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Thanks to Hell Toupee for allowing us to publish the FAQ here, and for the endless hours spent compiling it.

 

A list of frequently asked questions about
radio talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger
and the a.r.t.d-l newsgroup.

 

"If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back
home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with
treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it's not for the timid."
-- Q with Picard in "Q Who"

 

If you are new to artd-l, please read this FAQ. Reading the newsgroup for a few weeks before making your initial posting is another good idea. Many topics regularly come up for discussion on this newsgroup - a search of DejaNews http://www.dejanews.com/ can turn up issues previously covered on artd-l which are not included in this FAQ. For those preferring to jump right in, try posting a low-key introduction, or asking a question.

A common mistake made by many newbies is to post the same old arguments to this newsgroup. We've only seen them posted - oh, several hundred times by now, and frankly we're all sick of reading them. Feeling masochistic? Post any of these and wait for your roasting. Dr. Charlie lists the arguments and describes their logical flaws in his 'Corpus Argumenti Lauretti' at http://extra.newsguy.com/~satire/Corpus.htm  Please read it before making your first post to the newsgroup.

Note: the abbreviation 'DL' for Dr. Laura is used in this FAQ.

This FAQ consists of six parts.

1. General information

2. Cast of characters in artd-l

3. Frequently Asked Questions about artd-l

(3.1) Is there a listing of radio stations that carry the DL show?

(3.2) I want to get Dr. Laura's help with a moral dilemma. Will she answer a message I post here?

(3.3) Does Dr. Laura know about this newsgroup?

(3.4) Why do so many artd-l posters call themselves 'doctor'?

(3.5) What's with these silly .sigs? What are these Jackals, BsDs, Master Baiters, High Councilors of the New Usenet Order, etc?

(3.6) What's a basher?

(3.7) What's the difference between a 'Laurette' and a 'Laura supporter'?

(3.8) Why is the atmosphere on this newsgroup so nasty?

(3.9) Why do people oppose DL?

(3.10) Why do people support DL?

(3.11) For pete's sake, it's just a radio show. If you don't like her, why don't you just turn off that radio? After all, by listening aren't you increasing her ratings?

(3.12) What's a cite?

(3.13) What's a troll? What's a sock puppet?

(3.14) What's Godwin's Law?

(3.15) Are there other Dr. Laura forums on the Internet?

4. Frequently Asked Questions about Dr. Laura Schlessinger

(4.1) Who is 'Dr. Laura'?

(4.2) Is she really a doctor?

(4.3) So what's a physiologist? I hear it's a glorified gym teacher.

(4.4) I thought she was a psychiatrist/psychologist/psychotherapist?

(4.5) Well, if she's really a Ph.D., what's wrong with her calling herself 'Dr.' Laura?

(4.6) What's the story on her mother? Her sister?

(4.7) Her husband and son?

(4.8) I heard a rumor about DL's son and the family home burning down...

(4.9) What's DL's view on religion in marriage?

(4.10) When did DL convert to Judaism? When did Lew convert to Judaism?

(4.11) Did DL really have an affair while she was married?

(4.12) Did DL really pose for nude photos?

(4.13) What are DL's views on pregnancy, infertility treatment, and adoption?

(4.14) DL is a working mom herself, but comes down hard on working moms. What gives?

(4.15) What's the controversy about DL's views on circumcision?

(4.16) Has DL changed her views on homosexuality?

(4.17) What's the 'Dallas Incident'?

(4.18) I've heard DL used to be on the board of a skeptics' organization.

(4.19) How long has Laura been in the radio biz?

(4.20) What happened to Larry Metzler? To Ernestia O'Steen? To the former webmaster of her website?

(4.21) What's with her feud with Howard Stern?

(4.22) So, what're DL's show ratings? Is she bigger than Rush? Bigger than Stern?

(4.23) What's her connection with 'Hooked on Phonics'?

(4.24) Why do you call DL a hypocrite?

(4.25) But she doesn't do any of those things anymore, so who cares if she used to?

(4.26) What do you people expect from her, a public apology? An admission of misdeeds?

5. Timeline of significant events in Dr. Laura's life

6. Links to more information about DL (pro and con) and related subjects

 

Part 1

General information

 

The charter for alt.radio.talk.dr-laura

alt.radio.talk.dr-laura is a forum to discuss radio talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger and her many enterprises. All points of view are welcome and none are discouraged. Participants are encouraged to follow all the rules of netiquette. All posters are warned that this is a freewheeling group where timidity might be a liability.

 

The Dr. Laura show archives

http://www.broadcast.com/premrad/shows/drlaura/

Return to Table of Contents

 

 

Part 2

Cast of characters in artd-l

- some of the regular participants in the newsgroup

 

On the one side of the newsgroup, the DL critics, including:

Who's to blame...errr, Founder of Usenet newsgroup alt.radio.talk.dr-laura

Dr. Tim Hill (BsD), the man with the biggest .sig on artd-l. Dr. Tim also created alt.fan.art-bell. alt.radio.talk.dr-laura came into existence in August 1996. Visit Dr. Tim's Dr. Laura Parody Page and artd-l home page at http://extra.newsguy.com/~satire/laura.htm

 

artd-l reigning Goddess

Rev. Dr. Maddi Hausmann Sojourner (of The Little Church of the Sun, Moon, Drinking Lots of Beer and Doing the Wild Thing Outdoors.) Expert, What Is Funny, and More Importantly, What Is Not. Author of the Dr. Laura Drinking Game http://extra.newsguy.com/~satire/maddi.htm, played by the artd-l regulars at Gary's (Waay2spike) bar. Maddi also happens to be her kids' mom.

 

1HASCCoSTotI - the official religion of artd-l

St. Dr. Charlie (BsD, ABD) is Pope and Founder of The First Holy Apostolic Catholic Church of Saint Tezcatlipoca of the Internet (1HASCCoSTotI.) Tezcatlipoca's commandment is "Thou shalt mock." Only Dr. Charlie could come up with the perfect Internet religion. In need of spiritual counseling? Pope St. Dr. Charlie's your man. Just watch what you say about duct tape.

 

Get yer gen-u-wine lawyers on artd-l!

Who said lawyers aren't funny? Think you're qualified to argue legal issues on artd-l? Well, don't say you weren't warned...

TJ - The newsgroup Hero - (just ask the Goddess) and our source for info on California code regarding MFCCs. Watch out for TJ's posts - they've got sharp edges.

Mitch (Ala67) - He acts. He's done comedy improv. He's even played an unethical lawyer on video. But all you really need to know about Mitch is that he's got a demon in his underwear.

Dr. George Byrd - If we still had the Pack of Jackals (see below), he'd be one, too. George fits in well here, which could be cause for concern regarding his future career prospects.

 

They've got cites and they know how to use them

Brien Sullivan - The unsung gentleman-scholar of artd-l. He'll strip your argument with such aplomb, you'll cheer without noticing that you stand there naked and shivering before Tezcatlipoca and everyone. Whether he's applying reason and logic to tear apart a spurious claim or exposing the arrogant with a witty barb, his posts are always worth reading.

Br'er Axel - You can't slide a claim past him, mainly because he can pull the data faster than anybody. And unlike all too many posters, he understands it. Get your sources lined up before you engage with him. Axel's one of the more cheerily hedonistic denizens of artd-l. Not that we're jealous.

Eric, da Red - master of the understatement, he can strip the flesh from an argument and expose the rot beneath. And be funny while he does it.

 

Lew Ain't Got Much to Do Industries

Brought to you by Neutrodyne, the parodic marketing genius of artd-l. Distributors of many fine products including the official Dr. Lorna 'Vibrating Carp' Single Mother Vibrator! And for Single Fathers - the Dorkus Slapslinger Ku Klux Clam! Now at a webpage near you!

 

Dicky, we hardly see ya

Dicky Dunn - Actor, writer, active in the radio biz. A conservative who cares very much about keeping government small and doesn't care much for DL. Busy with projects so we don't see him round here nearly as often as we'd like.

 

Author of those half-assed recaps

Dr. Otis posts a daily recap of the show on this newsgroup. This helps people locate calls that are the subject of threads. We appreciate his heroic efforts - thanks, Dr. Otis!

 

 

In the middle (how'd that happen?) of the newsgroup, those not taking any particular side at all:

<...sound of crickets...>

Well.... maybe there's....

Fred Rosenblatt, the calmest presence on artd-l. (Or was, until he asked to be considered for the Antichrist position.) He's a darned good resource about Judaism, too.

 

 

On the other side of the newsgroup, those supporting DL, including:

Watch that net - she spikes

Fabbabs, the DL supporter who caught on fastest how to score in this newsgroup. She'll smack that point right back across the newsgroup. Make her laugh - it messes up her aim.

 

Shaken? Stirred? Cracked? You decide.

Icebreaker - Though he's said he'd rather find a more pro-DL forum to hang out on, to his credit he's toughing it out around here. And perhaps to his (and others') surprise, on occasion he and some liberals will end up on the same side of an issue. Ask him about that 007 thing.

 

Rhymes with tree - whee!

The legendary Regular Guy - "If it ain't right, it's wrong." Possessor of the most famous killfile - whoops, that's KILLFILE - on artd-l. RG stepped out for a while, but now he's back. Go on, start something with him.

 

The DL supporter who came in from the Pack

Charles Kinbote, formerly known in his DL critic days as Dr. Glossop. A worthy contributor with an acerbic touch, authoring many of the most incisive posts from the pro-DL side of the newsgroup. He sets a tough standard for his cohorts to attain. Unsurprising, since he started out as a critic.

 

"You are Satan's own, and I rebuke you"

Poly, seen here in the earlier days of the newsgroup. A conservative and religious DL supporter then on his third marriage - and from posts found on Usenet, apparently in the market for spouse number four. If only he'd stuck around long enough to meet Ruth. They could've taken turns rebuking us - and eventually, each other. Poly's killfile was nearly as notorious as Regular Guy's.

 

 

On the flaky side, oddballs who've stormed, staggered, or stumbled through artd-l include:

 

Roy Masters, Roy Masters, Roy Masters. Did I mention Roy Masters?

The infamous Ruth Wright of Roy Masters and webtv fame. Missing a few buttons on her remote control. Several nuts over fruitcake minimum. Her little choo-choo done jumped its track. Need I say more? Ruth left artd-l for the - how'd you guess? - Roy Masters webtv newsgroup. Wright-O.

 

Toys in the attic, Trollboy in the dumpster

Heck, what can one say about an adolescent Aerosmith fan who thinks calling people 'fags' is the pinnacle of wit? Not much beyond naming him Usenet's Best Argument for Birth Control.

 

The assemblage known as CEEK

-- appeared to have left the newsgroup, but now she/he/he/it/she/they're back! Chris/Eddie/Edward/Kimmy (she/he/he/it/she/they posted under all these names) claimed to be a lawyer/law professor but refused to substantiate this claim. Disappeared not long after it was challenged to provide the evidence via private email. You might find it/them/whatever hangin' on a Fleetwood Mac newsgroup. Let's hope she/he/he/it/she/they have formed their own pop group.

Return to Table of Contents

 

 

Part 3

Frequently Asked Questions about alt.radio.talk.dr-laura

 

(3.1) Is there a listing of radio stations that carry the DL show?

The Doctor Laura locator map (stations across the US and Canada)

http://www.mmit.com/drlaura/amap.html

Return to Table of Contents

 

(3.2) I want to get Dr. Laura's help with a moral dilemma. Will she answer a message I post here?

This is a newsgroup about DL, with no direct connection with her other than her being artd-l's raison d'etre. If you're interested in contacting her, you can phone her show at 1-(800)DR-LAURA, that's 1-(800)375-2872, or send a fax to 1-(818)461-5140. You can write to DL at

Dr. Laura Schlessinger Show c/o Premiere Radio Networks
15260 Ventura Blvd, Suite 500
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

Return to Table of Contents

 

(3.3) Does Dr. Laura know about this newsgroup?

Unknown. DL has expressed criticism of the Internet in general, but as far as anyone knows she hasn't publicly referred to this specific newsgroup. So far no one has been able to verify any evidence supporting the idea that she knows about artd-l.

Return to Table of Contents

 

(3.4) Why do so many artd-l posters call themselves 'doctor'?

As addressed in more detail in part four of this FAQ, many of the artd-l regulars find DL's use of her doctorate in a completely unrelated field to be misleading and unethical. It makes an unwarranted claim of authority. So, as a sardonic protest against this practice, several posters have also claimed the 'Dr.' before their names. Some of these posters actually possess doctorates (or are nearly there) though, as with DL, the doctorate may be in an unrelated field.

Dr. Tom Elberfeld, one of the earliest posters on this newsgroup, is credited with the idea. To quote: "Go ahead, call yourself "Dr." in this newsgroup, in solidarity with Laura or for other reasons altogether! Give your posts unwarranted moral authority!"

I'm a Doctor, he's a Doctor, she's a Doctor - wouldn't you like to be a Doctor too?

Return to Table of Contents

 

(3.5) What's with these silly .sigs? What are these Jackals, BsDs, Master Baiters, High Councilors of the New Usenet Order, etc?

These are in-jokes created by a few different people, usually in response to insults - for example, one poster compared this newsgroup to a circle jerk and the Master Baiters sprang up. Pass Dr. Tim's exam http://bennyhills.fortunecity.com/fawlty/370/doctor.htm and you'll become a Doctor of Bellshit (BsD.) Dr. Tim has named several posters High Councilors of the New Usenet Order. There are a few actual ordained ministers who are regulars in this newsgroup, so the use of 'Reverend' in their .sigs may not be entirely a joke.

The Pack of Jackals developed over time as several of the more long-term newsgroup regulars (all critics of DL) developed friendships with one another and coalesced into a distinct subgroup. They adopted the sobriquet "Jackal" and became known as the Pack of Jackals. Eventually the concept of The Pack came to appear more cliquish than amusing, so for a time the pack disbanded. But since the camaraderie remains, along with the Jackal reputation for being the core of the newsgroup, the Pack has now officially returned and has added new members.

If you care to play along with the .sig gag, here's how: insults are prime .sig fodder. Mine whatever insults are flung your way for .sig material. Impress someone and they may award you a title. Collect the set! Increase the size of your .sig! Amuse your friends, annoy your enemies!

Return to Table of Contents

 

(3.6) What's a basher?

A derisive term used to describe the lower-order critics of DL. These cretins are limited by their shortcomings to excreting insightful pronouncements such as "Dr Laura is a <insert expletive here>." Unfortunately artd-l suffers from periodic mass infestations of these types, especially when Howard Stern or Tom Leykis have been ripping DL on their radio shows.

Return to Table of Contents

 

(3.7) What's the difference between a 'Laurette' and a 'Laura supporter'?

Laurette is a derisive term used to describe DL fans who don't post their own views and ideas, but rather catchphrases and arguments used by DL. Just as the lower order of DL critics (bashers) are boringly repetitive in their posts, so are the Laurettes in defense of DL or morals, etc.

Bashers and Laurettes have certain things in common: limited humor and difficulty propounding ideas or arguments of their own.

Laura supporters should not be confused with Laurettes. Laura supporters argue and discuss issues at an intellectual level Laurettes can't seem to reach. We need more Laura supporters on this newsgroup - speak up!

Return to Table of Contents

 

(3.8) Why is the atmosphere on this newsgroup so nasty?

Unlike DL's radio show, where callers are carefully screened, no one is prohibited from expressing their views on artd-l. This is an unmoderated newsgroup, so anyone here is free to criticize and debate about DL and her views on moral and social issues. Furthermore, although DL is the primary topic of discussion on this newsgroup, threads often drift into other controversial areas, so the arguing continues.

To a certain extent this is just the nature of Usenet: a person who agrees with a point is generally less likely to initiate a post or respond to a message than one who disagrees. Not to mention that 'me too' posts are usually less interesting to read.

Finally, keep in mind that many people find arguing on Usenet great sport and an opportunity to exercise certain aspects of their personalities. It may not seem fun to some, but the participants are obviously getting something out of it. And they may take very little of it seriously.

Return to Table of Contents

 

(3.9) Why do people oppose DL?

Although it is tempting, one can't conveniently lump DL's critics together as liberals, atheists, etc. Both DL supporters and detractors are found across a wide political, social, and religious spectrum. Nor can either side conclude they have the exclusive lock on 'morality' or 'goodness', while consigning the other side into the pit. Since most of us have grown up in a common culture, we actually tend to share many basic values - values that most of us were learned long before DL began her radio career. So it's not uncommon for DL critics to support many, if not most, of the values DL promotes, while not supporting DL at all.

A few of the reasons critics have given for their stance on DL: There's concern DL's personal shortcomings may have a negative impact on the message she's sending. Her abrasive treatment towards callers is seen as inappropriate and excessively abusive. Some suspect DL's major motivation is fame and fortune, to the extent that her moral stands may be adjusted as necessary to continue building her audience. Others see her approach as being overly simplistic and harmful to her callers, by failing to adequately address the specific circumstances of their dilemma. Details of many of these concerns will be found in part four of this FAQ.

Return to Table of Contents

 

(3.10) Why do people support DL?

A great many people support her because they share her views on moral and social issues. They are concerned about the decline they see in morals and standards in society, and believe it is past time for someone to take a public stand. Some DL supporters acknowledge her rather chequered past, but argue that her own background gives her experience to 'preach, teach, and nag' her callers. Other posters support her message while having some reservations about DL herself. Still others feel the importance of her message outweigh whatever personal flaws she may have.

DL supporters and Laurettes tend to see Laura not as a hypocrite, but as a teacher speaking from experience, who's learned from her past and has risen above it. As Laura herself explains, "A hypocrite is someone who says, 'Do as I say, not as I do.' A teacher is someone who says, 'Do as I do, not as I did.'"

Return to Table of Contents

 

(3.11) For pete's sake, it's just a radio show. If you don't like her, why don't you just turn off that radio? After all, by listening aren't you increasing her ratings?

These questions and many more are covered in Dr. Charlie's 'Corpus Argumenti Lauretti' - you remember, that reference recommended at the beginning of this FAQ. It can be found at http://extra.newsguy.com/~satire/Corpus.htm or by doing a search of DejaNews.

Dr. Charlie covers these thoroughly. Again, reading the 'Corpus' is strongly encouraged.

Return to Table of Contents

 

(3.12) What's a cite?

Webster's definition: "2. to quote (a passage, book, speech, writer, etc.) 3. To refer to or mention by way of example, proof, precedent, etc." In other words, a cite provides the source of one's information. Claims of fact get a more positive reception here when accompanied by cites. Unsubstantiated claims, especially those prefaced with phrases like "it's a well-known fact" or "everybody knows" or "I read somewhere" will receive the disdain they deserve. By the way, retorting "you go look it up" is not proper debating form. The burden of proving a claim lies upon the person making it. If you're not prepared to substantiate your claim, more prudent ways to phrase it would be as opinion ("I thought that..."), or even as a question ("Does anyone know if...?") If someone replies to your post with "cite, please" they are asking you to tell them where you got your information.

Return to Table of Contents

 

(3.13) What's a troll? What's a sock puppet?

"Any fisherman can tell you about trolling -- you cast out your line and slowly drag it along, waiting for some fish to come along and grab the bait and get hooked. It's a time-honored tradition on Usenet as well. ...The basic idea behind Usenet trolling is to post a ridiculous message and then sit back and watch as newcomers (and some veterans) try to tear into it." http://www.intersurf.com/~aevinc/aev2trol.htm

artd-l is a popular spot for trollers, especially, alas, the untalented sorts whose favorite bait are short obscene posts about DL. Since the whole purpose of trolling is to see how many folks get 'hooked' (i.e. fall for the post and respond, sometimes repeatedly) - consider whether you want to reward the troller by reacting to the post. If you're good, you may be able to reel in a troller with a well-crafted response. Or you may wish try a little newsgroup trolling yourself. Keep in mind that the more obvious the attempt, the less respect it (and you) will get. Well-crafted Usenet trolls can get nominated for the Hook, Line, and Sinker Award -- visit alt.usenet.kooks for more information.

The Sock Puppet FAQ http://www.sidaway.demon.co.uk/skeptic/sockpuppets.txt

says "A sock puppet is <an imaginary character> that is made to interact with or refer to, the person running it." Other posters may or may not be aware that the 'personality' they are communicating with is fictitious. The creator of the sock puppet may have invented it to lend support to the creator in a newsgroup debate, or it may have been created for the purpose of trolling. A well-constructed sock puppet is not easy at first acquaintance to recognize as such.

Return to Table of Contents  

(3.14) What's Godwin's Law?

Godwin's Law of Nazi Analogies: As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one. Once this occurs no further rational discourse is possible. In popular usage, this means once Hitler or Nazis get mentioned, the thread is declared dead and the poster who made the analogy is deemed to have lost the argument.

Return to Table of Contents

 

(3.15) Are there other Dr. Laura forums on the Internet?

Yes, and you can even create your own. Those interested in forming their own forums or email lists may want to look into resources such as DejaNews, egroups.com, and elist.com, which provide free space for people to create their own forums or listservs. Dr. Laura's official website http://www.drlaura.com/frames.html features a moderated forum.

AOL has a DL board - AOL members can access it by entering the keyword 'Dr. Laura'.

The Unofficial Dr. Laura Fan Club Page and listserv is at http://members.aol.com/whazle/drlaura.htm

Return to Table of Contents

 

 

Part 4

Frequently Asked Questions about Dr. Laura Schlessinger

 

(4.1) Who is 'Dr. Laura'?

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a radio talk show personality whose show is syndicated throughout the United States and Canada. Callers to the show ask for help with their moral dilemmas and receive her views on their personal situations. DL says she doesn't do therapy, nor does she offer advice - she describes her mission as to 'preach, teach, and nag' her callers into making proper decisions leading to more moral lives.

Personal and professional information about Laura Schlessinger:

Born 1947 in Brooklyn, New York.

Family: father Monroe 'Monty' Schlessinger (deceased), mother Yolanda Ceccovini, sister Cyndi Harris, husband Lewis G. (Lew) Bishop, son Deryk Schlessinger.

BS, Biological Sciences, SUNY.

Ph.D., Columbia University, 1974.

California Marriage, Family and Child Therapist (MFCC) License MB14914 (1980).

AASECT Certified Sex Therapist.

Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences, USC (1976-1981).

Clinical Instructor, Human Relations Center, USC (1979-1981).

Adjunct Professor of Psychology, Graduate School, Pepperdine University (1981-1989).

Private Practice: 1981-1993.

Return to Table of Contents

 

(4.2) Is she really a doctor?

DL received her Ph.D. in physiology from Columbia University in 1974. Her dissertation shows her area of research was insulin receptors in rat cells. ("Effects of insulin on 3-0-methylglucose transport in isolated rat adipocytes.")

Return to Table of Contents

 

 

(4.3) So what's a physiologist? I hear it's a glorified gym teacher.

The On-Line Medical Dictionary http://www.graylab.ac.uk/omd/index.html defines it as "One who is versed in the science of physiology; a student of the properties and functions of animal and vegetable organs and tissues." It has nothing to do with gym class (except for, perhaps, any physiologists working in the field of sports medicine.)

Return to Table of Contents

 

(4.4) I thought she was a psychiatrist/psychologist/psychotherapist?

Nope. Physiology is a biological science, not a behavioral science. DL does have a Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling license (MFCC.) She describes it as 'Post-Doctoral', yet it is only 'post' in that she got it after she'd earned her Ph.D. Technically, postdoctoral education is assumed to be at the doctoral level or higher, and the MFCC is not. Furthermore, the MFCC is not a continuing or related course for physiology. Thus, DL's describing it as 'Post-Doctoral' gives a faulty impression. MFCC's can be earned at the Master's level. Read a more detailed explanation from TJ, an artd-l poster and lawyer who has looked into this issue, at http://extra.newsguy.com/~satire/LauraLaw.htm

Return to Table of Contents

 

(4.5) Well, if she's really a Ph.D., what's wrong with her calling herself 'Dr.' Laura?

It is misleading and not very ethical to use a degree in one field to imply authority in a completely unrelated field. As a self-proclaimed 'prophet' 'on a mission' one would think she'd be scrupulous about taking the moral and ethical high ground herself. Since she proudly describes herself as 'my kid's mom' perhaps she could find in that role a more appropriate (and relevant) title for her show.

An article in the December 30, 1997 Washington Post reported the results of a survey conducted by the Benchmark Co., which found that "...75 percent of Schlessinger's listeners think she is a psychologist, psychiatrist or therapist. She is nothing of the sort. The "Dr." label comes courtesy of her degree in physiology, ... Only 3 percent of those surveyed knew the truth." ('Cable's Cavalcade Of Sound 30 Channels of Music, Minus the Personality' by Marc Fisher, Washington Post Staff Writer, Tuesday, December 30, 1997; Page C01) http://search.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1997-12/30/017l-123097-idx.html

Return to Table of Contents

 

(4.6) What's the story on her mother? Her sister?

DL has several time told callers to her show that Deryk has no grandparents. (one instance occurring on DL Show 5/28/98 ~2:22:27:00)

In truth, Lew's father is still alive, and so is DL's own mother. DL hasn't spoken to her mother for 14 years (as of 1998.) She is also estranged from her sister Cyndi. She's given several different accounts for this. Schlessinger claims that her mother walked out on her job as her secretary after Laura suggested she learn to type. ('Diagnosing Dr. Laura', by Leslie Bennetts, Vanity Fair, September 1998)

"She just evaporated." Laura told People magazine four years ago, in an interview in which she also described her mother as "filled with negativity.....She blamed everyone for her unhappiness." But back in 1984, Schlessinger explained the breach somewhat differently: "I retired my mother from my office," she said in a letter to Ballance. ('Diagnosing Dr. Laura', by Leslie Bennetts, Vanity Fair, September 1998)

A brief, failed marriage in her 20s and icy relations with her family members--her mother broke off contact with her over a decade ago and she is estranged from her sister; she says that both have rebuffed her reconciliation attempts--didn't help Schlessinger's peace of mind. (No Whining! U.S. News & World Report, 7/14/97) http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/970714/14laur.htm

I did not grow up in a happy, healthy home...When my sister and I became adults, our different styles of coping with these familial challenges resulted in our having little in common. After our parents divorced, the stresses worsened to the point where all four of us evolved into completely isolated entities... My mother and sister still prefer to be disengaged from each other as well as from my family. My door is open. ("Find happiness you missed as child" by Laura Schlessinger 07/01/97) http://www.kentuckyconnect.com/heraldleader/news/070197/drlaura.html

...She couldn't speak for her mother, she said. Why did everyone presume that not speaking to her mother was her choice? "I've been beaten over the head with this as if it were my fault," she said. "As if it were my failing. It's a loss in my life. It's my agony." ...Her voice trembled. "Where's my failing in that? I think it's quite noble. It shows how responsible I am." ("Commentary: Dr. Laura, don't blame writers for your rude behavior" by Laura Berman / The Detroit News, 03/20/97) http://detnews.com/1997/accent/9703/20/03200089.htm

The following statement of DL's seems especially ironic considering she claims it's her sister and mother who've cut off communication. It tends to make one wonder just what did she did to cause them to shun her.

Dr. Laura advocates old-fashioned -- make that medieval -- strategies for altering the behavior of others. In Dr. Laura's world, it's perfectly fine to snub those who fail to live up to your high standards. "I love shunning," she says cheerfully. "It reminds people they have an obligation to others." ("Dr. Laura explains it all" by Laura Berman / The Detroit News October 18, 1996) http://detnews.com/1996/menu/stories/70170.htm

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(4.7) Her husband and son?

DL has been married twice. After getting her doctorate at Columbia, she married "a very nice guy I shouldn't have married." It lasted 2 1/2 years ("26 minutes in my mind"), and there were no children. ('Dr. Laura explains it all', by Laura Berman, The Detroit News 10/18/96) http://detnews.com/1996/menu/stories/70170.htm

After moving to California, DL began seeing Lew Bishop, a professor of neuro-physiology and married father of three. Lew eventually divorced his wife. According to DL friend Shelly Herman (interviewed for the Vanity Fair article), DL and Lew lived together for about nine years before marrying. At some point in their relationship DL had her tubal ligation reversed and underwent fertility treatment in an effort to conceive. Shelly Herman claimed that DL was pregnant when she married Lew, which DL denies.

DL gave birth to her only child, her son Deryk Schlessinger, on November 5, 1985. Note Deryk has his mother's last name - something DL tells other people not to do.

Deryk is listed as creative consultant for his mother's magazine, The Dr. Laura Perspective, as well as being regularly mentioned on his mom's show.

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(4.8) I heard a rumor about DL's son and the family home burning down...

A hot rumor, but unconfirmed. DL's prior home burned down. Posters have reported various accounts of how the fire started: an electrical fire; a defective snake terrarium heater; Deryk playing with matches; Deryk starting a fire in a garbage can.

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(4.9) What's DL's view on religion in marriage?

DL believes that any sexual relationship is immoral unless is it part of a covenant with God. She has also stated that love isn't enough to hold together a marriage and family, that "<religion is> another glue that holds a family together and keeps a child from confusion."

She opposes mixed-faith marriages on the grounds that it leads to confusion in the children and discord in the marriage. However, DL herself had a mixed-faith marriage until her husband Lew converted to Orthodox Judaism in early 1998.

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(4.10) When did DL convert to Judaism? When did Lew convert to Judaism?

DL had been raised without religion. She has described herself as an atheist until she developed an interest in Judaism (her father had been a non-practicing Jew) in 1991 or 1992.

After an unpleasant encounter with a "female rabbi" at a Reform temple, as Dr. Laura put it, she "found her Judaism" - with the help of a "male rabbi" at a Conservative synagogue. ('Sparks Fly in Texas After 'Dr. Laura' Does Dallas' by Jonathan Mahler) http://www.forward.com/BACK/97.03.21/news2.html

DL underwent a halahkic conversion (to Orthodox Judaism, according to several accounts)in 1996 (some sources say 1994 or 1995.) In 1998 she, Lew, and Deryk all converted to Orthodox Judaism.

Lew was an Episcopalian before deciding (or agreeing) to convert. He started the process in 1995 with his wife and son. DL and Deryk finished in 1996, but in an article published that year Lew admitted he had not completed the conversion and did not seem eager to do so. DL told the author that her husband had converted. ('The Just-Do-It Shrink', New York Times Magazine, November 17, 1996)

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(4.11) Did DL really have an affair while she was married?

Yes, while married to her first husband she began a relationship with radio talk show personality Bill Ballance. She had claimed the relationship was no more than a mentoring one featuring a few lunches. When interviewed for the Vanity Fair article Ballance refuted this claim, stating they'd had a passionate two-year affair until she left him for Lew Bishop. Only after the October 1998 publication of nude photos of DL taken by Ballance during their relationship did DL admit to the relationship, stating she'd had it with Ballance while 'legally separated' from her husband. When she arrived in California in the mid-1970s, she was only separated; Ballance says he had been dating her for months before he discovered she had left a husband back East. ('Diagnosing Dr. Laura', by Leslie Bennetts, Vanity Fair, September 1998)

DL and current husband Lew Bishop began their relationship while Lew was still married to his first wife.

At the time, Schlessinger was working in a lab at the University of Southern California next to Lew Bishop, a tenured neuro-physiology professor and father of three. They are vague about when their relationship began; first they insist Bishop was already divorced, but later Schlessinger concedes he had just separated. ('Diagnosing Dr. Laura', by Leslie Bennetts, Vanity Fair, September 1998)

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(4.12) Did DL really pose for nude photos?

In late October 1998, Internet Entertainment Group (IEG) purchased from Bill Ballance a set of nude and semi-nude photos of a then-28 year old DL. IEG posted the photos on the website www.clublove.com and were immediately served with a temporary restraining order forcing them to remove the photos from their website. Too late; numerous individuals had already downloaded the photos and were posting them on other websites and Usenet newsgroups.

A spokeman for DL told the press that the photos were fake. A publicist for DL told the press the nude pictures were not of her (New York Post 10/23/98). In the injunction, DL stated that the photos were not of her, but that she owned the copyrights to them. A few days later she finally acknowledged the photos were of her. In a court hearing in November 1998 the judge lifted the restraining order. DL's lawyers said they intended to appeal.

Interviewed on the Tom Leykis show, Bill Ballance explained why he released the the nude photos:
The fact is she has been stealing my material for so many years. The fact is she told so many lies about our relationship. An example being our being together just a week or two and that she was on my show just a few days, or a few times rather. She was on my show for two and a half years. We went together for a torrid two and a half years. I'm tired of being lied about and the longer it goes on the more people believe her. They'll think I'm the interloper. People will begin to assume that I was the beginner and that she taught me everything I know. ("Los Angeles Radio People", October 26, 1998) http://www.laradio.com/current.htm

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(4.13) What are DL's views on infertility treatment, pregnancy, and adoption?

DL reconsidered her own tubal ligation, reversed the surgery, and underwent infertility treatment in an effort to conceive. This effort included experiencing an ectopic pregnancy before finally conceiving Deryk.

...What followed was surgery to reverse the tubal ligation, then "major pain and agony," as she pursued fertility. Finally, almost ready to quit, she conceived: her son Deryk, 10, is responsible for her slogan, "I am my kid's mom." ("Dr. Laura explains it all", by Laura Berman, The Detroit News 10/18/96) http://detnews.com/1996/menu/stories/70170.htm

However, she doesn't recommend this for anyone else. Callers asking her views on pursuing infertility treatment for themselves are instead told to consider adoption.

DL believes children should only be conceived within marriage. She tells single women and homosexual couples who want children to adopt older, hard-to-place children and let infants be adopted by traditional families.

DL opposes abortion unless it is necessary to save the mother's life. I never go home saying, "Gee, I shouldn't have said no abortion,' maybe abortion is right in that circumstance," because I'm anti-abortion. So, there would be no circumstance other than saving a woman's life --and I have had that call, and I told a woman to abort, because there was a good chance she was going to die. ('The Moral Is the Message' San Francisco Chronicle, Sep 28, 1997)

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(4.14) DL is a working mom herself, but comes down hard on working moms. What gives?

DL claims that after Deryk was born she spent the first several years as a stay-at-home mom. She glosses over the fact that for the first few years after his birth she still had her home knitting business, her radio show, her private practice, and her position at Pepperdine. She of course still has her radio show and also travels to interviews and promotional events. When pressed about this, she insists that Lew and she arrange their schedules so that Deryk always has a parent at home.

However, Laurie Saunders (a radio personality) claims in the Vanity Fair article that when DL's radio show on KFI ran from 9 to midnight, DL often brought Deryk along to the station where he ran around unsupervised.

She has said that mothers (sometimes 'parent', but most often 'mothers') can work after the children start school, so long as they can arrange the schedule so there's always a parent home when they come home from school. DL has said she's not against working moms, she's against daycare (she has compared the use of nannies to using prostitutes.)

DL dismisses claims of financial need, saying families can find ways to get by on one income.

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(4.15) What's the controversy about DL's views on circumcision?

Visit the Daphne's Corner FAQ http://www.net-quest.com/~wizard/daphne.html and read question number 16: 'What's the story with Dr. Edell and Dr. Laura?' for transcripts of the shows where DL claimed those who oppose circumcision are anti-Semitic. The circumcision war,

by the way, is a recurring one which pops up on newsgroups across Usenet with depressing regularity. If you want to debate circumcision in general (rather than DL's view on it in particular) please take it to alt.circumcision.

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(4.16) Has DL changed her view on homosexuality?

DL was formerly tolerant of homosexuality, but over time her views on the subject slowly became more in line with the conservative religious elements of society. Finally, on her show airing August 6, 1998, Laura proclaimed that "homosexuality is destructive" She also said that her former tolerance regarding gays was inappropriate. (DL radio show, 8/6/98 at ~2:12:00)

On the Oct. 22, 1998, she told a lesbian caller that Leviticus, etc. states her "lifestyle" is "a sin" and "unholy." (Caller had a partner of six years.) She made a positive statement about Exodus, saying they helped "some" people through prayer.

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(4.17) What's the 'Dallas Incident'?

In March of 1997 DL had a speaking engagement in Dallas before the women's division of the Jewish Welfare Federation. Her behavior while in Dallas shocked and offended those who encountered her, and was reported by Maryln Schwartz in the Dallas Morning News. It made national news, DL had a crying fit on her show the next day, and even cancelled her upcoming appearance as Queen Esther in the Atlanta Purim Parade. Read the original and follow-up columns about this at http://either.or.com/~chansen/least-fav/dallas1.html

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(4.18) I've heard DL used to be on the board of a skeptics' organization.

DL had been on the board of 'Skeptic' magazine. She had been invited onto the board due to her skeptical stance on repressed memories (supposed long-buried memories recovered during therapy.)

In October 1997 Dr. Laura faxed 'Skeptic' this statement announcing her resignation from its board. "Science can only describe what; guess at why; but cannot offer ultimate meaning. When man's limited intellect has the arrogance to pretend an ability to analyze God, it's time for me to get off that train."

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(4.19) How long has Laura been in the radio biz?

DL's break into the radio biz was from calling the Bill Ballance show, which apparently occurred in 1974 (accounts vary, reconciling accounts makes this the most likely year.) Bill put her on his show, then she eventually got her own radio show. In 1994 her show was syndicated nationally.

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(4.20) What happened to Larry Metzler? To Ernestia O'Steen? To the former Webmaster of her website?

Larry left the show in November 1997. In DL's words "...and Larry Metzler...well, he's off to climb another mountain somewhere else."

Ernestia O'Steen got married and left the show in the spring of 1998.

On 6/28/98 a message was posted to artd-l stating that DL had fired 'Joyce' the single stay-at-home mom who was webmaster of the offical DL website. The poster claimed the reason for the firing was to increase the website's revenue by decreasing the size of the message forum (moderated, which is a labor-intensive job) in preference of increasing the advertising space on her site, and thus increasing the revenue from it.

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(4.21) What's with her feud with Howard Stern?

DL pulled out of negotiations for a tv series with Eyemark Entertainment, a CBS television syndication subsidiary, when Eyemark announced plans for a weekly television show starring Howard Stern, to start in August 1998.

"It's true," she told Michael Starr of the New York Post last week. "I thought it was morally incompatible programming to have Eyemark developing and distributing shows so divergent." ('Dr. Laura Won't Take On The Day With CBS-TV') http://www.radiodigest.com/news/1998/nat_041098_cbs-tv_dr_laura.htm

Ironically, she hasn't applied this standard to the radio stations broadcasting her show, nor to the publisher of her books, nor to setting up her own website even though she condemns the Internet. For that matter, she didn't apply this 'moral incompatibility' standard to her appearance on Oprah to promote her book - although Oprah is 'shacking up'.)

At any rate, this precipitated or escalated a feud with Howard Stern, which has been running hot ever since.

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(4.22) So, what're DL's show ratings? Is she bigger than Rush? Bigger than Stern?

It depends upon who you talk to and how the numbers are tallied. In spring 1998 'Talkers', a trade publication for the radio industry, put Dr. Laura number 1 with a weekly national listenership average of 18 million, followed by Stern at 17.5 million, with Rush in third place with 17.25 million. (New York Daily News Online, 3/17/98) http://mostnewyork.com/Archive/98_03/031798/new_york/51562.hta

However, this report was hotly disputed. There are a number of complicating factors to consider, such as the number of stations a show is carried on, and the audience demographics. Arbitron reported Rush as still number 1. Then again, Rush is carried on the largest number of stations, followed by DL, with Stern far behind.

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(4.23) What's her connection with 'Hooked on Phonics'?

The creator of 'Hooked on Phonics' is John Shanahan, who was also co-owner (with DL) of Synergy Broadcasting Inc., which last year sold the rights to DL's show to Jacor for about $71 million. (Source, LA Times 11 September '97)

At one time DL's show ran ads for the product featuring her son Deryk.

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(4.24) Why do you call DL a hypocrite?

From Webster's: "a person who pretends to be what he is not; one who pretends to be better than he really is, or to be pious, virtuous, etc., without really being so."

In a 1996 interview with DL (before details about her past became public), she recalled her past to the reporter in terms suggesting she'd been an upright and responsible person. ...By the time she arrived in graduate school at Columbia University in the late '60s, "I felt very out of sync with my peers," she recalls. "They were into drugs and protesting. I wasn't. I was into learning my science and being a responsible citizen." ("Dr. Laura explains it all", by Laura Berman, The Detroit News 10/18/96) http://detnews.com/1996/menu/stories/70170.htm

But two years later, when details of her past made news, DL resorted to the very cop-out she harshly criticizes her callers for using to explain in her syndicated newspaper column why she erred in her own past:

I have been quite open about that fact that being in college in the '60s had some impact on me - secular feminism was the religion of the day. Since I came from an "inter-faithless" marriage, I was not brought up with the concept of divine absolute morality, to which I have evolved only as an adult, culminating in the conversion of myself, my husband and our son to Orthodox Judaism. (DL's syndicated newspapers column, Sunday, September 6, 1998)

Perhaps DL should take her own counsel: Oh puhleeese. Do you really believe that only those people graced with great genetics, perfect parentage, and ideal social conditions can and will behave with character, courage, and conscience? ('Character, Courage, and Conscience', by Dr. Laura Schlessinger, from the Dr. Laura Newsletter)

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(4.25) But she doesn't do any of those things anymore, so who cares if she used to?

First, there are indeed some ongoing issues DL hasn't addressed yet. For example, her estrangement from her mother, going so far as to publicly claim that Deryk (her son) hasn't any grandparents when in fact he has.

For another, there's the issue of her denying the nude photos were of her, before finally admitting they were. Not to mention calling the Vanity Fair article (in which Bill Ballance revealed their sexual relationship) "all lies". In an October 1998 interview with National Public Radio she claimed that she had no career when she had Deryk, when at that time she actually had not only her private practice but also her radio show, her knitting business, and her position at Pepperdine.

There's also the issue of her decrying mixed-faith marriages while having one herself (her husband has only recently converted to her faith.)

"I have a moral obligation to do what I say. If I don't do what I say, I should be off the air the next day." (Dr. Laura Takes the High Ground, by Debra Saunders) http://townhall.com/thcc/content/saunders/saun091597.html

"When you take on the obligation of espousing a point of view which you cannot or will not live, there is no hope for the point of view," she (DL) said. (Dr. Laura Takes the High Ground, by Debra Saunders) http://townhall.com/thcc/content/saunders/saun091597.html

Many posters compare DL's situation with that of a drug addict who cleans up and then tells

others not to do drugs. What's so hypocritical about that? artd-l poster Eric, da Red comments on this comparison:

"In the example above, the ex-addict begins with the statement: I was a drug addict. This already puts him ahead of DL, who continues to deny or gloss over the stickier (sic) episodes of her life.

The ex-addict also tells kids about the bad results from his flawed decisions. DL doesn't do this, either. All of her "sinning," even if she admitted to it, doesn't appear to have had any negative results for her. Indeed, sleeping with Bill Ballance was essential to her beginning in the radio business.

So, we are left with a moral advisor who (a) sinned lustily, (b)enjoyed it, (c) profited from it, (d) denies it, and (e) tells other people not to do what she did.

Hippo. Crit."

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(4.26) What do you people expect from her, a public apology? An admission of misdeeds?

If she's going to make a public spectacle of her self-proclaimed superior morality, yes. It's fair to hold her to the standards she sets for everyone else. Alluding frankly but non-explicitly to her own mistakes would certainly add tremendous impact to her message. Adopting a more humble and compassionate persona would be another approach. DL has backed herself into a moral corner: by refusing to grant quarter to her callers, she can't expect it for herself.

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Part 5

Timeline of significant events in Dr. Laura's life

 

This timeline is based on information from a number of articles. The dates of events have been stated in published sources, or have been inferred from comparing known information about certain occurrences in DL's past. To the best of my knowledge this is a reasonably accurate representation of DL's history.

 

1974 Graduated from Columbia w/Ph.D in physiology.

1974 Got married, lasted 2.5 years

1974 Called Ballance show, starts to appear on his show

1974-76 Had ~2-yr relationship w/Ballance

1976-81 Taught at USC

197? Became estranged from sister

1976 Met Lew, dumped Bill (and shacked up w/Lew says Herman)

???? Lew got divorced after taking up w/Laura

~1977 Laura got divorced from hubby #1

1977 Got tubal - (almost surely post-divorce)

1980 Got own show

1981-89 Taught at Pepperdine

1981-93 Had private practice

1981 Lew left tenured USC position to work for private company

1982 Reversed tubal, tried to conceive

1984 Became estranged from mother

1985 Got pregnant w/Deryk

1985 Married Lew (after conceiving Deryk says Herman)

11/85 Gave birth to Deryk

1988 Re-established relationship w/father

1990 Father died

91? 92? Found religion

1992 Money troubles (foreclosure)

1994 DL show went national

94? 95? 96? DL and Deryk converted (Orthodox or Conservative?)

11-12/97 Sold show to Jacor for 71.5 million

1998 DL, Deryk and Lew converted to Orthodox

10/98 Nude photos of DL hit Internet

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Part 6

Links to more information about DL
(pro and con) and related subjects

 

Dr. Laura's official website http://www.drlaura.com/frames.html

Dr. Tim's Dr. Laura Parody Page http://extra.newsguy.com/~satire/laura.htm

Tom Leykis Dr. Laura page http://www.tomleykis.com/altlaura.html

Dr. Laura Watch http://either.or.com/~chansen/least-fav/dr-laura-watch.html

Who's the Real Dr. Laura http://http://extra.newsguy.com/~satire/hippo.htm

Some Comments on Laura Schlessinger http://www.achilles.net/~guy/laura/main.htm

Dr. Laura: Just the Facts http://home.earthlink.net/~cwillgren/dl/

The Wisdom of Dr. Laura http://www.users.cts.com/crash/d/dbarber/page01.html

Dr. Susan Block's Dr.Laura Diaries http://www.drsusanblock2.com/drlaura.htm

The Ayatollah of the Airwaves http://www.worcesterphoenix.com/archive/crockett/98/05/29/CROCKETT.html

Dr. Laura...How Could You Do That? http://www.psychoheresy-aware.org/laurahow.html

Audio - Robert Schuller interviews Dr. Laura http://jesusaves.com/worship/ra-video.html (also features the Christian perspective on space aliens!)

'Dr. Lorna' strips in sluggy comics
http://www.sluggy.com/archive/971116.html
http://www.sluggy.com/archive/971117w.html
http://www.sluggy.com/archive/971117.html

DL WAV Files http://weber.u.washington.edu/~reflux/reflux/dr_laura/dr_laura.html

American Psychological Association http://www.apa.org/

MFCC FAQ http://www.pgi.edu/mfccfaq.htm

AASECT Sex Therapist certification requirements
http://www.aasect.org/certify.htm#THERAPIST http://www.qrd.org/qrd/religion/orgs/IWG/1997/dr.schlessinger.letter-05.25.97 http://www.libertynet.org/iwg/

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Diversity is, in action, the sometimes painful awareness that other
people, other races, other voices, other habits of mind, have as much
integrity of being, as much claim on the world as you do.
-- William Chase

 

 

Taking psychological advice from Doctor Laura is like
taking military advice from Colonel Sanders.
-- Randomity

 

 

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank the following individuals who have helped with and contributed to this document:

Dr. Charlie, for his invaluable contributions and feedback;

Maddi Hausmann Sojourner, for her leads, corrections, and comments;

Dr. Tom Elberfeld for permission to quote;

Eric, da Red for permission to quote;

Randomityfor permission to quote;

The Lurker Who Wishes to Remain Anonymous, for the editorial assistance and suggestions;

TJ, for explaining the MFCC stuff for us all;

Mitch, for his contributions and feedback; and finally…

Dr Tim - without whom there wouldn't be an artd-l to hang out in.

 

In memory of Grey Cloak, artd-l poster gone to that Pack in the sky...

 

Information contained in this FAQ has been compiled from many sources. The FAQ maintainer accepts no responsibility for the content of the the excerpts quoted herein. The excerpts are provided "as is" with no guarantee for the accuracy of the information provided within.

Compilation Copyright (c) 1998, Hell Toupee. All rights reserved. Permission to electronically distribute this FAQ is hereby granted providing that no money is involved, reasonable attempts are made to use the latest version and all credits and this copyright notice are maintained.

Other requests for distribution will be considered.

Please send information, comments, and corrections to hellt@bootmail.com

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