Sunday, January 20, 2019

Don't doxx minors...

Regular readers of this blog may already know how much I dislike the practice of Internet shaming.  I understand why people do it.  I may even empathize with why they choose to do it.  I still think it's basically wrong, because Internet shaming can unjustly ruin people's lives.  And sometimes, people just plain get it wrong, whether it be the situation or even the identity of the so-called "shamee".

Take, for instance, the incident that occurred at the Lincoln Memorial late Friday afternoon.  It was the end of the Indigenous Peoples March.  Students from all male Covington Catholic High School of Park Hills, Kentucky were there.  Some of them were sporting red MAGA (Make America Great Again) hats popularized by Donald Trump.  I believe they were there at a pro-life rally, which seems kind of hypocritical, given their behavior.

Nathan Phillips, an elder with the Omaha Tribe, noticed the white teens, who were taunting a group of teenaged black boys who had been preaching about the Bible.  Phillips sensed the tension between the two groups, so he began chanting and beating his drum as a means of diffusing the situation.  He was offering a healing prayer as he walked through the crowd.  But then he encountered a smirking white boy from Covington Catholic High School who refused to move.  Instead, he got up in Phillips' face, mocking him.  Other boys gathered around in a circle and followed suit, mocking Phillips.

Naturally, this pissed off a lot of people, who considered the boy's behavior incredibly rude, disrespectful, and potentially racist.  As usual, people were fired up enough to call for action.  I read the comments on News and Guts, the outlet spearheaded by retired anchorman Dan Rather.  The very first comment was this.

Below is an email I sent this little idiot's high school, administrators, diocese and others - feel free to use any part of this in an email of your own, if you are so inclined.

"To Covington Catholic High School administrators:

There is a video showing your students, Michael Hodge in particular, taking a smug yet threatening stance, quite obviously in order to intimidate and disrespect an elder Native American who was doing nothing to provoke him. Drumming and chanting are a form of prayer - suppose someone came up to a priest holding mass and stood in his face like? What might the repercussions be?


Further, What kind of school is this, that would produce a child that is so toxic, so disrespectful, so hateful? His friends in their MAGA hats cheered him on, by the way, so it's obvious that your culture tolerates, supports or perhaps even encourages this sort of display.

This shameful behavior reflect poorly on your school, and more widely on the Catholic faith that, although not without its own moral challenges within its ranks, is supposed to be educating children and instilling some sort of moral compass, if not at the very least, respect for elders.

Shame on him. Shame on his family. And shame on you. I will be posting and reposting the video until there has been a statement released that shows there are consequences for this disgusting behavior.

Signed,

Georgia Montgomery "

Here are the contacts: Covington Catholic High School:
Principal Robert Rowe
E-mail: browe@covcath.org
Telephone: (859) 491-2247
Diocese of Covington:
Phone: 859-392-1500
Email: info@covdio.org
Diocesan Board of Catholic Education Superintendent, Michael Clines: (859) 392-1500
E-mail: mclines@covdio.org
Assistant Superintendent, Karen McGuire
E-mail: kmcguire@covdio.org


At this writing, 4.7K people have reacted to Georgia's post.  Quite a few of them are very happy about her comment.  And quite a few others have pointed out that "Michael Hodge", whom Montgomery has identified, is NOT the young man who confronted Nathan Phillips with so much hostility.  I have read several comments from people stating that Mr. Hodge didn't even go on the trip to D.C. and had nothing to do with this incident.

However, while many people have said Hodge is not the guilty party, and they have provided the name of another boy who might have been the real culprit, it seems that plenty of people who read Georgia Montgomery's post are simply responding without reading other people's comments.  That makes me think it's likely that Covington Catholic High School is getting multiple reports of bad behavior from an innocent party.  I would hope the officials of that school would be able to recognize the students involved, but I don't know for certain that they can.  It also doesn't stop idiots from contacting Hodge themselves, harassing him for something he evidently had no part of.

Then, there is the fact that at least some of the young men involved in this incident are minors who have their whole lives ahead of them.  Even the guilty parties are still young people who will have to recover from this situation somehow.  I don't approve of their behavior, but I don't think their stupidity warrants being harassed and ostracized by uninvolved parties.  They should have the opportunity to learn and recover from their mistakes.  Mob justice, while understandably attractive to the masses, can have devastating effects, not just on the guilty, but also their friends and family members.

In any case, I DO think the kids involved should be disciplined.  I do think their parents and the school should correct their bad behavior (although they probably learned it from their elders).  But I don't think it's up to people like Georgia Montgomery, whom I believe meant well, to dispense justice.  "Doxxing" people can have very serious repercussions, particularly against young people who still have to launch in the real world.

I really think the whole "make this asshole go viral" attitude needs to go away.  It really can lead to some bad things.  It's also extremely hypocritical, since no one's perfect.  Anybody can get caught up in the moment acting like an asshole.  And nowadays, everybody has a camera capable of recording.  Would most of us like it if someone caught us on a bad day and spread our bad behavior to the masses?  Should it really be up to John Q. Public to dispense justice to another John Q. Public?  Personally, I don't think so.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

A review of Born into the Children of God by Natacha Tormey

Recently, I posted about the Children of God religious cult, which I saw profiled on a series about cults on the A&E network.  I was so fascinated by that particular episode of Elizabeth Vargas' series about cults, that I went looking for books written by survivors.  I easily found Natacha Tormey's book, Born into the Children of God, on Amazon.  I just finished reading her story this morning, so it's time to review it before I forget the details.

I mentioned in my previous post about the Children of God, now known as "The Family", that it's a cult that was founded in California back in 1968 by the late David Berg.  Berg had been a non-conformist preacher who didn't like mainstream Christianity.  He originally called his group "Teens for Christ".  Early members included the late River Phoenix and his family.  They were basically very religious hippies.


Natacha Tormey talks about her experiences.

Into the 70s, the cult expanded internationally.  Members were spread into other nations in an effort to gain more cult members.  The men would canvas the streets trying to sell religious pamphlets while the women would "flirty fish", using their sexuality to lure new recruits.  Although David Berg was himself an alcoholic, he did not allow members to drink alcohol.  However, sex was encouraged and celebrated.  In fact, sex was really what the cult seemed to be about more than anything, even though it was also very religious and members were supposedly living for Jesus Christ and trying to save souls from eternal damnation.  Unfortunately, child sexual abuse was also not uncommon.

The cult members were very poor.  Whatever money they managed to rustle up, they had to give 90% of it to the cult.  The other 10% was theirs.  Since a lot of their money came from either selling religious propaganda from a cult leader or begging, you can imagine how that went.  However, one thing the Children of God did have going for them was musical talent.  The members, especially the children, were accustomed to performing.  In the 1970s, there was even a television special aired featuring the cult members.  It was broadcasted in several European countries.

Natacha Tormey's parents, Marcel and Genevieve, are French.  Natacha, who was born in 1983, is their oldest daughter, although she is their fourth child out of a total of twelve children together.  Additionally, Marcel had a daughter named Therese with Leah, another cult member.  Tormey and her siblings' earliest memories are of their lives in religious compounds among many "aunts" and "uncles" from countries around the world.  The very first lines of the book describe an incident Natacha had with one of her "uncles", when she was living in Malaysia.  He had forced the children in the compound to collect ants, which he then cooked and forced them to eat.  After they ate the bitter, charred ants, they were forced to collect and eat fried grasshoppers.  Tormey writes that the grasshoppers weren't bad.  In fact, they tasted kind of "nutty".  I suppose eating fried grasshoppers was among the least "nutty" things Natacha and her siblings were forced to do when they were children.

In surprisingly lucid prose, Tormey writes about what it was like to grow up watching adults having sex in the open, being beaten for the slightest disciplinary infractions, getting schooling from whatever adult happened to be available, even if he or she was completely unqualified to teach, and being forced to wear rags and live in poverty in whatever country the cult deemed to send them to.  Tormey was born in France and is, in fact, a French citizen.  But she grew up speaking North American English and, aside from a few words her parents taught her, did not speak the language of her official country.  This became a problem when Tormey's family was deported to France after having lived in Thailand, Malaysia, and the Island of Reunion for years.  Not only had she not lived in France and never learned the language, she also never really experienced her host countries.  She was basically kept on a compound, so she doesn't even really have that much of a feel for the places she's lived.  She wouldn't know what neighborhood in Bangkok she lived in; she was not allowed to explore beyond the cult compound.

Natacha Tormey writes that the smell of Dettol, a disinfectant, triggers traumatic memories.  When she was growing up on the compounds, adults would "share" their partners.  Afterwards, they would spray themselves with the disinfectant, believing that it would prevent sexually transmitted diseases.  To this day, she has a bag that contains a "survival kit".  It includes a compass, first aid kit, and a flashlight.  She carried it with her for several years after she escaped the cult at age 18.

To be sure, Tormey's stories of what it was like to be a child in the Children of God are interesting, but what was even more interesting to me was reading about what it was like trying to break away from the cult.  Although Tormey's parents seemed to be basically loving and reasonable, they had many children and very little money.  The children were not raised in what cult members referred to as "the system".  Consequently, they had very little schooling, no official documents, and no concept of how to live life independently.  Tormey writes of getting a job in Cannes, France while she was living with an abusive boyfriend.  Fortune smiled on her, and her boss was a kind hearted woman who took her under her wing and helped her become more independent.  But the process was difficult.  Tormey had been raised to believe she was in an army that would save the world from the Antichrist.  She was never taught how to function like a regular person does.


A Current Affair report on the Children of God.

I found Tormey's book hard to put down.  She's a good writer and her story is extremely compelling, if not very disturbing.  I was amazed by how many children her mother had.  After awhile, it got hard to keep them all straight.  This cult kind of puts the Duggar family to shame, though.  If you are interested in reading about cults or an anecdotal account of what it's like to grow up in the Children of God cult, I would highly recommend her book.



Friday, January 18, 2019

Stupid people tricks...

Although I know people have been attracted to fame and fortune since the beginning of time, some people will go to utterly stupid lengths to gain a modicum of temporary notoriety.  Many times, these idiots end up with permanent injuries or killing themselves.  Sometimes, they hurt other people.  

You'd think a 27 year old man would be able to think of ways to go viral without doing something crazy.  But no, Nick Naydev, of Vancouver, Washington, decided he wanted to go viral on the Internet in a way that put himself and others at risk.  Six days ago, Mr. Naydev was with several companions on the world's largest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas.  They were in the Bahamas, and Naydev was apparently still drunk from partying on the previous night.

For some reason, Naydev decided to jump from the eleventh deck of the ship as his friends filmed him.  Somehow, Naydev survived the fall, and he was then picked up by a small boat in the area.  Once he reached the shore, security officials from the ship met him and informed him that he and his buddies would be disembarking and finding their own way back home.  They have all been banned from sailing on Royal Caribbean for the rest of their lives.


What a moron!

My very first cruise was on a Royal Caribbean ship.  To be honest, although we had a good time cruising the Baltics, I wouldn't mind not sailing with them again, now that I've experienced all inclusive cruises.  However, I wouldn't want to be banned from sailing because I did something stupid.  

People die from falling off of cruise ships.  Just last week, a sixteen year old, who was trying to enter his room via an adjacent balcony, died on a Royal Caribbean ship when he slipped and fell into the ocean.  That teen was on Harmony of the Seas, when it was docked in Haiti.  Weeks prior to that, a Harmony of the Seas crew member was killed after going overboard in the Atlantic Ocean on Christmas Day.  Naydev was lucky enough to survive without doing any permanent damage.  He says he had trouble walking for about three days.  I suspect he had youth and drunkenness in his favor.

Reading about this incident, along with a story about a stupid 17 year old girl in Utah who decided to take the "Bird Box Challenge" (driving with her eyes covered), makes me wonder what the hell is wrong with people.  Does it not occur to these fame seekers that risk taking behaviors inconvenience people and put others in danger?  

The guy who jumped off of the cruise ship no doubt inconvenienced other people: vacation seekers who work hard all year and long for a week of fun on a cruise ship-- crew members who already have enough to do and now have to deal with his sorry ass-- anyone in the water who happened to be near where he fell.  What if his stupid ass landed on someone's boat or something?  It's not like people are expecting random bodies to fall from the sky.

And the girl doing the "Bird Box Challege"... what the fuck was that all about?  Was she bored?  Suicidal?  Feeling frisky?  She could have easily killed herself or other people.

I haven't yet seen Bird Box myself.  I thought it sounded like it could be an interesting film, but now that I see that it's spawning stupidity, I think I might pass.  

Moving on...

I ordered a backrest pillow for my bed.  I used to have one when I was in college.  It was handed down from my sisters.  I remember it was yellow corduroy and ugly as hell, but it was very durable.  It lasted all four years before it finally needed to be tossed.  Contrast that to the pillow that arrived at my house yesterday...


I just took it out of the box.  It already has a hole in the seam.  I haven't even used it yet.

I suppose I could send it back, but I ordered it from regular Amazon.  I'm handy with a needle and thread, so I'll probably just sew up the seam.  Still, it's irksome that this thing arrived looking like that.  Shitty workmanship.

And... last night, I had wine for the first time in several days.  I was very surprised when Bill was talking about how good it tasted.  Unfortunately, something has happened to my sense of taste.  I didn't really enjoy the wine at all.  I hope this is a temporary condition.  I think losing my sense of taste would probably send me into a depression.  

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Based on a true story...

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I've been considering starting another fiction blog.  This one would be strictly for those posts I feel that I need to write, but know could bite me in the ass.  Sometimes I want to write a story, but the story is too likely to upset someone I know and cause me unpleasant drama.  If I started a fiction blog with characters who are composites, that would be less of an issue.

I used to have a fiction blog, but I deleted it after about ten months.  It consisted of one story I was writing that was a bit erotic.  There was a time when I wrote erotic fiction with ease, but nowadays, I find it a little too embarrassing because too many people know me.  When I wrote erotic fiction twenty years ago, I was a lot more anonymous.  Also, I'm not as interested in eroticism as I used to be.  I guess middle age will do that to you.

However, I have always enjoyed writing fiction and I did used to have a decent following.  And sometimes, I just need to write fiction.  And sometimes I need to be vague.  So now I'm trying to figure out if I want to actually make a fiction blog, that most people won't bother reading, or if I want to just keep adding the occasionally cryptic fiction posts to this blog.  Maybe it's better to keep it simple.  I'd love to read your thoughts on this if you have any.


I remember watching this and not knowing what the hell it was about.


And this, too...

I do have a topic in mind right now.  I've spent the last couple of weeks watching more television than usual.  Yesterday, I binge watched Surviving R. Kelly which recently aired on Lifetime.  Although I am a musical person, I never paid a whole lot of attention to R. Kelly.  The only thing I remember seeing about him was a Mad TV parody song and a South Park episode.  I don't think I've ever even seen Dave Chappelle's take on his outrageous behavior toward young black women and girls.  Oh, and of course I've heard some of his music.  There is no denying the man is musically gifted.  Unfortunately, he's also a predator.

It was interesting watching that series, especially since I've also been watching shows about cults.  I've also started reading a book about a woman who was raised in the Children of God cult, which I blogged about last week.  Consequently, I now have cults on the brain.  I even dreamt about them this morning.

After hearing some of the stories of the people who have been caught up in these restrictive groups, I'm beginning to think most of my problems are really small.  Imagine, being so warped in your thinking that you allow someone like R. Kelly to lock you in a bedroom and force you to use a bucket for a toilet.  Imagine letting someone like him do the most demeaning things as he calls you vile names and forces you to debase yourself.  The women were all young, beautiful, and talented, and most of them hoped he could help them launch their own careers.  I suppose on one level, they might have been trying to take advantage of a man with power that they wanted to share.  But then R. Kelly used his gifts to harm them.

I think, aside from the stories I heard from the victims themselves, I was most affected by what their families were saying.  I can't imagine the anguish they felt, especially the ones whose daughters basically disappeared.  I remember one mother saying that when a child has died, you know what's happened to them and you know they won't be back.  It's much worse when a child gets involved in a "cult" that separates them from their families.  You don't know what has happened to them, where they are, or if they'll be back someday.

In a way, I think Bill can relate to that thought.  He lost contact with his daughters for years.  They wouldn't speak to him, and their mother basically prevented him from having anything to do with them at all.  It's only been within the past couple of years that he's been able to reconnect with one of his daughters.  So much of what I heard R. Kelly's victims say, Bill has heard from his younger daughter.  These types of abusers convince their victims that no one will help them and no one loves them, at least not the way the abuser does.  It really does a number on a person's psyche.

I was angry with my husband's daughters for years, mainly because they were hateful.  In the back of my mind, I knew they were being victimized the same way Bill was.  But it still made me angry, because I felt like they knew better.  But honestly, I don't know.  I think being around abusers can really fuck up a person's mindset.  It's frustrating for people like me, who don't have a loving relationship with the victims.  It must be soul crushing for a parent.  I know it was for Bill.  It's much worse when there's sex involved.  For R. Kelly's victims, it was all about sex, control, and power.

I listened to the mothers of R. Kelly's victims, and a couple of the fathers, too.  Some of the family members had the distinct displeasure of seeing their loved ones engaged in videotaped sex acts with the singer, which later ended up as porn videos for sale to the masses.  I can't even imagine how devastating that must have been on so many levels.  Perhaps today, I should watch something a little lighter, like 80s era sitcoms.

In any case, Bill's weird schedule is done for this week.  We're leaving town tomorrow.  I'm looking forward to it, because I need a change of scenery and a chance to have some fun.  Hopefully, we'll have decent weather.  Next week, he'll be TDY in Germany.  The week after that, TDY in the USA.  Then, it should be smooth sailing for the next couple of months.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

"Shit" is an international word...

Actually, I think most English curse words are "international".  English speakers, on the other hand, usually have to make an effort to learn swear words in other languages.  Well, except for me when I lived in Armenia.  I accidentally learned a number of cuss words because they were very similar to other, non offensive words.  For instance, the Russian word for "bitch" is very close to the word for "purse".  The Armenian word for "little bird" is very close to the word for "tits".  And the words for "dick" and "pussy" are close to the English words "clear" and "boots", respectively.

I was thinking about writing about Trump's insane decision to feed the Clemson University football players fast food, but I decided not to do that today.  Why?  Because everyone is writing about how Trump is fucking up the country and I don't want to add to the depression.  Besides, a little non-sensical stuff is good for the soul.  It might help me feel less depressed.

My friend Susanne is German and she really likes the weather.  She often shares weather videos with me in a tiny private group I run.  The group used to be a lot bigger than it is now, but I deleted people who weren't participating.

Yesterday, my German friend shared a video of some people in the Swiss Alps, who were standing around watching a manually triggered avalanche.  Notice the people are filming this, with one rather vocal person exclaiming "Oh shit!" over and over again.  He's otherwise not speaking English.


"Oh shit!" indeed!

The word "shit" gets used casually all the time in Germany.  It's never bleeped from popular music.  D.J.s on the radio speak of "shit storms" and "bullshit".  It's interesting, because in the United States, I've noticed a shift in sensibilities.  It used to be you'd never hear the word "shit" on network television.  I remember watching an infamous episode of ER back in 2002, when Dr. Mark Greene (played by Anthony Edwards) dies of a brain tumor (I can't believe that was almost 17 years ago!).  Just before his decline, he has a seizure and later finds himself unable to move half of his body.  He screams "SHIT!" at the top of his lungs.  It was kind of powerful, because that was a taboo word for so long.

Now, I watch Leah Remini's show on A&E and she says "shit" all the time.  Other words, the ones including the word "fuck", are bleeped out.  On the other hand, Germans don't have a problem with the word "fuck".  Listen to the radio and you will hear all of the latest profanity from America in all its glory.  

I've been watching the latest season of 60 Days In, a show about people who volunteer to spend two months in jail so they can help law enforcement agencies find out about contraband, gang activity, and the like.  On that show, I've seen them bleep out the so-called n-word.  But then, I remember growing up in the 70s and 80s and hearing that word uttered on primetime television, while less contentious words like "shit" were omitted or bleeped.  

I mention this only because I think it's interesting to see how language evolves.  I've been around for 46 years now.  I would imagine about half my life has been lived, although I could be wrong about that.  I've seen changes.  Some have been good.  Some have been bad.  But language is one of the most interesting things I've seen change.  We're a lot more sensitive about words that used to be considered fine.  Personally, I think all words have a place, even the most offensive ones.  Whether or not its offensive, though, really depends on where you are.

Like, for instance, I was watching the British show Call the Midwife the other day and one of the subplots was about the dangers of cigarette smoking.  People were just finding out about it in the 60s, which is when that show is set.  One of the characters spoke of how he was being encouraged to lay off the "fags".  The word "fag" is slang for cigarettes in Britain.  Say it in America, though, and you might get your ass kicked.

When I was growing up, the word "retarded" was not considered a slur.  It was a bonafide way of describing someone with a diminished intellectual capacity.  Sometime in the 80s, people started hurling it around as an insult.  As time went on and people became more connected through social media and other avenues, some vocal people started talking about how "offensive" the word "retarded" is.  It became a grievous slur.  

I've written about this subject before, mainly because I'm not really a fan of burying language.  A word like "retarded" is actually useful in many ways.  But, because one use of the word is considered "offensive", people want to ban it.

I guess I shouldn't talk too much, though, because I don't like the word "douche" when used as an insult.  It's not because I'm offended by it.  I just think it's non-sensical.  A douche is, in many places, a shower.  In the United States, it's a cleanser for one's vagina.  It is not, in and of itself, particularly offensive.  So it doesn't make sense to me that people use it as an insult.  I think people like it because of the way the word sounds.  The word "douche" sounds gross, so maybe it kind of works as an insult.  But it still doesn't make any sense, and that's why I refuse to use it that way.  I'd love to see that usage go out of style, but I know it won't, so I'm not campaigning or anything... unless you count this blog post and others I've written like it.

Speaking of the word "shit", Bill just said it.  I asked him what was wrong.  He said he just cut his finger.  I should have said, "Really?  I didn't know Fisher-Price made anything you could cut yourself on."  But I didn't say that.  Instead, I asked him how he cut it.  He said he was using one of the Japanese knives I bought him and the blade got too close to his skin.  Then he showed me the blood.  Ugh... I could not be a nurse.

Tonight is the last night of Bill's night shift work.  He will have a normal workday tomorrow.  Then, it's off to the Netherlands' highest village for the holiday weekend.  I hope we can score some cheese... and other shit.  Maybe some beer, too... although I've been really good this week while Bill's been working.  I've had a couple of days of total sobriety, completely avoiding booze.  I can already tell a difference in my skin, which, for once, isn't feeling like sandpaper today.  The question is... is being a teetotaler worth having dewy skin?  I dunno.  At the rate things are going, maybe it's time I got beamed out of here.  I never got any dates when I was sober, so what good is having dewy skin?  I don't want to date, anyway.  But I do like to give my body a break sometimes.  The old thing has been good to me with its relentless health, despite my cavalier attitude.  

Well, Bill's about to go to work in a little while, so I guess I'd better end this post.  Maybe I should watch some Intervention or something.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Another "crime blast from the past"...

This morning, as Bill and I were enjoying biscuits and gravy, we got on the topic of Jayme Closs, the thirteen year old girl who was abducted from her parents' Barron, Wisconsin home on October 15, 2018.  Jayme Closs, whose parents Denise and James Closs were murdered by her 21 year old captor, Jake Patterson, managed to escape her kidnapper last Thursday.  She was being held about 70 miles from her home and Patterson apparently got complacent.  Jayme got help from a woman who was walking her dog past the place where Patterson had been keeping her.

I will admit, I haven't really been keeping up with this story, since I've been busy with our move.  However, I did read about her escape and I remembered hearing about her abduction in the fall.  I made the mistake of reading some of the comments on the news articles written about this case.  A lot of people were posting that they thought maybe Closs and Patterson had an affair.

For the record, I DO NOT believe that to be the case.  I think even if that was the situation, Closs would be a victim.  Closs has said she hadn't known Patterson before he took her and murdered her parents.  Patterson has, himself, apparently told police that he spotted Closs getting on a school bus and decided he "wanted" her.  I don't think Jayme Closs aided and abetted Patterson in any way.

Talking about this case and the speculation that Closs had something to do with it did make me remember a case that happened in Virginia back in 1990, though.  The incident occurred in Middlesex, County on November 10, 1990.  I was a freshman in college and was about a month from finishing up my first semester before I would be coming home to Gloucester County for Christmas break.  To get home from Longwood University, I'd be skirting nearby Middlesex County, although I don't think the route I took actually took me through there.  I did drive through Middlesex years later when I lived in northern Virginia and came to Gloucester to visit.

On that November day in 1990, 14 year old Jessica Wiseman and her boyfriend, 17 year old Chris Thomas, killed Wiseman's parents, 32 year old James B. and Kathy Wiseman.  The Wisemans had objected to Jessica and Chris seeing each other, so the young couple decided Jessica's parents needed to die.  Chris and Jessica went into her parents' bedroom and shot them both, although Kathy Wiseman was able to run into Jessica's bedroom.  She was shot again, and that killed her.

At the time of the crime, no one in Virginia under age 15 could be tried as an adult, regardless of how serious the crime was.  Jessica Wiseman was tried as a juvenile in a closed court.  She was declared a delinquent and spent the rest of her teen years in a juvenile detention facility.  She was freed on July 26, 1997, which was her 21st birthday.

Chris Thomas was 17 years old, though, so although he was technically a juvenile, he was eligible to be tried as an adult.  He pleaded guilty to killing James Wiseman and not guilty to killing Kathy Wiseman.  He was convicted of both killings and sentenced to death.  At the time, Virginia juries were not permitted to sentence a killer to life in prison without the possibility of parole.  They were faced with the choice of sentencing Thomas to death or allowing for parole, which could have meant he would have been released as soon as twenty years after conviction.

Attorneys for Thomas have said that he was trying to protect Wiseman by taking the blame.  Two women who were imprisoned with Jessica Wiseman also said that she was the one who had actually pulled the trigger, not Thomas.  I'm not sure exactly where the truth lies, although it does seem unfair to me that Jessica got to live her life while Thomas lost his to state supported homicide.  Thomas was scheduled to be executed in June 1999.  The execution was put off until January 10, 2000, when Thomas was 26 years old.  He ate fried chicken for his last supper.  

I remember when this case was news.  In those days, I used to read the Daily Press every day.  There was a columnist named Jim Spencer who wrote opinions for the paper.  My dad didn't like him because Spencer was an outspoken liberal.  I, on the other hand, was drawn to Spencer's columns.  I usually read them whenever I noticed them.  In 2003, Spencer moved on to Denver, Colorado, where he wrote for the Denver Post.

As I was reading up on the Wiseman murders this morning, I happened to find an old column Spencer wrote for the Denver Post in 2007.  He was reporting on another murder that had happened in Denver that reminded him of the Wiseman case, which he'd also written about.  I did know that Spencer had moved out of Virginia, although I hadn't been following his career from afar.  I went to see if Spencer was still in Denver, but it appears that he was a victim of downsizing.  I think he has managed to find another job in journalism, although it took awhile and he had to detour into a different field.  Looks like he now reports in Washington, DC after a stint in Minneapolis.

It actually makes me a little sad to read about Jim Spencer's situation.  Good journalists are a dying breed.  Nowadays, people don't want to pay for a newspaper subscription.  While it's true that more writers can be read with the advent of blogging and self-publishing, it's much harder for legitimate authors to make a decent living.  These old stories become relics of the past, with fewer skilled people to write them.

I find true crime fascinating.  Everyone has a story.  People involved in true crimes especially have stories.  Some of the stories are more tragic than others.  What happened to Chris Thomas doesn't seem fair to me.  I am not a fan of the death penalty in all but the most extreme cases.  I don't think he should have been executed for killing the Wisemans.  Moreover, he was technically a juvenile when he committed his crimes.  While I would expect most juveniles to know that killing is wrong, I also know that young people do not have fully functioning brains until they're older.  It also doesn't seem fair that Thomas was executed while his girlfriend only did about seven years in a juvenile facility.  But then, I guess there is a pretty big difference in a person's maturity levels between the ages of 14 and 17.

As for Jayme Closs, I have nothing but compassion for her.  She must have gone through hell.  What a blessing it is that she was able to find help after escaping her captor.  He is in Wisconsin, so unless there is a federal angle applied to his case, he'll probably rot in prison for a long while.  Wisconsin no longer has the death penalty.

I may have to start following the Closs/Patterson case now...

Dr. Pimple Popper's book... Put Your Best Face Forward

Until a couple of weeks ago, when someone mentioned the name Sandra Lee, I thought of the tall blonde chick who used to do "semi-homemade" cooking shows on the Food Network.  But, just as I've lost touch with today's popular music and television shows, I also missed out on Dr. Sandra Lee, dermatologist extraordinaire, popularly known as "Dr. Pimple Popper".  Sandra Lee, as I pointed out in a recent post, made a big splash on YouTube... or should I say she "busted out"... posting disgusting videos of herself removing cysts, pimples, and lipomas.

Dr. Lee became so successful that The Learning Channel (TLC) gave her a show of her very own, called Dr. Pimple Popper.  She showcases patients with unsightly blemishes who visit her in her southern California practice, where she practices dermatology and does cosmetic and surgical procedures.  Apparently, a lot of people make appointments with her after watching her videos on YouTube.  She even had one patient come to her all the way from the Philippines.

I must admit, I binge watched everything and, as much as some of the videos turned my stomach, even enjoyed the show enough to decide to read Lee's book, Put Your Best Face Forward: The Ultimate Guide to Skincare from Acne to Anti-Aging.  Although I'm definitely not a beauty fanatic, I do find medical subjects interesting.  I'm also at that age when zits are less of an issue than wrinkles and red blotches are.

On her television show, Dr. Lee is very friendly, personable, and warm.  She comes across the same way in her writing, which is chatty and conversational.  Her book, which was just released on December 31, 2018, consists of an impressive 285 pages of information about how to keep your skin healthy and glowing, along with some anecdotes, and a few of Lee's thoughts on the vast array of medical professionals who now offer cosmetic procedures.

As someone who once aspired to work in healthcare, I was surprisingly interested in Lee's comments about all of the people who are now offering services designed to make people look better.  Why do they do it?  Because people tend to pay out of pocket for those services and doctors can make more money.  Lee writes that everyone from dentists to physicians' assistants are getting in on the game, even if they aren't necessarily qualified.  Therefore, it's very important to do your homework before you see someone for cosmetic procedures not covered by insurance.

Dr. Lee also has some interesting thoughts on collagen fillers and "Botox", which is the popular name for the botulism toxin used to temporarily paralyze certain muscles in your face that makes you look older.  Apparently, Botox gets a bum rap.  Dr. Lee thinks it's "amazing" and uses it herself, although she cautions against using too much of it.  Also, what we think of as "Botox" has evolved from what it was even fifteen years ago.  The technology is changing rapidly and now, instead of using a bovine derivative of the "toxin", new drugs are used.  But, just as we tend to think of all bandages as "Band-Aids" and all copiers as "Xerox", people think of Botox as a catchall term for that medicine that people use to look younger.

Aside from her thoughts on choosing the right person for cosmetic procedures, Lee also offers tips on how to take care of your skin.  Naturally, she is all for sunscreen and moisturizers.  She writes that some products, such as eye creams, are kind of a waste of money.  A good moisturizer that works for your skin will probably be fine for your eyes, too, despite what the marketing professionals try to tell you.  She cautions readers to avoid smoking and to wear clothing that protects your skin from the sun, even in addition to wearing sunscreen.  I also enjoyed reading her thoughts on liposuction, which many people know little about.  She explains that liposuction is not for weight loss, but for contouring.  Also, it's apparently a physically demanding procedure, but she finds offering it fun and rewarding on many levels.

Although Dr. Lee does take a couple of opportunities to pitch her skincare line, SLMDskincare, she mostly keeps the product pitching to a minimum.  I appreciated that, since I think it's a huge turnoff to read a book that is basically an ad campaign.  She does explain that the "golden age" of medicine has passed, and today's healthcare environment is not like it was when her father practiced dermatology.  Apparently, a lot of doctors are leaving healthcare practice, mainly because of insurance companies.  I can believe it.  However, it does appear to me that Dr. Lee is extraordinarily lucky, clever, and talented.  Besides being a doctor, she's also a classically trained musician and plays guitar.  She's pretty and bubbly, and that will likely get her far in our image obsessed culture.  On the other hand, I must admit she also has a very pleasing personality, which makes her success less likely to inspire jealousy among the masses.

Personally, I enjoy Dr. Lee's show because each case has a compelling story behind it.  It's gratifying to watch Dr. Lee change someone's life just by improving their appearance.  This book is like a companion piece to Dr. Pimple Popper.  I bought it on Kindle, but I actually kind of wish I'd gotten a hard copy.  It's a good reference book that begs to be consulted, which is easier to do with an actual book.  She includes some pictures, which are also easier to find in an actual book.

Overall, I think Put Your Best Face Forward is a good read, especially if you care about keeping your skin looking great.  I would recommend it, especially to those who also like watching Dr. Pimple Popper.




Monday, January 14, 2019

Bill's altered schedule...

Bill is home this morning because he has to work from 2:00pm until 11:00pm most of this week.  I like having him home in the morning, but it will suck tonight.  I'll probably go to bed early.

Friday, we're headed off for a long weekend in the Netherlands.  It'll be our first time there since 2015.  It's easier to get there now than it used to be.  I'll probably like it better than Switzerland, too.

Then next Tuesday, very early in the morning, Bill has to go TDY to another German town.  He'll be gone all week.  When he gets back from that, he has a couple of days, then he has to go TDY to Nevada for a week.  This will be his first U.S. trip since we went in November 2014.

I joked that I need to find a boyfriend or something... but that really is a joke, because I have no desire to date again.  I'll be glad when this shit is over.  I hate altered schedules.

I may be back later to write something more substantive... when he's gone to work and I need something to do.