Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Greetings from the "lower levels"

I've previously snarked, albeit briefly, about Dr. David R. Hawkins, inventor of the Hawkins Scale, which purports to be a "map of consciousness." Or, in light of the fact that Dr. Hawkins seems to be extraordinarily protective of his work, perhaps I should capitalize that and put a TM sign after it or something:

Map of Consciousness TM

There. I feel better.

Anyway, as it turns out, Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale is a big Hawkins fan, as he explains in a recent blog post:

I’m a big fan of David R. Hawkins. He’s the medical doctor/psychiatrist who cured himself of various illnesses and went on to muscle test his way to Nirvana. He’s either enlightened or at least mapped out the path to enlightenment. His “map of consciousness” — a roadmap of our spiritual evolutionary potential — is brilliant...

And he goes on to 'splain more about why Dr. Hawkins is so brilliant.

Shockingly, a somewhat cynical response came in to Joe's post, but Joe rose to the occasion:

# mark says
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…oh I’m sorry what are you trying to sell?
April 29th, 2009 | #

# Joe Vitale says
Yes, Mark, what AM I trying to sell here?

Perhaps I am reading it wrong, but it seems to me that Joe is implying to "Mark" that he is not, after all, trying to sell anything. Knowing Joe, however, I think we can safely assume that he is always selling, and that his Hawkins blog post is no different. (The fact that he conveniently provides links to some of his products in the post would be one indication.) To me that is no big deal; after all, he created his blog to promote himself and his products, and he does a superb job of that.

In this post, though, he seems to be selling more than products or services. Apart from my hunch that he either has or is planning some lucrative joint-venture deal with Dr. Hawkins (after all, he rarely wastes time or energy promoting something or someone unless there's a direct payoff for him), what Joe seems to be selling is something a bit more abstract than a product. He is clearly promoting himself as one of those higher-consciousness types, Hawkins-Scale-wise. Which comes right back down to selling stuff, because golly, who wouldn't want to buy a few books or workshops from such an evolved being?

For us lower-level types who might find Dr. Hawkins' work confusing, Joe offers this advice:

I’ve twittered that I was reading [Hawkins' new book] Healing and Recovery and some people said they found Hawkins confusing. Ironically, that makes sense, as Hawkins’ “map of consciousness” reveals where you are mentally.

If you are at a lower level (in fear, for example) his higher levels (acceptance, for example) won’t make any sense to you.

If you are on the lower level of desire, the higher level of unconditional love won’t compute to you.

I’ve been saying for some time now that life is a process of awakening. The goal is to keep going up the ladder of consciousness. By reading David Hawkins — especially this recent book — you can gently expand your thinking, open your heart, and glide upwards.

As a wise friend of mine noted, "Under the guise of informing his readers about Hawkins, he sets himself as someone with a superior 'consciousness,' one greater than his readers. It's a complete power play. I guarantee that when the comments start coming, at least one of them will be something like 'I can't wait until I am at your level, Joe!'"

According to Joe's post, Dr. Hawkins claims that every single line in his book Power Vs. Force was "tested" to, as Joe put it, "be sure the entire volume calibrated at a high level and would be spiritually enriching to read." Joe adds, "As an author, I can’t imagine muscle testing every line in a book. Hats off to you, David."

When I first heard of the Hawkins Scale, I wondered how people were measured or tested. Were they hooked up to some kind of high-tech machine? Nope, apparently it's all done by "muscle testing" via an alt-healing discipline known as applied kinesiology, or AK. According to some of its proponents, AK is a "lie detector" or rather a "truth detector" – it uncovers the "Truth with a capital T!" in any situation, as Joe might say. How books are tested I couldn't say, since books do not have muscles. They do have spines, though, and AK was invented by a chiropractor (George Goodheart, D.C.), so maybe it all works out.

I found more information about the Hawkins Scale and other scientifical consciousness-measuring/raising stuff on the blog of faithful Joebot Frank Butterfield, who describes himself as "a channel for the Communion of Light based out of Austin, Texas."

Some really big numbers
Now, suppose you are really ambitious and want to raise your vibe level waaaaaay above the ultimate Hawkins number of 1,000. Never mind that Jeezus H. Christ, Buddha, etc. were 1,000, and Hawkins himself is something like a 999.8. (And according
to this web site, the SpongeBob Squarepants movie scores a fairly impressive 385. Yes, really; I wouldn't lie about something that important.) But let's say 1,000 isn't good enough for you; you want to go higher. Is such a thing even possible? You betcha! At least it is possible if a guy named Bryan James and his Indigo kiddos still perform frequency accelerations for people.

Come to think of it, I haven't received any emails from the James Gang in a long time. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that some time ago, my name was apparently dropped from what I once frequently referred to as "my favorite New-Wage spam service." Either the spam service went out of business, or they finally figured out that they were a rich mine of nuggets for my Whirled. As for the frequency-accelerating James family, I am sure they're busy with all sorts of enlightened projects. But I do wonder if they ever finished their project to empty out Hell, a topic on which I once reported fairly often.

Remind me to Google that and see if there are any updates.

But I digress. I am sure that Dr. Hawkins has nothing to do with the James family, and vice versa. And perhaps it is unfair of me to have even mentioned them in a blog post that is supposed to be about Dr Hawkins, although I have to say that the James' numbers are pretty impressive, according to the blog post I linked to above. Bryan James' daughter Katherine scored 900 Unvigintillion, and his son Kevin scored 500 Novemdecillion. His wife Lisa? A mere 240 billion. But still.

All snarking aside (well, not ALL snarking, but MY snarking), Robert Carroll, of The Skeptic's Dictionary / Skepdic web site, has some interesting comments on applied kinesiology and David Hawkins. He writes:

...AK has some formidable proponents, such as psychiatrist-cum-guru David Hawkins. He claims, among many other things, that he has proof that AK is a reliable "lie detector" and can be used to determine the truth or falsity of any statement. Hawkins also has developed a "scale of consciousness" and uses AK to determine how "enlightened" a book or person who wrote the book might be.* Hawkins claims he's calibrated The Skeptic's Dictionary at level 160, "which is that of sophomoric egotism."* Only 15% of humanity calibrate at above 200, according to Hawkins, so I'm in good company. By 'consciousness' Hawkins means some sort of developing spirituality. When you score between 700-1,000 you have reached "enlightenment." George W. Bush calibrates at 460, according to Hawkins, which is in the range of intellectual genius. (Need I add that Hawkins holds spirituality in high regard and has very conservative political values?) Hawkins goes so far as to claim that the Wikipedia article on him would calibrate at 400, instead of 200, if it removed the links to my criticisms.*

It's amazing how high the frequency of a piece of writing can rise when criticism is removed. And who knew Dubya is a bona-fide genius? I wonder how my blog would rate on the Hawkins Scale; I am thinking that it would probably be in the negative numbers. Or at the very least, it would be sharing the realm of "sophomoric egotism"* with The Skeptic's Dictionary.

A more balanced perspective
My friend
David Portney, a public speaking expert, has extensive experience with applied kinesiology. David, who hangs his hat neither in Snarky Town nor in the Village of True Believers, has kindly given me permission to share his perspective about this whole Truth-o-meter thing:

I've trained extensively in AK and Touch for Health; I actually did take the 100 hour ICAK "for Doctors only" training with Robert Blaich. I have a ton of experience in this area and have been on both sides of the AK treatment table for many, many years. I feel very qualified to speak out on the topic of what AK and/or muscle testing can and cannot "do" or more specifically, discern.

When I heard that Hawkins was claiming to be able to use AK/muscle testing to discern the Truth of A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G, I could instantly find a few major holes in such a proposition (I'll spare the details here).

I then sought out and read Power vs. Force, and although I would say that this is an important work, the MAJOR problem (even after reading it closely and investigating his testing procedures) is his claim about discerning Truth using muscle testing.

In my direct experience, in the hands of a trained expert, AK/muscle testing can be used to uncover various kinds of imbalances and determine the needed correction(s). It takes some exposure to AK to get past the "this has to be bullsh*t" phase because it seems quite odd all the way around, but then when your problems start going away, it's pretty hard to argue with results, and it's definitely NOT a placebo effect. Beyond being treated by AK, getting in-depth "doctor level" training then pulls back the curtain, revealing the how and why it works the way it does. AK is some pretty serious stuff.

However, although Hawkins is far more credentialed and experienced than I am, I take SERIOUS issue with his claim to discern Truth via muscle testing. I can't even find a tiny glimmer of validity to his claim to be able to do so, not even a slight opening that might sway me in that direction.

I think his claim to discern Truth via muscle testing is just plain wrong. Yes, AK is a valid and important tool for detecting and correcting certain body imbalances when used by well-trained, sober, experienced persons.... But discern Truth in any context – past, present or (by his own admission limitations on future) future?--no. Uh-uh. Negative. Not-gonna-do-it.

It seems weird to me that this highly credentialed, experienced guy (Hawkins) could write such an important book with a ton of great observations and insights in it - yet at the exact same time make the foundation for everything in it based on what I see as a claim that just isn't true. The only thing I can figure is that perhaps he "needed" to provide some kind of *irrefutable" support for the points and assertions he makes.

Being highly AK trained, I performed my own little "Truth via muscle testing" experiment - I wrote down about 60 verifiably false statements (e.g., Tracy [my GF] was not born in Japan) and verifiably true statements (David was born in the United States), put them all into separate little envelopes, cleared Tracy of anything that might interfere with getting a proper muscle test, then blind-tested all the statements for "truth"; the results were all over the map - in short, no different than random chance.

It's worth noting that Hawkins claims to have discerned truth in 100% OF THE TESTS, WITH 100% OF THE TEST SUBJECTS.

Now, that is a very interesting claim indeed, Dr. Hawkins. I guess the good doctor just has a way of pulling the Truth out of everything and everybody. Or maybe just pulling his own "truth" out of his...oh, never mind.

Well, Dear Ones, I must get back to doing whatever it is we denizens of the lower levels do with our time. I'll have more soon!

*One wonders how the Hawkins Scale would categorize Mr. Fire's constant mentions of his fame, his expensive cars, etc. Graduate egotism, perhaps?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

That's some funny ship!

Watch the video linked to below (and in the pic above). If you find yourself asking, "Where the &$%#! are those Somali pirates when we really need 'em?", trust me, you are not alone.

But I guess I shouldn't be snickering. After all, I'm not the one raking in millions and millions from affluent middle-aged seagullibles who pay thousands of dollars to accompany me on a ship to hear me babble to my imaginary friends.

All together now: "I gotta find me a scam..."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Jump thing to snark about

Just a few snippets for a busy Tuesday (or Wednesday, if you're in Another Part of the World)...

Cosmic Connie a Facebook Friend repellant?
I feel so bad, Dear Ones. My wonderful partner Ron, of
RevRon's Rants, just lost a Friend on Facebook because of Yours Truly. He and his ex-Friend had known each other for years and years, and had previously exchanged friendly comments on Facebook, and all was well. But then the Friend attended the "final" (more on that in a moment) Zero Lemmings 3 event in Austin this past weekend to hear Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale and Dr. Hew Len reveal new Ho'oponopono cleaning secrets. Today Ms. Friend wrote an update on her Facebook page providing a link to Joe's blog post about the event.

And Ron, ever the helpful one, responded by offering a link to another perspective on the Zero Limits stuff. This link, as you'll see if you follow it, just so happens to be a page displaying all of the posts on my blog in which "Zero Limits" is mentioned. Among those posts are my two-part review of Joe's book, Zero Limits (here's the link to Part 1), and a piece telling the amazing story of my own miraculous experience with ancient Hawai'ian healing secrets.

Less than a half hour later, Ron saw that he had been removed from the ZL attendee's "Friends" list on Facebook.

Needless to say, he is devastated. (No, not really. I am being sarcastic again.)

Ron's ex-Friend was apparently in good company over the weekend, or at least a lot of company. According to Joe, hundreds of folks attended this "final" ZL event (at a thousand bucks a head). I'm thinking it was probably more like just a couple hundred, but hey, "hundreds" is still technically correct, and it sounds much better than "a couple of hundred." And Goddess only knows how many "absentee" attendees paid a hundred bucks a pop for an aloha-yagya* – the privilege of having their name put on a piece of paper and "cleaned on" by Joe, Dr. Hew Len, and the attendees.

Anyway, apparently there have been some exciting developments and discoveries in the Ho'oponopono field. For example, did you know that of those four magic Ho'opo phrases – "Thank you," "I love you," "I'm sorry," and "Please forgive me" – only the first two are actually necessary for cleaning and clearing? That's good news for those of you who are in a time crunch, as well as those who are sick of apologizing to the Divine. You still have to grovel a bit, but at least you don't have to apologize. On his blog post recapping the ZL3 event, Joe wrote:

Dr. Hew Len himself could be heard saying just the two phrases “I love you” and “Thank you.” Say the others if you like, or not. Follow your inspiration.

I guess love really does mean never having to say you're sorry!

But the really exciting development to come from ZL3 is a new cleaning/clearing technique using the classic retro toy Etch A Sketch® as your tool. And you don't even have to have a real Etch A Sketch®; you just think about having one and shaking it down to nothing. That's the whole idea with Ho'oponopono; you shake yourself down to "zero," which is the state where nothing exists and everything is possible. As Joe wrote:

Consider: What would you be if the etch-a-sketch in your mind got shaken right now and you went to zero?

Just don't empty your mind so much that you can't go to expensive workshops, or shop for new miracle products (especially those that involve automatically charging your credit card every month), okay? Since Joe is now officially using Etch A Sketch® as his own personal cleaning tool ("Shake it and I'm clear," he enthuses), I wonder how long it will be before he starts selling a specially Ho'opo-blessed/infused/cleaned Etch A Sketch® for accelerated Ho'oponopono cleaning/clearing (possibly a pocket or business-card-sized card Etch A Sketch®), or at least a DVD utilizing Etch A Sketch® imagery to aid in cleaning/clearing. I imagine he would run into a few copyright problems unless he came to an agreement with the Ohio Art Company. He really ought to consider it, though, because the lemmings would just eat it up. (And he ought to consider that Bobblehead idea too.)**

Notwithstanding all the hype about ZL3 being the "final chapter" of the Joe-and-Dr.-Len Ho'oponopony show, I wouldn't count on that, judging from these recent Tweets:

Dr Hew Len and I are talking about a second volume to our book Zero Limits.

Final day of final Zero Limits and no one wants this to end or be last event.

But here's the biggest hint of all that Joe and Dr. Len have more in store for the Zero Lemmings:

Dr Hew Len just said "If anyone would put God first they'd make a lot of money." Lovin it.

"Lovin it"...hmmm. That sort of puts me in mind of McDonalds commercials, which I suppose is entirely appropriate for McSpirituality.

Amazingly, the Zero Limits love spilled over onto Joe's hummingbird feeder.

4 hummingbirds drank in peace from same bottle this morning. A first. They usually fight. Zero Limits 3 spilled over. They are loving now.

Actually, hummingbirds always fight over feeders, and, judging from what I've observed, they generally stop fighting so much when they finally get a clue that there's enough nectar to go around, especially if you hang up more than one feeder. But hey, who am I to argue with miracles?

I feel just terrible, though, about Ron losing his Facebook Friend because of me. Maybe I should clean on it. But I'm not going to say, "I'm sorry."

And speaking of lemmings...
A friend of mine sent me this old article on The Secret, book version, written by a book store clerk. While The Secret is old news by now, some things are timeless. (And as a former book store clerk myself, I can assure you that this clerk's attitude towards "lemming books" and their buyers is...shall we say...not atypical.)

And speaking of jumping...
Well, we weren't really speaking of jumping, but all that lemming imagery kind of brought it to mind. (I suspect that some of you will want to point out that
real lemmings really don't commit mass suicide, but that belief does have a basis in truth – enough of a basis to work as an overused metaphor, for sure!)

Anyhow, I was recently Googling around and came across a marvelous new technique called Quantum Jumping: The Inter-dimensional Quest For A Better You. Quantum Jumping was discovered by a guy named Burt Goldman, who calls himself The American Monk. For over three decades, Brother Burt has been forced to keep this secret, but he can keep it no longer.

So just what is Quantum Jumping? Friend, I'm glad you asked.

"Quantum Jumping," writes Burt, "is the process of 'jumping' into parallel dimensions, and gaining skills, knowledge, wisdom and inspiration from alternate versions of yourself."

Interested? Then jump right over here.

And now I'm jumping outta here, and back into work mode.

* Re aloha-yagya: That's not what it's really called; I coined the term. It seems appropriate.
** No, no, you don't have to thank me, Joe. Generous royalties will be sufficient.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The more things change...

I have a collection of old Reader's Digest magazines that I found in my grandmother's basement years ago. Though it's not a complete collection by any means, the issues, which range from 1937 to 1967, provide some fascinating insights into the things that preoccupied America and the rest of the world in decades past. Magazines can do this in a way that books can't. That's why I am hopelessly hooked on old magazines, even the musty ones that make me sneeze and wonder if I am in danger of getting some gawd-awful ailment from ancient mold spores. It's a risk that we diligent researchers have to take sometimes.

Today while I was in room, I was flipping through a copy of the October 1967 Digest, and came across an article condensed from Today's Health, a general-readership magazine from bygone days (it was published by the American Medical Association). The article was titled, "The Menace of Mail-Order Medicine," penned by one Ralph Lee Smith. I would imagine that this is the same Ralph Lee Smith who wrote the 1960 book, The Health Hucksters: The Shocking Story of How Food and Drug Advertising Exploits Your Health. He also authored a 1969 book called At Your Own Risk: The Case Against Chiropractic, which several Amazon reader-reviewers said was biased and outdated. (Wrote one indignant reviewer: "The author was paid by the AMA to right [sic] this Third Reich dribble. Enough said

But this post isn't about chiropractic (and by the way, if you want one contemporary MD's view on chiropractic (among other "alternative" practices), click here). Nor is this about whether or not Ralph Lee Smith was paid off by those Nazis at the AMA. This is about an enterprising fellow who went by the name of Sri Dr. (or Dr. Sri) Abn Donahnji. You won't find much about him by Googling, but a few decades ago he was doing quite a brisk business helping people find health and happiness.

The good Sri Doctor placed a lot of ads, such as the one you see above, in the back pages of magazines. One of these ads caught the attention of a deaf-mute Georgia couple. For those who are offended, I'm sorry, but that's the way they were described in the article. Back in 1967 it wasn't politically incorrect to refer to people as "deaf" or "mute" or even "dumb." The copy that attracted the hearing-and-speech-impaired couple read, in part:
Dr. Abn Donahji, Yogi Healer and Clairvoyant Reader, will solve your problems.
Full of hope, the two wrote to Donahji, explaining that the wife was suffering from cancer and asking if Donahji could help. Well, of course he could! Donahji told the couple that he had cured many people of cancer through his psychic powers; for a $5 weekly "donation" he would cure the ailing wife.

And so the couple promptly began sending him their weekly payments of five bucks, the equivalent of thirtysomething bucks a week in today's dollars. In return, they would periodically receive letters from Donahji assuring them that "the vibrations are building up favorably."

Alas, within a year the woman died of cancer anyway.

Though the Digest article isn't clear about whether the subsequent investigation into Donahji's affairs was in direct response to a complaint by the grieving widower, the fact remains that postal inspectors did at some point begin investigating the mysterious "healer." They discovered that "Sri Dr. Abn Donahji, Ph.D., D.D.N.S."* had actually been born Donald Van Dyke Wilson in Des Moines, Iowa. At one time he had been an assembly-line worker in Detroit, but then he moved to El Lay, where he hit upon the idea of becoming a healer. Changing his name and donning a turban, he studied a bit of esoterica and picked up enough of an "occult vocabulary" to fool Californians. Now, we know that Californians are harder to fool than just about anyone anywhere, so this guy must have been really, really, really good.

The new Sri-Doc set up shop in a house that he renamed "Brmhayati Temple," and hung out his shingle as a spiritual healer, prophet, and marriage counselor. Before long he had acquired a local following, and ads placed in various occult and astrological publications brought him a nationwide clientele. As author Smith put it, "The swami from Des Moines was soon living in a fine house and cruising around in a gold Cadillac."

After an exhaustive investigation, which revealed the extent of his mail-order "medical" practice,
Donahji/Wilson was indicted for mail fraud. His files were impounded by postal inspectors and US marshals, who uncovered correspondence with 4,000 people from coast to coast. These folks had been paying Wilson for services such as treatment of cancer, heart disease and multiple sclerosis – treatments that consisted essentially of "setting up vibrations." In addition, he sold his "patients" copper bracelets with "health-giving properties" for prices ranging from $18 to $76 each. (The wholesale cost of the bracelets was a mere 37 and a half cents.) In all, he had brought in about $400,000, which, in 1967 dollars, was equivalent to more than $2,500,000.00.

He was convicted and sent to jail, and, as far as I can Google, never heard from again.

All I can say is, thank goodness we're all far more sophisticated today, and a phony "healer" like Sri-Doc Donahji/Wilson would never be able to fool so many people for such a long time. And if by some odd chance he did manage to get away with it for a while (and he was working in the US), the Federal Trade Commission or some other government agency would come down hard on him and throw him in the slammer, especially since we have much more stringent consumer protection laws now than we did back in the prehistoric 1960s. And once he'd been to prison, the scammer's reputation would be forever ruined, and he would never be able to scam people again.

I'm truly grateful to be living in more enlightened times.

* Presumably Sri Doc's "degrees" were phony. Thank Goddess people can't get away with THAT these days either.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Back to Snarky Town...

...and not a moment too soon. Just a few little snippets tonight, Dear Ones.

Another dome idea
Yesterday I was Googling and Twittering and just generally drifting in the great ocean of online time wasters, when I swam across a web site about an ambitious project called the Dolphin Sound Dome. The Dolphin Sound Dome, according to its creators, is "a floating temple over the ocean," meaning that it is basically a place where a class of conspicuously enlightened humans who refer to themselves as "sound practitioners" can gather together to moan and howl in a deeply spiritual way so as to annoy any free-swimming dolphins and whales who might happen by. On the Dolphin Sound web site is a scrolling quotation that the Dolphin Sound people claim is straight from the dolphins themselves: "When you 'think' with your heart, the path becomes clear."

If you allow JavaScript while browsing the site, you'll get to hear some of the human sound practitioners "singing" to the dolphins. "Listen for the sounds of dolphins chuffing into our resonant tones at the beginning of the recording," the copy instructs.

I felt guided to let Chris Locke at Mystic B know about this. So I sent him the link, and Chris wrote back:

"Listen for the sounds of dolphins chuffing..." I happen to know a little Dolphin, and they are clearly saying: "Would you PLEASE shut the f--k up? We were trying to sleep down here!"
Just between you and me, I honestly don't think these so-called sound practitioners are really all that sound, if you know what I mean. I do think they should be a lot more careful, especially in light of the serious scientifical evidence that dolphins and whales really hate us. You've been warned, Dolphin Sound People!

And speaking of dolphins, here's a New-Agey movie I somehow missed. Darn.

Another miracle in a bottle...and another "permanent" weight-loss secret
I know this is going to come as a huge surprise to you, but Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale has discovered a miracle supplement. Recently he enthused on Twitter: "I'm told this is THE Fountain of Youth ."

The supplement in question is called, for some reason I've not yet figured out, Astral Fruit – not to be confused with the Astral Projection Pill I wrote about here back in October of 2006.

According to the web site, Astral Fruit contains "a natural small molecule Telomerase activator," and it "supports Cardiovascular Health, DNA Repair, Telomere Repair, lengthening [ahem], Cell Division and Chromosome Health." You can get it for a one-time price of $29.99 for a one-month supply, or get sucked onto an automatic-deduction-into-perpetuity deal for $27.99 a month.

I'm sure that Joe wrote about this miracle in a bottle only because he has his readers' best interests in mind, and not because he is selling Astral Fruit himself, or writing on behalf of one of his buddies who is selling it. I'm sure Joe himself doesn't need another Fountain of Youth, particularly after he discovered that miraculous stem-cell enhancing supplement, StemEnhance, that he blogged about last year. That supplement solved all of his remaining health problems, including his asthma and his food sensitivities.

Something must be working for him, fountain-of-youth-wise, because a couple of nights ago, after his latest Rolls-Royce Mastermind session, he Tweeted:

Told tonite: "Joe, I'm a medical doctor and I can't explain how you look so young." Ahh, compliments.

I've done several things you've never heard of, from investing $15,000 in a "time machine," to having "karmic surgery" done, to wearing a magic ring blessed by a group of Indian mystics, to training with world-famous body builder Frank Zane, to working out with T.R. Goodman, the man who trains actor James Caan, to -- well, I'm not going to tell you everything.

Of course, I also had to learn how to elevate my consciousness about food and exercise. I had to get mentally tough and spiritually aware. It's been a process of awakening.

Kevin says the diet is easy, which is the only thing I disagree with him about. Eating 500 calories a day (you get the rest of the fuel from HCG burning fat) is not easy, especially in social situations.

A little later, however, when responding to a comment from an MD who disagreed with Joe about the Trudeau-recommended program, Joe wrote:

I also found the diet a ssnap [sic] to follow. What you can eat is spelled out so its [sic] a no brainer. That’s easy. I admit eating in social situations was more of a challenge, as everyone is gorging while you aren’t, but I did it.

Unless "ssnap" is some code word for "challenging," it appears that Joe is contradicting himself. (I know: like that's never happened before.) Here is someone else's commentary about the weight-loss plan Trudeau outlines in his book, which might give you an idea of how "easy" it really is.

human chorionic gonadotrophin. This is

Cosmic Connie gets taken to task yet again
As you may recall, recently
I was read the read the riot act about what a rage-filled and frightened twerp I am. Naturally, I was devastated (well, not really). But the criticism just keeps on coming. Today I received a comment to a post that is over two years old. This was actually one of my more thoughtful pieces, in which I expressed my doubts and ambivalence about some of life's deep questions, and discussed some of the factors that keep me from being a complete skeptic about everything.

A few folks liked the post. But a person named Anonymous (I get a lot of those) wasn't at all impressed. Here is what Anonymous wrote to me (my words, as quoted by Anon, are in pink, and Anon's remarks / "rereading" are in blue):

My reread of the amazing philospher [sic] and logician Cosmic Connie:
I’ve never been a big Deepak Chopra fan. (Does it show?) Chopra gets points off in my book for several things, including his considerable ego, unlike my own small, reasonable and totally deserving ego demonstrated by the fact that I've posted my thoughts, along with my photo here, for all the world to study:, the Q.M. (quantum mysticism) factor which he doesn't understand, but I do with my degree in quantum physics, quantum mechanics and Superstring Theory: his former close ties with the Maharishi,who I also don't like, disapprove of and arbitrarily declare a phony: and just the general fact that he's been a New-Wage cult figure for over fifteen years, and everybody kowns [sic] that trends, truths and fashions of the day change and we should move on. Who listens to Dr.Phil anymore?? I rest my case.

Setting aside the fact that my correspondent only addressed the first paragraph or so of my post, which actually had little to do with the deeper message I was attempting to convey, I have to admit that the idea of your Cosmic Connie as a logician or quantum physics expert is pretty hilarious. But then again...well, just click here for my response.

PS ~ Shortly after I published this post, I checked my email, and apparently the "Anonymous" person I quoted above does have another name. He sent not one but two private emails to me that repeated, verbatim, the comment sent to my blog (just in case I was too dense to get it the first time, I guess). The subject line: Free Speach [sic]: A Waste for those with Nothing (worthwhile) To Say. I know your name now, Anon, but don't worry; I won't share that it is John Gast in Canada. Oops.

Meaningless quotation(s) of the day
"The greatest gift u can give others is an attitude of 'unconditional positive regard' -- acception without limitation."

That gem comes to you from master motivator Brian Tracy. Never mind that "acception" isn't even a word, and that "unconditional positive regard" of someone or something is not necessarily a good thing, say nothing of "the greatest gift." Hey, it's Brian Tracy, after all! If he says it, it has to be profound.

Actually, I first ran across the Brian Tracy quotation as a "re-Tweet" on Secret teacher John Assaraf's Twitter page. Once again I was reminded of that "magic circle jerk of mutual self-admiration" that Chris Locke mentioned in the post I quoted the other day. I was reminded even more of it when I saw John Assaraf following the standard Twitter hustlers' practice of "re-Tweeting" a compliment given to him by someone else:

RT @InnoFuture: @OneCoach John, reading Answer, fantastic, your own twits r proof that u walk the walk &have a great life balance, congrats!
InnoFuture, the Twitterer who gave John Assaraf the compliment he felt compelled to re-Tweet, is a Melbourne, Australia woman named Margaret Manson, who describes herself on her Twitter page as, "Don Quichote [sic] for innovative Australia; collector of modern philosophers; hooked on innovation, coffee and Italian culture." The Tweet that apparently inspired her to praise John was this one:
using the next 10 minutes to think and be, no doing. Connect to the source as I call it.
Pretty darned profound, huh? By the way, John also recently Tweeted about a video of his "Best Year Ever" speech, a pep talk in which he told his audience that he refuses to play along with the recession. Frankly, though, he sounds just a tad desperate.

This one won't grow up and rip your best friend's face off
Finally, although this isn't about New-Wage stuff, it is about strange/silly/sad obsessions, so you could say it is marginally related to my normal subject matter.

A few months ago the ABC show 20/20 had a show about mothering, and there was one segment about how some women indulge their maternal instincts by collecting super-realistic baby dolls, also known as "reborns." This topic has been rather widely covered elsewhere as well. On a fairly frequent basis, I come across ads for one of those expensive "collectible" baby dolls in a magazine or Sunday newspaper supplement. They are noteworthy not only for the product itself but for the schlocky ad copy.

But the one that really takes the cake (or, more likely, the banana) is "Little Umi." I saw an ad for "Little Umi" not long after I watched that 20/20 segment (you don't suppose this could be one of those synchronicity things, do you?). "Little Umi" is lovingly brought to you by Ashton-Drake and beloved doll artist Wendy Dickison.

I scarcely knew whether to laugh, cry, or hurl as I read the ad copy:

Fall in love with Little Umi, a collectible orangutan baby doll you have to see to believe, and the first-ever So Truly Real® baby monkey doll! Beautifully crafted, her head and limbs are of collector-quality silicone that recreate every realistic detail of her face, hands and feet. Hand-rooted wispy red hair covers her from head to toe. Offer Little Umi her FREE pacifier and watch as she gazes up at you with gentle, trusting eyes.

This irresistible collectible monkey doll by renowned doll artist Wendy Dickison is available exclusively from The Ashton-Drake Galleries. Best of all, a portion of the proceeds from your purchase of Little Umi will be donated to support rainforest preservation! Don't wait to let your love for Little Umi nurture the miracle of birth and life across our beautiful world. Strong demand is expected, so order now!

In regard to the title I chose for this snippet*, I am aware that "Little Umi" is a baby orangutan (and, of course, not a live one),** whereas the ape that was recently in the news for attacking a woman was an adult chimpanzee (and, though once alive, no longer is). However, I think that maybe the kind of people who would buy a monkey doll are precisely the kind who should be reminded that orangutans, though cute and cuddly when infants, are just as dangerous to humans when they grow up as chimps are.

Unfortunately, these facts haven't stopped some people from trying to adopt apes as pets. And, of course, the apes' smaller brethren, monkeys, have long been popular pets (or at least they are popular until their owners find out how loud and messy monkeys really are). Take a look at this early-1960s back-pages magazine ad:

By the way, if you really want to get p.o.'d about how humans treat some of our fellow primates, click here.

Oh, but I don't want you to leave mad. I want you to leave here charmed and delighted. Here, then, is some real live cuteness. Yes, it's captive cuteness, but captive presumably in the interests of preserving a species rather than indulging someone's longing for an exotic pet.

So...from snarky to Snuzzy: that's quite a trip, and I'm tired. But I'll be back soon.

And more than likely, I'll be snarking.

* My alternative title was "Ape misbehavin'"...but I think I used that somewhere before.
** Memo to people actually considering buying this item: You do know that "Little Umi" is not a live monkey and is not literally gazing at you with trusting eyes, right?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

"The magic circle jerk"

"...keep in mind that when lots of things come together unexpectedly, it's not necessarily synchronicity. It is just as possible -- in this case, far more possible -- that you have stepped into the magic circle jerk of mutual self-admiration."

~ Christopher Locke, writing recently about "cultural creatives" on the Mystic Bourgeoisie blog

Amen, Chris. And there's more, much more in that post and on Chris's blog. That snippet stuck out for me because it reminded me of my gullible daze, when the very air was infused with Meaningful Coincidences, and I kept running into the same people who knew the same people who knew the same people (and, oh, what a small world it is, we all marveled), and they were all so into the same loopy esoterica, and they were all so happy and smiling and duplicitous*...yes, those were the daze. I defected years ago,** but the circle remains unbroken.

In any case, you'll be pleased to know that Chris Locke is currently hard at work turning Mystic Bourgeoisie into a book, and not a moment too soon, as far as I'm concerned. For now, though, I think that reading (or re-reading) the post I quoted from above is a terrific way to wrap up Guru-Free Week, which ends at midnight tonight.

I'll be back tomorrow, or perhaps the day after, with a real post of my own, but for now, I'm off to do whatever it was I was doing before I interrupted it to do this. G'night for now.

* Okay, not all of them were duplicitous. But a sufficient number were to make me notice something was amiss. Finally I figured out that duplicity was simply part of the New-Wage mindset.
** Despite my defection from the ranks of the gullible, I'm not totally dismissing the existence of meaningful coincidences. Perhaps a bit of clarification is in order. Here 'tis.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Who are you? (Who, who? Who, who?)

Some people (not I, but some people) believe that your name says a lot about who you are. And who you are, apparently, depends upon how you enter your name in the search field on a site called, Is This Your Name?

When I entered my name as "Connie Schmidt," I got some ho-hum info, although I was pleased to see that my power animal is a mule. I like mules. (By the way, my birth name is simply, "Connie," not "Constance," as the site seems to assume.)

Then I entered "Cosmic Connie," and found that not only is my power animal a grizzly bear, but that I am a person of undetermined gender...and I am truly unique:

People with this first name are probably: Male or female... We don't know yet. We're working on it!...

...According to the US Census Bureau°, fewer than 0.001% of US residents have the first name 'Cosmic' and 0.0001% have the surname 'Connie'. The US has around 300 million residents, so we guesstimate there is only 1 American who goes by the name Cosmic Connie.

Yup, that's me, the one and only. Actually, there is at least one other "Cosmic Connie," but she's a fortune teller, and her "Cosmic" is apparently not ironic as mine is.

My partner Ron Kaye, when his name is entered as "Ron Kaye" in the search field on the site, can claim the dwarf zebu as his power animal. But his birth name is "Ronald," and when you enter "Ronald Kaye," his power animal is the blast-ended skrewt. sounds as if someone on this site has been around our place after Ron has cooked up a batch of his famous lima beans.

Anyway, Is This Your Name? is a fun site, and yet another good way to waste some time when you should be working. (Warning to my friend Lana Walker: be prepared.)

PS ~ Yeah, I know I promised to pay tribute to some more Scammy Award winners, and I will, but today I'm taking a small break from snarking. Don't worry; more snarks are heading your way from my Whirled. But probably not today.

PPS (added Sunday evening) ~ A few hundred thousand reasons why I didn't particularly feel like staying inside snarking today (click on pics for enlargement) :

And by the way, both photos were taken by my wonderful partner Ron, and I don't think he called upon either of his power animals – the dwarf zebu or the blast-ended skrewt – for assistance.

Friday, April 03, 2009

So how's your Guru-Free Week going so far?

Well, Dear Ones, here we are smack-dab in the middle of Guru-Free Week, sponsored by Americans Against Self-Help Fraud. The Scammy Award winners have been chosen, as announced on Whirled Musings the other day (and if you don't understand why these people were chosen, following the links on the names will give you some insight). Today we'll celebrate a couple of those "winners."

If you meet the Buddha in a Rolls...
Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale actually won several Scammys, but in my opinion, the most richly (in a manner of speaking) deserved Scammy was the Daddy Big Bucks Award, "for the self-help guru most obviously in it for the money." While Joe has often said that his greatest satisfaction is helping other people realize their dreams and making the world a better place, it appears that he possesses, to put it mildly, a strong mercenary streak.

"And your point is?" I can hear some of the New-Wage marketeers asking. Others will say that my own distorted perspective is to blame for my seeing the money obsession rather than his true heart. Obviously I share that distorted perspective with numerous other members of the "Academy" who voted in the Scammys.

Apropos of that mercenary streak, in recent years Joe has exhibited signs of a progressive personality disorder called carcissism. Evidence of this condition is apparent in his blog posts and Twitter posts, such as this recent Tweet:

Looking at the best magazine cover I've EVER seen. It's hypnotic. Sexy. A-maz-ing.

Not surprisingly, he was referring to a cover that featured himself and a Scorpion car much like the one that is being built for him. The Scorpion, which begins at $150,000 US (although the version Joe is buying is $250,000), is touted as a "green" car. The magazine featuring Joe and the Scorpion is one of those freebie newsstand rags called Austin Fit; if you click on the link above you'll get to the Austin Fit web site, and if you click on the picture of Joe you will get to the page that has a link to the interview.

He just can't seem to stop Tweeting about his latest obsession:

I drove Scorpion on airport runway and screamed out loud in exhileration [sic]

Discovery TV loved my off-the-charts love for the Scorpion. They said I reeked lust. heh heh. Driving at screaming speed on a runway did it.

Looking at 25 breathtaking pics of me and the Scorpion http://www.brianfitzsimmons...

The writer/interviewer for Austin Fit describes Joe as "the mind beyond the Law Of Attraction...a man who lives big, bold, and without regrets," and "one of the most environmentally-conscious people you'll ever meet." Uh-huh, that 2008 Rolls-Royce Phantom of his is really a green car. (By the way, when the interviewer asked Joe how many cars he owns, Joe humbly apologized for having to hesitate a moment and count to himself. Joe's best guess is that he has seven cars, so far.)

Speaking of the Rolls, Joe refers in the interview to a pilot with whom he recently had dinner. He said the guy wasn't all that enthusiastic about having dinner with Joe, even though he'd paid five grand to do it. I can only assume the pilot in question was one of Joe's most recent Rolls Royce MasterMind "Phantom Riders." For the benefit of those who don't know, this is a deal whereby Joe charges people five grand each to ride to dinner with him in his Rolls and talk about ways to make money. As he took a husband and wife on a recent MasterMind, I am guessing that the husband was the less-than-enthusiastic pilot to whom he was referring. I'm also guessing – and again, I am just speculating here – that the wife wheedled her hapless mate into dropping ten grand for the two of them to ride in the Rolls. According to Joe, however, by the time the evening ended the reluctant pilot was alight with renewed passion to pursue his dreams.

At any rate, Joe insists that for him, it really isn't just about the money. It's about the spirituality too, you see. As he says in the Austin Fit interview, "I have one foot in the marketing world, and the other in the spiritual world." I imagine that some Buddhists, however, would say that the "spiritual" foot is actually in Joe's mouth (maybe that's one reason he also won a Scammy for Dumb Speak).

In his March 30 blog post entitled "Buddha's Money-Making Secret," he praises a book called The Diamond Cutter: The Buddha on Managing Your Business and Your Life, penned by Geshe Michael Roach, a Buddhist monk whose very status as a monk is controversial at best. The book has so far received mostly five-star reviews on Amazon, though not everyone is enthralled.

But Joe loves it. He writes:

The Diamond Cutter is a practical and reflective book asking you to look at and change the mental imprints in your brain causing you to attract the results you have in your life. This includes whether you have money or not.

Personally I think just repeating the Zero Limits mantra (I love you, I’m sorry, Please forgive me, thank you) non-stop can clean up those mental imprints. But I’m no Buddha. Do what you feel inspired to do.

Now, wait just a doggone minute.

For years Joe was saying that he was the Buddha of the Internet, and there's even a picture to prove it. Now he says that he's no Buddha. My faith has been shaken, once again.

Joe also says he's not a Buddhist, though he's gained insight and value from many of Buddha's teachings. He says he's more of a Transcendentalist. "I enjoy practical metaphysics, which is the take-it-to-the-bank school of philosophy," he writes.

Practical Metaphysics also happens to be the name of one of the companies belonging to one of Joe's joint-venture partners, Pat O'Bryan. Together Pat and Joe have been selling all sorts of tools to help folks create magic and miracles in their lives, or at least in Joe's and Pat's lives. Some of these amazing products are listed on the web site; there are also some eye-opening history lessons on that site, including this one that appears in the description of the Pelmanism product that Joe and Pat are selling:

The Lost Art of Pelmanism

If you're the kind of person who wants to break free from limited thinkin [sic] and finally get whatever you want in life these 12 long lost astonishing e-books written in the 1920's will set you free.

Who knew that there were e-books in the 1920's? I learn something new every day.

I'm no Buddhist either, of course, and I'm far from qualified to go into all of the ways that various New-Wage hustledorks and pseudo-Buddhists subvert this or that teaching. My partner Ron is much more qualified to speak about these things. In fact, he has done so on his blog, Rev Ron's Rants, and I must say that he did it with far more balance, compassion, and eloquence than I can manage at this point.

Unlike many critics, I don't particularly care that the author of The Diamond Cutter, Geshe Michael Roach, still claims to be a monk even though he broke his monkly vows, was ousted from his order, and was even rebuffed by the Dalai Lama. Without a doubt Roach has broken with tradition, doing un-monkish things such as growing his hair long and living with a woman; he claims that he wants to modernize Buddhism and make it, among other things, more inclusive of women. Well, modernization, like charity, begins at home, I suppose, and Roach and his "spiritual partner," Christie McNally, live together in a yurt in the high desert in Arizona. They are literally never more than about fifteen feet away from each other – not ever – but both claim they are living as celibates.

At any rate, I'm all for modernizing religion, though it appears to me that Roach is trying to have his rice cake and eat it too by using traditional Buddhist constructs as they suit him, and yet making his own rules. I can't figure out why he's so intent on holding on to the title of monk – you can be a real Buddhist and still not be celibate, for Chrissake – but I'll leave that squabble to him and the purists.

But, good Goddess, I do get tired of all those New-Wage hustledorks who try to convince everyone that their shtick has been specially blessed from on high, and then write books about it to encourage other New-Wage hustledorks. Regarding Joe's penchant for using Buddhist teachings to justify his own lifestyle, a snarky friend of mine wrote, "Ah, yes, the teachings of the Buddha ... All that talk of money, possessions, fame. The Buddha spoke a lot about those things before he set up his franchising and merchandising operations."

Meanwhile, Transcendentalist Joe is getting ready to go to Peru to speak to a stadium of 35,000 people about the Law Of Attraction. So far he hasn't given many details, other than the fact that he will be meeting the president of Peru (a fact he mentioned on Twitter), but he has hired a tutor to help him learn Spanish, again, as noted on his Twitter page:

Scrambling yet again - Berlitz tutor coming again for three hours of immersion. I'll learn Spanish yet. Adious [sic]!

I guess spelling isn't included in those lessons.

Anyway, congratulations to Joe for winning not one, not two, but three Scammy Awards.

The Wanker of Oz
While Joe Vitale is using Buddhism to help sanctify his very conspicuous consumption, another Scammy Award winner, Aussie
David Schirmer, back in Oz after his US tour, is using Christianity for the same purpose. He's currently giving a series of lectures about prosperity, the stock market, and the millionaire mindset at his church, Rhema Melbourne, which is one of those prosperity-oriented institutions that preaches the eternal truth that God wants His children to be rich. David will wrap up the series in November with the one topic on which he is undisputably an expert: “What To Do When Your Business Faces Adversity Or Comes Under Attack.”

In the recent Scammy vote, David received a Hypocrite Award for displaying an enormous gap between expressed beliefs and actual behavior. According to numerous informed sources, in both his professional and personal life he has excelled in deviating from just about everything he teaches about spiritual/religious principles and wealth-building principles.

Regarding the latter, some have claimed that he has yet to actually prove that he can successfully trade. Recently no less than eight of his companies were struck off the register of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC). In addition, he has spent a lot of time in court over the past few years, both suing and being sued. Bob Proctor successfully sued him last year in Australia's Federal Court for misleading and deceptive business practices.

Of course he has explanations for all of this, some of which you can see in the comments to this video on YouTube. Among other things, he says he was the one who suggested to Bob that Bob distance himself from Schirmer, due to the fact that a "gutter journalist" was nosing around Schirmer's business. Of Proctor, he wrote, "Bob has yet to fulfill his promises to alot of disappointed people (not just me) – time will take care of that. I have chosen not to settle injustices by taking court action as I believe in abundance for everyone." Uh-huh.

Notwithstanding his questionable trading record as well as other dodgy business dealings, David is getting ready for an international launch of his Complete Stock Market Home Study Course, which is apparently a recycled version of the program he's been selling for a couple of years now. The international launch is one of the deals he was "masterminding" during his recent tour of the United States, when he joined up with the profoundly ethical Internet marketing guru Perry Belcher to plot ways to bring his wisdom to a waiting world. Shortly after returning to Oz, David sent out this email to his list:

Well I'm back from my whirlwind trip around America...

What started as one seminar and one appointment Turned into a wild adventure where we flew all over the country, met a whole bunch of really amazing and influential people and made some fantastic deals...

The whole trip was really a trip powered by faith since we often Had no idea what was next... but as we got there the next step was revealed always just in time... It was incredible!...

...The upshot of all of this is that we masterminded a launch of My Complete Stock Market Home Study Course which is going to Happen in 2 to 3 weeks simultaneously all around the world...

...Now because of all the new promotional partners we have joined forces with we will be launching the Complete Stock Market Home Study Course At a new price point of $4997 US Dollars rather than the current $4997 Australian Dollars.

This means that in 2 weeks the price in Australian dollars will go up To $7619.92 - as per today's exchange rate...

That's more than $2500 more...So if you are serious about wanting to take control of your own Finances, sack your fund manager and retire in 3 - 7 years...If not sooner then I seriously invite you to consider looking at The home study course.

Historically graduates of this course have created around 30% Return on their investments which is more than twice the average Managed fund - with less risk and paying no fees and commissions (except to yourself :-)

And so on. So if you have five grand to throw around (in US dollars; more than $7,600 in Aussie dollars), and you don't feel up to riding around in Joe's Rolls, you can always spend it on an utterly useless exciting stock market course. Or better yet, just give the five grand to me. It's the right thing to do!

Y'know, whenever I see a comment such as, "The whole trip was really a trip powered by faith," I can't fight the urge to read between the lines. I am guessing that "Powered by faith" is faux-Christian hustledorkspeak for "someone else paid for it." In any case, it seems clear that David Schirmer is now poised to start selling his Home Stock Market Course in America. An anonymous correspondent speculated that since he recently opened a bank account in the US, he'll probably start funneling money to that account and still manage to not pay his debts in Australia. My correspondent suspects that the Schirmers' plan is to build up a nest egg in the US and flee Australia as soon as they have enough to survive on...and the cycle will start all over in the US.

Anyway, congratulations are in order to David Schirmer for his Scammy Award.

Addendum: He's baaaack.... As of 7 April, the whole Schirmer family is in California for a vacation. As I write this, there are Schirmers loose in Disneyland! Disney parks are familiar territory for David...

Gullibalooza alert!
Also falling smack-dab in the the middle of Guru-Free Week, ironically, are two events that promise to be anything but Guru-Free. To begin with, as announced in my recent post about the Maharishi, there is a big benefit concert in New York City on April 4 (that's tomorrow!), sponsored by the David Lynch Foundation, which, among other things, provides funds to inculcate students with pro-Maharishi teach students how to meditate so they can change their world from within. Headlining the concert will be the two surviving Beatles, Paul and Ringo.

If you can't make it to the David Lynch concert, but happen to be in the Dallas, Texas area and have an urge to be surrounded by Gullibaloozas, you'll be pleased to know that the Unity Churh of Dallas is hosting The Conscious Community Expo & Concert, sponsored by The Peace Project. There will be messages, lectures and performances by scads of New-Wage luminaries. According to the write-up on The Peace Project's web site, the rationale behind the big expo/concert is that "a collective, united consciousness has been scientifically proven to manifest results." The event is the culmination of the Peace Project's 10-month-long "Crime Reduction/Peace Enhancement Study" for AGNT (the Association for Global New Thought). One stated purpose of the gala is "to provide each community that uses THE PEACE PROJECT protocol substantial proof that these kind of community events are effective in increasing harmony and reducing crime – without cost to their city." If you've read my "miracles" blog post, or know anything about the Maharishi Effect, that will sound pretty familiar to you.

That's it for now. As Guru-Free Week progresses I will, if I feel like it, celebrate more of the "winners," and perhaps a few of the "also-rans" who made the finals but didn't win a Scammy. Meanwhile, I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend.