Tag Archives: Tom Cruise

Scientology Daily Digest: Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Today’s news seems to be focused on the new Mark VIII e-meter, with some commenters noting that it bears more than a passing resemblance to the recently redesigned Kenner Easy-Bake Oven.  Some say that this is because Ideo, the legendary design firm that did tons of iconic products over the years including many for Apple, did both products. In a comment on Mike Rinder’s blog, not yet moderated by press time, I said that the design of the new e-meter isn’t half bad, and could well have been done by Ideo.  And I’m actually serious. The good design doesn’t excuse the stupidity of leaving this thing in a warehouse for a decade or a lot of other mistakes in the GAT2 rollout, but it’s not bad design by itself.

Also, life seems to have dealt Mr. Thomas C. Mapother IV a mixed bag today.

My Blog

I normally don’t like to do something that looks like I might be tooting my own horn, but there were a couple comments on my blog in the last 24 hours that I thought were worth calling your attention to.

  • Eclipse-girl wondered how I got an estimate of 500 to 700 Scientologists in Germany when the German government’s official count was about 4,000.  I went through a detailed discussion in my reply.  This might be a useful read as we start to go through and build up an estimate of membership.
  • OrangySky takes umbrage with a commenter in another forum who says they’re too clever not to get involved in a cult.  I share the experience of several very smart people who still managed to get tangled up a cult (one Scientology, one not), because that cult was able, whether by intent or by accident, to target their Achilles’ heel.

Tony Ortega’s Blog

Tony’s blog post today contained the regular Tuesday feature with Claire Headley (recently joined by longtime top ranked auditor Bruce Hines) taking us “up the bridge,” going through all the materials for each level.  Today’s OT 2 stuff basically sounds like pages and pages of Orwellian “word salad” that sure looks like the goal is to scramble any remaining critical thinking skills.

There’s also a status update on the depositions in the Monique Rathbun case. The next court date is December 11.  They’ve gotten depositions from cult execs Warren McShane and Allen Cartwright, plus defendants Monty Drake and Steven Sloat. Tommy Davis is scheduled for December 4 in Austin and Leah Remini is still not scheduled.

 

Senate House at the University of London, considered to be the model for the Ministry of Truth building in George Orwell's 1984.

Senate House at the University of London, considered to be the model for the Ministry of Truth building in George Orwell’s 1984.

My take:  Some of these statements, including the first few, which read:

1. To Die is To Live
2. To Live is to Die
3. To Surrender is to Victimize
4. To Victimize is to Surrender
5. To Lose is to Win

… all suggest that somebody was reading a little too much George Orwell when they wrote all this stuff. Perhaps one could envision these chiseled on the wall at the Super Power building, which, given its foreboding footprint on its lot, resembles the immense

Super Power Building. If you imagine this in gray, you can kind of see a resemblance.

Super Power Building. If you imagine this in gray, you can kind of see a resemblance.

Ministry of Truth building in 1984 but with a pseudo-Mediterranean Disney-esque paint job. Even skimming this list without holding the cans, I can see my synapses frying like an egg on a hot griddle.

Regarding the depositions in Monique Rathbun case, it would be delightful fun to read Warren McShane’s deposition, given that I seem to recall a quote from Miscavige to the effect of how he loved it when Warren testified because he is the best liar on the management team. And I would certainly pay money (though I wouldn’t go so far as to hock the Global Capitalism HQ jet) to see the video of Tommy Davis’s deposition, just to watch him get “really angry!”

Some of the comments that riff on other trending topics are the best payload of Tony’s story today.

Selected comments: 

Mike Rinder’s Blog

  • Exhibit 1: The Mark VIII E-Meter

    Exhibit 1: The Mark VIII E-Meter

    Mike picked up on the commenter from Tony’s blog who noticed the resemblance between the new Mark VIII Super-De-Duper and the recently restyled Easy-Bake Oven.  One commenter claims that these two products were done by the same design firm, the one that has done a lot of work for Apple.

    Easy-Bake Oven... Separated at birth?

    Easy-Bake Oven… Separated at birth?

    I contend that this is eminently possible, and in a long comment on Rinder’s site, I deconstructed the design elements of the new e-meter that make me believe this. I also tracked down an interesting tidbit on the history of the redsign of the Easy-Bake Oven.

  • New Valley Org solicitation.  I "command" you to reach for your wallets, since asking politely didn't work too well.

    New Valley Org solicitation. I “command” you to reach for your wallets, since asking politely didn’t work too well.

    Mike also published an interesting Valley Ideal Org flyer (which a tipster originally sent me a couple of days ago).  The first thing you see is the word “Command” at the top. It’s all about how DM is commanding you to get the Valley Org done. Not about how great it will be for those about to throng the doorway to learn about Scientology, nor what it will do for existing public. It’s all about how you can obey him.

Forum Sites (WWP, ESMB, OCMB)

  • WWP discusses new “rules” for owning an e-meter, including a clause that says you can only own one if you remain in good standing. Not sure how enforceable that is, but nice try… Also, it might be interesting to see if the requirement that you have a current annual or lifetime IAS membership before being allowed to buy a meter constitutes “tying” under anti-trust law.
  • A WWP thread discusses the software update for your PC that connects to the new Mark VIII E-meter, wondering if it is entirely about the E-meter or wondering if there might be other secret capabilities involved, like a new “net nanny” package.  Worth monitoring in case some clever Anon manages to disassemble part of the executable to see what it really does.

General News

Scientology Daily Digest: Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Today was definitely busier than yesterday.  The biggest news today was that Clearwater granted the permits for the events this weekend with only some minor restrictions.  It sounds like they rolled over on the cult, but the permits for the IAS event over Thanksgiving weekend and the New Year’s Eve event are still pending.

Also, a subtle data point but one that’s pretty telling: apparently, the cult won’t show the video of the big events at missions. But if they’re that important, wouldn’t they want everybody and their brother to see them?  Oh, and there will be no DVD’s made under any circumstances. Guess they don’t want them to end up in the wrong hands.  I’m sure they will anyway, in a matter of minutes.  Dave may well find out that his security is still more porous than he thinks. This shows the power of the Joking & Degrading community, which probably outnumbers current cult membership these days.

Tony Ortega’s Blog

The big feature of today’s story was how Lisa Marie Presley used language that seemed to move closer to condemning Scientology outright than the fairly elliptical language in the past. This is potentially interesting in light of the fact that her mother, Priscilla, apparently remains in the cult (though she could well be “under the radar”), as well as her ex-husband and potentially her kids from that marriage.  Thus, disconnection may be a significant issue.

Tony also published a photo taken from inside the Ft.Harrison hotel across to the Super Power building, to needle DM about the increasingly porous security.

The “thetaburst” mailing list put out a bogus e-mail purporting to be from Flag announcing a date change for the event.

Finally, there’s a pic of the “endocrine states” machine, which looks like some sort of miniature version of the “Star Tours” ride at Disney World, kind of like an aircraft simulator platform.

My take:  It’s interesting that Lisa Marie is moving towards openly condemning the cult, but it’s probably premature to hope that she will publicly break with them the way Leah Remini did, if for no other reason than that Leah got her entire family out at once; it’s unlikely that LMP will be able to do the same.

Regarding the Fort Harrison picture, it appears to be above the top floor of the new Super Power building, so it’s potentially shot from the top two floors of the Fort Harrison Hotel. I’ve never been there, but it appears that those two floors have significantly higher ceilings so they may be some sort of dining facility or meeting rooms.  I doubt that Miscavige will be able to catch the leaker if it is shot from a public space instead of from a guest room.  But I wouldn’t want to be one of the guests in a room on the 8th floor right about now.

I’m still baffled by the intent of the Thetaburst e-mail list, and particularly by the not very clever attempt to put out a bogus press release to confuse Scientologists about the dates of the event.  Even though some of the commenters claim to have “doxed” the owner of the list (two different candidates have emerged), it’s not clear why either one of them would be doing what they’re doing.

The endocrine states machine appears to be something that will give you an adrenaline rush, since adrenaline release is about the only thing that the endocrine system does that happens in a short enough period of time to be perceptible.  In other words, they have a very expensive machine that will probably do no better than a hungry “reg” sneaking up behind you and saying “Boo!”

Selected comments: 

  • New commenter CobGatYour$$ shares the sad story of a family member ill with melanoma and facing myriad other problems, still believing doggedly in the power of the cult to save her.
  • MissionaryKid thinks all the perceptics are a way to distort your perception just as the rest of the cult doctrine distorts your reasoning processes.  He also comments on how real the experience of the video of a fighter jet simulator from long ago felt when he experienced it, suggesting that the hemispherical dome on the front of the endocrine state machine might be a projection screen for some sort of attempt to induce nausea.
  • AquaClara describes a great comic moment when a British author talks about how film adaptations generally work well, with one single exception.
  • SandiCorrena points out that Mark Wahlberg has trashed Tom Cruise publicly for the statement where he appears to say his job is as hard as being a soldier fighting in Afghanistan.
  • MaxSpaceman uncovers a Hubbard quote about auditing that has more “ness” words per sentence than just about any Hubbard quote I’ve seen so far.  A triumph of jargonness.
  • Derek shares a couple vignettes of moments of natural beauty that he was lucky enough to appreciate when he was trapped in the worst parts of his Sea Org experience.  This is why.  
  • Jeff Hawkins contributes two potential poster slogans encapsulating what he has experienced as winning slogans to get culties to wake up.
  • SkipPress contributes his personal memories of Lisa Marie Presley at Celebrity Centre in Hollywood when he was in, as well as recollections of Dave LaCroix, one of the two candidates named as the potential operator of the Thetaburst mailing list.
  • OrangySky shows how the cult can generate shots of a full house with only a fraction of the seating capacity of the hall, through digital compositing of cutaway shots.
  • TruthIWant has a great explanation for some of the newer readers about how the cult keeps people ignorant of what’s really happening, by prohibiting TV, newspapers and internet.

Mike Rinder’s Blog

  • Mike’s first post today drew a number of parallels between life in Scientology and life in the crazy kingdom of North Korea.  I’m a bit of a fan of all things North Korean, because the lulz quotient is about as high as that for Scientology, though the North Koreans would regard Miscavige as a bumbling amateur.  Gets all the details right.
  • Mike’s second post lampoons cult “Facebook police,” the oddly named Jojo Zawawi, for trying to track down the bogus “thetaburst” e-mail that Tony also mentioned today.  More importantly, she points out that the Missions are totally excluded from showing videos of the Biggest. Event. Ever, and that local orgs will not get to do repeat showings.  Apparently, they are desperate to keep video from this event from falling into the hands of the J&D brigades (which probably outnumber active Scientologists by a fairly large margin).  Mike also points out that the Volunteer Ministers planning to parachute into the Philippines to do their unique brand of disaster relief have a big quandary: go to the Philippines while the Biggest. Event. Ever is in Clearwater?  Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Forums (ESMB, WWP, OCMB)

General Press

  • The City of Clearwater appears to have rolled over completely and given the cult most of what it wanted in permits for the event this weekend.  Permits for the IAS event and the New Year’s event are still pending.  There are some limits, including decibel levels for sound and restrictions on lighting.  Apparently, they will be permitted to keep the security fence they’re building to keep all those people who are so good at confront-and-shatter away from any source of entheta like Anons carrying clever signs.
  • The cult announced a “ScientologyCenter” in Karmiel, Israel, about 50km (30 miles) from the Haifa mission, which seceded from the cult and “went independent” about a year ago.  Yeah, that’ll work.  Interestingly, they got a spokesman from the Druze minority (the smallest religion in Israel) to speak at the opening.

Scientology Daily Digest: Friday, November 8, 2013

I think the big story today is the metaphorical bloodshed at the Scientology facility in Johannesburg. There are a couple of significant articles giving background and perspective here, which I strongly recommend reading. I think this situation is worth watching because it could be an example of a non-US organization of some size that may break away from the church, as the Haifa mission in Israel did last year.

Tony’s story giving lots of details about Tom Cruise’s lawsuit against Bauer Publications sketches in some great background, but since I do not think that Cruise is likely to prevail in that case, the story is not all that relevant to the cult.

Also, the City of Clearwater appears to be on its game in dealing with the cult’s late request for permits for the events scattered over the next several weeks. The city is offering to be flexible on some (though not all) of the items that Scientology would like done for the Flag building opening next weekend. The carrot being dangled in front of David Miscavage is that if he fails to play ball with the city right now, he will not get a permit for the IAS event, which is obviously far more significant. This seems to be a particularly smart way for the city to play its cards, because being willing to show some flexibility but to insist on other concessions from the called leads to a more desirable outcome to a lawsuit, which could carry an emergency order preventing the city from controlling the events in any way.

Tony Ortega’s Blog

Tony’s story today featured details from the defamation suit that Tom Cruise filed against Bauer Media. In addition to looking at the deposition transcripts that were released yesterday by Radar Online, Tony also provided excerpts of e-mails from various Bauer employees as they develop the story and the packaging. It does not appear that there were any particular “smoking guns” among the employee e-mails.

My take:  I had a friend some years ago I was a senior editor at one of these publications (which was not owned by Bauer Media). The picture that emerges from these e-mails is very consistent with what my friend has told me about how they develop stories, including how they work with publicists for the celebrities they cover to use the implied threat of a more negative story to get the celebrity to cooperate and provide unique details that would enable them to write a more positive story. I suspect that this is been going on with gossip publications for decades.

I continue to believe that this is unlikely to result in any money changing hands. Cruz faces an uphill battle because the assertion that he did not see his daughter for nearly four months in what would have to be a difficult time immediately following his divorce was substantially true. One commentor raised the point that the whole issue seems to be around the word “abandons” used on the cover, and that this word may hold special significance for Cruise because of how his father abandoned him in childhood.

Best of the comments:

  • Ex-cultie Kevin Tighe (not the 1970s actor) reminisces about the daughter he lost to disconnection three years ago and challenges Cruise for implicitly supporting this.
  • Jeff Hawkins weighs in with a well-informed perspective on why Scientologists are always so nasty and aggressive in how they handle stuff that makes them uncomfortable.  This is not apparently just for the usual “confront and shatter” circumstances, but apparently for dealing with the media as well.
  • Gerard Plourde gives some Genuine Lawyer(tm) perspective in response to my question yesterday about why AGP would voluntarily submit to a one-year restraining order to stay away from HGB to get the prosecution to drop a case they would have dropped already.
  • Ze Moo makes the very relevant observation that the word “abandons” might be the real trigger for the suit, given Cruise’s abandonment by his biological father. On reading this comment, it certainly rings true as a possibility to consider.
  • Miscavige's Web Traffic Generation ConsultantJohnny Tank, who posts the daily Alexa rankings for the cult, points out that scientology.org has dropped 11,366 ranking spots since he started collecting stats on October 14, just over three weeks ago.  Given that the numbers seem to be propped up with Indian click farmers, that’s a bit of a plummet.  Think: Wile E. Coyote off a cliff after the temporary suspension of gravity has been eliminated.
  • TXCowgirl points out that the cult is now starting to evade the Craigslist campaign to flag their ads by posting on Backpage.com.  An amusing detail is that Backpage.com is/was owned by Village Voice Media, the parent company of Tony’s former employer.  The hilarious letters to the editor by Karin Pouw, the never-seen cult media person, frequently pointed out the affiliation between the Voice and Backpage, which has lots of escort service and other questionable advertisers, to “dead agent” Tony.  Not that that did any good or anything, but…
  • Noni Mause riffs rather elegantly on Cruise’s assertions about how Scientology is all misunderstood because it’s a “minority religion” and people are bigoted against them.  A nicely elegant contrast in two short sentences.
  • More good lulz from TruthIwant, who found a quote from Tom’s deposition that Tony somehow missed.
  • Nice analysis from “Vistaril” of victim mentality in the cult that may apply to TC.
  • MarionDee gives a great personal anecdote about her experience doing fact-checking of celebrity gossip for two different magazines, including one from Canada.  We had to check to verify that movable type printing technologies had penetrated the deep forest cover in that quaint rural region of upstate New York before we decided to recommend this comment.

Mike Rinder’s Blog

Mike’s first post is strongly recommended. It’s a detailed recollection of a 1980s pogrom called the LatAm Strategy.  Hubbard was in hiding and was paranoid that orgs were going to be hijacked by the executives running them, taking them independent and denying Hubbard the money.  To fix this imagined problem, the Sea Org parachuted into the Latin American cult HQ and declared a bunch of management as SP’s.  The intent was to terrorize the survivors into improving stats quickly.  While the stats spiked, shortly after the Sea Org left, stats sank back into the swamp, lower than before they shot all the experienced staff.  Mike thinks the return of the “LatAm strategy” is what happened this week in the Johannesburg org.  Only problem was that the first go-round 30 years focused on shooting staff members.  Apparently, somebody at Int Base forgot this minor distinction and decided to shoot a lot of the biggest donors and most loyal supporters of the org.  Rule #1 of a successful business is: “don’t piss off your most loyal customers.”

Some of the comments are fairly interesting, including perspective from a 56-year Church member in South Africa who knew Hubbard personally, who resigned because his wife was one of the 18 people declared.  

Mike’s second post links to the Tampa Bay Times article detailing the restrictions the city is placing on the events (see the discussion below), and delivers a few laughs about how Miscavige is likely to play this.

ESMB, WWP and OCMB

According to Aeger Primo, the forums were relatively quiet today.

  • One article stands out.  ESMB contributor “scooter” has a lengthy blog post about the history of Scientology in South Africa.  This is a useful prelude to understanding some of the details of the current situation in South Africa.
  • There’s also some more discussion about insurance fraud in Michigan on Reaching for the Tipping point.
  • Some of the longtime critics get into the aesthetic side of cult activism in the thread on ESMB discussing Leah Remini’s performance this week on DWTS.

General Media

A number of other outlets picked up news of the “leaked” deposition in the Tom Cruise vs Bauer Publication suit, focusing on how Cruise is acknowledging that Scientology played a role in his divorce (see Tony’s post for the truth of the statement; he didn’t quite admit that).  I have been accused of major “tl;dr” violations but not of flogging a dead horse… I don’t want to start now, so we move on.

The Tampa Bay Times reports new details of what the city is requiring from the cult in order to get a permit for the November 17 Flag building dedication (the former Super Power building).  They have to get permits for the tents that were illegally constructed, and for the fence they built.  The city won’t remove traffic signals for filming.  The upshot is that the city is willing to be flexible on dates for the Flag building event for the cult, but if DM doesn’t play ball, he can forget about permits for the IAS event.