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Monday, October 16, 2017

Rose McGowan, avenging Fury.

There seems little doubt that everything Rose McGowan has said about what Harvey Weinstein did to her two decades ago is true. But it's a little strange that now, a full two decades later, she would suddenly transform into one of the Furies of Greek myth.

McGowan's wrath has spread to others as well. First, she scathingly castigated all of the women who hadn't come forward to tell their tales of harassment by Weinstein.

She criticized Jeff Bezos for the fact that Amazon Studios had a deal with the Weinstein Company.

When Ben Affleck pretended not to have known what Weinstein had been up to, Rose Tweeted, "YOU LIE!"

Woody Allen's take on the situation was,  “The whole Harvey Weinstein thing is very sad for everybody involved. Tragic for the poor women that were involved, sad for Harvey that his life is so messed up.”

McGowan's response to that was to call Allen a "vile little worm."

Two days ago, comedian James Corden made a few jokes about Weinstein at an AIDS benefit. Among them:

“It has been weird this week, though, hasn’t it — watching Harvey Weinstein in hot water. Ask any of the women who watched him take a bath — it’s weird watching Harvey Weinstein in hot water.”

“Harvey Weinstein wanted to come tonight, but he’ll settle for whatever potted plant is closest,” he added.

McGowan's response was to say to Corden --


“Hearing the audience’s vile roars & laughs show EXACTLY what kind of HOLLYWOOD you really are.”

She also demanded that CBS, for which Corden hosts “The Late Late Show,” to donate money to the East Los Angeles Women’s Center “OR YOU TOO SUPPORT RAPE CULTURE,” and added the hashtag “f–kjamescorden.”

To McGowan, even jokes at Weinstein's expense are unacceptable. 

(If a good-looking male actor referred to a fat female comedian as a "piglet," wouldn't that be deemed  irredeemably sexist and unforgivably fat-shaming?)

All of which makes one wonder, is McGowan the right person to be leading this charge? 

She is, after all, one of the eight women who took money from Weinstein on the condition that they sign a nondisclosure agreement. McGowan took the money, in 1997, on the condition she remain silent. So she lied when she said she'd keep her mouth shut. 

And not only is she violating the terms of that agreement, she is scathing towards anyone who doesn't speak up -- never mind that she herself remained mute for 20 years. 

Post-rape, McGowan starred in at least three more Weinstein-produced or distributed movies: Phantoms, in 1998; Planet Terror, in 2007 (Dimension Films was owned by the Weinstein Company); and Death Proof, in 2007. 

And, as commenter LBD just pointed out, in 2011 McGowan starred in Rosewood Lane, which was directed by Victor Salva, who had previously been imprisoned for child molestation. 

Here's a picture of Weinstein and McGowan in happier times:

But McGowan, with her demands for donations to a women's center and her talk of rape culture, now sounds like a fire-breathing feminist. And she currently sports a hairstyle to match:

In case you were wondering what a feminist looks like when she's young, here's McGowan at  25:

(I remember seeing pictures of McGowan with then boyfriend Marilyn Manson and thinking, can't she do better than that? What kind of sex do those two have? Isn't there some more healthy, masculine guy she'd rather be with?)

And here's the budding feminist, at 35, promoting the Weinstein film Death Proof in 2008, 11 years after she says she was raped by him:

McGowan seemed happy enough to take Weinstein's money up until 2008, which makes her current role as an avenging angel a little less convincing. I would as soon buy her as the one-legged machine gun artist in Planet Terror:

(This picture, by the way, doesn't seem a bad metaphor for her current incarnation as a Fury.)

If McGowan seems a little confused, you can hardly blame her. A look at the "Early Life" section of her Wiki bio is revealing:

Rose Arianna McGowan was born on September 5, 1973 in Certaldo, Tuscany, the second-eldest of six children of American couple Terri, a former writer and Microsoft employee, and Daniel McGowan, who worked as a commercial artist. McGowan also has two half-siblings. Her ancestry is French and Irish.

Her father ran an Italian chapter of the Children of God, to which both he and his wife held membership until 1978. McGowan spent her early childhood amid the group's communes, often traveling through Europe with her parents. When interviewed by Howard Stern in 2001, she stated she had avoided the group's calls for members to become sexually active as children and stated that she never personally experienced abuse as a child.

Through her father's art contacts in Italy, McGowan became a child model and appeared in Vogue Bambini and various other Italian magazines. Her parents returned to the United States when she was 10 years old, and settled in Eugene, Oregon. McGowan had a wayward childhood, living as a teenage runaway in Portland, Oregon and associating with a group of drag queens in the city. After her parents divorced, McGowan lived with her father in Seattle, Washington, attended Roosevelt High School and Nova Alternative High School, and worked at McDonald's. At the age of 15, she officially emancipated herself from her parents and relocated to Los Angeles.

It's enough to make you feel sorry for her. What was the story with her mother? (In 1983 it wasn't common for fathers to get sole custody.) And what does it say about her parents -- and McGowan -- that she would want to legally "emancipate" herself from them at age 15? A lack of stability early on in life generally presages instability later on as well.

(Her early association with drag queens certainly helps explain her comfort with Marilyn Manson.)

McGowan is fully embracing her role as rape victim (now, finally, two decades after it happened) and women's advocate. I've written before about how many of the prominent feminists of the past half century seemed to have come from mixed up backgrounds; McGowan fits that pattern.

Once again: I have no doubt that all those actresses, including McGowan, are telling the truth about Weinstein, who, as I pointed out a few posts ago, is a sociopath.

And Weinstein should, undoubtedly, be in prison.

But McGowan should probably be on a psychiatrist's couch.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Harvey finds out who his real friends are

I don't think I've ever seen a fall from grace (excluding those which involve murder) quite as quick as Harvey Weinstein's. The piling on has been fast and furious, to use the title of one of the few movies Weinstein had no hand in.

Now that Harvey's show biz career has gone the way of OJ's and Bill Cosby's, and now that he no longer has any power, everyone and their sister has come out to say that either (a) they, too, were a victim, or (b) they are oh-so shocked and offended to find out that Harvey was actually a serial sexual harasser.

At this point I'm almost more sympathetic to Weinstein than I am to his various accusers.

Rose McGowan got a settlement from him back in 1997, signed a nondisclosure deal, and subsequently got cast in at least three more Weinstein movies. But now she's violating the terms of her deal. And she's lashing out not only at Weinstein, but also at all those who've remained silent for years, conveniently forgetting that she, too, was one of them.

Jane Fonda has expressed her dismay, adding that Weinstein never hit on her since he "preferred the younger ones because they're more vulnerable." (No Jane, he preferred the younger ones because they're more physically appealing, though you were a beauty in your days as Hanoi Jane.)

Minka Kelly has chimed in to say how terrible it was that Weinstein offered her trips on private jets and luxury vacations if she would be his girlfriend. (I'm not sure exactly what the crime was, there.)

Anyway, you've seen the headlines; the list of Weinstein's accusers currently stands at 30 and counting.

Then there's Hillary, who released a vaguely worded statement expressing surprise at Weinstein's behavior and condemning that type of behavior. Hillary is obviously an innocent idealist who had no idea that these kinds of pay-for-play schemes go on, otherwise she would never have accepted Weinstein's political donations.

Some of the men who've castigated Weinstein for his behavior are equally hypocritical. Ben Affleck and Oliver Stone chimed in with criticisms, but it turned out that both of them had acted similarly.

I'd be impressed if just one guy were to say, "Listen, we all knew what he was up to. He had a reputation as a pig, and from what I saw, he lived up to it. Let's face it, with that mug there was no way he was getting laid without using his clout, so he used it. A lot of guys would have done the same. But, the guy treated me well. He produced my script, and even let me direct. So he was a mentor to me, and for that I'll always be grateful. I can't condone some of the other things he did, but I try to treat people as they treat me, and he treated me well."

I'd be even more impressed if an actress were to say, "Sure, I slept with him. I had to, to get the role. He didn't spell it out that blatantly, but it was always sort of understood. I was young and poor and needed the work. So, I held my nose and let him do his thing. Frankly, I'm glad I did. Look at the career I've had since. I'm rich, and famous, and even have a reputation as a good actress. And if I weren't doing this, I'd be waiting tables somewhere. Do you have any idea how many beautiful young women come to Hollywood because their friends told them they should be actresses, and never get anywhere? One thing I'll say for Harvey, he was good on his word -- he gave me the part. You have no idea how many guys will lie to get you into bed. At least Harvey delivered. Sure, he was a grotesque pig, but overall, I'm grateful to him."

I could respect that. Working hard -- and having sex with Weinstein has to qualify as that -- to get ahead is the American way. And honesty is a rare commodity, especially in Hollywood.

But, so far, no such people have emerged. All of his former friends and associates and beneficiaries have used the opportunity to come forward and burnish their own credentials for goodness.

All of this brings to mind Ted Bundy's mother, who, on the eve of his execution, spoke to him twice by phone, telling him, "You'll always be my precious son."

That is true loyalty. Buddy obviously deserved to be executed -- at least 36 times over -- and there's no justifying him in any way. But, the fact that his mother still loved him after all he'd done shows exactly what real love -- or friendship -- is supposed to be. And it's actually sort of moving to know that his mother said that to him at the end. Especially since she appears to have been nothing but a victim in that situation too: Ted was apparently the result of her rape by her father.

You can't compare a mother's love to a Hollywood "friendship." But the point is that real love -- or friendship -- sticks through thick and thin. Things are pretty thin for Harvey right now -- as they should be -- and there seems to be no one who has stood by him.

Not even his own brother, or his wife.

There hasn't even been a single positive word.

I'm not even suggesting Weinstein deserves to have friends. (No sociopath does, really.) But there must be someone he was good to -- at least one guy whose career he helped -- who ought to show some loyalty. (Quentin, where are you?)

But so far, no one has.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Ann Coulter on Stephen Paddock

Two days ago commenter Fled the Undertow mentioned Ann Coulter's article, Media Begging Us for Conspiracy Theories on Las Vegas.

Coulter points out a couple of things that don't make sense about the media's portrayal of Stephen Paddock. First, unlike with real poker tournaments, where a skillful player can make money, you can't be a consistent winner with video poker. And while you can win from time to time, it's certainly not, as the Los Angeles Times claimed, "a steady income over a period of years."

So, why would he be spending that much time playing it, and getting, at best, a 99 cent return on each dollar he spent, if not to launder money for some illegal business?

Coulter also asks why Paddock would be wearing gloves if he had been planning to commit suicide? And why did it take eight days to figure out when he checked into the hotel? And have any other mass shooters ever had girlfriends?

There's too much about this shooting that doesn't make sense.

Coulter then offers the following scenario:

[T]he probable illicit business requiring money to be laundered that leaps out at us in Paddock’s case is illegal gun sales. If true, it would not only explain the arsenal in his hotel room, but also raises the possibility of either an accomplice or different perpetrator altogether.

If this were a movie script, a terrorist would go to Paddock’s room on the pretense of buying guns, kill Paddock, commit the massacre, put his gunshot residue-covered gloves on Paddock’s dead hands and slip out of the room when the coast was clear.

Coulter then says there is no evidence for that theory, but at least it doesn't require us to believe that Paddock was making lots of money from video poker.

This makes sense for a couple of other reasons that Coulter doesn't mention. According to David Newton, an officer with the LVPD, when police first entered Paddock's room at the Mandalay Bay, they found "an armory. So many guns, so many magazines, stacks and stacks of magazines everywhere just in suitcases all neatly stacked against pillars that were in the room, all stacked up, rifles placed all throughout. All kinds of monitors and electrical equipment he had in there. It just looked like almost a gun store."

Paddock couldn't possibly have used all of those weapons in one shooting spree. So why did he have them all there, neatly arranged, looking like "a gun store?" Maybe because it was? 

There are problems with the terrorist theory too. First, why would Paddock have rented a room overlooking that concert if he thought he was just going to be selling guns? And why would he have rented a room overlooking the Lollapalooza concert in Chicago back in August?

The answer to that might be that the person or people posing as the gun buyer(s) might have rented the rooms for him, offering to pay for them, and Paddock just figured he'd take advantage of the freebie.

All we know so far is that there is no apparent motive for this killing. In the meantime, Coulter is right: there are a lot of questions about Paddock, many of which remain unanswered.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Georgina Chapman

Commenter LBD had some trenchant observations about Mr. and Mrs. Weinstein after the previous post. Her first comment:

When this first broke I told my husband, I'm counting down.....three, two, one...until his wife leaves him. She is twenty years his junior, very attractive, and he is now nothing but a liability to her. He has made her fashion company name toxic and is unlikely to earn much money in the future. If he were a nice guy with a giving heart I might believe she would like sleeping with him, but seeing as how he is a physically unattractive sociopath with a nasty personality and an odd kick in his gallop sexually, he is, as they say, neither use nor ornament.

Sure enough, today it was announced that she's bailing.

I replied:

You called it. You've described Harvey perfectly, and everything you say is completely logical, and makes sense from Georgina's perspective. But it also implies something about her that's less than appealing: that she married him for very cold, logical reasons that had noting to do with romantic feelings. Whenever I would see a picture of the two of them together, I'd always think, wow, that's one tough gold-digger. She was able to abide his appearance and his piggishness, all for the money. That implies a very calculating nature on her part as well.

LBD then answered:

John, it's not as simple as gold digging. I believe it was more like social climbing. She was capable of earning a more than adequate living by herself, but marriage to Fat Bastard brought both her and her company to what passed, until last week, for the upper echelons of society. The combination of film celebrities and political celebrities as "friends" must have felt like the ultimate in social clout.

Now that I think of the scenes in Austin Powers with Heather Graham and Fat Bastard, I can't help but think she and Mike Myers must have had ol' Harvey in mind when creating that character.

I replied: 

Ha, Fat Bastard, good analogy. And yes, they may well have based the character on Weinstein. And, not so coincidentally, Heather Graham was another actress who came out recently and said she had the impression Weintein wanted sex in return for a role. (One thing you have to say for Weinstein, he had good taste.)

You're right, social climbing had a lot to do with it too. I think the gold digging aspect shouldn't be underemphasized though (he was pushing Marchesa on all of the actresses who walked the red carpet of this films, and the brand would never have gotten that kind of exposure otherwise). But yeah, the opportunity to mingle with the rich and celebrated must have been a big part of the equation too.

One thing that nobody seems to be saying now is, "Oh, that poor put upon woman -- this must all be so difficult for her!" Everyone seems to realize that she knowingly made a deal with the devil. 

For her not to have known what he was like, she would have had to be incredibly stupid. And no one has accused her of that. 

She traded her looks for his influence and power, and as soon as his influence and power disappeared, she took her looks and departed. That's how business works. 

When one side doesn't fulfill their contractual obligations, the other side can back out.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Sociopath alert: Harvey Weinstein

Harvey Weinstein has been all over the news recently, mostly for the sexual harassment scandal, but also for the way he was nasty and unpleasant in other ways. In a way it's reminiscent of the Tiger Woods and Bill Cosby scandals: once the first couple accusers come forward, the floodgates open and a lot of others follow.

In that sense this post is just more piling on. But Weinstein is such a perfect illustration of how a sociopath operates, and succeeds, that it's worth pointing out how sociopathy informs his actions.

There are a lot of guys who, if they had the power to put beautiful women in their movies, and those actresses desperately wanted those roles, and were willing to do anything to get them, would probably take advantage.

It should also be pointed out that Weinstein hasn't been accused of raping anybody, which puts him a rung above Bill Clinton and Bill Cosby.

And, Weinstein hasn't been accused of explicitly telling an actress that a certain role would be contingent upon sex -- though one would think that was understood on a more tacit level.

Weinstein has long had a reputation for being hard to work with, meaning, he's temperamental. But he produced a string of Oscar-winning movies, and it was always possible -- from a distance, at least -- to see him as merely a demanding perfectionist.

It's not until you read the details of his behavior that you realize this is not a normal guy who succumbed to temptation. There's a certain forcefulness, and sense of entitlement, and utter contempt for others, that goes well beyond a normal guy's behavior.

In a recent article in the Huffpost, former newscaster Lauren Sivan said that Weinstein offered her a tour of a restaurant he partially owned, then dismissed the other employees and made a pass at her. She declined.

Imagine yourself (as the guy) in that situation. You've just been rejected; you'd probably feel a little humiliated, or, maybe just a little embarrassed. What would you do? Apologize and hope you hadn't offended her by making such an abrupt pass? Chat her up some more in hopes that she'll change her mind? Walk away with your tail between your legs?

Weinstein said, "Well you can stand there and shut up," then pulled his penis out and masturbated in front of her. He quickly ejaculated into a nearby potted plant, then escorted her out of the building.

Weinstein wasn't just a regular guy who enjoyed the perks of his position. That behavior shows a level of inhibition which is basically nonexistent.

Weinstein has reportedly come to eight separate financial settlements with various women for sexual harassment incidents. These couldn't have been just passes that were turned down, otherwise money would not have exchanged hands.

One woman, Jade Bukowski, worked as a waitress at the Tribeca Grill, and witnessed firsthand how Weinstein treated the help:

The staff could usually tell that the woman was there to meet him before she had even said a word. If a woman waited for him at the bar, he’d bellow furiously at more than one of us for not having seated her prior to his arrival, despite the fact that she’d insisted on it. “Why the f- -k isn’t she at the table?” he’d say....

As he attempted to charm his guests, he terrorized the wait staff. In his signature black T-shirt and jeans, he’d sidle over to one of his two favorite tables in the back. He would almost never look you in the eye, too busy reading the paper or biting off an assistant’s head.

Inappropriate touching was a habit of his. If you weren’t paying attention and the restaurant was loud, he might lurch at whatever part of you he could reach. Once, while I put in an order at the computer, he barreled up and body-checked me. Then, as if nothing had happened, he barked: “Back. Coffee. Tea. Now.”

Even though I’ve not seen him for six months, this week’s revelations brought back terrible recollections. The feelings of anxiety and degradation he inflicted on all of us — especially the women — continue to plague me to this day.

There's an old saying: if you want to know what someone you're having dinner with is really like, don't look at how he treats you; observe how he treats the waiter.

One thing that non sociopaths never quite fully fathom about sociopaths is the extent to which they view others as objects -- like a bicycle, or a remote control, or an article of apparel. If it somehow gets broken -- or if they break it -- it's no big deal. They just get a new one.

One thing that's become clear recently is that everybody in the business feared Weinstein for his temper. This is a classic sociopathic method of manipulation: to bend people to your will simply by making them fear your uninhibited outbursts.

In 2007, he married Georgina Chapman, a clothing designer. Since then, he has pressured a lot of famous actresses who have starred in his movies into wearing his wife's Marchesa gowns on the red carpet: Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry, Cate Blanchett, Emma Watson, Renee Zellweger, Blake Lively, Uma Thurman, and Kate Hudson.

Much of Hollywood has remained strangely silent this past week -- which implies they're still afraid of him.

The statement Weinstein released after the NY Times expose came out last week was a masterpiece of evasion and misdirection and manipulation, all sociopathic specialties. [My words in brackets]:

"I came of age in the 60's and 70's, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then. 

[During the 60's, "free love" did not refer to cornering women in deserted hallways and then masturbating in front of them while ordering them to stand still. That was never "the culture" in this country.]

I have since learned it's not an excuse, in the office - or out of it. To anyone. I realized some time ago that I needed to be a better person and my interactions with the people I work with have changed. 

[Well, maybe in the past week.]

I appreciate the way I've behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it. 

[He's not just apologizing, he's sincerely apologizing; sociopaths are forever overusing adjectives and adverbs emphasizing their own honesty.]

Though I'm trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go. That is my commitment. My journey now will be to learn about myself and conquer my demons....

[He is now on a "journey," just like the protagonists of so many of his movies. And his use of the word "demons" implies that he himself is a victim of those "demons," which are somehow separate from himself.]

I so respect all women and regret what happened....I cannot be more remorseful about the people I hurt and I plan to do right by all of them.

[He so respects all women? Actions speak louder than words. No one, sociopath or not, actually "respects" every single member of either gender. And he "cannot be more remorseful?" Again, that telltale sociopathic emotional falseness.]

I am going to need a place to channel that anger so I've decided that I'm going to give the NRA my full attention. I hope Wayne LaPierre will enjoy his retirement party. 

[What anger? He was just talking about his remorse. And ah, how timely, after Las Vegas. If you don't come down too hard on Harvey, he'll help fight the good fight against our real enemy, the NRA!]

I'm going to do it at the same place I had my Bar Mitzvah. I'm making a movie about our President, perhaps we can make it a joint retirement party. 

[What possible reason can there be to mention his Bar Mitzvah other than to remind the powers that be in Hollywood that he is their tribesman? And in another message to Hollywood, well, if you support Harvey, he'll also help oust our horrible President!]

One year ago, I began organizing a $5 million foundation to give scholarships to women directors at USC. While this might seem coincidental, it has been in the works for a year. It will be named after my mom and I won't disappoint her."

[See? He's just a mama's boy at heart, one who wouldn't do anything to disappoint dear old mama. And actually, that $5 million foundation doesn't seem coincidental at all -- it seems like a calculated attempt at image rehabilitation.]

All in all, it was a carefully worded statement: he confessed to less than perfect behavior in general without admitting to any specific wrongdoing.

A couple days ago, Weinstein issued a statement saying that the NY Times account was filled with factual errors, without saying exactly what those errors are. Denials like this are common; if some minor detail is wrong -- even if the gist of the accusation is right -- lawyers in prominent cases will always issue a statement saying that the statement is "factually inaccurate."

The most interesting question, as always, is why did Weinstein turn out that way? The "Early Life" section of his bio in Wikipedia really doesn't give any clues.

One small clue is that a number of people seem to be speculating that his own brother had a hand on turning him in. You'd think his brother, of all people, would be loyal to him. But, he's shown the same amount loyalty to Harvey that Harvey showed to everyone else. And that makes one wonder about how they were brought up.

But, maybe it was just the case that his brother Bob was a decent guy who knew that Harvey was toxic, and was tired of covering up for him after decades of misbehavior. And, Bob was probably tired of being overshadowed. They were theoretically equal partners, yet Harvey was the larger than life figure who was the public face of the company and got to be photographed on the red carpet with various actresses.

But whatever Bob is, there's no question about Harvey's diagnosis.

The lesson Harvey Weinstein teaches us is not that he's just another sociopath who mistreats people and has no self-control or loyalty. The important thing is that he got to where he got precisely because he was a sociopath, so instinctively knew how to manipulate people.

Weinstein was a lot like Steve Jobs and so many other successful people who achieved success essentially by bending others to their will: he had no special talent of his own, other than manipulation. He didn't write, or direct, or film. He merely produced, meaning, he orchestrated and schemed and dominated.

Harvey knew how to pay lip service to the right values. It's highly doubtful that he personally cares about fighting the NRA all that much, given that he glorifies guns so much in his movies (like Pulp Fiction and Django Unchained). But he cares about being seen as the type of person who is against gun violence.

It's highly doubtful that he cares so much for women's rights, given how he treats them personally. But he wants to be seen as the type of noble person who will endow a scholarship for women directors.

Weinstein desired a reputation for nobility and good character the same way he lusted for power and money and women and food and Oscar glory -- uninhibitedly. And he went after those things uninhibitedly, the way sociopaths do: using every trick he could think of. And that's undoubtedly why he was so successful.

Until you realize that, you don't realize how the world works. Sociopaths almost always triumph over the little people -- like you and me -- until the little people point out their dishonesty and hypocrisy.

(By the way, bravo to the New York Times for having written that expose; it was surprising to see them go after one of their own.)

Update, next day: Looks like I spoke a little too soon about Weinstein not being a rapist.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

"Harvey Weinstein's brother may have been mastermind behind sex allegation expose"

The New York Post ran an article yesterday suggesting that Bob Weinstein may have been the one to leak the details about his brother's serial sexual harassment to the press:

It’s Cain and Abel — Hollywood style.

Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein may have been stabbed in the back by his own brother, who, sources told The Post, has been trying for years to replace his sibling as the sole head of their marquee film studio.

Bob Weinstein, the disgruntled co-founder of The Weinstein Company, may have been the mastermind behind an exposé of lurid sex allegations that led to his brother's humiliating downfall, the sources said.

“Bob’s wanted Harvey out for years,” said a former staffer, who added that the two brothers are becoming increasingly suspicious of each other.

Insiders believe that Bob may have helped concoct the explosive New York Times story that exposed the harassment allegations from Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan and other former employees.

“Bob may have even fed this story” to the Times, the insider said.

There may have been a taste for vengeance in the brother’s fateful move, as another insider said, “Bob wanted Harvey to get what’s coming to him.”

The backlash from the scandal is expected to oust Harvey from the storied franchise — for now — settling a long-simmering feud between the two.

“There has always been a love-hate relationship between the brothers,” says a former Weinstein employee.

“There have been times they wouldn’t speak for months. Let’s just say they have an ‘inconsistent’ relationship.”

Another source added, “Bob’s trying to take over and push Harvey out” and also said that some staffers at The Weinstein Company believe Bob was a source of the damning Times story.

Call it Biblical, or Shakespearian; call it a tragedy, or a comedy.

It's probably all those things. Whatever it is -- somebody should make a movie about it!

Maybe we could even get competing versions, from Bob and Harvey.

Bob's version could be called, Sin City: Harvey-Style.

His brother's version might be called, Harvey Unchained.

Three vignettes to illustrate the effectiveness of gun laws, as envisioned by the Left

Part I: The Russian Home Invaders

SCENE: A suburban family of five sit around their dinner table. The three daughters, ages 10, 8, and 6, are all as cute as can be.

Suddenly two tough-looking men with Slavic features burst in. Both carry AK-47's. The larger one takes the 8-year-old by the arm and places his gun at her head, forcing it to tilt slightly to one side.

He speaks in that thick Russian accent which sounds both insinuating and brutal at the same time.

          Geef me all your money, now, or the gy-url dies!

           Please, we'll give you everything we have, please
           just don't hurt the girls!


           Okay, just give me a second, I have at least a
           thousand in cash upstairs.

He gets up as if to go upstairs. Suddenly the 10-YEAR-OLD GIRL, who has been peering at the man's weapon, speaks up.

            Hey, that's an AK-47! Those are fully automatic!

(She then start to speak in the nyah-nyah singsong voice kids use when they're one-upping someone.)

            The City Council recently passed a law saying that
            anybody who gets caught with a fully automatic
            weapon gets a minimum of two years in jail!

The RUSSIAN MAN suddenly looks panicked. He pulls back a little, so that the 8-year-old girl's head is no longer tilted.

             Vat? I not know this. Eez not fair.

The FATHER, on his way upstairs, stops in his tracks.

                                     10-YEAR-OLD GIRL
             Yeah -- two years in the slammer! That's no joke.

The RUSSIAN MAN drops the 8-year-old's arm and backs away. Suddenly he and the other Russian bolt for the door and scramble through it, desperate to escape.

Part II: The Sociopathic Rapist

A pretty BLONDE GIRL is jogging along a path in the woods when a large man suddenly jumps out and grabs her from behind, putting his hand over her mouth. He points a gun at her head and drags her off into the woods.

                Scream and you're dead.

He drags her into a clearing and slowly looks her up and down, practically salivating. His intentions are all too clear. The BLONDE GIRL looks terrified. Tears start to form in her eyes.

                                      BLONDE GIRL
                Please don't hurt me. Please.

               Take off all your clothes. Now!

The BLONDE GIRL pulls her t-shirt off. Underneath she has on a white bra. The MAN obviously likes what he sees and makes a waving motion with his gun to indicate she should continue.

               I'm gonna screw you like you never been
               screwed before. Front and rear.

He is clearly enjoying his power over her. She hooks her thumbs into her running shorts. But his waving motion has drawn her eye and she focuses on the gun.

                                     BLONDE GIRL
               Hey waaaaaaait a minute!

Suddenly she has more assurance in her voice.

               And I'm guessing you're a convicted felon. You're
               not even allowed to own a gun!

The MAN backs off, and looks at his gun as if seeing it for the first time. He looks confused.

               Yeah, you get caught with one of those things
               and it's two years in the Big House. And then
               you'll be the one getting screwed.

The BLONDE GIRL wears a triumphant look. She suddenly reaches out to grab his crotch. He pulls back, shocked.

              Whatsamatter, lose your hard on?

The MAN suddenly darts off into the woods.

              Hey, what about that screwing you promised

The BLONDE GIRL, now completely in control, shakes her head and laughs.

Part III: The Three Bloods

Three Bloods sit in an abandoned house. In between them is a worn table with three semiautomatic handguns on it.

                                        BLOOD #1
              Muthafuckin' Crips think they can come on
              our turf, they crazy. We gonna teach their sorry
              asses a lesson with a drive by.

                                        BLOOD #2
              You trippin', fool. These guns ain't even
              properly registered!

BLOOD #1 looks down at the guns. He then puts his head in his hands and slowly shakes his head.

                                        BLOOD #3
              Treyshawn, you even got any idea how hard it
              is to get a carry permit these days?

By this point BLOOD #1 looks completely penitent. He holds his hands up helplessly.

                                        BLOOD #1
              Man, I don't even know what I was thinkin'.

                                        THE END

Okay, so there wasn't a lot of character development, subplots were lacking, and the dialogue was a bit cliched. But, all I wanted to do was make a point about the gun control advocates' keen grasp of human nature. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

So what SHOULD we do about these shootings?

As always, within a day of these mass shootings, the Left called for more gun control, and the Right accused the Left of politicizing the tragedy.

Personally, I have nothing against "politicizing" a tragedy like this: of course we should do what we can to prevent such occurrences from happening. But, the people who do so ought to at least be consistent -- and realistic -- in the way they do so.

In all fairness, the Right "politicizes" every terrorist incident by a Muslim, too -- as they should.

It's almost more off-putting how after every single tragedy we have to hear everyone from the President on down mouth the usual platitudes about how their "thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families" when they obviously are neither thinking nor praying about the strangers who were killed.

Anyway, let's look closely at the policies the Left advocates. 

One of the more consistent themes they sound is about "assault rifles." It's true that rifles have been used disproportionately in the recent larger mass shootings. Paddock, Adam Lanza, and Omar Mateen all used rifles. But the very use of the phrase "assault weapon" misleading -- all guns are meant for assault. (Why else would they fire bullets?)

If you look at the statistics, most gun-related murders are committed with handguns. In 2010, for instance, there were 6009 homicides known to have been committed with a handgun, vs. 358 by rifle. 

And fully automatic rifles are already illegal, though it's possible to convert a semiautomatic rifle to one which is closer to being automatic with a bump-stock converter kit.

The Left has also advocated much stricter gun ownership laws. They have succeeded in some places: Chicago, Washington DC (until recently), Baltimore, and California. Yet DC, Chicago, Baltimore, and Oakland have traditionally had some of the highest murder rates in the country. Detroit also has relatively strict gun laws, yet ranks as one of the murder capitals. 

All of which would tend to indicate that such laws don't work. 

In 2016 Chicago had 781 homicides, the vast majority committed with guns. That means that every month Chicago averaged 65 killings. (And this year they are on track to beat that number.) A mass shooting like the one in Las Vegas, of course, attracts far more media attention because of its sensational nature. But if you're serious about cutting down on gun deaths, shouldn't you be focusing on places with a consistently high murder rate, rather than just the latest highly publicized incident?

One tactic which has been shown to work in high crime areas is stop and frisk. But the same people who call for more gun control are adamantly against that, since young black and Hispanic males are stopped by the police more frequently. But if, as statistics show, they commit the majority of murders, shouldn't they be checked more frequently?

Liberals always point out Canada and Britain as places with fewer guns, and lower homicide rates. But they never seem to mention Switzerland, where every adult male is required by law to have a fully automatic rifle, and ammo on hand; Switzerland has one of the lowest murder rates in the world.

Another suggestion we hear a lot is that guns should be kept out of the hands of the "mentally ill." This is easy to agree with in principle. But who exactly do we deem mentally ill? (I wrote here about the difficulties inherent in defining the "mentally ill" for purposes of gun control.)

A disproportionate share of the recent mass killers seem to have suffered from Aspergers Syndrome. (Think Elliot Rodger, the Santa Barbara shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter, Christopher Harper-Mercer, the Roseburg shooter, or Adam Lanza, who may have had a more severe form of autism; and there are undoubtedly others.)

Now, imagine Congress were to try to enact a law saying that no one with Aspergers can own a gun. How do you think advocates for that group will react? Pretty much the same way advocates for depressives, borderlines, and schizophrenics (Jared Loughner and possibly James Holmes) would.

Advocates for all of these groups would say that the vast majority of people who suffer from that syndrome are law-abiding and nonviolent, and that they deserve the right to protect themselves, too.

And they'd be right.

Per capita, men are more violent than women, and blacks are more violent than whites. Yet no one dares argue that a law be passed keeping guns out of the hands of black males. Do those who advocate keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill realize that they are making a parallel argument?

Likewise, a disproportionately high percentage of serial killers are homosexual. Would anyone on the Left ever dream of suggesting homosexuals be treated differently for that reason?

The fact is, many people with various syndromes go undiagnosed. And if people have been diagnosed, should their psychiatrists or psychotherapists be required to "out" them? What would that do to the principle of doctor-patient confidentiality? And how strongly would it discourage anyone from ever getting psychological help?

On top of that, how many psychiatrists and psychologists make misdiagnoses? We've all been told that getting a second opinion is always worthwhile; that bit of folk wisdom did not arise from the fact that all doctors always come to the same accurate conclusion. 

If you ask the populace to give up their registered guns, then that old NRA saying becomes true: if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

And if that becomes the case, those outlaws will be emboldened to prey more on the law-abiding populace, and even carry out home invasions. There is some evidence that murder rates go down when concealed carry is allowed. 

The most central conceit of the gun control advocates is that a determined killer will somehow be swayed by local gun laws. A potential murderer is ready to risk death or serious injury (in case his intended victim shoots back) and also the death penalty (if he's caught) in order to kill someone. Is someone like that going to be concerned about the legality of the gun he's using?  

Think of it this way: when someone robs a bank, and maybe shoots a teller in the process, is the getaway driver's primary concern going to be whether he was parked illegally?

Likewise, the only people concerned with gun laws are people who aren't intending to commit worse crimes. Such as your average suburban homeowner. 

Every now and then one of those homeowners may go berserk for some reason. Stephen Paddock owned a home in the suburbs, and he went on a rampage at age 64. How could that have been predicted? The only honest answer is, it couldn't have been. 

If we're going to have a discussion about gun control, let's at least be realistic, and take into account how effective such laws are in the locales where they've been enacted, who exactly the "mentally ill" are, and how concerned a person bent on murder is going to be with local gun regulations. 

The most commonsensical reforms would be strengthening background checks, not allowing the sale of semi-automatic-to-automatic converter kits, instituting more stop and frisk, and having stiffer penalties for illegally-owned guns. Waiting periods (also known as "cooling off periods")  are a good idea too.

But most of what the Left advocates is simply not realistic. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Las Vegas shooter

Whenever a mass shooting occurs, the early information -- anyone's own theorizing -- is inevitably misleading. The initial reports this morning said that two people were killed and 20 wounded in last night's deadly attack.

It's now reported to be the deadliest mass shooting in US history, and with 527 reported injured, the current number of dead, 58, is almost sure to rise.

My first thoughts, like a lot of peoples', turned to ISIS. But then it turned out that the shooter, 64-year-old Stephen Craig Paddock, was just a regular old American.

As the death toll mounted, ISIS claimed responsibility, but then the FBI said that the shooter had no  connection. (It does seem that ISIS would take credit for Hurricane Harvey if they could.)

I wondered if his girlfriend, Marilou Danley, who I heard was of Indonesian descent, might have had something to do with it. (Indonesia is a Muslim country.) She was initially reported to be in Las Vegas, then missing, then another report came out that she had been detained in a foreign country. Now, I'm hearing that she was visiting relatives in the Philippines when this happened, which would indicate that she is Filipino, and therefore less likely to be Muslim.

I also thought, aha, Paddock must be ex-military. He understood the tactical advantage of shooting from the higher elevation, he knew how to use a fully automatic rifle, he was old enough to have been drafted, and he was a deadly shooter. All of this pointed to a guy with training.

But, it turned out, he wasn't. He had been an accountant, and bookkeeper, and had most recently had described himself as a professional gambler.

The most interesting report was that Paddock's father had made the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list as a bank robber, then escaped prisoner, back in the 60's. At the time the father was reported to have been diagnosed "as psychopathic." And, as it turns out, his father was also an avid gambler.

(Family background almost always provides the why of a killer's personality.)

Maybe part of Stephen's motivation was that he wanted to outdo his father in terms of badness.

Paddock himself had not been unsuccessful: his brother reported that he had been a multimillionaire real estate investor.

This is the first case of a multimillionaire mass shooter I've heard of. Given that this country had treated him so well, his final act was the ultimate in ingratitude.

It's also been reported that he was a heavy gambler, and moved to Nevada so he could gamble more. is it possible that he had gambled his fortune away and felt that at age 64 he had nothing left to lose? That's not clear yet either.

Is it possible he had just gotten some bad news about his health, possibly a cancer diagnosis, and just didn't want to face an infirm old age?

One of the worst things about all these mass shootings is that they always seem to target young people. Whether they take place at a concert, a school, or a nightclub, it's mostly young people, who had their entire lives ahead of them, who are massacred.

His family was evident shocked by the massacre, or at least claimed to be. Some of his former neighbors were shocked, too. They described him as a nice, friendly guy. But another report mentioned neighbors in Nevada who had described him as "aggressively unfriendly."

So which was it?

What is Paddock's psychological diagnosis? The first thing that comes to mind is, sociopath. But while basically all serial killers are sociopaths, mass shooters are more likely to have Aspergers Syndrome. But most killers are also relatively young, Paddock was not only the deadliest shooter in US history, but, at 64, also the oldest.

In any case, we just don't know enough about him to say. The fact that Paddock's father was diagnosed as a psychopath,would tend to lead us in that direction. The fact that he was apparently a gambling addict is another clue leading in that direction. And there's no questioning the evilness of his act. But we'd have to have more of a sense of his entire life, especially his upbringing and his relationships, before we can be sure.

The truth about Paddock will gradually emerge. But at times like this, sometimes it almost seems as if it's not even worth reading any of the reports -- or formulating any theories of your own -- until the second or third day.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

All roads lead to Rome, Part II

This blog has a "traffic sources" section that allows me to see the searches that lead people to this blog. (I can't see who's looking, but I can sometimes see what has led them here.) And I'm constantly surprised to see the nature of the searches that land them here.

Back in January of 2014 I wrote about some of those searches. I've scribbled down a few more a while back, and added a few recently. Here they are:

"Prominent clitorises, photos" Honestly, you won't find any of those here; I'm mystified as to how that search led here.

"Naked photo underage" Those neither. (I'd actually be afraid to look for those; don't they convict people based on what they find in their computers?)

"Is Obama gay?", "is Obama gay or bi", and "Is my gaydar off or is Obama gay?" I do know how those inquiries led here. The answer is, yep, as I explained here and here.

"fuck sharia femen" At first, I thought the searcher was conflating Sharia and FEMEN. Then I realized, ah, he was referring to the FEMEN who wrote "fuck sharia" on their naked torsos. I enjoyed writing about FEMEN, here and here and here, but don't think I ever featured a photo with that particular slogan painted on.

"Chelsea Clinton looks weird" I mentioned her here, and a couple other places, but I never focused on her looks. 

"el Chapo house" That would be houses, plural. I showed three pictures of one of them when I put el Chapo up against Donald Trump in a machismo contest.

"James Bond IQ." It was actually a relief to find out that someone else had pondered a question that silly.

"Are people with Asperger childish?" and "Aspergers have no friends" and "want my asperger friend to get lost" I can understand why they'd feel that way.

"Can Aspergers say they're sorry?" Nope.

"Asberbuger are they ridged?" Yes, some can be quite rigid; on the other hand, some can also spell.

"Is Dave Chapelle on steroids?" Yup.

"little boy with big balls" I mention courage from time to time, but I suspect this particular inquiry was of a more physical nature.

"Hairy vulva" Sorry, no beaver shots here. But I do hope he found something else that excited his interest, and tarried a while.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Hugh Hefner, RIP

I gave my impression of Hefner here, back in 2010.

Even now that he's dead, it's hard not to envy him the life he had.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

"White privilege" as projection

I know a girl who got 800 on her math SAT, and 781 on the verbal portion. She had decent, but not great, grades. She was rejected by about half the colleges she applied to, including the one Ivy League school she sent an application to.

Had she been black with those scores, she would have had Ivy League schools lining up to recruit her.

Employers at larger firms are desperate to find smart, presentable blacks with whom they can buff up their diversity credentials, so jump at the opportunity to hire smart, affable blacks.

White people are generally aware of these things, although most know it's not a good idea to mention them in polite company.

Blacks, too, are aware of these things, though they generally have a different take on it: that they deserve these things, after all the years they suffered under slavery and then Jim Crow. (Never mind that most beneficiaries of affirmative action come from middle class backgrounds.)

I've written many times about projection. I've been accused of being gay by a gay commenter, of having Aspergers by various Aspies, and of getting a "buzz from others' misfortunes" by a sociopath.

Projection is pretty much universal; the natural assumption for most people is that others are like them. It's why nice people always give others the benefit of the doubt, and sociopaths always suspect the worst of others.

And, if there's ill will involved, the first insult that comes to mind will be something they themselves are guilty of.

Once you become aware of projection, you'll see it all the time.

Just last week Kim Jong Un accused Donald Trump of "mentally deranged behavior" and of being "a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire." Trump may be a narcissist who's constitutionally incapable of leaving an insult unanswered, but he's hardly a gangster, and has shown no predilection for using unnecessary firepower.

On the other hand, Kim Jong Un was describing himself perfectly.

After hearing a lot recently about the nebulous concept of white privilege -- a concept which negates the achievements of any individual whites -- it occurs to me that there's more than a little projection going on here.

Put yourself in the shoes of a black college student at one of the more selective colleges. He goes through his entire four years there knowing that the white students all regard him as a beneficiary of affirmative action. None of them will say that to him, of course; but he knows they all think it. And he will, naturally enough, grow resentful about being regarded this way. (I know I would.)

And, if he graduates in good standing, when he gets hired by a good firm, the suspicion attaches that the need for diversity played a role there, too. So, he feels a little paranoid -- and somewhat resentful -- about his place in the hierarchy there.

And the natural thing to do is channel that resentment into a little projection.

Voila, white privilege.

Monday, September 25, 2017

The NFL players vs. James Damore

The Left -- those  great supporters of the First Amendment -- have all been outraged by Trump's recent remarks about how the NFL should fire the protesting players. How dare he question the players' right to protest! Does he not realize that such protests are protected by the Constitution?! Do these players not even have the right to an opinion?! How dare he suggest they lose their livelihoods!

They have a point, of course: free speech is protected in this country.

But where was the Left when James Damore was fired by Google for having exercised his First Amendment rights? The only thing the Left had to say about the Damore affair was to condemn him for his sexism. And to claim that it was people like him who were holding women back.

In fact, many on the Left demanded Damore be fired.

Damore, of course, wrote his essay on his own time, and hadn't intended for it to get national publicity. The NFL players, on the other hand, want their TV audience to see them refusing to stand during the playing of the national anthem.

Another difference is that Damore was basically speaking the truth: in his well-reasoned and balanced essay, Damore pointed out there are innate and well-documented differences between men and women that account for their disproportionate numbers in Silicon Valley. If there simply aren't as many women interested in programming, how is the larger number of male engineers evidence of sexism?

The BLM movement, on the other hand, is based on a big lie: that the police are out to kill innocent blacks. Any clear-eyed view of the statistics immediately shows that to be untrue.

The other difference, of course, is that while Damore was fired for his heretical beliefs, no NFL player will be. Everybody fears the wrath of the Left; nobody fears the wrath of the Right.

In any case, I haven't seen anyone else draw a parallel between the protesting players and James Damore, but the principles involved are the same. Either people should be allowed to protest at their place of employment, or they shouldn't be.

But the Left doesn't see it that way. They evidently believe that the First Amendment only applies if you're speaking the Leftist line.

But, we pretty much already knew that.

Uma Thurman and Nena von Schlebrugge

I was watching an Uma Thurman movie the other day, and idly wondered about her, so read her Wiki page. Evidently her mother, Nena von Schlebrugge, had been a top model, so out of curiosity, I Google-Imaged her. She was a spectacular beauty:

Feature for feature, Nena is probably better-looking than her daughter:

Uma's nose may be too big for classical beauty, her lips may be too full, and her eyes almost too hooded.

But somehow, with Uma, those flaws added up to an even greater appeal. The almost exaggerated features also seem to signal a wanton lasciviousness that gave her more personality.

Uma seems to have more star quality than her mother. That's probably an unfair comparison, since Nena worked in the 60's, and at the time a model's job was to look somewhat blank.

But maybe part of the reason Uma got the opportunity to be a movie star was because of her expressiveness. At her peak, between the ages of 24 and 31 (roughly from Pulp Fiction to Kill Bill), she was just spectacularly beautiful.

Here she is in one of the iconic shots from Pulp Fiction, expressing wryness -- which implies intelligence and a sense of humor:

When the role called for it, she also had a certain determined cast to her mouth and jaw, that gave her a certain defiance. Kill Bill was just a comic book brought to the screen, but it needed a tough, sexy, tragic heroine, and Uma was perfect.

Take a look at this interview with Charlie Rose, which took place close to the release of Kill Bill. There's no point in the entire episode at which she's not just luminously beautiful, and she doesn't even appear to be wearing much makeup.

Anyway, it was interesting to find out that her mother was a great beauty, too, though I suppose it shouldn't have been that big a surprise.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Leftism as the triumph of rote learning

We all know people who made it through high school with stellar grades and got into good colleges because they were grinds, and good at rote learning. But these types were never much fun because they never had anything interesting or original to say.

People like that never seem able to draw a bead on exactly what is absurd about a situation. They never come to conclusions other than the ones they're taught. And they rarely have good senses of humor. They have a lot of facts stored away; but they rarely have any real "feel" for a subject.

The word that's often to describe what these students do on tests is "regurgitation." Being able to cram for exams may be a useful life skill, but when the only opinions one can offer are also regurgitation, it's a little pathetic.

We've all known someone who got a 5 on the History AP but couldn't tell you why any of those historical events happened, or draw parallels with other events.

Certainly neither Left nor the Right has an absolutely monopoly on such people. But these days, what gets taught at in school, what newspapers publish, and the viewpoints promoted on TV and in the movie theaters, skew Left.

In such an atmosphere, those who buy into the propaganda without pausing to consider whether it's reality-based or not, skew Left. Absorbing all that unthinkingly is, for all practical purposes, rote learning.

Consider the central tenet of Leftism: that there are no differences between the races and the sexes (other than that white men are evil). This is ridiculous on its face. Yet many people ignore all the evidence in front of them and subscribe to those notions -- because they've been told to.

Now, it's not just rote learning alone involved here: fear of social censure is too. (Not everybody who said the emperor's new clothes were beautiful actually believed it; many were simply afraid to mock him.)

But, unquestioning acceptance factors in on both fronts.

Back in the 60's and 70's, one of the Left's mottoes was, "Question authority." Today, the Left hates it when people question the establishment media, academia, or government.

They would far rather we accepted their viewpoints unthinkingly.

Because, really, that's about the only way you can accept them.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


I recently heard of a new fat removal method, CoolSculpting, for the first time. It's an impressive medical breakthrough, maybe most impressive because of its simplicity.

Diets tend to be long, slow torture for those on them, and the few who win the battle of the bulge always seem to end up losing the war, because all dieting does is starve fat cells, which, the minute they're fed again, go back to their full size.

And some of those people really seem to hate themselves for it.

The problem is, no amount of dieting will reduce the number of fat cells in our bodies.

The principle behind Coolsculpting is that fat cells die at slightly higher temperatures than other tissue does. Their machines suck up an area of skin and cool it to between 0 and 3 degrees Celsius for an hour or so. Within two or three months, all of the crystallized fat cells are absorbed by the body's pancreatic system and excreted. And those fat cells are permanently gone.

Google "Coolsculpt" and you'll see a lot of sites, most of which are basically infomercials for various doctors. (Which is probably why this post sounds a little like an infomercial.)

Most of the advertisements emphasize that it's not a way to lose 100 pounds; the process only gets rid of subcutaneous fat, not visceral fat. It's mostly a way to smooth out problem surface areas exercising won't get rid of.

You can tell the procedure is expensive because no provider lists prices. According to the message boards, prices apparently run from $750 to 1500 per treatment, maybe less when you get away from NYC. But, there are worse ways to spend money.

The before and after pictures are pretty interesting. (Such pictures are always fascinating, whether they involve drastic weight change, plastic surgery, steroids, or meth addiction.)

Obviously most people do this for aesthetic reasons, but there may be athletic benefits as well. You never see an Olympic 1500 meter runner with a pot belly, but losing a couple pounds of fat would definitely benefit most runners.

And it's a lot easier than running a lot of miles and dieting. But, so far WADA hasn't declared CoolSculpting off-limits.

Anyway, it's sort of amazing to think that after all the attention that's been paid to dieting, shedding the last few pounds has gotten so much easier.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

What exactly is "a conscience?"

The term "conscience" is thrown around a lot, but its exact meaning is a little hard to pinpoint; it's actually a somewhat misleading term. Most link it to the ability to feel embarrassment, shame, and guilt, those somewhat different but overlapping emotions.

But a conscience seems to be more than that. If you had to define it, you might call it the sum of our inhibitions. It's what keep us from doing bad things. (I'm using the word "bad" because it's such an all-encompassing, vague term.) But how exactly does a "conscience" keep us from doing those things?

Part of it is fear -- fear of reprisals from wronged people, but also the fear of having to experience the three unpleasant emotions mentioned in the first paragraph. (But fear of reprisals shouldn't be overlooked; remember, sociopaths generally don't feel fear the same way.)

Part of "a conscience" is the ability to put oneself into other's shoes, knowing how they would feel should you wrong them.

Some of it seems to be tied into not thinking that you're better than you are. All of us are guilty of overestimating ourselves at times; but some of us are consistently guilty.

Another element of a conscience is awareness -- and therefore avoidance -- of your own possible hypocrisy. Anybody who criticizes others for doing exactly as he does probably has a pretty weak "conscience."

A conscience is really just a matter of instincts. You could describe it as the part of your mind which regulates your comfort zone -- or more specifically, your discomfort zone. The less comfortable you are when you're doing something you know you shouldn't be, the more of a "conscience" you have.

And the easier it is for you to justify your own actions, the less of one you have.

If you feel perfectly comfortable buttering up a distant relative in hopes he'll remember you in his will, then you may have less of a "conscience." If you are reluctantly going along with the plan only because, say, your wife is pushing you to, then you have more of one.

Discomfort zones, instincts, and hypocrisy: these terms are easier to relate to than that nebulous, intangible concept known as a "conscience."

Most people have the vague sense that a "conscience" is something they're supposed to have, but it's such an amorphous notion that they can't really get a fix on it. So decent people may wonder if they have one, since they're not really aware of it as a distinct entity.

And when they feel schadenfreude, or envy, or resentment, or even hate, it makes them doubt themselves. But those emotions are universal: everybody feels them from time to time. And it's not how we feel, but how we act, that's evidence of a conscience.

The word "conscience" is nothing more than a metaphor for a broad collection of instincts steering one in the general direction of the Golden Rule.

Your "conscience" is simply you. To think of it as being as a separate entity, like Jiminy Cricket, is misleading.

But people who lack what's called a "conscience," because they lack one, tend to think that it's an actual thing, and that if they claim its existence, it will prove their goodness. So these are the people who who talk about their conscience the most.

One of the things that give sociopaths away is their attempts to appear normal -- or even better than normal. What betrays them is that their act is always a little overdone. So they say things like "my conscience is clear," as if their conscience is a tangible part of them with absolute authority over what they can and cannot do.

I once knew a sociopath who would occasionally say, "Hey, I'm the guy who's gotta look at himself in  the mirror the next day" -- as if this rendered him incapable of doing anything immoral. Obviously, "looking in the mirror" is a metaphor, just like "a conscience" is. But because that sort of thing never troubled him, he figured that it was the actual physical act of seeing one's own reflected image that bothered normal people.

So, like all those sociopaths who blather on about their consciences, he gave himself away with his words.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Wimpy men and masculine women

The NY Post ran an article this afternoon, Police union wants professor fired over 'dead cop' tweets. According to the article:

Professor Michael Isaacson, a self-proclaimed member of the Antifa movement who works in the economics department at the CUNY Manhattan college [John Jay], tweeted from the account @VulgarEconomics: “Some of ya’ll might think it sucks being an anti-fascist teaching at John Jay College but I think it’s a privilege to teach future dead cops” on Aug. 23.

Isaacson is evidently the kind of pretentious twerp who, in an effort to seem more street, uses black language like "y'all" without even knowing how to spell it correctly. And, we know from his later email to the Post that he can't really think clearly, either:

“I critique policing as an institution which operates at the behest of a state that increasingly represents the weapons and prison industry rather than the public they’re supposed to serve through decades of gerrymandering by both Republicans and Democrats.”

So the average cop goes about his daily beat wondering what he can do to improve the net profits of Smith & Wesson? And what does gerrymandering have to do with the "weapons and prison industry?" (Nothing.)

Isaacson probably threw in "both Republicans and Democrats" to make himself sound impartial. (Yeah, right.) But mostly, he probably liked the sound of the word "gerrymandering," which has a sophisticated political sound to it.

Isaacson shouldn't be teaching at any college, let alone a college which a lot of future (dead?) law enforcement personnel attend. But that's not the point of this post. 

The point is, the pictures of Isaacson which accompanied the article:

After seeing this first picture, I thought, is his neck really that thin or is that an optical illusion created by the photo angle?

This second picture answered my question:

He is the proverbial pencil neck geek. This is a pattern I see over and over again, and I don't think it's coincidence: a lot of the white Left seems to consist of wimpy men and masculine women. 

Just by coincidence, I happened to see this article earlier today, about conservative Ben Shapiro's speech yesterday at Berkeley. It featured a photograph of a protester, Sarah Roark, who was arrested on suspicion of carrying a banned weapon. Here's Sarah, 44, of San Francisco:

When you see so many Leftists who follow this pattern, it's hard not to come to the conclusion that there's an innate connection with people's physicality and their political stances.

Did Isaacson and Roark arrive at their viewpoints via a certain baseline resentment against the people who ignored them in high school? 

Do they accuse the other side of being haters because of all the inchoate rage they feel at the unfairness of being considered unattractive? 

Is this why they are instinctively attracted to an ideology which bemoans "injustice" and caters to the politics of resentment and jealousy?

I don't know the answers to these questions.

But given the frequency with which wimpy men and masculine women are drawn to Leftism, it's hard not to see a connection.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Mary Bell

While reading that list of freed serial killers mentioned in the previous post, I learned about Mary Bell. Evidently she is quite famous in England; she is less well known in this country.

At age 11, Bell strangled 4-year-old Martin Brown, and a few months later, 3-year-old Brian Howe. Bell used a pair of scissors to carve an "M" into Howe's stomach, cut off some of his hair, and mutilate his penis. Mary had a weak-minded friend, Norma Bell (no relation) who accompanied her, but Mary was the leader.

You couldn't have asked for a more fertile background for sociopathy than Mary's. Her biological father is unknown, and her mother, Betty, was a prostitute who was often away. Betty is thought to have tried to kill Mary on several occasions, while trying to make it look like an accident. From Wiki:

Her family was suspicious when Mary "fell" from a window, and when she "accidentally" consumed sleeping pills. On one such occasion, an independent witness saw Betty giving the pills to her daughter as sweets. Mary herself says she was subjected to repeated sexual abuse, her mother forcing her from the age of four to engage in sexual acts with men.

In any case, there's absolutely no doubt about Bell's character. She was obviously not responsible for her own family background, but it is what shaped her, and the end result was a sociopath. And, as we all know, sociopaths always remain sociopaths.

But what's most interesting about Bell is how she's behaved apart from the two murders she committed -- both as a young girl, and since she was released from prison at age 23, in 1980, and granted anonymity (via a new name). This account from Murderpedia includes excerpts from several articles and books about how she presented herself, how she thought, and what impressions people had of her.

It's a wonderful case study in how sociopaths act.

From An Encyclopedia of Serial Killers -- Hunting Humans, by Michael Newton:

Described by court psychiatrists as "intelligent, manipulative, and dangerous," Mary proved herself a problem inmate. In 1970, she fabricated charges of indecent assault against one of her warders, but the man was acquitted in court. In September 1977, she escaped from Moor Court open prison with another inmate, but the runaways were captured three days later. 

False rape charges are a sociopathic female specialty. And keep in mind, Mary was only 13 when she fabricated those charges.

From Mary Bell: Portrait of a Killer as a Young Girl, by Shirly Lynn Scott:

"Are you looking for your Brian?" asked Mary Bell. Brian's sister, Pat, was worried about the missing toddler, who should have been home by now. A small, three-year-old boy with fair hair, Brian Howe usually played close to home. Mary and her best friend, Norma, eagerly offered to help search for him. They led Pat through the neighborhood, looking here and there, all the while knowing exactly where Brian was.

They crossed the railroad tracks to the industrial area, where the kids of Scotswood often played among construction materials, old cars, and dangerous wreckage. Pat was worried -- only a few weeks ago little Martin Brown was found dead inside of a condemned house. Mary pointed to some large concrete blocks. "He might be playing behind the blocks, or between them," she said.

"Oh no, he never goes there," insisted Norma. In fact, Brian lay dead between the blocks. Mary wanted Pat to discover her dead brother, Norma later said, "because she wanted Pat Howe to have a shock." But Pat decided to leave. The Newcastle Police would find his body at 11:10 later that night.

Serial killers often like to savor the pain of grieving relatives; and at age 11, Bell had all of those instincts.

Brian Howe was buried on August 7th. Detective Dobson was there: "Mary Bell was standing in front of the Howe's house when the coffin was brought out. I was, of course, watching her. And it was when I saw her there that I knew I did not dare risk another day. She stood there, laughing. Laughing and rubbing her hands. I thought, My God, I've got to bring her in, she'll do another one."

Once again, savoring the pain of the bereaved.

"I couldn't kill a bird by the neck or throat or anything, it's horrible that.
-- Mary Bell

This is a little reminiscent of double murderer Frederick Baer claiming, "I cry when a freakin' butterfly hits the windshield." Sociopaths are never content to portray themselves as average people: they must show themselves to be more noble and more tenderhearted than normal people.

After Martin Brown's death:

After hearing a knock, June [Martin's mother] opened the front door to find Mary standing there. "Mary smiled and asked to see Martin. I said, 'No, pet, Martin is dead.' She turned round and said, 'Oh, I know he's dead. I wanted to see him in his coffin,' and she was still grinning. I was just speechless that such a young child should want to see a dead baby and I just slammed the door on her."

That is amazingly ghoulish for an 11-year-old. 

"Murder isn't that bad, we all die sometime anyway."
-- Mary Bell to one of her guards

This is reminiscent of Ted Bundy saying, "Why's everybody so upset about a few missing people for? There are so many of them." Or of Richard Speck being asked why he killed those eight nurses and replying, "Just wasn't their night, I guess."

Serial killers often seem not to fathom the immensity of their crimes.

Once she was in jail, Bell showed two of the deadly triumvirate of traits that often distinguish serial killers (along with pyromania), bedwetting --

Mary, who had been a chronic bedwetter, was terrified of going to sleep, for fear that she might mess her bed. "I usually do," she confided. At home, Mary's mother severely humiliated her whenever she wet the bed, rubbing her daughter's face in the pool of urine, said Mary, years later. She then hung the mattress outside for the entire neighborhood to see.

-- and torturing animals: 

Mary's hostility had an almost naive quality: while tightly grabbing a stray cat by the neck, a guard told her not to hurt the cat. Mary allegedly replied, "Oh, she doesn't feel that, and anyway, I like hurting little things that can't fight back." In another incident, a police woman said that Mary said she'd like to be a nurse, "because then I can stick needles into people. I like hurting people."

(Is that how those serial-killing nurses get their start?)

Mary Bell's mother was undoubtedly a sociopath herself:

"Take that thing away from me!"
-- Betty Bell, responding to the birth of her daughter Mary (Mary's Mother)

The most disturbing abuses came from Mary's frequent drug overdoses, which were likely administered by her mother. When Mary was one year old, she nearly overdosed after taking some pills that were hidden in a narrow nook inside a gramophone. It seemed impossible that the baby could reach the pills, and strange that she would eat so many of the "acid-tasting" medication. When Mary was three she and her brother were found eating "little blue pills" along with the candy their aunt Cath had brought for them. (Betty said, "they must have taken the bottle out of my handbag.") Cath and husband offered to adopt Mary, but Betty refused to let the child go, and soon broke off contact with her family.

In the most serious overdose, Mary swallowed a bunch of "iron" pills belonging to her mother. She lost consciousness and her stomach had to be pumped. A young playmate, as well as little Mary herself, said Betty Bell gave Mary the "Smarties" candy that made her sick. Overdoses, particularly for a developing child, can cause serious brain damage, a common trait among violent offenders.

Betty Bell was a drama queen and loved to play the martyr. She may have suffered from "Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome," thriving on the attention over her little daughter's tragic "accidents." This syndrome, first described in 1977, is characterized by caregivers who intentionally injure, suffocate, or poison their child for the sympathy of others. The "MSBP" mother usually had an unwanted child, or is unmarried. This may explain why Betty, despite the harm she caused Mary, always wanted her back.

Munchausen's, and Munchausen's-by-proxy, are merely facets of sociopathy. Reading about the abuse Mary Bell suffered as a child makes you feel sympathetic toward her, until you remember the monster that she herself became.

Since her release in 1983, Bell has fought hard for her anonymity, and has for the most part been successful, despite a few attempts by the media to unmask her. She has had a daughter, who has reportedly forgiven her mother for her childhood crimes, and Bell was reported to have become a grandmother in 2009. She was managed to stay out of trouble since her release, though her character can't possibly have changed.

A sympathetic 2001 article in the Telegraph described her life since her release. Some excerpts:

...As her full release date neared, she became frightened over her future. One friend said: "Even on the night before her release, Mary longed for the security of a prison cell where she would feel safe, know what time the light would be put out and when she would be woken in the morning.

"Mary told me that she had an incredible feeling of sadness and betrayal. She was floundering without an identity, saying that she was 'torn to shreds inside'." On the night before her release, Bell said that she had cried for "the past, my friends, the waste, the loss, my life. I cried and grieved for what I had done." Bell said that although the Parole Board had seemed to forgive her, she could not forgive herself.

Given that Bell is unquestionably a sociopath, it's hard to believe that she was so full of self-doubt; that is simply not in the gamut of sociopathic emotions. Grieving for what she had done, at least in the sense of feeling bad for the two boys she killed, would also be out of the question. As would not being able to forgive herself. But she knew what to tell her friends, and tell the press, in order to sound normal.

The article concludes with this paragraph:

Bell has told friends that while she has been happy at times since her release, there is always a part of her that is never content. "I am imprisoned by guilt and remorse," she once said.

A sociopath, of course, is never "imprisoned" by those two emotions. But the more intelligent ones learn to counterfeit the normal gamut of emotions as they get older.

Bell is now 60, not quite at the stage where strangers would help her cross the street. It's hard not to wonder how strangers perceive her, and what their reactions would be if they knew who she was.