The Freedom to Be a Selfish Fool

Your freedom to not wear a mask should not impinge on my freedom to not freakin’ die.

There’s nothing quite like a complete nut job with a dedicated following to make you wonder how anyone can question our relationship to other primates. (Spoiler alert: I’m feeling rather inflammatory today.) Case in point: a complete psychopath named Lenka Koloma.

Her Facebook page makes the following claims:

“After making herself a millionaire, healing herself of cancer, and a near death experience, Lenka learned to create healing miracles for herself and others. Let her help you transform your health, wealth & relationship issues into a life of unlimited abundance and happiness.”

She also claims to be an International Best Selling Author of a book called “Unleash the Supernatural”. As of this writing, it has an Amazon Best Sellers Rank of 1,609,092, so this author is looking at “best selling” through an extremely broad lens. But then, making false claims seems to be a recurring theme with Ms. Koloma.

Her Facebook page is all sizzle and no steak. She makes promises but doesn’t keep them. She claims to be a motivational speaker, but I got about 2 minutes into the 13 minute video she posted of herself and realized she was never going to get to the point. So I felt motivated to stop watching.

Incidentally, she made that video while driving. In Southern California. Which tells you all you need to know about how much she cares about the lives of her fellow human beings.

But if that isn’t enough to convince you of her irresponsibility, then hop on over to her website for her Freedom to Breathe Agency. (That is, if it’s still there. Several versions of this site have been taken down. I’m sure this one won’t last long either.)

The main takeaway from this site is that you should exercise your personal liberty, your freedom of speech, your freedom to choose, and your freedom to pursue happiness by refusing to wear a face mask.

The website, which is full of misspellings and awkward grammar, states:

OXYGEN IS No.1 NUTRIENT for every living organism including humans.

Wearing a face mask is an unhealthy obstruction of oxygen flow that can lead to hypoxemia (low oxygen level in the blood) and hypoxia (low oxygen level in the tissue). Both of these conditions are health threatening and can permanently damage the brain, lungs, heart and about any other organ.

​Wearing a face mask has also very important effect on our psychology. It is a psychological anchor for suppression, enslavement and cognitive obedience. When you wear a mask you are complicit in declaring all humans as dangerous, infectious and threats. How long do you think it will be before your social engineers tell you that talking spreads the virus farther ….and they forbid talking?

​How long before your human farmers trick you into believing that it is better you stop breathing altogether….as to stop the spread of a virus?

​All sold as being for your health and safety. You are being conned and your compliance makes the con a reality.


It also provides you with a PDF file that allows you to print out a fraudulent card that claims to exempt you from any ordinance requiring face mask usage in public, claiming that this is an Americans with Disabilities Act violation. It also fraudulently uses the seal of the Department of Justice, and the ADA logo. Apparently this card has been quite popular of late.

But if you go to the ADA website, one of the first things you see is a disclaimer from the Department of Justice. It states:

The ADA does not provide a blanket exemption to people with disabilities from complying with legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operations.

And, incidentally, “human farming” as mentioned above by Ms. Koloma is the most lunatic fringe theory that I’ve heard in many a year. The ultimate in paranoia is to imply that we’re all such slaves that we have been reduced to the level of livestock. Yes, the rich and powerful are taking advantage of us, but to imply that we are operating under a system of slavery as we order our pizzas and binge watch our Netflix is a tad extreme. And forbidding talking? Forbidding breathing? Yeah, that’ll happen.

So who are you going to believe? Some crackpot woman who is telling you what you’d love to believe, or the truth, from legitimate sources?

Well, here’s the bugaboo. We take our freedoms very seriously in this country. So seriously, in fact, that some people extend them to the freedom to be a complete jerk. Evidence the world over demonstrates that wearing a mask saves lives. Your freedom to not wear a mask should not impinge on my freedom to not freakin’ die.

If your lack of a mask only impacted you, I’d say have at it. We need fewer selfish people in the world. But you are part of a society, and your irresponsibility puts others in danger. It endangers your loved ones most of all. You have no right, none whatsoever, to endanger others.

Wearing a mask has nothing to do with politics. It’s just basic common sense. And it’s one of the responsibilities we have right now, in exchange for all the benefits we experience from living in a civilized, albeit overcrowded, society.

I suppose sticking your head up your butt is another way to protect the rest of us from you, but I think the mask option is a better one.


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The Mystery That Is Kaspar Hauser

People just love an unanswered question.

During a random surf of YouTube, I came across an intriguing video entitled The Most Mysterious Boy In History. I love a good mystery, so naturally I had to watch. That’s how I first learned of Kaspar Hauser.

Here’s what we know for sure about him. On May 26, 1828, a young teen showed up in Nuremberg, Germany. He walked like a toddler, and could barely speak. He carried with him two notes, supposedly from two different people, but in the same handwriting.

The first note was allegedly from some man who said he’d been raising Kaspar since he was a baby, and never let him leave his house, but that the boy now wanted to be a cavalryman like his father had been. The second note was supposedly from his mother, backing up the story about the kid’s father.

At first the fine folks of Nuremberg threw Kaspar in jail for 2 months for being a vagabond. Then he was adopted by the city, and they paid for his care and upkeep. He then began to be passed from house to house. He had a pattern of being both tantrum-prone and a liar, so he quite often wore out his welcome.

He also had a pattern of getting strange wounds, most likely self-inflicted, when he wanted attention. He always claimed he was attacked by some mystery man, which he was sure was the same guy who supposedly had kept him locked away for his entire childhood.

Once, his caretaker heard a gunshot, and found Kaspar in his bedroom with a head wound. Kaspar claimed he had been standing on a chair to get some books, and he fell, knocking a pistol from the wall and accidentally shooting himself.

Who leaves a loaded pistol on a wall? That’s my first question, with many more to follow.

It was a more trusting time, so people kept taking him in. Most famously, he lived for a time with Lord Stanhope, a British nobleman. But after spending a great deal of time and money trying to figure out who Kaspar was, he soon tired of the boy and his unbelievable stories as well.

At age 21, while staying with a schoolmaster who was also growing impatient with the boy’s lies, Kaspar came home with a stab wound in his chest that would prove to be fatal. He, of course, claimed to be attacked, and there was another note involved, this time, for some odd reason, in mirror writing. But the note included Kaspar’s common spelling and grammatical errors, and was folded in a way that was unique to Kaspar.

I think the reason people kept giving this guy so many second chances was that there was a rumor that he was actually a prince. But historians find this hard to believe. Conspiracy theories are not new.

I think Kaspar Hauser was just a very effective liar and con artist. It’s impressive how he managed to mooch off so many people even though he was clearly quite unpleasant to live with. That’s a psychopathic skill that very few people possess.

His manipulative charisma lives on to this day. Movies have been made about him. Poems have been written. His character pops up in at least a dozen books. A statue of him has been erected in Ansbach, Germany.

We may not know who he was, but he hasn’t been forgotten. I think he’d be thrilled to know that. People just love an unanswered question, and Kaspar Hauser is the epitome of that.


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Crossing Paths with a Con Woman

I hope that someday her chickens come home to roost.

Every once in a while, I’ll do a Google search of my former boss from decades ago. It’s not that I miss her. It’s not that I ever even liked her. It’s just that she owes me 500 bucks that I’ll never see again.

I did freelance work writing articles for a magazine she started. It was advice for parents, which is ironic when you consider my childfree state. Still, it seemed like a lucrative business, until the day she stopped answering my phone calls.

And then her phone got disconnected. So I stopped by her house, looked in the windows, and discovered it was completely empty of furniture. I also found out that there were so many liens on the house that adding my humble little grievance to the massive pile would have only had me standing in line behind a long list of other outraged marks. She was a con woman extraordinaire.

Still, I used to drive by the abandoned house sometimes, when I found myself in the neighborhood. The driveway formed cracks and trees started to grow there. In Florida, nature quickly reclaims neglected buildings. The rotting roof reflected my diminishing hopes of ever getting justice.

Here’s the thing about Googling her, though. She has a very successful name twin in the same area of the country where she most likely resides. I’ve talked to the woman. She’s really nice. She’s a property owner, a keynote speaker, the head of her own self-named company. She dines with mayors. Her name is often associated with major financial corporations. It’s because she has such a wonderful reputation that I won’t taint her by mentioning any names. She is everything her name twin, my loser ex-boss, is not. When I told her about the many crimes of the other woman who shares her name, she was horrified.

My ex-boss, on the other hand, seems to have stepped into some internet black hole. She is nowhere, absolutely nowhere, in cyberspace. Of course, she doesn’t want to be found. I’m sure she’s changed her name more than once. It must be awfully stressful, living an anonymous, fraud-filled life like that. One wonders where she’d be if she had used her powers for good.

But all the speculation in the world isn’t going to get me my money back. I can only hope that someday her chickens will come home to roost.

Police Line Up
Fun fact: When I tried to find an image of a female police line up, I came up empty. Go figure.

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An Unfinished Internet Story

The story itself is sick and twisted, but the fact that no one bothered to follow up on it is even more revealing.

Do you ever Google your own name, just out of curiosity? I do, sometimes. But I bet Joann Elizabeth Wingate doesn’t.

I don’t even know how I stumbled upon this story, because it is from the summer of 2014. When I found it, I was intrigued. The story itself is sick and twisted, but the fact that no one bothered to follow up on it is even more revealing, in my opinion.

Here are the very basics, which got picked up by one lowbrow news outlet after another, for about a week: Ms. Wingate was once a chiropractor, but her license expired for reasons not explained. So she decided to steal the medical license of a local psychiatrist who shared her last name, and operate a physical exam business from inside her own home. She targeted truck drivers, who need this exam to renew their certifications. She put up fliers at a truck stop.

She would meet these guys at the truck stop, drive them back to her shabby little house in her shabby little car, and perform a full medical exam, including urinalysis, for $65. At least 16 guys fell victim to this woman, who held no medical license whatsoever. (That’s what you get for getting your doctor off a truck stop flyer, I suppose.)

But here’s what I don’t get, and probably never will: That’s a lot of work for 65 bucks. It seems to me that if you’re going to do a con, you’d go for some bigger fish, unless there was some unexplainable kink factor for you with regard to making men pee into a little cup.

Whatever her motivations were, riches do not seem to have been her primary one. Instead, she wound up being held in prison on 10k bail. (And how do you make that phone call to your nearest kin?)

I can understand why so many news outlets jumped on this story. It’s insane. It’s funny. It probably went viral. And there was marijuana involved.

But here’s the thing: According to my lazy internet search, not a single one of those journalists bothered to follow up on the story. Did she do time? (She should have, because apparently she had already gotten caught pulling this creepy con elsewhere, and had to move to another county to keep it going.)

There’s nothing more frustrating to me than a story without an ending. The only thing I am fairly positive about is that Joann Elizabeth Wingate doesn’t Google her own name, if she even bothers to use it anymore. Because the only thing that pops up is this odd little unfinished story.

I would hate for that to be my legacy. And I feel awfully sorry for any woman out there who shares her name. (Note to expectant mothers: Google prior to naming your child!)

Where is she now? More importantly, what is she doing, and to whom? The possibilities are endless.

Joann Elizabeth Wingate
Joann Elizabeth Wingate

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The Imposter Experience

My whole life, I’ve been waiting to be found out. Not discovered, like some pretty girl sitting at a soda fountain in Los Angeles, destined for stardom. No. Found out. Exposed for the imposter that I am.

I expect to be grabbed by the elbow. “You don’t belong here! How did you get here? Get back to the service entrance, wench!” “You don’t really fit in those clothes, that house, that job, that relationship, that car!” “You can’t have good things!” “That achievement? It’s a mistake.” “You are a fake, a phony.” “You are not worthy.” “Sure, they love you now, but only because they have no idea how flawed you really are.” “Just you wait. It’ll all turn to shit sooner or later.”

If any of that sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. It seems that 70 percent of us have the imposter experience at some point in our lives. Note that I’m not calling it Imposter Syndrome, as many people do. It’s not a mental illness. It’s not some flaw in your brain chemistry. You are not broken. We are not broken.

Yes, an attitude adjustment wouldn’t hurt. Habits may need to be changed. Chances are you learned this negativity at your parents’ knees. Talking about it helps.

The more we realize how common this thought process is, the easier it is to realize that its these thoughts that are the imposters, not you. Not us.

Don’t let these ideas fester. Don’t let them hold you back. Don’t allow them to stop you from trying. That way lies stress, anxiety, and depression.

Let yourself feel your success. Don’t just dwell on the failures as if they merit more of your time. Write down the compliments, not the insults. Allow yourself new experiences.

In case no one has ever told you: You deserve all the things. You deserve them as much as anyone else does. You belong here, too.

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Liberals Aren’t Exactly Squeaky Clean, Either

Man, oh man, but it kills me to write that! I wish I still thought politics was a battle of good versus evil rather than a “better the devil you know” scenario. Life would be so much simpler without my current cynicism. I’d like to think there were good guys to root for. But no. It seems that politicos are all rotten to the core, with very few exceptions. And that says something really scary about us in general, since we choose to have these people represent us.

The first news item I saw on the day I wrote this was this one about Corrine Brown. Until very recently, she was a representative from the State of Florida, a Democrat who served 12 terms in office, mainly because her district was so ridiculously gerrymandered that no one could ever vote her out. I always felt she was an embarrassment to the Democratic Party. I once saw her make a college commencement speech and she couldn’t string a grammatically correct sentence together if her life depended on it. I also saw her attend a State of the Union address wearing a banana yellow suit and one of her signature polyester low-rent wigs. She nearly knocked people over to shake Clinton’s hand.

This woman was constantly being accused of dirty dealings, but she always seemed to wriggle out of things until now. This time she has been found guilty of 18 counts of tax evasion and wire and mail fraud. They say of the $800,000 raised by her One Door for Education Foundation, all but $1,200 found its way into her bank account. Can you imagine how many scholarships that could have provided to underprivileged children? Who steals from children? What’s next? Dropkicking puppies into the St. Johns River? Sheesh.

Oh, but she’s not the only dishonest one. I’ve written multiple times about Andy Johnson, former member of the Florida House of Representatives. This man stole $3,500 from me, and I have the winning lawsuit and the lien on his house to prove it. I’ll never see that money unless he sells his house because heaven knows he’ll never do the right thing and pay up. The interest I’d earn by now is astronomical, but I can comfort myself with the fact that I will not be silenced and I at least have the pleasure of ruining his credit rating with the truth.

The irony about this is that if you look at his Facebook page right now, he’s shouting “I oppose crooks, D or R. Now I say; told you so! Corrine guilty!” Oh yeah, Andy? Then WHERE’S MY MONEY????

Another cold comfort: it doesn’t look like Andy has got a progressive radio talk show anymore. That, or he really sucks at self-promotion. The thought of him being the progressive voice of Jacksonville, knowing what I know about him, made me sick. So at least there’s a tiny bit of justice in this world.

So, yeah, I may be liberal, but I’m mainly disgusted. Sometimes I wish I believed that hell existed. But hell, in truth, is politicians. D or R.


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A Message to the World

Hello. I’m an American. Never in my life did I imagine that I would say this, but I am ashamed of the state of my country. I am embarrassed at the face we are currently showing to the world. This is not who we are.

Never again will I look at another country and assume that all its people agree with its government. Because I don’t. Never again will I think of the resident of another country as possessing a stereotypical characteristic based on that person’s place of birth. Because clearly, I no longer fit in here.

In recent months I’ve been seeing a great deal of ugliness. I’ve seen Americans spewing hate. I’ve seen selfishness and greed and intolerance. I’ve seen ignorance deified and intelligence vilified. I’ve seen science discounted and fantasy encouraged. I’ve seen violence. I’ve seen misogyny. I’ve seen fraud. I see more and more lies every day.

I am so sorry that things have gotten this way. I didn’t vote for Trump. I wouldn’t have approved any of his cabinet members or his choices for the Supreme Court. There is not a single thing that this man has done that I agree with. Not one.

I’m particularly mortified that his immigration policies are making so many people live in fear. This is not acceptable to me. I am a second generation American, and the vast majority of the people who live here are descended from immigrants. We have absolutely no right to do what we are currently doing.

We also have no right to treat the Native Americans the way that we do. If anyone should have moral currency with regard to how we treat the land here, it should be them. They should not be beaten down for wanting water that is safe to drink. Shame on us.

We, of all people, should not have the right to negatively impact women’s health at home or abroad. We should also appreciate the good work that other members of the United Nations do every single day. We should be good stewards of our environment, because what we do affects the entire planet.

I just want you to know that many Americans still believe in human rights, freedom, justice, the environment, freedom of speech, science, peace, and respect for all people who do good in this world. I want you to know that those of us who feel this way will not remain silent. We will speak out for the values that we all strive to maintain. Our voices might get drowned out by those in power, but please don’t stop listening for us. We are here.

Because what you’re seeing now is not who we are.


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Eyewitness Misidentification

According to the Innocence Project, “Eyewitness misidentification is the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions nationwide, playing a role in 72% of convictions overturned through DNA testing.” I completely believe this, because I’ve lived it. I make a lousy witness.

When I was 17 years old I worked for a small travel agency. My desk was right by the front entrance. One morning I came in and the manager asked to speak to all of us. He said there was a guy going around to all the local travel agencies and buying plane tickets with a different fake ID each time, then going to the airports and cashing in these tickets, leaving the travel agencies to eat the cost. He’d managed to get thousands of dollars that way so far. Our manager suspected (I can’t remember why) that that man had bought a ticket from us, and that he was going to come in and pick it up some time this morning. When that happened, we were to proceed as normal, but very slowly, and I was to notify him and a coworker was to call the police immediately.

This was certainly not going to be a routine day at the office. Tensions were running high. At around noon the guy walked in. I referred him to one of the agents. I quietly got up and went to the manager’s office to inform him. Then I sat back down at my desk and pretended to work. The manager walked toward the front door. I think the guy picked up on our nervousness, so he leaped up and ran for the exit. The manager was blocking his way and they got into a scuffle. This was right in front of my desk. I was paralyzed with fear. I remember seeing the sweat on the guy’s forehead and his wild eyes as he struggled to get out the door.

Finally he made good his departure, with my manager right on his heels. This was no mean feat because my manager walked with a cane. He proceeded to use the metal tip of that cane to smash in the guy’s windshield as he drove away. The police were taking this guy seriously. They broke out the helicopter for this one, and he was finally apprehended, still in the car, plane ticket in hand, his lap covered with broken glass.

We were all asked to write police reports. My adrenaline was still pumping, but I wrote a detailed report. (I can never be accused of being lost for words.) I was the person who got closest to the man. I saw him sweat. The fight happened mere feet from me. I described him as having light brown, curly hair, blue eyes, and a sort of medium complexion. I said he was about 6 feet tall, and wearing jeans and a light colored t-shirt.

The next day the story was all over the news. It included the guy’s mug shot. He had straight, dark brown hair and dark brown eyes. He had a swarthy complexion and he was about 5’8”. In the news footage he had been wearing a dark shirt and khaki pants. I was wrong in every single detail. So much for my observation skills. Fortunately my coworkers descriptions were closer to the truth, and yet not 100 percent accurate either.

About a year later the case finally came to trial. The prosecutor asked me to testify. I called her and said I now lived in a different city, but I would gladly cooperate. However, I asked her if she had read my police report. I told her that based on my description I might not be the best witness for the case. She agreed. She told me she’d let me know if she changed her mind, but that she wouldn’t be needing me at this time after all. Good call.

The man was convicted of his crimes. even though he didn’t look anything like I thought, I am sure they got the right man. His finger prints were all over several of those fraudulent plane tickets.

Ever since then, I have never taken eyewitness testimony seriously. I think of myself as an observer of the world, and if I can screw something up that dramatically, anyone can. Food for thought.


Athletes Are Cheated by Academic Fraud

The current scandal takes place at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It seems that for decades students have been able to take classes that didn’t really exist in order to beef up their grade point averages so that they could continue participating in top tier athletic programs. This is the most extensive scandal of this type, but by no means the first time we’ve heard about athletes skating through academia. In my high school graduating class, several of the football players graduated without being functionally literate. This isn’t uncommon.

Here’s the sad part, though. What these dumb jocks don’t seem to realize is that they’re being used. They are merely the protein being fed into the academic meat grinder, and money is pumping out the other end. Sports are a huge source of revenue for any college, so it’s in their best interest to keep these students sports-worthy. But in the end, what does the athlete get? A very small percentage move on to the professional arena with over-inflated incomes, but even they usually spend the rest of their lives physically ruined. But the vast majority of these students graduate, having not had the benefit of a decent education, and may as well not have gone to school at all.

By getting sucked into these scandalous frauds, the athletes are the ones who are truly being cheated. Maybe someday some of them will wise up enough to be morally outraged and take legal action. Maybe someday the rest of us will stop supporting our favorite college teams and instead support our favorite college students.


Putting My Best Foot Forward

When I really, really like someone, or when I’m on a job interview, I try to put my best foot forward to make a good impression. Everyone does that, I’m sure. The thing is, when I feel like I’m making this extra effort to be accepted, deep down I feel like a fraud since it’s more effort than I’d usually make. And then I start to wonder if my fraudulence is visible. And then I get nervous. And then I invariably say something stupid or desperate or pathetic. And then I blow it.

At the moment those situations are even more full of tension, because if I don’t get a decent job soon, I may wind up out on the streets. And the fatter and older I get, the narrower my window of opportunity becomes to ever share a bed again with someone other than my dogs. So there’s a lot at stake in both scenarios. And that makes me blow it even more phenomenally.

It’s like I’m on this downward plunge toward blowits-ville. The plane is hurtling toward the earth, and I keep thinking, “Pull up! Pull up!” and my knuckles are white on the controls and yet I don’t see any change in trajectory. At first this trend was mildly amusing. I thought it was a phase. The pendulum always swings back the other direction, doesn’t it? But the earth is getting so close that I can barely see the sky anymore, and it’s scaring the shit out of me.

Today I looked heavenward and said, “Tell me what to do and I’ll do it. Just tell me. Because I have run out of ideas.” Unfortunately, there have been no voices from a burning bush, no bolts from the blue, no Publisher’s Clearinghouse van full of balloons and a big fat check.

Putting my best foot forward only seems to keep me off balance. I think I need ice cream. Yeah, that’s it.

best foot

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