Dear Knights of the Brotherhood,
Howdy! I hope everyone’s summer is off to a swell start, and that, wherever this newsletter finds you, you are healthy, happy, and as intent as ever on clandestinely controlling every facet of global influence with the quiet and cruel fist of the élite.
It is an exciting time to be in the Illuminati! We have just welcomed a whole slew of wonderful new members into our family, all of whom look forward to meeting you at one of our bi-monthly meet-and-greets hosted by Rupert Murdoch, hitting the links for a round of golf on the recently reopened Clear Channel eighteen-hole course, or even just talking universal suppression of the common man over a highball in the newly refurbished NATO Oasis Lounge. And that’s just the beginning! So please do not hesitate to introduce yourself to our neophytes: Lupita Nyong’o, Ted Cruz, Michael Sam, Savannah Guthrie, and (yes, finally!) Blue Ivy Carter. Welcome, Fledgling Mercenaries of the New World Order!
But, first things first—I want to thank everyone for such a terrific turnout at our Viva La Revolución Fiesta Fundraiser back in March. I mean, wow! Go, team! With your help, we raised over 1.2 trillion dollars. Not too shabby! That money will go directly into bolstering bastions of religious influence in Latin America, pumping psychoactive carcinogens into domestic water supplies, and a long overdue paint job in the women’s locker room. Major props to Chuck Todd, Ludacris, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for putting in so much time and effort, as well as Jamba Juice and the Banco Central de Chile for making the night possible. You guys literally rule!
Now, August may feel far away, but trust me, enlightened few, Family Fun Night is just around the corner. Remember, this year’s theme is “proletariat fools,” so please tell your kids to start picking out their favorite naïve peon for the costume contest. First prize is two hundred dollars cash and a future ambassadorship.
Since publishing “The Secret,” in 2006, the Australian author Rhonda Byrne has been writing self-help manifestos based on the idea that people who think positive thoughts are rewarded with happiness, wealth, influence, wisdom, and success. In November, 2013, she published “Hero,” the fourth book in the series. The book showcases the wisdom of twelve heroes—businesspeople, sports stars, writers, and philanthropists. Byrne’s idea isn’t new—it’s been a mainstay among greeting-card companies, motivational speakers, and school teachers for decades—but she’s become one of its most visible prophets. “The way to change a lack of belief is very simple,” Byrne writes. “Begin thinking the opposite thoughts to what you’ve been thinking about yourself: that you can do it, and that you have everything within you to do it.”
There’s some truth to Byrne’s ideas about the relationship between thought and action. New inventions emerge after their inventors struggle through years of planning and mental preparation, for example. When people have a condition called somatization disorder, their psychological or emotional distress can manifest in physical symptoms—joint pain, headaches, even seizures. Byrne is also right to emphasize the stubbornness of thought. Once you think something, it is very difficult to eradicate that idea from your mind. The late, brilliant social psychologist Dan Wegner described this as the great irony of mental control: in order to insure that you aren’t thinking about an unwanted idea, you have to continually turn your mind to that very idea. How do you know that you aren’t thinking of a white bear driving a red Ferrari unless you think about whether you’re thinking it?
The books have many adherents; most of their Amazon reviewers give them five stars. But they also have detractors. One criticism is that the books use a technique popularized by fitness gurus: when you see actors with tanned, chiseled bodies promoting a new piece of fitness equipment, you get the sense that they aren’t in excellent shape because they’ve spent hours using that particular machine. More likely, they jog or lift weights, or have great genes or a lightning-fast metabolism, or have some combination of these characteristics. It’s just as hard to believe that the heroes in Byrne’s books—let alone a feverishly productive polymath like Goethe or the notoriously irritable Beethoven—succeeded because they cultivated good thoughts. Moreover, as the journalist Oliver Burkeman noted in “The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking,” “Ceaseless optimism about the future only makes for a greater shock when things go wrong; by fighting to maintain only positive beliefs about the future, the positive thinker ends up being less prepared, and more acutely distressed, when things eventually happen that he can’t persuade himself to believe are good.”
Burkeman is onto something. According to a great deal of research, positive fantasies may lessen your chances of succeeding.
What do you get when you mix slight of hand with pickpocketing? You get Apollo Robbins, also known as “the gentleman thief.” I love anything having to do with magic, illusions and slight of hand. But when you’re good enough to pick the pockets of Penn Jillette and Secret Service agents (YES! It’s true) (read below) it’s just … well … amazing!!!!!
This article from The New Yorker is rather lengthy, so let me begin by piquing your interest with this video. Watch carefully. You’ll love this.
Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)
By Adam Green via The New Yorker
A few years ago, at a Las Vegas convention for magicians, Penn Jillette, of the act Penn and Teller, was introduced to a soft-spoken young man named Apollo Robbins, who has a reputation as a pickpocket of almost supernatural ability. Jillette, who ranks pickpockets, he says, “a few notches below hypnotists on the show-biz totem pole,” was holding court at a table of colleagues, and he asked Robbins for a demonstration, ready to be unimpressed. Robbins demurred, claiming that he felt uncomfortable working in front of other magicians. He pointed out that, since Jillette was wearing only shorts and a sports shirt, he wouldn’t have much to work with.
“Come on,” Jillette said. “Steal something from me.”
Again, Robbins begged off, but he offered to do a trick instead. He instructed Jillette to place a ring that he was wearing on a piece of paper and trace its outline with a pen. By now, a small crowd had gathered. Jillette removed his ring, put it down on the paper, unclipped a pen from his shirt, and leaned forward, preparing to draw. After a moment, he froze and looked up. His face was pale.
“Fuck. You,” he said, and slumped into a chair.
Robbins held up a thin, cylindrical object: the cartridge from Jillette’s pen.
Robbins, who is thirty-eight and lives in Las Vegas, is a peculiar variety-arts hybrid, known in the trade as a theatrical pickpocket. Among his peers, he is widely considered the best in the world at what he does, which is taking things from people’s jackets, pants, purses, wrists, fingers, and necks, then returning them in amusing and mind-boggling ways. Robbins works smoothly and invisibly, with a diffident charm that belies his talent for larceny. One senses that he would prosper on the other side of the law. “You have to ask yourself one question,” he often says as he holds up a wallet or a watch that he has just swiped. “Am I being paid enough to give it back?”
In more than a decade as a full-time entertainer, Robbins has taken (and returned) a lot of stuff, including items from well-known figures in the worlds of entertainment (Jennifer Garner, actress: engagement ring); sports (Charles Barkley, former N.B.A. star: wad of cash); and business (Ace Greenberg, former chairman of Bear Stearns: Patek Philippe watch). He is probably best known for an encounter with Jimmy Carter’s Secret Service detail in 2001. While Carter was at dinner, Robbins struck up a conversation with several of his Secret Service men. Within a few minutes, he had emptied the agents’ pockets of pretty much everything but their guns. Robbins brandished a copy of Carter’s itinerary, and when an agent snatched it back he said, “You don’t have the authorization to see that!” When the agent felt for his badge, Robbins produced it and handed it back. Then he turned to the head of the detail and handed him his watch, his badge, and the keys to the Carter motorcade.
In magic circles, Robbins is regarded as . . . (MORE) . . .
- Adam Green: The spectacular thefts of Apollo Robbins, pickpocket. (newyorker.com)
- Video of the Week: The World’s Best Pickpocket (lawprofessors.typepad.com)
- The Best Pickpocket in the World (neatorama.com)
- The Spectacular Thefts of Apollo Robbins (eliainsider.com)
- A handy guide to pickpocketing (washingtonpost.com)
- Watch This Man Reveal His Pickpocketing Secrets (fox4kc.com)
- Meet The World’s Best Pickpocket (huffingtonpost.com)
- Apollo Robbins: profile of a pickpocket (boingboing.net)
- Apollo Robbins, Pickpocket (schneier.com)
- The Pickpocket Of All Pickpockets (treeofmamre.wordpress.com)