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Friday, December 19, 2014

El Caballo

One of the three greatest athletes Cuba ever produced was Alberto Juantorena, who won the 400 and 800 meter runs at the 1976 Olympics. (The other two were probably Teofilo Stevenson, the three-time Olympic heavyweight boxing champion, and Javier Sotomayor, the high jumper whose world record of eight feet and one half inch has now stood for over twenty years.)

Juantorena was a magnificent specimen:



Back then, with his bushy unkempt Afro, and extraordinary running talent, I just assumed that he was a light-skinnned mulatto. In fact, that swarthy, somewhat racially indeterminate appearance would have made him look right at home fighting alongside Fidel and Che twenty years earlier.

But to look at pictures of Juantorena now, with his shorter, straighter hair and light eyes, it's hard to discern any black blood:


And with his strongly androgenized features, he looks almost like the chief of a police department in the South. (Bull Connor?)

In any case, there are worse fates than going through life looking like El Caballo ("The Horse"), as Juantorena was known in Cuba.

I was reminded of Juantorena because Cuba has been in the news this week. But when I Googled him to see what he looked like now, I stumbled across this picture, which made me wonder about something else that had never occurred to me before. Is it possible Juantorena was on steroids?


He certainly dwarfed his competitors in the 800, both in terms of height (6' 2.5") and musculature. Usually when I say -- or imply -- on this blog that someone is juicing, I'm completely convinced of it. I'm far from completely convinced about Juantorena.

But, it would be naive to entirely discount the possibility. He ran for a communist country at a time when the Eastern bloc was heavily doping its athletes. And his Polish coach would have been familiar with the advantage conferred by steroids.

On the other hand, Cuba has never had the reputation of being a hotbed of doping. So, I'm agnostic on the issue. I just don't know.

What I do know is that as big a star as Juantorena was, and as good-looking as he was, he must have led a good life.

Even in Cuba.

Viva la revolucion!

Some conservatives seem to be seeing the recent normalization of relations with Cuba as Barack Obama having once again driven a very poor bargain. He basically restored full diplomatic relations, lifted the embargo, and freed three Cuban spies in return for a man (Alan Gross) Cuba should never have arrested in the first place, along with a US spy, and some vague talk about improving human rights. But there is nothing binding about that talk, any more than there was from China in the climate change treaty Obama signed with them.

A lot of liberals are probably reacting to the lifting of the embargo by thinking, ah, Barack's heart is in the right place; that embargo is silly an outdated.

What few have mentioned is Obama's most heartfelt desire: not that Cuba become more like us, but that we become more like Cuba. (Does anyone really doubt that the "fundamental transformation" of this country he had hoped for lay in that general direction?)

Fidel had a long history of trying to export his glorious socialist revolution abroad. Most of those efforts  eventually ended in defeat.

Who'd have thought that the one country whose leader would still be most receptive to that notion would be the United States?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Kim Jong Un has no sense of humor

As wrong as the release of Sony's hacked emails is, it's hard not to feel some schadenfreude at each new development -- and the studio's reaction to them.

Two days ago a couple of Hollywood figures denounced the news media for quoting from the emails. The NY Post succinctly analyzed that hypocrisy here.

Most recently, the "Guardians of Peace" hackers announced that there might be terrorism at theaters which showed The Interview, and advised people to stay away from any such complex. (Those hackers are peacekeepers in the same sense that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is a democracy.)

Their exact words: "Warning. We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places ‘The Interview’ be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to."

(That incredibly awkward phrasing definitely lends credence to the theory that the hackers are North Korean in origin.)

The thing is, even without the threat of terrorism, this movie was (bitterly) fated to be a bomb anyway. If you doubt that, check out this trailer.

Did you see anything remotely funny? Did it not seem to you that the two leads were pretty much sleepwalking through their roles? And this was the trailer, which is theoretically a short clip of the funniest moments that make you want to see the movie.

But the biggest takeaway of this entire affair is that the North Korean leader, who was mocked in this less-than-serious film, has absolutely no sense of humor about himself. Charismatic leaders have the ability to ingratiatingly mock themselves at times. Kim Jong Un is demonstrating himself -- as if we needed any further proof -- to be the opposite of charismatic.

In fairness to Kim Jong Un, he's been brought up to be the supreme leader of a country from birth, he has the luxury of being able to execute political enemies without consequence, and he is surrounded by fawning sycophants. That's not exactly the ideal environment in which to nurture a normal sense of give and take.

In any case, things have become quite tense, and it's probably not an exaggeration to call this a full scale international crisis that demands a serious response.

It's time we sent Dennis Rodman over there to straighten things out.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Hack attacks

It's been fun to follow this Sony saga, and see a liberal Obama donor like Amy Pascal get shown up for the hypocrite she is.

But, realistically, practically every large corporation could be shown in a similarly bad light if their emails were made public. None of us speak about people to their faces the same way we do behind their backs. So if all of our statements were made public, we'd all be in big trouble.

Just think of all the politically incorrect jokes that get forwarded in private. People do get in trouble for that kind of stuff. Or think of the porn so many men watch. What if their viewing habits were made public?

This is essentially what happened to Donald Sterling. His private conversations were made public. Even worse, in his case, his comments were taken out of context.

There should be a law that somehow indemnifies people from losing their jobs if their private conversations are made public, as happened to Sterling, and as may happen to Pascal.

Of course, no one can be indemnified against the personal fallout from such hacking attacks. Pascal's relationship with Angelina Jolie will certainly never be quite the same.

Pascal's emails, of course, are far more interesting to read about than those of most corporate execs, because her comments are about celebrities. Most of us would far rather hear the inside dirt on Jolie than to hear, say, one oil exec's opinion of another.

This whole thing is thought to have started when Sony Pictures made the film, "The Interview," which ends with Kim Jong Un's head exploding. (Some have suggested that the hackers, who call themselves the "Guardians of Peace," are linked to the North Korean regime.)

At last report, the North Korean leader was fine; but Amy Pascal's career does seem to be exploding.

If it does, I won't shed a tear, because she's a typical liberal hypocrite. But do bear in mind, we're all vulnerable.

(By the way, the writer of this blog adores Kim Jong Un.)

Typecast

There was an article in the news this morning about an Auburn freshman football player, Jakell Mitchell, who was murdered this past weekend. Here's a picture of Mitchell:


He looks as if he was a good-natured young man, the kind it would probably have been fun to hang out with. 

A few hours later, a picture of the prime suspect in his murder, Markale Deandra Hart, came across the wires: 


It's hard to imagine a more likely looking murderer. His meticulously tended mustache and goatee, along with the matching neck chain and ear studs, hint at the kind of vanity which is easily wounded. His thick neck muscles and wide shoulders indicate a high level of testosterone. Sometimes a photo can be misleading, but that glower seems deeply ingrained. And that low forehead and vestigial sagittal crest seem to imply the kind of primitive nature that doesn't fret about future consequences

He actually looks as if he wanted to kill whoever was taking that picture. 

Sometimes murderers look surprisingly meek and unassuming. And sometimes, they look the part. Here's another example of that

Friday, December 12, 2014

Sony executives apologize

As I mentioned yesterday, it's always interesting to see how people have to grovel after making an un-politically correct comments. Sure enough, yesterday both Scott Rudin and Amy Pascal released statements.

Pascal's statement, in particular, seemed an exercise in disingenuousness:

"The content of my emails to Scott were insensitive and inappropriate but are not an accurate reflection of who I am…."

The truth, of course, is the polar opposite: those emails reflect exactly who she is. It's the apology, obviously written with the help of her PR people, that has nothing to do with who she is. 

Which do you think is the more telling indicator of someone's true personality: an unguarded, off the cuff email, composed by her and her alone? Or an official corporate memo, vetted by lawyers in a desperate attempt at damage control? 

Not that either of these executives should have to apologize. All they did was privately joke about a public figure. But the current social climate is one where even joking is not permissible. 

Now that Rudin and Pascal have taken themselves out to the woodshed, that will probably be the end of it. If they were Republicans, of course, they'd have to resign in disgrace. But they're Democrats, so all is forgiven. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

"Sony emails reveal racist slams on Obama"

I have to say, I don't think private emails should be hacked and made public.

But I also have to admit, I'm certainly enjoying reading how these rich, liberal Hollywood power brokers who donated money to Obama's campaigns talk in private.

How often do you actually get to be the proverbial fly on the wall?

The jokes weren't really all that "racist," by the way, though I'm sure both Scott Rudin and Amy Pascal are cringing right now.

It'll certainly be edifying to see exactly what form their groveling and apologies take.

Self-indulgence

There's been a fair amount of publicity about Columbia and Harvard Law Schools allowing their students to postpone their final exams because the students are upset by the recent grand jury decisions in Ferguson and New York.

Much of the reaction to these moves could be characterized as disapproval.

I disagree; I think Columbia and Harvard are on the right track.

In fact, I think I'll follow in their footsteps.

I'm very upset by the recent CIA torture report. So upset that I'm going to have to numb myself with a bottle of Jack Daniels every afternoon.

I'm in a huge tizzy about the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. Such a tizzy that I'm going to have to have a pint of Haagen Dasz chocolate chip cookie dough every night just to calm my nerves.

I've been in a complete snit about global warming recently. Given which, I couldn't even contemplate having to shovel the snow which will accumulate in our driveway this winter.

I'm extremely saddened because of all the vandalism and looting by the Ferguson protesters. So sad I couldn't even consider taking out the garbage anymore.

But most of all, I've worked myself into a lather from Obama's drone bombings, what with all the innocent children he's slaughtered. Since I can no longer even think clearly, I'm going to take a break from my self-assigned chore of writing this blog.

See you next year.

Party's over.


Every spring graduating college students fling their caps up into the air in a frenzy of mass exultation.

It's as if they're saying, "We're finally out of this prison! We're free now!"

Free from what? Having around ten hours of courses a week, doing a little homework, and partying the rest of the time?

I can see why kids are happy to get out of high school. In most high schools they're confined to classrooms for roughly thirty-five hours a week, have little choice about what they study, eat lousy high school cafeteria food for lunch, and at the end of the day get to go home to their parents.

In college, you get to live in a dorm with other young people, all of whom have as few responsibilities as you. It's your first taste of real freedom, far away from Mom and Dad's prying eyes. You're young and energetic and at the peak of your looks. So is everyone else. Everyone is single, which means they're pretty much available. And everyone likes to drink -- which makes them even more available.

You have to wonder about those joyful faces at graduation. Do they have any idea of what they're facing? The lucky ones -- or the smart ones, who majored in something practical -- have jobs. A job means responsibility. You have to show up on time, make an effort to get along with people you don't like, and keep your boss happy. (You may not see yourself as an ass kisser in college, but that'll change soon enough.) You don't get to choose your coworkers, and you spend an awful lot of time with them. And they're all way older than you.

The unlucky grads will be going home to live with their parents again.

So why the celebration? College graduation should look more like a funeral. Because all you're "celebrating" is that the party's over.

Good luck, and enjoy that forty hour work week with old people.

(Not a very timely post, I realize, but I was reminded of this by the recent decisions by Columbia and Harvard Law schools to allow their students to postpone finals because of the recent grand jury decisions.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Un-watsoned

Commenter "Steven" pointed out a wonderful story today:


James Watson, co-discoverer of the double helix, had fallen into dire financial straits since losing his job as director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for having let slip to a reporter that he believed the different races had different levels of intelligence.

Watson recently put his Nobel Prize up for auction.

A Russian billionaire, mining magnate Alisher Usmanov, bought it for $4.3 million, roughly $2 million more than it had been expected to fetch.

What does Usmanov intend to do with the prize? Return it to Watson.


According to the Guardian, Usmanov, pictured above, said:

“In my opinion, a situation in which an outstanding scientist has to sell a medal recognising his achievements is unacceptable. James Watson is one of the greatest biologists in the history of mankind and his award for the discovery of DNA structure must belong to him.

“Dr Watson’s work contributed to cancer research, the illness from which my father died. It is important for me that the money that I spent on this medal will go to supporting scientific research, and the medal will stay with the person who deserved it. I wouldn’t like the medal of the distinguished scientist to be an object on sale.”
In certain circles, Watson's name has been turned into a verb. To be "Watson-ed" is to lose one's job and livelihood because one has blurted out a non-politically correct truth.

What a world we live in, where even a Nobel Prize winner can now be Watsoned merely for telling the truth.

Alisher Usmanov, like every other Russian oligarch, most likely did not come by his billions by being a nice guy. In fact, it seems a safe bet that Usmanov got pretty nasty at times to amass that fortune. Nonetheless, if they gave a Nobel Prize for seeing justice done, Usmanov should receive it. 

Jackie, Part III

One of the things I expressed curiosity about in the first post about Jackie Coakley was her parents.

While looking for news about Jackie Coakley last night, I stumbled across this excerpt from the original Rolling Stone article by Sabrina Rubin Erdely:

Jackie had a strained relationship with her father, in whose eyes she'd never felt good enough, and always responded by exceeding expectations – honor roll, swim team, first-chair violin – becoming the role model for her two younger brothers. 

Where would Erdely have heard this? Obviously, from Coakley. So it can't be taken at face value -- except for the description of Coakley's relationship with her father as "strained." That much is probably true: even if they'd had a good relationship, which seems unlikely, characterizing it to a national audience as "strained" would by itself be enough to put a strain it.

It's doubtful that anyone who's ever lived has always exceeded expectations; but we can mark that down to sloppiness by Erdely.

The most telling part of the excerpt was the way Erdely describes Coakley as a "role model" for her two younger brothers. Again, this is something she could only have heard from Coakley. Only one type of person refers to herself a role "model," and actually sees herself as an inspiration to others: a narcissist. (Sociopaths are a subset of narcissists.)

Anyway, the snapshots of Coakley's personality continue to fall into a consistent pattern, as they always do with a sociopath.

Coakley won't be turning into a serial killer, despite not having the slightest concern for others' lives. (Her fantasies seem to revolve more around being raped.) But, whatever her path in life, three dynamics will never change: her instinctive dishonesty, her craving for sympathy, and her inability to feel shame.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Her real name: Jackie Coakley

Commenter "Jokah Macpherson" pointed out today that the UVA false rape accuser has been named.

The wheels of poetic justice certainly turn quickly: one day after I suggested that her name be made public, Gotnews.com released it.

I also said I was curious as to what other lies Jackie had told in the past. Sure enough, the Gotnews.com article said:

We can also confirm that Jackie Coakley has misled other students at both her high school and her college about her past sexual relations with men.

(Details will evidently be forthcoming.)

Here's her picture:


This is the scary thing about sociopaths: they rarely look scary. Look at her picture, then look at my picture at the right of the blog. Who looks more like your mental image of an evildoer?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sociopath alert: UVA rape accuser "Jackie"

There have been a lot of words written about the University of Virginia Rape-gate scandal over the past two weeks. But the one word which seems to be missing from all the accounts is "sociopath."

Steve Sailer, as usual, had the best take on it, A Rape Hoax for Book Lovers. He did an excellent job of analyzing in detail how the purported rape victim's story didn't add up. He also touched on the essential dishonesty of a media all too willing to suspend disbelief in the service of political theater.

But Sailer also referred to "Jackie," as the self-styled victim wanted to be known, as "unsettled," a vague word which misses the key point about her personality. She is a pathological liar, ergo, a sociopath. (The only surer sign of sociopathy is serial killing.) And while sociopaths may unsettle other people, they rarely suffer from nerves themselves. (It actually takes a lot of nerve to run with a huge lie the way Jackie did.)

Jackie was described in other accounts as "troubled" and "unhappy," which also miss the point. Sociopaths trouble others, but generally don't suffer from self-doubt. And "unsatisfied" is a better description of a sociopath than "unhappy." A sociopath always wants more: more fame, more admiration, and more sympathy.

It was this last desire which motivated this entire charade. Jackie has Munchausen's Syndrome, whose "sufferers" (sociopaths all) invent various maladies in order to quench their bottomless need for sympathy and affection. But instead of inventing an illness in order to gain attention and sympathy from doctors and nurses and friends, Jackie invented a rape in order to gain attention and sympathy from her friends and the UVA dean and even real rape victims in the campus support group she joined.

She even tried to get sympathy from Rolling Stone writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely, and by extension, her readership. It was that national exposure which ultimately proved her undoing.

A non-sociopath would never try to perpetrate such a hoax. Try to imagine yourself doing what Jackie did. First, you tell your friends that you were raped by nine guys. Then, you go to the dean of the university and report your "rape" to her. Then, you tell a reporter from a national newsmagazine about it.

These actions require a level of shamelessness that goes far beyond what a nonsociopath is capable of. They also require the confidence that you can always fool other people with your lies, a confidence only sociopaths seem to have.

The only other alternative here is that Jackie is psychotic. But her actions reek of dishonesty, not insanity. She can't even be that dumb, either: it's hard to get into the University of Virginia. (Of course, as a sociopath, Jackie must have gamed the system as much as possible: cunning often trumps IQ.)

Sabrina Rubin Erdely, the author of the original Rolling Stone article, is probably not sociopath. (If she were, she'd have seen through Jackie.) But she is dumb, and also somewhat dishonest, in that peculiar way that so many liberals are. She wanted so badly to believe that this rape took place, and she wanted so badly to believe that all those WASPy frat boys were capable of such evil, that she never looked critically at the "victim." And, she never bothered to let the accused speak.

When the Rolling Stone article first appeared, the usual people saw this as a great opportunity to "raise awareness" of campus rape. But the only thing this sordid episode should raise awareness of is sociopathy. Unfortunately, that angle will undoubtedly be lost amid all back and forth about feminism, politics, and the media. 

So far Jackie's real name hasn't been given, a courtesy traditionally extended by the press to all rape victims. But should that courtesy be extended to those who make false rape accusations? 

I'm curious to find out more about Jackie. What were her parents like? Was she adopted? What was her childhood like? How did her siblings turn out? What other lies has she told? 

I'm not sure what the appropriate penalty should be for Jackie. She never tried to get those fraternity brothers sent to jail (she never filed charges with the police), so it's probably not a jail sentence. But she should be expelled from UVA for the ruckus she caused. And, she did name some of her "rapists," to the dean and others. So her real name should be made public. 

And, if justice is truly served, this story will hound her for the rest of her life. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Brave new world in Minnesota

Commenter Coco pointed out that Minnesota passed a law yesterday that allows students to compete on and against the athletic teams of whichever gender they feel more comfortable with.

Here are the relevant excerpts from the Fox News report:

The Minnesota State High School League voted that boys who "self-identify" as girls and girls who consider themselves boys will be able to compete on and against teams of their preferred gender under the policy that will begin in the 2015-2016 season….The policy states that these students would share showers and hotel rooms.

What is to prevent an ordinary boy to just say he's always identified as a girl, and go out for the girls' team? And what sort of danger does this present to girls who compete in contact sports? 

If I were a Minnesota high schooler right now I'd be tempted to just say I'd alway identified as a girl, join the girls' swim team, try to set a state record in the 100 butterfly, then gawk at all the naked girls in the showers. Who's to say I feel differently? 

I'm all for making people with gender dysphoria feel more comfortable, but this is a policy which could come at the expense of others' comfort. 

There is minimal confirmation required. As per the article:

The policy requires transgender student-athletes to provide a written statement from a parent or guardian affirming the gender identity and a note from a health care professional regarding the student's consistent gender identification.

But that seems easy enough to get around. 

This policy would have negligible effect on boys' sports (no girl is going to come in and dominate a male athletic league). But it could wreak havoc with girls' sports. 

Even when a male has a sex change operation, there are all sorts of athletic advantages he will enjoy over a woman who was always female. And the Minnesota policy doesn't even require an operation -- merely a written statement. 

A sense of shame -- and social pressure -- will probably prevent the vast majority boys from actually taking advantage of this policy. But as of now, that's the only safeguard against abuse, and counting on others' scruples is always a chancy proposition. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Why are there no sports teams named after primates?

There are sports teams named after all sorts of animals, but not a single one named after a primate.

Bears are well represented: both the Chicago Bears and the Memphis Grizzlies decided that the ursine family had fierce, intimidating qualities they wanted to emulate.

The cat family is even better represented: The Detroit Tigers, The Detroit Lions, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Charlotte Bobcats, the Carolina Panthers (as well as the Florida Panthers hockey team), and the Cincinnati Bengals all wanted to associate themselves with the grace and power they saw in cats.

In fact, the tiger is considered such a ideal athletic role model that ten different universities have named their athletic teams after them: Auburn, Clemson, Princeton, Colorado College, LSU, Memphis, Missouri, Morehouse, Riverside City College, and Towson.

Horses are also considered symbols of magnificent athleticism as well: the Denver Broncos and the Indianapolis Colts are the only professional teams with equine names, but college teams with such include the SMU Mustangs, the University of Central Missouri Mules, the Colby Mules, and the Muhlenberg Mules, and the Laredo Community College Palominos.

The canine family -- known for its endurance and cunning -- is honored by both the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Phoenix Coyotes. Among the more famous college teams using such mascots are the Yale Bulldogs and the Georgia "Dawgs."

The weasel family numbers the Michigan Wolverines and the Wisconsin Badgers among their admirers.

There are a number of teams which wanted to show that they could fly, at least metaphorically: the Baltimore Ravens, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Baltimore Orioles, the Seattle Seahawks, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Saint Louis Cardinals, the Atlanta Hawks, the Atlanta Falcons, and the Anaheim Ducks.

Sea-dwelling creatures are used by the Tampa Bay Marlins, the Tampa Manta Rays, the San Jose Sharks, and the Miami Dolphins. (And roughly every fourth swim club uses a fish in its name.)

There's even an insect represented, by the Charlotte Hornets, and a dinosaur, by the Toronto Raptors.

So what's the matter with gorillas? Are they not fierce and strong enough to merit their own team?


Imagine having that fellow on the front of your uniform? Wouldn't he be more intimidating than, say, a raven or a hornet?

Look at these two:


Do they not resemble two ferocious linemen going at it right after the football is hiked?

Nor are there any athletic teams named after chimpanzees or baboons. Why not? Each creature is fierce in its own right. Baboons have been known to kill leopards, and chimpanzees are famous for their inhuman strength.

One would think that these primates' vaguely human aspect along with their formidable strength and ferocity would attract a slew of teams which would want them as mascots.

So why are there no athletic teams named after these creatures? Honestly -- I'm completely baffled.

Monday, December 1, 2014

How Obama sees himself

Obama's comments at the news conference he held right after the Republican sweep in early November put his narcissism in stark relief.

First, he said that "the American people sent a message" that the public expects their elected leaders to work as hard as they do. That is ridiculous: they sent a message that they didn't like Obama's policies.

After being asked why the election was so devastating for Democrats, Obama responded that the American people felt that Washington wasn't responsive to their needs. Again, he tried to make it sound as if they were dissatisfied with Washington in general rather than with the Democrats in particular, a typical Obama dodge.

Then he added that "every election is a moment for reflection," once again implying that this election was no different than any other -- and essentially saying that he refused to draw any conclusions from the Democrats' resounding defeat.

Obama also emphasized the two thirds of the electorate who didn't vote. His clear implication was that had more people turned out, the results might have been different. But turnout is traditionally low in non-Presidential election years, and the energized Republicans base sent a strong message.

A few minutes later, Obama said that he wanted Congress to act on immigration and that America needs policies which allow "the best and the brightest" to live here. Obama's definition of the "best and the brightest" seems to mean, "those who can cross the Rio Grande without getting caught."

Obama also said that he would give Congress six weeks to act on such a bill. Two and a half weeks later, he issued his executive order.

Much has been made of how Obama has circumvented the Constitution with his order. But as any psychologist will tell you, narcissists never feel the rules apply to them.

A few days later, Obama stated that had he been allowed to campaign more actively, the Democratic candidates would have fared better. (This, after an election during which virtually every Democrat put as much distance between himself and the President as possible.)

The statements from that press conference all seem jarringly at odds with reality, but they were in fact normal for Obama, who has always been a case study in narcissism.

Just last year Obama said, “Kindness covers all of my political beliefs. Empathy, the idea that we have a stake in each other’s success, is what gets me up every single day.”

In other words, "I do what I do because I'm a kind and empathetic person."

The same rule that applies to prison pen pal advertisements applies to politicians: people who actually have those qualities never feel obliged to advertise them.

This is a man who has said, in one of the two autobiographies he had written by the age of 45, "I find comfort in the fact that the longer I’m in politics the less nourishing popularity becomes, that a striving for power and rank and fame seems to betray a poverty of ambition, and that I am answerable mainly to the steady gaze of my own conscience."

Another rule which applies here is that people who have consciences don't talk about their own as distinct entities. (It's also true that no one says he doesn't care about his popularity who doesn't, in fact, care a great deal about it.)

Obama has claimed that the reason he did not make the varsity basketball team at Punahou is because the coach just didn't "get" his style of street play. The fact is, Obama just wasn't good enough. But since becoming President, he's felt he's good enough to play with NBA players. They undoubtedly don't play their hardest against him and let him score on them. But that probably doesn't stop him from indulging his fantasy that he's far better than he actually is.

When he was at Harvard Law School, the other students coined a term, the "Obamometer," to measure the extent to which someone seemed pleased with his own glibness. The term actually outlasted Obama at the law school. (Think about that: at a place which must attract an inordinate share of grandstanding egomaniacs, one ego stood out above all the rest.)

This is a President who looks in the mirror and sees, as he said on The View, "eye candy."

This is a man whose self-regard is such that he once told an aide, "I think I'm a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I'll tell you right now that I'm a better political director than my political director."

Obama also evidently thinks he's a better military strategist than his generals, since he routinely disregards their advice.

When Obama first met Queen Elizabeth, the gift he gave her was an iPod filled with his own speeches. Even most narcissists would be too embarrassed to do that.

Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2008 was famously staged in front of fake styrofoam pillars. It was never clear whether that was meant to evoke Plato, Socrates, or Demosthenes.

In that speech, Obama famously proclaimed that would be remembered as the day the rise of the oceans started to slow. He evidently sees himself as Moses as well.

The list of narcissistic transgressions is far to long to list here, but it's apparent every time he opens his mouth.

Every time he shifts blame for a national problem.

Every time he attributes the best of motives to himself and the worst of motives to his opponents.

Every time he feels that his charisma will be enough to win over intransigent foreign leaders.

Every time he tries to pull the wool over the eyes of the American public.

Once you recognize the sound of a confirmed narcissist, you don't even have to listen that closely. It's impossible to miss. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Implants

Today I kicked 50 meters long course on a kick board in 36 seconds. That's as fast as I could go 30 years ago. I can't swim nearly as fast as I could back then, I can't run as fast, and my right shoulder won't even allow me to do bench press anymore. My back is stiff when I wake up in the mornings, and a fair amount of my hair has gone MIA. But for some weird reason my kick is hanging in.

I'm sort of like a 60-year-old woman who got implants a few decades ago. Everything else on her has shriveled, wrinkled, and sagged. But her breasts are still standing proud and firm, almost mocking the rest of her.

Just as my kick seems to be taunting the rest of me, all of which is falling apart.

Friday, November 28, 2014

"Cleanskin"

Watched Cleanskin, last night. It's a 2012 British movie about the effort to root out homegrown Islamic terrorists.

It offered a rare semi-sympathetic glimpse into the mind of a Muslim terrorist, and showed what a chess  game intelligence is. The plot had some nice twists, and the ending was unexpected.

Sean Bean stars as the British soldier recruited to stop the terrorists; his portrayal was grittily realistic. His character was a stoic man of action, not the usual Dorothy Parker-with-a-gun type Hollywood generally favors.

If you like realism, and don't mind violence, you'll enjoy it.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

To anyone who's ever been hoodwinked by a sociopath:

What you should take away from the experience is this: that you're a decent person. You're probably not a saint, but you're a far, far better human being than the sociopath who took advantage of you.

Most people instinctively believe that other people think and feel pretty much as they do. And someone like you, if you've never experienced a sociopath before, assumes that everyone else pretty much thinks and feels the way you do. So you never suspect that anybody could be as dishonest, disloyal, and vicious as the sociopath who fooled you.

Sociopaths know that other sociopaths will instinctively see through them, and therefore don't make good marks. So they gravitate towards nice, innocent people. Ergo, if you were taken unawares by one, it's actually testament to your good character.

If you get taken a second time, well, that may be proof of stupidity as well; but we all get one pass.

Just remember this: you, unlike the sociopath, had at least one parent who loved you.

You, unlike the sociopath, will not leave a trail of bitterness in your wake.

You, unlike the sociopath, can have long term friendships.

You, unlike the sociopath, have an emotional repertoire which extends beyond hatred, fury, spite, and occasional glee.

And you, unlike the sociopath, can enjoy relative peace of mind.