Saturday, October 31, 2015


Yesterday, I got what appeared to be an automated nastygram from Google Adsense.  It was due to a post I wrote a year ago about a certain hot pink toy that someone was trying to sell on a local yard sale page.  I wasn't advertising the toy or anything.  I just happened to use the slang term for such toy and included a photo of it.  So, one year later, I got in "trouble" for it, even though the post was about uptight military wives more than it was about toys.

I decided to remove the post and one that accompanied it.  It doesn't get a whole lot of attention these days anyway.  I noticed that the hit that caught the content came from India.  I'm not sure if it was automated or if a real person was making the decision to flag me.  I did notice that the generic email came very soon after the hit from India came.

After reading up on other peoples' experiences with Adsense and realizing that in two years, I've made a whopping $200 from ads on my three blogs, I have decided that if I get additional nastygrams, I will simply get rid of the ads.  I may also decide to change blog hosts.  I like using blogspot because it's easy to use, but I am not averse to starting over on a different platform if I have to.

Friday, October 30, 2015

An RfMer says, "I hate my TBM father's wife..."

I have been hanging out at RfM less often lately, mainly because my life is evolving and going in a different direction.  I used to read for hours every day.  Now I just pop in for an occasional brief session.  This morning, I happened to come across this post...

The very short post I linked to comes from someone whose father has remarried.  She hates her dad's new wife of one year.  She says she may be planning a wedding in a couple of years and can't bear the idea of the wife attending.  She finds the woman annoying because she's "playing grandma" with her sister's kids and her dad tried to "force" her to have a relationship with her.  I think those reasons are pretty lame for deciding to hate someone.  Hate is a strong word, after all.  But as someone whose husband's kids seem to hate her, I guess I can understand the sentiment.  It took me a long time to get to the point of hatred, but I think it's fair to say I may be there now.  And I know that stepchildren often hate their stepparents.  Sometimes they have very good reasons to hate them and sometimes they don't.

I don't know this poster at all.  In fact, I am assuming it's a woman who wrote it, so I am going to use feminine pronouns as I write about this.  I explained to her that the feelings she has might be mutual.  It could be that the new wife won't even want to attend the wedding.  Indeed, in 2004, when I was "ordered" spend Christmas with my in-laws and my husband's ex wife, the kids, and her third husband, I didn't want to go.  And I didn't go.  People were pissed off at me that I missed the holiday, but they would have also been pissed if I had shown up.  It was a no win situation, because most of them were upset that I even existed in their world.  I made it better by not attending and at least saved us some money.

My guess is that this woman's "stepmom" is feeling awkward and trying to figure out how to fit in.  Many stepparents overcompensate and try to force themselves into an established family unit because they think that's what they are supposed to do.  On the other hand, if you do what I did and bow out, you'll get criticized for "not making an effort".  My husband's ex wife played it like I had snubbed the family when I chose not to spend Christmas with her.  But if I had shown up, she would have been upset about my being there because, in her eyes, I'm the interloper.   I am the interloper even though she divorced Bill and he was totally free of their marriage before we even met in person.  My guess is that this poster feels that the new wife is also an intruder into her family, invited by her dad and no one else.  She didn't get a say and she's angry about it.

I also think that the poster is probably really pissed off at her dad.  However, because he is her dad and she loves him, she focuses her anger at his wife.  His wife may genuinely be obnoxious and annoying, but for some reason, the poster's father loves her and chose to marry her.  He rejected the poster's beloved mother in favor of this new woman whom the poster sees as inferior and trying to take her mother's place.  The reality may be that the stepmom may just be struggling to figure out what her role is.  Or it could even by that her dad even told his wife to "make nice" with his children and try to take on a motherly role.  It could be that the new wife may not even want to hang out with his kids or try to bond with them, but feels an obligation to try.  And it's coming off as fake and forced, which annoys the poster.

Blending families is very difficult under the best of circumstances.  Add in Mormonism and it gets especially sticky, given their beliefs about eternal families.  I don't know what the situation was between the poster's parents and why they split up, but I do know that even when religion isn't a factor, new relationships are hard... for everyone involved.  I don't know this poster or her family.  I have some empathy, though I think the poster lacks perspective.  She is too close to the problem and can't see that there are other perspectives she may not have considered.

I have my own emotional shit after being married to Bill for thirteen years.  While it's sad that his kids disowned him and he grieves the relationship, he also realizes that they have their own lives now.  He has to live his life.  I fit into his life because we are compatible and love each other.  His kids don't have to love me in order for Bill and me to have a relationship.  They don't have to love me to have a relationship with him, though if they want to visit my home, I would expect them to at least show me a modicum of respect.  They may think they rejected him and it was their choice; it wasn't, really...  but I'm sure it's easier for them to believe that it was their decision to shitcan their dad.  The reality is, they lost him.  That's a tragedy.  Someday, they may be able to reclaim him, but they have lost many years with their perfectly awesome dad over really petty bullshit.

I hope the poster at RfM doesn't lose her dad because he made a decision to marry someone she doesn't happen to like.  I hope she understands that it's his life.  And I'm sure that as an adult, she wouldn't want someone trying to tell her whom she should or shouldn't marry.  The best solution for her is to try to get along and be civil... and realize that her dad has the right to marry the person of his choice who also wants to be married to him.  If she wants to have a relationship with her dad, she will need to respect his choices, even as she has the right to be upset with him.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Dragging today... gonna spank me?

Bill's online work group met again last night in the wee hours of the morning.  When he came to bed, he woke me up.  And It's a grey, misty, kind of miserable morning.  I feel a bit like going back to bed.  I may indulge that impulse, even though I have to take Arran to the vet this afternoon to have his paw checked.  I think it's better after the antibiotics, but it's still not quite normal yet.  It's frustrating, because he needs to stop licking it and won't.  I hate the thought of putting a cone on his head to stop him because it's uncomfortable and cumbersome.

This morning, someone posted this and it was on my feed...

For some reason, I stared at this for several minutes...

I have written about the practice of spanking many times on my blog.  My father was a big proponent of spankings.  It was pretty much the only way he ever disciplined me and, when he did it, he was often enraged.  I don't remember having a lot of respect for him when he spanked me.  I do remember being scared, upset, humiliated, and enraged myself.  

I stop short of saying a spanking is never appropriate.  Sometimes, I think they are appropriate.  The trouble is, not everyone is capable of using this discipline method appropriately.  I don't think it serves as good discipline to whale on a small child's ass when you are very upset.  I still have vivid memories of my dad coming after me when he was furious, grabbing me, pulling me over his lap, and hitting me as hard as he could with his hand.  I guess I should be grateful he used his hand and not a belt or a switch.  

When he was finished, I don't remember him once calmly talking to me or comforting me.  It felt more like an assault than discipline.  And I usually hated him for a time.  

Another problem I have with this method is that some people don't know when to stop.  My father thought it was appropriate to strike me when I was almost 21 years old.  He was drunk at the time and out of control and inserting himself in a situation that was not his business.  I will never forget the look on his face when he hit me in the face and how I felt at the time.  I can't forget the hours of being berated and no one coming to help me.  It still makes me furious.  It makes me want to be violent myself.

Years later, I needed treatment for depression and anxiety.  I don't know if it had anything to do with the spankings directly, except that they made me feel unloved and miserable.  I can't help but think I would have still turned out to be a good person if physical punishments were kept to a bare minimum.  

Now, I understand that sometimes a spanking is effective and perhaps even necessary, especially when you're dealing with a small child who doesn't understand reason.  But when it's used as a primary mode of discipline and isn't tempered with love and kindness, it's not very effective.  Besides, a good spanking lasts a few minutes and then it's over.  Punishments that involve grounding or other, non violent methods require effort.  It's easy to smack your kid, but harder to restrict them or withhold things from them.  That's why I think spanking is lazy and ultimately a poor discipline choice.

I've had friends disagree with me wholeheartedly about this issue.  And since I am not raising children myself, I suppose I can't say whether or not it really works from the parent's side.  I just know how it made me feel when I was a kid.  I'm 43 years old; my father is dead; and I am still angry about some of the shit he put me through at a time when I was helpless.  Many people would tell me to let go of the anger.  I wish I could.  Frankly, I think it's really disrespectful to tell someone to stop hurting or stop expressing their hurt.  It's certainly not very helpful.  

I think people say "let go" because they don't know what else to say.  Or they don't care and don't want to listen.  So they tell you to "get over it".  I can think of other things that are more useful and helpful.  Like, a person could say, "I'm sorry you're hurting."  Or even, "I don't know what to say."   

I read a few of the comments on the above meme.  Not surprisingly, it consists of a lot of right wing bullshit.  One person wrote...

The same people who say oh don't ever spank a child that's abuse are the same ones supporting abortion clinics and promoting the murdering of unborn children and they are also the same ones who defend Islam and it's [sic] wicked evil Christian murdering and child raping ways.

I say that perhaps if more unintended pregnancies were terminated, fewer kids would need to be spanked.  ;-)  If you can't think of a way to discipline your child in a non-violent way, perhaps you shouldn't have kids.   So yeah... maybe some people are alright with corporal punishment and grow up "fine".  But what about people like me?  Am I "fine"?  I still think about this shit with horror so many years later.  It still makes me angry.  I still have fantasies of hitting my father back when he hit me.  Instead, I just offered to press charges.  I shouldn't have had to do that when I was an adult.  He should have been in more control of himself.  He wasn't, and I'm still paying the price. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Yeast infections!

Last night, just before drifting off to sleep, I read a funny news story about a woman who managed to ward off Planned Parenthood protesters with a funny chant.  Sunday of last weekend, 29 year old Mary Numair was working a shift at Purrington's Cat Lounge in Portland, Oregon when she noticed some people with signs standing outside.  One of the women was holding a sign that read "Abortion kills children."

Being the type of person who helps others, Numair went outside to tell the protesters that they were at the wrong address.  When one of the women insisted that she and her fellow protesters were in the right spot, Numair decided to launch a counter protest.  Using cardboard and rudimentary art skills, she made a big sign that read "Dear PP, Thanks for helping me with my yeast infections!"  She drew a stick figure of a woman with big boobs and a smiley clitoris.  Then she went outside and joined the protesters.

A few years earlier, Numair had chronic yeast infections that were not cleared up by the over the counter medications available at stores.  She had no health insurance, so she went to Planned Parenthood for help.  They helped her and she stopped suffering.  No more itching, burning, or weeping "down there".  I'm sure it was a big relief AND she didn't go broke getting a cure.

The protesters called Numair a whore within thirty seconds of her arrival, but she simply held up her sign and started chanting "Yeast infections!"  She bent down and asked one of the kids if he or she knew about yeast infections.  Then she did cheerleader style high kicks.  The protesters were horrified and offended, even though one of them had called Numair a whore.  But I guess the idea of someone's recalcitrant yeast infections being cured by Planned Parenthood's medical providers was too much for them to stomach. Within a half an hour, they got the hell out of Dodge.

Reading about Numair's impromptu counter protest made me think that I need to pay a visit to Portland, Oregon sometime soon.  I love that there are people in that city that aren't afraid to chant about yeast infections to get obnoxious pro-lifers to move on.  I also love that they have a "cat lounge" there and that Numair could feel free to counter protest without fear of being fired.  Thinking about it further, I think it's very appropriate that the protesters made a mistake and set up their picketing in front of a business that specializes in pussies...

On another note, I noticed that on a link to a different version of this story, a man named Frank wrote...

And you can go to any drug store and buy the cream instead of a billion dollar waste of government money!!!!

So I wrote,

Her infections didn't respond to the creams. She needed a prescription and was not insured. May you experience something similar.

And he wrote...

There are prescription strength ones that are now OTC... And I buy my own W/O the gov.. I have experienced it! Shove it!

So I wrote,

She wasn't able to use those medications when she had her yeast infections. She needed the ones that aren't available OTC. If something is "prescription strength", it can't be sold OTC. That's what "prescription strength" means. And if you have experienced vaginal yeast infections, I'm sure that's a part of your life that should remain private. So...

Ordinarily, I wouldn't bother to comment to guys like Frank... who is clearly an asshole with the intelligence of buttcrud.  But I just made the above Mr. Rogers meme yesterday and felt the need to share it with more than a few people.  And may I just say that I hope Frank does get a stubborn yeast infection in a place where the sun and Monistat don't shine.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

I fucking love profanity...

Really, I do.  I like swearing.  I'm not sure where it comes from.  Maybe it's a form of rebellion for me.  Or maybe I just think that cussing is cool.  I don't think it's because I have a limited vocabulary.  I know one thing.  Being smacked upside the head by my father when I was a kid for using "bad words" didn't curb my desire to use them.  In fact, I think that just made me want to swear even more.

How else was I supposed to respond when someone bigger and stronger than I was hit me for expressing myself in a way he didn't appreciate?  I certainly couldn't hit him back, yet I was left smarting from the indignity of being struck on the side of the head by someone who was supposed to love me.   It was okay for him to do that to me in the name of "discipline", but it's not okay for me to say "damn" in response.  He was never one to swear, but he was one to get angry and rage and occasionally lash out in anger.  I was on the receiving end of that.  Maybe he hated it when I swore, but I hated it when he took his anger and frustrations out on me.  Cussing is less destructive than physical violence is.

This topic comes up this morning because one of my cousins, a gun loving, Republican, recovering alcoholic who used to be fun and has now gone Christian, just posted a status update asking his friends not to post profanity on his wall.  I'm not guilty of cussing on my cousin's wall; I almost never interact with him.  I just happened to notice his status update and it comes on the heels of similar censorship attempts I've seen lately.  I noticed that my aunt, who probably doesn't follow me, wrote a comment praising him for his status update.  Now, it's certainly my cousin's right to ask people not to post profane language on his wall.  But I have to wonder, what the hell is the big deal?  They're just words.  Oh, he says he's alright with the word "damn", but all the other words are *out*.  Why is "damn" okay but "shit" is not?  What difference does it make?

Last week, I wrote the word "shitty" on Bill's Facebook page because he was stuck in traffic.  I was expressing empathy.  I wrote "shitty" because it really is shitty to be stuck in a stau.  Even James Taylor thinks so.  He even wrote a song about it.

It sucks to be stuck in traffic.  James knows and so do I.

My aunt's brother, a former cop and serviceman, actually chastised me for cursing on my husband's page.  He told me to "quit it".  My response?  "No." If I want to cuss on my page or my husband's page, I will.  You don't get to tell me what to do.

I honestly don't think cussing makes someone uneducated, unrefined, or a bad person.  Now, I do agree that there is a time and a place for foul language.  I just think that part of being refined means knowing when it's "wrong" to swear.  Really, what it comes down to is respect, I guess.  I mean, people don't usually like it when you swear in a place of worship, during a valedictory address, or in a job interview.   Swearing in those situations is considered uncouth and inappropriate.

If you don't believe in God, swearing in church probably doesn't matter to you that much...  Actually, I doubt it matters to God, either.  Case in point, there is a town in Austria called Fucking.  Fucking is a bad word in the English language.  It's not in German.  Am I to believe that it's "okay" for Germans to use the word "fucking" but it's not okay for English speakers?  Maybe it comes down to what the word means. But if that's true, why is it somewhat acceptable to say "poop" or even "crap", but not "shit"?  What difference does it make?  Those words all refer to the same fucking thing.  And who decides whether a word is "good" or "bad" or "inappropriate"?

I suppose the only time I am offended by off color language is when it's used to excess.  Like, for instance, I'm reading something and every other word is "fucking" or something similar.  That has much more to do with my distaste for boring, repetitive writing and poor expression than the actual words, though.

I don't know if cussing really makes someone more honest and trustworthy, but if the worst you can say about me is that I swear like a sailor, I think that's not too shabby.  And at 43 years old, if I want to use dirty language, I will, dammit.  Don't want to hang out with me?  It's your loss.  I'm actually a pretty decent person most of the time.  I have my quirks and I sin, as everyone does.  But I'm not a bad person because I swear.

There are so many other things in the world to be concerned about other than what kind of language people choose to use.  Why be outraged because someone says the word "fuck" or "shit" when you could be outraged over women being sold into slavery or men being tied to ancient pillars in Palmyra and being blown into oblivion by ISIS?  Why take someone to task for cursing when you could be upset over so many other, more important issues?  A person's choice to use profanity really is such a non-issue.

It disturbs me that some people in my family probably dislike me because they think I swear too much and I'm not much of a Christian.  It makes me sad, actually.  It's very limiting to discount people simply because you don't approve of the way they express themselves.  I'm not usually one to praise Pat Boone's family's Christian leanings, but I am reminded of something I read in his daughter Lindy's book, Heaven Hears.  Lindy grew up conditioned not to use profanity.  She doesn't swear and likely taught her children not to swear.  But then her son, Ryan, fell through a skylight and suffered a traumatic brain injury.  It's a miracle he's still living, though he is not the same man he was before his accident.

Lindy explains that since his accident, her son Ryan swears a lot.  At first, she was shocked and offended by his salty language.  But then she realized that it was a blessing that her son could speak at all, given what happened to him.  And she soon realized that her son's new penchant for off color language was a blessing... perhaps even from God.  At the very least, she realized that cussing really isn't that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things.  Maybe she'd prefer it if he didn't use profanity, but I'm sure she'd rather he curse than be forever silent... or dead.

So there, I said it.  I love to use profanity.  I'm still a good person.  But if you don't think so simply because of my choice to cuss, maybe you should examine yourself.  You may not be as wholesome and good as you think you are.

Monday, October 26, 2015


This morning, I happened to come across an entertaining thread about a German bus driver for the military schools smoking while on the bus.  I don't know if any kids were on the bus while he was smoking; I have heard that in the past, the drivers are allowed to smoke if no one is riding.  Anyway, someone saw the smoking going on and raised some hell about it.  A big thread full of concerned mothers commenced.  I thought it was entertaining.

It's not that I don't think second hand smoke is dangerous, offensive, or wrong.  It definitely is, especially in front of kids.  I don't smoke and I don't like being around cigarette smoke.  If I had kids, I'd feel even less affection for that habit.  It's just that issues with the German school bus drivers come up all the time and nothing ever really gets done.

Community activism can be a tough undertaking.  While one determined person can accomplish things, many determined people can accomplish more.  But not everyone has the same level of determination to get things done.  What's more, I think many people come to this community thinking they'll be here for a short time.  They want to enjoy their time in Europe or have other things they'd rather be doing.  So rather than taking action, they either tolerate the things that annoy them or find some other way of avoiding the issue.  In this case, they walk to school, buy a second car and drive, or homeschool.

The bus issue is not new.  I remember several months ago, people were upset that one of the drivers was letting an unauthorized friend on the bus.  The guy would pick up his friend and drive him on the route, then drop him off.  There were complaints aplenty, but I don't remember anything of substance ever getting done.

Anyway, this morning, the subject came up again and it turned into a big thread of complaints.  I still thought it was funny.  There were a lot of outraged comments from people, but I wonder how many of them took any action.  Some of them were probably wondering what they could do.  I think the first step is to band together, but that's easier said than done.  It's hard to work with people due to any number of things that can come up.  Sometimes peoples' egos can get in the way of progress.  Sometimes laziness disrupts the process.  Politics can certainly hinder things getting accomplished.

I guess I was also just thinking that this is one more problem I don't have because I have no kids...  That, and people can get very sanctimonious when it comes to children.  It's not that I don't like kids and think they shouldn't be protected.  It's more that sometimes kids are overvalued.

Germany isn't a third world country.  They've been successfully developing for thousands of years.  When it comes to smoking, they are a little more "old world" in their thinking.  But hell, they have a good quality of life here.  Shit works pretty well.  I don't blame parents for being upset about the smoking on the bus, but I do think sometimes Americans can be a little over the top with their complaints.  But maybe I'd feel differently if I'd had a kid.  

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Outraged comments...

This morning, I woke up and checked my blog for new comments.  Sure enough, I got one coming from a reader in Woodland Hills, California.  It was on the review I wrote of Melissa Francis's book about growing up with a "stage mother".  The person who commented did not directly identify herself, but I have a feeling it's Melissa's mom.  I did some checking and have found several other similar comments posted on reviews of Melissa's book.  Here are other ones I found...

This was on the Washington Post's Web site. 

12/15/2012 2:32 PM GMT+0100

Needed: tell-all biographies about everybody on Fox.
12/18/2012 10:32 PM GMT+0100
12/15/2012 6:43 AM GMT+0100
The reviewer, Carolyn See, is a terrific writer herself. Her memoir, "Dreaming," also features a memorably horrible mother.
12/18/2012 10:30 PM GMT+0100

And here's another one...

MELISSA MOTHER • 3 years ago



I FEEL SO SORRY FOR HER; she is her father's puppet.

Perhaps I should be flattered.  This person hasn't posted comments on every review out there.  The ones she comments on seem to be in major newspapers, not blog posts.  But given that this book is now three years old, I'd say Mom is having trouble letting go.  I guess I can understand being outraged that her child wrote a tell all book.  On the other hand, I don't think these comments are helpful to her case.  She's trying to tell everyone that she's been lied about and no one is "fact checking".  But she's very emotional and defensive and she comes off as totally crazy.  I don't think her smear campaign is useful to her cause at all.

Today, I also got a comment from exMormon author Donna Banta, who also has a blog.  Donna commented on my post about passive aggressive notes, which got linked in this week's Main Street Plaza Outer Blogness post.  Donna related to my story about my friend, who was confronted by an angry Mormon woman who overheard her talking to her husband about the church.  A similar thing happened to Donna, right after she quit the LDS church.  A "friend" spotted her at McDonald's buying coffee, chased her out of the store, and yelled at her in the parking lot for drinking the "vile" hot drink after leaving Mormonism.  Then she stalked off, never to speak to Donna again.

I have to wonder what these people must be thinking when they offer such outraged, vitriolic comments to others.  I don't think it really does much to go off on someone so emotionally in writing or in person.  At most, it just looks crazy.  I don't have more respect for the woman who left me the nasty comment this morning, though she clearly tries to shame me for expressing my opinions about Melissa Francis' book.  She asks me to fact check the story, but I couldn't even if I wanted to.  I don't remember Melissa identifying her parents by name in the book and my commenter sure doesn't do it.  I don't know if the commenter is really Melissa's mom or not, but someone is going around leaving crazy, outraged, bitter comments on reviews of that book.  Does this person really think that people read her rants and say, "Damn... I guess I really should have considered the other side?  Shame on me."  I doubt it.  Those kinds of posts actually just make people think the author of them is nuts and they lend more credence to whatever it is they are being accused of doing.  They also put people on the defensive rather than appealing to their sense of fairness and rationality.

A couple of years ago, I got a very kind and respectful comment from a Mormon woman who had read a post I'd written.  She was not pleased by my opinions about her church, but she approached me with dignity and decency.  She was even handed and nice.  I would say she is a credit to her church and a great role model for others.  I still don't like Mormonism, but her pleasant comment reminded me that there are good Mormons out there who are intelligent, empathetic, and wise.  People who come on my blog and leave me outraged comments with keystroke guns a blazing are not people with whom I'd care to communicate.  I don't listen to bluster.  I might listen to someone who is thoughtful and reasonable and doesn't resort to seething and shaming.  If I do listen, I might be convinced to change my mind.  However, coming at me with enraged craziness really does not make me want to listen.

I get similarly outraged comments on my review of I Fired God, which was written by a woman who supposedly lies.  Or, at least that's what some of my commenters want me to believe.  Not everyone who has commented is vitriolic, but the ones who are offended by the book typically are.  And those comments I tend to take much less seriously than the ones that are calmer and more reasonable.

Just thought I'd offer that food for thought for anyone who is tempted to leave me an overly emotional and shaming comment...  In case anyone is wondering, I still think Melissa's mother is squirrel bait. 

Smartphone etiquette...

Yesterday, as Bill and I were driving home from a day trip to Ludwigsburg, we were talking about the whole Malia Obama beer pong incident.  As were talking, it occurred to me that cellphones are a wonderful, useful invention, but they have also really eroded civility.  Many adults today had the luxury of growing up without smartphones.  They were free to have a childhood unrecorded and undocumented.  Photos were captured on film and were usually not immediately available.  So a person could get away with playing some beer pong without it ending up front page news.

It used to be that a person could enjoy the movies or a concert without being distracted by cellphones either ringing or people texting.  A person could go out to dinner and enjoy a meal without taking time to snap a photo of the food (which I will admit that I do for my travel blog) or playing on Facebook.  It used to be people had more mystery to their lives.  You didn't necessarily know everyone's business.  After high school, people moved away and lost touch.  A circle of friends might be smaller, but it was more often genuine.  Nowadays, a person can be a friend with anyone on Facebook, even if they've never met... even if they don't speak the same language.

I guess I could say the Internet is really the cause of all of this stuff, rather than smartphones.  Smartphones are just a really just extremely portable computers that everyone has on their person all the time.  So really, every time you go out somewhere, you run the risk of being photographed and shared on the Internet for the world to see.  I admit that I'm as guilty as anyone of taking too many pictures instead of simply enjoying life.  I spend too much time on Facebook instead of being out in the real world, interacting with people offline.  Of course, I am not the only one on the computer all the time.

It took me a long time to get my first cellphone.  I think I got it during my second year of grad school.  It was a shitty Audiovox phone that I got for free.  It did the job, though, and I used it until around 2004, when Bill got me a Nokia.  I used the Nokia phone until we came to Germany the first time (2007) and stopped using a cell phone at all.  Then in 2009, I got my first iPhone.  I was pretty amazed by it.  It was so many gadgets rolled into one.  I have since had three iPhones.  I almost never use them for phone calls.  Instead, I surf the 'net, play games, take pictures, or use the calculator to figure out how much longer I'll be paying my student loans.

I guess I should just get used to it.  Technology is changing the world... and not necessarily for the better.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Brown University students apologize to Malia Obama...

Ordinarily, this story wouldn't interest me that much, but I couldn't help but notice the snarky overtones of an article I read about Malia Obama's recent visit to Brown University.  Evidently, Malia was photographed at a college party where she played a couple of rounds of Beer Pong-- or, at least she gave the appearance of playing.  From what I understand, the photos that were published showed her looking on, not actually participating.  Others in attendance supposedly took photos of her and posted them on social media, where they quickly went viral.

Here's the quote that gave me pause when I read about this incident this morning...

We often do not think about our tweets and Snapchats reaching anyone besides our friends and followers, and certainly not news outlets with wide circulation like Buzzfeed. Many Brown students were surprised and embarrassed to see themselves cited in the articles, as other Brown students posted them on Facebook with disappointed captions that criticized their peers for not simply leaving the 17-year-old alone on her college visit.

Really?  Students at Brown University don't know that stuff they post on Facebook can go viral?  If that's really true, then common sense must not be a prerequisite for studying at Brown.  I'm sure more than one of them counted on the photos going viral and actually promoted them so they would.  The rest of them may have simply been excited to be at a party with her and posted without thinking.  It happens.

I don't necessarily condone Malia Obama's choices in this matter, but she only did what countless other teens before her have done.  It wasn't her choice to grow up in the White House at a time in history when everyone has cameras and cell phones and social media accounts.  And really, when it comes down to it, what she did isn't a huge deal, aside from the fact that she's under 21.  I'm kind of surprised Secret Service didn't put a stop to her Beer Pong shenanigans, but I will admit to not knowing all that their duties entail.

I have read a lot of unsympathetic comments directed at Malia.  I don't disagree that she was wrong to do what she allegedly did.  However, what she might have done is very normal under the circumstances.  It's a rite of passage for many people.  I did it.  I'm glad no on was around to take pictures of me while I was experimenting as a kid.  Malia Obama is also in the unique position of having everything she does scrutinized by the press.  She didn't choose to grow up in the White House.

The students at Brown University, I hope, are smart enough to know that actions have consequences. I don't buy that they didn't know that taking pictures of Malia's partying wasn't going to be news.  On the other hand, Malia should have known, too.  The fact that she had that lapse in judgment goes to show that she's probably much more normal than people realize.  Anyway, I don't care that Malia might have consumed alcohol underage and played Beer Pong with college kids.  I think Brown University's "apology" was kind of lame, though.

RIP Uncle Glenn...

Yesterday, I got the news that my mom's brother Glenn died on Wednesday of this week.  He had been in poor health for years and was probably about 90 years old.  Since he had been in a coma for the past few days, his passing was peaceful.

Glenn was my mom's only sibling.  He was 13 years older than her and had beautiful blue eyes and thick white hair.  My first memories of him start at around 1978, right after we came home from England.  He was living in Buena Vista, Virginia with his first wife, Eunice, with whom he had his only child, a daughter named Sue.  Sue is quite a bit older than I am.  She is my only cousin on my mom's side of the family.  I don't know her very well.  She still lives in Buena Vista.

Anyway, back in the late 70s, Glenn and his wife had motorcycles that they used to ride together.  Eunice was very ill with breast cancer.  I remember she had wigs... and lots of Elvis memorabilia.   Glenn was very good with electronics and worked at the local ABC store (liquor store)... of course, that was years before Buena Vista became overrun with Mormons.

After Eunice died, Glenn married her cousin, Eleanor, who taught physical education and had three daughters from her first marriage.  Since they married in the early 80s, they managed to enjoy a long partnership, making their home in Stuarts Draft, Virginia for many years.

When Glenn eventually became ill with Parkinson's Disease, they moved to Pennsylvania.  I'm pretty sure that's because Eleanor's children live there and were able to help them.  Glenn was very sick about 7 or 8 years ago and, to be honest, a lot of us were afraid he was going to die then.  But he rallied when his doctors changed his medications. Glenn and Eleanor used to visit my parents sometimes in Gloucester.   And we'd often visit them in Stuarts Draft on our way to Granny's house in Natural Bridge, Virginia.

I don't think I've seen Glenn since my wedding day in November 2002.  He and his wife and my cousin were there and it was good to see them.  They were all in good health... like my dad, my Uncle Carl, and my Uncle Kenneth.  Since July 9, 2014, these four men have exited their earthly existences for the Great Beyond.

Well... while I'm sad that Glenn was sick for so long and it's always hard to say goodbye to a loved one, he was very elderly and it was simply his time to go.  Wherever he is now, I hope he's at peace.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Bill's last class...

is really cramping my style.  He's doing his final course for his second master's degree and it requires working with other students.  Since they are mostly in the United States and we are in Germany, we have time zone issues.  For the past two nights, he has had to get up in the wee hours of the morning to conference with these folks on Skype.  The first meeting was at 1:00am our time and the second was at 3:00am.  I didn't wake up the first time he has his conference but I did this morning.

Bill routinely wakes me up at 5:30am when he goes to work.  I don't actually have to get up at that hour, but once I wake up, it's hard to go back to sleep.

This morning, I got kind of annoyed because he woke me at 3:00, then again at 5:30.  He was looking for Zane, who had crawled back under the covers.  He also had to give Arran some antibiotics for a paw infection.  I have to admit, I got kind of snippy when Bill asked where Zane was because I was failing to get back to dreamland.  Then I noticed my gallbladder was kind of bothering me, which it does on occasion.  I'll probably have to get the damn thing removed at some point.

Bill should be done with this last class in December.  He'll graduate and after that, I think we may both be done with school.  In the meantime, tomorrow night is going to be a bust because he has another meeting on Skype at 8:00pm our time.  He has promised we'll go out tonight, but that's barring his being exhausted and my not feeling like going out.  It's quarter to 11:00am here and I'm still not dressed.

Perhaps later, I will think of something of substance to write about.  For now, I think I'll go do some reading.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Missy Francis grew up with the mother from hell...

Like so many people my age, I grew up watching Little House on the Prairie.  I also used to watch a lot of Saturday morning cartoons.  Both of those television related activities exposed me to a child actress named Missy Francis.

Those eyes are unforgettable...

Not long ago, I read a "where are they now" article about Little House on the Prairie.  Missy Francis, now going by the more formal name, Melissa, was featured in it.  Toward the end of Little House's run, Missy Francis had played an orphan girl named Cassandra Cooper on the show.  Though she was not one of the main cast members, I did remember her and was interested when the article mentioned that Francis had written a book about growing up a child actress.  I am a sucker for those kinds of books, so I quickly downloaded Diary of a Stage Mother's Daughter: A Memoir.  I just finished it this morning.

Melissa Francis calls her mother a "stage mother".  Maybe that is an accurate description of what her mother was when Francis was growing up.  However, I would also call her mother a textbook case of narcissistic personality disorder.  As I read page after page about her mother's shocking antics, I recognized the behavior all too well.  Melissa's mom, who had a long suffering husband and two beautiful daughters who starred in television commercials and shows, exploited and abused everyone close to her.  Francis writes of how her mother would shuttle her and her sister to auditions.  When Missy would land a part, her mother would brag to everyone who would listen... and when the paychecks rolled in, her mother would pocket them for herself.  Meanwhile, Melissa's mother never held down a job herself and would spend other people's money like there was no tomorrow.  Like all narcissists, Melissa's mom didn't have any empathy.  She saw other people as tools to manipulate and use.  

Woe be unto anyone who dared to cross Missy's mom.  In one heartbreaking chapter, Missy writes of how some neighbors complained about a few feral cats who lived on her parents' property.  Animal control had apparently tried to address the issue, but got no results.  So they took the Francis family's dog.  Missy's dad went to fetch the pooch from the pound.  Meanwhile, Missy's mother stole the complaining neighbors' dog, removed the canine's collar, and deposited her at an animal shelter miles away from their neighborhood.  Since the dog had no collar, no one would know where she belonged.  Her family would never think to look in the shelter so far from home.  And since she was elderly, it was unlikely anyone would want to adopt her.  Missy knew the dog would soon be euthanized.  She wanted to tell her neighbors, but knew if she did, her mother would make her pay for her disloyalty.  So she kept silent and sealed the dog's fate.  I almost had to stop reading her book after I read that passage.  While I understand why Missy felt she had to be quiet, I was also rather disgusted by her silence.  But then, I am also a dog lover.

Missy's sister, Tiffany, eventually outgrew acting.  Smart, beautiful, and talented, the older girl eventually went to Berkeley, where she dabbled heavily in drugs and alcohol.  Melissa writes movingly about her relationship with her sister and her sister's many clashes with their mother.  While Missy was able to make straight As and flourish despite her mother's excessive control and sniping, Tiffany slid into an abyss of addiction which eventually made her very ill and cost her her life.  Unfortunately, Tiffany was not as resilient as her sister was.  If their mother is narcissistic, and I am certain she is, then Tiffany was probably the scapegoat, while Melissa was the "golden child".

Surprisingly, Missy's father, who owned his own company and worked very hard, managed to tolerate his wife's craziness and be a rock to her daughters.  Perhaps "enable" is a better word for his behavior  than tolerate.  I often wondered why he didn't do more to save himself and his daughters.  Missy's dad once told Missy she could be anything she wanted to be if she put her mind to it.  So Missy took control of her life and went to Harvard University, where she was on the polo team and majored in economics.  She met and married her husband, Wray, and eventually became mother to two sons.  When she finally stood up to her mother, who exploited, abused, and stole from her, she found that there was no more relationship.  I am assuming that they are now on a no contact status.  While I don't take pleasure in learning about people who are estranged from their parents, I totally understand why Francis hasn't spoken to her mom in over a decade.  Unfortunately, when it comes to narcissists, going no contact is the only way to protect yourself from the damage they can wreak.

Diary of a Stage Mother's Daughter is not long on details about Little House on the Prairie, so anyone looking for juicy tidbits about that show will likely be disappointed.  However, the book will likely interest anyone who is fascinated by toxic mothers.  Some of the stunts Melissa's mother pulled are just outrageous.  I often found myself pissed off for Missy Francis and others who were victimized by her mother's ridiculous behavior.  And, once again, I found myself feeling some empathy for my husband's daughters, whose mother also displays many of the same abusive, exploitative, hateful, sabotaging and insane behaviors.  

Melissa Francis is now better known as a news reporter.  She currently works for the Fox Business Network and has a show called Money with Melissa Francis.  From what I can see, she has managed to make the best of her life.  I applaud her for that.  I wish everyone raised by a toxic parent could do the same.

I recommend Diary of a Stage Mother's Daughter.  It's basically well-written and a fast read.  I think a lot of people may even find it inspirational.  I do want to mention, though, that Melissa Francis apparently has a now abandoned blog.  The writing in the blog is not nearly as good as the writing in the book, which makes me wonder if it might have been ghost written.  Either that, or Missy's book was very well edited.  Either way, I think the book is worth reading.  I'd give it three and a half stars at least.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sanctimommy city on Upworthy!

As might be seen in Where There Is No Doctor....  I guess if you have a beer gut like I do, this advice also applies...

It's time for another sanctimommy post.  As I am not a mommy myself, I suppose I have no skin in this game.  However, since I am an Internet user who reads comments from other people, I figure I have the right to opine.  Today's post comes from the news I read on Facebook about it not being safe for women to drink any alcohol when they are pregnant.  Actually, it was also on the Today show's parenting page, which I somehow got subscribed to at some point and have since unfollowed.

Anyway... I read Today's article and had to stop reading the comments because they were irritating.  But then, Upworthy did a post about it and the sanctimommy bullshit continued apace.  Needless to say, I got sucked into the comments on Upworthy last night and quickly felt my irritation meter start to rise.  I can't deal with the self-righteous, holier-than-thou commentary that tends to come on anything about parenting and children.  Here are some of the more entertaining comments...

You don't need alcohol. If a doctor tells you that drinking alcohol - at all - is dangerous for your baby, don't fucking drink. We avoid all kind of things while we're pregnant - sushi, hot dogs, hair dye, hot tubs... but you're going to go to war over a goddamned glass of wine?

Just wait until the baby is born. It's 10 months, you'll survive.

Yes, I realize this has been debated and debated and French people do it, and some doctors say one glass is ok, but at the end of the day, if you KNOW there is a potential risk, and you KNOW you can avoid it without it disrupting your life, then why risk it?

Drinking is not the same thing as driving a car. One of them gets you to and from work, the other one gets you a buzz. Which one of those do you think is more important for you to give up for your baby?

What if your doctor tells you a small amount of alcohol is okay or even advisable in your particular case?

 "Why does pregnancy turn us into incubators?" Seriously? Because if you are choosing to have a baby, there is a life inside you whose long-term health depends on the things you put into your body. If that's too much for you to grasp in pregnancy, then a lifetime of parenthood is going to be a real bitch.

I don't disagree that pregnant women should be cautious about what they eat, drink, and expose themselves to, but do you think you could dial back the melodrama a little?



Pregnant women being "policed"? Overdramatic much? It's a study by the AAP with a recommendation. If you don't like it because your prefer your booze over you baby, that's your problem. Most moms actively seek out this information because their primary concern is the health of their child. If being knocked up means I can't eat cold cuts or sushi or dye my roots, I'll get over it.

Oh... what a righteous mommy you are...

These are just a few replies to just ONE comment on that article.  There are plenty more where these came from.  And some of the comments are just plain idiotic.  Like this one below...

No kidding! Women who drink when pregnant are criminals.

Tell that to pretty much every European woman. That'll go over real well

Don't care. My opinion

By definition they are not criminals. That's a fact. If we're talking about your opinion, then in your opinion they should be considered criminals. Or perhaps in your opinion they are bad mothers. But the fact is, they are not criminals.

Again. Not rocket science. Just my OPINION.

Guess I'm a criminal then. But technically, if you go above the speed limit, you're breaking the law, making you a criminal too. Cheers

Except that they're not actual criminals. You're entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts, and the fact is, it's not illegal to drink while pregnant. 

But your "opinion" is factually wrong. Try different wording if you don't want people to call you out on being wrong.

Actually, in some states it is illegal for bartenders to serve pregnant women.  But since many women hide pregnancy fairly well and others are just fat, I would imagine it's a tough law to enforce.  Certainly, if you want to drink in the privacy of your own home, it would be hard for anyone to place you under arrest.  On the other hand, it appears that "fetal rights" are really starting to trump the rights of their already born mothers.  Even if you did choose to drink, use illegal drugs, or smoke while pregnant and your doctor found out about it, you could end up in hot water.

Some of the comments I've posted make me think that if you are pregnant and out and about, all eyes are on you and what you're doing.  I can imagine sitting in a restaurant while pregnant, drinking something that might just even look like wine, and having some self-righteous twat come over and yell at me.  It seems that some of these folks think they're entitled to do so... although my guess is that most of them are probably merely online avengers.  

When I waited tables, I do remember serving a visibly pregnant woman sparkling wine with strawberries.  The reason I remember it is because her husband stiffed me and wrote on their charge slip that I gave them "very poor service".  I think it was because they asked me to serve a strawberry with their wine and I wasn't able to satisfy them with what the kitchen staff was willing to give me.  I went to the pantry and asked for a strawberry for the sparkling wine and they wouldn't give me a whole one (the place where I worked made it hard to please customers because there were many rules).  Also, they had ordered soup, which came in a bowl with a lid.  I took the lid off and some of the steam dripped from it.  Anyway, they were tacky folks... I figure that kid had way more problems to look forward to than a mother who drank while she was pregnant.  By now, he or she is a teenager and, I hope, giving his or her parents sheer hell (I hold grudges like a champ).

These kinds of news articles always bring out the sanctimommies.  I will go on record to say that it's very irresponsible to get loaded on alcohol or any other potentially harmful substance when you're expecting a baby.  However, I think that every person and every pregnancy is different and things are not always as they seem.  A pregnant woman who has a problem with booze is probably going to drink no matter how much mommy shaming is heaped on her.  Many true alcoholics are pretty crafty and they'll drink in secret or when they are alone.  That's part of the disease.  A woman who has an occasional beer or glass of wine is probably more likely to risk drinking in public.  Why?  Because prior to being pregnant, she probably hasn't had anyone harass her about her drinking habits.  If you come up to her and yell that she ought to be reported to CPS, you won't be helping her stay healthy during her pregnancy.  That will cause her to be stressed... which is also something to avoid during pregnancy.

The bottom line is that every one of us every day is exposed to risks.  Pregnant women, by and large, are adults and they have the right to make decisions without being policed by holier than thou strangers.  Unless you see an obviously pregnant woman getting absolutely plastered in a public place, it's probably best if you just mind your own business.  You live your life and let other people live theirs.      

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hissy fits...

I remember about ten years ago, I was a member of a certain second wives and stepmothers Web site that basically consisted of a bunch of forums.  One of my favorite forums was called "Hissy fit".  It was a place for members to complain and have a little meltdown.

Looking back on those days, I can say I'm glad I've evolved a bit.  Of course I still have hissy fits when something or someone pisses me off, but I find that the older I get, the less stupid shit bothers me.  Or it doesn't bother me for as long as it used to.

Yesterday, I was hanging out in a Facebook group and someone posted a screenshot of a used highchair for sale.  The person selling the highchair wrote that it was in good condition and "just needed to be wiped down."  This struck a few of us as funny.  I mean, you can have a highchair that's dirty because it's been sitting in a garage and got dusty or it can be dirty because it's got dried food, excrement, and boogers all over it.  Toddlers are not exactly known for their table manners and toilet habits.

Well... someone went and told the seller about the derisive post in the Facebook group.  She joined and had a little hissy fit that people were making fun of her ad.  It got a little bit heated, which seemed really silly to me.  She basically said that she just got all her household goods and doesn't have time to wipe off the highchair before she sells it.  And she was being "courteous" by telling would be buyers that they'll have to clean it themselves because she can't be bothered.  Others pointed out that it's a lot more courteous to wipe off your stuff before you sell it.

I found myself wondering how long it takes to wipe down a highchair.  I mean, really.  We're talking a couple of minutes, maybe?  Not being a parent myself, I don't know for certain.  I'm sure the person who buys it will wipe it down as a matter of course, anyway.  She probably would have been better off not even mentioning the chair's state of cleanliness.

What's even funnier is that I actually met the lady whose highchair ad was being made fun of.  Last week, on our way to the dentist's office, Bill and I brought her a big bag of wine bottle corks for a crafting project she was working on.

Anyway, thanks to that woman's hissy fit, my guess is that she's now going to become one of the many running jokes in that Facebook group.  In fact, she's already been referenced in another post which digressed from being about disabled people traveling to shaved genitals.  I know it's hard to believe that a thread could degenerate to that extent, but it did... and it was really funny.  And you really had to be there to see why it was so funny.

Part of the reason it was funny was because that woman was so pissed about people commenting about her dirty highchair for sale.  She was so pissed that she insulted a few of us who happen to be over age 40 and someone with dirty hair.  Then, before she left the group in a huff, said that she was "blessed".  Obviously so... if you get that upset over someone commenting on your dirty highchair for sale.  ;-)

Hell, I have been teased more than once in that group.  The first time it happened, I won't lie.  It hurt a bit.  But I swallowed my pride and laughed at myself.  It turned out fine and the person who made fun of me ended up looking like an ass, even if a few people agreed with her.  

I guess I can understand why a person might get upset if she's being "vented" about in a closed Facebook group.  However, what was said was not all that mean spirited and the person wasn't even identified until she outed herself.  And now that she has, she looks immature.  I sure won't be rushing to bring more wine corks to her.  I think if she enjoys some wine herself, she might be able to kill the bug up her ass.  Someone else can have my corks.  Someone who doesn't need wine therapy.

Hissy fits are all well and good.  God knows I've had a few of them myself.  Rolling with the punches is better, at least much of the time.  Getting all pissed off about something trivial is a waste of time and energy.  But, even as I write this, I understand that I'm being a hypocrite.  The truth is, if something pisses you off, it pisses you off, and sometimes you need to vent.  On the other hand, situations like this one are one reason I rarely buy or sell used and save the difference.  I'd make a terrible Duggar.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Passive aggressive notes...

An exMormon friend of mine posted about an unpleasant encounter she had the other day while she and her husband were about to board a plane.  The two of them were in line having what they thought was a private conversation.  My friend must have been making negative comments about Mormonism.  I wasn't there, so I don't know exactly what was said.

When they got off the plane a couple of hours later, a woman who had been standing in front of them while they were boarding handed my friend a note.  She then hastily skedaddled.  My friend handed the note to her husband, then went to get some coffee.  When she came back, her husband confirmed what my friend suspected... that the note was full of shaming and unChristian sentiments about how she didn't know anything about Mormonism and had no right to be making negative comments about it.  However, though the woman was clearly upset enough that she felt the need to confront my exMormon friend, she wasn't woman enough to confront her directly and risk being confronted in return.

My friend's husband ended up tossing the note in the trash.  I wish he hadn't done that.  If it had been me, I would have posted it on Facebook for all the world to see.  I would have also commented that if you don't want to be upset about what people are saying, perhaps you shouldn't eavesdrop on private conversations.

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  Just because someone has negative opinions of Mormonism, that doesn't mean their opinions are invalid.  My friend is a graduate of Brigham Young University and was raised LDS.  She still has friends and family in the faith.  She is now an atheist because growing up Mormon caused her significant pain.  She even wrote a book about her experiences and why she quit the church.  Clearly, she DOES know about Mormonism and has formed an opinion.  She has every right to her opinion and certainly the right to express herself.

Of course, the lady who took offense also has the right to her opinion and to express herself.  However, she did so in a very cowardly way.  I'd say passing anonymous shaming notes won't do much to sway anyone's opinion of her precious faith.  Indeed, all it did was give my friend and me something more to criticize about certain Mormons.  I hasten to add that this kind of behavior isn't necessarily a "Mormon behavior"... I'm sure it could be attributed to anyone in any group with a persecution complex.  Fortunately, not everyone who is religious is such a tool.

I guess I've never really understood why so many people feel like they have to "respect" religious beliefs.  I think it's okay to expect a certain amount of tolerance, but not necessarily "respect".  I don't respect a religion that divides families the way I've seen Mormonism has.  I don't respect a religion that encourages shunning and shaming and judging the way I see Mormonism does.  I know Mormonism is certainly not the only belief system with members guilty of this behavior, but it is one that has affected me personally.  So that is why I don't like Mormonism and don't respect it.  And that is why I write about it.  My friend who received the shaming note from the woman on the plane has had similarly bad experiences with the so called "church".  So she expresses herself and she has a negative opinion.  And her opinion did not form in a vacuum.  She's not ignorant.

So... to all you folks out there who are tempted to pass passive aggressive notes, let this blog post offer some perspective.  At the very least, your drivel is not going to be read.  If it is read, it's not likely to change anyone's mind or make them respect you more.  You may temporarily feel better for getting it out on paper and passing your note to the person you hope to shame, but bear in mind that you could just as easily end up the object of shaming.

And then feel free to fuck right off and have a nice day.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Idiot train track tricks...

Just read about some shenanigans that went down in Falls Church, Virginia.  26 year old Holly Bentley of Falls Church decided to do some yoga poses in an unusual and potentially dangerous location.  Police had been looking for Bentley since December 12, 2014, which is when video footage shows Bentley and her photographer friend jumping onto the tracks for their photo shoot.  She was finally arrested on a misdemeanor trespassing warrant and released on her on recognizance.

Now, at first blush, it sounds like this was a ridiculous waste of time and taxpayer resources.  Don't the transit police have better things to do other than track down wayward yoga enthusiasts?  On the other hand, what if there had been an accident?  What if a train had killed Bentley and her photographer companion?  Not only would they be dead and their relatives likely freaking out and threatening to sue, they would have also disrupted the travel plans for countless people.  Besides that, the train conductor would have to live with the guilt over the accident for the rest of his or her life.  People on the train could have also been injured or even killed.

I'm sure law enforcement officials would rather not encourage other people to follow Bentley's example.  She and her camera toting friend were unharmed when they did their stunt on the tracks, but other people might not be so lucky.  Not punishing Bentley could possibly promote the idea that these kinds of stupid human tricks are okay and won't be prosecuted.  It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt, right?

I will admit, though, that Bentley's poses are impressive.   She claims she didn't know doing yoga on train tracks was illegal.  Perhaps she's spent too much time upside down letting the blood rush to her brain.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Can our President be a pacifist?

The other day, I posted this news article on Facebook about a potential policy change to the Selective Service.  There may come a day when women will have to register for the military "draft" system.   Personally, I don't think this is a bad idea.  Plenty of women have served in the military and if we absolutely have to have "selective service", I don't see why women shouldn't be called upon if men are.  However, I think the draft is overall a bad idea because not everyone is suitable for military service.  Bill would be the first to tell you that people who actually want to be in the military are the best candidates for service.  Those people are the safest to serve with because most of them are committed to the job and willing to do it right.

One of my Facebook friends commented that she thinks the President should be required to serve in the military before being elected.  I happen to agree with her because part of the president's job is to lead the military.  If part of what you're doing involves potentially sending people off to war, you should have some appreciation for what that will mean for them.  Unfortunately, for the vast majority of people who want to be President, military service is beneath them.  They are usually too busy in an ivory tower earning credentials or rubbing elbows with influential people who will get them votes.  So their minds aren't on the military or the men and women who are sent into harm's way.  They know little about military service, at least from a personal standpoint.

I have another friend who is a devoted pacifist.  She disagreed that presidents should have to serve in the military because "I think that would eliminate a lot of people who don't join the military because they value human life. And that would be a waste."

I was pretty dumbfounded by that statement.  Of course people in the military value human life!  In fact, I can't think of anyone who dislikes war more than the men and women who have to go to war.  But she continued...

"...some people don't join the military because they're pacifists. Those people obviously value human life and understand the value of human life but they aren't going to join an organization where they have to be willing to take a human life when ordered to."

Okay.... that's fine.  But how can you lead the military as President of the United States if you are a pacifist and are unable to join an organization where you might have to take a life?  Part of the President's job is to make tough decisions on military action, with help from military leaders, of course.  If you are unable to put people's lives in danger, hopefully for the common good, how can you be the President?

This was my last comment...

"I don't see how on earth a person could hope to be President if he or she is a pacifist not willing to take human lives. Unfortunately, that is part of the job. The President is the commander in chief of the entire military; therefore he or she has to be willing to lead the military. Moreover, I don't think anyone hates war more than people in the military."

I notice this morning that my Facebook friend has written this...

"I just had someone literally tell me: "If you don't like killing people then you aren't qualified to lead."

I can't even process a comment that... disturbing."

Now... I don't know if she was referencing our conversation.  If she was, I would like to point out that I'm being mis-referenced.  I said nothing at all about the President "liking killing".  That's like saying someone who is pro-choice "likes abortions".  What I am saying is that if you are the President of the United States, you must lead the military.  Sometimes the military is involved in work that involves killing.  It is what it is. 

The vast majority of people in the military do not enjoy killing or hurting people.  But it's part of the job.  And if you, as President, can't stomach the idea of leading them in that work if it might involve bloodshed, it's not likely that you will be a successful United States President.  That policy might work if you were leading a country like Switzerland, but it won't work for the United States because our country has too many enemies and there are too many people out there who hate the American way of life and want to see it destroyed.

A person who is a complete pacifist running the country is a nice idea; but it's not realistic.  Or, at least I don't think it is.  But just because I don't think it's realistic, that doesn't mean I think the United States President has to "like killing people".  In fact, I think a president who has actual military service might have more empathy and heart for those who do choose to don the uniform.  Maybe he or she will think more than twice about sending those people into a war zone if he or she has personal experience of being in one.

This particular Facebook friend has made a number of derogatory statements about the military.  When I have called her on them, she usually claims that she has military family members and she "supports the troops".  But then she makes comments about how the military is just about killing people.  That just isn't true.  In thirty years of service, my husband never once killed anyone.  In fact, much of his work is devoted to developing cooperations between militaries in other countries.  Yes, there are plenty of servicemembers who go to war and fight.  However, there are also people who work in areas that involve peacemaking and peacekeeping.  That is pretty much what my husband's work has been since our first tour in Germany back in 2007.

Moreover, there are other jobs that involve being willing to take human life.  What about police officers?  What about people who work for Central Intelligence Agency?   How about the people involved with executions?  Yes, that's right.  The government is full of jobs requiring people to be ready and able to kill if they have to.  Do these people enjoy their jobs?  I don't know.  I'd like to think that most of them like what they do.  I'd also like to think that killing people is a very minor part of their work.  But if the President is ultimately in charge of leading all these folks in government service who have to be ready to kill, then he or she can't be a pacifist.  At least not in my opinion.