Back in the Saddle

I’m back.  This post gives the story of what happened, what I have in the pipeline, and invites you to contribute to the return of my blog.

The Back Story

It’s time to restart this blog after about three months on an unplanned hiatus. I got hit by several factors in late December that basically conspired to take me offline.  No, I wasn’t stalked by OSA or anything like that. Here’s what happened:

Burnout: I thought that the Daily Digest would be an easy way to build a readership base and would buy me time as I started the deeper research projects that I had intended to be the main focus of the blog.  It quickly turned out that despite the help of some generous contributors (Aeger Primo stands out among many) who monitored the forum sites, I was spending 3-5 hours per night putting the piece together. In most cases, I was cranking out 1,500 to 3,500 words, which is considered pretty impressive by the standards of a full-time novelist, though I’m merely a part-time capitalist. Needless to say, doing this between four and seven nights per week took over an unsustainable chunk of my personal time.

I was thrilled by the comments I received on the late December draft piece suggesting some 2014 predictions.  I got enough comments to fill almost 70 pages in a Word document. Out of respect to the extremely thoughtful insights from you, the readers, I tried to integrate all the comments faithfully into a final predictions document.

This turned out to be far more challenging than I had expected, but I persevered as best I could, because I have believed that this blog is as much a community effort as it is a place to showcase my own thinking about Scientology.  As you can imagine, trying to integrate that much material into an already long and overly unwieldy piece added considerably to the feeling of burnout that I experienced.

Life happens: For a variety of reasons, several areas in the rest of my life became more demanding at the same time as I took on this overly ambitious project.  I got squeezed with even less time to work on the blog than I had had previously, just as the number of hours I needed to produce work up to my standards had increased. The details don’t really matter, but some were positive, some were stressful.  Nothing by itself was especially dramatic to be worth detailing.  It’s just life, but it hit all at once.

Seasonal depression:  Around mid-December, I found myself sleeping far more than usual, going to bed earlier and waking up later.  I also found myself uninterested in a lot of things that are integral parts of my life.  Only after the beginning of the year did I realize I was in the grip of a major seasonal depression.  Those of you who live in the upper Midwest or in the Northeast know that this winter has been one for the record books, and that many people have been suffering from symptoms similar to what I’ve experienced.

One of the key hallmarks of depression is the inability to initiate tasks. While I’ve been keeping up on reading Tony Ortega’s blog, Mike Rinder’s blog and other sources, the pace of my ideas has slowed, and my ability to sit down and instantly crank out a post (or even a comment on Tony’s site) was greatly impaired.

I must thank those of you who missed me on The Underground Bunker and contacted Tony in late January and early February asking about me, apparently in sufficient numbers that an annoyed Tony got in touch with me to make sure I was OK.

I finally started to feel better after various sorts of medical attention, including visits to the evil psychs, sun lamps, vitamin D supplements, and a whole host of other things.  A recent getaway to sunny climes with great friends also really helped (though alas, Supermodel #1 was unable to break away to join me).

For those of you who are recently out of the Church of Scientology, depression is real.  Scientists can hook people up to an fMRI machine and observe the different brain chemistry of people in a depressive episode versus healthy people while doing the same tasks.  I tend to make my occasional depressive episodes worse by thinking that I’m smart and have high energy and drive to succeed, meaning that I deny that I’m in trouble until I’m hopelessly mired in quicksand.  I’m also stubborn and failed to listen to those around me who were concerned that I was sliding into a funk.

The good news is that I am starting to feel more myself than I have in a couple months, and I’m finally ready to get back in the saddle.

What’s Next?

I would love to hear from you regarding how I can shape the reincarnation of this blog to give you what you would love to see as long as I can figure out a way to do it without burning out again.  Among the features on tap:

  • Predictions (at last): I will be putting out the final 2014 predictions, but in a one-at-a-time format, rather than in a single giant piece.  I think breaking up that unwieldy monster into manageable chunks spread out over a couple weeks ought to work.  The process of wrestling with this enormous post reminds me, by the way, of a great Spalding Gray monologue about his first attempt to write a novel, called “Monster in a Box.”
  • Interviews: On my recent vacation, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to numerous former Scientology members, who shared generously of their time to relate their experiences with the cult and with the tech.  I got wind of the Goldberg family’s disconnection story that ran in last weekend’s Tampa Bay Times, and I had a chance to interview other people about how they have managed to avoid a similar fate. It’s not easy, but it’s possible.  I’ve also talked at length with several old-time auditors who have left Scientology, and now have a much better perspective about why many of the old-time public got enough value to stick around in the cult until the organizational insanity became too much to bear.
  • Numbers: Mike Rinder has published a few interesting document leaks in the last few weeks including aggregate donation amounts for several OT Committees at a couple orgs. When I slice this up, it could give us a revealing look at current IAS donation levels and insights into other financials. My recent interviews have given me a sense that the cult’s membership decline is accelerating in the wake of GAT 2, and could accelerate further in the wake of the Goldberg story.

I need feedback from you on whether the Daily Digest should be revived, and if so, what you like most and what I might be able to eliminate to save time.

I am, of course, open to any other thoughts you may have about what I can do to make this blog great.

How You Can Help

This is a cooperative effort.  I welcome thoughts and constructive comments by e-mail at johnpcapitalist (at), and hope to continue to have a lively and high-quality discussion in the comments once again.

Daily Digest: Many of you have found this to be extremely valuable. Any thoughts on what’s most important here and on how I can pull this together in an hour instead of 3-4 hours per day would be most welcome.  Certainly, tips of stories I might have missed would be welcome.  And I’d love to have volunteers help with individual parts of this document.

Hiring help and investing in developing stories:  If there are a sufficient number of contributors who are willing to pay a modest amount per month via PayPal, I can hire a research assistant from one of the many schools in the area to come in and do some of the grunt work of putting stories together.  I could thus reasonably commit to having a story a day at the very least, and avoid the burnout that took me off line for the last couple months.

If I attract a big enough contributor base, I could incur some expenses that would let me expand breadth and depth of coverage greatly, such as allowing me to attend Ideal Org openings, travel to news events such as the Monique Rathbun trial, and to do in-person interviews so I can publish video in appropriate cases and do higher quality work.

If you find my work to be valuable enough to contribute $10 per month, please let me know, either via e-mail or in the comments below. If you think that a greater or lesser amount works best for you, I’d love to hear it.  I would like to get a sense of what percentage of the unique visitors would be willing to contribute in order to explore the possibilities that having an income from this blog would open up.

I would never go to to a subscription model behind a paywall, but a regular stream of contributions from the blog would allow me to hire consistent research assistance and would give me the ability to invest in stories.

If you have experience with Web business models (“freemium,” etc), I’d love to hear from you via e-mail on strategies to make something like this work.  

45 thoughts on “Back in the Saddle

  1. Chocolate Velvet

    Glad to see you back, JohnP! Big welcome back hugs to you, from me!

    I’m happy you are bouncing back from the seasonal depression — it’s good of you to be so honest about it. Depression is so common, but it can make you feel terribly alone in your suffering. It’s such a great help for people to know that it happens to all of us sometimes, and it can be coped with very successfully.

    I’m looking forward to seeing you back in fighting form — but I know how much time it takes to write a decent blog post. Maybe a weekly or twice-weekly summary of the best stories and comments would be a more manageable approach? Then you can post other stories as you complete them. If you’d like to maintain a daily schedule, then you could offer a brief check-in with links to hot stories or fun stuff. Perhaps guest writers could volunteer their services to write posts, and you could use these on days when your other demands keep you away from the blog.

    Just a few suggestions off the top of my head — I know that many folks will be happy to see you back, and want you to do this blog, in a sustainable way. We need your analytical skill in the mix!

  2. TheHoleDoesNotExist

    Glad to hear you’re on the mend and defrosting. Recap of the Week’s main events would be just right, instead of daily, throw out the little ones and just concentrate on the big fish.

    I wouldn’t object to the $10/month but it’s a matter of having many items I’d gladly do $10 a month for, which all flood the budget. Just can’t but not because I don’t value the input. There’s going to be a flood of entheta coming. We are now at the end stages and all the shadowy and criminal and slimy characters that have been embedded in this parasite for eons are going to be picked off one by one. It’s not going to be pretty and it’s not going to be pleasant.

    So I don’t really care too much about predictions, or any chit chat about minor details or chasing them down. The monsters within are going to begin turning each other in or turning each other out, fighting to the death for the last crumbs of commissions and shiny things. I don’t think many really get how this group has always been a magnet for white collar shysters since scientologists don’t report crimes or fraud to any authority.
    The worm is already turning. I think you’ll have plenty to keep your awesome brain busy with just a Week in Review.

  3. Eclipse-girl

    This winter was particularly tough. it was very grey where I live.
    I am glad to know that you are getting back to normal.

    I look forward to the return of the blog, albeit with changes.

  4. EnthralledObserver

    I was in awe of the commitment you’d made to this blog and gathering the prominent stories, comments and summaries on a daily basis – I knew it had to take hours to accomplish, and wondered where you found the time and energy. Heck I couldn’t even keep up reading here and Tony’s and the brief pop over to Mike’s and Marty’s, let alone comment everywhere in such detail as you frequently did, plus summarise here daily. So I’m not surprised you had a bit of a crash. Still very impressed that you did so for as long as you did, especially now knowing just how much time and effort went into it.
    I’m glad you are getting back to normal, and happy that you plan to resume your contributions, but my wish is that you don’t burn out again. I hope you find that perfect balance where you feel you’ve contributed helpfully, but are enjoying what you are doing and are managing your juggle well.
    Welcome back… you were missed. :)

  5. aquaclara

    First, I’m glad you’re doing better! This has been a horrendous winter, and the mood shifts we feel are real. It’s important to recognize them, and work around them. Meaning, it’s ok to sleep more, laze more and eat more chocolate, but not so good to wallow in vitamin D-deprived depression without help. So welcome back!

    A daily commitment is big, and I don’t know how Tony does it! And now Mike. My deepest fear is that our talent will burn out.

    Please consider a once a week-and short- commitment to start with, and if you find yourself with another topic, add in as a spontaneous event.

    Also, a synopsis is overwhelming, because it leaves one accountable to everything else that has happened. There is no need to feel like you have to read 2,000 comments (eleventy-billion in Scilon math) before you can start your writing. Your best bits are in analysis, so pick something that interests you, or that you have picked up, and opine.

  6. stanrogers

    Good to see you among the living again. I tend to plough in at a high rate of knots myself from time to time, so I read you five by five. It would be so much easier if depression actually was a bad case of da blues; there’d never be the ridiculous feeling that you ought to be able to muscle through it. It’s a lot harder to read fatigue and apathy as anything other than, well, laziness and not giving a crap, and the highly-motivated can’t tolerate either of them in themselves until all other choices are gone.

  7. Mark

    Hooray! You’re back! Now the days start getting longer than the nights!

    Two suggestions about taking the pressure off the slog of producing the digest: I’ve found the Cult News Network a useful way of keeping tabs on matters; it sometimes picks up breaking Co$-related news on non-specialist sites one might otherwise miss. But you probably already know about that.

    Then a weekly (or at the most twice-weekly) schedule would enable you to get a better perspective on the relative importance of different stories, rather than trying to cram in absolutely everything you can find on a daily basis – for that, you need a whole newsroom, not one Global Capitalist in his valuable spare time (unwillingly assisted by whichever supermodel happens to be on duty?)

    Most looking forward to you bringing your formidable statistical brain to bear on all those raw numbers about the cult that have been emerging over the last few weeks, mostly thanks to Mike Rinder’s sources. Apart from anything else, your analysis and extrapolations of what appears to be proper accountancy data from inside certain orgs and missions (as opposed to the patently false LRH/DM ‘stats’ rubbish) will act as a counter to all that depressing and vulgar propaganda from ‘Impact’ magazine about supposed millions contributed to the IAS (which I suspect are as real as Miscavige’s boasts of “straight up and vertical” Co$ expansion), which Tony Ortega exhibited for our horrified delectation at the Underground Bunker a few days ago.

  8. Jimmy3

    Along with seasonal depression, I am prone to outrageous conspiracy theories of my own invention. So now I am quite embarrassed about my lengthy email to Tony Ortega in which I grilled him on:

    A) why has he kidnapped John P?
    B) what are his demands for John P’s release?
    C) why hasn’t he posted his demands for John P’s release on his blog?
    D) does John P really have a jet stocked with super models?
    E) how can I get on that jet?

    I’m not sure he even read it, as I’ve long suspected that my emails are accidentally sent to his spam box. Numerous requests to correct this mistake have gone unanswered. He’s really busy, that’s all. But it is good to know that you haven’t been kidnapped.

    Welcome back.

    1. DodoTheLaser

      When I want to hear from Ortega, I post some stupid statement.
      Works almost every time. Work on your Annoyance Tech, brother.

    2. Exterrier

      Supermodel sex may not be super sex, unless a blow dryer and airbrush kit can be considered sex appliances.
      Other than that, I shared your curiosity about John P. :)

  9. Science Doc

    This winter was indeed tough. 3 weeks in the Southern Hemisphere, a week on the Tropic of Cancer, and even now I’m in a warmer clime almost off the grid. I’ve finally learned to stay ahead of SAD. Wish you the best and welcome back. My advice is to leave the daily digest to someone with more time and focus on analysis.

  10. Sunny Sands

    Glad you’re back, John P. Anything you write has an accurate and unique aspect that is worth waiting for. So I am echoing others in saying whatever pace works for you, I’ll be visiting here to read it.

  11. Elar Aitch

    Welcome back.
    I don’t think the need for a daily digest is the same now that numbers have died down slightly on the Bunker – it is easier to get through most of the articles and comments now and there are enough people who post between the blogs about what is being highlighted elsewhere – even if this does happen several times for one article within the space of 10-20 comments ;).
    Your talent certainly lies in the analysis – taking multiple data points and making sense of them – and there is no better time for accessing real time data with both Mike and backincomm daily leaking bits and pieces of information (during your break I did wonder several times if you were at least reading and reviewing this data).
    What would be useful and instructive would be to see on a semi-regular basis (I see CV has suggested twice-weekly, THDNE weekly) how you take this data and marry it with other information to produce reasonable sense out of the current environment and possibilities for the future (I sense that you are keen to demonstrate the process as much as the outcome).

  12. Narapoid

    Welcome back John P! Strait ahead with your suggestion, I would agree with Hole, a weekly round up more so than the daily.

    Take your time with this. I just started looking into Scio online not quite a year ago, and it effects me. Emotionally. I know you are a never-in, and I am a decades long out, but the stories of loss and the deceitful self-deceived souls who hurt others as a religious rite can subconsciously keep a smoldering anger going in anyone. It does me.

    Take care of yourself and have fun where it’s fun.

  13. Qbird

    A comedian somewhere said…
    I step outside and the air that I breathe is so bitter cold, it actually hurts…
    Why do I live where the air hurts my face?

    As always, good to see you JohnP.

  14. Troy MacGyver SP

    Welcome back, I’ve had a similar winter and sadly can relate to,” I tend to make my occasional depressive episodes worse by thinking that I’m smart and have high energy and drive to succeed, meaning that I deny that I’m in trouble until I’m hopelessly mired in quicksand.” Being self-employed it’s amazing how quickly you can dig yourself into a hole. My family has all but given up on our efforts to get my nephew out of the grips of the $cions since he has turned 18. To them it’s a magic number that has sealed his fate and the emotional and financial toll has become overwhelming. On a personal level I should give it a break,however,anything that I can do to stop anyone else from being sucked in is rewarding.

  15. El Con Blubbard

    Welcome back John P Capitalist! We all missed you! Glad you are feeling better!! I am looking forward to your blog and will pass the word! Thank you for doing something about criminal $cientology! The blog is awesome!

  16. Free Minds, Free Hearts

    John P, I am so glad you are back. Sorry about the rough winter (I cannot totally relate since I am in the warm and sunny climes). I agree that your biggest value-added is analysis – and spending more time synthesizing and analyzing what is going on, rather than a synopsis, is probably a better use of your talents and time. Especially the financial analysis with GAT III and the declining events. But mostly, take care of yourself, you are worth more than all of the cult! so we want you healthy and well rested and happy with your supermodels.

  17. Sidney18511

    Glad to see you back in the saddle! I grew up in Jersey and I know that winter depression can send you down a black hole. That’s why over thirty years ago I packed up and moved to florida and made a life for myself. Isn’t it amazing the things we can do when we’re young and brave?

  18. DodoTheLaser

    Welcome back, John!
    So glad you are feeling better!

    Your absence and presence always makes a big difference.
    Please, email me anytime if you think I can help in any way.

  19. Sir Hemet TC Burlwood, VIII

    Great to see you back, JP. In my ongoing efforts to get people hooked into the bunker, I always brag about you as the polymath commenter to watch for. Also, I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate your candor in describing the depression that you experienced. I think that by so articulately normalizing it, you have and will help a significant portion of those who visit here, present company included. Looking forward to frequent lurking. Cheers!

  20. Drat

    I’m glad you’re feeling better. I think I went through pretty much the same thing, although the weather where I live was much better. Am currently reading Helplessness by Martin Seligmann, which is helping me to understand the cult environment and my own life. Unfortunately, saying anything about brain scans will be ignored by most Scientologists. They are taught that the brain is just a messed up jumble of a switchboard, spit on it!

    I personally wasn’t much of a reader of the daily digests. Although comments at Tony’s have reduced, it is still hard just to keep up on Marty’s, Mike’s and Tony’s blogs as well as with the occasional visit to ESMB, as I always read the comments for my own benefit.

    If I had any say, I’d prefer you brought your excellent analytical skills to various situations or “outpoints” that you perceive from your unique point of view. I would almost certainly benefit from a class lesson approach, where you perhaps convey the rudiments of analysis (what to look for, why, where) by way of example.

    On no account sacrifice yourself for this cult. Seeing an uninvolved never-in do that is much more weird than a SO member who gave years or decades of their life.

    1. Drat

      I wanted to add, have you tried B12? I find it helps me at times when I feel down (I have low levels, measured by my bonafide medical doctor).

  21. Graham

    Welcome back. Here in the UK it’s a sunny spring day with all the daffodils in bloom; a blessed relief from the unprecedented months of incessant rain and flooding.

    Personally I don’t need you to produce something for us every day. Tony’s site does that for me. I’d prefer you to produce something ‘as and when’. It should take the pressure off you and allow you to focus on giving us in-depth analyses of figures and trends, which I see as your USP. A note on Tony’s site would alert us that you have a new post up.

    Perhaps see how that goes? Once you get back into the swing of things, if hiring a researcher still seems like a good idea then perhaps float that idea again?

  22. Marta

    John P! Welcome, welcome back and thank you for the humble recap of your hiatus. Very glad to hear you’re on the mend.

    I, too, would relish a weekly, or as the “data” warrants, analysis. But, honestly, whatever direction excites you go for it. I think anything you put yourself into with heart will benefit this community.

    Hooray, John P is back!

  23. koki

    John, please do your own research…. do not trust anyone with “story’s”,please.
    there are a lots of people like LRH around all of us…. trust your own feeling…
    there is ,even a guy, who have cognition about Big Bang in a car!!! there is even a book out there….
    just do a blog without DD…. you do not need to do that…
    you are already entertaining us!

    this is OK, ML,

    big hello from LRHs Bulgravia.

  24. i-Betty

    It’s so great to have you back :) Thank you for your honesty, John. I have suffered SAD for many years so I have an idea what you have been through. I have a fantastic sun lamp – and the knowledge that it will pass, as it always does – to help me through each Winter. And baking. Lots and lots of cake.

    Put your health first, yourself and your family and loved ones second, your job third, and this blog somewhere after those essentials.

    Really glad you are back.

  25. LeeAnneClark

    Hi JP,
    I’m a little late to the game with my comment, but I’m finally getting around to it. I did notice your absence of course…and I can MORE than relate to feelings of getting overwhelmed and then just pulling back. You may remember that I used to be way more active on Tony’s blog, to the point that I was even selected more than once for his list of “comments of the week” (when he used to do this at VV back in the day).

    Since then, his popularity has just exploded and I simply can’t keep up with the chatter. By the time I get around to reading his articles, there are often hundreds of comments already. And I simply do not find disqus to be a communication-friendly platform. Comments get swallowed up. So I just kinda stopped. I might pop in there every now and then with a one-liner, but that’s about it.

    But that’s me. I wanted to say that I had an odd feeling before you disappeared that you were biting off too much. Your deeply analytical comments on Tony’s blog, in addition to your own incredibly detailed and well-researched blog…the volume was such that I just didn’t see how anyone could keep up! And it’s clear that your standards for yourself are exceptionally high. Which is great for us…but not so great for YOU!

    You asked for suggestions. The only one I can think of is to not be so hard on yourself. It’s okay to post less often, or with less volume, or less perfection. It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition — perfection or nothing. It’s okay to vary the frequency and/or length of your posts. When you have the time to crank out an epic one (like your 2014 predictions — awesome!), do it! When you don’t, then don’t beat yourself up. We are happy to get whatever kernels of information, analysis, wit and wisdom you offer.

    I really hope this didn’t come across as a presumptuous lecture – not my intent. I just see that we share certain qualities. Not that I would EVER have even the remotest ability to run a Global Capitalism Enterprise! :-)

    1. John P.

      LeeAnne, Thanks for your kind words. Not a “presumptuous lecture” at all. And you’re exactly right — I tend to be a perfectionist to the Nth degree, which I’ve been working on, in concert with one of the eeebil psychs. After being suitably recharged, emotionally, spiritually, physically (and electrically), I am finding it a lot easier to crank out long posts than it has been in a long time. Two a week seems comfortable.

      I’m working on a long series on a very controversial cult-related topic that I think will stimulate discussions (one where my conclusions are quite different from my original hypothesis), so there ought to be a good pipeline of articles over the next month or two.

  26. Lawrence deRoe

    I join many of the earlier comments: welcome back!
    Yes, it is true … I have been looking especially for your comments (and was a bit disappointed not finding one). BUT, I rather see one of your comments every two, three or four days than every day and have you get stressed out. Your comments, as I see it, have been extremely insightful and educational. I really appreciate that. Thank you for your work!

  27. aurora50

    Hurrah! Welcome back…I was so hoping for your incisive take on the background, income stream, and all around implications of the ‘whales’ list as reported recently by Tony O.

    As for SAD, I live in the PNW and for the first time invested in a 10,000 lumens sun lamp in November…What A Difference!

    so glad you are feeling energized and ‘back in the saddle’!

  28. Exterrier

    What Mark said! Go weekly! Maybe a Thursday at 2pm deadline , like the Orgs do. Everybody has to turn in their weekly stats, etc. And you should have an ongoing graph or two for fun. They can be real graphs of unfavorable News Stories, disconnections, membership estimates, lawsuits, internet traffic on their site vs sites like Tony.
    This will allow you time to develop and plan some in depth articles or analysis, which suits your skills more that the news byte format.

    I look forward to whatever you do, but would love a regular weekly summary and analysis that appeared with precise regularity one day a week at a given hour.
    It would be anticipated by a good audience.

  29. Cece

    Welcome back John. Yes I believe you should continue. Yes, 10$ a month sounds right (I’m retired on SS and with 50$ to Marty that’s about it for me).
    I’m sorry about the depression. I’m from SE Alaska and with 200″ of rain & snow a yr I saw that a lot. Guys would mostly spend the time in bars.
    As for the guys leaving. Well… I was very surprised to find myself in a depression after leaving. I believe we all in leaving are going thru some sort of an emotional PTSD if you will. Part of it is from losing loved ones but it happened to me prior to that also.
    The truth dissolves any regrets and confusions and allows a ‘let it go’ and makes for a bright future for us all so thank you.

  30. DeElizabethan

    So very nice to hear from you John P. and thank you for sharing your story. I’m happy you are well and back on the board.
    I would delight in reading your enlightening and valuable opinion a couple of times a week or more, as news is necessitated.

  31. AintMizBahavin

    so glad your back and realized what was going on you know im a never in but im willing to help to help you anyway i can…. you are definitely missed and as one who herself is just coming back after a couple months i completely understand

  32. 448Beacon

    Good to have you back. I’ll jump on the weekly recap bandwagon. Your unique contribution is analysis, and I’m less interested in simple aggregation of stories than in your opinion on which are significant and how your outlook on the cult is changing based on new info.

  33. Mrs. V.

    Welcome back, John P.!

    I have to say I agree with others here; I think once – 2x weekly postings is more than enough.


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