Jul 16, 2023

Nature vs. Man

In what some are calling the "feel-good story of the year," killer whales — obviously sick of being cheap entertainment for Sea World voyeurs — seem to have declared war on yachts.

The boat in question is an intensely fancy Bali 4.8 catamaran-style sailboat run by the charter management company Catamaran Guru. Boasting six bedrooms and six bathrooms, the boat is nicer than most people’s homes. But orcas don’t care about your supersized interior or onboard ice maker—orcas care about their home, and other orcas.

. . .

An eerie portend of things to come, humanity! I particularly like when the orca returned for the last little bit of rudder and surfaced briefly as if to say “ha ha, who’s got the rudder now!”

Researchers believe a whale nicknamed Gladis was traumatized by an illegal fishing boat and is seeking her revenge by instructing other young orcas in how to attack rudders. The attacks are disabling boats traversing through the Strait of Gibraltar, which connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic, with Spain on one side and Morocco on the other. While the attacks began in 2020, there have been 20 such attacks in the last month alone.

But the orca vs. man fracas is not an isolated example of a roiling collision of interests. Nature, it seems, is sick of our shit, and she's fighting back.

Mar 15, 2023

From Deep End to Deepfake: Inside Teal Swan's Marketing Machine

Fake News
Rising Prices and the Shrinking Tribe
Breathtaking Cruelty

When Teal Bosworth Scott Swan got her long-sought break into "mainstream" media coverage, it did not go well. Her quest for fame brought her infamy instead. By the fall of 2019, attention from the BBC had cost her the Teal Tribe group on Facebook and a number of YouTube videos, as both platforms cracked down on her suicide-friendly messaging. It was against this backdrop that teal presented another example of her bizarre understanding of how news media (or what she calls "mediums") operate. In this video, she explains the following to her credulous followers:

[O]nce you get to a certain level of fame, let's say that there's a little under the carpet contract that occurs, though not in writing, it's understood in the business that once you get big enough to be of interest to people, what they will do is they'll write a negative article about you. At which point you are then welcome to spend a large amount of money to pay them to do a positive one. After which they will do a negative one, after which you will pay them again, to do a positive one.

In the real world, most of us know that news coverage and advertising sales (or any other form of payment) are separate functions, and that their separation is crucial to the reputation of any news organization. One need look no further than the unfolding scandal at Fox News, with Rupert Murdoch's confession that Mike Lindell bought his way into guest spots on Fox with ad buys. Murdoch's admission that the decision to let an obviously unhinged pillow magnate on the air "is not red or blue, it is green," is scandalous precisely because news coverage isn't meant to be pay-to-play. Trust in news organizations, and the viability of their business model, is dependent on the expectation that they cannot be bought.

May 25, 2022

Off the Deep End with Teal Swan — UPDATED — Ep. 4

The Deep End | Official Trailer | Freeform

The Deep End, S1E1, "The Lost Toys"
True Believers, S1E4, "Teal Swan and the Wellness Tribe"
The Deep End S1E2 “The Safe Space”
The Deep End S1E3 “The Carousel”
The Deep End S1E4 “The Adversary” NEW

One of the first things I learned about Teal Bosworth Scott Swan — or teal, as I now refer to her — was that she was very, very famous. So famous that I wondered how it could be that I'd never heard of her. She reveled in her "fame" in a way that I'd never seen any "spiritual teacher" do. That was way back in 2013. In the years since, she's parlayed her social media popularity into some book deals and a smattering of regional interviews, but her path to mainstream success has not been a smooth one. As discussed here, it's been a bit rocky for the self-described "celebrity" who wanted to reach people on "every single continent," and was designed pretty and white by an Arcturian panel for that very reason.

She was, in her own words, "completely duped" by Gizmodo and Jennings Brown, who created "The Gateway" podcast. An interview with OZY magazine had been "antagonistic," by daring to ask her standard journalistic questions about the criticism of her. Her foray into mainstream media was starting to look more like a collision.

And then it got worse. She was interviewed by Lebo Diseko of the BBC, whose reportage lead to some of her videos being pulled from her YouTube channel and the abrupt removal of Teal Tribe from Facebook.

Feb 10, 2022

Former Pope Offers Non-Apology Apology in Abuse Scandal

Pope Benedict XVI, retired, has penned a plea for forgiveness for things he did not do and does not apologize for. (!!!) Ya just can't make this stuff up. Here are some of the headlines for this bizarre news event:

The 94 year old retiree was pulled back into the spotlight last month, when a detailed report on clerical abuse from 1945 to 2019, was presented by a German law firm, Westpfahl Spilker Wastl, which was commissioned by the archdiocese. The investigation found that then Cardinal Josef Ratzinger was among a number of senior clerics who had seriously mishandled abuse cases. They found that his handling of four cases rose to the level of misconduct.

Jul 22, 2021

Sad Reflections on the Feast of Mary Magdalene

Today is the Feast of Mary Magdalene. It's been a very weird day.

I am not Catholic and I do not pay much attention to the Church's calendar. But I was reminded that it's the day the Church commemorates Mary Magdalene – a day elevated to a feast by Pope Francis in 2016 – by a Facebook post floating down my timeline. The exquisite artwork caught my eye.

That I have very strong feelings about depictions of Mary Magdalene is no secret. She has historically been an icon of misogyny, thanks to the way the Catholic Church has represented her down through the centuries. It was only 52 years ago that the Church reversed course and quietly retracted the charge of prostitution leveled at her by Pope Gregory in 591. Much of the Western world, and even much of the Catholic Church, never got that memo. Mary Magdalene is still perceived far and wide as the fallen women, the woman of ill repute, the whore half of the Madonna-Whore complex.

So what made this day of Catholic celebration so weird for my nominally Episcopalian self? Only that I have been awash in news stories today that make it hard for my female body to breathe.

Sep 3, 2020

How the Moral Have Fallen

The evangelical Christian college Liberty University announced on Monday that it is opening an independent investigation into its recently resigned president Jerry Falwell Jr., heir to its founder, Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell. It's been a long time in coming.

Some may say that all the signs were there for a long time before last week. It’s certainly fair to say that there were questionable comments made, worrying behavior, and inappropriate social media posts, but all the signs were not there until the start of last week. While we still didn’t know the full scope of the matter, we have learned enough about the past to know that we had no choice but to take the leadership of Liberty University in a new direction.

So now we know what it takes to push this bastion of moral rectitude into decisive action. Notably it's none of the issues specifically stated in the university's announcement, "financial, real estate, and legal matters." It wasn't the self-dealing and cronyism that have been raising serious, internal concerns for some time. It wasn't even the "racy" photos that have appeared and disappeared from social media, or been handled by Donald Trump's former fixer, now convicted felon, Michael Cohen. No, what finally pushed the board of directors to act was a salacious sex scandal involving his wife, Becki. One even wonders if sexual indiscretions on his own part would have been enough. Falwell has been exposed, horror of horrors, as a cuckold.

Falwell Jr.'s problems started in earnest a few weeks ago when he bizarrely uploaded, then removed, an eyebrow raising photo of himself with a young woman later identified as his wife's assistant.

Jul 5, 2020

Is James Arthur Ray Losin' It?

I don't check James Ray's social media often, but when I do, I totally spin out on the colossal arrogance, the indulgent self-pity, the insensitivity -- nay, cruelty -- of his posts. That's probably why I don't check it often. But my darling husband keeps sticking these posts under my nose and insisting I register the sheer insanity of them.

Ray's post-prison marketing has long been either tone deaf or deliberately twisted (my money's on the latter), but in recent months, it's taken a turn for the worse. He seems to be having some sort of meltdown. His "motivational" messages have gotten really angry and seem more like an excuse to vent his personal grudges. The weirdest part is that he seems to be really proud of these petulant rants disguised as advice and keeps putting them out across all of his platforms. In a recent set of postings, Ray set out to illustrate the common axiom "only hurt people hurt people," by whining about non-paying clients and how betrayed he was by friends who testified against him in the sweat lodge trial. It can be found on his Instagram and Facebook pages, as well as in this podcast on his site. Note that he keeps moving from the general ("you") to the specific (his personal gripes and grudges).

Has any client made financial promises they don't keep?
Have they ever gotten angry WITH YOU when you ask them to pay and keep the commitment THAT THEY made?
Have they ever thought about the fact that YOU have expenses (both personally and professionally) that you have committed to, based upon THEIR commitment to you?
Probably not.
If you're in business I'm sure you KNOW what I mean.
Here's a good one: Has anyone ever told you they love you and then turned around and stabbed you in the back hard?
Like telling you "You've changed my life and I'll stand with you forever" and then testifying UNDER OATH in trial against you, telling absolute lies, when the state is attempting to send you to prison for 30 years?

I mean... haven't we all been prosecuted for killing people and had our friends testify against us? That's relatable, right? We've ALL been there!

Jun 25, 2020

Retrogrades and the Atrological "Perfect Storm"

I don't think I'm exactly breaking news when I say that everything sucks right now. But, according to a number of astrological reports I've seen, our no good, very bad year is about to get worse. And this past weekend -- with the juxtaposition of the solstice and the solar eclipse, followed by more planets going retrograde for a total of six -- is not the greatest kick-off for summer... or the rest of the year.

I'm not an astrologer, so I can't speak with any authority on what this all means. So I'm posting the best such report I've seen thus far. Steve Judd has described this set of astronomical events as an astrological "perfect storm." On the retrogrades alone, he posits that "there's not going to be a lot of clarity and forward thinking." As the week has unfolded in my own little corner of the world, I would have to agree.

Judd says the problems do not stop there. He is describing 2020 as a real "stinker of a year." And, amazingly, it seems like the worst is yet to come. Highlights include major seismic activity around mid-July. In August Mars will be squaring Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto, which will likely bring significant conflict. October is also likely to bring global unrest. On the plus side, he doesn't foresee a global extinction event, but he does predict major economic fallout. He does not recommend playing the stock market or making home purchases over the next year and a half. The detailed report is below the fold.

Aug 13, 2019

Her Tealness Wants You To Respect Her Authoritah!

Respect my authoritah!!! Teal Swan and Eric Cartman

Several weeks ago Andey Fellowes asked, "Is Teal Swan Unravelling?" His concerns are well-founded. Her videos seem to be increasingly petulant, even hostile. And it's not just her critics she's angry with. We're used to that. Increasingly, it's her own followers she's not so subtly complaining about. In the "Ask Teal" video that sounded the alarm for Andey, teal huffed and pouted her way through a litany of grievances about the perils of being a "spiritual teacher" in the "information age."

According to teal, "teacher hopping" is all about the "ego" of those who dare to pick and choose from the YouTube smorgasbord of ideas. (A "spiritual teacher" complaining about sharing that stage is somehow not about ego at all.) Without a trace of irony, she complains about her followers plagiarizing from her, an odd complaint from a woman who's been caught lifting content word for word, from a multitude of sources. But how dare her followers take the ideas she stole and go on to become teachers themselves!

“One does not repay a teacher well by remaining a pupil.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo

"Poor is the pupil who does not transcend his master." ~ Leonardo da Vinci

A mere two weeks later comes another "Ask Teal" gripe fest. So what social ill has her so troubled that she must vent her spleen about it for a full half hour?

At this point in history hierarchy is one of those concepts that has been thrown into the waste bin of "bad things". Now, as we all know, if we throw something into the bin of "bad things", we tend to swing the pendulum all the way to the side where we won't acknowledge something, we won't look at it and we don't become conscious in the ways we need to around it. By swinging the pendulum, we also become out of alignment to the opposite extreme.

Apr 10, 2019

James Arthur Ray On How To Leverage Self-Pity

James Arthur Ray is declaring himself an expert on the career comeback, which is weird, because he really hasn't made one. Don't tell him that, though. His marketing angle, ever since he was released from prison, has been an evolving narrative about how well he's been able to make killing people work for him. Kirby Brown, Liz Neuman, James Shore, they just had to be "sacrificed" so that he could rise like a phoenix from the ashes of their lives. It "had to happen" so he could "learn and grow." Noticeably absent in this new pitch is any reference to the "full and complete responsibility" he previously claimed to have taken for those deaths. Now it's a nameless bad thing that damaged his career. Every single element of this pitch is a study in self-pity and exploitation. What follows is a trip down that page.

Click Image to Expand

One teensy, little mistake! You cook a few people to death and no one'll let you forget it. It's just so unfair!

Apr 7, 2019

"Vanilla" Rape, Unrepentant Self-Pity, and Toothless Edicts: The Moral Sickness of the Catholic Church


On March 29th, Pope Francis took the unprecedented step of making Vatican City officials and diplomats mandated reporters of sexual abuse. Reminder: It is now the year of our Lord 2019.

The edict, called a Motu Proprio and which goes into effect on June 1, comes after an international summit of church leaders convened at the Vatican in February to address the abuse and protection of minors. It is the first set of concrete protocols established by the Holy See in response to the sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the Roman Catholic Church to its core.

But the Church was "rocked to its core" in January of 2002, when the Boston Globe ran a groundbreaking expose in its "Spotlight" section. That was when whispers, rumors, and dark humor became full-blown, public scandal. The Church hierarchy had known about the problem at least as early as 1985 when Father Thomas Doyle tried to sound an alarm at the US conference of bishops. His warning was ignored, as those same bishops continued to quietly move pedophile priests from diocese to diocese. For an organization "rocked to its core," it sure is taking its sweet time in taking any meaningful action. And this edict, appropriate as it may be, is not particularly meaningful. It's mostly symbolic, governing only Vatican personnel, and intended as "a model," not a directive, for the wider Church.

The decree and accompanying guidelines have no legal impact on parishes or congregations in other nations. Archbishop Charles Scicluna said in an interview with Vatican News that the edicts "are not intended to be for the rest of the world, they actually contemplate the concrete situation of Vatican City State; a number of minors, who either live there, work there, or visit ... always within its jurisdiction."

The Vatican's editorial director, Andrea Tornielli, acknowledged "very few children" will ultimately be affected but said that while the edict is limited in scope, the pope wants it to serve as a model for the entire church. The new requirements "contain exemplary indications that take into account the most advanced international parameters."