Archive for the ‘Conspiracy Theories’ Category

Envy

February 15, 2019

I watched this documentary on Netflix the other day about this story––I liked the documentary, but I was so into this story I’d like anything about it, no matter how poorly done.  Anyway, they briefly interview a detective from the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office who was in charge (I think) of the investigation into the deaths (I tried and failed to take a screenshot of him).  He says, AND I QUOTE, “I’d never even heard of the self-help movement.  I didn’t know there was a self-help movement.”  Never in my life have I envied and pitied someone so much in equal measure!  Ross Diskin might be the most accidentally enlightened man in the universe.

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(This post is categorized as “It Could Be Worse…” because of course it could be worse: you could be James Arthur Ray.)

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Anonymous Advice

February 6, 2019
My husband and I are on a huge local parenting listserv––thousands of subscribers, thousands of pages and multiple groups and sub-groups, etc.––and we both get a daily dispatch from the Advice section.  Mostly it’s people asking for pediatrician referrals or the name of a good roofing guy, but occasionally someone writes in anonymously because what they need advice on is sensitive.

Early on in the days of this most recent maternity leave, I was super bored, so I read through all the old anonymous posts, and boy was it entertaining.  There were a lot of repeat issues (fertility problems, requests for therapist recs, nannies being assholes) but some really out there ones.  This is probably my favorite:

Hi – I have a situation with my nanny that I can’t wrap my head around.  She is claiming a spell was put on her a long time ago and it is causing her to not sleep, get sick & be all around miserable feeling.  However, she still comes to work and is doing a good job, always has & my daughters adore her.  She is in the midst of trying to get help through spiritual guidance.  To date I have not worried a second about my children.  My perspective is there is some mind over matter going on and maybe some mental issues?  However, this is a perspective that doesn’t believe in spirits & black magic.  Has anyone been through this? How understanding as a employer should I be?  I wouldn’t get fired for seeing a therapist, but after what happened on the UWS I am a bit nervous.  Any advice would be much appreciated.  My nanny is from Trinidad. Thank you! 

Honestly, though, the best part might have been how half the responses were like “These beliefs are part of indigenous Caribbean cultures!” and the other half were like, “I think it’s offensive to assume Caribbean people are unsophisticated and still believe in witchcraft!”

 

Being Woke Never Solved Shit

January 7, 2019

Remember when you were a child and you just read funny books about animals and you didn’t really think much of it?  But now it’s 2019 and you’re an adult and aware of things like colonialism, and then you read Babar and Curious George to your kid and you think, “Hm, the white man captures the animal from his happy jungle home and forces him to conform to societal norms he doesn’t understand, and fetishizes him or locks him up when he fails to follow the rules?  Is this just a veiled commentary on the history of white oppression in foreign territories?  Is Babar just a stand-in for Pocahontas, who was paraded throughout 17th century England as the ‘civilized savage’?  If George––human name, btw––were a person would he end up in a human zoo?  Oh, for fuck’s sake.  Liberalism is why we can’t have nice things!”

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ICYMI, it says “In the evening, after dinner, [Babar] tells the Old Lady’s friends all about his life in the great forest.”

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Curious George’s curiosity gets him fucking POACHED.

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Sure, it LOOKS innocent and fun, but the white man runs the zoo.

 

My New Favorite Website

December 23, 2018

Two reasons why I have a new favorite website.

1. In 2012, the high school football team in Gypsum, Colorado, rallied around a young fan suffering from leukemia, who lived nearby in the mountains.  A family friend of the boy, a woman in her twenties named Briana, was the intermediary: telling the football team about him, giving interviews to the press, moderating a Facebook page for him, etc.  When he died, the whole town mourned.  But then––surprise!––it turned out the whole thing was a scam.

This is just one example of “Munchausen by Internet,” but it’s one that’s always stuck with me, for reasons I can’t explain.  If someone gave me a few thousand bucks with the stipulation that I had to use it to satiate some longstanding useless desire, I would hire a private investigator to find Briana and Treva Throneberry and just show up at their homes and be like, “Yo ladies, WTF?”

2. When I’m bored, sometimes I will scroll through GoFundMe and try to do a little hypothetical empathy math.  Who deserves my imaginary extra thousand dollars?  The woman with colon cancer, or the man with the brain tumor?  The family who lost their home in a flood (aha, but did they have insurance), or the couple desperate to raise funds for IVF?  The website’s mere existence basically begs a million ethical questions, and I have considered writing about it at length before, but then someone else got there first, which would have pissed me off if the article wasn’t so damn good.

Anyway!  A few weeks back, a friend of mine and I were talking about illness on the Internet, and she gave me the greatest gift of all, which was a link to website called GoFraudMe: a snarky news site that tells you whenever someone commits fraud via crowdfunding!  It’s hilarious, galling, informative, and thought-provoking all at once!  Wanna hear about the nurse accused of killing his patients who took to GoFundMe to raise money for his legal fees?  Sure!  Did you know that Whitney Houston’s sister tried to raise funds to get people to investigate the “foul play” in Whitney and Bobbi Kristina’s deaths?  I did NOT know that!  What about the woman who not only faked cancer for money but said she was a veteran despite never having served? Sign. me. up!

Point being: this website is a trove of great stories (and as an aside, was a great distraction when I was recently in the hospital).  Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have been updated since September.  All I want for Christmas is MORE GOFUNDME FRAUD STORIES!

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This is why we can’t have nice things.

Psychic Autistics

November 1, 2018

“As [Hugo] Gernsback became wealthy, he cultivated the air of a bon vivant, packaging himself as adroitly as he packaged his crystal sets by dressing in bespoke suits and silk ties.  But he inevitably struck people as odd, rude, self-centered, and even callous.  On train trips to Chicago to pick up parts for his company, he would stop off in Cleveland to visit his seven-year-old cousin, Hildegarde.  The entrepreneur would terrify the girl by launching into winding soliloquies about a society in which domed cities in orbit, robot doctors, and retirement colonies on Mars were commonplace.  (Meanwhile, horse-drawn carts were still plying the streets outside.)  If a ringing telephone interrupted him in mid reverie, he would raise na admonishing finger and say to his cousin in his bristling Germanic accept, ‘Hildegarde, fix your hair.  It won’t be long before the caller can see your face over the wires.'”

~Steve Silberman, NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity

Get Me This Shirt

October 29, 2018

Anyone who has seen Synecdoche, New York and doesn’t think it perfectly encapsulates the despair of human existence I sadly must unfriend.

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Troll Idea

October 5, 2018

Sometimes I just want to create a grammar troll avatar, and then underneath all the comments with poor punctuation and spelling I come across while browsing the Internet, I’d just write things like “*you’re not your” or “*too not to.”  It would be like a massive prank on the whole web, but surely no one would ever connect it and I would just be doing it to amuse myself.  Which doesn’t really distinguish it from lots of other things I do, come to think of it…

The Official Ruling

September 5, 2018

MB: Hey!

ID: Hi!  What’s up?

MB: Is it too early to be having a mid-life crisis?

ID: Nope

ID: Lots of people I know have had one.

ID: I had a mini-one

MB: Okay then it’s official

Theresa Duncan’s (Missed) Yahrtzeit

August 29, 2018

So this is truly embarrassing, but I had it in mind to write something acknowledging the 10 year anniversary of Theresa Duncan’s death, and I thought it was somewhat recent, but then I Googled it just now and saw that it was actually LAST summer.  This is what having an infant/toddler will do to you.

Anyway, I wanted to memorialize the summer of Duncan’s passing, which of course, being twenty-three at the time, I made into a commentary all about me, but obviously I’ve missed it.  And so did, it seems, everyone else: there was no gossip-y Nancy Jo Sales piece, no memorial service at Saint Mark’s Church, no biopic from Brett Easton Ellis playing at my local Alamo Drafthouse (although I’ve always thought the story was better suited for avant garde opera, no)?  There was a pretty good essay about it by a writer named Patricia Grisafi, although clearly not timed for the anniversary; there was nothing specifically mentioning the anniversary on her mother’s blog homage (blomage?) to Theresa, but then again, maybe she doesn’t mark the anniversaries the way us Jews do.

And also, maybe there weren’t those things because… there isn’t really much to say?  I’m realizing now that I don’t have anything to add to the story except that we should try not to forget these two people, or at least that I don’t think I will be able to forget these two people, which is something else entirely.  Wherever you two lovebirds are, I hope it’s sunny.

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A Mystery

July 24, 2018

I’ve noticed that here in Jerusalem, there is an enormous amount of… bread litter.  By that I mean, rolls lined atop a fence, or clawed-open plastic bags of a sourdough slices tucked next to a stone stairway, or a mound of challah loaves sadly languishing in an alleyway.  What is going on here?

Well, dear reader, I’ve just figured it out, thanks to a two-second Google that, had I done sooner, would have saved me a lot of head-scratching: throwing away bread is a sin for us Jews.  Ugh, another thing I didn’t know I should be beating myself up for until now!

From a website called Jerusalem Perspectives:

The importance of sharing one’s bread with the poor has remained in the Jewish consciousness until today. Many people do not want to throw away bread. Instead of dumping their bread along with the rest of their garbage into the garbage carts parked along the streets, they save the bread in plastic sacks and hang it from the metal projections on the sides of the carts (used to hoist the carts into the garbage trucks). That way, the bread is potentially available to the poor. Not all Jews in Israel follow this custom, but lots do, especially here in our neighborhood of Maoz Zion.

It is not unusual to see hunks of bread or part of a roll lying on a curb, or on top of a wall.

If you Google Image “bread in the streets of Jerusalem” (poetic name for… something), you mostly just get a picture of that guy who sits near the Jaffa Gate with his big pastries on a table, which is not what I was going for here.