Wednesday, January 12, 2011

TM-Free News Brief, 12 January 2011

Billionaire for TM: A recent "tweet" from a certain TM "raja" points to a rather sarcastic piece in the Business Insider's "Clusterstock" section reporting that the hedge fund run by meditator Ray Dalio was up 34% in 2010, which theoretically might mean that Dalio made two billion dollars last year.  Of the $12 million or so he's given away recently, Dalio's foundation reportedly handed the David Lynch Foundation $1.23 million to promote TM in schools and everywhere else. Dalio's Bridgewater Associates pays half of the TM instruction fee for employees to meditate - but only if they stick with TM for only six months. How many quit doing TM after those six months? Who's checking to see who's meditating, and how? But I digress...

The only person I've noticed thus far who attempts to seriously draw the direct conclusion that "Transcendental Meditation boosts Hedge Fund profits" is "Raja" Felix Kägi, who's obviously been following this story and used exactly that title on his "" blog. The rest of us might attribute Dalio's 2010 success to a lot of skill on his part and of those in his firm, meditating or no, and perhaps quite a bit of random luck and fortunate timing; let's not fail to point out that this same fund only earned two percent the previous year. But it's always the habit of various salesmen, be they selling traditional snake-oil woo or the products of Maharishi's movement, to take credit for the upside and ignore the inevitable downside. I think I'll wait and see how Dalio's hedge funds do for the next few years.  Let's also not fail to mention the link at the bottom of that lead "Clusterstock" story: "Bridgewater Employees Rave About Getting Blackout Drunk And Mud-Wrestling With Ray Dalio."
Meanwhile, around the corner from Wall Street:  The TM movement has finally sold the American Bank Note building at 70 Broad Street, in New York's financial district. They bought it for $5.5 million in 2004, attempted to sell it for $45 million about two years ago, and finally unloaded it for $18 million to a Chinese construction firm. Along the way, the movement borrowed some millions of dollars with the help of New York City's Industrial Development Agency to renovate the space. Clearly, the Global Country of World Peace created a palace fit for a king, er, raja. Rumor was that this was to be the precisely east- and north-facing residence of John Hagelin.

I'll let Fairfield Life contributor Bob Brigante take it from here. Bob wrote this back when the building first went up for sale: "The reason why they are selling is because it's an embarrassment for Hagelin to keep touting the group in Fairfield as being responsible for the market run-up which is no more. Hagelin had a vision of being able to sit in a grand bldg in the middle of the financial district and take credit for everything good happening in the markets correlated to the rising numbers of meditators in the domes -- now that he can't do that without being laughed at, the bldg has got to go..."

Not quite a Billionaire for TM: In an ongoing battle over the Gore-Tex family fortune, the adoption of an ex-husband by an heir who once devoted several years to Transcendental Meditation is at issue. Family members allege that Susan W. Gore, one of five children of Gore-Tex founder Wilbert Gore, adopted her ex-husband to correct "flawed" and "unfair" terms of the payout of a trust fund, after Susan lost large amounts of money through bad investments and after having "almost destroyed her life by moving to Iowa and devoting several years to transcendental meditation," to quote the wording of the Delaware newspaper's article.

According to The News Journal, Susan Gore also donated money and time to one of the TM movement's projects to introduce its meditation into a Vermont prison. At one point Gore was paying $12,000 a month to a Wyoming woman who served as a spiritual and financial advisor.

Briefly: The brother of TM movement figure Neil Paterson has been arrested in Canada and charged with fraud. It's not clear, from this rather confusing and blatantly sensationalistic National Post article, what the connection is between Neil and the business that was headed by his brother John, but we hear, and Wikipedia cites a Globe and Mail report, that Neil actually owned most of the gold mining operation that was the vehicle for his brother's alleged criminal activity. Neil Paterson was leader of the Natural Law Party of Canada, and ran unsuccessfully multiple times in federal elections there. I received the extra syllable of the so-called "advanced technique" from him in Washington DC in the early 1980's... The Natural Law Party is still alive in Michigan... Maharishi Ayurvedic Products is franchising in India, here's the press release... Also in India, The Assam Tribune reports on allegations that buses run by the TM-affiliated Maharishi Vidya Mandir to transport school children, among others, "are old, polluting vehicles in poor running condition, with the result that these frequently suffer breakdowns and are highly susceptible to mishaps. The general practice is to use those buses for schools which are unfit for other running purposes."

Go see "David Wants to Fly." It's playing in the United States at a few festivals and events: in Palm Springs tonight, Denver and San Francisco this weekend, and in Boston in March. Here's Gina's rundown with all the details, on the blog.

Also, recently, on the blog: Laurie on "Transcendental Meditation's Testimonials," a great antidote for when somebody tries to tell you they've made lots of money because of TM, and "Making Sense of a Nonsensical Movement," where I tackle the "Vedic" roots of the TM movement and the "it's not a religion" TM technique. Again.

TM-Free News Brief, 12 January 2011. Published irregularly here on Wednesdays by Mike Doughney, who's solely responsible for its content unless otherwise noted.

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