Letters, We Get Mail, CCCXX

May 13, 2012, Sunday: The Fernhill Wetlands

Canada Goose father
At Dabbler's Marsh: The father standing watch while his wife sits on the eggs
Earlier, I confused the families and thought that the new Family of 3 was the family from Dabbler's Marsh. Not so. The mother is still faithfully sitting on her eggs. It will be a few more days before they hatch out.

Canada Goose father
The Dabblers Marsh father, coming to get munchies

Canada Goose couple
The Dabblers Marsh couple
He finally talked his wife into leaving the nest to get something to eat. Really. He actually called to her, and told her that she should come and get some of the bread. Hunger got to her, and she did. She only stayed for a few minutes, just long enough to hungrily gobble down a couple of slices of bread, and then she went back to her nest.

Canada Goose couple

[More gosling photos below, here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters320.html#Tim_W ]

Date: Thu, August 2, 2012 7:56 am     (answered 4 August 2012)
From: "Tim W."
Subject: Hello Orange Papers


I am a recovering alcoholic and I have been attending AA for two years. I stumbled across your website and have read some of the articles and literary writing that you have added to the site.

Hello Tim,

Thanks for the letters.

Congratulations on your two years of not drinking. I have 11, going on 12, years off of alcohol, tobacco, and all other drugs, too. So I also know something about recovery.

I understand some of your concerns but I have to say that I find a lot of your writing both emotive and quite aggressive in parts.

Good. There would be something wrong with me if some of my writing wasn't "emotive and aggressive".

The problems in this world in general seem to me to be a lack of tolerance and understanding for people's quality of life and choice.

Tolerance? There is no reason for us to tolerate criminals who hurt innocent people.

And choice of lifestyle? Isn't that the first argument of an alcoholic? "I am entitled to live however I choose. Who are you to criticize how I live?"

Although there are some elements to AA that I don't think are always healthy, surely we as individuals have a right to accept and make our own decisions.

Sure, you have the right to make your own decisions. But you do not have the right to deceive sick people and shove an old cult religion on them while claiming that you have a cure for alcohol addiction.

AA does not wish to brain wash people or create cult status and your continued publishing of such "facts" isn't really balanced or acceptable.

Wrong. A.A. constantly brainwashes people. Compare the 12 Steps to the Chinese Communist brainwashing as described by Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, here:

You go to great lengths to discredit the founders and all they have done and you continue to challenge the numbers of alcoholics who have recovered under the program.

Yes, for good reason. The founders lied, and I'm telling the truth. Those are the facts.

We are all human and we all make mistakes. We all learn and we all try to live a full and complete life.

That is true, but that is not a reason for shoving quackery on sick people.

Mine does not particularly have a God in the true sense of the word and the AA 12 steps but it does have a desire to give to people and help people in life.

A desire to help people is a fine thing. The first thing that you should do is learn what the real truth is, so that you do not mistakenly promote quackery that hurts sick people.

This has not been brainwashed into me by some fanatical tyrant, it is my chosen free will that decided this.

Decided to do what, exactly? "A desire to help people" and "a desire to promote Alcoholics Anonymous" are very different things.

Are you an alcoholic?

Obviously, you have not read much of my web site before writing in to complain, or you would know the answer to that. Nevertheless:

The answer to that question depends entirely on which definition of "alcoholic" you use. Alcoholics Anonymous uses at least four different definitions of "alcoholic", and mixes them up, which really confuses the issue.

The definitions are:

  1. An alcoholic is someone who habitually drinks far too much alcohol.
  2. An alcoholic is someone who is hyper-sensitive to alcohol, almost allergic to alcohol, perhaps a genetic alcoholic; someone who cannot drink even one drink or his drinking will spin out of control and he will become readdicted to alcohol.
  3. An alcoholic is somebody who cannot quit drinking — he is "powerless" over alcohol.
  4. An alcoholic is an insane sinner who is full of disgusting character defects and moral shortcomings and resentments and barely-contained anger, and is a prime example of self-will run riot and instincts run wild and selfishness and self-seeking and the Seven Deadly Sins, although he doesn't think so... etc., etc., ...

When I call myself an alcoholic, I usually mean definition 2, and only occasionally definition 1, but never definitions 3 or 4.

  1. By definition 1, I stopped being an alcoholic more than 11 years ago.
  2. By definition 2, I will always be an alcoholic.
  3. By definition 3, I wasn't an alcoholic, because I could quit drinking, and I did. I was not "powerless over alcohol". I even quit drinking without any help from A.A., because I quit drinking two weeks before I was ever sent to an A.A. meeting.
  4. By definition 4, I was never an alcoholic. I was always a nice drunk. People liked having me at their parties because I was so much fun to have around when I got high. (But, as one friend said, "Even nice drunks die of cirrhosis of the liver...")

I read a letter you have published about a poor woman who was raped by her boyfriend who was "under the AA program"

It would help a lot if you would say which letter. There are so many such stories.

This intrinsically links AA to a heinous act of sexual violence that has nothing to do with AA the group and is about an individuals will to commit a violent crime.

Sorry, but it does have something to do with the A.A. group. A.A. is rife with sexual exploitation, and is covering it up. A.A. meetings are wonderful hunting grounds for sexual predators, and the other A.A. members won't even call the police and report it.

The Fix just printed a story about that from a pro-A.A. young woman — look here. Mind you, this young woman who wrote the story is still pro-A.A., and still thinks A.A. is a good thing, in spite of the fact that two A.A. sexual predators raped her, and she says that A.A. is loaded with predators all over the Los Angeles area, and they are doing it to countless young women, and A.A. does nothing to stop the predators or get rid of them.

Surely we understand this distinction as this is no different to killing somebody or committing any other crime. The state sees an individual as solely responsible.

That is a great Minimization and Denial tap-dance you are doing there. As the A.A. slogan says, "You are in denial. Denial isn't just a river in Egypt."

One of the worst aspects of Alcoholics Anonymous is all of the sexual exploitation and 13th-Stepping that is going on. You really have to have your head in the sand to not know about it.

Your arguments against coercive writing in the Big Book by Bill W are clearly juxtaposed in the above passage and you clearly commit the same act that you accuse the AA founder of doing.

Coercive writing? What the heck are you talking about? You are not making sense there.

The phrase "coercive writing" does not appear anywhere in my web site, other than right here. I just double-checked, and I never said anything about "coercive writing".

Maybe you meant to say, "coercive recruiting", or "coerced A.A. meeting attendance", or "coerced sex", or "coerced religion"?

I'm not sure what you are talking about when you say, "coercive writing in the Big Book by Bill W".

You continue to criticise and degrade an organisation that has helped many people recover and live a fuller and worthwhile life knowing full well they will not get "into the ring" to respond to this, as the organisation will not publically defend or comment on your actions. I therefore believe your site is somewhat cowardly.

No, A.A. has not "helped many people recover and live a fuller and worthwhile life". Again, you are making groundless claims.

(Try clicking on those links.)

I do not understand your reason for such vitriol and I would guess that your unbalanced point of view and website will not publish this letter to counteract some of the detrimental literature that you have posted.

My reason is simple: A.A. is a fraud that is hurting people.

I try to publish all letters, even those that try to promote and defend Alcoholics Anonymous with invalid logic and faulty arguments. So I'm publishing yours.

Love, peace, understanding, and tolerance is all we need to thrive together side by side

Those are very nice fluffy words. How about being so nice that we don't foist fraud and quackery on sick people? How about giving sick people some real help? Wouldn't that be nice and loving?

I feel sorry that you expend so much energy taking up your time trying to counteract what is after all a positive and vital organisation in society with our negative outpourings.

Sorry, but no, A.A. is not a positive organization. It kills more people than it helps. That is what this debate is all about.

Finally why Orange?

Yours Sincerely

Tim W.

I just told you why, Tim. A.A. is a fraud, just an old cult religion from the nineteen-thirties that harms more people than it helps.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

Date: Thu, August 2, 2012 8:10 am     (answered 4 August 2012)
From: "Tim W."
Subject: So much anger

And A.A. sponsors who are neurotic manipulative personalities, sexual predators, and rapists.

Many are. Not all, but too many.

I am an AA sponsor and this generic comment above is simply not true. You're generalisations are really not balanced and quite ignorant

Two years, and now you are a sponsor? You learned all about how to tell other people how to live, and overcome addictions and survive, in only two years?

I am 65 years old, and have 11, almost 12, years of sobriety now, and I wouldn't dream of setting myself up as a sponsor, putting on airs that I am qualified to tell other people how to live. Not to mention being qualified to handle all of the various forms of mental illness that are often mistakenly diagnosed as "alcoholism".

How many books about addiction and recovery have you read, besides "The Big Book" and other "council-approved literature"? How many other methods of recovery have you studied, besides practicing the 12-Step cult religion?
Hint: Try checking out this list: The Top 10 Reading List.

Another hint: Try reading the bibliography for my web site. You don't have to read all of those books, like I have — that would take you years, probably more than two years — just read the whole list:
Now ask yourself, have you educated yourself about addiction and recovery like that? Don't you think that would be a good idea before you take responsibility for other peoples' lives?

Doctors have to go to college for eight years, and then do three or four more years of internship and residency. But you are qualified to save people after only two years of training? And what was your training? One or two A.A. meetings per week, and doing Dr. Frank Buchman's Oxford Group cult religion practices a little bit?

My "generalizations", as you call them, are based on a lot of input. You should read the list of A.A. horror stories for descriptions of some sponsors who weren't so nice:

So fascist discipline is not necessary for recovery from alcoholism or drug addictions.

Penicillin actually works. A.A. doesn't.

[The quote came from here:

This is some more bull.

This is a really sick joke.

Tim W.

Okay, Tim, please prove it. What is the actual A.A. recovery rate? How many of the A.A. newcomers will get 1 or 2 years of sobriety in A.A.? How many of your sponsees will make it for 10 years?

What is the REAL A.A. success rate?

Out of each 1000 newcomers to A.A., how many will pick up a one-year sobriety medallion a year later?
Or even several years later?
And how many will get their 2-year, and 5-year, and 10-year coins? Ever?
How about 11 years and 21 years?

HINT: the answers are here and here and here.

Date: Thu, August 2, 2012 8:49 am     (answered 4 August 2012)
From: "Tim W."
Subject: Your Advice

Hello Amber,

Thank you for the letter. That is powerful stuff. And it is so true that A.A. has a bad case of Flip Wilson's joke — Geraldine, who was always proclaiming, "The Devil made me do it." In A.A., it's always the fault of Demon Rum.

What is odd is that people in A.A. meetings can tell tales of horrible abuse towards family members, or trying to murder a friend in a rage, and nobody bats an eye. They say that you should not "Take someone else's inventory", so nobody faults anybody.

But if you dare to criticize the A.A. program, oh boy are they quick to "take your inventory".

Funny how that works.

[The rest of the letter is here: http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters60.html#Amber.]

I don't see why you quoted the letter to Amber. What's your point? What are you getting at?

By the way, you left off the last line to Amber:

Oh well, have a good day anyway. And your plan to become a counselor who uses non-A.A. methods sounds great. Have a good life.

== Orange

Again I read more emails to you, I too had a violent father who beat me and then killed himself.

He never attended AA meetings, his personality and his behaviour with or without alcohol were to blame nothing else.

I'm sorry to hear about your troubles. I also had an abusive alcoholic military sergeant father who beat me. Nevertheless, if you are trying to imply that A.A. is innocent because your father was bad without any help from A.A., then that is broken logic. Of course there are many bad people who got that way without being involved in A.A., but the point was that A.A. was supposed to make people better.

Arguing that A.A. is okay because there are other people who are just as bad outside of A.A. is no defense of A.A. As our Founding Father Benjamin Franklin liked to say, "Two wrongs don't make a right."

Anybody who demonstrates tolerance and understanding would not "bat an eye". You say this as if all AA members are therefore complicit in the perpetrators guilt.

Excuse, me, but not "batting an eye" is a big problem with Alcoholics Anonymous. The resident sexual predators rape the newcomer girls, and nobody bats an eye. Crazy sponsors tell their sponsees not to take their medications, and then the sponsees die or commit suicide, and nobody bats an eye. They are all very "tolerant". That is the problem with A.A. When will A.A. get some morals? Grow a spine and start standing for something.

Another victim of A.A. rape — a 17-year-old girl with a drinking problem — just published her story on "The Fix" web site. One of her complaints was how no other A.A. members tried to defend her from the sexual predators:

"...the way most of the AA community pretended not to notice what was happening to me or to countless other girls I got sober with."

Yes the other A.A. members were quite "tolerant" while the young women were being sexually exploited, and they refused to "point a finger" at an A.A. old-timer, not even to defend a 17-year-old girl. Nobody "batted an eye". Read the whole story here:

Notice how effective the A.A. brainwashing really is. This young woman still thinks that A.A. is an okay organization, in spite of all of her experiences. She has been raped by her A.A. "teachers" twice, and she still doesn't get it. She sees that A.A. is loaded with sexual predators who have raped "countless other girls", and she still doesn't get it. She sees that the A.A. membership just looks the other way and pretends that nothing is happening as the sexual predators go after the young women, and she still doesn't get it. Her head is still full of high-falutin' airy-fairy slogans about "helping others", and "freely giving to others what was freely given to us". This young woman just cannot accept the fact that she didn't join a "self-help" society, she joined a "help-yourself" society, and oh are the sexual predators helping themselves.

By the way, when she talks about A.A. being loaded with sexual predators all over the Los Angeles area, the odds are good that she has gotten mixed up with Clancy Imuslands' Pacific Group. That is just another sexual-exploitation subcult of A.A. Look here for more stories about Clancy I. and his organization.

There has to be a yellow card and anonymity involved otherwise people have knowhere else to go or feel safe to voice there issues.

A yellow card? Do you mean a "get out of jail free card"? Do you mean a "commit any crime and not go to jail card?" Baloney. Alcoholics do not need a private club where they can confess or brag about all of their crimes. And alcoholics do not need a special club where they can rape any girl and not get busted. That has nothing to do with just not drinking any more alcohol.

There is no need for a "yellow card". What a lame excuse for letting criminals have free reign.

Again, you are assuming that practicing Dr. Frank Buchman's cult religion is necessary to stop drinking alcohol. Not so.

And unless its escaped your notice we demonstrate freedom of speech in the western world and allow people to say things.

Yes, we have Freedom of Speech. People are quite free to say things. And when a guy says, "I just raped that pretty newcomer girl who was seeking sobriety and it was fun", he should go to jail. He doesn't get to hide behind the A.A. religion. He doesn't get special privileges, or special immunity, or special confidentiality, or special anonymity, just because he belongs to the 12-Step religion. When an A.A. oldtimer rapes a newcomer, he should go to jail. Period. Anonymity be damned.

This does not mean we condone it or accept it, it means that we live democratically.

You are misusing the word "democratic". There is nothing "democratic" about the A.A. membership looking the other way when the group's resident sexual predators make a bee-line for the new teenage girl. You didn't take a vote to see whether your group would allow the new women to get sexually exploited, did you? Well, did you vote on it? What was the vote count? The proper name for such behavior is not "democratic", it's "lack of moral standards" and "lack of ethical principles".

And, actually, you do condone bad behavior like sexual exploitation and telling sick people not to take their medications, and foisting crazy cult religion on confused people. That's the problem with A.A. You condone it by doing nothing to stop it. You just practice "tolerance" and let the monsters continue to commit their crimes. You even deny that there is a problem. Or you grossly minimize and deny it. That lets it continue.

In all your writings you do not discuss the commonality of one alcoholic gaining some shared understanding of the illness from another.

Drinking too much alcohol isn't an illness, and it isn't a "disease". Drinking too much alcohol is behavior. Spreading misinformation about alcohol abuse helps nobody.

I have often mentioned the fact that some people get some comfort from sharing experiences with other people who are also in recovery. That does not mean that you should suddenly start promoting an old cult religion from the nineteen-thirties as a cure for alcohol addiction. There is a lot more to Alcoholics Anonymous than just "sharing" stories. The 12 Steps for instance, are Dr. Frank Buchman's Oxford Group cult religion recruiting and indoctrination tricks, not anything about quitting drinking.

Now if you want some company and brotherhood and sharing of stories of recovery, why don't you try a non-cult recovery group like SMART or SOS or Lifering? Here is the list of them:

The facts remain that some people do get better, they do not take advantage as you suggest sponsors do and they do try to help people without wishing to gain in any way for themselves.

Sure, some people do get better. It's called spontaneous remission. Each year, approximately five percent of the alcoholics just quit drinking and recover their health all on their own, no matter where they are. A.A. steals the credit for those recovering people who happen to wander into the A.A. "roomz", and tries to claim that A.A. was responsible for their sobriety, which isn't true at all.

When you subtract the normal rate of spontaneous remission from the nominal A.A. recovery rate, you get a zero-percent recovery rate for the A.A. program. That means that A.A. does not actually cause any alcoholics to quit drinking. A.A. just steals the credit for the people who were going to quit drinking anyway.

That fact has even been proven by a Trustee of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. Dr. George E. Vaillant spent the better part of 20 years shoving A.A. on sick alcoholics, and trying to prove that A.A. works. He wrote up the results as:

After initial discharge, only five patients in the [A.A.] Clinic sample never relapsed to alcoholic drinking, and there is compelling evidence that the results of our treatment were no better than the natural history of the disease.
Not only had we failed to alter the natural history of alcoholism, but our death rate of three percent a year was appalling.
Once again, our results were no better than the natural history of the disorder.
The Natural History of Alcoholism: Causes, Patterns, and Paths to Recovery, George E. Vaillant, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1983, pages 283-286.
The same text was reprinted in Vaillant's later book, The Natural History of Alcoholism Revisited, George E. Vaillant, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1995, pages 349-352.

What Dr. Vaillant called "the natural history of the disorder" is what happens with untreated alcoholics who just recover or die all on their own. Dr. Vaillant said that the recovery rate of alcoholics who went to Alcoholics Anonymous was just the same as the recovery rate of alcoholics who got no treatment or help or "support group", and who just recovered or died on their own. A.A. was completely ineffective and did not improve the recovery rate at all. But A.A. did raise the death rate. The A.A. group had the highest death rate of any way of treating alcohol abuse that Dr. Vaillant studied.

You can read the rest of the story here: http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-effectiveness.hmtl#Vaillant

It's nice that some A.A. members are good people who would not rape or exploit the newcomers. Unfortunately, they don't stop the criminals in A.A. from doing it. I think the French have a saying about that: "He who permits a crime to be committed is guilty of it."

This is my wish, to give as I have been given.

Yes, that is the problem. It's like a vampire giving freely, what he was given.

Nothing more and a great many good people in AA hold the same premise.

Yes, they all want to recruit new members, and promote their favorite religion that they won't call a religion.

Your negative portrayal of a minority tarnishes and disrepute's the good of the majority sir.

Hey, if that "moral majority" would get off of their asses and do something to stop the rapes, and the 13th-Stepping, and telling sick people not to take their medications, and foisting the dogma of a crazy old fascistic cult religion on desperately ill people, then I wouldn't have so much to write about, would I?

Yours sincerely

Tim W.

Have a good day, Tim.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Wonderful little our fathers knew,
**     Half their remedies cured you dead —
**     Most of their teaching was quite untrue.
**       ==  Rudyard Kipling, Our Fathers of Old, Stanza 3

May 13, 2012, Sunday: The Fernhill Wetlands

A Nutria swimming away
I disturbed his munching the grass.

Canada Goose goslings
The new Family of 3

May 14, 2012, Monday: Forest Grove

14th Avenue, Forest Grove, OR
14th Avenue, Forest Grove, OR
The view down the cross street just a block from my house. Forest Grove is really well-named.

Canada Goose goslings
Cedar Street
This is the view just a block down the street where I live. Those three large trees are actually genuine baby giant Sequoias. Be the first kid on your block to have Giant Sequoias in your front yard. A friend tells me that they were planted back in the 1970s. They grow about three feet per year, once they get going, he said. It's kind of mind-boggling to realize that, if things go well, those trees could be there for 2000 years, and get to be over 300 feet tall. The trees will move the street, and after those houses crumble to sawdust, the new replacement houses will have to be built further back.

[The story of the goslings continues here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters320.html#Bodrell ]

Date: Thu, August 2, 2012 8:28 pm     (answered 5 August 2012)
From: "bodrell"
Subject: Thanks and where's Carmen?

I've been in and out of AA for a couple of years and it never stuck — I always drank despite having a sponsor, working the steps, blah blah.. Although I never got in deep enough to get the "cult" aspect — and my former sponsor is 17 years sober, a cool lady, atheist and on our first meeting encouraged me to get psych help and meds — the mental gymnastics I was trying to go through in order to believe in helplessness, not thinking, higher powers and searching and fearless moral inventories that included only bad stuff, but none of the good stuff, got to be too much to take.

Also, I dreaded becoming one of those 20-year-sober people who still attend multiple meetings per day and have their entire identity wrapped up in being an AA "success story.". Seriously, WTF... that is not a life and these people scared me away. Nice people all, but they did NOT have what I wanted.

Your research and thoughts, helped clarify for me why AA just wasn't my bag although I'm sincerely happy it works for many. I suppose addiction to AA is better than addiction to alcohol. I am making it work with good old will-power, AVRT and other such tools and psych meds for the brain cooties.

My main reason for writing though — what happened to Carmen the gosling, in the end? Maybe I'm dense (distinct possibility, that)... I kept trying to follow her story on your site but getting derailed onto non-Carmen goose stories.


Hello Bodrell,

Thanks for the letter. I'm glad to hear that you are doing well, and have your head screwed on straight. Congratulations.

I have to object to just one phrase, the one about "it works for many". Actually, I think you will find that many people just recover because that is what they are going to do. Some people just finally choose to improve their lifestyle, and live. Just like how you did, and I did. The fact that some people were wasting their spare time by going to A.A. meetings doesn't mean that the A.A. "program" worked for them, and caused them to get sober.

The simple proof of that is the fact that groups of people who go to A.A. have exactly the same recovery rate as people who don't go to A.A. Going to A.A. doesn't improve the recovery rate at all.

Worse yet, A.A. increases the death rate, the suicide rate, the divorce rate, and the binge drinking rate. So "the program" isn't really working for anybody.

About Carmen:
The geese often leave the Waterfront Park area in the middle of the summer because of the crowds. There are numerous big parties and affairs during the summer where crowds of people occupy Waterfront Park. When the Waterfront Park Blues Festival is happening, the entire place is paved with people, like 25,000 of them, so the geese just leave. The geese go upriver or to other parks to get some peace and quiet and grass to eat. Worse, the crowds of people trample the grass and pretty well kill it, and it takes a long while to recover in the heat of the summer. So the geese don't come back for a while, not until the grass regrows.

grassy bay at Waterfront Park
The grassy bay at Waterfront Park, Portland, Oregon
This is where the geese like to hang out and eat the grass — and get munchies from humans whenever they can. This is also the same field as where they stage the Waterfront Park Blues Festival each July 4th.

What that means is, the babies go away while they are still cute little fuzz-balls with half baby down and half feathers, and they come back decked out in an adult suit of feathers. Consequently, it's really hard to identify which adult-looking goose with feathers was which gosling.

It was three years ago when I last saw Carmen. It was late summer, just about this time of year, and the geese had finally come back, and I was feeding them bread in Waterfront Park. Carmen's family flew in, and landed on the grassy field at Waterfront Park, and walked up to me to see if they could get any bread from me. Yes, the whole family was flying. They still had three goslings, which were almost as big as adults, so that means that Carmen, Blondie, and Sam all survived.

Unfortunately, I had just run out of bread. The other geese ate it all just before Carmen arrived. Carmen's family had a habit of arriving late for the party. When they saw that I was out of bread, they turned away, and joined the flock in munching grass. They just blended into the crowd. It was just as they were turning away that I saw the markings on the sides of the parents' heads, and realized that this was Carmen's family. They disappeared into the crowd quickly, and I didn't want to just chase them, trying to get some photographs, so I just got a couple of mediocre shots as they mingled with the flock.

With 20-20 hindsight, I wish I had chased them and gotten some good shots, so that I would know for sure what Carmen looks like as an adult. I want to know what the shapes of the white markings on the sides of her head are.

Since then, I moved out of downtown Portland and out to Forest Grove, way out in the boondocks, and I only rarely get over to Waterfront Park now. Carmen could be showing up there often and I wouldn't know it.

Now that Carmen is 3 1/3 years old, she is almost certainly married and has children of her own. Canada Geese mate for life at 2 1/2 years of age, and produce their first clutch of eggs at 3 years. So the odds are, somewhere out there, Carmen has some nearly-grown babies of her own. They probably have feathers now and are flapping their wings and getting ready for flying lessons.

I would really like to see that.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    "All our geese are swans."
**    Robert Burton (1577—1640)
**    The Anatomy of Melancholy, pt. I, sec. 2, member 3, subsec. 14

[The next letter from Bodrell is here.]

[The previous letter from Anonymous is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters320.html#Anonymous ]

Date: Fri, August 3, 2012 8:40 pm     (answered 10 August 2012)
From: "Anonymous"
Subject: Re:

I also told her I had 2 years sober about 10 years ago. I had mentioned that I didn't go to any meetings. She said that I was "dry". Which basically means dry drunk/crazy.

So, I guess it doesn't count that I accomplished that? Because I did not go to meetings?

Thanks and have a good night,


Hello again, Anonymous,

I got the same attitude from my so-called "counselor" in an "outpatient treatment" program. When I said that I had previously quit drinking for three years, all on my own, the Stepper counselor said that I had not had a period of "recovery", I was "only abstaining", because I had not "dealt with any issues".

Translation: you didn't go to A.A. meetings and practice the 12 Steps and confess all of your sins, so those three years don't count.

You are right: Years of sobriety outside of A.A. mean nothing to the Steppers. They only count and cheer for years of A.A. membership.

I have had many Steppers sneer at my years of sobriety without A.A. When I ask them why they cheer for somebody picking up a 3-month coin at an A.A. meeting, while dismissing 3 years of sobriety outside of A.A. as worthless, they usually ignore the question and don't answer it. Look here for one example of that, and his evasive non-answer here.

Happily, my liver didn't care whether I went to A.A. meetings. It appreciated the period of recovery that let it repair itself before the next tsunami of alcohol. That's why I don't need a liver transplant now.

By the way, I'm getting that less and less of that A.A. attitude now that I have 11, going on 12, years of sobriety. I have far more sober time than the vast majority of A.A. members, so they aren't so quick to sneer at my years. They usually just don't mention it.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "Thinking about where you've been or what you did wrong in the past
**     are impediments to an inspired life."
**       ==  Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, Inspiration Perpetual Flip Calendar, July 15.

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters320.html#Bob_O ]

Date: Fri, August 3, 2012 8:10 pm     (answered 10 August 2012)
From: Bob O.
Subject: Bill W. Billshit
To: [email protected],[email protected]


Bill Wilson created "Billshit". I have recovered from alcohol abuse. Recovery requires will-power not higher-power. My sober date is and will always be 10.27.1980 because I have the power to make it so. There is no such thing as alcoholism. I will never drink/drug again. Billshit Wilson was a thief, liar and whore. Is it true then that children who eat excessive amounts of candy have "Candyism"? Billshit Wilson found a way to retire and live off of the suckers. If god got you sober then god got you drunk.

Long Island Bob O.

Hello again, Bob,

Thanks for the carbon copy. I couldn't agree more, of course.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     When you want to believe in something you also have to believe
**      in everything that's necessary for believing in it.
**        ==  Ugo Betti, Struggle Till Dawn (1949), 2, tr. G. H. McWilliam

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters320.html#David_N ]

Date: Sat, August 4, 2012 7:10 pm     (answered 10 August 2012)
From: "david n."

Hello, Mr. Hodgins.

I appreciate the enormity of the work you've done on this site, and believe that a justly commensurate (not a contemptuous) response to it is to investigate ALL of it. I have done so. The letters section is especially instructive. In fact, I'd urge fellow AA members daunted by the contents page to work (methodically) through the letters and the responses: all of the site's core ideas are linked, when appropriate, in these responses, and the letters from steppers far too often demonstrate how these ideas developed, what they're about, and what gave their expression so much passion throughout the site.

More bluntly: steppers, if you say "Agent Orange" could not possibly know what it is like to be dying of alcohol abuse, he'll add you to a list of others who have made the same (false) claim. If you then suggest (also falsely) that he must be drinking to have challenged 12-step programs, he'll add you to another list. Or if you hear that he's been sober for 12 years, and so aver (incorrectly) that he is a dry drunk, there's a long list for that. Perhaps you'll accuse him of having an epic resentment; there is an epic list of such accusations. You might decide that "Orange" needs to know that AA has saved millions of lives; the claim you'll really be making is that you neither know nor care about what's on the very first pages of this site. Or you may want to teach "Orange" about all the alcoholics and addicts he may be killing; and so you will be added to the list of steppers who may be displaying that they are "unteachable." Maybe you'll judge the site to be a prime example of "contempt prior to investigation."

In so saying these things, you — can you see this? — have SHOWN contempt: not only before but OF investigation. A major premise of The Orange Papers is that (despite the chanting of quotes attributed to Herbert Spencer) AA and other such groups encourage a reductivist mindset, coupling passionate defense of 12-step "principles" with a truculent refusal to think critically about them (or challenges to them). A related premise is that 12-step groups promote dishonesty and closed-mindedness in defense of their core practices (two of which are rigorous honesty and open-mindedness), and thus that a chief concomitant of 12-step group practice is hypocrisy. Do you really want your response to become a part of the proof of these things? But I said I was a member of AA, so perhaps I should explain. I've lost too much, and too often come too close to dying, from abuse of alcohol, opioid painkillers, benzodiazepines, and sleeping pills, to want to quibble with anyone over whether I'm truly an alcoholic and an addict. A year and a half ago, the drugs cost me a very good job and a wife (that loss is grievous beyond description); I went to my fourth rehab (over a 23 year period.) All of these facilities are in Texas, and all displayed perfect conformity with the Minnesota Model of rehabilitation: daily trips to AA and NA meetings, "therapeutic" sessions designed around the steps, outside facilitators whose task was to help patients find a "higher power" (one Who would accept a surrender and honor it with grace), and an expectation that successful completion of a month of treatment was contingent upon working the first five steps, getting a sponsor, and identifying and scheduling at least another month's worth of 12-step meetings.

I was exposed to AA during my first stint in rehab, in 1986, after I'd drunk myself out of a wonderful opportunity (like you, I'm a Berkeley might-have-been; I was in the English PhD program in the mid-1980s), and had begun to experience seizures, severe panic attacks, and much despair. I read the Big Book, saw the bait-and-switch about God (I was and am agnostic; with regard to the divinity I was supposed to come to believe in, an omnipotent creator of everything, whose wholly benevolent relationship with His sentient creations is knowable by them if only they make the aforementioned surrender, I am an atheist), and concluded that AA was a cult that would need not to be a part of my necessary abstinence from alcohol. I was told then, by counselors in that first rehab, that alcoholics like me (already there had been brain and liver damage; and certainly while drinking I became obsessive about the acquisition of more alcohol) could not recover without AA.

Despite this therapeutically unbiased advice, I was sober almost 12 years without AA; then I chose to medicate lifelong social anxiety, depression, and ruthless self-criticism with the drug cocktail mentioned above. Perhaps the medicine would have worked if I had taken one pill, rather than one bottle of pills, at a time; but I like getting high, and have proven to my own satisfaction that I will abuse ANY CNS depressant once I begin to take it (except under the strictest supervision — and I don't want to test even that qualification unless I'm in unbearable physical pain).

So there have been three drug-induced rehab experiences in the last decade or so, all in Midland or Lubbock, TX; and as noted, I've been sober since the last one (January 2011). I lived in Odessa, TX; now I'm in Hobbs, NM; these places are small and conservative, and have nothing but AA and NA available for social support during recovery. I've been to over 1000 meetings (almost all AA) in 18 months, and do very much value the social support. I cannot swear I owe "the program" my life, but I know I owe a lot to these parts of it: the social contact, steps 4, 5, 8, 9, and 10 (from which I have flensed the word "God," and which I take cafeteria-style, despite admonitions from sponsors in two different towns), and work with newcomers, who are often as desperate as I was 18 months ago: desperate, confused, lonely, and hurting.

But I'm writing because a meeting last night (a regular Big Book study) helped me to put into the starkest possible contrast some of the contrary threads of my journey to and in AA (mirrored in the somewhat incoherent narrative above). There were three old-timers present, one of whom asked where I'd been lately. I said I'd been busy with work (I'm a college English teacher, summer sessions are hellish anyway, and I'm training for a new position); he opined that "work is what we do between meetings."

In truth I have been avoiding certain meetings (like this one) as much because old-timers (like this one) tend to dominate the sharing, to speak entirely in programese (described below), and to view and react to new information in such Procrustean terms that any honest expression of ambivalence (like mine —especially acute this week thanks my study of your work, Mr. Hodgins) quite literally makes no sense.

Another of the worthies present was my sponsor in Hobbs; he greeted me warmly and then began the liturgy. I won't mention anything specific about what was shared in the meeting, or say much else about who was there (because I take seriously our confidentiality chant at the conclusion of each meeting), but there were relative newcomers on hand (I've been working with one of them; he has serious doubts of his own about "The Program," and needs more than anything simply to talk and be heard), they were palpably hurting while the old-timers shared, and yet the old-timers did not deviate from the recruiting spiels they give whenever they share: imagine a savagely maintained countenance of serenity, a mask of equanimity through which anyone can perceive hard eyes, clinched jaws, restless hands and feet like small, wounded animals retracing circles of painfully prolonged death spasms, and a hectoring tone appropriate for a used-car salesman auditioning as a substitute preacher.

So it was as these men spoke, and they presented their mien and the tone of their spiels as the theme of their spiels: join the fellowship of AA, come all the way in (don't hover around the periphery), work the steps, and all who suffer can have what they so self-evidently already have. The problem, of course, is that that pitch, to that audience, is all promise of fellowship bereft of any trace of actual fellowship. I would like to have said as much, but I fear that programese has been designed (perhaps like Newspeak) to render certain concepts (like uncertainty) utterly ineffable.

That bugged me more than usual last night, so after the meeting (and after I checked in with my newcomer friend), I tried to corned my sponsor and bespeak as honestly as I could the burgeoning frustration I have with AA's capacity for reductivism and cultic practice. But he had the answer: "David, you just need to get a higher power." (The implication is, of course, that if I have no God, I must think I am God; that's one of the more pervasive Billogisms one hears in AA). And to that I had no answer at all — for reasons I hope I have made clear here.

Here, at this site, I needn't say more (which is more refreshing than I can say). I'll continue to make meetings, because they're far better for my soul than isolation (I think I mentioned the parochial quality of my town, and my social anxiety), and because I have my own tools (playing the tape out, being honest with at least one or two others — who know about addiction from the inside, even if they are certain about nothing else — about cravings and feelings of desperation, recognizing and dismissing what you call the lizard brain, etc.) to offer others who want to practice a daily maintenance of their sober condition; my life is far better than it was 18 months ago, because I've been sober and am getting to know myself as I have never really been before as an adult.

Thanks again for your perspicuity and diligence. You remind me more than a little of Harlan Ellison (I suspect you'll find the comparison flattering, based on the political and social activism and interests described on the site; HE writes better, but you're a far more methodical and sedulous researcher). I do have a fair amount of mostly minor criticism to offer about the site, but this already bloated letter doesn't need another growth spurt. Oh: I tried to register in July for your forum, but have not heard anything. I'd like to be involved in that. Congratulations on your sobriety. Have a great day,

david n.

Hello David,

Thank you for the letter. There is obviously so much that I agree with. I won't just repeat it all. And congratulations on your sobriety, and thanks for the compliments. I'm glad to hear that you are doing well, and are still sane.

I can really relate to this line: [Steppers] "have SHOWN contempt: not only before but OF investigation."
Yes, exactly. That's why it is nearly impossible to carry on a reasonable debate or a discussion with them — they just reject all facts that they don't like without investigating to see whether they are actually true. They really don't want to allow any foreign facts to lodge between their ears.

That is nothing new of course. The high priests of the Vatican refused to look through Galileo's telescope. They just knew, without looking, that it was an instrument of the Devil, and what it would show was untrue.

And thanks for the phrase "pervasive Billogisms". I don't recall ever having heard that one before. It's cute. I'll have to use it again, somewhere.

I never got into Harlan Ellison. I'll have to check him out.

Thanks for the compliment about open-minded thinking. You can also find open-minded intelligent discourse in other places too, you know. You don't have to be isolated. May I suggest this list:
Here is the list of non-cult organizations and methods.

Many of those organizations have forums or chat groups or bulletin boards where you can discuss things in a sane and intelligent manner.

Oh, about the registration: Thanks for mentioning it. Occasionally genuine humans' registrations get lost in the river of spambots' fake registrations. The situation has gotten so bad lately that I'm getting about 3000 fake registrations from the professional spammers' computer programs each day. Yes, all over the world, spammers run computer programs day and night, that just crawl the web and try to create user accounts in forums, so that they can then post spam advertisements for everything from fake Viagra and Canadian pharmacies to London call girls. Oh, and of course the cute Russian girls who want to sleep with me if I will just send them air fare to get here. It seems that spam email is on the way out because everybody is running spam filters now. So the spammers are switching to hammering forums and bulletin boards and things like that.

I can easily distinguish most of the fake registrations because they do stupid things like make up user names with random letters and numbers. But once in a while, as I'm scanning the list of new registrations, I overlook a real human. So I like to hear if anybody is having trouble getting their registration approved. If you haven't been approved within a week, then something is definitely wrong. Sometimes I get sidetracked for a few days, but you should always get approved within a week. I approve all humans, and reject all spambots.

What I always need is the user name that you registered. The Drupal forum software that I use doesn't have any way to look up people by email address, only by user name. So if you tell me what user name you registered, I'll find it and approve it.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "Success is simple. Do what's right, the right
**      way, at the right time."
**          ==  Arnold H. Glasgow

May 14, 2012, Monday: The Fernhill Wetlands

Canada Goose goslings
Osprey, cruising for a fish

Greyland Goose -- Canada Goose hybrid
One of Gus's children from a previous year
This goose is half Greylag Goose and half Canada Goose. Gus seems to have at least two surviving offspring from previous years, along with his current little youngster this year. Gus has bad luck with the survival rate of his children — he seems to have only one surviving child per year, but they are still adding up. Apparently Gus and his wife have been making children for at least three years now.

Greyland Goose -- Canada Goose hybrid
Child of Gus

Fernhill Wetlands parking lot
The Fernhill Wetlands parking lot

[The story of the goslings continues here.]

More Letters

Previous Letters

Search the Orange Papers

Click Fruit for Menu

Last updated 24 August 2012.
The most recent version of this file can be found at http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters320.html