June 28th, 2014

HolyHandGrenade

Until The Next Time

For those wondering about Frank Schaefer, the Methodist minister trying to get his frock back after officiating at his son's gay wedding....

...the nine person tribunal reinstated him.  They also ordered back pay for him.

But don't think this has anything to do with enlightenment.  The panel went out of its way to remind everyone this was about Schaefer being punished for something he hadn't done, they were not making any kind of statement about gay marriage.

As our world spins into the bright new millennium.
Derpy Stamp

Letters From Our Readers: Derp Derp Derp

I got the following response to a blog post I made in Nov 2012.  This just popped up in the last couple of days.  The poster is one obamapresident:

„Obama has been hiding his real religious background for decades. The truth is shocking. It is a big
threatening danger for the future of our nation.”
They usually wear these jewels on official photos of the First Family and on informal events as well.
They wear the God Hanuman as an amulet, who holds a Trisul in his hand. Hanuman cut down the head of god
Ganesa’s (God of abundance) with this weapon, that’s why it is a head of an elephant on its place.
The trishul is a trident, like the figure in Obama’s hand holds in it’s left hand.
In mythology it’s not a good symbol anyway. The religious and ideological background represented by the jewels
is hard to understand for the first time, but gather the facts we can we draw some very interesting
consequences.

Sorry, I don't allow cranks on my LJ.  'Fraid I'm gonna have to ban ya.
Peter G

We Do Chicken Right. People? Not So Much....

People...are shady.

There are very few people you can actually trust in this world.  Lots of them will gladly put their ethics and code of honor on hold if they can gain something immediate from it.

You may recall a few months ago that a lesbian waitress claimed that a customer wrote a derogatory message about her on the receipt.  People reached out to her in support and to contribute money.  It was eventually discovered that the whole thing was a scam, the waitress made it up.  She promised to give the donated money to charity, but as far as I'm aware, she never did.  She played on people's outrage and sympathy, and made a quick pile.

We live in a cruel and heartless world, and the good people want to help those who are oppressed or taken advantage of or just falling on hard times.  Any time there is a national disaster, ordinary people rush to set up funds and gather money to help the other people stuck in the disaster while government officials hem and haw about budget concerns, sending messages, or even just using it as leverage to get votes on another pet project.  This is a noble impulse on our part, to do what we can to ease suffering.

But then it runs headfirst into what I wrote above, that people are shady.  And the sad thing is when, this initial voice asking, "What if this horrible thing is a scam," turns out to be 100% correct.

1402671064000-wilcherThis heartbreaking picture you see here is one Victoria Wilcher.  Victoria is three years old and lives in Jackson, Mississippi.  Victoria was attacked by three pit bulls at her grandfather's place -- two were shot, and the third was euthanized.  This poor girl is looking at lots of surgery and lots of therapy  (the grandpa and his girlfriend are awaiting trial for child endangerment).

Kelly Mullins is Victoria's grandmother.  According to her Facebook page, she took Victoria to a KFC after the hospital for some sweet tea and mashed potatoes, as those were pretty much the only things she could eat at the moment because of facial damage.  She claims that, while there, an employee came up to their table and asked them to leave because Victoria's face was upsetting the other customers.  As she told WAPT-TV news, "They just told us, 'We have to ask you to leave because her face is disrupting our customers.'  [Victoria] understood exactly what they said."

Now, that's horrible.  And within a day, KFC got online, asking for information so they could investigate and see that the employee got what they deserved.  They also pledged $30,000 to Victoria's medical bills.  The FB page raising money for Victoria's treatment quickly went over $135,000.

I was going to write this up last week, complete with applause for KFC for getting to the bottom of this, lots of hatred and vitriol for the heartless employee, and sympathy for Victoria and her family.  But a little voice in my head said, "What if it's a scam?"  So I sat on it, waiting to see what would happen.

Well, that was a smart move.  KFC started investigating, and found two problems -- first, no record exists in the computer for an order that included both iced tea and mashed potatoes that day.  Second, they reviewed the security camera footage from that store.

Victoria and her grandma do not appear on it at all the entire day.

When it was reported that KFC had brought in an outside investigator, I knew something was up.  And a short time later, they made the obvious conclusion -- the whole thing was a hoax.

Now, I want to point out that KFC is NOT taking away the $30,000 donation for Victoria's medical bills.  Thank you.  I'm glad they are not penalizing the little girl for what the grown-ups around her are doing.

But the rest?  There's a special place in Hell for people like you who exploit the very charges you are to protect, not to mention take advantage of other people's sympathy.  I know the bills will be high.  I know the psychological scars might never go away.

But to manufacture a crime like this and exploit your own three-year old?  Burn in Hell.
HolyHandGrenade

Annie, Get Your Gun

Oh, this could be the most fun sainthood declaration ever.  Assuming it happens in my lifetime.

Lots of saints are legends of their time.  St. Martin, with his magic cloak.  St. Joan of Arc.

How about a saint from not only the Wild West, but has already been featured on a television show?

Blandina SegaleThe Vatican has officially started a "Sainthood Cause" for one Sister Blandina Segale.  You're gonna love this woman.  She was a nun who worked in Ohio, Colorado, and New Mexico as a teacher and a social worker.

She also had balls of steel.  I recognize that is a chauvinist way of describing someone's courage, but there's no other way to describe it.  You think you got balls?  Her's are bigger, and forged of tempered steel.

If you want a Cliff's Notes version of her life, find yourself a TV show called Death Valley Days and look for an episode called "The Fastest Nun In The West."  Segale wrote to her sister letters about what was going on in her life, collected in a book called "At The End Of The Santa Fe Trail."  The book focused on one of her stories and turned it into a teleplay.

Segale started off simply.  Originally from the Sisters Of Charity in Cincinnati, Ohio, she went to Trinidad, Colorado in 1877.  She was then transferred to Santa Fe.

This was the start of her legacy.  She began by founding schools, both public and Catholic.  Not convincing people they were needed, she founded them.  But that wasn't enough.  She soon became an advocate for Hispanics and Native Americans who were losing their land to white swindlers.  Segale also saved a man from a lynch mob, which is the story Death Valley Days focused on.

Segale is also notorious for staring down Billy The Kid.  Back when she was in Trinidad, she heard that Billy The Kid was coming to town.  A friend of his had a gunshot wound.  Four doctors refused to treat him, and Billy was looking for some payback.  Segale found the person and took care of his wound.  She became Billy's first stop, because he wanted to thank her.  When asked if he could do anything for her to pay her back, she asked him to not kill the four doctors.

Billy The Kid honored her request.

That wasn't the end, though.  When Segale was traveling to Santa Fe, she rode in a covered wagon that got held up by Billy The Kid.  Once the wagon stopped, Billy looked inside and saw Segale.  He tipped his hat and his whole gang rode away.

Segale went back to Cincinnati in 1897, where she founded the Santa Maria Institute, which helped recent immigrants.  But her legacy lives on.  The Santa Maria Institute, those schools, and St. Joseph's Hospital in Albuquerque are still around to this day.

It will take years, maybe even a century, before sainthood is declared, if it ever is.  But she has a fighting chance now.

And she was all about fight.

I so hope this happens while I'm still alive.
Let Me Tell You Why That's Bullshit

In The Thicke Of It

It brought back memories.

Bad memories.

It was a long time ago that I had become a target for a borderline stalker.  Things managed to stop before they escalated, but that's not something you look back on and smile about.

Needless to say, I couldn't watch Robin Thicke's music video for his new single, "Get Her Back," without cringing at the thought of what almost happened to me.  He may want to patch things up with his wife, but all he's doing is proving she was right to bail on his ass.

Let's jump back a little bit, get a better idea of what is going on.  Robin Thicke is the son of Alan Thicke, TV host and star of Growing Pains.  Thicke is also a prolific songwriter, and Robin seems to have picked up some of that.  Besides music, Robin also started dating a girl in high school named Paula Patton.  The two were nuts about each other, and got married in 2007.  Everything seemed to be going well.

And then, last year.  Robin came up with a little ditty called "Blurred Lines."  Debate went back and forth about whether the song, with it's complaints about blurred social lines and chant of "I know you want it," was just macho bravado or victim-blaming and rape-y.  Not helping was Robin doing an interview where he admitted the song was disrespectful of women, and that was why he felt he could sing it -- he was married, loved his wife, treated her with respect, so this song was a complete 180 from his usual attitude.  Uh, that's high school acting out, not how a grown man behaves.

So, "Blurred Lines" burns up the charts.  This culminates in Miley Cyrus and her twerking extraveganza (while I feel Cyrus is making a fool of herself, I can't complain about the context of the song.  The song is all about a woman completely subjugating herself for the amusement of a guy.  That's pretty much what was happening on that stage).  Not only was there THAT little spectacle, but someone with a camera phone snapped a picture of Robin grabbing a woman's ass backstage.  There are also rumors of him running around with other women.  Respectful, my ass.

Well, apparently, being married to a man celebrated for being a douchebag is not what Patton had in mind.  She has separated from Robin in February of this year.  We don't know what is going on or what the next step is, but we might have a good idea because Robin has undertaken a very public campaign to reunite with Patton.  With his public apologies and dedicating songs to her while performing on his knees, he makes John Mayer look self-assured.

(I say "might" because it is entirely possible this whole thing is just a massive publicity stunt, like Cyrus at the VMA's or the Kardashians in general.  It could be the relationship is over, and by her being quiet for whatever reason, he's seeing something he can spin and have people following celebrity news eating up, the old "bad publicity is better than no publicity" thing.  His dad has a sort of reality show, where he admits to presenting a fictionalized version of his life in a reality TV set-up, so no, I'm not convinced this isn't another epically staged publicity ploy.  After all, did he really just start working on the album in February, get it mastered, and set for release in just under four months?  2 to the power of 100,000 to 1 against and rising.)

Robin has been telling anyone and everyone that his new album, "Paula," is all about her and how he wants her back.  Okay.  Kind of sappy but whatever, guys in the middle of a breakup aren't known for being rational.  But then, he revealed the track list.  And any thoughts he was going for a "Handsome Rob" kind of swagger went out the window.  Here's a sampling of the song titles:

"You're My Fantasy"
"Get Her Back"
"Still Madly Crazy"
"Lock The Door"
"Whatever I Want"
"Love Can Grow Back"
"Something Bad"
"Forever Love"

It doesn't help that some of these titles can be taken more than one way.  "Get Her Back?"  As in, "Back in your life," or "Get back at her for what she did to you?"  But this seems a little bit stalker-ish.

But now, we have the video for the first single, "Get Her Back," and it is creepy as fuck.  It doesn't help that people have a tendency to confuse stalking with simple devotion and determination.  This is often seen as empowering.  Sting has stated that "Every Breath You Take" is supposed to be sinister and make people uncomfortable, but lots of people see it as a song about a man lamenting a break-up.  Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" not only blatantly states it is about a stalker ("I'm your biggest fan, I'll follow you until you love me"), but the video ends with her finally getting the guy and killing him with a poisoned drink.  John Lennon openly stated he never should have written "Run For Your Life."  Plain White T's, "Hey There Delilah" seems like a long distance relationship song until you find out Tom Higgenson wrote the song when he met Delilah DiCrescenzo at a party and got turned down for a date, and wrote that to reach out to her and hopefully get her to change her mind.  And yet these songs are celebrated and the dynamic roles fantasized about when people should be calling therapists.

Robin's video gets really uncomfortable to watch right from the beginning, as it opens with a tight close-up of his face, and him singing directly to the viewer.  He also has blood trickling from his nose and down the side of his head at times, but no explanation where it came from.  A repeated image is him putting his finger to his temple with his thumb cocked, like a gun.  Yeah, that's not emotionally manipulative at all, where do we get these ideas?!?

While the emotional ploys and "Please pity me" behavior is bad, that's not what pushes this into stalker land.  The video itself is actually quite invasive and borders on public shaming.  It has text messages superimposed that could potentially be the kinds of messages Robin and Patton sent back and forth since the separation in February (they COULD be made up.  It's not like he, say, featured part of a voice mail like Drake did in "Marvin's Room".  I'm HOPING they're made up).  It features things like Robin saying, "I wrote an album for you," and her responding, "I don't care."  She tells him he drinks too much, he ran around on her, and he embarrassed her.  This is kind of standard stuff for break-ups (any who recalls the glory days of Motown and the "begging song" will vouch for this), although awareness of Robin's reality makes it unpleasant.  The awareness is his fault, by the way -- the model featured in the video bears a suspicious resemblance to Patton.

Then, the end of the video.  Her last text says, "I have to go."  And he responds, "This is only the beginning."

YIKES!!!

This is what makes the song so much worse than the examples I listed a few paragraphs above.  The model in the video is caressing Robin's body as the angry texts from the woman appear on the screen.  The model is never shown in more than segments, objectifying her as much as possible without stripping away the identity needed for everyone to know who she is supposed to be.  Robin implies that he won't take no for an answer.  The stalking is not implied, it is blatant and in the open.  It's real.  It's targeted.  It can't be ignored, it is the whole motivation for the images and actions.  This isn't a narrative, this is a personal message.  Robin has admitted as much, saying the whole album and everything connected with it is to get Patton to return to him.  I'd be advising Patton to buy herself a gun right about now.

Fact:  1 in 6 women in the US has been stalked.  Fact:  66% of stalking victims were stalked by a current or former lover.

If you want people to see you as a good guy, releasing an album with a track list that reads like a stalker's checklist probably isn't the way to do it.