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.)

Saturday, December 31, 2011

One reason 2011 didn't completely suck

All things told, 2011 was an eventful year on many fronts. One of the most notable events on this Whirled beat, of course, is that Jimmy Ray is now in a jumpsuit (for a while, anyway). It is, as the punch line in everyone's favorite attorney joke goes, a good beginning.

Who knows what 2012 will bring? For now, let's take a cue from the party hat in the "Before" pic (click on pic for enlargement). It's time to celebrate.

Happy New Year to all of you, and thank you for your support.

PS ~ Here is the fake robot's retrospective.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Beautiful daze in the Aber-hood

Jerry is gone, but the show must go on.

Actually, Jerry Hicks, the George half of the George and Gracie of the imaginary-friends industry, isn't really gone, despite his having croaked* on November 18, 2011.
As I predicted (but really, it was a totally no-brainer prognostication, and I was far from the only one predicting this), Jerry is still very much with Esther and her pretend pals Abraham. After joining Abe in The Vortex, Jerry is now apparently playing pranks on Esther and her audiences at the Abe-Hicks events she has bravely chosen to continue, despite her grieving.

The ever-vigilant Kyra provided a capsule summary of Esther's recent (December 10) LIVE workshop. Dave Stone, another Abe-Hicks critic, also weighed in with lots of good information and commentary, as well as additional links.

But there's trouble in Paradise, and there has been for some time now. What's going on is not a war of good versus evil per se; it's more like a war of The Vortex versus The Torrent. (Google Abraham-Hicks torrents and you'll see what I mean.) It seems that some Abers are using AbeEsther's own words against her/them, employing Abe-Hicks' pronouncements about sharing information to support their own sharing of Abe-Hicks content.

To some degree this is a money issue. It seems that despite repeated attempts to use Abe-Hicks' teachings about the Law of Attraction to attract wealth into their lives, large numbers of Abe fans apparently can't afford to attend the workshops in person or even on the Web, to say nothing of being able to afford those lavish sea cruises. To the rescue: a few Abers who are working to help people acquire as much Abe-Hicks content as possible gratis.

Not surprisingly, the folks at Abe-Hicks don't like it.

Again we turn to Kyra's blog, as she discusses the Abe-Hicks' organization's attempts to crack down on copyright violations. She notes that the efforts to fight copyright violators seem to have been stepped up after Jerry stepped into The Vortex last month.

On one level, of course, the torrents present just another example of people wanting something for nothing, and that's a very human trait, which the Internet has in many ways nurtured. But it's something more as well, as at least some of the torrent troops seem to fervently believe they are working for that New-Wage/McSpirituality conceit known as the Greater Good, which in this case means spreading Abe's loving message to a world that is starving for it. For them as well as for other Abe-Hicks watchers, it's also morally complicated because some of the things the Hicks have said over the years could have been interpreted as carte blanche for the content sharers.

There's this recent bit from Esther/Abe, for instance, uploaded in September of 2011, before Jerry got sucked into The Vortex. And as a reminder for those who aren't familiar with the Abe-Hicks shtick, that's Esther's voice, but you'll hear "Jerry and Esther" referred to in the third person because, you see, that's Abe talking through Esther.

I listened very carefully to this rambling, but it was kind of hard to tell exactly what Esther/Abe is/are saying about copyrights. New-Wagers are so indirect. If they're not couching things in enlightened-sounding euphemisms, they're just plain babbling. However, in this recording Esther-as-Abe seems to be saying that protecting copyrights is kind of a negative thing and isn't really necessary if you're going with the flow. She/they also seems to be saying that "this thing you call the Internet" is wonderful, because it provides an earthly demonstration of how LOA really works.

Then again, that was apparently recorded before Jerry croaked. Now the heirs to the throne are redoubling efforts to protect the territory. For the most part the Abe-Hicks organization seems to be couching the copyright fights in the most altruistic terms, claiming that their desire to protect their material is just so people who need their message can easily find them, and that it has nothing to do with money. Uh-huh.

But the torrenters fight on. One dedicated activist attempts to address both the legal and the moral issues surrounding the sharing of Abe-Hicks material (I won't name him, nor will I provide a link to his sites, but I imagine you can find them by Googling). He writes that in 2006 he came across the Abe-Hicks teachings, which changed his life for the better. He downloaded some MPFree files offered by Abe-Hicks and he got hooked. The more he studied their teaching, the more he wanted it. Alas, he was unemployed and could not spend the money they were asking for their recordings. (In my many years of observing, I've noticed that New-Wage gurus seem to attract more than the average bear's share of freeloaders.)

But our activist asked and searched, and, as he 'splains it, the Law of Attraction led him to Abraham-Hicks torrents. I would have put my money on Google rather than the LOA that led him torrentward, but whatevs, as the hipsters used to say until that phrase got worn out (yeah, I know I've used it here too, and I'm not even a hipster). In any event the torrents were his lifesaver, he noted, and he felt so blessed that he decided he wanted to share the goodies with everyone. It felt really good to spread the word and help others find what he'd found. At this point in his narrative he quoted Abe-Hicks:

You are uplifters to the core of your being. Part of your selfish nature is to share the good stuff. Part of your selfish nature is to revel in what feels good, and spread it so others may find it too. - Abraham-Hicks

He wrote that he was concerned about the legality of torrents but was reassured by no lesser beings than Abraham themselves. Here are the quotations that apparently assuaged his moral anguish:

Everything is valid and everything is truthful, because Law of Attraction lets everything be. The question is not whether it's right or wrong, whether their approach is right or wrong, or whether my approach is right or wrong. The question is: Does their approach feel good to me? And if it doesn't, then I choose a different approach. --- Abraham (Excerpted from the workshop in Los Angeles, CA on Sunday, August 2nd, 1998)

The Universe is not discriminating about the rightness or the wrongness of your request. It is here to accommodate all requests. All you have to do is be a Vibrational Match to your request, and the Universe will yield it to you. --- Abraham Excerpted from the workshop in Sacramento, CA on Saturday, May 13th, 2000

When you manage to stay connected to your Energy stream, you always win. And you know what, somebody else doesn't have to lose for you to win. There is always enough. --- Abraham

Alignment trumps everything including the supreme court. Stay true to your own desire. You don't have to convince anyone. --- Abraham

In other words, if taking and sharing other people's stuff makes you feel good, it's all right. Sorry, dude, but that probably ain't gonna hold up in court, if it comes to that. And all that stuff that Abe supposedly said about copyright being not all that important? I don't think that's going to fly either. I'm no lawyer so I really couldn't say how these things work, but I have watched a lot of law shows on TV, and I don't think there's any sort of precedent for calling imaginary buddies to the stand. I guess there's always a first time, though.

Hypocritical as the Hicks team seem to be on so many levels -- not the least of which is the ongoing masquerade that they're not in it for the money -- intellectual property rights law trumps what someone's imaginary friends supposedly said about sharing, feeling good, or what have you.

My biases here are twofold, and at first glance they seem to be somewhat in conflict with each other. First off, I look at the Hicks enterprise, and always have, from the perspective of one who firmly believes that Esther and Jerry made the whole Abe thing up, originally inspired in large part by the success of the late Jane Roberts and her made-up mate Seth. (I know I've linked to this 2007 Independent (UK) article about the Hicks before, but I'm linking again because it really does paint a revealing portrait of Esther and Jerry.) They have been pulling this brilliant scheme off for more than twenty-five years, and I suppose you kind of have to hand it to them for that. At some point one or both Hickses may have started to believe some of their own b.s. ("Be careful what you pretend to be," warned Vonnegut in what I think was his finest novel, Mother Night), but that doesn't make it any less b.s.-y. At any rate, the result is that Hicks and their bogus buds have provided much snark chum for this Whirled and a few others -- most notably, Kyra and Dave.

But I'm also looking at the torrent issue from the viewpoint of an author. Part of my role as a book editor and ghostwriter for going on twenty years has been that of author advocate, and I know something about the creative process and the work that goes into producing and marketing content -- even if you have someone else create all or part of it for you. The law is on the Hicks' side, of course, but, legal issues aside, I don't think anyone has a moral right to consistently take and share huge chunks of commercial content unless it is freely offered by the creators of that content. (Yes, even if those creators are hammy scammers who have made millions from selling their imaginary-pals shtick to spiritually, emotionally, and financially needy people, and even if they have kind of made it sound as if it's okay to freely share their creations.) Quoting segments -- even extended segments -- for the purpose of criticism or commentary or just plain poking fun is one thing. Consistently taking entire copyrighted works and distributing them without permission is quite another.

Some might think my whole spiel about protecting content is contradictory to my passionate defense of Internet freedom, as expressed in my anti-SOPA post just the other day. Not so. In my opinion, SOPA reaches much too far in "protecting" the rights of content creators, and unfairly punishing those who share content even in the most indirect and innocent way. On the other hand, I've never been particularly sympathetic to torrenters. I will be happy to hear from those who disagree with me on any of these issues, of course.

From my perspective, however, the larger and more disturbing issues here are not the hypocrisy (or Hicks-ocrisy, as the case may be), nor the greed that fuels the Abe-Hicks empire and apparently has for years, long before The Vortex welcomed Jerry into its infinite delights. Hypocrisy and greed are certainly prominent characteristics not only of Abe-Hicks, but also of New-Wage rockstars in general. But what concerns me even more is the fact that so many presumably educated adults are fighting passionately for free and unlimited access to what is basically a package of derivative crap. Branded derivative crap, yes, but derivative crap nonetheless. Aside from the ludicrous premise of receiving "wisdom" from a group of disembodied entities, even a casual glance at the messages that those all-knowing, all-wise entities are supposedly sharing should give pause.

Consider, for example, this snippet about one of Esther's recent solo workshops, as reported and commented on by Dave Stone (I've mentioned it on my Facebook page and at the end of my November 28 Abrascam post, but it's worth sharing again):

Asked by a mother in the hot seat about dealing with her young child who refused to share toys, the brilliant, all-knowing Abraham responded the the child was in alignment, enjoying his toy "like Jesus not freaking out about the toylessness of his friends."

Which coldhearted Jesus was that, Abe?

Farther along in the conversation, Esther told her she should not be concerned or interfere with her son's kicking their cat. It was between the animal abuser and the cat, Esther said, and the cat would teach him. That's right, Abe, bring us one more Ted Bundy.

Kind of creepy, no? (Or perhaps the kid was just demonstrating Jerry and Esther's folksy observation that life is "a kick in the pants.") And consider "Abraham's" teachings about evolution, as noted by Kyra a few months ago. In her December 11 blog post I linked to above, Kyra also noted that at the December 10, 2011 LIVE event, Esther-as-Abe informed her audience that the human species was on Earth at the same time as the dinosaurs. Move over, Creationists!

Some Abers will probably say that I'm cherry-picking, that it's unfair to judge an entire body of work by a couple of arbitrarily chosen examples. But just go to Kyra or Dave's sites and poke around through the archives, and you'll see tons of other examples to support the basic premise that the Abe-Hicks material is a steaming pile of sh.. perhaps not the wisest choice of a guidebook for living.

Meanwhile, it seems clear to me even from my vantage point as an outsider that in the wake of Jerry's death, many people are struggling desperately to cling to their beliefs in Abe and Esther, finding ways to justify (or simply ignore) the increasingly glaring hypocrisies and inconsistencies. At this point there is a whole herd of elephants in the room -- or dinosaurs, if you prefer -- and many of the Abe defenders are still finding ways not to talk about them, at least not honestly. They choose to remain in their beautiful daze, which I'm sure is just fine with Esther and her minions.

The only bright spot in all of this is that more of the natives really are getting restless, and perhaps for the first time are questioning not only the motives of the Abe-Hicks principals, but the validity of the stuff that spews out of Esther's mouth. And while the guardians of the Abe-Hicks empire may not find that very comforting, I think it's a very, very good thing.

PS ~ In other copyrights-and-wrongs news, the Hicks apparently also tried to trademark the phrase, "Law of Attraction" but had no luck. They have, however, cornered the market on Vortex of Attraction TM. Take that, all of you Secret stars and thousands of other other two-bit New-Wage hucksters and wannabes who are trying to capitalize on LOA. LOA ain't got nothin' on VOA.

PPS added on 28 December ~ Someone on Kyra's blog pointed out this blog post from an apparently recently disillusioned ex-Aber, who gives a very good account of her own experience in the Aber-hood. She describes the euphoria that comes from thinking one has finally found the true path, as well as the uncomfortable process of disillusionment. And I think she also nails the Hicks' true motives. Read the post here while you can: http://luvyourplanet.wordpress.com/2011/10/07/hello-world/

PPPS ~ In this recent article, Dave Stone documents that Esther-as-Abe has declared for many years that yes, it IS all about the money. Even religion is all about money, according to Abe, who apparently has also said that Esther herself is on a par with Jesus and Buddha. Good to know.

PPPPS added 3 January 2012 ~ Good Goddess, the post-script section on this thing is going to be longer than the actual post if this keeps up. But I just recently became aware of another new blog by a former Aber: Mariah's fine Post-Abe blog, which documents the lies one learns in the Aber-hood (and, in Mariah's case, eventually un-learns). Of particular interest: This post, dated December 29 (which also happened to be the birthday of long-time "friend" of the Hicks, Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale). The Abe-on-parenting theme fits in with that kick-the-kitty thang. Good job, Mariah. And beyond that, read the comments to this post. In particular, a commenter named Tina brings up what appears to be another sad tale of collateral damage -- easily worthy of separate subsequent posts. Stay tuned...

* By using the word "croaked" I am not being disrespectful; that's apparently a term freely used by the Abe-Hicks gang and their followers.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

███████ your site, fight SOPA

Have you heard of SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act?
Or the only marginally less loathsome Protect IP Act?

These are devious bipartisan creations of US legislation that could impose China- or Saudi Arabia-style censorship on millions of web site owners in the Land of the Free. Even including a single link to another site that didn't meet SOPA's stringent standards could result in the site that shared that link being taken down -- with no warning to the site's owner. The U.S. government would have the power to demand that the site be taken down, although the very well-funded supporters of the legislation -- namely the publishing, music, and film industries -- would actually be the watchdogs.

It seems to me that under SOPA, it could be relatively easy for anyone who was displeased by content on a Web site to get that site wiped off of the Web, provided that person had enough money and influence. Just think: my little blue Whirled could be toast. My fake robot pal Salty, whose trademark sign-off is "Bleep-Bloop," could be bleeped right off of the Internet. Your site(s) probably wouldn't be safe either.

There's still time to fight SOPA and Protect IP, though. Here are some helpful links:

http://boingboing.net/?p=134088

http://americancensorship.org/posts/4299/uncensor

And now back to our regularly scheduled ███████ .

PS ~ Thanks to Cassandra Yorgey for sharing those last two links on Facebook.

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Monday, December 05, 2011

True-dough updates: bad poetry for KT, hate mail for CC

Not long ago I was nosing around one of the main sites of a favorite snarget of mine, the infamous infomercial king and compulsive flopportunity huckster Kevin True-dough. As you may know if you have been hanging around here any length of time, or even if you've just been observing KT, he has a legion of worshipful followers who look upon him as a hero, fighting the good fight on their behalf against the forces of evil. Sometimes they express their love for him by writing atrocious songs or bad poetry. And that's just fine with me because, as you may also know, I am a dedicated fan of bad poetry, whether it's intentionally awful or not.

More than likely this attempt at a limerick, and the numerous responses to same, fall into the "not intentionally awful" category. Here's the original, published on the KT site this past August:
KT
There once was a man named Trudeau
Like a Jedi knight on the go
With Knowingness Transcendent
And his trusty e-pendant
He'll soon have all Congress in tow.
~ BB
Well, that got the inspirational juices flowing among the True-doughnuts. Here is an early response, from a poet named Stephen:
Hail! The Jedi named Trudeau,
Bring forth Siddus, Vader or Emperor.
Challenge! K.T. will with Kenobi and Yoda true,
Darth Congress that doth made America poor.

E-Pendant a swinging purifying the energies,
Flight to dark corners false rulers will.
They swarm but fall like flies,
When K.T. come to light the lying Congress Bill.

Indignant the populace shall be,
Their cause is to be free.
Kevin will raise the proud flag,
Hey, Trudeau your seat’s in the bag.
By "your seat's in the bag," I assume our poet is not referring to True-dough's buttocks being stuffed into a paper sack; rather, I believe he means that Kevin's Congressional seat, should the Great One choose to run, is secure. And those references to the E-pendant? Glad you asked.

There are several more poetic offerings on the site for your reading pleasure. Well, Dear Ones, inspiration is contagious: I was moved to write my own limerick in response, though I did not submit it to the KT Radio Show site.

You’ve heard of that huckster True-dough
And his wingnutty radio show
He’ll shamelessly spout
Lotsa nonsense about
All the stuff “they” don’t want you to know.

His followers treat him like God
Caring not that he’s served time for fraud.
They swallow the crap
That spews from his yap
Each utterance makes them applaud.

He started this scheme he calls GIN –
A thousand bucks just to get in
Thousands more to advance
It’s a desperate dance
And a dead end for all except him.
I may add more verses later if the inspiration hits me, and you're welcome to contribute some of your own. And, hey, I know that "him" doesn't rhyme with "GIN" and "in." But cut me some slack, all right?
 

In other True-dough news, it appears that the Jedi Knight with Knowingness Transcendent has lost his valiant battle to get his $37-plus million dollar Federal Trade Commission fine for lying to his customers thrown out. He's been fighting that thing for years. No doubt he will continue to fight it, accepting money from suckers who contribute to his KT Legal Defense Fund. For now, though, as the Infomercial Hell blogger wryly noted in response to this latest news: "It appears that Kevin’s magic genie and GIN/Illuminati buddies are letting him down on this one." Not to mention his E-pendant.
 

And by the way, although KT spewed some racist rants about Hispanics on his show a few months ago, grousing about the way those gosh-darned illegal Mexicans are taking over the US, he has absolutely no qualms about hustling Hispanics in their native tongue. Lately I've been noticing Spanish-dubbed versions of his Free Money infomercials playing on the Latino channels late at night. Never miss an opportunity... Oh, but of course, he is probably marketing only to legal "Mexicans." (I'll provide a link when and if I can find one. Meanwhile, if you are in the US and do some channel surfing late at night, you're bound to run into Señor Dinero Gratis.)
 

Finally, I was recently contacted by one Lynndel "Lynn" Edgington, an author and radio show host who runs a non-profit anti-fraud organization, Eagle Research Associates, Inc., http://www.eagleresearchassociates.org. Mr. Edgington, whose mission includes helping to protect the public from Internet investment fraud, is particularly concerned with Ponzi and Ponzi-like schemes, and notes that in today's desperate economic climate, so many people are grasping at straws, thinking these get-rich gimmicks will be the answer to their prayers. Among many other projects, he has worked on a TV show about a major scam that occurred in his neck of the woods, Orange County, California. The victims were all senior citizens in ill health; over half of them died before the perp ever got to trial, more died during the two-year trial, and today, out of 127 victims that came forward, only about a half dozen are still alive. Mr. Edgington, who had written an article about True-dough's G.I.N. scheme, asked my permission to re-publish one of my recent True-dough articles on the site. I granted it (here is the link).
 

Now, it may just be one big coinky-dink, but shortly after that re-publication I started getting some "fan mail" to one of my older True-dough posts, "First Amendment Stuporhero." Do I even have to add that both fans are named "Anonymous?"
 
The first one:
Wow! There's a reason why people like you remain losers your whole life and why the rest of us are making thousands of dollars a month with wait for it....Global Information Network, Juice Plus+ (NSA), Joe Vitale, Abraham, etc...the difference is we don't pertain to know it all like you do.

I've just sat and read through your entire 'blog' (I'll prefer to call it 'bog' from now on, as it's full of crap!) and a cold-shiver went through me as I recalled being just like you before making money by listening to someone who has money.
As you do NOT have money, why anyone would listen to you is beyond me. Although I suspect that your 'bog' is more of a vent for yourself than anything else.

You undoubtedly hate anyone who is successful and especially anyone who has learned to market that success for their (and others') benefits.

Do you actually believe the crap that you spout? I daresay you do and no doubt you would rebuke the retort against you as me being just another deluded individual, suckered into some MLM scam?!
Well, that's fine with me...when you're making $6,000 a month from sitting at home, not doing these MLM programs, as I am, get back to me and perhaps I'll think you've got something worthy to say. Until then, I think you're just proving yourself to be nothing more than an egotistical, self-centred, know-it-all, without the slightest clue as to how to be successful.

Good luck with being a continual loser and having loser friends with loser mentality!
Spoken like a loyal True-doughnut. Their hero is always talking about "winners" and "losers." The "losers," of course, are those who don't care enough about improving their lives to listen to Your Wish Is Your Command hundreds of times and to drink True-dough's G.I.N.-spiked Kool-Aid.
And then there was this comment, which may very well have come from the same person:
And the award for the most ignorant blogger and blog goes to YOU!!

What a scumbag you are! You dare to slander people who have been proven to help others and then you ask for 'donations' and have irrelevant google ads on your page? Pot calling the kettle black!

It's obvious to me and many others, that you haven't the first clue about most of these people you pull down. In fact, it seems to me that you enjoy bitching about successful people.

No problem there...you're a loser, always will be.
If you follow the links you'll see my replies, including my explanation about what a huge cash cow the GoogleAds program has been for me.
 

It seems to me that so far, in the great scheme of things, critical bloggers and watchdog sites can't hold a candle to the twin forces of scammers' greed and scammees' gullibility (or desperation). On an August KT Radio Network show, the topic of discussion was secret societies, which, of course, are the underlying theme and main hook for the ludicrous G.I.N. Here's a direct link to the video, in which, among other things, True-dough seems to be saying that he'd recently offered a free-car giveaway mainly so he could bring the losers who actually needed a car out of the woodwork and give them a good talking-to about trying to get something for nothing.

In response to this show, there was an outpouring of gratitude from True-dough's fans.
Such as this one, from someone named Lidia:
I am praying to God to help me to become a GIN MEMBER AS SOON AS POSSIBLE SO I CAN MAKE MONEY TO SUPPORT YOUR TV SHOW.IT IS INCREDIBLE! I AM JUST CRYING! I HAVE NO WORDS TO THANK YOU,KEVIN! LIDIA
Yanno, I feel like crying too when I read stuff like that.

PS ~ Here's the story of another criminal huckster following in True-dough's footsteps by casting himself as a noble fighter against the evil government. (And another hat-tip to Salty.)

More True-dough on this Whirled:

 

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