Tag Archives: self-help

Piers Steel

Benjamin Franklin wrote about the need for hard work in The Way to Wealth, over 150 before Wallace Wattles’ The Science of Getting Rich, the book that inspired The Secret. Even if you adopt the premise that magical thinking works, it is traditionally thought to operate contrary to the way professed by The Secret. Magnets actually attract their counter; that is, positive attracts negative. Consequently, boasting about or predicting a positive result means it is less likely to come true; we jinx the outcome by tempting fate. It is why we knock on or touch woof after reporting good luck or health, in an effort to avoid the curse and allow the good luck to continue.

Piers Steel, The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Things Done, Harlow, 2011, p. 150

Chris Hardwick

My girlfriend informs me that there’s a black widow nesting in a drainpipe near our garage. I have now been on the GTD program for several days and am a next-action machine. I say out loud to myself in a robot voice, “Processing … dot dot dot …” I head outside, already planning my next action: “Pour water down drain to send spider on river rampage to Jesus.” On the way, however, I discover a dead squirrel. Protocol interrupted. How do you dispose of a dead squirrel?

I return to the house with my bucket of water to ask the Internet. A state of California Web site informs me that I have to call the West Nile Virus Hotline. WTF?! I open a new tab and Google “West Nile deaths human California.” Only one this year. Next action: Let air out of lungs. Back to west nile.ca.gov. From the photos, I identify the decedent as a Fox squirrel. While scrolling through, I notice that its cousin the Douglas squirrel is adorable! I throw it—the words, not the squirrel—at Wikipedia. Pine squirrel located in the Pacific coastal states. Huh. I jot down “pine squirrel” for use in as-yet-unwritten funny sentence. Back to the ‘pedia. Naturalist John Muir described the Douglas squirrel as “by far the most interesting and influential of the California sciuridae.” … Sciuridae? How has that term managed to elude me for more than three decades? I click the link and learn that it’s a family of large rodents—squirrels, chipmunks, marmots, and, uh, spermophiles. I wonder how you pronounce it. sky-yer-EE-dye? SURE-i-day? Goto: Merriam-Webster Online. Damn—it’s a premium-account word. I’ll have to slum it on Dictionary.com. Aha! sigh-YUR-i-day. I say it aloud several times, nodding with a false sense of accomplishment. The black widow is still alive. The Fox squirrel is still dead. And so are 35 minutes of my life.

Chris Hardwick, ‘Diary of a Self-Help Dropout: Flirting With the 4-Hour Workweek’, Wired, vol. 17, no. 1 (January, 2009)