Whirled Musings

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

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Yet more dirty little secrets

“Remember,” [Rhonda] Byrne wrote, “if you are criticising, you are not being grateful. If you are blaming, you are not being grateful. If you are complaining, you are not being grateful.”

Those are worthy sentiments, but it was an odd time for Byrne to be expressing them because her lawyers had just sued two of the very people who were instrumental in launching her book and film The Secret to phenomenal success...
...For a woman whose central message is the power of positivity, Byrne has a surprisingly long history of such bust-ups, stretching back to her days as a television producer in Melbourne. But those past disputes pale next to the legal storms swirling around The Secret, a New-Age marketing phenomenon the like of which has not been seen for decades. It’s a bunfight of cosmic proportions that has drawn into its orbit some of the best-known figures and most fundamental tenets of the global self-help industry.

~ From an article by Richard Guilliatt in
The Weekend Australian Magazine,
Aug. 23-24, 2008
Now it can be told.

All that stuff I hinted about in a long post last December
is now out in the open. And in case anyone has any doubt whatsoever now about the real motives behind the creation of The Secret, maybe a newly published article by Aussie journo Richard Guilliatt in the August 23-24 issue of The Weekend Australian Magazine will help change that thinking.

Maybe.

Not that it will probably make much difference in the larger scheme of things. There is, after all, that self-gratification element, as Richard Guilliatt duly noted:
IN THE SECRET, a succession of American personal-development gurus explain that by really focusing on what you want, your positive energy flows out into the universe and is rewarded. Intercut with this mantra are dramatised scenes of this “law of attraction” in action: a little boy visualises a brand new bicycle and gets one from his dad; a woman focuses on ridding herself of breast cancer and is cured. At one point the “miracles coach” Joe Vitale likens the universe to a giant shopping catalogue.

It’s a message of self-gratification that’s been promoted by thousands of motivational spruikers for many decades, but when Byrne repackaged it as an ancient secret with a red wax seal, she hit the holy jackpot.
I just love that Brit/Aussie word, "spruikers." It's so much more descriptive than "teachers" or "stars," don't you think?

My earlier speculations about Rhonda Byrne attempting to distance herself from the legal wranglings over
The Secret have proven to be correct.
In early May...Byrne emerged from seclusion when she turned up at a lawyer’s office in Los Angeles to give a videotaped deposition in her company’s lawsuit against Dan Hollings [her original Internet marketing strategist]. What Byrne revealed in that deposition was remarkable if only for its all-enveloping fogginess, because over the course of two hours she professed to be almost wholly disconnected from the legal and financial details of the massive multi-million-dollar business she has spawned. “I don’t control anything I create,” she told the lawyers, professing to have little grasp of the legal disputes in which she is embroiled. “I’m not aware of any of these things. I’m not involved.”
Hmm... weren't The Secret and the Law Of Attraction supposed to be all about claiming responsibility for the things that happen to you?

Rhonda claims not to even have known about the Hungarian company set up on behalf of TS Productions. (Why Hungary? you might ask. Simple: beneficial tax and privacy laws.)
In May this year, Hollings accompanied his lawyers to Los Angeles to obtain a deposition from Byrne in the lawsuit. During that meeting, Byrne said she could barely remember her email exchanges with Hollings and knew almost nothing about the business behind The Secret. Asked whether she had any family in Illinois, where the lawsuit was initiated, she replied: “I don’t have blood relatives living in Illinois. I just – I just consider us all one family of humanity…”

Byrne said she knew nothing about the Hungarian company and regarded the business as merely “a channel for it (The Secret) to go out into the world”. When it was suggested that the business was also a channel for money to flow to her, she replied: “I receive revenues from some entity somehow. But you see, that isn’t important to me. Ask me how many people’s lives have changed and I’ll talk to you about it.”
Uh-huh. That "one family of humanity" excuse could also apply to the Hungarian company, come to think of it. I just wish the "entity" that pours all that revenue into Rhonda's purse would seek me out. It does seem odd that Rhonda would be so ignorant of the business side of things, when various colleagues from her TV producing days described her as being focused to the point of ruthlessness, and always on top of everything.

"Oh, but Cosmic Connie," you might be saying, "that was before Rhonda's famous Emotional Breakdown and Dark Night Of The Soul. These days, she's focused on what's really important."

Whatever.

It seems, however, that she wasn't totally unfocused on business matters in the beginning. In retrospect, her refusal to sign a contract with her original director, Drew Heriot – using the excuse that contracts "limit people's freedom" – seems more calculating than idealistic. And if I'd only had the privilege of being there when Rhonda made that outrageous statement to Drew, I would have said, "Run like the wind, Drew, or insist on a contract." To me this story seems oddly familiar: S.O.P. for so many New-Wage players. (And they have such lofty, airy-fairy ways of rationalizing their sleazy practices.) In any case, according to the Aussie article, Drew said that Rhonda's aversion to contracts was kind of a red flag for him, but he ignored it, to his detriment.

Other folks who apparently got screwed by Rhonda, but who don't want to expend negative energy suing her, are Esther and Jerry Hicks. Their imaginary pals Abraham told them just to let it go. They did get a lot of money from The Secret, but not nearly as much as they would have if Rhonda hadn't squirreled out of her contract with them.

As might be expected, none of the Secret "teachers" contacted by Guilliatt wanted to discuss the litigation, with the notable exception of Jack "Chicken Soup" Canfield. He said that the current bad publicity over the lawsuits is just a "blip" in the relentless global spread of The Secret. He added that he, like the other "teachers," has benefited immeasurably from being in The Secret, and besides, Rhonda donated $400,000 to the Transformational Leadership org he runs with several spruikers...er..."teachers" from The Secret. And that was pretty darned generous of her, he noted.

I fear Chicken Soup Canfield may be right regarding the blip thing. (According to the Aussie piece, bootleg copies of The Secret have been found as far away as Iran. Great...that's all we need: terrorists armed with The Secret. I wonder if Rhonda's lawyers are going after those bootleggers?) I speculate that a few more folks will be disillusioned by the evidence of blatant greed that is now coming out, but the show will still go on. The hustledorks will continue to churn out their "missing secrets" and "Secret sequels" until that cow is completely milked dry. But they'll still have all of their own proprietary gimmicks, and people will continue to line up to buy them.

And true believers will continue to rationalize that the critics (and plaintiffs) are either negative naysayers or are jealous, greedy, mediocre sorts who are attempting to extort money from brilliant and misunderstood geniuses like Rhonda Byrne.

And as for the guys who are suing Rhonda...well, it's anyone's guess how those suits will turn out. But an anonymous insider I heard from isn't all that optimistic.

Most of the public couldn't care less; they lost $29.95 at most.

No "teacher" [in The Secret] has had the balls to step up to the plate here and state the horrible reality that this matter really is.... none...

In the end, Rhonda and Bob [Rainone, Rhonda's American business partner] made out like the bandits they are, the "teachers" made out like sidecar thieves, and two guys [Drew and Dan]... are being crushed by a posse of high paid lawyers attempting the only strategy they have... legal bills... It's all a matter of who can stay in the game longer.

Where is Oprah in all this? Larry King? Ellen Degeneris? There are NO NEGATIVE POSTS on Oprah's site about The Secret, only positive stuff. She has them in a bubble...

As time goes by, however, more folks might actually get tired of being duped, until the disillusioned factions have reached critical mass. It hasn't happened yet, but it might happen someday – maybe about the time that our porcine friends finally get their wings, or the Devil orders a new winter coat.

Meanwhile, here's the link to Richard Guilliatt's article. Enjoy!

PS ~ Sorry about recycling the picture that heads this post. I didn't have time to do another elaborate Photoshopping job, and this one just seemed soooo appropriate.
PPS added in autumn of 2009: For more information and links regarding The Secret litigation saga, check out my May 2009 post about the matter (including the PS's, which contain all of the information I know about the outcome of the litigation).

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

At last: The Sequel?

Well, Dear Ones, it's the weekend already, and I have a couple of half-finished blog posts in the pipeline, at least one of which I hope to get up today or tomorrow, as I have been promising some of my inner circle of snarky pals for the past few days. Meanwhile, however, I felt compelled to share a couple of quick "secrets"...

The other day I celebrated the birth of another sequel to The Secret (fourth item down, "Scientist Bob is at it again!"). That one, Beyond The Secret, seems to be little more than another Bob Proctor Ponzi-like scheme, but never mind; it's for the good of humanity. Now comes word of – who would have ever imagined we would have witnessed such a thing in our lifetime? – yet another Secret sequel.

Behold The Meta Secret, which will feature some of the "stars" of the original New-Wage moviemercial, such as Scientist Bob Proctor and "Dr." Joe Vitale (who spent part of his time in San Diego the other day being filmed for his bit. He says it's the eighth "movie" he's been in.).

The site for this latest master work has the look and feel of the official site of The Secret, so if Rhonda Byrne's lawyers aren't on this one like maggots on a festering sore, we'll have to either assume that she and her cohorts are "secretly" involved, or that her attorneys are just too busy with all of those other lawsuits (more on that in a moment). So far, the actual official sequel to The Secret, which was announced a couple of years ago, has not seen the light of day. As one of my readers suggested the other day, it might have something to do with all of those little legal issues.

So just what is The Meta Secret about? Well...hold on to your hats, because this is going to come as a huge surprise... but The Meta Secret takes up where The Secret left off! Who would have ever guessed? Here's the scoop:

The Meta Secret takes off where the original Secret movie left viewers. It delves deeper into the Law of Attraction, featuring Step-by-Step, "How-To" Techniques of Manifestation which will enhance your levels of Abundance, Love, Health and Happiness.

Some of the original Secret Teachers return to delve deeper into the Law of Attraction and the mysterious workings of the Universe. In addition, various authentic Metaphysical Teachers and Enlightened Wisemen of the East add a further dimension to the movie.

For the first time ever, the secret wisdom of the East and the latest technological and philosophical discoveries are synthesized and brought to the consciousness of the layman.

The movie has been shot directly into High Definition DVD format, as in the original Secret Movie.

Now You Can Get A First Hand Look And Discover Where NO Man Has Gone Before!

And....

"This movie is a Rapid Step-By-Step
Approach To Unleashing 'The Secret'
Law of Attraction to Help You Manifest
Massive Abundance, Love, Health and Happiness
In YOUR LIFE!"

Here's the Meta Secret cast so far, as listed on the web site (the quotation marks are theirs, not mine):

  • Dr. Mel Gill: "Psychologist"
  • Bob Proctor: "Philosopher"
  • Dr. Joe Vitale: "Metaphysician"
  • Jack Canfield: "Chicken Soup for the Soul"
  • Dr. Masaru Emoto: "Messages From Water"
  • Charlie Jones: "Tremendous Jones"
  • T. Harv Eker: "Secrets of the Millionaire Mind"
  • W. Mitchell: "Miracle Survivor"
  • Ajahn Brahm: "Meditation Master"
  • David Riklan: "SelfGrowth.com"
  • Vikas Malkani: "The Enlightenment Specialist"

As most of us know, according to The Secret mindset, the Law Of Attraction is an immutable law of the Universe, and if you just follow the advice of the Secret teachers you, too, can have unlimited wealth, health and happiness. Even so, the Meta-Secret people still saw fit to add the obligatory Disclaimer and Legal Notice:

The author and publisher make no representation or warranties with respect to the accuracy, applicability, fitness, or completeness of the contents of this website...

...They disclaim any warranties (expressed or implied), merchantability, or fitness for any particular purpose. The authors and publisher shall in no event be held liable for any loss or other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. As always, the advice of a competent legal, tax, accounting or other professional should be sought...

...We cannot guarantee your success, in any particular endeavor. What works for us, or our associates, may not work well for you. This is a fact of life, and one that you should be fully aware of when you act upon our advice.

As for the Secret lawsuits alluded to above, don't say I didn't warn you about this one last December, though I wasn't at liberty at the time to do anything more than hint about it. By now just about everyone knows about the lawsuit filed by Drew Heriot, the original Secret director and co-writer. I told his story in my December blog post. Well, now the other shoe has dropped, and the original Web strategist, Dan Hollings, whose story I also told, has now filed a lawsuit as well. Seems that Gollum... er...Rhonda and company stiffed both of these gentlemen, and is now being called to account for it. And no telling who else Rhonda may have Byrne'd, and what other lawsuits will develop as time goes by. That's truly the Law Of Attraction in action!


PS added on Monday, 25 August ~
Kids! Order your decoder rings today!

Just in case you are not quite sure about the true nature of The Meta-Secret, take a look at some of the planned Meta-Secret merchandise, from the "Meta-Secret Store" page:

The Meta Secret Posters
Created with NeuroActive Technologies, the Meta Secret Posters are psychrtronically [sic] charged, enhancing your energy levels and manifestation ability.**

Each poster is beautifully crafted and designed with corresponding Meta Secret quotes.

Perfect for turbocharging your room with the Power of the Meta Secret!

The Meta Secret Cards
Created with NeuroActive Technologies, the Meta Secret Cards are psychrtronically [sic] charged, enhancing your energy levels and manifestation ability.

Each card is beautifully crafted and designed with corresponding Meta Secret quotes.

"Perfect for turbocharging your room?" Not "your home," not "your office," not "any room in your home"... but your room? Are they marketing to kids (or to grown-up slackers who still live with their parents)? More importantly, when is the Meta-Secret Crunchy-Chewy Cereal coming out? And Meta-Secret Barbie? The marketing possibilities are so exciting that my hands are shaking...

** All I can say is that it's simply amazing what technology can do these days. Not only do we have "psychrtronically" charged posters and cards, but we have web sites that are specially designed to "clean" you while you're browsing...

PS added February 2009: The Meta-Secret links above no longer work. Apparently the site has been moved and revamped; it's now at http://themetasecret.org/.

PS added January 2010: Once again the links have changed (and several of the links above no longer work, so you'll just have to trust my quotations. I swear I didn't make them up). Anyway, it seems the main site is once again http://www.themetasecret.com. I wish they'd make up their minds.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

I wish to register a complaint


I don't know about you, but I am getting a little weary of hearing about the ways our elected representatives are wasting time and taxpayer money introducing silly resolutions, particularly to designate Special Days, Weeks, Months, Years or Centuries. The purpose of these special designations is allegedly to commemorate people, places, animals, industries, events, ideas, insects, sports, states of mind, pastimes, diseases, habits, social problems, tics, hygiene habits or what have you that are either worthy of Special Recognition or are serious problems that need to be Eliminated In Our Lifetime. But the real purpose of most of these resolutions is for the people introducing them to draw attention to themselves and/or to make it appear that they are actually doing something useful (or in some cases, to draw attention away from other things they are doing).

Whatever the motives, the fact is that we are already full up to here with officially and unofficially recognized periods of time. In addition to all of the usual holidays and awareness weeks and months, we have to give just a few examples – Mold Awareness Month (September), Getting The World To Beat A Path To Your Door Week (which falls on October 14-20 this year), and National Underwear Day (August 13; oops, I missed it again).

Of course it is not just the United States' elected representatives who are at fault here. Stupid Holiday Syndrome is a worldwide affliction. F'rinstance, the United Nations has declared 2008 to be:

  • International Year of Languages
  • International Year of Planet Earth
  • International Year of The Potato
  • International Year of Sanitation

Those seem like pretty tough acts to follow, and I can't help but wonder how 2009 will be designated. May I suggest...

  • International Year of Nonverbal Communication
  • International Year of Planet Uranus
  • International Year of The Turnip
  • International Year of Filth

If you want a more comprehensive list of wacko holidays, you have only to click here.

Now comes the news of a proposed resolution, House Resolution H.CON.RES.404, to officially declare the day before Thanksgiving "Complaint Free Wednesday" in the good old US of A. The reasoning behind this resolution seems to be that the US is the can-do optimistic capital of the world, and that complaining is a bad thing that damages health, relationships and everything else. The resolution even states that violence often begins with complaining.

Never mind that the United States owes its very existence to complaints, such as that little list of gripes the original Colonists had with the Crown a few years back. Actually, those complaints did lead to violence, in the form of the American Revolution, so I guess that kind of proves the resolution makers' point. In any case, that stuff is ancient history. That was then, this is now. A positive mental attitude is what we need today. That's what really made this country great.

Complaint Free Wednesday was actually inspired by the Complaint Free World franchise perpetrated by Will Bowen, a Unity Church minister in Kansas City, Missouri. I did a drive-by snark about this last December, on my way to shooting at more serious issues. Complaint Free World is now a burgeoning industry that has given rise to books, DVDs, blogs, web sites, workshops, and, of course, tacky plastic bracelets (purple ones, in this case). There's even a Complaint Free Quick Start Collection that includes Will Bowen's book, a T-shirt, a bumper sticker and a bracelet. And there's going to be a Complaint Free Cruise in April of 2009. (Let's see how complaint-free the cruisers remain if a food-borne illness breaks out on the cruise ship, as happens so often these days.) Not surprisingly, some of today's top New-Wage hustledorks, recognizing an opportunity to put more money in their coffers...I mean, to make a Real Difference in the world...have jumped on the Complaint-Free bandwagon in a big way.

The Complaint Free Wednesday Resolution was introduced by Congressman Sam Graves (R-Missouri), who seems to be kind of a big-oil-friendly, not-so-green kind of guy, and anti-abortion to boot. Like most politicians on any side of any issue, he'd probably welcome a world with fewer complaints. It would sure make his job easier. Here's a link to a PDF of his proposed bill.

My pal Blair Warren, I am pleased to note, has been tackling this issue on his Twitter page. Yesterday he observed:

Some teach that if we just stop complaining our lives would improve. But if it turns out it doesn't work, they do not want to hear about it.

Amen to that. In fact, one of the leading proponents of the Complaint Free World gimmick (a guy who happens to be known to both Blair and me) has made it a regular policy to tune out negativity of any sort. For example, after Ron sent this guy a private complaint earlier this year regarding some public shenanigans being pulled by one of the man's close buddies and joint-venture partners, Mr. Positive told Ron never to write to him again. Soon after that, Ron received an auto-notice that henceforth any emails coming from our address would be flagged as spam by Mr. Positive's spam filter. See No Evil and all that. Well, that's one way of staying positive.

Regarding the Complaint Free Resolution, Blair also wrote:

A bill to make the day before Thanksgiving Complaint Free Wednesday? How about Suck-it-Up Sunday or Make-believe Monday? Let's think BIG!

Y'know, those are actually pretty good ideas. In any case, I think that if Congressman Graves really cared about making a difference, he would have suggested designating Complaint-Free Friday – the day after Thanksgiving, aka the Busiest Shopping Day Of The Year in the US. Maybe there'd be a little less hollering and screaming and clawing and fighting as customers trample over each other to grab the latest trendoid toys for their already seriously overindulged spawn.

BTW, according to the site I linked to above, today, August 18, is Bad Poetry Day. I am not sure if this is a national or an international holiday, but in any event, if Whirled Musings' resident bad poet, HHH (who hails from the UK), is reading this, he's welcome to write a commemorative bad poem.

And, of course, every day is Send Cosmic Connie Lots of Money Day. But so far, I am sorry to report, no one has observed it in the proper way.

Not that I'm complaining.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Just another snarky Thursday

Dear Ones, there's so much to snark about that I scarcely know where to start. Today, along with the usual fare, I'm going to stretch beyond my normal subject matter and venture into the realm of True Religion and even pop music. Well, after all, as they say in the New Wage, everything is interrelated.

Prosperity preacher-ette a P.I.T.A.? Jury says no.
This week's Trial Of The Century is over, and the defendant has been cleared. Naturally, I refer to the civil trial of Victoria Osteen, wife of
prosperity preacher Joel Osteen. Victoria and Joel are co-pastors at Lakewood Christian Greed Clearinghouse Church, which is sort of in my neck of the woods, so it's pretty much been front-page news in these parts.

As most people know by now, Vicky got into a tiff with a Continental Airlines flight attendant in December of 2005. Perhaps she was taking that old Continental ad campaign, "We really move our tails for you," a little too literally. At any rate, the flight attendants apparently weren't moving their own tails fast enough for the Vickster when she demanded that they clean up some liquid that had been spilled on her first-class seat (her plane seat, that is).

Vicky was hauled into court by one of the flight attendants, Sharon Brown, who claimed she was assaulted by the pouty preacher-ette and suffered stress, anxiety, loss of faith, and hemorrhoids* as a result. To compensate her for her pain and suffering, she demanded ten percent of Vicky's net worth. That would have kept her in Ambien and Preparation H for the rest of her life!

Since Victoria is white and Sharon Brown is black, the race card was played in this trial, as you might imagine. I wasn't there to witness the original incident, of course, but I honestly don't see much evidence that the Osteens are racist. I do think our own Rev Ron summed it up best when he said that this seems to be a clear case of entitlement (Victoria Osteen, who apparently did throw a bit of a snit on that plane back in December of 2005) versus opportunism (Sharon Brown).

As for Sharon Brown's claim that the incident made her lose her faith, let me say, Sharon, that if your faith was based on belief that Victoria Osteen is a benevolent angel, I suggest that you find another faith pronto.

And as the Houston Chronicle's Rick Casey wrote in a piece last week:

Any person whose belief in God has been shaken because of a 20-minute encounter in which she says a minister of the Lord berated her, shoved her aside and elbowed her in the breast over a delay in cleaning up a small water spill in the first-class compartment, simply has not been paying attention.

Had she not noticed that (a partial list):

•Catholic priests molested little boys for years and Catholic bishops routinely covered up evidence, even transferring offending priests into virgin territory where they repeated their crimes? Nor were Roman Catholic priests alone. Other denominations have suffered similar scandals.
•Televangelists have been caught in scandals ranging from Oral Roberts' threat that unless the faithful coughed up $8 million God would "call me home," to Jimmy Swaggart's affairs with female prostitutes and Ted Haggard's affair with a male prostitute, to Robert Tilton's raking in an estimated $80 million a year accompanying prayer requests, while throwing away many of the requests without reading them?
•Both presidential candidates have felt compelled to denounce high-profile pastors after they said outrageous and hurtful things?

If faith in God required perfect preachers, organized religion would long ago have gone the way of, say, the Communist Party.

But I also think that if Vicky and Sharon really want to play this for all it's worth, they will have a public reconciliation, complete with tearful hugs, and will then go on to create a scam... er... a ministry about The Power Of Forgiveness, and heck, why not throw Racial Harmony in there too. That way it's win-win-win!

And since this was my idea in the first place, I get a cut of the action. Twenty percent. It's only fair.

PS added on Friday ~ I should clarify that even though I am not exactly a fan of Victoria Osteen (though her husband seems to be a nice enough guy), I think the jury made the right decision.

Damn! Another good scam op I didn't think of.
Speaking of religion, have you ever sat down to think about what might happen to your beloved pets after The Rapture? Of course, if you're a heathen like me, you won't have to worry; you'll be left behind with all of the other heathens and you can take care of your fur babies yourself. But if you're a born-again type who has pets, and you're worried about what's going to happen to them when Jesus comes back to take all the righteous home with Him, you might want to
take note of this ad on Craigslist, which Ron sent to me yesterday. "Yet another of life's worries eliminated by an entrepreneur with integrity!" he wrote.

Here's the deal: Out of the goodness of his heart, a guy who describes himself as an atheist, but a moral one and an animal lover to boot, will take care of your pets until their own end days – and all for only a small deposit of $50 US. "They will get adequate amounts of food, water, and shelter as well as plenty of exercise and socialization as I would imagine there will be a lot of pets that will be abandoned by Jesus the pet hater that will need to be cared for." The guy insists he's the real deal and that his ad should remain up on Craigslist, because it addresses a concern that is shared by over half the US population. If this site is any indication, the guy's right. And pet-rapture insurance may just be the next booming cottage industry.

I GOTTA find me a scam.

Duck and run... the Sun's gonna blow!
I'm afraid I have some really bad news, Dear Ones, and this might even cancel out your plans for The Rapture. The Sun – that big ball o'fire in the sky, not
the respected newspaper – is going to explode next July unless we stop it.

Here's the bad news. The good news is that there's still time to stop this event. By the way, the United States government, including the President, know about this, and they're not doing anything to stop it. Just thought you'd want to know.

Scientist Bob is at it again!
You may have already seen this, especially if you're on anti-self-help fraud activist
John Curtis' email list. Last week Dr. Curtis sent out an email saying, "Beware... you knew it was only a matter of time before someone would release a sequel to the The Secret!"

The reference was to a new New-Wage moviemercial and hustledork showcase, Beyond The Secret.

While as always I appreciate the updates from John, as well as the work that he is doing, I gotta say this: That "Secret sequel" train left the station a couple of years ago. After all, within months of the original DVD's release, not only was there talk from The Secret's producers about a planned sequel, but numerous New-Wage hustledorks were spewing products out of every orifice, and all of them claimed to reveal secrets that went beyond The Secret (thus, for all practical purposes, being sequels to The Secret). Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale, for example, released not one but two works called The Missing Secret. One was only about forty bucks. The other, released later by Nightingale-Conant, was $120.00 ("Activate the full power of the Law of Attraction using the critical 'missing piece' that empowers you to automatically and consistently get what you want!"). He also came out with something called Install and Transcend The Secret. And pretty much every "teacher" in The Secret has come out with at least one product vowing to tell you the secrets that The Secret left out.

Yawn.

As for this newest "digital snake oil," as John Curtis so aptly described it in his email, on first glance at the preview web site, it looks to be simply an outgrowth of "Scientist Bob" Proctor's infamous Science of Getting Rich scam franchise. But that's only because there's a big ad banner on the page that leads you straight to that particular scam page, which provides you with an opportunity to fork over $1,995 to Bob Proctor. In return I think you get a leatherette briefcase and a pile of papers, as well as a chance to bilk other people. Pass it on, man.

If you do a little digging, though, you see that Beyond The Secret involves more folks than Scientist Bob; nevertheless, it really is just another run-of-the-mill New-Wage joint venture, calculated to make a few hustledorks rich(er). Beyond The Secret appears to be an entire franchise, inviting you in with this claim: "The Secret gives you everything you want. Now you can go beyond The Secret!" Um-kay, but...if you already have everything you want, why would you be particularly motivated to "go beyond The Secret?"

Well, you should always want more, I suppose. That's the New-Wage way: always strive for more; otherwise, you're setting your sights too low and selling yourself short.

Anyway, here, from the "About Us" on one of the "link partner" sites, is the (unedited) scoop on the BTS franchise:

Colonel Kentucky (KFC) another example or maybe one of the most renown companies worldwide that being MacDonald's their systems are so well oiled its hard to believe but MacDonald's are the single largest prime real estate owners. I bet you thought they were just a fast food franchise well you’re right the guys who bought the franchises are the guys paying MacDonald's oodles of buckaroos so that they can purchase even more real estate. There are many such examples and this too I know.

Well you can’t afford to buy a MacDonald's franchise nor do you want to spend the rest of your life making hamburgers just to pay the bank back the money you would have to loan to purchase a franchise. You do however have access to a system that you can well afford, that will generate
passive and residual income for you just have a look at our BTS Wealth Creator and Pay It Forward income generators. Those of you who can’t afford to get on board we have a free trial membership at Pay It Forward, so that when you decide, or should I say, do attract the money necessary you will then be trained to continue and become financially free.

And here's a link to the "Pay It Forward" page on the same site. ("100 Dollar Bills Racing through Your Hands daily and directly into your pocket ... Interested? Sure you are! Let our automated ... completely turnkey system do it for you! A 3rd Grader can do this and enjoy success." )

Click the link labeled "Your Cash Plan" (on the right-hand side of the page) and be sure to carefully study the Flash animation on the page. I don't know about this "Infinite Moneyline" system...it sort of sounds like a pyramid scheme to me, which I understand is illegal in some countries (the US, f''rinstance). But I'm SURE that there's nothing funny going on. After all, Scientist Bob would never be involved, even indirectly, in any dodgy deals, would he?

Mock Victor Hamstrung shows his true colors
Speaking of hustledorks, you may have seen Steve Salerno's
recent SHAMblog post on Chicken Soup co-creator Mark Victor Hansen, aka America's Ambassador of Possibility, who has an "endearing charismatic style," and whose latest scam is "Youngevity," or the art of tricking yourself into thinking you're younger, smarter, and better than you really are. (If you have trouble doing this, Mark will teach you how to do it if you give him enough money.) As Steve implies, Mark's site speaks for itself, but I think the man really shows his true colors in these two videos:

  1. Here's the video that Steve might like to forget, but I don't think he should. After all, Steve is not the one being exposed as as an arrogant a--hole.
  2. And here's a video where Mock Victor babbles on about his meeting with Esther and Jerry Hicks, who have made a huge fortune off of Esther's imaginary buddies, "Abraham." In this one, Mock Victor just can't say enough good things about the Hicks, adding that he and his brother are devoted fans, and that Jack (Canfield, his co-partner in Chicken Soup) is a raving fan of the Hicks' flights of fancy. Mock Victor gushes that a new (at the time) Hicks book that he'd just read "will zap you at the DNA level." Gee, all these guys are scientists. Who knew? He also reveals a money-visualization exercise that the Hicks shared with him, an exercise that he claims he's been doing, with terrific results. That exercise is astoundingly similar to one described by the Blunder From Down Under, David Schirmer, in The Secret. Lest we forget, here's a link to that classic...
    The Secret with David Schirmer

    And yet, amazingly, people apparently continue to give their money to Mock Victor. It must be his endearing charismatic style.

    And Melissa Etheridge isn't either. So there.
    By now almost everyone knows that pop singer, Broadway star and former American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken is
    a new daddy. See, all of those swooning Claymates were right all along: he's not gay!

    Well, on second thought...

    News of the birth got the wags going on numerous boards, including the Broadway World forum, where remarks such as this appeared:

    Wasn't he, and you know, all his psychomates, denying this a few months ago?

    Wow Congrats! Any word who the father is?

    Meanwhile, on the Clay fan discussion boards, the gals are nobly swallowing their disappointment over the fact that they or their lovely daughters or granddaughters were not the ones chosen to bear the Holy Child. And, speaking of losing one's faith, some are having great difficulty reconciling Clay's conspicuous Christianity with the fact that he and the biological mom, his 50-something record producer Jaymes Foster, are not married and conceived their child in vitro. That's just not the Lord's way, is it? This is from the moderator's guidelines for the Clayby thread on the Clayboard:

    This is not a thread about religion. Do not discuss religion in this thread. Do not say X must not be Christian, X is a bad Christian, a true Christian wouldn't do ABC. I know some of you will have a hard time with this one and we apologize however this is not the place to have a religious discussion or discuss someone's faith.

    But never mind; most of the church ladies have shelved their judgment and are busy knitting booties, both virtual and real, for the new arrival.

    BTW, since Clay's son was born at 8:08 AM on 8-08-08, there's both a Biblical and a New-Wage numerology angle here. Clay even mentioned it on his blog, and the Claymates picked it up and ran with it (and ran, and ran, and ran).

    At any rate, we now have something else for the Claymates to talk about, make banners and montages about, write poems about, agonize publicly and privately about, drive their poor bewildered husbands crazy over, and work into their fanfic for the next few years! (Warning, click that fanfic link – especially this one – ONLY if you are prepared for nausea. Don't say I didn't warn you.)

    Oh, and if you're wondering why I've singled out Clay Aiken, whom I actually think is a very talented young man (and I really don't give a rat's behind about his sexual orientation, or how good a Christian he is, or even whose egg was used to manufacture the kid), it's because Ron and I worked on what turned out to be a rather controversial Clay fan project a couple of years ago. During that time we gained insight into a "culture" that makes New-Wagers seem almost sane by comparison.

    That's it for now, Dear Ones. More tomorrow!

    * After the trial began, Sharon Brown apparently decided that Victoria Osteen did not cause the 'rhoids after all.

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Monday, August 04, 2008

More drive-bys...

It's Monday and I suppose I should be working. But I'm taking a break for a few drive-by snarks and a couple of tributes.


Blonded by the light
As much as I like and respect Australians and long to visit Australia, I have to say that increasingly, the Land Down Under has become a center of New-Wage silliness. Besides the Blunder From Down Under, David Schirmer (who recently had to sell that big mansion he always bragged about), and the frenzy of ACCESS activity down there, we also have the Aussie Blonde phenomenon, as noted recently on Jody Radzik's Guruphiliac blog. When it comes to insipid New-Wage Aussie blondeness, The Secret's Rhonda Byrne was, apparently, only the beginning.

F'rinstance, there is Miranda ("previously known as 'Holden'"), whom some have called "Satsang Barbie." She's cute as a button, but there's more, oh, so much more to her than cuteness. She also has deep Presence, and I know that because I read it on her web site:
Most apparent is Miranda‘s depth of Presence, experience, and integration of approach, which translates in her ease in speaking to people in their language and level. Miranda is renowned for her profound capacity to help people open to direct experience of Truth and unwind their habits of suffering.
And then there's a gal calling herself "Isira," who claims to be part aborigine, so of course that makes her deeply wise and astoundingly mystical in ways that you and I can only hope to be. (I dare you to watch the video on Jody's post in its entirety.) Isira's mission is to help us all embrace the truth that "You are here to be all that you can be." Rumor (or "rumour") has it that Isira bought that line cheap from the US Army.

Isira, according to one of her web sites, began performing at a very early age:
Born in South Australia, she began her path of awakening at the age of four when she experienced chakra healing and balancing through spontaneous meditative states, and practiced yoga without training or outside knowledge. Her early life suddenly and consistently displayed heightened psychic, artistic, healing and clairvoyant faculties, which naturally lead to ascetic practices.
What Isira has to offer is, in blogger Jody's words....
...this pastiche of self-help un-helpfulness and ignorance-reinforcing, occluding concepts about nondual truth, all wrapped up in a pink bow of "Look at how special my enlightenment has made me! Oh, and aren't I pretty hot for a sage?"
In the comments section accompanying his post, he noted, "...there are Aussie blondes everywhere willing to sell sh-t on a cracker, calling it spiritual truth in their rush to distribute their own pathological narcissism."

For years I've been saying that I've gotta find a scam, or at least a really good shtick. The problem is that there are just too many to choose from. Well, now my search is narrowing. As I said on Jody's blog, since I have the pathological narcissism down pat anyway, I am seriously thinking of perfecting my Aussie accent and becoming one of those phony enlightened Aussie guru-ettes.

Frankly, even though I've no desire to go blonde, I think I can do cute and insipid just as well as the next gal, and I look great in white gauze-y garments, except when my fake tan bleeds on them. So maybe I should wear tan gauze-y garments. Yeah, that's what I'll do.

Jody encouraged my career choice, saying, "If you do it, we will support you with many posts of profuse praise... for 10% of your take and a $10g down payment." Another Guruphiliac reader, "Kevinanda," chimed in, "Great! Upfront corruption is what we want!"

That's really not corruption, though; that would just make Guruphiliac my agent. I may be on my way to a brand new career
.

Neale and pray that you, too, can be happier than the Big Guy!
Speaking of insipid, Neale Donald Walsch, who has made a fortune writing books and committing workshops and perpetrating bad movies about the voices in his head, has belatedly jumped on the Law Of Attraction bandwagon. The title of his newest book, Happier Than God, almost sounds like a big "Neener, neener!" to the Big Guy, but the truth is that he means no disrespect to the Creator of the Universe. Neale just really, really believes that life was meant to be good. The voices told him so.

Here in a nutshell is the premise of his new opus: Life was meant to be happy. You were meant to be happy. And if you're already happy, you were meant to be happier. Even if you're very happy, you can be even happier. How happy? Well, happier than God, that's how happy!

That's really all you need to know about the book, so you don't even need to buy it. After all, Neale is already happy enough. He has those voices to entertain him, and those thousands of other folks who are willing to pay to hear what the voices say. So he doesn't need you. Just get out there and get happy! And if you've a mind to, send me the money you would have spent on Happier Than God.

And speaking of Rhonda...
The creator of the world's most successful New-Wage infomercial may end up regretting that she Byrne'd a few of her original co-creators. The latest news in the pending lawsuit by Drew Heriot, director of the original DVD, is that the case will be heard in the US instead of Australia. Rhonda's legal eagles were trying to get it heard in Australia, which would have been extra expense and hardship for Drew, who's now living in L.A. Rhonda lives in the US as well, but presumably has lots more travel money than Drew. Here's the scoop.

The horse is the new dolphin
By this I don't mean that our equine friends have suddenly started getting themselves entangled in tuna fishermen's nets. I mean that horses have been co-opted by New Wage ninnies. Okay, as far as I know, no one is (yet) claiming that horses are an enlightened race of beings sent here from another dimension to aid us in the coming Galactic Shift... but there's still a lot of mystical horse sh-t being peddled these days. You can't go around the Net these days without stepping in some. I really am tempted to believe that horses have nearly upstaged dolphins on the New-Wage MVP list.

It was inevitable, I suppose, given that in recent years a gimmick known as Equine Assisted Psychotherapy has gained in popularity. And as psychotherapy goes, so goes the New Wage (and the selfish-help industry in general). There's even a professional association dedicated to healing with horses, the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association, or EAGALA.

Various New-Wagers are trying to make a living by sharing the Magical Spirit of horses, in one way or another. I've written about a few of them previously. For example, Gary Douglas, founder of the aforementioned ACCESS, has a horse shtick. Then there's the Harmony With Horses program, perpetrated by
Expansion Coach TM Christine Cole, where horses teach you about the Law Of Attraction.

And just the other day I stumbled across another company: The Horse Connection in Willow City, Texas. The Horse Connection is run by Nikki Theisinger, who is also a Minister of the Acadamie of Light (a wacko New-Wage clearinghouse, but that's a topic for another blog post). The Horse Connection works with adults and troubled children, teaching them the Magic of the Horse:

Our children have become attached to the Magic of the Horse and that Magic was reflected in the delight and the Joy that was found in the Heart of the Horse. The children grew stronger in their desire to ride and were able to whisper their thoughts to each horse as they rode through the countryside. Before long the Magical Horses grew wings and were able to take flight through the magic of the childrens [sic] laughter. And soon the story of the magical winged horse spread through all the lands. As we observe the magic that still happens by Joining the Heart of each Child with the Horse we see the Joy reflected in mirror of our own HEARTS...and we live happily ever after.

Join us and let the Spirit of the Horses bring out "the kid in you"!

And if the horses don't do it, the unicorns and butterflies and rainbows will. One of the things they do at The Horse Connection, judging from some of the pictures on their site, is to teach disadvantaged, differently-abled and "special" kids to deface horses with graffiti. That's "Willie" you see in the picture.
Willie is also the most patient and loving horse for the children who come to the summer camps. Notice how he allows them to paint their lovely designs all over his body. He is truly an Equine Healer with a huge heart of gold allowing his body to become the canvas for their therapy and enjoyment.
This kind of gives a whole new meaning to the term, "paint horse," doesn't it?

Speaking of which, I just recently learned that "pinto" and "paint" are not identical terms in the world of horses. Maybe you knew that, but I didn't. A "pinto," as you may know, is a horse with a splotchy color pattern, but a "paint" is a specific breed of pinto with known Quarter Horse and/or Thoroughbred bloodlines. (I suppose it's sort of the equine equivalent of being "part Cherokee Indian.")

I've always liked horses, but since I live around them now I have taken it upon myself to learn more about them. A frustrating hobby I recently undertook was learning horse colors, or trying to learn them, but I don't think I'll ever get it right. It's all much more complicated than you might think. If you thought it was just a simple matter of black, white, gray, red, spotted or palomino (which, of course, is a color pattern and not a breed – even I knew that), well, have I got news for you.
Horse colors in general are very complex and, if you can believe it, controversial. According to the Wiki article on the subject...
"Discussion, research, and even controversy continues about some of the details, particularly those surrounding spotting patterns, color sub-shades such as "sooty" or "flaxen," and markings."
See, even horse people can't agree on all of this stuff.

The more I read about horse colors the more confused I get. I am just about to give up on my pitiful efforts to figure out the differences between a "dun" and a "buckskin," or a "tobiano" and a "sabino,"
or a "roan" and a "rabicano," or a "perlino" and a "cremello," or a "serrano" and a "poblano"...oh, wait, maybe those last two aren't horse colors (you SEE how confusing it can get? My brain hurts!). Anyway, I suppose I could continue to study equine coloration, and it's possible that there would come a day when I would finally understand it, but I am thinking that maybe it doesn't really matter after all, especially since I suspect that horse people are just making these words up as they go along anyway.

I do know one thing, though. Don't get me wrong; I'm all for teaching disadvantaged children and troubled adults about the wonders of equine companionship. But graffiti belongs on public buildings, restroom doors and railroad cars, not on horses.

Mojo's blogaversary card to me
My new pal Mojo, whose Craptacular blog never fails to delight me, did a little tribute to Whirled Musings in honor of this blog's second birthday. Here 'tis.

The Tweet life with Blair Warren
I love reading anything by my pal Blair Warren. Here are some gems from his "favorites" page on Twitter:
Sell bullsh-t and you make money, then enemies. Sell truth and you just make enemies.

When toddlers shut their eyes to make reality go away, it's funny. But when adults do the same with the Law of Attraction, it's tragic.


Some say we can change things merely by observing them, but I've been observing these people for years and their story hasn't changed a bit.

If a friend never says anything that makes you question the way you see the world, give him a cracker and go find yourself a new friend.
And there's much more where that came from. Blair also occasionally posts on his Crooked Wisdom blog, and I'm hoping he's working on a couple of books, such as an update to his No-Nonsense Guide To Enlightenment.

Well, that's it for now, cowpokes. I'm going to get back to work. Then The Rev and I are going to batten down the hatches, because storms are brewing in the area. There's a hurricane in the making (Edouard), and tornado and flash-flood watches are in effect around here as well, and we may lose our Internet for a while, as we always do when it even thinks about raining. I guess I can use the down time to get back to studying horse colors.

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