condescending twatbags, Duggars, rants

Nurie’s new baby, why the WSJ sucks, and disrespectful jerks…

Wow… I have a lot to write about today. I could write several posts, or I could just stick with one. Since I’m feeling kind of lazy, I think I’ll just stick with one post. I see Jetpack’s SEO tester likes my title and gave me the “green light”.

First thing– I know a lot of people find my blog because I occasionally keep up with fundies. My posts about Nurie (Rodrigues) Keller get a lot of hits. I noticed a lot of hits last night, as Nurie’s nutty mom, Jill, announced that Nurie delivered her son, reportedly named Nehemiah, on October 11th. Mother and son appear to be healthy and happy, which is a good thing. Jill also shared many photos and reported that Nurie and her husband, Nathan, will be going live to discuss all of the details of the birth.

Nurie and Nathan and their new arrival in a shot publicly shared by Nurie’s mom, Jill.

Personally, I think if I were a brand new, first-time mom, I’d want to take a few days to rest up and recover before going on camera to talk about birthing. But evidently, Nurie is raring to share her precious bundle of joy with everyone. So if you’re interested in the details, you can tune in on Facebook at 4pm– I assume eastern time– and hear all about it. Or you can just follow the Duggar Family News page and/or group, like I do. If not for them, I probably wouldn’t know anything about the Rodrigues family.

I seem to remember that Nurie was due October 12. Looks like they were very accurate in predicting the lad’s arrival.

I’m glad for Nurie that she has a healthy son. She looks genuinely happy, radiant, and beautiful in the post pregnancy photos I’ve seen. I don’t really follow her family, but I know a lot of people think they’re interesting. I wish health and happiness to the Kellers… and I hope they keep their son away from his Uncle Josh Duggar. But I suspect that won’t be too much of an issue, as Josh’s trial looms next month.

Speaking of the Duggars… I also learned that Jill Duggar Dillard, wife of Derick and former fundie Kool-Aid drinker, just had a miscarriage. I am genuinely sorry to hear about that, especially since I know that she and Derick very responsibly waited before trying for another baby after their son, Sam, was born in 2017 in what was reportedly a medically dramatic fashion. I hope they will soon have a rainbow baby, if that’s what they want.

Very sad news for the Dillards.

As for Anna Duggar, she’s reportedly ready to give birth any day now. As far as I know, her due date hasn’t been publicly announced, but based on the pictures I recently saw of her accompanying Josh to a court proceeding, she looks ready to pop. Hopefully, this baby will be her last… particularly with Josh. But, as they say, God only really knows.

Now… on to the next topic.

A year ago, I decided to subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. It was late October 2020, we were locked down, and there were articles I wanted to read. They were offering a good deal, and I don’t mind supporting journalism, even though the WSJ is a bit more right wing than I am. Little did I know when I subscribed, the Wall Street Journal makes it fucking difficult to unsubscribe. Like– it’s SO easy to subscribe to the paper online. No issues whatsoever. But, unless you live in an area with local laws that require businesses to allow people to unsubscribe in the same way they subscribed, you have to fucking CALL the WSJ to get them to turn off your subscription.

Fuck this noise.

I became aware of this issue a couple of weeks ago, when the paper sent me a notice that as of the end of October 2021, the WSJ would start charging me by the month. I didn’t like that option. I prefer to pay for subscriptions by the year, if I can. Also, I noticed that the monthly charge was significantly higher than what I paid when I signed up. I don’t mind paying more for content if I use it, but I almost never read the WSJ. I pay monthly for the New York Times, and it’s pretty expensive. But I use it all the time, can share articles with my friends, and have even shared the subscription with Bill and my mother-in-law. I can’t do any of that with the WSJ.

I was originally going to pay by the year if I could, but even that required me to call the fucking customer service center. The WSJ does have an office in Germany, but that would mean having to deal with language barriers. I don’t even enjoy calling people in the United States. I really hate doing it in Germany, where my terrible German skills are of even less use on the phone.

Then I realized that it doesn’t sit well with me that the WSJ basically forces subscribers to waste time running the gauntlet of long phone queues and high pressure sales tactics by requiring them to speak to a person in order to deal with their subscriptions. If their paper was really worth a damn, they wouldn’t have to resort to these kinds of shady maneuvers to get people to keep paying for their content. I mean, one of the best votes of confidence for a product is when it sells itself. If you have to make it super annoying and inconvenient for people to opt out, that kind of says something about the quality of the product you’re offering.

I’m sure the WSJ offers a good product to people who are right wing and want expert finance news. But I am neither of those things. I occasionally like some of their travel pieces and it’s sometimes fun to read the comments on some articles. Otherwise, I rarely use my subscription, and I don’t like being stuck paying for subscriptions because it’s inconvenient to call and cancel. Although we can easily afford the 10 euros a month, I decided that I don’t want a subscription to a paper that employs annoying and deceptive sales tactics to keep people paying.

I asked Bill if he wouldn’t mind helping me call the German call center, since his German is better than mine is. But then I did some research and found a way to turn off the auto-renew. It involved a little duplicity, but it was ultimately effective. By the way, as I was researching how to unhook myself from the WSJ, I discovered another subscription service that might be useful to some. It’s called DoNotPay, and it bills itself as a “robot lawyer”. If I’d wanted to, I could have subscribed to that service and they would have fixed this WSJ problem for me. The fact that there’s a dedicated page on the DoNotPay Web site for unsubscribing to the WSJ is really telling, isn’t it?

As it turned out, there actually is a really easy way to unsubscribe without having to call. All you have to do is change your billing address to a place where the ability to unsubscribe online is required by law. When you do that, you’ll get the option to unsubscribe online. So that’s what I did. The WSJ really should make this option available to everyone, especially since we’re in the 21st century, and calling people on phones is becoming an obsolete practice. It’s the decent thing to do. But– as this is a paper that caters to Trump supporters– I guess I can understand why wringing money out of people by inconveniencing them is the way they do business. What a pity.

And finally, disrespectful jerks on the Internet…

Apologies to those readers who hate it when I complain about commenters on Facebook. I’m gonna do it again today. I’ll try to be brief.

I genuinely like to read news articles and editorials. I genuinely enjoy reading what other people think of items that are shared on social media. What I don’t like, however, are the disgusting and disrespectful comments left by so many people. It really does irritate me, because I wonder if those people are that obnoxious and rude in person.

Here’s an example of what I mean. This morning, Rachel Maddow shared an opinion piece about why religious exemptions should not be allowed for the COVID-19 vaccine. I thought it was a good article. It made a lot of sense. I understand why some people want to be allowed to opt out of taking the vaccine. Personally, I think doing so for religious reasons is kind of absurd.

There are plenty of things a person can’t do in the name of religion. What if you belong to a religious group that requires human sacrifices as a condition of being a believer? Should society allow such a religious organization to carry out those human sacrifices in the name of their religion? How about if a religion promotes the idea that people shouldn’t wear clothes, since clothes aren’t from God? Should we just allow people to walk around naked in public everywhere, because that’s the way God made them?

Over the past 19 months or so, it’s become very clear that COVID-19 spreads through the air. Everyone has to breathe. A person can be infected with COVID-19 and not know they’re infected. They can spread the virus to people who will die if they get sick with it. It doesn’t matter what your religious beliefs are. If you’re a human being, you can spread COVID-19. Vaccines have been proven to help limit the spread and severity of COVID-19. And we’ve seen plenty of “religious” people swearing off the vaccine, only to die of COVID. Seriously, all you have to do is Google.

A lot of the people who are against the vaccine are politicians and religious people, and also conservative talk show hosts… How fitting is it that these people who are using their lungs to spread misinformation and hate are winding up dying as their lungs fail, thanks to a rogue, novel virus that so many of them will admit is very real?

So… on to the disrespectful jerks… I noticed a woman wrote something along the lines of, “There shouldn’t be religious exemptions for anything in the 21st century.”

She got a few “angry” reactions to that comment. But one guy– a southern, Christian, God fearing MAGA zealot, complete with a pretty blonde wife and a love of hunting and fishing– posted “How much did your husband pay when he ordered you?”

I hadn’t yet had more than a couple of sips of my morning coffee at that point. I almost responded in kind to the guy, but instead, I wrote “What a disgusting and disrespectful comment. Shame on you.”

What prompts people to write such personal and insulting comments to total strangers, anyway? It just makes me wonder if this man was ever taught anything good by decent people. Is this how he speaks to people in person? Is that how he got his pretty wife to marry him– by insinuating that she’s a mail order bride?

If you disagree with someone’s opinions, why not just write that and explain why, instead of insulting them and insinuating that they’re a mail order bride? The original commenter, by the way, appears to be a well-educated young mother who lives up north. I didn’t see any reason why anyone should suspect her of being a mail order bride. I think if a person is going to be snarky and rude, they should at least be astute. That MAGA loving zealot didn’t even hit the mark of being insightful about the commenter. I wonder how he’d like it someone insulted his wife in such a way.

Yesterday, USAA posted a meme in support of “National Coming Out Day”. USAA is a bank and insurance company that is well-known for serving military and government employees. It’s also based in Texas and has come out publicly in support of Greg Abbott, the infamously medieval governor of Texas. So lots of commenters were pointing out that it’s tone deaf to be in support of the LGBTQ community, while also supporting a governor who wishes to deny fundamental medical rights to women. Others were annoyed because they think USAA is “virtue signaling”.

I noticed a few people were making anti-abortion statements. One guy made a comment about how some people “enjoy aborting babies”. Once again, I had to interject. I wrote, “No one ‘enjoys aborting babies’. What a crappy thing to write.” I think it would be a very rare individual who took any joy or pleasure in having or performing an abortion. It’s just something that needs to be done in some regrettable situations. Either way, it’s no one else’s fucking business. Especially when so few people who are supposedly pro-life care about supporting the lives of people who have already been born… for example, by getting vaccinated against COVID-19 or not toting their guns to places where people can be easily shot and killed. When the so-called pro-lifers start giving more of a damn about people who are already born and have a concept of life and death, then I might pay more attention to their lame protests about abortion.

Sigh… well, it’s time to end today’s post. I have some research to do. We’re going to attempt to take a trip at the end of the month. Also, I have to put in my guitar practice. So I leave you with my wishes for a happy Tuesday. May you not encounter any disrespectful jerks today.

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Duggars, true crime

Even the Duggars are turning on Trump…

This morning, I was reading the Duggar Family News Facebook group, when I came across an article about Josh Duggar’s latest efforts to stay out of prison for downloading indecent photos and videos of minors being abused. Personally, I have a feeling that Josh’s goose may well be cooked and reading for serving. I don’t know how he’s going to escape the allegations against him. He was pretty much caught red-handed.

But desperate people will do desperate things, and at this point, I would say the Duggars are pretty desperate. In fact, they’re so desperate that they kind of threw some shade on the Trump presidency. Yes… I was shocked, too. The Duggars, like so many other so-called red-blooded Christian, patriotic, conservative leaning folks, have always been big supporters of the Republican Party. And recently, that means being supporters of Donald Trump and his ilk.

Still, the idea of going to the big house must scare the bejesus out of Josh, because his lawyer, Justin Gelfand, just filed a fourteen page motion-to-dismiss. Why? Because, Gelfand argues:

When federal agents started looking into Duggar in 2019, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) was under the control of Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan, and the probe continued into the tenure of Acting Secretary Chad Wolf. The Government Accountability Office later found that Trump appointed both men unlawfully, circumventing the normal process of congressional approval. Federal judges later ruled similarly, invalidating some of the agency’s actions under their control.

Basically, he’s saying that because Trump didn’t appoint McAleenan or Wolf by using the proper and legal channels, they had no authority to open an investigation against Josh Duggar. Gelfand further wrote:

“As the actions by DHS HSI in this case were all conducted under the authority of individuals who were acting as Officers of the United States in violation of both the Appointments Clause and the applicable federal statutory scheme for temporary officeholders, the investigation proceeded without lawful authorityBecause Appointments Clause violations are structural in nature, Duggar need not show prejudice to obtain relief.”

Josh is hoping to get off on a technicality, since Trump didn’t appoint these two men with congressional consent. While Josh and his ilk probably don’t care what Trump does, as long as it doesn’t affect them personally in a negative way, now they have the nerve to use Trump’s unhinged “drunk uncle” style of governing for their own benefits. Isn’t that just typical? Once again, it’s a celebrity who is desperately grasping at straws.

From six years ago… we were shocked then, not knowing what was coming…

I know people can be fickle, and an awful lot of folks are completely uneducated about the political parties they support. Donald Trump taught me that it’s very dangerous not to know about the people who are tasked with leading the country. He was a TERRIBLE president and is a deplorable person, and he fucked up in myriad ways. And if Josh Duggar does manage to get off because of Trump’s lack of care for procedure and disregard for propriety, that will be just one more reason why he and his buddies should never have another opportunity to be involved in politics in any way, shape, or form.

It’s pretty clear that Josh Duggar has some serious issues. He’s already been outed as a “sex pest”, since he molested four of his sisters and a baby sitter. He’s already been busted as a philanderer who likes rough sex and is willing to pay adult sex workers for it, even though he’s supposedly a Christian and “happily married” to the mother of his six, soon to be seven, children. The legal issues he’s facing now haven’t yet been proven in a court of law, and he is as entitled to a defense as anyone is. But I seriously doubt he is going to get off, because the evidence is pretty strong that he’s guilty. This is a federal case, and the feds don’t tend to mess around. But we’ll see what happens…

I just think it’s interesting that some people are still doggedly supporting Donald Trump. Even the Duggars are turning against him, and if it turns out Josh is acquitted because of Trump’s incompetence, that could be a huge miscarriage of justice that will put women and children at risk. And while I maintain that I “get” people wanting to support their political parties, I still don’t know how a person can be “decent” and still support Donald Trump. So I’m going to assume that most people who are still on Trump’s train are willfully ignorant… and yes, I’m still very sick of willfully ignorant Trump supporters. And I will keep stating it, even if people like ‘ol Steve continue to harass me. The fact that certain people can’t let me state my opinions on my blog without harassing me is just a sign that they aren’t as confident in their position as they’d like me to believe.

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expressions, lessons learned, musings, YouTube

“You should never meet your heroes…” or should you?

A couple of days ago, when I was watching the movie, Camp, I was reminded of a famous saying. “You should never meet your heroes…” ostensibly because the reality of who they are will always be a disappointment. The character, Vlad, actually says those words when he runs into his hero, Bert Hanley (played by real life musician, Don Dixon), who is rip roaring drunk. Vlad idolized Bert Hanley for being a great musician and songwriter, but he didn’t know that Hanley was a cynical drunken asshole. And he was disappointed when he found Hanley, who was supposed to be directing the camp, completely bombed. Adding insult to injury, Hanley vomits on Vlad as he tries to help him up. Real class.

I ran into that quote myself a few weeks ago on the Cruise Critic messageboard. I was reading SeaDream Yacht Club’s board and joked that I really wanted to meet a regular poster named Jim Avery. And another regular poster wisely pointed out, “You should never meet your heroes.” He’s probably right. I’ve met a few people on SeaDream cruises who were posters on the messageboard. Some of them legitimately turned out to be people I wish I’d never met. I love SeaDream cruises, but I have to admit that it’s a line that attracts a fair number of entitled twits. In all fairness, though, some of the other passengers probably think I’m a twit, too. Especially when I’m in the piano bar. 😉

Some of the people on SeaDream probably think I’m not unlike this guy… I even have a similar physique.

I do love being on a SeaDream cruise, though. I haven’t been on one since 2013. I honestly thought we would eventually do another cruise with them, but Bill was going to be retiring in 2014, and I wasn’t sure what his employment prospects were going to be. Also, I knew that he would likely be starting a new job with limited vacation time. Then we ended up moving to Germany, and the rest is history. We have done three more Hebridean cruises, though, and Hebridean is as expensive as SeaDream is. I booked those cruises because of the themes and itineraries… and unfortunately, thanks to COVID, I’m not sure when we will be cruising again. So I will probably never meet the famous Jim Avery. I might be better off for that, since he might turn out to be a mean spirited jerk. Or maybe he won’t. Maybe I would think he’s funny and witty. I may never know.

Wonder if, when she has a quiet moment, Anna regrets being a “super fan”…

This topic comes up, in part, because Katie Joy on her YouTube channel, Without a Crystal Ball, did a video about how Anna Duggar was a “super fan” of the Duggar Family, back in the day. Katie Joy talks about how Anna admired the Duggars, having seen their public persona. She was dazzled by their images. I wonder if she now thinks the reality of being a Duggar is anywhere akin to what she imagined when she first saw Josh and his family. Especially now that it looks like Josh is going to be heading for prison soon. Maybe he’ll manage to get off, but I have a feeling he’s going to be wearing a striped uniform soon.

Then again, sometimes the opposite is true, and you should meet your antiheroes because they’re not nearly as bad as you think they are. You think someone is a real jerk, and it turns out they’re the opposite of being a jerk. Reality is often unlike what we think it is. I’ll give you a real life example.

For years, I thought Bill’s daughter was as hostile as her mother is. I was angry with her for a long time, mainly because she and her sister rejected Bill and refused to speak to him. It pissed me off that a man who is as kind and loving as Bill is, was being treated the way his daughters treated him. I was tired of people giving them a pass for that behavior.

But then Bill started talking to his daughter again, and he started to learn about what was behind that seemingly cruel behavior. And now I know I was wrong about Bill’s daughter, and fully admit that I was wrong. She’s turned out to be a very resilient and empathic person, much like her dad is. She is the very opposite of her mother. It had only seemed like she was a mean and judgmental person. The reality is, she’s not like her mother at all.

This week, Bill’s daughter wrote to Bill expressing her worry and dismay at seeing the crisis in Afghanistan. She wanted to know Bill’s thoughts on the situation. Bill explained to her that he never went to Afghanistan; he did his time in Iraq. But he has many friends and colleagues who served in Afghanistan, and they are devastated by the news. It’s heartbreaking to see that all of the time, money, effort, and lives spent on Afghanistan have seemingly gone to waste.

Bill’s daughter has decided to do what she can to help. She says she’s learned how to say “Hello” in Farsi, which is lovely, although Bill wrote back to tell her that most Afghans speak Pashto or Dari. She says that she knows that it means a lot for people to hear their language. Bill’s daughter is even putting together hygiene kits for refugees. She’s turned out to be a very good person, in spite of everything. She’s finding out that her dad and grandmother, both of whom were demonized for years by her mother, are actually excellent people who love her.

I often wonder what it’s like for Bill’s daughter now. She missed knowing Bill and his mom for most of her life. She was told many lies. Now she’s old enough to seek the truth, and she’s been brave enough to do it. I’m sure that as exhilarating as it is to know Bill again, there’s been a lot of pain. It’s not easy to find out that your mother lied to you, took advantage of you, and was completely abusive and horrible to so many other innocent people. Bill’s daughter has children of her own, and I know she wants to protect them from her mother. That’s got to be hard, especially when so many people have bought into the false story.

I have also gained more respect for Mormonism. I still don’t like the doctrine and I think it does a lot of damage to people who can’t fit into the mold. A lot of people have been harmed by people in the church. But Bill’s younger daughter managed to find good influences in the church, and some good hearted members helped her escape an abusive situation. Granted, she could have found help elsewhere, but in her case, it was the church that helped her. Going on a mission humbled her and broadened her horizons. She started to see perspectives that had been kept from her for so many years. In her case, the church actually helped her grow. It filled a need for her like the Army filled a need for Bill.

Now that I think about it, the Army has also damaged a lot of people… like those who fought or died in Afghanistan for what seems to be naught… But was it really all for naught? I read that some Afghan girls on a robotics team were rescued from Afghanistan. If not for the war in Afghanistan, would they have been rescued? Would they have ever had the chance to study robotics or be on teams that were successful in North America and Europe? What about the other girls who got the chance to go to school during our twenty years in Afghanistan? If not for the war, what would have happened to them?

What about the people who were born because of the war? There were romances between Afghans and Americans. Surely, there are people who exist now because we went to war, just as many people died because of the war. Those relationships help bridge understanding of the cultures. They add stories to the collective… and everyone does have a story. The war seems like it was a huge failure on many macro levels. But on micro levels, maybe it wasn’t. I’m reading about people in Afghanistan defying and protesting the Taliban, despite their fearsome reputation of being brutal in the face of defiance. Would they be doing this if not for the war? To be honest, I think Afghans are the only ones who can save their country from the Taliban. It can’t be up to any other country.

I think sometimes we get lost in what appears to be, rather than what is. It happens when we worship an image over what’s real. Or when we assume we know the truth about something when we really only have some of the information. The situation in Afghanistan looks very bad right now. I can’t deny that. But there are always other perspectives and other ways to look at things. Every new situation brings with it new opportunities. Hell… Bill’s daughter is using the situation in Afghanistan for inspiration. She’s learning a few words of a new language in hopes that maybe somehow, she can help someone. Maybe she will be an actual hero to someone, rather than a hero based on an image, reputation, or facade.

Maybe a lot of people view the United States as “heroic” on some level. And sometimes the USA is heroic. But more often, it’s comprised of fallible people who are living life as best they can. They look to their heroes for inspiration. Sometimes, that view is much better than reality is. And sometimes reality is better than we’d ever hoped or expected.

Well… I guess it’s time to wrap this up. Arran and Noyzi are breathing on me, hoping for a walk. The sun is finally out this week, so I guess I better take advantage before the weather turns shitty again. Have a happy Friday.

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lessons learned, musings, Reality TV

“Raise your words, not your voice.” Ruminating on Rumi, Renee Alway, and people who have done “bad” things…

This morning, I was thinking about what today’s topic would be. I’m kind of irritated, because I had a couple of interesting ideas for today yesterday, while we were enjoying the end of the weekend. But when I woke up this morning, those ideas were no longer available. I probably should have written down the ideas, but that’s not my habit.

I did what I usually do when this happens, which was check the old version of my blog. I ran across a post about former America’s Next Top Model contestant, Renee Alway. Back in December 2014, I wrote a controversial post about Renee Alway’s 2013 arrest and conviction for a number of felonies. Around the time I posted, Renee had been sentenced to twelve years in prison. I was sad for her, even though I remember how she had behaved when she was on ANTM. She was often portrayed as a “bitch” on that show, but then she would show a really lovely side to her personality.

I thought Renee was gorgeous and had so much potential. Then she got on a bad path. I was disappointed to see her with a shaved head, wearing cuffs, shackles, and chains. That sadness and disappointment was what had motivated me to write about her. I wasn’t interested in shaming her, although some people apparently thought that’s what I was doing.

Renee was released from prison on good behavior after serving five years. But then in 2019, she was arrested again for domestic violence.

I got a ton of hits on that post, as well as a lot of comments. Some of the people who commented claimed to be Renee’s friends. I even got a comment that appeared to be from Renee herself, although I can’t confirm if it was her or someone pretending to be her. One person got so irritated by my comments that she wrote:

Renee Diane is an amazing person, she continues to teach me the most amazing aspects in life, she’s there for me like no other person has ever been… I love her with all my heart, you don’t know Renee and never will just because she’s a model and is beautiful doesn’t mean she’s not human and doesn’t bleed. We all have our story in life and deal with pain differently who are you to sit here and judge her. Walk a mile in her shoes and look into your own lives the come here and point fingers … You don’t know a thing about here keep your blog shit to yourself. If you have nothing nice to say and reflect on the world don’t say shit.

We went back and forth a few times. I finally turned that person’s post into one of my famous rants. I basically explained that people are going to have and express their opinions, particularly about public figures. When a person goes on a reality TV show, particularly if they are an adult when they make that choice, they are pretty much fair game for commentary.

What I wrote about Renee Alway really wasn’t all that bad. In fact, I think it was a fairly compassionate post. Let’s face it. It IS sad when a beautiful young woman with children gets arrested and goes to prison. It’s sad on many levels. I saw Renee as a talented person with great potential. I could tell she loved her son very much when she was on ANTM. I don’t know why she chose the path she did, and I was dismayed to see that her life had taken a criminal turn. That was the main gist of the post.

But that person still got angry with me that I wrote about Renee. She basically told me to “shut up”. And my response was this:

Thanks for the comment. This is a personal blog and I have the right to write about anything I please. If that upsets you, I’d encourage you to find something to read that is more to your liking. Based on what I saw on ANTM, Renee would probably tell you the same thing. She strikes me as quite a spitfire who doesn’t let other people dictate to her what she can and can’t communicate. 

The person evidently got confused about what I meant when I wrote that my blog is “personal”. She responded thusly:

If it was personal it wouldn’t be posted online. And your right she’s definitely a spitfire and doesnt take shit from anyone or let anyone elses opinions affect her. But I’m her friend and seeing people put her on blast and talk down on her upsets me so I’m sure you understand and would do the same for your friends and ppl you love

I hear what she’s saying… really, I do. But I’m not the one who put Renee on blast. I wrote this in response:

I understand your concern, but she put herself on blast when she went on a reality TV show. In any case, this post has been here for months now and is only getting new attention because you’re commenting. I’m sorry Renee is in the situation she’s in and I hope it gets better for her, but I can’t allow random visitors to my blog to dictate what I write about. I hope you understand.

I never know how people will react to what I write. If I chose to “keep my blog shit” to myself as a means of avoiding upsetting random people, I would never publish a single post. I can’t predict how people will respond to most topics I choose, nor can I control it. I think that commenter also confused the concept of “personal” versus “private”. They aren’t really the same things. Personal means it comes from me. I can write something personal and not keep it private. Or I can keep something private that is also personal… or impersonal.

I could keep the blog private, but there’s not much use in doing that. Why write things that no one will ever read? I understand feeling the need to respond to things that are upsetting, but I would urge people to pause and reflect for a moment before doing so. It’s not right to tell people to shut up, particularly when all they’ve done is shared an opinion or an observation. Stop and think for a minute and consider if what the person has said is really as awful as you think it is. Chances are, you’re overreacting to something that shouldn’t be that upsetting. I understand having that reaction, particularly when it’s in response to an ego blow. We all do it. But no one likes to be told to shut up, and frankly, telling people to shut up isn’t cool. Especially when you’re on their space instead of your own.

One commenter wrote this about Renee:

The season Renee was on was one of the ones I watched. I found her to be arrogant, manipulative and despicable. She wasn’t a good person. You managed to find the good side, however, which is to your credit. 
Renee actually ended up with two kids when she was arrested and gave birth to a third after that. She had been addicted and committing a strong of burglaries, eventually armed when she did so. 

In her prison interview, she admits to being a person whose character had defects. She said that she thinks people watching the show saw exactly who she was and that she had problems with her character. At least that admission is a good start. But it’s funny that she has “friends” on here denying what she herself has admitted and screaming at someone who wrote a compassionate post about what happened to her. 

Right… and what I wrote was not nearly as “mean” as what the person above wrote. I think her comments are valid, even if they do seem harsh. It’s good to show grace toward people, but it’s also good to keep your eyes open about who people are.

So anyway… on to Rumi, and his connection to Renee Alway, who was born hundreds of years after his death. In my response post, I found a meme attributed to the Persian poet, Rumi. Rumi was born in the year 1207 in present day Afghanistan. His parents were native Persian speakers. He grew up to become a sage, whose influence spread around the Middle East and transcended borders and ethnicities. He died in 1273 at age 66 in what is now Konya, Turkey.

When I was writing my response post to Renee’s friend who told me to “shut up”, I found today’s featured photo, which is a famous Rumi quote. I thought it was very relevant. The quote is:

“Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”

In other words, yelling at someone is not likely to make a whit of difference. You might feel better doing it in the short term, but it’s not likely to inspire cooperation or compliance. If you have an argument or contrary view, try presenting it in a civilized way. Take the time to reason. Frame your comments in a way that is constructive, instead of destructive. Don’t just react with emotion. Think about why you’re reacting the way you are before you say something. It’s fine to feel offended by an ego blow, but you’ll get further in changing someone’s perspective if you approach them with basic respect for their dignity.

In my response post, I wrote “If you “yell” at me, I’ll cross my arms and stop listening because I will simply assume you’re an asshole.  I don’t listen to assholes because that’s where shit comes from.” I had to laugh at that because it’s true. Shit is basically thought of as unpleasant, stinky, and worthless. On the other hand, shit DOES make the flowers grow. Most everything has a purpose of some sort. Most everything has at least something good about it. If you stop and think long enough about it, you can probably come up with something good about almost anything.

For example, a lot of people dislike Donald Trump. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may already know that I can’t stand the man. But– I can legitimately state that some good things came from Trump’s time as president. For instance, I have noticed that many people have become much less complacent about voting than they once were. They are no longer okay with skipping elections, because they’ve seen what not voting can lead to. Or– if they support Trump– they realize that their votes will make a difference. Regardless of which side of the political spectrum one falls on, I think it’s a very good thing to exercise the right to vote. It’s a very valuable right in a civilized society to be able to make one’s voice heard. So, in my opinion, making people more aware of the right to vote and impressing upon them how important voting is is a good thing Trump did. That doesn’t mean I don’t think he’s a contemptible asshole. But he isn’t 100% bad, either. Almost no one is.

I can even extend this thought to people like Josh Duggar. I don’t like Josh Duggar. I think he’s a massive creep who has done terrible things. However, I don’t think he’s the worst person there ever was, and I recognize that there are people in the world who love him, in spite of his criminal behavior. I also realize that he’s got six kids and one on the way who would not be here if not for him. I don’t know a thing about Josh’s children, but I’m assuming that they have the potential to be good people. They don’t have to turn out like Josh has. And they would not be here or who they are if not for their father. At this point, they probably love their dad and, if they’re aware of what’s going on, may feel scared and upset that he may soon be going to prison for a long time. So I have some compassion for them, too… and that leads me to have some compassion for Josh, in spite of how terrible his actions have been.

Because I have compassion, I can’t support mistreating people who have done bad things. I think they should be punished, and some need to be permanently taken out of society because they will harm others. But I don’t support deliberately making them miserable, torturing them, or harming them. I do understand the sentiment of feeling like you want to hurt or kill someone who’s done you wrong. I even express it at times when I am angry. But the reality is, I don’t want to see people being hurt, even if they’ve hurt others. I mainly think it’s only appropriate to hurt or kill someone when it’s done in self-defense.

Most commenters on this video don’t think Ghislaine should be treated decently. I disagree.

I recently watched a video about the conditions Ghislaine Maxwell is dealing with as she awaits her trial regarding her alleged sex trafficking crimes. In the video, Maxwell’s lawyer explains that Maxwell is in a living hell. While I do think she needs to be confined because she is a potential flight risk, I can understand why she’s complaining about her conditions in jail. But there were so many comments from people indicating that they had no compassion for her and she deserves to be treated cruelly. I can’t agree with that. She’s still a sentient human being. Being cruel to people who have done wrong doesn’t change them for the better. It makes them worse. I don’t want Ghislaine Maxwell to be worse than she is. I want her to be a better person. So I think she should be treated humanely.

I think all people should be treated with humanity, whenever possible. And I write this realizing that I’m sometimes a hypocrite when I get angry… I sometimes express anger in a way that seems contrary to the idea of compassion. But I’m telling you that deep down, despite being angry, I don’t support hurting people or making them suffer unnecessarily. That includes Bill’s ex wife, whom I legitimately despise. I mainly want her to stay out of my life and am content with letting her destructive actions lead to natural consequences. I would also hope people would show compassion to me, so I do try to show it to others. I can be compassionate and still think a person should be held accountable… or even have some contempt for them.

Anyway… I don’t know what Renee Alway is up to now. I think it’s troubling that she turned to crime. I suspect she suffered abuse in her past and is dealing with it in a way that isn’t helpful. When I saw her on ANTM, I really did think she was gorgeous and talented. I rooted for her and hoped she’d win. I wish things had turned out differently and she didn’t succumb to criminal behavior. But I realize Renee has friends… and some of those friends can’t bear to see her criticized. I do understand wanting to protect your friends, but screaming at me to be quiet doesn’t help your case. It just draws attention to that which you claim is damaging. So, as Rumi says, “raise your words, not voice.” If you want something to grow– like flowers or food– you have to nourish and nurture it. In other words, be constructive, not destructive. And try to have kindness and compassion toward people, especially if you want them to return that sentiment to you.

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celebrities, musings, narcissists, social media

Phylicia Rashad’s head on a platter…

Phylicia Rashad is in the news for supporting Bill Cosby on Twitter. When he was suddenly released from prison a few days ago, she tweeted “FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!”

That tweet led to a lot of backlash. Rashad, who was appointed the dean of Howard University’s College of Fine Arts in May 2021, is now being pressured to resign from her job. Her response, so far, was to delete the offending tweet, then issue this apology “This week, I tweeted a statement that caused so much hurt in so many people — both broadly and inside the Howard community… I offer my most sincere apology.” As far as I know, she’s still got a job at Howard University. Regarding Rashad’s comments, Howard University has stated that “Personal positions of University leadership do not reflect Howard University’s policies.”

We’ll see what comes of this.

Many people, obviously upset that Phylicia Rashad would dare to publicly support her old friend, Bill Cosby, feel like her support of Cosby should equate to losing her job. It’s as if all of the great things Phylicia Rashad has done over her long career as an entertainer should be erased, simply because of a tweet supporting the man who was her co-star on a groundbreaking 80s era sitcom, as well as a 90s era show. This is obviously a complicated issue for Rashad, although I am surprised that she didn’t realize people would be up in arms over any public support for Bill Cosby.

Phylicia Rashad six years ago. She supported him then, too. Are we really surprised that she still supports him today?

Phylicia Rashad shared the experience of making The Cosby Show and, later, Cosby, with Bill Cosby. They’re obviously still dear friends. I don’t like the idea of punishing people who exercise their right to speak freely. Phylicia Rashad, to my knowledge, hasn’t sexually assaulted anyone. Moreover, she’s known Bill Cosby for many years. They have a long history together and she’s always supported him, no matter what. I don’t know what’s in Ms. Rashad’s head… and I think her first tweet was very ill advised and considered. I don’t know how a person can be a celebrity in this day and age and not realize that publicly supporting a sex offender is going to lead to being canceled by the public. Still, while I would have expected her to be savvier about voicing unpopular public opinions and backlash, I think her comments about Cosby are disappointing, but not particularly surprising.

On the other hand, Phylicia Rashad is human, and sometimes humans get carried away and do things that are ill-considered. In terms of her career, Rashad shouldn’t have tweeted. But as a friend to Cosby, obviously she felt moved to do so. Whether or not she should be friends with a convicted sex offender should be up to her. As much as some people think Bill Cosby should lose everything, the reality is, he won’t. There will always be people who will support him– family members and friends– and they aren’t going to be swayed by what the Internet thinks. There are few people in the world who are truly alone, especially people like Bill Cosby.

Phylicia’s sister, Debbie Allen, talks about Bill Cosby’s attitude toward pregnant Lisa Bonet.

I kind of get the confusion, though. At one time, Bill Cosby could do no wrong. People my age grew up on his brand of family friendly television. I watched Bill Cosby on TV every week when I was growing up, having been introduced to him on 70s era shows like Fat Albert and his classic comedy film, Bill Cosby: Himself. But it wasn’t just his work on television sitcoms that made him so powerful and influential. Cosby had books, films, albums, and commercials. He had dozens of honorary doctorates and other awards. He made speeches and championed causes. He sermonized about being an involved father. He was called “America’s Dad”, and that persona transcended race. People of all colors and creeds looked up to him as “America’s Dad”. That’s probably why it took so long for him to fall out of favor with the public. Maybe if he hadn’t been “America’s Dad”, he would have been prosecuted when he was much younger and would have done a lot less harm. We probably shouldn’t be so quick to make the charismatic among us into heroes because almost all of us have clay feet.

In those heady days of the 1980s, Cosby seemed charming, intelligent, and funny. I noticed that he incorporated a lot of the routines from his film into plots on The Cosby Show; but they were still humorous, especially when performed by talented actors. The Cosby Show was very well written, family oriented, and high quality entertainment. Phylicia Rashad was a huge part of the reason why that show was so relevant in my youth– from the time I was 12 until I was 20. The Cosby Show opened doors and broke down barriers. It’s heartbreaking to realize that the character, Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, is not the same man as Bill Cosby is, even though Cosby’s real life comedy routines inspired the show. So many of us who grew up with him on TV have had a hard time separating Cosby from his kind and wise alter ego, Heathcliff Huxtable. Of course, now that we know more about Cosby as a man, it makes sense that Cliff Huxtable was an OB/GYN.

Eddie Murphy got chastised by Bill Cosby for being too foul mouthed…

I never saw a single episode of Cosby’s next show with Rashad, entitled Cosby, as it aired at a time in my life when I was too busy for network TV. From 1996-2000, I was in the Peace Corps, working nights, or in graduate school. But Cosby lasted four years, and The Cosby Show was on for eight years, so that means Rashad worked with Cosby for twelve years. Incidentally, Bill Cosby also had another 90s era show called The Cosby Mysteries, and a 60s and 70s era show called The Bill Cosby Show… I think the fact that he’s had four series named after him is pretty telling about the massive size of his ego. And while he put a lot of Black actors on the map by giving them jobs, he also destroyed a lot of people– particularly the scores of women who were his victims. Meanwhile, he was hypocritically berating and chastising people like Eddie Murphy for using the f word, or Black people as a whole.

Bill Cosby talking about people crying when their sons are in orange suits… Wow.

I do believe the many women who have accused Bill Cosby of drugging and raping them. Yes, Cosby got out of prison, but that does not make him innocent of the crimes that put him there. He got out of prison on a technicality. He’s even admitted to drugging women he was pursuing for sex. That is criminal behavior, and it was right for him to be punished. I agree that Cosby didn’t spend enough time behind bars, even though I doubt he will re-offend, given his age and fall from grace. I wish that he had been prosecuted years ago, much like I wish Donald Trump could be held accountable for his disgusting sexual attacks on women. I don’t know what it is about men who are destined to be powerful. So many of them turn out to be incredibly predatory when it comes to sex, money, and political power. And that hunger for sex, money, and power is often married to a charismatic exterior that fools many people. For years, I thought Cosby was one of the good guys. I can see that a lot of people still believe Trump is a good guy, despite so much evidence and actual proof to the contrary.

The first account I read about Cosby’s sexual dalliances was Janice Dickinson’s. I read her book and was surprised when she wrote that Cosby had raped her. I mentioned it on Facebook, and several of my friends discounted her comments, mainly because of her “bitchy” persona. Several years later, all of these other women came forward with their claims. I gained new respect for Janice when I read her book.

That being said, personally, I don’t like the “cancel” aspect of our culture, which has come about thanks to social media. In fact, I think it’s chilling that a person can make a statement on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube that leads to Internet mobbing and financial ruin, particularly when the vast majority of people don’t have a personal stake in whatever has them in a tizzy. Phylicia Rashad actually knows Bill Cosby as a person, not as someone she’s seen on TV. Most of the people who are maligning Rashad’s character don’t know her or Cosby, nor are they even among his victims. Unless, of course, they feel victimized because they fell for Cosby’s charm in the 1970s and 80s. I wonder how many people have sent Phylicia Rashad death threats over her tweet. I would not be surprised if she’s gotten a few threats… and perhaps her family members have gotten them as well. For some reason, many people think it’s okay to get so angry over what someone dares to communicate that they literally call for the offender’s head on a platter. I think that’s taking things a bit too far.

Today is July 4th. It’s a day when Americans celebrate liberty from British rule. I grew up very close to where the Revolutionary War was won, so all my life, I’ve heard about how special and wonderful the United States is, particularly because we have so much freedom. But clearly we don’t have that much freedom. While a person can say whatever they want to say and, generally speaking, don’t have to worry about the government jailing them, there’s a very good chance that if it’s not what people want to hear, and they are “big” enough, they will experience cancel culture. And so many people get riled up over these things. They think a person should suffer for the rest of their lives over their thoughts, deeds, and comments. No matter what, there’s always going to be someone who thinks that lives should be ruined, or even ended, over a tweet. Then, after the next news story breaks, they forget all about that person they felt should have their head on a platter. Meanwhile, that person is still living with the aftereffects of being canceled.

I honestly don’t know if Phylicia Rashad is qualified to be a dean at Howard University. It seems to me that she might have been hired because of her fame, accomplishments, connections, and ability to influence donors. She doesn’t appear to have the usual educational background that university deans typically have. It may turn out that by publicly supporting a sex offender, she’s permanently disgraced herself and Howard University. It could be that because of the tweet, she won’t be able to do her job. If that’s the situation, then yes, maybe she should be fired or resign. But I don’t think she should be fired simply for an ill advised tweet. She has personal feelings about Bill Cosby based on actual in person experiences with him that the vast majority of other people don’t have. Her personal feelings about Cosby are not so cut and dried.

Look at Governor Ralph Northam. In the 1980s, he posed in blackface for a medical school yearbook photo. When that photo was unearthed a couple of years ago, many people called for his resignation. He resisted, and has gone on to do marvelous things in Virginia. Or, at least I think he’s done marvelous things to make Virginia more liberal, which suits me fine. I know a lot of my Republican friends can’t stand him. The point is, I’m glad he didn’t resign over social media backlash and cancel culture. And I don’t think Phylicia Rashad should be forced to resign, unless it becomes clear that she can’t do her job. Ultimately, that will be for Howard University to decide, not the general public. It should be up to the students Rashad serves and her co-workers and bosses, not random people on Facebook. No matter what, people should not be sending her hate mail or death threats. People who send hate mail and death threats must think that would be alright for others to do to them, if at some point, they do something that society deems unacceptable.

Anyway… experience has taught me that these things can and do blow over eventually. Five years ago, Josh Duggar was outed for being a sex pest. One would think the Duggars would have been finished in 2015 over that revelation. But no, it’s taken six years and accusations that Josh Duggar was viewing child pornography to finally get the Duggar family canceled. Like it or not, some people will still like Bill Cosby. They’ll ignore what he’s done. I figure, Phylicia Rashad has as much right as anyone to support her friend, Bill Cosby, even though it may turn out that her public support of Cosby will make it impossible for her to do her job as a university dean. But not being able to do her job should be why she gets fired… not what she tweets on social media. At this point, it’s not yet clear if she’s now incapable of doing her job. I, for one, think Rashad should have the chance to redeem herself.

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