Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

James Blish: "Dianetics: A Door to the Future"

05 December 2014

[![background image © 2013 Satori / DarioStudios](/images/2014/12/blish-on-dianetics-header.jpg)](/images/2014/12/blish-on-dianetics-header.jpg)background image © 2013 Satori / DarioStudios

Long-time Scientology critic Rod Keller posted a link to an eBay auction that included a reading copy of a science fiction magazine (Planet Stories, November 1950) in which James Blish published a piece on Dianetics.
I’d already known that James Blish had been a Fortean, so I was expecting that Blish’s piece would be pro-Dianetics. However, the linked article led me to expect that Blish’s piece would be more intellectual than it actually is. > There are lots of reasons various people were drawn to the works of Charles Fort, as has been shown through these biographies, and some of them can be grouped into families: those who search for something simultaneously material and transcendent, beyond science; those who have trouble with authorities; those who wish to put forth an alternative science. One type not yet explored—but well represented among the Forteans—is the person who wants to be the smartest in the room. Tiffany Thayer himself fits into this mold in many ways. And so does James Blish.

Curious creature that I am, I ordered the mag, which arrived today.
Here’s the TOC, and here’s the article. (PNG 600 DPI greyscale scans, 14-16MB files)
Note: except for removing hyphenation and adding Wikipedia links, I’ve not edited the text in any way. If you notice any transcription errors, even a comma, please comment below or email me. I believe this is now in the public domain, but if you have a valid DMCA takedown request, use the email link at the bottom of every deirdre.net page.

Article Text

An increased life-span, freedom from 70% of all human illnesses and a major increase in intelligence—these are only a few of the benefits promised us by a new science called “dianetics.”
“Dianetics” is both the name of a recent book about how the human mind operates, and the general term used to cover specific methods of repairing, healing and perfecting the human mind.
Just how does the human mind work? Up to a few years ago nobody really knew.
Why does the human mind fail to work efficiently at times, or all the time? Another mystery.
If the claims made for the new science of dianetics are borne out, both those mysteries are now solved. Some of these claims are so flabbergasting as to stagger even the hardened science-fiction fan. For instance:
Dianetics claims to have cured many types of heart ailment, arthritis, the common cold, stomach ulcers, sinus trouble, asthma, and many other diseases, amounting to about 70% of the whole catalogue of human ills.
Dianetics also claims to have cured virtually every known form of mental disease. These cures have encompassed the severest form of insanity, workers in dianetics declare flatly.
Furthermore—and in this claim (among others) lies dianetics’ bid to be called a science—dianetics claims to be able to cure all these aberrations and diseases every time, without fail. At the time this is being written, some months before you will read it, dianetics has been tried on a minimum of 300 people, and, its originators say, has worked 100% without failure in all these cases.
Nor is this all, fantastic though what I’ve already written may seem to be. Use of Dianetic therapy on so-called “normal” people seems to produce changes in them which can only be described as dynamite.
“Normal” people treated by dianetic therapy, it’s said, undergo a rise in intelligence, efficiency, and well-being averaging a third above their previous capacity! In one case, a woman, the IQ—intelligence quotient—rose 50 points before the full course of therapy was run!
Such “clears,” as they are called, are said to be immune to any and all forms of mental disease, and to any and all forms of organic diseases caused by mental or emotional difficulties.
It might be a good idea to stop here and ask the names of the people who are making these incredible claims. They are none of them professional quacks, faith-healers, bread-pill rollers, or other forms of swindlers. They are all men with solid reputations, and all, as it happens, quite familiar to the science-fiction reader.
The leader of the new school of thought is L. Ron Hubbard, author of “Fear,” “Final Blackout,” and many other science fiction classics. By trade, Hubbard is an engineer.
Hubbard’s two principal confrères are John W. Campbell, Jr., and Dr. Joseph E. Winter. Mr. Campbell, of course, is widely known even to the general public as a government consultant in nuclear physics, the author of “The Atomic Story,” and to us as the editor of a top-notch science-fiction magazine. Dr. Winter, who by the way is an M.D., not a Ph.D., has published some science-fiction stories; but until dianetics came along, he was best known as an expert endocrinologist of unimpeachable reputation.
Hubbard’s book,* however, does not include any formal evidence for the claims. The Dianetics Institute in Elizabeth, N. J., is equally unwilling to offer authenticated case records or any other evidence of that specific kind. The book, dianetics men point out, offers the therapy procedures in complete detail. If you want case histories, perform your own experiments.
As it happens, one of the more spectacular cures claimed by dianetics took place in the New York area, and could be checked from outside sources. Jerome Bixby, editor of Planet Stories, checked it. The claim was so; hospital authorities who have no connection with dianetics as a movement vouch for it, cautiously but definitely.
My own personal tests of the therapy—on myself, my wife, and a friend (namely, Jerome Bixby)—haven’t proceeded very far as yet. But as far as they’ve gone, they check with the claims. The phenomena Hubbard describes in the book do appear. They appear in the order in which he says they appear. And they match his descriptions of them to the letter. Such after-effects as we’ve been able to observe also check.
If dianetics does work—and every check I’ve been able to run thus far indicates that it does—it may well be the most important discovery of this or any other century. It will bring the long-sought “rule of reason” to the problems of local and world politics, communication, law, and almost every other field of human endeavor—the goal of a 3000 year search.


*DIANETICS, by L. Ron Hubbard. Hermitage House, New York, 1950: $4.00. Hermitage, by the way, is the publisher of a number of books on psychology and psychoanalysis universally acknowledged to be serious contributions to the field.
(end of article)

The Cold Harsh Reality

In 1946, four years before Blish’s article, Jack Parsons got a restraining order (and, along with it, a temporary injunction) against L. Ron Hubbard and his then-wife Sarah Northrup.

As we pointed out on Wednesday, Hubbard had met Sara in Pasadena at the home of John Whiteside “Jack” Parsons, the Caltech rocket scientist and occultist. The three of them had cooked up a business scheme that involved Hubbard and Sara going to Miami to buy a sailboat with money that was nearly all Jack’s, then sailing it back to California to sell for a profit. But once Hubbard and Sara went to Florida and bought a boat, they didn’t go anywhere, and Jack ended up suing them. The lawsuit was settled, Hubbard and Sara sold the sailboat, and then they went to Maryland, where they were married.
By 1951, the marriage had turned into a nightmare, and after they split, Hubbard did his best to erase from the record that Sara had ever been a part of his life.

So, ironically, had he but known Hubbard’s history, Blish wouldn’t have made a claim like “They are none of them professional quacks, faith-healers, bread-pill rollers, or other forms of swindlers.” Because, as it turns out, Hubbard was exactly that.
Also, in 1946, Hubbard was still legally married to his first wife, Polly.
In 1948, Hubbard was arrested and fined for petty theft.
In 1951, Dr. Joseph Augustus Winter left dianetics, publishing a book called A Doctor’s Report on Dianetics, critiquing that, among other things, Hubbard never wanted to have any minimum standard for testing subjects. Further, some techniques harmed some patients. Winter’s departure even made Time magazine.

About That Clear Thing

In 1979, I became Clear # 20,182. I later attested to Clear again (because, since the changeover in the late 70s, most people who’ve attested Clear in Scientology have had to do it more than once).
As I sit here writing this, I’m recovering from a cold. I have arthritis in one knee and the other hip. I had sinus trouble all through my Scientology years, but being on a CPAP at night does far more for that than Dianetics or Scientology ever could. I now have asthma, which I suspect is related to years and years of second-hand smoke, including working with smokers in Scientology.
Further, David Miscavige is widely rumored to have asthma. Anyone who’s known a lot of Clears has known some who’ve died of the various ailments Blish listed.
The claims of what Dianetics and Scientology cure are all bullshit.

James Randi’s Million-Dollar Challenge

Quoted from here:

The James Randi Educational Foundation will pay US$1,000,000 (One Million US Dollars) (“The Prize”) to any person who demonstrates any psychic, supernatural, or paranormal ability under satisfactory observation. Such demonstration must take place under the rules and limitations described in this document. An applicant can be from or in any part of the world. Gender, race, and educational background are not factors for acceptance. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and legally able to enter into binding agreements.

Look, Scientology tends to leave its adherents cash strapped. I’ve seen it over and over again, and it’s a huge part of why I left. If the various claims in Dianetics and Scientology about paranormal abilities were indeed true (e.g., “exterior with full perception”), some one of those tens of thousands of Clears would have collected a million bucks from JREF.
And they haven’t.
Could be worse. You could be a desperately sad L. Ron Hubbard in your last days asking one of your assistants to build you an assisted suicide machine so you could die.
But this Blish article? A puff piece where he says he’s audited his friend, who, oh yeah, also happens to be the editor of the magazine said puff piece is printed in? And said friend checked one of the more “spectacular cures” (which, you note is never specifically identified)?
That’s horseshit.
Blish should have been ashamed of himself.
At best, the techniques used in Dianetics and Scientology are talk therapy.
Most of the time, they’re not even that good.

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The Twitter SJW Auto-Block List

03 December 2014

Traitor-to-the-Mens-T-shirt-dark
Update (Mar 19 2015): Access to this repository has been disabled by GitHub staff. Thus, I’ve deleted the dead link in the next paragraph.
I was given a link yesterday that included over 120,000 Twitter names of SJWs (Social Justice Warriors) to auto-block.

Takes a list of the supposed ringleaders of SJW, looks at their follower lists. Generates a list of sheeple following more than one account, as well as a list of your followers that might be questionable.

So. Guess who’s on the list?
Though, honestly, I fail to see the point of GGers blocking people like @mistressmatise, who’s a dominatrix.

I’m on the Social Justice Warrior block list, which I find amusing, given I’m often also called a threat to society. https://t.co/MjiqwWyQCk

— mistressmatisse (@mistressmatisse) December 3, 2014

And also: I do not play games, I have never written about games, and I don’t identify as feminist. So, whatever with that.

— mistressmatisse (@mistressmatisse) December 3, 2014

The maker of that list seems to have missed a fair number of the most strident anti-sexworkers, which seems like a lapse on their part.

— mistressmatisse (@mistressmatisse) December 3, 2014

Good point. I read her tweets (though I don’t follow her) because she’s an interesting person to read about sex workers. I consider myself a pro-sex feminist including sex workers’ rights.
Why am I on this list? I follow a lot of people who are writers of science fiction and fantasy and readers of same. I tend to follow people who engage with me (as I don’t auto-follow), and I don’t necessarily follow them because I agree with them on SJW issues.
I don’t believe I’ve taken a public stand on GamerGate; I think there is some nuance there, and it broke when I was absolutely miserable with my hip injury. And, frankly, stoned to the gills on medication to control the pain. I’ve never done the level of reading on the whole issue where I’d feel comfortable planting a flag and taking a stand.
What I have taken a stand on, though, is when Brianna Wu was threatened, I considered that horrific. However, and this is just my take, she said it was GamerGate behind that right when it was happening, and I don’t know that that is borne out by the facts, or that she had that information at the time of the accusation.
On a professional level, I admire some of the things she’s done, though I am no longer a gamer of anything but games that can be completed in under 15 minutes.
I don’t follow Brianna, and I don’t even like her. In fact, she rubbed me the wrong way so hard out of the gate I unfollowed Frank Wu, and I’d been an early fan of his. Sure, I follow people who follow her (and vice-versa, I’m sure). But I don’t support death threats. Full stop.

Second Time I’ve Been Added to a Block List (That I Know Of)

In the 90s, Scientology secretly installed censorware on its members computers under the guise of installing web site creation tools for pro-Scientology websites. My first name was one of the proscribed words. I’m one of the very few who was added by first name alone (that wasn’t a handle).
You can draw your own conclusions, I suppose.

Traitor to the Mens

I suppose one of the reasons I’m on the list is the Traitor to the Mens T-shirt (and prints) I designed earlier this year for John Scalzi.
The overwhelming majority of the extremely modest amount of money I’ve earned this year has been from royalties for this t-shirt and related products.
Thanks, John.

Update: Wow, Ashe Dryden

Ashe Dryden comments not only about the block list, but also about its creator.

4 months ago I filed a police report against a man who had been stalking me for months and had threatened to rape and murder me. This man lives in the same small city that I reside in. The stalker erroneously received the police report I filed against him and chose to further harm me by posting it online – in doing so, sharing my home address and phone number.
Recently this person has gained attention, again, for having created a github project blocking “SJW’s” on twitter. Myself, along with a handful of other women this man has stalked and harassed were who he seeded the list with.

The post is worth reading just to really bring home what being a target of harassment is really like. I’m so sorry, Ashe.

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Out:think's Upcoming Free Course: Hacking Amazon

02 December 2014

10386837_10152940943884665_5156859456087816102_n
Tim Grahl of Out:think has a new free course coming up called Hacking Amazon. (Above graphic is from Tim.)

A few weeks ago, I published an article about how to launch your book with 25+ Amazon customer reviews. This article really exploded, and it got me thinking . . .
I know a lot of little hacks and tricks that make Amazon work better for authors. So I’ve decided to put them all together into a course titled “Hacking Amazon.”
I’m putting the final touches on it over the next couple days. It launches on Thursday at no charge so watch your in-box!

Here’s that blog post Tim referred to.
He’s also got a free book and author marketing course, and you can sign up for that on his Out:think site.

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Ellora's Cave: Some Google Trends

01 December 2014

EC_self-publishing_indie-publishing

It is interesting to compare EC with self publishing search trends (Google trends) #notchilled

— Wylie (@oldCalicoJack) November 30, 2014

So I decided to pull up the map, then got on searching a few combinations of other interesting things.
There are a few things we can glean from this chart.

  1. Google searches for “Ellora’s Cave” peaked in 2006. Note that I don’t disambiguate between the publisher and the caves in India, so this is combined.
  2. Interest in self-publishing has been in a slight decline over the last few years, but EC’s Google trends are in a far more marked decline.
  3. Indie publishing as a search term is now also about as common as Ellora’s Cave.

ec_vs_da_trends
Even though search trends for DA start two years later, DA’s been consistently more popular since 2012. Which is interesting.
EC_erotic-romance
Erotic romance had a dip, and during that dip, it was occasionally a less popular search term than Ellora’s Cave. However, it’s stratospherically more important a search term than Ellora’s Cave is now.
erotic-romance-map
Erotic romance is a popular search term in the Philippines.
It does surprise me that the second most popular country for this search term is Pakistan. Anyone have any theories on that?
elloras-cave-map
Meanwhile, Ellora’s Cave is only of trending-quantity interest in the US and the UK. Not Canada, Philippines, Australia, Pakistan, Malaysia, or India (the other popular countries for the search term “erotic romance”).
self-publishing-map
Self-explanatory popularity map for self-publishing as a search term.
EC_Jaid_and_LaurannDohner
So I looked into several EC authors and this chart including Laurann Doehner is particularly interesting. She’s far more famous than her publisher. (This does tend to happen when an author becomes particularly popular.)
EC_vs_JaidBlack
Taking Laurann out of the equation, EC and Jaid Black have tended to trend similarly over the last three years.

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My Favorite Indie Type Foundries

28 November 2014

IndieFoundriesI know you know I love type. And fonts.
Here are my favorite indie type foundries in alphabetical order. I seem to have a thing for Latin American foundries.

Albatross

Jay Hilgert’s an Oklahoma designer with some cool fonts like Altus and Boom! Featured up top is Oil Change.

Artimasa

Artimasa’s one of several Indonesian type foundries. Up above is Hipsteria, but I also love Zakia, Casually, and Prada.

Borges Lettering

If you’re going to start doing historical romance covers and want a great cover font, investing $99 (currently on sale for $89) in Borges Lettering’s Desire will go a long way. Sadly, I’ve not personally been able to justify it yet, but I do paw at the monitor every now and again while the page is open.

Cruzine

Peter, a designer from Bratislava, Slovakia does some great design, but he’s also done some great fonts. Up top is Brooklyn coffee. My personal favorite is Rocknroll, and when I look at Memento, I always think it’s an Indonesian design.

Dai Foldes

Dai’s font, Eubie Script, is fun and bouncy, and you really need to see the demo site for it. It has an amazing try me box (better than any other I’ve seen). Nicely done, and I’ve just picked it up. (Naturally, after I finished the header graphic.)

Dexsar Harry Fonts aka Majestype

One of the interesting Indonesian font designers, of whom there are several. Dexsar Harry has several lovely designs. Featured up top is Roverd. I haven’t yet picked up Bandung, but I’m looking forward to getting it soon.

Fenotype

Emil Bertell from Finland produces some lovely swashy faces like Alek (shown in the sample above).

Kimmy Design

Kimmy Design is based out of Santa Monica, California, about ten miles from where I’m typing this. (Away for the holiday weekend.) I have most of her fonts and some of her non-font graphics. I reuse this watercolor template frequently. Up top is Lunchbox Slab

Latinotype

Latinotype’s based in Chile and has lots of great fonts. Shown in the header image is Macarons. Up at the top of the page, my name’s in Courtney, and blog post headlines are in Four Seasons Pro. (So yeah, this entire site uses South American fonts.) I also use Showcase on desamo.graphics

Laura Worthington

I’m so pleased I got to meet Laura at Typecon. Awesome experience. I was tongue-tied and everything. I couldn’t remember the name of a single font when I was trying to tell her how many of hers I had.
One of the cool things about her fonts is that she has font families that are coordinating but dissimilar fonts, all designed to go together. Adorn, in particular, is a brilliant collection. Shown up top is Voltage, one of her newest.

Nicky Laatz

Nicky’s a designer from Cape Town, South Africa, who does awesome hand-drawn things including hand-drawn type. Here’s her shop. Shown in the pic above is Vanilla Frosting.

PintassilgoPrints

PintassilgoPrints is an amazing foundry from Brazil. If I had to describe their type collection, it’s of the type of fonts you’d expect to see on small label mid-century jazz covers. Some of their stuff draws from earlier (30s) and some later, but always with a fresh new twist.
The font I used above is called Brush Up, though I keep wanting to call it Olio because of one of the promo photos.
As a bonus, the bird is from a different font, Card-o-Mat Buddy Birds.

RodrigoTypo

Rodrigo Typo is from Chile and specializes in unusual and fun typefaes, especially display faces suitable for children’s work. Another aspect that may come in useful is that they always include Greek and Cyrillic letters, which is quite unusual for most indie foundries. Shown up top is Pequena.

Thinkdust

Thinkdust is based out of the UK and has made some pretty popular modern fonts. Shown is Nanami HM.

Tipotype

Tipotype’s the first type foundry in Montevideo, Uruguay. It produces, among other things, Quiroga, the typeface I use for the body face on this site. (Meaning: this paragraph is set in Quiroga as you read this if you didn’t override styles.)

Yellow Design Studio

Ryan Martinson’s Yellow Design Studio is the only foundry where I own all the fonts. I love them all. Shown is Veneer, one of my favorites.

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Happy Thanksgiving

26 November 2014

happy-thanksgiving
I’m thankful to people preserving traditional knowledge, especially languages, as they encompass different ways of thinking. Here’s an article about young Native American women working to preserve their culture. (Hat tip to Juliette Wade.)
I’m also thankful for libraries. This tale of the Ferguson library gives me some hope for humanity. They’ve also published a third wish list if you wish to contribute more specifically.
There are many other things I’m thankful for, but those two seem particularly important today.
This post by Chuck Wendig about -ists is an excellent read. I’ve been meaning to write a response to Faruk Ateş’s post What Being Cis Means to Me because I can go to a different place. Maybe if I say this in a blog post, I’ll actually write it.

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Make Your Own Story

24 November 2014

When-People-Undermine_700
(Product link on Redbubble.)
I wrote this piece in July after a particularly frustrating week.
One of those pieces of writing advice came back up (like vomit) again this week, and I’ve been in more discussions than I’d ever hope to be about it. I’ve reduced it to two things that really annoy me.

Failing to Respect Other People’s Writing Processes

I wish I had an easy process. I’ve tried. It’s not some moral failure on my part that I can’t outline then write a book. It’s that the energy of the book fizzles when I do it that way, and then I can’t actually write anything interesting.
Your process is your process. You can fuss with it a bit, but not that much. I still think Karen Joy Fowler is absolutely correct.

Dumping One’s Frustration with the Business of Writing on Others

All that advice about what’s “easier” or “harder” to sell onto people? (Anything can sell if it’s done well enough. Sometimes even if it’s not.)
Telling people that won’t sell? (Is that useful in this day and age?)
Telling someone their story is fatally flawed? (All story structures have flaws.)
Anyone who’s been around the block more than a few times will have had some hard knocks along the way. They hurt, and they shape the directions we turn, because we turn to avoid the pain. Sometimes, like I did for years, we just stand frozen in place, paralyzed.

The Responsibility of Teachers

It’s the responsibility of teachers not to stomp all over fragile creative processes or invalidate them.
It’s also the responsibility of teachers to not dump so much of one’s own pain about creative endeavors that one quashes a fledgling voice.

And Now for a Word from Lady Gaga

Song starts 2:30 in.

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My Day in Federal Court

21 November 2014

federal-court-header
After my first husband died, my credit files got mixed. That and my identity was stolen. On top of that, there is about a year during that time where I was lucky to remember my name. Some balls were legitimately dropped, and I was also taken advantage of.
I got involved in a web forum that no longer exists, and several people there had sued to get their credit files sorted out. In federal court. Pro se.
For many plaintiffs, pro se equals whackjob, but these were people who knew and respected not only the letter of the law, but the voluminous case law. Add to that the fact that Fair Credit Reporting Act cases and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act cases are typically for teeny amounts of money (FDCPA cases max at $1,000 plus actual damages, costs, and attorney’s fees), and you’ll see that except for the most egregious cases, it’s hard to find a lawyer to take them. There are just so many possible cases, and most litigants aren’t willing to go to all that effort for so little reward.
Plus, courts occasionally gave grudging approval to pro se parties in such cases, like this footnote in Oppong v. First Union:

Though not formally schooled in the law, Oppong has proven to be a resilient and sophisticated litigator who for years has battled the defendants to a draw in both the federal and state courts.

I wound up reading not only the entirety of the laws multiple times, I read all the case law. Thousands and thousands of pages of minutiae.

The First Federal Lawsuit

The first federal lawsuit I filed (C 04 5223 MEJ in California’s Northern District) was against Portfolio Recovery Associates and Capital One Bank. Essentially, a credit card in my name (which Portfolio and I discussed after the case was settled—it genuinely was not my account) had been sold to Portfolio with an alleged $1671 owing.
The offer letter was for a credit card issued by Capital One. (front) (back)
Apart from the fact it wasn’t my account, there were three things I was torqued about:

  1. The FDCPA generally doesn’t permit disclosing information to third parties about debts except in extremely narrow circumstances, e.g., credit reporting. The letter made it sound like illegal disclosure had occurred. There was no legally permissible reason for Capital One to have had the capacity to send the letter, and yet Capital One had.
  2. All communication from a debt collector must be accurate and non-deceptive. And this wasn’t. Two paragraphs from my complaint:

    When Plaintiff read the body of LETTER, however, she realized that the terms offered were not as the boldface item indicated. The terms state: “Your account will have an initial credit limit of $1 that will increase to $50 after you make your first payment to Capital One. Plus, for every $100 of charged-off debt you repay to Capital One, you’ll receive a $25 credit limit increase up to a maximum credit limit of $800.”
    Plaintiff asserts that this language is deceptive. The $800 credit limit is approximately 1/2 the amount of the alleged debt (rounded down to the nearest $100). The terms of the credit limit increases, however, are approximately 1/4 ($25 per $100 paid) of the amount of the alleged debt. Exhibit B shows Plaintiff’s calculations, showing a maximum possible credit limit of $425, far short of the $800 with which LETTER attempted to entice Plaintiff.

  3. I wasn’t even sure which of the two companies had sent the letter, because the front and the back gave different answers.

So I sued and it was settled pretty quickly. (Capital One took about a week, iirc.)

And Then There Was Merrick

Chuffed by early success, I decided to take on a bank where I’d owed the money (and paid it), but then got a deceptive letter after the fact. Specifically, I received two separate letters on two separate days thanking me for my payment in full on that date. They couldn’t both be true.
I’d had adverse action taken because they updated my credit report and I was feeling pissy about it, but this is the one bank that wouldn’t settle before more litigation steps were taken.
I’d never actually written a motion. I’d had a civil procedure class in paralegal coursework, but that was really more basic stuff. Motions were in the next class.
And yet, now I had to actually do it.
I kept telling myself, “You have a master’s degree in creative writing. You can do this.” Sure, it’s a different kind of narrative, more like an essay in an English class than like a novel, but a motion has a narrative structure, too.

The Weakness in My Case

The FDCPA only applies to third-party debt collectors, though there is a California state law that copies many of the provisions of the FDCPA and holds original creditors to those, too. So, worst case, I had a prima facie state case claim, and I had two letters, at least one of which was deceptive on its surface.
Except I’d filed in federal, so it was important that I prove that the FDCPA applied to this case. I was missing a piece of paperwork in my initial filing, which I eventually found. (That’s underlies the Order to Show Cause part of the ruling that’s in the header image.)
There’s another factor, though: the judge ruled one thing in error, and I wound up calling FDCPA attorneys in my district to see if they’d take an appeal. It was terrifying enough to write a motion for a federal judge to rule on, but the 9th Circuit? That was an order of magnitude scarier.
If you ever need a consumer law attorney, NACA is the organization for them. I’d found one, spoke to an attorney over the phone. He looked up my case and called me back.
“Your cites are better than 95% of the ones I see and you understand the case law,” he said. “You’ve got this.” He agreed with me that I had the law right and the judge had missed one point, and we talked about that.
I had no idea what I was doing as far as the mechanics of civil procedure went, but apparently I’d figured out how to write a motion. Go, me.
I filed a motion for reconsideration after my day in court.

My Day in Court

In May, 2007, I had my initial case management conference in the courtroom opposite Merrick’s hired litigator. I arrived early, and there were trial lawyers gathered outside the courtroom, each in suits more valuable than the entire amount of money I’d spent on every piece of clothing I owned. Most were involved in a huge medical class action case.
One of the attorneys, a woman, came over, curious about who I was. I’d told her, and she seemed genuinely excited for me despite me having this little case. It felt like being a minnow in a pod of friendly whales.
Many of them were gawking at the class action next door for Celebrex.
My courtroom had five cases for a case managdment conference. One of the lawyers for another case didn’t show up, so the judge put him on speakerphone. I felt SO mortified on his behalf (worse, he sounded like he’d been woken up by the call).
EDWARD BORACCHIA et al vs BIOMET, INC.
AIWA TROUTMAN vs UNUM LIFE INSURANCE CO et al
TOM SPEAR vs INTL UNION OF BRICKLAYERS et al
BARE ESCENTUALS BEAUTY, INC. vs L’OREAL USA, INC.
WILLIAM R. KLEMME M.D. vs NORTHWEST AIRLINES, INC
Doesn’t sound like a job that would ever get boring, really. Lots of interesting variety.
Anyhow, the judge was funny. She told lawyers who came before me, “You might want to invest in a rubber stamp that says CHAMBERS for your file copy. Marking the chambers copy is a part of local rules.”
When my case was called, I was afraid that I’d fall over in front of the judge. I was relieved that I managed to walk up to the podium without falling. When I had to speak, I had to grip onto the podium firmly lest I crumple at the knees.
I was terrified. I don’t think I’ve ever been that frightened.
The judge asked if I were computer-savvy. I allowed that I was. She suggested that I do electronic filing if defendant’s counsel agreed.
I wasn’t even chided for not having a rubber stamp. 🙂
Anyhow, the schedule issues came up, and she asked if we could really have our alternate dispute resolution that soon, and I realized I had to tell her that I was filing a motion for reconsideration.
That’s when I had the image of a pile of slippery pebbles, and a small panic attack. I was seriously afraid for a moment that I was going to fall over onto the floor, and wouldn’t that be fun. I held onto the lectern a little harder and made it through.
Merrick’s lawyer said he didn’t see the point of discovery, because the defense had submitted everything they had. The judge said, “Ms. Moen saw that something had been reported by a third party, and the inference was that the information was provided by Merrick. The plaintiff has the right to know what your client said about her to third parties, and I’m not going to deny her that.” (this was related to the way they credit reported after I paid them.)
I will tell you, there is something completely awe-inspiring about someone with that much power saying that little old you are actually important in some way.
She so rocked! (Aside from the part about the wrong ruling on one point, anyway.)
As we left the courtroom, the attorney I’d spoken to before the courtroom open gave me a fistbump, and I smiled. After exiting, opposing counsel asked, “Do you want to get rid of this?” Then he flew back to SoCal. (There’s also something awe inspiring about the other side flying someone in as opposing counsel.)

The Resolution

Given that a) the bank wanted to settle, and b) I was about to go on a long trip (Rick and I went to Greece, Egypt, and Turkey not long after the hearing), and c) I wanted to settle after I came back, we wound up settling. I never did find out what the 9th Circuit would have said or what the resolution of my reconsideration motion was.
Oh well.
The whole process was worth it for that one moment.
Oh, and Portfolio and Capital One changed the format of similar kinds of letters they sent in the future, apparently complying with the law. So, that’s a good thing I did.
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Ellora's Cave Author Exodus Reminder

13 November 2014

[![Greek Sphinx, Delphi](/images/2014/09/greek-sphinx-695x700.jpg)](/images/2014/09/greek-sphinx.jpg)Greek Sphinx, Delphi

It’s been almost six weeks since I first posted it, but the Ellora’s Cave Author Exodus Support Thread now includes 29 authors, several editors, and a cover artist.
Each of them have spoken out in some context about Ellora’s Cave.
If you’re looking for books to get you through the holidays (or to get other people for the holidays), they could use your support.

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