Since its launch in 1999, Neopets has enjoyed a pretty colorful history. The game offers users the ability to create a virtual pet to take on adventures and, using virtual and real-world currency, feed and trick out their digital pets with swag, homes and other online sundries. It was originally aimed at kids, but grew a cult-following of oldsters, too.
Oh, and it used to be run by Scientologists.
According to The Outline, the company that originally owned the Neopets brand employed business practices deeply rooted in Scientology. Up until the point where NeoPets was sold to Viacom in 2005, Neopet's CEO and practicing Scientologist Doug Dohring rocked L. Ron Hubbard’s Org Board business model in order to keep things running smoothly – provided you considered turning your employees against one another smooth.
From The Outline:
The information currently made public about Org Board is vague — introductory workshops are required to learn more about it. The business model contains seven divisions: Communications, Dissemination (sales/marketing), Treasury, Production, Qualifications (quality control), Public (public relations), and, most important to the system, Executive. The symbiotic divisions are arranged to create a “cycle of production” that parallels the church’s “cycle of action,” which Scientology.org describes as “revealing what underlies the continuous cycle of creation, survival and destruction—a cycle that seems inevitable in life, but which is only an apparency.” It is also made up of seven stages.
As part of putting Org Board into play, employees are called upon to spy on the work practices of other employees. Read the rest
I’ve always been intrigued by cults. The idea that someone would be willing to give up everything: their wealth, family connections, personality or livelihood, to be a part of something presumably greater, something more all-consuming than religion, fascinated me. I knew, at some point, I’d want to write about it. I didn’t get the chance until I started my fourth crime novel, Blackout
, which hits in May from Polis Books—the latest in a Miami crime series featuring recovering alcoholic private investigator Pete Fernandez.
Charles Manson, the mass murderer and musician, is reportedly close to death at a California hospital. USA Today:
The 83-year-old inmate, serving multiple life sentences at a prison in Corcoran, Calif., has struggled with gastrointestinal problems and been shuttled back and forth to hospitals in recent years. TMZ reports that he was brought to a Bakersfield hospital three days ago and is facing life-threatening ailments.
Manson was denied parole in 2012, at his twelfth hearing, and is not scheduled for another until 2027. Here's his most recent mugshot, from August. Read the rest
When Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore was accused of sexually molesting children as young as 14, his fellow hardcore evangelicals shrugged at the scandal -- it was "common knowledge" that Moore had a fondness for young teens.
Read the rest
Uganda is so poor that few can afford medical care, giving it one of the lowest life-expectancies on the planet -- this toxic combination made the country ripe for infiltration by Tiens, a Chinese Multi-Level-Marketing "nutritional supplements" cult whose members set up fake medical clinics that diagnose fake ailments and proscribe fake medicines, then rope patients into becoming cult recruiters who convince their friends to sign up for the cult. Read the rest
After his awkward endorsement of pedophilia disqualified Milo Yiannopoulos to be the hard right's token gay pal, CPAC needed a new speaker to fill his slot their conference, and the guy they chose was Jikido 'Jay' Aeba, a member of the notorious Japanese "Happy Science" cult, who helped the religion extrude a tendril into the political realm by founding the Happiness Realization Party. Read the rest
Lee Jae-yong is nominally "vice-chairman" of Samsung, but his father, Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee, is considered to be a mere figurehead, with Lee Jae-yong as the true boss of the company. Read the rest
Everybody knows that North Korea is a failed state basket-case full of starving people and multigenerational concentration camps, but South Korea is hardly the model of good governance: from the long-serving leader who stole $200M and gave it to his kids (who now live happily in America off his nest-egg) to those long-ago days of 1988 when the government kidnapped homeless people and developmentally delayed people and put them into forced labor camps -- some of which still operate today. Read the rest
After a recent update on the surviving members of the Heaven's Gate cult and their ongoing maintenance of its now-fashionably anachronistic website, (previously) I checked again and found that the Heaven's Gate "Away Team" patches are finally available again for purchase.
The only pair of Nike Decades currently on offer, though, is from someone on eBay who wants $6,600 for a pair. Read the rest
Robert Carlson, the archbishop of St Louis, MO, has circulated a two-page letter to his flock in which he raises the question, "Can I still buy Girl Scout cookies?" Read the rest
Be sure to read Adrian Chen's gripping profile of former Westboro Baptist Church twitterer Megan Phelps-Roper, who left the church after coming to realize the futility of its hate gospel.
Megan Phelps-Roper, picketing with Westboro when she was still an active member of the family hate cult.
On December 20, 2009, Phelps-Roper was in the basement of her house, for a church function, when she checked Twitter on her phone and saw that Brittany Murphy, the thirty-two-year-old actress, had died. When she read the tweet aloud, other church members reacted with glee, celebrating another righteous judgment from God… But Phelps-Roper had loved Murphy in “Clueless,” and she felt an unexpected pang—not quite sadness, but something close—over her death. As she continued scrolling through Twitter, she saw that it was full of people mourning Murphy. The contrast between the grief on Twitter and the buoyant mood in the basement unsettled her. She couldn’t bring herself to post a tweet thanking God for Murphy’s death.
If you're been wondering why Westboro's been kind of boring lately, it turns out that there was a coup of sorts within the church: day-to-day troll in chief Shirley Phelps-Roper (Megan's mother) was denounced, and a bunch of stodgy old men took over. Since then, women have been marginalized within the church and it has lost much of its media savvy.
Read Adrian's piece to the last sentence: there is an absolutely amazing ending to the life and mind of the church's founder, Fred Phelps.
[Image, top: Megan Phelps-Roper. Read the rest
“The first space colonies will have no coal power plants,” says Rob Rhinehart. “I am ready.”
According to the Moscow Times, yoga studios in Putinland have been told to stop hosting classes, lest they spread the occult.
Read the rest
One of the letters, seen by Kommersant and addressed from Nizhnevartovsk First Deputy Head Sergei Levkin to the head of social and youth policy Marianna Parfenova asks that she take all necessary measures to stop Hatha yoga lessons from taking place at the stadium.
The move is crucial "in order to prevent the spread of new religious cults and movements," reads the letter.
A second letter, sent to the heads of the departments for physical culture and education, refers to Hatha yoga as "inextricably linked to religious practices" and as having "an occult character," Kommersant reported Friday.
Prominent Christian author John Perry was accused of sexually abusing kids in two lawsuits.
In this page from the 2011 book, A Love That Multiplies: An Up-Close View of How They Make It Work authors Michelle Duggar and Jim Bob Duggar explain how young women who wear clothing that "excites" a "man's physical drives" are defrauders.
Nice bit of slut shaming there. Read the rest
UPDATE: The video was removed. Here's a mirror.
"How would it make sense for associates to join a union that wants to damage our reputation?" [via r/video] Read the rest
The video sorely lacks for detail, but features three alleged Scientology "top managers" showering abuse on a former Scientologist at LAX.