Wednesday, February 18, 2009

News flash: David Schirmer says he has been cleared. Or not.

You might as well just skip this post, which is now outdated, and go straight to the comments. Or at least go straight to the PS's. And then read the comments.

In the interests of fairness, I wish to point out a blog post that Aussie Secret star David Schirmer posted on Wednesday, 18 February, 2009. He says he has been cleared by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), and that he is now going to sic the "best defamation barristers" on some of the people who have accused him of wrongdoing or have reported on those accusations. He adds that he is looking forward to "this interesting journey."

The link to his blog post is here. There doesn't seem to be a permalink to that particular post, but as I noted above, it is dated 18 February, 2009.* Schirmer has also apparently had all of the videos of the exposé from the Aussie TV show A Current Affair removed from YouTube (in his blog post, he implies that A Current Affair removed them, but they didn't, and the videos are still up on the ACA web site). His Wikipedia entry has been considerably sanitized as well.** Moreover, he seems to be practicing some intimidation tactics on people who have expressed opinions about him on Twitter and on other sites. Negative info about him seems to be disappearing from the Web....

I have always said that if it turns out there's evidence that David Schirmer has been falsely or unfairly accused, I will publish it. For now, all I have is that one blog post of his.*** If I am given links to any documents from the ASIC clearing him, I will certainly publish those too. (Needless to say, I will also publish credible evidence to the contrary as well.)

Just thought y'all would want to know. I may be snarky, but I do try in my own way to be fair as well.****

* Or it WAS dated 18 February. See the PS.
** Well, so much for that Wikipedia entry having been "cleaned up." I just checked and it's been changed again, as of 21 February, to reflect some of David Schirmer's troubles. If you have a lot of time to waste, here's a link to the history of the Wikipedia entries on David Schirmer.
** * And now we don't even have that blog post. Again, see the PS.
**** Sometimes I try too hard, it seems.

PS added on 22 February: It seems that after changing the wording on his 18 February blog post in which he claimed to have been "cleared" by the ASIC, David Schirmer has now removed that post altogether. Go figure. He is now joyfully on his way to the US of A, flying first class, of course (or at least implying that he's flying first class). He should be touching down in LA pretty soon...
PPS added on 25 February: Melbourne's Mini-Madoff is currently in Albuquerque, NM, and then, according to his Tweet on Twitter, he's headed for "Chicago, Toronto, Detroit, Dallas, Austin, Phoenix, Atlanta, LA and home!"

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

"Recession? What recession?"

The economic crisis has not only given the talking heads on TV a whole lot more to talk about, it has also been a boon to advertisers, marketers and entrepreneurs of all stripes. Some of these people are scam artists, some are merely clever or crass opportunists, and some are just scrabbling to make a living because they, like so many others, have lost their primary sources of income. Whether scammers, legit, or semi-legit, they are all seeking new money ops through one or more of the following: (1) further scaring people about what's going on; (2) reassuring people that the problem has been greatly exaggerated; or (3) admitting that, hey, there's a problem, but there's a way out if you only buy the right products or services or attend the right workshops. Many employ varying combinations of these three basic strategies.

As one of the most prominent New-Wage practitioners of strategy number 3, Tony Robbins is all over the place with advice, products, workshops and even an upcoming TV show about staying positive in tough times. He's just one example, of course. Jack "Chicken Soup" Canfield and numerous others are also finding new ways to help people through the hard times – for a price.

Among those who opt for strategy number 2, claiming the economic problem has been greatly exaggerated, there's a whole movement afoot to "refuse to participate in the recession," the latter-day version of whistling past the graveyard. The Net is awash with blog posts and videos from New-Wagers who, with achingly transparent motives, are crossing the sometimes fine line between optimism and stubborn denial.

Don't get me wrong. I think there's actually a pretty good case for the argument that too much negative reporting about the sinking economy is exacerbating the problem in some ways. And, as columnist David Brooks wrote in a January op-ed piece, "A recession is a mental event, and every recession has its own unique spirit." He wasn't being New-Wagey; he was simply writing about ways in which human foibles and the irrational human mind have contributed to the economic crisis.

But it is the media's job to report what's going on; should they simply ignore all of the negative news from Wall Street and the halls of corporate America? Besides, the media don't exist in a vacuum. Above all else they are in business to make money, and they are responding to the public's desires and fears as much as they are creating or encouraging those desires and fears. If no one ever tuned in to the negative stuff, word would eventually reach the powers-that-be, and every TV show would be Donny Deutsch's The Big Idea (well, before it became a forum for bitching about how bad the economy is).

More to the point, by deliberately vilifying the media to promote their own happy-happy joy-joy wares, many New-Wagers are chiefly helping their own economy above all else. (All together now: "Duh!")

Consider Joe Vitale and his exaggerated indignation about the dastardly mainstream media, expressed in a recent blog post promoting his latest Nightingale-Conant CD/DVD program.

Something is driving me crazy and I need to get this off my chest!

Thanks to the negative media, there is a nasty, ruthless, disempowering myth going around that says…

America and the rest of the world is in financial danger, and we are at the mercy of the stock market, banks, and other major financial institutions.

He goes on to reassure his readers that we've survived worse crises, but that in any case he has just the antidote to financial worries: that new program of his.

This is the first time I have ever combined all my spiritual teachings with all my business and marketing tactics in a single CD/DVD program.

And MY marketing is based on total love.

You can imagine the power of these two forces combined to help you attract money.

Joe, like many others, has been preaching his "ignore the mainstream media" wisdom for some time now, and seems to be practicing what he preaches. As just one example, he recently confessed that he'd hadn't heard of the infamous Bernie Madoff till he got a comment to his blog asking how Madoff's victims could have possibly "attracted" their misfortune. His general attitude is that if you ignore the mainstream media, particularly the news media, you will be a happier person.

Large numbers of other, less famous New-Wage dilettantes are weighing in with their own versions of recession-denial. I came across a recent blog post by New-Wage entrepreneur and self-described "Master Top Shelf coach" Nan Akasha, who wrote:

Some have [experienced a recession], but most haven’t! Yes, the recession is a label and it does not apply to over 75% of the people in America! Most of you who know me, know I do not buy into others realities, I create my own. I know what makes me feel good and inspired and what does not. I intentionally focus on what makes me feel empowered and strong, happy and wealthy. Believing in a recession is not an empowering thought, so I do not choose it. My business is building, I am thrilled to help people change their lives, perceptions and feelings and my focus is on attracting those who are ready for change and want to get the results they want now. I do what I love and follow the feelings that support my success. Yes, you actually get to choose the feelings and thoughts that you decide are true for you, and that is what creates your reality.

You must see that not everyone is suffering right now. Wonder why? It is not luck, it is not greed, it is not anything outside. It is what they CHOOSE to think and feel. About themselves, the economy, their businesses, everything...

This is the same Nan who wrote a response to budding New-Wage entrepreneur Wendy G. Young's September 2008 blog post about Hurricane Ike, which I've mentioned here a couple of times before. Wendy wrote that she hadn't yet lost power due to the storm, and she intended to keep focusing on not losing power because "what we focus on we get, right?" Nan, writing under the moniker "Creatrix Nan," responded:

found your site! So glad to hear you are doing well, we got nothing here in San Antonio, it is sunny! Was looking forward to rain, but so glad it is turning out good for most everyone.

This is the exchange I chimed in on, as you'll see if you follow the above link; I mentioned to Nan that things didn't turn out so well for a lot of people in Galveston and Houston and surrounding areas. So far neither Wendy nor Nan has responded to my comment. I guess they are too busy creating realities where money problems are nonexistent, and lives are never torn asunder by forces of nature.

Okay, the Hurricane Ike blog bit is old news. The newer news is that Nan, like so many other New-Wagers major and minor, is busily engaged in selling the idea that it's only a recession if you think of it that way. Even if you've truly suffered a loss, Nan has a list of things you can do to get yourself out of recession mode and into a happy, abundant life. Several of these things, not surprisingly, involve buying "coaching" services or products from her. But one of the other strategies she recommends is to read a blog post by Jennifer McLean, New-Wage healer, marketer, and author of a coffee table book for narcissists, The Big Book Of You. Jennifer, who apparently reached her own pinnacle of success by jumping on the Joe Vitale gravy train,* is another wise teacher who says that recession is merely a state of mind, and she has the math and the hard-edge economics to prove it:

Let’s get back to this whole notion of recession: 11% or more are now unemployed, that means that there are 89% that are in the same financial position as they were a year ago, prior to this so called recession. Let’s be fair here and say that 80% of all of us are in the same if not a better position (I talk to literally dozens of people weekly that are telling me they are actually doing better (and I am one of those). What is happening is a state of mind-- that 11% is telling the 80% that they could be in trouble too, so DON’T SPEND. Guess what happens? They don’t spend so more will lose their jobs. These 80% have exactly what they have always had and yet fear is stopping them. And guess what fear will create for them… yep you got it, their circumstances will likely reflect their fear and they may go into poverty.

Professional economists, eat your hearts out!

As is the case with most problems, the severity of the financial crisis depends upon whom you ask. The above quotation from Jennifer McLean illustrates that it is as easy to put a positive spin on the situation as it is to give it a negative one. She uses unemployment figures to make her point, but unemployment figures simply do not tell the whole story. To begin with, they ignore the large numbers of underemployed or self-employed people who are suffering from the downturn in the economy.

And unemployment figures don't even begin to address numerous less dramatic examples of economic fallout, such as banks and credit card companies that use market conditions as an excuse to find new ways to screw their "little" customers, even after getting billions in bailout money. How many of you recently received a letter from your credit card company saying that due to current economic conditions, they're raising your APR to a usurious level (even if you have been making timely payments, and/or have a great credit rating)? How many have seen dramatic increases in fees and equally dramatic decreases in benefits from your bank? (What overdraft privilege?) How many small business owners, even those with good credit and a long history, are finding it difficult if not impossible to get loans now from some of those banks that got bailed out?

Some of this stuff has been going on for a few years, of course, but has become considerably worse recently.

The point is that even people who haven't lost their jobs or their homes are still dealing with real problems, both large and small, related to the downturn in the economy. While I quite agree that obsessing over these problems is counter-productive at best and dangerous at worst, so is denial. The world may look prettier when viewed from within a narcissistic bubble, but we all know what happens to bubbles, sooner or later. And even while the bubble lasts, the scheming or desperate narcissist within looks pretty pathetic from the outside.

But I'm getting way too serious here, as I sometimes do. So let me leave you with a little comic relief from another person who has been peddling his own brand of solutions to economic worries. I give you Brad "C'mon-Get-Tappy" Yates, who can't seem to stop touching himself and putting videos of it up on YouTube. Here's one of the latest.

And for those of you who would like to combine tapping with the ancient Hawaiian practice of Ho'oponononononononononononono, Brad has a special offering just for you. He even wears a Hawaiian shirt to make it really real.

A snarky pal of mine wrote to me that he just does not get these videos. "It's SCARY watching him tap himself like that," he wrote. "I wish I could laugh at him but I can't. Perhaps it's because for me the scariest horror movies take place in asylums with CRAZY people. And what do those crazy folk do? Well, most of the time they touch themselves and hit themselves ... Before, of course, turning on the 'innocent' people in the film..."

Hmm. If you look at it that way... but no, with all due respect to my friend, it's still funny.

And it is also yet another indication that denial is not just a river; it's a whole big ocean full of snark chum.

PS ~ To honor Charles Darwin's 200th birthday, here is a link to a poem that has been a favorite of mine since my junior high days. I suppose the photo above also pays tribute, in its own way, to Darwin.

PPS added on 24 February: SHAMblog's Steve Salerno makes some salient points about false hope, the economic crisis and other matters in his blog post, "Don't know about you, but I'm ready for some fear itself." Read it.

* Link added April 2009: Here is Jennifer McLean's success story.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Mini-Madoff of Melbourne?

I'm the only Aussie on The Secret DVD, and probably the most controversial, most fun loving, most challenging and direct, maybe the richest?

~ David Schirmer's self-description on his Twitter page

It's been a while since I blogged about Australian Secret star David Schirmer, The Blunder from Down Under...or perhaps we should give him a new nickname for the new year. How about the Mini-Madoff of Melbourne? Like the infamous Bernie M., David Schirmer allegedly "made off" with large amounts of other people's money, as documented in numerous segments of the Aussie tabloid TV program, A Current Affair. Thus far, of course, David's reported misdeeds have been on a considerably smaller scale than those of Bernie Madoff – as have the transgressions of the "Mini-Madoffs" in the US – and his shenanigans have been largely confined to Australia. Still, the comparison seems apt. Besides, I rather like the alliteration.

From what I can see, however, Melbourne's Mini-M continues to deny any real wrongdoing – it seems the most he'll ever admit to is having made some mistakes in the past ("And who hasn't made mistakes?" is the implied question) – and he just keeps on keeping on. If you don't care, maybe you should, because he is still has his eyes on America. More on that in a moment.

He continues to trade on his association with the most famous New-Wage moviemercial of our times, The Secret, branding himself as "The 'Car Park' Guy," due to his spiel on the DVD about using the Law Of Attraction to attract prime parking spaces. As he said in the movie:

"People are amazed how I line up car parks. And I've done this right from when I first understood the secret. I would visualise a car space exactly where I wanted it and 95% of the time it would be there for me and I'd just pull straight in. Five percent of the time I'd have to wait just a minute or two and the person would pull out and I'd pull in. So I do that all the time."

Of course, he could just as easily brand himself as "The 'Checks In The Mail' Guy In The Secret":

"When I first understood the secret, I was getting bills. Every day I would get a bunch of bills in the mail and I thought, This is, how do I turn this around? The law of attraction states that what you focus on you will get. So I got a bank statement and I whited out the total and I put a new total in there. I put exactly how much I wanted to see in the bank. I thought, what if I just visualise cheques coming in the mail, so I just visualised a bunch of cheques coming in the mail. Within just one month, things started to change. And it's just amazing, today I just get cheques in the mail. I get a fewbills, but I get more cheques than bills."

The above two quotations were taken from a PDF that includes a transcript of the original DVD of The Secret (yes, this is the version with Esther Hicks and her imaginary pal Abe).

I know that some of this stuff is old news, but that's for the benefit of those who have only recently joined the party here and don't have all of the background information. The rest of you can feel free to skip over the stuff you already know.

The webmaster for David's The Secret Revealed web site seems to have worked overtime on search engine optimization, or at least I guess that's what it is (I'm kind of a Web marketing 'tard). Just click on the "Site Map" link on the home page and you'll see what I mean. There are more than 70 links, each one leading to a long list of yet more links, inclusive of all of the New-Wage gurus and concepts covered in The Secret, and then some. Thus, someone who is looking for, say, information on Joe Vitale might very well be led to David Schirmer's site. But I suppose that's pretty much in keeping with the general practices in the New-Wage industry, which is one large mutual party, where the hustlers use each other's names all the time to promote their own stuff.

Even as he exploits his Secret connection, David continues to try to set himself apart from other Secret stars and the rest of the New-Wage scene – not just by describing himself in superlatives, as in that Twitter quotation above, but also by branding himself as a Bible-believing, saved-by-Jesus Christian, as snarkily reported here previously. (Some people are still trying to figure out the significance of the kitten pictures on that post I linked to. So far no one has guessed correctly.)

For some time now, David's purported Christianity has been finding its expression through his ongoing involvement in a prosperity-oriented church called Rhema Melbourne (formerly Word Family Church), an institution that seems to be rooted in the belief that God wants "His" people to be prosperous, and that "He" also wants them to fork over as much money as possible to the church that nurtures this holy sense of entitlement.

A friend of mine refers to churches like this as The Church of the Deluded, and it seems appropriate here. Either Rhema Melbourne doesn't know about Schirmer's bad press, or they don't care, or they recognize a good when they see one, and they figure he can help fill the collection plates. Of course, there's always the possibility that the church is simply practicing Christian forgiveness, as Our Lord would wish. On the other hand, maybe the Aussie authorities would be interested in the dealings of the Rhema Melbourne Church. That's not up to me to decide.

In any case, David Schirmer currently seems to be one of his church's rock stars, and they have him teaching a series of prosperity classes to the faithful. The promo page on Rhema's web site says, "Your [sic] would normally have to pay thousands to hear David share his business insights and secrets … you get to enjoy monthly seminars with him for free." In one of the upcoming classes, he will talk about the importance of tithing. "Learn why every business person should tithe and how to multiply your profits through offerings," says the blurb for his Purpose of Prosperity class, scheduled for February 22.

While I'm sure his church is just tickled pink about that, I have a feeling that some of this is not setting too well with the folks to whom he still allegedly owes all of that money. I remember hearing David promise A Current Affair's Ben Fordham that he would have all of the money paid back to his earlier investors by Christmas – of 2007. From what I have heard, he has yet to keep that promise. As an anonymous correspondent put it recently, "Where the hell is everyone's money that he owes them, in the bloody church coffers now? Won’t that make people happy. David Schirmer owes so many people so much money it is not funny and he talks about this sort of stuff. You’ve got to give it to him, the guy has gall."

David and his lovely wife Lorna are also still involved with a motivational project for youngsters, Youth Destiny Camp, which I first mentioned here last year. Among other things, he recently taught a group of young kids how to create a company and turn $500 into $500,000 in 90 days. "God help the poor little suckers when he has not even done that himself!" someone commented to me recently. Word has it that most of the kids who went to the Schirmers' Youth Camp last year did not return this year (perhaps they were so successful they didn't need to), and there was only a fraction of last year's turnout, some of whom were family. In any case, David has put a joyful spin on it as usual:

It is absolutely amazing to watch the young adults (12-19) change over the 5 days. Many come very shy and reserved and not really knowing what to expect; they leave full of confidence with a Vision Board in their hand and a new destiny. The 5-day YDC is often the best time in their lives.

And here's a link to a very short video showing some of the fun and games at the 2009 YDC. By the way, the cost per kiddo is $995 in Aussie dollars, which is about $650 in US dollars.

In addition to all of the above, David continues to promote himself as a stock market expert and wealth advisor, and is also still involved in business and success mentoring, selling products such as his Wealth Building 101 Course, another item I have mentioned here before. This is the course where he teaches business owners how to protect their assets against "predator-plaintiffs and their attorneys." (His main wealth tip: Don't own anything in your name.) I'll give him this: He does have experience with plaintiffs and their attorneys, having been sued numerous times himself.

No doubt David has faced a few disappointments, in addition to that split-up with Bob Proctor last year (speaking of lawsuits). For one thing, he doesn't seem to be on the A-list for the scads of New-Wage moviemercials that have come out since The Secret (e.g., The Opus, The Compass, The Rumpus, The Leap, The Creep, Awakeners, that dumb movie where people keep tapping on themselves, or any of a number of Beyond-The-Secret type offerings). Sadder still, he isn't included in the latest incarnation of the great hustledork affiliate scheme, The Masters Gathering. I get the feeling that he's still pretty much persona non grata among the stars and superstars of the New-Wage industry.

Disappointments aside, he still seems to be having a barrel of fun online. Even if the New-Wage superstars will have little to do with him, there are hundreds upon hundreds of naive superstar-wannabes and groupies, some of whom have money to blow. And even if they don't have money, they are possessed of a certain naivete and willingness to glom onto anyone who can talk a good game, particularly if that person was in...gasp!...The Secret. Perhaps they think that since this charming guy with the Aussie accent and the twinkle in his eye has made himself more accessible than some of the other Secret stars, he might be able to get them into The Club. They don't seem to be aware that Schirmer himself can't really get into The Club, at least not into the V.I.P. room.

In any case, he has jumped into social media big time. He's been on Facebook and Myspace for quite some time now, but these days he is also having a fine old time on Twitter as well. To begin with, it's yet another forum for him to share insights about the stock market. Consider this bit of timeless wisdom:

Do you know why the stock market is called an "Exchange"? Because it is where the ignorant exchange their money for experience!!

He said a mouthful, perhaps without realizing it. One gets the feeling that he is banking on a never-ending flow of "the ignorant" to his workshops and web sites. On a later Tweet, he wrote a variation of the same thought:

When person with money meets person with experience; Person with money will get the experience and person with experience will get the money.
Yep, I'd say that about sums it up. Let this be a warning to any inexperienced but moneyed souls who come in contact with David Schirmer. The "experience" you receive in exchange for giving him your money may not be quite what you had in mind.

He has also been Tweeting in vaguely flirtatious ways with various ladies about topics such as sex and romance and passion for one's vision; some are Tweeting coquettishly right back, as if they don't know, or simply don't care, about the negative press he's received (see that bit above, about The Club). And he's merrily exchanging Tweets with other spruikers (I had to throw a fine Aussie slang term in here somewhere), such as online entrepreneur Benjamin Bressington, whose Twitter handle is mongrelstyle. Recently David wrote:

Grown 67 followers since Tuesday evening ... is that OK?

Benjamin replied:

is that all.... do those people understand you [sic] skills.

Benjamin went on to Tweet sweetly to David about how he, Benjamin, should have followed David's previous stock market prediction reports instead of doubting, but he has now learned his lesson and is looking forward to reading David's 2009 predictions. And in case you're curious, here's another link to the dynamic Benjamin, looking for all the world like actor Jason Alexander, except younger and with more hair.

Well, something must be working in Benjamin's life, because it looks as if he is shopping for a Rolls-Royce. He recently wrote:

I sat in a New Rolls Royce Coupe today, it is amazing almost made me cry it is an amazing car the roof has stars that light up AWESOME.

Later David Tweeted:

@mongelstyle [sic] CONGRATULATIONS ... hear you put your order in for your new Rolls Royce. Can't wait for a ride ... in the back seat!

Those of you who were thinking, "How about in the trunk?" should just stop that kind of thinking right now. I will not tolerate violence on this blog. My first thought was that if Benjamin's Rolls deal falls through, maybe Mr. Fire will let David ride in his Rolls for five thousand US dollars – or $7,500.00, if David wants to be the sole "Phantom rider."

David may not have a Rolls of his own yet, but he still seems to be doing all right, car-wise; he's driving a BMW M5 (base price of current models is around $185,00 USD). Although he has a way to go before he has as many cars as Mr. Fire, he does seem to be trying to play in that league, or trying to get into The Club, as it were. Kissing-up on Twitter is one of his strategies, evidenced by a couple of comments he wrote in response to Tweets regarding Joe's recent $12,500 Awakened Millionaire Weekend, which took place in Austin on January 23-25 (yes, it fell during Cosmic Connie Day). In response to one of Joe's Tweets about the event, David wrote:

@mrfire Well done Joe! What this about a bad economy in the US? Keep changing the world.

Later David "re-Tweeted" one of Joe's Tweets:

RT: @mrfire: Offered $100,000 Platinum Package at end of Awakened Millionaire Training, people rushed to sign up. An inspired, awakened idea.

Alas, Joe has yet to publicly acknowledge David's Twittery overtures. Maybe it is simply because he never saw them. Still, he doesn't hesitate to cite Schirmer's now-failed Succeed Magazine in his promo material. This blurb is currently on the home page of his main website,

According to Succeed Magazine, Dr. Joe Vitale is one of the five top marketing specialists in the world today and is known to his readers, customers, and seminar attendees as the world's first hypnotic writer.

Though Succeed seems to be on hiatus indefinitely, there is apparently another magazine in the works at Schirmerville:

We are looking for successful people with an inspirational story for the global launch of our magazine. huge exposure. Please Retweet.

I don't know yet whether this is a whole new publication (perhaps in the Chicken-Soup-type inspirational genre) or just another incarnation of Succeed, created to appease the poor saps who paid the hefty price for subscriptions. Either way, I'm sure the world is waiting breathlessly for yet another slick New-Wage rag.

Judging from another recent Tweet, David is also considering either buying or renting a private jet, or at least trying to make people think he is rich enough to consider it:

@getsmartwithjohn Of course I can afford it ... God has blessed me with incredible abundance. I prefer the new Gulfstream 650.

Though I can't find the comment to which that Tweet was apparently a response, and the @getsmartwithjohn Twitter page doesn't seem to exist, there is an @getsmartwithjon Twitter page, as well as a "Get Smart With John" web site at The man behind those sites is Aussie John Armitage-Smart. A bit of Googling revealed that among other things, John is a distributor for Neways International, a company that has its own "interesting" history. I'm guessing this is the same John Smart that the aforementioned Benjamin Bressington mentioned in a January 22 Tweet:

Just sitting in david schirmer's office with john smart in melbourne, and it is actually a nice day in melbourne

Here's a picture of John Smart (and I do believe that is Benjamin B in the background).

Twitter seems to be a whole new world for David Schirmer, an over-the-rainbow realm where all of his old troubles have melted like lemon drops. His self-description on his Twitter profile – which I quoted above, but it's so good I'll give it to you again – shows that his gift for spin is still alive and well:

I'm the only Aussie on The Secret DVD, and probably the most controversial, most fun loving, most challenging and direct, maybe the richest?

Uh-huh. The "most controversial" part is true, at least, if by that he means "most sued." "Fun loving?" Well, let's not get into that; let's just say the rumors have been flying for some time now. "Challenging and direct?" Okay, I'll give him that; I bet he has challenged every legal action that's ever been taken against him, and he also seems to be challenging the Aussie authorities to "catch me if you can." And "the richest?" Not to belabor the point, but if he really is the richest, you think he'd have some money left over, after spending it on necessities such as expensive cars and private jets, to pay back at least some of those people...

Now, I'm just speculating here, but to me David Schirmer's boasts seem less like an accurate reflection of his life, and more like a lonely teenage boy bragging to his friends about the hot date he had last Saturday night, when in reality his "date" consisted of his right hand and a pilfered copy of Dad's Playboy magazine (or an unsupervised surfing session on the Internet). The difference is that the teenage boy isn't bilking people out of their life savings.

As for being the only Aussie on The Secret, even that is arguable, of course, if you include creator and producer Rhonda Byrne, whose personal story is told in the movie and the book. It turns out that several other Aussies were originally interviewed as well, but didn't make the final cut. (I often wonder if Rhonda has since had any regrets about the Aussie who was chosen.) One of the originally interviewed Aussies is Sydney's Lynda Dyer, who, as it happens, did make the aforementioned Masters Gathering.

Aussie or not, David Schirmer obviously wants to share his gifts with the world. Canada may be the first baby step; the Schirmers already have two sons in Canada. With two of the spawn in the Great White North, could the parents be far behind? O Canada, don't say you've not been warned! (Hmmm...I feel a song coming on...)

The US needs to be on the alert as well. David recently Tweeted to online entrepreneur Ali Brown, owner of "a multimillion dollar company devoted to empowering women around the world with the tools to live the freedom-based lives of their dreams":

@alibrownla Hi Ali, Where will you be Feb 23-Mar 10? I'll be in the States and would love to catch up.

I imagine he would love to "catch up" to Ali, for several reasons, but I am pretty sure she's too smart for that. Nonetheless, David seems to be headed our way, as indicated by a recent Tweet:

Had a great meeting with John & Ben regarding our launch in the States ... Be there soon!!

I'm guessing that the "Ben" he mentioned is not Ben Fordham of A Current Affair. More than likely it's Ben "I sat in a Rolls!" Bressington. In fact I could just about guarantee that's the Ben he's talking about, as indicated by this entry on Ben's blog, "Catalst [sic] For Transformation," and on his Twitter page:

David Schirmer has told me the train is leaving on his new business, I am excited...I am on the train.

As for who John is, I'm guessing it's the aforementioned John Armitage-Smart. One wag suggested that "John Arguably-Smart" would be a more appropriate name, seeing as how the guy is poised to launch a new business with David Schirmer.

You almost have to feel sorry for Ben and John, but then again, they're just as capable as anyone else of Googling, or of researching just by asking around. After all, it seems that David Schirmer has a long history of convincing people that he has more than he actually has. Many have wound up disillusioned or worse, and some have gone public. (Does the name "Warren Henningsen" ring a bell? Warren was once David's greatest champion, even "protecting" him from a TV reporter when David took refuge in a public restroom. But finally even Warren had enough.)

Perhaps David is simply practicing that "act as if" routine that so many Law Of Attraction fans embrace, talking his situation up as if he's already received whatever it is he wants, even though he can't even afford the deposit. Over the years he has apparently been successful in convincing numerous other folks to buy into his schemes, and that's what keeps him going till the scheme du jour falls through, and then it's on to the next one. Of course, as I've noted numerous times on this blog, he's far from the only hustler who does this sort of thing. But that doesn't excuse any of his wrongdoings.

For now, it seems there's no getting around it: the Mini-Madoff of Melbourne is heading our way, seeking new opportunities in the land of bilk and money. Are Americans too smart for him? Don't count on it. This, after all, is the place where Bernie Madoff and untold numbers of lesser grifters could squeeze billions out of the nation's very richest (I mean, Steven Spielberg! C'mon!). This is the land where even notorious serial scammers like Kevin Trudeau can still make an obscenely good living by packaging hope and magical thinking for the desperate masses, while playing the hero/martyr role whenever they have a run-in with the law.

Really, David Schirmer will fit right in (he even has a head start on the martyrdom bit).

And who knows, he may even make the Masters Gathering project yet. If he's really lucky and keeps kissing up, maybe Mr. Fire will even start returning his Tweets. And if he can just put enough time and physical distance between himself and his troubles Down Under, he may yet be able to get into the V.I.P. room of The Club.

Lord help us all.

For more about David Schirmer, click on the "David Schirmer" tag below this post (this post will probably be on top, but simply scroll down)...or just Google! (Here's another blog, just to get you started. And no, I don't know who this person is.)

PS added February 7: I just received an anonymous disapproving comment today, but even though the person sent the comment as a response to a post I wrote back in November about the presidential election, I think s/he really intended to respond to this post. Rather than republishing the comment up here, I am simply going to link to it. Here's the link. So, Anon, you don't need to tell your friends that Cosmic Connie doesn't have the courage to publish your comment. I published it to the post to which you sent it.

Addendum: February 13
How to ruin a perfectly good friendship in a few easy Tweets:
1. Be a personal trainer for a successful New-Wage hustledork.
2. Exploit the heck out of that association by mentioning it on all of your social networking sites, including Twitter, and by making poor-quality videos with candid shots of the hustledork in your home.
3. Initiate a Twitter exchange with a notorious spruiker who is trying to get into The Club to which your hustledork friend belongs (and to which you are trying to gain membership yourself):

Trainer: @davidschirmer Hi David! Loved your bit in The Secret. I am good friends with Jack. Loving your tweets!!!

Spruiker: @MarvinTowler Thanks for your tweet. How close are you to Jack? I would love to catch up with him sometime, we met in Toronto 2 years ago

Trainer: @davidschirmer Really close. I can get you in touch with him if you'd like?

Spruiker: @MarvinTowler Hi Marvin, that would be great, especially if we could make contact for my upcoming US trip.

4. Wonder why the hustledork has mysteriously canceled his training sessions with you and won't return your phone calls.

Marvin, Marvin... friends don't let friends get involved with... oh, well, let's just sit back and see how this plays out. But don't say I didn't warn you, Marvin.