Author • Speaker India


Fall 2006 Newsletter

Hello Friends,

I just spent six weeks in France. For three weeks, I lived in a petite apartment in Paris on the Ile Saint-Louis, three blocks from the magnificent Notre Dame Cathedral, my favorite church in the world. My adventures included sitting in on an opera class at the Sorbonne, attending a session of the French Senate and people-watching in chic cafés. I didn’t send out a summer letter because I’ve been so busy. You can understand that.

Vanishing Gift Ideas for the Holidays
When I think about buying gifts, I ask myself, “What can I give that won’t clutter a friend’s life?” Typically, I give items that disappear, such as gift certificates, gourmet foods, fresh flowers, local wines, and theater tickets. These gifts won’t get shoved into a drawer or end up in a garage sale. I never feel obligated to give gifts. Sometimes a visit, phone call, or handwritten note is enough.

What about Déjà Vu?
Déjà vu is the eerie feeling that something that just happened has happened before. French psychic Emile Boirac (1851-1917) invented the term, and roughly 70-percent of people say they’ve experienced this feeling. Recently, déjà vu has been subjected to serious research. Scientists found that it is an anomaly of memory. The impression that an experience is being recalled is false.

Two Nonfiction Books That Rocked My World
Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman: Our reactions to others, and theirs to us, have a far-reaching biological impact, sending out cascades of hormones that regulate everything from our hearts to our immune systems, making good relationships act like vitamins–and bad relationships like poisons. We can “catch” other people’s emotions the way we catch a cold.
The God Delusion by Oxford University professor Richard Dawkins: This book is a huge bestseller. Watch a witty video of Stephen Colbert and Dawkins debate the existence of God on www.richarddawkins.net/home. You can also access this video by typing "Colbert and Dawkins" into the search box at YouTube.com. “Promoting science as poetry was one of the things that Carl Sagan did so well, and I aspire to continue his tradition,” says Dawkins, an avid hiker, gardener, and lover of nature.

Naturalism & Supernaturalism
You’ve heard about the battle raging between creationism and evolution, but did you know that underlying this battle is a war? The war is between "naturalism" (nature is all there is) and "supernaturalism" (entities can exist outside of time and space). Supposedly, supernatural beliefs are spin-offs of evolution. We’re genetically programmed to believe things that are highly improbable and to create elaborate myths to explain life.

Kirlian Photography Busted!
In 1939, Semyon Kirlian discovered that if an object on a photographic plate is subjected to a high-voltage electric field, an image is created on the plate. The image looks like a colored halo. Some healers call it an “aura” and claim they can see it and repair it. What is actually being photographed is natural phenomena: pressure, electrical grounding, humidity, and temperature. For an expanded report on this subject, go to www.skepdic.com. Click on the letter “K” for Kirlian Photography and "A" for aura and aura therapy. It’s important to check out New Age claims, so you don’t waste your time and money. Instead, spend it on a trip to Paris.

In my next letter, you’ll learn about my latest book, a collection of essays and quotes by some of the world’s leading thinkers. Until then, have a happy Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Joy,

P.S. You are looking at the 240 km long Canal du Midi in southwestern France. The Canal has 103 locks which serve to climb and descend a total of 190 meters. We’ve done three canal trips and highly recommend them. If you’d like to know about renting a canal boat, go to LocaBoat.com.

Yellow Orchid
 

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