Scientology Daily Digest: Saturday, November 9, 2013

Today, some follow-up details on the South Africa nightmare showed up; I continue to think this could be significant as the cult appears to be retreating and retrenching from some geographies to focus on the US operation.  I’m hungrily devouring everything I can to attempt to figure out whether this scenario of the cult declaring a sizable number of big donors will have ripple effects potentially including the entire org declaring itself independent of the “mother church.”

Tony’s article today focuses on a filing in the Garcia suit which can be used to cast aspersions on the credibility of the “diversity jurisdiction” memo which is still at issue in the case.

The message boards have a fair amount of clever creativity worth checking out.   While some might accuse me of bias, I must say that Supermodel #1’s comments on yesterday’s Scientology Daily Digest are worth noting.  She’s tolerant of my interest in the cult but has not had much interest in the spotlight.  I invited her to put in a small comment on my first blog post to help “christen” the blog, much as an elegant woman christens a lumbering smoke-belching ship before launch.  I may have created a monster, however, as reading her rather witty repartee will show.

Supermodel #1 Cover Shoot from early in her career. I’m not saying if I’m the male model in the background.

Incidentally, now that she’s surfaced publicly, some might wonder if Supermodel #1 is a sock puppet of mine.  She has met Tony on a couple of occasions, and has also met a number of other prominent members of our community; all can vouch for her, and since I was lurking nearby, proving that we have both been seen in the same place at the same time.  She’s even found a potential self-portrait, shown here, that she feels captures her true essence.

Tony Ortega’s Blog

Tony’s story today analyzed the filing by Ted Babbitt, the plaintiff’s attorneys in the Garcia’s Super Power donation fraud case .  Scientology was required to submit a five page (restriction to avoid them droning on for hundreds of pages) summary of the arbitration procedure, so that the judge could determine whether the arbitration procedure is fair. That’s needed in order to determine whether the court could intervene, given that the donor agreement requires a “Church” arbitration panel (which the Garcias contend inherently stacks the decks against anyone seeking redress).

The response to the arbitration outline filed by the cult is withering and direct, accusing the cult of “fraud” and “fiction” in the description of arbitration.  The underlying legal filings are provided, as is a declaration of Mike Rinder, who points out that he spent 20 years in charge of managing legal affairs for the cult, and who says that he never knew of an actual arbitration proceeding to take place.

My take:  I think that the Garcia’s attorney may have been rocked back on their heels by the diversity jurisdiction issue, which appears to leave the Court little room for discretion in determining whether it has to dismiss the case or whether it can continue.  To a non-lawyer like me, it feels like this filing is far more confident in tone than the plaintiff’s opposition to the diversity jurisdiction issue. It is unusual for a motion like this to use such extraordinarily strong terms as “fraud” and “fiction.” In other cases I have looked at, attorneys tend to use a reasonable amount of restraint, even in the overview sections where one is expected to use passionate rhetoric to attempt to sway the judge before beginning the legal reasoning process. It is a surprising to see such strong words, one of which has a clear implication that a criminal act upon is being committed upon the court.

I think it is no coincidence that this response was filed very quickly, so that it influences the judge’s perception of the diversity jurisdiction argument and implies that it is likely fraudulent and fictional as well. Since I am not a lawyer, I don’t know how to assess how the judge reacts to this motion, either on its own merits, or in conjunction with the diversity jurisdiction issue. But I do note the more confident tone in this filing. 

Key comments: 

  • “Anonymous” gives a nice analytical writeup on how Scientology “ethics” are supposed to work, particularly showing how it traps you into doing the will of the supreme leader, even if that turns out to be unethical in other ways.
  • Good perspective from Skip Press about the playbook generally used for the CommEv scam. Fortunately, a number of people who have been through CommEv’s speak up about their experience, which is right in line with the theory Skip proposes.
  • TruthIWant points out that he underwent a CommEv procedure, and how it represented an opportunity to bully him into submission, rather than to try to figure out what happened as the paper documents suggest it is intended to do.  Not that we’re surprised it turned out that way, but firsthand accounts are always valuable.
  • Madora Pennington talks about her own CommEv, and gives a sense of how much monkey business was involved in auditing, especially in getting the person in the chair to report just how wonderful every auditing session was. Madora says memorably, “you aren’t allowed not to get better from auditing no matter what!”
  • Speaking of CommEv’s, “Room 101” had one, too.  It did not end well.
  • In a related example of how “Scientology ethics” seem to be rather highly flexible, Tory Christman shared an experience she knew about where to Scientologists were cheated out of a lot of commission money by a WISE company. Apparently, the cult step in and reverse the arbitration award because the CEO of the company was a major donor. The cult changed policies that Hubbard put in place the day before they “heard” the complaint to protect the money of the larger donor. Money quote: “it was the first time I realized you could PAY to have ‘tech’ removed.”
  • Lurkness located an interview that Mark Bunker did of Greg and Debra Barnes, talking about their CommEv’s and expulsion from the cult.
  • Sunny Sands somehow managed to find out that various Flag restaurants have been put on cash only basis with their liquor suppliers by order of the state alcohol regulator.  In life, you apparently can stiff just about anybody but the tax man and the booze peddler. One potential explanation for this is that the cult doesn’t regularly sell liquor at its restaurants, but is dusting off its liquor licenses to accommodate the booze-swilling IAS guests.  Too bad they didn’t bother to read the fine print before trying to get (illegal) extended payment terms from their vendors.  Hope Miscavige doesn’t read this blog and find out about it, or there are going to be some sorry campers in the RPF.
  • NoseInABk picks up on a cute poll that TMZ is doing about Tom Cruise’s involvement with Suri. Apparently, 96% think Cruise should not have the right to get Suri involved in the cult, though interestingly the readership is far more divided on whether “Abandoned” is a defamatory term.
  • MonkeyKnickers writes an open letter to the cult, providing some heartfelt advice to management on how to improve the cult’s image. One of her better efforts, one that proves that messing with the pregnant lady carrying twins is generally less than smart. 
  • TheCommodeDoor finds a nifty quote in a nifty paper by Stephen A. Kent of the University of Alberta on whether Scientology is a religion.  
  • Chuck Beatty, who designed the routing forms for refunds in the 1980s with the express intent of driving people seeking refunds over the edge, gives some background on what he did. 

Mike Rinder’s Blog

  • Mike posted an article mulling over the extent to which Tom Cruise is subject to the disconnection policies that other Scientologists must live by.  It’s a well-written piece that doesn’t cover a lot of new ground in the discussion, but is a clear and cogent summary of what most of us already understand, and is worth reading on that basis.  http://www.mikerindersblog.org/tom-cruise-and-disconnection/
  • Mike’s second article relays a story on BackInComm, the South African blog of the wave of ex-Scientologists recently declared by the head office.  Mike references the story of Ernest & Gaye Corbett, decades long Scientologists and, according to Mike, the highest-profile members of the cult in SA.  More useful details to try to back into what Miscavige thinks he is doing. http://backincomm.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/here-is-their-story-ernest-gaye-corbett/#more-132

WWP, ESMB, OCMB

Aeger Primo helps out in a big way today, again. A serious article to lead off followed by some lulz.

  • WWP picked up a broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on the harassment campaign against Marty Rathbun, to be aired Sunday (tomorrow) at 10pm ET.
  • ESMB has some snark and info about the casting call ad for actors “needed” to make the upcoming Co$ events at Flag (Clearwater, FL) look “good.”  Apparently, management thinks the average Scientologist is just not attractive enough to populate a brochure. Either that or that, or if they used 15 culties for the brochure photos, at a rate of one blowing a month, they’d have to re-shoot the brochure in just over a year.  Now you know why Winston was so overwhelmed at work in his job at the Ministry of Truth: erasing unpersons is a lot of work.  
  • Some pretty good humor and shoops about Tom Cruise’s comment in the Bauer Media deposition about how “My work as an actor is as hard as fighting in Afghanistan.” Some nice imagining how our troops would feel about the comparison.  Both ESMB and WWP are weighing in. 
  • OCMB captures Angry Gay Pope talking about his recent adventure, including the “citizen’s arrest.”
  • OCMB ponders what slant the cult might take on a new “tag line” for its ads.

General Media

  • Ex-Scientologist Skip Press writes a column on celebrity news site The Morton Report that profiles Jon Atack, the Hubbard biographer who has been sharing pieces of his revised version of “A Piece of Blue Sky” on Tony’s site every week.  Apparently, Atack helped Skip escape the cult.
  • The BackInComm blog for South African Scientologists and ex’s ran an article today advocating that all Scientologists worldwide stop giving money to the “Church.”  Well written advice.  More importantly, it’s worth reading to feel the gauntlet being flung down. We’ll see what Miscavige does next.  I am sure that being one of the recent Sea Org imports sent to town to fix things up will not be a pleasant lot in life (though I’m not feeling sorry for them at all).

 

 

 

  • Espiando

    Jon Atack, of course, wrote “A Piece Of Blue Sky”, although I think he did help out Bent Corydon with “Messiah Or Madman”. Both classics, of course.

    I think that you may have to add a daily summary of BackInComm to the list, JP. It’s becoming one of the most interesting reads in the Ex community you can get, especially with the focus now on CommEvs, arbitration, and who exactly doesn’t get to go through their joke of a justice procedure. Until Marty graces us with his presence after he removes himself from his navel, it’s a good side-by-side with Das Rinderblog.

    • John P.

      Oops. Corrected. I hate it when I get behind and work from memory and that middle aged brain fart stuff happens. Thank you for the catch!

      • Espiando

        Hey, that’s what fiends are for.

      • Elen

        My eight year old told me today that a middle aged person is a person in college. Since he knows I am an undergrad & grad school graduate I asked if he considered me “middle aged”… “No, you’re young”. ¿¿?? Maybe because we play a lot?

        • Missionary Kid

          To find out what middle age is, wait until you die, then divide by two.

  • Missionary Kid

    The Corbett’s involvement with $cientology is around a half century apiece, not just decades. The total for their involvement is over a century.

    Co$ repeatedly screwed them over financially, and made obviously bad decisions about buying property, which cost them personally, so they peeked over the wall and looked at criticism of and other versions of $cientology. So far, they’ve only become Indies. I doubt they’ll go further, given their long history venerating LRH.

    • Espiando

      I posted a message for the Corbetts over at Mike’s, which I hope gets through his filters. In it, I hoped that, if they stayed Indie, they’d buy a nice building within sight of Kyalami Castle and pull a Dror Center. They’ve got the money and personnel to do an Indie org on a good-sized scale, and they have the names and rep to farm the SA clambed and take them on that first and most important step out. That would cause more damage, and more uncontrolled frothing at the mouth from the Toxic Dwarf, than them abandoning Scientology altogether.

      Let’s enjoy the schadenfreude while they work through the contradictions.

      • Missionary Kid

        I don’t think the Corbetts will have to do anything to dismantle the Johannesburg org. The turmoil of them being declared and the withdrawal of their financial support and work will throw the org into chaos. Having new sea org officers come in won’t help it, either.

        • Valerie Ross

          I hope they serve eviction notices on those people using their buildings rent-free. That may speed up the process.

    • I.C.N.SP

      I was shocked reading the Corebett’s story. The extent of the blatant (and continual) wringing them for funds was an eye-opener. Some questions arose in my mind:
      – why are the Corbett’s, who are obviously used to dealing with large sums and serious business negotiations, extracting no leverage with the funds they are handing over? Were there any formal contracts drawn up as money changed hands?
      – the “church” has been very successful in keeping evidence of regging (beyond personal testimony) under wraps. Why aren’t we seeing youtube or soundcloud postings of the pressure/begging? Some of these sound like they would be award-nominated performances.

      Sunlight is the best disinfectant. A couple of pieces of evidence associated with these points above would really help to blow this aspect of “church” behavior wide open.

      • Anonymous

        I.C.N.SP,

        You wrote:

        “Why aren’t we seeing youtube or soundcloud postings of the pressure/begging?”

        Not sure if you’ve seen this:

        http://www.tampabay.com/specials/2009/reports/project/part9.shtml

        • I.C.N.SP

          Yes, Tampa Bay Times piece was an example of some great investigation and reporting. Evidence of the actual pressure being applied would clearly show the “church” response as BS.

          At the moment we keep hearing “we don’t put people under pressure to donate, it’s only bitter, defrocked apostates who say we do”.

          • Anonymous

            I assume you are meaning to differentiate between types of evidence. It is frequently true that first-hand, eye-witness testimony is the “best-evidence” available in a case.

            First person, eye-witness testimony is considered evidence in virtually every court in America.

            If you mean something like video / audio recordings or some type of written instrument that arguably shows undue influence, or possibly even duress, in supplement to first-person eye-witness testimony, well…my guess is it won’t be long before more of that is soon available.

      • Missionary Kid

        The Corbetts obviously took the term “church” to mean that it would have many of the same ethical values that are valued in traditional churches, of honesty, for instance. More probably, because they were such long term $cions, they figured that they were entitled to a certain amount of respect and banked on it.

        They trusted that when a representative of the church said that they would be paid back, that they would. It’s obvious that a verbal contract with Co$ isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

        They obviously think that there’s something to LRH’s philosophy, because they were willing to put up with all sorts of B.S. to “clear the planet” by “disseminating” his words under the auspices of Co$.

        It looks as if they were willing to put up with a large amount of abuse until they really got screwed by Co$.

        That caused the Corbetts to peek over the self imposed wall separating them from other $cientology communities, something they had never done in 50 years. That’s when they decided to bail.

  • Here in CA we have the ABC board that oversees the regulation of alcohol distribution and retail sales. I have witnessed a case in Fresno where they took out the entire stock of a small grocery store that had been selling beer/wine to underage minors. In some states the enforcement priorities are different, like when AL had only state stores and the problem was cheaper stuff coming in from out of state for roadhouses and the like. I think it’s pretty safe to say that trying to bypass the laws controlling alcohol sales in FL is another footbullet, local.

    Is it possible that the restaurant could use cash from their gross receipts to pay their vendors? Do they carry high-priced or high-octane stuff like 151 proof rum or the cherry liquors from Europe that can double as fire accelerant? Or would they finagle some money from somewhere else to maintain their stock? I imagine it would be about 10K or so if you want to have a decent stock above of rotgut for the whales.

    • Espiando

      Liquor distributors (legitimate ones with good reputations, that is) have so many government agencies performing business-related colonoscopies on them that they are very wary about selling on a credit basis to anyone even mildly sketchy in that area. The Hibiscus is going to have to find someone who will sell on a cash basis, and they’re going to need to come up with cash on delivery in order to get any booze. For some reason, I just can’t picture clams staying at the Fort Homicide paying their meal bills in cash. Maybe the tips will be in cash, but everything else is going to be plastic.

      Keep monitoring Das Rinderblog on this issue, because I think there’s going to be an announcement that, with the exception of a champagne toast, all of the festivities are going to be dry as a “requirement” for GAT 2: Electric Boogaloo.

      • Semper Phi

        Nope, there won’t even be cash in the restaurants — no cash tips are allowed. There are “grading” cards on the tables to rate the servers on the quality of the service, in lieu of tips. That’s how the wait staff get their stats. Same goes for the housekeeping staff.

        • Valerie Ross

          I know I shouldn’t even be surprised, but for some reason, it seriously angers me that the waitstaff isn’t allowed to be tipped. Of course they are SO and cash would be an incentive to blow, but that level of control shows just how deep it all goes. Thanks Johnp for having a place where there comments are culled down to the good ones. Tony’s blog has become a victim of its own success. It is nice to have someone brave enough to wade through the comments there yo pick out the good ones. Love the readers digest version of all these blogs. Your concise commentary is great. It allows me to read the main blog and rely on you for the cherry picked comments on my hectic days.

    • John P.

      I don’t know for sure about paying vendors directly out of cash, since I am a finance guy not an accounting guy — similar but very, very different. At a guess, I highly doubt it, because in any sophisticated company you restrict handling of cash significantly. Too much opportunity for monkey business, either employee theft, kickbacks to vendors, or the company itself not declaring revenue.

      Read about the history of the cash register — it enabled massive innovation in the structure of retail business since you could trust employees with handling cash for the first time; businesses were previously limited in the size they could grow because the founders and partners were the only ones trusted to handle cash. Department stores or even multi-site retail chains were almost impossible until you had the cash control enabled by cash registers.

      I am sure Miscavige demands cash controls that are the equal of those in a normal company because he wouldn’t want those $50 a week staff to steal even a penny worth of his money that they’re not entitled to.

  • 3feetback-of-COS

    Message on my machine indicates that ASHO in Los Angeles is running a phone bank inviting people to a
    presentation of GAT 2 at the Shrine Auditorium on Sat and Sun Nov 23 and
    24.

    • Espiando

      Any bets on how long the video of the Clearwater Clambake takes to leak to Rinder?

    • John P.

      Interesting. Do they really think they can fill 6,300 seats, especially with two events? That’s an awful big hall, and I don’t think there are 12,600 Scientologists in the SoCal area, including staff at Pac Base and Int Base.

      You’d think they would try the Wiltern Theater (1850 seats) or someplace like that instead, where it wouldn’t look so empty when they fail to fill it.

      Anybody in the area willing to hang out across the street from the Shrine at arrival time to try and count noses on one of those nights? Posting a YouTube video from a GoPro could give us some really good data points on just how many culties there are in LA. If they really crank up the heat to get people there, then attendance gives us a potential upper bound on LA Scientologists. And that allows us to set an even more conservative upper bound on Scientologists nationally. This would be a really useful data point to get.

      • Espiando

        I’m really interested in their motivation for doing this. Do you think that the phone bank routine might just be a flyer to determine potential attendance, then, suddenly, oops, it’s cancelled in favor of doing it at ASHO for “select” audiences? Or are they so addicted to the possibility of a mass reg that they’d be willing to expose the fact that they can’t fill the Shrine anymore? Or is GAT 2 so pathetic that they feel they need the rah-rah crowd stimulus to sell it to the doubters?

        There’s one other question that factors into this: is this where they bring out the Z-List celebs to try to attract a crowd? If they can’t pull Krusty, Baby-Killer, and Her Royal Governator to Clearwater, maybe this is where they pull back some celeb cachet.

        • Unloyalofficer

          My guess, just to chime in, is that the Shrine has historical significance for the cult. It’s where L. Ron Hubbard introduced Dianetics to the world, back in 1950. So with this new amazing “tech” can be announced at the same place, as that “historic” night. Besides the orchestra level seats about 2500 if I recall, so they should at least get that filled for impressive pictures. They will also include OC, and maybe San Diego public. The staff can sit in the balcony. I have never seen the shrine remotely filled for a Scientology event.
          Another reason the Shrine is booked, I believe, is the expo hall the public get corralled into next to it is a great place to set up reg spaces, book displays, IAS reg booths, E-meter checks, food and beverages, etc. I imagine there is going to be a lot of regging going on, so having it at a small place wouldn’t be ideal, this is probably their “black Friday”, and a place to try to control the crowd would be to their advantage in the cults eyes.
          I would be very surprised if they go 2 nights at the Shrine normally, the event will be on Saturday night, but you never leave until about 1-2 in the morning. The next day is filled with various events around the orgs.

      • Anonymous

        John P.,

        In addition to capacity considerations, the church had to find a venue on very short notice to hold an event that only had a confirmed date as of about a week ago.

        My guess is that the Shrine was the only practical place available on short notice. It is a very familiar venue to Scientologists in the L.A. area who have previously attended dozens of events there.

      • bAnon

        The Black Crowes will be performing at the Wiltern on those dates. 🙂

        • John P.

          This is the fun kind of leg work that helps think about theories as to why they would rent a particular place. I think there are plenty of other halls near Hollywood that would be candidates, which also bear investigating. The Wiltern is only one.

          The Wilshire Ebell Theater, where they have the Writers of the Future awards, is another. That’s even smaller than the Wiltern, at about 1,300 seats. It might be smarter to fill that on two back-to-back nights and then add more nights if they had demand, rather than having a spectacularly empty 6,300 seat venue. The Ebell doesn’t publish a schedule, since it is mostly for private events, rather than being more of a club with a regular schedule of bands, so that might merit a call to the management to see if it’s available on the week of 23-November and 24 November.

  • Satansthetan

    Hi John, really like the blog, thank you, I’m tired of wading through the gaff on the comments at the bunker! Does anyone know if anything from GAT2 has been revealed yet or is it still under wraps until the big day(s)?

    • tetloj

      I’m sure we’ll hear it first from Mike.

    • John P.

      I think there are some reasonable educated guesses as to the content of GAT 2. Tony’s published on it in the past, as has Mike Rinder. I don’t have time to look up the links.

      From a strategic viewpoint, the problem Miscavige has to confront with doing what would be called a “product line refresh” is that he can’t really make up his own stuff partly because there isn’t anyone who has any credibility to be able to make something up and argue as to why it works, but more importantly because there’s no way to convince people that it’s “on Source.”

      So the refresh is going to be a bunch of highly technical gobbledygook, but the benefits are that everything will be really great and go ten times as fast (though it won’t cost less, because the fix is already in on a price increase to get people to put lots of money on deposit now).

      People will fall for it until they realize that the promises are a load of crap, and that the new shit is the same as the old shit. When they realize that, some will leave, and some will stay anyway.

      Apparently, one big detail is a new upgraded e-meter, which is the new one built almost a decade ago, with thousands of units sitting in a warehouse since then. In an amazingly stupid move, these meters hook to a PC with old-style serial ports, which haven’t been on a newly built machine in about a decade. They’re likely to refit these with some sort of dongle to get them to attach to a USB port, which just oozes class all the way. Scrapping those units and putting out an even better model with WiFi and direct Internet access means cult HQ can bill by the hour for actual usage, without field auditors auditing “off the books” and depriving DM of even a few pennies in revenue.

      • Satansthetan

        thanks for replies, I am intrigued to see how they will manage to repackage the same old blustering baloney in such a way that even the numbest minds don’t start to see through it, should be interesting!
        Also have to say that I’m wondering if the Rathburns aren’t working out their settlement with COS right now, and are contemplating taking a “Shut up and go away for a large sum” kind of deal, hence the silence. Time will tell.

        • John P.

          My suspicion is that Miscavige won’t fold until he is well and truly on the way to losing. He may even be willing to be deposed if he thinks it will help him beat Rathbun. It may well be that in his mind this is the final battle between Good and Evil, where he is dealing a mighty blow to his moral enemy, the ultimate SP. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rathbuns walk away with a huge win, including a permanent injunction and oodles of cash, but I also think Marty is not going to submit to a gag order as a condition of a settlement. I wouldn’t interpret Marty’s silence (which he broke with a new blog post today) as a sign that negotiations to settle are under way.

  • The discussion on Mike Rinder’s blog really is making a change to people. Because the Indies have not shunned Mike’s blog completely (not yet, anyway), they’re exposed to authoritative stories about LRH and they’re waking up while Mike is yelling at True Believers. Good stuff!

    • Espiando

      The problem is that Mike isn’t yelling at all of the True Believers. Either he still has a significant percentage of Kool-Aid in his blood, or he’s too polite to tell Carcha, “Shut up. You sound like a brainwashed moron.”

  • Gerard Plourde

    The South Africa news is an interesting development coming a year after the purge in Haifa last year. Is there any info on how the Tel Aviv Idle Org is doing?

  • Science Doc

    Just spent some time on the US Census Bureau site. I think there could be some data there, especially if Gold and Flag have unique zip code numbers. Also the census bureau has a lot of data that does not seem to be captured directly from the census form, education, children, etc. If someone wanted to find distinctive characteristics of RCS members or potential recruits you would want to base it on the metrics that the census bureau has a baseline for the population as a whole. I spend a fair amount of time visiting College campuses. I used to see the La Rouches around recruiting a lot. I’ve never seen RCS recruiting on a campus. Does this suggest that more likely recruits are less likely to have university educations?

    • John P.

      Good that you were keeping your eyes open as you wandered the streets. I think the cult is largely done recruiting at colleges, because every kid these days has an iPhone, and can, while talking to a cult recruiter, ask Siri, “What is Scientology?” and then run away when they seethe answers. The Craigslist campaign shows what is presumably the only approach that works even occasionally: soft-pedal any connection to Scientology until after they have gotten your personal data and gotten you to come into the org. No more mass-market recruitment, they’ve got to lie about who they are or nobody would come in.

      • Science Doc

        Most residential university students are very highly socialized and tuned into what they are doing relative to their peers. The world is their oyster. Contrast that with someone reading the self help and support group ads on Craig’s List and it looks like they are down to the most isolated and desperate people.

    • aegerprimo

      I recently finished reading a book titled “Captive Hearts, Captive Minds” by Madeleine Landau Tobias, Janja Lalich. Excellent book for someone recovering from the damage of a cult, or for someone whose family member is involved or recovering. The book talks about what type of people join cults. A lot of them are smart, with some college education. When I got into Scientology, joined the Sea Org, I was 19 years old and going to college for Civil Engineering.

      Even though the Co$ may not be currently using college campuses as a resource for new members, it does not mean that OTHER cults do not. I agree with you John P. that Scientology has such a bad name for itself on the internet now, that they have to lie about who they are in order to recruit new members, or at least sell them a book or introductory course or two. They have to get the stats up somehow.

      Here are links to articles about who joins cults by the above mentioned authors.

      http://losangelesfreepress.com/who-joins-cults-and-why/

      http://www.factnet.org/captive-hearts-captive-minds

  • aegerprimo

    John P. Your blog is great so far! My favorite section is the rundown of the key comments at the Underground Bunker. Very useful! It takes a lot of time to go through the comments there and often time would not permit, so I would end up missing A LOT.

    Your content is excellent, but some graphics would be nice. Maybe a header? How about starting with a stock photo of an avalanche. Or how about a header similar to the theme of your Avatar? Maybe a border or different background color for the navigation column down right side? Maybe a color divider line between daily posts? Maybe 11pt Tahoma font instead of 10.5 pt Helvetica (the kerning looks off). Tahoma or Verdana are nice evenly spaced fonts, easy to read.

    I’m not suggesting you overwhelm your blog with graphics and colors, but a “less is more” approach like the Underground Bunker for example; header with title of blog, another photo within the text content for the day,borders around the navigation columns… (enjoyed the Supermodel #1 pic). Make it pleasing to the eye.

    • aegerprimo

      Well the 11.5 pt Arial here in the Disqus comments area is easy on the eyes.

    • John P.

      Thank you for the comments on the format. I agree that the format needs sprucing up. I have had a very kind offer of help by someone with a day job to take a first crack at cleaning up the format, and they have made some progress but there’s still a bit further to go. As I write this, I have only been on line for six days, and I slammed the blog out there without much of a plan to handle all the technical details; I was focused on content only. I am conversant with HTML and CSS but am also deathly afraid of screwing something up and bringing the site down.

      Any artsy types that want to help with a nice header banner graphic, perhaps embedding the Gordon Gekko picture, would be very welcome to contact me. I am artistically brain dead, so I am helpless on my own.

      I agree that I need more pictures in the content. It is taking far longer to do the daily summaries than I thought, and I am working on getting my productivity on the text up a bit. Your efforts in scanning ESMB and WWP are very much appreciated. But I still need to get the basic product pumped out faster as a way to free up the time needed to track down and identify pictures.

      I’d be interested in everyone’s perspective: would you think less of me if I grabbed pictures from the underlying articles to put in a Daily Digest to make it look cooler, or do you think that would make me look lame? In other words, how much original art direction do I need to do?

      Also, would it be a way to get some art on the site to snag the one or two best shoops of the day from Tony’s site and highlight them here, with caption of “Shoop of the Day” (with author credit in caption as well)?

  • Science Doc

    A cursory analysis of the census data for zip code 92583 (San Jacinto, Hemet CA) suggests something worth exploring more. Between 2000 and 2010 the overall population swelled from 21,000 to 30,000, but the numbers classified as living in non institutionalized group quarters dropped from 630 to 522. I have no idea whether these latter numbers reflect the CoS population living at Gold/Int. Maybe someone who was there for a decadal census remembers how they filled out their census forms. Some of the 630 or 531 could be traditional group homes. This was the only possible signature that caught my eye.

    • John P.

      A nice piece of digging. And you’re exactly right: the answer is highly dependent on the data definitions. I rarely try to wrestle with zip code or census tract level data, so I don’t have the understanding to point the way. But absent a clear understanding of the definitions, trying to figure out which individual census tracts contain the group homes would be fairly definitive. I don’t know if tract level data is available yet for the 2010 census, and I don’t know if it’s available without some sort of subscription to a commercial database. But if you’ve got your numbers detective hat on, it’d be worth a try.

      It might also be worth a quick message on Facebook to Marc Headley who would have a pretty good idea what the population trend was on Int Base during approximately that time. I have discovered in my work at Global Capitalism HQ that a lot of theorizing and detective work can sometimes be saved by contacting the people who know the numbers and asking them politely. 😉

      • Science Doc

        It may be census tract 051300. I’m at my limit of flying my iPad into census data. I hope that this comment will lead to some validation from people who were inside and or some better analytical work from someone who understands census data. If those non institutionalized group quarters numbers do correspond to the Hemet SO counts (or we can get there with slightly better census searching) we will have some very useful data on the time course of staffing. The 1980 and 1990 data should be accessible too. Imagine having Hemet counts for the past 40 years.

        • Science Doc

          I checked one more thing. The adjacent zip codes have between zero and 13 people in non institutionalized group quarters. Something’s up with those numbers.

          • Science Doc

            Non institutionalized group quarter population in 33756 (Flag) grew massively from 322 to 728. Some evidence of spillover into some of the other Clearwater zips. These data are more complex than for Hemet. Again, someone who knows how to search and interpret census data should work on this.

          • Science Doc

            90027 has some high numbers for non institutionalized group quarters relative to surrounding zip codes.

        • John P.

          Thanks for continuing to dig into this. Unfortunately, I’m really swamped the next couple weeks with real-life stuff, so I won’t have time to try and run this down. I also have to resist the temptation to do everything myself, and continue to say this would be a fun project for someone who wants to hone research skills. The key thing here is dredging through census data, which is a) voluminous, b) presented in unusual and interesting ways, and c) has extremely precise definitions which need to be completely understood when you’re trying to make predictions off the data. So anybody with the Mad Numberz Skillz to go wading through census data to dive deeper would earn my respect (as well as full publication credit, though that goes without saying).

  • mirele

    Wow, I just discovered this blog. It’s so *useful*. Thank you so much JohnP for doing this, as the volume of information out there is getting insane. It’s so not like the Old Guard days, when we went weeks without any solid news.