Duggars, law, music, religion

A song leads me to ponder Christians and lawsuits…

Sorry in advance for those who are tired of this topic. I’m still working it out in my head. Also, please excuse me for taking so long to get to the point. 😉

A few days ago, I was working on my latest jigsaw puzzle. I had the music going, and a song came on that I think was by Paul Thorn. I can’t tell you which one it was, though, because I have a habit of downloading whole albums by artists I like, or even when I just hear a song I like. I don’t always get around to listening to the whole thing, like I used to when I was younger and poorer. I remember, when I was a kid, I would save my pennies for albums and listen to the whole thing over and over again, until I had the whole thing memorized. Nowadays, there’s just so much out there that I like, I don’t do that anymore.

In fact, just this morning, I was looking at songs by Stephen Bishop. I had heard his original version of the song, “Separate Lives”, which was made famous in the mid 1980s by Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin, who sang it for the film, White Nights. I was contemplating buying a live EP by Stephen Bishop, even though I already have a different live album by him. Then I noticed the Alan Parsons Project also had a song called “Separate Lives”. I have always liked the Alan Parsons Project… I’m nerdy like that, and I’m a bonafide child of the 80s. I ended up listening to a snippet, and liked what I heard, so I downloaded that. I’m now listening to that album. And I also bought an obscure early 90s album called The Law, which one of my college roommates had. I liked it back then, and it just popped into my head. So I bought that, too. I’m probably a record company’s wet dream of a customer. I’ll buy albums at the drop of a hat. It’s a good thing I gave up my obsession with horses, or Bill and I might legitimately be in the poorhouse.

Aha! I thought those backup singings sounded familiar. They also sing with the great Mike Farris, as well as on their own!

I am a recent admirer of Paul Thorn’s music. I discovered him when someone made a hilarious YouTube video using his funny song, “It’s a Great Day to Whup Somebody’s Ass”, speeding it up so it sounded like Paul was on helium. I found the original version and loved it. Next thing I knew, I was downloading shitloads of Paul Thorn’s music. His song, “I Don’t Like Half the Folks I Love” was very comforting to me in 2014, when I lost my dad rather suddenly. I was listening to my iPod on the way to my home state of Virginia, and that song, which I had never heard before came on… and I could really relate to it on so many levels.

I know Paul Thorn is the son of a Pentecostal preacher. He grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi, and was not allowed to listen to rock and roll when he was growing up. He had to hide the two records he did own– one by Huey Lewis and the other by Elton John. It’s not surprising that some of his songs are about faith issues, even though his own career has involved rock and roll, and until recently, booze. Thorn has evidently given up the sauce… something for which I heartily congratulate him.

So anyway, this song came on, and it sounded like it was an indictment against lawsuits. I thought it was a song by Paul Thorn, but I could be wrong. I’m trying to find it now, but I haven’t been successful. I should have “Shazamed” it. Wouldn’t it be cool if I could do a topic search in my music library and find the song that way? I probably could do that, but lack the technical expertise to figure out how. The song got me to thinking, though. I have heard that Christians shouldn’t sue each other. But what if the lawsuit is for a good cause?

I am rather nominally a Christian myself. I was raised to be Christian, but I don’t go to church anymore. Even if lawsuits weren’t considered a “Christian” thing to do, I don’t think that would be a reason not to engage in litigation. I do think that people should only sue someone as a last resort. I don’t think lawsuits should only be about money, either.

One of the reasons my husband sued our former landlady was because we knew she courted junior members of the military– young, inexperienced couples who might not have the time or resources to hold her accountable. She was very proud of hosting several American families in her rental house, and according to her, they were all “perfect” tenants. Except for us, that is. She said we were the “worst” tenants she’d ever had.

Now, we aren’t perfect people by any stretch of the imagination. But we do pay rent on time– early, actually– and we don’t throw wild parties, get in fights with each other or the neighbors, purposely destroy things, or complain a lot. I may not be a great housekeeper, but I do keep a basically sanitary home. She made us sound like we were total pigs. And although she accused us of being irresponsible slobs who were the “worst” tenants she’d ever had, I noticed that she never once asked us to move out of the house. She never claimed Eigenbedarf (needing the house for herself or her family). In fact, we have many emails in which she thanked Bill for paying her promptly and for being so “considerate”, which he certainly is. Although I had plenty of reason to complain about her many unplanned intrusions, I rarely did, at least in the beginning. It was only after she became verbally abusive toward me in my own home that I became really angry.

How is it, then, that she justified keeping our deposit, only begrudgingly giving us 20% back when Bill insisted? How is it that she clearly broke German laws, and we were the shitty ones? The money she kept, we could afford to lose. But there was a time when her decision to keep our money would have been financially devastating to us. I couldn’t help but notice that she appeared to prefer a certain type of tenant. Her place was priced reasonably for the Stuttgart area, although until we moved to Wiesbaden, it was one of the most expensive rentals we’d ever lived in. It was more than what we paid for housing in Texas and Georgia, though we lucked into a fairly cheap place in North Carolina. None of those landlords had problems with us, either. She was the only landlord that ever dared to rip off our deposit in such an egregious way.

We figured that if she was willing to rip us off without any compunction, she would certainly do it to younger, less assertive people with less experience living in Germany. She would count on them having to leave the country and not having had the foresight to buy legal insurance. She would bet they would be too intimidated by the court system and the lack of German language proficiency most Americans have. Plus, she’s a total bully, and most people don’t enjoy confronting bullies. That’s why they can continue to be that way to other people for as long as they do.

So, although we definitely wanted to hold her accountable for ourselves, we also saw suing her as a moral obligation toward those coming after us. She may very well continue to try to rip off her tenants, but at least someone has refused to let her get away with openly breaking German tenant/landlord laws. I strongly suspect that the people before us realized that she was a dishonest person and, instead of having the integrity to deal with her themselves, they lied to us and left us holding the bag. And then, when I started to figure out what happened, they tried to shame me into silence. They wanted us to pay the price for things that happened on their watch… because I KNOW that they didn’t get the same level of scrutiny on checkout that we did… and I KNOW that the house was not as clean for us as it was when we left it, in spite of ex landlady’s claims that it was filthy.

Bill watched her carefully when they did the walkthrough. She obviously had to look pretty hard to come up with defects, although she did have the nerve to complain that we left the trashcans full, as they were when we moved in back in 2014. I wish he’d had the presence of mind to remind her that we had paid rent and Nebenkosten (other costs– eg. water, trash) for December 2018, when we weren’t even living there. We had every right to use the trash cans in November 2018. The lease was in effect until 11:59pm December 31, 2018. If she was so upset that they were dirty, she could have asked us to come back and clean them after they were dumped. She knew we weren’t leaving the country. Of course, that would have meant she needed to cooperate with us, which she plainly wasn’t willing to do.

When it became clear that she was trying to portray us as people we clearly aren’t, to the point of even falsely accusing us of theft and other illegal things, we decided that a lawsuit was in order. It brought us no joy or pleasure to sue her. In fact, I know I was very angry about having to take that step. But what choice did we have? We could sue her and pursue what was rightfully ours under the contract, or we could let her get away with what looks to me to be like her usual scam involving Americans in Germany. To me, it seemed immoral not to hold her accountable, because it would only embolden her to continue doing the same sleazy thing to other people. In that sense, I don’t think what we did was “unChristian”. She did finally end up giving us our money, but boy, was it obvious she didn’t want to do it. Months after the case was settled, she still hadn’t paid. We contacted our lawyer, who must have sent her a very strongly worded letter. And then ex landlady didn’t pay us directly. She paid the lawyer, who then gave us our money. It must have been very painful for her to do the right thing.

And then I think about so-called Christians, like the Duggar family, who have certainly used the legal system to get what they want. Four of the Duggar daughters sued over invasion of privacy when their information was leaked to the press. That case was eventually dismissed after a couple of years of wrangling. Of course, right now the legal system is having its way with their brother, Josh Duggar, who is going to have an extra couple of months cooling his heels in the Washington County jail. His lawyers successfully petitioned the court for more time before he is formally sentenced for his horrific crimes against children. I have heard that jails are a lot less comfortable than prisons are. They are set up for short term stays, which means they have less in the way of resources for inmates. But Josh probably prefers to be in Arkansas, close to his wife, Anna, who is able to talk to him by phone. Once he gets to prison, he may be less protected from harm than he is right now. But of course he’s going to have to go to prison at some point. Frankly, I think the sooner he accepts that, the better off he’ll be.

Speaking of the Duggars… there was another wedding yesterday. Jeremiah Duggar, twin to Jedidiah, who was married last April, got married to the former Hannah Wissmann in Nebraska yesterday. Some photos have already surfaced of the event, which was apparently relatively subdued for a Duggar wedding. There weren’t any weird pranks played, for instance. This was also the first wedding Josh didn’t attend, obviously. I don’t know where they will honeymoon. Since TLC isn’t paying, I guess it won’t be anywhere in Europe.

Anyway… if I ever figure out who sang the song that inspired this post or the song’s title, I’ll try to post a link and perhaps offer more commentary. Next time, I’ll be sure to Shazam. But, suffice to say, I don’t think it’s always wrong or immoral to sue someone. Sometimes, lawsuits are completely justified and, in fact, even the “right” thing to do. It’s only when they are solely about taking money for frivolous or greedy reasons that I think they’re immoral. Sometimes, filing a lawsuit is the only way to get justice. And, I know in our case, it was also about reclaiming self-respect and maintaining dignity. Turning the other cheek is a good thing to do sometimes. Other times, it’s much better to fight.

One more thing before I go… I just discovered the wonderful music of piano prodigy Ruth Slencynzska, who is 97 years old and is Rachmaninoff’s last surviving student. If you love classical music, I would highly recommend checking out her brand new album, My Life in Music. It’s gorgeous!

It’s better to focus on Ruth’s sublime artistry and musicianship than people who lie, cheat, and steal from others.
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Duggars, ethics, law, musings

“If you want the rainbow, you’re going to have to put up with a lot of rain…”

Yesterday, I got the news that after last year’s sad miscarriage, Jill Dillard and her husband, Derick, are expecting another baby. The blessed event is set to happen in July. The happy news was announced on their official Web site. It looks they’re going to get their “rainbow baby”. In the pictures on their Web site, Jill looks radiant. Her bump is already pretty pronounced, at about halfway through her pregnancy.

I must say, Jill looks very beautiful these days. I’m happy for her, and I hope her pregnancy goes well. I also hope she doesn’t attempt another home birth, but I think she’s smart enough not to try that again. It’s not that I necessarily have anything against home births as a general rule. It’s just more that Jill’s first two pregnancies were pretty dramatic at the end, and she ended up having to go to the hospital on an emergency basis. It would not be smart for her to try to birth at home again, given her history.

I still don’t necessarily approve of the transphobic and homophobic comments Derick Dillard made a few years ago. I think part of that was an attempt to cause problems for the Duggar empire, since Derick was allegedly angry with Boob for not paying them for their work. However, knowing how religious Derick supposedly is, I also suspect that he really believes most of the awful stuff he said and wrote about Jazz Jennings. On the other hand, I respect Derick for not putting up with Jim Bob’s bullshit and for, evidently, being a good husband to Jill… and not forcing her to continue to live by Boob’s ridiculous fundie Christian rules.

Today’s post title comes from a little wisdom I picked up after watching Dawson’s Creek back in the late 90s. I was in my mid 20s at the time, living with my parents, and trying to get my shit together after my time in Armenia. It was during that time that the WB network still existed, and I got hooked on 7th Heaven and Dawson’s Creek. It amazes me to think of how long ago that was. The years have flown by so fast!

Anyway, I remember that the character, Jen, played by the amazing Michelle Williams (who does a mean Gwen Verdon impression), had a grandmother who regularly dispensed trite advice. I really only watched Dawson’s Creek during the first season. I was pretty busy at that time of my life, and didn’t have much time for TV. But I do remember the episode that quote came from… as “Grams” was talking to Dawson and said her comatose husband used to say that “If you want the rainbow, you have to put up with a lot of rain.” And then she said to Dawson, “From what I’ve seen of you so far, you better buy yourself a good umbrella.” Sage words indeed, Grams. Hopefully, Derick and Jill and their sons will have a healthy new family member this summer. I also hope Derick has a good job, especially since TLC presumably won’t be there to film the birth.

Tomorrow, Bill and I will be going to Stuttgart to see our dentist. I look forward to being done with that little pesky chore. Afterwards, we will drive just over the border into France and spend the weekend. The dogs will be at the Hunde Pension. Hopefully, they’ll be okay for four nights. I suspect Arran will be annoyed at having to stay there. He’d rather come with us. If it was just him, maybe we would bring him, although he doesn’t do so well by himself and we’re going to dine out. Noyzi takes up the entire back end of our Volvo, so it’s not so practical to travel with him. He loves trips, though.

I’m looking forward to getting out of here for a brief respite, especially since we’re going to France. We haven’t gone anywhere in months. The weather has vastly improved, too. It’s still a little windy and chilly, but the sun has been out a lot. The days are getting longer. Pretty soon, it’ll be time to reconnect the lawnmower and haul the outdoor furniture up from the basement, so we can sit outside.

Although there’s a conflict going on in Ukraine, and it’s very troubling and scary, I can’t help but feel somewhat hopeful and optimistic. I’m not sure why I feel this way. I should be more scared, I guess… but I think the past two years have tapped me out on being scared.

I was sitting in my bedroom yesterday, thinking about how totally awry my life has gone. I mean, I’m very comfortable, but all of the things I planned for myself kind of went out the window. But then, I couldn’t have foreseen all that has happened over the past twenty years or so. Things that were so important back then, don’t really amount to much today. And now that Putin is talking about nukes, maybe it won’t matter at all before too long. So I feel like I just want to enjoy things for now, for as long as I can. Getting too upset about stuff I can’t control is a waste of time and energy.

I did get a little triggered last night, though. I happened across a Reddit Ridiculousness post about a person who accidentally damaged a “friend’s” laptop and offered to pay for a brand new one. The friend with the damaged computer then demanded an extra $500, because she wanted to upgrade… Can you imagine the balls on that bitch? Have a look.

That post was very satisfying to read. The ending was perfect. I can’t abide people who have the stones to try to get over in such a way. I can’t even imagine having the nerve to demand that someone buy me a brand new, upgraded laptop computer, when I negligently put the computer on a surface where people sit down. Good for that judge for holding the computer owner responsible for her own stupidity and carelessness. She probably did that on purpose, hoping to scam someone into buying her a new computer. I’m glad the really kind original poster did not give in to the extortionate demands of the thieving computer bitch. Good on her for letting the bitch sue her, and then allowing the judge to hand the bitch her ass. Serves her right.

As I read that post last night, I was reminded of our ex landlady’s attempt to force us to buy her a brand new awning. I’ve written about that sordid affair a few times and you can read most of long version of the whole awful tale here. The short version is, I had asked the former landlady to have the awning repaired, because it was leaning very low and looked like it was going to fall. She had her husband do the job instead of hiring a professional.

One really hot day, the wind was high, and the heavy awning finally collapsed. I wasn’t outside when it fell, and I couldn’t predict the wind, so ex landlady immediately accused me of being “negligent”, completely ignoring that it was her responsibility to have the thing fixed. She was VERY lucky no one was hurt or killed that day. But she focused on the fact that I wasn’t sitting under the awning when it fell. She claimed that it had been a “stormy” day. If you click the link to my first post about this, you can see that the weather was sunny that day– at least when the awning initially fell. It did storm later, but that happened after the great collapse. In the photos I took right after the awning fell, it’s clearly bright and sunny, with no signs of rain.

The insurance settlement she got from our liability policy was only 300 euros. That wasn’t enough money for her, even though the awning was 17 years old and she hadn’t had it properly repaired. A little over a year later, when we moved out, she came up with a bullshit list of reasons to withhold our security deposit. She wanted 2800 euros to buy a brand new awning. I guarantee you, though, that if the situation had been reversed, and we were the landlords, there is no way in HELL she would have paid for a new awning. I think she knows damned well that’s not how insurance works. She was trying to take advantage of my husband’s good nature, and apparently thought we were both weak and stupid people. I strongly suspect that she’s done this before, to other people… and especially other tenants. In retrospect, we should have held her completely responsible from the beginning, and refused to file an insurance claim, given that she didn’t have a professional fix the awning.

When Bill pushed back and asked ex landlady for a list of bills proving that she’d spent 2500 euros of our deposit to fix the house, as well as proof that we were responsible for the damage, she got really nasty, insulting, and unprofessional. She sent a few bills, including a couple for things that weren’t our responsibility, but were just intended to make us feel guilty for how much money she was spending (on anal retentive things like washing the roof of the carport). She grudgingly gave back about 666 euros or so, out of 3200, and flat out REFUSED to give us more. She falsely accused us of theft, and completely ignored that she did some things very wrong as landlady, as she demanded perfection from us. It was pretty clear to me, at least, that she was determined to take our money, no matter what. So Bill sued her. It took a long time, thanks to COVID-19, but in the end, she had to pay us back 73 percent of what she illegally withheld, and she had to pay our lawyer, her lawyer, and court fees.

In the end, she probably spent over twice what she tried to rip off. She also got off easy, because she didn’t follow several proper landlord procedures, according to German law. If we had been very stubborn, vindictive people, we could have nailed her for a lot more money. But we just wanted to hold her accountable, because we suspect she has a habit of ripping people off. There’s a reason why she prefers American tenants. We wanted proof of her shady practices, so we could provide it to the military installation and have a prayer of sparing other Americans from having to deal with her. Moreover, I was on the receiving end of her verbal abuse for four years, and I figured she had it coming. In spite of that sweet victory, I’m still really pissed off at her. I know I shouldn’t be, but I am. I can’t abide narcissistic, abusive people, especially when they fuck with my husband.

Now, of course, we have a much better landlord, and a better house. And, for now, thanks to Putin, Bill has job security. Or, so it seems… I sometimes worry about the future, and where we’ll end up. I try to take steps to make sure we have an “umbrella” prepared for the rainstorms… and hope we’ll see rainbows. So far, we generally do get treated to better times when there are “storms”. But I know that’s now how life always works. I am a bit worried about the world’s problems… but I’m also looking forward to better times. Or, at least a time when problems will be beyond me, because I won’t be around for them. I have always been comforted by the idea that someday I’ll be dead, and I won’t have to care about anything anymore.

I don’t know how much writing I’ll be doing over the next few days. I’ll bring my laptop, making sure not to put it on a couch to be sat upon. But I hope we’ll have the chance to see a lot of stuff, eat some good French food, and enjoy the world a little bit more than we have been lately.

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disasters, Duggars, Reality TV, transportation, YouTube

Jim Bob’s auditions, Derick’s defection, Josh in prison, and the world’s oldest profession…

Lately I’ve been kind of obsessed, watching some of the old episodes of the Duggars’ reality show that have been recently posted on YouTube. They’ve brought back a lot of repressed memories. I did used to watch the show, back in the days before we knew the truth about Josh Duggar. Even before I knew about the Duggar family, I found super large families interesting. It’s probably because of my dad’s experiences growing up in a big family. My dad and his siblings always seemed very close-knit and loving, even if my experiences as my dad’s daughter seemed to be less like that.

My dad was one of nine children, and I always thought that was a huge family. By today’s standards, it is a huge family. But my dad’s family still had fewer than half of the kids in the Duggar family. In fact, compared to the Duggars, my dad’s family almost looks petite.

Back when their reality show premiered, I thought the Duggars were fascinating. Most of the kids were cute and precocious. Even Josh, back in the day, seemed benign in his brightly colored polo shirts and khaki pants, with his neatly cut hair. It wasn’t until the specials turned into a show that I realized how smug and glib Josh appeared to be. But then there was Jim Bob… and Jim Bob frequently came off like a blockhead– a heavily shellacked blockhead. Sometimes he said things that made it sound like he’d been inhaling too much hairspray, or something. But then, after watching the Duggars for awhile, I realized that Jim Bob is quite narcissistic and uses people, especially his family. For years, he’s used his own children as a source of power and money.

Yesterday, I watched the Duggars, then listened to a couple of YouTubers opine about them and their family. One v-logger, in particular, highlighted Jim Bob’s lengthy application/questionnaire that he handed out to his daughters’ suitors. The v-logger commented that the questionnaire seemed almost akin to an audition. The young men who came a’courtin’, had to explain their religious beliefs, and describe how they planned to support the Duggar daughters.

An interesting video by kyeluh about Jill, and her upbringing in a cult.

It dawned on me that Jim Bob was holding auditions, to keep the gravy train rolling. It mattered less if the potential suitor was a good match and had things in common and basic chemistry with his daughters. He was looking for guys who were reasonably attractive, loyal, hard working, and, above all, malleable, and willing to submit to Jim Bob’s authority. So far, it doesn’t look like Boob is the best judge of character, even with that lengthy audition/questionnaire he makes his potential sons-in-law fill out for him. Ben Seewald seems to be the only one who stays totally loyal to Boob, besides Boob’s own sons. The other sons-in-law mostly seem interested in actually being the “headship”, rather than allowing Boob to stay in that role.

Then I thought about how Jim Bob had basically “prostituted” his children to TLC, using a contract in which he collected all of the money from the episodes of the Duggar series and specials, supposedly to dole out the money to the participants. However, Jill Dillard and her husband, Derick, later sued Jim Bob so they could get paid for their participation on Counting On. It’s been widely reported that Jill was basically paid minimum wage, and the cost for pursuing that money, as well as being allowed to live life on her own terms, was being ostracized from her family.

I remember when I first saw Derick Dillard. I thought he seemed reasonably intelligent. I even kind of liked him. He did, at the very least, seem to really love Jill, anyway, and God knows she needed someone to show her some authentic love. Then later, Derick was criticized for making transphobic comments about fellow TLC reality star, Jazz Jennings. It got to the point at which he was no longer on Counting On. At first, I thought TLC gave him the ax because of all of those transphobic comments he made about Jazz Jennings, and the backlash resulting from them. Later, I read that he and Jill had decided to leave the show, because they weren’t getting paid, and because they didn’t enjoy having their personal lives plastered all over a reality show solely for Jim Bob’s profit.

I also realized, sad as it is, that a lot of Americans probably have feelings that are similar to Derick Dillard’s when it comes to issues regarding the LGBTQ community. While I disagree with Derick’s opinions regarding that community, I can also understand why he still has a voice. It’s because many people agree with him, but aren’t saying so out loud. They don’t want to be lectured or canceled. It’s sort of the same reason why Donald Trump is popular, in spite of being an obvious and major narcissistic dickhead.

It would be nice if every person’s controversial and problematic views evolved at the same time, but that’s not reality. The truth is, it takes time to change public sentiment. That’s why we still have issues with racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination. Loftily telling someone to “educate themselves”, when they have an opinion that isn’t politically correct, isn’t likely to end with positive results. People don’t like to be told what to do or how to think or what their opinions should be, even if more progressive people have come to different conclusions. Telling them that they have to change their views is going to result in a lot of defiance, and championing of those who are bolder about expressing their opinions.

So, instead of disliking Derick Dillard simply because he made those offensive, transphobic comments, which are right in line with his conservative Christian beliefs, I choose to look at him in a more positive light. I don’t agree with his ignorant comments about people who aren’t heterosexual, but I like that he encourages Jill to live a less constrained life. I like that he seems to love her very much. I love that he took on Jim Bob, and doesn’t let Jim Bob run his or Jill’s lives. I love that Jill does more of what she wants, and their sons go to public school, where they are exposed to people who aren’t just like them. I love that Derick insisted on being paid for the work that he and Jill did.

Jim Bob acts like a pimp, and his wife and children, and now his grandchildren, are pressed into service to make money for him, just as if they were prostitutes for TLC. I’m glad Derick stopped allowing Jim Bob to prostitute him and Jill, using them for his personal gain. While some people may not like that I use the terms “pimp” and “prostitute” to describe Jim Bob and his family, if you look up the definition for “prostitute”, you will find that it’s not always a word that’s used for sex workers. It’s also used for people who surrender their self-respect and misuse their talents for personal gain. A pimp is a “go-between”– a “purveyor” of services rendered, especially if they’re sexual. But, if you think about it, Jim Bob kind of does sell off his offspring, if not for reality entertainment value, then for their abilities to reproduce and make more bodies who can be raised to think the way he does.

The Duggars, and the people who have married into that family, are all conservative Christians. Most of them hail from the southern United States, which is Bible Belt territory. I think it’s unrealistic to expect most of them to change their beliefs about homosexuality and transgendered people on a dime. It would be nice if they could instantly join us in the 21st century and stop being homophobic and transphobic, but that isn’t reality. While I think their show should have been canceled ages ago, I also think the fact that it wasn’t is a sign that a lot of Americans are, deep down, more like them than they’d like to admit, political correctness be damned.

Maybe it’s not necessarily a bad thing that the Duggars had a reality show for so long. If anything, the show and the incredible fall from grace the Duggars are experiencing, shines a light on the very disturbing and destructive IBLP and ATI cult formed by Bill Gothard. If not for the Duggars, would most of us even know about Bill Gothard? I don’t think I would. Maybe I would have eventually gotten around to reading a book about fundies, but it takes more time and effort to read a book than watching a TV show.

Personally, I think it’s better to try to understand the Duggars where they are, and realize that for now, they are homophobic and transphobic, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. We have to work with what we have. They aren’t going to change their beliefs simply because I tell them they need to educate themselves. They have to want to change. And right now, they have bigger fish to fry, as eldest son Josh awaits his sentencing and trip to federal prison. Speaking of which…

Lately I’ve also been watching videos made by former prisoners. I’ve been watching Jessica Kent, who served time in New York and Arkansas, for some time, but I’ve also watched a few videos by Christina Randall, a winsome YouTuber from Florida who did time in prison there. Recently, I saw her video about what it’s like to be transferred to prison, and how terrible an experience that was. I think Josh has some terrible days ahead of him, but at least he won’t be pregnant when he goes to prison.

This is actually a pretty harrowing video. Being transported to prison sounds pretty hellish.
Jessica’s experience. She was pregnant when she went on that horrible five hour drive to prison.

I don’t have any pity for Josh. I don’t think he is someone who should ever be on the outside, mainly because people like him can’t be rehabilitated without extreme measures. Basically, he’d probably need to be castrated to have any hope of quelling his deviant desires. We know that’s not going to happen. He poses a danger to the world’s most innocent and fragile people. But even though I don’t pity him, I also know that he’s going to be in for a rough time. And I know that in spite of how I feel about his family– especially his father– there are people in that family who love him in spite of what he’s done. So I have some compassion for them, and basic compassion for Josh, because he is still a human being who has done really terrible, monstrous things.

Josh is not ever going to be trustworthy, especially around children. And it is sad for his SEVEN children than their father is a sexual deviant who is going to prison. Although it would probably be sadder for them if he had been acquitted, and allowed to raise them, since it’s likely that they were victimized by him. The sad fact is, people who look at what he was looking at usually have to produce it themselves, in order to be trusted in that sick community. I would be surprised if Anna doesn’t get investigated, too.

Of course, not everyone in the Duggar family is guilty, and they shouldn’t all have to pay for Josh’s mistakes, or the fact that the patriarch trotted them out on reality TV so he could make a fast buck. They can’t help being who they are, or how they were raised… and even if the world is telling them they should be different, it’s a scary proposition to reject one’s family and upbringing, and the ideals that they learned during their formative years. I have hope that some of them will break away and have the courage to live life on their own terms, rather than being Boob’s enslaved prostitutes for publicity.

Anyway… this whole fiasco has been an epic shitshow. It’s really something to watch the oldest episodes of the Duggars’ reality show and see just how deceptive they were, and how much “actual reality” was being obscured by “reality TV”. It’s always sad when someone’s image is significantly less than the reality of who they really are becomes obvious. But I do take heart when I see glimmers of hope and light, and I do see those when I see Derick Dillard take on Jim Bob and Josh. No, he’s not perfect, and I certainly don’t agree with his homophobic or transphobic opinions, or his conservative political views. But I think it’s a beautiful thing that he supports his wife in her recovery, and doesn’t let Jim Bob whore him out to the highest bidder. That’s got to count for something.

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bad TV, Duggars, Reality TV, religion

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

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

Plathville…

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

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

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

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

The latest trailer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now… on to J.L. Duggar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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book reviews, healthcare, Reality TV

Repost: Dr. Pimple Popper’s book… Put Your Best Face Forward

Here’s a repost of a book review I wrote in January 2019. It appears here as/is.

Until a couple of weeks ago, when someone mentioned the name Sandra Lee, I thought of the tall blonde chick who used to do “semi-homemade” cooking shows on the Food Network.  But, just as I’ve lost touch with today’s popular music and television shows, I also missed out on Dr. Sandra Lee, dermatologist extraordinaire, popularly known as “Dr. Pimple Popper”.  Sandra Lee, as I pointed out in a recent post, made a big splash on YouTube… or should I say she “busted out”… posting disgusting videos of herself removing cysts, pimples, and lipomas. 

Dr. Lee became so successful that The Learning Channel (TLC) gave her a show of her very own, called Dr. Pimple Popper.  She showcases patients with unsightly blemishes who visit her in her southern California practice, where she practices dermatology and does cosmetic and surgical procedures.  Apparently, a lot of people make appointments with her after watching her videos on YouTube.  She even had one patient come to her all the way from the Philippines.

I must admit, I binge watched everything and, as much as some of the videos turned my stomach, even enjoyed the show enough to decide to read Lee’s book, Put Your Best Face Forward: The Ultimate Guide to Skincare from Acne to Anti-Aging.  Although I’m definitely not a beauty fanatic, I do find medical subjects interesting.  I’m also at that age when zits are less of an issue than wrinkles and red blotches are.

On her television show, Dr. Lee is very friendly, personable, and warm.  She comes across the same way in her writing, which is chatty and conversational.  Her book, which was just released on December 31, 2018, consists of an impressive 285 pages of information about how to keep your skin healthy and glowing, along with some anecdotes, and a few of Lee’s thoughts on the vast array of medical professionals who now offer cosmetic procedures. 

As someone who once aspired to work in healthcare, I was surprisingly interested in Lee’s comments about all of the people who are now offering services designed to make people look better.  Why do they do it?  Because people tend to pay out of pocket for those services and doctors can make more money.  Lee writes that everyone from dentists to physicians’ assistants are getting in on the game, even if they aren’t necessarily qualified.  Therefore, it’s very important to do your homework before you see someone for cosmetic procedures not covered by insurance.

Dr. Lee also has some interesting thoughts on collagen fillers and “Botox”, which is the popular name for the botulism toxin used to temporarily paralyze certain muscles in your face that makes you look older.  Apparently, Botox gets a bum rap.  Dr. Lee thinks it’s “amazing” and uses it herself, although she cautions against using too much of it.  Also, what we think of as “Botox” has evolved from what it was even fifteen years ago.  The technology is changing rapidly and now, instead of using a bovine derivative of the “toxin”, new drugs are used.  But, just as we tend to think of all bandages as “Band-Aids” and all copiers as “Xerox”, people think of Botox as a catchall term for that medicine that people use to look younger. 

Aside from her thoughts on choosing the right person for cosmetic procedures, Lee also offers tips on how to take care of your skin.  Naturally, she is all for sunscreen and moisturizers.  She writes that some products, such as eye creams, are kind of a waste of money.  A good moisturizer that works for your skin will probably be fine for your eyes, too, despite what the marketing professionals try to tell you.  She cautions readers to avoid smoking and to wear clothing that protects your skin from the sun, even in addition to wearing sunscreen.  I also enjoyed reading her thoughts on liposuction, which many people know little about.  She explains that liposuction is not for weight loss, but for contouring.  Also, it’s apparently a physically demanding procedure, but she finds offering it fun and rewarding on many levels.

Although Dr. Lee does take a couple of opportunities to pitch her skincare line, SLMDskincare, she mostly keeps the product pitching to a minimum.  I appreciated that, since I think it’s a huge turnoff to read a book that is basically an ad campaign.  She does explain that the “golden age” of medicine has passed, and today’s healthcare environment is not like it was when her father practiced dermatology.  Apparently, a lot of doctors are leaving healthcare practice, mainly because of insurance companies.  I can believe it.  However, it does appear to me that Dr. Lee is extraordinarily lucky, clever, and talented.  Besides being a doctor, she’s also a classically trained musician and plays guitar.  She’s pretty and bubbly, and that will likely get her far in our image obsessed culture.  On the other hand, I must admit she also has a very pleasing personality, which makes her success less likely to inspire jealousy among the masses.

Personally, I enjoy Dr. Lee’s show because each case has a compelling story behind it.  It’s gratifying to watch Dr. Lee change someone’s life just by improving their appearance.  This book is like a companion piece to Dr. Pimple Popper.  I bought it on Kindle, but I actually kind of wish I’d gotten a hard copy.  It’s a good reference book that begs to be consulted, which is easier to do with an actual book.  She includes some pictures, which are also easier to find in an actual book.

Overall, I think Put Your Best Face Forward is a good read, especially if you care about keeping your skin looking great.  I would recommend it, especially to those who also like watching Dr. Pimple Popper.

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

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