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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Press releases

I was just scrolling through today's news and came across five separate press statements, all of which just exuded phoniness, and none of which could possibly have been written by the people who released them.

From Lindsay Vonn, on the occasion of her breakup with Tiger Woods:

"After nearly three years together, Tiger and I have mutually decided to end our relationship. I will always cherish the memories that we’ve created together. Unfortunately, we both lead incredibly hectic lives that force us to spend a majority of time apart. I will always admire and respect Tiger. He and his beautiful family will always hold a special place in my heart.’’

From Tiger Woods:

“Lindsey and I have mutually decided to stop dating. I have great admiration and respect for Lindsey and I’ll always cherish our time together. She has been amazing with Sam and Charlie and my entire family. Unfortunately, we lead very hectic lives and are both competing in demanding sports. It’s difficult to spend time together.’’

(What a coincidence that they both used the words "cherish" and "hectic" in their press releases. A cynic might suspect they used the same lazy publicist. But if their feelings toward each other are so wonderfully positive -- why not stay together?)

From Brittney Griner, regarding her recent arrest for domestic violence: 

"It is never OK for an argument to turn physical. This will never happen again, and I take my relationship and my responsibility as a role model seriously. I am committed to making positive changes and I plan to use what I have learned to set a good example and help make a difference in the world around me."

("And what I have learned is, next time I'm giving that bitch a beatdown, no one's calling 911.")

From Kory Blackwell, the former New York Giants cornerback, on his cousin Demetrius Blackwell, who just murdered NYPD officer Brian Moore:

“I was devastated to learn of my cousin’s alleged involvement in the shooting of police officer Brian Moore, and there are no words strong enough to convey my sorrow over what has cast a devastating shadow over many lives. The Blackwell family does not and never has condoned violence in any form. For years, our family tried to help Demetrius lead a more productive and law-abiding life. My heart goes out to the family for their tragic loss.”

(Translation: we bear no responsibility for what that loser cousin of mine did, so don't come after us.)

From the Four Seasons resort in Puerto Vallarta, on the occasion of Sheryl Sandberg husband David Goldberg's death:

“We are deeply saddened by the news of the death of David Goldberg. Four Seasons would like to clarify that, contrary to some media reports, the tragedy did not take place at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita. Mr. Goldberg was not a registered guest at our resort, villas or residences. As the tragedy did not take place on our property, nor was Mr. Goldberg a guest, we are not in a position to comment further. Again, our condolences to Mr. Goldberg’s family and friends. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.”

(When they said "thoughts," they forgot to add "and prayers," the standard boilerplate. They also forgot to add, "So you can forget about that lawsuit you were preparing.")

Barack Obama, on David Goldberg's death:

“David Goldberg embodied the definition of a real leader – someone who was always looking for ways to empower others. He was generous and kind with everybody, and cared less about the limelight than making sure that the people he worked with and loved succeeded in whatever they did. His skills as an entrepreneur created opportunity for many; his love for his family was a joy to behold, and his example as a husband and father was something we could all learn from. We’re heartbroken by him leaving us far too soon – but we celebrate a remarkable legacy.”

(Translation: "I really appreciate the very generous donations that Sheryl Sandberg and David Goldberg made to my reelection campaign.")

One has to wonder what the point of such statements is, since they fool no one.

Whenever anyone always says exactly what he's supposed to, you pretty much know you can't trust him. And when it's a famous person releasing a statement, you also know they aren't even his words.

On the other hand, if you're lucky enough to come across someone who always says what he's not supposed to -- like yours truly -- you can be sure you've come across an honest man. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Baltimore residents: be thankful you don't live in Jalisco

Whether you live in Ciudad Juarez, Sinaloa, Jalisco, or even Acapulco, life south of the border seems more Hobbesian than ever.

Warfare has recently broken out between the Mexican government and a cartel I'd never heard of before, "Jalisco New Generation." In April they ambushed a state police convoy, killing 15 officers.

This past weekend they got into a gunfight with Mexican soldiers and police; seven people were killed. They even forced down a military helicopter.

The cartels are fabulously wealthy. When "El Chapo" Guzman, the head of the Sinaloa Cartel, was finally captured by law enforcement authorities in February of 2014, he was said to be a billionaire.

And their money gives them power. They regularly hire ex-Mexican Special Forces personnel to work as their muscle, and they can afford the latest and fanciest weaponry. Local police forces are completely outgunned. On top of this, the cartels are ruthless.

Pretty much everybody in Mexico lives in terror of them. Local police don't want to tangle with them, journalists don't want to write about them. And local politicians pretend they don't exist.

All for good reason: they don't want to become part of the latest mass beheading.

All of this makes the social unrest in Baltimore's seem minor. The Baltimore rioters broke windows and looted. But none of them exchanged gunfire with the police or National Guard. None of them shot down any military helicopters. And none cut anyone's head off.

Be grateful you live in the US and not Mexico.

Should I be more sympathetic?

A young man who reads my blog recently told me that I should be more sympathetic to blacks as a group.

He said, "Imagine if a group of space aliens came down and kidnapped us sot use as slaves on their planet, but they all had an average IQ of 200 and it took an IQ that high to operate their technology, so we ended up being pretty much useless. Would that be our fault?"

Occam's razor

There have been a lot of theories floated in the mainstream media as to the root cause of the Baltimore riots.

One is the desperate poverty of many of the residents there. Another is the hopelessness of life in the inner city. Some say the educational system is lacking. Some blame the lack of employment opportunities for minority youth. And others say that such a conflagration was inevitable given the hostile, disrespectful attitude many police officers display towards young black men.

Here's a simpler explanation for the recent chaos:

Fish swim, birds fly.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Finally, pictures of the six Baltimore police officers


Here are the officers charged in Freddie Gray's death (clockwise, from top left): Caesar Goodson Jr., Edward Nero, Garrett Miller, Alicia White, Brian Rice, and William Porter.

When I first read their names a few days ago, I figured Caesar Goodson (who was charged with the most serious crimes) was black just because of his given name, and suspected that Alicia might be as well. (William Porter was a bonus.)

But the media was awfully slow to release their photos.

If the media had made clear a week ago that three of the six officers involved were black, might that not have quelled the severity of the riots? Wouldn't that have been the more responsible thing to do?

Nah. Evidently it was more important to leave people with the vague impression that Gray's death was just one more example of racist white cops hunting for another young black man to kill.

Does that not make the media somewhat complicit in the damage done to Baltimore?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Rioting, by race

While reading about the Baltimore riots, I tried to think of recent cases when white people just spontaneously got out of control.

The closest analogy I could think of was the English soccer hooliganism from 20 years ago. those guys would get liquored up and cause all sorts of mayhem at whichever soccer matches they chose to attend.

I then Googled "white people rioting," and stumbled across this article, by Becca Stanek, who listed several more recent examples of white mobs committing vandalism. She had this to say (in reference to the Ferguson riots):

Many labeled the protesters savages, animals, hoodlums and thugs…..But the thing is, riots happen all the time, and often over significantly less terrible events — and we talk about them very differently when those involved are white.

She has a point: when white college kids go on a rampage because of the outcome of a sporting event, they are rarely characterized as thugs or savages.

But Stanek also seems to miss a crucial qualitative difference. When the white students at the University of Kentucky, for instance, "rioted" last month after their team lost in the Final Four, the nature of their behavior was completely different. There was no widespread smashing of store windows or looting, no one hurled bricks and rocks at the police, and cars weren't set on fire.

As Lexington police spokesperson Sherelle Roberts said afterward, although 31 were arrested, police were “thankful no one was seriously injured and that there was no major destruction of property.”

Here are some pictures from the Kentucky "riot":



For Stanek to equate Ferguson with a large, unruly crowd of drunken college students is disingenuous at best. 

This isn't to say that whites aren't capable of more destructive behavior: those English soccer hooligans were famous for their boozy brawls. 

There also seems to be another major difference between white mobs and black ones: when large groups of whites misbehave, there's almost always liquor involved. Sober white people simply don't riot, at least not these days. (They wage war, but that's another thing entirely.) 

When blacks riot in Ferguson, or Baltimore, or elsewhere, alcohol is generally not a factor. Black rioters don't need Dutch courage.

Whether this is a good or bad thing I'll leave up to you.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

It's always a little embarrassing when…..

Personally, I used to hate it when I wanted to do a little rioting with my homies and my mom would show up, grab me by the scruff of my neck, start smacking me around, and make me come home.

That video is actually borderline inspirational. The inner city needs more mothers like that.

Jeffrey Dahmer, in character

The NY Post today ran an interview with Christopher Scarver (on right), the man who killed Jeffrey Dahmer:


I remember hearing at the time of Dahmer's death that he had been killed by a black inmate who was seeking revenge for all of the black men that Dahmer had killed.

But Scarver tells the story differently:

Christopher Scarver — who fatally beat the serial killer and another inmate in 1994 — said he grew to despise Dahmer because he would fashion severed limbs out of prison food to taunt the other inmates.

He’d drizzle on packets of ketchup as blood.

It was very unnerving.

“He would put them in places where people would be,” Scarver, 45, recalled in a low, gravelly voice.

“He crossed the line with some people — prisoners, prison staff. Some people who are in prison are repentant — but he was not one of them.”

Scarver, who was already serving a life sentence for murder at the time of the attack, and who also killed another man, Jesse Anderson, at the same time he killed Dahmer, is hardly a credible witness. But I tend to believe his version of events. 

When the news of Jeffrey Dahmer's killing spree first broke, people were both horrified and fascinated by the story of the cannibal. Most of the interviews that later aired -- this one is typical -- showed a bland guy who seemed as mystified by his strange compulsion as we were, and who took full responsibility for his actions.

But, Dahmer couldn't possibly have done what he did without being a sociopath. And the thing about sociopaths is, there's nothing they won't stoop to, and they enjoy hurting others. So Scarver's account rings true. 

The bit about how Dahmer would fashion severed limbs out of his food, put ketchup on them, and leave them where people would find them is a little reminiscent of all those killers who've phoned the parents of the people they've killed in order to torture them further. 

When you're dealing with a sociopath, there's one thing you should never forget: no matter what face he is putting on at the time, a sociopath never stops being a sociopath.

Bumbling American, the id of the realists

https://twitter.com/bumblingusa

For swim fans only

The US masters swimming championships took place this past weekend in San Antonio, Texas. One of the most impressive records set was in the men's age 45-49 200 yard individual medley. Frenchman Nicolas Granger's 1:51.44 cut a whopping five seconds off the previous record by US Olympian Dave Sims.

My first thought was, oh boy, another shameless doped up Euro setting masters records. (The French seem to have more than their share of juicers.) Just to confirm my suspicions, I Google-imaged him, and saw this photo:


Granger doesn't appear to be on steroids, though it's possible he's on human growth hormone. But what really struck me was the freakish length of his arms. From this photo, it looks as though his fingertips would almost reach his knees.

There's no drug which causes that. Being tall is obviously an advantage in swimming, and having long arms is 90% of the advantage of being tall. Whatever Granger's height, his wingspan is that of a much taller man.

Verdict: he might actually be clean.

Monday, April 27, 2015

All the news not fit to print

Yesterday there was major rioting in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray, yet the New York Times didn't see fit to report this on their front page. They buried it on page A24, and quoted people sympathetic to the protesters, while downplaying the destruction of property that went on.

The rioters smashed windows, looted stores, overturned cars, and lit fires. Here is a compilation of footage of the riots courtesy of Youtube.

This is not to excuse whatever actions the Baltimore police took with Freddie Gray. The police department there has already admitted it should have sought immediate medical attention for Gray at the scene of his arrest, and has suspended six cops pending an investigation.

However, as per Larry Elder:

In 2012, according to the CDC, 140 blacks were killed by police. That same year 386 whites were killed by police. Over the 13-year period from 1999 to 2011, the CDC reports that 2,151 whites were killed by cops -- and 1,130 blacks were killed by cops.

There seem to be different reactions -- by both the local population and the national media -- to each category of killing.

On their banner the NYT proudly proclaims that they report all the news that's fit to print. They would be a far more interesting newspaper if they would occasionally report on news that they don't consider fit to print.

Without the internet, most of us wouldn't even be aware of much of the news the Times and its ilk don't consider fit to print. I grew up in the pre-internet era, when the only sources of news were "respectable" newspapers like the Times or the Washington Post, or ABC, CBS, and NBC.

And the worst part about growing up back then was that if you noticed patterns, for instance, that black people rioted when one of their own was killed, but white people didn't, you were left with the vague sense that there was something wrong with you. You felt very much alone with your impure, reprehensible thoughts.

Today, like-minded people -- and common sense -- are only a click away.

Trying to obtain statistics about anything politically incorrect in the pre-internet era was a little like trying to learn about sex during the Victorian era. The information was there, but you had to really dig for it.

Young people today don't stay naive as long, nor do they have to feel as intellectually lonely.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

No uplift here

I joined Facebook a few years ago to see what all the fuss was about, but I've never done anything with it. I have something like 30 friends, the fewest of anyone I know. I check in maybe once every two weeks out of a vague sense of curiosity.

The Newslinq feed in particular (does everyone get that?) is always posting uplifting stories about acts of kindness, or cute videos of pets and babies. The ones which seem blatant attempts to tug at the heartstrings don't seem to have much effect on me.

But yesterday they put up this video, of a series of skillful drawings showing how a young girl might aged from her babyhood until she was an old lady. I found it quite moving. (I'm not about to admit that it bought tears to my eyes as I thought of my daughter aging that way.)

In any case, one thing Newslinq makes clear by contrast is how negative this blog is. (I'm not about to change it.) This simply isn't a heartwarming site: it's an angry-at-the-world blog. Personally, I usually find any sort of writing motivated by contempt far more enjoyable than stuff by people who try to stay within the bounds of social acceptability.

It's said that comedians are angry people; I think that's true.

In any case, if you're looking for uplift, don't look here. Go to Facebook. If, however, you want to find that others (in particular, me) are as angry -- or at least as disgusted -- as you are, come on in. You should find the temperature of the water here to your liking.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Why should those NFL players have all the fun?

Brittney Griner, fiancee arrested: "We couldn't get them pulled apart."


Brittney Griner, on left, is 6' 8," 207; Glory Johnson is 6' 3," 170.

Will the WNBA suspend these two the way the NFL suspended players who committed domestic violence?

Let's hope for a narcissist

When you think about it, the Presidency is really beyond the capabilities of any one man. There is simply no one who is a superb military tactician as well as a compassionate humanitarian, an insightful economist as well as a charming, persuasive personality, a widely knowledgeable historian who has his finger on the pulse of contemporary America, and a stirring orator with the calm and considered judgment to make wise decisions. We want our Presidents to be good-looking, have an IQ of 150+, speak well, be accomplished, and yet somehow remain ego-free.

Impossible? Of course. And if for no other reason, because anyone who thinks he's the man for the job is by definition going to have an ego that's out of control.

Really, the most we can reasonably expect is a compelling spokesperson who's intelligent enough to pick good advisors, who has the good judgment to follow their advice when prudent, and who is by and large honest.

Two of the last three Presidents -- Clinton and Obama -- have been out and out sociopaths. This is not coincidence, as a naturally dissembling personality is far more adept at telling the lies he needs to tell to get elected.

It seems the best we can hope for in a President is that he be a garden variety narcissist, and not a full blown sociopath.

In other words, let's just pray that all we get in 2016 is an egomaniac, and not an egomaniac who's a pathological liar to boot.

Hoping for anything more is simply unrealistic.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The "marathoner" didn't even look the part

What struck me most about that picture of marathon impostor Kendall Schler was her expression. The picture was taken right after she had "finished" the race and been awarded her medal. Yet there was no apparent joy there. On the contrary, she appears to have the wary eyes of an abused child.


The other thing that struck me about Schler was how little she looked like a top marathoner. Schler has no discernible muscle tone or definition in her arms, she has breasts, and she is pear-shaped. In the picture below she looks downright dumpy.


Top female marathoners tend to work themselves down to the bone, to the point where they take on a brittle, almost anorexic appearance. They have carved all the fat from their bodies, giving them skinny arms, thin but muscular legs, and flat chests.

These women competing in the 2012 Olympic marathon are fairly typical:


It appears that not only was Schler a shameless hoaxer, she was a dumb one too. For her to try to pass as a marathon victor was about as credible as me claiming that I used to be a heavyweight boxing champion. Extreme sports call for extreme physiques.

Once Schler was disqualified, the winner in the St. Louis Marathon was declared to be Andrea Karl, with a time of 2:54:


It would be interesting to find out what Schler's upbringing was like; to me, this is always the most interesting thing about a sociopath. Given how pathetic her attempted deception, it would also be edifying to find out her IQ.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

"Marathon winner loses race title because she never ran the race"


A Fox News article yesterday described how Kendall Schler faked winning the St. Louis marathon:

Kendall Schler is believed to have slipped onto the course on Sunday after the last checkpoint in an attempt to trick race officials into believing she ran the whole marathon.

Officials said that Schler failed to register any times on the 26.2 mile route, and that a review of the previous year’s marathon, where Schler registered a third place finish, also did not reveal any image of her on the course.


We've heard this story before, with Rosie Ruiz, who faked winning the Boston Marathon back in 1980. Ruiz was later arrested for embezzlement, and, subsequently, for cocaine dealing. As recently as 2000, she was still claiming to have run the entire Boston Marathon even though the proof against her having done so was overwhelming.

Schler, 26, is probably too young to have known of Ruiz. But they share the same personality disorder.

You really don't have to hear anything more about someone than that she faked winning a marathon to know that she is a sociopath. This one action encompasses so many different sociopathic traits that it is proof in itself.

First of all, it's completely dishonest.

Secondly, both women thought they could fool people when they couldn't -- a distinctly sociopathic belief.

Third, such a "victory" would rob other runners of their rightful glory -- but this wouldn't concern a sociopath in the least.

Fourth, one would have to lack any sense of shame or embarrassment in order to try such a stunt.

And fifth, it shows how sociopaths live in the present and are unconcerned about the future to an extent unimaginable to most. Sociopaths can actually enjoy themselves while dancing on the edge of disaster. (Otherwise, how could all those Ponzi Schemers revel in livin' large before they get arrested?)

Poets and philosophers tell us to seize the day, and not let life's treasures slip away. This is generally good advice. But at a certain level, sociopaths are the ultimate exemplars of that philosophy: they always live in the moment, the future be damned.

So, listen to the philosophers, but just don't carpe diem too much.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Sprinter names 2015

The final rankings for the 2015 indoor track season are in. As usual, there are a lot of uniquely creative names among the runners in events ranging up to 400 meters.

A few of my favorites among the men:

Romel Burns. Hard not to think of Nero fiddling.

Trabien Whitehurst. Je suis très bien, merci.

Trey'l Beasley. The path to athletic glory is a long and dusty trail.

Osiris Nicholson. Osiris was the Egyptian god of the afterlife. (Would you name your kid "Hades?")

Juston Christian. He got to the finish line just on time.

Jamique Mitchell. The meek shall inherit the earth.

Arun Rambhadjan. See ya later, I'm going for a run.

Salaam Horne. Isn't that a little like naming your child "Hello"?

Kobe White, Kobe Smith. Mr. Bryant has now been around so long that current high school seniors were named after him.

Kwincy Hall. Ah, his parents were Anglophiles.

Seifuddin Black. Just don't say "fuckin' black."

Addrecus Eddington. An abacus that performs only addition.

Kaulen Jenkins. Callin' all sprinters to the starting line.

Saint Jacob Diodonet. Weren't his parents getting a little ahead of themselves?

Kris Mus. This name was my favorite. I had the feeling that Kris might be white, so I looked him up. Sure enough, here he is (on the left):


Not only does this young man evoke Bing Crosby, he also proves Johnny Cash ("A Boy Named Sue") right. By bestowing upon their son a jokey name, Mr. and Mrs. Mus actually gave him, to quote Cash, gravel in his gut and spit in his eye: Kris grew up to be a bold guy willing to take the brothers on at their own game. Good for him, and good for his parents. And maybe, good for all the other guys named above.

Certainly, none of these nationally ranked sprinters lack for athletic prowess.

A few of my favorite female names:

Sydnei Murphy, Sydnee Minor, Sidne' Williamson, Cydney Christian. Their parents all had an affinity for Australia, but, somehow, didn't quite make it.

Lanae-Tava Thomas. (Do you hear "larvae"?)

Pharist O'Neal. Mirror, mirror, on the wall….

K'Lynn Beal. Well, it's better than K'Lytt.

Xaria Elliott. Exotic? Exactly.

Abra Granger. Maybe her middle name is "Cadabra."

Ke'niya Smith. "If you get fresh, I can knee ya in the balls."

Nichyria Byrd. Is this pronounced like Nigeria?

T'Reyah Johnson. T Rex Johnson's queen.

NeeAsia Watkins. Oh, so that's where she was born.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Jeopardy

Took the online Jeopardy test last night. My son will probably take it tonight.

It was actually sort of fun. The questions seemed harder than on the regular show, but I think I got over half of them right. It makes sense that the test would be harder, since they have to make allowance for a certain "freeze factor" in front of the television cameras.

I couldn't afford the luxury of keeping score because they only allow you 15 seconds to answer each question, so my time was best spent thinking about the answer and typing it in.

The last time I'd taken the test, around 20 years ago in the pre-internet era, we'd been told we had to get 33 out of the 50 questions right to pass the test. I counted 31 that I knew I'd answered correctly, but evidently none of my guesses were right.

The biggest mistake I made last night was to forget to note the category for some of the questions. The category itself is an important part of the clue.

But I also got lucky on one of the questions, something about an institution in Copenhagen named after a Nobel Prize-winning scientist. I wasn't sure whether it would be Niels Bohr or Max Planck, but put down Bohr. I checked later and found that Planck was German. (Phew.)

You can take the test yourself this evening (Wednesday the 15th) at 8PM Central time or tomorrow at 8PM Pacific time. It's pretty simple to register, just go to Jeopardy.com, then make sure you're signed in before the test.

If you do well enough you could earn back some of the money you have to pay the government today.