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.


Georgia Montgomery "

Here are the contacts: Covington Catholic High School:
Principal Robert Rowe
Telephone: (859) 491-2247
Diocese of Covington:
Phone: 859-392-1500
Diocesan Board of Catholic Education Superintendent, Michael Clines: (859) 392-1500
Assistant Superintendent, Karen McGuire

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.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

RIP, Shirley Boone...

Yesterday, I got the news that Pat Boone's 84 year old wife, Shirley, died on Friday.  She was surrounded by her family, who sang hymns as she passed away from this life.

I've written a few posts about the Boone family, but none specifically about Shirley Boone, who was high school sweethearts with her famous husband, Pat, and mother to four daughters born in about 3.5 years.  She was the daughter of singer and actor Red Foley, a man who was married three times, and widowed twice.  According to, Red Foley's first marriage, which produced one child, lasted just two days.  His first wife, Axie Pauline Cox, died while giving birth to their daughter, Betty.  Betty died in 1990.

Foley's second wife, Eva Alaine Overstake (professionally known as Judy Martin), was a singer and the mother of Foley's daughters, Shirley, Julie, and Jenny Lou.  Shirley and her sisters sang together as The Little Foleys.  Sadly, on November 17, 1951, Eva Foley committed suicide.  Red Foley married his third wife, Sally Sweet, on October 28, 1952.  Foley died in 1968 after a long, successful career in country music.  He inspired legends like Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley, both of whom covered many of his songs.

Pat and Shirley made beautiful music together for sixty-five years...  sometimes literally.

Shirley and Pat Boone married in November 1953.  They were 19 years old, and Pat was in college, studying English.  He eventually graduated from Columbia University in 1958, already the father of his four daughters: Cheryl (Cherry), Linda (Lindy), Deborah (Debby), and Laura (Laury).  It was through Cherry that I started learning more about the Boone family.  I read her 1982 book, Starving for Attention, for a high school psychology course.  I was fascinated by Cherry's story, and went on to read other books written by her and her sisters.  I've noticed since Shirley's death, I'm getting visitors who have found those reviews.

Although I'm not a particularly religious person, nor am I a fan of conservative politics, I do find the Boones kind of fascinating.  It's obvious that music is in their blood.  The Boone sisters used to record together and all were blessed with lovely singing voices.  I come from a musical family myself, and it always amazes me to see how that talent runs in families.

The Boone girls sing in the 70s.

Debby Boone is, of course, the most famous of the four, having sung the huge hit "You Light Up My Life", which was used in the 1977 movie by the same name.  Boone did not sing the movie version of the song.  That was done by the late Ukranian singer, Kasey Cisyk, who died in 1998.

Actress Didi Conn lip syncs "You Light Up My Life" as sung by Kasey Cisyk.  I have to admit, Cisyk's version gives me goosebumps. 

Debby Boone's more famous version...  I was five when this was a hit.

Pat Boone announced his wife's death, calling it a "change of address" to a mansion in Heaven.  He also related a touching story about how he'd asked her father, Red Foley, for permission to marry his daughter.  Pat and Shirley fell in love when they were sixteen years old.  When Shirley was nineteen, her family was making plans to move away.  Boone couldn't bear the idea of living without Shirley.  Red Foley asked Pat if he would "take care of his girl."  Pat promised he would.  So the two were married, and stayed that way for an astonishing 65 years.

Besides being Pat Boone's wife and mother of his daughters, Shirley Boone was an author, recording artist, and humanitarian.  She helped found Mercy Corps, a non-governmental charity that provides global assistance to people in crisis.  Mercy Corps was also founded by Shirley's son-in-law, Dan O'Neill, husband of eldest daughter, Cherry, who suffered from anorexia nervosa.  It was Cherry's book about her eating disorder that introduced me to the fascinating Boone family in the first place... that, and the "Power for Living" TV ads Pat Boone used to do in then 1980s.

It sounds to me like Shirley Boone's life was well-lived and spent with people who dearly love her.  We should all be so fortunate.  She was a wife, mother, grandmother of sixteen, and a highly accomplished musician, writer, host, and humanitarian.  I'm not sure how much I believe in "mansions in Heaven", but I would like to think that she's moved on to a better place.  I wish her family peace.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

50 year old Frenchman declares that women over 50 are "invisible" to him...

A few days ago, I read a news story about prizewinning French author Yann Moix, who recently faced massive backlash for declaring in Marie Claire magazine's French edition that he's incapable of loving women over age 50.  He says the body of a 25 year old woman is "extraordinary", but the body of a 50 year old "is not extraordinary at all".

Accompanying the story about this man's views was what I assume is a recent photo.  Moix is himself 50 years old and, frankly, doesn't appear to be so extraordinary in the looks department.  Naturally, a lot of people had things to say about Moix's unfortunate comments.  Some even included pictures of beautiful women that are invisible to him.  That list includes Julia Roberts, Goldie Hawn, Halle Berry, Demi Moore, Angela Bassett, Carla Bruni, Iman, and Michelle Obama, among many others.

I had to chuckle at this man's dumbassery.  When I was 25, I didn't have an "extraordinary" body.  In fact, I don't think I've ever had what could be called an "extraordinary" body, at least not in the looks department.  I have not been gifted with a beautiful ass, toned abs, or a really perky breasts.  D cups are victims of gravity, after all.  I do have a fairly pretty face and my body is ridiculously healthy, despite my constant attempts to kill it with alcohol.  I also have a pretty damned good singing and speaking voice.  In fact, my voice is probably the sexiest thing about me, next to my dirty mind.  Or, at least, that's what Bill says.

At age 46, I still have four years before I'm invisible to Yann Moix.  But you know what?  I think I'd rather sit in a corner and pull the lint out of my ass crack and belly button than try to appeal to a shallow guy like him.  I'm sure most women who are 50 plus years old are heaving a collective sigh of relief that guys like Moix don't find them attractive.  And all of the women age 50 are probably wishing they were invisible to him, too.  He's probably not much of a date and even less of a lover.

A French friend of mine says that Yann Moix is a "jerk" who, in France, is well known for his provocative statements.  Apparently, it's the only way he's able to get any attention.  I'm sure some people agree with his comments about older women... but a lot of us were laughing about them, since he's not exactly a prize himself.  I guess if you're a woman who's only interested in a man's professional successes, you might find Moix to be a "hottie".

Moix has also stated that he "cannot stand dating white western women".  He says they "tire" him and "wear him out", and "make his hair stand on end".  So I guess if you want to go out with Moix, you need to be someone from the eastern hemisphere, aged 25 or so, with brown skin.  I wonder how many women like that are banging on Moix's door.  I mean, is it really sexy to women when a man puts an arbitrary expiration date on her looks?  If you're 49 years old, you might catch his eye... but the day of your 50th birthday, you can just fuck off.

I'm getting pretty tired of the constant focus on looks, anyway.  As I was watching Leah Remini's series on Scientology this week, I couldn't help but noticed how very Botoxed she looks.  It looks like her upper lip is immobile and she's filled her face with collagen.  I think she's a pretty woman regardless, but all of that shit in her face makes her look a little strange and makes it harder for me to focus on what she says.  I'm too distracted by her paralyzed upper lip.  But then, it's her body.  If Botox makes her more comfortable, who am I to criticize?  I just wish she didn't feel the need to do that.

Looks aren't everything, anyway.  Remember back in 2009, when Susan Boyle was on Britain's Got Talent?  She walked out on stage, looking very plain and frumpy at age 48.  She told the judges she'd never been kissed.  The audience laughed when she said she wanted to be a famous singing star.  Then she opened her mouth...

Here she is in 2009...  but you can't judge a book by its cover, or a woman by her exterior...

And here she is in 2019, still amazing and delighting people, even though she's 58.

But Susan and the many others like her won't catch Yann Moix's eye...  Should we all have a good cry about that?  I don't think so.  I'd rather go wash my pubes.  For a more entertaining take on Yann Moix's stupidity and short-sightedness, have a look at this hilarious piece by 24 year old Verity Johnson of New Zealand.  She says she wouldn't date her...  she's too much work!

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Children of God cult...

Having now exhausted Leah Remini's Scientology episodes, at least for now, I moved on to another A&E series hosted by Elizabeth Vargas, called Cults and Extreme Belief.  Since yesterday afternoon, I've seen three episodes.  The first two, about NXIVM and the Jehovah's Witnesses, were disturbing enough.  But the third one, about the Children of God (now known as The Family International), made me stop and blog.

Before I watched the show, I had heard a little bit about this religious cult, founded in California in the 1960s by a charismatic preacher named David Berg.  Originally called "Teens for Christ", this group consisted of runaways and hippies and preached about salvation, happiness, and a coming apocalypse.  Creepy founder, David Berg, was frequently known by the alias Moses David, and gave himself the titles of "King", "The Last Endtime Prophet", "Moses", and "David".  His first wife, Jane Miller, married him in 1944 and divorced him in 1970, two years after he started his cult.  Berg married his second wife, Karen Zerby, in 1970.  She is currently leading The Family International, since Berg died in October 1994.

One thing that struck me about this cult is that it was full of musically talented people, children in particular.  One of the children involved was Berg's granddaughter, Merry, who was also known as Mene.  Merry, who died in her sleep in December 2017, was fifteen days older than I am.  She was musically talented and very ethereal looking, with beautiful blonde hair.  Merry was featured on musical recordings done by Children of God, as well as videos.

Merry Berg...

Other talented children were also used to make songs about love and sex, and some were also forced to do strip teases.  Aside from that, there was rampant sexual abuse.  Merry was one of the most victimized of the bunch, having endured multiple forced exorcisms as well as extreme abuse on all levels.  She was forced to live in different places, locked in a closet for six months, whipped, tied up, and screamed at by her grandfather, who claimed she was possessed by the devil.

The whole story was very disturbing to me, but I think what really captured my attention was the way these kids looked.  Here they were, maybe ten or eleven years old on these videos from the 70s... a lot of them are probably my contemporaries.  Most of them were attractive and musically gifted, singing so beautifully songs about love.  But the love they sang about was inappropriate and forbidden because it involved sex.  Indeed, these children were commanded to go "flirty fishing" to entice new people to join the cult.  The flirty fishing was more than just flirtation; in fact, it included sex.  David Berg preached sex.


As I watched the above video, I was eerily reminded of the beauty pageants that used to be so popular in the 1980s.  The lyrics sound so wholesome, yet all of the singers look like they're in a trance.  These teens in the video were likely born into the cult and knew nothing else.  It's all about worshiping their sick leader, who was supposedly an alcoholic and may have also suffered from mental illnesses.

This clip is from 20/20... a young girl is very upset and repeatedly insists that there's nothing wrong with sex.

As a child of the 70s and 80s myself, I am also aware of the late actor, River Phoenix, who was extremely famous and much beloved by people of my generation.  Phoenix died in 1993, having overdosed on drugs at The Viper Room in Los Angeles.  He and his similarly talented siblings were raised in this cult when they were very young.  Phoenix once claimed that he lost his virginity at age four, but later said he was kidding.

And A Current Affair also covered this group, explaining "flirty fishing" more.  Imagine the kind of people who were enticed into this group by watching young girls behave sexually.  It sounds like a nightmare.

A 20/20 episode about Children of God.  Not the same one I watched this morning, but also worth viewing.

David Berg unofficially adopted Ricky Rodriguez, nicknaming him Davidito.  He was born in the Canary Islands, the son of Berg's second wife, Karen Zerby, and a man she "flirty fished".  In 2005, when Rodriguez was 29 years old, he murdered a woman who had been his nanny and sexually abused him.  Then he killed himself.  Rodriguez was forced into inappropriate sexual relationships when he was a child and developed deep seated resentment toward Berg and Zerby because of the abuse he suffered.

Megyn Kelly speaks to Children of God cult survivor, Christina Babin, who speaks about how difficult it was to be in the cult and how most of the children never got more than a sixth grade education.

I know I heard of this cult before I watched Elizabeth Vargas discuss it this morning.  I remember hearing about River Phoenix and his siblings being in a religious cult when they were young.  It's tragic how many youngsters were affected by this cult, which was considered a "religion" and granted special privileges.  Many who were raised in The Children of God later committed suicide because they had no foundation from which to launch their lives beyond the cult.

It's amazing how many cults there are out there and how people get caught up in them.  It's tragic that children grow up in these organizations and are left with nothing when they come of age.  I may have to find something a little lighter to watch later.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Binging on Scientology...

Somehow, I missed that Leah Remini has continued her series on Scientology.  I watched the first season of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath her A&E series about leaving the "church", and I read her 2015 book, Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology.   I've also read other books about Scientology, including Going Clear and Ron Miscavige's bookRuthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me.  There were a few other books I read, too, including one written by David Miscavige's daughter, and another written by a less well-known author who was in the Sea Org.  I no longer have access to my reviews of those books.  Maybe I'll reread them, if I find the time and patience.  Scientology is both fascinating and heartbreaking in what people will do for it.

Since I've been binge watching the second and third seasons of Leah Remini's show, I've got Scientology on the brain.  It's not a bad thing to be thinking about Scientology, since it distracts me from other things I could be obsessing over, like Donald Trump's infantile behavior as the POTUS.

Story after story highlighted on Remini's show, which she shares with former Scientology high ranker, Mike Rinder, reveals how this so-called religion breaks up families and friendships and ruins finances.  It makes one wonder how in the world someone could fall for it.  It's obviously a damaging cult.

I've written a lot about cults on this blog.  People get into them for all kinds of reasons.  I think many people are vulnerable to cults when they have trouble in their lives.  They may be looking for someone or something to help them fix the trouble.  Maybe they have marital problems.  Maybe they have financial problems.  Perhaps they're involved in the arts and wish to get a professional break.  Scientology is chock full of celebrities, although I'm not sure how many mingle with the regular people.

With any introduction to a cult, there's a friendly invitation.  The people are warm, loving, and extremely accepting and welcoming.  They love bomb the investigator, make them feel important and accomplished.  They flatter the person, appealing to their ego until they think they've found heaven on earth.  Scientology requires its members to take courses in order to climb up the "bridge" to total clarity.  The initial courses aren't that expensive.  Pretty soon, the person becomes accustomed to spending the money for them.  It goes from $50 to $100 for a course to $50,000 or $250,000.  The higher you climb, the more it costs.  And you are constantly expected to keep climbing.

I listened to the people interviewed for Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.  Some of the stories are just heartbreaking.  There were a few from people who'd had loved ones that committed suicide.  More than one person lost family members in the form of "disconnection", meaning their family doesn't acknowledge them.  One woman, Mimi Faust, spoke of being "turned out" at age 13 and forced to fend for herself.  Four years later, when her Sea Org mother called her for a visit, she showed up, only to be confronted by Scientologists wanting her to join the slavery of Sea Org.  They detained her for a short time, trying to pressure her into signing a "billion year contract".

About ten years ago, when we were living in Germany the first time, my husband Bill was really interested in Scientology.  He didn't want to join; he'd had enough of a bad experience with "churches" when he was LDS.  He was just fascinated by what Scientologists did to people who dared to speak out about them.  At that time, "Anonymous" was big on YouTube.  I seem to remember listening to a lengthy video by former Scientologist and actor, Jason Beghe, who has been mentioned in Remini's series.  In 2009, Leah Remini was still a faithful church member, although she'd already gotten in trouble because she dared to ask where leader David Miscavige's wife, Shelly, was when she attended Tom Cruise's and Katie Holmes' wedding in Italy.

Ex Scientologist, Jason Beghe... I remember him from Melrose Place and 1st and Ten, an HBO series.  O.J. Simpson was also on that 80s era show about a fictional football team.

What really strikes me about Remini's show is that in every episode, she includes statements from the "church" about her "hate campaign".  I can't imagine who in their right mind would be convinced by the church's statements trying to smear Leah Remini.  She comes across as very credible to me.  And I have read enough books about Scientology to believe her.  In fact, I remember My Billion Year Contract, the book I read by Nancy Many, who described living in a parking garage while slaving away in the religion.  There she was, a U.S. citizen over age 21, basically imprisoned by this cult.  She had to escape her situation.  She did not have the power to just walk out.  How in the world could this happen?

But then I realize that Donald Trump is our president and understand that sometimes things aren't as simple as they seemingly should be.  

Today, I'll probably watch Remini's special about the Jehovah's Witnesses.  My cousin was a JW for years, although I never got the chance to talk to him about it extensively.  He's left the JWs and is now much more normal.  I've read a lot of books about the JWs, too...

I really think people just want to belong to something.  Some people feel like these cults make them special.  When you're in a group situation and you've been separated from the rest of the world, it can seem like leaving that cult is the hardest thing in the world to do.  My heart really goes out to some of the people Remini has had on her show.  While a few have managed to save their families-- and Remini's show is even credited for being behind one formerly high powered member's decision to leave and reconnect with her daughter-- too many others won't leave.  I think Remini is very brave to share her story and allow others to come out of the shadows with their stories.  One way abusers keep abusing is to keep victims shrouded in secrecy.  Speaking out is the best way to shed light on their inhumane practices.

I'm not sure if Remini has interviewed Nancy Many, but her story was one of the first I read about Scientology.  Here's the link for those who want to read it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Exhausting arguments with Trump supporters...

Yesterday, I got into an argument with a conservative friend of mine.  This dude can't seem to resist arguing with me about Donald Trump.  Even though I know my friend is intelligent, he is doggedly determined to defend Trump's policies.  I've told him on more occasion that his arguments do nothing to change my mind about Trump.  I've been around awhile now... I remember back in high school, people were talking about what a dirtbag Trump is.  But he just keeps on pushing...

We were arguing over a news article I shared about the aftereffects of the current partial government shutdown.  My comment was: "Does Trump not understand that this will have a ripple effect? Creditors have bills to pay, too."

My Trump fan friend's response was "Does Congress?"  He then proceeded to blame Congress for Trump's temper tantrum.  If they'd just give in and give the orange man money for his wall, this could be history.  My friend, who is a federal employee who is not being paid right now, is in law enforcement and he thinks the wall is what we need to make America "safer".  Honestly, I don't think America will be safer with a wall.  Not when we have homegrown gun toting lunatics going around killing people willy nilly.  And I also think $5 billion could be spent on things people need for life... you know, like clean drinking water, electricity, shelter after hurricanes decimated homes, healthcare, upgraded infrastructure, etc.

Since I am six hours ahead of my Trump supporting friend, the argument continued overnight with some of my other America based Facebook pals.  Although he was both prolific and vociferous in his remarks, I was heartened to see that he was the only Trump supporter commenting.  That wouldn't have been the case a couple of years ago.

I was looking at my memories today and noticed another argument that erupted in 2017.  A female Trump supporter, who serves in the Army along with her husband, literally told me to "deal with it" when I commented on my fears of Trump as president.  She said the election was over and we all needed to embrace Donald Trump's leadership.  She cited his business acumen and the "beautiful" buildings he's erected around the world.  I could hardly believe what I was reading.  Here she was... a graduate of the prestigious U.S. Military Academy and a high ranking officer.  And she'd fallen for Trump's bullshit, hook, line, and sinker.  What's more, she was attempting to dictate to me what I can discuss on my social media.  I always find it a little sad when people in the military try to squelch freedom of expression.

I then explained that I feel free to discuss whatever I want to on my page.  If she doesn't like it, she can unfriend or unfollow.  Then she came back, upset, claiming that people think she's the "devil incarnate" for supporting Trump, which no one ever said.  I don't think she's the devil incarnate.  She's actually a pretty cool person.  But I think people who can't see the damage being wrought by Trump are either delusional or willfully ignorant.  Moreover, I don't care to argue with them about Trump.  It's a waste of time and energy.  Nothing anyone can say will change my mind about him.  In my opinion, he should have been disqualified by his misogynistic comments and actions, his many failed businesses and shady business practices, and the fact that he has zero experience as a government leader.  If Trump had been going for any other government position, he probably would not have been hired.

I do understand that Congress plays a part in whether or not budgets get passed.  I think there are probably people in Congress that would happily do whatever Trump wants.  Enough of them disagree with him that he's not getting money for his wall.  He refuses to cooperate with Congress, so we have this government standstill.  Right now, it doesn't affect everyone, but if it keeps up, there will be many ripple effects that will ultimately damage the United States.

I've never seen such a terrible excuse for a U.S. president.  I was born in the Nixon era, so I've seen a few administrations.  Trump's is by far the worst of all of them, because he truly doesn't care about anyone's interests but his own.  And yet, people still cheer for him.  His supporters still taunt his critics, sure that he'll be re-elected and we'll have to endure another six years of this shit.

I think what's happening is profoundly sad.  I am especially disappointed in some of the hateful things being said by Americans who are disappointed in Trump... not because he's ruining America, but because he's not "hurting" the right people.  This is a quote from another news article I read yesterday.

“I voted for him, and he’s the one who’s doing this,” she said of Mr. Trump. “I thought he was going to do good things. He’s not hurting the people he needs to be hurting.”

Call me naive, but it seems very strange to me that regular people think our elected officials should be out to "hurt" others.  Elected people are honored with positions of trust to represent citizens.  They should be working together to serve the people who elected them and act in their best interests.  These stupid tantrums do nothing for the people other than cause divisiveness and hardship.  I really hope a resolution comes soon so things can get somewhat more normal...  And I'm grateful as hell that Bill did not take a job with the federal government.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Unexpected search results...

Something interesting happened the other day.  I was sitting on our yucky futon and noticed that it has kind of a nasty smell.  I also noticed that it was so uncomfortable that it made my butt go numb.  Looking at the futon, I realized that it's served its purpose and needs to be re-homed or trashed.   That gave me the idea to search for a new couch.

We bought the futon in August 2014, when we first moved back to Germany.  I didn't actually want a futon, but we were moving into our old house and had no furniture for several days.  I didn't want to sleep on air mattresses because I usually end up with Charley horses.  Also, the box we sent our air mattresses in was delayed by the post office and we didn't want to buy new ones.  The futon was just big enough for Bill and me to sleep semi comfortably.  Add the two dogs, who insisted on joining us, and it was definitely not so good.  But then our regular furniture came and we were able to use the futon in our old TV/office as more of a "couch" for TV watching.  It wasn't perfect, but it served a function.

I figured we'd be moving back to the States after Stuttgart and decided I'd throw it out when the time came to move.  But then we moved to Wiesbaden.  We brought the futon with us, and now I want to trash it again.  One of the spokes broke when I sat down on it too hard.  The dogs regularly sleep on it and one puked all over the mattress.  It was impossible to get it very clean, so now the mattress and pillows faintly smell kind of like ass... or maybe the musty, ripe cheese smell that comes from an infection.  It definitely doesn't make me want to use the TV room.

I went on to look for "couches".  I entered the search term into the box. usually translates English terms into German.  Sure enough, I got most of the expected results.  I started seeing the sofas I hoped to see.  And then I noticed something very different.

About two-thirds of the way down the second page, there was a very realistic picture of a dildo.  It appeared to be a French product and had veins, wrinkly "skin", and everything.  The seller promised free delivery and, at less than 27 euros, it was a bargain.

I was rather surprised by that result.  I mentioned it to a German friend.  She happened to have studied French and explained that in French, the word "les couches" refers to layers.  Since I used the term "couch", I guess figured I was looking for layers.  And this sex toy has double layers of silicone, which I guess doubles your pleasure.

I never studied French, so this was news to me.  To tell you the truth, as dirty as my mind can be, I don't actually like looking at those kinds of... uh... playthings.  Especially when they're very realistic looking.  The one pictured did NOT look like a toy.  It was kind of moist looking and someone's hands were wrapped around it.  I guess I can now see why some people ban Amazon from computers where small children might be lurking.

I was reminded of another incident from years ago.  I was stalking a messageboard for fundamentalist women who wanted to buy "modest clothing".  One of the women who posted referred users to this Web site.  She also warned people to be careful when searching for "culottes", since that might bring pornographic results.  Another referred readers to this site, where you can order handmade culottes that set the "right" Biblical example.  It's funny that Americans think of culottes as a very modest piece of clothing, but in France, culottes are underwear.  Consequently, if you search for culottes, it's possible that you will find underwear when you really want an ugly pair of pants that look like a skirt.

One time, I actually made a pair of culottes.  I wasn't even forced to make them, either.  I thought they looked "cool".  I was in eighth grade, taking home economics, and we had to use a pattern to make clothes.  For some reason, I liked the illustrated culottes that appeared on the Simplicity pattern.  I thought they were fashionable.  Dopey me, what did I know?  They didn't even use a real photograph of a model on that pattern.

I selected really ugly teal fabric.  It was cheap, thin, and tacky.  I remember buying it at AAFES, back in the days when they sold fabric.  It was awful stuff because it wrinkled super easily.  I made the culottes, but they looked terrible, with sloppy, irregular seams and constant rumples.  I got a "C" on my project; although, believe it or not, I did wear the ugly culottes around the house for awhile.  I was thirteen, and didn't have any sense.

The following year, I made a tank top jumpsuit with pastel polka dotted fabric.  That time, I chose better fabric that didn't wrinkle and I did a better job making the garment.  I actually wore it to school a few times.  It got an "A", although now I kind of cringe at the idea of wearing it.  What the hell... I was fourteen.  I hate sewing, though, and that was the last time I made any clothes.

I'm actually pretty crappy at anything involving clothes.  When I was in college, I was a member of a music fraternity and I really struggled at making my Greek letters with puff paint.  I'm too much of a slob to do it properly.  My mom and my maternal grandmother were great at needle crafts, sewing, fashion, and anything involving looking like a lady.  I didn't inherit those genes.

Anyway... I am hoping soon we can replace the futon and get a nice couch so we can enjoy our TV room and I won't be tempted to lie in bed to watch all of those iTunes TV shows that are preventing me from updating my Apple apps.  But no, at this point, I don't need any sex toys that I found while searching for couches.  Why is it that French words often end up translating to sexy stuff, anyway?

First world problems are such bitches.

Monday, January 7, 2019

93 minutes with Apple Support... no resolution...

On Friday of last week, I got a new computer.  I ordered it from the German Apple store because, although I am American and usually use the American Apple store, I didn't want to ship my new computer from the States.  I wanted a 220 plug and not to have to worry about paying duties.  I also didn't want to have to wait longer than necessary for the computer to get to me.

I configured my computer and added Logic Pro X and Final Cut to my machine.  What I didn't realize is that those applications update in the App store and, because my Apple ID is in the US store and I have unfinished season’s passes on iTunes, I can't switch my ID to the German store.  Why this is a rule, I don't know, but it basically means I can't update the apps I paid for.

I went to the German Apple store where I ordered the computer and I can see how it's configured.  I can see that I added those apps to the computer and paid for them.  But I can't update the software from there.  I have to do it through iTunes.  And my iTunes is all American, and doesn't recognize my German store purchases.

This is quite the cluster fuck.  It's frustrating and annoying.  Thank God I don't actually have to use that software for anything professional, because that would really make this issue irritating.  As it is now, I will probably have to call Apple Support and speak to someone live.  That's a real pain in the ass.

Look at this.

I have them legitimately installed, and I did pay for them.

But I can't access the German store where I bought the computer through iTunes because I have iTunes seasons' passes for American TV shows.  I have to wait until they are "completed".  Some of the series I've purchased are finished, but are still showing up as current.  I was told I could cancel the seasons' passes, but I don't see how.  And I don't want to cancel them, anyway.

So... maybe in a few months I can update?  What bullshit!

I spent 93 minutes I can't get back chatting with an Advisor and then a Senior Advisor.  I have the whole transcript.  At the end, they apologized profusely and thanked me for understanding, but now I have to call phone support.  I suspect the end result will be the same.

Come on, Apple.  Why don't you have a way to consolidate this stuff?  I can't be the only person who has had this problem.  People move to other countries all the time.  Why should I have to be limited to one Apple store per Apple ID?

If there's some legal reason why this is done, I wish they would have warned me.  There should be something that advises people to make a new Apple ID if they wish to shop in a different store, or my order with my Apple ID in the German store should have been refused until I made a German ID.  Clearly, they have a glitch in their procedure.

Oh well...  I am enjoying my new computer, even if it feels just like the old one and will require a few months to pay for.