controversies, Duggars, nostalgia, Russia, safety, silliness

I kept my kid rear facing until he was sixteen! Give me a cookie!

Now that the pandemic restrictions are slowly fading away, people are starting to go back to their old favorite soapboxes. I’m starting to see less lecturing about public health guidelines regarding viruses. And, after our glorious minimally COVID intrusive French break, I am feeling a lot better about some things.

I say “some things”, because I’m going to have to call up USAA again and bitch at them for wrongly blocking my debit card due to “suspicious activity”. They unceremoniously put a block on the card last night as I was trying to make a purchase from a vendor I use fairly often. I don’t know if it’s because I had a travel alert because we went away for a few days, or just because… but this happens to me fairly frequently, and I’m at the point now at which I’m thinking it’s time to consider finding a new bank. Perhaps we need one that is more local. I suggested that in 2014, but Bill didn’t agree. Anyway, I have to call them today, and I hate having to do that. It’s a pain in the ass. Edited to add: as I was writing this, I got an automated call from USAA, many hours after the fact, asking me to confirm the activity. Supposedly, my card is open… so maybe I can make my purchases now. I’ll give it a try later, when I can call USAA immediately and get help if it doesn’t work.

Now… on to today’s topic. I follow the Duggar Family News Group on Facebook. It’s often entertaining, and sometimes there are some great books recommended there. I also enjoy a lot of the snark regarding fundie Christian families such as the Duggars. I guess it was a natural progression, since I’m less interested in snarking on Mormons lately, even if I do still intensely dislike Mormonism (but not Mormons, in general).

This morning, someone posted one of their Facebook memories, in light of the recent car accident involving Nathan and Nurie (Rodrigues) Keller. I posted about the accident, myself, a few weeks ago. It seems that Nathan and Nurie, who have a baby boy, did not have their infant in a car seat at all. Nathan was cited.

Naturally, news of the accident generated a lot of chatter from other Duggar Family News followers, especially since Nurie’s parents, Jill and David Rodrigues, both have siblings who are permanently disabled due to serious car accidents. Jill’s sister has been a quadriplegic since 2015, while David’s brother is reportedly a paraplegic. I don’t know much about the specifics involving those accidents, but it would seem to me that, under those circumstances, car safety should be more of a priority in the Rodrigues family than it apparently is. But this post is less about how I think the Rodrigues and Keller families should be more cognizant of safety, than it is about the public ego stroking that goes on any time someone brings up the subject of car seats.

Someone posted that the below image came up in their memories the other day, and they decided to share it with the group:

Yikes!

This is the video referenced in the above image.

Blood flows red on the highway!

Now… I want to make it very clear that I am not against people being as safe as possible when they’re driving. It’s true that I have always hated wearing seatbelts, but I wear them anyway, because Bill turns into Pat Boone if I don’t. But aside from that, I’m not an idiot. I know that seatbelts and car seats save lives. This is not a rant about car seat safety, five point harnesses, or rear facing children for as long as possible… although I’m pretty sure I would have puked a lot if that had been the rule when I was a child. I tend to get motion sickness when I ride backwards. But what’s a little vomiting when your life is at stake, right?

This rant is about what happens when people share these things on social media. It practically turns into a circle jerk of self-congratulations, as poster after poster brags about how strict they are about car safety with their own kids. In fact, looking on YouTube, the same phenomenon is happening among commenters there. So many people are boasting about how safety conscious they are, patting themselves on the back. They are probably at a higher risk of breaking their arms that way, than in a car accident.

Here’s a sampling of the comments on YouTube.

The comments on the Facebook post are very similar to the ones above. Based on the self-congratulatory mood of these responses, one could be led to believe that everybody who’s anybody rear faces their kids, their husbands, their wives, their pets, and would also rear face themselves, if they didn’t have to drive! And these threads almost always devolve into segues about how long to keep kids in booster seats, harnesses, and what not. I’m surprised people haven’t started making their toddlers wear helmets, elbow pads, and knee pads in the car. Below is another screenshot of comments on the YouTube video…

A little dissension creeps into the discussion… and it starts looking like there are a bunch of physics experts weighing in…

Again… I don’t think there’s anything at all wrong with being concerned about car safety, especially when children are involved. After all, if Princess Diana had worn a seatbelt on her last car ride, she’d probably still be with us. I just don’t understand why some people feel so compelled to share their personal philosophies about it to the point at which it looks like they want a cookie or something. Do people really need validation about their personal choices that badly? I mean, rear face your eight year old if you can, and you want to do that. Keep that kid in a five point harness. Slap a helmet on them, if it makes you happy. Far be it for me to judge you on your car safety choices. But why tell the whole world about it? And why judge other people for not doing what you’re doing? Especially if they’re following the law?

Remember, though, I write this as someone who grew up in the 1970s and 80s, when kids were allowed to bounce all over the car… and although my parents were always devoted to safety and wore their seatbelts religiously, I was usually only forced to wear them when my dad was in control freak mode. That’s probably why I’ve always hated wearing them. I associated them with my parents– really, more my dad– being mean and controlling, and punishing me for being myself. It wasn’t about them caring about my safety, or the chance that I might become a flying object. It was about my dad being large, and in charge. Seatbelts, in those days were also uncomfortable, especially for short people like me.

It amazes me that I survived my childhood, when so many people smoked, and kids rode bikes without helmets and played outside for hours, their parents not knowing where they were, and not worrying until darkness fell. I’ve mentioned many times before that I grew up in rural Virginia, and it was not uncommon to see some of the kids in my neighborhood riding on the hood of their mother’s car to their trailer home at the end of our dirt road. It was hardcore redneck living, I tell you! I remember being embarrassed when I was forced to wear a seatbelt in the car, circa 1980 or so. It was not the “cool” thing to do in those days. It wasn’t until the late 90s, after I spent two years in Armenia, where NOBODY wore seatbelts, that I finally started to wear them 95% of the time.

Nowadays, just about everybody wears seatbelts. You’re not cool if you don’t wear one. And even people in the back seat wear them, which was definitely not the case even twenty years ago. The pendulum has shifted to the point at which people go batshit nuts when they see anyone not wearing a seatbelt. And if a child isn’t strapped in perfectly… well, prepare for the hammer of judgment to come crashing down. While I’m sure most people mean well, others seem to get off on edifying and judging their neighbors. It must give them a surge of sanctimonious supply to get to instruct someone on the errors of their ways…

Dreadful… and no seatbelts to be seen. I was about twelve when this aired. Blair tells Tootie to put a seatbelt on Natalie at 7:17, only because Natalie is embarrassing her. At 9:09, Natalie smiles as she talks about how she “bit down” on the seatbelt when they were stopped by a cop.

Yesterday, I was watching a truly wretched episode of The Facts of Life that aired during the sixth season. It was called “Cruisin'”, and it involved Blair, Natalie, Tootie, and Jo driving around Peekskill, New York in Blair’s daddy’s Caddy. Blair and Jo are in the front seat, and they’re all listening to God awful remakes of popular songs of decades past, acting like mom and pop to Natalie and Tootie. Neither of them are wearing seatbelts, and Tootie folds the front seat forward, causing Jo to chastise her. In fact, at one point, Blair tells Jo to hit the window locks and Tootie to “slap a seatbelt” on Natalie, when she gets too rambunctious. That was kind of the attitude back then. Then, at 9:09, Jo snarks on how Blair came up with a lame excuse for a cop, claiming Natalie was in labor. Natalie smiles and says, “Did you notice how I bit down on my seatbelt?”

Sometimes, in the 70s and 80s, seatbelts were used as disciplinary devices for the unruly children of the world. It’s a weird mindset, I know… When I see evidence of how we were in the 80s, I suddenly feel really old. It’s amazing how many years have passed, and how much some things have really changed. I’m going to be 50 very soon… and I’m starting to realize that I’m getting old. Like, for instance, I often wake up with pain in my back… and I have to squint to read fine print. It’s hard to believe the women on The Facts of Life are even older than I am!

Our mindsets have really changed in a lot of ways, though. In the 70s and 80s, kids were a lot freer to do things on their own. And yet, it seems like less was expected of us. I see so many kids today being prepared for their lives as adults as if they were already adults. There’s so much pressure, yet so much protection. In my day, we all worried about nukes, especially in the 80s. And now, the threat of nuclear war seems even closer than it ever was. It almost makes wearing a seatbelt seem silly. If Putin hits the red button, we’re all probably doomed, anyway. The constant emphasis on safety could be completely pointless soon… if something isn’t done about that madman.

Here’s another thing that reminds me of how old I am… Bill retired from the Army 8 years ago. His service began during the Cold War, and he was trained to deal with Soviet style combat. He has a degree in International Relations from American University, which he earned before the Soviet Union fell apart. For the second half of his career in the Army, that training became almost obsolete, as the focus was more on the Middle East. Now, the Russians are a huge concern again, and Bill’s old training is becoming relevant again. It may even end up making him more employable. Isn’t that weird?

Well, anyway, I don’t think anyone should feel badly about rear facing their children in the car, if that works for them and makes them feel better… especially if the kid doesn’t mind it, isn’t uncomfortable, and doesn’t puke. I’m surprised more car manufacturers haven’t made cars with passenger seats that rear face by design. But I don’t understand why so many people feel like they have to announce this to the world. I mean, look at this…

I often tease Bill, because he’s very safety conscious. He’s also very health conscious. However, he doesn’t get on my case about never going to the doctor. It’s likely that I won’t die in a car accident… I’ll probably die of an undiagnosed chronic disease. I do know, though, that that’s ultimately my responsibility… I just think it’s funny that he’s so safety conscious. And I think it’s funny that so many people are so fixated on things like car seat safety, when there are risks everywhere that a lot of us ignore or downplay. I think seatbelts and car seats, much like face masks, are things that are easy to see, and easy to judge others on, particularly if they aren’t being used properly. It’s easy to judge someone for not using a seatbelt or car seat, or not wearing a mask. That’s why people do it with wild, reckless abandon!

However, chances are, we are all letting a lot of other things slide that will probably kill us someday. And chances are, someone is silently judging you for that, too… even if you’re still rear facing and harnessing your adolescent in the name of car safety. Yes, that includes every sanctimonious twit who wants to brag about their superior parenting skills and health and safety measures. But I guess there’s no harm in a little validation seeking online. Hell, we all do it. Now pass me another slice of pizza and a beer. Gotta get that cholesterol up so I can take that big trip to the great beyond… safely strapped in, of course.

*** But… this all being said, allow me to go on record that I think it’s crazy that Nathan and Nurie didn’t have their baby in a car seat. I hope they learned a lesson and will do better in the future. I’m not going to send them hate mail, though.

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condescending twatbags, politics, rants, religion, wingnuts

The Transformed Wife is worried sick about Biden’s Supreme Court pick…

As a rule, I don’t follow The Transformed Wife, aka Lori Alexander, working woman turned 50s era evangelical housewife guru. I find her views short-sighted, offensive, incredibly stupid, and infuriating. However, someone in the Duggar Family News group shared news of her most recent post, and that led me to take a look at it myself. The poster in the Duggar group had taken someone following Lori’s page to task over misinterpreting an episode of Little House on the Prairie. Since I am, myself, a fan of Little House, I took notice of that post, which was really about how worried Lori is about Joe Biden’s choice of a replacement justice for the Supreme Court when Justice Stephen Breyer retires this summer. Below is a screenshot of Lori’s post:

Christ, she’s dumb!

I wish Lori and her ilk had more concern for people who have already been born. However, I understand that the unborn make for a convenient cause, since they can’t be disloyal. And, on the surface of it, who supports “murder”? People like Lori use loaded legal terms like “murder” to describe abortion, but they don’t seem to have the same concern for children who have already been born and don’t have the basic necessities of life. They preach about Democrats being “socialists” who don’t care about unborn babies, but then they vote in selfish, incompetent, narcissistic asshats like Donald Trump, who do everything they can to penalize people for being poor, which makes it much harder for babies and children to thrive.

I look at the world today, and all of the many problems we have… the many people who suffer because they don’t have what they need, and have no means of getting what they need. Why do we need more people in the world, competing for scarce resources? Why should we encourage people who aren’t ready or don’t want to be parents to reproduce? Why should we shame people who can’t or won’t have children? According to Lori, my whole life has been wrong, since I don’t have any babies to nurture. It’s not because I didn’t want them. That’s just how life worked out for me.

Then I look at Lori’s followers, many of whom are just nuts. Below is the screenshot of the discussion about Little House on the Prairie— seriously? Does the world need more people who think like this?

Good God.
God forbid some women would rather not spend their lives on their backs with their legs spread for guys like Nathan…

I was feeling crappy and unfulfilled yesterday, but felt better when I woke up this morning. Then I saw Lori’s proclamation that my life should have been spent pumping out babies who would grow up coping with COVID-19 and climate change, among many other depressing issues to deal with in life. I used to want to have children, but now I’m glad I didn’t have them, because things just keep getting more and more extreme and weird, with people like Lori promoting their anti-woman platforms to the masses.

Before anyone points this out to me, I realize that by writing about this, I’m helping to expand Lori’s platform. But, as I mentioned above, I don’t follow Lori at all, except for when people who do follow her point out her more egregiously ridiculous statements on life. And then I see that there are people out there who take her seriously. She has thousands of followers, and most of them aren’t there to snark on her nonsense.

Do we really need to add to the collective idiocy of this group by having more babies?

And on and on it goes… and this is just ONE of her posts.

Actually, sometimes people have abortions for reasons besides “fornication”, that are no one else’s business but theirs. I don’t see a lot of these conservative and religious types clamoring for more affordable healthcare and facilities for the elderly and disabled that provide safe, competent, and humane treatment for those deemed a “drain on the system”.

The stupid hurts. It really does. Gosh, she’s just so dumb.

A Black woman wrote the first post. She seems concerned that Biden will likely choose someone like her to take Breyer’s spot. Then she writes about how Planned Parenthood is a “racist organization” that commits murder.

No matter who Joe Biden chooses, the Republicans will do what they can to delay the new Supreme Court Justice from being confirmed until midterm elections. It doesn’t matter that Trump pushed two wholly terrifying and inappropriate people into the Supreme Court so that Roe v Wade might be quashed. It doesn’t matter that Amy Coney Barrett took a seat just weeks before the 2020 presidential election and was an actual “handmaid” before she was a judge. God forbid progressive people have a voice in the Supreme Court instead of people who want to pull us back to the 15th century. It doesn’t matter that Brett Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault and heavy drinking during his youth. Seems to me that the Supreme Court should be made up of people who are above reproach, and with the number of Americans who have law degrees, there ought to be qualified people who fit the bill better than Trump’s choices. Joe Biden better have the chance to find someone to balance out Trump’s disastrous picks.

In spite of my complaints, I’m glad Lori has the right to speak her mind, even if I think her mind is completely fucked and her opinions are frightening. But it disturbs me that so many people, male and female, seem to agree with her. Am I really an outlier? Did our mothers and grandmothers really fight all those years for freedom, just so Lori and her followers can demand that women get back into the kitchen and on their backs with their legs spread for impregnation? It just boggles the mind. She really should read up on Romania in the 70s, 80s, and 90s… you want to talk about sad? That’s pretty sad… and that was a “socialist” state run by a madman who wanted women to have babies instead of living fulfilling lives.

Not everyone wants to be a mother (or father). Not everyone should be a mother (or a father). And many of us would rather not live in a culture dominated by religion. It seems to me that if that’s what Lori wants, there are places around the world where she can go that route. I’ve written about some of the cults that promote her views. Why doesn’t she join one of them and shut up? After all, she’s a woman, and women don’t have the right to work, have an opinion, or express themselves. They were put on the earth to breed. /sarcasm

What I really need is an educational Facebook post, like this one… I think I learned more from the squirrel than Lori Alexander’s feed.

Meh… after yesterday’s angry post, I can barely summon the ire to write about The Transformed Wife today. I’m feeling kind of apathetic and over it all. It didn’t help that Howard Hesseman, aka Dr. Johnny Fever of WKRP in Cincinnati died a couple of days ago. I loved that show when I was a kid. It was genuinely funny, and had great music, and was so well-written that it stands up even forty years since its last episode aired. Granted, Howard Hesseman was 81 years old, so he had a good run. We all have to die someday. But still, I genuinely liked him, so it sucks that he’s gone. I liked him in Police Academy 2, and on Head of the Class, too. May he rest in eternal peace.

Bill will be gone in a few hours, and hopefully I’ll see him Friday. Maybe I’ll do something worthwhile this week. Maybe the sun will even come out long enough to dry out the backyard and I can work on destroying the rest of the tree that fell over a few weeks ago before it kills the grass. I’m ready for spring. If I make it to spring…

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bad TV, Duggars, Reality TV, religion

Plathville… and Papa Duggar’s dirty dealings in the 80s…

Today’s post will be two-pronged. First, I’m going to write about Welcome to Plathville. Then I’m going to write about J.L. Duggar again. Why? It’s mainly because I have noticed a lot of hits on my previous posts about these two topics. But I also have some comments to make, and it’s also nice not to have to sit here and think about what I want to write. In fact, I even knew last night that today’s post would be on these topics… I love it when that happens. So, let’s dive in, shall we?

Plathville…

I finally started watching Welcome to Plathville in June of this year. I kept seeing people post about this show, which features a very blond family from Cairo, Georgia. Kim and Barry Plath are the parents of nine living children, several of whom are adults. Their toddler son, Joshua, was tragically killed in an accident years ago. He was seventeen months old at the time of his death.

I’ve been watching the most recent season of this show, which remains somewhat compelling, even though it doesn’t look like the Plaths are really all that into “religion” anymore. During the first two seasons, it seemed like they were more of a fundie family. Now, it looks like most of the kids are abandoning religion… or at least they are leaving the hyper-controlled lifestyle they grew up in, courtesy of their parents. I’ve noticed a few swear words this season, as well as more revealing clothing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

Anyway, it seemed like in prior seasons, people really seemed to think Kim and Barry Plath were terrible parents. Kim Plath, especially, seemed to get a lot of flak for being super-controlling and for the fact that her toddler son died on her watch.

This season has mostly been about oldest son Ethan and his wife, Olivia, and their estrangement from the family. At the end of season 2, Ethan Plath told his parents that he and Olivia were going to go “no contact”. Olivia and Ethan haven’t had the best relationship, either, and there’s been talk of them separating. Olivia longs to move to a bigger city, away from Ethan’s mother. Ethan likes living in a rural town, in his own house. He also seems to like being near his siblings, even though he doesn’t seem to want to talk to his parents. He especially seems pissed off at his mom, whom he claims is very “controlling”. Having watched Ethan over the past season, I’d say he has a few control issues himself.

The latest trailer.

Meanwhile, younger siblings, Moriah and Micah, who left the family nest at very young ages (in Moriah’s case, even before she was a legal adult), are caught in the middle somewhat. Moriah landed a musical gig, which included Olivia as a keyboard player. Because of Olivia’s ongoing fracas with Kim Plath, there was some conflict. Moriah felt compelled to tell her parents not to attend her concert. Kim decided she was going to show up anyway, with three of Moriah’s siblings.

Ethan saw Kim’s car and went looking for her. He finally figured out that Kim and his siblings were in someone else’s car, listening to the concert, completely out of view of Moriah. Ethan got all pissed off and basically told off his mom. Kim later told Moriah that she wasn’t going to be told where she can and can’t go, and if Moriah is playing a show, she’s going to want to be there.

I was left of two minds as I watched all of this unfold. But before I share my opinions, I also want to say that this whole scenario seemed very contrived to me. The Plaths had a family band, so it’s not like this was really Moriah’s first performance. Yes, it might have been her first solo show, but she’s a seasoned performer. It didn’t look like there was much of a crowd at her “gig”, but as they performed, it didn’t look to me like Moriah and her bandmates had much energy. They didn’t even seem nervous, really… it just seemed kind of forced and scripted, even as Moriah finished her performance and gave sort of a lackluster thanks to the audience.

Aside from that, it seems really uncool that this whole family drama involving Ethan, Olivia, Kim, and Barry was allowed to overshadow Moriah’s solo debut. I think if this truly went down the way it’s depicted on the show, all of them– Ethan, Olivia, and Kim– need to grow the fuck up. At least Barry avoided attending the show, in accordance with his daughter’s wishes.

First off– if Moriah is going to be a performer, she’s going to have to deal with people coming to see and hear her play. Some of those people may not be people she wants to be there. But if she’s in a public venue, that’s part of the deal. Kim Plath was well within her rights to attend the show, even though Moriah (prompted by Olivia) asked her not to come. Kim should not have had to hide in a car if she came for the concert, which was in a public venue. Kim did say that next time, she won’t hide. I don’t blame her.

Secondly– if Olivia is going to be a part of Moriah’s band, she’s going to have to deal with people coming to the shows that she may not like. That’s part of being a professional. I totally get not wanting to be around toxic people, but if it’s that much of an issue for her, she probably ought to opt out of playing with Moriah. She really shouldn’t ask Moriah to tell her mother not to come to her performances. Olivia should not have made her issues with Kim overshadow Moriah’s show. That show wasn’t about Olivia. It was about launching Moriah’s career as a singer-songwriter.

Thirdly– Kim really should have respected Moriah’s wishes, as her husband Barry did. There will be other shows she can attend. Hopefully, Moriah will find someone unrelated to her to play keyboards so her family can come to her shows without issues from Ethan and Olivia.

And finally– Ethan probably should have stayed out of the whole thing. He wasn’t performing. He introduced Moriah, then took it upon himself to play bouncer. Most of the conflict was because of him and Olivia, and it was Moriah’s show. I feel like all four of the “adults” really let Moriah down by letting their interpersonal drama overshadow what should have been an exciting day for Moriah. I hope Moriah will advertise for a new keyboard player so this kind of petty crap won’t be an issue in her subsequent gigs.

This isn’t to say that Olivia is wrong to be upset with Kim, by the way. It’s more to say that this gig wasn’t about Olivia and her issues with Kim. If she wasn’t able to perform for all comers, she probably should have bowed out and/or helped Moriah find someone else to play. But again– I’m sure this entire drama was contrived for the sake of the storyline.

It did appear that Ethan and Olivia were getting along better in this episode… but I also think that if their marriage is going to survive, they probably ought to get off reality TV and move somewhere else. The United States is a big country, and surely they can find a place to live that will appeal to both of them. Or… maybe it really is time for them to cut their losses and find partners that are more suitable.

I think the most adult person on Welcome to Plathville has got to be Lydia. Not only is she very mature and kind; she’s also very pretty. I hope she’s able to come of age unscathed by this reality TV venture. I know a lot of people make bank on these shows, but they seem to cause a lot of families to fall apart. I know… I shouldn’t support this industry by watching.

Now… on to J.L. Duggar

This week, Katie Joy of YouTube’s Without A Crystal Ball shared a revelation about Jim Bob Duggar’s late father, Jimmy Lee (J.L) Duggar. It seems that back in the early 1980s, the elder Mr. Duggar got into trouble with the law and was incarcerated for a period of time. Below is a link to her video about Jim Bob’s dad, and how he wound up behind bars for fraud involving used cars he was selling for other people.

Now I can understand a little bit better why Boob seemed to have so much contempt for his father…

I also noticed in the Duggar Family News group that the group owner, Pickles, wrote a post about J.L. Duggar on her public page, which is open to everyone. It was based on Katie Joy’s video about J.L. Duggar’s past. Pickles asked Jim Bob’s niece, Amy, about the story. Amy wrote back that it was true that her grandfather did do some time. I’m not going to copy and paste the entire post Pickles wrote, but I do want to include this bit, with which I agree:

All in all, Jimmy Lee was human. His issues are all our issues in different form. He probably had an abusive childhood or mental health issues that were never addressed. I wonder if he had a narcissist personality as we see in Josh. Anyway, God sees the big picture. Hopefully Josh’s prison term will come with a professional evaluation and counseling. It may not help but at least he might finally get some real help.

If you want to read the whole thing, you can visit Pickles’ page, which at this writing is still totally open to the public. Just click the link in the paragraph under the video. J.L.’s jail stint, by the way, happened when Jim Bob was in high school, years before Josh was a spark in Boob’s balls. So I’m not sure the elder Duggar’s legal issues directly had that much to do with Josh’s issues, unless Jim Bob’s apparent disdain for his father bled over somehow in how he treats his own children, especially his sons.

As for Katie Joy, I notice a lot of people are ragging on her for being “toxic”, mean, and hypocritical, and a couple of people have said she drinks. I have never seen Katie Joy drunk on her channel, but I also don’t watch everything she does. I’m not involved in any of the dramas involving her. I just watch her Duggar content sometimes because it’s interesting… and a lot of the time, there’s truth behind her commentary. She usually proves it with legal documents, clips from the shows and news, and newspaper reports, or screenshots from people actually in the know.

That being said, anyone who is following this stuff should take everything reported with a grain of salt. The truth is, it’s hard to know exactly what goes on in someone’s life, even if they seem to put “everything” out there. Most of the people commenting, including me, are really just speculating. So always remember that and keep it in mind as you wade through this sordid morass of a story.

No matter what, I still think Jim Bob was a total shit for treating his terminally ill father with so little respect during the last days of his life. That man was dying of brain cancer and Jim Bob turned his last days into reality TV. That was a really rotten way to treat his dad, and not exactly the best example of Christlike behavior, in my opinion. When it comes time for Jim Bob to depart this life, it would serve him right if his children him treated him similarly… although I would not wish that for him. NOBODY deserves that kind of piss poor treatment when they’re on their deathbed, especially on camera. Just my two cents.

Well… the wind has died down; the sun is out; I’ve done the laundry and changed the sheets, so I guess it’s time the dogs got a proper walk. In a few days, we’ll be taking a well deserved (for Bill, anyway) break. I’m looking forward to it, but also a bit nervous for a few reasons. But I look forward to having some new photos and memories… and some stories to share.

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ethics, healthcare, law, modern problems, poor judgment

Medical freedom… or medical freedumb?

Today I reposted a 2017 era article from my original Blogspot version of The Overeducated Housewife blog. That post was written in a time of blissful ignorance of what awaited the world just three years later. In 2017, I was inspired by reading about young people who were critically ill and forced to accept medical care decisions thrust upon them by older people. Most of the cases of the youngsters in that post suffered from cancers of some kind, but a couple of them had other medical problems.

In several cases, the young patients’ parents were religious or wanted to try a more “natural” approach to healthcare. The parents were taken to task by medical professionals who wanted to override their decisions. In one case, the patient was a 17 year old young man who was deemed mature. He didn’t like the chemotherapy that was prescribed to treat his Hodgkin’s Disease, so he tried to refuse it. Doctors sought to force submission by legal means. In the end, the young man’s case was the inspiration for “Abraham’s Law” in Virginia, which allows older teenagers and their parents to refuse medical care or choose alternative therapies.

It amazes me now to read about these controversial cases involving young people, especially given that COVID-19 wasn’t on the radar at the time. Nowadays, the term “medical freedom” is a hot topic, as people fight over whether or not vaccinations against the coronavirus should be mandatory for all who can safely take it. On one hand, there’s a group of people who want to be able to make all medical and healthcare choices for themselves, although a lot of the people in the anti-vaccine group curiously draw the line at abortions for other people. On the other hand, there’s a large group of people who fear the rapidly spreading COVID virus that has, so far, killed over 650,000 Americans and well over four million people worldwide. That group believes that people should be required to get vaccinated.

Although I am all for vaccination and I do believe that the vaccines are saving lives, there is a part of me that empathizes with those who don’t want to be forced to take it. I don’t think it’s smart to skip the vaccines. Many of the arguments I’ve heard against the vaccines seem to be mostly based on misinformation and conspiracy theories. A lot of people worry that there will be terrible side effects to the vaccines. Or they know a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a guy whose balls shriveled up and fell off after the first shot. Personally, I think those arguments are pretty lame. But I also genuinely don’t like the idea of forcing people to do things. I wish those kinds of rules weren’t necessary, and more people would cooperate simply because it’s the right thing to do.

I’ve read many stories of people who took a “wait and see” approach to COVID-19 and are now dead. Some of the saddest stories involve people who had young children or newborn babies. I’ve read at least three tragic stories about parents who have left large broods orphaned because of COVID. I’ve also read a lot of sad stories about people who are sorry they didn’t get vaccinated.

And I’ve also read about many conservative radio talk show hosts who have either gotten very sick from COVID or have actually died. There was a news story just this morning about a conservative talk show host named Bob Enyart, who had spread false information about COVID-19. He got sick and died. Enyart was vehemently against vaccine and mask mandates, and last year, he successfully sued the state of Colorado over mask mandates and capacity limits in churches. Enyart was all about making choices for his own health, but as a very vocal opponent of abortion, he apparently didn’t mind making healthcare choices for other people.

Curiously enough, Enyart was a Christian pastor, and he once gleefully read the names and obituaries of people who had died of AIDS while he played “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen. What a charming man… huh? As Mr. Enyart was the 5th conservative radio talk show host to die of COVID in the past six weeks, perhaps the Queen song is appropriate theme for him and his ilk.

This morning, I ran across an interesting thread in the Duggar Family News Group. Someone, yet again, compared the COVID vaccine and mask mandates to seatbelt laws.

I disagree with this comparison. I also am old enough to remember when the seatbelt laws went into effect. At the time, I was pissed off about them. Don’t be too hard on me, though. I was a teenager.

I have mentioned before that I don’t think the COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates are the same as seatbelt laws. I mean, yes, I can see how people would make the comparison, but I don’t think it’s a very accurate one. When I was a child, I hated seatbelts and would only wear them if I was forced to… and generally that only happened when my dad was feeling controlling. In those days, a lot of people didn’t wear seatbelts. They weren’t as comfortable as they are today. Thankfully, as time has passed, the technology behind them has improved. I doubt we will ever be rid of the damned things. In any case, seatbelts are kind of different from masks and vaccines, as they don’t involve being injected into someone’s body, nor do they impact normal living and communicating as much as face masks do. You only wear them in the car. They don’t interfere with speaking, hearing, seeing, eating, or breathing.

And before anyone tries to tell me that masks don’t impede breathing, let me just stop you right there. I know they don’t. But some people do find wearing them oppressive, and the anxiety that comes from that might impede breathing. There are some people who can’t wear them for whatever reason… not too many, I will admit, but there are some. Likewise, some people can’t wear seatbelts for whatever reason. A lot of times, the reason has to do with being very obese, but sometimes it’s because of an injury or an occupation.

The point is, I don’t think seatbelts will ever go away. However, many of us hope the masks will go away, if and when the pandemic ends. Personally, I don’t see the pandemic ending happening unless a lot more people get vaccinated. But even though I think vaccines are an excellent idea and I would strongly encourage people to get the shot(s), I also feel uncomfortable with government mandates on things like medical care. Because, there are people who can’t or shouldn’t get vaccinations, for whatever reason. I also understand that some people are genuinely concerned about government overreach. Their concern isn’t entirely unfounded, although some of the arguments I’ve read are pretty ridiculous.

One thing I don’t think is helpful, though, is being rude and insulting to those who disagree. I don’t like the dogpile approach to trying to change minds, either. The above photo was shared in the Duggar Family News group, and it did invite contention. One woman posted this:

I remember when this page was about snarking on fundamentalist Christian families on television rather than promoting the divide of human kind based on personal choices they make for what they put in their own bodies.

That comment led to this response…

Even though I understand the frustration behind this response, I don’t think it was helpful.

The original poster was offended by the image. She expressed her dismay that a total stranger would wish death on her. Then, a big, long thread of comments ensued, with the vast majority of people name-calling, hurling insults, being sarcastic, and typing “all knowing” responses at the original poster. Her response, rather than being convinced, was to dig in her heels and respond in kind. Then, she either got booted from the group, or left on her own accord.

The last comment ends with the person telling the OP not to go to the hospital because she doesn’t believe in science. I disagree with that attitude, too. If someone gets sick with COVID, I don’t want them out on the street, infecting others. I’d rather see them getting treatment.

So… what exactly was accomplished by this contentious exchange? Not much, that I can see. I think a more respectful and friendly dialogue might have done more to foster group harmony. Maybe no one’s mind would have changed, but at least there would be listening and constructive communication going on, rather than flaming and hair flip rage exits. No matter what, I don’t think it’s appropriate to wish death on people simply because they disagree with you. On the other hand, I do understand the sentiment and the frustration behind such responses. I will also admit to occasionally being a hypocrite when I get pushed too far. I’m human, after all. I do try not to start out with abuse and insults, though.

I have never liked “nannyism”, especially in laws. However, I understand why “nanny” laws are often necessary. Many people, when left to their own devices, will not do things that are in their own or the public’s best interests. I have always hated wearing seatbelts myself, but I do understand why they’re necessary. I also have a husband who will turn into Pat Boone if I don’t wear one. So I do comply with that rule.

Even though I fucking hate face masks, I comply with that rule, too. However, I hope someday it will no longer be necessary. And I had no issues whatsoever with getting vaccinated against COVID, because as a student of public health, I know the theories behind vaccines and have seen concrete evidence that most of them work. That doesn’t mean I’m not open to learning new information, nor does it mean I’m not aware of potential risks from certain vaccines.

Below is advice given to people during the Spanish Flu pandemic. I agree with most of it, although I don’t think it matters whether or not someone “obeys cheerfully”, as long as they are compliant.

From 2018, when the Spanish Flu was killing people. They used masks then, and the masks eventually went away. I hope the same for COVID-19.

My late beagle, Zane, was a prime example of a dog who didn’t do well with vaccines. He had mast cell cancer (immune system cancer) that eventually progressed to lymphoma. He was allergic to at least one vaccination, and would get tumors when he had others. I actually think some people over-vaccinate their pets, and some of the encouragement to vaccinate is due to the revenue vaccines generate. Dogs with mast cell tumors should not get any unnecessary vaccines. I’m a little concerned about Arran, because he is due for a rabies shot next month, and the rabies shots can stimulate mast cell tumors. Arran has also had mast cell tumors, though not to the same severity Zane had. Because of Zane, I have some sympathy for people who are against vaccines, even though I think their reasoning is wrong in most instances. We don’t vaccinate people like we do pets, anyway. We certainly don’t get as many shots as they do.

Although I do believe in vaccine efficacy, I am not one to run out and demand the latest and greatest shots, nor do I get every vaccine available. For instance, I’ve never in my life had a flu shot. I would get them if I spent more time around other people, though. COVID-19 is different, at least right now. There’s hope that the virus will eventually weaken and become less dangerous, as flu mostly did. But at this point, it’s not getting better. Many people are getting sick and dying, and from what I’ve read, COVID-19 is a pretty nasty way to go.

I do think sometimes we need laws to protect ourselves and each other from those who lack insight, perspective, and wisdom. On the other hand, I agree that people should be free to make choices, whenever possible. Either way, medical freedom doesn’t do a damned bit of good to anyone who is dead. So I do hope that those who are against vaccines will wise up and get with the program. I understand wanting to wait and see how other people do with the shots, but time is running out… I have read too many sad stories about people who waited too long and got sick. There are too many stories about orphaned children, and bereaved spouses, siblings, and parents. And too many people are becoming downright mean and NASTY toward total strangers. I wish we’d all remember that when it comes down to it, we’re in a community. And being in a healthy community requires compassion, responsibility, and solidarity.

That being said… sometimes people DO need protection from crazy beliefs. Case in point, an old Mr. Atheist video I came across yesterday. Religion and politics make people do stupid things, even to their children. So while I am mindful of the so-called slippery slope when it comes to government overreach, I also think some people need to be saved from “freedumb” ideas.

JWs are just one group that have beliefs that can harm others… especially their own followers.
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condescending twatbags, rants

Pandemic shaming… it’s gotten out of hand.

Lately, I’ve noticed a lot of people lecturing others about what they should or should not be doing. I suppose it’s only natural, since so many of us are at home, bored out of our skulls. Yesterday, I noticed several of my friends posting yet more pleas to others to make sure they follow all the pandemic rules. I get why some of them are doing it. COVID-19 is very scary. People are getting very sick and sometimes dying, and being stuck at home SUCKS. We all want life to get back to normal, and posting a clever pandemic themed meme or a heartfelt Facebook post makes it feel like we’re doing something constructive.

However, when every other friend is posting about the importance of social distancing and wearing face masks, social media quickly becomes a source of frustration and irritation. Frankly, a lot of the information being shared by well-meaning people isn’t entirely accurate. I’ve started to hide posts and unfollow the worst offenders, because mainly, I don’t need the extra stress or aggravation. I am capable of reading up on what the experts say I should be doing. So are you. It’s gotten to the point at which I’m starting to view pandemic shamers as being akin to Trump supporters.

Last night, I found an interesting op-ed on The New York Times entitled “The Seductive Appeal of Pandemic Shaming”. I mostly agreed with what the author, Jennifer Weiner, wrote. The only thing I didn’t like was that she decided to use the trendy pejorative “Karen” to describe angsty, middle-aged, white women who seem to be the worst “pandemic shaming” offenders right now. As regular readers might remember, I kind of hate the recent trend of co-opting perfectly good names like Karen, Becky, Chad, and Susan to put other people down. However, overall, I liked Weiner’s message to the masses. She writes:

...posting pictures of non-compliers on social media, or calling them out to their faces, is unlikely to help. It might even make things worse. And it comes with risks to groups who are already suffering more than most from the virus and its effects.

She continues with a quote from Damon Young, author of “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker,” who has seen a lot of people calling other people out for not following the rules.

I understand the compulsion” to call people out, Young said. “But is it really helping? If what you’re doing is supposed to be about saving lives, is this actually doing it?”

Frankly, I don’t think it does help very much. What it mostly seems to do is piss people off and make the situation worse. I was reading the Duggar Family News group this morning and someone posted about how Jill Duggar Dillard posted on Instagram about how she and her husband, Derick, went to visit Derick’s family. As Duggar followers know, Jill and Derick, like most of the rest of the Duggar family, live in Arkansas. According to group members in the know, Arkansas has not enacted a “stay at home” order, nor is wearing face masks in public currently a requirement there.

Jill and Derick went to see his mother and stepfather and did not wear masks or practice “social distancing”. Derick’s mother, Cathy, has some significant health issues, which were documented on the Duggar family’s reality shows before Jill and Derick fell out with The Learning Channel and Jim Bob Duggar. Lots of posters were going off about how *wrong* and irresponsible it is that Jill and Derick didn’t wear masks and gloves… or that they visited his family in the first place. As I read shaming response after more outraged and shaming response, I was suddenly reminded of an angry hive… a somewhat timely image, as I read about the murderous hornets that are now in the news. And then I took note of this exchange:

Notice the overall tone of these posts. It’s kind of aggressive. The hand-wringing face mask crusaders are doing their best to shame the holdout into seeing their view. But are they changing her mind? Not really. As you can see, she gets more and more hostile. I doubt she’ll be donning a face mask due to these people– perfect strangers who don’t know or care about her– piling on her on social media. And I’ll bet there were a lot of people reading who silently agreed with the original poster. Most adults like to think of themselves as able to take care of themselves without “special help”, especially in the United States– “land of the free”.

After I read this post, I thought of another quote from Weiner’s op-ed, which came from Syon Bhanot, a behavioral economist who teaches at Swarthmore. Does calling people out online for their “misbehavior” actually make the situation better? Does it save lives? Bhanot says that when you point out misbehavior online,

“you’re not confronting it — you’re virtue-signaling.” And confronting wrongdoers in person “is not going to be motivationally effective,” he added. “Shaming creates defensiveness. It doesn’t persuade, it entrenches.”

Makes perfect sense to me, especially when you look at the exchange I read in the Duggar Family News group. Neither side was backing down. The conflict was getting worse. The mood was getting uglier. And I wondered if that made things better in the already difficult situation we’re all having to weather right now. Bhanot says that instead of personally calling out “wrongdoers”, it’s better to appeal to the authorities and ask them to handle it on an organizational level. I would also add that sometimes there’s something going on that you don’t know about and is none of your business. One astute German in a local Facebook group posted that someone you see in public who is not wearing a mask might have a medical problem that makes mask wearing difficult or impossible. I think it’s better to just give those people a wide berth rather than berating them.

I was still thinking about the subject of pandemic shaming last night, so I did more Googling and found an article on The Guardian by Poppy Noor about shaming that is going on in the United Kingdom. Noor writes that a few weeks ago, journalist Amelia Gentleman tweeted a photo of an apartment building where someone had posted huge posters shaming a neighbor for not socially distancing. The disgruntled neighbor was perturbed because “Ann” had been having people over and when she was asked to stop having company, refused to comply. So Ann’s neighbor decided to publicly shame her with the posters… which anyone passing could see, but as you can now see, has been picked up by the news.

Noor writes that most social distance and face mask shamers are simply trying to do the right thing. They see someone out and about with no mask on and feel the need to call them out, reminding them that they could be spreading the virus. But what if that person is a nurse or a grocery store clerk on the way to work? What if it’s someone making sure an elderly family member is getting food or medication? What if the person not wearing the mask has severe lung disease or anxiety and can’t wear the mask without panicking? And why is it any of your fucking business? Especially since, if you’re seeing these folks out and about, you’re probably out and about yourself. No one needs to be reminded about the coronavirus right now, anyway. I was actually kind of happy to read about the killer hornets yesterday, because it was a diversion from the 24-7 chatter about the virus… and Donald Trump’s moronic handling of the situation.

Personally, I haven’t had much of a problem staying holed up in the house. I seem to have a low need for socializing with people other than Bill and our dog, Arran. Not everyone is like me, though, and some people are starting to go a little crazy, especially as the weather improves. Some people want to go sit on the beach or play basketball because it’s good for their mental health. Mental health is also important. Without it, people become hopeless and despondent. They start drinking too much booze and entertaining thoughts of suicide. So I’m inclined to give people a break… and a wide berth when I see them outside with or without a mask. As Noor points out,

Take the case of a friend’s mother, who was recently reported to the police for making too many trips outside. She, in fact, was dropping off supplies to people who were sick and in isolation. Now she might feel less inclined to do so – but who cares, so long as whoever dobbed her in gets to post on social media about it?

Too much of that kind of thing will also cause people to be paranoid. I read another account of a couple in Australia who were fined because they were reported for posting pictures of themselves doing “non-essential” travel. But then it turned out that the photos were taken months before the coronavirus struck. From the article:

The husband and wife were fined the equivalent of $1,000 each by state police for “going for a drive to Lakes Entrance,” which was deemed a violation of the country’s strict lockdown.

The couple was warned that if they “posted any more photos,” they would “be arrested,”

The cops revoked the fine once it became clear that the pictures were a year old, although the wife had to contact the media to get the police to drop the citation. But that led people to wonder if the police were Facebook stalking the populace, looking for people to nab. Who turned them in to the authorities, anyway? That is a rather uncomfortable thing, isn’t it? Might make one not want to do much posting on social media or sharing of photos if it means the cops will show up on your doorstep with a citation, especially when they don’t have all the facts. It’s creepy as hell, too.

The police should have more important things to do than investigate this kind of thing. It’s a pretty shitty thing to do to someone during these stressful times, particularly if you don’t have all the facts. If someone is genuinely breaking the rules and actually causing trouble for you, that’s one thing– it’s appropriate to call the police in that case. But snitching on people who aren’t personally affecting you or calling them out based on erroneous assumptions is ugly behavior that causes more problems than it solves.

I did have one friend who wrote that she was upset about some things she’d been seeing. Even here in Germany, some folks are protesting. They aren’t bringing massive weapons like they do in the United States, but they are coming out en masse to complain about the measures enacted to slow the spread of the virus. Also, some people are defiantly throwing parties. I don’t have a problem with calling the authorities when something like that is happening that affects someone personally. But the group shaming, online nannying and nagging, and bold confrontations of strangers is counterproductive. Most people don’t react well when they’re shamed and policed by ordinary citizens, especially when the shamers are total strangers on the Internet. All it does is make them defensive and defiant.

So, at the risk of sounding preachy myself, knock it off, please. Live your life and do your part to stay healthy. Hopefully, your neighbors and the strangers on the Internet will do the same.

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