communication, complaints, News, technology

Google nightmare reminds man that Big Brother is always watching…

Last night, I read a frightening New York Times article about a San Francisco dad named Mark whose life has been upended over photos he took of his naked toddler son. I know that on the surface, it sounds like Mark’s life should have been upended. Nobody should be taking naked kid pics, right?

But what if it was in the middle of a pandemic? What if the photos were necessary for a doctor to see what was wrong with the boy, whose penis was swollen and hurting him? That’s the situation Mark was in, back in February 2021, when the COVID pandemic was routinely killing people apace. That was when people were being encouraged not to congregate indoors if it wasn’t absolutely necessary. When Mark’s son needed help, it was also a Friday night. His wife had called a nurse’s advice line to schedule an emergency telemedicine consult for the next morning. The nurse had told her to take photos of the infection and send them to the physician for review.

As requested, Mark’s wife took the pictures on Mark’s phone, then sent them to her iPhone, so she could upload them to the doctor’s messaging system. Under those circumstances, she didn’t realize that the photos might be seen by anyone other than the healthcare professionals who were entrusted to take care of her toddler’s very real medical problem.

The pediatrician received the photos, examined them, diagnosed the child’s medical problem, and prescribed antibiotics. The toddler quickly recovered without further incident. Unfortunately, that’s not where the story ends. The naked toddler’s photos tripped Google’s screening system and were flagged by “an algorithmic net designed to snare people exchanging child sexual abuse material.” The end result is that Mark lost over a decade of contacts, emails and photos. He also became the target of a police investigation. 

A couple of days after the photos were taken, Mark’s phone made strange noises. It was then that he realized that Google had flagged his account because of “‘harmful content’ that was ‘a severe violation of Google’s policies and might be illegal.’ A ‘learn more’ link led to a list of possible reasons, including ‘child sexual abuse & exploitation.'” Mark was surprised and confused, but then remembered the photos of his son’s genitals. Realizing that Google’s screening system probably flagged the photos and labeled them as abusive, Mark thought that eventually a human being would review them and let him off the hook.

Still, being flagged by Google wasn’t a small inconvenience. Mark’s whole online life, including his cell phone plan, was through the company. He filled out a form requesting that Google review the decision. He explained that his son had an infection, and he had only taken those photos so that the doctor could diagnose him properly. But because Google had shut down his cell phone plan, Mark had to get a new phone number from another carrier. And then, because he couldn’t access his old phone number or email address, he couldn’t get the security codes that would let him access his other accounts.

A few days after Mark asked Google to reconsider their decision, he received a flat denial from them, with no further explanation. The company had also flagged a video Mark made and sent everything to the San Francisco Police Department. He was already under investigation by the police and didn’t even know it. In December 2021, Mark received a letter from the San Francisco Police Department informing him that he had been under investigation. The envelope included copies of search warrants, as well as other documentation generated by the investigation. The investigator’s name was included, so Mark called him. The investigator, whose name was Nicholas Hillard, told Mark that he’d tried to get in touch with him. But… his phone number and email address didn’t work. Go figure!

Fortunately, Mr. Hillard told Mark that the case against him was closed. He had looked at the evidence Google sent him and determined that no crime had taken place. The police did not consider the photos and video abusive or exploitative. So, at least Mark would not be arrested… but, when he asked Mr. Hillard to tell Google he wasn’t a criminal, Mr. Hillard said that there was nothing he could do to help Mark get his online life back from Google.

So Mark appealed to Google again, this time sending them the police report that exonerated him. But Google still wouldn’t budge. In fact, they sent him a message letting him know that his account was being permanently deleted. Mark contacted a lawyer to ask about suing Google, but when he was told it would cost at least $7000, Mark decided the lawsuit wasn’t worth the money. And even though it’s been proven that the photos and the video were not abusive or exploitative, Google refuses to reconsider.

The article included a story about another man who was wrongly accused of sexually abusing a child due to intimate photos on his phone that were taken out of context by Google’s AI system. The other man faced similar repercussions, and basically lost his online life because of artificial intelligence that flagged photos that weren’t taken for abusive or exploitative purposes. For some reason, the HUMANS at Google are incapable of discernment, and fail to see that while the technology they use is very valuable for preventing child abuse, it also poses serious privacy issues and potentially ruins innocent people’s lives.

Mark says that the police department has his information on a thumb drive, and he’s hoping they will give a copy to him. The police department says they are “eager to help him”, which sounds like good news. But according to the article, it’s “easier” for Google to just deny people in Mark’s situation access to their services, rather than exercise discernment. In other words, too bad, so sad. I hope Mark changes his mind and sues. Maybe he and the other guy, both victimized and treated unfairly by Google, can team up and sue. What happened to them isn’t right.

And now, a loosely connected rant…

Naturally, a lot of people had comments about this situation. Many of the comments came from people chiming in, even though they hadn’t read the article and simply reacted to the headline. As my regular readers know, this is one of my pet peeves. Especially when they also complain about paywalls, and make a statement like “I think journalism should be freely open to everyone.”

That sounds good in theory, doesn’t it? Until you realize that newspapers are in business, and the people who provide the news have to eat, too. Most people can’t and don’t want to work for free. This was an excellent investigative article by reporter, Kashmir Hill, for The New York Times. Below is a screenshot of Hill’s information page on the newspaper’s Web site.

I see that Ms. Hill is a graduate of two fine private universities. She is based in New York City, which is not a cheap city to live in. She’s a successful and experienced journalist. She probably owes student loans, too. Delivering the news is a very important job, but newspapers are in decline. Why? Because people don’t want to pay for subscriptions and expect that the news ought to be “free”. But you get what you pay for, right? Someone has to pay the bills.

Even if the news is “free” for everyone, someone still has to pay expenses. So– they either get paid for by taxes, which most Americans would prefer to keep as low as possible, or they get paid by wealthy people who have their own agendas to push. That means people like Donald Trump or George Soros… or Jeff Bezos, who already owns The Washington Post, or Bill Gates… or Rupert Murdoch, who owns Fox News and other news publishing outlets. The New York Times is not a cheap publication, but it’s not owned by the likes of Bezos, Murdoch, or Trump. It’s owned by The New York Times Company, which is publicly traded. How would the paper change if it was purchased by a politically affiliated billionaire with an agenda to push?

I have repeatedly stated that I subscribe to several newspapers, ranging from local publications like The Gazette Journal in my Virginia hometown, to The Irish Times. Yes, it costs money, but we can afford to pay, and I am grateful to have access to the news from excellent and reputable sources. The newspapers help me create content for this blog and keep me engaged in the world. I know not everyone wants or needs to pay for newspaper subscriptions, but I also think that if you’re going to comment on something in the news, you should know what you’re writing about. At least take a moment to read comments made by people who did read before spouting off ignorance. And have some respect for the journalists who took the time and spent the money to get trained to deliver the news properly.

Journalists– especially the ones who bravely go into harm’s way and/or cover difficult or challenging topics– help keep us free by reporting the unbiased truth. Isn’t that interesting? Paying for a newspaper subscription and supporting journalism, rather than expecting it for free, will help keep all of us free. Think about that.

And now, for a funny anecdote involving The Irish Times.

I have been a subscriber for a few years. I don’t read The Irish Times as much as I should, even though the journalism is excellent and offers an interesting perspective. The paper covers US news, but naturally, most of it is about Ireland and Irish issues. And sometimes, a reporter will cover a really unique topic. The other day, I read a poignant piece about a man who realized that his power garden tools were killing machines for the creatures who dwelled there. The thought never occurred to him until he noticed a headless frog, accidentally decapitated by his weed whacker. The guy wrote that he immediately decided to buy new tools that weren’t powered in hopes of sparing the wildlife. I don’t think I would have read something like that in a US paper.

Anyway, The Irish Times also has an advice column, and yesterday, I read a letter a young mom wrote to the advice columnist. The troubled woman explained that before she had her baby, her husband regularly wanted to have at least an hour of sex, preceded by showering and shaving. The mom wrote that her baby is very needy, and she simply doesn’t have the time or stamina to give in her husband’s demands for extended sex sessions.

The comments on this were hilarious, but one in particular was hysterical. A man wrote:

My wife and I have an hour long sex session every week by playing doctor and patient. She’s the doctor and makes me wait outside the door for 55 minutes before I can have 5 minutes with her.

At this writing, his comment has 819 likes and laugh reactions. I responded:

I’m an American, but I subscribe to The Irish Times just so I can read Irish witticisms. (62 likes!)

And the guy came back and wrote:

We’re great at taking the piss out of ourselves. That’s not true about my wife. She’s actually an Olympic Performer……….. Once every 4 years!

To which I replied, “In that case, my husband and I are also Olympic contenders.”

See? Besides the news, when you subscribe to a paper, you also get witty comments from other people who read! Of course, the quality of the comments tends to be commensurate to the paper’s readership. I used to be a Wall Street Journal subscriber, but I got rid of it when I realized it was much too conservative for me, and I never used the subscription. And then I had to jump through a bunch of hoops to get rid of the subscription, which I ranted about in this blog some time ago.

Well, I think I’ve prattled on long enough. I need to practice guitar and walk the dogs. I hope you have a good Monday. And if you don’t already subscribe to a newspaper and have the means, please give it some consideration. The papers need your support, and the rest of us don’t want to read your erroneous and misled reactions to headlines.

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mental health, obits, psychology

This morning, I learned about the late Norah Vincent… now I want to read her books.

Prior to this morning, I had never heard of the late author, Norah Vincent. Then I read the New York Times obituary that detailed her remarkable life and the books she wrote. Now, I’m going to have to add some of her books to my pile to be read. I wish I had found her in the early 00s, when she was a “media darling” for passing as a man for about 18 months as research for her book, Self-Made Man. The book was an instant best seller. Vincent was a lesbian, and she identified as a woman. Her pronouns were “she/her”. She was not transgender or non binary. She simply wanted to explore what it’s like to pass as a man in today’s world. Or, at least as it was circa 2003 or so, when she was a 35 year old journalist.

Vincent went to great pains to be convincing in her quest to “pass” as a guy. She got coaching from a voice teacher at Julliard, who taught her how to deepen her voice. She bound her breasts with a too small sports bra and wore a jockstrap with a realistic prosthetic penis in it. She cut her hair very short, and learned from a makeup artist how to make it look like she had beard stubble. She even built up her back and shoulder muscles through workouts designed to increase her upper body strength. Then she did hard core “masculine” things, like joining a bowling team, a la Fred Flintstone. During her time posing as a man, she called herself Ned, dated women, went to strip clubs, and experienced being “rebuffed” at bars.

The experience led to a reportedly excellent book, but according to her obituary, it took a toll on her mental health. She was left disoriented and alienated to the point at which she checked herself into a hospital to recover from severe depression. She spent the next year and a half bouncing from hospital to hospital, which resulted in her next book, Voluntary Madness: My Year Lost and Found in the Loony Bin. That one sounds even more intriguing to me than the first!

More books followed, and people got to know her controversial maverick style. I haven’t read any of Norah Vincent’s books yet, but I can already tell that I’m probably going to enjoy her writing, just by reading her obituary. The author of the obit, Penelope Green, writes:

Ms. Vincent was a lesbian. She was not transgender, or gender fluid. She was, however, interested in gender and identity. As a freelance contributor to The Los Angeles Times, The Village Voice and The Advocate, she had written essays on those topics that inflamed some readers.

She was a libertarian. She tilted at postmodernism and multiculturalism. She argued for the rights of fetuses and against identity politics, which she saw as infantilizing and irresponsible. She did not believe that transsexuals were members of the opposite sex after they had surgery and had taken hormones, a position that led one writer to label her a bigot. She was a contrarian, and proud of it.

Even though I doubt I would agree with a lot of Ms. Vincent’s opinions, I have a feeling I would enjoy reading about them. I admire people who are brave enough to express themselves and do so with intelligence and style. I like reading well considered and thought out viewpoints, even if they don’t agree with my own. I read that she was for fetal rights, but somehow, I doubt her argument is going to be the same as some of the pro-life males’ arguments in any comment section of a mainstream newspaper’s. I doubt her comments will be based on religious or political dogmas, as are most opinions shared by everyday people. I do think it’s interesting that she was pro-fetal rights, especially given the way she exited her life.

According to her New York Times obituary, Norah Vincent died on July 6, 2022, at age 53, having gone to a clinic in Switzerland to end her own life. In my review of Amy Bloom’s recent book, In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss, which was about Bloom’s husband’s decision to end his life at Dignitas, a Swiss organization that helps people commit suicide, I wrote about how people can more easily end their own lives in Switzerland than they can in the United States. I don’t know what reasons Vincent used to justify ending her life. According to Bloom’s book, even the folks at Dignitas have to be convinced that the person committing suicide isn’t clinically depressed. The obituary doesn’t mention a terminal illness, other than mental illness. Below is exactly what Penelope Green wrote in Vincent’s obit:

Ms. Vincent died on July 6 at a clinic in Switzerland. She was 53. Her death, which was not reported at the time, was confirmed on Thursday by Justine Hardy, a friend. The death, she said, was medically assisted, or what is known as a voluntary assisted death.

Having experienced clinical depression and anxiety myself, I have a slight inkling of what may have been tormenting her. Whether or not people want to realize it, mental illness is still medical illness, and it can make living very difficult. It sounds to me like Vincent was an unusually sensitive soul with unique ideas and incredible powers of creativity. Sometimes that combination in a person can be devastating, as the person goes from brilliance to despair. Perhaps her creativity made her experience life on a much more intense level that was just too much to bear. Or, maybe something else was going on that she chose not to disclose, because frankly, it’s no one else’s business.

A lot of people in the comment section, many of whom obviously didn’t read the article, were making wrong assumptions about her. Some were even bold enough to use her story, which they never bothered to read, to support their own theories about gender politics. I wish people would read more. And I wish they would at least read comments by people who have read before they chime in with their own opinions. Alas, people don’t want to spend the money on a subscription or take the time to read. Yet they want to be heard. I would like to know why we should listen to people who don’t bother to listen to others. I think it would be great if, somehow, social media platforms could determine if people had read before allowing them to post. It’s a pipe dream, I know. Especially given our First Amendment rights in the United States, which overall are a good thing.

I still have a lot of books to be read, so it may be a long time before I get to Norah Vincent. But I hope I do, because she sounds fascinating. I wish I had discovered her before she exited life. And the comments about her are equally interesting– from those who didn’t read and assumed she died in the United States, to those who accused her of being “ableist” for the title of her second book (even though she was suffering from mental illness herself).

I don’t know about you, but it really is becoming exhausting keeping up with all of the “ist” labels people throw out these days. You can’t win, no matter what side of the spectrum you’re on. Why do people have to put labels on behaviors the so-called “woke folks” determine are somehow “harmful”? I don’t like the term “snowflake”, because I think it’s become very cliched. However, I do think that constantly judging and criticizing people for their thoughts and opinions makes life more difficult than it needs to be. It’s tiresome and obnoxious. But maybe I’m just getting old and crotchety… and tired of the thought police.

Gonna close this post now, and head over to Amazon to buy a couple of Norah Vincent’s books, which I hope to review in the near future. I’m sure whomever is in charge of her estate will appreciate the sales. If you want to join me, you can click one of the links below. If you purchase through either link, I will get a small commission from Amazon, which would be nice for me. But if you don’t want to do that, that’s fine too. Because I don’t blog for money, in spite of what some people wrongly ASSUME about me. Below are the two I’m most interested in at this point.

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

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music, politicians, politics, social media, Texas, weather

“At least I’m not in Texas…” Did I actually have the cojones to say that out loud?

The featured photo comes from Wikipedia and references a popular slogan that tough talking Texans like to bandy around about their (or should I say *my* state)… but Bill tells me it was actually an 80s era slogan they used to discourage littering. This post is full of cussing, so if you don’t like that, you know what to do and where to go… preferably not to Texas.

Yesterday, there was an article in The New York Times about Europe’s current heat wave, which I’m sadly enduring here in Germany. A woman went to the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary, and offered tips on how she stayed cool during her trip. I decided to leave a comment. I will admit, I knew on some level that my comment would probably attract trolls and other assholes, because most comments somehow do… but I decided to leave it anyway, because why not?

Thank God for that! I am a proud native Virginian… which is also where the most famous Texan, Sam Houston, was born. In fact, he was from Rockbridge County, which is where most of my people come from… once they left the British Isles and Ireland. I love Lyle Lovett, anyway… even if he IS from Texas.

My comment was that I live in Germany and I’m so tired of the heat and the drought conditions here. But, “at least I’m not in Texas.” That was ALL I posted. I made no mention of politics. I didn’t bring up the lack of abortion rights in Texas, or any of the other anti-woman or racist policies and attitudes that are so prevalent there. I didn’t post about the crappy power grid and how it failed many Texans during the winter of 2021, causing people to die earlier than they should have. I had no words about the religious fanatics who want to impose their ways of life on the whole population and control everybody. And I wrote nary a word about all the ammosexuals in Texas. All I wrote is “at least I’m not in Texas.”

At this writing, my comment has well over 125 likes, which is unusual for me. It’s also attracted comments from jerks. Or, so I assume, anyway. I only bothered to read one comment, from a guy calling himself “Jay Smith” and claiming to be living in Istanbul, Turkey. He basically made some crack about how Texas isn’t my problem, and I should just enjoy Germany. There was more to it than that, but I’m not going to quote it verbatim, because I don’t want to read it again or see anyone else’s rude responses. The main idea is that I should STFU.

I bet “Jay Smith” of Istanbul talks like this in Texas.

So I responded that while I live in Germany, I am, in fact, a Texas resident, and I still vote there. So Texas actually IS my problem… and I can comment on Texas if I want to (which I’d be allowed to do regardless, as a *still free* person). Then I advised him to fuck off, which I normally wouldn’t do on a Facebook page for a newspaper. What can I say? The heat is making me CRANKY. My house is warm all the time, even when I use the portable air conditioners– which are helpful, but only cool individual rooms. The grass in the backyard is brown and crispy. I sweat all the time. I know that very soon the weather will change, and it will be glorious… but for now, it’s pretty yucky here.

I wonder what made that guy decide to leave me that comment. It genuinely fascinates me. My guess is that he’s probably some right wing turd in a red state– perhaps Texas itself– and he can’t abide anyone making the slightest negative crack about the beloved Lone Star State. Especially when it’s an apparently “liberal” (horrors!) woman who lives in another country. But there’s actually a lot to dislike about Texas, as far as I’m concerned. I didn’t necessarily hate Texas when I lived there for a year, but it’s gotten really weird and dystopian since I left. There were some things I didn’t like about it when I did live there, but I didn’t see it as weird-o-rama as I do now. Ever since Greg Abbott became governor, it’s gone down a very dark and climate challenged road. I sure as hell don’t want to move back, especially if Beto doesn’t win the governor’s seat from Greg Abbott.

But, like I said, I didn’t actually write anything bad about Texas. I just posted that at least I’m not in Texas. For all Jay Smith knows, I was simply posting about the weather there in August. And, in fact, that’s literally what I had in mind when I made my comment. I well remember what August is like in San Antonio. We had a pool in our backyard, but in August, the water was as warm as bathwater. Central air conditioning was an absolute must for a good portion of the year.

We had two air conditioners for the house we were renting, but they hadn’t been serviced in a long while, and the filters were absolutely DISGUSTING. I actually have pictures of how coated in gunk they were when we moved in and changed them. It had probably been years since anyone had done that. Energy prices were insane, too. Just to be comfortable, we had to pay out the ass. And, as my old friend Weird Wilbur sings in his song, “Down in Texas”, it’s always “summertime” down in Texas. I know that’s not actually true. I do remember some chilly days when we lived there. But it’s usually hot and uncomfortable, and not a place where I’d particularly want to endure the onset of menopause, especially when I start having hot flashes (which haven’t happened yet).

My spelling challenged pal, Weird Wilbur’s funny song about Texas… or one of them, anyway. I don’t talk to Wilbur much anymore, because as funny as he is, he’s also a right wing crackpot. I used to have much more tolerance for them, before the days of Trump. Wilbur’s song “Fuck You, Texas”, is the very best, and my absolute favorite Texas song…

All day, I kept getting tagged in more responses. Some of them might have been kind responses, but my guess is that most were probably more like Jay Smith’s, the obvious troll. So I haven’t read any of them. I keep asking Facebook to turn off notifications, but as usual, Facebook doesn’t care about my preferences. So here I sit, deleting notifications, and fruitlessly asking Facebook to stop sending me comments from right wing Trump supporting jerks.

I’m probably a little crankier about this than I ought to be. I guess it’s because sitting over here in Europe, watching how oppressive and dystopian the United States is right now, gives me a weird sense of survivor’s guilt. It’s so much more NORMAL in Europe, all things considered– even with this relatively oppressive heat and lack of cooling systems due to the fact that Germany doesn’t often get this hot. I don’t routinely see people walking around downtown with huge firearms slung over their shoulders, like I often did in San Antonio. I don’t hear or read about people being shot up, or trying to attack the police for doing their jobs. Leaders here actually seem to care about people, and their jobs… or, at least they put on a convincing show of it.

There’s a much better video of this song, but I can’t share it here. If you search for it by using the properly spelled word, “fuck”, you can find it.

But… for all of my grousing about the Lone Star State, I can see why some people like it. It’s huge, and its populace has a certain bravado. My husband went to high school in Texas… but then that’s also where he met his ex wife, and we know how that turned out. Bill’s mom still lives there, as do some of my relatives. I guess it’s a good place if you like BBQ beef brisket, rodeos, margaritas, and Tex Mex. We have a bunch of friends who live in Texas, and none of them are batshit crazy. There’s even some pretty good wine in Texas Hill Country. But… unlike Tanya Tucker, I hope I won’t be in Texas when I die…

Nein, danke… Germany would suit me. So would Virginia. I’m loving Virginia more these days, although I’m not quite ready to move back there. It is a truly beautiful state, though… and decidedly purple, which I never thought I’d see.

Even if Texas was the most progressive, “woke”, politically correct place on earth, I’d still rather be here than there. For one thing, I’m not that excited about woke or politically correct places. I just want to live in a “NORMAL” place, where all people get basic human rights and I don’t have to worry about being shot. But for the main thing– and the most obvious reason– Texas in August is FUCKING HOT AS FOUR HELLS… and I don’t like that kind of heat, or paying for the energy required to have basic comfort in it. So, for that reason, I am glad that “at least I’m not in Texas.” And I should be able to write that in a comment section without having to deal with stupid trolls who try to tell me to shut up. I’ll thank you to fuck off, because I will never be your ass monkey, mmm’kay? Texas is uniformly HOT and unpleasant in August. For that reason alone, Germany is naturally a preferable location for me, especially at this time of year. It’s perfectly logical and acceptable to state that, and I should be able to do it without crap from Jay Smith and his right wing buddies.

In other news…

Marjorie Taylor Greene is a fucking moron. Sorry, it’s not a nice thing to state, nor is it particularly constructive, but she is embarrassingly stupid. And way too many similarly stupid people follow her. There, I said it. Blame it on the heat and my aging reproductive system, which thankfully will NEVER be forced to birth. Yesterday, I became aware of her recent diatribe about the evils of solar panels, wind turbines, and other “green” energy solutions that might help stave off climate change. She made some outright wrong statements, confidently speaking as if she was a comedian delivering an hilarious routine. And it WAS hilarious, but not for the right reasons. Sadly, her audience was into it, and laughed with her, while the more informed of us were laughing AT her.

I’m not going to go too far into this, because a lot of people are already posting about it… but, I live in a place where lots of people have and use solar panels. And there are wind turbines aplenty. We can’t take a trip on the Autobahn and not eventually pass a wind farm. You know what? We very rarely have power outages in Germany. When we do have them, they are usually fixed within an hour. I did not have that experience in several areas of the United States. Moreover, Marjorie’s district actually hosts the largest fucking solar panel plant in the United States! So… she’s out of touch with her community and reality, and she’s leading more people down the dark rabbit hole of ignorance and stupidity. As her hero Trump would say, “Sad…” But at least she’s not in Texas. They’ve got enough problems.

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complaints, condescending twatbags, controversies, Germany, healthcare, law, Reality TV, true crime, YouTube

Strong women sure do scare weak men…

Sorry about this super long post. I have a lot on my unusually clear mind this week. 😉

The week is grinding on, and I’ve been doing my best to stay occupied as I eagerly wait for Friday, when Bill returns from Stuttgart. As much as I complain when Bill is out of town, I have to admit it’s not all bad. For one thing, it gives me a chance to catch up on shows like My Feet Are Killing Me. I binged a few more episodes of that show last night. Thankfully, none of them gave me nightmares, although some of the issues people present with on that show are heartbreaking. I imagine the pain I’m in when I wear shoes that don’t fit well, knowing that when I take them off, the pain will go away. The people on that show have to deal with excruciating, unrelenting pain. It must be so rewarding for the podiatrists when they see their patients walk with less agony and/or better looking feet.

In some ways, I find My Feet Are Killing Me a less annoying show than Dr. Pimple Popper, because there are several doctors. “Dr. Brad” gets on my nerves, though, because he comes off a bit like a frat boy to me. And, maybe I’m a cranky old broad, but I don’t like it when doctors introduce themselves with their surnames, but call their patients by their first names. I’d blame it on living in Germany for almost 8 years, but I didn’t like it in the States, either. However, I would be preferred to be called by my first name than some cutesy pet name like “hon” or “sweetie”. If I’m going to be paying you out the ass for healthcare, you can call me Ms. or Mrs. And get offa my lawn, while you’re at it.

I’ve also been teetotaling while Bill is away. I usually try not to drink alcohol when he’s not home. There are a few reasons why I do this. The main one is to give my poor old body a break. Another reason is that in case of an emergency, I don’t want to be under the influence of booze. If I had to take one of the dogs to the vet, or had some kind of medical or other emergent issue, I wouldn’t want to be the slightest bit bombed. And finally, I like to remind myself that there are other ways to spend my time. It’s also comforting to know that I can still choose not to drink, given my family’s alcoholic history and my own enjoyment of the “sauce”. 😉

Watching videos of people in the United States getting busted for DWI is one way to remind myself of how things can quickly spin out of control after a drink or two. Germany is stricter about drinking and driving than the US is. The blood alcohol limit is .05 here, and if you get busted, they can and will force you to give a blood sample. There’s also a 500 euro fine for a first offense, and other penalties I won’t get into with this post. I almost never drive, but if I am alone, I might need to go somewhere, and I’d rather not go by bus. At least here, there are a lot of options for those who need a ride. We don’t have train station in our town, but we do have plenty of buses and taxis. However, anywhere I’d go would probably require me to drive, because I’d most likely be taking my dogs.

I spent a good portion of yesterday watching footage of people being arrested. Most of the videos were entertaining enough, but there was one guy who really gave me pause. This guy was a real character– memorable in EVERY way. After watching him interact with the cops incidents in both Vermilion and Lorain, Ohio, all I could do is feel sorry for this man’s family… especially his wife and kids. In fact, his stepson even commented on one of the videos, confirming to everyone that stepdad is a real jackass most of the time, with a few exceptions. Behold, Dorsey Fields…

Bwahahahaha… he’s loud, profane, and just plain embarrassing. Look at that gaping maw!
God help the people who have to deal with him. He’s belligerent, entitled, and probably needs medication other than alcohol.

The video below was actually from an earlier incident in a neighboring town. It happened maybe a month before the above video footage was taken. In the below video, Mr. Fields was busted for impersonating a police officer. As he was being arrested, he protested the officers scratching his 2004 model car. That beard, too… It’s too much.

He must have quite the rap sheet!

As I was watching Dorsey Fields in action, I couldn’t help but think he was naturally entertaining. Under different circumstances, maybe he could have been a character actor. He has a good voice for acting or speaking– it’s clear, distinctive, and doesn’t have a strong accent. He has personality, although it’s not a very pleasant personality, based on these videos. He’s also often hilarious, whether or not he means to be. Throughout his many rants in these videos, I can see glimmers of a gentler person… maybe when he’s totally sober and medicated, he’s even a very nice or otherwise redeemed person. According to his stepchild’s comment, Fields is bipolar. This was posted about 14 months ago or so.

Izzy (2 months ago): This is my step dad, I currently live with him and he acts like this everyday. I just recently turned 18 but ever since I was 11 we always fought. I have no remorse for him. After everything he’s done to degrade me, make me feel like shit and emotionally manipulate our family this is deserved and i’m glad people are seeing how much of an asshole he is. He also knows about the video but refuses to watch it, I read the comments to him but he still doesn’t think he’s a total asshole. Also he doesn’t own any businesses, my mom owns two restaurants that he didn’t contribute to. He isn’t a CEO of anything either and the car isn’t his. He is bipolar but I don’t think that excuses him being an asshole since he’s pretty much always been like this. I hope this video and these comments help him realize he needs serious help.

EDIT: Thank you for all the positive comments, support, and advice. I wasn’t expecting a lot of sympathy, but regardless I deeply appreciate it!! I genuinely hope his mental health, attitude, and behavior improves. Honestly sometimes he’s a cool dude and we have a lot of memories together, but most of the times he’s a total POS which sucks. Hopefully one day we’ll see his positive side more.

Poor Izzy. Wonder what his or her mom sees in Dorsey. She sounds like a very ambitious, hard working person, and she deserves better treatment than what this guy obviously delivers. I have to admit, though, these videos were the highlight of a hot afternoon. Which brings me to my next topic, and the subject of this post. I’ll bet most guys like Dorsey Fields aren’t very nice to their women. Strong women scare weak men. It’s obvious to me, especially in the comment sections of news articles about abortion. I’ll bet ol’ Dorsey is a Republican, too, and he comes from a state that strongly wants to deny women the right to terminate their pregnancies. Honestly, I think the existence of guys like Dorsey Field are one of the main reasons the ability to get abortions should absolutely remain legal.

Last night, I was reading an article in the Washington Post about how Democrats are working to come up with ways to get around Republican oppression regarding women’s health and access to abortions. On Rachel Maddow’s show, I heard about pro choice groups creating bulletproof vans that provide abortion services and can be driven to borders near anti-choice states. I think it’s sad that such a personal procedure might have to be done clandestinely in a motor vehicle, just so people can maintain control over their own reproduction. On the other hand, bravo to those who are not taking this shit lying down and FIGHTING BACK against zealots who want to force women to be pregnant when they don’t want to be.

Oh, but the comments from some of the men are so very telling. On the article I read last night, there was a really nasty character named Max who was leaving disgusting, insulting, and downright racist comments toward an atheist woman from Tunisia who argued for choice. He wasn’t the only one making vile comments to her; there were at least two other guys who were being overbearing, rude, and MEAN to this brave woman who dared to express an opinion. I got so disgusted by Max’s comments that I blocked him, even though I didn’t engage him. I also reported him for racist hate speech. I know I’m not the only one.

I wish Max’s vile commentary against pro-choice women was an anomaly in the wake of the reversal of Roe v Wade, but it isn’t. Every day, I read more insulting comments from MEN who claim to be pro-life and lament about “murdering” babies. But they have no thought whatsoever for the horrible, dehumanizing, demeaning, and cruel comments they deliver to living, breathing, former fetuses. Most of these men also expect women to find them attractive enough to fuck. George Carlin once famously asked his fans if they’d ever noticed that people against abortion are people they wouldn’t want to fuck in the first place. I’m here to tell you, I find most pro-life men utterly repulsive, not because they claim to be against abortion, but because they are usually just mean spirited, insufferable, uncaring dickheads.

Take, for instance, this op-ed that appears in The New York Times today. The piece is called “Please Laugh About My Abortion With Me.” Lots of men are commenting. Most probably didn’t bother to read the article, written by Alison Leiby, who does stand up comedy and has had an abortion. She has a comedy show called “Oh God, a Show About Abortion.”, which she performed the evening of June 24, 2022, which was the day Roe v Wade was overturned and millions of American women lost significant rights to their privacy and bodily autonomy. One wouldn’t think this would be a subject we should laugh about, regardless of how one stands on the abortion issue. Leiby has actually been performing this routine for a few years, having found that writing jokes helped her process the experience of having an abortion.

I’m a big fan of turning trauma into something creative. I do it all the time on my blog. Not everyone enjoys what I do. That’s to be expected, of course. But it is one way of taking back my power, and maintaining my mental health. For example, a few years ago, when our former landlady was driving me batshit crazy, I was writing short stories about her. I figured that was better than doing something violent. Her former tenant, who has since committed suicide, sent me a very shaming private message, mocking me for calling what I do “creative”. That’s the thing about creativity, though. It’s very subjective, and it doesn’t have to be “good” or “popular” to be healing. You don’t have to like someone else’s creative pursuits. Other people might like it and be helped, or even healed by it. The beauty of creative pursuits is that reactions often vary, and as long as the work means something to the creator, it’s worth doing on some level. I thought Alison Leiby’s article on joking about abortion was outstanding. Sadly, a lot of people will comment on it without reading, simply because their minds are firmly closed.

Maybe if the former tenant had been more open to good old fashioned venting in a blog, or turning her trauma into some other form of creativity, she might still be alive today. And it’s not that I don’t empathize with her, either. I’ve felt suicidal many times in my life. I think if I didn’t have a creative spirit fighting to get out, I might have one day done the ultimate anti-life thing, like she did. In fact, when I was suffering from debilitating depression and anxiety in the late 1990s, I studied voice. It helped me stay afloat when I saw no other reason to stay on this shitty planet, where an anti-choice total stranger once told me I should be forced to give birth, as they also called me a fat, murderous, “CUNT”. No lie– someone actually said that to me– and no, I have never been pregnant or needed an abortion. He said it because I’m a woman with an opinion he didn’t like. Why would I want to birth a baby in a world in which my child could possibly come into contact with a hateful, disgusting, rage-filled, disrespectful moron like him? He can’t even restrain himself from calling a perfect stranger a “CUNT”, and he thinks innocent babies should be brought into a world where he is on the loose, ready to hurt them with his vile misogynistic views?

Why is it that the most disgusting, reprehensible, sexist, racist, power hungry men are usually the ones who insist on making women stay pregnant, as they shame the women for getting pregnant and insist that it was a 50/50 decision. You can’t tell these guys that women often give in to men who want sex… or they are FORCED to have sex. And the ones who want to get birth control or even have sterilization procedures, often have to deal with doctors who don’t want to fulfill their requests.

So there I was last night, reading the comments about women’s rights to abortion care in the news. I was bewildered by men who were passionately railing against women who “murder” their babies, yet had no trouble totally trying to destroy and dehumanize the women who disagreed with them. These were already born people– folks who were once fetuses themselves, whom these guys claim they care so much about today. All I can do is imagine these angry, horrible, hateful men cursing out a beautiful baby girl, calling her a slut or a murderer or any other vile name… who someday might be knocked up by one of their grandsons, and might fervently wish to end the pregnancy for whatever reason, that is absolutely none of their business. As long as it’s HER body, it must be HER choice. That’s the way it WILL ultimately be, no matter how much yelling, threatening and cursing these guys do. It would so serve them right if many more women of childbearing age simply stopped having sex with any man who doesn’t embrace her absolute divine right to control her own body.

Anyway… I really liked Alison Leiby’s op-ed. I think people should read it, so this link will take you to her unlocked article. Like George Carlin before her, Alison Leiby has figured out that we really can joke about anything. Sometimes telling jokes can be very healing. Sometimes reading and writing profane rants is healing. Sometimes singing– even if it’s terrible singing– is healing. Dancing can be a wonderful way to relieve stress and make something constructive out of something damaging, as is practicing any form of art, no matter what it is. Yes, you can laugh about abortion if you want to, and it won’t send you straight to Hell. Just open your mind and use it for thinking, instead of judging.

There’s no need to be scared, weak and misogynistic men of the USA. This isn’t your fight; it belongs to women, because women are strong enough to fight for their rights. And in spite of what so many scared, hateful, horrible anti-choice men think, strong women WILL prevail in this fight. I hope some of the women who are married to belligerent drunks who drive while intoxicated will also have the courage to leave… and maybe embrace masturbation or celibacy, while they’re at it.

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complaints, condescending twatbags, News, rants

“If someone is going to be examining your junk, you have the right to exact high standards…”

I didn’t sleep very well last night. I woke up to pee, probably because Bill got up to pee. He was on the potty when I went into the bathroom. After our encounter, I couldn’t get back to sleep. I started reading the news. There was an article about how hospitals in Ukraine are dealing with shortages of oxygen, thanks to the Russian invasion and the high number of COVID patients. I was kind of awestruck by the picture of the hospital interior. I was reminded that Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, because the photo reminded me of the inside of an Armenian hospital I once visited in 1996. I was surprised that the Ukrainian facility still looked like a 90s era post Soviet hospital.

Then I went to the comment section, where some guy was complaining about the paywall. It always irks me when people bitch about having to pay for newspapers, as if they would be willing to work for free or give away their valuables. The complainer maintained that all coverage about COVID should be free of charge, in the interest of health promotion. For many months, The New York Times provided plenty of free coverage on COVID. Moreover, there are lots of news sources out there. The New York Times isn’t a free publication. It never has been. One doesn’t go into a store and read a print edition, as if one would at a library. Why should it be any different online? And how do people expect journalists to do their jobs if there’s no income stream with which to pay them for their work?

I’ve complained about that phenomenon more than once in this rag of a blog of mine. I’m not wanting to do it again today. I’m just building up to my point, which I’ll get to in due time. Suffice to say that people who whine about having to pay for quality journalism really get on my nerves. I didn’t leave a comment for the whiny bastard. Someone else kindly did it for me, and in good style. However, one thing I did notice, was that the whiny bastard left an entitled response when someone recommended that he block The New York Times from his feed and/or find another, free or cost-effective, news source. This is what he wrote:

1. I will not block them from my feed. Even the headlines are of some value. 2. I certainly didn’t need you to tell me there are other sources of information. I’ve examined dozens just today. 3. If they could publish free articles about COVID, then they certainly could do it in this case, for the same reason – to preserve human life. (Profit took a backseat to doing the right thing then, and so it should now!)

Then, when the person who engaged him advised him to stop complaining, he wrote:

The NYT seems to have a purpose behind this article. To provoke empathy for the suffering people. And, knowing the long reach of their newsfeed, it will get the notice of people who could help. So why put a speed bump in the way, an impediment to humanitarian aid. It doesn’t make sense. (And to remind you, I have a right to express myself – remember America is a land of Freedom of Expression. So I’ll complain all I want, for as long as I want! Many times in my past my complaints have produced real change, sometimes they’ve just changed people’s minds. Either way, Not Going Anywhere !)

I still don’t understand why his points about the shortage of oxygen in Ukrainian hospitals entitle him to read the paper for free. It sounds to me like he’s just cheap. He even admitted that “even the headlines are of some value.” So he admits that the paper is valuable. He just doesn’t want to support it by subscribing. Either way, I guarantee that complaining about paywalls in a comment section on Facebook won’t make a happy damn to the bean counters. They offer a valuable product for which many people, myself included, are willing to pay. I use The New York Times every day. It’s worth the money to me.

I was still somewhat exasperated after reading that exchange. That guy is an example of a person I can do without, although he’s probably a nice enough fellow when he isn’t bitching about paywalls. As Bill and I were enjoying breakfast, I somehow got on a tangent about other people who get on my nerves. I was suddenly reminded of a woman I used to regularly rant about years ago. She was just one of those people who irritated the ever living hell out of me. I think that guy’s comment reminded me of that woman, whom I used to call “Ms. Overly Helpful”.

In the years before social media, I used to hang out on a messageboard for second wives and stepmothers. I ran into some really great ladies. I also ran into a few assholes, although in fairness, I’m sure some of them thought of me as an asshole, too. In any case, Ms. OH was just one of those people with whom I can’t mesh. I know she has many friends, fans, and loved ones. I’m just not among them.

There’s no shame in that, by the way. Even the most likable people in the world have some people in their lives who can’t stand them. Bea Arthur, for example, famously disliked Betty White, of all people! I don’t know why, but it was widely reported that Bea didn’t like Betty at all. Even Betty, herself, admitted it. I read that Bea found Betty’s unflappable optimism annoying. To be honest, I think that would annoy me, too. I remember on The Golden Girls, there was even an episode about how Rose Nylund annoys a work colleague by incessantly trying to be his friend, when he didn’t want to be friends with her. Below is an exchange from that episode.

Roger doesn’t want to be friends with Rose. I can relate.

Ms. OH was a little like that sometimes. She fancied herself an “Earth Mother” type, and would offer me unsolicited advice and opinions. Every time I made a comment, she would contradict me in the most patronizing and infuriating ways. And I would try to hold back on the urge to be rude to her, because her comments would almost always rub me the wrong way. Like, for instance, she would question things like whether or not I should buy a new car (used is sooo much cheaper), or a new computer (have I done everything I can to make the old one last)… or whether or not I should be concerned about a strange man loitering by my mailbox (maybe he’s perfectly harmless– stop being so suspicious!). See what I mean?

I remember one time, we had a row that got quite contentious. I commented to her, quite frankly, but as politely as I could, that whether or not it was her intention to be offensive, I found her contrary responses to be disrespectful and condescending. I really tried hard not to be as nasty as I felt like being, while still making it clear that she was pissing me off, and asking her to cease and desist. I didn’t tell her to “fuck off”, though. I just clearly informed her that her comments were offending me. Ms. OH’s response was to send me a private message angrily berating me for “insulting her”. All I really wanted was for her to just leave me the fuck alone! I couldn’t block her on the message board, because we were both “admins”.

So anyway, once we all migrated to Facebook, one day I quietly dropped her from my friends list. For awhile, it was fine. I didn’t have so many encounters with her, and that made my life better. But then I got added to a Facebook group for second wives and stepmothers. It was 2012, so I had just turned 40. I got a message from the local Army clinic that it was time to schedule my first mammogram (which I still haven’t done, and I’m now 49). The clinic had also assigned a primary care manager to me; someone I hadn’t chosen and had never met before. I knew that if I went in to see the physician’s assistant assigned to me, she’d probably want to do other stuff, and quite frankly, that was very scary to me. I have a real “phobia” of medical providers, particularly the ones who want to examine my junk. It’s because I had a traumatic first experience with an OB-GYN.

I looked up the P.A. online, and found some public photos of her that made me think she wouldn’t be mature enough to deal with my issues. She was quite young and inexperienced. So I casually mentioned to my friends in the group that I thought I would be changing my primary healthcare provider, because the one the Army had assigned to me was a poor fit. Ms. OH, and a few others, were offended by my decision. In Ms. OH’s case, it was because her daughter is/was a young healthcare provider who likes to party. She was sure to tell me that her daughter would give me “excellent” care if I went to her, even though she has a “personal life” and likes to party sometimes.

Of course, I had to sigh at that response… because my situation with the Army P.A. I’d never met didn’t have a fucking thing to do with Ms. OH’s daughter. However, I also knew that I would never voluntarily choose to see Ms. OH’s daughter for healthcare, simply because she is Ms. OH’s daughter. I would rather see someone who doesn’t have such an intimate connection to someone who gets on my last nerve. And that choice should be okay, since there are plenty of people in the world who would happily see her daughter for healthcare, just as the P.A. who was assigned to me had a whole shitload of people on her list who would have no issues whatsoever seeing her.

I was just a name on a piece of paper to the P.A., so it’s not like my choice not to see her was even a personal affront. She wouldn’t be losing any money or prestige by my decision. In fact, she wouldn’t even be the wiser about it. I just wanted someone older and more experienced. What the hell is wrong with that? Like I said… if you’re going to examine my junk, I have the right to exact high standards. I honestly couldn’t see why this was such a big deal, and I never expected the controversy to arise the way it did in that group.

Well, the whole controversy was finally blowing over, until Ms. OH chimed in again, and then the issue blew up anew, with new people berating me for having my standards. They were more concerned about my not offending the healthcare provider by being “prejudicial” due to her public social media posts, than my own comfort and sense of trust. I was pretty flabbergasted, since I didn’t realize my choices regarding healthcare providers was up for debate. I mean, wouldn’t “friends” want me to be comfortable with and confident regarding my healthcare providers? But it soon got very ugly… so I quietly removed myself from the group. Ms. OH noticed, and sent me an email, which was, for once, not totally offensive. She wrote that she was glad I was “okay”. Fine.

Incidentally, Bill did end up seeing that P.A. and it turned out my instincts about her were correct. Bill has hypertension, but his case is unusual because he also has congenital hyponatremia (chronically low blood sodium). The P.A. gave him the usual spiel about avoiding stress, exercising, eating right, and not salting his food. However, because of Bill’s unusual and unique blood chemistry, actually he has been told by physicians that he should use salt. In his case, not salting his food is bad advice, in spite of his having high blood pressure. I’m sure the P.A. has plenty of textbook knowledge, and by now, she’s probably very experienced. But my instincts to avoid her were good, because in 2012, she was still pretty “green”.

A couple of years later, I ran into Ms. OH again on social media, and she made another passive aggressive dig to me regarding alcoholism, which is a sensitive topic for me. Having interacted with me for years, I think she was very aware that it was a delicate topic for me. I didn’t think her snarky comment, along with winkie smilies, was innocent, nor did I appreciate it at all. She also had a laugh at my expense, which angered me.

This time, I decided enough was enough, and I blocked her. Then I told Bill, “You wait. As soon as she sees that I blocked her, Ms. OH will send me an email.” Sure enough, I was right. Within a couple of hours, she’d sent an irate email DEMANDING to know why I blocked her. It was as if she felt I had no right to disassociate with her. My decision to block her was a personal affront, kind of like Rose Nylund trying to force her co-worker to be friends with her, when he didn’t want to be friends.

I was still really pissed off, and frankly, very surprised by her nerve. Usually, when people block you on social media, it means they DON’T want to talk to you. If you’re a basically decent person, you understand that the person doesn’t want to talk to you and respect that. And yet, here was Ms. OH, feeling quite entitled to bother me with an angry and demanding email. Part of me felt like ripping her a new one. But I thought better of it, and simply ignored her. Several years later, I unblocked her on Facebook. She took the first available opportunity to apologize to me, which was nice enough, although still kind of controlling– kind of like Hoovering. It was her way of getting the last word, I guess. I was gracious about it, and thankfully, that was that.

Anyway, I guess that commenter on The New York Times reminded me of Ms. OH, with his complaints about paywalls. How dare The New York Times expect payment for services rendered? And how dare a fellow reader take him to task for his whining, which he mistakenly believes will amount to anything more than laughing reactions and irritated comments from other Facebook users? And how dare I have standards for people who have intimate contact with my medical history and my body? How dare I make decisions about with whom I will communicate? People like the guy on The New York Times thread and Ms. OH are entitled twits. I don’t know the commenter at all, but I have to say that expecting to read newspaper content for free makes him appear to be pretty narcissistic, if not a bit deluded. But, since I don’t know the guy, and I feel that people should get the benefit of the doubt whenever possible, I’ll just assume he simply hasn’t thought very much about how journalists make a living.

Well, the dogs are demanding a walk, so I better wrap this up. Have a nice Monday, y’all.

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