40 years of faulty wiring

The Black Dahlia Lives On…



Although Elizabeth Short was found dead on July 15, 1947, severed in half, drained of blood, with a Glasgow Smile carved into her once-beautiful face, today there is still no lack of interest in this woman and her tragic story. It has been 65 years since Short dominated headlines in Los Angeles and across the U.S. when her nude, severed and spread-eagled body was found on Norton Avenue, a vacant lot at the time. One of the many ironies in the case was that the lot had a number of signs posted around it stating “No Dumping.” Apparently our killer had a sick sense of humour, along with his sick sadistic sexual fetishes.

Short grew up in Medford Massachusetts, one daughter of four born to Phoebe (nee Sawyer) and Cleo Short. When Elizabeth (known as Bette) was about 8 years old Cleo up and abandoned his family, making his escape appear to be a suicide. It’s doubtful that Phoebe was fooled. Cleo left his wife elizwith bankruptcy, debt and credit collectors to contend with on her own. She had to move her family of girls three times over the following two years in order to afford a house where they could live. The family depended on welfare for food, shoes and nightgowns. Elizabeth’s bedroom in their last home was on a sun porch.

Elizabeth learned her father was alive when she was about 18. At the age of 19 she joined him in Vallejo, California but after only a month, the relationship soured and Elizabeth moved out. At this point, Short became somewhat of a drifter around the states. She found work at a naval base called Camp Cooke and was voted Camp Cutie. She began dyeing her mousy hair pitch black, wearing it high on her forehead and fastening a white dahlia in her hair. Although she often wore black she also wore pastels and favoured pink and light blue. Her notorious name, Black Dahlia, was not contrived from her appearance in life. It was created by the press after her murder. When the media discovered Short used to wear a dahlia in her black hair, they dubbed her the Black Dahlia as a reference to the movie The Blue Dahlia, that had been released in Hollywood the year before. In the film the Dahlia was a nightclub, not a woman.

Around this time Short met an army pilot named Matthew Michael Gordon Jr. They fell in love and for several weeks were inseparable until Gordon was sent overseas to India to test airplanes. They wrote back and forth tphoebeo one another but on the night before Gordon was due to return to America, he was killed in a plane crash while testing it for the aviator unit. Short was devastated. Once more she began traveling.

Short travelled around to other cities until she finally reached Los Angeles, Hollywood, California. For about 2 years she enjoyed the night life and slept all day. She seldom held down a job and hence could barely afford to pay for a room with her roommates. Linda Rohr, a 22-year-old roommate who worked for Max Factor, remarked, “the kid was hungry and broke.” In order to provide herself with a meal a day, Short went out on dinner dates with men. However, unlike the press’ claims, Short wasn’t promiscuous and she wasn’t a prostitute. The press and some members of the LAPD smeared Short’s reputation in the mud for reasons known only to themselves. Even the detective in charge of the case, Detective Harold Hansen, falsely stated years later that “she was a hooker, you know…”

Short was known to frequent celebrity-filled clubs such as The Florentine Gardens, owned by a successful businessman named Mark Hansen (no relation to the detective). Short also liked the Crown Grill, and Tom Brenamen’s. It was common for movie stars, Mafia men and servicemen to frequent these bars. Since Short had a preference for men in uniform this appealed to her, however she also dated two Mafia men who were kingpin Mickey Cohen’s henchmen. Clearly Short was a naive girl who had no real knowledge about her friends and boyfriends. It was this character trait that would prove to be her downfall.

On July 15black-dahlia01, 1947, a nude corpse of a young woman was found that was so brutalized as to be unrecognizable. The Glasgow Smile carved into it’s face went from the corners of the mouth to the ears. It would seem to me Short didn’t have much to smile about. The smile originated in Glasgow Scotland and was used by street gangs. Eventually it became more popular in England and also became known as the Chelsea Grin. Short’s body was completely drained of blood. Police surmised her lower half must have been hung upside down in order for the killer to accomplish this gruesome task. Her intestines were tucked beneath her buttocks. Most of her internal organs remained in her upper torso. Her right breast was almost completely severed. She had been burned with cigarettes and bludgeoned about the head. Experts surmised that it was exsanguination from the wounds to her head and face that caused her death.

The bisection began after Short was either in a coma, unconscious, or dead. It is theorized that her wrists were tied to a faucet in a bathtub and her feet were tied together. Although photographs show Short displayed spread-eagled with her upper torso beside the lower, it was suggested by the son of a detective who helped to work the case, that originally Short was found in a more obscene pose, as if she was performing oral sex on herself. The police supposedly re-positioned the body before the press could take pictures. A few days ashort2fter the corpse’s discovery the killer mailed some belongings of Short’s including her purse, to the Los Angeles Examiner newspaper. A note was enclosed stating there would be more information to follow but that was not to be the case. LAPD knocked on 10,000 doors and followed up on approximately 5,000 leads to find Short’s killer, but to no avail. Detective Hansen claimed he was “sure we didn’t encounter the killer during our investigations. He didn’t slip by us…”

50 people falsely confessed to the savage murder, including a woman. None of the stories were true as they didn’t match facts that only the killer could know. Several suspects were interviewed and placed on a polygraph. One suspect in particular, Red Manley, had been seen dropping off Short at the Biltmore Hotel on the night of her disappearance. He was given a polygraph test twice and both times he passed. Police compared Short’s murder to that of the Cleveland Torso murders to search for clues of a possible serial killer, but no connection was made. They studied other murders in the Los Angeles area but met a dead (pun) end. For Elizabeth Short, life was long over. For the press, the public, authors, and musicians, the story was just beginning.



June 18, 2014 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Crime and Punishment | , , , , | Leave a comment

Eye Spy with My Little Russian Eye

Have you ever wondered why anyone would become involved in espionage?  That didn’t really cross my mind until I read about the glamorous red-headed Russian spy Anna Chapman (her married surname). Chapman is the stuff of James Bond films: goddess body, pretty face, Breck Girl hair. She’s the type of spy that makes you believe espionage must indeed be a life of glamour and sex, since clearly both were a part of her espionage repertoire. Lest you think Chapman is  merely a prop however, she speaks five languages, has a master’s degree in economics from Moscow University, and her father, Vasily Kushchenko, may be a senior KGB official, although this is unsubstantiated.

anna_chapman_09Anna is a Russian national who was residing in New York City when she was arrested, along with nine others, on June 27, 2010 on suspicion of working for the Illegalas Program spy ring under the Russian Federation’s external intelligence agency for the SVR (Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki). Chapman pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government without notifying the U.S. Attorney General (how sneaky) and was deported back to Russia on July 8, 2010, as part of a prisoner swap (must have swapped her with a Playboy Bunny). She met Alex Chapman at a London Docklands Rave Party in 2001 and they married in Moscow.  As a result she gained dual Russian–British citizenship, and a British passport. How convenient. one block from Wall Street in Manhattan. Her LinkedIn site profile identified her as CEO of PropertyFinder LLC, a website selling real estate internationally. Anna told him the enterprise was continually in debt for the first couple of years, and then suddenly in 2009, she had as many as 50 employees and a successful business. In late December 2010 Chapman was appointed to the public council of Young Guard of United Russia. According to the organization, she “will be engaged in educating young people,” (in what, they didn’t say).

On January 21, 2011, Chapman began hosting a weekly TV show in Russia called Secrets of the World for REN TV (I swear I’m not making this stuff up). She testified to the closed trial in absentia of Col. Alexander Poteyev that took place in Moscow in May and June 2011 that it was only Poteyev who could have provided the U.S. authorities with the information that led to her arrest in 2010. She alleged she was arrested after an undercover U.S. agent contacted her using a code that only Poteyev and her personal handler could know. The jerk.

anna-chapman-maxim-russia-02Chapman wrote a column for Komsomolskaya Pravda. In October 2011 she was accused of plagiarising material on Alexander Pushkin. The Guardian reported that this added to a negative trend toward her and in September 2011, she had been “heckled during a speech on leadership at a St. Petersburg University“. Students displayed signs stating: “Chapman, get out of the university!” and “The Kremlin and the porn studio are in the other direction!” Chapman’s foundation supported the second International Сonference “The Genetics of Aging and Longevity” in Moscow, where top world aging scientists present their speeches, including researchers who presented the results of experiments using anti-aging drugs on animals. Anna must have picked up that stuff, judging by the look of her body. In 2012 it was reported that Chapman almost caught a senior member of U.S. President Obama’s cabinet in a honeytrap operation wherein the bisexual Chapman plan would have seduced her target before extracting information from him or her.

Officials claimed Chapman worked with a network of others, until an undercover FBI agent attempted to draw her into a trap at a Manhattan Coffee Shop. The FBI agent offered Chapman a fake passport at Starbucks, with the instructions to forward it to another spy. He asked, “are you ready for this step?“, to which Chapman unequivocally replied, “Of course”. She accepted the passport. However, after making a series of phone calls to her father Chapman handed the passport in at a local police station, but was arrested shortly after. After being formally charged, Chapman and nine other detainees became part of a spy swap deal between the United States aEmblema_del_KGBnd Russia, the biggest of its kind since 1986. The ten Russian agents returned to Russia via a chartered jet that landed at Vienna International Airport, where the swap occurred on the morning of July 8.  After her deportation to Russia, it was revealed that Chapman wished to stay in the UK and was “particularly upset” by the revocation of her UK citizenship and exclusion from the country. Poor baby. I’m sure she will find someone to take her in.

Actually I think Chapman is pretty cool. She’s too good to believe yet she is real.  After her disgraced deportation, she wasn’t jailed or jeered. She tweeted a marriage proposal to Edward Snowden. She became a sexy model in Moscow and the U.S. She was featured on the cover of Maxim, has been interviewed by countless reporters and ended up with her own TV show. I never pictured myself as a TV star,” she admitted in an interview. Yet she envisioned herself as an international spy.  Love it.

Who knows how any human being is fodder for international espionage? Let’s say you’re intrigued enough with Anna Chapman that you are seriously considering a career in espionage.  There are interesting steps you may wish to pursue in order to join, say, the CIA:


  • You need a university degree in your area of specialization.  The CIA seldom recruits actual spies. They tend to need people in many other, far less glamorous occupations.
  • You must be able to pass all background checks.
  • you must be a U,S. citizen.
  • don’t abuse drugs
  • don’t gamble
  • associate with squeaky clean people
  • be physically and mentally fit to the nth degree
  • it wouldn’t hurt to have military experience


  • eye_spyYou are expected to work for the CIA for the duration of your career.
  • The CIA sees itself as one big happy family. You will be placing your work ahead of your real family and will be expected to work in teams.
  • The Agency has its own community. The George Bush Center has its own food court, gym, walking paths, clothing stores, recreational clubs and more.  (In other words, they want you with them as much as possible…are you starting to feel owned? You should).
  •  having studies with emphases on international relations, law, technology, political science, history, security studies, economics or finance, mathematics, journalism, and anything requiring analytical skills, are advantageous.
  • Learn at least one other language. Languages in high demand include    Mandarin,Farsi (Persian), Pashto, Dari, Russian (Anna Chapman offers private lessons if you’re interested), and Arabic.
  •  learn people skills including how to make people like you. Arrogance, egoism and inflated self-importance will get you fired.
  •  If you see life in absolutes (“he is wrong, I am right“), then it’s likely you’re not going to be a good choice.
  • Be physically fit. You will be put through rigorous physical testing.
  • Be mentally fit. You will be tested to your limits in training to see how you handle emotional pressure. In addition, you might be captured and tortured.  You never pictured James Bond in that predicament, did you?
  • Be prepared to relocate. Often.
  • you’ll never be a millionaire…your salary will be a lot lower than people with similar qualifications in the corporate sector.

If you still want to be James Bond (or Anna Chapman) I salute you.

Watch your ass.

October 29, 2013 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Celebrity Chic, corrruption, Crime and Punishment, Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

28 Seconds and 3 years Later, Michael Bryant is a Changed Man…Maybe

Admittedly I have been taking pot shots at Michael Bryant in this blog, perhaps unfairly since the whole Darcy Sheppard thing. You michael-bryant-cp-300-72467 know, the tragic tale where Bryant supposedly dragged Sheppard with his car for several metres, slamming him into a mailbox and finally killing him. On August 31, 2009, Bryant was charged with criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing death. Days later he resigned as CEO of Invest Toronto, while maintaining that he was innocent of the charges. On May 25, 2010, all charges against Bryant were withdraw when prosecutors cited the cyclist was the aggressor in the incident and that the charges would be impossible to prove or disprove. At least this was the story back then.  Here is a youtube video (admittedly it is quite grainy).

In his book 28 Seconds: A true Story of Addiction, Tragedy, and Hope. The story now unfolds like this:  According to Bryant his vehicle stalled when he stopped behind Sheppard on Bloor Street. His car then lurched forward from his attempts to restart the vehicle which brought the car close to, or in contact with, Sheppard’s tire. Expert analysis of security camera footage confirmed the car’s headlights dimmed in a manner consistent with this explanation and that the vehicle had a “sensitive and light clutch”. No damage to the bicycle’s rear wheel rim was evident. Witnesses said that Sheppard confronted Bryant and his wife “loudly and aggressivelywhile they “remained passive.” The car’s next movement resulted in Sheppard ending up on the hood of the car. The car travelled 30 feet, lasted 2.5 second, the car’s speed was between 9 and 13.4 km/h and brakes were applied after 1 second. According to Bryant he was looking down trying to restart the vehicle and applied the brakes when he saw Sheppard on the hood. This was the initial accident, and in all truth that’s what it was at that point; an accident. It was when Sheppard grabbed onto the sideview mirror in an effort to continue his attack, that Bryant’s behaviour turned criminal.

mikeThe crown determined there was no evidence Sheppard was seriously injured at this point and there was not enough evidence to justify a separate charge based upon Bryant’s driving. The fatality occurred when Bryant drove away and Sheppard grabbed hold of the side of the vehicle. The car veered into the opposite lanes, Sheppard’s body struck a fire hydrant knocking him off the car and his head hit the pavement. There were witnesses who said it appeared Bryant had attempted to knock Sheppard off the car by striking him against trees and mailboxes. There were also witness reports that Sheppard reached into Bryant’s convertible and grabbed Bryant or the steering wheel.  Bryant parked his car around the corner and called 911. Sheppard later died of his injuries in hospital.

Bryant gave TVO an interview with Steve Paikin in 2012 about his book. He looks haggard; grey-haired, slumped and thinner, large bags under his eyes. The cocky politician from previous years is nowhere to be seen. Nonetheless, Bryant opens up. “People want to Bryant_Michael-760x429talk about it. It is very awkward…’oh you’re that Michael Bryant,’ I  wanted to talk about it because sometimes, not often, I would go into a social setting and suddenly it was a wake, or a shiva…until somebody makes the first joke it’s just tense.” Here’s a mind-blow: Sheppard was the drunkard who got dragged, but Bryant himself is an alcoholic. Paikin  says frankly, “so you were the Attorney General, an alcoholic and as the cliche goes ended up in the gutter sometimes and you managed to do your job.” Bryant responds correctly “there are some people who are high-functioning alcoholics in this world.” I agree with him. I know this to be true. “I had basically someone hold up a mirror to me and it’s when you undergo that rigorous honesty with yourself, and then you see what’s really going on, that’s when one comes to realize you’ve just got to give up.” Talk about opening yourself up to public scrutiny. Bryant’s full admission leaves him with nothing to hide behind. Forrest Gump said it best, “sometimes there just aren’t enough rocks.” 

Obligingly, Bryant reads his account of the fateful 28 seconds to Paikin:

I put the SAAB in reverse. As I was looking back Sheppard hurled his backpack containing a heavy bike lock at us. It went sailing over my head. I put the car in first gear and tried to drive around him. Outraged, he raced toward the front of the car. I remember Susan bryant1screaming ‘oh my God’ over and over. Chasing after us, he leapt at the SAAB as if in slow motion, Sheppard landing hip-first to break his fall, the way you see stuntmen as cops do the hood-slide on crime shows [they should clean up that video and make it into a CSI episode] . It made a crunching noise. I felt the impact of a man over 200 pounds landing on my car. He then grabbed the windshield wiper and bent it back towards him. He began pulling himself toward me hand over hand, as if the wiper were a rope. The strength of the man was extraordinary. he seemed almost superhuman [gasp from audience]. His upper torso was now on the hood’s edge of the driver’s side, the car moving forward. He swung around, put his right arm inside the door, his left arm hid around the side mirror. He held up his legs, a feat of some strength no doubt assisted by the adrenaline that I later learned Darcy so often sought. [wtf?] The car suddenly swerved sharply to the left almost 45 degrees. I have no recollection how that happened. He must have grabbed the wheel.[i wonder what Sheppard’s account would say to that].  In wrestling for control of the car we crossed to the other side of the street, heading westbound into the eastbound lane. Then he said to me with a crooked grin, after we had stopped for a moment, ‘you’re not getting away that easy.’ [it’s all fun and games until Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark shows up], then he started climbing in the car. Susan grew louder and more frantic. ‘No, no, no, stop, stop, stop, stop!’ This was the only physical contact between us. The car remained stopped while the shoving was going on. I was struggling with Darcy Sheppard for control of the vehicle then he was gone. All of a sudden I just didn’t see him there. I didn’t see him fall. I heard a sound, maybe a groan.

He finishes with an abrupt nod.

During the first months after Darcy Sheppard’s death, Bryant was in a daze. One of the conditions of bail was that he couldn’t drive so he bought a bike at Duke’s Cycle on Richmond West. As he walked around the store checking out different models, the room fell silent. When he handed over his ID to take a test ride, the clerk read the name with disbelief. “Yup,” he said to his gobsmacked co-worker, “it’s actually Michael Bryant.” Bryant bought the bike. Stay away from Bloor Street.  Toronto Life magazine insists in the months after Sheppard’s death Bryant found himself at loose ends. He filled his days like a 1950s housewife: picking up the kids from school and meeting friends for lunch. The city seemed much louder than it had before. His marriage underwent considerable strain. Once a power couple, Bryant and his wife Susan Abramovitch, avoided public parties. Dressing up and socializing seemed gauche and so they stayed in. Eventually they divorced. Then there was the pesky matter of those criminal charges. Bryant knew Edward Green­span but he wanted a lawyer who ignored the media. In other words, not a media star. Where does the irony end? He went with Marie  Heinen, an amoral defence lawyer who got David Frost, the notorious Brampton pedophile and Michael Danton’s former hockey coach, acquitted of twelve sexual assault charges against him upon children as young as 14.  Perhaps there are times you have to make a deal with the devil. Thankfully, not everyone feels that way.

Then people began to come forward to say they saw photos of Sheppard on the news and believed they’d bryant-sheppard-prevbeen harassed by him in the past. In six incidents, detailed by Henein’s defense team and later in the court summary, motorists recounted stories of Sheppard violently intimidating them, spitting on them, hitting the windshield with his fists. In some cases, he threw things at their cars or reached inside the open window to grab the steering wheel. Photographs depict a shirtless man with a mohawk reaching mena­cingly into the car as he clings to the vehicle’s running board were sent to Henein. It was the pictures that persuaded the court that Bryant was not the aggressor, but the victim of an assault.  In a courtroom packed with media, lawyers, and friends and family of Sheppard and Bryant, Peck announced his decision. In a detailed, 11-page court summary, he concluded that the evidence brought forward by the defense established Sheppard was the aggressor and the Crown had no prospect for a conviction. The reaction was one of approval and outrage.

A reader of Toronto Life commented “I had a run in with this cyclist years ago…as a witness to his craziness…He ran into a car, on his bike, then after raging at the driver, an older Asian gentleman, for about 10 minutes, he picked up a concrete block and hurled it at the car. He missed me by inches…he doesn’t deserve our sympathy. Our sorrow perhaps…but from reports, this was a common occurrence with him.” Indeed.

Bryant admits the book seems like a PR stunt. Paikin informs him there were many people who disliked him before the incident and no michael_bryant_1354116204_48amount of explanation or contrition will convince them otherwise. “Time will tell, right?” Bryant says to Paikin. Paikin dwells on Bryant’s life in politics after the reading. He probes into Bryant’s background and when the time seemed right for him to pursue a political career. Bryant admits the ambition began in his teens, probably the reason he made youngest ever AG at the tender age of 37.

Although after the Sheppard incident he was hired into Ogilvy Renault’s energy department, he left for the post of Minister of Aboriginal Affairs (or AA, ironically). Yes, another connection that got him a secure cabinet position, however Bryant has a background in Aboriginal Affairs ( a PhD) and insofar as the House is concerned, his position is actually a demotion. I believe Bryant is unfulfilled outside of politics.  This is his league, it’s what he knows best (that and reckless driving). When McGuilty – oops – Dalton McGuinty offered him Aboriginal Affairs, Bryant is adamant he saw it as an opportunity. If he didn’t have the background I’d say it was an opportunity to get out of the gutter and back into the House. However, knowing his graduate educational background centres around AA presents it as another kettle of salmon.

Bryant remains a media darling, albeit a cloudy one. He isn’t one to shy away from the limelight even when it consists of lemons. McGuinty wasn’t pleased with this behaviour since Bryant was AG. He wanted Bryant’s public persona dampened (although certainly not tarnished). One wonders if McGuinty had an “couldn’t have happened to a nicer politican” moment upon hearing about the Sheppard incident. Meow. If I sat on the Cabinet they’d have to pass me a saucer of milk to shut me up. The book is hard to put down. There are melodramatic moments of course, but Bryant has a knack for keeping his readers’ attention, every bit as much as he captivates the media. Recovering alcoholic notwithstanding, he can’t run too dry. People will lose interest.

October 20, 2013 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Crime and Punishment, Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Living on Air and a Prayer

Marilyn Monroe said it best: gravity catches up with all of us. I don’t know about you, but I’ve morphed into and out of, all manner of body types. I know your basic body shape squeezes into one of four categories:  pear, apple, hourglass, rectangle, or some such ridiculous analysis. If I had to place myself in any one category alas, it would be that of apple.  When I am fit the fat disappears and you Marilyn-marilyn-monroe-979536_1025_768wouldn’t agree…but I know better. I’ve been obese (170 lbs), underweight (100 lbs), healthy and athletic, inert yet thin, and currently in my ideal weight range, however, at the perilously high-end. I’ve got a lot of toning to do to trim that saggy apple (ick). I can blame or credit these weight and body changes on any manner of variables: diet, exercise, age, thyroid, hypoglycemia. If I’m begin truly honest with myself, I know the bottom line is self-discipline. It’s all about me and my choices. Here’s a strange revelation: when I was overweight I had no clue that I was overweight!  I truly didn’t. Even though I avoided the mirror whenever I undressed, I dressed to flatter my shape, wore polished makeup and always wore a trendy haircut. I got many compliments during this time. Perhaps fat is also an attitude.

I’m not a dieter. Weight Watchers has been very effective. Jenny Craig has not. The only difference between them is that I chose to cartoonfollow WW program and I wasn’t ready for JC. It was all about choice (JC’s food by the way is awesome…worth the money if you are going to follow the program).  I’m not a calorie counter. I don’t own a scale or a tape measure. I have a full-length mirror and a gym membership at Curves that I use faithfully. I love that place. My eating habits have improved about 80% in the past 3 weeks. However I will never be anorexic or bulimic. Stop eating? Not me. Vomit or otherwise void my food? Never. I love food. I love eating. I hate being hungry.

I am slightly baffled by people who develop eating disorders…or at least those who do so for beauty’s sake. I know a lot about this sad phenomenon. I’ve researched it, blogged about it, created a PowerPoint and uploaded it onto AuthorStream entitled 14 eating disorders and facts you never knew. I learned some unexpected issues that factor into an eating disorder:

Jasmuheen2008These are very influential factors for women with a variety of eating disorders/problems. There are lots of disorders btw:

Strange stuff, huh? Actually, considering all the many different types of eating disorders and the many different means of developing them, it’s remarkable more women and men don’t have one. An obsession with food is a key eating_disordercharacteristic of people with eating disorders. Yet these people are still in the minority of the population. Treatments are intensive yet ambiguous, since the individual’s dedication to treatment programs determines the outcome. Unfortunately, the BBC documentary Living on Air, reveals that an experiment yielded the result that force feeding, the worst thing you can do to an anorexic, became a “solution” to eating disorders.

So far as living on air is concerned, (not the documentary), there is a bizarre cult called Breatharians who actually convince themselves that they do not require food or drink, except the occasional glass of fruit juice, to survive. Nope. All they need is love. And light nutrition (pardon the pun). Not lite nutrition. They believe breatharianismthat all they need is light and spirituality to survive. Wiley Brooks, a prominent Breatharian, even insists that Breatharianism would work on a brand new infant if the mother is herself a Breatharian. In the real world, that is known as child abuse and the mother does a long-term prison sentence when her infant dies of malnourishment. Further, these flakes insist a body won’t age when people stop eating. Yes, we have the power to live forever. Jasmuheen,  a spiritual leader of this worldwide cult, insists she doesn’t eat or drink. 60 Minutes Britain put her claims to the test by holing her up inside a hotel and filming her for 5 days…she only made it to 4 days when she began to experience kidney failure. She couldn’t continue the test. She blamed 60 Minutes for placing her near a highway, where she had to spend 2 days “fighting carbon monoxide poisoning.” She insists that 6,000 people worldwide live this lifestyle successfullyShe began to experience kidney failure and fearing that her kidneys would shut down, the television program cancelled the experiment. Jasmuheen’s teachings have been linked to the deaths of 3 of her followers. Naturally, she blames the people for having another motive besides spiritualty, that of weight loss. Further, she defends herself by insisting she doesn’t advocate fasting in order to remain in the Breatharian cult. When confronted by an interviewer that her publication of books such as Living on Light promotes the fasting lifestyle, she hesitates and replies she promotes self-discipline. So much for her dietary and spiritual claims, I strongly do not recommend joining this cult.

I also strongly recommend you tell someone if you are in the grip of an eating disorder or problem (eg, pica). I recommend you start with your family or a close friend. If you aren’t receiving sympathy and assistance in finding a support group, tell your doctor, tell your EAP counsellor, or your guidance counselor at school. Don’t be embarrassed. These people have heard this sad tales umpteen times. Know that you’re not alone. Tell someone. You’re worth saving. And even though you don’t believe it just now, you truly are beautiful exactly the way you are.

July 28, 2013 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Crime and Punishment, Health and Wellness, Human Biology, Human psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love-Hate Relationships Don’t Exist but Apathy Certainly Does

Why you say? I bet you think the opposite of love is hate and the opposite of hate is love.  Wrongo.  The opposite of both is indifference or lonelyapathy. Indifference and apathy both mean to not care, to ignore, to have no attachment to in any manner, including a negative one. It makes sense. Loving and hating require lots of energy, time and attention. They both require thought processes and memories. Sometimes they result in actions in the extreme, or repetitive actions. They can both be obsessive and selfish.

To be apathetic or indifferent means to not exert energy, and to not acknowledge. That person is nothing to you; neither pro nor con and certainly not worth worrying about.  That person has no power over you and simply doesn’t factor into your life.  In fact, so inattentive are you that you may be quite unaware the depth of their emotions. You may even be unaware that they exist. If they operate in any context with you, it is utterly meaningless and not worth noticing. That’s where the expression “I’m not going to argue with you,” possibly originates from: you just aren’t worth the effort and you don’t matter anyway.

An apat005hetic individual in the extreme (not merely one who doesn’t hate or love),experiences an absence of interest in or concern about emotional, social, spiritual, philosophical and/or physical life. Necrophiles could come under this category, as they see nothing positive in living, and only find some sort of release through preoccupation with death. An indifferent person may lack a sense of purpose or meaning in his/her life. He or she may also exhibit insensibility or sluggishness. They sound like the living dead. I think of people of that nature (and possibly I know of one) as zombie-like, without chasing people down for their brains. Rather, it’s that zombie state induced by a sedative or an extreme lack of sleep. They’re there, but not really.

Can you imagine living your life that way? I doubt you do or you wouldn’t be a person who reads blogs in your spare time. Finding meaning and purpose in nothing and believing life is an unimportant existence we are simply born into is the life of a necrophile or true apathy. That would be a fun friend on a Saturday night. In psychology, apathy is  a result of  feeling one doesn’t possess the skills required to confront a challenge.B_F__Skinner_at_Harvard_circa_1950  Or some individuals  have developed the phenomenon known as learned helplessness. Learned helplessness was a theory founded by psychologist B.F. Skinner, although it was later  proven incorrect by Seligman and Maier. Their theory suggested that a human or animal could be conditioned into believing in their own helpless in a given situation, even if there are opportunities for escape. An interesting anecdote which has nothing to do with anything was the rumour that B F Skinner forced his infant daughter into a box for several hours a day for two years.  He practiced operant conditioning on her with severe punishment and “bright rewards”. Ultimately she became psychotic and committed suicide by shotgun at the age of 31. All nonsense.  Truly this rumour wasn’t started by anyone within an apathetic state of mind.  Just a loser. Or a nihilist.

I read an interesting quote today: Hate is love in it’s ugliest form.  Interesting.  I have to mull that over since it eradicates the theory that hate and love have nothing to do with one another.  My brother once was roommates with a young man who must have suffered from a pers59020576_39878435beonality disorder.  I don’t know if it was existentialism, existentialist nihilism, or neither, but this guy was something else. He didn’t have a relationship with my brother, he just sort of tolerated him (even though my bro’ is an extremely likeable and funny man). He barely had conversations with him and when he did they were critical and blameworthy.  Once, my brother asked if he could bring his girlfriend over to watch a movie; his roommate assured him it was no problem.  When they got there, the roommate had placed a videotape just at the edge of a video player and written on its spine ‘FUCK OFF.”  Just hearing about that incident gave me chills.  Certainly that had to be nihilism of some sort. In that case, the nihilist was eroding himself, not my brother or his girlfriend. That’s one of the many oddball concepts about nihilism: it does more harm to the nihilist than those who reject it.

Which brings us back to apathy, indifference and love and hate. Perhaps it is all of this balled up together that leads to stalkers and their victims. If hate is indeed love in its ugliest form, do the two together make a stalker? The stalker lays claim to a victim who may not even be aware of his or her existence. Pathetic, really. Which is worst? The victim who has no idea the stalker exists or the victim who simply has no regard for the idiot, unaware of the danger s/he may be in? (Of course I’m not talking which is worst for the victim). Perhaps it is more pitiful to be utterly unknown by one’s obsession than to be disregarded. Invisibility has got to be more of an insult.

All of the aforementioned convinces me that of all the dangers and negativity in the world, apathy has to be one of the worst.  Picture an apathetic community, school community, government, medical system, law enforcement, and indifference to social norms. I wouldn’t want to live in that society. The only hope I suppose would be escape from that community (in the event that this environment hasn’t instilled learned helplessness).  In the event that it has, there’s always suicide; the ultimate apathy, when a person doesn’t have enough regard for life to value his or her own.

April 21, 2013 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Crime and Punishment, Relationships | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Women, Weirdos, Whackos and Murder

Women love reading true crime books.  In fact, women purchase significantly more true crime books than men. Researchers presumed that men, aggressive by nature, would find gory topics such as rape and murder more interesting than women. But their two-study research showed that women overwhelmingly chose true crime books over other books, given the same choices as men. The researchers then conducted three more studies to try to determine why this was true. Their conclusion was that women were drawn to true crime books out of their own fears of becoming a victim of violent crime. One suggestion was that women read more than men (a true fact). According to the researchers, women were drawn to true crime books for these reasons:

In another study, women and men were given a choice of reading a true crime book, or a true book about an army unit in the Gulf Scream of horrorWar. Among female participants, 77% of women chose the true crime book, and only 23% chose the war book. The same was true when women and men were offered a choice between a true crime book and a book about gang violence. 73% of women chose the true crime book, and 27% chose the gang book. Among men, 51% chose the true crime book over the war book (49%), and 57% chose the true crime book over the gang book (43%). Men showed a much less marked preference for the true crime genre, whereas this preference was clear for women. In a third study, the authors asked participants to choose between two different true crime books, and offered short descriptions of each book. Unbeknownst to the participants, one of the two descriptions contained information about how the protagonist got away from the killer (e.g., by using a pin from a watch to remove a pair of handcuffs). The other description, though similar, didn’t contain information on any survival tricks. With this simple manipulation, 71% of women chose the book with the survival trick, compared to 29% who did not (66% chose the book with the survival trick description.) In yet another study, the researchers included or did not include information about the motivations and thought processes of the criminals. Among women, 65% chose the book that promised to reveal psychological insights on the criminals, while 35% chose the other book. Among men, the more temperate pattern again emerged: 59% of men chose the book with motives, compared to 41% who chose the book without motive information.

A random Amazon.com Top True-Crime Books, compiled by a male author, included approximately half true-crime books involving serial killers, rapists, and men who murder their wives. The rest of the list included con artists, a jewel thief, drug empires, and undercover agents infiltrating a violent biker gang.  By contrast, a female who comprised a list of the top 50 True-Crime books included strictly murder, rape, andRetro-Woman-Screaming abduction.  This may be because she misinterpreted the meaning of “true crime”, and focused solely on male and female killers and rapists, rather than adding any other type of true crime reading.

Keep in mind that these were studies where the guinea pigs …oops… I mean participants were only offered two choices, always one being a true crime book.  Most likely, stats are very different in retail stores and libraries since there is significantly more choice in many other genres.  Had the study been conducted in these environments, I would be more inclined to accept the researchers’ conclusions.  As it is, I don’t know how much I believe the researchers’ conclusions that many women actually choose to read true crime books in order to learn survival tricks. That seems rather weird.  That has never occurred to me, or any female friend or family member, to my knowledge. I do believe women are more likely to read true crime books than men ,however.  In my limited, subjective experience, the many males I have known, including family, seldom purchase or read true crime. If anything they are far  more interested in politics, war, powerful historical figures, and the like. Very seldom do any of them read about athletes, even though the men I know and have known are usually sports fans.

One of the reasons I believe women read true crime is the authors’ tendency to use beautiful females as either victims or protagonists. A beautiful, conniving or innocent female seems to sell a lot of true crime.  Sometimes they are fashionable, wearing expensive designer clothes. Other times they flaunt their best assets to snare a wealthy man just for money. Very seldom do true crime books include only males as killers and victims without a love triangle with a female. Sex sells. If the women featured in these books are protagnists they generally:

  1. were gold-diggers
  2. sought revenge
  3. were motivated by jealousy, money and anger
  4. are wealthy
  5. killed their family members, including their children, more often than strangers or friends
  6. were abused as children
  7. used covert murder weapons (80% used poison)
  8. were very rarely serial killers
  9. were a black widow or an “angel of death”
  10. killed while at home
  11. killed to protect their children from abuse
  12. were mentally ill
  13. preferred murder to divorce in order to maintain social and financial status

Keep in mind that these characteristics are very general. There are female killers, and serial killer, written about in true crime books who do not fit any of these profiles.

If the woman featured in a true crime book is a victim she is often:

  1. a college co-ed
  2. a prostitute (someone no one would be looking for)
  3. single  mother or divorced
  4.  living alone
  5. killed by her boyfriend or husband
  6. very trusting and naive; doesn’t recognize evil
  7. an acquaintance or a relative of her killer
  8.  27 years of age or younger
  9. the victim of a serial killer
  10. a  victim of domestic abuse
  11. a victim of a stalker
  12. killed violently

There is something inherently similar behind the horrible themes in fairy tales and the murders documented in true crime.  Fairy tales and true crime seem like a strange analogy but consider that in fairytales there is typically:

  1. a beautiful female victim or antagonist
  2. a young victim – a potential life never realized
  3. a rescue fantasy
  4. evil monsters – such as ogres and dragons
  5. a handsome prince
  6. castles and riches
  7. an impossibility – “long, long ago, in a far away place

In other words, true crime suggests a type of  “long ago” familiarity – childhood.  It is grown up fairy-tales except with unhappy endings (even when the monsters are caught in the end). Researchers made several conclusions as to why women enjoy reading true crime.  They didn’t discuss the reasons men do and don’t read it. This would be an interesting follow-up since mens’ and womens’ motives for reading the same type of material would probably be diverse.

February 17, 2013 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Crime and Punishment, Human psychology, Pop Culture | , , , | 2 Comments

Airport Security and Abuse – It’s Time to Fight Back

Outrageous, isn’t it?  What is going on with airport security?  Yes 9-1-1 is a violent, frightening reminder that airport security needs to be extremely careful with who it admits onto airline flights.  Most security (so far as I know) do a sensible, decent job.  They aren’t out to harm people. They simply want to do their job and prevent tragedy from slipping by them and into the country.  At the same time airport security has to field anger and suspicion from the public for doing their job.  Not an easy position to be placed in, I’ll agree to that.  Watch this video where airport security scan a 9-year-old boy in a dignified manner and playfully tease a younger child by assuring him a scanner doesn’t hurt. This is a dignified airport search. It isn’t odd that the guard is searching children; there are weird people (yes, they live among ug) who hide drugs and weapons on their children to get the stash over the border. Airport security is right to search children in a non-invasive, reassuring manner.

However, airport security around thdisappearing-womane world is earning a bad reputation in a number of occasions.  The video above is outrageous.  I’m no fan of Dr Phil but (oh no, not the word but!) this video is worthwhile and so is the woman’s testimony.There is another equally disturbing video that has gone viral. A woman became emotional after a female security guard “inspected” her by feeling her breasts.  The woman declared this was illegal and asked for airport police to assist her.  No one called them and she became hysterical, weeping and yelling for help.  Her husband and son were nearby, but (!) they seemed helpless and didn’t intervene.  The son, however, had enough sense to film the entire incident.  Airport security reacted by insisting the man stop filming the incident and leave the area.  A police officer approached him and made no action against him.  It turns out information came forward that revealed the woman had been violently raped years earlier by 5 men and the assault brought back emotional trauma.  Whether or not the woman had a traumatic past in terms of sexual assault, what the airport security did was entirely unreasonable.  Who hides a lethal weapon between her breasts or in her bra? This isn’t a James Bond movie.

On the security’s side, (I’m NOT defending either of the aforementioned situations), stats from somewhere or other revealed that 90% of people who carried a gun on their person were not searched by airport security and were permitted to attend their flights.  I don’t know which airport this was or how many people were involved but egads, that is a scary fact.  Hence the reason why airport security is probably trained on an ongoing basis to be ever vigilant about people entering airplanes.  And the manner in which criminals smuggle weapons and drugs over the border is nothing less than amazing.  Weaving cocaine into wigs and swallowing small parcels of cocaine is not uncommon. It is airport security’s job to prevent these oddities from succeeding.

I am in agreement with careful screening.  I want to know the airplane I am on is safe.  I want to know the passenger beside me won’t pull out a gun and blow my head off because she doesn’t like my hairdo.  I want to know that none of the passengers can hijack the plane at gunpoint and send us into another 9-1-1.  These are important responsibilities of airport security and airports.  They have to ensure my safety (and yours) whenever 375273-airport-securityI take to flying with friendly spies….oops….I mean skies. However I also want to know that airport security won’t molest my breasts or private or rectal area in case I am carrying more than 3 ounces of a liquid (shampoo, you know, is extremely volatile at high altitudes…as an aside, 3 ounces of a liquid is acceptable, but 4 ounces ….we’re all doomed.  Who thinks up this stuff?) I also believe that many people are being unfairly accosted, assaulted, and treated just plain rudely.

Recently my brother went on a flight to some place or other in the States from Canada.  (Interestingly, he has never been searched or assaulted in any manner by airport security and he travels frequently for his work). An elderly lady in front of him was being spoken to very rudely by a young, male security officer who was asking her routine questions, yet behaving in a hostile manner.  My brother intervened and said politely, “this lady is elderly and unlikely to have a lethal weapon on her person.  Also, could you be more polite in speaking with her? She is being cooperative and hasn’t done anything to deserve this treatment.”  The security guard snapped back at him in some manner, but he did let the woman go through security right afterward.  He even let my brother through. This isn’t to say, however, that the woman being elderly exempts her from security procedures. All we’re asking is for a little more respect.  Check this video.

Recently, airport security accused of insulting and laughing at people’s bodies beneath their clothing as they passed through new scanners that allow security 456230-body-scanner-story-316x237-to see beneath our clothing (collective gasp).  Betcha didn’t know about those scanners, did ya?  (Next time you’re passing through an airport, be sure to wear your kinkiest underwear – and gentleman, consider wearing your wives’ pantyhose….we’ll give them something to laugh about). This information was revealed on a Youtube video that went viral by a person who claims to be a former TSA agent.  The most outrageous reaction however was that of the airport manager who stated quite stupidly, “everyone has the right to their opinion.”  Seriously.  That was his idea of good PR. I’d love for someone to turn the tables and force airport security to walk through the scanners, then get laughed at by the entire airport. Serves them right. Nyah nyah. I had to drop this video into my blog – if all of us went through the scanners the way this woman reporter sits on camera, there wouldn’t be a need for body searches.

Here’s a weird fact about TSA training: there is a list of 70 suspicious behaviours passengers make that indicate potentially high risk situations. Many of the indicators, as characterized in open government reports, are behaviors and appearances that may be indicative of stress, fear or deception. Allegedly none of them refer to or suggest race, religion or ethnicity, but one addresses passengers’ attitudes towards security. It reads: “Very arrogant and expresses contempt against airport passenger procedures.” TSA officials said that no single indicator is used to identify travelers as potentially high-risk. Travelers must exhibit several indicators before officers subject them to more thorough screening. On the other side of the fence, Michael German, a former FBI agent who works for the American Civil Liberties Union, stated, “expressing your contempt about airport procedures — that’s a First Amendment-protected right.”

Guarding national security is a fine, difficult line.  I’m glad I don’t have that job.  I also believe the public has to fight back against airport abuse, whether it is you yourself who is being assaulted, or someone else.  Don’t just walk on by when someone is being abused or begging for help.  Stop and call 9-1-1 or find an airport police officer.  They do not work with the airport security company.  The police are real cops – not cop wannabes like security guards (had to get that one in there). Let’s help each other out and force airport security to conduct their job in a manner that is dignified for themselves and the public. We are all in this together.

February 16, 2013 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, corrruption, Crime and Punishment, Human psychology, Politics, Technology | , , , , , | 2 Comments

5 Stupid Questions to ask Former Foster Care Survivors

Most questions that come into my head automatically don’t appear to be on the list that I read in the blog The Top 5 Stupid Questions that SUK to ask Someone who Grew Up in Foster Care. In all fairness, it tends to be young people who ask seemingly stupid questions, since they aren’t experienced enough to come to their own reasonably sensible conclusion. However I admit I have my own list of stupid questions I might have asked a FFC (former foster care) person questions such as:

  1. What happened in your family that you were forced to enter the foster care system?
  2. How old were you?
  3. How long were you in foster care?
  4. How many homes were you fostered in?
  5. Were there any good families in your experience?
  6. How long did you stay at one home before being moved again?
  7. Did anyone every explain to you that this wasn’t your fault?
  8. How has this experience shaped your life?

Here is my reasoning for these stupid questions:

  1. Some families can heal and to an extent, reunite.
  2. Sometimes a person who survived foster care needs to ask her or his biological parents all the questions they have about why and how they ended up there themselves, rather than being told by an agency.
  3. A former foster child might want to know her or his parent’s childhood and personal background. This information could answer a lot of questions.
  4. Confrontation might be therapeutic.  Sometimes anger needs to be expressed.
  5. Affirmation that unfit parents were the reason the former foster child was placed in foster care, and not anything that person did.
  6. Information for legal action of any sort.
  7. Knowledge about family genealogy in terms of disorders, diseases, etc.

Of course these issues can only be dealt with assuming a former foster child can find his or her parents, and assuming that this person wants to correspond with them. It isn’t a suggestion. It’s merely a question.

The main points of this blog were very poignant. The Top 5 Stupid Questions and blatant answers include:

  1. what did you do to get in there?  Seriously. The answer emphasizes people’s belief in myths about foster care children.
  2. why weren’t you adopted? How would the FFC know that? And what an embarrassing issue to discuss.
  3. how many foster homes did you have? This one I only realized since reading this blog is a stupid question. However, there are people who claim to know the precise number of foster homes they entered.
  4. were the homes good? Most foster homes are not and recalling abusive experiences is traumatic for people. I might have asked a similar question (did you have any good experiences) because many FFC people have had the good luck to be placed with good caregivers.
  5. do you see your real parents now?  This was the second question I might have asked, in all honesty, for the reasons listed above.

One can assume that foster care was a very difficult experience. I met a girl who mentioned in an offhand way that she just got out of foster care some months ago and she had an angry phone call with her real mother. That told me everything I needed to know. I could feel the hurt and anger around her. I didn’t need to ask something stupid such as what her mother did to necessitate her being placed in foster care (even though I did list that as a question in my personal list of stupid questions). For one thing, it wasn’t my damned business. For another, hearing her voice and seeing her tense look told me everything I might have needed to know: No, it wasn’t a good experience.

Let’s leave it at that.


October 11, 2012 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, corrruption, Crime and Punishment, Human psychology | , , , , , | 2 Comments

When Passing a Test is Failing

I’ve never had to worry about passing a drug test.  I’ve never taken a job, gone to work, driven a car, or sat around in rehab worrying about the illicit toxins in my system. I have consumed a legal drug, alcohol, a time or two (but not whilst drinking).  I happened upon an interesting site that gleefully offered not only information, but a number of synthetic products guaranteed to help those with a drug addiction to pass a drug test. The products help a drug user to fool the four main types of drug tests, being urine, hair follicle, blood and saliva. To wit there are shampoos to remove traces of drugs from your hair; bottles of “ultra-pureurine (I’m not kidding, although the synthetic stuff doesn’t smell like the real thing…gross); marijuana home test kits; marijuana detox kits; alcohol strip saliva tests; “ultra-pureblood kits; and products for random drug tests. It’s eerily similar to starting drugs in the first place:  whatever you need, they’ve got it.

This site is disturbing on two levels:

  1. Why are we helping drug addicts to pass drug tests?
  2. What do we gain and what do we lose when we keep drug addicts in positions of responsibility?

Some jobs that are particularly worrisome where drug users are concerned include: surgeons, forest workers, transport people, construction workers, people who have your life in their (shaky) hands. That’s scary stuff.

Consider the many other situations where drug addiction is truly frightening:

  1. a drug-addicted expectant mother
  2. a drug-addicted mother
  3. a drug-addicted father
  4. a drug-addicted transient
  5. a drug-addicted criminal

A transient or a foster-child teen may not be a danger to others, but the potential to become a criminal in order to maintain a drug supply is high (pun). And we don’t want even “harmless” people walking about high. They do stupid things like step in front of oncoming cars without looking. They start stupid fights with other high, transient people. Criminals and transients make a community less valued and less safe.  The majority of criminals and transients are drug users and always will be.

In case you are loathe to use a synthetic product to alter your drug tests, there is a 1999 Drug Detection Times chart published by the Nationa Institute on Drug Abuse  that provides information as to how various drugs stay in your system. The chart is well-intended: it isn’t intended to provide you with the knowledge to pass a drug test. It provides information as to how much time must pass after using before you can safely go to work, care for a child, walk down the street and chew gum at the same time.

Drug detection time in urine is expressed in upper and lower boundaries.  For instance, if you are an infrequent, small-dose user, the detection test places you in the lower boundaries.  For heavy, regular users, the upper boundaries are the results. Overweight people are more prone to getting caught as drugs linger longer in fatty tissue. Aging and chronically ill people are also likely to get a positive test result. Urine tests isolate four factors: pH levels, colour, creatin levels and temperature. Oddly, methods such as eating red meat, sex, taking vitamin B-12, increasing creatine levels, and mixing a detox drink, have been tried and proven successful in avoiding detection, but only in urine (again, not in everyone).

Having said that, everyone’s drug reaction is different. Some people may hold traces of marijuana for up to two months in their systems. Some may retain trace amounts of cocaine for weeks, others for hours.  It depends on your physical condition, age, usage, weight, and whether or not you eat regularly. Some people believe that drinking large amounts of water, or using a diuretic, will purge their system of drugs but this isn’t so. There are drug users who substitute their urine with another person’s, however this deception isn’t always accurate: temperature is critical.

The argument for using synthetic products and passing a drug test is feeble: the test only measures what you have previously done with drugs and not whether you are currently using. A peculiar sort of logic, but it manages to evade the law.

Bottom line: the best way to avoid failing a drug test, losing your job, your spouse, your child?  Don’t use.

September 26, 2012 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Career, corrruption, Crime and Punishment, Health and Wellness, Human psychology | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Psychopaths in Suits – Corporate Criminals in Our Midst

Recently another ponzi scheme was exposed after its evil mastermind,  Jeffery White, passed away in 2011, from a brain aneurysm at the age of56. Lucky for him.   Brown, one of the “investors” whom he bilked out of his life savings to the tune of $250,000.00, has stated “if he wasn’t already dead, I’d kill him.” Indeed.  The truly evil thing about White was that he knew Brown and his wife, Anne, and they were his friends.  Imagine how he treated his enemies?  Brown’s wife used to teach White’s wife, Henny, in grade school, hence the connection between Brown and White. It turned out to be a devastating connection, personally and financially. Too bad Anne didn’t teach Henny about business ethics.

Ponzi schemes are named after Charles Ponzi, an Italian businessman and con artist in the U.S. and CanadaCharles Ponzi promised clients a 50% profit within 45 days, or 100% profit within 90 days, by buying discounted postal reply coupons in other countries and redeeming them at face value in the United States as a form of arbitrage.In reality, Ponzi was paying early investors using the investments of later investors. Some ponzi schemes also pay investors with their own initial investment, masquerading it as accrued profit. An interesting flick that presents a ponzi scheme (without calling it so) is Green Guys, about a group of 20-something hot shots who bilk unsuspecting investors for millions of dollars.

There are 5 main characteristics of a ponzi scheme:

  1. The Benefit: A promise that the investment will achieve an above normal rate of return.
  2. The Setup: A plausible explanation of how the investment can achieve these above normal rates of return.
  3. Initial Credibility: The person running the scheme needs to be believable.
  4. Initial Investors Paid Off: For a time, the investors need to make at least the promised rate of return.
  5. Communicated Successes: Investors need to hear about the payoffs.

Steps in the Ponzi Scheme

The steps are as follows:

  1. Convince a few investors to place money into the investment.
  2. After the specified time, return the investment money to the investors, plus the specified interest rate.
  3. Convince more investors to place their money into the system by referring to the profits of the earlier investors.
  4. Repeat steps 1 through 3.
  5. During step 2 at one of the cycles, break the pattern.  Escape with the money and start a new life. Or, in Jeffery White’s case, drop dead.

White’s known investors say they are out as much as $5 million. The scheme unravelled after White’s sudden death. Trustees of White’s estate became “extremely uncomfortable“with the discoveries they made. White solicited investments from many of his insurance clients, while treating their moneys as funds that were loaned to him for his general use. White’s business and personal accounts were intermingled, making the tracing of investments impossible.  At the time of his death, White was carrying more than $300,000 in credit card debt and was behind his time-share at Diamond’s Edge Muskoka Cottages. The vintage Porsche 911 Turbo he drove around the GTA was leased. There were no red flags but court documents show White had money problems dating back to the early 1990. Reassessment of his personal income taxes of the years 1996 to 2000 resulted in a substantial debt to Revenue Canada. Testifying at his tax court appeal White claimed his sister left him $1.3 million in debt.The judge in the case called White “vague” and his records “woefully inadequate.” By moving funds about through numerous bank accounts, he made it impossible to prove his case. In 2006, he dropped his appeals and paid $400,000 in arrears.

Psychopathy runs on a continuum with white collar criminals falling in the middle. They’re deceitful and egotistical. White-collar criminals might not physically destroy people, but they have no problem financially destroying them. This type of psychopath is high-functioning. They’re intelligent, have great interpersonal skills, are powerfully persuasive and able to disguise themselves very well. A psychopath is all about manipulation. They’re always assessing, “How can this particular job or person meet my needs? How can I exploit them?’” 

The list of white-collar psychopaths is almost endless. To a certain extent, most people compartmentalize and lead different lives. It’s normal for your work persona to be divergent from your family life. With psychopaths the compartmentalizing is much more exaggerated Jim Hammes, formerly a controller with a Cinncinnati-based company, embezzled $8.7 million of company money into a bank account in the name of a second company doing business with his company. He is currently a fugitive wanted by the FBI and has been on the run since 2009. Hammes also abandoned his two families, neither of whom knew about the other: he was married to two women and had children with both.

Frauds can be very deceptive in terms of their appearance, status and age. Joanne Schneider, a 71-year-old woman in Ohio was recently charged with operating a ponzi scheme and bilking $60 million dollars from 900 investors. The scheme unraveled when a Schneider family member became suspicious after his mother was promised a 16 to 20 percent return on her investment. Schneider’s criminal resume is impressive: securities fraud, selling unregistered securities, engaging in corrupt activity, misrepresentations in securities, theft, and money laundering. Schneider’s husband, Alan Schneider, played a lesser role in the scheme, pled guilty to security and theft charges. He got probation. She got 10 years. If she serves the full sentence, Schneider will be 81 when she is released from prison – either that or deceased from natural causes.

August 23, 2012 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, BullCrap, corrruption, Crime and Punishment, Education, Finance, Human psychology, money, Politics, Pop Culture | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments