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Absolutely, Positively Free…If You Think You can Afford It

Consider Ellen Ruppel Shell’s “Cheap,” Chris Anderson’s “Free” and the story of the one-cent Hershey’s Kiss. This story appears in both books, but the versions are different. Both come from the same source, but these two authors can’t even agree on what to call him. He is Daniel Ariely to Ms. Shell, Dan Ariely to Mr. Anderson, and the author of “Predictably Irrational” to both of them.

Mr. Ariely did an experiment that used chocolate to dramatize the difference that a small shift in pricing could make. According to “Cheap” he offered his subjects a choice between the 1-cent Kiss and a 26-cent Ferrero Rocher hazelnut. At those prices the test subjects were divided 40 percent to 40 percent, with 20 percent opting for neither. Then the prices came down by one penny each, and 90 percent of the subjects took the free chocolate. Only 10 percent chose the higher-priced brand.

Off we go to “Free,” playing fast and loose with different facts and telling the story in somewhat zingier fashion. “Note: behavioral economists have limited budgets and limited time,” writes Mr. Anderson, the editor of Wired magazine and author of “The Long Tail.” “So a lot of their experiments involve a folding table, candy and random college students.”

In its “Free” version the non-Kiss candy is a Lindt truffle initially priced at 15 cents while the Kiss cost a penny; 73 percent of subjects chose the truffle and 27 percent picked the Kiss, with nobody abstaining. Then the prices were lowered by 1 cent each, and 69 percent of the subjects chose the free Kiss. Mr. Anderson doesn’t bother to account for the rest of the sample group, but he does use a quotation from Mr. Ariely to bolster the case that his “Free” makes: “Zero is not just another price, it turns out. Zero is an emotional hot button — a source of irrational excitement.”

Irrational is an apt word, what with the above-mentioned discrepancies. But what’s the upshot of either version of the experiment? And which book can be trusted? Bear in mind that Mr. Anderson has lately been called to task for making uncredited use of free Wikipedia material. But also realize that “Cheap” refers to the Ponzi scheme of the disgraced financier “Michael” Madoff and includes the following thought, which Ms. Shell means to apply to discount shopping: “Actually being eaten by a saber-toothed tiger was not what got early man running; it was the dread of being eaten by that tiger.”

So neither author is entirely to be trusted. Neither was well-advised to use that chocolate story. And neither has written a book that is as sharp as its one-word catchy title. Ms. Shell’s “Cheap” touches very predictable bases in describing and lambasting discount culture (or as she would rather label it, Discount Nation). She parses the obvious and addresses her book to consumers, often drawing upon personal experience to tell them more than they need to know. (Her 3-for-$15 underwear from Target shreds in the dryer.)

Ms. Shell also relies so tediously on quotations from academic experts that she needs to bring a professor of marketing to a Nevada outlet mall to tell her that its bargains are phony. Surprise: The mall’s excitement is not as galvanizing as a saber-toothed tiger would be.

Ms. Shell deals with the mundanity of shopping from the consumer’s point of view. Mr. Anderson peers into the future and aims his arguments at the business world. Here is what he means by “Free”: If you want to know what he really thinks, you’re going to have to pay for more than his book. He acknowledges that he is giving his book away online, as well as selling it at the not-free price of $26.99, so he can be hired for much more lucrative speaking and consulting jobs.

“I’ve got a lot of kids, and college isn’t getting any cheaper,” he writes. He is sufficiently crass, reckless and lazy to have had someone else read the science-fiction books he uses to illustrate the perils of scarcity and abundance.

Still, Mr. Anderson has come up with a lively conversation piece. Even when the particulars of his argument are easily assailable, the gist is clear: Now that a cornucopia of Internet material has been made available without fee, and in some cases without scruples, the smart business must find ways to adapt to that new reality. “The way to compete with Free is to move past the abundance to find the adjacent scarcity,” he writes. And “Free” is full of specific examples of how to do just that.

But after beating the drum for giveaways throughout most of his book, Mr. Anderson eventually acknowledges that his idea is in fact not viable. Such are the perils of his sloppily constructed sweeping argument. No, he doesn’t envision an economy based entirely on giveaways. “Free may be the best price, but it can’t be the only one,” he says. He advocates the balancing of differently priced versions for different markets, acknowledging that this tricky balance is not easily achieved.

Mr. Anderson sees that consumers think not only about money but also about intangibles like convenience, access, quality and time. Ms. Shell’s intangibles are different; she argues that moral accountability and responsibility are often sacrificed for the sake of cheap pricing. But her self-righteousness can backfire.

At the end of a chapter largely devoted to the horrors of Asian shrimp farming, she describes being in a Red Lobster restaurant with friends and being enlightened enough to eschew cheap shrimp in favor of chicken. Yet cheap chicken-farming isn’t any less ghastly. It just doesn’t happen to be addressed by this book.

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Alan is also the author of the Free report “Body Breakthroughs for Life Breakthroughs: How to Peak Your Physical, Emotional, Mental, Moral, and Spiritual IQs for a Sensational Life” available at www.throughyourbody.com

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Cleopatra: The Real Cleopatra Was a Formidible Scholar, Diplomat, and Naval Commander

Cleopatra: As I Am Egypts Queen

Cleopatra: As I Am Egypt's Queen

As I Am Egypt’s Queen

CLEOPATRA

A Biography

By Duane W. Roller

The name Cleopatra calls up cheap flashes of Hollywood glitz, a diva in jewels, not a regal eminence invested with the power to drive armies. Those who think they know anything about her at all can do little more than recall some nebulous fame as a beautiful, cunning seductress of mighty men in togas. She’s more the stuff of fable for us than a real person who inhabited her own square of time and space. But inhabit one she did, and with a good deal more intelligence, élan and tact than exercised by most of her male allies and enemies in the Roman world.

It is that real woman, Cleopatra VII of Egypt (69-30 B.C.), who is explored in Duane W. Roller’s biography. And while Cleopatra’s role in the grand drama of the fall of the Roman Republic and the birth of the Empire might not have been utterly central, history couldn’t have rolled out quite as it did without her.

In Cleopatra’s case, the word ‘biography’ strikes a strange modern note, suggesting the existence of more historical information about her than we in fact have to draw from. But as a historian, classical scholar and archaeologist, Roller brings the full apparatus of what we do know to bear — a tricky task given how Cleopatra’s reputation was officially propa­gandized into oblivion after her defeat and death. The result is an authoritative, amply footnoted yet brisk account not only of her life but also of its rich backdrop, featuring a cast extending backward through almost three centuries of the Ptolemaic dynasty.

Cleopatra’s father, Ptolemy XII, though harried by civil turmoil, worked to reinvigorate fading intellectual life in the great scholarly city of Alexandria, a cause which his daughter, uncommonly well educated even for a woman from a royal household, carried on when she ascended the throne in 51 B.C. for what could have been an enlightened reign. (Roller emphasizes Cleopatra’s achievements as a scholar, linguist, diplomat, and even naval commander — a welcome corrective to the popular conception of her as merely a schemer of royal blood with ­alluring advantages.)

Strife broke out with a faction supporting her brother over sovereignty, though, and it wasn’t until Julius Caesar arrived in 48 and applied his leverage that she took undisputed power. Then, too, began the chain of events that molded her legend — the murder of Pompey by her brother and her ingratiating alliance with Caesar; the son she claimed was his; her presence in Rome when he was assassinated; her intricate intrigues, private and otherwise, with Marcus Antonius and the twins she bore him; her joint defeat with Antonius at the hands of Octavian in the Battle of Actium; her suicide. Little wonder she was taken up by poets, painters and Elizabeth Taylor.

Roller tells his tale smoothly and accessibly. Scholarly digressions are consigned to helpful appendixes that Roller uses as small seminars for airing points of dispute, as a good many remain. What, for example, were the origins of Cleopatra’s mother? Was Cleopatra — the quintessentially vile foreigner according to Octavian’s propaganda — a Roman citizen? (Roller believes she was.) And he offers a digest of classical literary descriptions of the queen and a discussion of her iconography (including coin portraits, which are the only certain likenesses) to pinpoint those elements of her modern identity that only evidence from the period can prove or support.

The resulting portrait is that of a complex, many-sided figure, a potent Hellenistic ruler who could move the tillers of power as skillfully as any man, and one far and nobly removed from the “constructed icon” of popular imagination.

Tracy Lee Simmons is the author of “Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin.” He teaches journalism and writing at Hillsdale College.

From the New York Times:

Buy Now: Cleopatra A Biography

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Alan Davidson is the founder of ThroughYourBody.com and the author Body Brilliance: Mastering Your Five Vital Intelligences, the #1 bestselling Health & Welness book and winner of two National Book-of-the-Year awards.

Alan is also the author of the Free report “Body Breakthroughs for Life Breakthroughs: How to Peak Your Physical, Emotional, Mental, Moral, and Spiritual IQs for a Sensational Life” available at www.throughyourbody.com

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www.ThroughYourBody.com

1103 Peveto St.
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713-942-0923

The Babemba Tirbe, Spiritual IQ, The Power of Love, and Forgiveness

Babemba Tribe~ Spiritual IQ, the Power of Love, and Forgiveness

Babemba Tribe~ Spiritual IQ, the Power of Love, and Forgiveness

In the Babemba tribe in Africa, when a person acts irresponsibly or unjustly, he/she is placed in the center of the village, alone and unfettered. All work ceases, and every man, woman and child in the village gathers in a large circle around the “accused” individual. Then each person in the tribe speaks to the accused, one at a time, about all the good things the person in the center of the circle has done in his lifetime. Every incident, every experience that can be recalled with any detail and accuracy is recounted. All his/her positive attributes, good deeds, strengths and kindnesses are recited carefully and at length. The tribal ceremony often lasts several days.

The tribe recognizes that the correction for non-integrous behavior is not punishment, but love and the remembrance of identity. They believe a friend, coach, or teacher, is someone who knows your song and sings it to you when you have forgotten it. They are not fooled by the mistakes you have made or the dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused.

One of the most important lessons we can learn from evolution is that we are related to all that lives. Consider the fact that your personal DNA is 99.99 % identical to the DNA of every other human being, and to all that has ever lived. Once we begin to include ourselves in the story that we are no longer on an individual journey, we have joined the grand caravan of “endless forms -most beautiful and wonderful”. This is cooperation and collaboration at its core essence.

So, I encourage all to offer some time to BE with your fellow travelers (friends and “strangers” alike) this week, reminding each other that we are one beautiful family on an unprecedented journey back home. – ~Sheryl Sever

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The Making of Carl Jung’s Red Book

Carl Jung’s The Red Book is considered to be the most influential unpublished work in the history of psychology.

When Carl Jung embarked on an extended self-exploration he called his confrontation with the unconscious, the heart of it was The Red Book, a large, illuminated volume he created between 1914 and 1930. Here he developed his principle theories—of the archetypes, the collective unconscious, and the process of individuation—that transformed psychotherapy from a practice concerned with treatment of the sick into a means for higher development of the personality.

While Jung considered The Red Book to be his most important work, only a handful of people have ever seen it. Now, in a complete facsimile and translation, it is available to scholars and the general public. It is an astonishing example of calligraphy and art on a par with The Book of Kells and the illuminated manuscripts of William Blake. This publication of The Red Book is a watershed that will cast new light on the making of modern psychology.

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Alan Davidson is the founder of ThroughYourBody.com and the author Body Brilliance: Mastering Your Five Vital Intelligences, the #1 bestselling Health & Welness book and winner of two National Book-of-the-Year awards.

Alan is also the author of the Free report “Body Breakthroughs for Life Breakthroughs: How to Peak Your Physical, Emotional, Mental, Moral, and Spiritual IQs for a Sensational Life” available at www.throughyourbody.com

Love Your Way,

www.ThroughYourBody.com

1103 Peveto St.
Houston, TX 77019
713-942-0923