Sunday, February 26, 2017

X Gon' Give It To Ya

Hey everybody!

If you're wondering about the post title, I couldn't think of anything, so I decided to go with an earworm. You're welcome.

I don't know if you guys were hoping and praying for it, but there will probably be no creepy sex stuff. I suppose I could try to read something into "The Lord's anger was aroused," but I don't think I will.

No, this week, we're getting Copy-and-Paste from Caleb and Joshua. Were it not for the fact that I'm lazy, I'd do an experiment, see how high the word count is for this book if you cut out all the copy-and-paste stuff from the Bible and the mothereffin' front matter. Would this book even be long enough to qualify as a novella after that? But you better believe I will turn my inner Smart-Aleck Sunday School Kid loose. It pays to know the weird parts of the Bible.

Anyway, Cam-Cam decides to get the kids ready by having them recite the Bible verse they had learned:

Cameron cued the kids, and from thousands of young voices came: “ ’ The Lord’s anger was aroused on that day, and He swore an oath, saying, “Surely none of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and above, shall see the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, because they have not wholly followed Me, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh, the Kenizzite, and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have wholly followed the Lord.”’  ”

Those verses are from Numbers 32:10-12 for those of you wondering. And I'm like, "Seriously you chose that verse for them to recite?" Because how many kids would be able to easily pronounce words like Jephunneh and Kenizzite, without tripping over them. It also is a rather large, unwieldy verse you're asking them to learn. It would have made more sense to go with the tail end of Joshua 24:15 and have the kids say, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Shorter and easier to learn and it has fewer confusing words for them to stumble over.

Don't tell me that Ellanjay hasn't heard of this verse; it's one of the most popular ones that gets plastered on numerous Christian knick-knacks. That and Ellanjay have proven again and again that they would much rather deal in sweeping clichés regarding the Bible, rather than any of the stuff that makes you think, so that verse would be right done their alley.

I could also point out that we have a hard time getting three or four adults to sing Happy Birthday in key (and at a reasonable tempo, rather than a dirge-like one), so yeah, all the thousands of kids reciting it all in perfect unison? That sound you hear is me pointing and laughing. Ellanjay haven't been around kids like at all.

I suppose I could, if I wanted to be super anal-retentive, draw up some specks to map out how big a room would have to be to seat thousands of kids and however many adults who came to this thing, but it is Heaven, where there are no limitations on materials, labor, and time, so I'll let Ellanjay off the hook here. I feel dirty about it, but I must be fair.

Though the idea with that many kids and so few supervisors, the daycare hasn't morphed into a cross between Thunderdome and Springfield Elementary as run by Ned Flanders...I can only suspend my disbelief for so long, people.

Joshua and Caleb start talking and Smart Aleck Sunday School Kid (henceforth referred to as SASS because) would be like, "Okay, you're just reciting copy-and-paste from the Bible as opposed to anything that would provide actually personal insight into the events. Can't we just stay home and read our Bibles, rather than be elbow-to-elbow with a bunch of freaks?"

“Well, yes, amen and amen!” Joshua said, again miraculously able to be heard by all. “Thank you, children! Caleb and I thank you. You are right that the Lord’s anger was aroused. He made Israel wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in His sight was gone. You know, many people believe the wilderness journey simply took that long, but from the Scriptures you know that the forty years were a punishment for their lack of faith. If you trace our journey on a map, you’ll see that we simply wandered around, getting nowhere.

"But if the Israelites literally wandered around the Sinai Desert for forty years, wouldn't there be tons of archaeological proof of their presence? Yeah, time wears away and decays a lot of stuff, but this is the desert. The dry, arid nature of such a place, tends to preserve things very well," said SASS.

Of course, I'm one of those weirdoes who believes that when they give a number like forty years in the Bible, they're using a form of shorthand to say, "A really long time." Given that the Gregorian calendar wasn't a thing like at all, how exactly would the Israelites keep track of the days? I'm picturing a Monty Python-esque scenario: "Forty Years or 14,600 days, is the time we shall wander around the desert, not 14,601 days or 14,599 days. 14,602 days would be way out. No, the number of days we shall wander is 14,600."

And yes, I freely admit I forgot to calculate leap years. Dammit! Cut me some slack! Math is one of those things I generally run like hell away from. I think I might actually fear math more than bears. Bears will just eat you and there's some consolation in that they may survive a winter because of you. Math, on the other hand, reduces your sanity to a pile of mush, leaves you forever going, "The horror, the horror," at the sight of Xs and Ys. Sine and Cosine are like tactical nukes to the psyche.

Caleb stepped forward. His voice was reedier than Joshua’s but just as loud and understandable. “Joshua and I were born in Egypt, while our parents and all the children of Israel were slaves. Even the adults, our parents and aunts and uncles, were called children, because they were the children of God, His chosen people. Joshua and I experienced everything the rest of our tribes went through in the wilderness after escaping. Joshua proved to be a mighty man of valor, serving as a commander in the great war against the Amalekites. He also ministered to our leader, Moses, when he went up Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments from the Lord.

To get the penny-ante stuff out of the way before I turn SASS loose, what exactly is a reedy voice and what would it sound like? I hear reedy and I think reed, which leads me to woodwinds, but I think most people would be a little freaked out if someone sounded like a clarinet when they talked. Have nothing against clarinets as an instrument, but wouldn't you be a little freaked out if someone opened their mouth and out came the clarinet part from Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue?

It's like all those commercials for toilet paper and menstrual products that demonstrate how good they are, by absorbing blue fluid, even though if something blue was coming out of someone's sin zone, the last thing we'd worry about is how absorbent their pad is. Before anyone chimes in and says that they couldn't get away with using the actual color, I am well aware of this; I was just poking fun at advertising shorthand.

Anyway, now to turn SASS loose. "When is this enslavement supposed to have taken place? And before you start talking about how you guys built the pyramids, archeological evidence has shown that the workers involved with the construction of the pyramids, were skilled craftsmen who were compensated and paid very well for their labors. And you guys only became slaves because Joseph, the one of technicolor dream coat fame, conspired with Pharaoh to enslave every last one of you for filthy, filthy lucre."

Joshua or Caleb (I'm too lazy to keep track of which) talk about how Moses sent them to scope out the Holy Land. They came back and told everybody about how it was flowing with milk and honey, though I'll assume not literally like it is in the MK. But everybody is all "I want to go back to Egypt, Moses, Joshua, and Caleb do some clothes-tearing, and God is like, "I will smite the living hell out of you guys," and only backs down when, Moses is like, “ ’ Now if You kill these people, then the nations which have heard of Your fame will speak, saying, “Because the Lord was not able to bring this people to the land which He swore to give them, therefore He killed them in the wilderness.” ’

And God changes his mind, though it really isn't a testament of his loving nature in that He decides not to smite people for being whiny, because Moses said, "If you do, who will worship you." At least the Ninevites were up to some actual evil in the Book of Jonah.

The next paragraph talks about how it proves that God can change His mind. Of course, the obvious question--"If God can change his mind, couldn't He very easily be like, 'Nah, they've had enough and put a stop to all these Tribulation plagues and whatnot?"--goes unasked. It's kind of how the Right is, how they manage to believe two contradictory things at once. So Immigrants somehow manage to be both a bunch of lazy, shiftless moochers who are simultaneously stealing jobs from hard-working Americans.*

And then they start quoting verse by verse the whole thing about how the fought the battle of Jericho and DAMMIT! I CAN'T DO IT!

All the copy-and-paste has snapped my mind like a twig. Damn you, YouTube! I scoured and scoured, but you don't have the clip I was looking for, where Sideshow Bob is watching That '30s Show and is like," Tom Shails gave this show a good review. And I'm the one in prison!" Because that's really what comes close to what I'm feeling right now. All this time and money spent publishing and marketing this book, while damn good authors struggle to get their foot in the door...It fills me with rage which some might say is of the Brooklyn variety.

And yes, I am including myself in the "Damn Good Authors" category, both because I'm egotistical and because no matter how bad anyone is as a writer, they're still better that Ellanjay. The only exception to this rule is the guy who wrote "Chibi-Usa's Seventh Birthday Party," which I won't link to because I don't want to find myself on a government list AND because when not even going all MST3K softens the blow of a bad fanfic, you know it's bad.

:pauses to drink brain bleach:

I did enjoy some minor amusement as they talk about how Rahab the harlot helped them out. I picture a kid, not necessarily SASS, raising their hand and being like, "What's a harlot?" Because they keep using that word like everyone knows what it means, but given what children are like...I'm assuming I don't need to go any further.

Then again, I am talking about actual children, not the creepy Village of the Damned type that makes up this novel. No wait, Village of the Damned would be kind of cool because then there might be hope that they would use their scary mind-powers to make head asplode. So I'm going to do a variation on the fanon I created for Nicolae: Rise of the Anti-Christ** where I posited that the congregation listening to Rayford's never-ending eulogy for Bruce, were actually cardboard cut-outs and the sobbing noises were supplied via tape recorders hidden in the pews. And all this was done, because Loretta and the actual congregation were out getting stuff done, but they needed to keep the Tribbles busy, because they would only slow them down. Given the Tribbles' general obliviousness, can you deny that it wouldn't work, that Rayford and co. would never at any point notice how suspiciously flat and cardboard-like the congregation is?

Anyway, where I'm going with this, is I've talked many times about how poorly run this daycare is and how if these were actually kids, conditions would have degenerated to a level that would make Lord of the Flies*** look like a Disney movie in comparison, but now I wonder if any of these kids actually exist? Maybe they are all cardboard cut-outs or elaborate mannequins, created to keep by the TOL so the Tribbles will leave them alone? Or it could be possible that the RTCs have had a mass psychotic break and are hallucinating all these kids. Maybe it's something wrong in the wine that flows in rivers in the MK. The reason the TOL isn't having problems is because of Lothair's distillation removes whatever causes the psychotic symptoms, thus enabling them to enjoy the wine without any freakouts. And all the while, the TOL is trying desperately to help the RTCs, but they're so ensnared by delusions that they don't have much luck.

Though the next section does have Kenny-boy leading a kid through The Prayer, so maybe that head canon is jossed. Nah, I'll just assume there are a few actual kids thrown in the keep the Tribbles from figuring everything out.

We cut to Abdullah who is still working on his Asshole for Christ campaign. He sings a hymn to himself and strikes up a conversation with Sarsour. Sarsour is all "Yeah, my parents raised me to believe all this stuff, but as soon as he started reading other stuff and talking to other people, he walked away from it." Oh I am fighting the urge to post so many links about the secretive nature of the RTC subculture and how it leads to horrific abuse. To be fair, though, a secretive "We mustn't let the outsiders know!" attitude would lead to abuses within any subculture, but with religious ones, it's arguably worse because the abusers bring in God to provide air support.

Abdullah is all "But what about all the prophecies you've witnessed?" And again, we're getting so much "Strawman has a point."

Sarsour shrugged. “It’s like He’s head of the occupying army. We’re the resistance, that’s all. The rebels.”

“And you don’t feel destined to lose in the end?”

“We’re outnumbered. We’re the outcasts, the rejects, the dregs. But we won’t give up hope until it’s all over. And then we’ll see who wins.”

Like I keep saying, nearly every form of entertainment knows the guy or gal who stands up to an almighty, all-powerful force and saying, "No!" even if they don't stand a chance in hell of winning, is the hero. The Avengers knew this. Bulk and Skull on Power Rangers knew this. The Comedic Relief character from SPD knew it. The people involved with the DCAU knew it.

I could probably go on posting links until the end of time, because most generally believe that standing up and choosing your own way to burn, makes you damn heroic. If I showed all those clips to just about anyone, regardless of whether they're a fan of the franchise or not, they would probably consider the ordinary folk standing up and saying, "NO!" to be the good guys, rather than side with the godlike alien zapping people with his omega beam.

And I suppose I could have posted examples from franchises that don't have heroes in spandex battling to save the world, but I'm kind of obsessed with those and it's my blog, so there!

Ellanjay are basically Goliath wondering why no one will take their side in the battle against that David-asshole. And for the record, when I talk about David and Goliath, I'm not referring to the ones from this awesome animated series. It was probably obvious, but hey, I look for any excuse to indulge in rampant fangirlism.

The Strawman Has A Point is even more obvious further on in the conversation. Abdullah points out that all Sarsour's friends keep dying at the age of a hundred.

“And that doesn’t tell you anything?”

“It just proves God isn’t who He says He is.”

“How do you figure?”

“He’s mean and unloving and unforgiving, violent and judgmental. Disagree and you get killed.”

Like I said, Strawman has a point. Because that's exactly what God's doing: killing anyone who disagrees with him.

I suppose it is too much to hope for one of the characters to give anything close to either of these speeches from the sadly short-lived show, Jeremiah:

What did any of us ever do to you? What did the whole fucking world do to you that we deserve all of this? I mean, come on, the locusts and the death of the first-born wasn't good enough for you anymore so now it's the death of the eldest? The death of heroes? You know what? Fuck you. Because we're not just gonna lay down and die down here. You want to finish off the job? Come down here! Do it yourself. You send the Angel of Death, you better give him one hell of a big sword, because I tell you what, we are gonna kick his ass all the way back to the great white fucking throne. And then we're coming for you. We're coming for you.

Interrogator: Would you like something to drink?
Markus: Yeah.
Interrogator: In return, will you give us the names of the other individuals involved in your attempt to overthrow the United States government?
Markus: There is no United States government. There hasn't been one in fifteen years.
Interrogator: This place is the government. The lawfully established seat of power...
Markus: This place is a bad memory. This place is a testament to everything that was wrong with the old world. A triumph of brute force over basic humanity.
Interrogator: Does it make it easier for you to think of us in that way?
Markus: Easier? No. More honest? F**k, yeah.

Ellanjay would probably object the most to the foul language in those quotes, rather than the actual content/context of said quotes. Again, God can slay people by the billions, but heaven forbid, anyone says "Oh shit," or drops the F-bomb.

Abdullah is like "He's not willing that anyone should perish." And my kneejerk response is "Which is why He's killing all of you so He can torture you for all eternity!"

And Abdullah starts blabbing out his story, despite Sarsour being like, "I'm not interested," because RTCs refuse to believe in respecting the boundaries and needs of others. Abdullah talks about how he was raised in another faith entirely and I'm kind of amazed the links they go to, to avoid actually saying Islam.

Here's how Abdullah describes his old faith:

“Yes. I was what some would call a star. I taught. And I was given the best assignments. I considered myself religious because I followed all the tenets of my faith. Keeping away from impure things. Trying to do right. Praying at prescribed times every day."

First of all, the stuff Abdullah mentioned is pretty much generic to any faith. Most religions can be summed up as "Don't do bad things, don't be an asshole, and give thanks to deity of choice."

Secondly, well, I'm kind of raising an eyebrow about how Ellanjay go to such links to avoid saying, "Abdullah was a Muslim" or anything close. Given the rampant Islamophobia on the Right, I find it hard to believe that they are bending over backwards to avoid offending Muslims. :goes to Wikipedia to look up book's publishing date: This was published in 2007, so they can't claim that they didn't know Islamophobia was around. They may have failed to foresee the rise of cell phones and Internet porn, but Islamophobia was very much a thing going on around them.

Since I have only a surface knowledge of the Islamic faith, I will bow out and not try to explain Muslim theology, because I'd know I'd majorly screw up. In lieu of that, I'll provide a list of facts.

Fact: The Islamic faith consists of 1.6 billion followers or 23% of the world population of 7 billion. The country with the largest Muslim population isn't any of those scary places in the Middle East; it's Indonesia. Yet the problems facing Indonesia are pretty much the stuff facing any first-world nation: growing population, lack of resources. Again, if the problem was Islam, wouldn't Indonesia make Syria look like Switzerland in comparison?

And even if they weren't such a large demographic, it's still wrong to kill them for being Muslim. I just thought I ought to give some numbers to all those idiots who pant with desire for a genocide.

That's it for this week. Maybe next week there will be some actual story content. :peeks ahead: Nope, more fake report box action and Abdullah being filled with Christ's love. But then again, y'all probably weren't expecting anything different.

*The argument I often hear in favor of immigration is "They do the jobs that Americans won't do," which is technically true, but it's more accurate when it's rendered as "They do the jobs that Americans used to do, until Big Business was like, 'Y'know I could hire an American worker, pay them wages and benefits and follow pesky labor laws, or I can prey on the poverty and desperation of foreigners who will be too scared to go to the authorities about anything I do.'" Don't get me wrong: I am totally in favor of overhauling immigration law, am opposed to Trump's wall, and thoroughly support punching Nazis in the face. But I strive for accuracy in discourse. John Oliver's summation of Trump's Wall can easily apply to Trump himself: big, dumb idea that gets more expensive with time.

And yes, when I talk about punching Nazis, I am referring to both Captain America's debut issue
and the Richard Spencer incident. Fascists are so obsessed with presenting an image of hypermasculinity; we should all do our part to point out what bullshit said pose is. Sometimes the best way to do that, is to turn them into jokes.

**I understand why Fred's snark of this is in hiatus, but it still won't stop me from longing for more installments. Though if he's reading this, take care.

***I admit Lord of the Flies was one of the Required Reading books I didn't completely hate, but I feel like digging up William Golding and shouting, "The idea that kids are every bit as capable of evil as adults, is only shocking to bullies and toadies!" That and he does love to belabor the point, make sure we get that the scar on the island, represents man introducing evil into an edenic paradise.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Blessed Are the Powerful, For They Deserve Everything, Including the Tears of Losers.

Hey Everybody!

Well you'll be happy to know that there really isn't much by the way of Creepy Sex Stuff. Don't know if any of y'all were getting tired of it, but I was just a little bit. Seriously, is the problem that I'm a drooling pervert or that Ellanjay are closet ones?

Instead of Creepy Sex Stuff, we've mostly got oodles and oodles of Strawman Has A Point. Thought I'd post that link at the beginning and get it over with, even despite all the hazards associated with linking to TV Tropes. There is a reason they have a page called "TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Life."

Though despite avoiding the Creepy Sex Stuff, I did find myself typing up a lot of rants about power and abuse, so I thought I'd give a heads up.

The bulk of the chapter is told from Abdullah's perspective as he, harasses some guys on private property for believing different things from him, I mean, bravely witnesses to some godless heathens.

A nameless woman tells him where to go, tells him that the two guys who run the place are named Mudawar and Sarsour. As you can probably guessed they are scary brown Mooslems111!!!!1

I took the liberty of running those two names through Google, just to see what came up. Surprise, surprise, they are actual names if by actual names, you mean surnames, bolding put in for emphasis. I know by now I shouldn't be shocked by Ellanjay's cultural insensitivity or their tin ear when it comes to naming characters, but I still can't stop shaking my head and going, "Really, guys?!" Though most of the matches for Sarsour were in reference to a Palestinian-American activist named Linda Sarsour. As you guessed, Linda Sarsour is both :gasp: a woman and a Muslim, making her super-scary to Ellanjay. Linda Sarsour is currently filing a sweeping lawsuit against Donald Trump called Sarsour v. Trump challenging his Muslim ban, but given that when we meet Mudawar and Sarsour, they are both dudes, natch, Ellanjay probably weren't doing a Take That against her.

Abdullah bangs on the door until Sarsour opens it and lordy, brace yourselves for all the cringing you will have to do, as Abdullah valiantly does battle with a pair of Strawman.

How to Win Debates According to Ellanjay and just about Everybody Else on the Right: Hector, bully, and do whatever you can to make sure your opponent isn't allowed to get in a word, edgewise. That proves the strength of your arguments in that you don't need to face potential criticism to know that you are right. Only wusses need their beliefs to stand up under scrutiny.

Oh and several times the text makes a point of talking about how short Mudawar and Sarsour are, which is a reoccurring meme in both LaHaye and Jenkins's works. Hero always has to be the manliest man around and therefore, has to be at least six feet tall, always taller than any of the men in the story. In terms of character height in their works, I think Rayford Steele is in the lead, being the tallest of all of LaHaye and Jenkins's protagonists, but I'm too lazy to dig around wikis and whatnot to confirm it. Maybe if I was laid up with massive spinal trauma I would, but that sounds like something that would increase my trauma, not alleviate it.

Now that I've said all this, let the debate, such as it is, ensue.

“What, you’re really here for theological classes? None are scheduled currently.”

“Another lie, this time of omission. You never teach theology, do you?”

“In a manner of speaking, sometimes we do, actually.”

“Antitheology would be more accurate.”

All this stuff about "Another lie by omission," is probably build-up to a Ray Comfort-style witnessing attempt. Let me just say for those of you who don't feel you did enough rage-cringing while watching the link, just look for "way of the master witnessing clips" on YouTube and try to remember that for some reason, if you punch out either Ray Comfort or Kirk Cameron, the law will call that such unpleasant names as Assault or Battery, even though they were the ones being assholes on planes or getting in your face when you're trying to, y'know, enjoy yourself in a public place.

Though I don't know. Buzz Aldrin managed to punch Bart Siebrel and get away with it. Though if it had gone to court, all Aldrin's lawyer would have to do is say, "How many of you are thinking about punching him right now?" The crowd would be deafened by all the applause. But maybe this is a stunt you can only get away with if you're an elderly astronaut who actually walked on the friggin' moon. Though that clip is pretty satisfying to watch.

In Comfort and Cameron's case, maybe I can use my natural girliness to get away with it. Spray them with pepper spray and say in a tearful voice, "He wouldn't leave me alone, officers." Than and again, if it went to trial, have my attorney be like, "How many of you would do the same?" Because even their own mothers would raise their hands in agreement.

Oh all right, I'll get back to the book and stop talking about assaulting smug assholes.

Though yeah, Abdullah is already calling it "antitheology" even though he hasn't heard a word of their arguments and doesn't know what they actually believe. He probably aced "Debate According to the Rightwing." You ever find yourself in a situation like that, well, best thing to do is to shut them out of the conversation entirely, because they clearly aren't interested in open and honest discourse.

I keep wishing the Democratic Party, whenever the GOP brought up one of their asinine ideas, would just be like, "Shut up, the grownups are trying to a have discussion on a serious answer," and shut them out of the conversation entirely. Yeah, it's childish, but if they're going to act like overgrown toddlers, best thing to do, is treat them as such. Because often the trouble is if you do debate them, not only will they cheat (see Bill O'Reilly cutting off mikes), but merely debating them lends said asinine beliefs a note of credence, as though what the other guy is saying, makes actual sense.

But okay, maybe you're trapped and you can't get out for some reason. In that case, whatever you do, if they label you, don't play defense. Don't try to explain how you're totally not a godless heathen or an America-hater; ignore them and push on through. I suppose I shouldn't use combat rules to refer to debating, but given how much they've poisoned the discourse, it may be the best option. In any case, the rule I'm thinking of is, "Take the fight to them. Don't fight them; make them fight you."

It's one of the many things that irritates me about the Democratic Party, how they keep following the whole "Moderate and the other side will like you" scheme, no matter how many times the GOP has made it clear that they won't play fair and they will never like them, no matter what they do. In fact, the "Moderate and they will like you strategy" probably makes them hate them even more, because even bullies, deep down, despise toadies. So accept that they will hate you and be the goddanged opposition, you spineless mothereffers!

But Mudawar is onscreen. I pray that my readers are strong enough to handle the horrors to follow.

Mudawar appeared, also living up to his billing. He was fairer skinned that Sarsour, the same (limited) height, but heavy and oily. Abdullah had the urge to pull out a handkerchief and wipe the man’s face.

“This is getting old and boring,” Mudawar said. “We have been dragged before the judges before, even threatened to be deported to Israel for an audience with one of the apostles. We pled for the freedom to exercise our own free will and pledged to lie low. Have we not been lying low enough, or have your superiors not kept you up to date on our file?”

Oh course, Ellanjay would make sure to stress that, "Oh by the way, they're short, which means they're effeminate, weak, and therefore, evil." I'll envision a league of fictional Dwarfs, Tyrion and Gimli and the twelves guys from The Hobbit all coming together to curbstomp Ellanjay. Another rule of combat: it's not what you've got; it's how you use what you have. That and all the tall, manly characters might want to remember that while they are taller, the dwarf is eye-level with their...OW! Okay I'll stop.

Sorry if I offended any of my readers with the usage of the word, dwarf. In my defense, there will probably never be a proper terminology agreed upon by every part of a group. I have no problem with being referred to as Autistic, but some would rather be referred to as "person with Autism." Even if I don't agree, I will respect their wishes and try to do my best to obey them. Because it's called accepting that people have different experiences or views from you or in short, NOT BEING AN ASSHOLE!

In addition to being short, fat, and brown, all of which are proof of their inherent eeeevil, Mudawar also :gasp: suffers from oily skin. Yeah, Ellanjay are totally from the Conservapedia School of Debate: in order to win, all you need to do is say, "Oh yeah! Well, you're fat!" then do your well-deserved victory dance. Because fat or ugly or fat and ugly people never have anything wise or insightful to say.

Though you don't really have to dig too deep to find all the massive "Strawman Has A Point" in Mudawar's dialogue. Like I keep saying and probably will to the end of the book, all the TOL is doing, is living their lives in a manner they see fit and practicing their beliefs. They are not trying to infiltrate the Millies nor do they call the police to arrest them for exercising their right to assembly. In fact, they generally leave the Millies alone and to the extent they express any hostility, it's because the Millies keep butting in and refusing to let them do the same. The TOL is like, "Yeah, you guys can sit around, sing hymns, and listen to Biblical Figures doing copy and paste. We're going to enjoy Heaven," but the Millies feel, like all fundamentalists or fanatics, that they can't properly be holy as long as all those other sinners are out there, flashing their ankles and listening to music with an actual beat. Hence why they bully and persecute the TOL.

Though all this stuff about dragging them before an Apostle, here's to hoping that said apostle, is Thomas, of Doubting fame. Because if you read his part in the Gospel of John (the only gospel that has that story), even though Jesus praises those who believe without having seen, he is still respectful towards Thomas, willing to show his wounds to him, so he may feel it, rather than do a frothing rant about how Thomas is eeeevil and will burn in hell for all eternity. In other words, Jesus would have failed Conservative Debate Class.

And well the debate is, like all those clips from The Way of the Master, just endless smugging from Abdullah. Like in the rest of the LB-verse, Abdullah isn't the least-bit interested in actually converting anyone; if he was, he would probably pay attention to what they other guy is saying and if he isn't reaching them, reevaluate his approach. That's what people do when they are honestly interested in talking about something they care about, rather than just doing the RTC Equivalent of the Spanish Requirement of 1513. Even the Apostle Paul, for all his faults, was willing to honestly and openly address his opponents' arguments. As both a Jew and a Roman citizen, Paul knew his opponents' arguments and where they were coming from, so he had no problem listening to them, then explaining his position, so that both sides learn a little more about each other and can come to a new understanding.

Or think of it as being TOS Captain Kirk vs. nu!Trek Captain Kirk. I don't know if Stardust still hangs around this blog or what, but his/her words about the Old version vs. the New, are quite interesting and kind of go along with my general theme of "Good Debaters aren't afraid to hear the other guy's side and address it," theme.

Old Kirk actually had charisma. He was also campy, in the kind of way the old Batman was; you forgive a lot for that. Sensible leadership? Excuse me, I need to throw a Bat-paradox* at this AI to make it explode!

But old Kirk actually, although I could be misremembering, listened to McCoy and Spock and genuinely liked him /even when they disagreed/ without needing an excuse of 'his planet was destroyed' to feel sorry for him first. He debated him with the goal of changing his mind and coming to a better understanding, not proving himself right and beating old pointy ears! Old Kirk was an idealist. New Kirk... is much more dark and gritty (in an immature 'haha boobies' way; the old 'I have to seduce this woman for information or she'll destroy my ship!' type plot was much more mature even if it was hammy) and therefore really loses everything that made old campy Kirk shine.

*OK, no bat-paradoxes in Star Trek. It wasn't quite that campy.

I will say the latest nu!Trek movie, Star Trek Beyond, was actually kind of decent, in that they let the other characters be competent and do stuff, rather than have it all be about Captain Kirk and how he is the greatest man since Jesus.

“I am a chaplain. I minister the Word of God to people’s hearts. I teach. I counsel. I pray. I advise.”

“And you are offering your services to our Theological Training Institute?”

“No, sir. I am offering them to this cell chapter of the Other Light.”

“Aah. I see. So there is no pretense here. You aren’t pretending to not know who we are, and neither are you trying to represent yourself as someone other than who you are.”

Given that Abdullah is planning on ranting on a street corner whether he gets their permission or not, it seems weird that he would bother to ask for their permission or converse with them at all. Probably a combination of "Ellanjay need to pad out the word count" and The Requirement thing I mentioned earlier.

Though their attempts at making this sound all cloak-and-dagger espionage-level stuff...My personal headcanon is that Mudawar is using this lingo in order to make Abdullah feel all manly and important to buy time, while his buddy, Sarsour contacts the TOL's version of the police. Given that the TOL have been repeatedly harassed by the police acting on behalf of the Millies, my headcanon says that eventually, in order to protect themselves, the TOL form their own version of the police to provide protection, so their citizens don't have to be harassed for believing something different from the Status Quo.

Or in other words, the TOL has their equivalent of The Black Panthers. For the record, despite stereotypes people have about the Black Panthers, their beliefs were actually more nuanced than just, "Black is good; kill whitey!" In fact, the Ten-Point Program which was written by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale and would serve as the Panthers' charter, while it's not as loaded with religion as Martin Luther King, Jr. (who, again, said more than just that one quote), it sounds suspiciously similar to what MLK was fighting for: an end to being killed or treated like crap just because they have a higher melanin count than some other people.

In addition to all the pictures of them packing heat, which they were allowed to do under Open-Carry Laws (not just for insecure White People) the Black Panthers also set up school lunch programs and other forms of outreach to the community. In fact, a large reason as to why they became more radicalized, is probably due in part to the harassment they received at the hands of law enforcement and the FBI via COINTELPRO. Constantly shove someone against a wall, refuse to let up at any moment, and they will lash out, because they feel they don't have any better options. Heck, the person shoving them against the wall, is refusing to allow for any other options.

Anyway, while Mudawar is distracting Abdullah, Sarsour is talking to the TOL Panthers, being like, "We've asked him several times to leave, but he won't. We've been polite long enough. Feel free to bring in the tear gas."

Because that is basically what is happening in this "debate." Mudawar is trying repeatedly to use soft refusals, to say as nicely as possible to Abdullah, "We are not interested." But Abdullah repeatedly steamrolls over these refusals, ignoring their objections no matter what they do, forcing Mudawar to have to become more and more rude in an attempt to get Abdullah to leave them alone. Despite all this, Mudawar and Sarsour are the real rude ones, what with their refusing to let Abdullah do whatever he wants on their property, even though it is private property and legally belongs to them, thus giving them the right to dictate who is allowed to use it.

For those of you wondering, yes, you will see numerous copy-and-pasted quotes proving my point.

Mudawar seemed to study him, squinting. He shook his head. “No, he couldn’t. Now tell me, uh . .  . I didn’t catch your name.”

“Abdullah Ababneh.”

“Tell me, Khouri Ababneh, what value would your services be to us?”

“That would be up to you, and you may refer to me as Mr. Ababneh or even by my given name.”

“Oh! What an honor! I respectfully decline your offer, thank you for dropping in on us, and wish you a good day.”

Like I keep saying, it continues like this for the entire "debate." Mudawar keeps going "Sorry, we're not interested," and Abdullah continues to steam-roll over them, while talking about how they're horrible people, deserving of nothing but wrath.

For the record, I did run the word "Khouri" through Google to find out its meaning, because the text seems to imply that they are insulting Abdullah by calling him that. According to Wikipedia, Khouri is an Arabic surname unique mostly to Christians in the Middle East. It is most popular in Lebanon, but it is also commonly used in Christian communities in Syria, Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. And yes, the bolding was done for emphasis.

A Repeated Fun Fact: You can be Middle Eastern or Arab without being of the Islamic faith, and you can be a Muslim, without being of a Middle Eastern or Arabic racial background. Like I keep telling people, Muslim is a religious term, but Arab is a racial term, which are two different things.

“You will not be providing me office space, then?”

“I beg your pardon.”

“I see that you are crowded, but I also understand that you do not hold religious classes here. Perhaps you could clear a little more clutter and find me a space to— how do we say it?— set up shop.”

“This has been an amusing interruption, sir, but playtime is over. You may leave now.”

“Oh, but I am not leaving. If I am not provided an office here, I shall be forced to bring a portable table from home and establish myself before your door. Do not, however, expect me to double as your receptionist and inform the curious of your comings and goings.”


:deep breath:

In my head canon, the TOL Panthers proceed to show up and kick Abdullah out on his lazy, disrespectful ass, but unfortunately, I'm not writing these books.

[slight tangent] Though my bit earlier where I mentioned that Sarsour was like, "Bring in the Tear Gas," now I'm thinking of some other hobby horse I like to talk about. Often in the past, we've seen Rightwing Protestors get treated with kid gloves, with everyone fretting about giving them so much as a bruise, while Leftists Ones, like, say, the Ferguson protestors, face tear gas and cops in military gear.

At first, I thought the factor was racism. Because for some reason, law enforcement believes that Black people have superpowers, though unfortunately, none of them involve being bullet-proof. But they can say the N-Word, which I suppose makes up for being killed and imprisoned at a greater rate and having less economic power than their white counterparts.

But I also thought about the treatment given to the Occupy Wall Street protests, especially in Occupy Oakland, so now I wonder if it's a matter of ideology. Take over a wildlife preserve for BS Rightwing reasons, brandish guns and talk about how you will kill anyone who stops you? Law Enforcement's response is like, "It would be nice if you would stop it, but no pressure." Protest and occupy land in the name of economic or racial inequality or because you don't want an oil pipeline going through land you consider sacred? Law enforcement's response is "Say hello to tanks and teargas, mothereffers!"

So I'm wondering if we should advise Standing Rock Protestors or #BlackLivesMatter or any leftwing cause, to practice open-carry, wear big-ass cross necklaces, and other Rightwing gear like NRA t-shirts or something.

Though the simplest and most concise answer is that Rightwing BS is contained within the pyramid, posing no threat to those on top. But with Leftist protests, the message is explicitly addressed to the top of the pyramid, threatening systems of power and control. Hence why the SWAT team and military gear come out to play. [/slight tangent]

“Well,” Mudawar said, standing and thrusting out his hand, “I have already clearly told you we are declining your offer.”

Abdullah ignored his hand. He pointed into the corner of the next room. “I would be perfectly comfortable right there, and I would be handy to you.”

“I am losing patience, friend.”

“Oh, I like that you call me friend, as you are the enemy of the One I serve. Would you not find it advantageous to have me in the next room the next time you send out a message to your adherents? You could ask whether you have accurately interpreted something you are criticizing from the Scriptures or even from tradition.”

"How dare he not let me hang around his private property so I can shout about how he and his friends are all horrible people deserving of nothing but an eternity of torture for believing differently from me! They're the real monsters!"

Though I don't know how many of y'all read my slight tangent, but between what I said there and this bit, I'm honestly thinking we ought to figure out how to sic the military cops on them. Maybe once the Right experiences actual persecution for their beliefs, they won't be such whiny pansies. Would secretly tie-dying all their clothing be enough to convince the authorities that they are eeeevil Leftwing hippie protestors, rather than peace-loving Rightwing protestors who only want to kill anyone who disagrees with them?

And here comes the culmination of so much, Strawman Has A Point:

Color began to rise from Mudawar’s neck to his moist face. “So the big boss has assigned you to torment us, eh?”

“No, actually to love you.”

“To love us. This from the same God who vaporized two earnest, sincere opponents in Egypt, just because they didn’t get in line with all the other sheep who trekked to Jerusalem for the—”

“Osaze, you mean.”

“You call it what you will. It will always be Egypt to me. And your so-called God of love— is He not the same one who obliterated one of ours who merely deigned to try to make love with one of His ‘glorifieds’? This is the same God who slew millions, if the stories of the Old Testament can be believed.”

I think I've made it abundantly clear where my sympathies lie. Spoiler Alert: It's with the one who isn't being an asshole. I'm wondering if I should add Mudawar and Sarsour to the League of Awesome, but I should probably have some standards for League membership and not just appoint anyone who is all pissy towards the Millies/Tribbles. Given that the last bit of the chapter has Mudawar giving in and handing over the space, thus setting up the potential for a Jack Chick-style Strawman debate between all that is good and righteous and the eeeevil satanic Satanist forces of eeeevil, I'm wondering if they should be disqualified for League membership.

I don't know if said Jack Chick-style confrontation will happen or if, like in Left Behind, they talk about it, but it never actually takes place on screen, but in preparation, have a Jack Chick parody tract: "Who's Your Daddy?" Though in not having the debate happen onscreen, Ellanjay proved just how lazy they really are. This is the kind of low-hanging fruit that RTCs love to go after; they love setting up Strawman, so they can knock it over and strut around about it.

But at the same time, Mudawar and Sarsour are making damn good points. The part about the Obliteration of Rapist TOL, I'm assuming that's an attempt at an Authors Saving Throw. One person doing something bad in the name of a Leftwing Ideology proves that said ideology is eeeevil, whereas White Dudes shooting up places on behalf of Rightwing causes in no way indicates that racism and sexism and other -isms are a problem that still warrants being addressed.

Or to use real world examples, a #BlackLivesMatter protestor killing cops in the name of said ideology, is proof that BLM is a terrorist organization, even though the sniper was apprehended due in part to aid from other protestors, who were as outraged by his actions as the police were.

But Robert Dear shooting up a Planned Parenthood, while reciting BS circulated among Anti-Choice websites, in no way conveys that the said subculture is a domestic terrorist organization that needs to be closely monitored by the feds.

Abdullah is all "Mudawar, let's sit down and discuss this," which is BS because we all know Abdullah isn't the least bit interested in an open discussion.

“Oh, but there is. My first duty as your chaplain is to correct your view of God, especially if you see Him as merciless and unloving.”

“Well, that’s the way I see Him!”

“Do you have another moment for me, friend, as I would like to make what I consider a most interesting point?” Mudawar sat heavily and sighed. “One more minute, but don’t call me friend.”

“Fair enough, though you may feel free to call me that. Here’s what I find intriguing: When I was a young man, younger than you, my problem was that I thought all the dire warnings of God’s judgment were wrong, because all I had heard about Jesus was that He was kind and loving and a pacifist, turning the other cheek, preaching the Golden Rule. Then came the end of His patience and mercy, His people were swept off to heaven, and He spent the next seven years trying to get man’s attention and persuade him that God was not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. And now, here you are, a hundred years later, unable to accept His love.”

I can't say this enough: Ellanjay's vision of God has him unshaven, wearing a wife-beater, and shouting, "Now look at what you made me do!" while his terrified spouse and children cower in the corner.

And of course, afterwards, there will be a whole lotta gaslighting and denial by both sides. Obviously, neither Zod nor TurboJesus could admit that their actions were wrong, because that would destroy their standing and the reputation they've built for themselves. Also, if they spoke about it honestly, they would not be able to keep doing it.

But the victims would also become amnesiacs, smile and tacitly refuse to acknowledge and look at what Zod and TurboJesus is doing to those other people, because it's safer if they don't. If Zod and TurboJesus are focused on the other guys, they won't come after them. And of course, in order to earn sympathy and further lessen the odds of their abuser turning on them, they will do whatever they can to make sure the Abuser is focused on the Bad Ones Who Deserve It, not them. Eventually, they will actually come to believe that the Other Guys Genuinely Do Deserve It, that if the Other Guys would stop being all stubborn and bad, Zod would leave them alone and everything would be okay.


Okay, that was damn creepy. I'm actually starting to long for Creepy Sex Stuff, so maybe I can have fun making, "That's what she said," remarks.

Anyway, here's the inevitable setup for the Jack Chick confrontation. Me, I continue to long for TOL Panthers to show up.

Mudawar slapped his palms on the table, making both Abdullah and Sarsour jump. “I should have my head examined,” he said. “Sarsour, clear the corner of that office.”


“You heard me! Just do it. This old fool won’t be in our way, and who knows? Maybe he’ll come in handy. I will ask him to defend his God when we have aught against Him. He’ll just prove that God is indefensible, that there is neither rhyme nor reason to the maddening two sides of His character.”

“Oh, but there is,” Abdullah said. “He is loving and full of grace, but he is also perfect and just.”

“Yeah, yeah, save it. If you’re camping out in here, you’ll get plenty of time to spew your platitudes. I’ve got a newsletter to get out, so you’re going to stay out of my hair for the rest of today. Got it?”

“Certainly, but know that I am willing to proofread that for you and make sure you’re on track. I mean, you wouldn’t want to be guilty of raging against straw men, would you?”

“Sarsour, get him set up in there, and then shut his door.”

“Thank you, friend,” Abdullah said, offering his hand.

Mudawar gripped it lightly. “Yeah, yeah.”

Oy vey, it will never stop being about Projection when it comes to the Right, Christian or otherwise. Maybe it's comforting, believing that everyone is just as horrible as you are, but it sucks for everyone else.

And that's it. Sorry for sounding more than just a wee bit didactic. It's kind of what I do.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

History's Greatest Monster

Hey everybody! Hope life is treating you well.

Never say that Ellanjay don't know what makes for an exciting story. Other lesser writers have conflicts where characters disagree over major issues, which leads to a lot of emotional fallout, like Steve and Tony in Captain America 3: Civil War*, or where there is a massive fight between the forces of good and evil, like in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, which has the potential to cause permanent physical and psychological maiming or even :gasp: death, which is permanent. But Ellanjay are far superior to those hacks and know what makes for a really interesting story, is page after page of gnawing endlessly over office politics, which we all know is way more interesting than the Battle at Helm's Deep.

CHLOE STRUCK out in her efforts to determine who had put the phony employee document in her box. She had begun to interview Ekaterina’s coworkers, but after a half dozen painful conversations, she realized her investigation was doing more harm than good. In nearly a century, she had not had to deal with any problem more serious than hurt feelings between employees. With Jesus on the world’s throne and King David, the Lord’s prince, ruling Israel from the temple, all matters of law and judgment seemed to go smoothly and quickly.

Chloe immediately decides to stop investigating or asking questions about an unpleasant issue, because it will make people uncomfortable. Chloe really is an true RTC.

Yes, I am fighting the urge to dig up so many links about clergy abuse. You may thank me in whatever manner you deem fit.

Though really, whenever a sex scandal comes up and the higher-ups say they didn't report it to the police, because they wanted to do their own investigation, before getting law enforcement involved...I'm like "Uh, investigation is their job! It's what they do! Your job is to counsel and protect your congregation or to coach the Penn State football team! You report things to law enforcement, let them do their job, while you do yours! That's how this works, you abuser-protecting jackass!"

Goddangit, will there ever be a week where I can't work in or find something about Creepy Sex Stuff**? I'm wondering if the problem is that I'm a pervert or they are.

I'll right. I'll get back to the story. I'll try to hold back on Creepy Sex Stuff, but I make no promises. I generally try not to make promises I can't keep and if I've learned anything from life, it's that God loves nothing more than upsetting Never statements. Say something like "I will never do X" and God points and laughs and makes it happen.

She called in Mattie Cleveland and suggested they just chalk up the crisis, such as it was, to an ill-conceived prank and let it die. “It hasn’t caused too much controversy within your staff, has it?”

Mattie shrugged. “Actually, it has. Everyone is talking about it, pointing fingers, the whole bit. I would have loved to have been able to say we found the culprit, dealt with him or her, got an apology, and moved on. But this is all right too.”

In an attempt to pry a gold ring out of a pig's snout, I will say that Ellanjay do resolve this much quicker than the exciting "Who sent Chloe flowers?" plotline of Tribulation Force. Because the Anti-Christ coming into power, outlawing any religions, save for the poorly defined EBOWF, and persecuting the Christians, is boring stuff that nobody could ever find interesting. Instead, let's wonder who sent Chloe flowers, while she sulks about Buck over something that could be resolved in FIVE MINUTES IF SHE WOULD JUST TALK TO HIM LIKE A NORMAL PERSON WOULD!

The beginning with Chloe and Mattie ends with a conversation where they discuss someone who is the Adolf Q. Stalin-Pot of the MK, someone whose ambitions and brutality are so great, they make Genghis Khan look like a mewling toddler in comparison. I am speaking, of course, of Qasim.

“Whatever you say, Chloe. I agree we need to get on with what we’re here for. I will say this: Qasim has been particularly solicitous ever since this started getting around.”

“The one who’s been so annoying to Ekaterina?”

“He’s really cleaned up his act. He leaves her alone, and he has been much more helpful to me lately. Qasim has even commiserated with me over this mess.”

“But I didn’t even interview him. What does he know about it?”

“Just what everyone else is saying, I guess. He made the effort to set an appointment with me, counseled me not to take it personally, and reminded me how much esteem he and the rest of the staff had for me. It was really sweet.”

Chloe nodded. “A little out of character?”

Mattie cocked her head. “But still sweet. I’d give him the benefit of the doubt.”

Let us never forget the depths of evil Qasim is capable of. Not only did he ask and go out with a girl another Millie was interested in, sulk and react in an immature manner when she dumped him for little, if any, discernible reason, he :gasp: was kind and supportive to the people around him.

Only one piece of music can truly depict Qasim's malice and complete disregard for human life: Qasim's theme.

Given how thuddeningly obvious Ellanjay are about, well, everything, I'm sure it's going to be revealed that :gasp: Qasim wrote the fake report, but again, my sympathies are still with him. I don't know when they'll stop being with him. Because yeah, getting Kat in trouble with a phony complaint report is wrong, I see it more as a stroke of immaturity rather than him being History's Greatest Monster.

But then again, he did dare ask out a girl that Kenny was interested in, though Kenny never gave any indication in words, body language, or Morse Code, that he was interested in Kat. Kat, being the wanton slut that she is, :gasp: accepted his offer and they went on one date, where Kat's sin-o-meter kicked in and told her she was going against the will of Ellanjay God, by going out with Qasim. Since Kat isn't Hattie, the Great Whore of Babylon, she immediately realizes she's fallen astray, asks forgiveness for going out with a guy she was interested in, even though he wasn't Kenny, and dumps him.

And Qasim is really a horrible person for having hurt feelings over being dumped and lashing out in an immature matter, because he's young, stupid, and again, he was just dumped. The Millies really need to build a memorial around the reports box, maybe put up a plaque, so generations from now, people will never forget the true depravities Qasim was capable of and how they mildly inconvenienced someone. Let us never forget...Report Box Theme

Good God, so much brutal sarcasm back to back. I wonder if there's a set limit for this kind of thing and if I go too far, I will lose the ability to express any other emotion. Which wouldn't be too bad, if I could live out in the middle of nowhere, support myself, and be my natural hermit self, but right now, I can't afford to alienate everyone in my life yet.

There are a few lines with Abdullah, but nothing substantial, so we'll move onto the next section where Kenny and Creepy Raymie have a conversation. :reads ahead: DAMMIT! WHY DID I MAKE THAT PROMISE EARLY ON?! EVEN I ADMITTED THAT I WAS BASICALLY ASKING FOR IT!

Or in other words, there will be a whole lotta Creepy Sex Stuff. So everybody get ready and have your poison of choice well within arm's reach, because you're going to need it. :sighs: Since I've only read the For Kids! version and not any of the other adult books, I have to ask: was there this much Creepy Sex Stuff in the adults' books or is it really just this one in particular?

Like I said, I will never stop envisioning Creepy Raymie as David Koresh. I'll let my readers make the call as to whether he also has the early nineties' hairstyle and birth control glasses.

“Just a few items,” Kenny said. “I want to know where things stand with Qasim. I want to know what you think I should do about the persistence of the Jospins. And we need to talk about Ekaterina.”

I freely admit that I often fast-forward through parts of this book, especially because nothing ever pays off in a satisfying manner--you're lucky if you get a payoff at all--but I'm like, "What wait about the Jospins?" I thought they'd meekly accepted that their daughter was roasting on a spit and were all, "It's real good that you did that, God. Real good," about it. Of course, as I was typing this, I realized that they were probably talking about the whole thing with Luthair and Ignace. Sonuva!

So I'll not go too much further with that line of thought. Just chalk it up to a screw-up born out of boredom. Though am I the only thinking that the phrase, "the persistence of the Jospins," sounds like a title for a poem written by one of the great Romantic poets, like Wordsworth or Keats or something? Life would be so much better if we could just enjoy Jeremy Irons reading Wordsworth's poem about daffodils and not go any further, but I'm afraid we've got work to do.

Creepy Raymie addresses the issue involving Qasim first.

Raymie, whom Kenny had always found both wise and decisive, did not disappoint. “I don’t know what Qasim is telling anyone else, but I have totally distanced myself and the Millennium Force from him. I told him he has no standing with us, and that regardless what he chooses to do in relation to the Other Light, we don’t want so much as a report from him, not even a secondhand report through Zaki.”

Though you probably can't blame Creepy Raymie and co. for their emotional cruelty towards Qasim. When Kenny's like, "And he's okay with it?" Creepy Raymie tells us how Qasim reacted. I pray that none of my readers have delicate heart conditions for hearing the depravity Qasim is capable of, would make anyone's blood run cold.

“Of course not. He was angry, which showed me his true colors. And Zaki is not happy either. I had to tell him that he would be next if he couldn’t see the wisdom of our totally parting ways with Qasim. I feared offending Bahira if I did that, but she has never trusted Qasim, and I suppose you know we have a sort of mutual admiration society.”

Qasim got angry over being treated like shit and dumped? Truly even Josef Stalin's crimes pale in comparison!

I know, I'm probably harping too much on the whole thing with Qasim. First of all, this is my soapbox and I plan on using it. Second of all, well, I was bullied pretty much relentlessly from age eleven to age eighteen, when I finally graduated high school and could escape those shitstains I went to school with. So bullying is an issue I'm very damn sensitive about and I am well aware of the toxic beliefs our culture has about them and how they're BS. I'm going to see if I can get all this out in one go. For those of you who may have issues, I'll put bold headlines at the beginning and end of this rant, so you may feel free to scroll past it, if you don't feel ready to handle it. That said, let's do this thing. I'll let you decide whether my theme song should be "Bitch" by Meredith Brooks or "Bad Reputation" by Joan Jett.

Beginning of Bullying Rant

First of all, fuck anyone who says, "If you would stop doing X, they would leave you alone." Not only are you basically saying "Reshape and completely change who you are, so Shitstain abusers will leave you alone," it won't work. Not only will the victim have the scars that come from compromising who they are, just so people won't be emotionally cruel towards them, it never works. Once a bully settles on a victim, they will find some reason to go after them. And for the record, yeah, a fat kid could probably stand to get some more exercise and eat fewer donuts, just as another kid could stand to have a little more confidant, they should want to do this for their own benefit, not just so they can survive a day of school with some dignity intact. Bullying is always wrong, even if you're fairly certain this kid is the reincarnation of Hitler or they're a 95 lb. asthmatic who could be taken down by a stiff breeze.

And yes, I did post that clip just to indulge in my rampant Captain America fangirlism! I thought you guys were used to that kind of thing by now.***

Also all you idiots who are like, "Durr...just stand up to them like in Back to the Future!" Let me give you some shocking information: it's not the 50s anymore and many schools have Zero Tolerance Policies**** against fighting. When I was in school, the zero tolerance fighting policy meant that even if you were defending yourself, you still got punished, along with the asshole who assaulted you in the first place. Granted my bullies were girls who mostly favor the psychological approach, rather than the physical one, but even as a kid, I thought that was fucked up, the idea that if someone starts kicking the crap out of me, I'm supposed to just stand there and get beaten up. Say what you will about police abuses, but even they recognize the basic right of self-defense that if Bill comes at you, you have the right to defend yourself.

And there's the obvious flaw in that bullies tend to be in way better physical shape, bigger than their victims, which generally gives them the upper-hand in a fight. I know being big doesn't always guarantee a victory, if the other guy has skills and knows how to utilize them, but very few bullied kids have much by way of martial arts training, so let's ignore that.

But the biggest flaw is that even if the bullied kid won and the bully never bothers him/her again, you are still promoting the Bully's mindset of "Might Makes Right." Since you won, that clearly indicates you were mightier and therefore, the bully was in the wrong for picking on you and the only reason the Bully is in the wrong, is because you could take them in a fight, not because bullying is inherently wrong. So it would be perfectly okay for the Bully to pick on the skinny, mousy kid who dresses weird, if said kid gets overpowered and loses the fight.

And Ignoring Them Doesn't Fucking Work! The words will still land and hurt, even if you don't respond to them or if you say a witty one-liner afterwards. As xkcd wisely put it, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can make someone else feel happy or sad, which is literally the only thing that matters in this stupid world."

In fact, Ignoring them only further normalizes bullying. To use the words from a link in the previous paragraph:

Ah, yes, the well-worn refrain to bullied kids everywhere. Ignore the bully and he’ll use your silence to believe he’s untouchable and torment you for months while you internalize your own worthlessness and believe you can’t even speak out about the abuse because it’ll just be “encouraging” the bully to beat you more.

No wait, I’m sorry, I got reality mixed up with platitude again. I meant to say, ignore the bully and he’ll go away and leave you alone, because you showed you were the bigger person and there’s nothing a bully loves more than someone they look down on for their identities or existence also acting smug that they are morally superior to them.

Ah damn, just keep accidentally kicking the switch for the reality/platitude inverter.

But yeah, any bullied kid learned the hard way that this advice is garbage. Once a bully is on you, they tend to stick around and turning your back and trying to ignore just makes them more likely to escalate and feel invincible because they know that everyone likes a bully victim to suffer nobly and so the systems of power are behind them and will protect their actions.

I could quote more of this article, but I'll hold back. Just remember that Abuse-enabling assholes feel that Staying Quiet is the only option. A bullying victim must be so saintly as to make Jesus jealous and suffer in silence, because if they don't, if they stubbornly insist on being who they are and demanding that others do something to stop the abuse, they would upset the status quo and :gasp: they might force them to do stuff, which is the worst thing you can possibly do. No one has to care about the bullied's feelings, but heaven forbid, you inconvenience or upset a Bully in any way.

tl;dr, Bullying is always wrong. It doesn't matter who you do it to or why, it's still wrong. And if these actions were being done out in the real world between adults, instead of in a school between children, they would call it harassment or assault and I'm fairly certain the police tend to take a dim view of that sort of thing.

End of Long Bullying Rant

Okay, I'm done now. I'm only sorry about all the profanity, not the length of the rant.

As you can tell by that last line about "mutual admiration society," we're about to get into Creepy Sex stuff.

Kenny smiled. “Kat and I have speculated on what might have become of you two— as a couple, I mean— if you were naturals.”

Raymie shook his head and looked away. “I have wondered the same. As has she. We can talk about it openly because it is so far from the realm of possibility. It’s strange that we admire and respect and truly love each other so deeply, and yet the idea of romance never enters the picture. We’re simply not wired that way anymore. That allows us to spend a lot of time together, really as brother and sister, worshiping, praying, studying, planning. I can’t tell you how rewarding it is.”

"And by brother and sister, I, of course, mean like something out of a V.C. Andrews novel."

I'll assume when Creepy Raymie is talking about Romance, he is referring to S-E-X, which again, makes me shake my head and go "Poor Beverly LaHaye and poor Dianna Jenkins." Because in addition to removing sexual desire, Zod also took away the little things that couples enjoy doing together, like hanging out and talking, going to a nice restaurant because you both enjoy the cuisine, or just cuddling together on the couch while watching a favorite movie or TV show.

Ellanjay probably consider me a creepy pervert, because I reference sex as an enjoyable activity, a way for both parties to express the love they feel for each other, but they're even more creepy than I am, because they steadfastly refuse to admit either of those things, view sex as a grim necessity needed to produce more believers, and can't imagine people being romantic or doing something nice for another person just to be nice, without wanting anything, sex or otherwise, out of it. Ellanjay really are such Nice Guys™. I don't know how many times I'm going to keep saying variations on that phrase.

In another attempt to point out something good in a sea of turds, when Kenny says, “And I can’t tell you how much fun it is to have someone like that in my life,” Kenny said, “plus adding the romance to it," Creepy Raymie actually says, "I'm happy for you," rather than castigating his nephew for :gasp: wanting to be around and enjoy a girl's company and do nice things for her. It is a piddling, insignificant good thing, but hey, I try to occasionally stop being relentlessly negative and give them some credit.

Kenny talks about how he really cares about Kat and though they aren't married or even engaged yet, they probably will be at some point. Kenny also says that he seeks wisdom and counsel from her and talks to her about the Millies.

Again, to his credit, Creepy Raymie doesn't lay into Kenny for :gasp: seeking the counsel of a weak womanly woman. Though if Kenny actually were to do something more than just correspond with the TOL, it would be kind of hard for him to keep this secret from Kat anyway. You don't think she'd wouldn't be like, "Huh, I wonder where Kenny goes off too," and get curious? What am I saying? Of course, Kat wouldn't because she's a good RTC woman and a good RTC woman knows to never question anything their owner man says or does.

Creepy Raymie is like, "Be careful. Relationships don't always go the way you hope. What if you're just friends or acquaintances a year from now?" And I'm like, "Uh, unless Kat and Kenny's breakup winds up being a 'Jane, you ignorant slut!' kind of breakup, there probably won't be a problem." Because people can date each other, decide they work better as friends than as a couple, break up, and :gasp: still remain friends afterwards.

That was one of the things I enjoyed about the 90s show on Nick, "Clarissa Explains It All." The titular character and her friend Sam, who is male, actually just remain friends throughout the series without it turning into romance. They did try being a couple in one episode, but the experience felt weird and unnerving, so they mutually decided to go back to being friends and :gasp: stayed friends for the rest of the series. I'm not opposed to a male and female friend deciding to date each other, but I still find stuff like the bit with Clarissa and Sam to be refreshing. It's nice for something to acknowledge that a dude and a lady can just like each other, without wanting sex out of it.

:sighs: I adored Clarissa Explains It All as a kid. Used to dream about having Clarissa's wardrobe and bedroom. Heck, I still kind of dream of having her wardrobe/bedroom, though minus the nineties' beige box computer, of course. Those pink pajamas with the ants all over them, look hella cute and hella comfy.

All right, I'll stop with the nostalgia and get back to work.

After that, Kenny starts talking about Lothair and Ignace's Insidious Emails and how he should respond to them.

“Kat thinks I should pursue it, do it right, and— unlike Qasim— act under the authority of the Force. In other words, make sure everybody knows what I’m doing so they can pray for me, keep track of me, and give advice.”

Raymie sat back and folded his arms. “I like this girl more all the time. Maybe she will make a good Force member someday.”

Okay, I'm sorry to keep harping on this issue, but how was what Qasim was doing, bad? I know what the Millies experience does, in no way, compare to a battlefield, but I'll use the military analogy, because it's a handy one and because Ellanjay love to express that air of hypermasculinity; hence their worship of the military*V.

Basic knowledge of military strategy is that the soldiers are briefed on what they are supposed to do and where they are supposed to be, before they are sent into battle. And as a general rule, soldiers are cautioned against deviating from the plan. A snarker I follow, Kippurbird, talked about this, in her delightfully scathing takedown of the Eragon series. She said her grandfather served as a captain and trained soldiers during WWII (aka the war Ellanjay love the most, due to aforementioned hypermasculinity). She said that much of Grandad's time was spent training the soldiers to listen to him, before being sent to the front. To use her words, after a while, Grandad said,

He said that after a while he could tell who would live and who wouldn't come back after seeing how well they listened to him. The rules were there to save lives and the soldiers weren't supposed to think, they were just supposed to follow. Creativity and invention in combat is a dangerous thing. If you deviate from the plan then who knows what can happen and who can get hurt because they're expecting you in one place and you aren't there.

So from that standpoint, Qasim disobeying orders would be a bad thing. [slight tangent] Though Ellanjay's disapproval does feel particularly rich, given that they, like so many on the Right, have fanboyish love for Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, who stubbornly refuse to let anything so gauche as laws or basic human decency, stop them from steam-rolling over the rights and lives of anyone they want. Like I keep saying, it's not that the Right is opposed to tyranny. So long as it is done by the right people for the right reasons, they have no problems with it. Soviet dictators brutally oppressed their citizens, but that was wrong because they did it in the name of communism. Whereas Vladimir Putin does the same, but he does it in the name of unfettered free market capitalism and cronyism, so the Right can't stop swooning over him. [/slight tangent]

But also at the same time, war tends to be unpredictable. A soldier may get out into the field and it turns out that something's happened which makes it so that the plan cannot work as intended. So under those circumstances, the soldiers would try to stick to the plan, but if that proves impossible, they will jettison isn't working. Basic common sense.

And they will decide this on their own, because during the heat of battle, it may be difficult, if not impossible, to get word back from the higher-ups in time, forcing them to have to wing it. Another basic rule of the military: if the commander gets killed during a battle, the next highest-ranked takes over and does what he/she has to in order to complete the mission and save their squad. During a battle, there's not time to idle around and wait, while the generals send in another commander to help you out. Idling tends to get you killed in war.

Though yeah, I know the Millies are basically brownshirts and what they're doing in no way compares to war, but again, felt the analogy might serve its purpose. I also know that their real objection to Qasim is similar to Our Buck's objections to Verna Zee. It's perfectly okay for Buck to be just absolutely condescending and awful to Verna, because he outranks her by being a White Dude, but Verna is the Worst Person Ever! for :gasp: asking Buck to do something so gauche as DO THE FREAKING JOB HE'S GETTING PAID TO DO!

Unfortunately, things have become so warped that modern journalism is pretty much in line with the LB-verse version. I'd rant, but I've done so many frothing rants in one post, so maybe another time, guys.

So Kenny-boy and Creepy Raymie start talking about the Millies' goals. Oh nice to finally know what the heck is going on. Again, if you are going to do a classic "Forces of Good vs. Forces of Evil" plot, we should know which side is which, what both sides want, and what will happen if the Forces of Evil succeed. It's basic plotting 101.

“Do we need a meeting?”

“Of the Force? Sure, if you plan to respond to these guys. What’re you thinking, that you would visit them in France?”

“That or start feeding them bogus information. Just enough to keep them on the string.”

“I don’t know,” Raymie said, sighing. “If our goal is not to win them over, what is it?”

“To keep undecideds from being swayed by them.”

Feeding them bogus information...what exactly would you be feeding them bogus information about?! Even with the Tribbles, it made some sense in that a character could :gasp: lie about the locations of bases or give false information about who their members are. They never did it, but it made sense, because in that scenario, they were the minority being persecuted by a mighty foe. But in this scenario, the RTCs are the ones in charge, laying down the law and all that. So what would you feed them false information about? Say that "Oh yeah, the church's bake sale has been canceled," when it totally hasn't? :gasp: :choke:

Plus, I thought they had demonstrated time and time again that Ellanjay, as believers in absolute morality, believe that lying is always wrong, even if it's a "Lie to the Nazis to protect the Jews you're smuggling to safety." So why is an RTC character now saying, "Maybe we should lie to them?"

And of course, the best way to keep Undecideds from being swayed by them, is to censor the crap out of the TOL and make a huge fuss about how eeeevil and degenerate they are, because that will never blow up in their faces? The Streisand Effect? What the heck is that?

Though of course, the TOL is based in France, the most effete and European of all effete European countries. Though this does give me an opportunity to point out that despite his name, Captain America actually hates America.

Creepy Raymie is like "How does misleading the TOL accomplish that?" And I'm just going to post Kenny's response.

They rose to start heading back to work. Kenny said, “All I know is that if I don’t start playing their game soon, they’re going to know I’m not on their side. Maybe that’s not all bad. I can stick to what I know and what I believe I’m supposed to be doing— reaching the children right here.”

I'm not going to say the obvious jokes, because I've already made so many Creepy Sex Jokes in this post. I just thought I should post it for my readers' perusal. :whistles innocently:

We cut back to Abdullah, who is getting ready to embark on his poorly-defined mission to the TOL.

Abdullah knew he needn’t be, but he was nervous. He had allowed his beard to grow out, then trimmed it neatly before luxuriating in a long shower. Now he slowly dressed, eschewing the white robe he had worn for years in Israel and opting for more traditional Jordanian civilian wear. He pulled a blousy white top over billowing beige pants, slipped into open sandals, and carefully wrapped a pure white turban around his head.

That sound you hear is the people behind the sixties Jonny Quest or the writers for "Amos and Andy" going, "Now that's just a wee bit culturally insensitive. You mind toning it down a little."

For the record, while I did search, I couldn't really pull up any satisfying pictures of male Jordanian attire, so y'all will have to settle for this description instead:

The men never wear scruffy-looking and messy attire, and are very strict in their grooming. Their trousers are usually plain in color, never flashy or provocative. T-shirts or upper clothing that don't cover the shoulders or the upper arms are considered underwear. Jordanian men opt to wear long-sleeved and high-necked shirts and never walk around shirtless.

So it is different from what 'Muricans wear, but it's not that different.

Fun Fact: Not all Muslim men wear turbans. The turban thing is probably due more to the Middle East being predominantly desert. Its citizens need protection from the elements and the turbans and hijabs, as well as the loose, flowing clothing, work better than jeans and tee shirt.

Another Fun Fact: Another religious faith where the adherents wear turbans, is Sikhism. Sikhism originated in India, not the Middle East, and doesn't have much in common with the Abrahamic faiths of which Islam is one of them.

Even More Fun Fact: Even if it turns out that group of dudes in turbans are, in fact, Muslims, it's still wrong for you to barge in and shoot up the place and kill people for being Muslim.

Even More Funner Fact: Muslim is a religious label, indicating that someone is a practitioner of the Islamic faith, whereas Arab is a racial term, indicating that someone displays the physical features of someone who originates from a particular part of the world. Or in other words, you can be Muslim, without being an Arab, and you can be an Arab, but not be a Muslim.

Abdullah's segment is interrupted with a Cam-Cam one. Yerik shows up, while Cam-Cam putts around his property on a golf cart, and is like, "Joshua and Caleb send their greetings and will be end tomorrow." The only noteworthy response is at the end where Cam-Cam thinks, "Never a dull moment," and I have to fight the urge to point and laugh derisively until I injure myself.

Those of you who felt that I was reading too much into the bit with Abdullah earlier, I'm going to post his next selection in its entirety, while I point and laugh at your naïveté.

Abdullah felt strangely conspicuous, striding about Amman under the blazing sun in gleaming clothes. Almost everyone he saw was wearing the customary white robe, and his getup elicited double takes and stares but, probably because he was carrying his Bible, always followed by smiles— which he returned. The closer he got to the address in question, the more excited he grew.

Abdullah peeked at the tiny slip of paper to be sure he was in the right neighborhood, and soon he arrived at a square, three-story building topped by towering antennas and satellite dishes. Inside he found a list of offices that included agricultural consultants, hydrologists, computer specialists, and communications experts. Ah, there it was. A downstairs suite was labeled Theological Training Institute. He took the steps.

I'd ask how Ellanjay would explain that them freaking out about Abdullah wearing a turban, until they see his bible, isn't racist, but I really shouldn't. It's depressing enough dealing with Trumpettes going on and on about how Trump's views that certain ethnic and religious groups are subhuman mongrels, undeserving of the basic rights given to them as American citizens or as human beings in general, is in no way racist or any kind of -ist whatsoever.

And there really isn't anything more after that. Daycare prepares for Caleb and Joshua. Kenny and Qasim talk and I suppose Ellanjay would consider Kenny to be Good, because he magnanimously holds off on talking shit about Qasim while in his presence, preferring instead to talk behind his back.

And that's it. Sorry for all the frothing rants and the Bullying MegaRant, but buttons were pushed. Just be grateful that I didn't find a thinly-veiled excuse to rant about that one movie I hate so much, so much so that if something were to happen to Zack Snyder, law enforcement would knock on my door and ask me some questions, given all the frothing, "DAMN YOU, ZACK SNYDER! I WILL HAVE YOUR HEAD ON A PLATTER OF GOLD!" rants I've done.

Anyway, now for all the asterisked stuff.

*Whether you were on Team Cap or Team Iron Man in this movie, at least with the film version, which was better than the comic book version by a mile, you understood where Steve and Tony were coming from and why they would make the choices they did, even if you disagreed with them. Plus, Tony didn't turn into Nazi-Tron, even if I am looking side-eyed at all his friends and being like, "No one suggested he go into therapy after Age of Ultron? You guys are kind of terrible friends. Dude's been turning into a quivering mess of PTSD for a while and no one has talked to him about or suggested that something be done to address the issue."

**And by Creepy Sex Stuff, I'm assuming you guys understand that I'm referring to the loathing for the desires of the flesh and how they can't view anything without thinking in terms of power and domination, rather than fetishes like Furries or BDSM. My view regarding those fetishes, along with just about every other fetish, is that I think it's weird as hell and I'm not into it, but so long as it's all between consenting adults in the privacy of their own home, I don't really care. Though on the BDSM front, it was satisfying hearing from various practitioners talking about how E.L. James is full of it and Christian Grey would be persona non grata among their subculture, if not imprisoned, if they knew about what he was doing.

***Props to the movie and the Agent Carter TV show for demonstrating that she was already into Steve, even before he came out of Mr. Stark's machine as a slice of roast beefcake. Because of course, anyone would be attracted to him after that, so it's nice that they went the extra mile, so she wouldn't look completely shallow. I won't rant about that one scene in that movie, because Peggy redeemed herself so much in her sadly short-lived TV series. Though I do find it interesting that in said series, when she's seen looking at pictures of Steve, it's usually the before pictures rather than the after. Again, liked him even when he was a 95 lb. asthmatic.

****As someone who came of age when Zero Tolerance Policies were becoming widespread, I can tell you how much they don't work and how little sense they make. Given that there are numerous studies backing me up and no one likes these policies, not the students, teachers, parents, or administrators, yet said policies remain, you find yourself wondering what purpose they really are meant to serve. Because they certainly aren't protecting students and personnel.

*V Said worship does not lead to them taking care of the soldiers when they come home physically disabled or riddled with PTSD. In fact, they tend to make massive cuts to services designed to help wounded veterans/soldiers and when said conditions deteriorate to a truly appalling state, they point to it as "proof that government-run health care doesn't work." To the extent they care about the soldiers, it's as human meat shields or something they can use to score political points, and probably can't be bothered to make sure they can find work and support when they get home, so the vet doesn't wind up eating his/her pistol or something.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

It's Always About Sex

Hey everybody! Hope life's treating you well. As for me...I am seriously praying for a "Rocks fall; everyone dies" ending. I know it's not going to happen, but let me hope for a little while longer, dammit! Because as always, it's not enough that Ellanjay are boring, but they're punishingly boring. Does having a conflict or stuff happening in a story, go against the sacred tenets of RTCianity?

I will warn you that this snark will briefly force me to defend the Tribbles. Please put down your torches and pitchforks; it will make more sense once we get there.

Chloe asks to see Kenny and Kat in her office. For some reason, though, Bahira is in this scene. And if you're wondering, we get right to the skin-crawling creepy sex stuff.

Bahira, Abdullah’s daughter, was with them. “I’ve just met Kenny’s Kat,” she said. “And I approve.”

Ekaterina looked shocked, and Kenny said, “Bahira! First off, she’s not mine. And second, there’s nothing to approve.”

"Until I get her father's approval, she belongs to him. Once I do, then and only then, will she be mine."

To borrow from South Park, that's actually what RTCs believe. According to the rules of courtship, girls are their father's property until a man that meets their father's approval, marries them. After that, they become their husband's property. Feel free to let your skin crawl all it likes.

Don't worry, I'm not going to post links talking about sexual abuse in the RTC subculture, even though the nature of that subculture gives it a perfect place to thrive. Like I keep saying, it's always about sex with that bunch.

Anyway, Chloe gets everybody seated and starts talking. I will warn you that her dialogue consists of so much corporate buzz talk that I'm still not entirely sure what the hell she's saying. Just that it's so dense and incomprehensible know how editors have red pens that they use when going over works? This will make an editor long desperately for a red machete. No points for guessing who'd they use it on.

“You know, Bahira,” Chloe said, “it’s actually good that you’re here for this, because this is an awkward meeting. Back before the millennial kingdom, had Kenny’s father and I not gone to heaven, I can imagine having a meeting like this, probably when Kenny reached junior high school or so. I hear all sorts of gossip and talk and who said what about whose boyfriend or girlfriend, and it strikes me that it’s so juvenile for such a time as this. Scripture says that you all are to be considered children until you reach age one hundred, but because you’re twice as old now as my parents were when I died . .  . I don’t know; I guess I expect you to be more mature.”

Teenagers gossiping and expressing an interest in the opposite sex?! In my head, I hear Chloe swooning and fainting. Though for some reason, she'd get even madder if Kenny expressed an interest in the same sex, so my RTC hand-holding gloves wouldn't be too far off the mark. Though that probably wouldn't be enough to satisfy Chloe and ensure that her son never feels a stirring in his loins. We probably ought to come up with and market RTC burqas. Because the only part of those that the RTCs object to, is the Muslim part. So we stitch Jesus Fish and Crucifixes on them and we're in the clear. Your call as to whether both genders should have to wear them or if, as always, only the girls should, while the boys can get by with the RTC hand-holding gloves.

Though given that many believe that the Jesus Fish was originally a representation of that sinful hole where babies slide out and crucifixes are suspiciously phallic-looking, I don't know if those designs will work. Maybe I should think on this, just as I'm still wondering if we could make a good chunk of change, doing up posters with the Angel's words from Mark Twain's "The War Prayer." I'm still disappointed we can't make leather-bound books that look and feel like the Bible, but have Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged inside instead of, y'know, the actual Bible.

All right, I'll stop talking about potential business ventures, especially since it'll all likely result in a Misaimed Fandom anyway.

I suppose I could do the math or dig through a wiki to find out how old Chloe was when she died, but to heck with it. That level of nitpicking doesn't appeal even to me.

Though I do wonder how this whole slowed-down aging thing works. Because we just got a flat-out admission that the slowed aging means that until someone reaches the age of a hundred, they physically resemble children. Being the nitpicker that I am, I wonder the lengths of this. Does puberty only happen when they approach one hundred? If not, at what year would it start. Because I thought Ellanjay set the whole Age of Accountability thing at roughly around the age of twelve. Or to put it bluntly, as soon as you start to get hair around your naughty bits, God will try you as an adult.

But I'm still wondering, like I said, if you literally can't die until you're one hundred. I thought that was the case, that everyone would get to enact their Deadpool cosplays on a whole new level, but Buck had mentioned something about how if Cendrillion had died in an accident, it would be easier to talk with her parents. So accidental deaths still happen in the MK.

Of course from there, I wonder if one of the RTC parents knew that Junior hadn't said The Prayer with the precise amount of sincerity demanded, couldn't they kill their child before he or she turns one hundred? If they do, kid won't be struck dead on his/her hundredth birthday and will get to romp around Heaven for all eternity, whereas if the kid lived, he or she would be pitched into Hell. And we all know that Ellanjay believe that no sin, however egregious, permanently separates you from God, so long as you pray and ask for forgiveness afterwards. So RTC parents can kill their kids, the kids won't burn in hell, and the parents just have to ask for forgiveness afterwards and everyone's happy.

Given that numerous scientific studies prove that there is a marked difference in the functioning of a teenage brain as opposed to that of an adult's, I wonder if the Maturity at a Hundred thing, also has God deliberately stepping in to avoid the developments and changes that the teenage brain undergoes. Not too surprising, given the nature of the LB God, but given that science says that brain development goes on into a person's twenties, that only further muddies the waters on the nature of development in the MK.

All right, I'll shut up and get back to the chapter.

Chloe's next words only add to my confusion:

“It’s all of you,” Chloe said. “Ekaterina is the only one still living with her parents, but you’re all old enough to be on your own. It just doesn’t seem like you’re acting it. Shouldn’t we be above all this petty stuff now that we’re living in a time when Jesus is reigning over His millennial kingdom?”

Yes, Chloe, you really should be above all this petty stuff, just as this story, SHOULD ACTUALLY HAVE SOMETHING RESEMBLING A PLOT OR CONFLICT!

Though all this talk about how Kenny and Bahira are old enough to live on their own, but Kat isn' I said, it only muddies the waters even more. It makes you wonder at what age do they consider someone an adult, capable of consent. The youngest range it dips down into in the US is sixteen, with eighteen being the more common denominator across the board. In Japan, the age of consent is at thirteen. I could pull up depressing links that demonstrate that apparently RTCs believe that the age of consent should be much lower than thirteen, but I won't. You may think me in whatever manner you deem fit. Just remember, it is entirely too much to ask for grown-assed men, even if they're in their twenties or older, to control themselves around those very seductive twelve-year-olds.

Though it's probably more a case of because Kat and Kenny haven't formally tied the knot, Kat still belongs to her father and must live in his house, until a guy he approves of, puts a ring on her finger. Even if she is, like Jana Duggar, several years over the age of twenty and probably more than capable of taking care of herself, given that she's been raising dozens of siblings for God-knows-how-long. But my only problem with this theory is, as I recall, Bahira isn't married to anyone, yet she is :gasp: :choke: living outside her parents' home, despite being an unmarried adult female.

I don't know when I'll stop talking about Quiverfulls and Creepy Sex Stuff. Sorry guys...

Bahira is all "Maybe my brother should be here because it was his idea to enlist Qasim in the first place." She says something about how Creepy Raymie wasn't happy with the idea at all. Given that I've taken to envisioning Raymie as David Koresh, creating an insular cult centered around himself, I don't need to tell you why he wasn't happy with Qasim joining. I've got one word for you: Competition.

Like with the burqas thing I mentioned earlier, the only objections they'd have to the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints, what with their viewing women strictly as broodmare and marrying them off to old goats who are older than their fathers, while kicking out teenage boys because there aren't enough girls around for everybody to have dozens of wives, is the Mormon part. And dammit, will this snark ever stop making me want to scour my flesh with steel wool and battery acid.

Chloe talks about how she got all this information from Creepy Raymie in the first place and that he thinks the world of Bahira. So okay, maybe that's why Bahira is allowed to live outside her father's house; the transfer from her father's ownership to Creepy Raymie's has taken place, thus putting her under his jurisdiction. Bahira talks about how she loves Creepy Raymie in the way everyone who met in Heaven loves each other, without complications.

And I shudder some more. Because I believe in spreading pain around, I'll provide a link to another thing all this is making me think about, a short story called "The Screwfly Solution." We all know the RTCs would be enthusiastic Sons of Adam if the plague in that story came to pass. They pretty much only keep women around, because if they didn't, there would be a precipitous drop in the number of bodies in the pews and fewer bodies means less money.

And here's the part where I'm somewhat forced to defend the Tribbles:

“And that’s the way it should be. Our lives now should be filled with praising and worshiping Jesus and carrying out His mission on this earth. There are still millions of young people who will not live past their hundredth birthdays unless we stay at the task. That’s what COT is all about. And if you’re going to have a Millennium Force that mirrors the old Tribulation Force, it needs to be single-minded too. We had one goal, one mission, and that was to thwart Antichrist as best we could by what?”

"Occasionally thinking disdainful, but not too disdainful, thoughts in the Anti-Christ's direction?!"

Though much as it pains me to admit it, but the Tribbles are closer to a resistance group than the Millies. Nicky was actually killing and persecuting the RTCs for what they believed. But what has the TOL done to the Millies, aside from try to live their lives in peace? As I keep saying, the TOL aren't arresting RTCs for exercising their right to assemble nor are they sending in infiltrators to bring down the Millies from within.

All right, I'm done defending the Tribbles. I still feel kind of dirty about it, though.

For those of you wondering, here's how the Tribbles thwarted the Anti-Christ.

“By adding as many people to the family of God as you could.”

“Exactly. That’s what the Millennium Force ought to be about, and in talking to Raymie, I know that’s his passion. It sounds to me like it has deteriorated into a he-said-she-said free-for-all. And with Satan out of the picture for nine hundred or so more years, this all has to be self-motivated. I can’t see what part of the world makes this kind of thing attractive, so that leaves the flesh. Just something to think about. Will you think about it? I’m sorry to come off like the mom here, but you’re all coming off like juveniles.”

Given how many times the Tribbles zealously guarded the truth from everyone, even though it could possibly save people from an eternity of horrific suffering, FAIL! If that had really been the Tribbles' mission, they would have lined up outside buildings where the Mark was being given out, stood on street corners, or outside barbed-wire fences and preached until the GC dragged them away. But they didn't. Instead, they hide in a hole in the ground and smirked about how they have it all figured out, just like all the great Christian martyrs throughout history.

Though a few more things, before we get to the part with Abdullah: one, Kenny is your son, so it's okay for you to come off like the mom here. And two, by your own admission, since they are under one hundred, they are still physically and mentally juveniles, so what the hell?

Okay nothing really happens in Abdullah's section. Qasim shows up and they talk about the mission and blah-blah-blah. Like I said in comments for last week's post, I know this mission is all about Abdullah, so he can pat himself on the back and feel like such a big man. Though I will never stop praying that Qasim escapes somehow. Like I keep saying, stop trying to bend over backwards to win the favor of a bunch of shitstains, Qasim. It just isn't worth it.

We cut to Kenny, who continues to feel a stirring in his undercarriage from Kat.

Kenny found himself confiding more and more in Ekaterina. She had taken well his mother’s admonitions and proved more than spiritually mature in her response. Nightly now they spent hours together, talking until it was time to go to their respective homes. They told each other every detail of their lives they could remember. Kenny wasn’t entirely sure where Ekaterina’s heart was, but she had stolen his. He prayed his love for her would not interfere with his devotion to Christ, and that was the subject of his nearly constant prayer.

I suppose I should be grateful they told this in passing. Yeah, it's lazy, but I feel unclean enough about all the creepy sex jokes I've been making. Just that the more RTCs insist that their love for one another is purer than that of heathens who :gasp: make their own decisions as to whether to have sex, the more I'm like "Methinks the lady doth protest too much." Again, refusing to acknowledge sex as a basic desire, as an enjoyable activity and an expression of love, and spending all your time hating yourself for having these innate desires, only leads to a whole lot of misery and abuse. Yeah, sexual abuse happens outside the RTC subculture, but not at the disturbing rate it does in the RTC subculture. Plus, the heathen outsiders acknowledge the existence of abuse, carefully define it and address it, punishing offenders, whereas RTCs...

Yeah, I'll just wrap this up. Kenny got an email from the TOL. Now I'm going to bath in battery acid for a while.