Category Archives: The Wackness

L Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology

The Church of Scientology, known as the biggest cult in the world and probably more aptly named the church of sci-fi-tology is unlike any religion you have ever encountered before, probably because it was written by a L Ron Hubbard, a Science Fiction writer who according to his son was a madman, a drug addict, a fraud and a vicious woman beater who aborted his own children with a coat hanger during his attempts to create the antichrist before deciding that HE was the antichrist aka Satan, the beast – 666.

If you go the the site official Scientology site however they paint a vastly different picture. Born March 13, 1911 in Nebraska they would have you believe that he was an absolute prodigy and a saint.  He grew up in Montana under the tutelage of his educated mother.  He broke in broncos and became a blood brother of a tribe of indigenous Blackfoot Indians before he was even 13 and became the youngest Eagle Scout in the US to date. They go on to elaborate about his extensive travels in the East with his father, a naval officer, and delve into his studies into psychology, maths, engineering, etc.  In a letter to the FBI Hubbard describes himself thus: “I am, basically, a scientist in the field of atomic and molecular phenomena. At least, that was my course in college. I followed this into the fields of human thought, identified an energy and produced through twenty years of research, a science of thought known popularly as dianetics.

The Church of Scientology credits him with the following legacy:-

  1. drug rehabilitation procedures employed by some 50 nations.
  2. a criminal reform program is presently at work in more than 2,000 prisons and penal institutions internationally and has produced an 80 percent reduction in recidivism.
  3. learning and literacy technology that is delivered across more than 74 countries.
  4. The Way to Happiness – a nonreligious moral code and guide to better living which has sold about 100 million copies in 90 languages in over 150 nations.

That said, here is my favourite amongst the quick explanations regarding him and the religion he founded:

L Ron Hubbard Jr., his son which I will refer to as Jr. from here on, was involved in the deep and shady under dealings of the church till he made a run for it with his wife and kids while his father was away on a trip to Australia. Jr. had to change his name in order to escape persecution from the followers of the cult.  He said in an interview with Penthouse that his father was a broke science fiction writer who 1. regularly beat women (resulting in broken teeth, bruises, lacerations, etc); 2. fed him drugs as a child by feeding him bubblegum laced with phenobarbital (a narcotic and sedative barbiturate drug used chiefly to treat epilepsy) to try and get him in touch with the dark magic he was practising and; 3. who also told everyone that the way to get rich was to start a new religion. Which incidentally is exactly what he did in 1953 when he started the modern Church of Scientology in Arizona and New Jersey after writing the book Dianetics – The Modern Science of Mental Health which was published in June 1950.

Jr. claims to have witnessed his father performing and abortion on his mother and says that he himself was born at 6 and a half months as a result of an abortion ritual his father was trying to perform (after a party) had failed.  Despite the rituals and abortions his father had two more wives and 6 more children of whom 2 died under mysterious circumstances and one ‘disappeared’.  Even though Jr. had a lot of reasons to make a run for it he says it was the fact that his father was leaking top secret government information, like the heart of the radar, to the Russians and employing communists working against the government that finally made him break away from his father and the world they had created because it went against everything his grandfather, a good an patriotic man, had taught him.  He went on to say that fooling the masses had been a lot of fun and that his father was a wonderful and convincing public speaker but in the end he just had to get away from it all.  During a court case in Massachusetts Jr. delivered the following affidavit: “I personally know, relied specifically on my father’s represented qualifications and credentials. The stated representations are all false. He never obtained degrees from those universities, or ever served in combat. He was relieved of duty three times as being unfit, and ended up in a psychiatric hospital at the end of the war. He is a fraud and has always been a fraud.”

The FBI kept a close eye on him and his new foundation. The details are revealed in The H-Files which is a collection of files 1940-1983 that the FBI kept on him.  In March 1951 one of the agents who interviewed him described him as a mental case. According to their files he went to George Washington University Engineering School and got his engineering degree there in 1934. They also mentioned that his publishers referred to him as a mathematician and a philosopher but he does not have a degree in either and he was embarrassed by that. When war broke out in 1941 it interrupted his work but he got access to the Naval medical library by posing as a doctor. He was honourably discharged 4 years later but noted as ‘not to be readmitted’. Extracts from a personal notebook suggests that he faked an injury in order to get out of his duties.  After the war he started focussing on writing science fiction and his son recalled that he was always broke in the ’40s. Other information supplied by the FBI, including an extract from the Times Herald, seems to corroborate his son’s story:

“Mrs. Sara Northrup Hubbard, 25, charged in her divorce suit that Hubbard subjected her to “systematic torture” through denial of sleep, beatings, strangulations, and suggestions that she kill herself, “as a divorce would hurt his reputation.”

She and her medical advisors declared him insane by the time he was 40 and wanted him committed for paranoid schizophrenia. She was his second wife and incidentally he married her (having presented himself as unmarried)on 10 August 1946 but only got divorced from his previous wife in December of 1947. She asked for sole custody of their child of 13 months and said that he had abducted the child. He wrote a series of letters to the FBI in his defence, you can read them here. She later wrote a letter to the FBI and recanted her own statement but I can’t help but wonder whether she did so out of fear for her life.

In 1952 his organisation was again investigated by the FBI for mail fraud and Hubbard was reported as having delusions of grandeur. As early as 1953 the church reported the institution and asked the FBI to look into them again. They were alarmed by his ‘Handbook for Pre-Clears’ and the trend it was setting, what his motives were.

In any case I could write a book about the man, he was involved in so many shady and scandalous incidents that it almost overshadows the religion he invented.  Not the least of which being the fact that he was mentored in Freudian psychology by the same man that mentored Hitler in it. When I think of L Ron Hubbard, the founding father of Scientology, and everything I’ve read about him in the past day with regards to his religion then two words stand out- 1. Satanist and 2. Science fiction writer.  I can’t blame them entirely for following him though, as some of his work has brought about change for the better in many people. Still, he’s not exactly the guy I’d want to pick as a role model.

Hubbard claimed to have written a book after he ‘died’/had a near-death experience. It was called Excaliber (also known as ‘the dark sword’) and he couldn’t get published because it was too radical and ahead of his time. He claimed the book had a profound effect on the people he submitted it to in that they all killed themselves. He said one guy read it, walked back in, threw it on the table and jumped out of a window. He claimed that as a result he ended up locking the manuscript up in a bank vault never to be seen or read again.  Apparently it was the same principles he spoke of in this unpublished book that lead him to write Dianetics.  Dianetics was a huge success but unfortunately Hubbard wasn’t making as much money as he would have liked seeing that he had to pay tax on the money he was making via the Dianetics sensation besides which as with all fads this one was starting to lose steam.  So he redressed it and resold it to the public as Scientology which being a religion was now tax exempt.  He further capitalized by offering the 8 levels of courses which was a tremendous shift from his ‘self-help’ system in The Book (as his fans refer to it).













L Ron Hubbard himself went into hiding when his health started deteriorating and became a victim of his own mental illness.  His son says that he went into hiding because he is a living testament that Scientology does not work (they claim to be able to cure anything including cancer) and he didn’t want the world to know that it is a hoax. A long time after his father’s disappearance, more precisely Nov 10, 1982, he brought a petition to court to prove his father was dead. At his time one of Hubbard’s associates proved this false by producing a letter containing his fingerprint which was written in his handwriting using the ink the court provided.  Hubbard died a couple of years later on 24 January 1986.  The year after his death the religion sky-rocketed and was not surprisingly the year that Tom Cruise joined the cult.

Despite all of the above information I would like to remind you that most men are neither this nor that but a sum of all their parts, so I’m sure the good part that his followers put forward did exist; as did the bad part his son revealed.  But even if his son had never revealed these details of Hubbard’s life one would have to question the validity of a religion based on the story of a man with such a deplorable character, even if the story did not involve spaceships and galactic settlement.

Interestingly enough Jr., even during the times he was part of the staff, would not let his own wife and children join the cult.  With the upbringing he had it is no surprise that Jr. was no saint either and makes no claim to be that, in fact he goes into detail explaining the things he himself did in the name of the church.  He said that no student could just walk away, they would physically drag them back to continue their training and went so far as to lock a girl in a hut in the desert for weeks.  He went on to explain the connection between the dark arts and scientology and maintains that certain satanic doctrines are also a part of scientology. Most importantly that their core belief, though dressed differently, is exactly the same being ‘Do what you will’.  The Wicca religion has a similar but much nicer principle being ‘Do what you will but harm none.’ Scientology can’t include something like that because then they would be unable to practise their missives or ‘fair game’ policies.  I’m not saying Scientologists are Satanists, most of them don’t even know about their founder’s foray into dark magic or its associations to their religion.

Scientologists defend their faith with a vicious candour and a ‘fair game’ policy which entitles them to completely destroy the life of anyone who crosses them or tries publishing anything about the secret practises of their church.  Many families claim that their loved ones were either murdered (for trying to leave or leaking information) or died as a direct result of the practises of the church e.g. the purif (a extreme and dangerous detox new recruits have to subject themselves to, which includes using a sauna for 5 hours a day).  By 1994 they had tied up several people in litigation trying to stop them from publishing the truth and in doing so they earned the wrath of the public and the internet.  This has snowballed on them completely for as we have seen in the past the more you try and cover things up, the more people will want to uncover whatever it is that you are hiding.  And them more you try to silence people, the more people will start standing together and speaking up.  As a result of this little by little their hidden world has come to light.

Another core practise in Scientology is auditing. Right from the beginning a new member is constantly audited, supposedly to get rid of the Body Thetans which are clustered together and stuck to us.  Body Thetans are the spirits of dead thetans clinging to the host. The auditing process essentially involves being connected to an e-meter (device similar to a lie detector) and going through all your fears, secrets, past indiscretions as well as past lives and the lives of the Body Thetans attached to you in order to ‘clear’ the subject – all this while being recorded. A pre-clear is someone who has not been cleared. An OT is an Operating Thetan which is someone who has been cleared via auditing and is supposedly able to do anything including moving things with the mind, healing people and creating things out of nothing. They claim that Jesus was an OT.   Jr. mentioned that they liked delving into people’s sex lives first during the auditing process, focussing especially on sexually deviancies and past indiscretions because that information gave them a hold over the individual being audited.

The missives I mentioned mostly pertain to government infiltration and essentially taking over the world and eliminating all other religious institutions and governments so that the world is ruled by the Church of Scientology.  This more than anything else sends out warning bells for any religion which is aggressive at its core will, without a doubt, lead to conflict, sometimes on an epic global scale. What alarms me most is the rate at which it is growing.  Any religion which defies all others and has objectives like the ones the Scientologists have is a religion to be wary of.

As so many other religions have shown us in the past – there is nothing more dangerous than an aggressive religious fanatic. Once obsessed with a religion it is as if man completely loses respect for the lives and beliefs of others that are in contradiction to their own viewing them rather as a threat that needs to be eliminated. Hence the history of holy wars our species has and we need another one of those pretty much as badly as we need assholes on our foreheads.  As with all things balance, sound judgement and consideration for others HAVE to be applied.  In the 1993 article with Penthouse, Jentzsch, Hubbard’s right hand man, said that there were 6.5 million followers living happy lives.  When last checked this number had risen to 14 million.

Despite claims that these despicable practices of intimidation and infiltration no longer exist it is part of the core of Scientology and several of it’s more recent ‘fled’ victims have given accounts of their experiences with the cult and it’s missives to infiltrate the government.  You can read more about that on the Xenu Directory.

Excerpt from Scientology scriptures, “TARGETS, DEFENSE”
Note the date: September 24, 1987, long after “Operation Snow White”
Source:, “Church of Scientology Office of Special Affairs and Frank Oliver”

In order to become a fully-fledged scientologist you have to complete a series of 8 courses – OTI-VIII, one at a time, all of which you have to pay for. You can read an in-depth account of these OT training courses as well as some original scientology documentation amongst Fishman’s Papers which contain various documents and evidence presented during the Church of Scientology International v. Fishman and Geertz court case.  It is I gather a very expensive religion to belong to. Many people find fault with this but personally I must point out that even the best of churches ask tithes and need finances in order to be able to operate so I don’t really see the problem with that. Also despite various accusations I have read in some of the articles that they will train you for free if you join their staff.

The best part about all of this is the Space opera in Scientology scripture:

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia: 

“It is a basic belief of Scientology that a human being is actually an immortal spiritual being, termed a thetan, that is presently trapped on planet Earth in a “meat body.” The thetan has had innumerable past lives and it is accepted in Scientology that lives antedating the thetan’s arrival on Earth lived in extraterrestrial cultures. Descriptions of space opera incidents are seen as nonfiction in the beliefs of Scientology; they appeared in the online Glossary for Dianetics and Scientology, although they were later removed from it.

Hubbard said that the modern-day science fiction genre of space opera is merely an unconscious recollection of real events that took place millions of years ago. These events include the story of Xenu, the ruler of the Galactic Confederacy who brought billions of frozen people to Earth 75 million years ago, stacked them around volcanoes and blew them up with hydrogen bombs, creating swarms of disembodied alien souls known as Body Thetans. Xenu is only one element of Scientologist beliefs in alien civilizations. Such doctrines have existed in Scientology virtually since its beginning:[3] In the 1950s Hubbard wrote and lectured about civilizations such as Helatrobus, Espinol and Arslychus, and in the 1960s he introduced Xenu’s Galactic Confederacy. He described repeated instances of their using brainwashing implants on hapless beings. He also spoke of alien invasions of Earth, such as that carried out around 6235 BCE by the Fifth Invader Force, who were “very strange insect-like creature[s] with unthinkably horrible hands.”

That sums what the Scientologists refer to as Incident II nicely but I would like to give you a little more detail. Now the details do differ a little from site to site but the gist of it is this.

  1. We were all thetans, immortal beings who have existed since before the creation of time, gods if you like.
  2. There were 76 planets in the Galactic Federation and they were seriously overpopulated by Thetans.  Xenu, ruler of the Galactic Confederacy, took action.
  3. Xenu gets pissed off about something relating to his rule and the overpopulation situation. Now here the facts are uncertain as to what may have caused this but you have options: a) he imposed a tax on the overpopulated planets, the people who could not pay were rounded up and killed one by one, and/or brought en masse to teereeack (earth); b) he was about to be ‘dethroned’ and as a last act of defiance he rounded up his trusted officers (who were renegades against the people’s wishes) and had them purge the galaxy.
  4. They positioned the prisoners around volcanos and blew the whole bunch up with H-bombs.
  5. Thereafter they captured the souls with some kind of electric ribbon.
  6. The souls were then collected in clusters and implanted.
  7. The implants included 7 and also R6 – a series of images, including god, satan, modern england etc.  A process which took 36 days. The implants are supposed to inhibit our true potential and kill us if we discover the truth.  The intention being to render them servile and incapable of decision.
  8. Officers loyal to the people start a war against Xenu.
  9. Xenu is imprisoned in a mountain after the 6 year war.
  10. The Galactic Federation never recovers from the tragedy and earth is plagued by the souls of the disembodied thetans.

This information is all part of what you learn when you reach OTIII – the third in the operational thetan course.  This is top secret. Scientology followers pay a small fortune for this knowledge if they even reach that tier.  They also tell followers not yet on the tier that if they receive this information before they have completed the first two courses they will get pneumonia and die because of the implant.  Basically in all of the courses if you aren’t complete with the previous tier before moving on to the next information they claim that you will die. Scientologists deny the existence of this and will get agitated if you mention Xenu (or Xemu as some call them, having looked at Hubbard’s original note – attached beneath – I opt for Xenu).  However even the name of their modules suggest that that is in fact part of their doctrine.  The best explanation of OTIII and the information I managed to find was the fishman affidavit which contains the original documents and breaks down the information for regular people to understand. If you’re interested in OTIII it’s a must read.  Fishman also gives a lot of information on the other OT courses here.


But perhaps you will enjoy watching these videos a little more:

There exists another institution with the same beliefs who feel that everyone should receive this knowledge for free.  As they were sued and are no longer allowed to refer to their religion as Scientology, they are now known as the Freezone and needless to say these two factions hate each other.

Much as I’d like to buy into this (being an avid sci-fi fan, UFO enthusiast and all) I simply can’t write this religion up as anything other than an institution posing as a church which practises certain methodologies which are based loosely on satanic rituals + certain psychiatric and psychological techniques (mostly Freudian) + eastern spiritualism and which has been built on nothing more than the notes to a science fiction novel. Having read over most of the material I can safely say that it wasn’t even a well thought out one at that. There are certain, uhm, let’s call them ‘continuity errors’ in the story. Lets just say that if anyone with a brain read it they would notice immediately that certain facts in the story contradict one another.  For one, since he wrote this the human race has been able to calculate the exact age of the earth and that alone blows his story out of the water completely. Then there is the fact that some of the islands referred to (like Hawaii and Los Palmas) are less than 75 million years old. And then of course it is really funny that the volcanos themselves remain in tact despite the supposed H-Bombings.  It would have made an excellent science fiction novel if he had thought it through a little better.

That said, I think that most religions take certain liberties with the truth and is nothing more than a collective of people who believe in the same thing. Faith rather than fact being the driving force. In that way scientology has proven itself to be a formidable one and its followers have the right to believe whatever they wish and should be allowed to do so.

Here is another entertaining and informative video courtesy of NBC:

The Church of Scientology has also actively recruited celebrities to further the popularity of their religion.  Celebrity recruits include – Jenna Elfman, John Travolta, Tom Cruise, Juliette Lewis, Katie Holmes, Jason Lee, Kelly Preston, Lisa Marie Presley, Priscilla Presley  and others.  I can’t say I’m surprised that John and Tom joined as they probably already have a serious god complex (which fits in nicely with the scientology doctrine) but I can’t help but wonder what the others were thinking. The Church of Scientology does not deny that they actually have lists of celebrities, especially younger more gullible ones, who they try and recruit.

In any case :


Say what you want about Tom but at least he’s committed to something. I have to admire his enthusiasm even if I do think he might be a little crazy.



That is all from me for now, I hope you found this article informative.  In case you were wondering I didn’t set out to slam scientology but unfortunately the research all pointed in the same direction. There is still so much I could tell you but if you’re interested this article does provide you access to all of it so you can look it up yourself. I have attached some more links and information for you. If I suddenly disappear or mysteriously drop dead from pneumonia please inform the authorities. 😉

AN EXTRACT FROM OT III – Scientology’s “secret” course
rewritten for beginners by Jon Atack

OT III glossary for those who have the original materials but cannot make head nor tail of them:

7s – a set of supposed “implants”, part of the OT 3 incident.
ARC – Affinity, Reality and Communication.
ARC break – upset.
auditing – Dianetic or Scientology “counselling”.
basic basic – the earliest traumatic incident.
blow – leave.
blowdown – a sudden change in electrical resistance, shown by downward movement of the Tone Arm on the E-meter. Held to mean release of emotional “charge”.
body thetan – “a thetan who is stuck to another thetan or body but is not in control”.
BPC – bypassed charge, q.v.
BT – body thetan.
bypassed charge – upset stirred up during auditing but unhandled.
case – personal difficulties, the “reactive mind” and the “implants” and “body thetans” of OT levels.
C.C. – Clearing Course.
chain – a string of similar traumata arranged according to time.
charge – harmful energy stored in the reactive mind.
circuit – post hypnotic suggestion.
clear – an individual without a “reactive mind”.
cluster – a group of fused body thetans.
cognite – realize.
comm laggy – (comm – communication) hesitant.
C/Sing – case supervising, overseeing auditing sessions.
earlier similar – earlier similar incident or trauma.
exterior – out of the body.
exterior with full perception – out of the body and able to perceive fully (this is the goal of Scientology).
flat – finished.
F/N – floating needle, an E-meter reaction supposed to show that “charge” has been released from the topic being addressed.
GF 40 – “Green Form 40”, an auditing repair list.
grades – preparatory auditing.
grades IV & V – preparatory auditing.
grind – keep on going over a traumatic incident without change.
HDG – “Hubbard Dianetic Graduate”, Dianetic auditor.
implant – implantation of post-hypnotic suggestion.
Interiorization processes – designed to return an “exterior” being into his body.
item – something that bothers the individual psychologically.
itsa earlier itsa – itsa “it is a”, to find earlier realizations.
LIC – “list one 0”, an auditing repair list.
low TA – unable to face life.
meter – E-meter (Hubbard Electropsychometer). The psychogalvonometer adopted by Hubbard. A simple lie detector.
milazzo – an auditing technique used on OT 3.
none on OT 3 – no body thetans found.
one-hand electrode – soup can used as an electrode. The “solo auditor” uses two soup can divided by a piece of plastic connected to an E-meter.
O/R – overrun, q.v.
OT – “Operating Thetan”, a being who can operate independently of his physical body; who can supposedly cause events through intention (or will-power).
out of valence – behaving as if he were someone else (see “valence”).
overrun – taken beyond the end of an auditing process.
PC – preclear, person receiving auditing.
picture – mental image picture.
process – auditing procedure.
R3R – “routine 3 revised”, the procedure of Dianetic auditing.
R6 – the “reactive mind”, supposedly created by the “OT 3 implant” or “incident 2”.
Review – review auditing which seeks to “repair” earlier auditing errors.
rudiments – upsets, problems or “withholds” that prevent the individual from being attentive to an auditing procedure.
ruds – see “rudiments”.
running – going over a memory or following an auditing procedure.
S & D – “Search and Discovery”, procedure for finding who is supposedly suppressing the individual receiving auditing.
soaring TA – increased electrical resistance, supposed to indicate an inability to face a memory.
solo auditing – on OT 3 the subject audits himself.
SP – Suppressive Person. A critic of Scientology. Anyone who thinks that OT 3 is nonsense.
space opera – science fiction.
TA – Tone Arm action – change of electrical resistance, supposed to show relief of emotional “charge”.
Teegeeack – Earth.
theta bop – E-meter reaction, supposed to indicate that the thetan or spirit is going in and out of the body.
thetan – “an individual being … not a body”.
TR – training routine. Role play drill (which can be practiced to hypnotic excess, leading hallucination, euphoria, heightening of colour and sound and a feeling of floating). The most famous of these is TR 8 where scientologists shout “stand up” and “sit down” at an ashtray.
TR 1 – a drill to make sure you can be heard (and induce obedience, but that isn’t the point here).
TR 4 – getting questions answered (in the role-play drill the scientologist repeats either the question “do fish swim” or “do birds fly” sometimes for hours on end).
rim knob – an E-meter control.
triple flows – what was done to the individual, what was done by the individual and what the individual saw others doing.
unflat – not finished.
valence – an adopted personality.
withhold – an undisclosed moral transgression.

Further Reading:

The FBI’s H Files

Interview with L Ron Hubbard Jr 1983 Penthouse

Infiltration a Scientology doctrine


Spending, Materialism and How to Avoid the Credit Trap

Cover of "The Joneses"

Cover of The Joneses

I just finished watching ‘The Joneses’ which incidentally was a lot better than I thought it was going to be but not quite worthy of making too much of a fuss over.  For those who didn’t get it – the name of the family in the film references the saying “keeping up with the Joneses” which is often used in modern society to reference the acquisition of things to keep up with one’s neighbours’ acquisitions.  The film does carry with it a very strong message which got me thinking about materialism and the way society operates.

It seems as if there is always ‘the next new big thing’ to buy which isn’t all that different from ‘the previous new big thing’ other than having a few minor improvements.  But what impressed upon me most is how we’re always trying to outdo or copy each other.  And there will always be the next thing because well, that’s just how it work. How else would the company get you to spend money on buying what is essentially what you already have.  That’s what keeps companies in business.  Releasing a newer model/version forces you to upgrade.  Think of it this way: Billy buys an iPhone3, John likes it but buys the iPhone4 to outdo Billy, Billy is disgruntled because John now has a better phone than him so Billy buys the iPad, John then buys an iPad and an iPhone5.  And so it continues.

Part of the human condition I suppose is to envy and covet, one sees something in the possession of someone else and if it is better than what you have then suddenly even though you had no need for or thought of it before… you want it, you want it BAD.  It could be a car, a phone, a pair of shoes, a handbag, a hairstyle or something more abstract.  It is this very phenomenon which helps plastic surgeons make a killing.  There is always someone who wants someone else’s cup size or nose or plump lips or youth.  Look at the Blackberry for instance, at this stage 90% of the people who buy it are just buying it because everyone else has it.  Personally I’ve never liked having the same thing as everyone else, which I find saves me a lot of grief in the long run. In fact I get a little irritated when other people do have the same things as me – as unavoidable as that is.

The film also addressed the repercussions of living beyond your means.  Sometimes people strive so hard for materialistic things that it can have horrific consequences.  It is never a good idea to buy things if you don’t have the money to pay for it.  For instance you should use your credit cards as a way to manage your expenses rather than to buy indiscriminately.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a veritable shopaholic, my greatest fix in life is retail therapy.  And I’m absolutely terribly at making choices, if I can afford it I’ll often end up buying everything because .. well.. I want it all and can’t decide what to leave.  A huge pay cheque = shopping heaven and in all likelihood a new wardrobe. But nothing gives me as much pleasure as buying that thing I’ve had my eye on.  For me purchasing something I want rather than need is like instant happiness – just add water and shake. I suppose as a result of this weakness of mine I’ve adopted a few survival strategies.

Credit Hole Avoidance Techniques:

1.  Avoid impulse shopping.  It almost never ends well.  Unless it is a rare shop that you are never going to visit again then you should think about it a bit.  If you don’t want it enough to go back for it then you really don’t need to buy it. Chances are more than 70% of the time you’ll forget about it in hours or days and if you don’t then you can simply go back and buy it.  If you are concerned that it will be sold out then ask the shop assistant if they can keep it for you for 2 days.

2.  Avoid malls unless shopping for something specific. (they are a death trap to any shopaholic)

3.  Don’t count your chickens before they hatch, i.e. don’t spend what you don’t have.  If you lost your job right now would you still be able to make your payments for a few months at least?  If not think twice before buying on credit.

4.  Live within your means.  If you don’t have a 6 figure salary – adapt by shopping at places in your price range.  If you buy on credit still make sure that the sum of your accounts don’t exceed what you have saved away and especially that the payments you have to make on them don’t exceed more than a certain percentage of your income.  What that percentage is is up to you but if it’s hitting 50% then you’re heading for trouble.  My rule of thumb is that if everything went to hell at that particular moment would I be able to pay everything I owe, if not then I don’t buy.

5.  Budget when buying expensive items. – i.e. buy one big thing at a time and don’t buy another until you have paid it off. Those purchases and payments add up.

6.  Keep track of your purchases. – Save your receipts. Keep a little book in your bag and either write things down as you buy them or write-up the receipts at the end of the day.  Whichever way you do it make sure you know what you are spending.

7.  Keep a wish list.  –  Whenever I want something I find an image and cut it out.  Then I think about it.  If I still want it after some time has passed then I will at some stage buy it for myself as a reward for some achievement or the other.  If it is something that I can’t afford then I hold off on buying it until it is within my budget to do so.

8.  Shop around. – I really can’t stress that enough.  Frequently something you want can be bought at a fraction of the price. Appliances especially can differ greatly in price from one retail outlet to the next.  Especially when making big purchases be sure to use a site like pricecheck to see what it is selling for elsewhere.  When in doubt google is your friend.  Also be sure to look at the comments other customers leave about the products, it is the surest way to find out: a) if a product is really as good as it seems; b) what problems you can expect to have. Doing a bit of research can save you a lot of grief.

9.  Online shopping.  If I know what I want the internet is a great way of getting it.  Not only does it allow you to shop around but in many cases the product can be delivered to your door, free of charge in some cases, saving you time and money.  Again be sure what they are charging for product and delivery and only use your credit card on secure sites.

10.  Learn how to prioritize and balance what you want with what you need.  There will always be things that need buying and there will always be things you want.  It is important to be able to tell the difference.  Make sure you have covered the things you HAVE to buy before purchasing the things you WANT to buy.

Be clever when you shop. Smart shopping can save you a fortune while enabling you to buy what you want and what you need. You can spend less and have higher quality simply by settling for a different brand.  Don’t put yourself in a compromising situation, the only thing you should compromise on is price. And before you buy something because Johnny has it or spending a fortune just to have a brand name ask yourself if the object you are buying is worth the price you are paying. And especially when buying expensive items ask yourself whether it is something you will want or need in 3 years from now, if not you may want to rethink that in order to avoid facing a future which leaves you thinking  :  “It seemed like a really good idea at the time…”

Credit cards

Image via Wikipedia

Even Carnivores Know That Animals Are Sentient Too

Pigs behind bars

Image by Farm Sanctuary via Flickr

I stumbled across two stories in my ‘green’ mailer this morning that grabbed my attention.  These two stories made me sad because of the way that people treat animals but it also made me happy because it shows me that people are slowly but surely being made to account for their behaviour towards other species.  The mistreatment of animals is something which has bothered me for a long time. Considering how many animals we have tamed and how many species we have turned into pets one would think that most human beings would have realised that animals have emotional responses and experience distress just like the rest of us.  Since we’ve figured out the difference between right and wrong more or less the same time we bit the golden apple,it stands to reason that the average person can figure out that hurting something and causing it suffering and distress is wrong.  The people who don’t acknowledge this are generally the same kind of people who rationalise using abortion as a contraceptive because a fetus is not a person….  I’ll be honest with you.. I really don’t like those people.

Here are the links to the aforementioned articles:



As De Lange said in the one article: “Animals are sentient beings and should be shown compassion and respect.” I agree 100%.  And no, I’m not of the vegan or vegetarian persuasion.  And no, I don’t favor posting horrible pictures of animals being mutilated in order to convince people to be nice.  I do try to spread the word about the mistreatment of animals and share info when I can.  I think it is important for average people who care to stand up and speak out.  Ever since Free Range products have been made available I have stopped buying regular animal products and by-products and if I can’t afford to do so then I skip on buying meat, etc., altogether.  I can’t stand the way dairy farms treat their cows and I definitely can’t support the battery chicken industry or the guys who put their cattle in little metal boxes… I understand the need to provide the masses with a cheaper solution but I’d rather not eat than know that I basically permitted torture so that I can stuff my face.

This was winner in a logo-design competition t...

Image via Wikipedia

You don’t have to give up your lifestyle in order to be a kinder, more conscientious consumer, everything has its place on the food chain after all.  And you don’t have to refrain from eliminating pests but should perhaps take the time to consider humane means of doing so. As human beings we have been given the ability to reason and we should use our reasoning abilities more often.  We are not the only species living on this planet and we are not the only species who feels.  Animals are Earthlings too.  Perhaps it is time for us as a species to re-evaluate the way that we go about doing things.

Tooth Truths and Troubles

Medieval dentist removing tooth

Image via Wikipedia

If you are anything like me then there are a couple of things that you dislike doing:

  1. Visiting the dentist
  2. Flossing
  3. Getting fillings
  4. Spending a fortune on oral care and oral health products

Yesterday I went to a new dentist for a routine scale and polish. I’ve been to a variety of dentists in my life and they all have their 2 cents on the dos and don’ts of dentistry.  This guy was a little different though and I learned so very many things from him that I felt compelled to write this article simply because there are a couple of things he mentioned that dentists and ads generally DON’T mention that EVERYONE should know.

Firstly, I have always been obsessed with white teeth.  Teeth so pearly white they sparkle.  As my teeth are regularly exposed to tea, coffee and nicotine I’ve overcompensated generously with a thorough brushing.  This however IS BAD.

Now while it might seem that the best way to get your teeth white is by a good brushing, the truth of the matter is that the more and the harder you brush the more YELLOW your teeth are going to get!! Why? Because beneath the enamel of your teeth is a little something called dentine.  Now we have to go to the biology of it.  Our teeth have a thick layer of enamel on the outside which is about as hard as hard can be, this enamel is what gives our teeth their white appearance.  The dentine beneath is yellow. If you scrub hard and brush too regularly you are literally removing the enamel from your teeth, kinda like the bird who moved the mountain one grain at a time, wearing it thin slowly but surely over the years until eventually your enamel layer will be so THIN that your teeth appear yellow. Enamel doesn’t grow back so you have to be VERY careful with it.

What to do now?!?! Simple.

  1. VISIT YOUR DENTIST. Plaque builds up on your teeth and eventually leads to tartar which is a hardened calculus build up and can range in color from light yellow to brown.  The BEST way to remove this is to go to your dentist for a scale and polish.  This is your top choice for removing general staining and to restore colour.
  2. DON’T SCRUB YOUR TEETH. Invest in the softest toothbrush you can find and perhaps a good whitening toothpasteBrush your teeth as softly and gently as you can in slow circular movement. Rather brush softer for longer.  That way you are removing the stains without removing the enamel.
  3. DON’T BE A CHEAPSKATE.  Your teeth are a lifelong investment.  Get yourself the best toothbrush you can, one with soft bristles and a small head and use this with a good toothpaste.  It will cost you a fortune if you mess your teeth up with cheap hard brushes.  Ditch those immediately.
  4. IF YOU’VE WORN OUT THE ENAMEL and reading this you realise that the damage you’ve done is irreversible and that your teeth is pretty much all dentine now, then you can choose to have your teeth whitened professionally, over the counter stuff and home whitening kits on their own won’t help you now.  If your stumped as to the hows and whys and whos then simply do a bit of a google.  A chair session with a professional of about 36% of hydrogen peroxide and a home kit of about 15% is recommended.  This will work for the worn through teeth because the whitening process bleaches the dentine and will give your teeth their dazzling appearance again.  The procedure will cause your teeth to be more sensitive so I advise that you take good care of your teeth before and after the treatment by using a product for tooth sensitivity. My dentist (who I now think is a dentistry god) says that sensodyne is actually junk and that you should rather invest in a product like Colgate Sensitive Pro-relief.
    Cross section showing parts of tooth.

    Image via Wikipedia

  5. OTHER OPTIONS include veneers.  This is recommended for when your teeth are too sensitive for bleaching or if you’ve just had it with the struggle of trying to keep your dentined out teeth looking pretty. Basically they cap the tooth with a nice porcelain or ceramic layer.
  6. FLOSS. I know, I know, I hate flossing too but have decided that it really is in my best interest to do so.  If you aren’t motivated by the fact that NOT flossing will make your breath smell funky (and not in a good way) or by the fact that you’ll have to get more fillings (and uncomfortable ones at that) because you’ll have more cavities between your teeth.  Then remind yourself that you are NOT JUST REMOVING FOOD. A toothpick or mouthwash will cover that.  You floss because you are removing plaque, tartar and build-up from between your teeth.  The added bonus is that it will also remove the small stains that start building up between your teeth as you age and your smile will love you for it. If you don’t floss you are only cleaning your mouth 65% of the way.
  7. DON’T BRUSH DIRECTLY AFTER ACIDIC MEALS!!! That’s right, I said it, and I mean fruit and anything else with acidic contents or containing lots of bubbles, i.e. soft drinks and juice.  Use a mouth wash if you have to.  Use a toothpick if you have something stuck in your teeth.  Brush either before the meal or20-30 minutes after, you don’t want to leave it too long cause then bacteria starts building up.  When you eat acidic things it SOFTENS YOUR ENAMEL and if you brush directly after, especially with force, then you will wear away the enamel more quickly.  Stomach acid is even worse – so if you get sick you really should NOT brush your teeth, again opt for a mouthwash or something non-abrasive instead. If you simply have to brush then use a soft bristle brush and do so as gently as you can.
  8. TAKE CARE OF YOUR GUMS. Bad oral hygiene will lead to your gums pulling back from your teeth.  This can be caused by overbrushing or not flossing.  If this happens your roots start getting exposed. They are much more delicate than the rest of your teeth and the layer of enamel is thinner so you will have horrible yellow roots sticking out if you don’t take care of them. If they have only pulled back slightly then you are in luck and changing your habits now will give them the opportunity to reaffix themselves.  If however you neglect them further you will have to have invasive surgery done to get it fixed as they will keep on receding until the damage is irreversible and will even lead to bone loss of your jaw.

That’s all from me for now kids.  Hope you’ve learned a couple of things and that you’ll be taking better care of your teeth.  The world needs more bright smiles.



The Invisible People II

A Roma woman with her dog in a street of Rome.

Image via Wikipedia

Hi guys, some of you may remember the post that I wrote last year :- The Invisible People

After having had that experience and having written about it I made a conscious effort to change my ways by doing simple things like:

1.   Being polite and kind to beggars

2.  Talking to impoverished roadside vendors

3.  Being civil and polite to homeless people

4.  Basically trying to acknowledging any and all people I come across no matter their state and disposition.

Now to enlighten some of the global readers who are not accustomed to some of the terms and names we have in South Africa – we have a particular brand of homeless people we refer to as ‘bergies’.  These people are unlike other homeless people.  Most of them are of Khoi-San origin, i.e. some of the original tribes who lived in the coastal cape region.  Some of their trademarks include general dishevelled appearance,  drunken loitering and yelling of loud rude obscenities to passersby.  They are also known to occasionally bathe and wash their clothes in the local dams and rivers or whatever source of water they can find.  During the day they womble about the streets, beg and sit around in the shade. At night you can find them sleeping or passed out on a sidewalk, in a park, on a bench or in a doorway.  Most bergies generally have a favourite park or area or street corner that they hang out at. Every community here generally sports a local bergie or four that are recognised by appearance if not by name.  Capetonians avoid them because of their rude, smelly and drunken disposition. It isn’t really considered safe to talk to them as some of the male bergies are involved in muggings.  It is customary to cross the street and walk on the opposite side when you see one that looks particularly drunk or dangerous.

That said after I wrote the last article I made a point of also acknowledging these people.  One woman in particular stuck out to me.  In general I saw her leaning against gates or drinking on street corners.  Once she was begging in the vicinity and I took pity on her and gave her some food and clothes and a few rand to buy whatever she wanted to buy with. After that whenever she saw me she started saying ‘Hello my friend!’.  This woman has lived in the same neighbourhood as me but under vastly different circumstances for nearly 10 years.  In any case one day I asked her what her name was and she said that her name was Maggie.  I made a point of remembering her name as I would remember the name of a neighbour.  A few days ago I was walking past her and before she could greet me with her customary ‘Hello my friend!’ I smiled and yelled – ‘Hello Maggie! How are you?’  She was entirely taken aback.  After  a moment to recover she smiled the broadest most beautiful smile, in those few seconds it was as if her entire spirit lifted and her whole attitude changed, as if my recognition of her somehow made her feel like more of a person.  In that moment I was the one taken aback by the effect my simple greeting had on her.  ‘You can see me!” she declared.  Her words reminded me immediately of what I had written. I smiled and said, “Yes Maggie, I can see you.”

This was such a small encounter but I think it was a great experience for both of us.  Seeing her happiness at the fact that I had remembered her name and greeted her first made me feel happy too.  It really is the small things in life that make our souls beam.



A Little Advice

adverse effects

Image by 17 storey via Flickr

Living in modern society sometimes has some adverse effects on our reasoning and morality. The veils between black and white are easily crossed. One of the perks of being me is that I have been able to learn a lot from the generations that came before us and this is a little advice that I have put together for you from what I have learned from them.

1. Actions speak louder than words. Don’t let your words make you a liar, don’t make promises you can’t keep and especially don’t say one thing and do another.

2. You’ll only realise how important your word and your integrity is once you no longer have it.

3. Always speaking the truth doesn’t make you a good person, a good person is the one who may know the truth but knows which truths are better left untold.

4. Only weak people always answer with maybes, it shows lack of commitment and indecisiveness.

5. Love is asking nothing and giving everything.

6. Wisdom is knowing when to shut the hell up.

Tax me for I have Sinned…

Saint Homobonus' (died 1197) attributes includ...

Image via Wikipedia

I’d like to ramble a bit about Sin Tax … if for no other reason then simply because rambling about Sin Tax at least makes me feel a little bit better about having to fork my money over to the government.

“sin taxes” are basically excise duties on tobacco and alcohol products.  Some economists even go so far as to define it as a useful and predictable source of revenue for the fiscus; somewhere for the national treasury to recover revenue; their fallback option.

Now I have to explain something – many laws and some taxes are there for our own protection. Apparently governments worldwide view themselves as our ‘big brothers’ and impose laws intent on protecting us from ourselves.  A classic example was the law against suicide … god forbid you got it wrong cause then you were REALLY going to want to kill yourself.  Sometimes when the governments try to enforce particularly dim-witted laws they tend to backfire – in the 40s for instance a ban on liquor actually made the liquor industry boom.  I reckon most of them learnt their lesson from that and are now trying to remove this and other vices via going for our pockets.  What are we anyway – catholic?

What annoys me most of all is that when the government can’t make their tax sheets balance up they simply go – “Oh I know!  Why don’t we push up the Sin Tax some more?  We’re so clever!”  Someone should be reminding them that if they piss us off enough who knows – maybe eventually we will all find alternate sins and they’ll be left without their little convenient hole plugger.

As a lot of people simply do have to cut down on smoking and drinking because they can’t afford to ‘pay for their sins’ the government’s revenue stream decreases and in order to make up for that they simply push the tax a little bit further.  This action is of course fuelled by the war the Health Minister waged on the consumption of tobacco and alcohol.  At least someone is winning here.

Since I have to pay for these supposed sins I have to ask… shouldn’t people be charged sin tax for actual sins?  Say for upsizing their meals?  Gluttony is a sin after all.  Chocolate is one of the most sinful things of all (barring loads of slutty sex) … so shouldn’t we be paying sin tax on chocolate?  The possibilities are endless.  How about strippers?  You can’t tell me it’s not sinful for married men to be staring lustfully at naked women prancing around in their thongs whilst shaking their tits around.  The taxman should be standing at the entrance of the strip club with his big ol’ money bag saying “that’ll be R50 cover and R200 Sin Tax please.”  What about condoms and contraceptives?  But no, because unlike us poor Sin Tax payers some stupid promiscuous people would simply save the money by ceasing to use preventative measures.

Back to economists though… I just loved how last year after the announcement of increased Sin Tax Chris Adlam reckoned that – “No-one is even going to notice”.   Errr.  WRONG.  I noticed.  I’m pretty damn sure every other person who has to be crippled financially to buy a pack of smokes or a beer has noticed.  Oh but wait – we’re no-one right?  Our rights don’t count cause WE are the sinners.  Not the strippers or the cokeheads or the murderers.  Got it.

Brace yourselves people, I have no doubt that since the country’s finances are as usual a shambles us “sinners” will have to deal with yet another massive addition to the Sin Tax (and by addition I mean ass raping).

Perhaps it is time we started following the example of our ancestors via making our own tobacco and brewing our own alcoholic beverages.  In which case I’d have to warn you other sinners out there… better stock up on those supplies cause they’re probably coming after you next.



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