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August 5, 2006
John Wilcock - August 5, 2006

 

  The column of lasting insignificance
     


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2008
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2007
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2006
December 30, 2006
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August 26, 2006
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August 12, 2006
August 5, 2006
July 29, 2006
July 22, 2006
July 15, 2006

 

 


August 5, 2006

THE MEMORY WARS by the incomparable Martin Gardner, a three-part series currently running in the Skeptical Inquirer, dissects the bogus “repressed memory” syndrome of the 1990s. Gardner, author of The Annotated Alice , writes of “the mania that blighted the lives of hundreds of preschool teachers and daycare personnel”, many of whom went to jail on phony charges. The “wild, unbelievable tales of brainwashed little rascals” accused one teacher of routinely shooting children into outer space and throwing a girl overboard to sharks. “The memory wars” writes Gardner, a contributor to the magazine for 20 years, “are slowly subsiding but they are still far from over” and he claims that memories can be uncovered by “worthless techniques of hypnotism (are) one of the most persistent myths of psychology”.

“CONTRARY TO GENERAL BELIEF hypnosis is not effective at recovering lost or repressed memories” declares psychology professor David Ludden, “but it is very effective at planting false ones”. Reviewing a new book, Pseudoscience and the Paranormal by Terence Hines (Prometheus Books), Professor Ludden adds: “Human memory is not only fallible, it is highly selective”

WHAT THE BLURB DESCRIBES as “the inside story of running America’s most influential porn magazine” was just published by Feral House. Prisoner of X is Allan MacDonell’s tale of “evaluating countless skin photos, mastering ‘fully erect’ film criticism, enduring creepy inter-office schemers and (being launched) into national politics” when Hustler’s Larry Flynt “opens his wallet to impact the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton”.

THE SANITARY SITUATION recently became a major topic of discussion in New York real estate circles with the installation in some buildings of “waterless urinals”.. The way they work is to funnel the urine into closed cartridges containing a hygienic blue solution which, being lighter, floats on top sealing in the noxious fluid along with the odor. Functioning at the Statue of Liberty and public restrooms at Battery Park, they are also installed in a Bank of America branch where they are said to save three million gallons of water a year. The cartridges need to be changed every three months but the system seems to have no other drawbacks. To doubters, Klaus Reichardt of the Waterless Co. says: “We have a silly saying: peeing is believing.”

THE OLD DISPUTE about whether having a name in your television pilot will bring in the viewers has emerged again reports TelevisionWeek, with a reminder that shows with Heather Graham, Dennis Hopper and Don Johnson have already tanked this season. “Personally I would stay away from (stars), particularly with a comedy because I don’t think it helps or matters: says one producer, Gavine Polone , but others suggest that advertisers are susceptible to stars, especially if they are charming. “Television is always a gamble” concludes Kelly Lee, an executive producer for ABC. “Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t”.

AN UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCE
of the new popularity of art investment funds has been that works of art disappear from sight “relegated to a storage facility for safekeeping” as Art & Antiques puts it. “There is also the fear that those purchasing the best works will be pure investors rather than collectors who plan to eventually donate works to museums”. The ventures are too risky for the big pockets of institutional investors, the mag explains, but private individuals have been pouring their money (minimum investment: $250,000) into such as the Fine Arts Fund whose ceo—a former Christie’s exec—oversees the buying and selling of artworks, paying its investors from the profits until the fund winds up in a decade. Some funds find that specializing pays off. Prajit Dutta, an economics professor at Columbia University, started a fund through his Gallery ArtsIndia that focuses on South Asian works. He reports: “Our first year’s internal rate of return was 180%”.

THE WILCOCK WEB:
Increasing its tax incentives again next year and allowing them to film in any neighborhood, New York has become much friendlier to producers than Los Angeles says Variety…. Widely distributed in Germany are tons of fake currency marked Eros in the corner (instead of Eiuro) and displaying pictures of provocative nudes…..“Happiness is not getting what you want” says Andrew Clark, “it is wanting what you have”Dear or no Deal producer Endemol has sold a new NBC game show in which one player must outlast 100 others who are eliminated as they answer questions incorrectly…. A jury, somebody said, consists of 12 persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer….Confirming the huge profits made by movie theater concession stands, one supplier of the ingredients for a fruit=filled drink revealed that it would cost exhibitors about $1 to make but was likely to retail for $6.50….According to the Times , the top three of the world’s 793 billionaires possess more wealth than the 600 million poorest people put together…. “No man is rich enough to buy back his past” explained Oscar Wilde…. Britain’s National Health Service has okayed the use of magnets strapped to the leg to reduce ulcers despite widespread skepticism that the treatment works…The biggest movie flop of all time is apparently a so-called comedy, Offending Angels which in 2002 took in a grand total of $150 from the 20 people who went to see it. Undeterred, Brit director Andrew Rajan is about to release a DVD edition. “I might even double my takings” he says. …. Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities-- Voltaire (1694-1773).
AUG 5/06

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