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Dana Hunter
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At long last, I have finished going through the entire USGS database of photos tagged Mount St. Helens. There were so many treasures! I'll be bringing them to you for some time.



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In our last installment, we learned that Warren Jeffs was busy making everyone believe their every ailment could be cured by faith alone, leading many people to almost kill themselves and at least one to maim herself in the effort to follow Warren's God's supposed will. Now we find out Warren in into survivalist shit as well. This allows some of the more concerning members of the community to indulge their sadistic sides.

Content Note for graphic animal abuse, brutal animal killing, spiritual abuse, ritual murder discussion, elder abuse, medical neglect.

Carolyn learns from Merril's daughter Merrilyn that Warren has been running a series of survival classes at the FLDS's private school in Salt Lake City. They mostly consist of Dee Jessop killing various animals in a variety of horrifying ways in front of the children. This includes ripping the heart out of a living pig as it screams in agony.

And no one says anything against it.

The more Warren gets away with without opposition, the stronger his hold on the community becomes. I wonder if these brutal "survivalist" classes were to see just how far people would go to comply with his orders. Was he using them to desensitize people? If you can get people to start doing more and more outrageous things, you can walk them into ideas that would've had them running away screaming if you'd thrown them straight in.

His father, the prophet Rulon Jeffs, begins having strokes in 1996, and Warren uses them to usurp his power. The community is told that Rulon's mind is intact, but no one's allowed to see him. This allows Warren to pretend his father is still mentally competent enough to perform his duties. He acts as Rulon's mouthpiece. He gives the orders. And, with the community firmly in his grasp, he begins to squeeze. He tells the community that immoral men must be banished. And then he goes further:



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Right. Now that we've got The Saga of Luke out of the way, we can go back to the beginning of this chapter. Nearly two years into his treatment, Harrison is still having spasms. It's now late 2001, his veins are blown, and his doctor wants a new port. Despite her misgivings, Carolyn agrees, but just as she feared, Harrison gets a staph infection. And while they're in the hospital with Harrison, baby Bryson gets pneumonia. Carolyn's more than got her hands full – and when she gets home, her oldest daughter is missing.

Content note for child critical illness, coerced marriage, underage marriage, grooming, CSA

In most families, if one of the kids is gone when you get home from the hospital, you can go up to any family member and ask if they've seen so-and-so. They may not know where your kid is, but they'll at least say where they saw them last, and maybe even help you find them. Not Carolyn's family. When she asks where Betty is, her sister wives and stepchildren flat-out ignore her. Imagine your daughter being missing, having two terribly ill sons who need breathing treatments, and getting no help or answers from the people you live with.

And then when your 12 year-old daughter comes home the next day, you find out she was spending the night at Warren Jeffs's house.



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In light of Fifty Shades Darker infesting theatres, I figured it was time to repost this 2014 article in which I explain, at some length, just how fucked up and abusive this franchise is.

CN for sexual, physical, emotional and verbal abuse; stalking; fake BDSM; Fifty Shades shit; gaslighting; casual ableism in quotes and links.

Let me tell you how I got acquainted with some of the worst books on the market:

It was an odd time. I'd just spent over a month intensively critiquing creationist earth science texts, and that triggers depression after so many chapters. One begins to lose all hope for humanity. The end of summer loomed. B and I had a rather serious falling out. So there I was, mopey and miserable and wishing the world could just stop for a while.

I don't remember what I was reading, but there was a link to Jenny Trout's blog in the comments. And she had done to the Fifty Shades trilogy what I'm doing to Christianist textbooks. I'd been hearing for years how bloody awful the Fifty Shades of Grey books were, how they glorified abuse, how fake the BDSM was, and how terrible the writing was. I'd heard it from enough people whose opinion I trust that I hadn't wasted my time attempting to read the bloody things. But now there's gonna be a movie, and about nine trillion people think this shit's the cat's pajamas and ever-so-good for their looove lives, so maybe it would be a good idea to find out a bit more about it. And here was a brilliant, funny, and feminist writer who'd read and reported on them so I didn't have to. It was like Cliffs Notes, with brutal honesty and snark.

Now, I should've been working, but I really couldn't. And a day off wouldn't hurt. And I read this:

Ana flushes way too much. I’m going to throw this out there right now. At the end of one paragraph, her face flames. There is a line of dialogue, and then the beginning of the next paragraph, she goes crimson. I get the distinct impression that she’s a Humboldt Squid in a dress, flashing red like a broken neon sign.

And I decided, "Fuck it. In bed, all day, with Jenny Trout's MST3King of FSOG. That's me."

That day became a week. And it didn't end with Jenny.

I couldn't stop. I mean, this shit was far worse than I'd expected. Dude, I've read The Gift of Fear. I've delved into forensic psychology. And every section Jenny quoted screamed, "This asshole will murder you!" Have you ever read one of those signs-of-an-abusive-relationship dealios? Like Jenny pointed out in her Chapter 14 recap, this supposedly epic romance between Ana Steele and Christian Grey waves all the red flags:



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My conservative Christian former best friend used to say that too much prayer rots the brain. Earth Science 4th Edition provides clear evidence of this right from the blurb at the start of the "Oceans and Seas" chapter. They begin talking about desalination by saying wow, there's more people on Earth than ever! Yay! "God didn't place a limit on how many people should inhabit the earth."

I really wish the Bible had a verse placing strict limits on the total population, and ordering dominionists like the BJU believers to adhere to a strict "One child, no conversion, no evangelizing, and for My sake put a condom on that thing!" policy. Because it seems they believe that God wants as many people stuffed onto the planet as possible, limited resources be damned. They acknowledge the fact that a huge population makes things like having enough drinking water for everyone a serious issue. But they pretend that's all fine, since we invented desalinization plants. Breed away! God placed no limits on population, so let's have humans stacked a dozen deep over every square inch of the planet! Fuck logic and sense, yo!

Fools like this are why I'm one of those atheists who thinks we really need, as a species, to do away with the idea of holy books* all together. We can't be trusted with it.

Dominion is a strong theme at the beginning of this chapter. "Oceans for Man's Use" is the very first section. After giving us lots of facts about the oceans, like their size and how they help regulate the earth's temperature, and how most of our oxygen "comes from photosynthetic organisms living in" them, they tell us it's important to exercise dominion over them.

Oy. These people are massive control freaks. Instead of caring for or partnering with things, they want to exercise jackbooted thuggery over it all. In a "good and wise" manner, they hasten to assure us. Considering they think it's a bonza idea to fill Earth with people until there's no room for anything else, I'm not believing they're qualified to judge what's good or wise.

And they're encouraging students to pursue careers in oceanography in order to exercise said dominion.



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All righty, then. Where were we? Ah, yes: when last we delved Earth Science 4th Edition's pages, the authors were trying to tell us about their One Magic Ice Age Wot Explains Away the Physical Evidence and that Job Really Probably Lived Through Cuz He Mentions Snow a Few Times. Next on their agenda: they're gonna tell us about The Diluvial Geologic Column.

I'm dead before we begin. They're just... I mean... well, look at this shit:

We know that there was at least one continent where everything lived when God created the earth. Creationary geologists think that the continent foundation or basement was probably the rock we call granite, which makes up the deepest rocks under the continents today.

Hoo nelly. So much evidence here they don't at all understand how rocks or continents work. Folks: continents are heavy. The roots under the thickest crust run deep. What happens when rocks are under tremendous heat and pressure? Well, they don't stay cheerfully unaltered. Granite is not the deepest rock, kids. I don't think these folks even grok what basement rocks are.

They yammer about how they can totes see the "key geologic phases of the earth" if they just look at the strata "from a biblical viewpoint." They think they see the vast majority of rocks either forming in or being redeposited by the Flood. They have no real idea how minerals precipitate from a solution to form masses of rock. They don't know how consolidation happens. The things they think happened in a single Flood year don't happen that fast and/or in those kinds of conditions (here's one example). We've studied this. We've done experiments. We know.

Of course, they admit the Flood didn't create the entire geologic column. There was that mythical post-Flood ice age, carving valleys and dumping glacial detritus all over the place. Never mind that we have evidence for multiple ice ages – just put on your Biblical Blinders, kids, and you'll see there's only one!

Gah.

Anyway, then they give us Tasman Walker's idea of a geologic column. It's microscopic compared to the geologic column those icky secular scientists have put together after centuries of research. It goes, from oldest rocks to youngest:


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You may think I'm exaggerating, but hear me out.

B and I chose to watch Twilight on Netflix because most of the good vampire movies aren't on there. And we wanted something we could laugh to. Since we didn't have any comedies in mind, we decided mocking laughter would do.

People, I have read endless reviews of both the book and the movie. I could tell you exactly what happens scene by scene, from opening to closing credits. Much of my joy came from finally seeing some notorious moments for myself. Have you ever watched a movie and gone, "Hey, I know that scene from memes!" or "They used that one in a Bad Lip Reading clip!"? It's a very specific sort of pleasure.

Now, I've read many a review by outraged feminists who utterly despised Edward. I know all of his abusive proclivities. I even know he's a completely genocidal shitmonger. But actually seeing Robert Pattinson act it out rather than reading about it made me scream roughly five thousand times something along this lines of the following:

-GASLIGHTING JERKWAD.
-HOLY FUCKWADS DEDWARD IS SUCH AN ASSHOLE.
-Seriously, how does ANYONE see Dedward as the romantic hero? He's such a fucking douche.
-Yeah, Deddie. Blame your lack of self-control on Bella. Asshole.
-HOLY FUCK HOW IS THIS NOT A HORROR MOVIE ABOUT A DUDE WHO TRIES TO MURDER BELLA? HE LIKES WATCHING HER SLEEP WITHOUT HER KNOWING HE'S THERE. HE'S A CREEPY FUCK ABOUT KISSING. HE DREAMS OF MASSACRING PEOPLE SO HE CAN DRINK HER BLOOD IN PEACE. FFS.

There's more, but you'll have to read my complete live take on Facebook to get the full all-caps outrage.

I feel this movie pretty much summarizes everything wrong with America....



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Despite our best efforts, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education. This is terrible news for our nation's public schools. Those of us concerned about science education will have to pour our efforts into protecting our schools on a local and state level. We'll also have to push hard for accountability. Just because DeVos was confirmed doesn't mean she gets free rein to destroy our schools. She now has a responsibility to provide all of America's children with a quality free primary education, and we will hold her to that.

My friend J.S. recently retired from a twenty-eight year career as a teacher at one of our nation's public schools. He has some sage advice for DeVos. I hope she hears it, and takes it to heart. Please feel free to copy this open letter and send it directly to her.

Dear Secretary DeVos:

I am a retired public school science teacher, proud to have spent my career in the classroom. I will make no secret that I vocally opposed your nomination for Secretary of Education. Your publicly voiced disdain for public schools, and your lack of any relevant experience made you unqualified, in my opinion. Now that your nomination has been confirmed, you have some catching up to do, so this teacher has an assignment for you.



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Like many cult leaders, Warren Jeffs is busy gradually cementing his hold over everyone in the community by fucking with their health care. His father has already convinced everyone that vaccines are a government plot to make children sterile. Considering previously-vaccinated FLDS women are pumping out children at a brisk pace, it's amazing anyone believes him. But he's their leader, the man in charge of their eternal salvation, so they trust him. Warren then comes along to see the ground his father has plowed, telling everyone that the only reason they'd ever need medical treatment is a lack of faith. If they're truly in harmony with God, he says, they'll be healed by prayer and fasting.

Content note: medical neglect, spiritual abuse, maiming, physical abuse of a mentally ill person.

Carolyn watches many people in the FLDS end up nearly dead from Warren's claims. Thankfully, most people are still resorting to the hospital when faith doesn't heal them. But some have faith in Warren. Ruth, her mentally unstable sister wife, develops skin cancer on her nose, and Carolyn gets to experience the consequences of Warren's nonsense quite closely.

Merril apparently hasn't yet fallen for Warren's crap, because he sends Ruth to the clinic when a sore on her nose won't heal. It's cancerous, but very treatable, her doctor says. But Ruth wants to do it Warren's way. She won't entertain Carolyn's idea that maybe GOd was healing her by placing her in the hands of a competent dermatologist. She wants to go the faith route. In addition to fasting and praying, faith also apparently includes questionable caustic chemicals from the health food store. God has revealed a new way of healing her cancer to her! It's herbal, so it must be safe, despite the fact the caustic part of her concoction is illegal to sell! And while she's been told to only use a pinhead-sized amount, she slathers it on, turning the entire end of her nose green in the process. God said to go for it.



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Merril's son Luke crashed his motorbike and is in the hospital in critical condition. Merril has ordered Luke's mother Ruth not to go to the hospital. He keeps saying he'll go, but he's been too lazy to bother – I mean, gosh, he's just so tuckered out after all the business deals he's been doing instead of checking in on his son (who could bleed out at any minute), y'know? Besides, he's sending random sons and his daughter-in-law to check up, and Luke's been telling them he feels fine. Never mind the fact that, with his injuries, he could feel fine right up to the instant his spleen ruptures and he bleeds to death. Can you see how under control Merril's got everything?

Content note for serious injuries, bleeding, medical neglect, emotional abuse, and spiritual abuse.

Meanwhile, Luke's surgeon has about lost her shit after over 24 hours of no parents and a brother who snuck her patient out for a steak dinner when he was only supposed to be getting fluids. She calls Ruth again and demands she get her ass up there to authorize treatment in case things get worse.

Ruth, of course, has been so worn down by Merril over the years that she won't do anything without his permission, not even to save her son. She begs him to let her go. She apologizes for being so troublesome as to want to be with her severely injured son, who might die if no one authorizes treatment, but she's worried and the hospital's insisting.

Merril can't take her questioning his authority. He starts shouting so loud that Carolyn can hear him through the phone Ruth's holding. He roars that he's got "everything under control." He's got "inspiration" and the hospital doesn't. He'll get there eventually. And he tells Ruther that if she keeps this up, she'll "get into a condition with me that you'll regret."


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