January 28, 2005

Opinions on Sylvia and Randi, That Damn Red String Again, A Proper Audio Test At Last, Varied Versions of Reality, and In Conclusion....

Table of Contents:


There are only two opinions expressed about Sylvia Browne. People either adore her as an angel and hang on her every word, or they see through her and recognize the flummery she offers. I think you know which camp I belong to....?

Here are two of the latter group, first, a victim of an alternate and quite lucrative "reading" scam that Browne has going, who tells us:

I know this is somewhat OLD news, but I just happened upon an article tonight describing the million-dollar challenge you and Sylvia Browne had on Larry King Live. I'd just like to share my own experience regarding her.

I was quite interested in paranormal phenomena (astrology, psychic power, etc.) a few years ago. I could not afford the very steep $700 reading fee of Sylvia, but I was living in San Jose at the time, and very close to her headquarters. One day she held a small session of "Q&A" in a little group-setting in San Jose, where she claimed to be possessed by her spirit guide "Francine" and said that she would answer two questions from each person at $100 each question — $200 total. Mind you, I was a firm believer of hers back then, after reading her website and her book of so many incredible self-proclaimed testimonials.

So I paid my hard-earned $200 and asked my 2 questions: 1) Will I marry the guy I'm currently seeing? 2) I've just recently earned a degree, where do you see my career will go afterwards?

To which she answered: 1) Yes, he's the one, but he won't come around until five months from now, but you will be married to him; 2) I see you furthering your education in some kind of high-tech subject.

And that was it. There went my $200. I wasn't even allowed to ask for clarification, since it was technically "Francine" who was answering these questions, and Sylvia had no knowledge of any of what she said after she woke up.

Not being totally stupid, I was thoroughly disappointed, knowing that she's a complete fraud. Why? This is what really happened, in regard to my 2 questions: 1) I broke up with the guy I was seeing shortly after that reading, have no intention of EVER marrying him because I have absolutely no feelings for him anymore, and have been seeing someone else for the past 4 years; 2) I'd gotten my MBA and masters in engineering already by the time of the reading — that's the degree I was talking about — and I have no intention of getting a PhD (that would be FURTHERING my education) but am preparing a switch to the health-care field.

So, she was DEAD WRONG on both of my questions. And like you said, she was very good at making educated guesses, through these questions and answers. 1) she answered that I would marry the person I was seeing. If I asked her about marriage, obviously we'd been thinking about it and it's a 50/50 chance, so saying it's a possibility five months down the road would be a safe guess, and impossible to verify right away; 2) we were doing the reading in the heart of silicon valley, and 99% of the people were probably in some kind of high-tech careers, so it's also a smart guess on her part to say that I would "further" my education in the field of "high tech." Very vague, but possible.

And I also read articles about her giving advice and saying this person had "something wrong with biliruben" which is a "liver enzyme." Anyone with any kind of biochemistry background would know that biliruben is a waste product of the red blood cells and NOT a liver enzyme. It's packaged in the liver into the "bile," and bile is NOT an enzyme but merely an emulsifier to break fats into smaller molecules to be digested and absorbed.

Sorry that this email is really long, but I feel your anger and frustration, so I'd like to offer some support, and I do hope that someday Sylvia the old fraud would be uncovered in public. Perhaps if we start circulating a petition on the internet and send to Larry King, he would stop ignoring you.

Please kindly post any further progress on the Sylvia issue on your website. Have you received any audiotapes from anyone who's had a reading done by Sylvia?

Oh yes, Peiti, every week we're getting audio tapes from those who paid Sylvia Browne for a 20-minute telephone reading, all of which will be published by us as soon as they're transcribed. There's a lot revealed in that material, which we'll be offering free by mail to interested persons.

Another victim, who paid the whole $750 telephone fee, reported on 13 guesses Sylvia made in an October 2002 reading:

1. Sylvia asked her who Robert is. There is no Robert in her family.

2. Sylvia said that "things would get better after February." No, that's when she lost her job, and she hasn't found one since.

3. Sylvia said she'd "meet someone in March." Nope, not yet, 27 months later.

4. After the first of the year 2003, Sylvia said, she wouldn't have to work. Yeah, right.

5. Sylvia said she'd own her own home in two years. No, not yet.

6. Asked about a "daycare incident," Sylvia didn't know what she was talking about.

7. Sylvia said the victim's daughter would leave home in one year. Wrong, it took two years.

8. Asked about a shoulder problem, Sylvia told her to get surgery because it wouldn't heal on its own. She'd been in pain for over three years. Months later it healed on its own, without surgery.

9. Sylvia said her headaches were sinus-related. No, not even close. A chiropractor, the victim reports, fixed that problem.

10. Sylvia was asked a question about "Ken." She said he was nuts. No, he wasn't nuts, he was in a lot of pain, and that's why he committed suicide.

11. Sylvia said "Mark's" parents live in Florida. Actually, they live in the Cleveland area. She said Mark lives "in the South, like Tennessee." No, he also lives in Cleveland.

12. Sylvia was asked abut a library book that was missing. She said a dark-haired male took it. Actually the victim found it behind her filing cabinet.

13. Questioned about the woman's daughter's lost savings bonds, Sylvia said they'd be found in a book, one with a red binding. They were never found, in any book.

And here are four readers who choose to be anonymous — who I suspect are devoted fans of The Nails and don't much care for me. Spelling, punctuation, and grammar are just as received:

#1: I believe in live and let live. You seem quick to judge people you don't even know especially if they don't agree with you. People send money to televangelists, and it makes them feel good. It THAT stupid? To me, yes. To you, maybe. To THEM, no. But it is their own money, and people have every right to put their money where they want to, even if it is tossing it out a car window. Enjoy YOUR own life instead of interfering in others, might be something you need to think of. Peace, Wendy

#2: if you think that sylvia browne is a liar well than don't listen to anything she says. you go ahead and and keep your opinions to youself and you think what you want but to me sylvia browne is my hero

#3: How could anybody be as judgmental and cocky as you are? It sounds to me like you think you are all high and mighty and anybody that knocks you down a peg is criticized for it. Why are you focusing your energy on Sylvia Browne when there are real issues to be concerned about? So what some things can't be explained, some things are meant to be pondered not ridiculed. In my opinion you need to get a life of your own and leave her alone. But hey that's my opinion and I may be wrong, but at least I can admit it.

#4: You are some kind of fool. What kind of person are you to bad mouth someone...especially Sylvia Browne. As you can guess I am a big fan of hers. She brings peace to my life. What have you accomplished? Who's life have you brought peace and comfort for? It doesn't make you a better person to bad talk someone special. Have you ever heard of Karma?

Karma? That's a mother who drives her kids to school while they're standing up in the front seat, isn't it? I very much disapprove of that. Next question?


An alert from Mario Tamboer, who describes himself as "a proud JREF Member," from The Netherlands:

While recently in the UK for business I saw an excellent program on the BBC about the Kabalah Centre, who as you know have Madonna and Britney Spears as followers, with the Red String, magical Kabalah water, magic books and who knows what else. The program was very disturbing, and I think the Kabalah Centre needs more attention from the JREF and others. The BBC sent some people in with hidden cameras. The centre promised one man miracles for his cancer, with their sacred Kabalah Water, and they pushed hard on a woman to go on their very expensive tour to Israel, to celebrate the Jewish New Year — flight, hotel, food etc. provided exclusively by them — for a very high price. When the woman said she had no money, they told her to go and get it from friends and family. Sounds a bit like the scam of the Filipino healers I read about in "Flim Flam."

According to an ex-follower, the leader of the cult — that's what it is — and his wife make their followers work long hours with no pay, selling Kabalah stuff. They get a bigger house and bigger car almost every year, and blow loads of money on clothes, jewels and casinos. Can you say "The Faith Healers"? According to the ex-follower, there is a core of about 300 followers that will do anything their leader tells them to do, including, as she said literally, "drinking poison and killing themselves, just like happened in Jonestown."

Like I said, the program was very disturbing. It looks like a disaster waiting to happen. I do hope the JREF and friends can make a difference and expose the Kabalah Centre for what it is before it is too late.

I refer all readers to www.randi.org/jr/080504string.html and www.randi.org/jr/081304permit.html for previous mentions here of this silliness, though the "center" itself is news to me. Mario continues, on an international note:

On another note, Ian Rowland [www.randi.org/jr/011405we.html] recently commented that things in the UK were not going well, with banks apparently believing in astrology. Well, matters are even worse then that. I found an interesting article on the Blair family — yes, the Prime Minister and his wife — in the Daily Mail. Since Cherie Blair has been featured on your page several times, [www.randi.org/jr/04-13-2001.html] once with an acupuncture needle in her ear and once with her magic crystal necklace if I remember correctly, it sounds quite convincing that the Blairs would consult the spirits every now and then and I thought you might be interested in it. You often mention that people with wacky beliefs might seem funny, until you realize that they get to vote. But here we're talking about a man who is not only a voter, but also the leader of one of the world's nuclear powers! To me, that is downright scary!

Mario quotes from the "scary" article, telling us that Tony Blair is using a "spirit medium" to help him decide when to step down as Prime Minister. "Mystic" Sylvia Caplin, 70, a former ballet dancer, was asked by Cherie Blair to tell her when Tony should quit, and also to predict whether political aspirant Gordon Brown could win if he challenged him as UK leader. Interestingly, the mystic was asked to find the best time this year for Blair to announce his resignation, suggesting that he might not intend to serve a full third term, despite his previous published assurance that he would.

The resignation date, said to be divined by Caplin through dedicated "channeling," is "early October this year." She had first told them that late November or early December would be the best time, but when they asked whether early October would be suitable, the accommodating medium suddenly discovered that the earlier date would also be just dandy. Ain't magic grand?

We're told that this isn't the first time that Caplin, who gets all this heavy info from angels, has been summoned by the Blairs. Why are we not surprised....?


I know that you're tired of the audio-component-scam theme we've discussed here in which useless items like speaker stickers, magical lacquers, and "stones" are sold to naïve customers, but it's time that we noted some really responsible and properly-conducted tests that have supported our suspicions about some of these quack devices. In this case, the over-priced and highly-touted items under examination are power cords. You read that right; we refer to the simple twisted-strand copper wires that we un-anointed refer to as "zip-cord," though it is quite true that there can be differences between regular 110/220-volt pairs and the higher-gauge (thicker) cables designed to offer minimal resistance effects, if you're serious about your audio quality and equipment operation. Sometimes the power requirements for such a set-up can be more than you'd need for a desk lamp....

A chap named Jason Victor Serinus is well-known as an audio reviewer and evaluator of "high-end" audio equipment. To my dismay, I note that his page (www.planeteria.net/home/whistler) tells us he is also a world-class whistler and a "healer" who has headed

...group-guided meditations/visualizations which promote healing via the use of whistled tones....Jason has also conducted individual healing sessions which have combined bodywork, hypnotherapeutic induction, visualization and whistled healing tones...Jason edited the book "Psychoimmunity and the Healing Process: A Holistic Approach to Immunity & AIDS."

That has me rather alarmed. However, I'm not dragging it in at this point, being more concerned over a well-designed test that he and his colleagues came up with to test some power-cords. Her are a few excerpts — and my comments — from a comprehensive article on the tests, which can be seen in its entirety at www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_11_4/feature-article-blind-test-power-cords-12-2004.html:

On November 13, 2004, "Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity" teamed up with the Bay Area Audiophile Society (BAAS) to conduct a blind AC power cord test. The purpose of the test was to determine if a small group of volunteers could make a statistically significant differentiation of sonic differences between an assortment of generic power cords and Nordost Valhalla power cords.

Mind you, these cables — which the literature says conduct electricity at 91% the speed of light! — cost US$2,500, just to bring 110VAC a distance of two meters (six and a half feet) from a wall-receptacle to the equipment! This ignores the fact that the current arrives from the city power plant, traveling for many miles via regular old copper wire, to get into these fabulous cables! And, I cannot imagine anyone paying almost half as much as I paid for my entire audio system — with which I am very well pleased — just for a cable to plug it all in! I hasten to add here — there will surely be some audio nuts out there chortling that I don't have at least a $20,000 system, because they're sure that what I have sounds like a car-radio. Not so. It's just fine, thanks.

The Serinus article continues by outlining the sterling qualifications of the acknowledged experts who participated in the thoroughly double-blinded procedures that appear to be more than adequate, and listing the first-class equipment involved. And Mr. Serinus notes:

Power cords, interconnects, speaker cables, Shakti Stones, Shun Mooks, esoteric equipment supports, and the Bedini Ultraclarifier: all are bugaboos to those who believe that there must be a scientific, reproducible, and test-proof explanation for anything that claims to alter the quality of audio and video....this critic favorably reviewed the Bedini Dual Beam Ultraclarifier for "Secrets" in March of 2002. The only technical explanation provided in the review, pieced together from e-mails received from Gary Bedini, was patently inadequate. I was well aware of its shortcomings at the time, but included it because it was all that Gary had offered me. As far as I was concerned, a bulletproof technical explanation was not absolutely necessary. The proof was in the hearing.

Although my review constituted only one of the many positive raves audiophile reviewers gave the Bedini unit, my work became a target for those who dismiss "subjectivist" reviews offered without scientific proof. People seemed to comb the review for opportunities to question my hearing, integrity, and credibility.

At this point, we see that Mr. Serinus admits to having endorsed products by using his hearing/listening skills, but not necessarily a double-blind procedure. And he had even endorsed the Nordost products he's now writing about:

In July of 2004, my "Secrets" review of Wireworld top-of-the-line speaker cable and interconnects was followed within a month by my review of the $2500 Nordost Valhalla power cords. The "Secrets" forum was soon abuzz. If the Bedini caused fur to fly, my one-two cable punch virtually scalped the beast.

Here we have a frank, open, admission of ingenuousness, a refreshing facet of Mr. Serinus that we must applaud. To reach this point, alone, is admirable. He continues:

If one were to attempt to summarize the objectivist argument in the proverbial 100 words or less, it might read as follows: "High-priced cables are based on voodoo science, designed for gullible consumers who are so swayed by their cost, looks, and status symbol appeal that they delude themselves into believing they hear differences when such differences do not exist. The proof that the differences do not exist is that they are neither measurable nor provable in blind testing."

Just 57 words. Not bad at all. He quotes one of those discerning experts who participated with him in the double-blind power cord test:

There is often a difference between human perception and reality. Galileo was famously persecuted for reporting the reality of the Earth's place in the solar system. (I suspect that I will suffer the wrath of those who worship at the altar of Audiophiledom for this report.) Since Galileo, a long parade of scientists has shown us a world that is much different in reality than our perceptions suggest to us.

It is human nature to have an opinion based on such perceptions. When someone says, "I hear a difference between this and that," it is an opinion. Unfortunately, these types of opinions are often stated and assumed to be something closer to fact. Science is done with numbers. You got no numbers? You got nothing but opinion.

Does that make the person who says "I hear a difference" a liar? Of course not! Does the fact that so many people say the same thing give the statement more credence? No! The whole world believed the Earth to be the center of the universe at one time. I'm sure most of those who were current with, and knew of the work of Galileo and Copernicus, died still believing the Earth was the center of everything. The point here is that it is natural for us to have these perceptions, BUT, please good people, do not confuse them with reality.

This man has an excellent grasp of reality. I disagree with his view of the "numbers" requirement, but it's a small point. Dear reader, what follows, from Mr. Serinus' colleague, is a perfect description of the double-blind experimental procedure:

Now, why is it that our senses fail us so? A big part of this, especially when we're talking about audio, has to do with the fact that what seems straightforward and reasonable is not. It seems straightforward and reasonable to listen to a piece of audio equipment and then develop an opinion on how it sounds. Unfortunately, due to the complex way that we humans take in sensory information and then combine it with prior knowledge and experience, the resulting perception may be incorrect. If we really want to know how something sounds, we must separate out prior knowledge and visual cues and force ourselves to only use our ears. This is why we do the test blind. Our eyes play a HUGE role in our perceptions of audio quality. Counter intuitive? Yes, but true....

Again, a small disagreement. The word "blind" in the "blind test' usage, applies to all sensory knowledge of the actualities of the test, not just to visual data. The experimenters/evaluators must be unaware of the randomized settings for each trial, and unable to learn that data until their decisions have been made recorded.

Back to Mr. Serinus' text:

While I feel no need to defend my perceptions, it is important to ground accusations of subjective delusion and placebo effect in the reality of my actual review of the Nordost Valhalla power cords.... It goes without saying that many posts on the Secrets forum have challenged the necessity of cable and solid-state gear break-in, calling the procedure another example of voodoo science. From such a perspective, claims that the sound of the Nordost Valhallas transformed after extensive break-in would be dismissed as further proof of delusion.

To me, the notion that cables or conductors may be "broken in" by usage, to the point where a judge can tell the difference between "new" and "seasoned" cables, is ridiculous. However, simple double-blind tests can be used to determine whether that claim is true. Mr. Serinus next went into "Protocol and Procedures," in which he says that they opted to use the "ABX" process in the test. See www.randi.org/jr/072304willful.html#11 and www.randi.org/jr/080504string.html for descriptions of this admirable setup. He continues:

[One of the experimenters] chose to conduct an ABX blind test. (You listen to product "A", then to product "B", then you are presented with "X", which is either "A" or "B" and you indicate which product you think it is.) Switching was between a set of the "generic" stock power cords routinely supplied with equipment and a complete set of Nordost Valhalla power cords. Cords were switched on all equipment in the chain: Power Generator, transport, DAC/preamp, and the two monoblock amplifiers....

In each of the ten trials, the choice of which set of cords would be "A", "'B", or "X" was determined using the random function in Manny's Microsoft Excel program. Manny printed out a random ABX sequence for each of our two listening sessions and kept it in sealed envelopes until the actual test began. None of us, including Manny, knew what sequence of ABX we would use until shortly before the first musical selection was played. By the time switchers opened the envelopes, they were entirely hidden from the participants' view and had ceased talking to each other.

Excellent! Though you're only seeing here some selections taken from the complete protocol used, I think you'll agree that it was very well designed. And, the participants had been asked — in advance — a series of questions, each to be scored between 1 and 5, about their previous experiences and expectations. Mr. Serinus continues:

Given the quality of equipment and recordings, the system sounded wonderful no matter what power cords were used.... We ended up with 9 participants (including myself) in the first group and 6 in the second. One participant was a woman, the rest male. This made for a potential total of 150 responses. In reality, we only received 149, because one participant didn't record a response in one of his ten tests.

The total number of correct answers was 73 out of 149, which amounts to 49% accuracy. That is no more accurate than flipping a coin, and therefore, no statistically significant detection of power cable differences was shown.

The 9 out of 15 participants who said they had invested in after-market power cords scored 48%.

Twelve of the 15 participants gave themselves a 3 or better on the 1 to 5 scale of degree of audiophile dedication. Half of the listeners gave themselves a 3 or better regarding their belief that they could hear difference between power cords. Those who rated themselves above the median for their perceived ability to discern differences between power cords scored 49%, the same as those who rated themselves below the median.

Those who on the post-test survey felt most strongly that they had heard differences between cords during the test did not perform better than those who rated their abilities at or below the median. Those who thought they did best scored 45%, while those who thought they did so-so or poorly scored 50%.

The participant who scored best in the second group of 6 is a BAAS member who participated in "Hone Your Listening Skills." He got 7 out of 10 right. According to Manny, even 7 out of 10 is not high enough to be statistically significant.

On the post-test survey, 14 out of 15 test participants (93%) answered "yes" to the question, "Do you feel that the test procedure was reasonable in its attempt to answer the question of the audibility of power cords?"

...It is clear from the above analysis that no matter what background or experience a participant brought to the test, it did not help him or her score better than anyone else. 49% accuracy is 49% accuracy.

Mr. Serinus concluded, quite correctly:

To many in the engineering community, blind ABX is an accepted experimental design. Using the blind ABX protocol, we failed to hear any differences between an assortment of generic power cords and Nordost Valhalla. Therefore, we cannot conclude that different power cords produce a difference using the blind ABX protocol. However, we also cannot conclude that there are no differences. We simply failed to prove that differences can be detected to a statistically significant degree using a blind ABX protocol.... The test was a grand and noble experiment at best and a bust at worst. Make of it what you will.

There was an editor's note added to Mr. Serinus' long article — which I again urge you to see at www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_11_4/feature-article-blind-test-power-cords-12-2004.html. The editor summed up the strength of the double-blind process, and how to assign value to the results, plus the weaknesses of how we might apply that procedure:

ABX tests are valid and do work. Here is a link to some ABX tests of various types of audio products. In many cases, statistically significant differences could be discerned by participants. In others, no differences could be discerned. www.pcavtech.com/abx/abx_data.htm. Now, of course, one can dissect an experiment and say, well these 4 people out of 10 participants had good scores, so they could hear the differences. But, no, you have to take all the data together. You can't just pick out the numbers that suit your hypothesis. This would be statistically invalid. Same thing with just looking at one music selection. With statistical random patterns, it is likely that there will be one selection where more participants score correctly than on other selections. If we had enough music selections, there would likely be one where all participants scored perfectly. But, you have to look at all the selections together. That is the purpose of statistics. You may remember the famous monkeys-typing-randomly concept. If you have enough monkeys, eventually one of them will type all of Shakespeare's works perfectly. To look at only that one monkey might suggest it knew how to type Shakespeare. But, we can't do that and claim good science.

Kudos! To Mr. Jason Victor Serinus for his courage to test his abilities and abide by the results, to his colleagues who participated with him, to the editor of "Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity," and to the Bay Area Audiophile Society! This sort of forthright treatment and examination of these claims is sorely needed in the audio business, and this article will serve as an example that we can only hope will be followed by the publications and their experts who so obviously guide buyers who trust their judgment and decisions.


Reader George Sime from Brisbane, Australia, gives us a suggestion that has been sent to me several times before. I think it's excellent. Consider:

I am about 3/4 of the way through reading the commentary archives and have noticed several entries about teaching intelligent design as a subject in science classes, and I have a suggestion.

I noticed that none of these groups directly specify that it must be the Judeo-Christian version of creation but just say "intelligent design" or "creation," which may leave a loophole for some brave teachers. If the intelligent design argument has to be given equal time, then why not teach the non-Christian versions as well, in fact there are so many to choose from that they would probably get a very short showing each. And then as homework the students should write an essay giving objective arguments promoting one version of creation over another and maybe present it for discussion. They would start out with an outsiders objective (or probably negative) view of other cultures' religious beliefs and just may end up questioning their own a little more objectively.

How fast do you think the grubbies screaming for intelligent design would be on the war path over this? Of course then they would have to show their cards and say that they want only Judeo-Christian beliefs taught. Not being an American citizen, I'm not sure, but wouldn't that be against your constitution regarding religious freedoms? No doubt this would make their argument that bit harder to sell to the fence-sitting public that tolerate these people and support them by their silence. Or it might even give some not-so-brave politicians an excuse to oppose them.

I have a good myth to start with, too. In Australia the Aborigines have the Rainbow Serpent creation myth and the good thing about this one is that the snake gets to be the good guy!

George is touting his local myth here, and while I'm all in favour of rainbows and serpents, we can feast on other possibilities that could also vie for equal consideration. For example, the Hindus have creation beginning all over again at the end of each "kalpa" — a single day to Brahma — brought about by flames from the fangs of Sesha, a serpent. The Maori culture insists that New Zealand was dragged into existence from the bottom of the ocean. Shinto doctrine says that the world began with a giant reed from chaos that somehow became the god Kuni-Toko-Tachi, followed by Yin and Yang, the "Fertile Pair" who peopled the Earth; talk about being busy! The Hindus have several creation stories; one is of the World Egg, another is that the giant Purusha was killed by other gods, and his various body parts became parts of the Earth; I won't dwell on details. Greek stories say that Nyx, a giant bird with black wings, was impregnated by other gods, then laid a silver egg, and that gave us the Earth. In old Egypt, there was a really big Cosmic Egg from somewhere, and before that the Sumerians believed that at a drunken party, Nimnah — Mother Earth — fashioned humans out of clay; the inebriety was responsible for her fumbling, and thus for our imperfections. The curse of drink!

All of these sound just as good as the Christian views, to me. But I'm an equal-opportunity myth accepter....


Reader Chuck Doherty comments:

In case you have not seen it already, [last week's] New York Times (Sunday edition) business section, page 2, quotes the "Chief Graphology Officer" of the Pilot Pen Corporation as she analyzes the personality of John Hancock based on his famous signature on the Declaration of Independence. Did you know that he listened carefully before he spoke? Fascinating.

I don't know what is worse; knowing that a major corporation would establish the position "Chief Graphology Officer," or that The New York Times would report such tripe as news.

Going with the trend toward inanity, Chuck. Nonsense is popular....

Finally, I received a huge response to my stream-of-consciousness piece added last week to commemorate the death of Johnny Carson. If it sounded maudlin, I apologize. The man was just so caring, concerned, and generous, and the loss was so devastating to me, that I had to rush something onto the page. I was very serious about hating the tobacco industry for what it's done to my family and friends, and I will continue to rail against those who thus profit from sickness and death. I owe it to Johnny.