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Friday, February 5, 2016

Asians and pets

Our dog, a Cairn Terrier, died a little over a month ago. When it happened, I was the only one with dry eyes. I can't help but wonder if this is because I'm half Asian. Asians don't usually have pets, and don't seem to bond with animals.

You just don't see many people of Asian descent out walking their dogs. I'm not sure to what extent it's nature or nurture, but I have to think there's at least a little bit of nature there. People of (especially Northwest) European descent do seem to get attached to their animals, and it seems to be part of their almost pathologically outward-directed altruism.

It's sort of akin to the way they're also willing to take in stray humans these days.

Asians just don't have that soft-hearted (and softheaded) altruistic thing going. To date not a single leader of an Asian country has said to the Europeans, "Hey, you guys are hogging all the Africans. Please, send us some." Or "We'd love to take in some of your excess Syrians. After all, Islam is the religion of peace."

There are exceptions to the animal rule (though none to the refugee rule). I thought hard, and came up with one example, which I pointed out to my son: "My Japanese-American cousins seemed to like their Labs."

He immediately retorted, "Yeah, they like 'em medium rare."

Anyway, I was inclined to feel sad about the dog, but my sadness was somehow overwhelmed in the face of everyone else's greater sadness, so I remained dry-eyed.

We just got a new dog. I don't plan to eat it, nor do I plan to use it in dogfights.

However, I suspect I'll bond with it less than the other members of my family do, and that may have something to do with the fact that I'm half robot.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Setting the bar low

Yesterday's post describing the behavior of various serial killers included a fairly graphic description of Edmund Kemper's crimes.

There are a lot of people who worry that they're not nice people, because they said something rude (which they later regretted). Or, because they feel schadenfreude, and wonder if that means they're evil. But these things simply mean they're human.

And if you actually worry about whether you're a decent human being, you're probably not a sociopath anyway. (Sociopaths don't waste their time fretting over such trivialities as right and wrong.)

To get a sense of the utter inhumanity of a sociopath, imagine yourself with your mother's severed head. (Never mind that you were the one who just killed her and cut it off.) How would you react? Would it make you sexually aroused? And would you then want to stick your erection into her lifeless mouth and pump away until you had an orgasm?

Okay, that may be setting the bar for human decency awfully low, and even most sociopaths wouldn't do that. But to get a sense of how utterly without humanity sociopaths are, you have to imagine what it was like to be Edmund Kemper.

The reason so many sociopaths get away with their perfidies is because non-sociopaths can't even conceive of how utterly without remorse or sympathy sociopaths are. Most people simply assume that everybody else is more or less like them. (Which, by the way, is also why most sociopaths often suspect the worst about others.)

Also, note what Kemper said about why he shot his grandparents. Every now and then you hear of a killer who pulled the trigger "just to see what it was like." No one ever believes them because they can't conceive of themselves ever taking a human life out of a mild sense of curiosity.

Normal people, when they hear that, will always assume there was some burning reason the sociopath had that he wants to keep secret. But a sociopath actually will kill out of mild curiosity, simply because they assign zero value to other's lives. (I wrote about this phenomenon here, in 2009.)

Kemper, by the way, is an anomaly among serial killers. After he killed his mother and her friend, he turned himself in to the police. I can't think of another serial killer who's ever done that.

Also, his mother was a horrific woman. She was an abusive alcoholic who forced Edmund, from a very young age, to sleep in the basement by himself, even though he was terrified by the noises that the boilers made. No one deserves her fate. But if anybody did, it would be a monster who creates another monster by forcing a little boy to sleep alone, locked away in a place that terrifies him.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Serial Killer test

This past Friday's post on fashion identified some of the "models" only by their first names. Read that first, then see how many references did you recognized.

"That Ted must be a real lady-killer." -- Ted Bundy was known to have killed 36 young women, and is suspected of killing many more.

"In the wonderful tradition of Patch Adams, John has made it his life's work to befriend young boys who didn't necessarily have a strong father figure around." -- John Wayne Gacy killed at least 33 teen-age boys and young men between 1972 and 1978, and buried most of them in the crawl space beneath his home in Cook County, Illinois. (That was actually him dressed up as a clown.)

"Don't you just want to eat Jeffrey up?….all the finer things in life a sophisticated man has a taste for." -- Jeffrey Dahmer killed 17 men between 1978 and 1991, and cannibalized many of them.

"This is one competitor with a killer instinct!" -- Andrei Chikatilo murdered (and eviscerated) at least 52 women and children in the Soviet Union between 1978 and 1990. He reportedly wanted to become the most prolific serial killer ever.

"All the more reason to project peace and love in order to gain people's trust -- especially when you offer them a ride. Smart move, Edmund -- your mother and grandparents must be proud!" -- Edmund Kemper killed his grandparents when he was 15 (because he "just wanted to see what it felt like"). After being released from a youth facility, he killed six female hitchhikers, then murdered his mother and one of her friends. He had sex with his mother's severed head, then placed it on a mantle and threw darts at it for a couple days.

"Some people are simply night owls! All we know is, with that sexy look, Mr. Ramirez must have a devil of a time with women stalking him all over Tinseltown!" -- Richard Ramirez terrorized Los Angeles as the Night Stalker, an avowed Satanist who killed 13 people, raped 11 women, and committed numerous burglaries between 1984 and 1985. 

"Son of a gun -- David certainly doesn't dog it when it comes to fashion…Note that David is wearing cotton -- like any true animal-lover….he'll even let the animals have their way! In fact, David has such a highly developed moral sense he even disapproves of public displays of affection!" -- David Berkowitz was the "Son of Sam," who between 1976 and 1977 killed six victims and wounded seven others. He later claimed he had been obeying orders from a neighborhood dog. Most of his victims were couples necking in parked cars.

"Richard is obviously a nice boy, not the type to nurse a grudge." -- Richard Speck killed eight student nurses in the summer of 1966 in Chicago.

"Who says that fashionistas have a stranglehold on style?!….Like any stylish man, Albert wears his tie nice and snug -- but not too snug!" -- Albert DeSalvo was the Boston Strangler, who murdered 13 women in the Boston area between 1962 and 1964. (There's some question as to whether DeSalvo was actually the Strangler, but for purposes of this post, we'll ignore that.)

"But even though he's moved beyond fashion, he still pays attention to his grooming, never letting his hair go helter skelter…..How many guys can claim to be both a family man and a style icon?" -- Charlie Manson thought that the Beatles song "Helter Skelter" was a call for a race war. His group of misfits and murderers was known as "the Manson family."

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Oberlin demands

Anyone curious about the tenor of race relations on campus these days should read the following list of demands presented by the Oberlin Black Student Union back in December:

“We DEMAND a 4% annual increase in Black student enrollment from EACH of the Americas, the Caribbean and continent of Africa starting in 2016 to accumulate to a 40% increase by 2022.”

“We DEMAND a concerted effort to increase the percentage of Black students and specifically Black female identifying instrumentalists in the Jazz department.”

“We DEMAND that Black student leaders be provided a $8.20/hr stipend for their continuous organizing efforts.”

“We DEMAND a structural change in institutional graduation requirements: Intro to the Black Experience or a similar course must be instituted as a mandatory requirement for all students before graduation.”

“Departmental requirements for students to take Western/Classical centered courses must be eliminated. If NOT then we demand all students MUST also take an equivalent course in the African Diaspora . . . For example, in the Dance Department students are required to take Ballet& Contemporary I & II, therefore students should be required to take West African I & II.”

“We DEMAND a 6% annual increase in grant offers versus loan offers for Black students for the next 5 years leading to a 30% increase by 2021.”

“We DEMAND that a mandatory professional development program be developed for faculty . . . that will help facilitate their understanding of the ways in which racial capitalism, settler colonialism, and other forms of violent oppression inform and shape instructional methods for the disciplinary content of their courses.”

“We DEMAND that Jazz Curriculum in the Conservatory be reflective of the students [sic] musical focus. Students SHOULD NOT be forced to take heavily based classical courses . . . and seeing as how most Jazz students are of the Africana community, they should not be forced to take courses rooted in whiteness.”

“We DEMAND that spaces throughout the Oberlin College campus be designated as safe spaces for Africana-identifying students. Afrikan Heritage House should not be the only space allotted for the promotion and acknowledgement of our community specific needs. We DEMAND that no less than one full room or space be given to this need in: Wilder Hall, The Science Center, Mudd Library.”

“We DEMAND a written form that assures us of the institution’s commitment to increase the number of black psychologists within the Counseling Center. Furthermore, we DEMAND that Black students be able to sit in on the interviews of . . . candidates in order to ensure that these professionals cater to the needs of the Black students. We also DEMAND the hiring of Black healers/ non[-]western health practitioners because not everyone finds comfort and healing solely from a psychologist.”


I hope these demands, excuse me, DEMANDS, get more publicity than they have; I only heard of them a week ago.  

It would be interesting to know what percentage of black students at Oberlin view this list of demands as justified. And what do the less militant black students think when they hear this list? Are they embarrassed by it, but afraid to voice that opinion for fear of being labeled Toms?

Will these demands make alumni more inclined to give more money to the college? (Alumni donations are a college's lifeblood.) Will they make the white students more sympathetic to the black students? Will this list encourage more interracial friendships?

To his credit, Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov said last week that he would not respond to this list. At the same time, it seems poetic justice that these demands would be made at Oberlin, which has always been one of the most left wing campuses in the country.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

A cross country runner??

A Virginia Tech freshman was charged yesterday with the murder of a 13-year-old girl. Something about the article left me feeling disquieted, and I wasn't sure why at first.

It wasn't because the accused killer was white; there are plenty of white murderers. It was a little surprising that he went to a good school like Virginia Tech; smart kids generally do a better job of staying out of trouble.

Then it hit me: I was shocked because David Eisenhauer was a star cross country runner. You almost never hear of cross country runners getting into trouble like that.


(David Eisenhauer)

Hearing about football or basketball players running afoul of the law is practically an every day occurrence. Maybe there's a racial component there, but even with sports like hockey or golf or car racing, you hear about a fair amount of misbehavior.

Cross country is different. It's a sport that demands intense discipline, a clean lifestyle, and enduring a fair amount of physical pain, all of which tend to attract more introverted personalities.

At the (mostly white) high school in my hometown, the girl's soccer team was known as a "fast" crowd. Ditto for the basketball team. The cross country team was generally composed of "good girls," who studied hard and didn't party as much.

The same applied to the boys' teams, with football substituting for soccer.

And I've heard those same correlations apply at other high schools as well.

So to read about a 4:19 miler (the best time listed for Eisenhauer online) being charged with murder was a shock.

Friday, January 29, 2016

If fashion writers covered the crime beat

As a follow up to the post about how history would read if it were recorded by fashionistas, a few examples of what they might do with the crime beat:


Nothing says trustworthy like a tweed jacket, and Ted knows how to wear one with panache! The tie, the white shirt, and the jacket with structured shoulders all exude a staid respectability. You can tell Ted is a deep thinker from his serious expression, as he sadly reflects on mankind's occasional inhumanity. And look at his handsome face: that Ted must be a real lady-killer!


Only a kindhearted soul will set aside his dignity to cheer others up! In the wonderful tradition of Patch Adams, John has made it his life's work to befriend young boys who didn't necessarily have a strong father figure around. The red, white, and blue makeup bespeak a certain patriotism, which is only fitting when you consider that his namesake is John Wayne. Of course, when the occasion calls for it, Mr. Gacy can also dress quite respectably:


Here's John with none other than First Lady Rosalynn Carter herself. That crimson sport jacket with lapel buttons shows that this is a man who will one day make his mark and become famous!


Look at those angelic baby blues: don't you just want to eat Jeffrey up? Jeffrey is the epitome of hipster chic with three days growth and an alternating blue and yellow striped shirt with spread collar. Is that dreamy expression because he's thinking of all the finer things in life a sophisticated man has a taste for?



Some men love football, some love basketball, and some love the Olympics. Andrei is obviously one of the latter, and he's not ashamed to wear his heart on his sleeve! That shaved head shows that he's ready for action himself -- Mr. Chikatilo is one competitor with a killer instinct!


Just because you're 6'9" and 300 pounds doesn't mean you have to get your fashion sense from the Big 'n Tall stores. Edmund has obviously modeled his look after the Beatles from their Sgt. Pepper phase:


When you're as imposing as Mr. Kemper, all the more reason to project peace and love in order to gain people's trust -- especially when you offer them a ride. Smart move, Edmund -- your mother and grandparents must be proud!


Who's that glamorous man behind those aviator sunglasses? A movie star? No -- it's Richard, looking stylish with his Mick Jagger do and his casual sport jacket! Maybe those specs are for sensitivity to the light -- some people are simply night owls! All we know is, with that sexy look, Mr. Ramirez must have a devil of a time with women stalking him all over Tinseltown!


Son of a gun -- David certainly doesn't dog it when it comes to fashionable collars! New York City is the world's capital of fashion, so David loves to roam it all -- even the outer boroughs! Note that David is wearing cotton -- like any true animal-lover, not only is he against fur, he'll even let animals have their way! In fact, David has such a highly developed moral sense he even disapproves of public displays of affection!


Richard looks quite stylish in a patterned tweed jacket with matching tie. The jacket may be a tad large, but the impression of a boy wearing his father's clothing seems only appropriate once you've looked into those innocent blue eyes. Richard is obviously a nice boy, not the type to nurse a grudge.



Who says that fashionistas have a stranglehold on style?! Even a door to door salesman like Albert wants to look good -- because you never get a second chance to make a first impression! Like any stylish man, Albert wears his tie nice and snug -- but not too snug!



Most people grow more fashionable as they age, but some move beyond fashion. At 14, Charlie was quite the snappy dresser. But eventually, as you can tell from his peacefully ethereal look below, he realized that earthly possessions were no longer important to him:


But even though he's moved beyond fashion, he still pays attention to his grooming, never letting his locks go helter skelter. Why, with those soft, luxuriant tresses, he could model for Clairol! How many guys can claim to be both a family man and a style icon?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Filial respect, Part VII

We were watching Bone Tomahawk, a gritty Western/horror movie the other night. Towards the end of the movie there's a brutal scene where one of the "Troglodytes," a renegade cannibal Indian tribe, take one of their captives, strip him, hold him upside down, pull his legs apart, and then one of them, using an oversize tomahawk, cleaves him, bisecting him.

The scene happens at about 10:20 on this Youtube video, but I don't recommend watching it.

As soon as the scene was over, my son said, "Look Dad, there's the prostate surgery team from Sloan Kettering."

Monday, January 25, 2016

Empty threats from the Left

Last Wednesday Whoopi Goldberg said that if Donald Trump were elected, maybe that means it's time for her to move out of the country.

You always know it's an election year when a liberal threatens to move out of the country if the conservative candidate is elected. (I've never heard a conservative say that he would leave the country if the liberal candidate were elected.)

Alec Baldwin famously said he would leave the country if George W. Bush became President.

Yet, somehow, these liberals never leave the country. They threaten, posture, and fulminate, but then….they always end up staying.

I'm not sure exactly why they posture this way. Are they so narcissistic that they think that people will react by thinking, "Oh no! We can't have Alec leave the country! He's a national treasure! I'll have to vote for Al Gore now!!"

Do they feel foolish after the conservative is elected, and they stay put?

What exactly is it about the liberal mentality that makes them think that threatening to leave will have the slightest effect on anybody's voting? Or is it an offshoot of that "I'm really offended by..." stance whereby they are always trying to prove how refined and delicate their sensibilities are?

Whatever the underlying motivation, it's a revealing glimpse into the leftist psyche.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg is evidently "seriously considering" a third party run for President, especially if Bernie Sanders wins the Democratic nomination. My guess, it'll happen either way. I also think he'll do better than most suspect.

If Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump win their party's nominations, the stars will be aligned perfectly for a third party run. There's never been an election with two candidates with such high disapproval ratings.

Hillary is a corrupt, hypocritical opportunist who would have gotten nowhere had she not been married to a President. From the cattle futures trading bribe to the selling of the State Department to Clinton Foundation donors, it's always baksheesh time for the Clintons. Hillary decries Wall Street while taking their money for speeches, and says all rape victims deserve to be believed after having savaged women who accused her husband of abuse.

There are plenty of liberals who despise her.

Trump has said that John McCain was not a war hero, made fun of a New York Times reporter for his physical disability, mocked Carly Fiorina for her appearance, and exhibited plenty of other bullying, un-Presidential behavior. He seems to feel he should be President because he's leading in the polls, will do a great job (without giving any specifics), is rich, and is the author of "The Art of the Deal."

Plenty of traditional conservatives actively dislike Trump.

Third party candidates have always had the ability to influence electoral outcomes. John Anderson may have turned the 1980 election in Reagan's favor. Ross Perot drained support from George H.W. Bush, and allowed Bill Clinton to be elected with a plurality in 1992. Even Ralph Nader may have handed the 2000 election to George W. Bush, since he drew his support mostly from idealistic Democrats.

But none of these third party candidates ever had a realistic shot at winning. It may be different this time. Bloomberg, as he told friends early on, would have been unable to secure either party's nomination. But now the moment seems right.

Bloomberg's got more than enough money to bankroll his campaign, and has evidently told friends he'll spend a billion to do so. As a lifelong Democrat who ran as a Republican for Mayor of New York, and governed as a centrist, he's got crossover appeal.

Who will he get support from? First, the disaffected voters who don't like their own party's candidates. That's a sizable fraction.

Second, independents who like the idea of a genuine centrist. Bloomberg didn't kowtow to the municipal unions in New York, nor did he kowtow to business. The biggest criticisms he incurred were for his nanny state views (like limiting the size of soft drinks), and his three terms were scandal-free.

Third, he'll get the support of all of the voters who want to feel good about themselves. They can tell themselves they're being free thinkers by voting for the independent candidate. They can tell themselves they're being "balanced" by voting for the middle-of-the-road guy. And they can tell themselves they're being broad-minded by voting for the Jewish guy.

It may sound silly to say that some voters vote to feel good about themselves. But realistically, that's human nature. (Think of all the whites who voted for Obama to prove they weren't racist.)

Finally, Bloomberg will have most of the mainstream media on his side. He is, after all, one of them.

Bloomberg isn't charismatic. He's short, nerdy, and has a nasal voice that sounds like a kazoo. And some say he has no influence beyond New York because his national anti-gun movement never gained traction. He's not the type of guy people go crazy about. But, he'll get the better-than-the-alternatives vote, which will be sizable this year. And, his strengths play well against both of the other candidates' strengths and weaknesses.

Hillary seems to think her biggest asset is her vagina; and feminists do thirst for the first woman President. But Bloomberg would be the first Jewish President. And Hillary, who is always embroiled in some scandal or other, is going to make the incorruptible (because he is already rich) Bloomberg look pristine by comparison.

Trump's biggest weakness is that he offends a lot of people; Bloomberg is inoffensive. And a large part of Trump's justification for running has been that he's such a successful businessman; some of that rationale will melt away in the face of Bloomberg's $37 billion.

Anyway, my guess is that it's going to be a three-way race, and a close one. Someone might win with 36% of the vote.

Don't take this as an endorsement of Bloomberg, by the way. He's a bloodless manager who wouldn't change the direction the country is headed in. They used to call Alfonse D'Amato of New York "Senator Pothole," because that's essentially what he was, a guy who went around taking care of all the small problems New Yorkers had.

Bloomberg would be President Pothole.

What we need is an obnoxious, blunt-spoken guy like Trump who understands that we're gradually turning into a Third World nation and wants to stem that tide before it's too late.

"The Wild World of Oppression Studies"

Some day these types of "study" programs will rank up there with the 1971 Stanford prison experiments led by Philip Zimbardo.

Friday, January 22, 2016

What colleges need

An article today on GOPUSA, College prepares to decry impact of white people, described an upcoming event at Portland Community College:

A college in Oregon is preaching against discrimination while illegally discriminating against white people.

April is "Whiteness History Month" at Portland Community College. The project is aimed at exploring how whiteness emerged from “imperialism, conquest, colonialism and American enterprise….”

Event organizers are asking participants to explore ways of dismantling “whiteness...”

Portland Community isn’t the only college or university to conduct such events. The University of Mount St. Mary’s in Maryland (a Catholic college) co-hosted an "Unmasking Whiteness event last summer; and the University of Colorado-Boulder offers a Whiteness Studies course, which “examines the development of whiteness from past white supremacy.”


I honestly believe that this is not enough. We need to go further to dismantle whiteness.

What I propose is this: whenever white freshmen first arrive on campus, they should be herded en masse to a central site on campus, and be forced to run a gauntlet between students of color who will be screaming the following things at them:

"You're the worst people who ever lived!"

"I'm sick of your white privilege!"

"You're a member of the only race which has ever practiced murder and slavery and rape and genocide!"

"You're Hitler! You're Stalin!"

"Stop oppressing me!"

"You're the scum of the earth -- because you're white!"

"Only whites can be racist!"

"Colonialist piece of shit!"

And then, while they're screaming at them, the students of color should be pelting the white freshmen with tomatoes and eggs and the like. 

That should teach those white freshmen their place. 

Snow!

A friend, Dave Moriarty, just pointed out that most of the articles which have come out in the last couple days about the snowstorm which is about to hit the East Coast are treating us as if we've never seen snow before.

He's right. These articles have all been wonderfully informative:

The snow will make travel difficult. Flights will be cancelled. Some businesses will be shut down on Saturday. In the meantime, snow shovels are selling briskly. If you need to stock up on food, do so now.

You don't say.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cancer

I had a physical in August in which I got a PSA score of 5.5, a little outside the safe range. The second test in November came back at 5.6, so I scheduled a prostate biopsy on January 5th.

I had planned to write a funny post about the nature of the biopsy. Beforehand, I did ask the physician's assistant I made the appointment with, "There's nothing undignified about this procedure, is there?" (She didn't realize I was kidding.)

I had intended to ask the doctor, once the ultrasonic/needle-injecting wand was up my butt, "Say, I hope you don't think me self-indulgent, but does this thing have a vibrate function?" Once actually in that situation, though, I somehow forgot to ask.

On January 8th, I was told I have prostate cancer. Since then, I seem to have lost my sense of humor about it.

The odds are on my side, however. If it's caught early, as mine seems to have been, the survival rates are 99% five years out. It's a slow-growing and relatively easily treatable form of cancer. (Mine is intermediate in terms of aggression.)

My cancer doesn't seem to have spread yet, though I shouldn't waste any more time in dealing with it. I'm getting a second opinion Thursday at Sloan Kettering, and after that I have to make a decision about the course of treatment. At the moment I'm leaning towards radiation, which may have fewer side effects.

It's those potential side effects I'm mostly worried about: impotence, and even incontinence.

(My sex life has always been a tawdry, sporadic thing. But, it was the only one I had, and I would miss it.)

All of this has taken me by surprise. I feel fine physically, and am otherwise healthy. And, I'm in good shape --

(Boasting alert….)

-- The last week of December was a sort of high water mark athletically. On December 24th, an abnormally warm day in the Northeast, I did a 200 meter run in 27.9. On December 26th I did a one arm clean and jerk with a 75 pound dumbbell. And on December 30th I swam a 100 yard butterfly from a pushoff in 1:01.

I challenge any younger guy to hit all three of those marks in the space of one week. (The clean and jerk should be weight-adjusted; I weigh 160.)

I'm lucky to have people who are helping. My brother will have accompanied me to both consultations. My son has made a heroic -- though losing -- effort to cheer me up.

There are a few people who hate read this blog, and I hate to give them the satisfaction of knowing I have cancer. But, I owe the rest of you an explanation for why I won't be blogging as much while I deal with this. I'll continue to post your comments, but won't be as assiduous in responding to them. Don't take it personally.

Speaking of "personally," that is the direction the cancer seems to have taken my thoughts. So far, I'm thinking all the usual cliched thoughts. But if I come up with anything original, I'll let you know. In any case, be forewarned, this blog may be about to get embarrassing.

Then again, some people would say it's always been embarrassing.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Thursday, January 14, 2016

History test

A month ago, when I wrote, If history were recorded by fashion writers, I was a little afraid that people wouldn't get all the semi-hidden references. A couple days ago I asked an Ivy-eduated guy if he'd gotten them all, and it turned out he'd only gotten a few of them.

If you haven't read the post, please do so. Then see how many of the following references you recognized.




Scroll down.




Scroll down.




Attila the Hun:
"The scourge of everyone who finds grunge acceptable" -- Attila was known as "the Scourge of God."

Vlad III of Wallachia (popularly known as Vlad the Impaler):
"The prince's piercing gaze….If fashion were a car race, Vlad would be sitting in the pole position!" -- Vlad was known to kill people by sitting them atop a long pointed stake placed in their anus which would gradually sink into their intestines.

"Count Dracula wouldn't be caught dead in anything less!" The vampire Dracula was said to have been based on Vlad.

Francisco Pizarro:
"Francisco is one macho peach, you can't deny that!" -- a reference to Machu Picchu, the most famous site of the Incas. (This one was a little forced, I admit.)

Benito Mussolini:
"The black shirt reflects Benito's point of view perfectly." -- Mussolini's squads of goons were known as the "Blackshirts."

"The hands of his German Leica sweep around their axis reliably" -- a reference to the Axis powers.

Adolf Hitler:
"Adolf's final solution was pure genius" -- You probably know what Hitler's "final solution" was.

Mao Tse-Tung:
"Political power may come from the barrel of a gun" -- from a well known Mao saying.

The "long march" was what his troops engaged in during their successful revolution.

Manuel Noriega:
Noriega actually did help both Escobar and Castro, and was said to have homosexually sodomized his prisoners during torture.

Idi Amin:
"One does not earn that kind of hardware by cannibalizing others' heroism." -- Amin was widely thought to have eaten some of his enemies.

Muammar Khaddafi:
"Woe to the man who does not let that locker be!" -- a reference to Lockerbie, Scotland, where Libyan terrorists, on Khaddafi's orders, took down a passenger jet.

If you spotted all the references, you get an A in History.

Sicario

Watched Sicario (out on pay-per-view now) two nights ago, and my son and I liked it so much we watched it again last night. It's about an interagency force tasked with disrupting the Mexican drug cartels.

The soundtrack isn't really music, it's more just background noise designed to amplify the intensity of the movie. But it's still one of the greatest soundtracks I've ever heard.

The casting was near perfect. virtually every role was filled by someone who made you think, ah, that person is perfect for that role. The only possible false note was Emily Blunt as the nominal protagonist, a Phoenix FBI agent. But, it always helps to have a beautiful woman onscreen:


Blunt seems to be one of the few women who looks better without makeup (above) than with (shown below, at the Cannes premiere for the film):


I have no idea whether US law enforcement does the types of things they're shown doing; but it all seems plausible. And it certainly captured the destruction wrought by the cartels in Juarez.

As my son pointed out afterward, "This isn't exactly a let's-throw-open-the-borders movie." (He also said the military characters seemed realistic.)

Definitely worth watching.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Sean Penn's visit to El Chapo is reflective of his Leftism


Sean Penn and Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman: the two macho hombres finally meet. (Guzman is reportedly responsible for the deaths of over ten thousand people. Penn beat up Madonna once, and has also roughed up a paparazzi.)

There's been a lot of ink spilled in the past two days over Sean Penn's interview of the fugitive el Chapo. An excerpt from the New York Post article about Penn's visit:

Hollywood blowhard Sean Penn secretly met, interviewed, and posed for grip-and-smirk selfies with murderous druglord Joaquin Guzman Loera — even as the world’s most-wanted fugitive continued to elude authorities in the months after running out of a Mexican prison….to gain access to the kingpin’s secret jungle hideout, Penn agreed that Guzman would have the final edit of the resulting story….[which] shows the killer kingpin — described variously as “serene,” and “a simple man in a simple place,” and “a businessman first” — in an almost worshipful light.

In breathless, first-person prose, Penn marvels over El Chapo’s humble, hardscrabble childhood spent harvesting in the drug fields of Sinaloa state.

Scant mention is made of the river of blood in El Chapo’s wake, and none at all of his alleged assassinations of Mexican officials and police. Guzman is credited with responsibility for tens of thousands of deaths of rivals, informants and officials in Mexico and the US, his biggest market.

“While I was surfing the waves of Malibu at age 9, he was already working in the marijuana and poppy fields of the remote mountains of Sinaloa….Today he runs the biggest international drug cartel the world has ever known, exceeding even that of Pablo Escobar,” Penn says.


If you read the Rolling Stone article itself, you'll see that Penn goes heavy on the moral equivalency:

...are we, the American public, not indeed complicit in what we demonize? We are the consumers, and as such, we are complicit in every murder, and in every corruption of an institution's ability to protect the quality of life for citizens of Mexico and the United States that comes as a result of our insatiable appetite for illicit narcotics.

As much as anything, it's a question of relative morality. What of the tens of thousands of sick and suffering chemically addicted Americans, barbarically imprisoned for the crime of their illness? Locked down in facilities where unspeakable acts of dehumanization and violence are inescapable, and murder a looming threat. Are we saying that what's systemic in our culture, and out of our direct hands and view, shares no moral equivalency to those abominations that may rival narco assassinations in Juarez? Or, is that a distinction for the passive self-righteous?


Okay, it's true that American consumers bear partial blame for the drug trade. But taking an illegal drug and murdering thousands of people to expand your illegal empire are hardly comparable. The US doesn't put people in jail for being "sick," but for possession of illegal drugs. And the "unspeakable acts of…violence" are almost always perpetrated by other inmates -- not by the "American public." These are not "a question of relative morality."

Penn has shown similar reverence for both Hugo Chavez and the Castro brothers in the past, managing to completely ignore all of the less admirable parts of their reigns. Both Chavez and the Castros threw political opponents in jail, squashed free elections, aided and abetted drug dealers, and enriched themselves at public expense. They were, in other words, unsavory dictators.

But Penn manages to overlook all of these faults because of their nominal leftism. And that is essentially what the Left is all about these days: political correctness, i.e., ignoring the obvious.

I understand the appeal of an outlaw who thumbs his nose at the law, accumulates over a billion dollars, and lives like royalty. I even wrote about it here and here, though I never tried to justify El Chapo's crimes.

The real giveaway to Penn's attitudes is his self-importance, which has only been exacerbated in recent years by his steroid use. ('Roid ego seems as real as 'roid rage.) Meeting mano a mano with El Chapo under top secret conditions seems to make Penn feel that he's burnishing his badass credentials. (He's not quite that badass, though: that fawning portrait ensured he would stay in El Chapo's good graces.)

Note the picture above: the actor is trying to look scruffy and tough. Meanwhile El Chapo, as befits an actual tough guy, makes no attempt to look tough, merely clean and presentable.

Willful blindness and political posturing infused with personal narcissism point in one direction: to the left. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Bill Clinton as campaign fodder

When Hillary recently accused Trump of being sexist for some of his comments, including his offhand remark that she had gotten "schlonged" in the 2008 Presidential primary, the issue then came up of whether she should be held accountable for any of her husband's misbehavior.

The answer is pretty obviously, of course not -- which is why the media phrased it that way. You could say she shouldn't have stay married to a known abuser and probable rapist. But marriages endure and dissolve for all sorts of mysterious reasons that sometimes even the spouses themselves don't fully understand. And, really, it's unfair to criticize anyone for staying married.

But one thing Hillary is definitely responsible for is her own actions when it came to those women. Especially in light of her statement in September: "Today I want to send a message to every survivor of sexual assault. Don't let anyone silence your voice. You have the right to be heard. You have the right to be believed and we're with you.

Clinton also stated the need for "increased prevention effort" to discourage sexual predators.

Those were not exactly her reactions to her hubby's various "bimbo eruptions," as they were called by Bill Clinton's handlers.

When Gennifer Flowers claimed to have had an affair with Bill Clinton in 1992, Hillary disparaged her as "trailer trash."

When Juanita Broaddrick said that Bill Clinton had raped her, Hillary implicitly threatened her and told her to keep quiet.

And Hillary famously dismissed Monica Lewinsky as a "narcissistic loony tune."

(Not a bad description of herself.)

So, no, Hillary shouldn't be held responsible for her husband's actions. Only her own.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Moderate testosterone and trust


While looking at pictures of Barack Obama for the previous post, it occurred to me how much he has benefitted by not being an overly masculine guy. Because he came across nonthreatening, he was a lot more palatable to the white electorate. He had a big smile, could speak the King's English, and was the type of black man whites are generally comfortable with.

In the immortal words of Harry Reid, Obama had Presidential potential because he was a "light-skinned black with no negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."

Or, as Joe Biden said in 2007 about Obama, "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."

Key to both of those impressions was that Obama wasn't physically intimidating. He didn't look in any way like a cartoon style bully. And so people were at ease with him, and thus more inclined to trust him.

Another guy who must have benefitted from that effect is Martin Shkreli. If you hadn't known anything about him, but were introduced to him a few years ago --


-- you'd probably have been positively predisposed toward him, simply because he's not in any way a threatening physical presence. And if you were told that he was a hedge fund manager, you'd likely have thought, "Ah, boy genius!" 

But a lack of male hormones doesn't necessarily equal honesty, or decency. In fact, there's no correlation at all. Shkreli, as we now know, is merely a con man. 

And, frankly, so is the other guy.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Obama's tears


Yesterday Samuel Nock asked me (in the comments section after The vagueness of the Left) what I made of Obama's tears at his news conference announcing his new gun control measures: were they genuine or some cynical ploy?

I answered by saying, basically, that I wasn't sure.

But I've thought about it a little more since, and have come to the conclusion that Obama's tears were neither, and both.

Let me explain. I don't think Obama was crying with spontaneous sadness about the students who died in Roseburg, Oregon, or in Newtown, Connecticut, or at Virginia Tech, or at Columbine (yes, he reached that far back). He has mentioned these mass killings before without breaking down; and if he hadn't cried about them right after they happened, why, after the passage of time, would they affect him this way now? (Shedding tears about, say, the Nepalese earthquake victims might make sense right after the event; but if you didn't know any of the victims personally, would it make sense to start crying about them years later?)

Obama has tried hard not to let any of these mass killings/crises go to waste in recent years. If it's a white killing blacks, as with Dylan Roof in Charleston, he uses the killings as an example of what a horribly racist society we live in. If it's a black killing whites, as in Roseburg, Oregon, he uses it as an example of the destruction caused by those horrible Republicans who won't pass stricter gun control laws. But the point is, Obama has never cried in the past while making such political hay.

At the same time, I also don't think his tears were some cynical ploy, a la Bill Clinton's wiping away of imaginary crocodile tears.

No Drama Obama has never been one to turn on the waterworks in order to appear "caring." And he has certainly never shed any public tears over the more than 300 children he himself has killed -- as "collateral damage" -- through his drone attacks. (That number, by the way, is far more than the combined total of all the mass killings he referenced in his speech on gun control.)

Even when at the funeral of someone you'd think he might actually grieve for -- Nelson Mandela -- Obama spent his time in the gallery taking smiling selfies with the Danish Prime Minister: 


Here's another picture of Obama trying to contain his grief at Mandela's funeral service:


I suggested yesterday that Obama was probably exhausted, or disheartened about some private, personal matter, and the tears just happened to emerge at this opportune moment, and somehow got conflated with sadness for the dead children.

Yesterday afternoon, the picture became a little clearer. News came out that the House of Representatives passed, for the first time, a bill which would repeal Obamacare in its entirety. Obama is certain to veto the bill, but nonetheless, the fact that the bill has now passed both the House and Senate is of huge symbolic significance, and highlights the fact that many consider Obamacare a complete failure. 

Obamacare is, as has been pointed out by many others, the signature achievement of Obama's Presidency. It's the bill he spent the most political capital to get passed, the one most closely associated with him. Obama has been mostly in recusal mode when it comes to foreign policy, and race relations have, not by coincidence, only deteriorated on his watch. But he's always had Obamacare as his legacy-to-be. 

Obama would obviously have been well aware that Congress was about to vote to repeal his signature bill, and he was undoubtedly feeling put upon and depressed about that. Maybe he'd even lost sleep over it, and was exhausted. He undoubtedly felt as if he was being picked on by that mean, bullying Congress.

It was with that emotional backdrop that Obama delivered his speech about gun control. He was feeling weary and dispirited to begin with, so the tears were closer to the surface. When they actually came, the President, of course, ascribed them to his feelings for all those dead children. But if you've witnessed Obama's previous emotional nonreactions to dead children, and are familiar with his narcissism, it was hard not to come to the conclusion that his tears were in fact more closely connected to the impending vote to repeal Obamacare. 

Tears are a funny thing. Sometimes they come at the most inopportune moments, precisely because they're not supposed to. I always thought this was the case with John Boehner, whose frequent crying must have been extremely embarrassing for him. If crying in public is your biggest fear, then you are much more likely to do it. 

Obama's tears came at an opportune moment. The media, of course, put the best possible spin on them: that they were evidence of how much Obama cared about the children. But if you believe that, you also have to believe that John Boehner was nicer, more caring, and more kindhearted than your average politician. The media certainly never put that spin on Boehner, and I don't believe he was, either. 

But I also don't believe it about Obama, who has never cried before in public about any of those dead children, not right after they died, and not even when meeting with their parents in the immediate aftermath. 

His tears on Monday were more closely connected to Obamacare's brush with death. That, after all, has his name on it.