Duggars, law, mental health, money, narcissists, Reality TV, YouTube

No amount of money is worth your dignity and self-respect…

Happy hump day, y’all. I wasn’t planning to write about the Duggars again today, but I saw Katie Joy’s recent video about fallout in the Duggar Family over Jill Duggar’s book. You can read my review of Counting the Cost by clicking here. I wanted to add a few of my own thoughts about what allegedly went down in the Duggar compound regarding Jill’s “bombshell” book. But first, here’s a link to Katie Joy’s video, from her channel, Without a Crystal Ball.

I don’t know how much of this information is 100 percent accurate, although based on Jim Bob’s long established behaviors, I have a feeling there’s probably a lot of truth to this report…

Jim Bob Duggar has gone through quite a tough few years. Less than a decade ago, he was seemingly on top of the world, with a successful reality TV show and huge brood of camera ready children who were ripe for marriage and starting their own families. Yes, people criticized him, and his way of life. But he was making a lot of money on the show and the many rental properties it enabled him to buy, rent out, or fix up and sell.

Of course, it turned out Jim Bob’s seemingly squeaky clean Christian kingdom was built on a swamp full of the worst kinds of sins and lies. Once the stench from the swamp leaked out from under his Tinkertoy Mansion in Tontitown, the kingdom started to crumble. With every passing year since that day in May 2015, when the world learned about what Josh did in 2002, things seem to have gotten worse for Jim Bob. And now, if we’re to believe Katie Joy’s reporting– which I know some people don’t– it looks like Jim Bob is starting to panic. He’s allegedly resorting to threats and harassment to keep his massive family in line.

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t think Jim Bob is much of a Christian. I say that, even as I admit that I’m also not much of a Christian. Everything I ever learned about Christ painted him as an endlessly kind, humane, loving, gentle, decent, and service oriented person. Jesus Christ was not the type of person who aspired to be rich, powerful, or in control of anyone. He preached goodness, service, and kindness. And everything I’ve seen and read about Jim Bob makes me think that when he does do anything for anyone, it comes with many strings attached. Most of the “Christian” behavior I see from him is very much about image. It’s all surface oriented stuff designed to deceive.

I don’t know how accurate Katie Joy’s comments are regarding Jim Bob’s reactions to Jill’s book. However, based on what Jill wrote in her book– and I do believe her— I have a feeling that Jim Bob has threatened his children. According to Katie Joy’s video, posted above, Jim Bob has told his children that if any of them comment about Jill’s book or support it, he will disinherit them. And since Jill’s book dropped, there have been a couple of videos put out by Jessa Seewald and Joy Anna Forsyth, seemingly to distract the public from their sister’s book. They address some of the things Jill claimed in the book, such as the ban on dancing, the focus on the IBLP, and Jim Bob’s hoarding of monetary resources.

In the most recent videos by Joy Anna, her daughter, Evelyn, is shown dancing with joy with her brother, Gideon. She also said that she and her husband, and their children, are out of the IBLP. I don’t know if they are or not, although the IBLP is more of a belief system than a specific church. I also notice that they use music that has a drum beat. This was something Jill stated that was not allowed in their house when they were growing up. I see she has her kids in swimming lessons, and the older boy, Gideon, is swimming in normal trunks rather than “Wholesome Wear”. I like Joy Anna. She has a beautiful family, and she’s always seemed pretty normal to me, as Duggars go.

The day before Jill’s book came out, Jessa and Ben announced their fifth child is on the way. I like Jessa, too… She also has a beautiful family. At the end of their most recent video, they are shown on vacation in Florida, as they leave their kids with Michelle for a few days. I see Jessa and Jana are wearing pants, and Jessa is on the beach, not wearing a regular bathing suit, but not wearing Wholesome Wear, as they famously did when the reality show was on television.

So all of this seems to be making it seem like the Duggars are more “normal” now, and Jill’s book was exaggerating how things were when they were growing up. Except there’s a literal video history of how the Duggars did things. Yes, it was well edited, scripted, and whitewashed, but it’s still out there. And we’ve seen how Jim Bob acted when Josh was in court. He actually had the audacity to try to tell the judge what to do when he was testifying. According to the link:

According to People, when Jim Bob was asked to read the police report, he called it “tabloid information” and said to Judge Timothy L. Brooks, “I’m not going to allow it, are you going to allow for that?”

Apparently, the judge didn’t take too kindly to that, because he replied, “If there is [an] objection to be made, someone will make it but it won’t be you.”

That’s just one relatively recent example of Jim Bob trying to be in charge when it wasn’t appropriate for him to try to be in charge. And it’s pretty common knowledge that it comes to his children and grandchildren, Jim Bob believes that he is the Grand Poobah of all things. The idea of disinheriting one’s adult children when they behave in a displeasing way is certainly nothing new. I used to read a lot of “exMormon lit” and I’ve followed the Recovery from Mormonism message board for many years. I’ve read countless stories of people disinheriting and/or disowning their children over their decisions to leave the religion or do something that isn’t pleasing to their parents. So it certainly is within the realm of possibility that Jim Bob has told his children they’d better stay in line, or he’ll cut them off financially and disown them.

In fact, Jill even brings this up in her book:

Yes, we allotted, at different times, amounts to our children, for tax purposes, because each one of our children were benefiting from having all of their needs met (food, clothing, shelter, utilities, music lessons, education, travel, instruments, vehicles, phones, medical insurance, medical bills, etc.). Here are some low numbers of what was approximately spent on Jill in the last few years:

Apartment rate rent $750 x 24 months=$18,000

Utilities discounted $600 x 36=$21,600

Midwife education $5,000

Honda Pilot $9,000

Harp $15,000

Furniture $5,000 (If you don’t want the furniture, we will buy it back after 4 years of use for $3,000.)

Cell phone @ $50 x 120 months=$6,000

Car insurance $50 per month x 8 years=$4,800

Vehicle fuel (8 years) x $50/month= $4,800

Eating out $100/month with family debit card for 8 years=$9,600

Clothes & Goodwill on family debit cards $1,000 per year x 8 years=$8,000

Eating at home $3 per day x 12 years=$13,140

Gift to Dillard Family Ministries $10,000 (You paid yourself a salary from this, stated there was only $1,200 left when you closed it out, so you must have eventually received it. You can refund this ministry gift, and we will give it to you directly if you want us to.)

$129,940 is just the beginning of Jill’s expenses paid by Duggar family over the last several years. Most of this was made and spent on Jill before you two were married. Also, taking into account many other ways that we have spent money to help you all, for example, installing the AC in your home to El Salvador, the stove, the washing machine, etc. The total on Jill’s tax returns was $130,250. We would be willing to write a check for $20,000 to settle this once and for all.

Jill, when Mom and I pass on, you are set to receive 1/19th of everything we own that is set up in a trust for you kids.

If you attack us, probably your inheritance will be lowered significantly.

I love you, but I am grieved by the disrespect and the accusations that continue.

I have asked for forgiveness, and I hope that you will also, you have deeply offended your mother and I.

We love you and forgive you for the things you have said & done.

$20,000 is a one-time offer, take it or leave it, please let me know by Monday night, or the amount will be zero.

Love, Daddy Duggar

Duggar, Jill. Counting the Cost (pp. 218-219). Gallery Books. Kindle Edition.

The above passage is regarding Jill’s and Derick’s questions about the $130,000 Jim Bob reported that they were paid for being the reality show. They never saw any of that money, but it was reported to the IRS. So Jim Bob justifies what he did by saying that he paid for things on Jill’s behalf… including things that he was responsible for paying, since she was a minor at the time. Then he threatens to disown her, claiming that she’s been disrespectful to him and has “deeply offended” him and Michelle. Never once is it mentioned that Jill presented Jim Bob with a bill for all of the chores she did, to include practically raising several of her siblings, helping to build Jim Bob and Michelle’s house, cooking and cleaning, and the actual labor of being on a reality TV show.

This was when Jill and Derick hired a lawyer to represent their interests. That’s when the shit hit the fan:

Pops went ballistic.

First, he hit the phone. There were texts and voicemails and calls every day, but in none of them did he give the answers we requested. Instead he was calling for us to get things resolved, to move on and work things out. We told him that we wanted to do that too, and that all he had to do was communicate through our attorney, with the information requested.

He didn’t.

Then came the next wave, a consolidated effort from several of my siblings. They hit the phones, sending voicemails and texts all day long, each one pleading with us to get this resolved. When that didn’t work, some of my siblings started visiting. They’d want to spend hours talking it through, trying to figure out what our problem was and why we weren’t doing what Pops wanted. I felt obligated to at least hear them out and show them we cared by listening. I could just about cope with the daytime visits, but when they wanted to stay up until midnight talking with Derick and me, when Derick had law school exams the next day, we finally told them no.

“What? How come you won’t talk?” they’d say. “This is way more important than law school.”

Duggar, Jill. Counting the Cost (pp. 220-221). Gallery Books. Kindle Edition.

What I’d like to tell the Duggar children, though, is that no amount of money is worth your dignity and self-respect. Especially if you’re claiming to be a Christian and trying to influence other people to follow your example. Christ wasn’t about money at all.

Moreover, Jim Bob’s wealth is certainly not what it once was. The younger Duggars and their spouses are probably better off focusing on building their own wealth, rather than “counting on” (see what I did there?) inheriting a lot of money from “Daddy Duggar”. By the time he dies, there may not be much left. There are lots of legal bills to be paid, and not so many people are interested in hearing Ma and Pa Duggar speak anymore.

I think inheritances can be a real burden, anyway. I’m kind of glad I was born into a family where there isn’t a lot of money to go around. I’ve never felt like I had to live my life according to my parents’ wishes, at least not once I became an adult. Once I got married and established my own household, they mostly left me alone. Or, at least my mom did. I don’t have any expectation of inheriting anything, so I don’t feel burdened to try to kiss anyone’s ass. I’d much rather be free to do what I want to do with my life.

I guess the bigger deal, besides the money, is the prospect of being disowned. I realize that’s not an easy thing to ponder, either. My husband was temporarily disowned by one of his daughters, and has apparently been permanently disowned by his older daughter. As a result of their behaviors when Bill went to war in Iraq (in 2007), they are not currently named in our wills. When we eventually update the wills, younger daughter probably will inherit whatever we have. She has a relationship with us. Older daughter can inherit whatever Ex and #3 leave for her and her other siblings. But I don’t expect it to be a big deal anyway, because Bill and I don’t have a lot of money or property, and I don’t see that changing much.

Younger daughter has her own family and her own money. We don’t tell her how to live her life, and she doesn’t condemn us for her father’s divorce from her mother and his decision to leave Mormonism. She also understands that the divorce was absolutely necessary; I wasn’t the cause of it; and Bill never had any intention of being out of her life for so many years. The “disowning” was solely her mother’s idea. Jim Bob Duggar and Ex have a lot in common, actually… right down to controlling their children with threats, other family members, religion, and money. Trump is kind of the same way, too… I imagine the only reason Melania is still hanging around him is because she’s been threatened into compliance. This is a very common thing among narcissistic, hyper-controlling types. Once you’ve experienced it and escaped, it’s very easy to spot.

Bill and I can speak from vast personal experience that shitcanning toxic, controlling, narcissistic people is a pathway to peace and joy. We’ve been broke before, thanks to Ex. Eventually the broke time in our lives passed. She grows ever more pathetic, while we thrive and enjoy living lives on our own terms. It’s a beautiful thing!

What would happen if the Duggar adult kids en masse simply decided to REFUSE to comply? Would Jim Bob cut all of them off? Would he sue them all? What would that do to his image? I think Jim Bob needs his children much more than they need him. And while I certainly don’t cheer for family strife, I do applaud anyone who manages to break free from narcissistic abuse and control freakery and lives their lives on their own terms.

I’m sure Jim Bob is scared. He’s getting older and that kingdom he built is falling apart. A natural part of getting older is loss, and I sense that he fears losing… everything from money, influence, power, and even his own life or Michelle’s. So he’s trying hard to hang on to his power by threatening his children with disowning and disinheritance. It’s nasty, and not Christ-like behavior at all! So I am rooting for the children– at least the ones with a clue– to rebel and get out of that cult. Life is much better when you’re free to live it the way YOU want to live it. And that goes for anyone reading this.

/sermon is now over. 😀

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book reviews, careers, money

Sephe Haven’s My Whorizontal Life: An Escort’s Tale: The First Six Months…

After recently reading about the fall of the Falwells, I decided I needed something a little lighter and faster to read. I ended up finding Sephe Haven’s memoir, My Whorizontal Life: An Escort’s Tale: The First Six Months. This book, which was published in 2019, gives readers a look at one woman’s unlikely journey into sex work. I’ve never been one to shy away from controversial topics, so when I saw the memoir being suggested on Amazon, I decided to take the plunge.

Who is Sephe Haven, and why did she become an “escort”?

The first thing to know about Sephe Haven is that it’s not the author’s real name. She uses a pseudonym. But before she became a sex worker, she was reportedly an actress who graduated from Juilliard in the 1980s. Amazingly enough, Haven writes that Juilliard was the only drama school of several good ones that accepted her.

Like a lot of people– especially those who study the arts– Haven left school with a lot of debt. While she was talented and well trained as an actress, she wasn’t finding work that could support her adequately. One day, she saw an ad for escorts. Big money was promised. She was 26 years old and relatively good looking, so she called the phone number and was invited in for an interview. There, after an initial screening, she met “Susan”, a very strict madam who immediately laid down the law.

The author was given two names. When a client paid $200 an hour, she was “Gwen”. When the rate was $300 an hour, she was “Tasha”, a name she eventually changed to “Natasha”. Although it was the 1980s, when AIDS was still very scary and kind of new, Haven plunged into the new job with only slight trepidation. Soon, she found that she was kind of a natural, as she learned what men like and even managed to empathize and humanize the work a bit.

The money was good, and it came easily… but soon, she broke one of Susan’s rules and was cut loose. The prospect of going back to regular employment was unappealing for a lot of reasons– especially financial. Haven started looking for other opportunities in the sex worker industry and tried a couple of places. Neither were as satisfying as working for Susan was, as Susan was strict, but very professional. And Susan made sure her girls were safe, which was more than a lot of the madams bothered with. Not surprisingly, the author got another chance with Susan and never broke another rule… and if we’re to believe her story, she was richly rewarded for it. Yes, she made money, but she also made some connections… or, at least that’s how the story goes.

My thoughts

I’m of kind of a mixed mind about this book. It’s a quick and easy read, which I enjoyed. Haven is sometimes funny, or at least endearing, and the book is well-written. My Whorizontal Life is also priced reasonably, so I wasn’t out a lot of money when I downloaded it. And, I have to admit, it did make me think… and have some empathy for people in the sex industry. In some instances, Haven really seems to provide a much needed service to lonely men of means. We often forget that a basic human need for most people is a connection to someone… being touched or even just talking to someone is very important to the vast majority of humans. So, on one level, Haven was providing a needed service.

However, although she changed the spelling of “horizontal” to the punny “whorizontal”, Haven kind of ripped off comedian Chelsea Handler’s title. Handler wrote My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One Night Stands in 2013. That was the first thing I noticed.

The next thing I noticed is that the book feels a bit incomplete. I felt like it ended kind of abruptly. There were a few stories in the book that I felt like she might have fleshed out a bit more. Maybe one more anecdote would have been good, although it does look like Haven meant (or means) to make this into a series. I don’t see another book yet, though, so I’m not sure if she scrapped the idea or what. I would read another installment if she wrote one.

I did appreciate that Haven sort of channeled the hooker with the heart of gold stereotype, as she also incorporated some of the acting skills she learned, as well as some comedy chops. She also included a story about the disappointing reaction she got from one guy she knew at Julliard when she told him how she was earning money. I’m sure he wasn’t the only one who knew. I would have liked to have known a bit more about how people in her life reacted to this line of work. But then, this volume was just about the first six months. Maybe that was meant for a later book.

It’s important to remember this book is about a bygone era. Haven was doing this in the late 80s and early 90s, so you will read about a lot of people smoking, watching videocassettes, and playing tapes. If you’re a young person, that might seem odd… but if you’re middle aged, it will all make perfect sense.

As I was reading this book, I thought this might make an interesting show for Netflix or something… With the right actors, I think it could work as a comedy. This book is mostly comedic, with almost nothing in it that would make you think sex work could be dangerous or scary. That’s probably another problem I have with it. Haven makes sex work seem like a great gig. Maybe it really was for her, but I know that’s not always how it works out for those who get into it. And, as Haven found out, it can hard to leave that job behind. In her case, it was because the money was so good, but in other people’s cases, it’s because of scary pimps and the like.

Anyway, if you think My Whorizontal Life might interest you, I’m happy to recommend it. I’m glad it helped cleanse my mental palate of the sleazy business promoted by the so-called Christian Falwells. At least Haven is somewhat honest about what she was doing, right? That’s more than I can say for certain evangelical “Christians” in Lynchburg, Virginia.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

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complaints, condescending twatbags, narcissists, scams

Apparently, she’s playing social worker now…

The featured photo was taken May 10, 2002… the day I earned dual master’s degrees in social work and public health. Fair warning about this post… it’s probably going to come across as rude and offensive to some readers, because I’m “processing” again. Read with caution after the first two paragraphs. 😉

I am a little disappointed in myself today. It’s already almost 11:00 AM and I’m still sitting here in my nightie, listening to an old Conway Twitty song, and typing a blog post. I had such big plans for the holiday weekend. There are so many places around Wiesbaden that we haven’t yet explored. But we’re not doing that right now, because while we were having breakfast, Bill complained about how “shaggy” his hair is. And looking at it, I had to agree, his look was missing a certain sharpness. It had been awhile since his last haircut. I can cut his hair, but I don’t do as good of a job as the barber does.

So Bill went off to get a trim, and I’ve been migrating more music to my newer computer. I’ve been a bit surprised this morning. I had no idea how much Ella Fitzgerald I had in my collection– well over 700 songs! Ella was born in Newport News, Virginia, which is right next to where I was born, in Hampton, Virginia. I think that’s kind of cool. She was such a wonderful singer. I can’t say she’s one of my idols, but I sure do admire her a lot.

So anyway, it’s been awhile since I last upbraided my husband’s ex wife. She’s been pretty quiet lately, and I’ve had other things on my mind. I was actually thinking that maybe she decided to get off social media, but nope. She’s back on Twitter. And I couldn’t help but notice that, once again, she’s showing off her false persona to the masses. This time, she’s acting like a social worker.

Someone on Twitter was lamenting about being 45 years old and having to take care of both of her aging parents. The original poster shared a photo of herself looking really tired, yet still quite beautiful. She posted that she was having to take care of mother’s most intimate needs and is now exhausted.

Ex, in her attempt to fool everyone with her fake caring facade, posted this…

You absolutely must get home health care immediately or you will lose your sanity from lack of proper rest. I know you love them… but you cannot be their o my caregiver. Medicaid is another option to get assistance. Check with your local area agency and they can help, too! (she ended her advice with a couple of heart smilies)

All I can do is shake my head at this shit. Last year, she tried to get my husband’s stepmother to move in with her. I know she’s “hosted” her mother and her husband’s mother, too. And she has a “severely autistic” son, as well as two more “children” she claims are autistic and need her. Ex’s youngest child, by the way, will be 17 years old this year. But she doesn’t actually take care of any of these folks. It’s left to her adult daughters, especially to include older daughter, who will be 32 years old this year and still lives with Ex. She takes care of her brother. I get the impression that Ex just sits on her ass and watches Outlander.

Granted, I’m not there to see this in person. However, I have a pretty good idea of what goes on, because for years, I’ve heard about it from very reliable sources. I think Ex has a lot of nerve playing social worker/advocate to people on Twitter, when she doesn’t do fuck all for her own family! She just pays lip service about being there for her family. It’s a facade, and one that she only trots out to strangers. The people who actually live with her never see this kind, loving, wise side. She just tells them to figure everything out for themselves and then does her best to sabotage them and hinder their progress.

I probably wouldn’t be writing about this today, except we were reminded once again of how Ex insisted that she was the better parent and knew best… and yet my husband’s younger daughter had to find her own way to college out west. Younger daughter left home with two suitcases and nothing else. No money, no dishes of her own, no sheets for the bed… NOTHING. And if not for the intervention of a kind family from her church, she would not have been able to move out on her own. The way younger daughter tells it, the family arranged this without her input. They saw she had a need and fulfilled it. She never even asked them for that help. The fact that the family did that for her, tells me that Ex was acting in an obviously dysfunctional way in public.

Ex didn’t even want younger daughter to get a job when she was in her late teens. She did nothing to teach her about how to find work and make her own money. Instead, Ex made younger daughter get a GED, take online college courses for the financial aid (the excess of which she ripped off for herself and left younger daughter to repay), and never taught her the first thing about the world of paid employment. Learning how to earn money for one’s self is a basic life skill. Ex failed to teach it. And younger daughter frequently worked for free, doing babysitting and other jobs.

I remember back in 2006, Bill paid child support for Ex’s eldest son, who is her first husband’s child. He was an adult at the time– 18 years old. Ex was the one who had drawn up the divorce papers, and she had put in the language about Bill paying support until the kids were 22 years old, unless they met certain conditions. He paid for former stepson, but then it later became clear that the young man was just using Bill for money. Bill had planned to pay support for his daughters, too, but Ex– having seen how her son moved out with the money Bill was paying him directly– realized that would give her daughters too much autonomy. And she also knew Bill would not pay her directly anymore, once the kids were over 18. So she made it impossible for Bill to contact them, and then did her damnedest to clip their wings.

I can only sit here and shake my head in awe at younger daughter’s incredible resilience. She is a very kind and thoughtful person, and she obviously impressed people, because some folks from her church in New England helped her by “hiring” her to be a nanny in Utah. They paid for her to go on vacation with them and help with their kids– and the end of their vacation ended at just about the time school out west started. The church angels gave her some money, wished her luck, and friends helped her get from Utah to Idaho, where her college was. The whole thing was basically a ruse to free her from Ex’s clutches, so she could go to college.

Younger daughter showed up at her school with nothing to set her up for success. EX DIDN’T DO A GODDAMNED THING FOR HER OWN DAUGHTER! And she wouldn’t let Bill do anything for younger daughter, either. By that point, Ex had quit communicating with Bill and was doing her best to obliterate him from his daughters’ memories. Bill would have been there in person to buy things like sheets, dishes, and school supplies. Now, here Ex is on Twitter, playing the part of a kindly social worker for strangers, advising them on elder care and Medicaid. What complete bullshit!

I know some people will read this objectively and think Bill is at fault, too. And I wouldn’t necessarily blame them for coming to that conclusion. I wish to God Bill had never met her, let alone married and procreated with her. I wish I had been his first and only wife. I would have done so much better by his daughters. I wish we could have taken her to court and insisted on a change in custody when they were kids.

But the circumstances at the time made it seem impossible. There was no money for lawyers, nor the ability to take time off work to go to court. What sucks even more about this is that people tend to think that the parent who has custody is the better parent. It ain’t necessarily so. Bill absolutely would have been a better parent to his daughters than Ex was, because he has the capacity to love, and he genuinely cares about them. Ex only cares about herself.

I’m just glad that at least younger daughter will talk to Bill now. I’m glad he can help her now. Wish her older sister would get out on her own instead of giving her best years to her mother, doing the household chores, and taking care of Ex’s youngest kid.

It blows my mind that Ex feels so free offering kindly advice to people on Twitter, when she won’t even help her own children take care of their most basic needs. She didn’t even teach them the most basic life skills, like how to earn money. Like it or not, people need money to live. But Ex didn’t want her kids to have money, because money equals power… including the power to walk away. Thank God there were good people in the LDS church (which was another one of Ex’s ideas) who saw what was happening and were moved to help younger daughter.

This is narcissism. Ex could be the poster child for it.

I just needed to get that out. Maybe it’s not appropriate for me to be writing about this, but it really does gall me, and this is how I process it. I truly don’t care if what I write is embarrassing to Ex. Abusers thrive in secrecy. I suppose some of Ex’s egregious bullshit is down to legitimate mental illness. However, I think she knows very well that her conduct is wrong… because she doesn’t show the ugly side of herself to the masses. Her public persona is not what the people closest to her see.

You know, I realize that I’m not the most likable person myself, but at least what you see is what you get. I would not blame younger daughter for being extremely bitter, and yet she somehow manages to stay kind and genuinely caring. She’s like Bill in so many ways.

Sigh… rant over. I probably should go read my latest book for some new subject matter. If you managed to read this and maintain some objectivity, thank you for putting forth the effort. I appreciate it.

For you, Ex. Because your daughter is way too kind to do it.

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money, psychology, scams, true crime, videos, YouTube

Sleazy PayPal scammers and phishers are running amok!

Featured photo is PayPal’s logo, which is in the public domain.

Good morning, knotty crew. After a day of reflection, I’m back with some new content. In the past 24 hours, I see there’s been yet another mass shooting. And the anti-abortion wars continue to rage in my homeland, putting more and more women at risk. I could write about either of those topics today. I could have written about them yesterday, too. I just don’t want to… I need a break from both of those subjects.

So… today, I wish to air a grievance I have regarding PayPal scammers and phishers. Now… to my knowledge, I have not yet actually been victimized by these criminals. However, I have to admit, their tactics are becoming scarier, as they now send their fraudulent emails from what appears to be an actual PayPal address. Yesterday, I got three emails from these fuckers. I reported all three, not that it will do any good.

I knew this email was bullshit, because I rarely use PayPal to pay for things. Also, while I think Bill might have an Acer computer, I am a confirmed Apple user. I never would have bought anything like this. But the biggest clue that this email is fake is that it doesn’t address me by name. It comes from a site I’ve never heard of, and would never use. Obviously, the folks who are sending this shit are hoping people will panic and call them, so they can try to talk the victims into allowing them to remotely install keystroke trackers and wipe out their money.

I don’t keep money in my PayPal account, but I know some people use it as a sort of bank. I mainly only use PayPal when I can’t use my credit cards, which are US issued. Sometimes European vendors can’t accept them or don’t allow for me to enter my US billing address. PayPal comes in handy in those situations. I almost never receive money through PayPal.

I usually just trash these emails as a matter of course, but yesterday, I decided to look carefully at the sender’s address. I was surprised to see that it came from a legitimate PayPal address. And, unlike other phishing emails, this one didn’t have any obvious tip offs that it was fake. There weren’t any glaring misspellings or design flaws that would arouse suspicion in the savvy. It also came to the email address I use for my PayPal dealings.

I logged into my PayPal account and checked my recent transactions, just to make sure there weren’t any pending charges. I was relieved to find that there wasn’t any recent activity indicating that something was amiss. Other people who have reported about this particular email scam have said that they did find invoices pending in their accounts. Some of them panicked, called the fake call center, and got taken to the cleaners.

Even though I knew the emails I got were fake, I decided to do some cursory research to see what the Internet was reporting about this scam. I found quite a few articles from cybersecurity firms explaining these surprisingly realistic looking phishing attempts. The open invitation to call a phone number to cancel the transaction is a big clue. Why would PayPal openly admit that the invoice might be fake, and actually INVITE people to call them? It doesn’t exactly promote confidence in their product.

Some reporters wrote that when they called the number, it was answered on the first ring. The person who answered was clearly not in a call center in California, as they could hear traffic and people in the background. The person also had a very strong accent that indicated that English wasn’t their first language, although granted, a lot of companies do have call centers abroad. But mainly, the fact that the phone was answered on the first ring was a major red flag. PayPal never answers on the first ring.

It’s infuriating that these crooks are using legitimate businesses to perpetrate their crimes. PayPal allows users to invoice each other, which is why these creeps can take advantage of the official email address. The fact that the emails come from PayPal make it pretty much a sure bet that the emails will get through the spam filters. Even though I know I didn’t buy an Acer computer through PayPal, there are other people out there who aren’t that astute. A lot of people have been victimized through these scams, which only encourages the lowlifes to continue their criminal activities.

So what is a person to do if they get one of these emails? Frankly, I say if you know you didn’t buy anything, just send the email to the round file. Check your PayPal account, and if there is anything in your transaction history that shouldn’t be there and you feel you must speak to someone about it, call PayPal using a number on the actual Web site. Do NOT call the number on the email, which will probably be answered by scammers in a fake call center. Do NOT pay any invoice that you don’t recognize. Remember that an invoice is just a request for money. You don’t have to pay for things you never bought.

Always examine the emails very carefully before you take action. Look for clues that any PayPal emails you receive are fake, like misspellings, poor grammar, or graphics that aren’t quite right. If the email doesn’t address you by name, it’s probably fake. I shouldn’t have to state this, but don’t click on any links in a suspicious email. And again– don’t call the phone number, unless you just want to fuck with the scammers. I realize that some people do enjoy that kind of thing, but the whole point of these scam emails is to get you to call so they can talk you into downloading their remote viewing software. Sure, they’d like it if you just paid the invoice, but that’s not their goal. They want your information so they can clean out your bank account and rip off your identity.

If you want more information about this, have a look at YouTube. Lots of people have made videos and some have actually gone much further than I’d bother/dare to, just so they can show you exactly what the scammers do.

British barrister bares all about the PayPal invoice scam.
Another video about this “new” PayPal scam…
Another video… this one lamenting what the world is coming to… I like the way he describes the psychology of this scam, but I don’t like the way he ended the video with loud music as he continued speaking. However I do agree with him when he rhetorically asks why these scammers don’t get real jobs?

I just now decided to change my PayPal password, just to be safe. Interestingly enough, it was easy to do that on my computer. However, when I tried doing it with my iPad, I had to go through a total rigamarole, to include answering security questions that weren’t very clear, and entering a security code sent to my alternate email address. Even after going through two or three checks, there was still another. I finally clicked off the page and tried the password I so easily changed on my computer. It worked.

Of the three videos, I think the second one is probably the best. The third one is probably the most entertaining. The first one is especially good if you like bald Brits. And below is an entertaining video featuring a guy who enjoys scamming the scammers.

Bwahahahaha… I love these kinds of videos.

Anyway, I didn’t fall for the scam. I hope you won’t either.

In other news…

Bill and I are in the preliminary stages of planning our big vacation. I’m not sure where we’re going yet, but I do know it’ll be in June.

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Biden, money, narcissists, politicians, politics, Trump

Some people only care about an extra $40…

And before I get too cranked up with this post, allow me to add, I do understand that for some people, that extra $40 really does make a difference. I’ve been broke myself. I know that when you don’t make a lot of money, what seems like a piddly amount to people who are better off can be very significant. However… sometimes, people really can’t see the forest for the trees.

A few days ago, Donald Trump got indicted following an investigation into a hush money payment scheme. I know that there was a lot of speculation as this occurrence approached. People wondered how Trump’s most rabid supporters would react. So far, it doesn’t seem like people have gone too nuts yet. Honestly, I think a lot of Trump’s supporters have been quietly shutting the F up, because they’re finally seeing the man for the repulsive creep he is. But a few folks still haven’t gotten the picture.

A friend of mine who teaches school in North Carolina has made no secret of how she feels about Trump. Like me, she can’t stand him. And she was celebrating his indictment on her Facebook page. Most of her friends were celebrating with her, but you know… there’s always one in EVERY crowd.

A male friend of hers bitterly posted this. “Hillary and the rest are next.”

He also added sulky comments to people who were making fun of Trump, insisting that Joe Biden is SO MUCH WORSE! He started his own comment thread on my friend’s post, writing this: “I can’t believe there are people this dumb still out there.”

It was obvious this guy was in a confrontational mood and needed to talk about his dismay. He’s still stubbornly clinging to lies, and can’t seem to join us in the sunlight of reality. My friend is a very compassionate person, so she finally addressed her butt hurt friend. She wrote:

“I know, right? Some people actually still support him. Unbelievable for sure!”

Obviously, that was not the response Mr. Butt Hurt was hoping for, so he responded in three comments that I have consolidated:

“…some people support this idiot we have now with dementia. Definitely unbelievable. …hey. But he’s good at making up new words. …and I also suppose you support a President that cheats on his wife in the White House.”

It’s really not cool for people to unofficially diagnose others with dementia. That’s not a laughing matter. When I see people casually saying that Biden has dementia, it automatically makes me think that they’re shitty people. But that’s just my own opinion.

My friend reasonably explained, “has nothing to do with support or lack thereof for any other politicians. It’s about this lifelong bully finally facing some consequences for his actions.”

And then comes Mr. Butt Hurt again with this comment… “best economy we had in a long time.” and this follow on, “have you ever heard Biden speak. He’s just as bullish.”

First off, I don’t think “bullish” is the same as “bully”. Secondly, I’d be pretty leery of a “great economy” created at the hands of an obvious con artist and fraudster. To me, that’s just common sense. Even if the money generated during Trump’s brief time in the White House was legitimate, I know it couldn’t and wouldn’t last. Why? Because Donald Trump isn’t interested in seeing YOU become richer and more powerful. He wants EVERYTHING for himself!

So, even if you temporarily get that extra $40 in your paycheck that helps you fill your gas tank so you can get to your second job, it won’t last. Eventually, and gradually (or as gradual as he can afford to be, as he inexorably ages, and gets closer to a plot in the family graveyard), Trump will be claiming what’s yours and mine. That’s what narcissists do. What’s his is his, and what’s yours is also his. Anyone who has spent time around narcissists knows this. And unlike Biden’s so-called “dementia”, Trump’s narcissism is extremely obvious.

My compassionate friend wrote, “did you not read what I just posted? This is not about Biden or Hillary or Clinton or any other politician.”

And Mr. Butt Hurt responded: “you just don’t like Trump. I don’t have to like someone to know when they were doing a good job. I didn’t like Trump the person. But I sure as hell liked this economy and gas prices when he was in there!”

Then, he added “is this economy better? If you say yes, you have to quit watching CNN and the View.”

Again… I strongly suspect that those byproducts of Trump’s seagull leadership style were temporary and not genuine. Because if Trump had won a second stint in the White House, what would be his motivation for keeping the economy strong? He’d have four more years as a “lame duck” president to do whatever the fuck he wanted and work on changing the laws so he could stay in power. I know Trump famously stated that the White House is a “dump”, but he sure loved the power that came from being the commander in chief. And to guys like him, that power is so hard to give up. It’s like a heroin addict trying to go straight.

As for the second comment… well, isn’t that typical of some of the Trump supporters, assuming that people who don’t like Trump are people who watch CNN and and The View? God forbid they realize that people can come to these conclusions without being spoon fed by the media. Some of us are reading and observing, rather than watching daytime TV or mainstream news. However, in spite of my just typing what I typed, I’ll bet Mr. Butt Hurt is a Fox News fan.

I finally couldn’t take it anymore, so I commented: “It’s too bad money is all that matters to some people.”

And I know… when you have no money, that extra $40 can make you feel “rich”. I don’t think Mr. Butt Hurt is in the category of voters who really needs an extra $40, but his response to me was this…

“well it is nice to be able to buy things.”

Now THAT is a very interesting response indeed. It pretty much sums things up nicely, doesn’t it? He’s more concerned about being able to “buy things” than having a respectable, decent, law abiding person serving as a world leader. He uses his ability to buy things as a gauge as to whether or not a president has done a “good job.” I’ll bet Mr. Butt Hurt is against abortion, too, and blames “irresponsible, slutty” women for the situation they find themselves in when they “get themselves pregnant”. And, in case it’s not obvious, the quote marks mean that that is not my actual view. Mr. Butt Hurt wants to be able to buy his new garden hose with ease… or remodel his deck.

Who cares about people who are rounded up by ICE and separated from their families for weeks? Why worry about people who are marginalized because of who they love, how they identify themselves, or how they dress? Why concern oneself with cronyism, obvious lying, cheating, and stealing, thug like behavior, alienating of our allies, and pandering to wannabe world dictators like Vladimir Putin? Trump will sell us out to the highest bidder and reap all of the profits. He’d love to be the king of the United States, with all of his supporters doing his bidding to make us look like a backwater banana republic. And he’d love to have a harem of beautiful women he can kiss and grab by the pussy at will. This is the type of unhinged, depraved individual that Trump is. Many of us can finally see it, but some folks are still clinging to that extra $40 and $1.89 gas, and the futile hope of their quick return.

Now, I’m not saying the Democrats don’t have their problems. I think there are a lot of dirty people in politics. And I am not saying Joe Biden is the best president we’ve ever had. Our stock portfolio has taken a hit, too. And I’m not even saying that Biden doesn’t have his own issues with invading people’s spaces. In fact, just this morning, I see in my Facebook memories from 2019 that people were speaking out about his penchant for “Eskimo kisses”. I agree– unwanted physical touching isn’t okay, particularly when it can be construed as sexual. BUT… I find it hard to get too outraged over Eskimo kisses when Trump has a long history of actually molesting women AND bragging about it! To me, not having a man like that as my leader is worth not having that extra $40… or, in the case of our stock portfolio, that extra $15k or so.

There are certain minimum standards that I think we should expect in a world leader of a modern, powerful nation. For instance, a leader should be level headed, intelligent, and fair minded. A leader should be law abiding. A leader should be able to stop themselves from saying things that are inflammatory or defamatory. And a leader should be able to keep his hands to himself. Hell… I’d just like to have a leader who seems to have learned the basic decorum we all learn in kindergarten. I’m sorry to say, Donald Trump demonstrates very few of those skills. When I look at him or listen to him speak, all I hear is “Mine, MINE, MINE!!!”

And when I read comments from people like Mr. Butt Hurt, I hear someone who admires that in a president, just so they can “buy things”. To hell with any other concerns the rest of us might have.

 

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