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Thursday, October 23, 2014

What an African thinks of African-Americans

I know a guy who lives in New York City with his three-year-old daughter. His daughter's nanny, Fatou, is from Senegal.

The other day Fatou related the following incident. She was walking down the street with the daughter, and a black man jeered at her, "What are you, a slave?"

The nanny replied, "Yes, I'm a slave who makes a lot of money. Why don't you get a job, you dummy?"

A somewhat naive older woman who heard Fatou tell the story asked, "Oh? Was the man drunk?"

Fatou shrugged and explained, "No, he was just an American black."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Who you gonna believe, me or your lyin' eyes?

I never found Renee Zellweger attractive in the first place, but at least she had a distinctive look back when she played Bridget Jones. Now she looks like half the wives in Fairfield County. One of the unfortunate side effects of the plastic surgery revolution is that there are an increasing number of women who look like each other.

It's not dissimilar to the way cars all started looking like each other in the 80's and 90's. Back in the 60's, you could tell a Mercedes from a GTO from a Mustang from a Jag at a distance of 150 yards. Nowadays, even standing right next to the car, you can't tell what it is. You have to look at the emblem half the time.

The people who saw Zellweger at that gathering must have felt the same.

For some reason Faye Dunaway seems to have been chosen as the ideal of perfection they all strive for:

At least when Faye goes in for a little work these days, she doesn't have to hold up a photo and say, "Make me look like her." All she has to do is ask to be made younger-looking.

"What makes for a stable marriage?"

A friend sent this article the other day, about the factors which predict whether a marriage will last.

One factor is how long you were dating before the marriage. Unsurprisingly, the longer you dated, the less likely you are to divorce.

Another factor is how much money you make. The more (up to a level of $125,000+ a year), the less likely the marriage is to end up in divorce.

The frequency with which you go to church is a little more complicated. People who attend "sometimes" are 10% more likely to get divorced than those who never go, but those who attend "regularly" are 46% less likely.

Your attitude toward your spouse is also important: men who care more about their wive's looks are more likely to end up divorced, and women who care more about how much money their husband makes are more likely to as well. I have to wonder how they measured this. I would think the majority of wives would care about what kind of provider their husband would be, and the overwhelming majority of men care about what their wives looked like.

The number of people who attended the wedding is also a factor: the more who attend, the less likely a divorce. But here's a surprise: the more you spend on your wedding, the more likely a divorce. (One would think there would be a positive correlation between the number of guests and the cost of the wedding. One would also think there'd be a correlation between income -- a positive indicator -- and the cost of the wedding.)

Couples who had honeymoons are less likely to divorce. (That's probably correlated with how much money there is.)

In any case, all those factors are interesting, but I can think of several more which should have a stronger impact.

The greater the difference between the spouses' IQ's, the more likely a divorce. One will feel bored and disgusted, the other condescended to and resentful.

The frequency of sex, both early on and later, must correlate. My guess, couples who has sex frequently early on are slightly more likely to remain together. (But if sex is all that the marriage is about, that could have a negative correlation with stability.) But I would think the far stronger correlation would be with couples who continue to have regular sex past the ten year mark: they are more likely to remain together since it means they can still stand each other.

I would think the age at which the partners married would have a lot to do with it: couples who marry early, in their impetuous youths, would seem more likely to grow apart as they age and (theoretically) mature.

The number of children in the family must have an extremely strong effect on the stability of a marriage. When was the last time you heard of a couple with six children getting divorced?

The existence of a mental disorder must also have an extremely strong negative impact. It's very hard being married to a sociopath, or someone who's bipolar, or has borderline disorder. I've heard that 80% of marriages where one partner has Aspergers end in divorce, though I can't confirm that. And even the presence of a garden variety narcissist must the marriage difficult for the partner: it's hard being married to someone who will never, ever admit he's wrong.

I would think the strongest negative indicator must be the existence of a prenup, which presupposes that the marriage was more rental than purchase, right from the start.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Channeling your inner psychopath

Got an interesting comment Saturday on the James Traficant post from a "Senator Tombstone," who said: 

I enjoyed reading Kevin Dutton's "The Wisdom of Psychopaths." I learned that many psychopaths actually have positive traits, which can be useful in moderation. Sometimes I have to speak with angry customers and tell them news they don't like. When doing this, I try to channel my inner-psychopath and not get emotionally entangled in the delicate matter

I replied:

No question, sociopaths can perform useful roles in society. Some of the best --and most fearless -- soldiers are sociopaths. (Of course, these are also the guys who most likely to commit "friendly fire" types of crimes, and also wartime atrocities.)

Sociopaths can make inspiring leaders, and uninhibitedly passionate orators. (Of course, they are also the most likely to become corrupt, despotic, and genocidal as well.)

I like the idea of non sociopaths channeling their inner sociopath to gain courage and calm. I also like the concept of non sociopaths "out-sociopathing" a sociopath, because it represents a sort of poetic justice. (I'm referring to returning their coldness with an even frostier coldness, of lying to them, and of out-maneuvering and out-manipulating them in various ways.)

I suppose we'd have to watch out that we don't turn into sociopaths ourselves while doing this (that psychological transformation would actually be impossible). But there are definitely times when channeling an inner sociopath would come in handy. Like when we want to close a sale. When we want to intimidate. When we need the nerve to do something that normally scares us. Or when we want to seduce someone.

I wouldn't go so far as Senator Tombstone in saying that sociopaths have "positive" traits. But they definitely have useful ones.

It's just too bad those traits are generally unavailable to the nonsociopathic population. Those useful weapons simply ended up in the wrong hands, the hands of the bad guys. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Steroid-induced insanity, Part II

Just by coincidence, an article titled Shia LaBoeuf says method acting led to recent troubles happened to pop up in the NY Post this morning.

"Method acting" is a convenient excuse for a guy who feels obliged to act belligerent in all sorts of
different circumstances. LaBoeuf explained his 2013 fight with Alec Baldwin on the set of Orphans to Interview Magazine thusly:

“My whole goal was to intimidate the fuck out of Baldwin. That was the role. And it wasn’t going to be fake. I wanted him to be scared . . . So I went about doing that for three weeks of rehearsal.”

Recently, LaBoeuf's life seems to have gone off the rails. He'd been in trouble before, but 2014 was a banner year for him. In June, he was arrested for disrupting a performance  of Cabaret at a Broadway theater. He slapped fellow theater patrons and smoked in the theater.

When a policeman came to arrest him, he called the officer a "fag." At the police station, LaBoeuf yelled at one police officer, "Fuck you! I"ll fuck you up!" And he inexplicably claimed to another that he was in the Army.

This year he was also seen chasing a homeless man in NYC for his sandwich. And in January in London, he was videotaped head-butting another man during a bar brawl.

LaBoeuf has been quoted as saying that he had to gain 40 pounds for his role in Lawless, a 2012 film about a family of bootleggers. Hmm.

Here's LaBoeuf at age 21, in 2007's Transformers, looking like a hobbit:

Here's LaBoeuf at age 20, on the left:

This is a more recent shot of him:

Steroid muscles, unlike beer muscles, are real -- even if they're store-bought. But sometimes the 'roids make their consumers act as if they have beer muscles.

Steroids are a little like alcohol that way: some people can continue to act sane while under their influence, while others can't.

LaBoeuf obviously falls into the latter category.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Crazed by lust

Go to any steroid forum and one of the main topics people will talk about is how horny they get when they're on a cycle. Opinion on that is both universal and extreme. Users will talk about how they go out of their minds with desire, to the point where they feel sorry for their girlfriends, or their wives, or have to masturbate all the time.

When you think of some of the guys in the public eye who've let their sex drives get the best of them, to the point where they are unable to stay faithful to any one woman and end up cutting a very wide (and sloppy) swath, and who've ended up even getting into minor trouble because of their lack of self-control, that list seems to coincide greatly with the list of guys who've obviously taken steroids.

Justin Bieber seemed to start out as a typically fey and androgynous tween idol. More recently he's sprouted some muscle, as this before and after photo shows:

But along with the muscle, Bieber has also gotten a lot of headlines, getting in trouble for all sorts of out of control behavior, like throwing eggs at a neighbor's house and illegal drag racing. He's also been linked with any number of women, some of whom have paid tribute to his ardor.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has admitted using steroids. When he ran for Governor of California there were some rumblings that he may have had a history of being overly aggressive with women, but that scandal blew over and he was duly elected Governator. The only remaining tangible evidence of his escapades is the son he had with his housekeeper. Here he is with that woman, Mildred Baena, and one of his sons by Maria Shriver:

Sean Penn is another actor who obviously went on the juice, though he didn't start till he was middle-aged. Here he is in his most famous role as a young man, as Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgmont High:

And here he is in middle age:

Note the veins bulging out of the front of his arms, one of the tells of steroid use.

Penn has been linked recently with a long list of actresses, two of the more recent ones being Scarlett Johansen and Charlize Theron. He's often given the impression of a guy whose personal life (and temper) are out of control.

Lance Armstrong's PED use, long a matter of public speculation, has now been confirmed.

Lance, too, couldn't seem to settle for just one woman. After having three children with his wife, he went on to father two more illegitimate children. Of course, the fact that Lance was a sociopath, as detailed here and here and here and here, may have contributed to his restlessness.

Tiger Woods is another guy who famously got into women trouble. Here's Tiger as a student at Stanford:

And here's Tiger later in his career:

Tiger claimed that he put on the weight through weight-lifting, but presses and curls don't compel you to have fourteen mistresses at the same time.

Anthony Weiner seemed out of control for a while. Even after the initial scandal involving his sexts to various young female correspondents, even after his public apology, he was soon in trouble again for doing the same thing.

Here's Anthony as a young man:

Note the width of his neck; it's hard to blame him for wanting to put on some muscle. But once Weiner started putting on that muscle and shaving his chest, he also found that his sex drive was out of control. He didn't seem to have the courage to actually have sex with any of his correspondents, but he did send them plenty of semi-nude selfless:

Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids, and was also an almost compulsive womanizer, as a look at the "Personal life" section of his Wikipedia entry will attest:

Dominic Strauss-Kahn -- at the age of 62 -- was almost was prosecuted for the sexual assault of a hotel maid, and also got into trouble for being involved with a prostitution ring in his native France. It was speculated at the time that he was probably on some sort of testosterone replacement therapy. I can't confirm that, but it would make sense given his voracious sexual appetite despite his advancing years:

Here's an article describing Strauss-Kahn's lifestyle.

Finally, Evander Holyfield was an obvious steroid user, as detailed here.

Holyfield has been married three times (he is currently separated from his third wife) and has eleven children by six women. His 109-room mansion was foreclosed upon in 2009 and he has been sued for nonpayment of child support by one of his children's mothers.

Keep in mind that with all these men, what made the news undoubtedly was but a small fraction of their peccadillos. When you're constantly crazed with lust, and you can't think of anything but sex, you become sloppy. You may neglect your business, some of your indiscretions become public, and a few may even produce unplanned offspring.

There have been plenty of famous womanizers before, people like Warren Beatty and Mick Jagger and Muhammad Ali. But they always seemed to have it under control. They had a good time, but they never gave the impression of having a desperate craving that needed to be satisfied no matter the circumstance.

Better a hobby than an addiction.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Life imitates art

The news came out yesterday that the premiere episode of Season 5 of The Walking Dead pulled in a record 17 million viewers Sunday night.

In the past two or three years, zombies seem to have replaced vampires as the creatures most likely to appear in a fictional work. (Of course, the zombies have absolutely no redeeming qualities, whereas since the debut of the Twilight series, vampires have been romanticized.)

Today an AP article came out stating that the World Health Organization is now predicting that in two months time there could be as many as 10,000 new cases of Ebola per week. Per week.

(Am I the only one who sees a certain ghoulish parallel?)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Why I feel free to be honest about race

This blog is obviously blunt about racial issues, more so than is generally considered good manners. In polite society, people simply do not speak honestly about race and IQ, or race and crime, and so on.

This is particularly true of people who come from my type of background. I went to an extremely liberal secondary school, and attended an Ivy League college where the vast majority of professors were liberal. I'm half-Japanese and half-white, so it would be silly for me to subscribe to any sort of racialist ideology due to ethnic loyalty. And, as a halfbreed, I'm less naturally inclined towards racial partisanship.

But a good part of the reason I feel free to speak honestly on such matters is that I've had black friends, one in particular, and I've found that they are generally far more outspoken about race than most whites would ever dare be.

A lot of white people will claim to have had black friends. You know, the fellow on their soccer team they're friendly with at the games. The coworker with whom they've had a couple of meals and with whom they've shared a few jokes. The friend from high school whom they smoked marijuana with. But the odds are they weren't quite comfortable enough with each other to be completely honest about their opinions on race.

I had a close black friend, let's call him George Smith, for 31 years, from 1981 to 2012. We even roomed together for two years back in the mid-80's before we each got married. I've written about him before, in The coolest guy I ever met. Every word in that post is true: he was, unquestionably, incredibly cool. To this day, if George's name comes up for some reason, I tell people, you'd have to see him to believe him. And the people who've met him never disagree.

But, in a sense, the post linked above was also a whitewash: I didn't mention his attitudes about race and politics. (I suggest you read that post before you read this one.)

What I will say in this post will make him sound worse than he is (just as the post linked above probably made him sound better than he is). You may even wonder why we stayed friends. But he was a good friend over the years, extremely enjoyable company, and he did me many favors -- more on that later.

When I first met George, he said several charmingly self-deprecatory things about race. But I learned fairly quickly that that was something he did for whites he first met, and that he was in fact quite partisan on all matters racial and political. Looking back, I should have called him on some of the things he said. But, while never a liberal myself, I had always been taught that "racism" -- only possible in one direction, of course -- was the worst sin one could commit. So I was always careful, especially early on, to watch what I said.

George felt no such compunctions. He would uninhibitedly say whatever came into his mind about race or politics. He wasn't the kind of guy who would constantly invoke racism as an explanation for every black dysfunction. But he said all sorts of things that he would undoubtedly have construed as despicably racist had the equivalent sentiments come out of a white person's mouth.

Once when we were watching television in 1982, a couple of Reagan Cabinet members were shown walking into the National Cathedral. George said, "I hope a bomb goes off." My guess is, were George to hear a similar sentiment voiced about Eric Holder or Barack Obama, he would immediately think, what an ugly racist.

One time, referring to Castro, he said, "Fidel's okay by me." I'd heard pro-Castro sentiments from some of the knee-jerk liberals I'd gone to secondary school with, but was surprised to hear it from George. I wondered, but did not ask, what he would think if Reagan had put his political opponents in jail for criticizing him.

Once, shortly after I met him, he said, "I know if I ever met William F. Buckley, he'd beat me in an argument. But still, I'd know I was right." At the time, it occurred to me that George was giving away more than he intended with that statement: it was essentially a confession that with him, politics was less a matter of logic and more one of belief -- of being a True Believer, so to speak.

Later on, when we were rooming together, I would occasionally hear him yell out while watching a boxing match on TV, "Come on, beat that white boy!" I didn't say anything at the time, but years later, when I no longer felt obliged to censor myself, I asked him what his reaction would have been had I yelled out, without knowing anything about the boxers other than their races, "Come on, beat that black boy!" He replied, "I don't know. You should have done it, it would have been an interesting experiment." I said, "We both know exactly what your reaction would have been. You would have bristled and thought, what a horrible racist."

George always rooted for blacks over whites. In 1999, we went to Seville to watch the world track and field championships. While there, we happened to meet Roger Black, the great (white) British 400 meter runner. George, in public mode, told Black that he had been rooting for the British 4 x 400 runners over the boastful Americans in 1996. As we walked away, I scoffed, what a bunch of crap -- when was the last time you actually rooted for a white guy over a black guy? George just shrugged, tacitly acknowledging the lie.

George liked to bet, and I had one big advantage over him: I knew he would always be willing to place a bet on a black over a white, regardless of whether the black should be favored.

Once, when we were rooming together, he came back from a business trip to Tokyo, and remarked, "I don't find Japanese women attractive. Flat chests, flat asses, bad teeth.....nah, not attractive." (I suspect part of the reason he said this was because by this point it had become painfully obvious that in all the time we had spent chasing girls together, I shown no interest in black women, and he was, at some level, getting back at me.) My initial reaction to his statement was, well, tastes are subjective, I can't blame George for not finding Asians attractive, especially since I don't find black women attractive.

But, it's one thing to not chase after a racial group, another to spell out exactly why one finds them unattractive. I never would have dreamed of saying to George, "You know, there's something about that really dark skin that I just find sort of alien. And frankly, those wide nostrils and thick lips and prognathous faces don't do a thing for me."

One time when we were at a party in the mid-80's, someone told George that the Japanese were really racist against blacks. Upon hearing this, he muttered, "Pin dick motherfuckers." I don't really blame George for saying this: lots of people, when insulted, lash out with the most scathing physical insult they can think of.

But I also don't really blame angry whites who -- after, say, witnessing the latest riot -- use the most scathing physical insult they can against blacks: calling them apes. But George, of course, would be horrified and infuriated to hear any white refer to blacks that way, no matter the circumstance. In fact, I remember him once bitterly explaining to me that calling black people monkeys was an insult whites sometimes used. (As if I might not have realized that.)

In 1988, we got together for dinner one night with our wives in Manhattan. The subject of politics came up, and both George and his wife said they planned to vote for Jesse Jackson. This was after it had come out that Jackson had boasted to a black audience that as a young man he used to spit in the food of white customers, and after he had referred to New York as "Hymietown." This didn't seem to trouble George or his wife.

Four years later, when I said to George and his wife that I was going to vote for Pat Buchanan, his wife said, "That's racist." It occurred to me later that Buchanan had, to my knowledge, never said -- or done -- anything as ugly as Jackson had. But both George and his wife seemed blind to this double standard.

In 2001 I introduced George to a friend of mine who's a famous sportswriter. One of the first questions George asked was, "Why doesn't someone write a book about racial differences in athletic ability? Take the NBA, for example, it's 75% black. Now I've heard all the explanations for why that's so -- blacks aren't allowed to succeed elsewhere, basketball is a big part of their culture, and so on -- but that gets me to maybe 25, 30%. But 75%? There are just obvious differences in ability."

I agree with George completely on this: how could anyone with an open mind look at track, or football, or basketball, and come to any other conclusion? And that's the right way to examine any the issue: look at the facts first, and then come up with a theory to fit those facts. The wrong way, of course, is to come up with some politically correct theory that attempts to explain away group differences, and then scramble for the few facts which buttress your theory while willfully ignoring the vast majority of evidence.

But if looking at the facts is acceptable when it comes to racial differences in athletics, why not for differences in intelligence, propensity for violence, and everything else? Yet I remember George on occasion bristling when I would broach these topics. (In fairness to him, there were also times I would broach those topics and he would discuss them calmly.)

Some might say that athletics are one thing, but intelligence is a more sensitive topic which should be handled delicately. But even there, George had no inhibitions about voicing his opinion, as long as he was on the winning side. Once over the phone he gave me a two minute speech about how women were less logical than men. He said, I'm not saying this about all women, and I'm certainly not saying all men are logical, but all my life I've noticed that women are just on average less logical.

Again, I agree with George completely; that's been my experience as well. But if one is willing to express an opinion on such differences between the sexes, then one shouldn't object if others notice similar differences between the races.

On a couple occasions, George seemed mildly offended if I hadn't heard of somewhat obscure black cultural figures from the past, like bandleader Cab Calloway. There are plenty of cultural figures I'm not familiar with; but George would never have been touchy about me not remembering, say, white bandleader Artie Shaw. And if a name like Lena Horne or Paul Robeson came up, I knew I could always count on George to talk about how great they were.

Recently, I wrote a post about who I thought the greatest composer of the twentieth century was. I asked various people, including George, their opinions. I knew ahead of time that George would name a black: sure enough, his choices were Stevie Wonder and Elton John.

Once during that trip to Seville in 1999, he pointed out Regina Jacobs, the 1500 runner, who was standing on the track across the stadium. When I said I couldn't recognize her, he shook his head and said, "White people always have a hard time telling black people apart." I replied, "It's not racism, it's eyesight. Here I've been asking you what the scoreboard says all evening long, but when I can't make out someone's facial features from a hundred yards away it's racism?" George immediately acknowledged that I was right. When I added, "Stay vigilant though. You're doing a good job," he laughed. But similar statements would crop up from time to time.

It wasn't as if George lacked a sense of humor, or couldn't take a joke. Once, when we were rooming together, he came back from the dry cleaner and said something to the effect of, those stupid Chinese launderers lost the button on my shirt. I replied, "Just be thankful the dry cleaner wasn't black. You'd have gotten your shirts back still dirty." He laughed at that too.

But the spin was always there. George actually referred to the pestilential squeegee men as "entrepreneurs" once. Technically, what he said was true: these guys did have their own "businesses." But the same could be said about any other variety of panhandler. Calling them "entrepreneurs," a term which usually evokes the likes of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, was typical spin.

One time George expressed the opinion that it was unfair that black guys got sentenced to 15 years for robbing a bank of a few thousand dollars, while white guys who embezzled millions would only go to jail for five years or so. I pointed out the big difference: a bank robber threatens to shoot people if they don't hand over the money, whereas embezzlers don't employ violence. George replied, but what if a guy went into a bank without a gun? I said that's ridiculous: bank robbery doesn't work without the threat of violence, otherwise, why would the tellers hand over the money? At the time, I thought, but did not say, how typical of the way George views such issues: he sees only what he wants to see.

Another time George grumbled, all the white people who are for equal rights now [i.e., are against affirmative action], where were they back in the 50's? I thought, but did not say, you could just as easily say, all the black people who were for equal rights back then, where are they now?

George had a tendency to take every argument we ever had about race back to the 1950's, and would somehow always end up relating it to Jim Crow. Even if it had nothing to do with that.

Once I suggested to George that he might consider moving to Connecticut; I knew he wouldn't do it, but I figured it was a friendly gesture. He replied no, that he would never move there, since it was "too white bread." That, of course, just means "too white." It's perfectly understandable that he would not want to live somewhere where he'd feel out of place. But I can't imagine ever saying to him that I would never move to his particular neck of the Hamptons because it was too black.

In 2001, we went to Las Vegas and stayed at the Bellagio (George was a "whale," and treated as such by the hotel staff.) At one point we were chatting with one of the hosts there, a black man, and George casually mentioned that he used to be a card counter. Later on I asked George if he thought it wise to tell a Bellagio host that he had been a counter, given that all of the major casinos guard vigilantly against them. He replied, almost scornfully, "No black guy would turn in another black guy for card counting."

He was right, of course. But if blacks have such racial solidarity, to the point of almost being conspiratorial about it, why shouldn't whites feel the same way?

George was quite successful, and was a generous donor to a number of causes. But, as you might guess, those causes followed a distinct pattern. He gave $50,000 to his mother's alma mater, a historically black women's college. He gave $200,000 to his children's prep school, but made sure the money was earmarked for minority scholarships, which, in the area he lived, meant black kids. He gave money to his own college, but that money too was earmarked for minority scholarships. George would never have given similar sums to, say, Indonesian tsunami victims, or to poor whites in Appalachia.

I have nothing against anybody wanting to help his own people, and I applaud George for his generosity. But again, if this is your attitude, you shouldn't object if whites want to help their own, too. I have no doubt that if anyone suggested we honor Cecil Rhodes' original stipulation, that the scholarship he endowed be exclusively for young white men, George would be appalled.

I remember thinking, way back in the late 80's, if George were white and he thought the way he does, he'd be the most racist guy around: he believes in his race's superiority (at least on the issues he brings up), he spins every racial situation he discusses, he gives money only to causes that benefit blacks, and he even vocally roots for his own. I couldn't think of a single white person I knew who did all four of those things. It only gradually dawned on me that George was the most racist person I knew.

And, if you do or say all of those things while simultaneously accusing others of racism, it seems particularly hypocritical.

The examples I've used make George sound worse than he is. We were friends for 31 years, and these are some of the most egregious examples of his hypocrisy that I can recall. If you know anyone for 31 years, you're bound to see some misbehavior, no matter how decent they usually are.

In fairness to George, I brought up things he didn't like on a number of occasions, and he usually took them in stride. If I talked about race and IQ, he wouldn't get angry. (Generally he would just shift the subject slightly, or talk about how IQ wasn't the main criterion for such and such a job.) Once I mentioned to him that I had read in a book (Race, by John Baker) that of the hundreds of traits in which either blacks or whites were closer to gorillas, on only one of those traits (hair) were whites closer. He didn't even act offended at that.

But I never had the consistent, overweening animus that George did. And I would generally only bring up these things in response to an argument he would start.

George was in fact a very good friend to me. He went out of his way to give me stock advice, sometimes staying on the phone for an hour at a time explaining the merits of various investments. Some of the advice he gave me was good, some of it bad, but it was always given in a spirit of friendship. When we were younger, George was a great wingman: he would always talk me up to girls, and even set me up with several women. At various times he invited my family to stay with his family at his brownstone in New York City, at his house in the Hamptons, and at his apartment in Europe. He was always nice to my children, always solicitous of my wife, and unfailingly friendly and respectful to my parents.

He was also more fun than anyone else I've ever known. He was witty, handsome, urbane, and charming, and I always knew that wherever we went would be a party. No one has ever been better company.

Our friendship ended two years ago, because of this blog. In particular, he took offense at the post about Obama being gay, though I'm sure if he looked around more he'd find plenty of other things he'd object to.

But, if you refer to Japanese as "pin dick motherfuckers," you ought not to complain when people refer to blacks as "gorillas." If you describe exactly why you find the women of another race unattractive, you ought not to be offended if someone does the same to you. And if you are willing to analyze why blacks are better at certain sports than white, and even suggest to a sportswriter you just met that someone write a book about it, you ought not to be offended when others analyze cognitive and behavioral differences the same way.

I never considering ending the friendship because of the various things George said. But he ended it because I became almost as outspoken as he is.

When a white mentions racial differences, the media invariably attributes it to "ignorance" or "racism." Of course, no one would ever attribute the kinds of things George has said to "ignorance." And in fact, there's nothing ignorant about George, who is far, far smarter than most whites I know. If you doubt that, consider his pre-1995 adjustment SAT scores of 722 verbal and 774 math. And his Chemistry AT of 800 at age 14, and his Physics AT of 800 at age 15.

But even though George's test scores and intelligence were way above average, his basic attitudes about race were similar to those endemic in the black community -- even if he generally expressed them in a more sophisticated manner.

I occasionally ask myself, how would I feel if I were black? What if I knew that the majority of people who met me automatically viewed me as potentially dangerous and probably stupid before they even knew me? What if the burden were constantly on me to prove otherwise? I have to admit, I'd probably become resentful too. But I think -- I hope -- that I'd be honest enough that part of that resentment would be directed toward those of my brethren who made whites feel that way about blacks.

I don't blame George for being resentful. But I also don't blame whites for being resentful about the double standard which says it's okay for one group of people to speak their mind, but not another.

Bear in mind, George isn't some uniquely hypocritical guy. He's just a creature of his time, and can't see past the double standards encouraged by our liberal media, with their constant, unrelenting focus on white racism, and their willful blindness towards any other kind.

I'm not a liberal. So, back in 1981, I didn't enter the friendship thinking, how wonderful that I now have a black friend. I merely thought, wow, is this guy cool. I also never saw our friendship as being affected by this country's long and complicated racial past. As far as I was concerned, we were simply two guys with overlapping interests and similar senses of humor, and neither of us owed the other anything but friendship. Which meant that the same rules applied to him as to me.

Had I never known George, I wouldn't have thought much differently about race; my knowledge of race and IQ was gained way back when I was 18 and 19, reading about the subject in the psychology section of my college library. It quickly became apparent that the nature camp had the facts on their side, and the nurture camp was composed mostly of wishful thinkers. (Which made it all the more amazing to me when I met a black as brilliant as George.)

In the end, George's net effect on me was to make me every so slightly more open to the possibility of high-IQ blacks. And to make me far more outspoken.

Before any white liberals who happen to be reading this accuse me of being "racist," please ask yourself this: have you ever had a black friend who was comfortable enough with you to be as unguarded as George was with me?

And to any blacks who happen to be reading this, ask yourself this: are George's attitudes all that different from your own? If not, please take a hard look at yourself before you accuse me --  or anyone else -- of racism.

I came by my attitudes the honest way: by hanging out with people with opposing attitudes, listening to them with an open mind -- and then seeing their hypocrisy up close, repeatedly. I saw it from a close friend, I've seen it from acquaintances, and I've seen it in society at large.

And now I'm too old not to be honest about it.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Gay black men

I've been called racist, because I'm honest about race and IQ, as well as race and crime, on this blog. I've also been called bigoted against gays, because I once described a group of them in (accurate) detail.

Given which, here's an impression which may surprise you: practically every gay black guy I've ever met, I've liked. If they've come on to me -- which has happened -- I find it grotesque, for the usual reasons. But if they haven't, I've generally found their company low key and enjoyable.

In a weird sort of way, it's almost as if the black offsets the gay, and the gay offsets the black. They're rarely weirdly feminized and wimpy from lack of male hormones the way gay white men can be. (Half of those black trannies who used to troll Eighth Avenue in Manhattan looked as if they could have run 100 meters in 10.5 if they'd been so inclined.) At the same time, neither are they the sullen, white-hating, militant types. (When was the last time you were accosted by an angry gay black man?)

Gay blacks often aspire to high culture -- or, at least, couture. But because they're more likely to come from a poor background, they're familiar with that world as well. That breadth, in a way, makes them more worldly.

The gay black men I've known have all struck me as reasonable. They weren't the types to believe that AIDS was invented by white scientists to kill blacks, or that crack cocaine was imported into the ghetto by the CIA in order to destroy blacks, both theories which had some currency in the community at various times. They also seemed more likely to exhibit common sense about racial flareups like the Trayvon Martin case, or the Michael Brown case.

They're rarely into hip-hop, gangsta, culture. (When was the last time you heard a gay black guy use Ebonics? Most of them make an effort to distance themselves from that social stratum.) They'd rather be identified with people who dress in suits and ties.

They're less likely to join the Crips or Bloods; they prefer the company of women. They wouldn't aspire to hang out with LeBron or Dwyane. Give them their choice, and they'd prefer Diana Ross, or Anna Wintour, as company.

They're far less likely to identify with the Baltimore Ravens, and far more to identify with, say, Elizabeth Taylor. (When was the last time you saw a black transvestite wear an Afro wig?)

Gays consider themselves as an oppressed group, but really, most of them can pass if they have to. And what with the Velvet Mafia ruling Hollywood and the fashion world, it's hard to think of them as truly oppressed, at least in this country today. (At least once they graduate from high school.)

Blacks also think of themselves as oppressed; they unquestionably were, in the past. We all grew up hearing about slavery and Jim Crow and lynchings and so on. But we've been living in Affirmative Action Land for the past forty years, and whatever achievement gaps exist now seem to be primarily for reasons other than oppression, and whatever suspicions attach themselves to young black men seem a result of their crime levels, not innate racism. (How often do you hear of cops rousting old black church ladies?)

But if you're gay and black, you suffer stigmatization in both worlds. The black community has been notoriously slow to accept gay liberation. (Black preachers were some of the most outspoken voices in favor of the various state referendums banning gay marriage.) And gay communities -- think San Francisco, or Key West -- usually look quite monochromatic.

So, gay blacks really are outcasts. Ergo, worthy of sympathy, in a way neither gays nor blacks are.

There's always that element of surprise with gay black men: somehow you just don't expect that from a black guy. But when it dawns on you, you think the same thing as when you finally realize some white guy is gay: ah, now it all makes sense. (No wonder he was so nice.) And most of the ones that I've known have been playful and funny as well. Quick to smile, and slow to anger.

Honestly, I can think of only one gay black guy I even know of whom I despise, and he's a down low brother, which is an altogether different thing.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

"Mia Farrow's dirty profits -- a hidden profit in corrupt Ecuador trial"

Coincidentally, my brother and just happened to be talking about what a dishonest, manipulative woman Mia Farrow is the day before this article came out.

"Can America fight a Thirty Years' War?

Pat Buchanan does an excellent job of outlining how confusing the lines are in the Middle East between our enemies and our allies.

When you're through with that, take a look at how Thomas Sowell captures Obama's attitude towards America perfectly in Ebola and Obama.

"20 Smartest People to Ever Exist"

The internet seems to be full of various lists ("click bait") these days. Some attract our attention and we peruse them; most disappoint, for various reasons. Yesterday I stumbled across a particularly annoying list: 20 Smartest People to Ever Exist.

It's a relatively arbitrary list of people, supposedly ranked by IQ. Half of the people are obvious candidates (like Da Vinci and Galileo). But half have never accomplished anything significant, and are merely on the list because of their purported IQ's.

The problem with that is, IQ tests are not standardized the way the SAT's are. There are several prominent IQ tests: the Wechsler, the Stanford-Binet, the Woodcock-Johnson, the Kaufman, etc. And while all are calibrated to average 100 (for the white population), it's harder to score ridiculously high numbers on some than on others.

On top of that, most IQ tests are age-adjusted, so it's far easier for someone to score extremely high when he's 8 or 10 than when he's 20. Was he just naturally smarter when he was younger? Of course not.

(I know a guy who scored 210 as a child; he claims that if he took the test now he'd score no higher than a 130 or 140. He's being modest -- I'm sure he'd still score north of 150 -- but he's right insofar as he couldn't possibly score a 210 again.)

Not only is there no standardization of IQ tests, there's also no way to verify the scores. There is no IQ equivalent of the Educational Testing Service which keeps your official score, which was obtained under strictly supervised conditions, in some central repository to be sent out to various entities on a need to know basis.

And, newsflash, people often lie. This is how Sharon Stone gets included in various lists of "geniuses" -- because she exclaimed to be one.

Also, there are plenty of people on the list who lived long before IQ tests even existed, yet they have a number assigned to them. Who assigned their numbers? The author of the article, "R. J. Farrah" of Rene Descartes certainly seems a likely candidate for the list, but who decided his IQ was 177? That's an awfully exact number for a guy who never took the test. Why not 170, or 180?

Is Benjamin Netanyahu, ranked #18, really one of the twenty smartest people ever to have lived? He is a genuine badass (as a battle-hardened member of the Israeli Army Special Forces), and he is by all accounts a forceful politician. But the 18th smartest man who ever lived?

One of the most ridiculous entries is the actor James Woods, at #16. I guess I must not have appreciated how intelligent someone has to be to be fed lines to utter. Woods has an IQ of 180 attributed to him. (I can't help but wonder if he volunteered that number himself.)

Woods' inclusion is particularly interesting in light of some of the people who did not make the cut, like Charles Darwin, Euclid, Aristotle, Plato, Nikola Tesla, Max Planck, Archimedes, Michelangelo, Copernicus, Socrates, and Stephen Hawking.

One has to wonder: is author R. J. Farrah immune to embarrassment?

Checking in at #13 is Marilyn Vos Savant, who, as best I can tell, is another person famous for advertising her IQ. She is described as an American magazine columnist, author, lecturer, and playwright. She is listed with (or more likely, gives) an IQ of 186.

I had been wondering if the author would feel obliged to practice a little affirmative action. She did: #10 is Philip Emeagwali, a Nigerian computer engineer. Check out that Wikipedia link and decide for yourself if he is truly one of the ten smartest men to have ever lived. He is assigned an IQ of 190.

Rick Rosner weighs in at #8. Strangely, he ranks ahead of #9, Isaac Newton, even though Newton is assigned an IQ of 192 and Rosner only 190. Rosner, in case you're wondering, is the screenwriter who gave us "CHiPs." (Remember that TV show from the 1970's, which starred Erik Estrada?) Granted, comparing Rosner to Newton is apples to oranges: after all, Newton might not have been able to come up with "CHiPs" any more than Rosner would have been able to lay the foundation for calculus.

A better comparison might be with William Shakespeare, who did not make the list at all.

Da Vinci, Von Goethe, Liebnitz, John Stuart Mill, Galileo and Descartes all make the list, although Einstein rates only an honorable mention with his assigned number of 160. But I hadn't even heard of any of the top three, all of whom seem to be included because they had been child prodigies.

Number three is Christopher Hirata, a physics professor, given credit for a 225. He is the youngest American ever to win the gold medal at the International Physics Olympiad, and he entered Cal Tech at age 14.

Number two is Terence Tao, a professor of mathematics at UCLA. He is one of only two children to have scored over 700 on the math SAT while only 8 years old (he scored 760). At age 10, he was the youngest person ever to compete in the International math Olympiad. He got his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Flinders University at age 16. Tao is assigned a 230.

And #1 is William James Sidis, another child prodigy, who lived from 1898 to 1944. He entered Harvard at age 11. But if you click on that link, you'll see many of the claims about his intelligence, such as his ability to speak forty different languages, were evidently lies. It seems somehow appropriate that this list is topped by an apparent fake. Sidis is assigned an IQ of 275, which evidently puts him 45 points ahead of the second smartest man ever to have existed.

A score like that is about as credible as a score of 2750 on the SAT's: the IQ scales simply don't run that high.

Hearing about these child prodigies who entered college as such tender ages is sort of a trip down memory lane. People simply don't seem to do that anymore. These days ambitious parents do the opposite, and hold their children back, so they can become "leaders."

I was curious about the compiler of this list, R. J. Farrah, so I Googled her, and came across this page, which lists her articles for But the name listed in the subject bar at the top is "Roxanne Foster."

As long as we're guesstimating IQ's, I'll assign Roxanne a 90, just based on this moronic list she assembled.

But, I'm willing to revise that upward to 95, since at least she was smart enough not to publish it under her own name.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Katinka Hosszu

Katinka Hosszu is a Hungarian swimmer who graduated from USC in 2013. Since then she has turned professional and has dominated the World Cup competitions in a way no one before her ever has. In the fall of 2013, she won over $200,000 in this series of meets.  This year she is on track to win over $300,000. The World Cup pays only $1500 to the winner of each race, but there are also bonuses for the top overall point scorers. Hosszu has been winning up to 10 races in two days of swimming at each stop, and has also received several $10,000 bonuses for each of several world records she has set.

Away from the World Cup, Hosszu shows up at practically every meet which offers prize money. There are a few swimmers, like Michael Phelps, who've made more money from endorsements. But no one else has ever won as much prize money.

This is how Hosszu looked when she was at USC:

This is what she looks like a year after turning pro:

Your guess is as good as mine as to how she effected that miraculous transformation.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Baby Doc

Baby Doc Duvalier hadn't made much news since his ouster from Haiti in 1986, other than when he returned there in 2011. What a shock it was to hear he was only 63 when he died yesterday. I'd never thought of him as being roughly my age.

I suppose part of the reason Baby Doc seems like such ancient history is that his name is intertwined with that of his father, Papa Doc Duvalier, the populist and black nationalist who ruled Haiti from 1957 to 1971. From 1964 to 1971, Papa Doc had the title of "President for Life."

(Baby Doc at his 1980 marriage to Michele Bennett)

Baby Doc, a softer, more self-indulgent sort than his father, ruled Haiti from 1971 until 1986. When he left Haiti, he reportedly took $800 million of the $1 billion national treasury with him to his exile in France. He was famed for his corruption and also his laziness (he was known to doze through most cabinet meetings).

Still, he certainly got a lot further than I have in life, at least in the wealth and fame department.

And I'm only three years younger.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Updating my picture

I've been meaning to update my photo for the blog, given what my daughter said about the existing photo making me look like a "sketchball." Anyway, I was due. The old picture is of me at 56. I'm now 60.

So, two days ago I took some selfies on my back porch. I needed to take the photos in bright light, otherwise my iPhone pics come out dark, like the current one. I tried to remain expressionless for the photos, but because the light was reflecting strongly off the porch, I couldn't help but squint.

As a result, in the above picture I ended up looking a little skeptical.

In this picture I look a little disdainful.

And in this picture I look downright hateful.

I suppose, given the nature of this blog, all three expressions are appropriate.

Coincidentally, just the other day my son and I were watching The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and I mentioned that I'd been told in high school that I looked like Lee Van Cleef (the "Bad" of the title):

My son then pointed out that in fact I look more like Eli Wallach (the "Ugly"):

I prefer the Van Cleef comparison, even though he died at age 64 after years of heart disease and throat cancer. (Wallach died at 98 just three months ago.)

Personally, I plan to live to 105. And as I age, I intend to become even more skeptical and disdainful and hateful, all of which should be reflected on this blog.

In any case, as I stare out at you with those baleful eyes, try not to take it personally.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Comment from a sociopath

Back on August 25, 2011, I put up a post, No Redemption for Son, about how David Berkowitz, formerly known as the "Son of Sam," was now a jailhouse preacher. Berkowitz claimed to have found salvation through Jesus Christ, but was in fact just the same old sociopath he always was. (In fact he's a perfect example of how those who claim to have a direct pipeline to God are often sociopaths.)

Yesterday I got the following comment on that post:

I don't know if anyone is still reading this thread. I am writing this in terrible dread. I wAs a sociopathic preacher. I was acting totally unchristlike behind the scenes until I was caught and exposed. Not until the. did I realize I had never been truly converted. That was 3 years ago. Since then I have frantically talked with every preacher, theologian and counselor I could out of fear that I am a false teacher. I could never find relief. I spend my time now on the Internet trying to find something that will help, but to no avail. I realize that I am a sociopath. I am terrified because I had much light (a Ph.D. in NT), and had ministered as an assistant pastor, bible college administrator and missionary in E. Europe and China. I maneuvered myself so that I would have high positions, which also resulted into much money, which I was dishonest about. I lied and told stories from the pulpit, and made merchandise out of believers in persecuted countries to enhance my position and wealth, while being very lazy in the Lord's work. I turned grace into license and became progressively more sensual to the point of a willful, deceptive affair. When my wife first confronted me, I lied to her and then to two pastors about it. Looking back, the only way I can explain it is that I am a classic sociopath. I now can't believe that I did all that I did without any pangs of conscience. I realize I never had the capacity to love or really have empathy toward others. I don't want to believe that I am an apostate, but everything fits.  My heart literally feels hard and I believe I am now terrorized by many unclean spirits. have already had one stint in a mental hospital and have lost my family. My wealth has dwindled to near nothing. I alwAys taught that the worst places in hell were for false teachers, but never dreamed that I was describing myself. I constantly look on the Internet for any glimmer of hope, but always come up empty-handed. I am living as a walking damned one. I can't believe I was so blind. The idea from Rom. 9 that God created me for this purpose is so hard for me to swallow. My wife on the other hand, whom I despised in my mind as too simple for me, always bore the marks of a true, spirit-filled believer. She is experiencing God's great blessing now (a d for eternity). I was proud; she was humble. We both proved whose children we really were. If anyone reading this could possibly offer any hope, I would be eternally grateful.

I replied: 

Anonymous --
There are only two possibilities here: either you're a sociopath or you're not.

If you actually feel as remorseful about your actions as you claim, then you're not one, and there's hope for you. (I'm speaking of "hope" in the same religious/redemptive sense that you are, even though I'm not religious myself.)

The other possibility is that you are a sociopath and are merely claiming to feel bad, or strongly exaggerating your slight feelings of regret, when you really don't feel that strongly, in which case your comment is just a bunch of malarkey.

It's one or the other. You have to take a hard look at yourself and decide which.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that only the second possibility can be true. It would be pretty much impossible for him to have pretended to be a holy man without essentially being a con artist, and it's pretty much impossible to be a con artist without being a sociopath. (If he's actually lying about having done all those things, then he's just a sport liar, which would also indicate sociopathy.) 

And since he's a sociopath, he can't be feeling all the guilt-ridden angst he's laying claim to. This is a classic example of false emotionality by a sociopath. Note the dramatic way he oversells his feelings (italics mine):

"I am writing this in terrible dread..." 

"I have frantically talked with every preacher, theologian and counselor I could out of fear that I am a false teacher. I could never find relief."

'I am terrified…."

"My heart literally feels hard and I believe I am now terrorized by many unclean spirits."

"I constantly look on the Internet for any glimmer of hope, but always come up empty-handed. I am living as a walking damned one."

"If anyone reading this could possibly offer any hope, I would be eternally grateful."

What he's looking for is third parties to tell him that by recognizing his sins he has redeemed himself and that he's really an okay guy. (Sociopaths are generally willing to believe anything good anybody else tells them about themselves.) 

Or it could be that he's merely setting himself up for another run as a preacher, this time selling himself as a lost sheep who has found himself. 

I suppose there's yet another possibility here: that he's genuinely superstitious himself and is worried that he has angered God and will spend an eternity in hell. 

But all of these possibilities presuppose that he is in fact a sociopath. 

(Though I'm not religious myself, as far as I'm concerned, all sociopaths can go rot in hell.) 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Michael Phelps has a problem

Just saw an article reporting that Michael Phelps was arrested Monday night for DUI. He had been arrested for DUI once before, back in 2004.

Phelps was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as a 9-year-old, and his success in swimming has often been framed as an inspirational victory over his ADHD. But really, his swimming didn't overcome his ADHD so much as just channel it. He expended all that extra energy in the pool, and, since he was built freakishly well for swimming and was a ferocious competitor, he became a champion.

But ADHD is not something that just leaves you when you win a bunch of medals. It's always going to be a part of you. So Phelps, when he is not swimming, is not the type to be able to just curl up with a good book and feel content. He's too easily bored, and by nature restless. He needs more active distractions, like poker, or golf, or women.

Or drinking.

The circumstances of this recent DUI were onerous. It happened on a Monday night, not a normal party night. (You'd think it would be a training day for him, meaning that he should be getting his sleep). He tested at roughly twice the legal limit. It happened at 1:40 AM, which means that when he starts drinking, he has a hard time just stopping. The worst part was that he was going 84 mph in a 45 mph zone, which means he can't handle his drinking: it either makes him feel invulnerable, or makes him sloppy. Either way, he becomes dangerous.

Granted, he's 29 and not a kid anymore. After all those years of being disciplined anybody would want to cut loose, especially if you're feted wherever you go. (He did seem to do a lot of partying in Las Vegas and elsewhere after Beijing.) And it's not as if he has anything left to prove in his chosen sport. But, partying doesn't have to mean getting out of control.

Sometimes I think that certain celebrities would be better off if they were less secure financially. If you know you have to report to work at 9 the next morning, you'd be less inclined to get drunk on a Monday night.

Sooner or later, we're going to hear about Phelps entering rehab.

In the meantime, the best thing Phelps can do is stick with competitive swimming, which will at least keep him on a somewhat straight and narrow path.

In fact, he'd be better off expanding his current repertoire to the 200 fly, which would require more training -- and sleep -- than he is currently getting.

Addendum, 10/5/14. It was sooner, not later. Phelps just announced he's entering rehab, although he didn't specify what sort of facility.


I got added to my wife's Netflix account two days ago, so on Sunday night stayed up late watching Skyfall again. I was practically falling asleep by the end, and somehow I kept imagining the various characters as being really tired. At each new scene, I would think, how does James Bond have the energy to do that, he must really be sleepy after all those exertions. I wasn't even fully aware of my thought process until the next morning. Anyway, I guess I'm as guilty of projection as anybody.

Monday morning while I should have been paying attention to stocks I wandered over to Netflix, and started watching 3 Days to Kill, a dumb-but-entertaining action flick. I hadn't intended to watch the entire thing, but ended up doing so.

When I was in high school I smoked a fair amount of marijuana. When I was in college, I got black out drunk twice. I've taken mescaline. I overeat at least twice a week. And I take my ego out for a stroll on a regular basis. (Actually, it would probably be more accurate to say it takes me all sorts of places.)

But I don't think I've ever felt quite so self-indulgent -- downright degenerate, as a matter of fact -- as I did watching an entire two hour movie starting at 10AM on a Monday morning.

Late yesterday afternoon I watched Get the Gringo, which stars Mel Gibson. Mel doesn't seem to have quite the pull in Hollywood that he used to, not sure why, so the movie wasn't a big hit. But it should have been, as it's quite enjoyable.

Early yesterday evening I watched Pumping Iron, the 1977 documentary about body-building featuring a young Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was fairly interesting, though not quite as good as most of its reviews.

Then last night I watched two old episodes of The Rockford Files which featured a pre-Magnum PI Tom Selleck as Lance White, the comically too-perfect detective. (Season 5 Episode 4, and Season 6 Episode 7, if you have Netflix.) The shows weren't quite as funny as I had remembered, but were still excellent.

This morning I intend to pay more attention to the stock market.

I'd even consider buying some Netflix stock if the price/earnings ratio weren't quite so high.