Sunday, July 27, 2008

Another blogaversary!

Time flies when you're making fun...
of hustledorks and SNAGs and New-Wage scams.

A little over two years ago, I barely even knew what a blog was, and cared even less. Then one day in June of 2006, I was surfing around on the Internet and came across Steve Salerno's SHAMblog (which, incidentally, had its third blogaversary July 17 of this year. Yes, Steve, I keep track.) To make a short story even shorter, reading Steve's blog inspired me, not too long afterward, to start a blog of my own, building upon my longtime hobby of firing potshots at the Aquarian age.

And today – 27 July, 2008 – Whirled Musings is two years old.

Given my short attention span, I never thought it would last this long.

But then again, given my tendency to be obsessive about some things, I guess it's not all that surprising.

Anyway, it's been a fun two years, and I plan to keep it going till I get bored with it.

And I want to extend a big Cosmic Connie thank you to everyone for your participation!

PS ~ Even though I set the blog up and wrote a two-sentence post on July 27, the first real post came the next day. It was kind of an explanation of Whirled Musings' reason for being. In case you haven't already read it, here's the link.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

More dark than snark today

Although I believe that the stuff I write about here is mostly harmless, there is, as I've noted here before, a darker side. A couple of cases in point...

Another good argument for researching your guru's credentials
So here's yet another example of why the characteristic new-age/New-Wage reluctance to question and be judgmental is not a sign of enlightenment, open-mindedness or advanced spiritual development.

Seems there was this natural healer/therapist in Eastern Europe, name of Dragan Dabic. A wise-looking man with a long bushy gray beard, "doktora Dabica" knew all about herbs and Yoga, mind-body control, bioenergy, meditation, and spiritual cleansing. He claimed that he had an "energy healing treatment," Human Quantum Energy, that could fix everything from erectile dysfunction to autism. (Hey, if it has "quantum" in its name, it's gotta work, right?)

The biography on his web site painted him as a budding healer from the time he was a youngster in the Serbian village of Kovaci.

As a young boy he liked to explore nearby forests and mountains, spending a lot of time on Kopaonik mountain where he tended to pick the omnipresent, natural and potent medicinal herbs that grew at those green pastures. As a young man he moved to Belgrade, and then on to Moscow where he graduated with a Doctor of Medicine degree (spec. in Psychiatry) at the Moscow State University (Lomonosov). After Russia, he travelled around India and Japan, after which he settled in China where he specialized in alternative medicine, with a special emphasis on the mind-body control, meditation, Yoga, spiritual cleansing, as well as Chinese herbs.

In mid-1990s he returned back to mother Serbia for good, and ever since then emerged as one of the most prominent experts in the field of alternative medicine, bioenergy, and macrobiotic diet in the whole of the Balkans, and is frequent contributor to the regional alternative health magazines, and guest expert with numerous TV appearances and on many public forums, seminars and symposiums (Belgrade, Novi Sad, Pancevo, Sombor, Smederevo, Kikinda...) dedicated to these issues and topics.

And the people came from miles around to soak up the wisdom of this well-traveled man with the impressive credentials.

The one credential the web site failed to mention was that the good doctor also happened to be the world's most wanted war criminal, and his real name was Radovan Karadžić, Bosnian Serb leader suspected of being responsible for the deaths of at least 20,000 people in what have been described as some of the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II. He'd been in hiding since 1996. "Dragan Dabic" was apparently the name of a dead guy whose identity he stole.


From a July 23 article in the (UK) Independent:

Jubilant European leaders yesterday celebrated Karadzic's arrest by Serbian security forces, who snatched him from a bus, while it emerged that during more than a decade in hiding he had lived under an assumed identity practising alternative medicine at a private clinic under the noses of the international community whose armies were hunting him on genocide charges...

...The former psychiatrist had been utterly transformed from the bulky official who defied the world as he swaggered round the Balkans with the Bosnian military commander, [Ratko] Mladic, in their joint ruthless quest to impose a "Greater Serbia", which left tens of thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Croats dead, and sent waves of ethnic cleansing across the land. His employers and his landlord said they were completely taken in by the ingenious disguise, as was a magazine editor who commissioned articles on meditation and "peace of mind" from the "therapist" known as Dragan Dabic.

According to a Reuters article, a woman who worked at one of the New-Wage rags to which he contributed said, "He was very religious. He had his hair in a plait in order to be able to receive different energies. He was a very nice man."

The editor of that magazine, Goran Kojic, described him as "a kind man, with good manners, quiet and witty." He said Doktor Dabic had claimed he had a degree but, said Kojic, "I doubted he had a degree because he didn't specify where he was working. He never showed me his diploma, he said his wife left it in the United States." Naturally, the editor was among those who were deeply shocked upon learning of the "doctor's" true identity: "I cannot believe it was him...I feel miserable."

Dr. Dabic, aka Karadžić, is certainly not the first New-Wage "healer" to have changed his identity in order to hide an unsavory past. He's definitely one of the more extreme cases, of course, but who knows how many lesser criminals (sexual predators, embezzlers, etc.), or just plain phonies, are out there plying their trade among the bobbleheads who never bother to examine the past or question the credentials of their favorite guru?

And although the often fraudulent practices of taking on a new I.D. or simply fudging the facts about one's past are not the sole province of New-Wage/selfish-help practitioners, these things are arguably easier to get away with in that realm, simply because many followers are so eager to believe, and so reluctant to judge or question.

As the search continues for Karadžić's partner in crime, Ratko Mladic, I wouldn't be too surprised if he turned out to be working somewhere as a wholistic intuitive Vedic astrologer/trance channeler/psychic massage therapist.

By the way, the quotation on the "ad" above was taken from Karadžić's bilingual web site, in the section listing "10 favorite ancient Chinese proverbs as selected personally by Dr. Dabic."

Another from the list: "Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere."

So, apparently, are war crimes.

Here's more on the capture of Dr. Evil.

PS added August 4 ~ Giving credit where it is due, the Crack Emcee at The Macho Response blog was on this story like a pack of hungry hounds on a rabbit. The difference between CMC and me regarding this issue is that I do NOT view this incident as a wholesale indictment of all New-Wagers or all "alternative" treatments / practitioners / spirituality. I don't think the lot of them should all be incarcerated or worse, as CMC apparently does – although undoubtedly some of them should be locked up somewhere. (And as for Karadžić, he should, if found guilty, be punished to the full extent of the law for his crimes.) Nor do I think that New-Wagers are incapable of judging right from wrong and of viewing genocide as the atrocity that it is (as CMC seems to imply).

I do, however, think that many if not most New-Wage followers are extraordinarily gullible and generally reluctant to question the credentials, character or motives of their "leaders," thus playing right into the hands of many who are criminals at worst, and ridiculous phonies at best.

ACCESS: it just gets worse
I've written a few times on this blog about that loony cultish thing called ACCESS Energy Transformation, the most recent post being this one (second item down, "Warning: ACCESSories on the loose"). The other day I got another public comment from a woman who goes by the moniker, "Sis." She had previously written a comment to an earlier ACCESS post of mine. This woman's recently widowed sister-in-law has apparently been sucked into the ACCESS sinkhole, and the woman and the rest of the family are at wits' end. It's even more worrisome because young children are involved. My correspondent wrote:

Thanks for comments posted so far, things are only getting worse from where we sit! and trying all avenues to get Sis in Law out of this Access 'relationship' but don't know what to do, without losing her. We are suspicious the Access woman who has moved in[to her house with her and her kids] is probably, through Access treatments, hypnotising her and maybe kids too. Complete personality changes happening - Access woman with her 24hrs a day! will not allow sister-in-law to be alone with others. Anyone have any approaches/ideas? I would love to email directly with someone directly who has been involved with Access but don't know how to do this on this site without giving world my email?

I think the easiest way for me to handle this is to solicit suggestions from readers, and I'll publish them on this blog. Sis, just keep checking back here and maybe you'll find something helpful. And if you haven't done so already, why not contact a cult-buster such as Rick A. Ross? There still doesn't seem to be much info about ACCESS on his web site, but maybe there should be.

So that's it from the dark side for now. Till next time, Dear Ones, stay close to shore, and watch out for snarks.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Don't blow this chance to make a real difference

Last night I received an urgent email message from the woman who calls herself Phoenix, aka the Spirit Diva. You've met her here on this very blog on numerous occasions (here's one link of several). Actually, last night's message apparently came not from Phoenix/Spirit Diva but from her heart, at least if one is to go by the salutation ("Hello, From My Heart!") and the sign-off ("Love, From My Heart!"). Evidently Spirit Diva's heart likes to use lots of exclamation marks. It also appears to be a bit spelling-challenged.

Anyway, in case you're new to this blog or just sort of forgetful, what Phoenix/Spirit Diva and her heart specialize in is communicating with hurricanes. She has been able to channel numerous storms over the years and has found out something pretty amazing: Hurricanes, despite their destructive potential, really aren't all that different from you and me. All they really want is to be loved.

And that is precisely what Phoenix/SD does with her group meditations: she sends out love and light and peaceful vibes to hurricanes so they will take "the path of least destruction." The email I received last night was an invitation to a group phone meditation, led by Phoenix/SD, to help convince the tempest du jour, Hurricane Dolly, to remain the free-spirited but basically benign gust o'wind that the good Lord intended her to be.

The email included one of Phoenix/SD's standard blurbs about her impressive track record in the area of whipping the wind into shape (or, rather, loving it into its higher potential):

For those who haven't participated with us in the past, please know that our meditations, along with countless others, make a difference. We have successfully participated in prayer and meditation events to transform the path and intensity of several hurricanes and typoons [sic] in the past couple of years, including Dean, Felix, Ivan, Jeanne, Frances, Rita, Wilma and Alberto. We've seen them shift direction and decrease enegy [sic] within minutes of competing [sic] our meditations. We can do it again.

I said this in one of my previous blog posts but think it bears saying again, "Hey, SD, great work with Rita and Wilma, two of the most devastating hurricanes (after Katrina) in recent years!"*

I am pretty sure I know what SD's reply to that would be: the destruction would have been much worse without the earnest efforts of the meditators. I happen to know, however, that they had a little help back in September 2005 with Rita. As I've also mentioned here before, there's another great hurricane communicator right here in Texas who sent a plea out over the Internet to help stop Rita, and by golly, it worked:

That letter got more positive replies than anything I've ever written. Hundreds wrote to me. Thousands forwarded it around the net. The positive energy it generated was like a white tornado of love.

The result was Rita dropped from a terrifying category 5 hurricane to a category 2 by the time it hit land. It changed direction, too. It never hit Houston, which had panicked and evacuated. It never hit here, either.

For the benefit of those who don't know, "here" for that particular hurricane communicator was (and is) the Texas Hill Country, which is rarely in any danger from hurricanes, and wasn't during Rita either. But hey, maybe the Hill Country is under special protection precisely because of the presence of so many enlightened souls. Too bad there weren't more of those evolved types in East Texas and parts of Louisiana, where Rita really showed her dark side.

Anyway, I am sorry to say that by the time I got Phoenix/SD's email last night, it was pretty late and I was busy finishing up my previous blog post about flying cars and such, and I was just too tired to do anything about SD's email. And then this morning, I had a lot of other things to do, such as a Skype conference with a valued client in London, so I didn't have time to post Phoenix/SD's invitation.

I let the day get away and so, unfortunately, the Dolly meditation is long over. For the record, it happened at 11 AM EST, 10 AM Central, 9 AM Mountain, 8 AM Pacific. (To my friends Down Under and in the UK and other far-flung places, I am sorry to be so Americentric with my time zones but I am in kind of a hurry. I have to type fast before the storm hits and our satellite Internet goes kaflooey.)

All is not lost, though. Dolly, which at the time SD sent her email last night was a Category 1 storm, was a Category 2 by the time it hit the Texas coast. In fact it was stronger and did a lot more damage than originally anticipated, but it quickly fell back to a Cat 1 and is expected to weaken to a tropical storm by later this evening. So, hey, maybe the meditation worked – ya think?

As hurricane season really gets underway, I'm sure there will be more storms. And even if you can't join Phoenix/SD's meditations live, you can join them in spirit. Of course it's better if everyone does it together, but even one person doing it can be helpful. Here, according to Phoenix/SD, is all you have to do to communicate with a hurricane:
  • Simply from your heart center send the highest vibration of love. See and feel it flow through you as green light to the heart of [name of hurricane goes here]
  • See her [or him] spinning clockwise
  • See and feel all around her/him, through her/him and in her/him: green, cool, gentle, calm...ocean, water, rain, breezes, lightness
  • See and feel God's light shining through
  • See and feel [name of hurricane] take the path of least destruction
  • Bless her/him and know that all is well
  • And then if you're in the path of the storm, just do yourself a favor and get the f--k out of the way because, I am sorry to tell you, storms don't really listen to idiotic SNAG** babble. The only way to truly reach a storm and convince it to make nice is to send a whole bunch of money in US dollars to Cosmic Connie, care of Whirled Musings.
Ha, ha, just kidding about that last item.

Anyway, if you missed out on your chance to sweet-talk Dolly, do not despair, Dear Ones. This time of year there are always other storms brewing. So I suggest that you print out that little meditation guide and put it on your refrigerator. That way you'll be ready when the next storm rises from the swirling waters. Remember, as Spirit Diva herself says, "Together we can make a difference."

For now, just mix yourself a hurricane (or some nonalcoholic libation, if you're a nondrinker), and let's all raise our glasses in a toast to idiotic SNAG babble...after all, that's what keeps this blog blowing and going!

* By the way, the excuse SD gave for Katrina being so bad was that she (SD) wasn't watching the weather reports closely, and by the time she found out how horridly Katrina was behaving, it was too late to do anything about it. Smooth, SD, smooth!
**SNAG: Sensitive New Age Guy/Gal

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

On Feds, flying cars, an injured poet, & Abba

Another odds-n-ends post, Dear Ones. I've been trying for days to get this one out, but work and fun stuff kept intruding. Anyway, here 'tis...

Should we sic the Feds on the hustledorks?
I'm on the email list of
John Curtis, the man who's on a mission to expose self-help fraud. In a recent message he solicited opinions about whether or not the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) should have a say in how self-help stuff is advertised in the United States:

Question: Do you think it is fair and appropriate for the following General Advertising Policies from the Federal Trade Commission [to] be extended to include self-help beliefs, methods or practices that claim to increase wealth, improve mental health or interpersonal relationships?



Under the Federal Trade Commission Act:

  • Advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive;
  • Advertisers must have evidence to back up their claims; and
  • Advertisements cannot be unfair.

What makes an advertisement deceptive?

According to the FTC's Deception Policy Statement, an ad is deceptive if it contains a statement - or omits information - that:

  • Is likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances; and
  • Is "material" - that is, important to a consumer's decision to buy or use the product.


a) No, b) Yes, c) Don't Know / Unsure, d) Other (please explain)

Your responses will be tallied and reported back soon.



John Curtis, Ph.D.
Waynesville, NC 28786

While I generally support Dr. Curtis' efforts, things like this make me a little uneasy simply because I don't like the idea of getting the government involved in our lives any more than it already is. Besides, most of the selfish-help gurus use sufficiently vague language that you really can't pin them down on much. In fact, many if not most of them infuse their offerings with elements of pop spirituality, making frequent references to God, a Higher Intelligence, Source, Spirit, The Universe, and the like. Even as they invoke scientific concepts to make themselves sound intelligent and highly educated, they are in fact working in the realm of faith – and if the FTC and other government agencies are going to get involved in that, then they need to go all the way and regulate traditional religious insitutions, with their wild promises of salvation and such, not to mention their constant and unabashed fundraising efforts.

But, you see, there's this separation-of-church-and-state idea that the US holds (if you'll pardon the term) sacred...

Moreover, even as the selfish-help/New-Wage hucksters are spewing the most extravagant promises of miracles and wonders out of one side of their mouths, they are mumbling the obligatory legal disclaimers out of the other. (See, for example, the second item, "Why you can't sue a hustledork," on this October 2007 post of mine.) These disclaimers would no doubt tarnish the miracle for any eager believer who bothered to read them, but the very people who most need to read them generally don't bother to do so.

I do wonder how the FTC would view the items such as the Psychic Demand site, for example, which really seems too ludicrous for serious consideration. I know I've snarked about this before, but I bring it up again because it's such a classic, right down to the disclaimer, which in this case appears right there on the front promo page:

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.

Now, that leaves a loophole so big you could drive a flying car through it (just helping prep you for the next snippet). And notice that the copy stipulates that any "defective" item will be replaced. There's no indication about whether Clickbank will give you your nineteen bucks back if the Psychic Demand technique simply fails to work even if you follow instructions to the letter – f'rinstance, if you observe the proper rituals and you say, "I demand $25,000.00!" and the Universe fails to deliver the goods.

Reading the ad copy, of course, you'd think that failure was a moot consideration. After all...

Remember, Psychic Demand is extremely powerful. If you feel drawn to this rare material and proven method, then order it right now. You can have it in only minutes. But if you are skeptical or doubting or unsure, then please forget about this and move on. Or if what you want to do with this power is to control others or to over indulge in your own desires, then please don't order.

This sort of stuff is more than a little reminiscent of those old-time ads for amazing magic tricks and such that were directed to kids under the age of ten. I have to wonder if these guys honestly expect reasonably intelligent adults to fall for this bunk.

The point is, do we really want to waste government resources going after this crap, which, even though it is more than a little stupid, is probably pretty harmless overall?

Besides, FTC oversight hasn't stopped the cosmetics industry from making outrageous claims. When it comes to scams and false promises, I have to say that the beauty biz puts even the selfish-help industry to shame. And when it comes to bastardizing the English language (another New-Wage practice that annoys me no end), well, once again, the beauty industry can bastardize circles around the New-Wage selfish-help perpetrators. Cosmetics manufacturers are always making up bulls--t scientifical-sounding words and terms to describe the miraculous qualities of their egregiously overpriced products. And I fall for it every time, damn it. I've been using expensive advertised products for many years now and I still don't look like Cindy Crawford or Penelope Cruz or Halle Berry. On a good day, maybe Marisa Tomei, or Debra Winger in her younger days. But has the FTC saved me from squandering my money? No, because at some level, I want to believe. I'm in on the con, in other words.

Of course it might be argued that the FTC and other governing agencies have prevented the cosmetics manufacturers from selling me stuff that will make my face fall off or cause my skin to turn chartreuse. But such untoward side effects really aren't an issue with most selfish-help stuff. For the most part, I think John Curtis needs to keep on doing what he's doing, as do the skeptics and critical thinkers and all of those "naysayers" who are such a thorn in the side of the hustledorks. But keep the government out of it, thank you. Quite frankly, I think one of the best defenses against selfish-help fraud is for snarky people like me to keep on snarking. And that's just what I aim to do. As you'll see momentarily.

Buddha of the Internet sore because he can't soar
Talk about synchronicity. Mere weeks ago, I found myself Googling "flying cars" because the subject arose (so to speak) in a manuscript I was editing. And then, and then... just the other day, Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale
wrote a blog post about a flying car. As it happened, this was a car he'd wanted to buy, but darn it all, things just didn't work out for him. When he found out about the existence of the car, a rigged-up version of a sporty Panoz Esperante, he knew he had to have it. (He first wrote about it on his blog in October 2006.) But the person who owned it didn't want to sell it. So he let it go.

Then recently he discovered that the flying car had been auctioned off for an incredibly cheap price (relatively speaking) in January 2008. And no one had even told him the car was up for sale. Even worse, the auction house, for privacy reasons, refused to give the winning bidder's contact info to Joe.

Joe wrote that all of this caused him to be deeply upset for three whole days. "This was an experience of deep disappointment to me," he lamented. "I took it personally, and judged myself harshly. I felt stuck, unhappy, and un-clear."

Fortunately, Joe was saved by his own wisdom. Turns out he had to go back into the recording studio to record a few more segments to his forthcoming audio program, The Awakening Course, which he says is the most advanced stuff he's ever perpetrated...I mean, created. This is the course where he reveals a previously unrevealed "fourth stage" of awakening. Just last year, he was touting the "third stage" as being the ultimate, but never mind that. Anyway, as he was recording some new material about trust and letting go, he realized that he had been "attached to wanting that flying car. VERY attached."

To say the least.

"Yet," he wrote, "a key secret to attracting whatever you want is to let go of attachment. Want it without needing it. As my friend Bootzie often says, "I’m perfectly satisfied, I just want more!'"

Bootzie is the ebullient Maui merchant who peddles stuff like magical gold dust that's been blessed by the goddess Laxshmi. It has also been "blessed in the moonlight for extra potency by the notorious nymph, Miss Bootzie herself!" Mr. Fire claims to be a big fan of this stuff, and once wrote:

If you want a little extra help with your prosperity, consider getting some Laxshmi Gold Dust. Laxshmi is the goddess of wealth and good fortune. She's my sidekick. Sprinkle some "dust" in your pocket, wallet, or purse, and watch the money grow...Expect miracles.

Apparently, though, the magical gold dust – and the Law Of Attraction, and Ho'oponononononononononono, and his status as a fourth-state-awakened being, and his Internet Buddhism, and all of the other rituals and techniques and technologies and modalities and wisdom paths he has at his disposal – didn't work to help Joe get that flying car.

Why, Universe, oh why, do you let such bad things happen to such good people? As a friend of mine said in regard to this incident, "The greater the man, the greater the tragedy."

Rather than being even slightly appalled that their highly awakened leader could get into such a state over not being allowed to acquire a toy he wanted, Joe's followers seemed grateful. And they came out in force to praise him for his wisdom. Some sample comments (unedited):

Brenda Best says

OMG! Thank You, Thank You, Thank You! I really need to hear that even an expert of “The Universe” and ‘How To Work With It” still gets dissapointed and upset! No matter how much you know, thier will always be tests to try to throw you off balance! Thanks so much Joe! You are definately an inspiration!
May you get all the “more” you want
Brenda Best!

Tamara Hanson says
This is exactly what I needed to hear right now. Thanks for the wake up call!

Juho says
Thanks for sharing this, Joe. And thanks for showing your humanity* in admitting you were stuck with the feeling for a while until you got to clarity about it. Disappointment is something I’ve been terribly struggling with in the past couple of years, this helped a lot. Thanks again.

The Rev said to me, "Gee, it only took him three days to get over being upset. Must be one eeee-volved Buddhist!" Must be, indeed. When those of us who are less spiritually aware miss out on a chance to buy a flying car, it can take us up to a week or maybe even longer to get over the upset.

And when I think about what an absolute baby I myself have been regarding the little losses and disappointments I've faced over the past eight months or so, I am downright ashamed. To tell the truth, I'm still not over some of these losses. But then I look at brave Mr. Fire, who recovered from such a devastating loss in a mere three days, and had the unmitigated gall profound courage to share his story – not to draw attention to himself, not to elicit sympathy from his fawning minions (well, he did admit he wanted to "vent"), not to take advantage of another opportunity to brag about the expensive cars he already has, and not even to try to "attract" an offer from the guy who won the auction for the flying rattletrap – but for the greater purpose of helping his readers come to a better understanding of spiritual truths.

He is an inspiration to us all.

* Why are they so surprised that he's "showing his humanity," when he reveals it in many ways every day? Get a grip, Joebots, he's really NOT Buddha.

Dreaming-Bear: rolling with the punches
It occurs to me, Dear Ones, that I haven't mentioned Maui's sex symbol and mystical ham,
Dreaming Bear, in a few months. These days, I am sorry to report, he is confined to a wheelchair, as I read on one of his web sites:

Beloved friends,
Dreaming-Bear is currently preparing for another World Tour called
Loveolution. Part of his preparation involves intense physical therapy & training for a spinal injury incurred years ago in an auto accident. Despite his severe physical pain & inability to walk at this time, Dreaming-Bear remains happy in his heart knowing that with patience, the body will follow. He invites your support & prayers as he dedicates himself to celebrating the beauty of what IS.

Looking at some of his more recent pictures and performances reveals another big change: These days, he's not nekkid. Or even half-nekkid.

And who knew his middle name was "Baraka?"

May Goddess forgive me for my initial reaction to the news about the wheelchair bit. I actually had a brief thought – misguided, no doubt – that the wheelchair was just another prop, and that if DB wasn't actually faking his disability, he was exaggerating, or at the very least milking it for all it is worth. I was having flashes of that old Frasier episode, "Wheels of Fortune" (Episode 203, originally airing 2/26/02) featuring Lilith's half-brother Blaine, a lifelong con man (played by Michael Keaton). In this episode, Blaine is in a wheelchair and has become a traveling preacher. He charms everyone but Frasier, who is convinced that Blaine is faking it all and is still a scammer. In the end, Frasier is taken in too and gives Blaine some money, and too late finds out that he was right all along.

But, like I said, I'm sure those thoughts are way out of line. I imagine I am not alone in wishing Dreaming-Bear a speedy recovery. (By the way, here's a link to his new web site.)

PS added Wednesday ~ If you think I'm being way too harsh and cynical and maybe even a little bit mean for having even entertained the notion that DB might be kind of exaggerating his plight, consider some of his past performances. Start with this post, and it will lead you to a link of a "teleconference" where he describes his trials and torments at last year's Burning Man orgy. I mean, c'mon, these were basically self-inflicted torments – just like a selfish-help "intensive" workshop, but with more sun, sand, performance “art,” scorpions, and nekkid people. And if you're still not convinced of DB's propensity for taking artistic license with reality, try this post (fourth item down, "Dreaming-Bear redux").

PPS added February 2009: Since this was written, Dreaming-Bear has communicated with me directly. He says the wheelchair is for real; he was in a bad car wreck some years back and has been in and out of the hospital for ten years, having had numerous surgeries to repair the damage. He also says he is legally disabled, and that it isn't nice to make fun of disabled people.

Okay, so I have sucky taste too
It occurs to me that I really have no room to snark about Dreaming-Bear and his hammy, ersatz-mystical ways, when I am a closet
Abba fan. Abba has always been sort of a guilty pleasure for me. Even though a little Abba goes a long way with me, and even though I recognize that they personified much of what was so appallingly bad about the 1970s (aka The Cheesy Decade), there was just something about some of their songs... Fernando, for example. I always liked that song, despite the intrinsic ludicrousness of bell-bottom-jumpsuited nerds singing about the Mexican Revolution.

Like it or not, Abba's music will never go away. A.O. Scott said it best in the New York Times review of the movie version of the Abba-inspired Broadway play, Mama Mia!, which opened this past Friday in the US:

Those shimmery, layered arrangements, those lyrics in a language uncannily like English, those symmetrical Nordic voices — they all add up to something alarmingly permanent, a marshmallow monument on the cultural landscape...

...Abba made some of the most highly polished, tightly engineered pop junk ever. There is a kind of perfection in some of those hits that is undeniable even if — or maybe especially if — you can’t stand to hear them.

Here's another Abba song (from 1979's Super Trouper), that I'm inordinately fond of.

Here's the Spanish version.

Anyway, I'm going to rush out to see Mama Mia! just as soon as it comes out on DVD.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New-Wage in a nutshell (or two)

I'm in Lazy Blogger mode again. More accurately, I'm in Busy Real-Work mode, so the blog has to take a back seat. But I just had to pop in and share a couple of gems that fall in the "wish I'd written that" category.

First, my new pal Mojo, whose writing never fails to delight me, pointed me to a piece she wrote a couple of years ago to accompany some old Tony Robbins tapes she was selling on eBay. This piece that sums up the entire selfish-help/New-Wage industry in a few paragraphs. Here's the link.

And then just today, I happened to stumble upon a link that should prove to be inspirational to all of you online marketing types (or to those of you who are fed up with online marketing types). Apparently not everyone thinks this is funny, but I almost peed myself laughing. Here's THAT link.

As the shiny happy gurus like to say: Enjoy!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Snarky snippets for a busy Monday

I would do this on Twitter, but it's more than 140 characters.

The real secret behind Allied victories in WWII
One of my favorite contributors, HHH, pointed me to
a link that reveals how the New Wage helped win the war for the good guys.

Reverse feng shui and healing aquamarine crystals... who would have guessed, huh?

Heriot's afire
The Secret's producer Rhonda Byrne and her merry band o'barristers can't totally stop the wheels of justice from turning,
but they are apparently trying to make things as difficult as possible for the original DVD's co-writer and director Drew Heriot, who recently filed a lawsuit claiming that Rhonda and company screwed him out of millions and millions of dollars.

[Rhonda Byrne's] company, TS Productions, is seeking an injunction from the Federal Court in Melbourne to stop Heriot proceeding with a lawsuit in the US. She wants the case heard in Australia, arguing that The Secret was conceived, produced, most of it filmed, edited, and finished by an Australian production company using Australian crews and equipment. Of the 120 people who worked as crew members on The Secret, only 12 were Americans and 80% of cast members were Australians.

Hmmm... 80 % of the cast members were Australians? Now, if we're including all of the minor players, such as the young fellow who wished for a shiny new bicycle and got it, or the gal who lusted for a diamond bracelet and got it, or the dude who did the voice-over for the Big Giant Universe Genie, well...maybe so. But if we're talking about the talking heads, who were, after all, the main selling point of The Secret...gee, I thought only Rhonda and the infamous David Schirmer were Aussies. Sounds like someone's really, really stretching here. But then, that's what lawyers do.

At any rate, Drew Heriot is determined to pursue his case.

However, Heriot's lawyers have applied to have the case in Melbourne delayed until the US case is finalised. They claim Heriot stands to make at least $150 million in damages if the case is heard in the US because that is where most of the revenue from The Secret was generated. They said Byrne wanted the case heard in Australia because she was much wealthier than Heriot and knew if he pursued the case in Australia it would come at "enormous expense" to him as he now lived in the US.

I guess I don't need to tell you that I'm rooting for Drew, as well as for others who have apparently been screwed out of millions by Rhonda and TS Productions (e.g., Dan Hollings, the original Internet marketing strategist for the DVD). (Here's a link to one of my original posts on these matters.)

But maybe he at least got to keep those parking spaces he visualized...and he'll always have those whited-out bank statements
Speaking of Aussie Secret star David Schirmer, that big house he's been bragging about, and
even took A Current Affair staffers on a tour of last year, is now on the market. Is he selling it off to help pay his debts, or just movin' on up to the Big mean, to a bigger mansion? One suspects the former. No word on whether the $250,000 dining room table he boasted about to ACA is also included.

As noted here earlier, he's also moving out of his offices and warehouse, and rumor has it that his staff continues to, stop giggling. I'm talking about his office staff – you know, the people who work for him. Any disgruntled ex-staff members can feel free to send comments to me, either for publication or not.

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.

    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,


    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.

"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.

Friday, July 04, 2008

America's birthday (and another snarkday for me)

I hope everyone in the US is having a happy Fourth of July, and that my friends on The Other Side Of The World are gearing up for a fun-filled weekend. I'm just going to light a couple of snarklers here before I'm off to do Fourth of July things, which mainly involve puttering around on The Ranch with the love of my life.

Prescient perfect
I don't like saying, "I told you so." Well, yes, I do, and admit it: you probably do too. Anyway, if you'll forgive me for quoting myself, I can't help remembering this bit from a piece I wrote nearly a year ago (21 July 2007) about Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale:
As for "stage three" in the three stages of awakening described in Zero Limits, you will forgive me, I hope, for wondering how long it will be before Joe reveals that there is, after all, a "stage four," newly discovered, and you can find out all about it on his exclusive new DVD series...
On his July 3, 2008 blog post, Joe writes about one of his new products, The Awakening Course, which, he says, will be the center of an infomercial. (At least he isn't trying to call it a "movie," a la The Secret, The Opus, etc.) Here's the scoop on The Awakening Course:
It’s a major, in-depth exploration of the four stages of awakening. This goes beyond all my previous work, beyond The Secret, The Attractor Factor and even Zero Limits. I’ve never talked about the fourth stage of awakening before...The Course will help you transcend all problems. How? You’ll have to wait to find out.
Well, OK, I wasn't 100 % spot-on about the fourth stage being "newly discovered." Joe didn't actually say he had recently discovered it, so it could be that it's something that he really knew about all along, but he just chose to wait until the world was ready for such a stupendous revelation. (And in all fairness, he did say in Zero Limits that he believed there were at least three stages of awakening, which certainly left things open for the "discovery" of subsequent stages.) Even so... is anyone taking any bets on how long it will be till he reveals that there is a fifth stage? Or will he just decide he's milked the Awakening cow dry after stage four, and moooove on to something else?

David Schirmer selling off his grubby bits
Now, that's a pleasant visual, isn't it? My apologies, Dear Ones. Actually, it's not as icky as it sounds. It seems that David Schirmer is having to move out of his office and warehouse, and he's having to sell a bunch of stuff cheap.
Did you get the email I sent the other day about our moving sale?

We are moving warehouse in one month and in the process of doing a stocktake we have discovered some stock that is not quite perfect.

This is stock of some of the worlds best in personal development - some of
the most respected and powerful material available...

It's just a bit grubby, that's all :-)

For the most part we have some damaged boxes some packages that are missing the shrinkwrap and other minor scratches, dents, and grubby bits.

And for this reason we can't sell any of this stuff as new and we don't want
to take it with us to the new warehouse...

So we're selling it off at amazing, crazy prices...

if you don't mind a dented or grubby box and you really want this amazing
information to change your life, now is the time to ACT...

When we sent out an email the other day the orders went crazy... we had people phoning up all day long to make sure that their internet orders went through so they didn't miss out!

Some stuff sold out in 20 mins of the email going out.

So Please make sure you go there now and ACT FAST if there is
something that you want there because it wont last long... Seriously!
According to the "moving sale" web site, included among the material being sold are "CD'S, DVD'S and workbooks from the Secret Teachers (Me) David Schirmer and Bob Proctor."

Now, just in case you are wondering, I am sure that this is all perfectly on the up-and-up and is not at all in violation of the terms of the divorce agreement between Schirmer and Scientist Bob. Anyhow, y'all had better hurry over and take advantage of the moving sale while you can!

I'll take the Jack sandwich instead, thank you
I tried, I really tried, to like the new CBS TV series Swingtown. I thought that at the very least it might be a moderately interesting study of what was in many ways a loathsome decade. Alas, it was not to be. The characters are all caricatures, the situations more predictable than those on a bad made-for-TV movie about a trendy disease, and the show appears to be written and directed by people who did not actually live through the 70s. Give me the Jack-in-the-Box hot tub commercial (which never fails to crack me up), or any episode of That 70s Show, instead. At least those were intentionally funny.

Well, Dear Ones, I hate to snark and run, but I have a national holiday to celebrate!