Whirled Musings

Across the Universe with Cosmic Connie, aka Connie L. Schmidt...or maybe just through the dung-filled streets and murky swamps of pop culture -- more specifically, the New-Age/New-Wage crowd, pop spirituality & religion, pop psychology, self(ish)-help, business babble, media silliness, & related (or occasionally unrelated) matters of consequence. Hope you're wearing boots. (By the way, the "Cosmic" bit in my moniker is IRONIC.)

Monday, July 07, 2008

What's it all about? Algae?

About a year and a half ago I did a drive-by snark about a company that peddles a supplement, StemEnhance, which purportedly enhances adult stem-cell production (click here and scroll down to the second item, "What have you done for your stem cells lately?"). In the months after that, I would occasionally hear of a friend or associate who was trying to make some extra bucks by pushing this supplement, which is sold via a worldwide MLM network. I would just smile and shake my head and think, "Well, I guess we all have to make a living. As long as they're not hurting anyone..."


Now comes the news that Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale himself has discovered this miracle substance, and he claims that after two weeks of taking twice the recommended dosage, his asthma is gone, his allergies are gone, his anxiety attacks are gone, many of his aches and pains are history, and even his food sensitivities are going away. Joe has a long history of involvement in various MLM programs, all of which made him excited beyond belief, but this one... oh, my, this one is simply miraculous.

One of Joe's most loyal followers expressed concern, not only about the potential health hazards of the blue-green algae that is apparently the main active ingredient in this supplement, but also about the business practices of the company that produces the supplement.

  1. amyj + energy = bliss says

    Oh Joe, I am really sorry to report this. But Cell Tech, who had dubious business dealings and issues with the toxicity of their product, is the same company. Jen’s article by a doctor (which is peer reviewed) specifically identifies the same Christian Drapeau (the guy behind the science). “Christian Drapeau, Cell Tech’s Director of Research” and it goes on to cite Cell Tech’s and even their predecessor (another name it seems) less than desirable behavior.

    I am surprised you missed this. There are many interesting statements in there that I won’t elaborate on here, but I do recommend that people do take a look at this article prior to making up their mind to consume this supplement or sell it to others. http://www.tldp.com/issue/167/algae.html

    Joe, please consider cutting back to the 2 recommended capsules. If it the possibility of it containing toxins exists, you are doubling your risk by taking more than the recommended dose. Would like to have you around another 40 years or more!

    In Joy and Gratitude,

    Amy

    July 7th, 2008

  2. Joe Vitale says:

    Hi Amy. I didn’t miss anything. As I said in my blog, I already researched the company, the product and even communicated with the scientist behind it all. Saying the company used to be CellTech is a little like saying I used to work for Exxon so don’t deal with me. A new company is a new company. The past does not equal the future. At any rate, if the past alarms you, then please don’t use the product, as you’ll just attract problems with it. I appreciate the loving concern and know it comes from a good place.
    Blessings,
    joe

"The past does not equal the future." So sez Mr. Fire. I wonder if he's heard that aphorism about the leopard not changing its spots? Anyway, I guess you could say this attitude goes a long way towards explaining why he doesn't seem to be fazed by any accusations against his new best friend,* David Schirmer, who has featured Joe not once but twice in his Succeed Magazine.

Most revealing in the above statement, however, is Joe's declaration that if someone is alarmed by the potential dangers of the product (and/or the shady bidness dealings of those who produce or sell the item), then they will certainly "attract" problems, so maybe they'd best leave it alone. In other words, if it doesn't work or if it does them harm, well, by golly, it's their own fault.

Here's a link to a post on the delightful bayblab blog** about StemEnhance and the "scientist behind it all," Christian Drapeau. This post in turn links to a page presenting Dr. Stephen "Quackwatch" Barrett's take on the product.

So, is StemEnhance helpful, harmful, or just plain useless? Time will tell. As for Mr. Fire, he's already known as the "Buddha of the Internet" and the "Charles Atlas of the Internet" (nicknames he apparently gave himself). To these impressive credentials, should another be added – "The Irwin Mainway of the Internet"?***

By the way, the makers of StemEnhance also have formulas for some of our animal friends. As Kamel, the blogger who wrote the bayblab post I linked to above, put it, "I think I'll buy some for my duck. Quack, quack, quack."

PS added July 8 ~ In case you haven't seen this article about the hazards of certain kinds of blue-green algae – and the arrogant behavior of the scientist behind StemEnhance, Christian Drapeau – here's a link. It's pretty eye-opening and makes you wonder if perhaps Mr. Fire has become more than a distributor and consumer of StemEnhance (highly paid spokesman, perhaps?).

* In Schirmer's view, anyway.
** By their own description, "The bayblab is a collection of gradstudent ramblings from a cancer lab in Ottawa, Canada." In other words, real scientists in training.
*** Re "Irwin Mainway": Thanks to our own Rev Ron for evoking this hilarious classic SNL skit.

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42 Comments:

Blogger Silver Surfer said...

Amy, It's NOT a perfect world so it is a perfect setup for people like you who like to complain about things.
You complain about the possibility of toxins in StemEhance but, hey, the city water you drink it down with might be even more toxic.
Then there is the entire drug industry with every product a dangerous toxin. Yet all these toxins are allowed to be sold on the claim of health improvement. Oh, golly why does everything have to be so darn complicated?
So Amy, the next time something like StemEnhance gives you a psychological headache take an aspirin (also toxic) and relax.
John Walker

Tuesday, July 08, 2008 8:55:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Hi, Silver Surfer, and welcome to the party! I appreciate your comments and I like your sense of humor. Before I go any further, though... just in case there is any confusion, I'm not Amy; I only quoted her. You probably got that but I just wanted to make sure.

Second, from what I've observed, Amy is anything but a complainer (take a look at her web site:
http://www.allabout-energy.com/
and you'll see what I mean). Since she has often posted warm and encouraging remarks to Joe V on his blog, I can only assume that she is genuinely concerned about his health, as well as about the ethics of the StemTech folks. (Of course, if you're referring to me as the complainer, you've got a point there, though I prefer to call it snarking. :-))

Third, I see that a couple of your own blogs are about how to make money in MLM programs, so I’m thinking maybe you have a dog in this hunt.

That said, I do agree with you about the drug industry. “Big pharma,” as many like to call it, has us by the balls, the ovaries, and every other body part. They have our doctors in thrall as well. There’s an eye-opening article in the July Reader’s Digest listing a few facts that doctors don’t tell us (but that many of us knew or suspected anyway). RD asked two dozen physicians to share some candid info, and they had plenty to say.

F’rinstance, 94% of doctors take gifts from drug companies, even though research has shown that these gifts bias their clinical decision making. Another is that those “free” samples of the newest meds that docs are always handing out may not be the best or safest choice. Another tidbit of wisdom is that taking psychiatric drugs such as Prozac can make it much more difficult and expensive to get life insurance, health insurance and long-term care insurance. (Yeah, the insurance companies have a stranglehold on us too; don’t get me started on THAT.) Yet what's the first thing most docs do when you have a complaint of anything that's a bit emotionally askew in your life? That's right: they whip out the old Rx pad. In fact, the practice of psychiatry has become more about Rx drugs than about "talking it out." (Yes, I know that many patients pressure doctors to write Rx's, so it's a two-way street. But still...)

And then there’s the hardly surprising, but nonetheless infuriating, observation that docs often make patients wait while they listen to sales pitches from drug reps. (I can attest to this. When Ron and I would take my late mom to her numerous doctor appointments, there were times we could barely get into the waiting room because it was so full of fresh-faced drug company reps toting their luggage full of samples. More than once, reps who got there after we did would get called in before we did.)

But at least the drug industry is regulated by the FDA, and a drug has to have been shown, via actual scientific research, to be effective and at least minimally harmful in order to be approved. Granted, research results can and have been skewed to minimize or eliminate negative data. When the drug company is funding the research, this is to be expected. And granted, there is evidence that the FDA has often shirked its duty to protect consumers (and that it doesn’t seem to be above taking payola from drug manufacturers and the makers of devices such as silicone breast implants…but don’t get me started on THAT either.). Despite this, drug companies are at least required to present a long list of warnings about possible side effects, even in their consumer ads. Along with those images of happy, smiling people whose newly discovered conditions have been cured or ameliorated by the miracle drug of the week, we get soothing voice-overs or fake doctors cheerfully warning us that taking this drug could result in all sorts of unfortunate conditions, including death.

I’m not saying that the nutritional supplement industry should be similarly ruled by the FDA. Lord knows we don’t need the government breathing down our necks dictating when and how we can take Vitamin C or red clover tea. But at the very least, there should be more uniform standards (of purity, etc.), and when there is evidence that a supplement may be harmful or simply not effective, that information should be made widely available.

Joe says he did review all of the info about StemEnhance – including the negative stuff – and that he made an informed choice. He further claims that after two weeks of taking twice the recommended dosage, StemEnhance wiped out a number of bothersome ailments, including asthma, allergies and anxiety attacks. The title of his blog post even suggests that StemEnhance is a cure-all, even though in the body of the post he issued disclaimers.

I am not for a moment suggesting that Joe would deliberately peddle something that is harmful. I do, however, wonder how much of his miracle “cures” were the placebo effect at work, and how much, if any, were simply exaggerated claims made to push the product (gee, ya think?). I do know that if it turns out that he develops real health problems as a result of taking twice the recommended dosage of StemEnhance, and simply stopping the supplement doesn’t reverse those problems, he can well afford medical care. My guess is that many other folks who were persuaded to take StemEnhance in a similar way may not be so fortunate. Thousands of people (me, for example) are uninsured or underinsured and can’t afford to pay for extensive medical care out of pocket. That’s just another reason that “caveat emptor” applies just as much, or even more, when you’re shopping for supplements as when you’re shopping for paths to enlightenment.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

PS to above comment: I forgot to mention (though this info is widely available) that one concern some researchers have is whether an increase in circulating stem cells can result in abnormal tissue growth. (This, of course, is assuming that StemEnhance can actually effect an increase in adult stem cells.) There is some speculation that such an increase could cause or aggravate some types of cancer. And since Joe has blogged in the past about a cancer scare, I am sure that Amy was concerned about this too.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

OMT about whether or not StemEnhance works…
In his blog post, Joe wrote: “I knew many people would still be skeptical, despite my own personal story, but the company has a smart way for you to prove whether the product will work for you or not.

“You simply track your progress online with a tool that is eye-opening.

It’s called the SQOLA and it’s free.”

Well, yeah, but…if you follow the link he provides, you’ll see that in order to participate you have to be a new distributor or consumer, and you have to be on AutoShip. That last part is the clincher. Free? Sure, but only if you’re signed up so the StemEnhance folks can debit your checking account or charge your credit card in perpetuity.

And then there’s this, from the company’s FAQ page:
"Q. How can participating in the SQOLA help me as a Sponsor?
A. When people realize in a quantitative manner the effect that StemEnhance has had in their life, they will continue taking it. This will increase retention and provide you with a unique opportunity to build a strong organization. Your best course for successful business building is to encourage all your new distributors to be on AutoShip and to participate to the SQOLA."

Doesn’t sound all that free to me!

But then again, StemEnhance has always seemed to be much more about building the business than about realizing any health benefits. (Duh.)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger Citizen Deux said...

What about the phrase "these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease."

Upon reading this selection of verbiage the automatic caveat emptor light should go off.

Your results may vary...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008 3:20:00 PM  
Blogger Citizen Deux said...

Connie - I reread your post - are you in the "big pharma" is bad group? I don't consider a sample by Reader's Digest of 24 physicians to be relevant.

There are likely some overprescribed medications - cholesterol lowering, but this is the result of medical malpractice litigation.

I am concerned about an overabundeance of drug advertising - however - I think this leads to better informed consumers.

ver word - qukwokc

Tuesday, July 08, 2008 3:24:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Hi, CD, it's good to see you here. It is true that in the US, makers of supplements are required to put the "not-evaluated-by-the-FDA-etc." disclaimer on their packaging and in their ads. On the other hand, the FDA has fallen down on the job more than once when it comes to consumer protection, so an FDA blessing doesn't *necessarily* mean that a drug or device is safe or even terribly effective.

Although I said that the big drug companies have a stranglehold on us, I'm actually somewhere in the middle when it comes to the "big pharma" controversy. I do appreciate the ongoing efforts of the pharmaceutical industry to develop life-enhancing and lifesaving medicines. And I realize that research is expensive.

But I also know that marketing is expensive too, and that very often the drug companies seem to be creating markets where none existed before. (Who knew that restless leg syndrome was so widespread?) And it seems a lot of the big drug companies spend a disproportinate amount of money on marketing, which includes bribing...er...offering incentives to doctors to push their wares.

I also think many meds are overprescribed -- not just the more expensive cholesterol lowering meds that you mentioned, but also things such as meds for ADHD in kids, and even antidepressants.

I imagine that doctors are often caught in the middle in these situations. Not only do they have a constant stream of drug-company sales reps in their offices, but the aggressive consumer advertising in the media has prompted more patients to pressure their doctors into writing prescriptions. One doctor in the Readers Digest article said that sometimes it's just easier to write a scrip than to keep explaining to the patient why the requested med isn't necessarily the best way to go.

I agree with you that a poll of 24 physicians is not statistically significant, but my guess is that the article provided some pretty accurate snapshots of the state of medicine today. The observations in the RD article came from doctors in a wide variety of specialties and practicing in a variety of clinical environments. Most of them had been in practice for many years, and they were not necessarily just sharing their own experiences. They were also making observations about things they see and hear every day from their colleagues and patients. So even though this article may not have been a comprehensive study of what's going on in medicine, I think it provided some good insight (even as I think many of the doctor blogs such as that of Panda Bear M.D. provide good insight).

I'm definitely a believer in nutritional supplements and herbal remedies, but I do think there are lots of exaggerated claims (duh), as well as a general belief by many supplement advocates that just because it's not a prescription med, it can't be dangerous or even fatal. Obviously, anyone taking nutritional supplements of any type should fully inform their health care practitioner.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008 4:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"his allergies are gone, his anxiety attacks are gone, many of his aches and pains are history, and even his food sensitivities are going away"

For someone who confessed to knowing THE SECRET to health wealth and happiness how come the guy has such health issues even to say that they are gone. CAUGHT again....

These guys are all the same, whatever takes their fancy becomes the new best thing to make money out of. I bet Schirmer will be next peddling some MLM crap that will be so good it'll change the world as we know it. Have you ever heard of such crap in all your life. What people are buying is hope, a hope that by paying one of these guys mortgage bills they'll feel good.

Not I says me.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008 11:58:00 PM  
Blogger Steven Sashen said...

Is anyone else wondering why Mr. V. had previously attracted to himself all those ailments and problems (especially ANXIETY)?

And why he didn't simply save his money and attract health to himself?

Maybe it's just me.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008 8:39:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Anon 11:58 and Steven, since both of you addressed more or less the same issue, I'll reply to both in this comment. No, you're not the only ones who wondered why someone who claims to know so many "secrets" to health, wealth and happiness would continue to have so many physical and emotional ailments. In fact, that's one of the first points that struck me when I read about this latest "breakthrough" for Joe. (I have no way of knowing at this point, but I suspect that even some of the most loyal Joebots have had similar questions.)

After reading "Zero Limits" (which I read twice, and wrote about extensively on this blog), it was clear to me that the principles taught in "The Secret" had not, after all, provided Joe with all of the answers, including the solutions to his health problems. In "Zero Limits," however, he implied not only that he had reached the ultimate state of awakening -- the third stage (which was the ultimate *at the time*, but this has since been amended ;-))-- but he also strongly suggested that Dr. Len's version of Ho'oponopono was finally providing him with permanent solutions to several of his health problems, including weight issues.

Now it seems clear that even reaching Zero State didn't take care of the asthma, allergies, anxiety attacks, food sensitivities, etc.

Years ago (back in the mid-1990s), Ron and I did the typesetting and design for a postcard for Joe touting the miraculous cure-all properties of coral calcium. A few years after that, as I recall, Joe was getting all hyped up about a supplement made from grape-seed extract. In the years since then he has touted numerous miracle remedies, including expensive "yagyas" (Hindu prayer rituals), which apparently he had purchased not only for himself but for his late ex-wife. This is just scratching the surface of a long string of wondrous remedies he’s pushed.

Joe has admitted that he believes he “attracts” his various medical crises, such as his appendicitis scare last year. He has also indicated that he isn’t always sure exactly why he’s attracted all of his problems, but has noted that we all do this in our lives, no matter how emotionally or spiritually developed we are. Of course, the solution is to clear out those pesky “counter-intentions” via – you guessed it – Joe’s Miracles Coaching program, or one of his hypnotic/subliminal products, or a workshop, or whatever.

No matter what happens, he’ll find a way to milk it for all the money he can. You really have to admire this, and fortunately you can do so without actually buying into it.

And (Anon), as for Schirmer, I have no doubt you’re right. If he continues his monkey-see, monkey-do patterns, I’m sure he’ll be touting a miracle product soon, perhaps giving it a Christian/LOA spin. :-)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008 10:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Phillip said...

What a legacy these guys are making.

I sold false hope and crap to the masses for a living AND they bought it.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008 7:55:00 PM  
OpenID abalanceofhope said...

It's always the way, isn't it?
Take a dubious product, glorify it as a miracle cure, then tout it to the general public in a way that makes them desperately need it.

It rarely stops there, though, does it? The dubious product is set up as a pyramid scheme with a commission for each person you enrol to sell it. Viral marketers, of course, have "the plan" (like Amway, which isn't as scamful as others), that make you believe if you bring in x amount of people you will earn big bikkies. Gullible people are always swayed like this.
I should know. 4 years ago a friend of mine was involved in a network like this called "network 21". 2 years ago he was involved in another one involving some "amazing" energy drink. Then, close to 2 months ago, the same friend is ranting and raving about "Max International" or something like that, which apparently, is a business that hasn't launched in Australia yet. You guessed it - another pyramid scheme selling some weird product that will change lives. Of course, my friend says, 'when it does launch, I'll be one of the lucky ones that has x amount of people under me and will earn 30,000 a month'.
What I find incredulous is that this won't be the last time my friend gets involved in these sorts of schemes - and each time, he fails to realise that nothing comes free, and to generate that much money a month he'll need to sign up oodles of people. Last I checked, a lot of people aren't that gullible and don't fall for these schemes too easily.
Having said all that, the viral marketers are the real winners. Considering that it usually costs a reasonable fee to "join" these schemes (to my knowledge, anywhere from 50 - 200 dollars, but let's say 50 for argument's sake), if you times that by say, 1000 gullible people, the viral marketers in my opinion, have made a substantial profit.

What's more scary is, it's amazingly scary how easy it is to set up! Take a weird product, throw it in a bottle, market it, set it up as a pyramid scheme. If it doesn't work out; well - you've still got all the people that have brought into the "business". So at the first sign of trouble, they take the money and run.

What's even more scary is, these "pyramid schemes" are being touted by New-Age scammers, so I'm really not all that surprised to hear of Joe-boy's venturous ways into the miracle cure industry. Curiously enough, my friend's involvement with this Max International (or whatever it's called) came about at some law of attraction convention in Brisbane. From what I can gather, someone approached him sprouting law of attraction crap and "casually" mentioned she owned a business and wanted my friend to "help her run it". Ahh yes... he fell for it hook line, and sinker. The next day they had coffee (her shout, of course), and, well - that afternoon he'd signed into this cockamamie spiel and as they say, the rest is history.

*shrug*

I tried to warn him, tell him, advise him, show him. Some people will just believe what they want to, and I suspect these new age scammers rely on that.

Thursday, July 10, 2008 5:29:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you, Abalance. You have just concisely illustrated the main problems with MLM schemes. One of these problems -- so obvious that those who "want to believe" consistently overlook it -- is that if 30,000 or 100,000 or half a million people are signed up as distributors, then everyone's selling the product...so who's buying it? Eventually the market becomes saturated, even if the product or product line in question is a good one.

I think that with Joe V's endorsement of StemEnhance a little reading between the lines could be beneficial.

First, consider the number of existing distributors/affiliates for this dubious product. StemEnhance has been around in its present form for several years, and if you Google it, you'll see pages and pages of results, most of which lead to distributor web sites. So there are already tons of folks signed up, i.e., lots of competition.

Why would Joe so enthusiastically jump on the bandwagon now and endorse this product? The answer he wants you to believe, of course, is that it's simply such a darn good product that he just had to endorse it.

Even if we assume this is the case, however, anyone who knows Joe knows that there are very few business ventures he enters into unless he stands to gain huge returns. Yes, he became a distributor of StemEnhance and therefore stands to gain monetarily if he can persuade others to sign up under him. And he has a huge mailing list. On the surface there’s nothing wrong with that; under ideal conditions an MLM plan is indeed a “win-win-win” situation. But I suspect that even with this large list, the potential gain is so little, compared to the big bucks Joe normally demands for doing just about anything, that it wouldn’t be worth his while. (The speaking fee currently listed on his web site is $25,000 / hr for domestic events and $35,000 / hr for international events, plus first-class travel for 2 and hotel accommodations in a suite. All the other services, such as $25,500 sales letters, web site copy at $5.00 a word ($5,000 minimum), and marketing strategy at $150,000, are listed as “no longer available.”)

I can hear the Joebots' defense now: "Is it so difficult to entertain the possibility that Joe is doing something because he believes in it and cares about other people's health... and not just for the money? After all, he has lots of money now. Everything he does doesn't HAVE to be about the money. Is it so hard to believe he that his endorsement of StemEnhance is for the higher good?"

Well...forgive me, Joebots, but...yes, it is a bit of a challenge to believe this. So let’s just say that I would not be surprised to learn that Joe is being paid by StemTech above and beyond what he would normally get as a distributor.

For some reason a big red flag popped up for me in this part of his blog post:

"A woman told me about a product that stimulated the growth of adult stem cells....

"...I didn’t understand it at first. But there was something about the woman’s manner and sincerity that made me pay attention."

This is where I think one needs to read between the lines. Putting aside the possibility that “the woman’s manner and sincerity” could have been merely code for “She was really a babe!”, is there a possibility that she was actually working for the company that makes StemEnhance and was prepared to offer Joe a lucrative shill deal? Or maybe she was just another distributor drone, but he really *was* taken by her sincerity and/or other assets, so he was persuaded to try the product… or at least to do research on the numbers. And then perhaps HE approached StemTech with a proposal. (“I’m a big star – I’m the Buddha of the Internet and I was in The Secret! – and when I endorse something, people line up to buy it. So… tell you what I’m gonna do…”)

I could of course be entirely wrong in my speculation. It wouldn’t be the first time. Anyone who has any information to the contrary can feel free to comment here.

On a related note, I noticed that Joe changed the title of his StemEnhance blog post from “A Cure For All Health Problems?” to “Got Health Problems?” This was apparently to avoid attracting potential trouble from the FDA, which is sort of touchy about cure-all claims or even cure-all implications. The StemTech folks have kind of a history with the FDA, as it turns out. According to the article by osteopathic physician John M. McPortland that I linked to at the end of my blog post, “The FDA seized algae sold by Victor Kollman, Cell Tech's predecessor. After Kollman was busted for fraud, his brother, Daryl, took over the algae business and Daryl created Cell Tech and its cult of personality.” Cell Tech was the predecessor of StemTech, which currently produces algae-based StemEnhance. Here’s a link to more on this history:
http://tinyurl.com/5ovhlg

Once again I must invoke those two words of wisdom: Caveat emptor.

Thursday, July 10, 2008 11:38:00 AM  
Anonymous mojo said...

What I don't get is, blue green algae is, like, *so* fifteen or twenty years ago. I base that on when some crafty casual acquaintance once invited me and my Favorite Husband to their house "for a little get-together" which turned out to be a moronic sales "party" run by some stupid algae salesman. Which I thought was pretty slimy. That was back in the late 80's, I think.

(Is there anything more painful than sitting through a bad salesman monotonously droning his talking points off of index cards? That's what I most remember from the blue green algae presentation. That, and a burning desire to kill myself the entire time. I suppose now they drone them from PowerPoint slides, with really cool animations and sound effects each time a slide pops up. Schwing! Boing! POW! Yeah, I guess that WOULD be more painful, huh?)

If algae is the next cure du jour, what comes after algae? Bee pollen? est? Disco? Beehive hairdos? Or does all this stuff just crop up in some sort of rotation schedule I have been blissfully unaware of until now?

Thanks, at least, for the bayblab link. That one's another keeper. I think somewhere in your blog you once gave a link for Gerard 't Hooft's "How to Become a Good Theoretical Physicist", which I also enjoyed greatly and now belatedly thank you for it. (I think it was you? One of those things I bookmarked to peruse at leisure. I found 't Hooft so inspiring I am actually considering a self-study program like he suggests so that I too may someday become a good theoretical physicist. Who's with me?)

Thursday, July 10, 2008 6:16:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Hi, Mojo (and, by the way, belated kudos for your utterly delightful web sites/blog, etc.)!

Yeah, blue-green algae is kinda retro, isn't it? The stem-cell angle gives it that up-to-the-minute cachet, though. And heck, why *not* exploit the legitimate research that suggests adult stem cells may have some of the wondrous qualities of embryonic stem cells? If some of the folks involved in the manufacture and marketing of the new generation of algae products are as scummy as the stuff they sell... well, welcome to the New Wage.

I think many of us have been unwilling victims of MLM "parties." (My own Rev Ron has a story that I'm sure he'd be glad to share.)

And yes, I did provide a link to the theoretical physics page; that was from my entry of Friday, Aug. 31, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/632fow
(under the heading, "Scientist Bob, Take Note!"). But I can't really take credit for discovering this page; my pal Tony Michalski at Kallisti Publishing pointed the page out to *me*.

I'm not as interested in becoming a theoretical physicist as I am in becoming a cell biologist or at the very least an amateur entomologist. Last night I watched two stick insects having sex, and found it more fascinating than is probably normal. I really *am* easily amused. But that female stick was amazingly huge; I'd never seen one that big. I probably should have taken a picture...

Thursday, July 10, 2008 7:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where have I heard this before?

In other words, if it doesn't work or if it does them harm, well, by golly, it's their own fault.

The disclaimer of the secret century.

Thursday, July 10, 2008 10:38:00 PM  
Anonymous mojo said...

Thanks for the kind words. Back atcha!

I rarely bother to research anything that claims up front to be an instant cure-all for every single conceivable thing that ails you. So I admittedly speak from ignorance should I ever attempt to seriously discuss anything's miracle curative properties.

I am honestly happy for anyone who finds relief from a chronic problem, even if it might technically be a placebo effect. I can also empathize with the desperation of those who are chronically ill and still looking. It's a very tough place to be, and logic sometimes takes a back seat.

I brought up the age of blue-green algae only because, if I were in the market for a pyramid--oh, 'scuse me, I mean an "MLM opportunity", I think I'd tend toward a newer market that maybe hasn't been saturated, yet. Of course, I have never been in the market for an pyr--ooops, there I go again--an MLM opportunity, so once again I speak from a towering pile of ignorance. WILLFUL ignorance, at that!

Furthermore, to be honest, when it comes to blue-green algae I don't think I'd even KNOW if my own personal stem cells were being enhanced or not. I don't think they're like other body parts, where "enhancement" would be fairly obvious. Perhaps I am congenitally stem-cell "blind", just as I am also congenitally anosmic (Word for the day! Yes, I am. Yes, since birth. No, not a thing. No, not even (*insert smelly substance here*)). Maybe everyone else in the world is skipping around saying stuff like, "Wow, my stem cells feel GREAT today!" while I'm groping about in stem cell darkness.

So in short, I'm talking out of my hat no matter which way folks should care to take my comments.

(But I did enjoy remembering the classic SNL skit. Wasn't the "Johnny Space Commander" costume Dan Ackroyd is holding up in your graphic just a plastic garbage bag for kids to put over their heads on Halloween? Just goes to show it's all in the marketing!)

I've only seen one stick insect--I suppose they are what we call "walking sticks"--in my life. It was on the screen door of my parents when I was a teenager. It was way cool. Do you have a lot of them out your way? I don't know if they're just not that common up here in New England, or if I just don't see them because they look too much like sticks and my brain doesn't register them.

My nephew and I bought one of those mantis egg cases and I happened to be home about this time last year when it hatched. This thing was just sitting around the living room in a plastic cup for MONTHS, and then all of a sudden it started barfing out these maggot-like squirmy creatures that unfolded into tiny mantises. It was pretty cool once I got over my initial shock. Here's the first video I made:

http://www.mojocrap.com/craptacular/node/538

I also made a second when I let the little guys loose in the garden.

http://www.mojocrap.com/craptacular/node/539

I was hoping then I would then have a backyard full of giant mantids, but I've never seen one since.

I enjoy watching just about any critter that doesn't actively attempt to do me bodily harm. Which thus far seems to be most of 'em, knock on wood. "Easily amused" is right on the money. But it makes for a joyful life, in a quiet sort of way.

I suppose it could be argued that I am "attracting" kindly-thinking creatures to me. But I like to think some of it MIGHT be due to a smattering of native intelligence. If I see a snake, for example, I can hang out for a while and admire and appreciate its beauty. But I'm still gonna keep my appendages a healthy distance away from the sharp end!

Friday, July 11, 2008 4:11:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Mojo, you make some good points about the desperation experienced by many people who have chronic health problems. It’s just real hard for me to believe “Mr. Fire” when he touts a health remedy or any other kind of wondrous breakthrough, simply because he has enthusiastically pushed so many of these things over the years. He does seem to have a lot of health problems, and over the years he’s claimed to have found “permanent” solutions to various problems… but I guess he has a different definition of “permanent” than most of us do.

BTW, as I mentioned the other day, “Mr. Fire” did change the title of his blog post from “The Cure For All Health Problems?” to “Got Health Problems?” But the original title remains embedded in the source code, and still appears on the title bar at the top of the screen, as well as in the permalink. Pssst…any friends of Joe who might be reading this: tell him to get into the HTML and change the title metatag ("The Cure For All Health Problems?") at the beginning. One can’t be too careful these days.

Oh, and here’s another interesting tag from the source code (“description “content=”): "Dr. Joe Vitale of The Secret and The Opus attracts stem cell enhancer to help with health and wellness." Indeed, he does put a Law Of Attraction spin on it, as indicated in his PS: “I believe that when you set an intention, such as one for better health, you begin to attract tools, people, and products that can help you achieve your goal. If you’ve been intending better health, this product could be the one you’ve been seeking.”

Law Of Attraction or not, the market for blue-green algae may very well be saturated, but that is apparently not an issue for Joe – which is why I suspect he’s getting paid big bucks by the StemEnhance folks, above and beyond any income he might realize as a distributor. And I’m sure that at least some suck...er...seekers will be persuaded to buy StemEnhance because it is being endorsed by a “big name” who has a “Dr.” in front of that name. (Never mind that his doctorates are phony.)

At any rate, other than “Jen” and “Amy,” most of the responses to Joe’s StemEnhance blog post have been supportive. A couple of folks asked about the availability of the product. And someone by the name of Navin Mahabir wrote a long defense of StemEnhance and the “science” behind it. Among other things, Navin wrote:

=BEGIN QUOTATION=
“There are a great many people who can attest to the power of StemEnhance. And there are a very few people out there trying to make the case that blue-green algae is toxic while being bombarded with testimonial after testimonial of its amazing properties. At the end of the discussion we are each free to make our decision. The question may be whether our decision is based on the assurance of our manifestation of good health or on the fear of something we do not understand and have not tried. In the end, it is as it should be — we will each be guided in the ways that we need to be.

“Just to prove the point, I know a couple who each took 80 capsules in one day. They had no adverse effects; they just felt very happy for a long time. The recommended dosage is two capsules at once. If one has a particular issue that one wishes to better, then the recommendation would be two capsules at once, twice a day, about 6 -8 hours apart. StemEnhance starts working in about 30 minutes, the effects peak at about two hours, and trail off at about 6 -8 hours.”
=END QUOTATION=

Well, that’s real scientific, isn’t it? Golly, *I’m* convinced of the safety and efficacy of StemEnhance! Gee… eighty capsules in one day?!? And no effects but long-term happiness? (Hmmm…sounds like someone else is a StemEnhance distributor, doesn’t it?)

And notice how Navin presents only two possible bases for decision making regarding this product: One is either motivated by "the assurance of our manifestation of good health" or by "the fear of something we do not understand and have not tried." It never seems to occur to Navin and other "believers" that critics could be motivated by anything other than fear of things they don't understand, or envy of the success of others, or some similar failing. (And I don't think we even need to get into the fact that his anecdotal example of one (un-named) couple is hardly "proof" of StemEnhance's merits.)

Well, enough about that (for now). I’m definitely in agreement with you, Mojo, about being fascinated by all sorts of life forms – including most insects (except for roaches) and reptiles (yes, including snakes!). We don’t have many stick insects around here (yes, I normally call them “walking sticks” too); in fact, that amorous couple was the first time I’d spotted them here on The Ranch. I used to see them fairly frequently around our house in the ’burbs (Houston). I suspect there are more walking sticks – and their relatives, praying mantids – around here and your place than we are aware of, since they are, after all, masters of camouflage. I loved your mantis videos, by the way. Those little fellas really are cute, y'know?

I think both sticks and mantids are endlessly fascinating and I could probably watch ’em for hours, but Ron might think I was weird. Wait, he already thinks I’m weird…so never mind, I’m going to run outside now and look for walking sticks and mantids.

Oh, and I have a thing for dragonflies too, and there are quite a few of them hovering over the pond in the neighboring pasture, having dragonfly sex, which is the only kind they can have, I guess. You tell dragonflies to go take a flying f--k and by golly, they obey!

Come to think of it, there's probably lots of algae in that pond too. Hmmm...I wonder...

Saturday, July 12, 2008 12:16:00 PM  
Anonymous HHH said...

Cute?
You mean it's really endearing when they fasten their spines into their prey like a jehovahs witness talking to a trauma victim, or chew each others heads off.

Saturday, July 12, 2008 2:14:00 PM  
Anonymous HHH said...

Then again, here is a vid of a poor ickle mantis saying, 'mommy mommy it hurts, I feel so bad mommy, look mommy I'm crawling pathetically on your hand, make me better mommy....so I can eat something innards while it's still alive and gnaw my boyfriends head off'
http://video.google.co.uk/videosearch?hl=en&resnum=0&q=praying%20mantis&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wv#

Saturday, July 12, 2008 2:21:00 PM  
Anonymous HHH said...

Then again, here is a vid of a poor ickle mantis saying, 'mommy mommy it hurts, I feel so bad mommy, look mommy I'm crawling pathetically on your hand, make me better mommy....so I can eat something innards while it's still alive and gnaw my boyfriends head off'
http://video.google.co.uk/videosearch?hl=en&resnum=0&q=praying%20mantis&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wv#

Then see how the male accomplishes his mission, even with just a blob of ichor where his head was.

http://video.google.co.uk/videosearch?hl=en&q=praying%20mantis&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wv#

Saturday, July 12, 2008 2:30:00 PM  
Anonymous HHH said...

You have women that will eat a live mantis.
America will never be conquered.

Saturday, July 12, 2008 2:37:00 PM  
Anonymous HHH said...

http://www.skeptics.org.uk/articles/sniper_of_death.php

Is ths funny?

Sunday, July 13, 2008 8:03:00 AM  
Anonymous HHH said...

Cosmic Connie let's have oodles
of stir fried sweet and sour
mantids
on
noodles

With soy sauce yang
and
Pineapple yin
and
warm green gore
running down your
chin

I see now my error
in viewing them with terror,
of being a-squeam
when they
taste
like a
dream

My opinion was hasty,
thinking
they are nasty,
they are such tasty pastry
once baked in a pasty

They're a low fat delight
but they put up a fight
when stuffed in a pan with the lid slammed down tight

With a sizzle and pop
And a burst of hot glop,
They fry on the skillet with a
Handful
of
millet

Just pick off the spines
And savour the eyes,
A quick splash of ketchup and have them with
fries

Yes mantis and fries
With a garnish of wings
These are a few of my favourite things.

Sunday, July 13, 2008 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

HHH, I'm glad to see you back here -- with a new poem, no less! :-) It's true that the female mantis is voracious and cannibalistic, but I still think mantids and walking sticks are cute.

I, however, am not one of those women who would ever willingly eat a live mantis. Insect cuisine does not interest me at all, though, curiously enough, I do have a book, Ronald Taylor's "Butterflies In My Stomach" (Woodbridge Press, 1975), which is all about the role of insects in human nutrition. It even includes some choice recipes.

Here's what it says about sticks and mantids (pp. 158-159):

==BEGIN QUOTATION FROM BOOK==
Walking Sticks
Various species of walking sticks are eaten in Papua and New Guinea...Anyone familiar with these long skinny insects knows that they consist of little mass. I confess that it would be easier to understand their use as toothpicks than as food!

Praying Mantis
Mantis-eating has been reported from Papua, New Guinea, China, and Japan. Also certain ethnic group s in Thailand eat the eggs, young, and adults of several closely related praying mantises. The variety eaten in Papua and New Guinea is usually fried in the fire and, according to V.B. Meyer-Rochow, tastes like shrimp and raw mushrooms combined. One of the praying mantises eaten by the Pedi is said to be very fat and is greatly sought after."
==END QUOTATION FROM BOOK==

As Rachael Ray would say, “Yum-mo!”

Monday, July 14, 2008 12:14:00 PM  
Anonymous hhh said...

How about that. Hmm New Guinea. I didn't know that. China, eggs. Fancy. Prawns and mushrooms. Well I never. Is that so.

Monday, July 14, 2008 12:28:00 PM  
Anonymous mojo said...

I'm with Connie--I like mantids, and have no desire to eat insects if I can help it. (I used to be into wilderness survival when I was a kid, and survivalists are all for eating insects, but I have to say I'd have to be pretty damned hungry before I'd consider it.) I have a thing for dragonflies as well. I think (like mantids) it has something to do with them having a neck, of all things. Their ability to move and cock their heads around gives them more "personality". Which is but another version of the anthropomorphism I call others on, so there I go being a hypocrite.

It's a very human trait to look for patterns and ascribe meaning to things--such as seeing a natural formation on Mars that looks like Kermit the Frog--so I think it's only natural to be attracted to things that remind us of good human traits while being repulsed by patterns we think of as bad.

I like spiders, too, but I'm the first to admit when I see those close-up videos of predators attacking their prey, it's not pretty. Spiders and snakes in particular behave in a very predatory fashion, so even though I like them, sometimes when they move in a certain way they give me the willies. It's this sort of instinct that keeps you alive and safe--or at least keep the bites to a minimum.

Which is probably why I've never cared much for people like the Secret "teachers"--they set off all my instinctual warning bells, regardless of their actual intentions. Which of course only they know for certain. Unfair, but my life is too short to bother with salesmen trying to sell me something I don't need. (Or to put it another way, I choose not to attract things I don't like into my life!) I haven't paid all that much attention to Vitale, let alone his health problems, but from what little I've read of his copy he strikes me as a hype-meister, and that puts my back up right away.

It looks like the same distaste HHH has for mantids I have for any "hard sell" or "upsell" language. It makes me gag. There's evidently a call for it in a certain style of marketing--such as direct mail sweepstakes campaigns, and ads in the National Enquirer advertising "Miracle Elvis Sweat!"--and while I can find the occasional example amusing, I can never stand too much of it for very long. But I find I'm usually in the minority when it comes to popular culture--can't stand reality television, turned off the radio when disco took over, crab crab crab.

(Connie--feel free to take this next part out--I really don't intend to keep comment-spamming you with links to my own blog; just that the conversations remind me of stuff I blogged about in the past, and they amuse me enough (what an ego!) to share.)

The notion behind the Craptacular is a direct response to this distaste. I received several unwanted gifts one Christmas and decided to eBay them. Since eBayers in my experience are notorious for being overly gushing about their wares ("This is the most GLORIOUS box of paper clips I've ever seen--my hands are trembling as I write this!!!") I thought it would be amusing to go in the opposite direction. So most of my item descriptions are spent on these ultra-bitter riffing complaints about how AWFUL I find the item, and sometimes about the horrible, HORRIBLE person who gave it to me. (The horrible giver part is obviously tongue in cheek, and only done with their willing consent. Most of the time it's family members, who view verbal abuse as a sign of affection.)

I thought for a lovely on-topic example I would offer the item description I wrote a few years ago for some Tony Robbins tapes someone gave me, where I end up trashing the entire self-help genre. As I remembered it I figured Whirled Musings fans might enjoy it. So I looked it up and reread it, and imagine my shock. Look at the date--I think this auction precedes "The Secret" by several months, and yet....! Man, I missed my calling!

http://www.mojocrap.com/craptacular/node/91

Oh, and as for turning people off, or attracting bad feelings by being so negative: these tapes sold for a few bucks more than what the person originally bought them for on eBay. The person who bought them from me was really, really, happy with them. Ditto just about everything else. It looks like people on eBay buy things at the going market price, regardless of how positive or negative the ad copy is. Either that, or people who are rabid fans of something are more tolerant of humor than I give them credit.

At least that's MY ultra-scientific testimonial! And we all know how much THAT's worth!

Monday, July 14, 2008 6:14:00 PM  
Blogger Citizen Deux said...

Connie, I just reread your reply. You made this comment on the RD poll.

"I agree with you that a poll of 24 physicians is not statistically significant, but my guess is that the article provided some pretty accurate snapshots of the state of medicine today."

This is a great example of the wishful thinking which keeps ALL of us bleieving whatever core belief keeps us going! Ideas that the moon landing was faked, Atlantis existed, American Idol is entertainment and the like.

I know I carry around a host of "challenge resistant" ideas. I need to keep reminding myself that I could be wrong or my view may be skewed by a personal bias.

There is somehting uniquely human, and most likely beneficial, about this trait.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Mojo says: "I haven't paid all that much attention to Vitale, let alone his health problems, but from what little I've read of his copy he strikes me as a hype-meister, and that puts my back up right away."

Mojo, you're right on target. However, I actually think Joe has a lot of valuable advice about marketing and even about copywriting -- at least a certain kind of copywriting (the kind where a little goes a long way). But when he mixes his marketing savvy in with the spiritual stuff and the advice on how to live life, or when he personally endorses a product, that's when *my* back goes up.

Regarding the pond-scum elixir he's selling now, here's the latest comment on his blog post, from someone named Jo:

=BEGIN QUOTE=
"Well, Joe, all the controversy aside, if it’s good enough for Joe, it’s good enough for me! I can’t help thinking about all the times I’ve stopped taking prescription meds because of their side effects. So these days I’m all about the natural stuff has to be better!

"My only concern is I signed up under you 3 days ago and have yet to get any confirmation email or anything..."
=END QUOTE=

Business as usual... Just drinkin' the Kool-Aid. (I'm afraid that analogy has been nearly as over-used by now as the Hitler/Nazi analogy. Oh, well.)

And Mojo, I welcome the links to Craptacular, so don't worry. I LOVED your Tony Robbins piece -- that was the whole New-Wage selfish-help industry in a nutshell.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

CD, you make some great points about wishful thinking and the way we all employ this to shore up our personal biases. No doubt I do this too. However, my own personal biases lean more towards (1) embracing Western medicine (or "evidence-based medicine," as so many like to call it these days); and (2) being suspicious of the cure-all elixirs, especially if they're being pushed by hustledorks via MLM schemes.

The RD article I cited was not anti-doctor or anti-Western medicine at all, and it seems clear that the docs who responded were not renegades who were dissing the entire medical profession. In fact, there seemed to be just as many comments about the aggravating things patients do as there were about the "shocking" things doctors do. RD implied that its reason for publishing the article was to help readers be better, smarter patients. The REAL agenda, of course, was to sell their magazine, and of course they sensationalized it a bit with words such as “shocking.” Even so, the doctors themselves didn’t seem to be using hype at all.

So I don't quite see how, in this instance, my own "wishful thinking" is blinding me (but then, that could just be because I AM blinded. :-)). I found the RD article interesting, but it didn't turn me against Western medicine or doctors, and it certainly didn't cause me to change my thinking about Joe Vitale's pond-scum miracle cure.

However, despite my general cynicism about hustledorks and their MLM wares, I am still very open to the judicious use of herbs and supplements, as well as to at least some "alternative" treatments, such as acupuncture for alleviating certain kinds of pain. To me it's all about finding a balance. As I've said before, however, people who avail themselves of more than one kind of healing system need to keep all of their healthcare practitioners fully informed.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Phillip said...
"What a legacy these guys are making.

"I sold false hope and crap to the masses for a living AND they bought it."

Hi, Phillip, I didn't mean to neglect your comment, which came in a few days ago. You're probably right about the legacy bit. However, most of the purveyors of false hope put a much more positive spin on what they're doing. At least they do so publicly. Privately...who knows? I know some of them MUST have moments of self-doubt, but as long as they have their fawning followers, it's easy for them to continue to lie to themselves as well as to others.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008 12:26:00 PM  
Anonymous mojo said...

Like most people, Joe Vitale is an interesting mix of good and bad points. To his credit as well, in most of his writings--at least what I've read--he comes across as a likeable enough fellow. While I don't agree with the conclusions he draws after "researching" an issue, I'm fairly convinced that HE believes much if not all of what he writes. Even at his most money-grubbingest, my gut feeling is that he is honestly trying to help people (don't get me wrong--with the additional "win-win" of making scads of money in the process), and I sincerely DOUBT he'd consciously give his name or apply his skills if he thought something might be harmful.

If his sincerity is bogus, which is another possibility (I'm open to anything), he's pretty good at it. As many a victim of a con artist can testify, likeability doesn't always mean honesty.

None of the above blather has anything to do with the actual benefit or harmfulness of whatever product is being discussed. Just a crude attempt to suss out one seller's intentions, which ultimately is a gut opinion that has absolutely no basis in evidence, scientific or otherwise. Only the seller him or herself can really know what their intentions are, and--to make the process even more fun--everyone has the added capability of blinding or deluding themselves. That's what makes us humans so danged fascinating, and annoying, and bewildering, and all that other fun stuff.

Ah, yes, the "all natural!" crowd. I know my share of them. Many seem to glean their knowledge of their blesséd Mother Earth from the advertising copy they read off the plastic packaging of all the stuff they buy at the organic food store. They then come to my house--where, quite literally, you could walk out into serious wilderness not fifty feet from my front door--and lecture me on how I need to be more proactively conscious of my relationship with the natural world. Which from what I gather means I should ignore my garden and the surrounding woods and drive an hour or so to buy all my food wherever they dictate I should buy it. Anything less, and I am the most repulsive earth-hating creature on the planet, they suggest in their evolved, all-tolerant, non-judgemental fashion.

(Another favorite observation I get from them is, "Gee, it's awfully quiet out here. How can you STAND it?")

Oh, and I also need to take any number of "all natural!" supplements. If I feebly ask "What's in them?" they glare at me for being negative and repeat "They're ALL NATURAL!" To which I'll either clam up, because it's pointless to argue, or (if I'm feeling grouchy) I'll say something snotty like my standard comeback, "So's dog sh-t and toadstools." If THAT doesn't shut 'em up, I'll start listing all the "all natural!" highly toxic plants I know off the top of my head: "Foxgloves. Hemlock. Nightshade. Rhubarb leaves. Lily of the Valley. Mountain Laurel. Yew bushes. Mistletoe. Poison Ivy..."

(This is one reason why I'm not invited to more parties.)

I don't mean this to sound like the usual macho "man versus nature" bull-loney that a lot of survivalist-type people pretend (to get people to attend their "learn to survive in the wilderness" classes, speak of the devil). But my feeling is, should many of these "all natural!" proponents be dropped off into the woods around my house, I suspect their blesséd Mother Earth would kill them off pretty quick. Nothing personal, but nature is pretty unforgiving of those who make too many mistakes, or get too arrogant, or who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Despite our fantabulous brains and our earth-friendly footwear, out in the wild a person is really just another animal, subject to the same laws as all the other beasties out there. You certainly shouldn't FEAR nature, but you have to RESPECT it, and realize what it's capable of doing to you (especially if you try to resist tiny insignificant things like weather, exposure, terrain, etc.).

I tend to be attracted to the philosophies of Taoism, at least as I personally interpret the Tao te Ching, both in the humble living with nature aspect--letting things be the way they're gonna be--as well as the idea of opposites paradoxically stemming from the same source. The "all natural!" folks seem to have a genuine reverence for life, but many seem to deny a similar, and, I think, necessary, reverence for death. The riot of life outside my door can also be described as a riot of death. You just have to look for it to see it. Many of my "all natural!" friends seem blind to this part, which honestly makes me sad.

But eh, whatcha gonna do. Try to help, and try not to hurt. And laugh as often as possible. (Hey, it works for me! And that's all the testimonial *I* need!)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Mojo, Joe and I were friends for ten or eleven years, so I can attest that he's a likeable fellow. As for Joe believing in everything he endorses, that's hard to say. In the years I knew him, I sometimes had trouble distinguishing Sincere Joe from Marketing Joe. I do believe that he is an enthusiastic guy by nature and that he generally makes an effort to look for positive things to say, while avoiding the negative, at least publicly. And I also believe that he sincerely does get excited – in the “my-hands-are-shaking” way – about many things. I just can’t believe that he could possibly get that excited about EVERYTHING that he claims makes his hands shake.

And I honestly wonder if he really, sincerely, truly believes – and this is just one example of the credibility-straining claims – that his Zero Limits web site is specially infused with properties to “clean” you while you view it. (Do me a favor, Mo – go to http://www.zerolimits.info, look at it, and see if you feel cleaner afterwards.)

Regarding Joe’s chronic enthusiasm (or at least the enthusiastic persona), there must be a down side to being Mr. Pollyanna. By his own admission Joe is prone to anxiety and all sorts of ailments. And last year he claimed to be so upset by the fact that a couple of friends of his had penned a book that was critical of The Secret that he was ill for several days. (He further claimed not to have previously known about the book, even though at the time he said he found out about it, the book had been out for several months.) I’m sure that his fans won’t see any inconsistency at all between his serial “Eureka!” claims and his continuing health challenges. They’ll simply say that the burden of greatness is taking its toll on him, and they'll blame his detractors. And they will continue to send out loving thoughts and fawning comments to his blog.

I believe, as you do, that Joe would never deliberately endorse something (or someone) he knew to be harmful, although he has made some serious errors in judgment. For example, there was that whole "Jonathan Jacobs" incident. I've told this story here before but in case you haven't read it, email me at cosmic.connie@juno.com and I'll fill you in.

Now, as for your chronicles of life in the country, I could read your stuff all day, Mojo. It’s delightful, and right on target too. Nature is indeed dispassionate, and that riot of life you describe is also a riot of death, as you say. I still think that the things people do to each other are far more horrendous than just about anything Nature could cook up, for the very reason that (notwithstanding various beliefs in mischievous Nature spirits or a benign Creator above it all), Nature IS dispassionate. If there is any intent in Nature, it is merely to keep things going and preserve a balance, even if some of the ways this is accomplished are downright gross from our perspective.

By contrast, I think of disturbing crimes that happened recently right in my neck of the woods. The guy who manages the little corner country store up the road recently lost his brother when two young white guys (I felt compelled to add the race descriptor) came in, robbed the place and shot the brother, who was on duty that night, in cold blood. They were caught, fortunately, and when I looked at their pics in the local weekly I immediately thought, “meth heads.” This kind of stuff happens every day, but it shook our tiny community.

And then yesterday I read a story that purported to be about how there is still segregation in our rural county, in, of all places, the graveyards. One of our local JPs, a black man, wanted to bury an unidentified white “Jane Doe” in a public “black” cemetery, but for various reasons wasn’t allowed to do so. But that’s not the part of the story that I found so unsettling; it was the circumstances of the woman’s death. Her nude body had been tossed onto a road in a neighboring town. Her head was wrapped in a plastic bag and her hands had been cut off.

The point is that these things happen in the city and they happen in the country, and no matter how far away you move from the din and noise, there’s no escaping the fact that humans remain the most dangerous creatures of all.

Still, I love living out here. By the way, people have remarked about how quiet it is out at our place too, but they LOVE it. For most of them, it’s such a delightful escape from Houston. As far as I’m concerned, though, it’s anything but quiet. There are birds of all sorts, and very communicative horses who call to their friends in neighboring pastures, and there are cows and braying donkeys and a whole kennel of howling foxhounds and a few wolf hybrids, and there are coyotes at night and the occasional bobcat…not to mention buzzing and chirping insects, and frogs of all sizes…and when the wind howls it makes the most deliciously haunting noises throughout this rambling old house…it’s NEVER quiet here.

It’s funny; I fought living out in the country for so many years because I feared it would be too quiet and lonely, but not only is it never quiet, we’ve had more visitors since we moved out here than we had while living in the ’burbs.

I could wrap this up by tying it all back to blue-green algae, but I’m tired of reading my rambling. Gotta get back to work, anyway.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 1:28:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Addendum to my most recent comment... Mojo, I forgot to include two other links to incredible Vitale claims (the sort of links that make me wonder if he REALLY believes everything he's pushing):

1. The incredible Quantum Home Tapping System (only $49!), which teaches you how you can just tap on various parts of your body for a few minutes each day, and you'll release all of the crud in you that was keeping you from getting rich. It all has to do with quantum physics, unified field theory, and a buncha other scientifical stuff.

"And the best part is, once you complete our program, you'll attract financial abundance in ways that are completely in alignment with your highest spiritual principles. Finally, you will be firmly in control of your spiritual and financial destiny."

link: http://tinyurl.com/6pujyy

2. The Psychic Demand technique (only $19!):

"With Psychic Demand, you can indeed will the universe to give you what you want...

"Yes, this package is guaranteed.

"But what we guarantee is that we will deliver the goods promised. We do not guarantee your results because it is up to YOU to apply the Psychic Demand method. You can't buy a hammer and return it when you don't use it, saying 'It doesn't work.' Of course it works.

"If you use this method, it will work. But if you're not happy, Clickbank (the company who handles the orders) will replace any defective item within 8 weeks, as they see fit."

And this is powerful stuff, too, as he explains: "Again, we don't want just anyone to have this.

"For the sake of all concerned, do not order right now if you will use this to try to manipulate others or to do harm in the world. We only want advanced souls to use this power -- and to use it for good."

And so on.

Link: http://www.psychicdemand.com/

He HAS to be secretly snickering about these things. He HAS to be have just made some of this stuff up while sitting around in his hot tub with his buddies drinking margaritas and smoking cigars. "Hey, let's make up something really idiotic and see how many idiots buy it!"

But then again, maybe not...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 4:18:00 PM  
Anonymous mojo said...

AHHH! Okay! Uncle! PLEASE don't make me look at any more links! Zero Limits was enough! Where’s the brain bleach?

I don't think I need to see any more, thanks. And to think I thought the title of this post was annoying enough, since it always puts Burt Bacharach in my head for the next hour.

So much for giving the guy the benefit of the doubt. Unless he honestly IS that delusional. I’ve met one or two in my life where I would swear on a stack of bibles they’re kidding, only to find to my horror they’re not.

Now that I have sufficiently calmed down, I have to admit I DO feel a LOT cleaner after viewing the Zero Limits website. Maybe because I felt a sudden need to take a long, hot shower after looking at it. I had to scrub and scrub, a la Lady Macbeth.

According to my Irrefutable Scientitian-Based Quantum Logic (hereafter referred to as ISBQL™), that must mean it WORKS!

Thursday, July 17, 2008 9:01:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Sorry for the overload, MJ, but see...not only are you really, really clean now, but you've come up with a new acronym and a brand-new basis for an online marketing scam...er..scheme. I'm glad to be of help.

There is a part of me -- the part that remembers when Joe wasn't so into self-aggrandizement (and wasn't above some truly funny self-deprecating humor) -- that makes me wonder if at least some of his stuff isn't tongue-in-cheek, and the joke's on me because I'm too dense to get that. But he's charging real money for it so I can only assume he's passing it off as "real."

Oh, and sorry about the post's title. It just came to me. Don't feel bad. It makes *me* think of Dionne Warwick, and that's as bad as or even worse than Burt.

Thursday, July 17, 2008 9:40:00 AM  
Anonymous hhh said...

Even in my small town in England, there are at least a dozen shops selling lake Klamath algae.
How can one lake support such a large export business?

Saturday, July 19, 2008 5:49:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

HHH, I guess it just goes to show that the Universe is a ceaselessly abundant place. As long as the health suckers...er...seekers continue to demand Lake Klamath algae, the lake will continue to provide. Isn't it wonderful how it all works out for the greater good?

Saturday, July 19, 2008 7:08:00 AM  
Anonymous mojo said...

hhh made me curious, so I looked up Klamath Lake on Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upper_Klamath_Lake

It's a fair-sized lake, some 20 miles by 8 miles. According to the Wikipedia article--which of course may or may not be accurate, so get your grains of salt ready--the algae blooms are the result of agricultural runoff.

Or, to quote the film Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou? (since it's much more fun to quote popular culture than those boring-ass scientists), it "done R-U-N-N-O-F-T".m

Saturday, July 19, 2008 8:36:00 AM  
Anonymous hhh said...

And I like the way the Shortnosed Sucker fish are dying out. Is that why the algae companies clear out so much scum- so they find find the suckers more easily?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008 8:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Cassandra "LuckDragon" Schuster said...

Mojo, you don't understand. The agricultural runoff is why the algae works so well. I am a user and distributor of StemEnhance. A couple weeks ago, I took a trip to Upper Klamath Lake in southern Oregon, where I swam in the blue-green algae blooms that StemEnhance is derived from. My body was soon covered in itchy red bumps, where the miraculous healing energies had entered my body. I talked to one of the cattle ranchers there, and he said that without runoff from the ranches, there wouldn't be half as much of this incredible algae. The runoff helps keep the water oxygenated -- and we all know how important oxygen is -- which causes more algae to grow, and kills off all of the fish that would otherwise eat the algae, so that we can enjoy the benefits of eating it, instead of it being wasted on some fish or contaminated with fish poop. After going for a swim in the lake, my whole body felt oxygenated, and so I am sure that the pills do the same thing -- imagine viruses and sicknesses as little fish in your body, which are eliminated when the blue-green algae thrives on the oxygen in your blood. That's why it is best to take StemEnhance with a cup of human or animal urine, since it best emulates the conditions of the lake and unlocks the full potential of the algae. Not many people talk about it, because it sounds so shocking, but all of the most successful distributors of StemEnhance recommend it.

Thursday, January 07, 2010 9:05:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you, Cassandra, for 'splainin' it so well. :-)

Thursday, January 07, 2010 10:34:00 PM  

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