March 10, 2014

Playing the civil rights card for billions

Here's a rather overwrought article in the New York Times about hedge fund honcho William A. Ackman's jihad against the notorious multi-level-marketing firm Herbalife. Ackman has sold Herbalife short to the tune of a billion dollars and has been trying to get government regulators to go after it. Yet, Herbalife's stock has supporters who are not without influence either, such as George Soros and Carl Icahn, which may help account for the negative tone of the article on Ackman.

Ackman has frequently played the civil rights card in trying to get regulators to crack down on Herbalife. Pyramid schemes tend to exploit people with two-digit IQs, and Herbalife, which was founded in Los Angeles in 1980 by the late supersalesman Mark Hughes (1956-2000), has always gone hard after the Diversity market.

Not surprisingly, a lot of civil rights organizations seem to exist mostly to be bought off by one side or another in these kind of struggles among the rich and powerful. For example:
Brent Ashley Wilkes, Latino
Brent A. Wilkes, the national executive director of the Washington-based League of United Latin American Citizens, or Lulac, rejected any suggestion that he had become Mr. Ackman’s tool — even though his organization accepted a $10,000 contribution early last year, and since then has taken a position at the forefront of the anti-Herbalife campaign.

Instead, Mr. Ackman’s bet is just helping draw attention to longstanding abusive practices by Herbalife, said Mr. Wilkes, who acknowledged that he had never previously focused on the issue. 
“It’s not the Latino groups that are helping Bill Ackman,” Mr. Wilkes said. “Bill Ackman is helping the Latino groups. He has elevated this battle.” On Sunday evening, after questions from The Times, Mr. Wilkes said he had decided to return the donation, so there was no chance anyone could suspect he had undertaken the effort “for a mere $10,000 table purchase” at one of his fund-raising events.

Gone with the Wind
In case you are wondering, LULAC's national executive director Brent A. Wilkes is a graduate of Dartmouth, that hotbed of Latino-American culture.

One Latino civil rights organization's brilliant strategy is that rather than be paid by one side or the other for their assistance, they'd rather be paid by both sides to do nada:
In recent weeks, the back-and-forth donations by the two sides have generated something of a bidding war. 
For example, a top executive at the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute informed a member of Mr. Ackman’s consulting team in late February that he had already received a $30,000 donation from Herbalife. He then solicited payment of the same amount from Pershing Square in exchange for the group remaining “neutral.”

That should be my career goal: to be paid by all sides on all issues to not do any work.
   

51 comments:

Dave Pinsen said...

There's also a classism angle here. See John Hempton's post "Notes on visiting an Herbalife nutrition club in Queens". Excerpt:

It was striking how totally Bill Ackman's thesis fell apart from observing for just a few hours in a nutrition club.

The best way of analysing Herbalife that I can find is as alcoholics anonymous for fat (and very often Hispanic) people. I joke: “my name is Jose and I am fat”.

[...]

Bill Ackman a Harvard educated (magna cum laude) billionaire New York hedge fund manager bet over a billion dollars on a short position (imperilling his fund and his reputation) without checking the facts.

And he did not check the facts because he was so rigid with a misplaced silver spoon that he could not stoop to sit on a subway for thirty minutes and talk with poor people for ninety minutes.


Anonymous said...

His full name is Brent Ashley Wilkes. Ashley Wilkes was of course Scarlett O'Hara's love interest in Gone With The Wind and was supposed to represent the paragon of Southern manhood. Even his name was supposed to signify paleness: his "pallid skin literalizes the idea of Confederate death".

What exactly is Brent Ashley Wilkes' connection to Latinos? Usually these types have some sort of personal connection. His bio at the LULAC site just says that he studied Spanish.

countenance said...

I guess this battle will remain at a stalemate until one side can prove that the other is homophobic.

Oswald Spengler said...

"I guess this battle will remain at a stalemate until one side can prove that the other is homophobic."

------------------------------------------------------------------------

This altercation is yet another front in the burgeoning World War G.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, how exactly is Brent an hispanic first name? Ashley Wilkes? Does he have a latina spouse or his family were attorneys for the United Migrant Workers of America? It doesn't really add up that he would be heading a national organization such as this. On top of that he's also pretty young.



"""This altercation is yet another front in the burgeoning World War G.""""


On an interrelated note and speaking of World War G, the US Women's Soccer National Team just blew it big time vs Denmark today by score of 5-3. What the---is going on!? Of course the usual speculations abound. The new US coach a male, replaced the lesbian coach (who went back to coach her native Sweden's national team) but she won 2 Gold Medals and got the US into the finals at the World Cup.

Regardless of The WW G and its potential overtones it is no laughing matter. The next competition comes in the fall and its the World Cup Qualifiers, CONCACAF. Maybe a little less girlie and more tomboy are what is called for, especially if they want to do well at next yrs world cup.

Anonymous said...

"Brent Ashley Wilkes graduated from Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. Currently he lives in Virginia with his wife Angela Cross Wilkes and his two sons." (WIKIPEDIA)

I think that we have just found the Whitest, most Anglo Hispanic of all time.

peterike said...

Bill Ackman... bet over a billion dollars on a short position

A sane society would not allow short selling. Ever.

Dennis Dale said...

On Sunday evening, after questions from The Times, Mr. Wilkes said he had decided to return the donation, so there was no chance anyone could suspect he had undertaken the effort “for a mere $10,000 table purchase” at one of his fund-raising events.

Indeed, better protect that brand, Ashley. Nobody wants to be the proverbial five dollar whore.

Dave Pinsen said...

Short sellers can act as a form of financial hygiene, rooting out cases of fraud.

carol said...

A sane society would not allow short selling. Ever.

Got something against price discovery?

Gringo said...

One Latino civil rights organization's brilliant strategy is that rather than be paid by one side or the other for their assistance, they'd rather be paid by both sides to do nada
I am reminded of the beginning of George Orwell's Burmese Days, where he describes a Burmese who had risen high in the colonial bureaucracy:

As a magistrate his methods were simple. Even for the vastest bribe he would never sell the decision of a case, because he knew that a magistrate who gives wrong judgments is caught sooner or later. His practice, a much safer one, was to take bribes from both sides and then decide the case on strictly legal grounds. This won him a useful reputation for impartiality. Besides his revenue from litigants, U Po Kyin levied a ceaseless toll, a sort of private taxation scheme, from all the villages under his jurisdiction. If any village failed in its tribute U Po Kyin took punitive measures—gangs of dacoits attacked the village, leading villagers were arrested on false charges, and so forth—and it was never long before the amount was paid up. He also shared the proceeds of all the larger-sized robberies that took place in the district. Most of this, of course, was known to everyone except U Po Kyin’s official superiors (no British officer will ever believe anything against his own men) but the attempts to expose him invariably failed; his supporters, kept loyal by their share of the loot, were too numerous. When any accusation was brought against him, U Po Kyin simply discredited it with strings of suborned witnesses, following this up by counter-accusations which left him in a stronger position than ever. He was practically invulnerable, because he was too fine a judge of men ever to choose a wrong instrument, and also because he was too absorbed in intrigue ever to fail through carelessness or ignorance. One could say with practical certainty that he would never be found out, that he would go from success to success, and would finally die full of honour, worth several lakhs of rupees.

The more things change....

ironrailsironweights said...

I don't know much about Herbalife, maybe it's different, but pyramid schemes in general are a very serious and very fast-growing problem. They specialize in separating people from money they can't afford to lose, and regardless of the "double digit IQ" remark the people who run pyramid schemes can be VERY persuasive. Many people with IQ's well above the century mark have fallen for their pitches.

Pyramid schemes, and their only-slightly-more-legitimate cousins straight commission sales "jobs," have had another unpleasant consequence. Job fairs used to be a reasonably good way of connecting jobseekers with employers. Starting several years ago, however, pyramid schemes and straight commission sales outfits have muscled into job fairs, scaring off many legitimate employers worried about taint by association. Today it's very difficult to find a real job at a job fair.

Peter

ATBOTL said...

I've told this story before, but at my HS, there was some ceremony for National Honors Society members and crap, and then they called up members of the "Hispanic Honor Society," or something like that, maybe they were the Hispanics who were in the NHS or it was an NHS type thing with lower a lower PSAT score cut off? Everyone was surprised because it was all people who everyone though of as white, with laughably un-Hispanic sounding names. Literally not one had a Hispanic name, in school that was probably 10% Hispanic names. A lot of people were chucking. Teachers and admins were casting disapproving looks at the student body as everyone looked at each other like "WTF?"

Anonymous said...

I've told this story before, but at my HS, there was some ceremony for National Honors Society members and crap, and then they called up members of the "Hispanic Honor Society," or something like that, maybe they were the Hispanics who were in the NHS or it was an NHS type thing with lower a lower PSAT score cut off? Everyone was surprised because it was all people who everyone though of as white, with laughably un-Hispanic sounding names.

Yes, I recall something similar at my school, although it wasn't a ceremony, but it was in the yearbook or something where they had the Hispanic National Honor Society displayed in it. The students listed in it were kids with non-Hispanic names who nobody even really knew were Hispanic, but who had Hispanic mothers or grandmothers.

Anonymous said...

Can't they both lose?

Anonymous said...

Technically, I don't think Herbalife is a pyramid scheme. First of all, it's an actual, physical consumer product. It's not a financial product that's not a consumable and solely designed to generate financial returns. The company just says that people can buy a whole bunch of their shakes and sell them to their friends if they want. It just looks like a pyramid scheme because the people who make big purchases and make distributors rich are likely to buy from established distributors and buy in order to try to set themselves up as distributors themselves.

These kinds of distribution arrangements have been around forever e.g. Tupperware parties, door-to-door encyclopedia and knife set sales, etc., and they're not pyramid schemes, even if it may look like they are at first glance. They're well established arrangements.

Either Ackman is not very bright or he just figured he could make money on this by lobbying and political manipulation and pressure.

Oswald Spengler said...

"Brent Ashley Wilkes graduated from Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. Currently he lives in Virginia with his wife Angela Cross Wilkes and his two sons."

I think that we have just found the Whitest, most Anglo Hispanic of all time.

----------------------------------

Wilkes is Hispanicizing his name soon.

Say hello to Brentillo Aztlán Vilches.

Anonymous said...

The best way of analysing Herbalife that I can find is as alcoholics anonymous for fat (and very often Hispanic) people. I joke: “my name is Jose and I am fat”.

I'd say it's Weight Watchers with diet shakes thrown in. If Ackman were really in this for the benefit of the hoi polloi, he'd be targeting Amway, which really does sell overpriced products to rubes without much marginal benefit for either salespeople or consumers. But of course, Amway isn't publicly listed, so he can't establish a short position against it. The thing about Herbalife is that people do lose weight, mainly because of the social component where you show up in person at the meetings and step on the scale. Amway is just fluff - probably inferior to what's available from the major consumer product companies, but nonetheless sold at premium prices.

Chicago said...

Following the Herbalife link to Wikipedia one can also read where a swindler by the name of Barry Minkow, who had served prison time for fraud, had set up an organization called the Fraud Discovery Institute that accused Herbalife of selling contaminated products. The organization profited from the allegations by shorting Herbalife stock. Seems to be a pattern here.

Bert said...

So I guess everyone is a Hispanic deep down inside.

Mr. Anon said...

Was Nathan Bedford Forrest a latino too? How about Jefferson Davis?

Why I can imagine a whole Mexican soap-opera version of Gone With the Wind.

David said...

To top up the crazy, Leslie Howard was a Jew. Maybe we all want to be someone else. Obama, for instance, wants to be black.

Lesbians want to be boys. Transpeople want to be whatever. And gays just want to be fabulous.

Oswald Spengler said...

Anonymous Mr. Anon said...

"Was Nathan Bedford Forrest a latino too? How about Jefferson Davis?"

"Why I can imagine a whole Mexican soap-opera version of Gone With the Wind."

------------------------------------------------------------------------

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1iBPnjq2lM

"Francamente querida me importa un comino."

Anonymous said...

http://brontecapital.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/we-interrupt-for-brief-herbalife-update.html

"Bill Ackman thinks this is a pyramid scheme and knowledgeable rich industry insiders are buying huge slabs of stock in their own name."

Hempton is a short seller by profession, but he doesn't short Herbalife.

http://brontecapital.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/daddy-you-are-more-evil-than-i-thought.html

Anonymous said...

Here in Brooklyn there is an Herbalife storefront operated by immigrants. I suspect they also live in the store, which is cheaper than living in an apartment as the store does not have a certificate of occupancy. I personally think it is fairly common for immigrant businesses to use a business for housing. It is not clear to me if the Herbalife store actually makes money selling the shakes. I also suspect that owning an Herbalife business is a resume booster on the immigration application. Sort of like owning a worthless piece of real estate and paying the taxes so you can claim you have a right to enter the US to care for your land.

Herbalife's product line is not much different than the packaged goods sold at a health food store.

Cail Corishev said...

regardless of the "double digit IQ" remark the people who run pyramid schemes can be VERY persuasive. Many people with IQ's well above the century mark have fallen for their pitches.

Yes. I know quite a few smart people who are/were into the whole New Age "prosperity gospel" stuff that contributed to the housing bubble. High IQ is no guarantee against being suckered, and smart people are good at convincing themselves that they'll be one of the ones that beats the system.

Thing is, the smart ones generally have good enough jobs and portfolios that they can afford to dabble in goofy mysticism or get-rich-quick schemes. If their Herbalife "distributorship" fails, they can probably absorb it. The lower-IQ person is less likely to have the cushion to do that.

Cail Corishev said...

Technically, I don't think Herbalife is a pyramid scheme.

Right, it's a multi-level marketing scheme. (The product itself may be snake oil, but that's a separate issue.) Like all MLM businesses, though, there's a pyramid aspect to it because you get paid a cut of what those you recruit (and their recruits) sell.

So the only way to make much money at it is to recruit a lot of other people to sell under you, or to be a heck of a salesman yourself. Most people get into it thinking it's going to be easy money, pay a sizable chunk to get started, then maybe recruit one person, maybe none, buy some products themselves and sell some things near cost to try to get established, then give up hundreds of dollars (at least) poorer. So a lot of the money going up the chain to the people getting rich at the top is coming from new people buying in to become dealers; not so much from normal product sales. If they stopped getting new recruits and had to depend on new customers and regular product sales, it'd make a huge dent in profits -- might even put the whole thing out of business. So in that respect, it's pretty much a pyramid scheme that's made legal by tying in a product to pass around instead of pieces of paper.

Bill said...


NYT said . . .
Mr. Wilkes said he had decided to return the donation, so there was no chance anyone could suspect he had undertaken the effort “for a mere $10,000 table purchase” at one of his fund-raising events.

This does seem like kind of a problem for Steve's theory, though, doesn't it? $10,000 is kind of chicken feed in a scam this big, no? Is the big payout supposed to come after Herbalife stock is successfully crashed?

countenance said...

ironrailsironweights

Questionable MLM outfits are also invading the legit online job boards.

Anonymous said...

Slightly off topic but discussed in this thread: Steve, you need to write about one of the longest-running battles in World War G, the inclusion of gay groups in the South Boston St. Patrick's Day parade.

The parade, sponsored by a Southie veterans group since its inception, has been a bone of contention for gay groups ever since the Supreme Court ruled in 1995 that the vets can ban whomever they want from marching. Mumbles Menino, the mayor for the past 20 years, never marched in the parade in solidarity with his sword-swallowing constituents. The new mayor, the dipsomaniacal Marty Walsh, has been trying to broker a deal between the gays and the parade organizers. The head of the veterans, a living caricature named John "Wacko" Hurley, basically says that its his parade and he'll make the decisions, as the Supreme Court said he could.

Every spring brings another chapter in the most Stalingradesque slog in WW G! It has everything: gay/straight, veterans, a nationally-identified cultural area undergoing gentrification making its last stand against interlopers, and the monied classes versus one of the places that has one of the largest concentrations of white welfare and disability recipients in the country.

ogunsiron said...

I wouldn't say that high IQ people are immune from being swindled into an MLM scheme. In my experience, genuinely smart people can fall for that stuff once or twice but that's it.
I have unfortunately seen many people get entangled into the MLM world and been invited to MLM gatherings by acquaintances, relatives and colleagues over the years.
Most MLM companies avoid illegality by adhering to the letter of the law and actually having a "product" that they're selling. The product doesn't matter much though and can be diet pills, soap bars, telephone services, protein concentrates, herbal remedies or even a little ball of iron (I have known an MLM that sold that as a product)!

MLM companies have an official product that they sell and they have a supposed client base.
They then have the real products and the real clients. The real products of all MLM companies is the dream of getting richm, the "entertainment" of motivational conferences and the motivational material for sale. The real clients of MLM companies are the distributors who are strongly encouraged to attend expensive conferences, to purchase motivational material and to stock up on unsellable products (try to sell that fruit juice to people when the same fruit juice costs half as much at the store).

ogunsiron said...

A lot of MLM companies are quite profitable. They make lots of money. They sell a ton of expensive product and conference seats to naive greedy fools.

Another type of business that targets the same kind of people is the whole "how to get rich" industry.
Anyone ever heard of the Trump institute ? The same Donald Trump sells his name to MLM companies, btw, so they can claim that Trump endorses them. That works to convince some people.

Anonymous said...

I once went to a presentation by NSA (don't worry I didnt sign up) at the time they were selling water and air filters of various kinds. As I said, I didn't sign up and I didn't buy anything but I did have a water filter on trial for a while, my impression was that it was quite a good quality product. Don't know if it was overpriced though. This was way back, about 20 years ago.

Anonymous said...

The parade, sponsored by a Southie veterans group since its inception, has been a bone of contention for gay groups ever since the Supreme Court ruled in 1995 that the vets can ban whomever they want from marching. Mumbles Menino, the mayor for the past 20 years, never marched in the parade in solidarity with his sword-swallowing constituents. The new mayor, the dipsomaniacal Marty Walsh, has been trying to broker a deal between the gays and the parade organizers. The head of the veterans, a living caricature named John "Wacko" Hurley, basically says that its his parade and he'll make the decisions, as the Supreme Court said he could.

Boston, more so than anywhere else in the US, retains a strongly distinctive local culture.

It might last a few more years.

Anonymous said...

But the reason he can't target Amway, as one commenter upthread recommended, is that Amway's rubes are mostly white lower-middle and working class folk. Try getting the army of federal regulators to take an interest in them .

Anonymous said...

I had thought I would have to make up a new Hispanic name for myself to get some AA bennies. Mr. Wilkes proves that that isn't even necessary anymore.

dsgntd_plyr said...

countenance said...

"I guess this battle will remain at a stalemate until one side can prove that the other is homophobic."

Reading reviews of "The Bachelor" season finale in Slate and the Washington Post the reviewers explicitly stated they didn't like the bachelor, Juan Pablo Galvis, partly because he doesn't care for all the gay stuff going on right now.

Anonymous said...

OT:

I can't verify the authenticity, but here is an image posted by a parent on FB showing the Common Core method for teaching subtraction. Good stuff, lol!

Bill said...

Anonymous said...
I can't verify the authenticity, but here is an image posted by a parent on FB showing the Common Core method for teaching subtraction. Good stuff, lol!

It's disturbing. I have little kids, and they bring home this exact kind of crap every week. I tried to teach my son the "old" way to do it. He responded, "Yeah, we learned that. But we have to learn lots of different ways to do it." Completely idiotic.

Anonymous said...

@ 2:11 anon

"New Math"

map said...

Amway's MLM scheme is actually pretty sophisticated if you analyze not using their marketing material but as product flows throughout their network.

Basically, 25% of the revenues are passed through the downline, while 75% is kept by the parent company. To avoid the whole problem of uplines exploiting downlines, Amway designs their MLM with downlines capable of breaking away from their uplines at certain thresholds. This makes it possible for your downline to actually make more than you. The upline gets residuals from the downline above a certain point, but the downlines are allowed to break out.

The problem with Amway is that it is a very hard sell. There are too many objections to overcome. First, modeling the products through an Amway network is more complex than what they present. Second, products are pricier, even for the soap products. Even though Amway touts their products as concentrated and that a per use basis makes them cost effective, that is just another hard sell.

Tony said...

Of course this Brent Wilkes guy is hispanic. He looks just like my landscaper.

Anonymous said...

Why all the objections to Brent Ashley Wilkes claiming to be Latino?

Frankly, I think he's a chump.

My prize-winning pig in the diversity sweepstakes is that good old American Indian, Elizabeth Warren of the Fauxinjun tribe.

She parlayed her nonexistent tribal status into a Harvard professorship and a Senate seat.

Now she's being seriously mentioned as a presidential candidate.

By comparison, Brent Ashley Wilkes is a piker.

And say what you want about Barack Obama, he really is black.

Anonymous said...

"I once went to a presentation by NSA (don't worry I didnt sign up) at the time they were selling water and air filters of various kinds."

I remember staying at a hotel during a high school trip where NSA was hosting a little shindig, about 20 years ago. The reason I remember it? IIRC, their official spokes-murderer was one Orenthal James Simpson. This was just months before he murdered his ex-wife.

"Wilkes is Hispanicizing his name soon. Say hello to Brentillo Aztlán Vilches."

Frank Sharry went the opposite direction, trading in a Latino name for an Anglo name. Of course, he's in the business of convincing hundreds of millions of Americans that taking in tens of millions of Latinos will be just bueno, so an Anglo name works better.

My rather simplistic way of looking at MLM scams is to divide their revenues by the number of distributors they claim. Amway's average distributor sells a few thousand a year in merchandise. Hardly worth the effort. It doesn't help that their products are nothing special - shit available at Walmart for a fraction of the cost.



Anonymous said...

Re: Juan Pablo Galvis: suddenly all the hoopla about "the first Hispanic bachelor" is nowhere to be found. This guy is considered a douchebag by "Bachelor" standards, and that's saying a lot.

Anonymous said...

"And say what you want about Barack Obama, he really is black."

Yes, he is, in every conceivable way: the vanity, the ego, the complete disregard for protocol or tradition or, ya know, the law; the greater interest in celebrity than in doing his job; the near African levels of corruption, and the desire to.make himself the center of American life. I mean this is a dude who hasn't picked up a book on science since satisfying whatever minimal science requirement in college, but he felt that giving a speech at the beginning of Cosmos was somehow exactly what a president needs to waste his time on. And should I even get in to his bullshit March Madness brackets?

Mr. Anon said...

"ogunsiron said...

Most MLM companies avoid illegality by adhering to the letter of the law and actually having a "product" that they're selling. The product doesn't matter much though and can be diet pills, soap bars, telephone services, protein concentrates, herbal remedies or even a little ball of iron (I have known an MLM that sold that as a product)!"

Actually the whole education "biz" sounds a lot like an MLM - a dubious product and lots of rah-rah seminars.

MLM's are perhaps even more pernicious than garden variety pyramid schemes, in that they induce people to exploit their personal relationships for financial gain, thereby alienating their friends and family.

Anonymous said...

The great GOP fundraising Mormon, Frank VanderSloot, made a big portion of his fortune with an MLM scheme.

Gene Berman said...

The Amway people are quite clever and preceded by a company called NutraLite (still one of their brands). They are probably the originator of the "multi-level marketing" DISGUISE of the more obvious "pyramid scheme" or, even, "chain letter."

It was about 68 years ago (age 9) that I listened to one of their salespeople (a neighbor-lady) use, as a sales tool, something called a "consent decree from the government," which, she explained, was an official government document to the effect that ther government had thoroly investigated Nutralite and come to the conclusion it was on the up-and-up and entirely justified in each of the claims they made for their product Of course, a consent decree was an admission of (non-specific) fraudulent practices, which, in exchange for not being prosecuted, the company agreed not to do any more.

Barnum had it pegged right--he was just an underestimator.

Anonymous said...

MLM's are perhaps even more pernicious than garden variety pyramid schemes, in that they induce people to exploit their personal relationships for financial gain, thereby alienating their friends and family.

Actually, what's really bad is that the vast majority do it for almost no financial gain. Most people have a favor bank of sorts, where you help people in all kinds of little ways, in return for which you might get some assistance when you need a hand. Trading that favor bank for peanuts by selling overpriced Amway goods so the Amway heirs can add a zero to their bank balances is, frankly, a sign that small-time distributors who fall for the Amway pitch aren't thinking straight.

Cail Corishev said...

Also, one way you can tell the product is fairly irrelevant in MLM schemes is that the same people tend to jump from one MLM scheme to another, looking for one that "works" for them without much regard for the product. They spend more time learning about the company's pay structure than they do learning whether the product is actually any good. One year they're selling Herbalife, then another year they're trying Amway, and another year it's something else. And as Anonymous said, if you have an MLM-type in your family or friends, you get hassled to buy each new product, and regaled with pure boilerplate they just memorized off a card about its wonderfulness.