland





Not Paying Attention

1 10 2008

Whiskey.

Tango.

Foxtrot.

Somebody out there hasn’t been paying attention. Off the top of my head, I’d say that would be just about everyone: from the President to the Senate to the misnamed House of Representatives to the average US citizen.

Congress (you know, the people we hired to manage our country for us) is hard at work planning on all-new ways to squeeze blood from a stone. In this case, we (the People) are the stone. None of the jackasses on Capitol Hill will be paying for the so-called “bailout”. That would be you and I- the average taxpayer.

The tax-fattened imbeciles in Washington tell us, “Harumph! This legislation is necessary to prevent the financial meltdown of this country!”

Says who? This country doesn’t have $700 Billion to spare. The only way to perform this financial miracle would be to print an extra eleventy-squintillion dollars. Net result: The value of the dollar drops to something less than spit, and we end up with an economic nightmare anyway.

Another “justification” for this scam is to protect the availability of credit. Brilliant! We’ll have more access to worthless currency. Actually, the currency would be less than worthless, because its value (already based on faith and other ephemera) would decrease daily.

We, the People, neither want nor need the pork they’re trying to cram down our collective throat. Our employees in the Government need to be told, “No more!” If the weight of decades of political tinkering with the financial system is finally bringing the whole thing down around our ears, the best choice available is to let it fall. Trying to stop or slow the process will only make it worse. Our Gummint is incapable of doing even simple things without screwing them up. Trying to “fix” something as complicated as our kludged-together financial system is entirely beyond their abilities. The Law of Unintended Consequences is the only legislation that always gets passed.

Let economic evolution wreak its havoc. Trying to prevent the tide from coming in is not just futile and stupid, it’s also dangerous.

 

Current status: Incredulous

Current music: Worlds Away by Strange Advance