Originally posted on 10/16/2017

the little harvey weinstein

Hanau, Germany, 1995

My best friend for several years was Christiane. She lived about 8 miles (ca. 13 km) away. We spent as much time together as we could. I loved her. She was fierce, charming, and stunning. And she was a few years older than me. She had a brown belt (Judo) and once put to route a group of four boys/men who were beating a little dog.

One of the many things we loved doing is taking her Beetle and speed up and down a road with many bumps. Like, really speed. We were young and reckless. We laughed a lot. It was a happy time and we were careless.

I will never forget how I had my first glass of Chianti (red wine) and got sick in the taxi. The taxi driver won't forget, either. It was a surprise sickness and it came unexpectedly. Christiane looked at me with sorrow in her eyes and asked: “Are you ok?” I looked at her, and we started to laugh until we thought our belly will explode.

The taxi driver didn't laugh. It was that night that I decided I would never become a taxi driver.

New friends

Note: Nothing is just black or just white. In the order to make a point, I will stick to “all black”.

One day, we met somebody at the roller park. We joked around and had a fun time. I had to leave at one point. Christiane went home with him to play SNES.

He raped her. She felt terrible, as was to be expected. My strong friend Christiane felt terrible and would have recovered.

But then her mother told her to go to the police.

I am not kidding you, every word of this article happened as it's written down. The police guy asked her, “Did you wear lipstick?” He asked her if she wore lipstick or a mini skirt. They kept asking her why she didn't fight back. The explanation that she felt like paralyzed was not accepted.

The police made her feel as if she were in the wrong.

She then went to see a psychiatrist. She felt worse and worse and weaker and weaker with each week that passed. I went to the psychiatrist and asked him why it is that my friend felt worse instead of better. He explained that he first has to “tear her apart” to then “rebuild her.”

Sadly, he was obviously not good at the “rebuilding” thing because it never happened.

She settled for a horrible, abusive, disgusting guy who sold to her that she needs protection and that he will keep her safe. She married him and got two kids. He was beating her.

Her self-image was destroyed. Being treated like garbage complied with her new self-image. In my opinion, not the rape but police, court and a highly incompetent psychiatrist destroyed her.

For years, I tried to love her like before, wait until she gets better, help her get better. Her new husband was good at isolating her. She stayed home most of the time. We slowly grew apart.

I visited her a few times, an unhappy wife with dark rings under her eyes. I never saw her careless again. Her loud laughter had become a faint smile with sad eyes. No, sad is not the right word. More like her eyes constantly said: “I'm sorry.”

It broke my heart to see her like that, but I had done everything in my little power and I moved on.

What has changed since 1995

The policeman would act “politically correct” and not speak his mind.

Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein—when we learn about the horrible acts of violence and abuse, we are shocked. That's not what this article is about.

This article is about:

The little Harvey Weinstein

Frankfurt, Germany 1998

Perhaps you have wondered (or not because in America these things are more common) how I, as a Junior High school dropout, could ever get into highly qualified sales positions.

Let me tell you:

I was the assistant to the managing director of a Management Consulting company and tried my hardest to do an excellent job. For some reason, my boss never seemed satisfied with my work. When he first mentioned I should be “nicer”, I assumed that he meant that I refused to order flowers for his wife and made horrible coffee until he did it himself.

One day, he explained in more detail and I can still feel my honest surprise. How could this 30 years older married guy who knew I was in a relationship assume I would have any sexual interest in him?

I didn't know the game back then.

A few days later, I have been downgraded so “sales assistant” and he hired a new secretary. There was one full-time account manager, who was a really delightful man. And there was a washed-up old guy, discharged by IBM, who had been hired for his contacts. He didn't have a quota and got 10k monthly for doing nothing.

Well, that's not entirely true. One thing he did.

He was less subtle than the managing director. He told me straight that if I wouldn't be “fun”, he could cause trouble for me. I'm not really the type who's impressed by washed up, pathetic guys.

But there was a young consultant, Claudia, who was. One day, she came to the office looking like her nightmare. She was crying for hours when she told me that he successfully forced her to perform a sexual act on the washed up, old, disgusting guy.

I blackmailed him and was ready to tell his wife. He left the company.

The managing director made me “Sales Manager” overnight. I received a 7 Million quota and the goal to establish a call center division in Germany.  His new secretary was driving a brand-new BMW as a company car. He gave me the used Rover of a consultant he just fired. It was blue with a beige leather interior (ugh).

And he took her to business trips to Canada and other places.

It pays for women to be nice, doesn't it?

The managing director was already pressured from the UK headquarter at that time, and I was beneficial as cannon fodder.

Luckily, the UK headquarters had many great people who helped me a lot (and prospects and clients helped me too) so that I was actually able to sell projects. One of the management consultants sensed (or knew) about my suboptimal situation and brought me to another company who was selling data mining and BI projects.

There I had the best colleagues, clients, and boss anyone can imagine, great success, a wonderful time.

Why did I not tell anyone (besides my boyfriend?) the washed-up IBM guy story? Why did Claudia not tell the police?

The only betrayal in my 11-year otherwise wonderful relationship was when my ex-boyfriend said: “But nothing happened to you, and you won.”

Germany, 2006 – 2012

Some of you know that I left Germany after many years of extreme stalking by a psychopath. At the end, the German police told me that the methods used against me are typically not found in “private stalking” and that they will not be able to help me anytime soon.

They suggested I should move. The FBI guy (it was a giant story, the police handed the case to the German FBI) asked me to not use the internet and not go any place where anything could happen. As it happened everywhere, I am not even sure what he even recommended. That I stop taking part in life?

I asked him if he would tell a man whose car gets vandalized a few times that he has to park at the other end of the city.

A stalker is just a sick person. What did shock me is

  • how many men were involved and helped a stalker (“he just loves you”)
  • that I sensed (nobody said the words) that even the male police officers deep inside understand that a man tries to “hunt” the woman he wants

I told myself: “Not all men are bad.” And that is the truth.

My life has been very busy until I relocated to the US, where I at first was isolated and lonely. I watched more movies than before.

I realized that it's not “just one sick man”.

Scenes passed in front of my eyes. The little Harvey scenes, scenes of jealousy, the doctor who counted my ribs, unwanted compliments, drama when I broke up with someone, the looks that made me uncomfortable, all the times I have to say “no”, what happened to friends.

You can't read 30 news articles without 3 articles of violence of a man against a woman. That's 10%. And, OMG, why are so many movies about male violence?

Obviously, if your brain filter is set to “seeing bad in men”, you will see a lot of that. We can set our brain filter to “seeing great men" and will see tons of that. Perhaps we should set it to “bad” first to create enough pain for change.

I did have great partners and great relationships. Few but great. I was always very choosy. That also means I was always aware I had to pick the good grapes out of a can of Harveys.

Wow. Over 40. It's over

the little harvey weinstein 2You would think I am too old now. That it stops because men prefer young women. At least, that's what I've been told but can not confirm. It last happened to me in 2017, and it never stopped before that.

Furthermore, one must understand that a man does not necessarily have to find a woman attractive to hit on her.

I worked with a senior and mentor, and when we went to a corporate training I was surprised that the famous man booked us one night longer than I thought was necessary.

Naively, I confirmed that the purpose of the extra night is to teach things and learn things. Awesome! I can learn from the best!

Nothing happened. He just tried it.

Just a little disgusting moment when someone you perceive as a senior and mentor tells you about his sexual preference, that he watches porn and his wife and him have an “open” relationship.

When he realized that - as for all of my life—it's not going to happen, he changed his flight and left a day early.

The sense of entitlement is generally stronger the more money and power a man has. At least in my personal experience. I met more decent car repair guys than wealthy guys in my life.

I've learned long ago to be able to still work with someone. The behavior does not disappoint me. It's too common for that. That's sad if you think about it. It implies a certain level of disillusionment.

I didn't tell anyone. What's there to tell, anyway? Nothing happened. It's ok to try, isn't it? I could tell you many little Harvey stories and so could all other women.

The little Harvey Weinstein moments are as common as a sock that miraculously vanishes in the washing machine.

Where do those socks go, can anyone tell me?

The first lesson for girls

Are you a man reading this? Or a woman? Do you have kids? Either way. Would you teach your “little princess” to be elegant and pretty? To be a Lady?

What is “ladylike”? Do you see a slim silhouette in your mind of a pretty, elegant, soft-spoken woman with that certain level of sophistication and sexiness?

Would your girl play dress-up with her Barbie? Or with mom's cloth? Little princess loves to play dress-up. She wants to look just like mommy, and she has learned early on that pleasing people earns affection, compliments, approval.

Does a woman “know her place” or a lady? Or both? I am confused here.

Whatever you see. It is not a wild, strong, assertive, independent, aggressive creature.

Every girl learns at an early age that she has to be careful.

  • Do not go out alone when it's dark
  • Protect yourself against men who will try to take advantage of you
  • Mind your reputation

So basically: Be nice and pleasant and a bit submissive, do what men want but don't do what men want because it will make you a slut while it will make him a player.

You learn to walk, talk, read, write and to be careful of men. That's why you often don't perceive little Harvey moments as “wrong”. Unpleasant and disgusting, yes. But totally normal.

Not the man who looks for women in the dark is in the wrong, but the woman who goes out alone at night. (Was she wearing lipstick?)

The status of our society

You might want to believe that a lot has changed for the better. But has it really? Did we achieve fear of punishment and social judgment, or did the mindset change?

Perhaps, the answer lies in the question “Why do Weinstein, Cosby, and Co do these things?” Answer: Because they can.

Even with the threat of punishment, the numbers of hate crimes against women are alarmingly high.

The next time you read an article about the horrible amount of rape in India or how this or that country disrespects women, ask yourself:

“What would America look like in 2017 if all laws against harassment, violence and any form of abuse would be removed? And nothing a man could do would hurt his social status?”

Scary thought, right?

The little Harvey Weinstein is everywhere.

You, man, who is reading this article are different, aren't you? You were shocked when you heard the president's “locker room talk.”

Have you ever made that certain gestures to show your friends how much you appreciate the rack of a waitress?

Don't think she didn't notice it. We notice everything. We have just built protective walls. The building material is respect.

The numbers game

Not every man is a bad man. There are great men. The only problem is: For one great man, there is a shitty one, or two. And 8 that are “good” or “bad” depending on what is more opportune.

While the majority of men never act inappropriate, the issue with those who do is that they make a big impression. The one time you have a car accident is more prominent in your mind than the 200,000 times you did not.

The two times you got food poisoning from old mayonnaise will cross your mind more often than all the other times you did not. Your brain will try to warn you every time before you take a bite of your sandwich.

ADVERTISEMENT: If you have suffered from food poisoning and would like to enjoy your sandwiches again—emotional intelligence helps you to deal with painful experiences in a constructive way. It allows you to retrain your brain and enjoy your sandwich as if you'd never had been poisoned. (;

Know your role

I understand that the role of men in society is difficult right now.

Women had to realize that taking care of the fire, looking pretty and raising kids doesn't cut it anymore. We adapted. Meat is available in every supermarket—we don't need hunters. We are educated and can earn our money. We don't need providers.

We might need protection, but statistics show that it's hard to say if we need it more when single or in a relationship.

We can't make kids alone. Right after the male “contribution”, if I am exaggerating, I could say: The baby requires the mother to grow until it sees the light of day and the first months after. It doesn't need his father (black/white, remember?)

I believe that women are (mentally) stronger and more independent (unless they're being oppressed.) And I believe that men require women more than the other way around.

I get how that can be scary when you come from a need-based view on relationships.

Perhaps the modern man should attempt to be wanted more than needed.

It's time to adapt, evolve and get over the fact that we don't need men. We're willing to love and want them in our lives.

Weinstein, Cosby, my experience, your experience ... You know what they say in London about rats: If you see one rat, you know you have a rat problem, and there are thousands more.

They came on planes from all over the world to the corporate meeting in London. The air reeked from excitement and fear (the typical perfume of M&A.) We were hundreds and hundreds of people and the different tongues united to a noise bouquet that reminded me of a busy beehive.

Is my job safe? Can I increase my influence in the new structure? Depending on their temperaments, people were worried or ready to grasp a new opportunity.

A Canadian company had purchased the sophisticated, high-end British company data-mining/EIS company I worked for. A clash of culture. You could see from the way people dressed who belonged to the old and the new part. Dignified British Management Consultants in their tidy black or blue business suits vs. casual shirts.

In a motivational speech that was everything I imagined from a seminar for multi-level-marketing success, the new boss introduced himself. Astounded, I looked around when the motivational speaker (ups… I mean the new boss) wanted the crowd to get up and chant something. I can’t recall the slogan. However, I can still see the disbelief, contempt, and amusement on the faces of my British colleagues.

All of them were male. I was the first female account manager the company had ever hired.

This was way back in the 90ties. In the middle of the speech that followed, one woman from the new, the Canadian part of the company, jumped out of her seat and screamed “salesmen and saleswomen!”

For the first time, the emotions of the old and the new part united and the managers and salespeople of the divided company shared the same thought: “OMG, how annoying is she.”

The new boss immediately applauded the woman for her objection and corrected himself. From then on, he used the male and female version. Sometimes there was a tiny break in his speech when he had to adjust to the new wording.

What did the brave woman with applaudable intentions achieve? Did she emphasize that we’re equal or did she point out the difference? Did she make women look more powerful and competent or add to the prejudice that women are harder to work with?

Discrimination as a 50/50 game

Gender equality, equality between men and women, entails the concept that all human beings, both men and women, are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by stereotypes, rigid gender roles and prejudices. Gender equality means that the different behaviour, aspirations and needs of women and men are considered, valued and favoured equally. It does not mean that women and men have to become the same, but that their rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female. Gender equity means fairness of treatment for women and men, according to their respective needs. This may include equal treatment or treatment that is different but which is considered equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations and opportunities.
— ABC Of Women Worker’s Rights And Gender Equality, ILO, 2000. p. 48.

As I mentioned, I was the first female account manager in a company that only hired men for this role. Because I was also grossly underqualified, I faced big-time discrimination.

Even before they knew I was underqualified. When I arrived to take over my new office, there was a sign at the door that said “Crystal" and someone drew a lipstick on it.

My new boss tore the sign off. Everyone assumed I got the job because I was pretty.

This boss was the best boss I ever had and absolutely made no difference between women and men. He called me a sales guy, just like the other sales guys, and I loved it.

First, we are inflexible. After the German “Wertkauf” has been acquired by Walmart, I took years and years to switch to the name. Did I discriminate against Walmart?

Second, had the boss changed his wording, it would only have added to the reservations against me.

Words change the brain and it’s good we change discriminative wording. We should also be empathic about where someone is coming from when he uses the old term, as well as clever about the measures we take to create change.

If we have the choice between calmly showing our competence and demanding someone follows rules, we should choose the first option.

My “story” had a good ending. The first time my colleagues saw me was when I was the only salesperson not just hitting their goal but making 324% and entering the presidents club. (I will say that it was only half my doing, the opportunity was just great.)

Here, being underestimated was my saving grace. While the male account managers spend a lot of their energy fighting each other hard, they ignored me.

I guess what I am saying is that certain roles are highly competitive. When a 3M deal equals a 450K commission, everyone will fight you with whatever they think will get to you or beat you. That is the truth.

If we establish that women and men have different ways to achieve the same goals (which I am not saying,) leaders have to become more flexible in their leadership style and how they assess competence.

Yes, women should be seen and treated as equals. However, the topic is more complex than it seems at first look.

A change of mindset has to happen in both genders.

As a coach working with many men and women and I tell you: More women than men (including myself) do not aspire to become top managers. They chose happiness.

While not every top manager is unhappy, the mindset and readiness to fight it takes to thrive in a shark tank are not for everyone. It’s also not for every man who goes that route. Some stressed-out and pill-popping C-Levels can tell that tale.

Any 50/50 board member hiring rule might put men at a disadvantage because the number of men aspiring such a role is larger. Ideally, we’d be able to fight bias without rules that might imply women are a group in need of certain protection. However, that requires a change in society and mindset.

I have proven that I can hang with the tough guys. But I took the first chance I saw to get out of sales. Because competing costs you and I’m unwilling to pay the price. That doesn’t make me less able to compete. I’m just more aware of what I want in life. 

If I look at my clients, the number of women with enough aggressiveness and greed (or hunger for power and winning) to thrive in a highly competitive environment is smaller than the number of men.

Not for the reason that fewer women can compete, but because more women decide they don’t want to.

We can’t say: “You must hire us because we’re equal but then you have to treat us differently because we’re women.”

Gender equality in business and pregnancy

A whole different world of challenges lies in the fact that women are the gender carrying babies. Two contrary goals have to be achieved at the same time:

  • A woman must not face disadvantages because she might get pregnant. There must be a protection so that becoming a mother doesn't equal losing your career
  • A company must not have higher costs for hiring a woman. Demanding equal pay at higher risk might make women the less attractive candidate

There are more facets to this topic and a possible answer lies in the question of social responsibility of corporations.

The law can only do so much to protect women. If a company wants you out (yes, there are anti-bullying laws as well,) they will create an atmosphere that is unhealthy for you.

Shareholders don't reward the kindest leader when kindness costs profit - unless buyers demand it.

Equal pay for men and women

In jobs that pay following a set tariff, women should earn the same as their male counterparts. No question even less discussion about that.

What about jobs where people negotiate their salary?

In my experience, women (not all of us) back off more easily. We often have a low feeling of self-worth and ask for less.

Once more, I feel the change has to come from two sides. Companies that define fixed amounts for a job have to pay the same to both genders. Some women should get better at negotiating and increase their feeling of self-worth.

We can’t ask managers to top whatever we ask for because we’re fearful negotiators. Every transformation takes time. Maybe the manager starts the negotiation with a female at a lower number. They used to get away with it and it's understandable that you try to hire the best people at the lowest possible cost.

Whining about this unfairness doesn't create change. Influencing someone to give you a great deal does.

In Business and in Life, we don’t get what we deserve; we get what we negotiate.

Lester Karrass

Women quota for gender equality in business

Many companies now have quotas that make sure they hire a certain number of disabled people, people of color, certain races, and women.

Really? I can only speak for myself. I don’t want a job because a company has to fill its quote or gets tax cuts for hiring me.

Did your parents ever make you play with the uncool kid nobody liked? Did that improve your relationship? Or maybe you were the uncool kid and cringed into spasms when your parents spoke with the parents of the kids who didn’t respect you to force them to play with you.

This is an opinion piece, not a learning piece (hence, published on my personal blog (;) For learning, go to my company site.

There’s no discussion in my mind we have to push towards equal chances.

The price question is: Do you buy more Scott because there’s a fine for calling them Kleenex? Are you more likely to buy Kleenex because it's a common term for facial tissue?

Gender equality is a problem in 2019 nearly just as it was in the 90ties. We have implemented many rules and regulations and there’s an increased awareness for negative consequences of discriminating against women.

We often believe we, the 1st world nations have achieved much more to end violence against women, gender equality and so on. Did we really? What if they removed all laws for two weeks and every man could do as they please without fear of losing reputation or facing charges?

There will be no real change until the mindset changes.

Words change brains and changing terms is the right thing to do. By itself, if applied and not accompanied by measures to change people’s mindset, it will not achieve much.

As women, we could ask ourselves:

  • Are there better ways to achieve our goal of being treated as equals than jumping off our seat and scream “and Ladies!”
  • If we want more money, could we develop new skills to help us negotiate it?
  • Are there opportunities we do not grab?
  • In cases where we demand to be treated as equals, do we argue with the rule or our competence?

As men you could as yourself:

  • Are there situations where I make it harder for women than for men?
  • Am I guilty of discriminatory habits or language?
  • Do I always hire the best candidate when presented with equally qualified males and females?
  • What can I do to fight gender discrimination in my organization?
  • Am I empathic about the fact that someone might take different measures than I would that lead to the same goal?

As human beings we all should thrive for equality and fairness. Empathy can save the world!

Aurorasa Coaching helps men and women to become more empathic and influential. Talk to me!

The cyber mobbing clique "Ligue de LOL" is a group of French journalists, influencers, and marketers who coordinated their violent cyber mobbing attacks (mostly on women) via their Facebook group

Wait, did I say "not your typical troll?" Is there such a thing as a "typical troll?" A pimply, lonely teenager in the basement?

What picture do you see in your mind when you hear troll? How about "influential, highly educated, left-leaning, progressive journalist"?

Let me tell you about a scandal that stirs up a lot of emotions in French.

In 2009, a group of influential digital pioneers founded the mobbing clique "Ligue de LOL."

They shared links to profiles of people they thought to be embarrassing, stupid - or just too fat. They coordinated targeted attacks, mainly on women.

Last Friday, the French outlet "Libération" confirmed the existence of this cyber mobbing group. Since then, victims come forward and share their experience with digital mobbing and hatred towards women.

How did the group operate? What are the consequences? Who is a part of the cyber mobbing group?

We know the LOL Ligue for a long time in French as a "digital super clique"

At least 35 people were members of the cyber mobbing group. The members include several well-known journalists who made careers at influential French newspapers and magazines. Famous podcasters and digital consultants - including the former community manager of French president Emmanuel Macron - were also part of the boy-club.

Founder of the group, Vincent Glad, has 140,000 followers on Twitter and appears to be well-educated and left-leaning. If you speak French, you can read his rather naïve sounding apology pinned to his profile.

The other members of the cyber mobbing group are also very well connected, averaging a follower count of several thousand, mostly tens of thousands of followers.

Many of them were early adopters of Twitter. In the beginning stages, Twitter was a much smaller, much more elite network and featured many journalists, digital pioneers and other people who were convinced that they can change the world through journalism.

"Le Monde" journalist Samuel Laurent describes the beginning of the "Ligue de LOL" in a (French) Facebook post of February 11 HERE

"....a small, elite world of hand-picked journalists, communication experts, developers and a few other people from the digital sector were convinced that they can change the world by journalism..."

Samuel Laurent (loosely translated by me)

Laurent explains that the group didn't realize how homogeneous it was: young, white, well-educated Parisians.

The "cool kids" of the "LOL Ligue" were on top of the Twitter hierarchy. They could make or break careers. And they knew about their power.

The cyber attacks: how the "LOL Ligue" attacked women and minorites

Vincent Glad who still worked for the "Libération" until the scandal became public, founded the group to "have fun" making fun of others. The men perceived the group as a playfield.

On Twitter, Glad now states "I created a monster and lost control of it." That's why I described his apology as "naive" earlier on. Someone who is convinced that journalism - which is writing - can change the world is surprised that coordinated attacks with written words break people?

The group not only insulted feminist authors, journalists and female YouTubers in a flash-mob-like manner, but they also created photo montages were they added the faces of people "they had fun making fun of" to pornographic GIFs.

I love a good prank. Having experienced cyber stalking and the abuse of personal information myself, I find it hard to see how creating fake porn pictures is funny.

Because they were so well connected, the "LOL Ligue" could focus hatred and attention to specific accounts and made sure that these accounts were flooded with harmful and hateful messages.

"I felt as if I was running from a sniper," one victim describes the horror of being targeted by the Ligue de LOL.

Several women left Twitter because they could not deal with the harassment and hatred any longer.

The "LOL Ligue" also terrorized their victims with phone calls. For instance, they called a victim and offered her an anchor job - and published a recording of the phone call online.

They used the name and real phone number of a female YouTuber to post a fake ad on Craigslist. Signed by "Madame fat."

Many of the members of the group are now all apologetic like "Oh, we didn't we would hurt someone's feelings." Suddenly, everyone hardly realized what was going on.

Obviously, one can be the community manager for the French president and assume it's not hurtful to create fake porn pictures and coordinate harassment attacks.

Some members used fake accounts for their attacks, while others used their private accounts. But the victims were too afraid to speak up. After all, these people are influential. It only became a public scandal when the "Libération" followed up on cues that something was off with this group.

Some members who used their private profiles are now trying to hide traces. This one - the ex-community manager of the French president, deleted about 390 Tweets on Sunday.

The consequences

For some group members, the cyber mobbing will finally have consequences. "Libération" started an internal investigation and fired group founder Vincent Glad. Online editor-in-chief Alexandre Hervaud, was sent on leave for the duration of the investigation.

Podcast company Nouvelles Écoutes fired podcaster Guilhem Malissen. "Usbek & Rica" fired Guillaume Ledit.

PR firm Publicis Consultants fired R.L. The initiative "SOS Racisme" demands an official investigation. The "Ligue de LOL" targeted mainly women but also some black people and people from the LGBT community.

This happened in France. We all know that cyber mobbing and organized cyber mobbing of "boy clubs" are not problems exclusive to France.

Having influence and money is a test of character that many fail.

I'm all about empathy and forgiveness. But what I feel when I try to understand the agenda of emotions of a group who systematically used their power to target "weaker" individuals is not pretty.

We all took a prank too far in the moment's heat. But over weeks? Months?

These were not pimply teenagers venting off some frustration in the basement of their houses. These are influential, highly educated and powerful people who knew about the destructive power of their words and actions. Wasn't their vision to "change the world with journalism"?

Perhaps a better vision is to change the world with empathy and kindness.

Who still believes the internet is free and uncontrollable must be rather naive. Our freedom of expression is in grave danger. You might think I am referring to sinister secret services, conspiracy theorists, or radical extremists from left and right. No. I am referring to the people who are out of control. I am speaking about the people lacking the guts and decency to stand by what they have to say.

Blogs, social networks and internet forums have become the playing field of anonymous trolls. Conspiracy theorists and extremists are long outnumbered by people who hide behind pseudonyms and fake pictures.

Respect is the basis of free expression

Their language and actions are free of respect and, therefore, they lack the basis of free expression. This kind of inflammatory language is the opposite of democratic discourse where people exchange their opinions and point of views. Democratic discourse can and should be controversial. But who uses technology only to denounce, discredit, hurt, attack, insult and defame distorts the freedom of expression beyond recognition. Until it's worthless.

People who hide behind fake profiles defend their anonymity, claiming their right to free expression is endangered if they have to use their actual names. They say they would suffer disadvantages by posting statements we could hold them accountable for.

Arguments like this play into the hands of those who want to control the internet, for instance, governments. One of their strongest arguments is that anonymity makes people lose their last scruples and all respect.

If you are anonymous, you are meaningless. An internet whos inhabitants have neither name nor address also has no voice. At least not one that can be taken seriously. Therefore, anonymous internet inhabitants are silent and powerless.

Perhaps you will say that demanding a non-anonymous debate would destroy the charm of the internet. The subculture, the undergroundy many are so proud of (for reasons I seem unable to comprehend. Is it an honor to hide? Is it brave? Is it cool?)

We are not talking about the board member who calls himself "horny goat 1957" on a porn site. We're speaking about the expression of controversial and/or political opinions.

Pseudonyms are necessary in a dictatorship, in a democracy they're not

Pseudonyms harm an open society

Pseudonyms might be necessary for a dictatorship. Who uses them in a democracy harms the open society. The freedom of speech also requires decency and fairness. The freedom of expression only has a meaning if the words are heard from real people by real people. Trolls and anonymous snipers are as good at influencing change as a group of punks beating up a granny at night with baseball sticks. They are what they are: cowardly perpetrators.

Citizens can influence change. Citizens have names.

Lack of democratic mindset

The internet is free as long as we are in control of ourselves. Where democratic mindset is missing, narrow views grow. Soon everything that's different from our limited beliefs gets attacked. Yours truly, John Doe.

Anonymity (in a democracy) does not lead to freedom. It leads to ignorance, self-inflicted autism, and arbitrary opinions. Is that worthy of protection? No! It's dangerous. Anonymity feeds the stalkers, the cowards, the cellar trolls and helps everyone who is against an open society. An open society can endure different opinions. But cowardliness is the vanguard of tyranny, it's its strongest legion.

The freedom of speech and freedom of expression

Free speech and the freedom of expressions are every citizen's right. On the internet and everywhere else. But it renders both obsolete when anonymization and pseudonyms devalue the worth of a speech. Who writes and speaks without a name cannot be held accountable and is not available for feedback.

How should wisdom be shared under the jester hat of anonymous indifference?

The right to free speech and freedom of expression is more important than the right to anonymity. We have to protect and fight for our democratic rights. Anonymous profiles cannot protect anything besides cowardice. They don't care to know the true meaning of civil courage. It's the braveness of the decent.

And, hey, if you are afraid to speak up because you feel that in your country the power is shifting from democracy to tyranny ... might be a delightful time to sign statements with your actual name, don't you think?

the body positivity misconception body shaming

What's wrong about "end body shaming"

I wanted to write this short post on the misunderstanding about body positivity and body shaming for a while now. My intention could not be farther from hurting anyone's feelings. I hope I will succeed. The topic has potential to polarize and leaves room for misunderstanding.

Shaming vs Body Shaming

Let's establish: Shaming people is not ok. It's never ok. Shaming implies the intention to make someone feel bad about themselves vs constructive feedback.

Does it make sense to differentiate? Is it ok to shame someone for this but not for that?

I don't think that makes sense at all.

You should not shame people. Period.

The body positivity misconception

Body positivity means that you accept and love yourself the way you are. And to accept others as well. It does not mean that we should celebrate an unhealthy lifestyle or glorify addiction.

Obesity is unhealthy. Overeating is more often an addiction than a bad habit someone can just drop overnight.

Read more about this: The Neuroscience of Weight-Loss (when the soul makes you fat)

We are not talking about a few pounds too much or too little (read why a few pounds too much might even be healthy: HERE)

Being massively overweight is not "beautiful" and the trend of trying to force people to say so is not beautiful either. It's rather stupid.

I am a smoker. What would your reaction be if I demanded that you celebrate my lifestyle as "cool"? It's a choice. It's not a healthy choice. Making unhealthy choices is not cool.

A few facts about obesity

The food industry is much more powerful than the tobacco industry. Which is why food as deadly as cigarettes occupies large parts of the shelves in our food stores.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) does not list obesity as a cause of death. You find heart diseases on no 1 and cancer on no 2. Diabetes is high on the list. The next question would be: Does obesity lead to diabetes and heart disease?

People who are overweight or obese are far more likely than thinner people to have heart disease, cancer, diabetes and to have strokes or heart attacks. Usually, but not always, fatter people are less fit than thinner people, and exercise can clearly protect you from death and disease. (Source CDC)

A third of Americans are overweight and another 35 % obese.

According to Ryan Masters (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Columbia University), 15% of deaths of men and 20% of deaths among women are caused by obesity.

We found that obesity indeed has a quite significant effect on mortality levels in the United States and estimates are actually significantly larger than prevailing wisdom has suggested.
Source: Ryan Masters

The number will increase as the first generation of people who were obese from their childhood on grow old.

Let's accept people the way they are - or chose to become - but let's still see things the way they are and stick to facts.

Obesity is a dangerous disease. Sick people must not be shamed and disease must not be glorified. Someone with a disease can be beautiful - the disease itself is not.

Body positivity and self-love do not mean to harm yourself and then ask people to celebrate you for that. It's bizarre marketing by the food industry that tries to emotionally blackmail us to feel as if we should.

If we all ate real food that is good for us, they could not sell their addictive and unhealthy food. If we all ate normal sized portions, where would be the fun in that? Their earnings and profit would take a serious hit. THAT I would celebrate.

Last thoughts

  • Body positivity means to accept yourself and others the way they are. With huge ears or small ears and so on
  • Body positivity does not mean to celebrate an unhealthy lifestyle or addiction
  • If you are looking to change your weight, I recommend THIS program

Guest Post by Nicole Chardenet

Nicole caught my eye after reading some of her outspoken, thought-provoking yet entertaining pieces. I know you'll love her just as I do.

I am happy and proud to present:

the present moment frankly sucks

Mindfulness teaches us to live in this present moment which is the only moment we have.

Unfortunately, what I was mostly mindful of this summer is how much this present moment really annoys the crap out of me!

We had a lot of rain in Toronto. The jet stream decided to summer over southern Ontario this year which led to a cooler, greyer season preceded by a boatload of rain in the spring that shut down our beaches until almost August. While Phoenix charbroiled and their airplanes melted on the tarmac, Toronto experienced occasional fall-like days in July and skies resembling an Ansel Adams photo.

Last year’s hot and dry summer was much more amenable for my lunchtime walks through the park and around the

‘hood. It was this time last year that I began practicing mindfulness and meditation and it was truly joyous to walk in the sun and warmth being all mindful and grateful to be alive. No matter how depressed or anxious or stressed I felt, at high noon I broke for the door like a house dog in an unattended moment and walked in a glorious mindful haze, leaving my worries behind in my old kit bag while the sun shined, shined, shined.

When this year’s cold, grey, rainy May turned into cold, grey, rainy June, and then mildewed into cold, grey, only slightly less rainy July, it was much harder to be mindful and happy. Any given present moment, quite frankly, SUCKED!!! I’d stride down the street in a flapping jacket and a resentful expression wondering when the hell I’d be able to leave the apartment without packing an umbrella and if I’d ever get to wear the new vintage cat’s-eye sunglasses I’d bought online. Six straight days of steel-grey sky? Et tu, July?

the present momentNever mind that Arizonans would have sold their grandmothers into servitude for just one day of rain and maybe a drop in temperature to, oh, let’s not be greedy here, shall we agree on 90F? Or 32C in Canadianese?

“We’ve had great weather here all summer,” said my brother in Michigan, and I made a mental note to cut him out of my will. Facebook threatened to de-friend me en masse if I didn’t stop whinging about Toronto the Grey.

It just goes to show how ridiculously deeply one can be in the grip of attachment when one loses one’s mind over something that should just be accepted, as it’s beyond the control of everyone except a clearly malign jet stream.

Equanimity is for wusses

The meditation term for accepting the present moment just as it is is called equanimity. It derives from an old Latin word meaning enlightened being who no longer pitches weather-related tantrums.

“Be mindful,” I reminded myself as I walked, but all I was mindful of was how grossly unfair it was that the entire continent of North America, according to the CBC weathercritters, was getting hot dry weather and Toronto was getting – October, right after Canada Day.

It’s too cold, it’s too grey, it’s too rainy, it’s too—it’s too—it’s too—” grumbled my dissatisfied brain which was mindful only of its relentless self-pity for ever having moved to Toronto where how whimsically cruel the weather gods were.

The Spring That Never Ended interrupted by occasional short bursts of summer was not living up to my exacting standards.

Equanimous I wasn’t, even though getting mad about the weather is like getting mad that oranges are orange or that dogs eat stupid crap that makes them sick if we don’t watch them. Weather and oranges and dogs just are.

So should I have been, but the world just wasn’t cooperating.

We all do this. We look to external elements to make us happy, and they usually cooperate about as much as the weather.

My partner, that promotion, someone else’s approval, the new car, the elusive number on the scale—and I can’t be happy unless the weather is warm and sunny enough because dammit, I’m entitled!

(Why I feel so entitled to great weather, I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure it’s not because I’m white.)

Then I reflect on other peoples’ present moment, at that present moment, elsewhere, somewhere that’s not here, that is filled with far more fear, hunger, pain, misery, and hopelessness than mine. Just to keep things in perspective. And because even I get tired of my whinging.

So how do you get all mindful and stuff?

Being mindful and ‘in the moment’ isn’t easy at first, or ever. Your untrained brain is scattered. It’s like going to the gym. You don’t start powerlifting barbells the size of construction girders after a couple of days. Your brain needs practice, and without judgment. It will go off on tangents, because that’s what brains do.

You can be mindful while washing the dishes, putting the kids to bed, taking a walk. Or, you can sit and meditate, maybe five or ten minutes at a time. Sometimes you have to think about the future (plan things) or consider the past (memories), but if your future thinking is worrying, and your past thinking is rubbing salt into old psychic wounds, then these are pointless, unhelpful thought patterns. Focus on something more useful – like the present moment.

(Unless it’s raining and you’re a spoiled First World brat.)

Change doesn’t happen overnight, or even in a year, but it does get easier. People are afraid of it, at first, because the brain doesn’t give up easily, and it distracts you tossing up things from the past, or things you have to do. But with practice, and patience with yourself, you will find yourself less stressed or afraid to be alone with your somewhat less busyness-addled brain. The negative thoughts don’t cycle as much, you’re not afraid of what your brain tosses up. You don’t want to fill your downtime with pointless activities like shopping, Netflix or Facebook. I find I walk without my iPod more than I did before. I walk and be mindful and when I get back an hour later, I feel ready to face the world again.

Oh, cut the crap and get to the point!

Geez, all right! Get present moment-y, like, right now! Just two things:

  • Learn about the mind and how it works, emotional intelligence, how to manage your emotions, how to look at the world differently. Books, videos, websites, podcasts. It’s fascinating stuff! You’ll be relieved to find out you’re not a headcase, that everyone else is exactly like you. Although maybe we’re all headcases!
  • Just practice being. It’s difficult at first because your mind isn’t used to it but be patient. Try to devote at least ten minutes a day – you can find many guided meditations on the Internet if you don’t want to give your brain free reign. Check out local meditation groups. Sit. Focus on your breath or the breeze or the sound of your fridge.

Take some time, feed your spirit, and as the great cow guru Beefpak Chopra used to say, remember to stop and eat the roses. (Although maybe it was a Gary Larson cartoon.)

Live in the present moment! Enjoy the day! And wear your cat’s-eye vintage sunglasses!

(Oh, and don’t eat crap off the sidewalk.)

 Nicole ChardenetNicole Chardenet flogs fintech sales enablement software and interactive videos and freelance writes on the side when she’s not being all mindful and equanimous and stuff. Sure, she looks happy here but that’s because summer finally arrived around mid-August in Toronto. Darwin only knows what she’ll be like in November.

Like all of us she’s a work-in-progress. And just for the record, it’s now early October where it’s STILL summer in Toronto. No lie. But she’s not looking a gift humidex in the mouth.

You can find her blog right here and you can order her novels off Amazon here. She’s on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and beBee. You can even occasionally find her in the present moment.

Why am I so angry? I am furious. The world is becoming a snakepit full of violence and hate.

Are you angry too?


Deplorable Mitch

Mitch is getting ready. He puts on his Lakers shirt, a pair of baggy Jeans and his "Make America great again" cap.

He'll meet with friends to have a few beers (local brew!) and some "real talk."

MAGA. That slogan resonates with him. Like many generation X people, he has less than his elders. Threats everywhere.

Illegals, gays, black people, Islam, terrorists, feminists. Threats everywhere.

His house is under foreclosure. The house where he saw his two kids grow up. Where he spent many auspicious years with his wife. His wife left him last summer. Threats everywhere.

For some intellectual, liberal scum. Mitch's parents couldn't afford to send him to college. Since he lost some toes (diabetes), he can hardly walk and is forced to work a minimum wage job at a fast-food restaurant.

People are getting tired of burgers. The location might close soon. Threats everywhere.

Finally, one politician says it like it is. That's real talk.

Why am I so angry?

Mitch is not angry at greedy rich corporations that don't share the wealth with their workers.

Mitch isn't angry that he is in deep debt because he couldn't afford insurance and has to repay the costs for the amputation of his toes.

Mitch isn't angry at the people who deny scientific findings in favor of corporate interests.

Mitch isn't angry at people who use religion to manipulate and control us.

His brother died in Irak. He's not angry at the people who sent him there.

I am angry too

Greedy corporations and plutocrats fill their pockets while the middle class slowly disappears. They then buy corrupt politicians who's very responsibility is .. or would be ... to take care of us.

why am i so angry

These politicians make sure that we are being fed genetically modified food with built-in pesticides. MSGs that harm our health, Aspartame, long forbidden for human consumption in many countries of the world.

What, you're depressive? Take a prescription and get back in line.

Those of us who can afford health insurance, that is.

We're the only "leading nation" where the life expectancy is going down. Especially of minorities.

Yet, we can afford to play world police (at least, that's how we would like to be perceived. But we're not.) while we cannot make sure that every citizen has access to clean water, proper education, and healthcare.

We speed up the inevitable process of climate change.

Perhaps I am not really angry. More like sad. It's exhausting. You try to make the tiny little difference you can while all around you the world seems to fall into pieces.

State of the world

Perception and measurable reality. I wrote an article back in 2016, called "Why the world is not getting worse." It was pre-trump but I should still go back and read it again.

The thought that comforts me

I'll share with you the thought that comforts me. I am pretty sure that only very few people - if any - will feel the same way. But maybe you have your own thought that gives you new energy when you're tired.

Perhaps you have your own trick or meditation that calms you down when you are rightfully angry.

Anger is not a constructive feeling and the world needs us.

So here it goes (without as much as a hint of scientific credibility):

As humans, we grossly overestimate ourselves. Our importance as well as our relevance and the impact we make in the context of the world. We're a temporary joke in the history of the world.

The purpose of life

While spending hours, days, weeks, months, years and centuries of my life philosophizing about the purpose of life, I came to the following conclusion: I have no idea.

Reproduction probably. But as I did not want kids, I'll go with "blissful ignorance".

So I go about my days trying to make myself and others as happy as I can and enjoy the blessings I have received.

My ability to think.

This thought gives me relief (my insignificance), takes my anger away (a human life is so extremely super short) and at the same time makes me feel obliged to making a positive difference (using my blessings.)

What makes us human

Human beings have the capability to love, feel compassion and empathy. By nature, we are helpful and supportive creatures.

At times it might seem as if a lot of people have replaced their love, empathy, and compassion with hate.

Hate is the product of helplessness. Contempt is the product of a lack of knowledge or insecurity. Aggression is the product of fear.

Mitch should be angry

Mitch has every right to be angry. Perhaps, he should reconsider his conclusion.

While we flirt with the seductive idea of being the "intellectual elite" and better people (delusional much?), we could make an effort to empathize with Mitch.

Mitch does have a point. That pain and fear cloud his vision does not make him a bad person. How about feeling loathing for him with a clear vision?

As Nick Hanauer predicted since 2010: If you starve people for too long they will come with their pitchforks.

An unpopular reference

Adolf Hitler came to power in the midst of an economic crisis. Before you close your mind "you can't compare Hitler to trump" listen up:

He got elected because he promised jobs and a better economy.

His campaign did not include:

  • Killing and torturing of 6 Million Jews
  • Killing 5 Million Non-Jews (Gypsy, Homosexual) ... at the end, even black haired Germans were in danger

It started exactly like this.

It starts with some words. A little bit discriminating, perhaps. Words change our brain. Then the first actions follow. New rules and laws. We hardly notice how they slowly become more cruel, more violent, until we do. It could be too late to speak up then.

First, we tolerate someone mocking disabled reporters and "grabbing women by..... because he can"...

Have a look at this photo series: SPIEGEL PICTURES ... do they look like monsters to you?

What about Mitch?

Good people can and will turn. Good people like Mitch. The process has begun.

Perhaps someone who manipulated Mitch to turn is not a "good" person. He could be mentally ill or evil. The problem with making deals with this type of person is: You can't trust them. You cannot foresee how fast their disease will spread.

Which group will they go after next? Are you really sure it's going to be homosexual people? What if it's obese people? Or little people?

Does it even matter which group gets discriminated (or worse)?

Will we learn from history and act now?

Grab this audio if you need a brain-hug to replenish: Goodness

Does Kombucha help you lose weight?

Is diet drink Kombucha just a trend?

Kombucha and Weight Loss Ingredients

Recently, I have been reading a lot about how Kombucha is the new weight loss wonder drink. New week - new weight loss wonder, right?

Let's investigate if Kombucha lives up to the hype.

Kombucha is being used in China for over 2000 years and for hundreds of years through Asia and Europe for its health benefits.

I drank and make my own Kombucha tea around 20 years ago. Now Kombucha is a trendy drink that is said to aid in weight loss. Is that true?

Preamble: Limits of our analytical thinking

We have learned to think in categories of cause and effect. Risks and benefits. Therefore, we want to analyze and understand exactly how organic products work.

The advantage of industrially produced goods is that we know their chemical structures. We can investigate how the individual components act in the body and most of the time understand their biological action. Once we understand the biological action, we can conclude side effects and effects.

While synthetic remedies contain one or few active substances, natural components like Kombucha can contain up to 70 different substances. We cannot understand all the effects and interactions of the single components.

Just look at the market of synthetic vitamins, for example. That's a billion dollar business. Even though lots(!) of money went in researching how vitamins work, companies until this day could not provide a synthetic vitamin that delivers the same positive effects as i.e. an apple.

With organic substances, we have to accept that we will not fully understand how they work and have to trust our own observations and those of our elders.

That said, Russian scientists have done extensive research on the effects of Kombucha and I will share their findings with you.

We will look at

  • What is Kombucha?
  • What benefits does it have?
  • Different opinions
  • Does it aid in weight loss?
  • How can I make my own Kombucha?
  • Where can I get supplies

What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a functional food. Often referred to as "tea mushroom" it is really a "symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast" (SCOBY). Kombucha is being made by fermenting sweetened tea (green or black or a mix). The SCOBY spreads vegetatively through sprouting or partition (fission).

The SCOBY produces a gelatinous substance at the surface of the tea.

The color can range from pink to dark brown, depending on the tea you use and the environment (temperature, sugar). Also, every Scoby has its own character, and the Kombucha tastes slightly different.

The origin is probably China, where they used it for over 2000 years. In many European and Asian countries, Kombucha is seen as a medicine and power drink for hundreds of years.

Tea that has fermented to Kombucha tastes sweet-sour and vinegary. It contains bubbles. Also, it does contain a small amount of alcohol (similar to alcohol-free beer, app. 0.5%) so that it is not recommended for recovering alcoholics. Because it contains sugar, it is not suitable for diabetes patients.

SCOBY for making Kombucha for loosing weight

The look of the SCOBY is irritating at first for most people. If your SCOBY had ears, it would be pretty painful for him. "Ugly pancake" is one of the nicer descriptions of people who see it for the first time.

Benefits of Kombucha

Kombucha contains lots of bioactive substances: vitamins, minerals, enzymes, organic acids and trace elements.   In Asia and Europe, Kombucha traditionally is used to harmonize the metabolism.

  • Kombucha has strong detoxifying features
  • Strengthens immune system
  • Aids digestion
  • Natural antibiotic and anti-inflammatory
  • Antiviral
  • Helpful for people suffering from arteriosclerosis and hypertonia
  • Supports the nervous system
  • Enhances the absorption of iron

Russian scientists carried out extensive research (Litvinow, Zakmann, Danielova, Skarjan, Sukiasjan, Naumova, Barbancik, Konovalov, Ermoleva and others) and found evidence that the antibacterial features of Kombucha opens up a wide field of applications.  

Opposite to other antibiotics, Kombucha does not come with side effects. Usnic acid is responsible for the antibacterial effect.The detoxifying effect is so strong that scientists found impressive amounts of exotoxins and pollutants (including heavy metals like mercury and lead) in the urine of test persons after they consumed Kombucha.

Kombucha is said to prevent and fight cancer. I will not dig into that because cancer is a life-threatening disease that has to be treated by experts. Recent studies suggest though that the active component in Kombucha is glucaric acid that is said to prevent cancer.In any way, it makes the liver work more efficient, as the glucaric acid is an inhibitor of bacterial enzymes that helps in eliminating glucuronic acid produced by the liver.

Different opinions

There are also some critical voices about Kombucha. One must not forget that a lot of the skepticism spread about Kombucha - like many other natural remedies - originates from sources that have their own agenda.A "warning article" (from a vendor of overpriced "wonder diet powder") I recently read made me write this article.

Vendors make billions of dollars with supplements, weight loss aids and wellness products. They have no interest in us switching to homemade remedies and solutions that cost pennies and takes business away from them. Those who are in favor of Kombucha mostly lack the funds to finance extensive scientific studies.

Let's just keep in mind that raw chicken can kill us and that contamination of food in unhygienic environments is a general problem - not a problem unique to Kombucha.

The common objections are:

  • Contains minimal alcohol
  • Contamination possible in unhygienic environments
  • Can mold

Read the report of the BC Center of Disease Control HERE.  In my personal view: If you conducted studies on any other food product from your kitchen, your findings would be that unsterile environments can cause contamination. Looking at the high number of food scandals and contaminants and harmful substances found in food of the big manufacturers, that does not seem to be a problem that only applies to "homemade" - or kombucha.   Any product used wrong, produced wrong or produced in an unhygienic environment can lead to problems.  

While mold could be an issue if your Kombucha is kept very cold or contaminated by dirty water etc - after over 20 years of experience I still have to see mold on my cultures. Should the rare case happen I figure throwing it out just like any other food that went bad will do the trick. I find these objections reassuring as it just shows that even when people try to find arguments against Kombucha they have a hard time coming up with more than arguments that apply to every chicken leg.

Put in perspective, I believe it is safe to say that Kombucha is unobjectionable and harmless.

For what it is worth: Kombucha has been safety checked by the FDA.

Kombucha and Weight Loss

Kombucha is neither an appetite suppressant nor a meal replacement.

But the features of Kombucha make it a weight loss "weapon":

  • Strong detoxifying effect supports the liver that consequently has more capacity for working on fat.
  • Poor digestion is a common reason for weight gain. Kombucha helps with that.
  • Balances intestinal flora.
  • Regulates appetite (also helpful for underweight people!), reduces cravings.
  • Speeds up metabolism.

Kombucha is not the "new wonder diet" but America discovering an ancient remedy. None of this applies to store bought Kombucha!

When used for dieting, a glass of Kombucha like 30 minutes before dinner and lunch has shown the best results.

Objectively, Kombucha is great and effective for losing weight. This is backed up by lots of real success stories by people who use it.

Give it a try. You will notice the positive effects within 2 days.

Making your own Kombucha

Kombucha is very easy to make at home. It is also very inexpensive and low maintenance. I do not recommend the overpriced ready-made drinks from supermarkets. First of all, vendors had to change the recipe to remove/standardize the insignificant amount of alcohol. Second, "real" Kombucha continues to ferment. To make sure that vendors offer a consistent quality - even if the drink sits on the shelf for months - they had to further tweak the drink.

Basically, the Kombucha sold in stores is not "alive" anymore. That makes me doubt that the positive benefits are still provided. Also, Kombucha drinks sold in stores are often overly sweet. They are pasteurized. Pasteurization kills beneficial micro-organisms.

Personally, I did not notice any positive effects from ready-made Kombucha I bought from stores and consumed in restaurants.

Every article on how to make Kombucha will tell you a bit of a different recipe. They all work because your SCOBY does not demand much more than a warm place, a clean storage to ferment, sweetened tea and a bit of time.

The only thing I disagree with: Most recipes will advise that you let the tea steep for 3-5 minutes. That is too short. You should let it steep for at least 15 minutes as the SCOBY feeds on the ingredients dissolved from the tea leaves.

Do not use flavored tea.

If you worry about the exorbitant amount of sugar: Your SCOBY will "eat" most of it. The end product is only lightly sweet. When you add too little sugar your SCOBY will be hungry and your Kombucha will have a very vinegary taste. You can use regular white sugar, but you will have the best results with cane sugar, organic sugar.   All you need to get started:

  • 1 SCOBY (will reproduce itself)
  • Sugar (preferably organic, raw sugar)
  • Black or green tea (or both, organic.... I use black tea only)
  • Glass container for fermentation
  • Bottles to store the drink (I advise to use glass bottles)
  • Kitchen linen/cheesecloth or paper towel
  • A rubber ring
  • Optional: Strainer

How to ferment your own tea:

  1. Wash your hands for at least 2 minutes without soap. You can use a bit of vinegar, just no soap, especially not antibacterial soap.
  2. Clean fermentation glass/container with hot water to remove any chemical residue and clean a pot that can hold a gallon of water.
    Do not use dishwashing detergent or any other chemicals. Your SCOBY is very sensitive to chemicals.
  3. Pour a gallon of (filtered if you can or else unfiltered) water into the pot and let the water cook for 3-5 minutes. Many people skip that step and just pour boiling water over their tea. As far as I know, with the same excellent results.
  4. Add black or green tea or both (6-8 bags per gallon). Loose leaves are often of higher quality, but tea bags will work just fine.
    Either way, use boiling water. Steep for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Dissolve sugar (1 cup per gallon).
  6. Let the sweetened tea cool down and pour over your SCOBY.
    Never use hot tea!
  7. Fixate paper towel, cheesecloth or kitchen linen with a rubber ring on opening. The SCOBY should be able to breathe and be protected from fruit flies.
  8. Wait 6-12 days. At a room temperature of over 20 degrees celsius, the fermentation process will be quicker while at a colder place it might take over 6 days. You will soon get a feeling for the right time. If you want to be sure you can use test stripes (you will find in the store below).
  9. Leave at least 10% of the fermented tea drink with your SCOBY (20-30% of the liquid will result in the faster fermentation of the next batch).
  10. Enjoy the remaining 90% and ...


  1. Clean your SCOBY with water. Remove discolored spaces if you like.
  2. Put your SCOBY in the liquid you left over (the more of the finished Kombucha you add, the faster the fermentation process starts) with the lighter side (freshly grown) up.
  3. Wash the SCOBY every time with water; wash the jar every few weeks.

General notes:

  • Store the finished product in the refrigerator. Else it will continue to ferment fast.
  • Depending on your room temperature, the Kombucha will ferment faster (warm) or slower (cold).
  • SCOBY should NOT be stored in the refrigerator, only the finished product.
  • Your SCOBY can look weird in different ways. He might look bubbly or discolored. All of that is fine.
  • Your SCOBY might sink to the bottom or swim on top. Both is fine. If it sinks to the bottom, a new one will grow on top.
  • Do not drink before 6 days.
  • If your Kombucha tastes too vinegary, you did not use enough sugar (and your SCOBY was starving).
  • Should your Kombucha ever smell weird or not produce a new gelatine layer, pour the Kombucha away, add 2-3 tablespoons of (organic!) vinegar and restart.
  • Your SCOBY grows in light or dark spaces but should not stand directly in the sun.
  • Treat him well and your SCOBY can last a lifetime.
  • If you are going on vacation for a few weeks: No problem. Just leave your SCOBY at a cooler place and pour the "overripe" Kombucha away when you are back home and restart the culture.
  • If your SCOBY gets too thick and big, just remove the darker (older) side. Do that eventually, as the SCOBY will grow too big.
  • You will read different recommendations on how much you should drink. While you should start with a little to offer your body the time to get used to the fermented drink, you can basically drink as much as you want.

Kombucha supplies

As mentioned before, Kombucha is not only very uncomplicated to make but also very inexpensive.

Find everything you need to get started HERE

Final Verdict

As mentioned before, I am drinking Kombucha for about 20 years now. My personal experience, and the experience of clients and friends, is only positive.

Used in the Asian culture for hundreds of years for its health benefits, we can make Kombucha at home easy and inexpensive.

The drink is very helpful for anyone who wants to aid their digestion and strengthen the immune system. Anti-inflammatory features enhanced metabolism and liver function help to lose weight and result in normalized appetite.

Therefore, Kombucha is a helpful diet drink.

Questions? Drop me an email.

Order Kombucha

And if you are looking to lose weight, I recommend you reserve your spot in this free webinar HERE

The Dangers Of MSG’s 

The dangers of MSG's are still being underestimated. MSG or mono sodium glutamate is often used in canned vegetables, soups, Chinese food, and processed meats as a flavor enhancer.   

Dangers of MSG, fda, msg's

  It has been the under much scrutiny lately as people are fearing the dangers of MSG’s and the health concerns related to the consumption of this flavor enhancer.    The FDA (Food And Drug Administration) considers MSG as a generally safe food ingredient. However, this still remains as controversial. Because it is still controversial, the FDA does require it to be listed on food labels. 
I would like the know if the FDA employees feed their own kids MSG's. Probably not.    They are being hidden under different labels (see below) or even the general description "spice mix", "natural". 

What Are The Dangers Of MSG’s 

  This food additive has been used for decades. Over many years there have been reports of adverse reactions after consuming foods containing MSG. They have labeled these reactions as “MSG symptom complex”. Some of the adverse reactions that have been reported are: 

  • Chest pain 
  • Weakness 
  • Nausea 
  • Facial tightness and pressure 
  • Sweating 
  • Headache 
  • Flushing 
  • Fluttering and rapid heartbeat otherwise known as palpitations 
  • Tingling, burning, or numbness of the neck, face, and other areas 
  • Depression 
  • Moodiness and irritability 
  • Irritable bowel syndrome 
  • Weight gain*

* While every food or additive that is poisonous for our body keeps our livers busy from working on fat MSG's also cause severe cravings.    

Does your kid have ADHD?

As many other Holistic Nutritionist Consultants I believe that this disease is purely caused by additives including but not limited to MSG's.   

The processed foods that we consume fill our bodies with additives. 

Dangers of MSG, fda, msg's

80% of processed foods contain MSG’s. After consuming these processed foods, it will set off a variety of these adverse reactions. Depending on your body’s ability to tolerate MSG, is a determining factor on how hard and fast the symptoms will hit you.    MSG laced foods can be devastating to our organs. It can make people feel lousy for a short while, but can potentially make you very sick. The only way to avoid this is to eat unprocessed, whole foods.    MSG And Food Labels Looking at the labeling on the foods you buy may not be telling the whole truth. You may see “contains no MSG” or “no added MSG” or “MSG-free”. 

There is a nasty loophole in the laws 

  That loophole allows these processed food to be marked this way and can still contain glutamate, which is the main chemical in MSG. These phrases that are frequently seen on the labels is no guarantee that the food you are buying is glutamate free.    Even some of the organic foods we buy can be hiding nasty stuff. Most of the time, if we look very closely at the labels we can see glutamate there. Some of the common disguises companies use to add MSG’S to their products are: 

Dangers of MSG, fda, msg's
  • Hydrolyzed yeast extract 
  • Textured vegetable protein 
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein 
  • Autolyzed vegetable protein 
  • Autolyzed yeast extract 
  • Plant protein extract 
  • Yeast extract 
  • Textured whey protein 
  • Textured soy protein 

  Some of the insipid terms that manufacturers use are natural flavor and spice which can indicate MSG is present. Almost all of the processed food made especially for children contain high levels of MSG. These include pasta mixes and prepared pastas, chicken noodle and alphabet soup, those microwavable cups and the dinners that are packaged and marketed for children.     A meal of MSG containing food can raise the blood level of excitotoxin (a chemical that over stimulates the brain and causes an excess production of dopamine) to a blood level value that in primates is shown to destroy brain cells. Children's brains are four times more sensitive to damage by these excitotoxins than the brain of adults.   

How about Diabetes?

Researchers noted:  "Aspartame (ASP) and Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) are ubiquitous food additives with a common moiety: both contain acidic amino acids which can act as neurotransmitters, interacting with NMDA receptors concentrated in areas of the Central Nervous System regulating energy expenditure and conservation."

Sorry, Ramen is not your friend

One of the favorite foods of Americans is Ramen. No wonder. MSG's trap you into addiction and cravings. What exactly makes people worldwide crave those soggy noodles so much?  

Who's side is the FDA on?

  Regular readers of my blog already know my opinion on Aspartame (an artificial sweetener that is totally legal in the US but banned for human consumption in most parts of Europe) and many other ingredients that are scientifically proven to be unhealthy and dangerous.

Why does the FDA not step in?   Maybe the FDA is just too busy with criminalizing organic farmers and those devilish people who want to sell us one of the healthiest foods: organic raw milk?

How about GMO? GMO labeling? ...I will not even go there...

What can you do?

  • Invest 0.99 cent to educate yourself further: https://amzn.to/1KqTLuH
  • In Asian restaurants ask that no MSG is added to your food 
  • Reduce the amount of processed food or investigate the label carefully 
  • Buy single spices rather than mixes
  • Check even "organic" and "natural" mixes for yeast
  • Eat unprocessed raw foods as much as you can


I’m not sure about you, but this is enough to make me start choosing my foods more wisely, taking the time to read the labels carefully. Don’t be fooled by the labeling that claims to have no MSG’s. This silent and widespread killer has been called “worse than nicotine, alcohol, and many other drugs” Unfortunately, the danger of MSG may be hiding in your kitchen cabinets at this moment.


It's tiny. Others are much bigger.

But it was smaller. Compared to how little it was, it grew a lot.

Rather than size, perhaps we should admire who challenges their status quo.

A long time ago when the light was still deciding who got in and who doesn't, yellow was in trouble.

Light took a liking for green, so green got in.

Yellow was sad and silently awaited its turn.

Light wasn't too thrilled about blue either. Blue took a seat next to yellow, and together they cried. They asked green repeatedly to share the light with them. Green refused.

Green had everything, but it wanted more, more, more!

"Blue," yellow said, "if I slide into you or you slide into me, we can create our own green." Blue thought about it for a moment. It liked the idea.

Meanwhile, yellow called green, and after repeated pleas, condescending green granted a short audience.

"Green," said yellow. "Blue and I are going to mix. We'll create our own green."

Green got yellow in the face and apologized for the "misunderstanding."

Yellow got lemons.

Green got limes.

Today (02/19) we’re back in the Paris climate agreement. As the second largest offender (after China with way more citizens), this is significant news for the world!

Biden promised to re-enter the agreement on his first day in office - and he did. The 30-day wait period has ended today, and we’re back in!

According to President Biden, America will become a leading nation in the fight against global warming. He appointed John Kerry as the special representative for the White House. Biden declares fighting global warming a top priority.

USA second largest offender after China

Under trump, the US left the agreement back on November. Read HERE.

The war for attention is real, and it's brutal. Players who think they control the game are played by bigger players. And for what? For ad revenue.

Companies like facebook, Google, & Co don't care what they have to do to maximise profit. If we spend more time on their sites (increasing our exposure to advertisements and the data these companies sell to data brokers) when we're sad, they'll make us sad.

If we interact more with advertisements when we're angry, they'll make us angry.

They know everything about us, what makes us tick and every insecurity, and they will use this knowledge to present us with offers. With no concern for our well-being, mental health or happiness.

I mention this in several of my articles, for instance, when I talk about the danger of social media for our mirror neurons, how social media makes us lonely, why negativity sells but is a two-sided sword, and so on.

But the reason for this quick post is that in his daily newsletter, Seth Godin put it in words better than I ever could. If you're not subscribed to his newsletter...why not?

A few additional ideas about what you can do to amplify possibility:

  • Support the quiet ones that work on supporting, not distracting you
  • Don't waste time with useless communication (every time you gossip, listen to gossip, show off or listen to someone else showing off)
  • Remove yourself from occasions where you're just being exploited

Now, let's hear it from the master, Seth Godin:

USA Left Paris Climate Agreement[tcb-noscript]USA Left Paris Climate Agreement[/tcb-noscript]

It’s official. The US has left the Paris Climate agreement. What now? 

The most important questions answered.

In 2015, 197 Nations of the world agreed to keep global warming well below 1.5 °C, aiming for 2.0 °C, including the United States. As the second largest offender our involvement in greenhouse gas emission reduction is crucial.

We’re the only of 200 countries to back off. What’s the impact? Why did we do that? What does our exit on November 4th mean? Can we just re-enter the agreement? Will this Friday be a true #FridaysForFuture?

Why was the exit on election day?

Pure coincidence. A nation can declare their withdrawal three years after signing the contract at the earliest with a one-year notice. trump did so a year ago. Unless he planned for it, it is pure coincidence.

What are the consequences?

After China, we’re the nation with the highest CO2 emissions. China did not sign the agreement. The US and China account for over 40% of greenhouse gas emissions, making it difficult for the remaining countries to achieve their goal without US (pun intended.) There’s always the risk that other countries might drop out too. However, so far there’s no indication that might happen. Also, nearly 4000 states, cities, universities and corporations declared “We are still in.” Independent of who will become the next President of the United States, the climate friendly trend from the past ten years will continue. Problematic is that trump removed at least 70 environmental and climate protection regulations. The full list is linked at the bottom.

Why wanted trump to exit the agreement?

His two major motives are his belief that global warning is a hoax invented by China, and signaling to his supporters he’s protecting US workers (summarized in his legendary Tweet.)

Will Joe Biden re-enter the Paris Climate Agreement and is it possible?

He said he would do so on the first day on the job. There’s no sign he wouldn’t take climate protection and international collaboration seriously. The formality of writing a letter to UN secretary-general António Guterres is the simple part. The difficult part is putting policies into action that show how we want to achieve the greenhouse gas reduction goal.

Will international climate projection be on track if we rejoin?

If the second largest offender (re)joins the pact, it’s a huge win for the world. However, even with the US on board, we all have to do much better to reach our goal. Re-entering the Paris Climate agreement would be a first and important step.


Statement of the WMO (World Meteorological Organization) below:https://public.wmo.int/en/our-mandate/climate/wmo-statement-state-of-global-climate

Environment roll-back list:https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/climate/trump-environment-rollbacks-list.html

Will this Friday be a true #FridaysforFuture?

Your guess is as good as mine. As of today, 11/05 they're still counting. I'm positive, though. 

And if you're wondering what the small things are that each of us can do, I made a video for you.

Small things are not small after all. 

I'll post simple tips to reduce your carbon footstep in the next hour. 

Recklessness in times of crisis

The number of Corona infections is rising, and it’s partly related to psychology. Why are we reckless in times of a crisis?

danger vs risk


Risk vs Danger - are they the same?
Why security increases our risk
Faster, harder, louder (personal story)
Why we take unnecessary risks
Recklessness in times of Corona

Risk vs Danger - are they the same?

We use the terms danger and risk synonymously, and that’s confusing as they are different things. For instance, a lion is a danger. Approaching the lion is a risk that increases the closer we get. It’s less of a risk to approach a lion in a cage - but that doesn’t decrease the danger of the lion.

So we can control risk, but not absolutely.

How we perceive risk has to do with our perspective. That leads to under- or overestimating risks and different assessments. Our culture and social environment also play a part in forming our fears. For instance, someone who is living in a war zone has other fears than someone who lives in a peaceful country. The risk assessment for something simple, such as leaving your house and crossing the street is different.

Different assessments of risks lead to different behavior and actions

Why security increases our risk

People love security. They long for the one form of security that doesn’t exist: absolute security. The paradoxical is that we stop being careful when we get used to feeling secure. Our life becomes more dangerous when we feel secure.

That’s when we get reckless and take unnecessary risks. We look for kicks and something that makes us feel alive.

Organized life, job, chores, responsibilities. Complying to please and avoid trouble. Routine. Same ole routine.

Since ancient times, people did things that are a little harmful. We do things knowing they’re not good for us. We go to bed too late, drink too much, eat junk food until we’re diabetic and don’t stop eating sugar once we are… some people love extreme sports and others attend super spreader events without a mask.

Aurorasa Sima Quote: Security isn't avoiding all risks. Security is navigating through them.

Faster, harder, louder

Maybe you can relate: When I was 20 or even 30, I knew what death is on a conceptual level. Meaning I knew that people die, but I didn’t really understand it. Whether it was speeding on the highway or ignoring well-meant advice: I felt immortal. Or that this disease and that misfortune could not happen to me.

For instance, I refused to wear a seat belt and (in Germany where on some sections of highways there’s no speed limit (YES!)) I thought nothing bad could happen to me. When one day a car hit me from the side so severely that the door and cabin were “on” me, I crashed into the windshield so hard it cracked. Some of my hair got stuck in the cracks. The Alfa Romeo Giulia was a write-off and I? I had a small bruise and a tiny scratch on the forehead.

We had a saying, back in German, that drunk people and children have an angel watching over them.

That’s total nonsense. So are other stupid sayings such as "a plane could crash on my head."

Does that mean we are inconsiderate, selfish people? Why are we doing things we know are risky or not good for us?

Several factors play into this:

Why we take unnecessary risks

Blending things out is critical to our survival

Danger and risks are surrounding us. If we'd constantly look at every risk and assumed everything bad could happen to us, we would become depressive and paralyzed by fear.

You probably know a few people yourself who achieve little because they fear risks and consider every potential problem and worst-case-scenario in their decision-making process and action plans. In our Project Empathy Training, we refer to them as "Doublecheckers."

As always, moderation is key. A little paranoia aids us in achieving our goals, while too much of it hinders us and can even render us unlivable.

Our brain craves quick rewards

The brain reward system (BRA) is a group of neural structures responsible for positive emotions such as joy, euphoria, ecstasy, associative learning, and our desire and craving for quick rewards.

The brain releases dopamine, especially generously for survival-related things like eating and drinking. Rising the dopamine level is the brain’s way to teach us a behaviour was important and we should repeat it.

These ancient instincts don’t get updated and they don’t take into account the amount of chemicals and harmful ingredients and that our calorie requirement has changed since our days as hunter-gatherers.

On a side note: Diet begins in the brain. I’ll add some resources at the end of this article and there's a free training HERE.

Belonging and social acceptance

We know we get a pat on the head if we work long hours, even though we know it’s not good for us. For approval, we’re willing to do risky things to stand out. And also the opposite: For fitting in with a group, we might change our behavior. Or we let someone talk us into having a drink when we don’t want to.

Herd instinct

We’re more likely to give up responsibility and let someone (or the herd) lead us when we’re part of a group. We imitate the leader, even if he has a questionable opinion or leads us to doing something we would not normally do. You probably heard “it’s infectious,” and you can read why that is the case in this article: THE POWER OF MIRROR NEURONS.

Recklessness in times of Corona

Most of us are too optimistic regarding disease. We think we'll never get certain diseases and bad things will mostly happen to others. It's a delusion, but a healthy one.

Having confident expectations and a positive outlook keeps us happy and also physically and mentally fit. However, we overestimate the amount of control we have over our destiny. With a pandemic, this can lead to dangerous mistakes.

Failure to assess the risk

"I'll be lucky" is a risky mindset. The problematic part is that people who do not assess the risk correctly, also risk the lives of others.

About 42% of people believe they won't get COVID-19. I read fluctuating numbers regarding the amount of people who find the protective measures over the top. Let's say 30% to be on the safe side.

Personal experience vs statistics

Personal experience beats data every time. We're self-isolating, social distancing, and wearing masks for a long time and some of us did not have a severe COVID-19 case in their tribe/family.

Because many of us have not experienced the danger of the virus personally, we lose the sense of risk. Articles and statistics don't seem to change that.

Difficulty to see our friends as risks

Besides our healthy but delusional optimism regarding disease, our emotional problem is to see our friend, teacher, the person in need as danger.

On an emotional level we feel "That friend I know for so long that doesn't show any symptoms will not infect me."

Leaders send false messages

In some countries with populist leaders, people receive false information. In America, we're still being told (as if a virus would be a matter of politics rather than policies and as if a virus cares if you believe in it or not) Corona isn't as bad as the other party makes you believe.

Remember what we said earlier about the cultural aspect of fears and the herd effect.

Honestly, I am surprised that knowingly risking other people's lives is still legal. It should not be legal.

Have a look at the development of infection rates before and after some of trump's super-spreader events on USA TODAY.

There's a saying, and that's my...



Positive illusions and well-being revisited: Separating fact from fiction.