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.)

Sunday, October 08, 2017

James Arthur Ray Death Lodge Eighth Anniversary: Never Forget

Death, it seems, has dominated the news even more than usual for the past several weeks: there is the death and destruction caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria (and we're holding our collective breaths about Nate as I write this); and, of course, there is the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas a week ago today.

I don't expect the mainstream -- or even most of the independent -- news media to remember, much less focus upon, deaths that occurred years ago on a much smaller and less dramatic scale; after all, the journos and commentators can barely keep up with all of the mass shootings in America, much less the deaths caused by the arrogance and reckless actions of a sociopathic selfish-help "leader." But here in this obscure little outpost of the blogosphere, the deaths of three people in New-Wage/selfish-help/McSpirituality guru
James Arthur Ray's phony "sweat lodge" in Sedona, Arizona will never be forgotten.

It was on this day, eight years ago, that
Kirby Brown and James Shore perished as a result of their heavily manipulated/coerced participation in Ray's torture chamber. Nine days later a third participant, Liz Neuman, passed away as well, without ever awakening from a coma.

As I've written in previous anniversary posts, I knew none of them, though some of the family members are now my Facebook friends. But I think of them every year at this time. Mostly it is with sadness but also with anger, because the man whose recklessness was responsible for these three deaths (four, if you count
Colleen Conaway's death at another Ray event in July 2009), served a prison sentence of less than two years for the Sedona deaths. (He served no time at all for Colleen's death, and wasn't even charged, to say nothing of tried or convicted, although my understanding is that there was a civil settlement.)

But James Ray goes merrily on his way, scrabbling to reclaim his elevated spot in the selfish-help pantheon while spinning Sedona as his own personal tragedy. As I wrote here
last year:
...these days, James Ray is exploiting the Sedona tragedy and his time in prison for his own purposes, still parading as a success guru but with a new hook: he uses the pain and loss of others to portray himself as the hero who has walked through fire.

He may have walked through fire, figuratively speaking, but he did not die by fire, literally, as did James Shore, Kirby Brown and Liz Neuman.

He may have lost a lot, but he is still alive and capable of writing unmitigated crap such as, "In the process of losing everything...I actually found myself."

That theme -- redemption through profound loss -- is the one that Death Ray is still flogging.

Kirby Brown's family, trying to pick up the pieces and create something good and useful from the horror that James Ray bestowed upon their family and on so many others, continues to promote their non-profit, Seek Safely, whose purpose is to educate people about how to safely participate in the self-help industry. Check it out.

Others are doing their part too. As you probably know if you've been hanging around here for any length of time, one of my favorite blogging colleagues, who wrote in great depth about the James Ray nightmare, is Salty Droid, aka Jason Jones. He is a practicing lawyer again, and as I noted here, is using the law to go after destructive and potentially dangerous Scamworld players, e.g., MLM giant Herbalife, a company that, as he explained last month, he first began thinking about in 2009...

… when Liz Neuman died in James Arthur Ray’s fake sweat lodge. Liz got her first tastes of Death Ray’s self-help poison while attending Herbalife related events.

The deadly fake sweat lodge {that killed three people and seriously injured many others} was the culmination of James Ray International’s “Spiritual Warrior” weekend :: a deeply manipulative $10,000 event … the most expensive in a never ending sequence of events that Ray dubbed the “Journey of Power.

These events are dangerous :: weaponized fraud … and they permeate the scam industry. Every wretched festering scamhole I’ve climbed down has contained one of these escalating event sequences at the heart of the harm … anchoring victims to the bottom of Lake Misery.
Here is a direct link to the extended version of the Herbalife lawsuit (Rodgers et al. v Herbalife).

(Jason is also representing, pro bono, a blogger, Christina Hinks of the MommyGyver blog, who is being targeted and harassed by billion-dollar fashion MLM LuLaRue. According to the Truth In Advertising site, LuLaRue seems most upset by the blogger and other critics calling it a cult. Well, MLMs very often are cults in a sense, and it seems to me that the more cultish they are, the more likely they are to sue you for calling them cults or even hinting that they might be (consider the example of LGAT (large group awareness training) giant Landmark, f'rinstance...). Anyway, you can read Jason's take on the LuLaRue case here.)

I have neither a nonprofit nor a law degree, but as always I will continue, as I have for the past eight years, to do my part to make sure that people never forget what happened on October 8, 2009.

For insights into the sociopathic behavior of James Ray, and how it led up to Death Lodge,
see this post, written on the first anniversary of Sedona. Also read Connie Joy's book, Tragedy in Sedona. There's also a public Facebook group, James Arthur Ray is a Felon.

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Salty Droid (With Pants): off to a great start by suing Herbalife

I have bad news and good news.

The bad news, and it's pretty bad, is that (1) Leonard Cohen, who would have been celebrating
his 83rd birthday today, is still dead; and (2) Herr Twitler is still the #NotMyPresident.

The good news, and it is very, very good, is that my favorite scambusting blogger,
Salty Droid, aka Jason Michael Jones -- who was admitted to the Ohio bar last year and has begun practicing law again -- has, in partnership with Miami litigation firm Mark Migdal & Hayden, filed a class-action lawsuit against multi-level marketing (MLM) scam giant Herbalife, alleging civil racketeering (RICO) violations.

Here is a direct link to the 83-page complaint (1:17-cv-23429), which was filed in the United States District Court, Southern District of Florida, on September 18, 2017.

first announced the lawsuit against Herbalife on his blog the day the complaint was filed, and he posted a followup yesterday.

As for the rest of the media, which jumped on coverage of past legal actions against Herbalife, they seem to be a little behind the curve on this one. The Truth in Advertising site
reported the lawsuit yesterday, however, and did a good job of summarizing the case and the issues.

the Valuewalk investment blog mentioned the lawsuit on September 19. The writer noted that Herbalife stock was "about flat today," indicating that investors weren't too worried. He added:
Herbalife will either distance itself from those distributors or take over their defense. So they’ll either be condemning their conduct or endorsing it. Other high level distributors will have to worry about whether they will be added to the lawsuit.

The other big difference between this and Bostick
[a previous class action against Herbalife] is the new complaint alleges a RICO conspiracy – a corrupt enterprise consisting of the company and many top distributors – and it alleges that their sales-event methods violate the FTC order as well as other fraud statutes.
But the mainstream business and financial press don't seem to have paid it much heed as of now, at least if the Google search results as of today (September 21, 2017) are any indication. Oh, well, give 'em time.

The September 18 complaint focuses on Herbalife's live events, specifically, their Circle of Success gatherings across the country. While many might think that live events are rapidly becoming obsolete -- what with Skype and other technologies that are considerably cheaper and much less of a hassle -- live gatherings are still very much a part of Scamworld. Wrote Salty in his September 18 post:

These events are dangerous :: weaponized fraud … and they permeate the scam industry. Every wretched festering scamhole I’ve climbed down has contained one of these escalating event sequences at the heart of the harm … anchoring victims to the bottom of Lake Misery.
He pointed out that the fatal faux-sweat lodge that killed three of James Arthur Ray's followers was the culmination of a "deeply manipulative $10,000 event..." Moreover...
Many scams :: like the one I raged about here in 2013 {owned and operated by the now President of the United States of America} … are nothing but events.
And I can add, based upon my conversations with many ex-members, that events were what kept so many faithful followers of currently-imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau drinking the GIN (Global Information Network) Kool-Aid for so long. (Not that Trudeau is actually serving his sentence for the huge GIN fraud -- he's locked up for criminal contempt related to infomercials for his diet book -- but my point is still valid.) The live GIN events -- which included lavish cruises, weekend gatherings at fine hotels, and countless regional events that focused on aggressively manipulating attendees to upgrade to higher membership levels and teaching them to become more aggressively manipulative recruiters themselves -- were carefully and expertly crafted to foster the delusion that GIN members were part of an exclusive, elite group... but that they could only achieve true success and happiness and fulfillment by continually pouring money they didn't have into GIN's coffers, which turned out to be nothing more than a personal piggy bank for Trudeau.

Live events were also how Trudeau's former b.f.f., fake doctor/cancer quack/semi-literate conspiracy peddler
Leonard Coldwell, tried to recreate GIN (after being fired by Kevin) through his IBMS Masters Society, but Lenny and his former partner and bro-in-harms Peter Wink (another former Trudeau employee) never had the drawing power that Kevin Trudeau enjoyed. The IBMS events were pretty much a flop, with ever-dwindling attendance, and the "club" ultimately failed in the United States. (Lenny is apparently trying to recreate the magic in Germany now, but I predict it won't last, and can say with near-certainty that even now, it isn't nearly as successful as his Facebook boasts would indicate.)

And, of course, live events have been a very big part of the Herbalife fraud. A little over a year ago Herbalife agreed to a $200 million settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that required it to change its compensation system from being based on recruitment to being based on actual product sales to real customers. But, as the current RICO complaint notes, the FTC didn't address the Circle of Success events, which are described in the complaint as "the single most effective fraud in the arsenal of Herbalife and its top distributors."

The event system lures and ensnares people such as Plaintiffs with the guarantee of significant income, a better lifestyle, and even happiness – all to be easily attained through event attendance.
Yup... just like in GIN.

Meanwhile, in related Scamworld news, the family of Herr Twitler's Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, is reportedly pushing Congress to pass a rider that would limit regulatory oversight of MLMs, presumably to make life easier for her family's company, Scamway, and help them avoid some of the troubles suffered by Herbalife. The rider would curb the ability of the FTC to investigate whether MLMs like Amway are pyramid schemes.

Jason et al., y'all have your work cut out for you. But your class action against Herbalife is a great start. Keep it up.

And by the way, here again is a link to Jason's Salty-Droid-With-Pants web site,
JonesAtLaw.com. Eat your hearts out, Culbertson&Ass.

PS added 23 September, 2015: Here is a link to the extended version of the complaint against Herbalife, with all exhibits attached.

Related on this blog:
Tin Promises: How MLMs Can Tear Lives Apart
Part 1 and Part 2

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Hay, that's no way to say goodbye*

I've been more than a little negligent in my blogging duties for quite some time now, but -- notwithstanding my recent and understandable preoccupation with hurricanes Harvey and Irma and such -- there truly is no excuse for my failure, thus far, to mention the passing of Louise Hay, the elder stateswoman of the New-Wage/selfish-help/McSpirituality industrial complex. She died in her sleep on August 30, 2017, at the age of 90.

Many folks just adored Louise. She was arguably a beacon of light for the gay community back in the 1980s, as she was
an early advocate for AIDS victims, providing spiritual and emotional sustenance to many egregiously stigmatized folks. Not everyone was enamored of her approach; critics complained that her message seemed to be that AIDS and every other ailment could be cured through affirmations and a positive attitude. Some accused her of a blame-the-victim approach; defenders claimed she was simply empowering people to take charge of their own health.

As the years went by her fame and influence grew, in large part because her publishing company,
Hay House, became a hugely successful model of New-Wage//McSpirituality crapitalism, or, depending upon your perspective, a purveyor of "products and services that empower and educate the individual, while helping to heal our planet." I lean towards the "crapitalism" p.o.v.

One of this blog's favorite snargets (snark targets),
Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale, is a yuuuge fan of Ms. Hay, and, in his characteristic single-sentence-paragraph blogstyle, he wrote a loving tribute to her after her death. Joe'd had a long-time goal of being published by Hay House, a goal that was apparently realized at last in 2014 when Hay's company foisted The Remembering Process on the world. Granted, that book was co-authored with Austin music producer and musician Daniel Barrett, and Joe didn't get top billing, but he still describes the publishing as "a milestone in my career."

For the most part, the commenters on Joe's tribute blog post were complimentary to Joe as well as to Louise. But then came someone named Gena:

Gena-Reply September 2, 2017 at 11:08 pm
Apparently you missed beautiful Louise Hay’s message about the joy, satisfaction and worthyness [sic] of giving.
Oprah Winfrey, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Leonardo DiCaprio, Beyonce, Brene Brown, the Kardashians, sports figures, musicians and millions of people across the country are giving money, time, energy and personal resources to help those in need in wake of the devistation of Hurricane Harvey in YOUR HOME STATE.
Where are you in all of this? Writing a memoriam to Louise Hay that’s about you, as well as shamelessly promoting one of your books in the memoriam; writing blogs about yourself; promoting your products and continuing on in your tireless promotion of yourself.
Oh, and forgive me if I didnt
[sic] mention your call to “love” Houston in your promotion of an audio series that, wait for it…. promotes yourself.
Lastly, I searched online to find direction from you, or direction to your charitable foundation in an effort to help the tens of thousands of people who lost literally everything this past week. . some of whom lost loved ones too… and to my shock and dismay.. you do not have a charitable Foundation, you have offered nothing up to help “others” without direct impact to your bottomline, and you have made zero effort to make a call to action to help the people, in your State, that at this time of unimaginable loss and crisis, need help the most. (For gods sakes, no clean water, food, or safe place to live other than, thank god, a shelter).
Many people left their homes without shoes on their feet, and will return to uninhabitable structures.
Apparently the real secret is, you don’t help those who don’t directly help your bottomline and at the hour of greatest need, you are absent to the suffering of others.
My deep disappointment in how you have failed to show up for Houston can only be matched by my awe and gratitude for those who reached, stretched or simply showed up selflessly to care for one-another.
And Joe responded:
  • Joe Vitale-Reply September 6, 2017 at 12:49 pm Gena, your heart is in the right place. I have promoted relief for Houston on all social media, and I have created foundations to help, such as Operation YES, and I have written about the power of giving in many places and in my books. I could go on, but instead of judging without research, why not just help?
That response is, I must say, a bit more refined than many of Joe's past snarky and hostile responses to critics. Still, there was more than a hint of Joe-like passive-aggressiveness, not to mention an apparent misrepresentation of his "foundation," Operation Y.E.S. (Y.E.S. being an acronym for Your Economic Solution (formerly Your Economic Salvation)).

OpYES has received its share of snark
on this blog, as well as on others, such as the dormant but still relevant Mr. Fire's Pyre blog. Joe first announced the program in spring of 2008, originally billing it as a plan to end homelessness and poverty and foreclosures in the U.S. in one day, or something like that. (Here's an early blog post by Joe's buddy Peter Wink, announcing the pre-launch of the program.) For years, some of us "hater" bloggers pounded away at the issue, questioning what, if anything, Operation Y.E.S. actually did to help the homeless and the poor. Joe's not very forthcoming about that, and the site -- here's that link again -- is basically just a sign-up site to get you into yet another hustledork sales funnel.

Or maybe I'm missing something. Maybe, behind all of that shameless self-aggrandizement on the Operation Y.E.S. site, there is an actual foundation that actually does something to help the vics of Hurricane Harvey, as Joe seemed to be insinuating in his response to "Gena." Joe -- or someone else in the know about Operation Y.E.S. -- is more than welcome to drop a comment on this blog and 'splain exactly how Operation Y.E.S. has helped anyone who is truly in need, much less the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

But I digress. This post is supposed to be about the late Louise Hay. And while
the loving tributes have poured in from self-help gurus and Hay fans and followers, Hay's critics haven't been driven into silence.

For instance, there's my pal Yakaru, a long-time friend of this blog (back in 2012, he helped provide information for
my first post about the stupidest and most evil man in Scamworld, cancer quack and fraudster Leonard Coldwell). Yak writes the wonderful "Spirituality is No Excuse" blog, and after Hay's death he wrote a post titled, "Speaking ill of a dead cancer quack -- Louise Hay."
Louise Hay, unlike some other cancer quacks, probably did not die of cancer. At least there is no evidence she died of cancer…. No evidence, in fact that she ever even had cancer at any time in her life.
Louise Hay said she had cancer in 1977 or 1978 — she can’t remember which. She said her doctors thought it would kill her. And she said she cured it herself. But she can’t remember the doctors’ names, and can’t remember what stage the cancer was at when she “cured” it.
But Louise Hay had already published her first book, You Can Heal Your Life, in 1976. So she published a book listing a hundred or more diseases from leprosy to cancer, listed a “metaphysical cause” and a “healing affirmation” for each, and then a year or two later, “got cancer” herself. She promptly “cured” it — the perfect vindication of her book — but didn’t keep any documents and can’t remember even the most basic details about it.

Or none of that happened, and she was lying.

Lying, and believed by her customers because people don’t usually lie about that kind of thing. And then watched as millions of customers bought her “cancer cure” and tested it on themselves.

The husband of one such customer
left a comment here earlier this year:
Thanks to her unshakable belief in the teachings of this lady, and her refusal to follow a real treatment, which repeatedly drove a wedge into our happy married life, my beloved wife died last month, age 47. I miss her tremendously.
Yak had previously written about Louise -- here and here and here, for instance.

Yakaru is far from the only critic of Hay's (and her colleagues') brand of New-Wage pabulum;
here's a piece in The Guardian, published in 2009 during the height of the financial crisis. And the ever-dependable RationalWiki has a cynical take on Hay House.

And me? Where Louise Hay is concerned, I'm more sympathetic to the criticism than to the accolades. Even so, I have for the most part taken a more lighthearted approach to Hay's ouvre, as reflected in these bits from my 1996 BLP (book-like product), Cosmic Relief, which was a parody of those freebie New-Age rags that one can still find in many cities in the U.S. (As usual, click on pics to enlarge; you'll have to forgive the crudity of the execution; back in those days I only had access to vector clipart and wasn't yet working with photos. But I think the point gets across anyway.)

R.I.P., Louise, and rest assured that as long as gullibility remains a human trait, your legacy is safe.

* With apologies to the late, great Leonard Cohen

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Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Irma, Schmirma! Hurricane Diva is back on the job

For all of y'all who have been worrying about
Hurricane Irma, your worries are over. The world's leading wind whisperer/hurricane channeler is back on the job, and she and Irma both assure us that all is well.

When I first wrote about
Hurricane Harvey on this Whirled last week -- here's that link -- I mentioned that New-Wage huckster Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale was using the disaster as yet another marketing op. He'd done that before during various hurricanes and wildfires, so it wasn't really surprising. His willingness to exploit disaster and tragedy has made for some good blog fodder here over the years.
I couldn't help noticing that there was one person apparently missing in action from the Harvey party: "Phoenix" Lynn S. Marks, aka SpiritDiva, who in the past had led numerous phone meditations to help calm and redirect hurricanes.

I've written about Phoenix SpiritDiva a few times too. In the earlier daze of this blog, I was constantly getting emails from her, announcing one or another guided meditation to help uncover the storm of the week's warm and fuzzy side. During those times, my blog posts practically wrote themselves.

The way this hurricane communication thing works, according to the Messages from the Hurricanes page on Lynn's site (
here's that link again), is that "just minutes before starting each global meditation I [commune] with each storm directly and [ask] if it [has] a message for us."

Apparently hurricanes are quite the talkative bunch, though they seem a little grammar- and spelling-challenged at times, and they are delighted to use Lynn to channel their messages of love and hope for humankind. You can read several of the channeled messages -- including not one, not two, but three messages from
the 2008 disaster Ike -- on the page linked to in the paragraph above.

And SpiritDiva boasts quite a success rate...

We have successfully participated in prayer and meditation events to transform the path and intensity of several hurricanes and typhoons the past couple of years, including Dean, Ernesto, Ivan, Jeanne, Frances, Rita, Wilma and Alberto. We've seen them shift direction and decrease their energy within minutes of completing our meditations.
You forgot to mention your great success with Ike, Lynn. On the other hand, I don't blame you for not giving him a mention. Perhaps you're still stinging from his betrayal of you. After chatting with you on three different occasions, after he urged you and your fellow humans to "Know Peace. Radiate Peace. Be Peace," and assured you and the rest of us that "All is well"... he went on to nearly destroy Galveston and surrounding areas, and he did a good job of wrecking sizeable chunks of Houston as well. I'd feel betrayed too, if I were you.

Alas, I hadn't heard from Lynn in quite a while, and certainly didn't see anything from or by her in advance of Harvey's debut. I wondered if maybe she'd retired from the wind-whispering gig. I found that I kind of missed her.

But I needn't have worried. This morning I opened my email and was delighted to see that Phoenix SpiritDiva was back, and was all ready to tackle Irma, with our help, of course. The email header announced: Hurricane Irma Prayers & Meditation -- Today 9 AM EST. Actually we're still on Daylight Time here in the US of A, so I'm not sure what the "ST" (Standard Time) bit is all about, but I suppose the point is moot because unfortunately, due to my rising rather late this morning, I didn't see the email, which came to my in-box on 09/06/17 at 02:43 AM, until a couple of hours after the great meditation was presumably over. So I missed out on an opportunity to help talk Irma into becoming the loving, playful being that the Hurricane Diva insists all storms really are.

And it must have been quite a meditation, judging from the announcement. "Together," promised the email in big red letters, "we will transform IRMA." Then it continued in big green letters: "This 20-minute telephone call will make a difference." Then it continued with a few other promises in big letters in various other colors.

As of the moment I am publishing this, the transcript of the channeled message from Irma is not yet on the Messages from the Hurricanes page on SpiritDiva's site, but I'll keep checking back, and you can too. Meanwhile you can listen to a playback by calling 712-755-7029 (Access Code 912157#).

Or if you want to do your own 'cane meditation, Lynn offers
these helpful guidelines.

On a more serious note...
I'm not trying to say that prayer and meditation aren't helpful for self-soothing or in some cases for comforting others. If you want to pray or meditate or dance or twirl or sing or play music to help get you and others through the "storms of life," be my guest. Just don't pretend that you're actually talking to hurricanes, and if you do, please stop trying to make folks believe that you think the hurricanes are messengers of peace and "the higher good."

That said, despite my years of having fun on this blog at her expense, I'm not actually placing Lynn Marks in quite the same category as cynical New-Wage crapitalists like "Mr. Fire." Sure, she's using the hurricane shtick to promote her life coaching services and products and whatnot, but she's just not on the same level of awfulness as so many others I've snarked about on this Whirled.

And she's certainly not on the same level of pure evil stupidity as those who, motivated either by religious fervor, political hyperpartisanship, or a combination thereof, declare the disaster du jour to be karma or God's punishment or poetic justice for whatever stupid reason. I'm looking at you,
Ann Coulter. And Kenneth L. Storey (yeah, I know you apologized, but it was a stupid thing to say). And Charlie Hebdo. And all of you conservative "Christian" a-holes who, over the years, have said that the California wildfires/droughts/other natural disasters are God's punishment for the state's "liberalism." Just stop it, all of you.

For those who are or might be in the path of the storm, I hope you stay safe. And for anyone who is able to do so, please
help out the vics of Harvey in any way you can. They will still be needing help long after Harvey has faded from the news cycle.

Update, 24 September 2017:
The other day I received an email from Phoenix/SpiritDiva assuring me that all those prayers and meditations had indeed had a positive effect. Clicking the first link will take you directly to one of the messages from Irma.

Hello! Namaste! Welcome!
And, Thanks From My Heart!

Surely everyone's prayers and meditations made a huge difference in the outcome of Hurricane Irma across her entire path. 

Click the link to read my blog as she began to pass over south Florida and her channeled message: 

Yes, there was damage in Florida Keys and part of the west coast; and, thankfully, it was significantly less than predicted. And, when the electrical power was restored four days later it was like the cavalry arrived. You can read more on Hurricane Irma experience at my Facebook page.
One of SpiritDiva's buddies really got into the spirit of things too. Wrote SpiritDiva:
Lori, a longtime friend and former coaching client from New Jersey, joined the call this morning. Afterwards she shared vision she had during the meditation:
"A metaphor perhaps. What came to me was an image of Irma's loneliness and sadness and that she needed/wanted our 'embrace'. It came to me as if we were taking her core into our arms to dance with her slowly back to her joy. It felt incredible for the moment it lasted. Thank you for leading us to soothe her soul. Namaste my dear friend."
So there you have it: the essential problem with hurricanes is that they feel lonely and unloved. All we need to do to tame their fury is to dance with them slowly back to their joy. Good to know.

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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Harvey is bringing out the conspiranoids

Harvey, once a hurricane and then a tropical storm and currently a tropical depression, continues to dissipate, but Houston and numerous other smaller cities in southeast Texas are just now beginning to see their way past this hell. And other states are now being affected too. This horror story is far from over. Please, please help when and where you can.

But the blog beat must go on. And it is now clear that when I originally remarked -- on Facebook and
on this Whirled the other day -- about the dearth of crazy Harvey-related conspiracy theories, I was posting too soon. In the time since I published those posts, cancer quack, phony doctor, alt-right bigot, and inveterate conspiracy fan Leonard Coldwell has been released from Facebook jail, where he had been placed yet again for hate speech, though as usual he lied about the reasons, this time claiming that he got blocked for promoting his "new" cancer book on Facebook. And with LoonyC's release from the virtual hoosegow it became more apparent to me that, contrary to my previous perceptions, the conspiracy stream is now overflowing its banks and spreading throughout the nutosphere.

It seems, however, that the nuts are still not blaming Trump
the way they once blamed Obama, which is still no big surprise, since as I noted in my previous post about this matter, most of them are alt-right Herr Twitler fans. However, the perpetually rubescent right-wing conspiracy peddler Alex Jones suggested that Houston officials deliberately hosed Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts in order to make Mad King Donald look bad. Jones based his wacko premise on Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner's decision not to mass-evacuate Houston ahead of the storm, a decision for which Turner has been widely -- but wrongly, in my opinion -- criticized. (Here's a more detailed analysis, from Turner's opponent in the 2016 mayoral race.) Jones, you bloviating gasbag, you do not know what you're talking about, so please shut up.

And Alex Jones is far from the only big nut pandering to little nuts. Don't think for a moment that conspiracy promoter
Mike "The Health Ranger" Adams is staying out of the Harvey hoopla. An August 28 post on Natural News bears the headline:

“Weather wars” theorists claim Hurricane Harvey was engineered, “steered” toward Houston as a “weather terrorism” weapon

In this piece Adams pays lip service to "critical thinking." And on the surface he seems to be insinuating that some of the wilder theories that are circulating are bunk. But you don't have to read between the lines much to discern that he is clearly promoting his own agenda, which very much includes bolstering a general belief in conspiracies, as well as his ongoing theme that the "establishment" media are lying to you about nearly everything (whereas he, by contrast, is an unimpeachable source). It's understandable that he would take this tack. Not only does his sensationalism attract readers, but encouraging paranoia and fear helps advance his prepper/survivalist businesses.

And I can't help but notice how, in that August 28 article, Adams disingenuously conflates modern climate science -- which presents compelling evidence that destructive climate change is being fueled by human activity (but, contrary to Adams' insinuations, does not claim that extreme weather events are wholly human-created) -- with the wildest theories about
"geoengineering" and weaponized weather systems. He's throwing "climate alarmists" like Al Gore in with the nuttiest of the nutcakes. (This isn't to deny that geoengineering exists, but Adams' brand of conflation only muddies the issues.)

Speaking of little nuts, here are some more dispatches from the craziest sector of Crazy Town. (As usual, click on pics to enlarge 'em.)

It should come as no big surprise that these true believers are harping on HAARP again. Also, I would like to note that Hurricane Harvey first made landfall on 08/25/2017, not 08/29/2017. But... shhh! Don't tell the coincidence-I-think-not conspiranoids.

PS added on 8 September 2017:
Now we have Irma to worry about, but at least we know why Irma and Harvey were created! Herr Not-Doktor Stoopid strikes again.

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Monday, August 28, 2017

The dirty side of the storm

Here at the Ranch at the Edge of Nowhere, located about 50 miles northwest of Houston, we continue to reap the blessings of Tropical Storm (formerly Hurricane) Harvey. We're not in the worst of it by far, but it's still pretty stressful, and it is far from over.

And in our front yard, it looks like
déjà blew all over again. My husband Ron Kaye took the above photo early this morning. That lovely old tree fell some time in the wee hours, due either to high winds, loose saturated earth, or a combination of the two. Currently it is seriously threatening a power line and has pretty much wrecked the fence. The damage is more extensive than is apparent in the photo.

You know, it seems like
we just went through this nine or so years ago.

But... good news!... all is not lost. New-Wage hustledork/selfish-help crapitalist/McSpirituality guru Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale, whose email-orchestrated mass meditation saved Texas from Hurricane Rita in 2005 and Hurricane Ike in 2008 -- not to mention the wildfires in 2011 -- is on the job with Harvey, too. So we're in good hands.

In related news...
As some of you may know, one of my hobbies is tracking conspiracy nuts, something I originally became interested in because they have so often made good fodder for this Whirled. Accordingly, once Harvey became a thing in the news, I began Googling for any Harvey-related conspiracy theories. I expected to see all sorts of stuff about how Harvey isn't a genuine threat and is merely a product of the "fake news." Or, alternatively, I speculated there might be tales about #NotMyPresident Trump and his elitist buddies taking over the government's weather-control facilities in order to create Harvey, the way President Obama supposedly helped create Superstorm Sandy a few years ago.

I still recall how many conspiracy tales buzzed around natural disasters when Obama was in office. On more than one occasion the nut-cakes blamed him either for assisting the government/HAARP/the Illuminati in deliberately creating the storms, or for helping to perpetuate either hoaxes or "false flag" events to get us all into a panic. Some people managed to embrace both major theories at once. Of course the same loony theories were also put forth regarding mass shootings and some terror attacks.

According to the conspiranoids, the reason for false flag events or hoaxes or human-made storms was that the ensuing panic and chaos would make it easier for Obama and his henchmen to take our guns away and herd us into FEMA camps, where we'd either be killed or turned into slaves for the elite, and most certainly we would be forcibly vaccinated with microchips and whatnot. (The stupidest and most evil man in Scamworld, phony doctor and cancer quack
Leonard Coldwell, was and remains one of the most passionate embracers of these narratives.)

At any rate, I have eagerly searched for the conspiracy tales around Harvey. But so far... nothing -- at least, not anything directly blaming Mad King Donald. Apparently Trump is as blameless as Obama was blameworthy. But I guess that is not terribly surprising, seeing as how most of today's passionate conspiracy believers also happen to be alt-right types. Another factor may be that at least two of the top conspiracy peddlers --
Alex Jones and Mike "The Health Ranger" Adams -- are actually in Texas, and perhaps are seeing some of the ongoing, and very real, horrors first hand.

But when searching yesterday, I did come across
this August 25 piece from The Daily Beast, a reminder of the good old daze when we had a real president, and his haters were still for the most part on the fringe.

[Addendum, 29 August: There has also been a sprinkling of the usual geoengineering conspiracy speculation. I just now found this bit of nonsense, also dated August 25, on the Liberty Beacon site. And here is the MetaBunk site's take on that piece.]

I will be back with more soon. Meanwhile, my friends, if you're even marginally in the path of the storm, stay safe. And for those who want to do something to help the victims of the hurricane, millions of whom are floundering in my beloved former home town of Houston, and many of whom have lost everything but their lives, start here.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Thank you, Herr Drumpf

Watch this VICE News Episode from August 14, if you haven't already. Or watch it again.

Then tell me with a straight face that the counter-protesters (or "alt-left" or "anti-fa" or whatever you choose to call them) in Charlottesville, Virginia were morally equivalent to, and equally to blame as, those who were hosting this vile party.

And tell me again how your "president" is the president of all of the American people, and is blameless in this saga.

PS ~ On his blog, Rev Ron's Rants, my husband Ron Kaye offers a voice of peace and reason and sanity regarding the events of the day.

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Monday, August 14, 2017

The Only Answer To ® Recycled Cancer Misinformation & Relentless Self-Promotion

In 2008, Leonard Coldwell -- fake doctor, cancer quack and at that time an enthusiastic cohort of currently imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau -- vanity-published a book called Instinct Based Medicine, a rambling, redundant collection of medical misinformation and long rants against the medical profession (some of which were justified but most of which were self-serving distortions). The whole thing was framed around Coldwell's dramatic narrative of his life as a Brave Maverick Doctor, and the text was peppered with relentless promotions for his and some of his buddies' frauducts and flopportunities.

A year or so later, as Trudeau's big scam the
Global Information Network, or GIN, was taking off and Coldwell was reaping the benefits as a featured speaker and owner of an unearned* downline in GIN's multi-level marketing scheme, he repackaged Instinct Based Medicine as The Only Answer to Cancer. This newer book used much of the same material that was in the previous work but substituted endorsements and testimonials from folks with whom he'd had a falling-out with praise from some current-at-the-time buddies, and there were new and more dramatic details in his Brave Maverick Doctor and miracle-healer narrative. (For instance, in the newer book he added that he had cured his mommy of Hepatitis C when he was a mere youth, in addition to curing her of cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. There was no mention of Hep C in the older book. In any case, Hep C hadn't even been identified by medical science yet at the time he supposedly "cured" her.)

Coldwell and Trudeau divorced in 2012 when Trudeau kicked Coldwell out of GIN, and since then Coldwell has spent a great deal of time bad-mouthing Trudeau (justifiably) while conveniently failing to acknowledge his own complicity in Trudeau's scams. But most of his time and energy over the past five years have been occupied trying to regain some traction in Scamworld after no longer having the much more popular Kevin Trudeau's teat to suck on.

I bought both Instinct Based Medicine and The Only Answer to Cancer on the used-book marketplace for cheap. But now it looks like I'm going to have to make yet a third investment, eventually, because Lenny is currently poised to release his newest English-language work, the long-awaited
The ONLY Cancer Patient Cure, which you can now pre-order for $19.99 USD plus shipping and handling, and you can only hope that the book eventually shows up at your door some time in September.

The arrangement of text on the front cover makes it appear that the title of the book is The Only Answer To® The ONLY Cancer Patient Cure, a title as mangled and nonsensical as much of Lenny's prose. In fact, Lenny himself -- and/or the admin responsible for handling many of his "blog posts" -- apparently believe that this is the real title. Or maybe it's just ham-handed SEO.


But as you can see by what I assume is the picture of the book's cover, the spine (that bit on the left-hand side of the graphic) makes it pretty clear that the title is simply, The ONLY Cancer Patient Cure, which indicates to me that The Only Answer To® bit on the front cover is merely for branding purposes. However, since the phrase The Only Answer To® isn't part of the new book's actual title, it seems to be kind of a stretch, but then, I'm no branding expert and Lenny and his publisher clearly are.

According to a blurb on the front cover of the new magnum dopus, "100% of Profits Go To Non-Profit." In other words, it appears that Lenny plans as usual to funnel money into one of his numerous "non-profits" -- such as his much-boasted about
Foundation for Crime and Drug Free Schools and Health for Children -- in order to avoid paying taxes on sales of the book, while granting himself bragging rights as a high-minded humanitarian who has no desire to make money from other people's desperation. There's no telling how many "non-profits" he has in the US and in Germany, but I strongly suspect that few if any dollars or Euros go to any legitimate charities.

Judging by the logo on the spine, Lenny's stellar new work is being published by his favorite pay-to-play book producer, which he has used for most of his previous English-language works,
21st Century Press ("At 21st Century Press, creating a culture for author-centricity is the core mindset behind how we approach publishing books to an ever changing world.").

Apart from their garbled mission statement, or whatever that blurb was supposed to be, and their highly questionable taste in clients (at least in this particular case), 21st Century Press maintains a professional facade and it's pretty clear that someone there has a general love for books and publishing. Their web site is clearly designed by professionals, and the copy is written by people who, notwithstanding that train wreck of a mission statement, are obviously much more eloquent than at least one of the company's star authors. Just take a gander at the lovely prose squandered on one of LoonyC's older works,
The Only Answer To Stress.
Dr. Leonard Coldwell has written this remarkable handbook for health with two voices.  Like a singer producing not one beautiful tone but two at the same time, these two voices blend into a harmonious song of health and potential.  And the remarkable thing is that every single person who reads—and follows—this beautiful book will be able to sing that way, too.  And their words, and the glorious melody of health and empowerment will be theirs, and theirs alone!

The two voices are the voice of the deeply informed, knowledgeable expert in physiology, medicine, neurology, biochemistry, pathology, research and clinical care—of which Dr. Coldwell is—and the homey, chatty, straight-from-the-shoulder Dutch uncle who tells you what is really going on, with compassion, but with no patience for self-pity or sloppy excuses.

So, in your hands, on the pages of this book, you have a tell-it-like-it-is friend and a scientific integrator who can make the complicated business of the life sciences simple, clear and, most important, comprehensible.

Dr. Coldwell ties all of the relevant sciences into one neat package with your life and shows you how, in simple, concise and well-laid-out steps, how it works and what to do about it.
You have to wonder if the person who wrote that was giggling or gagging while doing so. One thing is certain: Lenny paid to get those words written.

There are of course numerous inaccuracies in the poetic tribute quoted above. First off, if you've ever read any of his hateful, misspelled, grammar-challenged Facebook rants you'll probably be able to figure out that "Dr." Coldwell doesn't write any of his English-language books himself. Instead he uses ghostwriters -- most notably, a woman named
Kelly Wallace. There's no shame in that, of course, as many folks who either can't write (like Lenny), or are too busy to do so, use ghostwriters. However, even with the help of ghostwriters fluent in English, the books of Coldwell's that I've seen are, as indicated above, rambling and redundant and could use some serious editing.

But describing him as a writer is the least of the sins in the blurb quoted above. To compare any of his work to a singer "producing not one beautiful tone but two at the same time" is just plain silly. Even more ludicrous is the claim that he is a "deeply informed, knowledgeable expert" in anything.
He's not. And he's far less like a "homey, chatty... Dutch uncle" than like the volatile, raving, bigoted drunk uncle who used to be an embarrassment at your holiday gatherings until finally the adults just learned to ignore him and the children were taught to do the same. Except he's far less likeable than that druncle, and for that matter probably quite a bit drunker much of the time.

21st Century Press describes itself as
a "partnership/royalty press" offering two options for the aspiring author. If you want the royalty deal you'll pay nothing upfront, but will apparently be required to purchase at least 500 copies of your own book, though they'll give you a 50% discount off the retail price. So that means Lenny would have to spend about $5,000 for a minimum run of his newest book, which has a retail price of $19.99, according to the current order form. The other option is for you to pay $3,000 upfront for 21st Century to put a book together for you (editing, book design, pre-press, printing, and whatever marketing and promotional services come with the deal), and you get 50 copies of the finished work. No doubt you have the option of buying as many additional copies as you want, for additional costs, of course.

Call it a vanity press if you wish, but this is actually a perfectly legitimate business model for authors who either can't land a traditional publishing deal (which is most likely the case with Lenny) or just don't want to, though other self-publishing options may be much better for authors who believe they can sell a lot of books and/or who want more control over every aspect of the publishing process, including ownership of their ISBNs, which is more important than you might think. But the point to remember is that with this business model the author pays to get published, and the merits of the work in question matter far less than the author's credit card number. That's something Lenny never mentions regarding any of his many "mega-bestselling" titles, whether they're in German (for which he uses
Jim Humble Verlag) or English.

Lenny's English-language publisher apparently also offers a range of a la carte services for the self-published author, including
manuscript review, the fee for which they promise to fully credit to the author if she or he chooses to publish with them. This bit is a little puzzling, though:
Some publishers charge upwards of $10,000 for a professional manuscript review. We charge nothing. And if you choose to publish with us, we will fully refund this amount back to you or place it as a credit toward your contract.
Wow. A refund on $0.00. What have ya got to lose?

I've previously written about the brains behind 21st Century,
Lee Fredrickson. See, for instance, this Whirled post from August 2014, in a December 2014 update inserted into the main text. (Some links in that section are no longer valid but were at the time the post was published.)

Since 2014, when Lenny began claiming that
he had written and was poised to publish a whole book "exposing" yours truly and a few other critical bloggers** (the linked screen grab was from October 2014), I've sent several polite emails to Mr. Fredrickson at the email address posted on his site (lee@21stcenturypress.com), simply inquiring about the titles and release dates of any upcoming books by his client and buddy "Dr." Coldwell. But I never received any reply whatsoever, not even an acknowledgment that my emails had been received.

At any rate, when I finally buy The ONLY Cancer Patient Cure I'll let you know my opinion. I may be totally wrong and it might really be all new material, but... oh, who am I kidding? But I'll let you know either way. Or you can buy the book now and let me know.

For the time being, I'm still waiting for the release of Horny Connie & Friends, or whatever that book that was set to be published on February 4, 2015, according to Lenny, was supposed to be titled. Lacking that, I'll be on the lookout in The ONLY Cancer Patient Cure for new additions to the Brave Maverick Doc narrative, and if there's anything in there about an AIDS-infected, sexually predatory, mentally ill, drug-addicted, dog-killing former prostitute who is on Big Pharma's payroll (all of which are lies that Coldwell has publicly and repeatedly written about me), the publisher may be hearing from my attorney. But I have a feeling he's too smart to publish all of Coldwell's unadulterated crap, and it's possible that even little Lenny himself has learned his lesson about targeting those who are trying to get to the truth about him. We'll see.

PS added on 20 August ~ Hatemonger and conspiracy peddler Jeff Rense, a long-time buddy of Coldwell's, interviewed Lenny on Friday, August 11. That was the same night that Neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and a variety of other bigots marched in Charlottesville, Virginia with guns, swords, and tiki torches. Although the Friday night march, and the tragedy that followed the next day, were of course not mentioned in the Rense-Coldwell conversation, the vile hatred spewed in that exchange is symptomatic of the same deep malaise that drove the bigots who convened in Charlottesville. It is staggeringly stupid, this conversation, and if you don't feel like listening to it in its entirety you can get the gist of it pretty well from the transcript, which is more accurate than most of the YouTube automatic transcripts I've read. Just be aware that due to Lenny's accent and his problems with the letter "r," the words "rape" or "raping" (and he does talk about rape a LOT in this conversation; it remains one of his favorite subjects) come out in the transcript as "wave" or "waving." Enjoy!

PPS added on 2 September ~ The Brave Maverick Doctor rides again! If you listened to the above-linked conversation between those two raging bigots Rense and Coldwell, you already know that Lenny is now claiming that "they" tried to kill him over his "new" book. He's using that phony story as a promotional hook. If you believe it, you have either not done much research on him, or there is something wrong with your critical-thinking faculties.

* Regarding Coldwell's unearned GIN downline: By this I mean that, according to Coldwell's account on an October 14, 2012 teleconference between him and his buddy Peter Wink (the link to that conference has long since disappeared, but I did listen to the whole thing), Kevin Trudeau gave Coldwell "a free downline to make it look like I was a member of GIN." Despite his claim in that teleconference that he never worked the downline, Coldwell did apparently work it quite aggressively, if the accounts of various ex-GIN members, and some of Coldwell's own online promos, are any indication. I wrote about that October 2012 teleconference in this January 2013 blog post (under the sub-head, "Axes of evil"). 

** In addition to me, the other bloggers whom Coldwell was supposedly going to "expose" in his new "book" were Salty Droid, Bernie O'Mahony at GINtruth, and Omri Shabat of the now-defunct Glancingweb blog. In 2015 Coldwell ended up suing Salty and me and a few other parties for defamation, but the suit was unsuccessful.

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