Letters, We Get Mail, LXXVIII

January 24, 2007:

Well, it's time for another autobiographical blog entry. Lots of people have been wondering if something happened to me, and whether I was okay, because I had not posted any email in quite a while. I got quite a number of letters when the web site went down. Thank you for all of the concern, and I am happy to say that I am just fine.

Everything has been happening at once. First off, I got a Veteran's pension, which made major changes in my life, and I had to move out of my old housing to better quarters. Which required actually finding those better quarters, which was a big time-consuming search because good high-quality low-cost housing is very hard to find, and then applying and getting approved — a huge paperwork hassle — and then moving — moving everything I own, a major ordeal.

What a huge back-breaking project. But I am in my new place, which is 4 times the size of my old place, and very upscale. That is, the old place was SRO drug and alcohol rehab housing, and the new place is for normal people. The new place even has amenities like a dishwasher and a giant-screen TV in the common room, and exercise machines in the laundry room to keep you amused while you do laundry. And it is all new and clean and pretty. It's another world.

I found it funny when a friend whom I ran into on the street and who went shopping with me at the Safeway was concerned about whether I would make it home alone while carrying about 40 pounds of groceries. While moving, I would load a backpack with 30 to 50 pounds of stuff, and then load two shoulder bags with the same, and then carry something more in my arms, and stagger up the street with a load of 100 to 150 pounds. And I did that more times than I can count. It was only an 8-block move, so I could do it, but my back and everything else still ache, even though it's almost a month after Christmas. (I was moving Christmas day too.) I was making jokes about not needing to pay gymn fees; just move if you want a real workout. Of course I finally hired a guy with a pickup truck to do the worst of it, the books and computers, but I might have moved a ton on my back. Literally.

On the bright side, I have been thoroughly tested and certified to be immune to heart attacks and strokes for at least a few more years. If I wasn't in great shape it would have killed me.

And then of course, I had to dismantle and disconnect all of the computers, and reassemble them at the new place, and then get a new DSL line to get reconnected to the Internet... And then there was shopping for things to set up my new place. (Fun.)

In the middle of that, my web site went down and I discovered that the guy who had been letting me piggy-back on his facilities had not paid his ISP in a while so the ISP got mad and turned off all of his web sites, including mine, without any warning to me. It's Murphy's Law: it always happens at the least convenient time.

So anyway, on the bright side, I'm in beautiful new quarters, in a clean, new, shiny high-rise, almost moved in, almost have things sorted out and arranged, am doing a little interior decorating, my web site is back up, and I am very soon going to move my web site to another ISP who won't do that to me — courtesy of another benefactor who just bought me a year of high-bandwidth-usage hosting, located with a sympathetic ISP.

Oh and I just turned 60 years old, and also had my 6th anniversary off of drugs and alcohol back in late October, including 6 years off of cigarettes. Happy day.

And now I am once again three months behind in answering email, and on top of that I need to start working on a book that I promised to write for See Sharp Press. Yes, I'm finally going to convert a bunch of the web site to book form. So I have plenty to do.

Have a good day.

== Orange

P.S.: I shall pretty much answer the backlogged email in the order in which it was received, except for a few letters that really stand out or require an immediate answer, or that I already answered for some reason. So the following letters will begin with October 2006 dates, but were answered in late January 2007 or later.

Date: Sat, December 30, 2006 11:48 pm
Subject: the Q group
From: Anonymous

Please make my email address anonymous, as these people are ruthless. I could receive serious repercussions if my name or email gets out to these people. I appreciate this site, and all the time and energy you have put into it. I admit I have not read all of it, it is so vast.

If you witnessed the things I saw in my year active in this group that calls itself AA you would be disgusted. The cult leader is "Mike Q" who is the dictator and nothing happens without his say so. It is the biggest young peoples group in the USA boasting over 300 members and operates in the DC metro area. The rest of the group is organized hierarchically by sober time and sponsorship by Q. These before mentioned have power of mating rights if you will, and they have all their female friends who sponsor young girls arrange everything. Many of the girls are underage. Young women have been raped by much older men. My old sponsor had sex with a 14 year old girl and he is in his 30's. He acted like it was no big deal. I mentioned to him that such things are wrong. He said "who says so", and I replied that the federal government and the state government said so. He then dropped the issue and started focusing on what "I" was "not doing for my own recovery", and to "focus on yourself and not on others"

Since this group is so vast that it is very attractive to those young people on the outside who cannot see past the veneer. Most of which could not be considered alcoholic by any standards. Most of them are 15 year old kids who got caught drinking. Parents have no idea what they are sending their kids to, especially the females. This is another example of AA by "force".

I left them about a year ago.

When I first joined they all seemed so nice. After awhile I started to see the signals of the mind-fuck that was going on. As it turns out the leader of the cult was stealing money from the group in the thousands to go on his own personal vacation with his underage flavor of the week. There was indisputable evidence to confirm this, yet still the "higher-ups" claimed this was okay because he was the leader and he saved so many lives. It wasn't till my sponsor essentially gave me the option to swear loyalty to this disgusting prick or leave. I chose the latter and am very glad for it.

Its just scary in hindsight how powerful groupthink and indoctrination can be. I did it all to be accepted, and am glad I left.

I am 2 1/2 years sober. How have you stayed sober for 5 years? Has it just been willpower or has there been something else? I have stayed sober but I still desire to drink. Do you have any opinion on this email or suggestions for me?

Thanks so much for this site

—capitalist pig

Hello Cap,

Thank you for a powerful and disturbing letter. First off, call the police. No joke. For real. Get over to the police station fast, and tell them everything that you know. You are right when you say that sexual exploitation of 14-year-old girls is against the laws of the state and the country. It's also against what I would call common morality, or common decency. It is also decidedly unChristian and unSpiritual.

So get to a police station, and talk to a detective in the equivalent of the "special victim's unit". (As in Law and Order, Special Victim's Unit.)

No joke. For real. It's your civic responsibility. Protect future girls from that racket. Think of the girls who will get hurt in the future if you don't say anything. Somebody has to stop that. Silence only helps the criminals.

Now, on to happier things.

Yes, now I've stayed sober for 6 years. And also stayed off of cigarettes for 6 years too. And also abstained from all other drugs, except for the pills that the doctor gives me. (No big deal there, nothing exciting.)

You might say that I did it by will power, but I personally think of it more in terms of logic. Of course I am tempted, and of course I get things like "ecstatic recall" and occasional cravings. I just don't give in to the temptation.

Just a few days ago I had the strangest experience where I could taste a cigarette. It was so real, and it tasted just like when I first started smoking. You know, later cigarettes just taste like garbage, you are just feeding the nicotine addiction, but in the beginning, when I still had taste buds, cigarettes tasted a sort of nutty brown flavor, pretty good. And in this funny ecstatic recall I could even feel the tickle and irritation in my windpipe from the smoke. That happened two times in the space of an hour, for about a minute each time. And of course I thought about smoking a cigarette.

But what stops me from giving in to the temptation is the knowledge of how it will end.

One of the best slogans that I heard in a SMART meeting was, "Play the tape to the end." That is, look at the whole thing as a movie, or videotape. You start off with illusions of relaxing with a tasty cigarette, and end with dying of emphysema, pneumonia, and lung cancer. And it hurts like hell. And you end your life wheezing into an oxygen mask and gasping for a breath.

Not a fun movie. I think I'll play a different tape.

In the same way, I can remember Friday and Saturday nights during the summer when groups of laughing girls would walk down the sidewalk under my window, looking for a nightclub and fun and love. And of course old Lizard Brain would immediately start showing me scenes (in my mind's eye) of going along with them, and drinking and dancing and taking one home and getting laid, and it will all be lots of fun.

But when I play the tape to the end I see readdiction to cigarettes and alcohol and a miserable death. And the girl leaves me because she doesn't want to be part of that scene. Or, actually I never get the girl in the first place because she doesn't get turned on by drunk guys.

So it's really logic that helps me more than anything else. — That and recognition that so many of the tempting thoughts about drinking and using are really just that stupid Lizard Brain wanting to get his feel-goods. So click on that link, and read about old Lizard Brain and the mind games that he will play to get you to indulge.

Have a good life, and a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  A.A. is not a "self-help group", it's an
**  "elf-help group". You are supposed to pray
**  and beg that an invisible "Higher Power"
**  will solve all of your problems for you
**  and grant all of your wishes.
**  It sounds like Casper the Friendly Ghost,
**  The Jolly Green Leprechaun, and Santa's
**  Elves all qualify as a "Higher Power".

P.S.: There is much more about the "Q Group" or "Midtown Group" here and here.

Date: Thu, January 25, 2007 7:50 am
From: "Joanne H."
Subject: You now must report the crimes you now have knowledge of


You are not going to like what I'm about to say, but you must report to the D.C. police what you now know of this horrific violence that is going on with the Mike Q group your writer told you about in the letter you posted on your site yesterday, January 24, 2007.

This writer has direct information that could aide in convicting these heinous crimes who are committing child rape and who knows what else under the appalling and deceptive false guise of 'helping' people.

He sounds too frightened to report and you won't know for certain if indeed he ever does.

This is now your ethical and moral responsibility. I recommend you forward the letter immediately to the Wash. D.C. and Maryland and Virginia Police Departments.

If you want contact information, I will do what I can to help with the same.

Email is not a guarantee of anonymity.

Are you aware of the MM case wherein a guy confessed on line about murder and the members neglected to report it — just "counseled him", as they were somehow above the law — and above any need to respond humanely and ethically by virtue of their site, which they believed sheltered them from any responsibility. There was one single person who finally took it to the police. And the guy was charged with murder. (See Jeffrey Schaler's analysis of this — he was on the board of MM at the time, I believe — and a primary reason he left).

Please don't let us down. You are now privy to information that could save lives and the sanity of many young victims.


Hello Joanne,

You know, I was having some of the same thoughts going through my own head. Why can't I forward the information to those police departments? Can you help? I could use the email addresses and phone numbers, or snail mail addresses of the relevant police departments.

Thank you, and have a good day.

== Orange

Date: Thu, January 25, 2007 2:21 pm
From: "Joanne H."
Subject: Re: You now must report the crimes you now have knowledge of

Here you go.

http://app.dc.gov/apps/about.asp?page=htru&type=dsf& referrer=mpdc.dc.gov&agency_id=1027&mpdcNav=|31417

Did you catch the blog by someone on my space by 'Concerned Friends'?
It's called the Midtown or MG Group. Apparently there already is some sort of investigation going on, but I wouldn't just report the new witness account you have to them — they aren't law enforcement — just a front for AA to keep PR going smoothly.

http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=137850505& blogID=213198867&MyToken=48451510-f5f1-4d7d-a2d5-f3c889648d15

Have a good day — and many congrats on your 6th birthday, your 60th birthday and your lovely new home!


Okay, thank you. It's done.

And that document on MySpace is something else. A real denial act — "They are not really A.A. because they don't follow the traditions..."

But neither does the rest of A.A., does it?

Oh well, have a good day, and thanks for the references.

== Orange

*          [email protected]       *
*      AA and Recovery Cult Debunking     *
*      https://www.orange-papers.info/      *
** "Now I know what it's like to be high on life.
** It isn't as good, but my driving has improved."
** == Nina, on "Just Shoot Me", 13 Jan 2006.

Date: Fri, January 26, 2007 2:49 pm
From: "Joanne H."
Subject: Re: You now must report the crimes you now have knowledge of

*Whew! At least now you've done what you can... Thanks for following through — I'm sure many other would be victims would thank you too...

Yes, this "concerned friends" group is such a misnomer and such a joke-- Concerned, perhaps — about their reputation, their image — not about the real harm the program incurs!

Have a great day and enjoy your new digs with gusto!

**BTW, the without AA group:
* http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/without_aa/
*is doing some great posting in my view.
They don't have all the flaming and knee-jerk, automatic angry discourse about politics that sadly I've encountered with the 12 step free forum — also helpful, but less so in my view. I prefer without AA because they really stay on track with the purpose and help folks with breaking free — I hope you offer this as a referral on your site (?). *

Okay, thanks.

By the way, I found a bunch more stuff on MySpace about the "Q Group" or "Midtown Group". Check out that page again, for the links further down from your letters.

And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** My enemies I can handle, but Lord save me from
** those who would do unto me for my own good.

Date: Thu, January 25, 2007 10:26 pm
From: m
Subject: Mike Q and your new letter


I'm writing because I saw your latest letter that talked about the leader of the Midtown group in DC., Mike Q. I have heard about this group a number of times from different people. I think that they also just won the bid for SERCYPAA, South East Region Conference of Young People in AA. So these perverts will be running a YP conference sometime this year in DC.

I have also heard that this leader is politically connected so that may be a reason why people dont want to go to the police. This is the saddest thing ever, I go up and down the nation and hear about a lot of people complaining about these guys. Also one of their group members was even talking notes at a meeting I was at, writing down what people are saying. It creeped me out, and i left the conference early. It sucked anyway.

I just wanted to fill you in on what I knew about that group, as always thank you for your site. I have been really depressed lately and feeling like going back to meetings but reading that letter reminded me of why I left. It is hard though, I get depressed and lonely.

As soon as you publish i will be buying a bunch of copies. :)

As usual if you need to print anything I wrote, (I dont know why) i prefer to be anonymous.


Hello M,

Thanks for the letter. That's more information.

In the time that you were writing, I was writing to the D.C. police, forwarding what information I had. So I am sure that at least one person has reported the situation to them.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** The finest structure can house the worst evil.

[UPDATE: Most of the following stories about the Midtown Group that were posted to MySpace have been deleted, and the FOM (Fall Of Midtown) account has been cancelled. There are archival copies of many of the postings here.]

I found some more information about the Washington DC "Q Group":

  1. http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm? fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid;=10139602
    About halfways down the page, there is a letter from "THE FALL OF MIDTOWN. AKA: THE Q. GROUP", that says:

    Jan 10 2007 12:39P
    "As a measure of validity here are some key names of the midtown Hierarchy: Mike Q, jack, John, Chris Dugan, Joe Snider, Arno Sewall, Kevin, Mike(pizza),...

    I was a member of Mid town from 1999 to 2004...."

    It's worth reading.
    Information on sexual exploitation and financial mismanagement.
    Also, sponsors tell newcomers to stop taking their doctor-prescribed psychiatric medications.

  2. http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm? fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid;=137850505

  3. http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view &friendID;=137850505&blogID;=221441430
    == A call to send letters to Senators and Congressmen. It also lists police officers who are investigating the group.

  4. http://www.myspace.com/loveandservice
    == Another overview of the problem.

  5. http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view &friendID;=137850505&blogID;=214221299
    == "My 12-step sober friends and I all knew Mike Quinonis and his group of "13-steppers" that were known for focusing on "helping" young females through Mike's pre-designed set of concepts of the 12-step process, which focused primarily on having sex."

  6. http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view &friendID;=137850505&blogID;=211591362
    == "in midtown your sponser is chosen for you. sponsership is a prestige thing in this group, the more sponsees the higher up you are. they also encourage different sex sponsership. anything you share with your sponser becomes group knowledge, its shared and used against you."

  7. http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view &friendID;=137850505&blogID;=210142254
    == "The Q Group is appealing. What do I mean by this, you ask? They do things. Fun things. They have dances, beach houses, ski trips, they bid for conferences, they host conferences, they travel...you name it. This is VERY appealing. You have to admit it!"

  8. http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view &friendID;=137850505&blogID;=208664621
    == The origins of the "Mid-town" group.

  9. http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view &friendID;=137850505&blogID;=205272365
    == Her sponsor sets up an underage girl to get raped by a 60-year-old oldtimer.
    Also, sponsors tell newcomers to stop taking their doctor-prescribed psychiatric medications, and to stop going to therapy.

  10. http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view &friendID;=137850505&blogID;=204885675
    == Financial mismanagement and domination of the local intergroup — the WAIA (Washington Area Intergroup Association).

  11. http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog&FriendID;=137850505 == Another ex-member tells his story.

  12. http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID;=137850505&blogID;=231474462 == Another person's experiences with the "Midtown Group"

  13. http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view &friendID;=137850505&blogID;=238112366 == And yet another bitter experience

  14. And then there is this reply from a member of the Midtown Group:
    http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view &friendID;=137850505&blogID;=233446555

  15. And then more: Newsweek magazine published an article:
    == A 15-year-old girl is told to cut off all communications with people outside of A.A., and stop taking medications for a bipolar disorder, and is encouraged to have sex with MUCH older A.A. men.
    And that's just the start of the article.
    A therapist says: "We're all saying, 'Go to AA, go to AA,' and we may be sending people into this terrible situation and not realizing it."
    Worse of all, the police say that they can't find anything wrong with it.

  16. Still more from the Midtown Group: http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID;=137850505&blogID;=264204266
    == A good historical narrative from one of the earlier old-timers, who saw how Mike Q. took over the Midtown Group.
    Includes stories like how girls are counseled to have sex with the older male members of the group:

    Those that questioned the idea of sleeping or dating within the first year were brought aside and were dealt with quickly. "What do you know that will help you get sober?? All you know is how to drink or drug.." "Get out of yourself and try to focus on someone else for a change." The guilt was heavy, I would see the ladies crying in the corner of the Saturday night Special meeting. To challenge your sponsor or leave the group, man it sucks to be you. Once folks left, it was over, they were out. The word was "Hey Suzi doesn't want our help, remind her of what fellowship is all about." "Tell her to go find it somewhere else." Little Suzi would be gone in minutes.

  17. And more news: Midtown Group banned from another church in Washington DC: See the story here.

  18. And another NBC4 story is described here. The Midtown Group encouraged a policeman's wife to cheat on her husband and to divorce him.

  19. Here is another new story, from NBC4, reprinted by ReligionNewsBlog.Com:
    Woman Describes Teen Life As Member Of Midtown AA
    "I would say overall, it was like a seven-year stomachache that I walked around with," she said.
    Michelle told News4 that sexually transmitted diseases are not all that uncommon in Midtown.
    "It was almost your rite of passage. I would say that it would be uncommon to not have something once you've been there a couple months," said Michelle.

  20. A new web site about the Midtown Groups:

  21. And there are many more new links here.

  22. Also see this list of links to media coverage of the story.

Date: Wed, October 18, 2006 2:07 pm
From: "James G."
Subject: James G does something useful finally!!!


I posted this on a Yahoo group for NA members — I still regard myself an NA member simply because I have a desire to stop using. It does not mean I agree with them at all.

I would like you to take it apart with the analytical mind you have so that I can better serve our argument. Unlike NA and AA, I invite challenge because I believe it can only serve to improve us provided we stay open-minded as defined by normal people and not NA or AA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I hope you are well.

Jimmy (That is what my friends call me)

PS I did pretty well in my law exam today!!!!

You are crossing the line of becoming defamatory/negligent in that post. I was invited to the OldSkool forum — how does what I did derail "the recovery process"? I think what you meant to say, and within legal definitions, is "your recovery process"? You have no right to call it "the recovery process". Do you understand the legal meaning of "duty of care"? If you continue to post untruths and assertions that are not backed up by facts, you are unwittingly claiming to take responsibility of someone's life by acting as an advisor — which within the legal system might be seen as assuming a "duty of care" for that person. Once you do that, you have a responsibility to inform them of all the options available to them, not just one. As any doctor will tell you, he is obliged to tell any patient of alternatives to the treatment he recommends out of a "duty of care", regardless of whether he believes in them or not.

Using the example of doctors, which is quite apt as NA sees this as a disease, NA have a "duty of care" to provide their "members" (which for the sake of this argument can be referred to as either "members" or "clients") with all the facts. "NA works if you work it," cannot be seen as a point of fact in any court as this cannot be proven. It may however, be admitted as evidence, provided there is evidence that can point to AA being successful.

We need to examine now whether NA members can be regarded as "professionals" or not. A professional is bound by expectations that exceed those of an ordinary individual. I would conclude that although NA members see their program as faultless, they cannot be regarded as professionals because they have no recognised credentials to back up their so-called "expertise". In keeping with that, and as set as a precedent by other cases involving lay persons that act as "experts", the court should have no option but to judge the members of NA as normal lay people, and with that, it is not unreasonable to expect such an individual (provided they are over 18) that has taken on a voluntary "duty of care" (or Good Samaritan role, as it is distinguished in many countries) to also allow the "client" to consider alternatives to the method (or methods) they are imposing.

In order for a court to grant that anyone has a "duty of care" over any person or persons, the "client" has to prove proximity. In the case of NA this would be easy to prove on the grounds that the "group" or "sponsor" knows the "client" personally and has regular contact with them. I might also add for possible consideration by the court that NA World Services have a "vicarious liability" for endorsing their program as the only way in which to recover, however this point would be harder to prove as no contract exists between that body and the "member" that promotes this ideology. However this does not weaken our case in terms of the "duty of care" offered by NA members to their "clients" as the proximity of this relationship is tangible enough for the court to assume that a "duty of care" has been assumed by the "member" for the "client".

Finally the court might be inclined to consider the ramifications of any ruling in terms of the public interest. It might be argued that NA membership "helps people" and with that NA should be immune from the same "rules" as other similar organisations, including the police, for example. However as NA keeps no records, they cannot claim any success rate, and taking this fact into account, they have no right to claim that they are of public service, unlike the police, that can, at the very least, claim conviction rates.

Hi Jimmy,

You make a lot of good points. I cannot fault your logic. Like I've been saying, "If alcoholism is really a disease, like A.A. members claim, then A.A. sponsors are guilty of practicing medicine without a license." They are also guilty of doing a piss-poor job of it.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** If alcoholism is really a disease, then A.A. sponsors are
** guilty of practicing medicine without a license. They are
** also guilty of treating a life-threatening illness without
** having any medical education or training.  They have never
** gone to medical school, and never done an internship or
** residency, and yet they presume to be qualified to make
** life-or-death decisions in the patients' treatment. That
** is what you call quackery.

Date: Fri, January 26, 2007 9:58 pm
From: "paul b."
Subject: I'm confused... could you please help?

Hi, I just read your article on "bait and switch" and I am wondering, What is the course of action you suggest for the still sick and suffering alcoholic who has no power of choice , no control whatsoever and is seeking a solution?

Did you know that Mother teresa was asked what the saddest thing she ever saw and replied, "the lonliness of the alcoholic"............

I am currently working with several men who have tried every possible means of recovery and have fialed over and over again. I can testify that 4 out of the current 5 are experiencing an enormous amount of freedom, not just relief, and they are thoroughly applying the principles of the 12 steps of alcoholics anonymous.

The priciples of Alcoholics Anonymous have worked more times for more hopeless alcoholics then any modern theraputic, rehabilitation experience or any medicinal approach.

I hope you please don't think that I am trying to engage in any controversy with you, I would simply like to know if you have offered anything in the way of a solution.

Thank you for indulging me.

Paul B.

Hello Paul,

You are not confused. You are deliberately trying to shove three completely groundless assumptions at me as if they were facts:

  1. Alcoholics are powerless over alcohol.
  2. Alcoholics Anonymous works to make alcoholics quit drinking.
  3. You should not criticize the quackery of Alcoholics Anonymous unless you have a perfect program of your own to offer as an alternative.

None of those statements are true.

  1. Alcoholics are not powerless over alcohol. They have a great deal of control over it, and over their own actions. In order to drink more alcohol, an alcoholic must typically put his clothes and shoes on, grab his wallet, check that there is enough money in the wallet, and if not, then go to the bank ATM machine and get more money, then get to the store one way or another, walk or car or bus, and then buy more, and take it home and drink it. That is not a description of someone who is out of control or powerless. That is someone who is deliberately following a planned course of action.

    Now some alcoholics may be confused or unclear about their own motives. Alcoholics will routinely say that they want to quit drinking, and then they don't. They will stop drinking for a very short period of time and then go back to drinking. They are doing just what they want to do. What they really want to quit is the pain that comes from alcohol, but they do not wish to quit the pleasure of drinking alcohol. As long as alcoholics imagine that they can have the fun half of alcoholism without the painful half, they will be tempted to drink a little more. ("Just for tonight. One will be okay.")

    In addition, old bad habits are often simply very hard to break. It is also very difficult to quit smoking. That doesn't make smokers "powerless over nicotine". And obese people are not powerless over sugar and fatty foods, either.

  2. Alcoholics Anonymous does not make alcoholics quit drinking, no matter how much "freedom" and "relief" you think you see four men getting from "thoroughly" doing the practices of a cult religion. The claim that A.A. has saved millions of lives is the biggest lie of Alcoholics Anonymous. A.A. does not have a success rate. A.A. routinely steals the credit from a few people who quit drinking by their own efforts, while disavowing any responsibility for all of the other people who do not quit drinking.
    (And then they use that "thoroughly" qualifier — "RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail, who has thoroughly followed our path..." — to shift the blame for A.A.'s failure back onto the alcoholics themselves. "Oh, the millions of A.A. failures don't count because they didn't thoroughly follow our program.")

    Speaking of word games, what do "freedom" and "relief" really mean? Have those four men actually quit drinking, or not? For how long?

    Even one of the leaders of Alcoholics Anonymous, Prof. Dr. George E. Vaillant, who is a member of the Board of Trustees of A.A., found that A.A. did not improve on the sobriety rate of alcoholics at all, and even raised the death rate of alcoholics. He spent eight years trying to prove that A.A. works, and he ended up proving that A.A. kills. See the first item on the web page "The 12 Biggest Secrets of A.A.". Also see the description of Dr. Vaillant's test of A.A. effectiveness.

    Why don't you mail me back in a few years, like at the 5 and 11 year points, and tell me how well A.A. really worked for those four men that you are bragging about now?

  3. Lastly, you imply that we should use A.A. practices on alcoholics because nothing else works. That is also not true.
    Try sending the alcoholics to some SMART meetings, where they can logic their way through the problem of imagining that drinking alcohol produces more fun than pain.
    Also teach the alcoholics about Addictive Voice Recognition Therapy — learning to recognize the old lizard brain yammering for his instant feel-goods.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "Not only had we failed to alter the natural history of alcoholism,
**  but our death rate of three percent a year was appalling."
**  == Dr. George E. Vaillant, currently a member of the A.A. Board of
**  Trustees, describing the treatment of alcoholism with Alcoholics
**  Anonymous, in The Natural History of Alcoholism: Causes, Patterns,
**  and Paths to Recovery, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA,
**  1983, pages 283-286.

UPDATE: 2013.01.22: Well, the 5-year point has come and gone — a year ago — and I still haven't seen any report about what long-term "freedom" and "relief" those four guys really got from "thoroughly applying the principles of the 12 steps of alcoholics anonymous." Why not?

Date: Sat, January 27, 2007 9:41 am
From: "YouTube Service"
Subject: someone sent you a video!

I want to share the following video with you:

Video Description

A genius video about how to start a cult.

Personal Message

thought u would like this


Yes, thank you. That is great, just priceless. That's a must-see, so everybody check it out.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** And the cult said, "If you want what we have,
** and are willing to go to any length to get it,
** then, here, drink this koolaid."

Date: Wed, October 18, 2006 7:59 am
From: "J.D." Subject: Thanks!

Dear Agent Orange,

Many thanks for all of your efforts, time, and research.

AA did not work for me because of the cult-like pressures and dictums.

Your website exposes so many of the things that I found to be untenable.

I continue to drink...-<sigh>-....


Hi, J.D.,

Thank you for the letter and the compliments.

Now on to the Big Thing:
About quitting drinking:
May I recommend a bunch of SMART meetings and also studying the Lizard Brain Addiction Monster?

SMART can be helpful for clearing up your thinking about the fun versus the pain and cost of drinking. In my humble opinion, the reason that people continue to drink more alcohol even when it is really harming them is because they imagine that drinking right now will still be more fun than pain, at least for a short while. If you are 100% clear on the belief that it will cause you far more pain, loss and suffering than pleasure, then it is easy to abstain.

And understanding how the Lizard Brain Addiction Monster tries to fool me into indulging has been a giant help — a lifesaver, really. For me, quitting was one thing. But then, two weeks or a month later, the mind games began and that was like World War III, with a little "somebody" always whispering in my ear that "Just one will be okay. We can have a few tonight and it will be okay. Nobody will ever know, and it will be fun. Besides, you need a hit. You are all stressed out." (And I had the same little monster telling me that I could smoke "just one" cigarette every time I quit smoking, too.)

It was a revelation when I realized who was talking and what his game was.

If there isn't a SMART meeting close to you, you can still read Dr. Albert Ellis's book — When AA Doesn't Work for You, Rational Steps to Quitting Alcohol, by Albert Ellis, Ph.D., and Emmett Velten, Ph.D. Dr. Albert Ellis is the founder of SMART, and that book gives a lot of the techniques of SMART recovery.

Oh, and for that matter, check out the rest of the "Top 10" reading list too.

Good luck, and have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** As I see it, every day you do one of two things:
** build health or produce disease in yourself.
**         Adelle Davis

Date: Mon, February 5, 2007 1:44 am
From: "ed m."
Subject: Your site is a gift...

I've written before about how important I think your site is. For everybody. Don't ever stop. Unless you want to.

I have a friend in AA that argues a lot about the AA success rates. She says that the 90 percent of the people whom AA does not work for are not working the program and it's steps. Not really in the program, and the success rate is much higher for those "working it" How can you debate this? I don't pose this question thinking there isn't a way to debate this — I just don't know how. I turn to you.

Thanks, man.


Hi Ed,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments. And that question is a classic. It's really the core of the whole controversy.

A.A. starts off by claiming that it helps alcoholics to quit drinking. That is what they say or imply in their radio and TV advertisements. They are constantly claiming that A.A. has saved millions of lives.

But then, when A.A. actually fails to get more than a tiny percentage of the alcoholics to really quit drinking and stay sober, A.A. pulls a switcheroo and shoves all of the blame onto the alcoholics themselves. A.A. says that the alcoholics didn't work the program right. All of the talk about how A.A. was supposed to have helped the alcoholics is forgotten.

(You can still argue that A.A. failed. It failed to get people to "work the program" right.)

It's just a word game and a propaganda trick. I can do the same thing too:

  • I have a simple fool-proof one-step program that never fails:
    "1. Just quit drinking and never drink alcohol again as long as you live."

  • NEVER have I seen a person fail, who has THOROUGHLY followed my simple program.

Of course, there is no reason to believe that such a "program" actually helps alcoholics to quit drinking...

Then there is the issue of spontaneous remission. It is an undeniable fact that a certain percentage of alcoholics do simply get sick and tired of being sick and tired, and they just quit drinking alcohol because they don't want any more of the pain. And they usually do it on their own, without Alcoholics Anonymous. I am one of those people, and there are millions more of us.

A.A. tries to steal the credit for the sobriety of such people. Every time one of those self-quitters goes to an A.A. meeting, A.A. claims that the person is sober because of A.A., or because of the meetings, or because of the 12 Steps, or some such thing, which isn't true at all.

To discover what the real A.A. success rate is, we have to subtract the normal rate of spontaneous remission from the apparent A.A. success rate.

Well, it just so happens that the nominal rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholics is about five percent per year. Each year, approximately one out of 20 alcoholics who are drinking to excess will get fed up with the suffering, and will just quit drinking (or will cut way, way back, to the point where it isn't hurting their health any more).

Five percent also happens to be the nominal A.A. success rate. Out of each 100 newcomers to A.A., only about 5 will get a one-year token for sobriety.

So, when we subtract the 5% normal spontaneous remission rate from the apparent A.A. 5% success rate, we get zero percent for the real A.A. success rate. Alcoholics Anonymous has not increased the number of sober people in this world at all.

Needless to say, true-believer A.A. members don't like to hear that... :-)

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "A well conducted professional study" showed that
** "some 5% of newcomers are still attending meetings
** after 12 months. This is a truly terrible statistic.
** Again we must ask 'Where does the fault lie?'"
** == Dr. Ron Whitington — Chairman General Service Board,
** AA Around Australia, Spring Edition No 90, October 1994

Date: Wed, February 14, 2007 10:19 am
From: "Dennis M."
Subject: Played the whole tape

Hi AO:

I e-mailed you back in October with a Word attachment describing in a condensed version my experiences growing up in a 12-step home. I did want your feedback, so if the e-mail was lost, please let me know so that I may resend it.

Recent experience: The biggest temptation I had was on a business trip last week. I arrived the day before any meetings, and had the evening to do with as I wished. I was really tempted to drink, more so than any other time in my year and a half of abstinence. I mean really tempted, to the point where I was standing at the hotel bar flagging the bartender. I ended up ordering a non-alcoholic beer but continued to struggle. The little guy on my shoulder was telling me over and over again: "Who would know?"

I remembered something I read in a reply to a letter on your site which was attributed to a SMART meeting. The comment was simply "play the tape until the end". Once I stopped visualizing how good the first few beers would feel, I fast forwarded to waking up feeling sick, guilty and unable to concentrate on business. I could see the guilt of letting down my family and the smug satisfaction the cult gurus that I left behind would get if they found out.

The urge vanished immediately. I went and had a nice dinner and got to bed at a good hour, and had a good conference.

I really enjoy reading your works and the letters never seem to amaze/amuse/disgust me. When I was reading the recent letters regarding the Mark Q. group, many memories came flooding to me about the sickos I knew in the eighties.

Keep up the great work.

Dennis M.

Hi Dennis,

Thanks for a great story, and congratulations on your victory. You've got it. That's the whole thing. That really makes my day. And thanks for all of the compliments, too.

That "play the tape to the end" slogan is something that I heard in a SMART meeting one day. It isn't official SMART stuff. (I don't know if SMART even has any "official" slogans.) A fellow named Kevin was just sharing what helped him to stay sober, and he said that was his favorite saying. He had gotten it from somebody else, sometime earlier. Who knows where it started.

About your previous letter: I am just getting caught up on email from October. So I fished through the mail and found it. It follows.

Thanks again, and have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*  If you have to pray for some "Higher Power" or "God" to save you
*  from alcoholism, why is that called a "Self-Help Movement"?

From: "Dennis M."
Subject: Wow, so much to take in!
Date: Thu, October 19, 2006 8:28 am

Dear "Mr. Orange":

I can see that you receive tons of e-mail, hopefully you will find the time to read mine.

I found your site via a Google search, and am overwhelmed at the wealth of information you have provided on A.A, it's true origins and true agenda.

I am especially pleased that you include references to your information.

I grew up in a 12 step home, and am still attending AA meetings. I'm not done reviewing all information, but am ready to turn in my key for the church where my home group meets, I'm chairing this month, and frankly, just can't stomach one more meeting. What really prompted my recent "awakening" is the harsh criticism I received by making the simple statement that I don't agree with everything the big book says. Another is this poor gal that attempted suicide recently because her HP wasn't fixing her problems, as she was promised! Those are just a couple of many things.

If you care to read it, I've attached a brief essay I wrote a while back at the request of Jack Trimpey. I'm ready to commit myself to RR (well, give it a whirl...I will remain a free thinker) and wash my hands of AA.

Looking forward to reading and investigating further. I'd love to hear from you if you care to write back.

Dennis M.

Growing Up In a 12 Step Home

My childhood wasn't bad. All things considered, it would be petty to complain. I have a sister a year and a half older than me, and my parents are still married. I am now married with 4 children, live in a modest home in a nice little town and finally have a decent career going. My sister hasn't done quite as well; she floats jobs, often serving drinks in skid-row bars, and lives in places and neighborhoods that are beyond comprehension. Her two teenage sons live mostly with their father, which isn't much better.

My parents, until recently, had earned a very respectable living. They have a nice house on the "Old North side" of Indy, a section of town that despite all of the urban chaos that has grown around it, has remained well kept and has very high home values. My mother sells a lot of antiques on e-bay; my father has recently worked his [way] up to Store Manager of a well-known retailer of electronics that now sells more cellular phones than anything. They struggle financially, but they used to make a lot of money. Their income came from the "Recovery Movement", and this was particularly profitable during the 1980's.

At the peak of their financial success, they maintained an office with a staff (all people known via 12 step groups) and had a cleaning lady come in to the house weekly (also known via "The Program"). They marketed, produced and sold audio and video "training materials" geared toward addiction counselors. When I was in high school, a friend and I would go to the office right after school and stuff flyers into envelopes, which were sent out on a mailing list advertising the newest available materials.

Eventually, they put on their own conference, where addiction counselors would come from far and wide to sit through seminars and speakers, having paid, or having had their employers pay, hefty registration fees. Additional revenue was earned by selling the recorded seminars. This conference was an annual event until just recently, when declining registration forced it to end. In the latter years, other matters related to mental health were covered.

That's a little about my parents, so let me go back to my childhood and recount some of my experiences growing up. I will undoubtedly make many observations about others, especially my parents, along the way. Before reading further, may I make it clear that I love them and do not blame them for anything, and genuinely appreciate all that they've done for me; whether it was good or not. I do know that they always tried to do what was right.

I will try to limit this writing to my experiences growing up in a 12 step environment, but might stray now and then...

I was around the age of ten when we had a family meeting. I remember sitting down at the kitchen table with my sister and my parents. I don't recall very well what all was said, just that dad was going to quit drinking, and would be attending meetings. Furthermore, there were meetings for kids that my sister and I should intend. Either I or my sister inquired why. I do have a vague recollection of us being told that dad had an illness, and as a result of this illness, the entire family had been affected; as if we were somehow "sick", but these meetings would help. Mom would go to Alanon, my sister and I to Alateen.

It was very confusing, because I had no idea that my father had a problem with his drinking. I can only recall seeing him stumbling drunk a couple of times, after parties, and he would usually have a scotch and water after work, but I don't recall him drinking all evening. He had a quick temper and was never one to show affection, but that hasn't changed to this day.

The meetings themselves I found boring, I would zone out most of the time, but it was something I always looked forward to. There were a couple of girls I liked, and after the meeting everyone would go to McDonald's. The Alateens would hang out in their own area and it did have its social pleasures. This went on for a few years or more.

Before any of this began, my father started his own business traveling to various conferences and seminars (nothing specific yet), and record speakers. He would have labels pre-printed for audio cassettes, and would travel with machines that could duplicate multiple cassettes within minutes. He would sell cassettes of the speakers on the spot, available within minutes of the speaker completing his talk.

After my father joined A.A., his business was directed solely into the addictions field. This proved to be lucrative very quickly. As an adolescent and teen, I saw much of the country as the family would travel during the summer, working at various conferences. For this I am grateful. San Antonio, New Orleans, and Fort Lauderdale are just a few examples.

I began to notice that my parents were becoming highly judgmental. It became impossible for them to see someone drinking without making a comment. A complete stranger enjoying a beer would always warrant a comment. My mother was especially bad about this, and I remember her distinctly making a comment along the lines of: "I wonder how people that aren't in recovery cope with anything, and I don't mean just alcoholics. What a shame not to have a support group to keep you living right." This struck me as wrong. What she was saying was is that addicts in recovery are far better off than any non-addicted normal people.

By the age of 13, I had begun my experiments with beer and pot. I would say the reasons were two-fold: peer pressure from school and neighborhood friends, and maybe even more so, curiosity based on all of the people I had been exposed to through my parents and what was now their entire world. There seemed to be a certain GLORY in being a recovering addict or alcoholic and I had heard plenty of entertaining war stories. Looking back, there is little wonder why I would be very curious to see what it would be like to get wasted and act out. In this little world, it seemed as though 12-step programs were a life necessity; anyone without them was simply lost, addicted or not. Surely there was a 12-step program that suited everyone; and if you weren't involved in one, you were lost and in denial about something. My mother attended ACOA, though she was raised in a simple, yet loving blue collar home. My grandfather drank beer, but was a sweet gentle man and I know of no obvious "dysfunction" there. I think that the eighties were an interesting period of history in the recovery group and treatment center industry, as the phenomenon surely grew into a sub-culture on its own. No longer was anyone wishing to be anonymous, many people proudly wore it on their sleeves, seeking to save others much like Fundamentalist Christians or Jehovah's Witnesses.

Around this time, while traveling in Texas, I disclosed to my parents that I had tried these things a few times and felt bad about it. They did not scold me; rather embraced me and told me how proud they were for sharing this with them, and were genuinely gleeful that I would now also label myself an addict and attend meetings.

Yes you read that correctly. Few times = addict. Here I will raise a very disturbing point that I always realized, deep down:

My parents would prefer having an addicted son in recovery as opposed to a son that was non-addicted.

To any rational person, this would seem sick. I doubt my parents would ever say such a thing outright, but it's pretty obvious.

As I progressed in my teens, my experimentations continued. By my freshman year in high school, I was regularly cutting classes and running with a crowd that loved to party. Friday nights were for drinking beer, no questions asked, and smoking weed was pretty much whenever we could sniff it out. It was smelled on me on occasion, but nothing too serious came of it.

Until shortly after I turned fifteen. A police officer stopped into my parent's office to purchase a tape. My mother said that upon seeing him, she was immediately struck with an ill-feeling that I had gotten into major trouble. Despite this visit having nothing to do with me, it was decided right there and then that I would go to a treatment center.

I spent 60 days in a new low-cost facility; just for adolescent boys (it would later treat girls also). Most of the staffed was pretty inexperienced, and I got close to some of them quickly. It wasn't too bad, we had no responsibilities related to school; the food was pretty good; we only had one or two group sessions a day that were often fun and never too intense; and would venture out a few times a week for an AA or NA meeting. I became friendly with many in the NA meetings, including multiple people that I later found out had prior sex offenses against minors, and attended these meetings to look for fresh meat. Wasn't this a lovely environment for an emotionally vulnerable teenager? (I was never abused sexually, but I did later find out about some of these people. I can locate some of them now on the Indiana Sex Offender Registry. I also witnessed some abuse, just didn't see it for what it was at the time. A man in his 30's has no business dating teenage girls).

It was actually very emotional when I left the facility just before Christmas in 1985. I had formed some strong bonds — reflecting on this, a dependence on some of these people to validate me, make me feel special, and to tell me what was wrong with me. For a time afterward, I would visit the center (not far from home) and continued with my NA meetings. I stayed in touch with a few of the kids I was in with, but not regularly.

I would later connect with and smoke weed with one kid that was in there. His name was Jeff, and he truly was from a bad home. He moved in with an NA member for a while about a mile south of where I lived. This person he lived with is one of many now questionable people as previously mentioned (but I seem to recall he died from AIDS). When he was 17, Jeff took his own life in a stand-off with the police. He was in the back of a van full of stolen items. The police tried to coax him out; instead he put a .22 to his head and later died in the hospital. His father refused to pay for a funeral.

Prior to this, I had made it to 90 days clean, 60 of which were in the treatment center. I remember when I "relapsed". I was sitting in my bedroom alone, and I had a sudden compulsion to call a guy in the neighborhood. There was no confusion as to my motives, our relationship at that time was all about getting high, and we had never communicated about anything else. A short time later, I was at his house getting high.

Ironically, this person, who seemed so hopelessly addicted and seemed to have flushed his life down the drain, would later quit drugs completely on his own. He began developing health problems, and that was all it took. In later years we would become very close friends, and still stay in touch though not as often anymore.

The next couple of years were like living in two separate worlds. Due to my family pressures, I had to maintain some level of involvement with meetings and people involved, and keep any drinking or drugging secret. I would periodically commit to sobriety/being clean, but couldn't really bring my self to sever ties with my school and neighborhood friends. As I kept that life a secret from the recovery world, I also kept my recovery world a secret from them. In retrospect, I had much turmoil in leading this "double-life".

As I approached 17, I decided the turmoil was too much and committed myself to recovery, yet again. I voluntarily transferred to an alternative high school, which was a "last chance" for troubled teens that had been expelled from the city's other public high schools. I probably would have found even more trouble, had it not been for meeting Eric. Eric was sober over a year in AA, I about 6 months. We became very close and it wasn't long before we were inseparable. I began spending all of my time with him. After school we would go to my parent's office to stuff envelopes, the rest of the time at an AA club. We went to a lot of meetings and were friendly with a lot of people, many of them young too. This period of my life in the program is the fondest. We had a lot of fun. Cars, girls, occasional fights and other trouble but we were sober.

Eventually the call of my old buddies came back and I was back to the double life. As Eric and I developed other friendships and were no longer going to school (we had both dropped out. Many teenagers in recovery then felt like they could have no ambition, a peculiar discussion for another time). I worked full time and partied every chance I got. My strongest urges to drink and use were often immediately following an interrogation from my parents.

Between the ages of 20 and 25 I had 3 DUI's and the whole period is a drunken haze once I was out on my own (with an occasional in-between places/roommates). With every legal dilemma came plenty of scolding from my parents, and I had plenty of exposure forced on me by the courts. By now I simply resented it. I had no respect for it. The counselors and addiction treatment services that the court would refer me to were clearly about the money. One place didn't even bother to provide any treatment or counseling if you didn't want it. I was free to show up, pay for it and leave. That's exactly what I did. When the system is putting you through the grind, they own you. If you made a million dollars a year, they'd find a way to take it. Of course if you did have the money, many lawyers claimed they could make it disappear. Otherwise, you go through the machine. It's all money; if you can't shell it out up front, you will over time.

As far as AA meetings went, I was given the "court cards" to have signed at meetings, but after all of the years I had spent in them, I was well aware that nothing could be verified. All I needed to do was look up the names and dates of meetings on the schedule, and my drinking buddies would sign it. I remember one particular probation officer looking at it funny, but what could he do? How could he prove it was bogus?

I decided to grow up around the age of 26. I reconnected with a very sweet gal that is now my wife. When my parents saw that the relationship was serious, they made it a point to pull her aside and "educate" her on my drinking problem, as they have done with many of my closest friends over the years.

My parents were of course, thrilled that I started going to AA again recently. I decided to abstain because my behavior is unpredictable with alcohol, and I want to set a good example for my kids. It has not felt right. I often feel strong cravings to drink during and after meetings. I've been getting increasingly frustrated listening to people whine about piddly-assed problems. Grow up. I'm tired of the self righteous arrogant people, and I'm tired of being told that I've got serious character defects by people that don't know me that well. I'm tired of being told to find a higher power I can call God. I even made an effort to become religious in my early 20's, but couldn't swallow it. I am an Atheist not by choice, yet I'm repeatedly told by people in AA that I'm in serious danger because of it.

No doubt it will take years of deprogramming to shake off a life-time of 12 step philosophy and mental conditioning, but I am convinced with unmistakable clarity that I am better off without it. I will not drink. To do so would be in direct contradiction to whom I am and who I want to be for my family. I have come to realize that the people that I have seen truly overcome addictions do not depend on anyone else. Neither will I.

Thanks for a great story. I see so much in there. You really cover a lot of the issues and problems with the "recovery community" or "recovery industry". I'm not going to just repeat everything that you already said, so I won't.

Have a good day.

Date: Wed, October 18, 2006 9:19 pm
From: "R.T.B."
Subject: Re: Heya

Did you ever get a response back from Al Franken?

No, nothing.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "Now I know what it's like to be high on life.
** It isn't as good, but my driving has improved."
** == Nina, on "Just Shoot Me", 13 Jan 2006.

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Last updated 22 January 2013.
The most recent version of this file can be found at https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters78.html