The Business Plot, 1933

A credibly true conspiracy story: The aim was to take over Washington DC in a military coup; there was just one man standing in their way. Read how one veteran US Marine General stood up to the political forces that lurk in the shadows even today.

It was November the 24th, 1934 and retired General Smedley Butler sat before a closed session of the Congressional Special Committee on Un-American Activities in New York.

This man had served in numerous military operations around the world, including WW1. With two Medals of Honour to his name, he was America’s most decorated soldier and his reputation was above reproach. However news outlets, such as the New York Times, dismissed his story as a “giant hoax” the moment it came out.

Prefacing his remarks by saying “I have one interest in all of this, and that is to try to do my best to see that a democracy is maintained in this country.” Butler then gave an incredible testimony that Gerald C. MacGuire attempted to recruit him to lead a coup, promising him an army of 500,000 men for a march on Washington, DC, and financial backing.

The pretext for the coup would be that the president’s health was failing. Butler said the plotters felt his good reputation and popularity were vital in attracting support amongst the general public and saw him as easier to manipulate than others.

Given a successful coup, Butler said that the plan was for him to have held near-absolute power in the newly created position of ‘Secretary of General Affairs’, while Roosevelt would have assumed a figurehead role.

General Smedley Butler was to lead a fascist coup of the USA if ‘hidden interests’ had their way (blurryphotos.org)

Those implicated in the plot by Butler all denied any involvement. MacGuire was the only figure identified by Butler who testified before the committee.

Others Butler accused were not called to appear to testify because the “committee has had no evidence before it that would in the slightest degree warrant calling before it such men”.

While historians have questioned whether or not a coup was actually close to execution, most agree that some sort of plot was contemplated and discussed. 

One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Make a one-time donation

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount

$5.00
$15.00
$100.00
$5.00
$15.00
$100.00
$5.00
$15.00
$100.00

Or enter a custom amount

$

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

Chris Foster, The Millionaire in So Much Debt, He Committed Familicide

The story of Chris Foster, the man who committed familicide rather than face the bailiffs

One of the most unsettling crimes you’ll ever read about; on the 26th of August 2008, Chris Foster murdered his wife and teenage daughter and set his house on fire before killing himself.

What went so wrong for the once-successful millionaire that he killed his family? Was he evil, or is our obsession with money the true root of this sad saga?

It was in Maesbrook village this tale unfolded, a tranquil, richly green locale in England where city slickers who make their fortunes on the mean streets of Birmingham retreat to enjoy the fruits of their labours. Expensive cars and grand houses are everywhere in this well-to-do Shropshire village, as a result.

Into this environment Chris Foster, with his wife Jill and daughter Kirstie, fitted right in.

Ulvashield – Chris’s Eureka Invention

Chris had been an ordinary salesman from Burnley until he had a eureka moment in 1988.

Inspired by the Piper Alpha oil rig explosion of that year, Chris seized upon an idea to invent a new oil rig sealant. By 1996 he had invented and patented a product he called ‘Ulvashield’ complete with a five-star safety rating.

Orders began pouring in and the fortunes of Chris’s newly formed company skyrocketed. Flush with success, it wasn’t long before he started living and dressing like the millionaire he’d become.

Millionaire Businessman

And he was clearly a very materialistic man. Chris dressed well and liked nice holidays. Soon after moving his family into the village, a fleet of cars came through the gateway of his new home, Osbaston House — Porcshes, an Aston Martin, and a 4X4 for Jill.

He bought horses for Kirstie and spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on a gun collection which he loved to shoot as an avid member of the local shooting club.

He always looked the part; a flash, successful millionaire.

But that was the first nail in his coffin; Chris spent money like it would never run out… Except soon it did.

Although the man was clearly smart in that he had invented a great product, that didn’t make him a great businessman. A judge later described Christopher as “bereft of the basic instincts of commercial morality” and “not to be trusted”.

Chris’s Downfall

Despite appearances, Chris couldn’t afford his lavish lifestyle and his financial struggles were causing untold stress (caledoniankitty.co.uk)

By 2005, Chris’s extravagant lifestyle had outstripped his earnings and he had racked up debts of £2.8 million.

To maintain his non-stop splurging Chris was happy to cut a few corners; he breached the contract he had with the suppliers of Ulvashield by finding a new, cheaper supplier. But the manufacturers took legal action against him for damages, and the wheels of his downfall were set in motion.

By 2007, his company was liquidated.

It’s unclear how much his family knew about their circumstances now that Chris had no income, but friends remained completely in the dark whilst the man kept up a façade of affluence, continuing with social gatherings and bragging to friends that he had a multi-million-pound business deal in the pipeline.

Behind Chris’s big smile and warm handshake, however, his mind entered a dark, dark place. Now that he had no business to attend to only his 15-acre property could occupy his time. Chris pottered around, keeping the grounds of his house immaculate, even moving his tractor from spot to spot such was his restlessness.

As he tinkered away, his thoughts dwelled increasingly on his predicament and his fears of the unbearable shame that would come once the stark truth of his failings was exposed. The Summer of 2008 had been exceptionally wet and grey. One imagines it did nothing to keep the dark clouds off his mind.

It’s likely Chris started to plan his end, and that of his wife and daughter’s, as that bleak Summer waned with the coming of August. Chris by now had no less than 20 bank accounts overdrawn and didn’t even own his home anymore.

Then the day came he’d been dreading; the housekeeper he still employed found a letter attached to the gate. It was from the bailiffs informing him that they were coming to repossess all his possessions within a week. She later recalled how Chris had looked distressed but said nothing.

The Murders

Relaxed and smiling: Chris, Jill and Kirstie on their last day alive (telegraph.co.uk)

On the day this sad saga ended the Fosters were invited to a friend’s barbeque and clay pigeon shoot. Chris spent his last day on earth enjoying the hobby he loved.

It’s chilling to note that none of the guests that night noticed any red flags with Chris, who seemed in particularly good spirits. It is a paradox that a suicidal person can be the happiest they have been in a long time knowing the end is nigh. A photo of the family shows all three smiling at the camera and looking relaxed.

One can only wonder what the mood amongst the Fosters was like that night, on the drive home, and getting ready for bed.

Was Chris quiet or chatty? Did Jill and Kirsty detect an air that something was off? Was there an air of foreboding?

Around 11.30pm Chris told his daughter to go to bed.

Around 3am Chris, 50 years old, shot his wife Jill, 49, in the back of the head. He then went into his daughter’s room and shot Kirstie, 15, in the back of the head too.

He went on to kill all the family pets; the four dogs, three horses; even the ducks and chickens.

Chris then doused the house, the stables and his cars in heating oil to set them alight.

He also made sure to block the driveway with a horsebox and shoot out the tires in order to prevent first responders from quickly extinguishing the fire. The man was so bitter he wanted his creditors, the people who’d supposedly put him in this predicament, to get absolutely nothing out of him.

As the fire took hold, it filled the house with smoke and Chris went to rejoin his wife. He succumbed to smoke inhalation.

It took three days for firefighters to extinguish the fire and allow the investigators to begin their grim task of sifting through the mangled wreckage of Chris Foster’s life.

Is ‘Money Evil’ …or Was Chris?

The chilling tragedy shocked the nation and commentators inevitably tried to make sense of what had happened.

A once successful man was so ashamed of his business failings, he destroyed everything he loved and owned before ending his life. Why?

In the days after, amongst the cards and flowers left by the gateway was a note saying ‘Money is the root to all evil.’

It seemed to sum up the sentiments of many bereaved. Here was an average man who achieved something special; he invented something so great it made him a millionaire, and he shouldn’t have had to worry about money ever again.

Yet instead, it hooked him onto the vice-like trappings of materialism and vanity. Marketing and media make us covet fast cars, swanky clothes and everything else in between, so once Chris got a taste of the good life he was addicted like a heroin addict no matter how much debt he got into, until his creditors hounded him into a corner he couldn’t escape.

Chris appeared to be a loving father and husband, and one friend described him as ‘down to earth’, ‘open’ and ‘warm’. Yet, was he such a nice guy?

Many described Chris as ‘warm’ and ‘friendly’. Yet, others who knew him better called him a ‘narcissist’ and ‘highly controlling’ (mirror.co.uk)

Well, Chris was described by others variously as a ‘schoolboy bully’ a ‘narcissist’ and ‘highly controlling’ who was known to have hit his wife at least once. Some commentators suggested Chris’s murder spree was the last act of control over his family, to deny them a future free of his domination.

Whatever the truth, the sad Foster family saga is testament to Capitalism’s fickle fortunes and reminds us of the maxim: ‘The bigger they are, the harder they fall’.

Chris Foster, the big man with a big smile, fell very hard indeed.

One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Make a one-time donation

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount

$5.00
$15.00
$100.00
$5.00
$15.00
$100.00
$5.00
$15.00
$100.00

Or enter a custom amount

$

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

How Native English Speakers can Communicate Better with Non-Native English Speakers in Business

Here are five ways to help your international business contacts avoid misunderstandings that could cost you dearly.

Assuming you’re a Briton, American or another native English speaker (NES), imagine you are holding a video conference with half a dozen proficient non-native English speakers (NNES), say some departmental managers of a manufacturing firm in Spain.

Because the meeting is in English would you assume that you are the easiest to understand in the ‘room’? If so, you’d be wrong.

I’ll explain why and ways you can help your international business contacts avoid misunderstandings that could cost you dearly.

Particularly across the European Union (EU), there is a heck of a lot of business dealings and liaison. In an economic bloc that counts 24 official languages, a lingua franca is needed and invariably that is English.

Yet in a room full of reasonably proficient NNESs it is often the NES in the room who is hardest to understand. Why is that so?

The European Union average showed that 56% of people speak at least one foreign language. In contrast just 38% of Britons speak at least one foreign language. As a Brit myself I’m surprised it is even that high.

For Americans, it is just 20% who can converse in two or more languages.

The result? It is not just that we anglospherics are ignorant of foreign languages, we’re ignorant of how hard our language is to translate and learn, especially for those who lack the aptitude for languages to learn intuitively.

So, does your business do a lot of cross border trade? Ever been in a meeting where every NNES seems to nod and smile at what you are saying but looks blank, anxious or uncomfortable?

Ever been in a meeting where everyone seems to nod and smile at what you are saying but looks blank, anxious or uncomfortable? (forbes.com)

As an ex English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) teacher, let me highlight five mistakes NESs may be making and how you can rectify them.

Phrasal Verbs

They. Are. A. Nightmare. We use them so much yet they make little logical sense.

What’s a phrasal verb? A two word combination of a verb followed by an adverb or a preposition, e.g: keep off, lock up and turn down.

If you were a beginner English student, you could easily grasp what ‘look’ and ‘up’ mean. The minefield becomes apparent when you see the differences in meaning between:

Look upSearch someone’s name or a piece of information

Look up (at) — See something above

Look up (to) — Admire someone

That is why they’re so confusing. The solution is to find simple synonyms to replace the phrasal verbs, e.g:

Turn downReject

Lay offRemove staff from company

Bring upMention topic/issue

Back upSupport

Break downStop working

Idioms

Another nightmare. These are groups of words the meaning of which is completely unrelated to the meaning of the individual words. Examples being: ‘Caught red handed’, ‘Pull the wool over someone’s eyes’, and ‘move the goalposts’.

Again, used frequently.

So many NESs simply assume NNESs are familiar with the terms.

Again the solution is to replace them, e.g:

Move the goalpostsChange the rules

Catch red-handedSee someone doing something banned/illegal

Don’t touch with a bargepoleDon’t get involved with something

Vocabulary

This applies to the vocabulary you use. Of course many terms are industry-specific and, in technical fields, only long, fancy words will do. Still, if you are quite verbose, then be mindful of finding simpler synonyms without patronising the NNES who is on the receiving end.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been lost in the past due to vocabulary misunderstandings.

DelegateGive tasks to junior team members

MaintainKeep something working well

TurnoverMoney taken by a business; number of staff which have started and finished working for a company

GuidanceAdvice

Acronyms

OOO’, ‘FYI’, ‘RSVP’ ‘BTW

Do you know what all these mean? You can bet your bottom dollar some of your NNES email recipients certainly won’t. The simple solution is to be mindful of their use and stop using them.

Accents

A more well-known consideration yet one so often overlooked by NESs with no experience of learning foreign languages. Even on the small island of Great Britain there is a dizzying array of regional accents, and it is hard enough for a Brit from the north to understand a Brit from the south. So, imagine how bad it is for someone not even born in the UK!

(youtube.com)

Again be mindful of your audience and make the effort to enunciate, slow down and cut up the flow of sentences a bit. Again don’t go overboard so far that you patronise your audience.

Conclusion

If you’ve been struggling to get the results you’ve desired from your dealings with foreign English speakers, bear these points in mind and you may find they make a big difference!

One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Make a one-time donation

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount

$5.00
$15.00
$100.00
$5.00
$15.00
$100.00
$5.00
$15.00
$100.00

Or enter a custom amount

$

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

5 Most Hilarious Product Reviews Ever Seen on Amazon

In this spoof piece, we take a look at some of Amazon’s most hilarious product reviews.

(growtraffic.com)

Amazon, that Aladdin’s Cave; a Santa’s grotto of goodies for all ages, selling over 12 million different products and eliminating yet another reason to change out of our pyjama bottoms to leave the house.

But Amazon has been guilty of soiling the retail industry by peddling pointless, frivolous or FAD items like books, shoes or healthcare products.

They’ve also put on the market arguably some of the greatest inventions and fantastic value for money items of the 21st Century.

Here, we’re going to take a look at some of Amazon’s niftiest merchandise and what makes them so high in demand by looking at the product reviews.

Pens for Women’s Delicate Little Fingers

Women are the fairer of the sexes, with their charming giggles and soft cooey voices. Yet we know how delicate these dainty but fragile creatures can be, and in the man-made world (in more than one sense), the environment of abrasive wooden, concrete, metal surfaces, etc can be particularly tough on their skin and easy-to-break fingernails.

Men carry the burden of responsibility to provide for their women and children in the macho and competitive workplace but they can be guilty of overlooking that ladies can’t handle the durable but uncomfortable everyday items found away from their pretty homes, such as door handles, steering wheels and pens.

Subsequently, pen manufacturer Bic received much acclaim when it launched a custom-designed product range for women. In close consultation with their wives and female family members, Bic’s product development team showed a commendable degree of tenderness in designing the Bic ‘for Her’ Medium Ballpoint Pen.

The product is a real hit with the ladies, and has received rave reviews as illustrated by ‘A keen skier’ below.

Banana Slicing Toil Ends Here

Much of the evolution of human civilisation has revolved around one simple aim – to make our lives less laborious and more comfortable. The inventions of the wheel, steam engine and pulley system come to mind as examples.

Since the late 19th Century, Bananas have become an ever more popular staple of our diets. In America, it is estimated that the average person will have consumed roughly 780,000 bananas by the time they reach their 70th birthday, whilst in the UK, an adult typically eats 13 bananas per day, and children, 6.

That is a lot of bananas! and of course, unless one is an oafish backwoodsman who eats the fruit straight from the skin one eats the fruit in manageable slices. But that’s a heck of a lot of slicing; if a banana knife lasts more than 3.5 years, it’s a quality blade.

It was this daily toil that no doubt inspired the eureka moment from which the 571B Banana Slicer emerged. Shaped and even coloured to match our favourite fruit this innovative banana slicer replaces the non-stop chopping, with a single, firm, downwards slice.

It is a big weight off the shoulders and saves a serious amount of time. ‘Mrs Toledo’ explains why this product has so many grateful fans in her review.

One Giant TV, with the Price Tag to Match

They say you get what you pay for, and so it is with the LG105 UC 9V 5K Ultra HD 3D Smart LED TV 105in …Deluxe edition.

Pity the people who can only afford a 60in or smaller HD TV. They sit in their hovels, just feet away from their screens squinting, trying to fathom what it is they’re looking at.

A nature documentary might be on but it is a futile exercise even tuning in if they can’t tell whether the fuzzy image is a bird, a bat… hell, could be a frisbee. Who knows with such poor picture quality regular TVs under £1000 offer.

This is why LG created an engineering marvel for when even the gods themselves want some downtime. A TV where you get a whole lot more than just a single pixel per pound/dollar.

Sure it’s not cheap; you’ll need to match at least five numbers in the national lottery draw or, if you work in Sales, sell a helicopter – preferably a Chinook.

Yet when you get to watch the kind of television that’s less a viewing experience and more akin to a wonderful hallucinogenic adventure, it isn’t something you want to be counting the pennies over. After all, there are always more windfalls to inherit, am I right?

‘Barry’, below, details the upsides and downsides of such an investment. You decide if it’s worth it.

Not Just a Penknife

Some tools don’t just improve your life, they change it.

You’re likely the product of a cotton wool wrapped, suburban upbringing; a meek human, dependent on the expertise and assertiveness of people with more character. One mile into the true wilderness and a pack of ravenous rabbits will smell your fear and tear you to pieces. Your sense of vulnerability is the cause of much of your unease.

But there is hope! Such a tool exists that is so versatile there is literally NO problem it cannot overcome. The Wenger 16999 Swiss Army Knife Giant, complete with its own carry-case rucksack, will make you the man you need to be, regardless of your current gender identity.

Do you even know what ‘versatile’ means? You don’t, because you don’t own this piece of kit yet.

Need a knife? It has one.

Not the right kind of knife? It has an estimated 35 other knives, half of which are facsimile.

With this thing you won’t walk in through the door of a building, you’ll find yourself abseiling through the window like it’s 1980 and you’re on the roof of an Iranian Embassy. You will confidently take on everything from car restorations to apex predators.

‘Kristi’ explains its effect in his/her review:

A Simple Book Giving Hope to Simple Foreigners

It is now decades since the Russian bear was brought to its knees by the American Eagle, ending the Cold War with the Soviet Empire’s collapse.

Yet the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe still haven’t caught up with the living standards we English speakers enjoy, such as flying cars, self-cleaning homes and all the calories our impressive, ever-expanding physiques need.

Undoubtedly the main reason the Slavic peoples still lag behind us is that they don’t speak English. Instead they still communicate in their coarse, guttural tongues of which we understand nothing. Inevitably it is the dream of every ex-Soviet to start a new life in a new land and, just maybe, one day, own a glossy credit card.

The most popular of the Anglospheric nations is the USA; a country that, like the UK and in stark contrast to the old Soviet states of Eastern Europe, has an economic ideology which rewards hard work with financial security, has a free uncontrolled media and is a land of opportunity, not stagnation.

Any aspiring immigrant must subsequently learn English before they arrive and ‘English Grammar for Dummies’ is the failsafe route to learning to speak and write good. ‘Nickolai Kresinski’ details his journey from humiliation to pride with the aid of this book in his review below.

One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Make a one-time donation

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount

$5.00
$15.00
$100.00
$5.00
$15.00
$100.00
$5.00
$15.00
$100.00

Or enter a custom amount

$

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: